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Two More Orthodox Groups Assail Reform, Conservative Jewish Leaders

Two more Orthodox groups have assailed American Reform and Conservative Jewish leaders for criticizing the demand by Israel’s National Religious Party that the Law of Return be amended according to halacha as the price for joining a coalition government. Rabbi David B. Hollander president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, said the criticism against the Orthodox in Israel “is the best possible proof that the disqualification of the Conservative and Reform spiritual leaders as rabbis is fully justified.”

Furthermore, he asserted in a statement issued here, “If rabbis oppose the authority of the halacha they effectively disqualify themselves not only as rabbis but also as faithful Jews since they stand guilty of leading many well intentioned Jews away from Judaism.” Rabbi Hollander defended the conditions demanded by the Israeli Orthodox parties as “in full conformity to the democratic process.”

In a separate statement, Rabbi Bernard Bergman, a member of the presidium of the World Religious Zionist Organization, rejected the contention that “giyour” (conversion) to Judaism need not be according to halacha. He noted that the term “giyour” has no meaning nor existence outside halacha. “To say, therefore, as these Reform and Conservative rabbis are saying that giyour need not be in accordance with halacha is not only preposterous. It is meaningless,” Rabbi Bergman said. “Can a rational person say that we can practice Jewish law but not in accordance with the provisions of Jewish law? Can a court of law be asked to rule not in accordance with the provisions of the law?”

Rabbi Bergman further expressed astonishment and dismay at the attack by the American Jewish Congress against the religious law and fundamental tenets of the Jewish faith. “This unwarranted interference by a political organization into strictly religious matters,” he said, “must be strongly rejected and condemned.”

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