Dozens of rabbis and community leaders across Judaism’s religious spectrum signed a statement calling for sweeping reforms to Israel’s official religious establishment and its policies.
The statement, which was published Friday morning, was written by Reform Rabbi Uri Regev, founder of the Israeli religious pluralism nonprofit Hiddush, and Orthodox Rabbi Marc Angel, the former leader of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City. It was signed by nearly 50 prominent rabbis and activists in the United States and Israel, including the actors Mayim Bialik and Michael Douglas.
The statement calls for Israel to enact seven reforms Regev has long championed: to establish civil marriage; to officially recognize conversions of all denominations; to abolish local and national chief rabbi positions; to provide equal access to state funding and services for people of all faiths; to privatize the religious court system; to integrate all citizens into the country’s mandatory military and civil service; and to accommodate gender equality at holy sites. It also calls on Israel to continue officially maintaining a Jewish character.
“The goal of providing total religious freedom remains to be achieved,” the statement’s preamble says.
The statement comes at the end of a Jewish calendar year that saw Israel’s government freeze a plan to expand an egalitarian space at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, in June.