JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, said in a Rosh Hashanah message that it is better for a Jew to pray by himself than with Reform Jews.
Amar made the comment in a pre-holiday interview with the right-wing Orthodox newspaper Makor Rishon that was published Sunday.
Amar called Reform Judaism more of a threat to the religion than secular Jews. He also called Reform marriages invalid.
He called on the Orthodox community to reach out to secular Israelis while they are still in school, saying that if they are not reached, the Reform movement "will find them."
Rabbi Uri Regev, head of Hiddush-Freedom of Religion for Israel, in a statement responded to Amar’ s allegations.
"It is sad that Rabbi Amar chooses the holiest time of the Jewish year, which should celebrate Jewish unity, to pursue his sectarian fundamentalist views," Regev said in the statement. "Rabbi Amar’s misguided insights generate a schism and worse yet, so long as he occupies the seat of Chief Rabbi, he is driving a wedge between Israel and the rest of the Jewish people.
"Rather than seek fault with fellow Jews, he would better delve into his own soul and realize that most Israeli and world Jews want to align Judaism with modernity and democracy. It is pluralism and diversity which Israel and Judaism need today, not religious coercion and sectarianism."