New Jerusalem mayor snubs Reform leaders

JERUSALEM — In a controversial move, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky has abruptly canceled a meeting with the heads of Reform Jewry at Jerusalem's Hebrew Union College.

The reasons for the cancellations are in dispute, but the spat over the meeting came just 24 hours after Jerusalem's new haredi mayor miffed leaders of the international Reform community by not attending the movement's biannual conference in the city, which this year is marking the 30th anniversary of the transfer of Reform Judaism's international headquarters from New York to Jerusalem.

A spokesman for Lupoliansky said the mayor was not invited to that event.

But Rabbi Uri Regev, executive director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, which represents the Reform Movement in Israel, said an invitation that was originally sent to former Mayor Ehud Olmert was subsequently sent by registered mail to Lupoliansky's office.

Lupoliansky took over as mayor last month after Olmert's decision to reenter national politics.

After the mayor missed the Feb. 27 conference, a group of leaders from the Hebrew Union College were due to meet with him at his office on Friday, Regev and the mayor's spokesman said Sunday.

However, after that meeting was subsequently cancelled, recriminations and bitter allegations between Reform leaders and the mayor's office began to fly.

What Regev saw as "a failure of leadership"and nothing less than an attempt by Lupoliansky to "draw a wedge between Jerusalem and significant part of Judaism,"the mayor's spokesman brushed off as a logistical result of Tuesday's rare snowstorm.

"Despite the flood of requests to meet with the mayor since he took over last week, the mayor agreed to meet with the [Reform Movement's] delegation, but after being summoned to the office of the director-general of the Interior Ministry after the snow that fell in Jerusalem it was decided to postpone the meeting," the mayor's spokesman said in a statement.