Diaspora Jewry will have an Independence Day torch after all


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A representative of Diaspora Jewry will light a torch this year at the annual Independence Day eve ceremony on Mount Herzl after all.

Culture Minister Miri Regev on Thursday reversed the decision she announced at the beginning of the week.

The reversal comes after Regev came under fire from public figures and organizations representing Diaspora Jewry.

Regev reserved a torch for a Diaspora Jew at the ceremony starting in 2017, and honorees included Birthright Israel founder Michael Steinhardt and Simon Wiesenthal Center founder Rabbi Marvin Hier. Last year, actress Mayim Bialik was chosen to light a torch but declined the invite because of her “Big Bang Theory” commitments. The slot was never filled.

Regev said in a statement Thursday that the last two years included Diaspora Jewry in the ceremony because they were milestones marking the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding and the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. She had decided to return this year to the way things had always been done.

“However, when I received several appeals from our sisters and brothers in the Diaspora, and after we have seen the emergence of ugly antisemitism against our people in the Diaspora, I decided that specifically because of the spirit of our people and as a response, a place of honor should be given this year as well to our sisters and brothers in the Diaspora, who go proudly and upright with their Jewish symbols despite the despicable actions of those who want to destroy us,” she said in the statement, which also was posted to her Facebook page.


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