A Letter to Ambassador Shapiro regarding Rabbi Avi Weiss

I write to you with concern about a recent media report that the Israeli Chief Rabbinate has rejected the word of Rabbi Avi Weiss regarding the Jewish status of a couple.

First and foremost this is a break from precedent. Secondly, this is a great sign of disrespect to the American Jewish community. Third, in the long run, actions like this may very well lead to a distancing between the American Jewish community and the State of Israel.

Rabbi Weiss has been a rabbi for over forty years. During those forty years the Israeli governmental ways took his word and believed him when he said a couple was Jewish. Now all of a sudden, they are breaking that precedent and saying that they no longer believe him—a rabbi whose integrity and commitment to the Jewish people is unquestioned and is actually an inspiration to tens of thousands.

But it is not just about Rabbi Avi Weiss. The new policy of the State Israel affects many other rabbis who have chosen out of shame not to share their case publicly. It is only because of Rabbi Weiss’ courage that he has gone public with his concern. We need you to speak out on behalf of those rabbis and their thousands of congregants.

The recent actions of the State of Israel on this matter actually undermine the rabbinate of Rabbi Weiss and represent an intrusion of personal Israeli politics into the daily life of the American Jewish community. The State of Israel in effect is thereby encouraging people to attend the synagogues of certain rabbis and not others. The State of Israel should be sensitive to this matter and should return to the status quo ante.

There is no basis whatsoever for their sudden change in policy and the dangers of this new course are great.

I ask you to please raise this matter with Prime Minister Netanyahu and explain to him how deeply disturbing this is to many American Jews.

Sincerely,

Shmuel Herzfeld

Rabbi, OHEV SHOLOM-THE NATIONAL SYNAGOGUE

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  1. Nachum says:

    Um, why on earth do you think this letter is appropriate? To complain to the *American* ambassador about an internal Jewish matter? Are you serious?

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