Reform Judaism head slams law enshrining Israel’s Jewish character

The head of the Reform movement in America sharply criticized the Israeli government for passing a law that enshrines Israel’s Jewish character in law. 

By: World Israel News Staff

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, slammed the Israeli government for enshrining Israel’s Jewish character in law.

“This is a sad and unnecessary day for Israeli democracy,” Jacobs, head of American Jewry’s Reform movement, said after the law was passed Wednesday night, according to a statement posted on the Internet site of the Reform Movement in the US.

“The damage that will be done by this new nation-state law to the legitimacy of the Zionist vision and to the values of the State of Israel as a democratic—and Jewish—nation is enormous,” he stated.

Jacobs did not provide an explanation for why the law would do so much damage to Zionism’s legitimacy.

However, he did say that the law would hurt Jewish-Arab relations.

“The Israel Reform Movement and the North American Reform Movement passionately oppose this new law because of the harmful effect on Jewish-Arab relations in Israel, as well as its negative impact on the balance between the various core founding values of the State of Israel,” he said.

Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, has criticized the legislation, saying it would alienate young Jews. Outgoing chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky said the law would drive a wedge between Israel and the Diaspora.

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Jacobs, Silverman, Sharansky and others concerned about how the legislation will be perceived by Jews seem to be focused primarily on liberal-minded Jews who tend to more critical of Israel’s present government, which enjoys a strong majority of Israeli support.

One of the most controversial clauses in the law. which would have bypassed a 2000 High Court decision that ruled it illegal to create all-Jewish communities in Israel, was removed.

Another clause that retains Arabic’s special status in Israel but puts it on a lower level than Hebrew was seen as discriminatory.