I have written often about the paradox of UJC's involvement in "relocating" a remnant of Yemenite Jewry in apparent partnership with the Satmar community. This week the World Zionist Organization Executive and the Jewish Agency for Israel protested, in articles in the Jerusalem Post, the planned relocation. In response to quotes from Paula Edelstein, JAFI's Aliya Department Co-Chair and a member of the WZO Executive, Yisroel Schulman, a leader within the Monsey community and the UJA-Federation of New York, and a past member of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors, sent Paula a letter copying others of us. I asked Yis if I might reprint his letter. He agreed...and his letter follows:
You may remember me. Until this past year, I proudly sat on various committees of the Jewish Agency. I am responding to various news comments attributed to you and others concerning the relocation of families from Yemen to Monsey, New York. As one of the active leaders of the community in which the families will be relocated (of their own accord), I have been intimately involved with virtually every aspect of their resettlement. It appears that someone is feeding you and others a tremendous amount of misinformation. For example, neither myself nor most of the involved individuals residing in Monsey are members of the Satmar Hassidic sect.
Further, none of the immigrant families will be residing in exclusively Satmar neighborhoods and their children will not be required to attend Satmar educational institutions.
The strong beliefs of many that all Jews should immigrate to Israel should not rationalize the outright distortion of the facts on the ground. Should you or any of my former colleagues at the Agency wish to know the real facts, I am available at any time. "
Yis Schulman's letter is an important contribution to a dialogue UJC should have conducted before it embarked on its new "partnership." "Misinformation" is a by-product, inthis instance and so many others, of no information but for the parsed and redacted Memoranda circulated by UJC.
Many questions remain open even after Yis Schulman's sincere response to Paula Edelstein. In fact those questions have been asked by another of the copy recipients.
"You are well aware of the anti-Zionist nature of Satmar and therefore should be able to appreciate the sensitivities being raised in these issues. They, of course, have no reflection on you or your contributions to Klal Yisrael.
How would you characterize the flavor of the UJO? Is it not a predominantly Satmar run institution? Rabbi Niederman?
Would you sincerely deny the ongoing activity of the Satmar to influence the Yemenites in Yemen and in their coming to the US?
Obviously you are correct that the immigrants will have the freedom granted to any other New American to chose whatever school they want. But is that the intention now?
Do you think it unreasonable to suggest that the Satmar role in past Yemenites arriving to the US will be different now?
UJC could not or would not answer these questions, framed as they are with sincerity and good faith. In contrast, Yis Schulman has responded by offering the opportunity to visit the Monsey community where these 113 Yemeni Jews (or, at least most of them) will find their new "homes."
More to certainly follow.