Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said Sunday night that he would be convening an
emergency meeting of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate next week to discuss the
state’s recent recognition of non-Orthodox rabbis and its decision to pay their
“With God’s help, a great voice [of protest] will come out against
this shameful phenomenon in which they [non-Orthodox rabbis] insist on
describing themselves as rabbis at the same time as they uproot the foundations
of Judaism,” Amar told haredi radio station Kol Berama.
“We have tried to
explain the great damage they cause,” he continued. “There is a great danger
here to the Jewish people. It is well known that the greatest danger in our
times is assimilation and they recklessly enable this phenomenon.”
month, the Attorney-General’s Office announced that the state would recognize
non-Orthodox rabbis working in regional council jurisdictions, kibbutzim and
other small communities as “rabbis of non-Orthodox communities,” and would fund
their wages from state coffers.
This decision came in response to notice
from the High Court of Justice that unless the state changed it’s position, it
would issue a ruling in favor of the non- Orthodox Jewish groups who filed a
petition with the court against the state on this matter back in
Orthodox rabbis serve in state-funded positions such as rabbis of
cities, towns and neighborhoods. Non-Orthodox rabbis have been excluded from
such positions, and the attorney-general’s decision covers only positions in
small municipal jurisdictions.
Several non-Orthodox movements have
already petitioned the High Court to allow non-Orthodox rabbis to be selected
for positions in larger jurisdictions as well.
In addition to convening
the Council of the Chief Rabbinate, Amar will also be inviting rabbis from
across the country to participate in the meeting in order to form a broad
coalition against state recognition of non- Orthodox rabbis.
Amar’s comments was strong, with non- Orthodox groups condemning him as
unrepresentative of Israeli society and the broader Jewish
Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Reform Movement in
Israel, called for Amar to resign, and until then to internalize the principles
“Amar’s intentions to work against the decision of the
state, supported by the High Court of Justice, proves how much the Chief
Rabbinate has lost its state function and how much it is disconnected from the
heart of broader Israeli society, which is fed up with the Orthodox
Reform Rabbi Uri Regev, head of the Hiddush religious- freedom
lobbying group, added to this theme saying that Amar’s proposal was “proof of
how disconnected the rabbinate is from the values of democracy, the rule of law
Regev accused Amar of seeking to recruit rabbis in a
struggle against “the majority of the Jewish people, which is non-Orthodox” and
putting Israel on a “collision course with the Jewish people.”
Hass, head of the Masorti Movement – the branch of Conservative Judaism in
Israel – said in response that Amar was abusing his position as a state official
to promote hatred instead of respect, and was responsible for the declining
perception of the rabbinate.