Masorti groups to avoid hotels denying Torahs
Conservative Movement says groups encounter difficulty trying to use Torah scrolls for mixed-gender, egalitarian services.
Torah scroll. Photo: Stockbyte
The Rabbinical Assembly, an international association of Conservative rabbis,
announced last week at its annual conference in Atlanta that it would be
advising all Conservative and Masorti Jewish groups to patronize only those
hotels that make their Torah scrolls available for them to use. Masorti
is the name given to the Conservative movement outside of North
The association said that Conservative groups frequently
encounter difficulties when trying to use the Torah scrolls of hotels they are
staying in for mixed-gender, egalitarian services, which members of this stream
The organization called on the Israel Hotel Association to
“treat Jews of all denominations equally and to afford Jews and all groups of
non-Orthodox streams any of the rights and privileges afforded Orthodox guests,
including the use of a synagogue and a Sefer Torah [Torah
However, an Israel Hotel Association spokeswoman denied the
accusations and said that no such problem existed – adding that although a very
small number of such incidents occurred in the past, they had been dealt with
and there was nothing new to the claims.
Rabbi Andrew Sacks, the director
of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel, called the IHA’s response “highly
insulting and inappropriate.”
“For her to suggest that this doesn’t
happen means that either she is unaware of what’s going on, or she is not being
In March, The Jerusalem Post reported on an
incident at the Shef Hotel at Kibbutz Shefayim in which a group of Conservative
youth were denied the use of the hotel’s Torah scroll.
requested it for the service they were conducting in a private room, but the
hotel’s religious supervisor informed them they could only use it if their
service was not mixed and they would not call women up to the Torah.
hotel spokeswoman said at the time that it was hotel policy to ask any group
that wants to conduct their own service to provide their own Torah scroll,
regardless of religious stream.