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Bakersfield Jewish community reacts to U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem

MGN, file

Israel is a tiny country, roughly the same geographic size as Kern County. Now, take the approximately 800,000 residents of our county, and multiply that by ten. That's Israel's population. In a historic and controversial move on Monday, the small, densely populated country was the focus of debate across the United States, and among the Jewish community in Bakersfield.

President Donald Trump's decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem puts political pressure on precious territory, and intensifies an already-violent environment on the Israel-Gaza border.

"We stand with our friends and our allies, and above all else, we've shown that the United States of America will do what's right, and so we have," Jared Kushner, the senior adviser to the president, and Trump's son in law, said in a speech Monday on behalf of the White House to attendees at the Embassy's opening.

The opening of the U.S. Embassy signifies that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital city. It also reflects what Palestinians perceive as a flagrant dismissal of their future independence and claims to East Jerusalem as their capital city.

Rabbi Shmuel Schlanger of Bakersfield Chabad praised the decision.

"I feel very grateful to the president and to the decision that has happened,' Schlanger said. "This can bring us closer to there being greater peace in the region, in the land of Israel, and throughout the world."

However, more violent protests in Israel are planned for Tuesday, a day after Israel celebrates its independence, and a day Palestinians call "Nakba," meaning "catastrophe," or "disaster."

Rabbi Cheryl Rosenstein leads the reform congregation at Temple Beth El in Bakersfield.

"I think it was insensitive to be making this move at this particular moment," Rosenstein said, "What we see happening with the violence is precisely why previous administrations did not make this move."

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