TEL AVIV (JTA) — Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, David Lau, criticized Education Minister Naftali Bennett for visiting a Conservative Jewish Solomon Schechter school while in the United States.
On Wednesday, Lau told the haredi Kol Hai radio station that Bennett, chair of the religious Zionist Jewish Home party and a modern Orthodox Jew, should have conferred with an Orthodox rabbi about the visit. Lau called the Dec. 1 trip to the New York school “unacceptable.”
Commenting on his visit, Bennett tweeted, “What love of Israel, what love of Judaism.” As minister of religious services from 2013 to 2015, he advocated limited religious reform in Israel.
“To speak deliberately with a specific community and to recognize it and its path, when this path distances Jews from the path of the Jewish people, this is forbidden,” Lau said, according to the The Jerusalem Post. “If Minister Bennett would have asked my opinion before the visit, I would have said to him explicitly, ‘You cannot go somewhere where the education distances Jews from tradition, from the past, and from the future of the Jewish people.'”
Bennett’s office responded with a statement that “Minister Bennett is proud that he is concerned for all Jews because they are Jewish, and will continue to meet Jews from all denominations,” according to the Post.