The representatives of UTJ boycotted the meeting of the
religious council of Haifa in which the Conservative and
Reform representatives participated. Nine other members did
arrive at the meeting, but it was dispersed almost as soon as
it began without any business being conducted.
At the directives of all the gedolei haTorah, seven
UTJ representatives boycotted the meeting of the religious
council where a Conservative and a Reform representative were
present. UTJ's representatives carried out the directives of
the gedolei Yisroel, precisely as maranan
verabonon instructed them.
Nine representatives did come to the meeting -- five from the
Mafdal, one from Shas, two from Likud and one from Labor.
Immediately, at the beginning of the meeting, even before
deliberations had begun, the Shas representative asked for
the right to speak, and moved that the religious council
meeting be dispersed without electing a chairman or deputies.
The Reform representatives asked for the right to speak, and
demanded that the meeting be held as ordered by the High
Court. However, with a majority vote -- nine against two --
it was decided to end the meeting.
The meeting of the religious council wasn't held in its
regular place in the auditorium of the Torah library on
Herzog street, but in the Migdal Haifa hotel. This was done
in accordance with the directive of the Sephardic Chief Rabbi
of Israel, who was formerly Haifa's Chief Rabbi. His decision
was joined by the Chief Rabbis of Haifa, who noted that it is
not proper to seat the Reform among sifrei kodesh.
Council of the Chief Rabbinate
At the meeting on Monday -- before the Religious Council
meeting in Haifa -- of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate
held in Migdal Ha'Emek and open to the media, various
proposals regarding how to behave at the religious council
meeting in Haifa were raised. Rav Moshe Rauchberger, rav of
the Ramat Hadar neighborhood of Haifa, expressed the view of
gedolei Yisroel who said that it is forbidden to
participate in any meeting of the religious council along
with the Reform.
According to the generally accepted interpretation, at its
first meeting, a new religious council needs a quorum in
order to conduct business. At the second meeting, business
may be conducted with as many members as are present. This
means that the heretical members, if the only ones present,
could completely take over the operation of the religious
council. One of the important items of business that a newly
convened religious council must attend to is the appointment
of a chairman of the religious council, which is a salaried
A proposal was made to permit the participation of only four
members in the meeting of the council. These members, it was
suggested, would present the protest of the rabbonim, and
immediately afterward vote the dispersal of the meeting.
However, no decision was made on this issue, after the
Religious Affairs Minister said that such decisions cannot be
made at a meeting which is open to the media.
The meeting of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate was
attended by its twelve members as well as by some rabbis of
cities and settlements in the country's north, the chairmen
of the religious councils of the large cities and other
additional cities. The Chief Rabbis reiterated the view of
gedolei Yisroel, not to sit with the Reform and
Conservative in the religious councils.
Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi Doron cited the opinion of
gedolei Yisroel, as it appears in writing and orally,
which states that absolutely no dialogue or collaboration may
be held with the Reform. He told the council that the Reform
movement had led to assimilation which he described as worse
than the Holocaust.
Chief Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau noted that the danger of the
Reform is very serious and will have a very grave affect on
the future character of the Jewish Nation, and that all must
be done in order to curb their influence and the gaining of a
foothold in Israel, of those whose purpose is to divide and
split the Jewish Nation.
With that, the Council of the Chief Rabbinate approved the
decision not to sit with the Reform and Conservative in any
The secretary general of Degel HaTorah, Rabbi Moshe Gafni
noted that it has once more been proven that the justices of
the High Court have absolutely no interest in religious
services, and couldn't care less if these services are
totally destroyed. "What matters to them is to undermine all
that is sacred and dear to the Jewish Nation." Rabbi Gafni
praised the representatives of UTJ, who unequivocally and
unanimously heeded the directives of the gedolei Yisroel.
The Rabbinical Committee of Gedolei Yisroel
In addition, there was a separate meeting of a special
Rabbinical Committee appointed by gedolei Yisroel.
This meeting was called in light of last week's developments.
The members of the Rabbinical Committee are: HaRav Osher
Neuhaus, HaRav Tzvi Friedman, HaRav Nosson Zochovsky, HaRav
Chaim Dovid Shuvaks and HaRav Avrohom Hacohen.
The most urgent issue on the agenda of the Rabbinical
Committee was the participation of the Torah-observant and
traditional representatives in the meeting which took place
this past Monday and Tuesday.
The Rabbinical Committee clarified all sides of the issue and
enumerated the possible ramifications and public dangers
involved. After the receipt of the guidelines of maranan
verabonon the gedolei haTorah, the decision was to
instruct the members of the religious councils of Haifa and
Kiryat Tivon not to participate in the meetings.
Rabbi Shmuel Drach, a member of the Netanya Religious
Council, resigned from his position due to the Netanya
Council's inclusion of a Reform representative. He presented
his letter of resignation a while ago, and since then has not
participated in the council's meetings. The Netanya Religious
Council was the first in Israel to include a Reform
representative at the instructions of the High Court.
Like in Haifa, all of the members of Kiryat Tivon's religious
council were absent, including the representatives of the
The Religious Council of Tel Aviv also dispersed Monday night
due to a lack of a legal quorum for holding the first
meeting. 27 Torah observant representatives and
representatives who appreciate the value of Jewish tradition,
were demonstratively absent from the first meeting of the
city's religious council, in its new make up which includes
representatives of the Reform movement.
Due to the demonstrative absence of the majority of the
members of the religious council -- the representatives of
all of the parties-- the chairman of the council, attorney
Shmuel Altalef, announced the closing of the meeting due to
the lack of a legal quorum and said he will shortly send
invitations for the forthcoming meeting of the council.
Altalef told a Reform clergyman who was present: "We are not
afraid of you or of your methods, because within a half a
generation you will vanish from the face of the earth due to
the assimilation taking place in your very own midst."
In response to the question of Yated Ne'eman's
reporter, Altalef said that in his opinion, as long as a
majority of the members of the council do not appear at the
council meetings, it will be impossible to conduct them, and
all of the legal opinions that after a first meeting the
second one must take place no matter how many members are
present, are erroneous.
He explained that his interpretation of the governing law is
that a council meeting held with any sort of attendance is
legal only after a chairman and deputies are duly elected,
and that as long as they haven't been elected, the meetings
can take place only if the majority of the council members
Tel Aviv Rabbonim
Before the meeting of the Tel Aviv Religious Council, Tel
Aviv's rabbonim convened a well attended emergency meeting,
at which they issued the halachic ruling that it is forbidden
to hold the first meeting of the religious council at which
the Reform and Conservative delegates will participate, and
that its cancellation should be announced immediately.
This meeting, which was also attended by the members of the
religious council was held in the offices of Tel Aviv's
religious council. After a lively discussion, the following
decisions were unanimously accepted.
1] The rabbonim of Tel Aviv firmly protest the inclusion of
Reform and Conservative delegates in the religious council of
2] As is known, the sole purpose of these movements is to
undermine and destroy our Torah hakedosha and its
statutes and mitzvos which we have preserved from generation
to generation, and for which we are willing to be moser
3] In line with Torah law, the rabbonim of Tel Aviv-Yaffo
explicitly enjoin the head of the religious council, Reb
Shmuel Altalef, not to hold the first meeting of the
religious council in which the Reform will participate.
Instead, he must forthwith announce that the meeting planned
for Monday, the 8th of Shevat 5749 (25/1/98) to which the
Reform were also invited, is canceled, and in that manner
prevent the great breach in the Torah hakedosha. The
religious council and its heads must fulfill the mitzvah of
kiddush sheim Shomayim borabbim in this manner.
4] The rabbonim of Tel Aviv-Yaffo hereby enjoin the religious
members of the Knesset to do their utmost to amend the
Religious Council Law immediately, and in that manner to
fulfill the sacred mission entrusted to them as
representatives of religious Jewry in Eretz
Agudas Yisroel's representative in Tel Aviv's religious
council, deputy chairman of the council, Rabbi Yechezkel
Shtepenholtz said: "It is unconditionally clear that we won't
sit together with the Reform in the religious council. The
Court must realize that it is impossible to force Torah
observant Jews to violate Torah law. It is clear too, that
without the chareidi and religious representatives, the
religious council will cease to exist."