Friday, May 31, 2013

News the HP Doesn't Cover: Israel to Fund Non-Orthodox Rabbinate

Another (small) step in fighting against the power of the Orthodox in Israel:

The Religious Services Ministry has said that it is moving toward a system in which the serving rabbi of any congregation, whether Orthodox or non-Orthodox, will be financially supported by the ministry.
The statement was made on Thursday in response to a High Court petition filed in January against the ministry by the Reform Movement in Israel and the Conservative Movement, arguing that it is illegal discrimination that the 157 state-employed neighborhood rabbis are all Orthodox.
The Jerusalem Post, however, understands that it is doubtful such measures will be implemented because of opposition to them from elements within the ministry.
In its reply to the High Court petition, the ministry wrote that it is currently conducting a widespread reform of religious services, and that Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan – who runs the ministry – as well as Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett, support allowing congregations to receive funding for the rabbi of their choice, instead of providing funding for neighborhood rabbis appointed by the state.
“The general intention is to conduct a fundamental change, so that communal rabbis will be granted financial support, who will be employed by the congregations in which they operate, instead of employing neighborhood rabbis through the local religious councils,” the ministry wrote. “The idea is to formulate criteria for [state] support... without reference to the question of which Jewish denomination the congregation in question belongs to.”
Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv said the implementation of the stated goals would be an important step in bringing about equality in the provision of state-funded religious services.
“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,” Kariv said in a statement to the press.
He said the Reform Movement had worked for many years to promote a model of government support for Jewish communities on a congregational basis.

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