Israel Minister for Religious Affairs Resists Pressure of U.S. Rabbis

Rabbi Jacob Moshe Toledano, Israel’s new Minister for Religious Affairs, asserted today that the National Religious party had organized pressure against him to prevent his assuming his new duties but he added he intended to resist all such pressures.

The new Minister, formerly Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and second Sephardic Jew to hold a Cabinet position, declared he had received cables from American Orthodox rabbis containing similar efforts at pressure. Several newspapers charged that a pressure campaign was being organized in the United States by Moshe Shapiro, Rabbi Toledano’s predecessor as Minister for Religious Affairs who is now on a visit to the United States.

Premier David Ben Gurion took his former Minister for Religions to task today for alleging at a recent convention of the Religious Zionist Organization of America that the coalition government was attempting to introduce a secular definition of a Jew into Israeli life.

In an open letter published by this morning’s newspapers, the Premier cautioned Mr. Shapira that it was as important for a responsible religious leader to speak the truth as to guard against the eating of pork. He asserted that neither he nor his Cabinet had attempted to introduce such a secular interpretation and that they had, in fact, offered to postpone the designation of children of mixed marriages until the question had been ruled upon by a commission of Jewish scholars.

NEXT STORY