Rabbi Stav
Rabbi StavYoni Kempinski

Chairman of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization Rabbi David Stav responded this morning to comments made by Minister Aryeh Deri against a number of senior religious Zionist rabbis within the context of their struggle with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

Speaking with Reshet Bet, Rabbi Stav said, “I don’t think that you expect that, at the beginning of the month of Elul, the month of forgiveness and mercy, a rabbi heading an organization of hundreds of rabbis working day and night to sanctify life would react to the words of any activist convicted of criminal offenses who dares to slander an entire public and a rabbinical organization numbering hundreds of rabbis. We didn’t convene for the sake of responding to convicted criminals.” Deri was convicted of a felony in the past, but served the sentence meted out by the courts. He is being interrogated currently for alleged misuse of funds.

Rabbi Stav called to address essential points, saying that “the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization has struggled against the Conversion Law, whose beginning and end were an act of deceit by that same activist.”

“We all want to prevent the possibility of Sudanese refugees and others from immigrating to Israel under false pretenses. [Deri] tricked government ministers, telling them that he was proposing a law to prevent this possibility, which we all share a desire to prevent.”

"The [Conversion] Law doesn’t talk about the Law of Return or about foreign workers,” Rabbi Stav explained, “but stipulates that the state of Israel will not recognize any conversion undertaken in Israel if it is not carried out within the system of that activist (referring to the Chief Rabbinate, ed.).”

Regarding the assertion that the activity of Tzohar rabbis resembles that of the Reform movement, Rabbi Stav said, “This is ignorance of a man who doesn’t know his right from his left, neither in Torah, halakha [Jewish law], nor in the Reform movement.”

On Monday, Deri had said in a closed conference, "Even those with knitted skullcaps (religious Zionists), in very large communities, are already on the edge of the Reform Movement.”

"Anyone who knows how the synagogues and prayer services are run there...there are really big changes. True - there are more kippot and they are more Israeli, but they are on the edge of the Reform (referring to some groups within liberal Orthodox Jewry, ed.)."

Minister Deri's recording of the conference was broadcast on Channel 2 news. He also referred to the conversion law and said that "the greatest fighters against this law were Tzohar rabbis, together with the Reform movement, because they knew that the goal was to destroy. They enjoyed the tolerance of others, in order to slander the rabbinate and to look for all the faults."

The Shas chairman attacked the Tzohar movement. "Everything is free (referring to Tzohar's performing marriages without charge, ed.), with a smile, with a bright face, when we all know the truth."