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Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects minister’s attack on Reform Judaism

The Movement for Reform Judaism welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of comments attributed to Minister of Religious Affairs, David Azulai. It has been reported that the minister said “Reform Jews are a disaster to the nation of Israel”.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement on Wednesday night saying that Prime Minister Netanyahu “strongly disagrees” with the comments. “As he has in the past, the Prime Minister will ensure that Israel remains a place where all Jews can feel at home,” the statement said. The Israel Reform Movement (IMPJ) leadership sent an urgent letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the reported comments made in a meeting to discuss the Women of the Wall group with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

In the letter sent to the Prime Minister, the Israel Reform Movement leadership wrote that “this type of statement from a member of the Knesset strongly and gravely upsets the feelings of millions of Jews in Israel and the diaspora and seriously endangers the relationship of the Jewish community in the diaspora with the State of Israel. A statement such as the one made by MK Azulai towards any other sector, circle and group in the Jewish world or in Israeli society would be strongly condemned, and so should this one.

“The fact that this statement is made by the Minister of Religious Affairs who is in charge of the provision of religious services to all Jewish Israeli citizens, casts a dark cloud on whether he is fit to serve in this position in a way which gives proper respect to the basic democratic values of the State of Israel and of its being the national homeland for Jewish people of all sects, communities and streams. In addition, this statement seriously damages the solidarity of many Jewish communities around the world with the State of Israel, especially during days when a sense of solidarity has an important added value.”

The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) have written the Israeli government to denounce this latest attacks against Progressive Judaism and to demand that the government initiate a strategic negotiation process with the movements to extend full rights and equality to Progressive Jews.

Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of IRAC, noted yesterday that “this was not an isolated incident. The Orthodox establishment in Israel has a long history of slinging mud, discriminating and inciting senseless hatred against Progressive Jews. Women who dare to wear a tallit and read from a Torah at the Kotel are called ‘provocateurs.’ Conservative rabbis are forbidden to officiate at community-organized bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies for local children with special needs because they and their synagogues are not Orthodox. The list goes on. It’s time for a proactive and comprehensive plan that will put this issue to bed once and for all.”

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