Israel To Allow Non-Orthodox Rabbis To Serve in State-Funded Positions for First Time

Decision Follows Petition To Supreme Court To Change 'Discriminatory' Policy

By JTA

Published May 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Israel’s Ministry of Religious Services will, for the first time, allow non-Orthodox rabbis to serve in communal positions with state-funded salaries.

The announcement on Thursday of the intention to change current policy follows a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court filed in January by the Reform and Conservative movements arguing that it was discriminatory for the state to employ only Orthodox rabbis in state-funded positions. In response to the petition, the ministry wrote that it is currently revamping its policies to permit communities to receive funding for rabbis of their choice.

Thinkstock

“The idea is to formulate criteria for [state] support … without reference to the question of which Jewish denomination the congregation in question belongs to,” the ministry wrote, according to the Jerusalem Post. The ruling represents a milestone victory for the Reform and Conservative movements, which long have chafed at their second-class treatment by the Israeli government.

“We welcome the Religious Services Ministry’s intention to support in an equal manner communal rabbis of all denominations, as well as the recognition that the current reality of appointing neighborhood rabbis does not appropriately serve the Jewish public in Israel in all its forms,” said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the executive director of Israel’s Reform movement.

Israel’s non-Orthodox movements have been making incremental progress in their quest to achieve equal treatment with the Orthodox. Last year, Israel agreed to fund certain non-Orthodox rabbis on regional councils — not in cities — through the Ministry of Culture and Sport, not the Religious Services Ministry. The reforms now being advanced will rectify that discrepancy.

“We are reading this decision with great interest and are encouraged by the conclusion that the current system is broken,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism. “We believe that there should be choice in the system and we will continue to be engaged with this issue alongside our brothers and sisters in Israel until religious equality is codified in Israeli law.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.