'If Reform kept out, US Jews drop Israel support'

US Jewish coalition visits to pressure Israel to create non-observant 'alternatives' to Chief Rabbinate; 'Judaism a universal matter.'

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Reform Women of the Wall (illustration)
Reform Women of the Wall (illustration)

Dov Zakheim, head of the Jewish Religious Equality Coalition (J-REC), is currently leading a delegation of American Jewish leaders visiting Israel, on a trip meant to pressure the Jewish state into creating "alternatives" to the Chief Rabbinate.

Zakheim said Thursday during his visit, which will including meetings with MKs and social activists, that "appropriating Judaism to Israel alone is a danger to the security of Israel."

"The calls of certain groups in Israel against Judaism in America, placing doubt on the Jewish nature of certain streams, and the continued acts against them are a division that will cause a drop in support of American Jewry for Israel," threatened the J-REC head, who previously served as Undersecretary of Defense to President George W. Bush.

"Judaism is a universal matter, and not only an internal matter of the state of Israel. Instead of defining Judaism according to the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate of Israel, (Israel) should open to other streams and fight its monopoly on Judaism," concluded Zakheim.

His statements come on the background of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to the US, during which he said he was initiating unprecedented measures to support non-Orthodox Jewish streams in Israel. The statements were met with a fierce backlash in Israel. 

Unlike Orthodox Judaism, the Reform and Conservative movements do not adhere strictly to Jewish law, and in most cases actively deny aspects (or all of) the Torah. This was highlighted last week, when the Reform movement launched an extreme new pro-transgender policy.

J-REC was founded by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) back in 2014 and is a coalition of 13 Jewish organizations, ranging from Orthodox, to Conservative and Reform.

The American organization aims to cancel the "monopoly" of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel by creating "alternate" institutions that do not adhere to Jewish law.

In a statement, J-REC claimed "Judaism is a topic that crosses borders, is international, which the state of Israel does not have sole responsibility for. ...Creating an alternative to the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate is an essential element in strengthening the relations between Israel and American Judaism."

J-REC added that it uses diplomatic and governmental means "to pressure Israel to advance alternatives to the Chief Rabbinate," and that the current visit, which is the first of its kind, is also meant to advance this pressure.