A division and impending split in a national Jewish organization is also serving to highlight a conflict between Jews in the Eastern U.S. versus those in the West, according to two reports.
The Jewish Week (Jan. 11) reports that the firing of a popular West Coast director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the leading Jewish defense organization in the U.S., has set off talk about a split in the organization along East-West lines. National director Abraham Foxman fired West Coast regional director David Lehrer, apparently without consulting the West Coast lay leadership, leading critics of Foxman to charge that the New York leadership of the group treats non-New Yorkers as subordinates rather than equals, ignoring their contributions.
The Los Angeles Times (Jan. 6) reports that East-West tensions have simmered in recent years in other national Jewish organizations, such as when the University of Judaism broke off from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York in 1994 when it opened its own rabbinical school. As more Jews move to the Sun Belt and West Coast, the Northeast — still home to 40 percent of American Jews — has been slow to share the power, according to Los Angeles Jewish leaders.
An ADL official denies any prejudice exists toward the West Coast. However, some say the divisions also show the different approaches between the establishment, which continues to stress battling anti-Semitism and promoting Israel, and younger Jews (gathered around the Los Angeles Alliance) who promote a liberal agenda of social justice, such as fighting the death penalty and engaging in Muslim-Jewish dialogue.
(Jewish Week, http://www.thejewishweek.com)