Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar's message against the Reform Movement is not going unanswered. Leaders of the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel sent an urgent letter on Sunday to President Shimon Peres demanded that he intervene immediately against the inflammatory statements Amar wrote in a message to Israel's rabbis.
According to the Reform leaders, the chief rabbi is abusing his position to express ideas bordering on incitement against Jewish communities throughout the world and is doing so in an extremist and crass manner.
Chairman of Progressive Rabbis Rabbi Meir Azari, Chair of Progressive Judaism in Israel Attorney Yaron Shavit, and Movement of Progressive Judaism Chairman Gilad Kariv quoted from Amar's message in their letter in which he said that Reform Jews are "sinking their talons" in the citizens of Israel. The Reform leaders asserted, "Between this language and the vocabulary befitting a rabbi and leader in Israel, there are many miles."
"This is a direct continuation of the chief rabbi's crass statements against the non-Orthodox movements that were made just weeks ago on the matter of conversion legislation," added the Reform leaders. "Then, as now, the chief rabbi chose to stoke dispute in Israel and serve as a divisive force, instead of a unifying one."
In their letter, the Progressive Judaism leaders claimed that including such statements in a public letter distributed en masse testifies to the rabbi's intentions of spreading his message "to the four corners of the earth and the Jewish world."
The Movement for Progressive Judaism views the statements made as particularly egregious in light of Amar's position as a State official. "Without addressing the legal and disciplinary aspects of such statements, abusing an official government position in order to spread crass messages against entire communities within the nation of Israel and Israeli society deserves denunciation.
"Such a move is clear proof that the leadership of the Chief Rabbinate has lost the capacity to serve as a unifying force that represents the traditions of Israel in Israeli society and the Diaspora of the Jewish people."
In the name of their members in Jewish communities throughout the world, the Reform leaders demanded President Peres denounce Amar's statements and to take action with the leadership of the Orthodox leadership in order to cease "the ugly and damaging incitement."
"We believe that world Jewry and Jews in Israel crave a voice that unifies, not divides, that draws close, not incites, that is tolerant, and not inflammatory ahead of the new year," concluded the leaders. "There is no doubt in our hearts that such a voice should be the voice of the president of the State of Israel, who was and still is the home of all communities within the Jewish people."
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