Haredim fume as Reform Movement takes victory lap

Massive Reform delegation invited to Knesset, visits planned Kotel plaza as haredim plan response.

David Rosenberg,

Reform Jews (illustration)
Reform Jews (illustration)
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Following a series of political victories in Israel, the Reform Movement in Israel welcomed a delegation of 330 North American Reform rabbis.

The delegation visited the Western Wall Thursday morning to celebrate the government’s recent decision granting the Reform Movement’s request for a mixed-gender prayer space along the Wall.

On Wednesday the delegation were received at the Knesset as guests in an official meeting of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs. Committee Chairmman Avraham Naguisa (Likud) welcomed the group to the committee meeting.

Gilad Kariv, director of the Reform Movement in Israel, praised the Knesset visit, calling it a “historic moment” and part of the “quiet revolution” to reshape the religious status quo in Israel.

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) saluted the delegates, citing the inclusion of female rabbis as proof that “there is more than one way to be a Jew or Jewess”, and said she hoped that working with the Reform Movement they would succeed in “the struggle for public transportation on Shabbat and [non-Orthodox] conversion”.

Haredi leaders, on the other hand, fumed at what they alleged amounted to de facto government recognition of the Reform Movement, a deviation from the decades-old religious status quo.

The offices of the Chief Rabbis held emergency meetings following the Reform delegation’s visit, just days after United Torah Judaism leaders threatened to break with the coalition over recognition of the Reform Movement.

As the meeting convened, the Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef rejected the planned changes to the Western Wall plaza, insisting that the Chief Rabbis must be consulted for any major changes to the holy site.