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Conservative Rabbinical Leader Raps Curbs on Religious Freedom in Israel

The lack of “religious freedom in Israel” with its refusal to recognize the Conservative and Reform movements was assailed by Rabbi Stanley S. Rabinowitz in his presidential address to the 600 delegates attending the 78th annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly at the opening session yesterday of its five-day meeting at the Concord Hotel.

In a strong attack on the concept that “Orthodoxy is synonymous with religion and with Halacha,” Rabinowitz, who is the spiritual leader of the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, called on the 1000-member Conservative rabbinical association to adopt a resolution challenging the idea that Judaism in Israel “is to be supervised and administered only by the Orthodox rabbinate.” The “presumptuous assumption that Orthodoxy is the only legitimate form of Judaism.” Rabinowitz further stated “is the sin of Orthodoxy,” and it must be challenged.

Rabinowitz recalled that through the cooperation with the Reform movement and with the general support of other voting blocs at the recent World Zionist Congress, “two far-reaching resolutions requiring equality of treatment for each of the religious approaches to Judaism” were adopted at the Congress.

Though he said he finds expressions of criticism of Israel against his grain, Rabinowitz declared: “It is because we are unconditionally committed to the security and well being of the State of Israel that we have a duty to address the insecurities of non-Orthodox Judaism in Israel. Orthodox people should be just as disturbed as we are about religious coercion in Israel, or lack of religious freedom in Israel. Indeed, some few are, but painfully few.”

The Orthodox, he added, “are quite consistent in rejecting us, and so are we in reaching our hand out to them. In refusing to make adjustments to the contemporary challenge, they run the risk of becoming the new Karaites. We shall continue in our way, and they shall continue in theirs, and let Eliyahu resolve.”

RESOLUTION CRITICIZES ADMINISTRATION

In an unprecedented action, the Rabbinical Assembly at its opening banquet adopted a resolution criticizing the Carter Administration for “unfairly painting Israel as being intransigent and unwilling to accept the risks for peace.” The resolution “urged the Administration to focus its energies on bringing other Arab states to the peace table and pressing them to take a reasonable attitude of compromise. We sincerely hope the U.S. will seek for Israel the open and fair negotiating process that it would demand for itself.”

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