Rabbi David Lau
Rabbi David Lau Flash 90

Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau on Wednesday morning criticized Jewish Home chairperson and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, over the latter's recent publicized visit to a Conservative movement school in New York.

In an interview with Kol Chai radio, Rabbi Lau spoke about the Conservative Jewish movement and warned of the dangers of assimilation inherent in its path, which does not adhere to halakha (Jewish law) and to a large degree rejects the divine nature of the Torah, leaving open individual reinterpretation.

"We must continue educating Jews and explaining to them about the true values of the Jewish tradition and the Jewish people," said Rabbi Lau. "Don't forget, in nearly every Jewish family you will find a religious grandfather or a haredi grandfather, or even a grandfather who was a rabbi."

"You won't find many families with a Conservative grandfather. That is to say, in the end when we speak about the future, Orthodoxy is the path," he stated, indicating the high assimilation rates among Conservative and Reform Jews, particularly in the US where that figure is roughly 50%.

The chief rabbi emphasized that "Conservative Jews are certainly Jews, but again, not because of their value-based identity. We must tell them clearly: if you continue on this path, you will lose your children and grandchildren."

Rabbi Lau then voiced his opposition to Bennett's visit to the Solomon Shechter Conservative school in New York.

"We need to ask Bennett if he consulted with a rabbi before this meeting, and I very much fear that he didn't, because this conduct isn't acceptable to the Jewish people."

"When you speak before a general public then certainly you won't ask if everyone in the audience is Orthodox, but to speak in advance with a community that is indicated (as Conservative) and to recognize it and its path, when this path distances Jews from the path of Israel, is forbidden," stated the rabbi.

"If Minister Bennett had asked my opinion before the visit, I would have told him explicitly that 'you can't go to a place where the education distances Jews from the tradition, from the past and the future of the Jewish people,'" concluded Rabbi Lau.

For their part, Jewish Home party sources have noted that Bennett wasn't seeking to validate the Conservative Movement's ideology, but that his visit was part of efforts to reach out to American Jews in general - the overwhelming majority of whom are non-Orthodox.

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