Jun 7, 2012

CJP in Boston: Statement on Religious Pluralism in Israel

Statement on Religious Pluralism in Israel

CJP applauds the decision of Israel's High Court last week to both recognize and subsidize the salaries of Reform and Conservative rabbis. Until this recent decision, only male Orthodox leaders were recognized officially as "rabbis" in order to have their pay subsidized by the state.

For Jews around the world, it is a significant decision that brings all streams of our faith closer to the Jewish State. As one Knesset member noted, the decision "tightens the ties between Israel and the Jews around the world, particularly American Jews."

Miri Gold, the Reform rabbi who first brought the case to Israeli courts six years ago, will be the first non-Orthodox rabbi to be paid by Israel's government and recognized in her position by the state. Fifteen other rabbis will receive similar recognition under the still limited ruling, which could be amended or expanded by Israel's Supreme Court.

"This is a big step for religious pluralism and democracy in Israel," Rabbi Gold said in a statement. "Israeli Jews want religious alternatives and with this decision, the State is starting to recognize this reality. There is more than one way to be Jewish, even in Israel."

CJP, along with many other organizations, has long been working toward greater pluralism and gender equality in Israel. In the early 1990s, we successfully lobbied against an effort that would have excluded non-Orthodox Jewish converts from being considered Jews under Israel's Right of Return law. We have also developed and supported curricula in Haifa's high schools that educate students about the broad range of Jewish religious traditions in Israel and in the Diaspora.

This announcement from Israel is just a first step, but it is a meaningful one. We hope that Israel's new governing coalition will work toward greater equality for all of Israel's citizens.


CJP welcomes the participation of interfaith couples and families, and people of all abilities, backgrounds and sexual orientations.

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Combined Jewish Philanthropies
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