Reform Judaism has distanced itself from young Jews connected to its youth movement who said the Jewish prayer for the dead for 62 Palestinians killed at the Gaza border two weeks ago.
The statement from three Reform leaders follows communal anger at the small group of mainly young Jews who said Kaddish for the dead, 50 of whom were known to be Hamas members by the time of their Parliament Square event.
Bloggers named some individuals within the group as Israel tour leaders for RSY-Netzer, prompting this week’s comment from Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Reform chair Geoffrey Marx, and Rabbi Josh Levy, the chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors.
Acknowledging that “many of our members were disturbed by” the group saying Kaddish at Parliament Square, they say: “As leaders of Reform Judaism, we deliberately chose not to attend. No one attended this event in any capacity whatsoever as representing Reform Judaism or RSY-Netzer.”
The trio added: “When RSY-Netzer discovered that most of those killed in Gaza were claimed as Hamas operatives, they acknowledged that had they known, they would not have shared this on Facebook.”
Among those associated with RSY-Netzer to attend was Nina Morris-Evans, who said: “By Jewishly mourning the lives lost, we were not condoning terrorism, Hamas or violence of any form. Rather, we were facing up to the ugly reality of what the Occupation results in time and time again.”
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Janner-Klausner, whose daughter was incorrectly accused of attending the event, spoke scathingly last week about the manner in which bloggers personally identified young Jews online, prompting direct abuse and harassment.
The furore began after IDF soldiers shot and killed 62 protesters on Monday, and injured more than 2,000. More than 800 Jews signed an online letter criticising Board of Deputies’ president Jonathan Arkush and president-elect Marie van der Zyl for “failing to place any responsibility on Israel” in the aftermath of the clashes.