Photo: Amit Shabi
Women's protest prayer
Photo: Amit Shabi
Noah Klieger
No need for Reform Jews to demand others 'fix' their religion
Op-ed: I personally observe very few religious commandments, but it seems out of place for Reform Jews living in the US, the vast majority of whom have never even visited the Jewish state, to kick up a fuss about egalitarian prayer services, demand that inter-faith marriages be recognized and that Orthodox Judaism march with the times. There is nothing wrong with holding on to millennial-old traditions.
Many years ago, a delegation of Reform Jews visited Israel who took part in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth. Our own. After the guests explained their positions and their beliefs, the then editor-in-chief, the late Dov Judkowski asked the editors of the newspaper to give their opinions.



Since the guests explained to us that their position is that the Jewish religion must march with the times and be more liberal—for example repeal laws on intermarriage and recognize marriages in which the wife is not Jewish and has not converted—and in other words, get rid of laws which are from a bygone era and which have no place in the world in which we live, I asked for permission to speak.


Women of the Wall (Photo: Amit Shabi)
Women of the Wall (Photo: Amit Shabi)

I told the guests that these were the exact same arguments as those put forth by Paul the Apostle, commonly known as Saint Paul and also known by his Jewish name Saul of Tarsus.


He was one of the central figures in the establishment and spreading of Christianity, who many see to this day as the true founder, and I added: “He too, only wanted to simplify the Jewish religion and adapt in to the spirit of the times.”


There is no need to explain today what the disciples and followers of Saul of Tarsus brought about for Judaism. Expulsion, pogroms, demographic destruction, humiliation and oppression and the murder of millions of Jews has followed since the exile after the destruction of the Second Temple until the Holocaust. Anti-Semitism and hate crimes have never to this very day.


 (Photo: Amit Shabi)
(Photo: Amit Shabi)


I do not observe all 613 commandments, only a small number of them, such as kashrut (dietary laws) and fast days, but I absolutely object to the religious reforms which are demanded by many Jews who live in the US and in other countries. Obviously, I also categorically reject smaller circles of zealots who do not recognize the State of Israel, in which some of them even live. But these extremists do not represent the Jewish religion and certainly not its foundations.


In a poll that was conducted recently by the American Jewish Committee, a deep rift was exposed between Jews living in the US and in Israel. Only 12 percent of the American Jews polled described the relationship between US Jewry and Israel’s Jews as “family” and around one third stated that they felt no felt no closeness with Jews in Israel.


 (Photo: Women of the Wall)
(Photo: Women of the Wall)


I would add to this poll a few questions that did not appear in it. For example, how many of the American Jews had visited Israel? According to various surveys, fewer than 20 percent have done so. In other words, the majority of them have not even bothered to visit the state of the Jewish people, in which more than 6.5 million of them live today. And how many Reform Jews made Aliyah to Israel? It is better not to mention the numbers.


A vast majority, 90 percent of American Jews who immigrated to Israel—and they are welcome—are Orthodox Zionists who wish to live with their brethren without being required to “fix” their religion.


So what is all the noise about surrounding the joint prayer services at the Western Wall, or surrounding the recognition of converts or other Reform and Conservative marriages? I do not know of any Jew who died as a result of separate prayer services or marriages that took place in the Rabbinate. In my opinion and that of the majority of Israelis—the majority of whom do not observe the commandments at all—this is a tradition of thousands of years, and what is wrong with preserving our ancient tradition?


פרסום ראשון: 08.31.18, 23:51
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