Non-Orthodox US rabbis will block senior Israeli gov’t ministers from speaking

Hundreds of non-Orthodox American rabbis have pledged to block “extremist” ministers from addressing their communities, JTA reports.

By World Israel News Staff

More than 330 rabbis representing Judaism’s Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist denominations have stated, in an open letter, their intention to prevent Religious Zionism members of the new Israeli government from addressing their communities, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported.

The rabbis – none of them Orthodox – will not invite those politicians “to speak at our congregations and organizations. We will speak out against their participation in other fora across our communities. We will encourage the boards of our congregations and organizations to join us in this protest as a demonstration of our commitment to our Jewish and democratic values.”

Prominent signatories to the letter include “current and former members of the boards of rabbis in Chicago and Los Angeles; rabbis who lead the largest Conservative and Reform congregations in the Washington, D.C., area; former leaders of major Reform and Conservative movement bodies; the current leader of the Reconstructionist movement; and the rector of the Conservative movement’s Los Angeles-based American Jewish University,” JTA noted.

The letter was organized by David Teutsch, a leading Reconstructionist rabbi in Philadelphia, and John Rosove, the rabbi emeritus of Temple Israel in Los Angeles, according to JTA.

Earlier this month, former ADL director Abe Foxman slammed Netanyahu’s coalition partners, going as far as to tell The Jerusalem Post that “if Israel ceases to be an open democracy, I won’t be able to support it.”

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“I never thought that I would reach that point where I would say that my support of Israel is conditional. I’ve always said that [my support of Israel] is unconditional, but it’s conditional,” he added.

“I don’t think that it’s a horrific condition to say: ‘I love Israel and I want to love Israel as a Jewish and democratic state that respects pluralism.’ I want Israel to be Jewish, absolutely. But I want it to be a democracy.”

Zionist Organization of America National President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Director of Research & Special Projects Liz Berney blasted Foxman for his comments, saying they proved he is an “attack dog of the thought police.”

Kelin and Berney said that Foxman “absurdly claimed that his views constitute democracy – rather than the voices of Israel’s democratic electorate, including the well over [500,000] Israelis who voted for the Religious Zionist party. Apparently… according to Foxman, ‘it’s only democracy when the Left wins.’”

In the November 1st national election, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu won 64 of the 120 Knesset seats, ending the stalemate after four previous elections within three years. The Religious Zionism bloc, led by party leader Bezalel Smotrich and Otzma Yehudit head Itamar Ben-Gvir, won an unprecedented 14 seats.

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Indeed, the growing split between Diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel has been ongoing for the last several years.

As noted by Jonathan Tobin of Jewish News Syndicate this past September, “when a letter published in the Forward, signed by dozens of rabbinic and cantorial students at Reform and Conservative seminaries denouncing Israeli self-defense and expressing solidarity with the Palestinians, it seemed to mark a turning point in the discussion.”