AJC Appalled by Former Chief Rabbi’s Denigration of Reform Jews

April 20, 2007 – New York – The American Jewish Committee is appalled by Rabbi Mordecai Eliyahu’s assertion that many Jews perished in the Shoah because they were associated with Reform Judaism.

“AJC is shocked that the former Sephardi chief rabbi in Israel besmirched Reform Jews,” said AJC Executive Director David A. Harris. “Rabbi Eliyahu’s painful remarks serve to promote divisiveness at a time when Jewish unity is critical.”

“The Nazi death camps were ‘equal opportunity’ murdering machines,” said Harris. “All Jews, irrespective of their beliefs, stood on the selection ramp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Today, all Jews must stand together in our affirmation of mutual respect for one another and common bonds.”

AJC praised Prime Minister Olmert for condemning Rabbi Eliyahu’s remarks, and for declaring his support for Reform Jews. “The Reform Movement is a vital and vibrant part of modern Judaism, and the government and people of the State of Israel admire your contribution to Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora,” Olmert said.

“The beauty of Judaism is our diversity and pluralism, and the miracle of the rebirth of Israel on the ashes of the Holocaust is that the Jewish state provides a home for any Jew anywhere,” said Harris. “Rabbi Eliyahu’s insensitive comments betray the promise of Israel and the hope of Jewish peoplehood. A Jew is a Jew, and if our enemies do not make distinctions, neither should our own religious leaders.”