The Union for Reform Judaism awarded one of its highest honors to an Orthodox rabbi, the late David Hartman, at the opening plenary of the union’s biennial conference in San Diego.

On Wednesday evening, the union’s president, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, presented the Alexander M. Schindler World Jewry Award to Hartman’s son, Rabbi Donniel Hartman, president of the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and, like his father, an Orthodox-ordained rabbi.

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In accepting the prize, Hartman hailed the persistence of Zionist sentiment among Reform Jews despite Israel’s treatment of Reform Judaism, saying, “The truth is you should have walked away from Israel a long time ago.”

“How much insult, how much alienation, how much lack of respect should a person take before they say enough and walk away?” Hartman said. “Your love for Israel is measured in the fact that you’re willing to fight for it.”

In presenting the Schindler award, Jacobs credited David Hartman with inspiring him to become a Reform rabbi.

“David taught us to question traditional beliefs,” Jacobs said.

Nearly 5,000 people are attending the Reform biennial, the first since Jacobs took over the helm of the movement a year and a half ago.

The Wednesday evening presentation included a video message from Vice President Joe Biden, who said he had been asked by President Obama to give a shout-out to Reform’s youth movement, NFTY, the National Federation of Temple Youth.

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