Chief Rabbi of Israel Yisrael Lau publically criticized Bayit Yehudi party leader Minister Naftali Bennett for visiting a Conservative Movement-affiliated school during a recent visit to the United States. Bennett has also held meetings with representatives of various streams of Judaism in Israel and has opening hailed improving relations with the Conservative and Reform Movements.
Tzfat Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu spoke out against Bennett during an interview with Galei Yisrael Radio, stating that while they may still be Jews, the Conservative and Reform Movements are perpetuating a “spiritual Holocaust” and official Israeli representatives may not cooperate with them in any official capacity.
Joining the public criticism was Ramat Gan Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel Shlita, who told Kikar Shabbos News that “While they may be Jews, one cannot recognize the Reform and Conservative Movements”, ruling out Bennett’s plan of bringing them closer and working with them.
The prominent dati leumi community rabbonim stated it is absolutely forbidden to recognize or legitimize the Reform or Conservative Movements in anyway whatsoever.
It should be noted that in October, Rabbi Lau visited Washington’s Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital. It is nondenominational and, as in Conservative Jewish day schools, girls and boys study Jewish text together, and girls as well as boys lead prayers and read publicly from the Torah. Its girls lead prayers and read the Torah from the podium wrapped in prayer shawls. Some of the girls even wear a kippa regularly.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)