Chief Rabbi Yosef: Reform, Conservative Judaism is a new religion

"Have you ever seen a Reformer [Jew] who repented? I didn't see any, there are none. They feel they are okay; that they have a religion, but they have a new religion."

 Israel's Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef speaks during a ceremony of the Israeli police for the Jewish new year at the National Headquarters of the Israel Police in Jerusalem on September 22, 2022. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Israel's Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef speaks during a ceremony of the Israeli police for the Jewish new year at the National Headquarters of the Israel Police in Jerusalem on September 22, 2022.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef criticized, yet again, Reform and Conservative Jews during his weekly class on Saturday night, saying they represent “a new religion” and are actively “uprooting our Torah.”

“They have their own religion; a new religion,” Yosef said of Reform and Conservative Jews. “There is no difference between the Reform and the Conservative. They are both the same.”

Yosef emphasized that Reform and Conservative Jews are “both Shabbat-violators and actively uprooting our Torah,” adding again that they were “a new religion.”

A secular Jew can be returned; a Reform Jew cannot

According to the chief rabbi’s class, which was broadcast on the Kikar HaShabbat ultra-Orthodox news website, it is better to interact with secular Jews and to try and bring them closer to religion, than it is to interact with Reform or Conservative Jews.

“A secular person can become a ba’al teshuva [a Jew who returns to religion after following a secular lifestyle]. He can be brought closer. He knows he is secular. He knows he is wrong. There are many who have returned to God.”

 Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef at the Western Wall. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef at the Western Wall. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Yosef later asked, “Have you ever seen a Reform Jew who repented? I didn’t see any. There are none. They feel they are okay, that they have a religion, [but I think they] have a new religion.”

Yosef added that Orthodox Jews should refrain from anything that might resemble a custom of Reform Jews.

“Everything that resembles the Reform I disagree with,” he said.

He disclosed that he had told Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites, “not to allow them [Reform Jews] to light candles at the Western Wall by women.”

The Reform movement said in response, “It is not possible that a rabbi whose salary is paid by the public disparages the liberal Jewish public, including Israeli men and women who belong to the Reform and Conservative movements. It is appropriate that the chief rabbi of Israel should understand that there is more than one way to be a Jew and not exclude millions of Jews from the nation of Israel.

“The incitement and humiliation of entire audiences in Israel by the chief rabbi of Israel is particularly outrageous, and in this matter we await the High Court’s decision regarding the disciplinary prosecution of the chief rabbi.

“On the eve of Hanukkah, it is worth stating, once again, that the Western Wall is not the private courtyard of the rabbi of the Western Wall or the chief rabbi, but a national and religious site that belongs to all the people of Israel.

“Instead of spreading darkness as the chief rabbi is doing and thereby alienating Jews from Judaism, we will continue to spread the light of pluralistic, egalitarian and respectful Judaism.”