More Division Between Reform Jews and the Orthodox Monopoly in Israel




In my view, the more information that comes out in the Jewish press from Israel about the Katsav-Yoffie insult, the more the underlying rifts between the global Jewish community are being revealed:

On June 28, 2006, The Jerusalem Post writes:

"President Katsav is continuing to stand by a distinction in the way he refers to Reform and Conservative rabbis: he will call them rabbis in English, but in Hebrew will only use this
title with qualification, such as "rav reformi," rather than simply "rav." But linguistic tricks will not obscure Katsav’s decision to at least partially side with the Orthodox denial of the legitimacy of Reform Judaism. Katsav says he has no choice but to take this stance. This is not true: he can choose to gently lead the nation in a different direction rather than accepting the status quo. The same, however, can be said of Reform leaders themselves. Though the Reform Movement faces an uphill battle in breaking the Orthodox monopoly over the intersection between Judaism and the state, nothing is preventing it from doing what it really needs to do to change its reputation and fortunes: help build congregations in Israel."

(The translation is by the Information Department of the Israel
Foreign Ministry: http://www.mfa.gov.il.)

As a Reform Jew from San Francisco, I don’t understand the author’s assertion that "nothing is preventing" the Reform Judaism movement "from doing what it really needs to do to change its reputation and fortunes."  Maybe this was unintentional by the author, but the sub-text implies that there are some real problems in Reform Judaism with its reputation and standing outside of Israel, and this is simply wrong.

Demographics show that the Reform Jewish movement is the only branch of Judaism showing growth in the United States– and it is thriving in its diversity and philosophy of inclusion.  Inside Israel, there is clearly one thing stopping Reform Judaism from growing– State-sponsored discrimination and rejection of the entire branch of Judaism– hence the author’s suggestion is entirely mis-placed.

Maybe this type of intra-Jewish division would be addressed more seriously by the Israeli government if American Reform Jews would reconsider their financial donations to Jewish causes that do not explicitly and actively support the legitimacy of Reform Judaism?

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