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PM Netanyahu: The Reform And Conservative Jews are to be Treated Respectfully

bibThe agreement reached to provide an egalitarian prayer area near the Kosel has angered some, while others feel it is a marvelous step towards lowering tensions and acknowledging there are many Jews who are affiliated, but not Orthodox. The debate is taking place in many arenas, including the cabinet, where Ministers Ze’ev Elkin and Yariv Levine of Likud insist the nation cannot recognize the Reform and Conservative Movements. They feel allocating the new prayer area is de-facto recognition of these groups, which is contrary to the position of Gedolei Yisrael Shlita.

The chareidi cabinet ministers are also opposed, but their opposition was passive as they fear if this compromise solution was defeated, the case would come before the Supreme Court and the latter would allocate an egalitarian area at the Kosel instead of nearby. Shas leader Aryeh Deri met with Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef Shlita before the cabinet decided and he was told to make sure the agreements do not directly mention the Reform and Conservative Movements, which Deri succeeded in doing.

The PA (Palestinian Authority) has also come out against the new prayer area, explaining it views this as a violation of the religious status quo and another step by Israel to overrun al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Hiddush organization praised the cabinet decision while pointing out the shortcomings included in the decision to accept the compromise deal.

Reform and Conservative Movement officials were angered by some of the responses, including Knesset Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafne, who referred to them as “clowns”. The leadership of the Reform and Conservative are demanding an apology. Netanyahu did speak out against the critics in Israel, but he did so in English only, to avoid entangling himself in a coalition crisis at home.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this week announced the historic compromise agreement adding “The Kosel will continue belonging to all of Am Yisrael. This is the policy of the government. This is my policy”.

During a recent trip to the United States PM Netanyahu did speak out, officially recognizing the Reform and Conservative, welcoming them and adding “I will see to it that all Jews feel at home; Reform, Conservative and Orthodox. We will ensure that the Kosel is a place that unites instead of dividing.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

14 Responses

  1. One should seperate Reform and conservative jews from reform and conservative leadership.

    Its one thing to have an area where they can “daven” by themselves and its another to have an organized prayer service by their leadership


  3. It’s like saying treat Arab terrorists with respect!

  4. An educated, somewhat worldly, Torah observant Jew once told me, “don’t confuse scientists with science.” Scientists can believe. Scientists can be Torah observant. Scientists can be G-d fearing. Science cannot.

    Jews who are less observant and align themselves with non-Torah observant ideologies, are still Jews (provided, of course, their mothers are Jewish). The ideologies are not. The core beliefs are a mockery/leitzanus (ergo the use of the word clown) of Judaism which, by definition, if not by observance, includes Shabbos, kashrus, taharas mishpachah, tzitzis, Pesach, Shavuous, Succos, etc., and, yes, separate prayer areas for men and women. The presence of members of these groups are not a threat to us. The Torah tells us they will all return. But we, however, are a sharp thorn in their side and a spear in their eyes, for they cannot include us, but we can include/do include and embrace them.

  5. shuali, with all due respect, that is wrong. Science respects God. Science NEVER contradicts God. Science has never disproven God! This is a fact! It is scientists who work with an agenda of denying God, deny that which stares them in their faces- the unrelenting fact that physical matter cannot come into being on its own out of a vacuum. There is no such thing, evolution cannot disprove this. Astronomy and physics cannot disprove this. So don’t blame science, blame atheist who consider themselves scientists.

    Regarding Reform and Conservatives “Jews”, a large number of them are non-Jews, there are mamzerim too, let’s not kid ourselves. And even if there are Jews, if they come with an agenda to disrespect and corrupt a holy site, then it doesn’t matter if they are Jewish or not.

    To say the presence of these groups are not a threat to us, is laughable. Reform is the cause of %80 of Jews not being religious and the skyrocketing intermarriage rate. They should ABSOLUTELY not be tolerated in Israel. They are definitely a huge threat to irreligious Israelis who do not know about Yiddishkeit.

  6. Netanyahu should be ashamed of himself. I thought he’s smart, but he’s totally blind to the threat of these groups who can undermine the very essence of who a Jew is. Netanyahu cannot say Israel is a Jewish nation while he is pushing recognition of these groups who have corrupted the definition of who is a Jew and who are a threat to the Jewish nation.

  7. Netanyahu’s thinking is conditioned by his legal/political grooming in the USA. He sees his democracy in the Middle East as an identical prototype to the U.S. in too many ways. Validating all strains of “judaism” has to be the case in America. It does not have to be in Israel, and of course should not be, where their movement is agenda-driven at a whole ‘nother level. i am pasting in a letter that was forwarded to me last week by a distant relative who ascribes (delusionally and proudly) to the Reform approach.

    The self-congratulatory wording tells all. This Wall business is not some isolated movement-du-jour. there is a scheme behind it. Note especially the words in the 2nd paragraph, “There will be many bumps in the road to full implementation, etc…” Ergo – they are not done yet!

    From the Desk of Rabbi Rick Jacob

    Dear Xxxx,

    I am proud to share the following statement from our North American Movement welcoming this historic decision by the Israeli Cabinet to create a permanent pluralistic prayer space at the Kotel in Jerusalem.

    This is a moment to celebrate, but not to retreat. There will be many bumps in the road to full implementation, and we will need to keep up the very pressure that brought about this critical advance.

    Today, we can and should celebrate the hard word and visionary leadership of the leadership of our Israeli Movement, especially the extraordinary IMPJ Director Rabbi Gilad Kariv and the force that is IRAC Director Anat Hoffman.

    We are all in their debt. They, in turn, would be the first to say that the role of our North American Movement – our advocacy here and on our trips to Israel — was indispensable.

    With appreciation for your efforts,
    Rabbi Rick Jacobs – First Name
    Rabbi Rick Jacobs

    Statement of the North American Reform Movement:
    North American Reform Movement Applauds Passage of Plan to Enhance Egalitarian Prayer Space at Western Wall
    Years of Organized Efforts Yield Significant Victory for Reform Jews, Women of the Wall: New Area to be Under Non-Orthodox Oversight

    January 31, 2016, NEW YORK, NY- In the most significant development in the nearly generation-long campaign by Women of the Wall and their allies for religious equality at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Israeli government today approved the creation of an enhanced egalitarian prayer space at the Wall, which, for the first time, will be under the authority of non-Orthodox leadership.

    The government’s proposal – which is the result of a coordinated effort by the Reform and Conservative Movements, both in Israel and in North America, Women of the Wall, and the Jewish Federations of North America – calls for a significant revamping of the Western Wall area to create a more unified relationship between the three prayer areas (men’s, women’s, and egalitarian). The existing egalitarian space – near the area known as Robinson’s Arch – will be enhanced by the creation of an expanded platform with more access to the Western Wall, including from the ancient Herodian street. The site will be open through the main plaza by removing existing visual barriers and building a new, inviting entrance.

    The approved proposal was the result of several years of intense negotiating, advocacy, and leadership, led by the North American Reform Movement and Women of the Wall and developed by Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, and the prime minister’s office.

    In the weeks and months to come, the North American Reform Movement will work with its partners in Israel to implement the proposal and to celebrate this new arrangement, which will allow all Jews to experience an egalitarian prayer space at the holy site.

    “This is a groundbreaking agreement,” said Anat Hoffman, chairperson of Women of the Wall and the head of the Reform Movement’s Israel Religious Action Center. Hoffman, an indefatigable crusader on behalf of this issue who experienced arrests and insults through the decades of struggle, said, “After years and years of insisting that we have an equal place for prayer, after enduring campaigns of abuse against us, and being encouraged by a wave of Jewish support from across the globe, we have accomplished this extraordinary first step. We will be able to stand as part of living history, read the Torah, and pray in the spirit of pluralism and equality that we believe is critical to a vibrant Judaism. Now, we look forward to the steps that will need to be taken to implement this plan.”

    Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), celebrated the agreement: “This effort is the result of the extraordinary commitment shown by those in Israel who wouldn’t agree to the second-class status imposed by the ultra-Orthodox religious establishment and by all of us outside of Israel whose unconditional love for our Jewish State compels us to tirelessly advocate for a more equal, pluralistic, and Jewishly vibrant Israel.”

    Rabbi Gilad Kariv of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism proclaimed, “This struggle and this potential victory is just the beginning of our efforts to ensure that the Jewish state of Israel is indeed a state where all forms of Judaism are practiced freely and without state prohibition – and where those of us who represent the largest force in Jewish life in the world today, the Reform Movement, will be a powerful force inside of Israel and a more visible alternative for worship for Israeli Jews.”

    Signatory Organizations
    American Conference of Cantors
    ARZA – The Association of Reform Zionists of America
    ARZA Canada
    Central Conference of American Rabbis
    Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
    North American Federation of Temple Youth
    Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
    Union for Reform Judaism
    Women of Reform Judaism
    Women’s Rabbinic Network
    World Union for Progressive Judaism

  8. Mrs D, thank you for sharing this. It is mind boggling that, with the exception of a large gathering of women at the Kosel in protest to WOW, there has been quiet regarding this pressing issue.

    With all the havoc the Reform movement, which has been the catalyst for these other movements that skew the laws and spirit of Judaism, has created, one would think the Chareidim would be in an all out war with protests and not giving in one iota for WOW and the Reformers, just as they are against the draft.

    Instead, there are halfhearted attempts thwart them. This is just as tragic for all Jews in Israel.

  9. Respect for all Jews should transcend ideology. However, it is difficult, and probably harmful, to respect all ideologies, especially those that are destructive to the Jews. These should never be given any kind of legitimacy.

    As far as these “egalitarian” services . . . I have little respect for them, period, wherever they are. I know what kind of people these attract. Even excluding the probably overwhelming number of non-Jews or mamzerim, it’s going to be the gays, feminists, and leftover hippie types. As I write now, I hate to dignify them.

    While I do take this bunch seriously, I hate not being able to ignore them, since they keep waving their agenda in my face. Thanks to them, that area of the Kotel is going to be Weirdo Central.

  10. Shame on those people whom called them & comparing them with terrorism. Ki biti nikra le Kol ha amim
    We need kirov,rechokim and Kirov, israel chai
    Shabbat shalom.parashat from NY.
    To be continue.

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