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War of Words

'Condescending attitude.' Reform rabbi (archives) Photo: Omer Hacohen
'Condescending attitude.' Reform rabbi (archives) Photo: Omer Hacohen

Women Reform rabbis: Stop the hatred

In response to rabbis' wives letter calling on Jewish women not to date Arabs, dozens of women rabbis sign letter saying 'we must block attempts by hate mongers, fanatics to take advantage of our fear'

Kobi Nahshoni
Published: 12.30.10, 14:23 / Israel Jewish Scene

Dozens of female rabbis belonging to the Reform movement called out against a letter drafted by 27 wives of prominent rabbis calling on Jewish women not to date Arabs, work in places where Arabs are employed or volunteer for National Service with them.


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In their own letter, the Reform rabbis said the wives' call was aimed at excluding Arab-Israelis from workplaces and entertainment hubs. "We, rabbis of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, oppose interfaith marriages, but we consider professional and social contacts between us and all of Israel's citizens and residents to be positive – regardless of race, religion or sex," the letter read.


The Reform rabbis accused the wives of racism and hatred towards the country's Arab citizens. The rabbis also criticized the wives' "condescending attitude" towards Israel's girls, claiming they are being portrayed as "weak."


The rabbis further claimed that by addressing their letter to women only, the wives were perpetuating male chauvinism.


"Jews who are confidant in their Jewish identity do not have to fear contact with people from other nations," the letter drafted by the Reform rabbis read. "Dialogue and social contact between Jews and non-Jews are the foundations of a healthy society. The way to strengthen the Jewish identity of our sons and daughters is through education, not incitement and fear.


"To our sons and daughters we say: We returned to our historic homeland after 200 years in exile to establish a Jewish and democratic state. It is time that we stop being afraid. It is time that we block the attempts by hate mongers and fanatics to take advantage of our fear. There is no point to our heritage if we don't observe the mitzvah of being good Jews who are worthy of God's image in which we were created," the Reform rabbis said in the letter.



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