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U.S. Orthodox Leader Praises Influence of Religious Parties

The success of the religious parties in the recent Israeli election was “a call for the re-Judaization of Israel,” Rabbi Rafael Grossman said in his opening address at the First World Wide Rabbinical Conference, which was held this week in Jerusalem.

Grossman is president of the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America, which organized the conference.

Religious parties increased their representation in the 120-member Knesset to a total of 23 seats in the May 29 elections. The three parties, which had a total of 16 seats in the last Knesset, joined the coalition assembled by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The victory of Netanyahu and the religious parties was a way for voters to oppose those Israelis who “began a process of bi-culturalization,” Grossman said Monday in his speech. “Israel’s raison d’etre is to be a state for Jews and Jewish in every possible way, culturally and religiously.”

Given the degree of assimilation plaguing the Jewish community today, he said, “how then could Jews anywhere have accepted an Israel that assimilates into the abyss of Western decadence?”

The conference, held July 8-10, was expected to bring together some 500 rabbis from the centrist Orthodox and fervently Orthodox worlds, Grossman said in an interview before he left the United States for Israel.

About 200 American members of the RCA were slated to participate, he said. The RCA is the professional organization that represents about 1,000 centrist Orthodox rabbis.

Current and past Israeli chief rabbis were scheduled to participate, he said.

Rabbis from Jewish communities worldwide were planning to attend from countries including England, France, Russia, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, he said.

Sessions at the conference included explorations of technology, Jewish education and the future of European Jewry.

One session was called “The Centrality of the Office of the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel.”

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