Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90
Funeral at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.

The IDF will allow officiation by male and female Reform clergy in military funerals, according to a representative for the state who spoke on Thursday before the High Court of Justice in response to a petition by the Hidush (renewal) group for freedom of religion and equality, Kan News reported.

Hidush requested that the IDF allow military funerals without religious symbols.


The state’s representative, attorney Avi Milikovsky, added that it would be possible to hold a military funeral without religious symbols and to excise content such as reading the Kaddish and the Psalms, and adding alternative content.

According to Milikovsky, the military funeral ceremony is clearly structured, so that deviations can be performed easily and flexibly.

Reform movement attorney Uri Regev, representing the Hidush movement, said that in his opinion conducting a ceremony by a female Reform clergy would be a rare occurrence, while secular military burials may become commonplace.

“We are entering a new era,” Regev said.

The Reform Movement’s CEO, Gilad Kariv, welcomed the move: “In a reality in which thousands of soldiers celebrate their Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies in Reform communities, and thousands of army veterans are asking Reform rabbis to conduct their weddings, the change in the position of the state and the army is a necessary thing.”

“This move shows that despite the waves of incitement and institutional discrimination against Reform Judaism, Israeli society has forged a blessed reality in which there is more than one way to be Jewish,” Kariv said.

The Reform movement’s roots are deep in Christian culture and values. Originally, the clergy led services in black clerical robes similar to those worn by Christian clergy and used choirs and organ players. Reform prayer has been altered over two centuries, to the point where it is sometimes difficult to discern where Jewish ideas end and humanistic and Protestant beliefs enter. Until after WW2, the US Reform movement was anti-Zionist outright, but as the prestige of the State of Israel has risen, starting in the 1967 Six Day War, the Reform have warmed up to Zionism.

The most egregious damage to Jewish life in the US has been caused by the Reform movement’s decision to accept Patrilineal Descent, meaning that one is recognized as a Jew if his father was Jewish. This has contributed greatly to the blending of distinction between Jew and gentile, to the point where it is estimated that as many as half the Reform movement are not Jews according to Jewish law.

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