The President of the Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Rick Jacobs is demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset Chairman Yuli Edelstein reprimand MK David Rotem and depose him from his position as Chairman of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.
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Jacobs described as “offensive and unacceptable” Rotem’s statements on Tuesday by which the Reform movement is “another religion” and that its members “aren’t Jewish.” Jacobs said that Rotem “doesn’t know what he’s talking about and doesn’t understand the damage that he causes.”
The Chairman of the Anti-Defamation League Abe Foxman also blasted Rotem urging him to retract his “inappropriate, offensive and unjustified” comments. “Among many U.S. non-Orthodox Jews,” Foxman said, “rejectionist rhetoric of this kind fosters divisiveness and feelings of alienation towards elements of Israeli society.”
Jacobs told Haaretz that members of the United States Congress who are also enraged by Rotem’s statements are to send a letter of protest to Netanyahu against the statements made by “a member of his coalition and his own Likud-Beiteinu Party,” as Jacobs described him.
Rotem, an Orthodox Jew, made the reported remarks during a discussion held by the committee on Tuesday on proposed changes in the law on child adoption. He was responding to a query about the Reform movement’s interests in these changes.
“Rotem is engaging in deligitimization of the largest Jewish movement in the US,” Jacobs said. “And while he may not be directly responsible for acts of vandalism committed against Reform synagogues in Israel, his words surely have an impact on the hostility towards the Reform movement”.
Jacobs said that Rotem’s use of the term “another religion” was especially alarming as it is taken from the language used in the Law of Return. And they come at a “particularly delicate time”, he added, when the Reform is engaged in talks about prayers at the Western Wall, conversion and other matters.