The ultra-Orthodox parties in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s razor-thin coalition government were not amused by the promises he made Tuesday at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America regarding Reform Judaism’s future in Israel. Quite unbeknownst to them, the prime minister said that Conservative and Reform Jews would always have a home in Israel and that he had set up a government panel to address their religious rights, and that “Now, for the first time, together with the Jewish Agency, we will invest directly in the development and fostering of Conservative and Reform communities in Israel.”
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) said that the statement is contrary to the promises of the Prime Minister to his party. “The Prime Minister’s statement favoring the Reform hurt us and contradict explicitly the coalition agreement he signed with us. Throughout the generations, we’ve known that the Reform and Conservative are tearing apart the Jewish nation, and we mustn’t give them a hand to harm the Torah of Israel. It’s sad that the prime minister made the statement and we will do everything in our power to make sure that his promise will not be kept,” Minister Litzman said.
MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) announced that “the Reform stick a knife in the Torah of Israel. What Netanyahu said is very serious and we will demand clarifications when he return to Israel.”
Shas chairman MK Yoav Ben-Tzur said that “the position of faithful Judaism regarding the Reform movement is known, and we oppose it altogether. This position of ours will not change.”
Netanyahu also told the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America that he would ensure that all Jews – Reform, Conservative and Orthodox – would feel at home in Israel. He also said he would ensure the “Kotel is a source of unity for our people and not a source for division.”
Director General of Israel’s Reform movement, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, welcomed Netanyahu’s promises, saying. “The prime minister’s announcement must be a first step on the road to canceling the ongoing discrimination against the Reform and Conservative communities in Israel.”