MK David Rotem backtracks on calling Reform Judaism ‘another religion’

( Member of Knesset David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) drew outrage across the Jewish world for his remarks calling Reform Jews “not Jewish” and Reform Judaism “another religion” during a hearing in the Knesset on Wednesday.

“The Jewishness of the Reform Movement is beyond question and in no need of defense. The government of the State of Israel needs to respond appropriately, to censure MK David Rotem and other MKs who permit themselves behavior that the public good ought not permit to them,” Conservative movement leaders Rabbi Julie Schonfeld and Rabbi Steven Wernick said in a statement. 

Jay Ruderman—president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which prioritizes Israel-Diaspora relations—said Rotem’s comments were “blatantly wrong” and “destructive to the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community.”

“Such irresponsible statements serve to alienate the very community which works tirelessly to ensure a strong relationship between the American government and Israel,” Ruderman said.

But on Thursday, Rotem appeared to backtrack on his remarks, writing on Facebook that “belonging to the Reform Movement does not make anyone less Jewish” and that his remarks were “misinterpreted by the media.” 

Rotem added that while he is an Orthodox Jew and has theological differences with the Reform movement, he “maintains the greatest respect for all Jews, regardless of their denomination and background.”

“I apologize for any misunderstanding and all offense generated by the content of my comments,” he wrote.

Posted on February 6, 2014 .