web analytics
February 27, 2015 / 8 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Reform and Conservative Leaders Deemed Rabbis, to Receive Israeli State Funds

Reform Jewish Service Wikipedia

The Israeli government announced on Tuesday that, for the first time, it will pay the salaries of a small number of Reform and Conservative rabbis who are considered leaders in their communities, and will also recognize them as rabbis.

The state initially agreed to recognize non-Orthodox rabbis as “community leaders”, but a panel of judges led by Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to agree to the terminology “rabbi of a non-Orthodox community”, which the State subsequently did.

The deal, brokered in response to a 2005 petition by the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, in the name of the Reform community of Kibbutz Gezer and community leader Rabbi Miri Gold, extends to up to 15 non-Orthodox rabbis in farming communities and regional councils.

While the salaries of Orthodox rabbis come from the Ministry of Religious Services, monies for the non-Orthodox rabbis will come from the Ministry of Culture and Sport.  The funding is earmarked as financial assistance, and will not constitute direct employment by local authorities.  It will also not be applicable in large cities, but only in small outlying towns and agricultural communities.  Up until now, all funding for the salaries of non-Orthodox rabbis in Israel have come from local membership dues.

The move will not impact the Orthodox Rabbinate’s control of marriages, conversions, and related legal questions, and will not render the non-Orthodox rabbis legal, religious, or halachic deciders.

Rabbi Dov Lipman, Director of the English Speakers Division of Am Shalem, a party led by former Shas MK Haim Amsalem, blamed the religious establishment’s rigidity for leading Israelis to seek an alternative to Orthodox Judaism.  “I feel that the unwillingness of the establishment to be more embracing and willing to solve problems has led us to this point,” Rabbi Lipman told The Jewish Press.  “I believe we have reached this point because over the last few decades, extremist parties have taken control of the religious ministry and religious services. Their policies have distanced people from Judaism and have led to the search for official alternatives.”  He said Am Shalem seeks, in accordance with Jewish law, to “restore religious services to their more embracing nature, as it was when the State was founded”  in order to make them more sensitive to the needs of the wide array of Israeli Jews, including converts.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of Israel’s Reform movement, praised “the state’s decision to support the activities of Reform rabbis in regional councils, while clearly acknowledging their roles as rabbis,” and called it “an important breakthrough in the efforts to advance freedom of religion in Israel.”  Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, said the measure made it “a historic day for Israelis and Jews around the world.”  Rabbinical Assembly President Rabbi Gerald Skolnik said he hoped the decision would “open the door to new and exciting Jewish spiritual opportunities”.

Religious Service Minister Yaakov Margi (Shas) responded to the news by threating to resign if the salaries would be drawn from the Religious Services Ministry.  MK Uri Ariel (National Union) called recognition of non-Orthodox Jewish chaplains as rabbis “anti- Jewish” and a “serious injury to the values of Israel”, and said that the decision to equate non-Orthodox rabbis with Orthodox ones would be “recorded with shame”.

According to Gold and Anat Hoffman, executive director of the legal arm of the Reform Movement in Israel, the Reform movement will now seek recognition for Reform and Conservative rabbis as state and city rabbis.  The Conservative “Masorti” movement is represented in just 100 congregations throughout Israel and approximately 8 percent of Israeli Jews.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Hoffman said major support for their Israeli campaign – “the engine making this happen” – came from Diaspora Jewry, telling the Post “Israel is too important to be left to Israelis.”

Hoffman also said that she believes the move will cause Orthodox Jewry to understand that it is in competition for adherents, and that it will be forced to make itself more attractive to all those looking to find their place in Judaism.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

6 Responses to “Reform and Conservative Leaders Deemed Rabbis, to Receive Israeli State Funds”

  1. This could be an excellent program, so long as Government purse-strings on income is not used to 'control' the direction of the Faith. Pray, the Government does not attempt to control, in future years, after the Rabbi's are used to a decent income. I pray this is a good thing happening.

  2. This is an historic decision. Kol Hakavod!

  3. "Hoffman also said that she believes the move will cause Orthodox Jewry to understand that it is in competition for adherents, and that it will be forced to make itself more attractive to all those looking to find their place in Judaism." Seriously???

  4. Yori Yanover says:

    Jenni — Not so far fetched. Consider Daniel Boyarin’s theory that Rabbinic Judaism was born as a reaction to the emergence of Christianity, which the Reform movement resembles in many ways (except the son of God thing).

    Boyarin argues that until the appearance of Christianity, the Prushim sect was largely self-involved, keeping apart from the common people and from the Tzdokim sect that controlled the Temple. But when the Christian sect appeared, the first real monotheistic competition, its threat drove the sages to develop the idea of the rabbinic umbrella which includes all the Jews.

    I suspect that in face of a more powerful Reform presence in Israel, the rabbis here will become aware of its pull on Jews who don’t understand their own tradition, and might just try to reach out to them in their language and on their terms.

  5. Muriel Coudurier-Curveur says:

    Why not? They are Jews, they are rabbis, they are not orthodox, so they should be recognized as what they are. I feel that they should have also the right to officiate at the marriage of non-orthodox Jews and those marriages be recognized by the government. It's a matter of fairness to all Israeli Jews. I'm not a reformed Jew, but I refuse to see Jews ostracized in Israel, just because their understanding of the Torah may not match mine.

  6. Like this Rabbi Leon Pettyjohn.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner
House Speaker Boehner Says Netanyahu Speech Won’t Harm US-Israel Relations
Latest News Stories
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner asserts next week’s speech to Congress by Israeli PM Netanyahu won’t hurt US-Israel relations.

The southern tip of the Dead Sea.

Jordan and Israel signed an historic agreement Thursday to implement the Red Sea-Dead Sea rescue pipeline project.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Dec. 30, 2014.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice and US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power will represent the Obama administration at AIPAC next week.

Photo of Al Qaeda founder and former leader, Osama Bin Laden, seen above a Palestinian Authority flag.

A NYC jury has convicted Al Qaeda’s ‘minister of communications’ on charges connected to the 1998 bombing of a US embassy in East Africa.

Netanyahu to meet with bipartisan congressional leadership before he addresses the joint session of Congress on March 3.

Jihadi John, the British beheader in Daesh-land (Islamic State) has been tentatively identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a Brit, born in Kuwait, who grew up in West London and has a degree in computer programming. His former friends who have identified him, and are positive its him.

An Arab tried to stab an IDF soldier at the Gush Etzion junction on Thursday evening.

“It is a development that I did not expect five years ago and that’s a bit shocking.”

The survey also revealed that 52 percent of the respondents have an unfavorable view of the president.

The PA says the New York court decision is “a tragic disservice to the millions of Palestinians who have invested in the democratic process and the rule of law.

No one was injured, and anti-Christian graffiti was sprayed painted on walls.

Hamas security forces stopped PA Arab writer, Atef Abu Saif, from attending a book fair in Morocco recently where the noted writer and the fiction award finalist had been nominated for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

Canadian leaders have condemned an anti-Semitic incident that left five cars damaged and their owners badly shaken in a Jewish neighborhood of Montreal this week.

Frightening anti-Semitic vandalism has arrived at a Montreal parking garage, and a Jewish neighborhood is deeply worried following damage to five cars and death threats.

More Articles from Jewish Press Staff Reporter
Drone Intercept Along Syrian Border 1

The IDF shot down a Syrian fighter jet that infiltrated Israeli air space, using a Patriot missile.

Temple Mount Contraband

Whether on or off the Temple Mount, the police just seem to love to arrest Rabbi Yehuda Glick.

The Israel Tax Authority has reached agreement with the U.S. to coordinate info between the IRS and Israeli banks.

Avraham Ben-Tzvi believes the Eitam hill, Efrat’s only remaining land reserve, must be developed urgently, or the town will lose it for good.

“They have two choices, to live in dignity or die with honor.”

Late last night The Jewish Press attended a phone briefing with IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich. This is a transcript of the conference, with some of the figures updated.

A clip from NBC showing Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman’s parents’ reaction to her uneven bar routine has garnered close to 100,000 hits on You Tube.

The State Dept. press director Patrick Ventrell said, “We’ve seen the reports … but we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/reform-and-conservative-leaders-deemed-rabbis-to-receive-israeli-state-funds/2012/05/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: