In response to the quotes as reported by TOI and Haaretz re: other possibilities offered by President Rivlin following the second cancellation of a bar mitzvah for special needs children, the Conservative Movement clarifies the following misrepresentations stated or implied in those quotes:
- The proposal to hold the ceremony in the President’s house was not requested by the Masorti Movement but was initiated by the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, which led a negotiation that was completed after 10 days and then abruptly reversed by the President’s office.
- The “attempts in recent days” were rejected as inappropriate or inadequate by all parties privy to the negotiation, other than the President’s office, including representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.
- We reject the President’s notion that offering the children a handshake is an appropriate substitute for a bar mitzvah ceremony that was to be the culmination of six months of preparation by the children with specially trained educators. We also reject the notion that this would place the children, rather than the President, at the center of the event. Nor is it “obstinate” to reject the President’s suggestion that the bar mitzvah service --- which the Mayor of Rechovot banned by for the first time after 20 years because it was going to take place, as it always had, in a Masorti/Conservative synagogue --- should be replaced by a “ceremony” in the President’s residence with no Rabbi simply because of the President’s loathing of the Mastorti/Conservative movement. To the contrary, the Masorti/Conservative movement accepted the compromise of co-officiation with an Orthodox rabbi for the sake of the children, despite the implicit, if not explicit implication by the President that the Masorti/Conservative movement is unfit to officiate over a religious ceremony on its own.
- The President’s alternate suggestion of a service at Azarat Yizrael at the Kotel was unworkable because the distractions of being outside would have made it impossible for these children with autism to participate.
- Finally, we reject the starting point of the President’s offered “alternatives” because they are based on the noxious proposition that a Jewish religious movement, which as we stated, numbers among them Israel’s most zealous supporters is to accept, silently, the erasure of our identity and our contributions to the State of Israel and the world Jewish community.