search

Reform Movement accuses Sephardi chief rabbi of incitement, urges police probe

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef speaks at the National Headquarters of the Israel Police in Jerusalem on September 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef speaks at the National Headquarters of the Israel Police in Jerusalem on September 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Reform Movement demands police investigate Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi for comments he made over the weekend against Reform Jews.

In a letter, the movement accused Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef of incitement to violence, which it said should be considered particularly grave considering his power and influence.

On Saturday night, Yosef gave a talk in which he railed against the High Court of Justice and Reform Jewry. His comments on the High Court, and his calls for the next government to pass a law to override it, have prompted denunciations from lawmakers, accusing him of abusing his government position for partisan purposes.

The Reform Movement, however, focuses on his attacks against them, claiming they were calls to violence.

“How did the Hatam Sofer come out against the Reformers? With a sword and a spear!” Yosef said, referring to an Orthodox rabbi who was active around the turn of the 19th century.

Though he was adamantly opposed to Reform Judaism, the Hatam Sofer did not, in fact, fight the movement with a sword and a spear but rather with fiery speeches and political pressure.

“In light of the great influence that Rabbi Yosef has over the religious public in Israel as the chief rabbi of Israel, enforcement and deterrence are even more necessary in order to prevent rabbi Yosef’s words of incitement from being quickly translated into acts of violence,” the Reform Movement says.

Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed