Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Top Sephardic Rabbi Slams Reform Jews

Israeli Amar says ‘liberals’ ‘terrorize’ true Jews

Print Email
Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar.(Wikipedia)

Israel’s controversial conversion bill may be languishing in parliamentary purgatory, but its advocates—those who support endowing the nation’s chief rabbinate with the power to decide who is a Jew—are far from mollified. In a letter sent earlier today to Israel’s rabbis on the occasion of the upcoming new year, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar attacked Reform Jews in unprecedented language, claiming that they are responsible for the crime of diluting Jewish spirituality and abandoning the ways of the Torah.

“Those who call themselves liberals and Reform, and their friends and supporters, they are responsible for this terrible crime,” Rabbi Amar wrote (my translation), “they support it openly and without shame. And now they dig their claws into the people who live in Zion, and they try to dictate to us a lifestyle, that Israel should be like all other nations, God forbid, and they terrorize us in various ways, and they formed legions of warriors inside the land of Israel whose sole purpose is to rip the Torah out of Israel and defile the religious courts and everything that’s holy … .”

Those who thought the controversy surrounding the Rotem Bill was undue are welcome to read the full text of Rabbi Amar below (the translation is mine).

My brothers and friends, the rabbis and leaders of Israel,

I am addressing you at this time and in this season, which is a difficult one in every way, as our ears hear and our eyes see that difficult things are afloat in the world, and we mustn’t be silent, and we must awaken and awake others and pray much in this month of mercy and forgiveness, and to come before the King, our father, without whom we have no redeemer, to fall flat on our faces and weep and beg with a broken heart, and let us not be cruel at this hour not to ourselves and not to our people.

And it’s no secret that our spiritual state is low and demeaned, be it in the relations between people or in the increasing violence and cruelty, even murder, which has reached the lowliest state, God save us. And also in the other commandments that bind us, the levels of modesty and morality have decreased exponentially, and the most difficult plague is that of hitbolleloot [abandoning the Jewish law and adopting a western way of life] that everywhere plagues our holy and pure people, as is the case in other countries in which the dilution has reached terrible ends, so is it now in our holy land, this ill is everywhere and nobody pays attention.

And those who call themselves liberals and Reform, and their friends and supporters, they are responsible for this terrible crime, they support it openly and without shame.

And now they dig their claws into the people who live in Zion, and they try to dictate to us a lifestyle, that Israel should be like all other nations, God forbid, and they terrorize us in various ways, and they formed legions of warriors inside the land of Israel whose sole purpose is to rip the Torah out of Israel and defile the religious courts and everything that’s holy, and they’ll use whatever ways and means they can, by threatening and exerting influence on ministers and members of Knesset and by appealing to the courts. Things are getting worse and worse.

And it is the duty of every Jew who can influence the members of Knesset and ministers in any way that’s honest and right, even just to awaken them and support them in writing or with a kind word, and to awaken, each one of us, their communities, so thatwe know the dangers we face, and so that they pray much and beg God, until God hears them from the depth of their sorrow, until he hears our cry and have mercy on us and fortify us and raise the Torah and its flag-bearers in all truth.

And we pray to God, blessed be he, to infuse us with the holy and pure spirit, so that we may pass these abominations from the land, and turn the hearts of those wayward sons back to our father in heaven, because they are our brothers and our flesh and blood, and even if they strayed far from the ways of the Torah and the tradition of our fathers, they’re still our brothers and we love them truly and pray for them that the Lord turns their hearts back to the righteous path, as the gates of heaven aren’t yet locked.

And let us all turn with all our hearts, all as one, with true love of God and his holy Torah, and love each other without limits and boundaries.

And let us live to see the days of God returning to his people, let Jacob and Israel rejoice in our days and without haste, amen.

Wishing you a good month and ketivah and hatimah tova,

Shlomo Moshe Amar
The First of Zion
The Chief Rabbi of Israel

Sephardi Chief Rabbi: Reform Jews Are Digging Their Claws Into Israel [Haaretz]
Earlier: Bibi v. Rotem
Conversion Bill Takes Aim at Diaspora

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

CVBruce says:

Seems to me that Israel can’t make up its mind as to whether it is a theocracy or a democracy. Let me know, guys, with you figure it out.

Lisa Kaiser says:

Hitler dances in hell when we Jews attack each other in such a manner.

jennifer says:

this breaks my heart.

Dear Liel:

Thank you for translating and publishing this. I am very appreciative that you did so.

As the Coordinator of the Half-Jewish Network, the largest organization for adult children and grandchildren of intermarriage, I have tried to get my fellow Jews to understand that the Rotem legislation did not just appear out of nowhere.

It is part of a long series of legislative and social policy initiatives to harm half-Jewish people, converts, and the Reform and other non-Orthodox movements in Israel.

The Rotem bill was disguised as an attempt to ‘help’ half-Jewish people in Israel — allegedly making it easier for them to become fully Jewish citizens through Orthodox conversions.

Why does an allegedly democratic state — the only Jewish country in the world — compel half-Jewish people to convert to Judaism via ultra-Orthodox religous courts if they wish to be considered fully Jewish citizens and marry other Jews? No other modern democracy does such things.

Too many American Jews think that Israel is still the secular democracy they remember visiting in the 1970s and 1980s. They don’t understand that Rabbi Amar is paid by the Israeli state.

They do not understand that according to Israeli government statistics, one-third of all Israeli kindgergarten children are now haredi ultra-Orthodox. They will become a huge block of Haredi voters.

If Israel doesn’t change its policies of providing state subsidies for ultra-Orthodox communities, encouraging massive families, Israel’s Jews will be mostly people like Rabbi Amar within 30 years.

Diaspora Jews need to understand that Haredi political parties know that they will be the numerical majority of Jewish Israelis in the near future, and speak openly of the day when they will impose Orthodox religious law, halacha, on Israel in the same way that sharia, Islamic religious law, is imposed in Iran.

Thanks again, Liel, for translating this.

Robin Margolis

Rabbi Shlomo Amar. The first Sephardic Israel Chief Rabbi not born in Iraq, but in Morroco and immigrated to Israel when he was 14. I am not sure if he ever visited US or even Europe. Maybe he did… I know he went to Ethiopia to convert the Falash Mura jews to Judaism. I will not be surprised if he calls one day to convert all Ashkenazi Jews to what he think Judaism should be. He went – or sent a Beth Din – to India and proposed to convert Indian Bnei Menashe, which he recognized as of the Lost Tribes.

Most interesting is his involvement in kidnapping a 17 year old boy, a Haredi, because he was dating his daughter without his approval. His direct involvement was not proven, but his son Meir Amar, 31 year old was convicted of kidnapping, abuse of a minor, illegal confinement, extortion, threats, and causing bodily harm. He was sentenced in January 2006 to 32 months in prison and a 35,000 shekel fine. (See Wikipedia article).

He did support civil marriages in Israel, but only for non-Jews. He wants to remove the conversion clause from the Israeli Law of Return. This would prevent converts from all streams of Judaism, including Orthodox Judaism, from having automatic citizenship rights in Israel, Only to Jews by birth whose mothers were Jewish will be allowed to return.

I wonder whether his daughter finally married, and with whom. I wonder what happened with the young Haredi in love with the daughter.

Bryan says:


Rabbi Amar is represented in this article as such a hypocrite! Blaming other Jews for crimes they did not commit while himself sitting atop one of the most criminal political organizations in Jewish history. Trying to funtion as some mockery of moshiach by political chicanery? Is this a blatant case of projection or what? It is a sad day in the history of am yisroel when an extremist supported by the State. Israel is no better than a Moslem Ummah in its inhuman internal politics. Talk about “behaving like other nations!”

Rabbi Amar slamming Reform is his version of porn. He should keep it in private.

littlebadwolf says:

relax, kids, the chief bigot b’eretz, is praying for us, his wayward brothers and sisters (well, he’s only praying for the brothers, but maybe we can sneak in a sister or two in sheep’s clothing) to return to his store.

–oy, make that ‘fold. but, somehow, i get all ferdrayt with the store and fold, and gates and love without limits and boundaries, that the self announced ‘first of zion’, who wants to declaw us like bad pussycats, has ready and waiting for us.

didn’t someone already invite us into places like that in the early 1940s? or am i thinking maybe of ‘hansel and gretel’? time to wake up and smell the gingerbread!

signed, moishe kapoyer, chelm, diaspora

joan karver says:

Fanatics,Fanatics,how come they always attract a following and destroy everything around them….Shame on us for giving them a forum and not countering their voices immediately..Time to overwhelm them with E-mail and voices within Israel and those of us outside who consider Israel our country too…Joan Karvefr

antonio sabella says:

Why can’t all Jews be assimilated into one happy family and let Jews be equal in stature. A few fanatics control who is a Jew or not? The state of Israel should take control of this issue and settle it once and for all.

antonio sabella says:

The state of Israel is glad to receive money from the USA, which comes from non-orthrodox Jews. But when it comes to giving them same status as the orthrodox they let the extremists control everything.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Top Sephardic Rabbi Slams Reform Jews

Israeli Amar says ‘liberals’ ‘terrorize’ true Jews

More on Tablet:

Rediscovering the First Woman Rabbi

By Laura Geller — Ordained in 1935, Regina Jonas died at Auschwitz. Now, she’s being honored.