An Appeal to PM Netanyahu from Rabbis for Religious Freedom and Equality
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An Appeal to Prime Minister Netanyahu

July 27, 2015
11 Av 5775

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

You have stated more than once that you represent the entire Jewish People. We believe that you don't make this statement idly. Clearly you understand the importance of those words and the deeds that must follow.

Recently, Religious Affairs Minister said that Reform Jews are totally in error and must return to Judaism according to his interpretation of Jewish law, and he cannot bring himself to count Reform Jews as Jews. We heard him very clearly, and unless Mr. Azoulay changes his views, at least to a level of religious tolerance of non-Orthodox forms of Judaism, we believe he is not capable of providing appropriately for the religious needs of Israel's Jewish population.

While we appreciate your quick disassociation from MK Azoulay's message, and the roundtable discussions that have been announced, more is needed. Past experience (including high level talks involving Natan Sharansky and the Prime Minister's representatives, such as on the conversion challenge) have yielded little; the time has come for real action and real willingness to move towards equal recognition of and respect for religious diversity and freedom.

So long as your government continues to discriminate against Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal and secular Jews, whether by law preventing all non-Orthodox and many Orthodox rabbis from officiating at legally recognized marriages, or from the lack of a civil marriage option for Jews and non-Jews, we believe that you and your government and our Jewish State are excluding the vast majority of the world’s Jews in Israel and the Diaspora. When officials such as MK Azoulay are in charge of rendering religious services to all Jews, but are guided by their deep-seated ignorance of, and disdain towards, the world's most widely practiced forms of Judaism, Israel is at risk that its policies constitute the antithesis of "home for all Jews."

Mr. Prime Minister, your legacy as the Prime Minister hangs in the balance.

Will you continue to unite the Jewish people behind Israel, wherever the lovers of Israel live around the world? Or will you, through your actions that speak clearer and truer than words, declare that your Minister of Religious Affairs is correct? 
Mr. Prime Minister: now is the time to choose your legacy. Which will it be?

Shall we, Mr. Prime Minister, continue to preach to the American Jewish community that the fate of American Jewry depends upon the fate of the household of Israel living in the Land of Israel? Shall we continue to organize groups to visit Israel, send our children on Birthright (Taglit) and to camps in Israel, encouraging constant exchanges between the People of Israel wherever they may be found? Or shall we, Mr. Prime Minister, conclude from your actions that we were mistaken: that Israel allows control of Judaism to be in the hands of a small minority of the Jewish people that excludes all non-Orthodox Jews?

Mr. Prime Minister, at this critical juncture in history, our mutual destiny demands that you place your vision of Israel as the Jewish homeland ahead of coalition politics. After an entire century of convincing the Jewish people that we are one people, Am Echad im Lev Echad, now is the time to decide: Is that or is that not true?

The Jewish people requires a Ministry of Religious Affairs whose portfolio ​is inclusive of the entire Jewish people​ and​ the broad spectrum of ​our ​diverse religious ​practice.

Mr. Prime Minister, the majority of Israelis share our views. More significantly, history is on our side. The choice of legacy is yours. We await your words and your actions and we look forward to hearing from you.

With our heartfelt wishes for a strong, unified Jewish people,

Rabbi Marci Bellows
Rabbi Marc E. Berkson
Rabbi Donald R. Berlin
Rabbi Seth Bernstein
Rabbi Anne Brener
Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor
Rabbi Jonathan Brown
Rabbi Michael Chernick
Rabbi Malcolm Cohen
Rabbi Elliot Dorff
Rabbi Ellen W. Dreyfus
Rabbi David Ellenson
Rabbi Diane Elliot
Rabbi Andrew Ettin
Rabbi Marla J. Feldman
Rabbi Paula Feldstein
Rabbi Zev-Hayyim Feyer
Rabbi Jeff Foust
Rabbi Karen Fox
Rabbi Jonathan Freirich
Rabbi Michael S. Friedman
Rabbi Pam Frydman
Rabbi Gordon Fuller
Rabbi Laura Geller
Rabbi James Gibson
Rabbi Neal Gold
Rabbi Rosalind Gold
Rabbi Connie Golden
Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell
Rabbi Paul Golomb
Rabbi Felipe Goodman
Rabbi Stephen W. Goodman
Rabbi Eric Gurvis
Rabbi Rosette Haim
Rabbi Paul Jacobson
Rabbi Howard Jaffe
Rabbi Larry Karol
Rabbi Stephen Karol
Rabbi Peter Kasdan
Rabbi Alan Katz
Rabbi Paul Kipnes
Rabbi Jonathan Kligler
Rabbi Peter Knobel
Rabbi Douglas Kohn
Rabbi Debra Kolodny
Rabbi Audrey Korotkin
Rabbi Riqi Kosovske
Rabbi Howard Laibson
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Rabbi David Levin
Rabbi Mark H. Levin
Rabbi Sharon Litwin
Rabbi Robert Loewy
Rabbi Alan David Londy
Rabbi Jack Luxemburg
Rabbi Dana L. Magat
Rabbi Paula Marcus
Rabbi Jeffrey Marker
Rabbi Janice Mehring
Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler
Rabbi Abby Michaleski
Rabbi Jordan Millstein
Rabbi Yocheved Mintz
Rabbi Hannah Nathans
Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin
Rabbi John Nimon
Rabbi Leah Novick
Rabbi Marcia Prager
Rabbi Charles P. Rabinowitz
Rabbi Uri Regev
Rabbi Ben Romer
Rabbi Donald B. Rossoff
Rabbi Yonatan Rudnick
Rabbi David Seidenberg
Rabbi Lawrence R. Sernovitz
Rabbi Debrah Shenefelt
Rabbi Jay Sherwood
Rabbi David Shneyer
Rabbi Alex Shuval-Weiner
Rabbi David Siff
Rabbi Hank Skirball
Rabbi Andrew R. Sklarz
Rabbi Marc Soloway
Rabbi Ed Stafman
Rabbi Oren Steinitz
Rabbi David Straus
Rabbi David Teutsch
Rabbi Barbara Thiede
Rabbi Gordon Tucker
Rabbi Kari Tuling
Rabbi Michael Weinberg
Rabbi Martin Weiner
Rabbi Shohama Wiener
Rabbi Eric B. Wisnia
Rabbi Deborah Zecher
Rabbi Michael Zedek


Rabbis for Religious Freedom and Equality in Israel
Website:  |  Email:  |  182 East 95th St. Suite 24G, New York, NY 10128  |  Office: 646-334-5636

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Freedom of Religion for Israel
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