For Immediate Release:
Statement regarding Israeli Government’s Affirmative Vote for Ritual Bath Funding
ARZA, The Association of Reform Zionists of America, applauds the Israeli government’s affirmative vote and plan to invest 10 million shekels ($2.6 million) to construct four mikvaot to be used by Reform and Masorti Jews in Israel for their purposes including for Jews-by-Choice in their conversion rituals.
Though ARZA supports this decision, we remain concerned about the governing coalition’s unwillingness to confront anti-Reform extremism by Members of the Knesset, members of the governing coalition, and in the country as a whole. Time and again, political and Orthodox actors seeking to deny the legitimacy of Reform and Masorti Judaism have targeted these streams’ rabbis and access to such sacred sites as the Kotel and mikvaot.
This compromise solution is not enough: separate is not equal.
As long as state funds are available for Orthodox yeshivot, synagogues, and mikvaot, equivalent funds must be made available to the Israeli Reform and Masorti movements. They should not be forced to rely upon private donations and largess for their growth and operations, nor should Reform and Masorti rabbis be compensated by an entity other than the Rabbinate (non-Orthodox rabbis are compensated currently by the same ministry that compensates athletic coaches).
Reform Zionism seeks an Israel that is democratic, diverse, and free from religious coercion, and in which the tax dollars paid by Reform and Masorti Jews are not used to support religious spaces to which they cannot access and use according to their respective traditions. ARZA will continue to fight for an Israel that is pluralistic, democratic and open to all.