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Thursday 26 April 2007

Bereaved Rabbi Dropped from ceremony

Bereaved rabbi dropped from ceremony

A week after former Sephardic chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu said Reform
Judaism was the sin that caused God to bring about the rise of Nazi
Germany, Reform rabbi and grieving father Mickey Boyden has been removed
from reading a prayer in Hod Hasharon's memorial ceremony for fallen
soldiers on Sunday evening.

Boyden lost his son Yonatan in 1993, when, as a member of an elite Orev
paratroopers company, Yonatan participated in a rescue operation to save
soldiers who had come under fire in southern Lebanon. Boyden's
congregation, Kehilat Yonatan, is named in his Yonatan's honor.

A member of Yad Labanim, which commemorates Israel's fallen soldiers,
Boyden was asked a few weeks ago to chant the "El Maley Rachamim"
[Merciful God] prayer at the annual ceremony on Sunday evening.

Then, on Wednesday, he got a call from a reporter for the local /Al
Hasharon/ paper who told him that people objected to his doing so,
Boyden told /The Jerusalem Post/ on Sunday. "I was invited on Thursday
to a meeting of the Yad Labanim board, and they asked me whether I'd be
prepared to be called up to the stage to [chant the prayer], but without
my title as rabbi," he said.

Boyden refused: "I made aliya as Rabbi Boyden. My son served in the
[Orev unit of the Paratroopers] as the son of Rabbi Boyden. I've been
called up in past ceremonies to say kaddish [the prayer for the dead]
and speak on behalf of other bereaved parents as Rabbi Boyden. Why
should I be delegitimized in this way?"

For Boyden, being denied the right to say 'El Maley Rachamim' is as
though "[Reform Jews] are good enough when it comes to our sons fighting
for the defense of the country, but we become second-class citizens when
it comes to this."

According to sources in the Hod Hasharon Municipality and on Yad
Labanim's board, all of whom asked to remain anonymous due to the
sensitivity of the issue, the removal of Boyden from the ceremony came
after an Orthodox Sephardic synagogue threatened to disrupt the ceremony
should Rabbi Boyden be allowed to chant the prayer from the stage.

According to the sources, local rabbinic leader Reuven Hiller, who was
asked not to deliver a sermon at this year's memorial ceremony after Yad
Labanim received complaints that previous memorial sermons were overtly
political and inappropriate, decided to work for the removal of the
Reform rabbi from the ceremony.

Hiller, however, disputed the claim vociferously. "It is the Committee
of Grieving Families [which organizes the ceremony] that decided to
enact changes this year," he insisted, noting that "the protocol of Yad
Labanim calls for 'El Maley Rachamim' to be chanted by a cantor. Dozens
of grieving families opposed the addition of Boyden to speak.


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