U.S. Reform Rabbis Blast Israeli Tourism Minister Over Assimilation Remarks

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Tourism Minister Yariv Levin
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (left).Credit: Noam Moskowitz

The U.S.'s main organization of Reform rabbis accused Israel Tourism Minister Yariv Levin of bias against their movement on Tuesday, after the minister made disparaging remarks about the supposed assimilation among Reform Jews

In a statement calling on all Israeli and American Jews to stand against the minister's remarks, the Central Conference of American Rabbis said Levin has broken his obligation as a cabinet minister to support the religious practices of all Israelis, and revealed a bias against a religious movement that "includes over a million and a half people." 

The organization's ire was raised by comments made by the minister during Sunday's government hearing on a compromise regarding a non-Orthodox prayer space at the Western Wall. "The Reform Jews in the U.S. are a waning world," Levin said, saying that Chelsea Clinton's wedding to her Jewish partner, officiated by a Reform rabbi and a priest, shows the extent of Reform Jews' assimilation. 

"The assimilation there is of enormous extent. They don't even properly track [the assimilation] inside their communities. The evidence is that a man who calls himself a reform rabbi is standing there with a priest and weds Hillary Clinton's daughter, and no one condemns it, thereby legitimizing it," Levin said.  

In its statement, the Central Conference of American Rabbis rebuffed Levin's criticism, citing the organization's commitment to Israel and its upcoming annual convention as a demonstration that his remarks "could not be further from the truth."

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