RA Condemns Detention of Masorti Rabbi

Following Thursday's police detention of Rabbi Dov Haiyun, a Conservative (Masorti) rabbi in Israel, detained in the wake of a complaint lodged by the Haifa Rabbinical Court against him - which claimed that he has been officiating at weddings outside the framework of Israel's Orthodox Chief Rabbinate - the Rabbinical Assembly, which represents rabbis in the Conservative/Masorti movement worldwide, has issued the following statement expressing its outrage. Further statements from all Conservative movement bodies will be forthcoming.

The Rabbinical Assembly is outraged by the detention of Rabbi Dov Haiyun, and the complaint lodged against him. Ordained by the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem, Rabbi Haiyun, like many rabbis in the Conservative, Reform and Orthodox movements, has been officiating at weddings outside the auspices of the state-run rabbinic authority for years. That he suddenly is awakened at 5:30 a.m. by police banging on his door and taking him to the station is shocking.

This detention came just hours before Rabbi Haiyun was due to teach at an event at the Beit Hanasi, the president's residence, in preparation for Tisha B'Av. A tradition at the president's residence, this event includes the participation of both male and female rabbis from the various streams. This event has been advertised, and has seemingly provided the Haifa Rabbinate and police with an incentive for this morning's detention, to undermine the event and embarrass the president's residence. The arrest comes not only on the eve of Tisha B'Av but also in the wake of Israel's passage of the controversial nation state bill that has been widely criticized as inconsistent with the fundamental democratic principles on which Israel was founded and an unfit legislation for a Jewish and democratic state.

Rabbi Mikie Goldstein, RA Israel president, called it "unthinkable that a rabbi in Israel should be arrested for officiating at a Jewish wedding 'according to the law of Moses and Israel.' And it is unthinkable that the state should dictate to its citizens how to believe, how to fulfill mitzvot or how to live their religious lives."

"The Jewish wedding service that Rabbi Haiyun was detained for performing speaks of the couple building a 'bayit ne'eman b'Yisrael,' a faithful home in Israel. The international Rabbinical Assembly applauds the work of our colleagues in Israel who face immense challenges every day in their unswerving dedication to help Israeli Jews build a spiritual home in the Jewish state," said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the RA's Chief Executive Officer. "It is indeed the case that Israel must be a faithful home for all Jewish people and today's detention of a respected former President of the Israel RA gravely undermines the integrity of government institutions and is contrary to the values of Israel and the Jewish people.