Forward Thinking

Will Reuven Rivlin Call 'Em Reform 'Rabbis'?

By Ben Sales

  • Print
  • Share Share

Getty Images

()TA) — Will he refer to Reform rabbis as rabbis? We still don’t know.

Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s front-runner in this week’s presidential election, has signaled recently that should he be elected, his goal will be to embrace non-Orthodox Jewish communities rather than antagonize them.

Rivlin got a boost in the race on Saturday when his main rival, Labor Knesset member Binyamim Ben-Eliezer, ended his campaign due to an emerging corruption scandal. The Knesset will vote Tuesday for the president who will succeed current Shimon Peres and fill a largely ceremonial role as Israel’s head of state.

JTA reported last week that Rivlin, a former Knesset speaker and elder statesman in Likud, called Reform Judaism “idol worship” and “a completely new religion without any connection to Judaism” in a 1989 interview. In 2007, he declined to say whether, as president, he would refer to Reform rabbis by their title.

But in an interview and an Op-Ed this week, Rivlin said that his reputation for reason and tolerance extends to all religious communities. While he would not tell the Jerusalem Post in an interview Friday whether he would refer to Reform rabbis as rabbis, he said he respects religious leaders regardless of denomination. “I respect any person chosen to lead his or her community, and God forbid I invalidate him because he is from one stream or another,” he told the Post. “The President’s Office represents all streams and denominations in society. The job of the president is to bridge conflicts, not create conflicts.”

In an Op-Ed in the Times of Israel Sunday, Rivlin wrote that as president, he won’t take positions on government policies.

Unlike Peres, who has turned his gaze beyond Israel’s borders in his frequent international travels and encouragement of regional peace, Rivlin focused his Op-Ed on tensions within Israeli society. In that context, he wrote that he would work to give a voice to Israelis of all stripes.

“Society as a whole relies on the president as its agent for the delicate task of reinforcing the seams that hold society together,” Rivlin wrote. “The President’s Residence is where a hand is extended to those who have been traditionally and systemically denied a place at the Israeli campfire.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: rabbi, president, israel reuven rivlin, reform

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Yeshiva University's lawyer wanted to know why the dozens of former schoolboys now suing over a sexual abuse cover-up didn't sue decades ago. Read the judge's striking response here.
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.