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In a story tonight, Haaretz reported that Rabbi Yoffi the head of the Reform Judaism in the US is encouraging Israel to divide Jerusalem:

The president of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, promised Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week that his movement would support the government if a peace treaty with the Palestinians is reached, including concessions in Jerusalem. Rabbi Yoffie told Haaretz that if the Israeli right wing mobilizes its supporters in the United States against such an agreement, the Reform Movement would respond in kind.

The issue of the involvement of Jews from outside Israel in the debate over the diplomatic process, especially over the question of the future of Jerusalem, was raised following the Annapolis summit three months ago. The American Orthodox Union angered Prime Minister Olmert by calling upon him not to consider concessions in Jerusalem, and the coalition of right-wing groups that formed to fight Olmert’s plans expressed its intention to enlist the support of world Jewry in its campaign.

Rabbi Yoffie met with Olmert last Wednesday with the expressed intent of offering his movement’s support to the government over the negotiations. Following the meeting, he told Haaretz that, “If the outline of a peace treaty that has been put forward, that seems moderate and reasonable, we in the Reform movement and the overwhelming majority of American Jews will support it.”

Here’s the part that Rabbi Yoffi didn’t tell Haaretz. Reform Judaism does NOT have the ties to Jerusalem that the other branches do. The reform movement says that Jerusalem is a place where you can learn about tradition but it is not important to Jewish practice. Unlike the other branches, the Reform tradition is that there will never be a Third Temple. That’s why Reform synagogues are called Temples, something you will rarely see a Conservative, and never see Orthodox Shul called.

Conservative and Orthodox Jews consider Jerusalem to be the heart of Judaism Reform theology does not. Bimahs (altars) in many Reform “temples” do not face Jerusalem and prayer need not face the holy city Even when the Bimah doesn’t, Conservative and Orthodox Jews ALWAYS face Jerusalem when they pray.

Reform Judaism has removed all direct references to the Temple, although some indirect or ambiguous references (e.g. “Happy are those who dwell in your House”, Psalm 84:5) are retained.

So when you read about Rabbi Yoffi argue against the those who would keep Jerusalem undivided, keep in mind that to the reform movement Jerusalem is a museum, to the rest of the Jews it is the life-line of Judaism yesterday, today AND tomorrow.

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