JERUSALEM (Mar. 13)
The National Religious Party is in serious trouble with the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren denounced it last night for failing to heed his injunction against joining the Labor-led coalition government. Goren’s audience–300 delegates from 30 countries attending the opening session of the fourth international convention of Bnai Akiva, an Orthodox youth movement–roundly jeered NRP leader Yosef Burg who is Minister of Interior-designate in the new government.
Rabbi Goren accused the religious party of gravely injuring the prestige, authority and status of the Chief Rabbinate by entering a government that refuses to amend the Law of Return so as to invalidate conversions by non-Orthodox rabbis. “The integrity of the Torah is crucial.” Rabbi Goren declared to thunderous applause from the delegates. “There is no room for com promise over the grafting of alien springs on to the trunk of the Jewish people.” He said it was tragic that the very movement that had founded the Chief Rabbinate in Israel acted in violation of its authority.
In contrast to the standing ovation that greeted the Asbkenazic Chief Rabbi when he mounted the rostrum, Dr. Burg was the target of prolonged jeers and catcalls when he took his place on the dais. Two other NRP leaders, Welfare Minister-designate Michael Hazani and Religious Affairs Minister-designate Yitzhak Rafael chose not to risk the dais and remained in their seats on the convention floor. An attempt to prevent Dr. Burg from speaking by raising an uproar among the delegates led to the quiet but firm removal of one of the “jeer-leaders” from the hall-veteran NRP ideologist Yitzhak Riklin of the Etzion kibbutz bloc.