Lawmaker David Rotem offered a full apology for reportedly saying the Reform movement “is not Jewish.”
At the start of a Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee meeting on Sunday, Rotem again addressed the remarks, which raised the hackles of religious and other Jewish groups in Israel and the United States.
“I had no intention of hurting anyone or the Reform movement,” Rotem said, reading from a prepared statement, according to Haaretz. “There were those who tried to twist my words into meaning that I did not believe that Reform Jews are Jewish. For me, any Reform Jew born to a Jewish mother is a Jew like any other.
“My intention was that I have deep differences with the Reform movement about practical matters related to Judaism. At the same time, considering that we are all Jews and members of the same religion, we need to solve these differences in discussions and conversations around the table. I apologize to anyone who may have been hurt.”
On Thursday, Rotem said his remarks made the previous day had been “misinterpreted” by the media.
The director of the Reform movement in Israel, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, thanked Rotem for his Sunday apology, according to The Jerusalem Post.
“The only way to conduct the significant arguments between Jewish denominations and the different sectors of Israeli society is through mutual respect and by seeking the common ground,” Kariv said.
Following Rotem’s apology, lawmaker Uri Maklev of the United Torah Judaism party said Rotem was forced to apologize and accused the Reform movement of bribing Israeli lawmakers, according to Haaretz.