Orthodox leaders protest state recognition of Conservative, Reform rabbis

‘We want to embrace all Jews, but history has proved that our way has won,’ says Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, center, at the Chief Rabbinate (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, center, at the Chief Rabbinate (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Approximately 130 Orthodox leaders participated in an emergency meeting called by Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar Tuesday urging action against state recognition of non-Orthodox rabbis and warning that such recognition would cleave the Jewish people in two.

Amar called on the prime minister and the heads of the judiciary to consider what is best for the entire Jewish people and not aid in devaluing the religion.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said only 10 percent of third generation Reform Jews remain Jews, adding that opposition to the recognition of non-Orthodox rabbis was a matter of principle. “We all want to embrace all Jews, but have to keep our holy Torah, and history has proved that our way has won,” Metzger was quoted by Israeli Radio as saying.

About 50 Conservative and Reform rabbis staged a counter demonstration outside the Chief Rabbinate building in Jerusalem, demanding the state implement the High Court’s recent ruling on state funding for non-Orthodox rabbis and chanting “the nation demands justice for rabbis.”

Last week, Amar denounced the state’s recent decision to allow non-Orthodox rabbis to receive state funding, claiming it was a dangerous precedent that could damage the office of the chief rabbi, and pledging to fight it vehemently.

The Jewish Federations of North America issued a rebuke in response to Amar’s comments last week. “JFNA condemns in the strongest terms the statement reportedly made by Israel’s chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar. It is a fundamental Jewish virtue to ‘love your fellow as yourself.’ We condemn comments that disparage fellow Jews and, in particular, well-established branches of Judaism that represent 80 percent of North American Jewry,” read the statement.

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