Religious services minister: ‘Reform Jews cannot be considered Jews’

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Religious Services Minister David Azoulay said in an interview that Reform Jews cannot be considered Jews.

“A Reform Jew, from the moment he stops following Jewish law, I cannot allow myself to say that he is a Jew,” Azoulay, of the Sephardic Orthodox Shas Party, said Tuesday morning on Army Radio.

“These are Jews that have lost their way, and we must ensure that every Jew returns to the fold of Judaism, and accept everyone with love and joy,” he added.

Azoulay spoke with Army Radio two days after Israel’s Cabinet reversed regulations reforming conversion policy that were passed by the previous government.

“Those who follow Reform Judaism living in the Diaspora are in the majority people who are wrong,” he said, stressing that halacha, or Jewish law, determines the rules for conversion. “We want to take care of all those Jews returning to Judaism according to Jewish law,” he said.

Last month Azoulay in an interview called Reform Jews “a disaster for the people of Israel,” during a discussion of the Women of the Wall.

Following the meeting, the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism sent a letter to Netanyahu asking him to publicly reject Azoulay’s statements.

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