Just a week ago I wrote to you about the horrible remarks from deputy Minister of Education Porush, about Women of the Wall. This week I received an article from Rabbi Michael Boyden where he writes about another “phenome”; “Israel’s Interior Minister, Aryeh Deri, will be in Paris this week. He is not visiting France as a private citizen, but will no doubt be using his diplomatic passport, and the cost of his visit, including that of his entourage, will be met by the Israeli taxpayer. Nevertheless, this has not prevented Deri, according to the charedi newspaper Kikar Ha-Shabbat, from refusing to meet leaders of France’s Liberal Jewish community.
Deri’s behavior is hardly surprising given his reaction to the recent agreement reached by Israel’s government with the Women of the Wall over the issue of their demand to be able to worship as they wish at the Kotel. He is quoted as having said: “The problem of Reform and Conservative Jews did not exist until now in the State of Israel and I do not intend to let it happen now. There should be no compromise on this issue.
Deri’s insulting behavior follows that of deputy Minister of Education, Meir Porush, who said that the Women of the Wall should be “thrown to the dogs” and if that were not enough, Israel’s Minister of Tourism, Yariv Levin, wrote that “Reform Jews are a dying world” and chairman of the government’s Finance Committee, Moshe Gafni, described them as “clowns who stab the holy Torah”. His remarks simply endorsed those of the Minister for Religious Affairs, David Azoulai, who is quoted as having said that he could not allow himself to refer to Reform Jews as Jews.
Now all of this could be brushed aside if one were talking about fanatical rabbis, but these are government ministers. As we all remember only last November prime minister Netanyahu told American Jewish community leaders, that he would ensure that all Jews feel at home in Israel. However, this is not what’s happening, in reality this bodes for an unwelcoming and possibly dangerous situation. (Article based on timesofisrael.org)
Rabbi Julia Margolis