Freshman Likud MK Yehuda Glick has been portrayed by media as an "extremist" for his activism pressing for Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount, but in an interview with the far left paper Haaretz on Thursday he revealed he has prayed at a Reform temple.
"I was in a Reform synagogue several times," Glick told the paper, referencing the Reform movement which rejects the Divine nature of the Torah and the continuity of Halakha.
"It was at the Kol Haneshama Congregation in (Jerusalem's) Baka, and I prayed a full prayer. I went out of curiosity, three or four times. It isn't my natural home. It isn't a place I would go to every Shabbat. I do see myself as obligated to the Halakha (Jewish law) and see myself praying at a place where they pray according to Halakha," he said.
However, he added, "I certainly don't see a reason not to pray at a Reform synagogue and don't see a reason not to do it (even) today."
"I treat a Reform synagogue with a female rabbi as I treat a Reform synagogue with a male rabbi. If someone wants there to be a female rabbi in their congregation, excellent, let there be a female rabbi. I don't see anything problematic."
Explaining further, Glick said, "I myself am an Orthodox person and I don't think that the Reform approach is correct, and I don't view Reform male or female rabbis as Halakhic-rabbinic figures. But if a female Reform rabbi writes a Torah article I don't see a problem in reading and studying it. And there is no reason for us not to cooperate."
"No problem with Reform Kotel"
The new MK said he has no problem with space at the Kotel (Western Wall) being allocated for Reform Jews, in a reference to a new plan for a second Reform prayer space that experts have warned will harm the ancient archaeology of the site.
"As far as I'm concerned the Kotel has no more value than another place. I don't see any problem in them giving Reform Jews part of the Kotel, as long as they don't force anyone to accept their customs. I also didn't understand what's the big difference between the Ezrat Yisrael plaza (built in 2013) that there is today and what there is going to be (now)."
"Once in a while I see mixed prayers and dancing there. In my eyes the differences between the compromise and the situation today are not significant. There is no problem with there being Reform clerks approving budgets for the space."
In a call of acceptance, Glick said, "I don't think you need to boycott Reform Jews or reach a situation, like in certain sectors, where the word 'Reform' is the worst curse. I can not agree with the Reform Jews. I think that they are really making a mistake. But I think we need to meet with them, like I meet with secular Jews who drive on Shabbat and with people who don't ascend the Temple Mount."
"The rabbinate is an Halakhic body and you cannot force Reform rabbis on it. But if there is a community that wants a Reform spiritual leader you don't need to prevent them. I believe in supply and demand. In my opinion the demand for Reform communities in Israel is a bit less than in the United States."
"Don't just copy the men"
Glick then spoke about women being involved in religious matters, saying, "I think that the fact that a person sees a woman wearing tefilin (phylacteries) at the Kotel and thinks that it's a desecration of God's name - there's something warped about that."
"I am happy that there is a large amount of women who want to be active in spiritual fields. That's part of the process of the redemption that the woman advances in synagogues, in Torah study. That women want to be integrated in the world of faith. It expresses advancement, not a descent. It's part of the process of the redemption."
The new MK said, "what worries me is that the women who express feminism try to copy the men, to be like the men. I would expect that women wouldn't try to study Torah and read the Torah (publicly) like the men, that they would give feminine insight, innovations in Torah and prayer."
"To do a female priestly blessing is mimicry. Develop something. Create something new in the spiritual world, something else, a new song."
Glick has long fought for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, where the Jordanian Waqf has been left with de facto control and bans Jewish prayer in a violation of Israel's laws guaranteeing freedom of religion.
However, after Glick was sworn in as an MK Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reprimanded him for visiting the Temple Mount the day before, and told him "this is the last time you do something like this to me."
Glick has made statements that stand in stark contrast to the "hard-liner" portrayal he has received in world media. For example, he angered many nationalists back in March when he rushed to condemn IDF soldier Elor Azariya for shooting a wounded terrorist in Hevron, even before an investigation of the incident.