Following Criticism, Orthodox Group to Allow Reform, Conservative Rabbis in Special Shavuot Event

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Tzohar’s Rabbi David Stav.Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen
Or Kashti

The Tzavta club in Tel Aviv and the Orthodox rabbinical group Tzohar announced on Tuesday they would hold a special session, in which Conservative and Reform rabbis will take part, of their co-sponsored all-night Shavuot study. The announcement came in response to criticism of Tzohar for excluding non-Orthodox rabbis from the event, and Tzavta’s agreement to the exclusion. Tzohar rabbis, who do not recognize non-Orthodox denominations, will reportedly not be present at the additional session.

Non-Orthodox rabbis were also excluded from last year’s Tzohar-Tzavta all-night Shavuot study, known as Tikkun Leil Shavuot.

In response to the criticism, some of the lecturers who were to have appeared at this year’s session canceled, including former Yesh Atid MK Ruth Calderon and others, who demanded explanations from Tzohar and Tzavta. According to a number of sources, public discussion of the exclusion of the non-Orthodox rabbis put pressure on the organizers.

A statement by Tzavta Tuesday said the study session with Reform and Conservative rabbis “will take place alongside the Tikkun Leil Shavuot held with the participation of Tzohar rabbis, as part of the events on the holiday eve.” The statement, which gave the names of the participants, said the decision had been made “in light of the importance with which Tzavta regards giving expression to all streams of Judaism.”

“I know how hard it was for the Tzohar rabbis to agree to this compromise,” said attorney Yizhar Hess, director of the Conservative Masorati movement. “The negotiation was indeed exhausting, punctilious and inglorious, but the agreed-on solution would not have come into the world if not for the huge wave of public condemnation.”

This is the fifth year the event has been held, the Tzavta statement said “and it has become a tradition that every year allows a meeting of deep discourse about culture and Israeli-Jewish identity.” Last year the event was attended by 1,500 people, both religious and secular, the statement said.

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