MK David Rotem Backtracks On Calling Reform Judaism ‘Another Religion’

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david rotemMember of Knesset David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) drew outrage across the Jewish world for his remarks calling Reform Jews “not Jewish” and Reform Judaism “another religion” during a hearing in the Knesset on Wednesday.

“The Jewishness of the Reform Movement is beyond question and in no need of defense. The government of the State of Israel needs to respond appropriately, to censure MK David Rotem and other MKs who permit themselves behavior that the public good ought not permit to them,” Conservative movement leaders Rabbi Julie Schonfeld and Rabbi Steven Wernick said in a statement.

Jay Ruderman-president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which prioritizes Israel-Diaspora relations-said Rotem’s comments were “blatantly wrong” and “destructive to the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community.”

“Such irresponsible statements serve to alienate the very community which works tirelessly to ensure a strong relationship between the American government and Israel,” Ruderman said.

But on Thursday, Rotem appeared to backtrack on his remarks, writing on Facebook that “belonging to the Reform Movement does not make anyone less Jewish” and that his remarks were “misinterpreted by the media.”

Rotem added that while he is an Orthodox Jew and has theological differences with the Reform movement, he “maintains the greatest respect for all Jews, regardless of their denomination and background.”

“I apologize for any misunderstanding and all offense generated by the content of my comments,” he wrote.

JNS.ORG

{Matzav.com Israel}

13 COMMENTS

  1. Just because Reform Judaism is a different religion doesn’t mean that people who follow it aren’t Jewish. If your mother is Jewish, it doesn’t matter what religion you follow – you are Jewish!

    That said, Reform is like a different religion. They don’t believe in Torah m’Sinai. They don’t believe the Torah has any divinity to it at all! When you reject the very basis of a religion, you are a different religion.

  2. Yaakov Menken — February 6, 2014 3:19 pm

    When MK David Rotem, of the Yisrael Beytenu party, said that the Reform movement is “another Jewish religion,” and then added that the Charedim [which Times of Israel translates as “ultra-Orthodox,” but I have little doubt that he used the correct and less inflammatory term “charedim”] could “of course” be considered “also another Jewish religion,” one thing happened: Reform leaders exploded, and got him to “walk back” his remarks.

    If you read carefully, he may not have expressed himself well, but there is no significant change between what he said to Army Radio that got him into hot water, and in his “clarification.” What he said the first time was “the Reform are all Jews,” which, given the level of participation by non-Jewish partners in services, we know to be a substantial exaggeration. In his “clarification,” he said “I have never said belonging to the Reform movement makes anyone less Jewish.” Both times, he expressed a completely normative halachic position.

    Here’s what didn’t happen: any similar uproar from the chareidim, the “ultra-Orthodox.” No fellow MKs berated him, whether in the plenary, committee room, or outside in the halls. No gedolim released proclamations or contacted the press. His comments were simply a nonissue.

    The difference is simple: the chareidim don’t need David Rotem’s validation. We know who we are, we know what we believe, and we know it accords with thousands of years of Jewish tradition. So if he believes that he follows a different religion than ours, it’s his loss.

    What this difference says about the Reform movement and its leaders is the topic of a longer essay.

  3. While most members of the reform movement are Jews, many are not given patrilineal descent and their bogus conversions. However, they are not “Jewish” as they fail to subscribe to any of the tenants of Judaism: the Divine origin of Torah, the oral law, anything that even vaguely resembles halachah. I even hesitate to call it a “religion” as you would be hard-pressed to find many members, let alone their so-called rabbis, that even believe in HaShem!

  4. Well….what Judaism believes? what reform believes? Judaism has more in common with Islam than with reform.
    Honesty is necessary to agree with what I just said.

  5. The Reform leaders have lied to their followers for years. They tell them that Reform is Judaism when we all know that what Reform practices has no similarity to Judaism and is not even a “Stream” of Judaism. It is a total fraud. Their corrupt leaders tell their naive adherents that the “Orthodox don’t believe that those who practice Reform are not Jewish” and other lies. The truth is that one can be 100% Jewish but their only making fools of themselves by practicing this voodoo cult called Reform.

  6. The Reform leaders have lied to their followers for years. They tell them that Reform is Judaism when we all know that what Reform practices has no similarity to Judaism and is not even a “Stream” of Judaism. It is a total fraud. Their corrupt leaders tell their naive adherents that the “Orthodox don’t believe that those who practice Reform are not Jewish” and other lies. The truth is that one can be 100% Jewish but they’re only making fools of themselves by practicing this voodoo cult called Reform.

  7. Many in the Reform movement are not halachically Jewish whatsoever, because they or their mothers didn’t convert from another faith according to halacha. Jewish names are unreliable now as a guide to Jewish status.

  8. “OK Avi Weiss here we come”

    It is largely because of Rabbi Weiss that the Reform synagogue in Riverdale has been depopulated. Orthodoxy needs a thousand more Rabbi Weiss’s.

  9. To #11-Charlie Hall:

    The Reform in Riverdale had no where else to go but to (less than) Orthodox Avi Weiss. It looks like Avi Weiss and his “Yeshiva” Chovovovayoyvay were heavily influenced by all those Reformers who joined their ranks.

    Instead of teaching the Reform Judaism, the Reform brought their phony ideas to them and corrupted them. Nebech.

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