Israel to fund Reform conversions to Judaism? Not so fast.

May 21, 2009

An Israeli demonstrator holds up a sign in Jerusalem as an Orthodox man prays behind him. Reuters photograph.

The latest front in the ongoing conflict in Israel between ultra-Orthodox Judaism and less observant movements — the subject of a brief blog yesterday on Faithworld — heated up with a front page article in the Jerusalem Post on Thursday that quoted an ultra-Orthodox parliament member calling Reform Jews, among other things, “trecherous backstabbers to Judaism”.

The rather harsh, though not unprecedented, comments were reportedly made by Moshe Gafni from the religious United Torah Judaism party. Gafni is chairman of Israel’s finance committee and was quoted in a phone interview following a high court decision that ordered federal funding of non-Orthodox Jewish conversions.

Gafni’s office could not be reached to confirm the quote.

It’s not clear if Gafni will have any influence in this specific ruling, but his promise to try to block any attempts to allocate funds could certainly take the quarrel up a notch.

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I really don’t understand why they keep using the term ‘ultra-Orthodox’. This is the main stream of observant Jews who follow the religion, they constitute a significant part of the popluation, and the public generally relies on they rulings on all religious matters. The people who are trying to undermine their authority are almost always secular people who do not care about religion in the first place.

Posted by Josh | Report as abusive