Leading Religious Zionism rabbi, Binyamin (“Benny”) Lau, lambasted Israel’s pro-life group Efrat for “irresponsible” language. The group interprets rabbinical law like “Catholic law,” he charged.
The Israeli-born rabbi is a leader in the Religious Zionism movement, which believes the land of “Greater Israel” (Eretz Yisrael) – whose borders could include portions of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt – have been given in perpetuity to the Jewish people.
Rabbi Lau, who founded the Institute for Social Justice at Beit Morasha’s Robert M. Beren College and Bar-Ilan University, stirred controversy last February when he called on Jews to pray for the death of an infirm rabbi, Rav Elyashiv.
The comments came as Efrat was due to receive the Jerusalem Prize on Monday. Dozens of demonstrators showed up, barging in on the event and getting into a shouting match.
Jerusalem City Councilwoman Laura Wharton said Efrat’s decision to help only Jewish women is “explicitly racist.”
Feminist organizations blamed Efrat after the 17-year-old boyfriend of a pregnant girl whose baby the group rescued got into a suicidal gunfight with police in October.
“I think [Efrat] should be investigated rather than get a prize,” she said.
Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger and Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar recently praised Efrat by name in a letter that called the killing of unborn children “murder.”
“As in past, we call on all rabbis in Israel” to “raise in their words and sermons in synagogues…the severe prohibition of abortion,” they wrote.
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They wrote they were motivated to stop the loss of “Jewish souls” inflicted by tens of thousands of abortions nationwide.
The two previously called abortion “a grave sin” in a 2008 joint letter.
Under Israeli law, abortions must be approved by a board but are permitted on broad grounds that include rape, incest, adultery, if the woman is under 17 years of age or over 40, if the woman’s health is at risk, or if the baby is suspected to have a physical or mental handicap.