A new Halacha ruling issued by Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba instructs Orthodox Jews to steer clear of participating in any events held by Reform Jews and prohibits entering their synagogues. These new restrictions have turned the attitude towards Reform Judaism into one less tolerant than extended to Islam. The Rabbi’s ruling was posted to the Beit-El Yeshiva website, after one of the visitors submitted a question on the matter to the Rabbi.Jewish law forbids Jews from entering churches as Christianity is viewed as idolatry, entering mosques, however, is permitted as Muslims, like Jews, believe only in one deity.If one were to hold the new ruling to the light of that age-old Jewish approach, one would see Reform Judaism as equal to idol worship.The question directed to the Rabbi was by a 12 year old girl whose American cousin was coming to Israel to celebrate the girl’s Bat Mitzva. The cousin, who belongs to the Reform stream of Judaism, would also be coming of age soon and the Israeli girl would be expected to attend the right-of-passage ceremony in the US. “Can I pray in a Reform mixed synagogue? Can I even enter the synagogue itself?” asked the girl.By ‘mixed’ the girl was referring to the Reform practice of treating men and women as complete equals and both sexes pray together as opposed to Orthodox synagogues where they are separated.The Rabbi left no room for interpretation in his answer: “Do not go there and do not participate in the things they do because they do whatever they want with the Mitzvot. By participating you are legitimizing them, they think that you aren’t bothered by their ways,” he wrote.‘Reform Jews are fakers’ Israeli Rabbis frequently address the rifts between the different streams of Judaism, in recent years the Reform issue has been dealt with heavily as the stream has only really started growing.Rabbi Yuval Sherlo of Petach Tikva also says he receives many questions about participation in Reform events, particularly weddings. He takes a more moderate stance than Rabbi Lior: “It’s forbidden to attend the Chuppa ceremony,” he says, “but later when there’s dancing and merrymaking you can come and wish them Mazel-Tov.”Sherlo says that as apposed to America, Israeli Reform communities have only begun to show significant growth over the past few years. There are currently 920 Reform communities in the United States, and only 25 in Israel (the Jewish populations in both countries are almost equal in number, with Israeli Jews surpassing their American counterparts only in 2006). Recent studies conducted amongst American Jewry indicate that 40 percent of Jews who are members of religious communities belong to the Reform stream of Judaism, which constitutes of 1.5 million followers.Rabbi Sherlo addressed the comparison between Reform Judaism and other religious, saying that “The argument against Reform Jews is stronger than that against Christianity and Islam, due to the face that they are idolaters and enemies, but they’re there and we’re here. Reforms are fakers.”He interpreted Rabbi Lior’s ruling, explaining that it stemmed from the point of view that “they present our hardest battle.”Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv hopes that Rabbi Lior still doesn’t view Reform Jews are idol worshipers, saying that “Rabbi Lior seeks to segregate and hurt families, taint the joys of a Jewish family, out of his hate for a religious stream that doesn’t operate like his own does.” According to Kariv “there is an expression here of twisted religious and national priorities. To him the religious and political war being waged on the Reform movement is more important than family values, peace amongst brothers and love without repayment. All I can hope is that the 12 year old girl who asked the question has more brains in her head and emotion in her heart than Rabbi Lior, and that she choose other Rabbis with which to seek council.”
I would never claim that I know anywhere near as much as Rabbi Lior, but I don’t understand him. It seems to me that Judiasm would be so much better served by trying to get non-observant Jews to do more mitzvot rather than trying to push them away. Isn’t that why the second Temple was destroyed, needless hatred amongst Jews?
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