May 27, 2022

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Participants in the “929 Bible Conference” are outraged following an announcement that one of the panel leaders will be Lucy Aharish. Aharish is a Christian Arab journalist who married a Jewish Israeli.

The conference is being advertised as “Israel’s first Bible conference.” The panel is entitled ‘Torah for all of the world.’

In response, the chief rabbi of the Judean village of Othniel and its Yeshiva, Rabbi Reem HaCohen, blasted the decision to allow Aharish to lead a panel noting that she married a Jew and is “anathema to everything Biblical.”

“Of course, there is a place for all people, but we must separate between the nation of Israel and the gentiles,” he told Arutz 7.

The report stated that many other rabbis opposed Aharish’s participation because she married a Jew.

She will be moderating one of many panels at the upcoming conference. The panel will focus on the meaning of the Tanakh for gentiles. It will include Israeli president Isaac Herzog and Supreme court judge Esther Hayut.

The conference’s initiator, Rabbi Benny Lau, responded: “this specific panel, ‘Torah for all of the world,’ was established to provide a dignified space for all religious streams.

But anti-missionary group Lehava head Bentxi Gopstein blasted the decision, comparing Aharish to the Biblical antagonist of Purim Haman, saying: “To put Lucy Aharish in something that is connected to the Tanakh is like having Haman sit on a panel about the Megilah.”

Rabbi Avraham Stav, an academic who published several books on Judaism, acknowledged acknowledging that intermarriage is a “terrible thing.” Still, he saw a silver lining in the conference, saying that spreading the Bible to the entire world is “an incredible contribution made by the Jewish people.”

He added that Aharish “has for years been a symbol of cultural coexistence and interfaith discussions and is therefore qualified to lead a panel that touches on Biblical matters and the nations around the world.”