Minister for Religious Services, David Azoulay (Shas), clarified in a Knesset speech Wednesday morning that his statements in an Army Radio interview Tuesday had been misrepresented.
"Interested parties exploited my statement to deepen the rift within the nation and increase the incitement,” he said.
"It is too bad that my words were removed from their context,” Azoulay complained. “The correction was made in the course of the interview but they ignored that. It is obvious to all that as Our Sages of Blessed Memory determined, Jews are Jews, even if they are sinners.”
“No one has a monopoly for determining who is a better Jews,” Azoulay added. “And yet, we see with great pain the danger of the Reformation in Judaism, which brought the greatest danger to the Jewish nation: assimilation.
"We pray that sins will be purged from the land – sins, not sinners,” he explained. “We will continue to pray for the entire nation of Israel to repent, while we ourselves will do everything possible to be a beacon of light and values for everyone.
"To sum up: the Nation of Israel has a long history of sticking to Judaism even during difficult times; we must continue to uphold the Jewish heritage.”
The original quotes
"A Reform Jew, once he does not follow the religion of Israel – then let us say, there is a problem. I cannot allow myself to say that he is Jewish,” Azoulay told Army Radio.
However, he did add immediately: "These are Jews who took a wrong turn along the road and we need to ensure that every Jew will go back into the fold of Judaism and accept everyone with love and joy,” he added.
"Unfortunately,” he said, “the Reforms who live abroad live in the Diaspora, most of them are people who made a mistake, like babes who were taken captive, and we would like for all of those Jews to go back to Judaism according to halacha (Jewish law – ed.). That is all.”