Rabbis Say Teachings 'Not Judaism at All'

By Ross, Lilla | The Florida Times Union, April 1, 1997 | Go to article overview

Rabbis Say Teachings 'Not Judaism at All'


Ross, Lilla, The Florida Times Union


A group of Orthodox rabbis declared yesterday that the teachings

of Reform and Conservative Jews, who make up 90 percent of the

American Jewish community, "are not Judaism at all."

The 600-member Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States

and Canada, the oldest organization of rabbis in the United

States, condemned the two more liberal branches for condoning

assimilation and intermarriage.

"There is only one Judaism: Torah Judaism. The Reform and

Conservative are not Judaism at all, but another religion," said

the rabbis' statement, which was released during a New York news

conference.

The rabbis argue that the modernization found in the Reform and

Conservative movements is destroying Judaism.

While the debate over pluralism in the Jewish community is not

new, the proclamation is significant because of its timing. In

Israel, where any Jew is granted automatic citizenship, the

parliament is considering a bill that would disqualify

conversions performed abroad by Reform and Conservative rabbis.

In Jacksonville, Rabbi Avraham Kelman of Etz Chaim Synagogue,

an Orthodox congregation that is not affiliated with the Union

of Orthodox Rabbis, said the rabbis do not represent the

majority of Orthodox rabbis.

"No organization has the right or authority to dispute the

authority of the Talmud," Kelman said.

The Talmud is the collection of writings that constitute the

Jewish civil and religious law.

"It's not to be taken seriously," Kelman said of the

pronouncement.

Rabbi David Gaffney of the Jacksonville Jewish Center, a

Conservative congregation, said he thinks the pronouncement

"undermines the unity of the Jewish people."

And Rabbi Michael Matuson of Congregation Ahavath Chesed, the

Reform congregation, said: "They are doing what they feel

commanded to do. The last thing I want to do is silence them. I

hope we have the compassion and commitment to stand up for what

we believe.

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