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
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
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. …