Unwilling to accept the appointment of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu as the head of Magen David Adom’s Vaad Rabbonim, Israel’s Reform Movement is challenging the appointment.
Seeking to influence the major contributors that the appointment of the Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Tzfas is not appropriate, the Reform leaders sent a letter to ARMDI (American Friends of Magen David Adom in Israel) to persuade the decision-makers to instruct MDA Israel to cancel the appointment.
The Reform community feels the rav is too controversial and he is speaks out openly to incite against the Arab community in Israel. According to a Srugim report, ARMDI officials Mr. Rob Rosenthal sent a response, seeking to explain the appointment of Rabbi Eliyahu is simply to address matters of halacha for the frum volunteers and nothing more. Rabbi Eliyahu will not be influencing MDA policy, as was pointed out following the appointment by MDA Director-General Eli Bin.
The Reform Movement plans to continue efforts to reverse the appointment of Rabbi Eliyahu. Attorney Einat Horowitz explains that the ARMDI response simply explains the role of the rabbi but it does not address the concerns and objections to the appointment. The Reform Movement feels Rabbi Eliyahu encourages discrimination against Arabs and this is not the face that should be affiliated with MDA in any form, including the head of a rabbinical committee, pointing out this is not in line with MDA’s policy, an organization that treats all who seek assistance equally.
Rabbi Eliyahu is quoted by Srugim as saying he is not intimidated by the opposition, adding “We will call upon our supporters to double their donations. It is important to remember that over 40% of the MDA volunteers are shomer mitzvot and it is unconscionable for the Reform Movement to think it can dictate policy decisions regarding shabbos, modesty and adherence to mitzvos.
“They wish to have us behave in line with their strange ways, but this will not occur. One thing is clear and it is that this state cannot be bought with American money. It is unacceptable that rich people in America run the state. If you wish to have an influence on the country, come, make aliyah and have an influence”.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)