The rabbis were back by Friday and I’m sure they all talked in their Sabbath sermons about their trip and how wonderfully ecumenical it was.
The diversity and stature of the group made the visit unusual.
"This is the A-list," said Jacob Dayan, Israel’s consul general in Los Angeles, who organized the delegation and said he hopes it will serve as a model for missions from other Diaspora communities. "The idea was to bring a message that we are one people, united. Israelis don’t often hear this tune."
Outsiders are often taken aback by the sparring in Israel, where coalition governments can fall over the slightest offense to one religious faction or another. The Orthodox tend to be more hawkish than their brethren toward the Palestinians. Tension is aggravated by a state-backed Orthodox monopoly over Jewish marriage, burial and conversion.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who is ultra-Orthodox, was booed here last week by an audience made up mostly of American Jews when he argued against equal rights for Reform and Conservative Jews in Israel. "Look at what is happening to the Reform Jews in America because of assimilation," he said. "They are disappearing."