Adina bar Shalom
Adina bar ShalomFlash 90

A law suit in Israel seeks to have the term "Reform" officially recognized as a defamatory insult.

In the libel suit brought by Adina Bar Shalom — a daughter of the former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Ovadia Yosef – against Rabbi David Benizri, a prominent supporter of the Shas movement whom she said defamed her, the adjective “Reform” is listed among the slights.

The dispute began just after a woman was elected mayor of the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Shemesh, which has a significant haredi population.

Bar Shalom spoke in favor of women’s rights during the campaign, sparking the rabbi’s fury, according to an article published Dec. 16 in the news site Srugim.

Rabbi David Benizri
Rabbi David BenizriFlash 90

Naming the late Yosef, Benizri wrote in a letter to followers: “I pity his Reform daughter, the accursed wicked woman, who came here and spoke in the name of the Rabbinate and for the so-called Women’s Council of Beit Shemesh. Bitter will be her day of judgment, bitter will be her day of reproach.”

Benizri, brother of a former Shas lawmaker, quickly realized he had crossed a line in what he wrote about Bar Shalom, whose father was a seminal leader of Shas, and apologized in an op-ed published in the Keren Or local news site.

“I had a complicated few days, including insomnia,” he wrote in a rare apology for a rabbi of his stature. “I never should have said what I did and I feel bad about it. So I want to convey here an apology and I hope she accepts it.”

But Bar Shalom said she has no intention of burying the hatchet, telling Ynet she is preparing a libel suit for $80,000 against Benizri. “I am not Reform and his intention was to defame me and my family. I will not let it go,” she said. “People like him harm the haredi public terribly and he should learn his lashing out has its price.”