The Jewish student who was stopped from leading an Israel tour for Reform Jews after participating in the ‘Kaddish for Gaza’ in May has now been taken on as a tour leader by Liberal Judaism instead.
Nina Morris-Evans, an Oxford University undergraduate, flew out for the month-long tour with the Liberal LJY-Netzer group on Sunday, with the blessing of Senior Liberal Rabbi Danny Rich.
Asked about his position on Nina’s appointment, he described Morris-Evans as “trained and willing,” adding that she had been through “a full interview process”.
The tour leader had been due to lead an RSY-Netzer tour this summer but after initially suggesting she would receive “mentoring,” the leadership of Reform Judaism subsequently announced that she would not be going.
The tours are supported by UK-Israel charity UJIA, which was consulted on Reform’s decision to withdraw her from the RSY trip, but this week Rich said her assistance on the LJY-Netzer tour would be useful.
“I was approached by advocates of Nina, who explained she is a trained and willing Tour leader,” he said. “We have a very diverse group of participants this year and I knew the extra support would be valuable.”
Last week dozens of Jewish youth leaders leading Israel tours this summer wrote an angry open letter accused the Jewish community of “bullying” peers, in what was widely perceived as a defence of Morris-Evans’ right to protest the Gaza killings.
Among the 110 signatories were 45 of Morris-Evans’ former peers from RSY-Netzer, Reform’s youth movement, who said they would still continue to “reject the entrenchment of Israel’s occupation” and express concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
They were joined by youth leaders from LJY-Netzer, Noam Masorti Youth and Habonim Dror, accusing the Jewish community of “bullying,” saying: “Our chaverim and our movements will not bow to intimidation.”
Morris-Evans wrote an opinion article for Jewish News in the immediate aftermath of the kaddish on Parliament Square, after Israeli snipers killed over 60 Palestinian protesters in one day and wounded hundreds more.
The kaddish had been planned days earlier but hours before the event, news broke that 50 of the dead were Hamas operatives. Morris-Evans subsequently received reams of abuse after arguing that it shouldn’t matter because it was still “murder”.
A statement from UJIA said: UJIA disagrees with Liberal Judaism and LJY-Netzer’s decision to take Nina Morris-Evans as a support worker on Israel Tour. We have expressed our concerns to Liberal Judaism directly. UJIA continues to support this summer’s LJY-Netzer Israel Tour and wishes all of the participants a fantastic trip.
Over the summer and into the autumn, UJIA will be planning and holding a range of activities to listen carefully to the community and consult widely on our best strategy to address the new reality of Israel discourse in the community. We specifically appreciate that many of our young people, on all sides of the political divide are among the most passionate. We also fear for those in our community who are repelled by the tone of the discourse and will disengage.
By October, UJIA will publish a paper which will clearly express our position on these matters. We want this to be as broad as possible, encompassing views which we believe will be acceptable to the overwhelming majority of British Jews.
Once we have been through this collaborative process with which we hope Liberal Judaism will also engage, we would like to have a further discussion with Liberal Judaism by the end of October to review if our positions are aligned.