Finally, an Orthodox Rabbi Willing to Sit on Same Panel With Conservative, Reform Counterparts

Reuven Rivlin has struggled to find an Orthodox rabbi willing to participate in a special learning event he is hosting to include Conservative and Reform rabbis.

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Rabbi Benny Lau.
Rabbi Benny Lau.Credit: Nir Keidar
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

In a last-minute scramble, President Reuven Rivlin has found an Orthodox rabbi willing to participate in a special learning event he is hosting that will include Conservative and Reform rabbis.

Benny Lau, a progressive-minded Orthodox rabbi, notified the president’s office on Tuesday that he would be willing to represent his movement at the event, scheduled to take place on Thursday, which is meant to be dedicated to Jewish unity.

Rabbi Uri Sherki, who had been the president’s original choice, announced on Monday that he would not attend, after he had already accepted the invitation. He told Haaretz he was declining because of “technical reasons.”

A day earlier, Sherki was quoted on an Orthodox website referring to Reform Jews as “heretics.” He told Haaretz he had come under pressure from Orthodox circles to absent himself from the event, which would include a female rabbi.

Lau, the rabbi of Congregation Ramban in Jerusalem, is the cousin of David Lau, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel.

Rivlin organized the event to help reduce tensions with the non-Orthodox movements, whose leaders were offended by his decision last month to refuse to allow a Conservative rabbi to officiate at a bar mitzvah ceremony for disabled children that was to have taken place at his residence. The children were all graduates of a special program operated around the country by the Conservative movement.

The learning event, scheduled to coincide with the traditional nine days of mourning that precede the fast of Tisha B’Av, is being organized in conjunction with the Jewish People Policy Institute, an independent think tank based in Jerusalem.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


בנימין נתניהו השקת ספר

Netanyahu’s Israel Is About to Slam the Door on the Diaspora

עדי שטרן

Head of Israel’s Top Art Academy Leads a Quiet Revolution

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

Skyscrapers in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv.

Israel May Have Caught the Worst American Disease, New Research Shows

ג'אמיל דקוור

Why the Head of ACLU’s Human Rights Program Has Regrets About Emigrating From Israel


Netanyahu’s Election Win Dealt a Grievous Blow to Judaism