Skip To Content
We’ve Taken Down the Forward Paywall: An Open Letter to Our ReadersRead Now
Breaking News

Israel Minister Not Sorry for ‘Sinner’ Slur Against Reform Jews

Israel’s religious services minister said that his remarks about Reform Jews were taken out of context, but he did not apologize for their nature.

“Of course, all Jews, even though they sin, are Jews,” David Azoulay of the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party said Wednesday in a speech on the floor of the Knesset. “At the same time, it is with great pain that we view the damage caused by Reform Judaism, which has brought the greatest danger to the Jewish people, the danger of assimilation.”

His clarification came a day after he said that Reform Jews cannot be considered Jewish.

In the Knesset, he also said, “Interested parties exploited my statement to deepen the rift within the nation and increase the incitement.”

Azoulay, adding to his clarification, said, “No one has a monopoly for determining who is a better Jew. And yet, we see with great pain the danger of the Reformation in Judaism, which brought the greatest danger to the Jewish nation: assimilation.”

“We pray that sins will be purged from the land – sins, not sinners,” he added.

Azoulay made his original remarks in an interview with Army Radio.

“A Reform Jew, from the moment he stops following Jewish law, I cannot allow myself to say that he is a Jew,” he said. “These are Jews that have lost their way, and we must ensure that every Jew returns to the fold of Judaism, and accept everyone with love and joy.”

Last month, Azoulay in an interview also called Reform Jews “a disaster for the people of Israel.”

Jewish groups in the United States slammed Azoulay’s Army Radio remarks and expressed concern about a government minister making such statements. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also repudiated the remarks.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.