Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar.
Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar Photo by Emil Salman
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Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar sent a letter to hundreds of Orthodox rabbis in Israel calling on them to object to the state's intention to recognize and fund Reform and Conservative rabbis in towns around the country.

In the letter, Amar invited the clerics to an emergency meeting scheduled to take place next Tuesday at the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem. The aim of the gathering is to persuade Israel's political leaders to foil implementation of the High Court's ruling on the matter.

In May, Israel's government told the High Court of Justice that it was prepared to recognize Reform and Conservative rabbis and fund their salaries.

The statement came in response to a petition filed in 2005 by the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism demanding that the state finance non-Orthodox religious services in Israeli towns and villages, in addition to funding Orthodox rabbis and institutions.  

So far, the government has committed to financially supporting 15 non-Orthodox rabbis.

However, the funding is being held up by Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi (Shas), who has threatened to quit if forced to implement the ruling. Margi has also accused the judges who made the ruling of illicit ties to the Reform Movement.

In his letter, Rabbi Amar wrote, "We hereby express our sorrow and terrible pain over Heaven's defiled honor and over the trampling of the Torah, and the hand given to the uprooters and destroyers of Judaism who have already wrought horrible destruction upon the People of Israel in the Diaspora by causing terrible assimilation and the uprooting of all of the Torah's precepts."

"And now they seek recognition in the Land of Israel as well, to be destroyers of the religion who are recognized as clergy. Woe unto us that in our day such haters of the Lord have raised their heads… We declare to the nation and the world: This will not pass!"

"No one may be absent" from the gathering, he added.