“A Reform grandfather = an assimilated father = a goy grandson,” reads a provocative ad that was placed on a bridge overlooking the Ayalon Highway, facing the shopping mall in Ramat Gan on Wednesday.
The ad is sponsored by the recently created Hazon ("Vision") organization. It launched the campaign in opposition to recent statements by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism that, “I still hear people speak of interfaith-marriage as if it’s a disease, a marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew must not be seen as a failure.”
Hazon is focused on promoting the importance of Jewish values in the State of Israel. Ahead of the April 9 elections, it is running a petition that has already garnered 120,000 signatures and is meant to be submitted to candidates of all parties. The petition states the importance of Jewish values in the State of Israel, such as Shabbat as a day of rest and the status of the Western Wall, in addition to issues of marriage and divorce.
“More and more Israelis seek out our synagogues and our rabbis as preferable [to other forms of Judaism]," said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, in response to the ad.
According to Kariv, the ad reflects the “growing Israeli public that is actively seeking a tolerant, multi-faceted and equality-driven form of Judaism,” such as Reform Judaism.
Kariv called on rabbinical leaders and haredi party leaders to disassociate themselves from the ad, warning that verbal aggression might lead to actual violence.
Blue and White Party co-leader Yair Lapid said that “Reform Judaism is an inseparable part of the Jewish people and no ad, as big as it may be, will change that.”
Lapid is known for holding liberal Jewish values, officiating in weddings and supporting cremation as a legitimate Jewish burial option, which he wrote about when he was a journalist at Yediot Aharonot and for Channel 2 news.
Jewish Agency leader Isaac Herzog warned the ads could spark a “strange, dangerous fire” and called on all political parties to “maintain the unity of the Jewish people,” referring to the divisiveness that caused the sons of the High Priest Aaron to be swallowed up by the earth when they spoke evil of their brothers.
Labor leader Avi Gabbay also reacted strongly to the ads, calling them “shameful” and “abnormal.” He said that the demise of the Jewish people will be those ““who think you have ownership over God.”