Speaking Out for Religious Pluralism in Israel

“Freedom of Religion in Israel” was the message on the signs held up today by Reform, Conservative, and secular Jews in front of the office of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem. Inside the building, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Rav Amar was holding a meeting in order to attempt to derail the decision of the Israeli Government to begin providing salaries for 15 non-Orthodox community rabbis.

Members and leadership of the Israeli Masorti and worldwide Reform movements gathered for today’s protest, including representatives from the URJ, ARZA, the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), ARZENU, as well as representatives from the protest’s organizers, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and the Israel Religious Action Center. Said Rabbi Stephen Fuchs, President of the WUPJ, as he addressed the crowd, “Standing here today in Jerusalem are represented all the members of our worldwide Reform family.”

URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, who was among today’s protestors, spoke of the Ref0rm Movement’s commitment to protecting religious pluralism in Israel in his installation sermon earlier this month:

Guarding Israel’s security is our sacred responsibility. So too is the need to ensure that the values we hold dear—equality, tolerance, pluralism, democracy—are understood and protected in Israel.   We support the state of Israel, a state that is Jewish and democratic, that one day soon will live side by side in peace with the state of Palestine.

Just last week our Movement won a great victory for all non-orthodox Jews when the Israeli government finally agreed to pay Rabbi Miri Gold for her service to her community.  Years of petitions and legal battles preceded this historic decision but we’ve still got a long way still to go to make sure that Israel protects and supports all expressions of Judaism.

Our sacred mission in the world includes strengthening our place within Am Yisrael, the Jewish people.  Ever since Abraham and Sarah, being Jewish has meant being part of something larger than ourselves.  We are responsible for our people no matter what their practice of Judaism, no matter where they call home.  Our circle of Jewish responsibility includes those we may not know by name, those who think, earn, believe and vote differently than we do.

The Reform Movement is committed to ensuring that the decision to pay non-Orthodox Israeli rabbis will be implemented and is also working toward expanding this decision to include rabbis serving in municipal areas.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs (in tie) is flanked by Rabbi Gilad Kariv and Anat Hoffman of the IRAC, among others, at today's protest (Image courtesy of IRAC)

Editor’s Note: The original post did not include ARZENU. We regret the accidental omission! 

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Kate Bigam

About Kate Bigam

Kate Bigam is the URJ's Social Media and Community Manager. Prior to this, she served as a Congregational Representative for the URJ's East District and at the Religious Action Center as Press Secretary and as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Kate resides in Northeast Ohio.

One Response to “Speaking Out for Religious Pluralism in Israel”

  1. avatar

    We American Reform $
    Jews should of course promote pluralism in Israel. However the news that there is a”Major Pay Gap for Women Reform Rabbis” should receive equal attention and should be rectified immediately. The fact that women are underpaid relative to men throughout Jewish organizations in the U.S. has been known for many years yet where are the voices of protest? Let us in the Reform movement take the lead to rectify this imbalance.

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