It’s enough already. Prime Minister Netanyahu ought to do more than simply condemn the words of the Israeli Minister of the Interior, David Azoulay, who said recently that “there’s a problem” with Reform Jews: “As soon as a Reform Jew stops following the religion of Israel […] I can’t allow myself to say that such a person is a Jew.”
Mr. Azoulay (MK – Shas) is a minister in the government of the state of Israel. The state of Israel, as PM Netanyahu has said clearly is “home to all Jews.” Not only is Bibi right, but 59% of Israel’s Jews agree. They did not intend to elect a religious bigot into the government, and therefore any minister that deliberately does harm to the people of Israel ought not to serve and be dismissed from such service.
I appreciate both PM Netanyahu’s and President Rivlin’s efforts to affirm the best that is the democratic state of Israel, but neither (in my view) has done enough.
As I indicated in a former blog, Ruvi Rivlin is my 2nd cousin once-removed through his father’s side of the family, the late Yosef Rivlin. He has another cousin who is a Reform Rabbi as well, Rabbi Laura Novak Winer also on his father’s side of the family. But having two Reform Rabbis in the President’s family does not limit this issue to simply being a family affair.
This is a national peoplehood affair, and I would hope that what my cousin President Rivlin has done so wonderfully on behalf of democracy and equal rights for all Arab citizens of Israel, that he will do for the Jewish people as well. We deserve nothing less, and I know that he has the heart and mind to understand and do what is right.
I believe that PM Netanyahu does as well – and so, it is time for him to put the people of Israel first and ahead of the interests of Israel’s right wing ultra-Orthodox movements.
See the following two articles in Haaretz and the New York Times on this issue:
1. “Netanyahu rejects minister’s ‘hurtful’ claim Reform Jews can’t be called Jews: Prime Minister summons ultra-Orthodox religious affairs minister following remarks, says they do not reflect position of government and that ‘Israel is home to all Jews.’” By Haaretz | Jul. 7, 2015 | 6:33 PM – http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel/1.664876
2. Israeli Minister Says Reform Jews Are Not Really Jewish – By ISABEL KERSHNER JULY 7, 2015 – http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/08/world/middleeast/israeli-minister-says-reform-jews-are-not-really-jewish.html?_r=0
Rabbi Laura said:
Three Reform rabbis in the family. 🙂
Beth and i read the NYT article this morning. Easy to get really depressed. I can’t imagine what David Siegel at the Consulate is thinking. I have quietly said to Josh and Bennett that the setback in Israel is nothing to be happy about, but it does demonstrate how urgent our work is.
Are you up for lunch or such in the next month or so? I am separately reaching out to Stanley Davids who is returning from Israel shortly.
All the best,
Rabbi Michael (Micky) Boyden said:
I can understand why David Azoulai M.K.’s comments about Reform Jews upset many. His remarks were insulting and ill-befitted a minister in the government of the State of Israel. However, ministers don’t resign easily and don’t get fired when Bibi Netanyahu desperately needs their votes in order to keep his fragile coalition together.
As a Reform rabbi devoted to developing our Movement in Israel, Azoulai’s words don’t touch me. This morning I officiated at a Bar Mitzvah ceremony at Kehilat Yonatan and this evening I shall be officiating at a wedding. Actions speak louder than words.That is why Azoulai and his like feel so threatened.
While I sympathize with Reform Jews who feel insulted by his remarks, it is not enough for them to raise their voices in protest. What we need is to encourage them to help us strengthen our flourishing Movement in Israel.
Right now we at Kehilat Yonatan are still looking for just a further $350,000 to start building a permanent home for our congregation in Hod Hasharon and thereby prevent city hall from withdrawing its land allocation. If each Reform Jew were to contribute a dollar, we would be up and running!
Creating facts on the ground is the most effective way to counter the likes of David Azoulai.