Inicio NOTICIAS Rivlin hosts non-Orthodox and Orthodox leaders for study session to heal rift

Rivlin hosts non-Orthodox and Orthodox leaders for study session to heal rift

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Itongadol/AJN.- President Reuven Rivlin hosted a seminar on Thursday at his official residence to explore the concept of Jewish unity following a recent dispute between the president’s office and the Masorti (Conservative) Jewish movement in Israel, and ahead of the Fast of the Ninth of Av this coming Sunday which marks the destruction of the two ancient Temples in Jerusalem and is designated as a time of national introspection.

In June this year, a row broke out between the president’s office and the Masorti movement, after attempts to organize a Bar Mitzvah ceremony at the President’s Residence for special needs children from a Masorti program broke down when the different sides could not agree as to how the event would be conducted.

The study session on Thursday was designed to therefore “bring together the communities of the Jewish people in an atmosphere of mutual respect” and smooth over ruffled feathers according to the president’s office, and as such included a group of rabbis and lecturers from the pluralistic movements and the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jewish denominations.

And the Masorti movement later described the event as “historic” for bringing together non-Orthodox and Orthodox rabbis in an official public event at the president’s residence.

The speakers included Rabbi Meir Azari of the Daniel Center for Progressive Judaism in Tel Aviv; Dr. Motti Zeira, director HaMidrasha at Oranim College; Rabbi Chaya Rowen-Baker of the Ramot Tzion Masorti community in Jerusalem; and Rabbi Benny Lau of Jerusalem\’s Ramban Community and head of the 929 Torah Study Initiative

As the host and opening speaker, Rivlin delivered a lesson in Talmud at the conclusion of which he said: “The communities represented here are communities brimming with a love for and deep commitment to the future of the Jewish People and the State of Israel.”

While it was permissible to disagree with positions and opinions of members of the Reform and Conservative movements, he continued, no-one could deny their dedication to the State of Israel of their sacrifice and dedication to their causes for the well being and security of the State of Israel. No-one movement in Judaism is superior to the other, Rivlin stressed.

There are disputes in every family noted Rivlin, and some run very deep. He did not suggest that the different streams of Judaism blur their differences in the name of an illusory unity. “We need to learn not how to agree with each other, but how to disagree,” he said

He emphasized that the President’s Office stands as an axis of peace for all of Israeli society and is committed to be a home for all, enabling a diversity of opinion in a dialogue conducted with mutual respect.

Rowen-Baker addressed the concept of “baseless hatred” which the Talmud states brought about the destruction of the Second Temple in 70CE, but said it was hard to understand such a notion since hatred usually does have a particular, albeit unjust, basis.

“Perhaps what we hate is the presence of grace in those who are different from us, a refusal to see in someone else something good or to justify what he does,” said the rabbi. “I don\’t agree with the perspective of both Orthodox or Reform Judaism, but I have to celebrate their existence and the service they try and perform for the Jewish people.”

In reference to the Fast of Av, which commemorates many of the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people along with the destruction of the two Temples, Lau noted that the Jewish people “know how to die together but do we know how to live together?”

“We have a great responsibility because our generation has the opportunity to build our home here once again,” said Lau. “But as the prophets tried to tell us, when we dwelt here last we thought we were the owners of the land, but we forgot that we had been strangers in a country not our own, we forgot that we need are strangers, need to be open-hearted and that God is above us.”

Director of the Masorti Movement in Israel Yizhar Hess praised Rivlin for bringing together representatives of the different Jewish denominations which he described as an effort to bring about peace within the Jewish people.

“There has never been an event in the President’s Residence in which a female Conservative rabbi taught Torah alongside rabbis from different streams,” said Hess.

“It was an exciting event because it was entirely about equality in terms of gender, religion and Judaism. President Rivlin succeeds time and again to present a statement of leadership that is fitting to go towards the light,” he said.

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