Conservatives, Jewish Agency respond to Margi

(JTA) — Critics are slamming Israel’s religious affairs minister for comments asserting the primacy of Orthodoxy.

Letters of protest were sent to Yakov Margi this week by the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative movement and the newly installed chief of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky.

“I wish to remind you that the Ministry of Religious Services is not governed by halachic law but rather charged with providing religious services to all Israeli citizens of all faiths, ethnicities and denominations in need,” Sharanksy wrote. “The Ministry of Religious Services is required to ensure freedom of worship and prevent infringement of the rights of citizens in this area.”

The Conservative rabbis protested against Margi’s assertion that they were not “halachic.”

“Throughout our history, Jews have had many disagreements as to the nature of Jewish Law,” said the letter signed by three leading assembly officials. “While our interpretations may differ, contrary to your comments, we assert the primacy of halachah.”

The rabbis said they would welcome the opportunity to meet with Margi.

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