Israel’s controversial conversion bill may be languishing in parliamentary purgatory, but its advocates—those who support endowing the nation’s chief rabbinate with the power to decide who is a Jew—are far from mollified. In a letter sent earlier today to Israel’s rabbis on the occasion of the upcoming new year, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar attacked Reform Jews in unprecedented language, claiming that they are responsible for the crime of diluting Jewish spirituality and abandoning the ways of the Torah.
“Those who call themselves liberals and Reform, and their friends and supporters, they are responsible for this terrible crime,” Rabbi Amar wrote (my translation), “they support it openly and without shame. And now they dig their claws into the people who live in Zion, and they try to dictate to us a lifestyle, that Israel should be like all other nations, God forbid, and they terrorize us in various ways, and they formed legions of warriors inside the land of Israel whose sole purpose is to rip the Torah out of Israel and defile the religious courts and everything that’s holy … .”
My brothers and friends, the rabbis and leaders of Israel,
I am addressing you at this time and in this season, which is a difficult one in every way, as our ears hear and our eyes see that difficult things are afloat in the world, and we mustn’t be silent, and we must awaken and awake others and pray much in this month of mercy and forgiveness, and to come before the King, our father, without whom we have no redeemer, to fall flat on our faces and weep and beg with a broken heart, and let us not be cruel at this hour not to ourselves and not to our people.
And it’s no secret that our spiritual state is low and demeaned, be it in the relations between people or in the increasing violence and cruelty, even murder, which has reached the lowliest state, God save us. And also in the other commandments that bind us, the levels of modesty and morality have decreased exponentially, and the most difficult plague is that of hitbolleloot [abandoning the Jewish law and adopting a western way of life] that everywhere plagues our holy and pure people, as is the case in other countries in which the dilution has reached terrible ends, so is it now in our holy land, this ill is everywhere and nobody pays attention.
And those who call themselves liberals and Reform, and their friends and supporters, they are responsible for this terrible crime, they support it openly and without shame.
And now they dig their claws into the people who live in Zion, and they try to dictate to us a lifestyle, that Israel should be like all other nations, God forbid, and they terrorize us in various ways, and they formed legions of warriors inside the land of Israel whose sole purpose is to rip the Torah out of Israel and defile the religious courts and everything that’s holy, and they’ll use whatever ways and means they can, by threatening and exerting influence on ministers and members of Knesset and by appealing to the courts. Things are getting worse and worse.
And it is the duty of every Jew who can influence the members of Knesset and ministers in any way that’s honest and right, even just to awaken them and support them in writing or with a kind word, and to awaken, each one of us, their communities, so thatwe know the dangers we face, and so that they pray much and beg God, until God hears them from the depth of their sorrow, until he hears our cry and have mercy on us and fortify us and raise the Torah and its flag-bearers in all truth.
And we pray to God, blessed be he, to infuse us with the holy and pure spirit, so that we may pass these abominations from the land, and turn the hearts of those wayward sons back to our father in heaven, because they are our brothers and our flesh and blood, and even if they strayed far from the ways of the Torah and the tradition of our fathers, they’re still our brothers and we love them truly and pray for them that the Lord turns their hearts back to the righteous path, as the gates of heaven aren’t yet locked.
And let us all turn with all our hearts, all as one, with true love of God and his holy Torah, and love each other without limits and boundaries.
And let us live to see the days of God returning to his people, let Jacob and Israel rejoice in our days and without haste, amen.
Wishing you a good month and ketivah and hatimah tova,
Shlomo Moshe Amar
The First of Zion
The Chief Rabbi of Israel