Israel's Ashkenazi chief rabbi: Split with Diaspora 'fake news'

David Lau says accusations regarding a lack of access to the main Western Wall plaza were “lies and falsehood.”

July 10, 2017 10:46
2 minute read.
David Lau



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Chief Rabbi David Lau described reports of a split with Diaspora Jewry over the cancelled Western Wall agreement and controversial conversion legislation as “fake news” at an economics and business conference of the Hamodia haredi newspaper.

Lau claimed that 80 percent of Diaspora Jews do not visit Israel, asserted that progressive Jews have full access to pray at the main Western Wall plaza, and said that accusations regarding a lack of access were “lies and falsehood.”

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“They don’t come to pray at the Western Wall, they don’t come at all,” alleged the chief rabbi.

Lau's remarks came two weeks after the government's decision in late June to indefinitely freeze its Western Wall resolution and approve a bill granting the Chief Rabbinate a total monopoly on conversion spurred outrage from liberal Jews around the world.

The delivery of the divisive decisions were seen as fierce and stinging blows to progressive Jewish denominations in Israel and the Diaspora, as well as moderate Orthodox groups in Israel.

The cabinet decision to repeal the resolution creating a state-recognized egalitarian prayer section at the southern end of the Western Wall put an end to dreams of the Reform and Conservative movements for a grand site for their worshipers at the heart of the Jewish people.

Lau's comments also came after details of a blacklist compiled by the Chief Rabbinate of some 160 rabbis from around the world emerged on Sunday spurring further controversy.

Among those on the list were several prominent Orthodox rabbinical leaders, including “open Orthodox” leader Rabbi Avi Weiss and one of the founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. Those on the list include rabbis whose authority to approve Jewish and marital status the Chief Rabbinate rejects.

Graduates of haredi (ultra-Orthodox) yeshivot are also on the blacklist, along with Conservative and Reform rabbis.

Following its emergence, Lau strongly denounced the blacklist, stating that he had no knowledge of it until Sunday, and that it was the work of the clerk in charge of the Marriage and Conversion Department, who created it without proper authorization.

In a letter to Chief Rabbinate director-general Moshe Dagan, Lau said he was “astonished to discover this list,” that it was “unthinkable” a clerk would create such a document of his own accord, and demanded that the clerk be reprimanded.

It has been known for years that the Chief Rabbinate rejects the credentials of some Orthodox rabbis from the Diaspora. That has caused significant problems for some immigrants, especially those from the US, when they register for marriage in Israel.

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