Row between Reform Jews and Israeli president

By staff writers
June 22, 2006

Row between Reform Jews and Israeli president

-22/06/06

A row has erupted between Judaism's Reform movement and Israel's President Moshe Katsav over his refusal to use the title "rabbi" when addressing the spiritual leaders of the movement, a liberal stream of Judaism long a thorn in the side of Orthodox Judaism ñ writes Michele Green for Ecumenical News International.

Dozens of demonstrators from the Reform movement and supporters protested outside Katsav's official residence in Jerusalem on 19 June 2006 over the president's act which highlighted the chasm between Reform Judaism, which takes a modern approach to religion, and the Orthodox stream that adheres to strict religious practices and dominates Jewish life in Israel.

"I am not sure if he [Katsav] is aware how profoundly offensive his decision is to millions of Jews," Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the spiritual leader of the Reform movement in the United States, which has more than one million followers, told the Haaretz daily newspaper.

He continued: "The president is the symbol of the state of Israel and the unity of the Jewish people. As such, it is terribly important that he not intentionally or unintentionally de-legitimize a rabbi who for millions of Jews is the primary Jewish figure, leader and teacher in their lives."

Yoffie has refused to meet Katsav during a current visit to Israel. Another delegation of Reform Jewish leaders recently cancelled a meeting with Katsav when he refused their requests to address the rabbinical leader of that delegation as "rabbi".

Reform Jews believe that Jewish customs and traditions should be adapted to the modern world. Some Reform rabbis drive on the Sabbath and some even eat pork, practices strictly forbidden under Orthodox Judaism.

Orthodox rabbinical leaders, who wield enormous power in Israel, have long fought against attempts to allow Reform rabbis to have the right to conduct marriage ceremonies, funerals and other religious rites in Israel.

They accuse Reform leaders of watering down Judaism and violating sacred religious tenets such as the strict observance of the Jewish Sabbath.

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches]

Row between Reform Jews and Israeli president

-22/06/06

A row has erupted between Judaism's Reform movement and Israel's President Moshe Katsav over his refusal to use the title "rabbi" when addressing the spiritual leaders of the movement, a liberal stream of Judaism long a thorn in the side of Orthodox Judaism ñ writes Michele Green for Ecumenical News International.

Dozens of demonstrators from the Reform movement and supporters protested outside Katsav's official residence in Jerusalem on 19 June 2006 over the president's act which highlighted the chasm between Reform Judaism, which takes a modern approach to religion, and the Orthodox stream that adheres to strict religious practices and dominates Jewish life in Israel.

"I am not sure if he [Katsav] is aware how profoundly offensive his decision is to millions of Jews," Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the spiritual leader of the Reform movement in the United States, which has more than one million followers, told the Haaretz daily newspaper.

He continued: "The president is the symbol of the state of Israel and the unity of the Jewish people. As such, it is terribly important that he not intentionally or unintentionally de-legitimize a rabbi who for millions of Jews is the primary Jewish figure, leader and teacher in their lives."

Yoffie has refused to meet Katsav during a current visit to Israel. Another delegation of Reform Jewish leaders recently cancelled a meeting with Katsav when he refused their requests to address the rabbinical leader of that delegation as "rabbi".

Reform Jews believe that Jewish customs and traditions should be adapted to the modern world. Some Reform rabbis drive on the Sabbath and some even eat pork, practices strictly forbidden under Orthodox Judaism.

Orthodox rabbinical leaders, who wield enormous power in Israel, have long fought against attempts to allow Reform rabbis to have the right to conduct marriage ceremonies, funerals and other religious rites in Israel.

They accuse Reform leaders of watering down Judaism and violating sacred religious tenets such as the strict observance of the Jewish Sabbath.

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches]

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