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Agudas Harabonim Vows to Fight Reform and Conservative Judaism

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Leaders of an Orthodox rabbinical group met here Sunday to call for a mass campaign to “alert the public to the dangers of Reform and Conservatism.”

Rabbis attending the special meeting of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada drew a direct link between non-Orthodox Jewish denominations and an increasing incidence of marriage between Jews and non-Jews.

They vowed to organize a “united front” to urge all Orthodox organizations to explain to Jews “the importance of staying away from Reform” and Conservative Judaism, according to Hersh Ginsberg, director of the union, which is more commonly known as the Agudas Harabonim.

The meeting was prompted by a request from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, according to Ginsberg.

“The rabbinate feels that Reform and Conservative are pushing themselves strongly into Israel,” said Ginsberg.

“They have influence with (Foreign Minister Shimon) Peres, the prime minister (Yitzhak Shamir) and the government, because of the big funds they are able to give. The Chief Rabbinate asked us to put pressure on the (Israeli) government not to allow this.”

Sunday’s meeting was called in the wake of a number of political and public relations victories for non-Orthodox Jewish movements in Israel.

Both Reform and Conservative Zionist groups boasted unprecedented levels of representation at the most recent Jewish Agency General Assembly.

Earlier this year, Orthodox political parties were again rebuffed in their attempts to pass an amendment to Israel’s Law of Return, that would deny extension of automatic citizenship to those converted to Judaism by a non-Orthodox rabbi.

More recently, the Conservative movement ordained its first four Israeli rabbis, and successfully fought the Jerusalem Rabbinate’s attempt to withdraw the kosher certification of its Jerusalem youth hostel.

Ginsberg was unequivocal in his opposition to the non-Orthodox movements.

“It leads to mixed marriage,” he said of Reform, adding that Conservative Judaism was considered “even more harmful to Orthodoxy” because it acts as a “steppingstone” to Reform.

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