Rabbi Rick Jacobs: Ultra-Orthodox MKs Must Learn the Torah of Respect

Contact: Lauren Theodore at 212-650-4154

New York, NY, February 24, 2016 – Statement by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ):

MK Israel Eichler’s comments yesterday are yet another example of the extreme intolerance of the ultra-Orthodox religious establishment. Clearly they feel a seismic shift in their decades-old monopoly on Judaism in Israel. Their stranglehold on Judaism is being loosened, and their response is desperate and pathetic.

It is hard to imagine what twisted Torah MK Eichler studies when he characterizes the largest Movement in Jewish life as “mentally ill.” Our Torah teaches us the values of pluralism and of tolerance - and it teaches us not to use phrases like “mentally ill” as an epithet.  

MK Eichler also claims “the High Court has no authority to enforce Jewish Law...” and yet he has no difficulty when the coercive ultra-Orthodox establishment regularly uses the Knesset to enforce its narrow expression of Judaism. We will continue to unlock their shackles on the Jewish tradition.

MK Eichler's comments are the latest in a series of recent hate-fueled comments by members of the Israeli government. It’s time for the ultra-Orthodox MKs to learn the Torah of respect and ahavat yisrael, love of one’s fellow Jews. A primer on democracy is also in order - Israel must no longer be the only democracy in the world that legally discriminates against the streams of Judaism representing the majority of Jews in the world and the overwhelming number of Jews in North America.

The ground is shifting under the feet of the ultra-Orthodox establishment, enabling the type of freedom and pluralism that Jews outside of Israel experience.


About the Union for Reform Judaism

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) builds community at every level—from the way we collaborate with congregations, organizations, and individuals to how we make connections across North America to advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life. Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, we help congregations stay adept and agile, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.

Founded in 1873, URJ has grown into the most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with almost 900 member congregations and work that inspires millions of people. Our legacy, reach, leadership, and vision mean that we can unite thousands of years of tradition with a modern, evolving Judaism to strengthen Jewish communities today and for future generations.

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