Shas rabbi: Russians are heretics, Reform destroying Judaism

Rabbi Meir Mazuz, a Shas political leader, said in a weekly sermon that Israelis of Russian origin are heretics and Reform Jews have destroyed Judaism.

 Rabbi Meir Mazuz speaks at the campaign opening event of "Yachad Political party" in Bnei Brak, March 12, 2019. (photo credit: AHARON KROHN/FLASH90)
Rabbi Meir Mazuz speaks at the campaign opening event of "Yachad Political party" in Bnei Brak, March 12, 2019.
(photo credit: AHARON KROHN/FLASH90)

Rabbi Meir Mazuz, a prominent spiritual and Shas Party leader, accused Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Reform Jews on Saturday of attacking Jewish values.

“Liberman comes from Russia,” Mazuz said, though Liberman actually comes from Moldova. “In Russia there is no religion, there is nothing. Russians are heretics... They blabber what they want.”

“In Russia there are professors, but here [they] know nothing. There they develop nuclear capabilities (gar’een), and here they sell seeds (gar’eenim). And where did that get them? They starved to death. Any person who says something gets sent to Siberia in darkness and despair.”

Speaking at his weekly Saturday night sermon, Mazuz said that there are those in Russia who do care about the Jewish people, citing as an example one of Russia’s chief rabbis, Berel Lazar, who “did some very good things.”

“He went to Dubai, brought some observant Jews, and for the first time in history a wedding was held in Dubai, based on Halacha. And the Arabs say, ‘How nice! Look at this nation!’”

 Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman seen during a plenum session and a vote on the state budget at the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem on November 3, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman seen during a plenum session and a vote on the state budget at the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem on November 3, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Mazuz then shifted to denouncing Reform Judaism.

“Those Reform Jews destroyed Judaism,” he said. “They are neither blessed nor cursed. On one side a priest, and on the other a rabbi. One blesses and the other curses. This brought destruction onto Israel.”

Mazuz is a political leader and haredi Sephardi rabbi in Israel, dean of the Kisse Rahamim Yeshiva and the son of the rabbi and judge of Tunis, Rabbi Matzliah Mazuz. He is considered the spiritual leader of Tunisian Jews, and was the spiritual patron of former Shas chairman Eli Yishai, who in 2013 lost a leadership battle to current Shas leader Arye Deri.

Mazuz has a history of making racist and anti-LGBT comments. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, he blamed the LGBTQ community for the virus’s spread.

“We are strict about the words of the Torah by washing hands and the rest of the commandments,” Mazuz said at the time. “This pride parade is a parade against nature, and anyone who does something against nature, the one who created nature takes revenge on him. When you do things against nature, you place your hand in the fire and pray that the fire doesn’t burn you? It burns you! Here they are doing [something] against nature in impertinence: the pride parade. What are you proud of?”

Mazuz claimed that all countries that have pride parades had been affected by the virus, but those Arab countries that did not have pride parades did not have the virus, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and a number of other countries throughout the Middle East.

During the March 2021 election, Mazuz praised religious-Zionist leader Rabbi Zvi Tau, the spiritual patron of the anti-LGBT Noam Party. Noam united with the far-right Otzma Yehudit Party, which then joined Bezalel Smotrich’s National Union to form the Religious Zionist Party.