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June 26, 2012

There is More than One Way to be a Jew in Israel

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/there_is_more_than_one_way_to_be_a_jew_in_israel_20120626/

It is important that those interested in a pluralistic democratic Jewish State of Israel support the recent Israeli Supreme Court Ruling granting state recognition and funding for Reform and Conservative rabbis in Israel. This is why I am posting this recent letter from Anat Hoffman, the Executive Director of Israel’s Religious Action Center.

I responded already to Anat’s request to send an email to the Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, protesting his inappropriate and illegal intrusion into the Supreme Court’s ruling, and I ask you to do the same by clicking this link and helping us flood his office with thousands of emails.

Please do not delay. Take action on behalf of democracy and religious pluralism in the Jewish State.

The following is Anat’s letter plus a suggested response:

Dear Friends of IRAC,

This is a monumental time for liberal Jewry in Israel. After seven years, our petition for Rabbi Miri Gold, requesting state recognition and funding for Reform and Conservative rabbis in towns around Israel was passed. For the first time in Israel’s history, the state has given legitimacy to the liberal Jewish movements in Israel.

Unfortunately, not everyone here is celebrating with us.  The Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo Amar announced that he is calling upon his fellow Orthodox rabbis to prevent the implementation of the High Court’s ruling.  He sent a letter to hundreds of Orthodox rabbis in Israel calling on them to object to the state’s intention to recognize and fund Reform and Conservative rabbis, and invited them to an emergency meeting today at the Chief Rabbinate’s office in Jerusalem.

In his letter, Rabbi Amar lamented “the hand given to the uprooters and destroyers of Judaism who have already wrought horrible destruction upon the People of Israel in the Diaspora by causing terrible assimilation and the uprooting of all of the Torah’s precepts. And now they seek recognition in the Land of Israel as well, to be destroyers of the religion… This will not pass!” “No one may be absent from the gathering,” he added.

We have sent Rabbi Amar a letter to remind him that the Chief Rabbinate is not authorized to intervene on this issue and that his attempt to foil the decision is illegal and inappropriate in a democratic country based on the rule of law.
Rabbi Amar is not acting out of the best interest for Israel, but rather out of “Sinat Hinam,” senseless hatred.  His words go against the most fundamental values in Judaism and against “Klal Yisrael,” (the unification of the Jewish people). The reality is that most Jews, from all denominations, want Israel to be the physical and spiritual home for the entire Jewish people.
Today, as the Chief Rabbi holds his meeting against our movement, we will be standing outside his office in protest. You too can play a role: I want you to flood his office with emails telling him that pluralism is the only way to have a state that is strong, prosperous, and democratic.

B’Tikva,
Anat Hoffman
Executive Director, IRAC
Action Alert: Email Rabbi Amar

Here you can email Rabbi Shlomo Amar to tell him that Israel needs to continue down the path to pluralism. You can use our letter or write your own. When you have finished please post it on your Facebook and Twitter page and forward to as many of your friends as you can.

Dear Rabbi Amar,

In a recent letter to your fellow Orthodox rabbis you wrote “the hand given to the uprooters and destroyers of Judaism who have already wrought horrible destruction upon the People of Israel in the Diaspora by causing terrible assimilation and the uprooting of all of the Torah’s precepts. And now they seek recognition in the Land of Israel as well, to be destroyers of the religion…”

This is a hateful statement that only serves to further divide the Jewish people both inside Israel and all around the world. I urge to you open your eyes to the future and engage in a constructive way with all Jews who want to see a strong, prosperous, and democratic Jewish state.

You would be well served to enter into a dialogue with the Reform and Conservative rabbis and lay leaders who you believe are trying to destroy the State of Israel. They are willing to work with you and other Orthodox leaders to create a Jewish state that represents the best of our shared heritage. Unfortunately, a dialogue only works if both sides are willing to engage. Are you?

L’shalom,
Friend of IRAC

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