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Jerusalem Chief Rabbi: 'Reform Jews deny more than the Holocaust'

Shlomo Moshe Amar, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, looks at the Alhambra's Lions during his visit to Granada's Alhambra on May 31, 2011
Jorge Guerrero (AFP/File)
'They cry, ‘why does Iran deny the Holocaust?’ (But) they deny more than the Holocaust,' said Rabbi Amar.

Jerusalem’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar accused Reform Jews and specifically those pushing for a mixed gender prayer section at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, of denying more than the Holocaust, while he was teaching in a weekly study session on Tuesday.

“They cry, ‘why does Iran deny the Holocaust?’ (But) they deny more than the Holocaust.” Rabbi Amar said according to the ultra-Orthodox website, Kikar Hashabbat. “In the Temple, and (as discussed) in the Mishnah and Gemara (two sections of the Jewish Talmud), there was a women’s section in the Temple.”

“They are trying to throw sand and say that 'the ultra-Orthodox extremists have invented (separation of the sexes),’” he added. “It is like Holocaust deniers. It is the same thing.”

Rabbi Amar made his remarks against the backdrop of a ruling by Israel’s High Court last Thursday calling upon the Israeli government to state whether it will reconsider implementing a prior pledge to set up a mixed-gender section. The plan has for the time being, been put on hold as a result of pressure from the two ultra-Orthodox parties (United Torah Judaism and Shas) in the current coalition.

On Wednesday, Rabbi Amar elaborated upon his remarks from yesterday while speaking to the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, Kan.

“With regards to whoever denies such a famous foundation, what is denying the Holocaust?,” he told Kan. “They are coming to deny something as famous and clear as this and they are not embarrassed?”

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Reform movement in Israel did not take too kindly to Rabbi Amar’s comments.

"The day after an indictment is filed against an ultra-Orthodox man suspected of threatening to harm the leaders of the Reform Movement and at the height of the month of mercy and forgiveness (preceding the High Holidays of Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur), Rabbi Amar crosses another red line with his disgusting remarks," he said on Israel Radio.  

“These words are additional testimony that the leaders of the ultra-Orthodox establishment have 'gone off the rails' in their war against Reform Judaism, while completely abandoning their responsibility as public leaders and spiritual leaders.”

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