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Friday, 26 October 2007

President Peres reaches out to leader of British Reform Jews

Peres reaches out to leader of British Reform Jews
By Daphna Berman
President Shimon Peres called yesterday for a more inclusive definition
of Judaism and said the Jewish people have the right to decide who is a
rabbi. He made the comments in his first official meeting with
representatives of the Reform movement since he assumed the post in
July. The meeting yesterday with leaders of Britain's Reform movement
came in the wake of last year's crisis after then president Moshe Katsav
refused to use the title "rabbi" in addressing Rabbi Eric Yoffie,
president of the Union for Reform Judaism, which represents some 1.5
million Reform Jews in North America.

During the half-hour meeting at the President's Residence, Peres
addressed delegation leader Rabbi Dr. Tony Bayfield as "rabbi,"
according to participants. Bayfield heads the Movement for Reform
Judaism in the United Kingdom.

"If rabbis have a right to decide who is a Jew, the Jewish people have a
right to decide who is a rabbi," Peres reportedly told the group. The
president also said that he was "troubled" by attempts to narrowly
define Jewishess. "We are a disappearing people," he said. "We are not
the Chinese. There are only 14-15 million of us. We need to be more
careful, generous and understanding."

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