Rabbi Nir Barkin makes surprise visit, raises Israel issues

 

FOX POINT — Rabbi Nir Barkin, a former Israeli emissary to Milwaukee, made a surprise visit to the Milwaukee Jewish Federation Annual Meeting, to honor his friend Moshe Katz.

Katz has been nominated by committee to serve as the next Federation board chair.

“You are a leader in the spirit of your namesake, Moses,” Barkin said from the podium to Katz, in the audience. “Your actions and your words are in sync, Moshe. I trust you completely.”

Barkin also expressed a mix of disappointment and hope regarding developments in Israel, speaking at the Aug. 15 meeting of close to 200 people. He lamented developments in Israel, including the Breaking the Silence Law, the Surrogacy Law and the Nationality Law. (Also, see “Former Milwaukee emissary’s school cut staff,” page 7.)

The Breaking the Silence Law holds that organizations delegitimizing the State of Israel cannot enter schools or meet with students, according to the Jerusalem Post. The Surrogacy Law expands eligibility for state support of surrogacy but does not include gay couples. And Israel has been accused of edging towards discrimination with its Nationality Law. All three laws were passed in July in Israel.

Barkin said he learned much from his time here in Milwaukee, which helped launch him into the rabbinate and to a rare Reform congregational leadership spot in Israel. Milwaukee taught him, he said, to not shun a moral challenge.

“Now is the time to prove that when things get tough we fight and do not give up,” Barkin said. “My friends, together we will continue to climb the mountain and together we will reach the summit.”