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Stronger Diaspora-israel Ties Priority of New Adviser to Peres

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The new special adviser on diaspora Jewish affairs to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres contends “there is an urgent need to strengthen the ties between Israel and the diaspora” because “the diaspora is distancing itself from Israel.”

In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Rabbi Mordechai Piron, the chief rabbi of Zurich appointed last month by Peres, said: “My first aim is to unite the Jewish people and accentuate the Jewish consensus. My second priority is to fight the alarmist growth of assimilation,” which he sees as “becoming a national calamity”

He said he believed both problems could be solved “if the Jews of the world rally around Israel as their spiritual center.”

Diaspora Jewry must be assured of always finding an attentive ear in Israel, and Israel must consider the opinions and ideas of the diaspora, he contended. Toward that end he has proposed the creation of a special forum of leading Jewish personalities from diaspora countries, including North and South America, to meet with and advise Peres and to exchange ideas.

He said Israeli Minister of Religious Affairs Zevulun Hammer has backed this initiative and that his ministry has assured its financing. Piron will go to Israel next month to set it in motion.

Furthermore, the rabbi stressed the need in Israel to avoid polarization among its religious factions and deplored the growth of extremism. “The spirit of Judaism is the unity of all Jews. We must make an effort to find a consensus which will draw each person to Judaism,” he said.

The Vienna-born Prion served as a chaplain with the Israel Defense Force from 1948 to 1972, retiring as chief chaplain with the rank of general.

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