Paying Reform rabbi called step in right direction
June 8, 2012 | Jewish Tribune
Israel routinely pays salaries for more than 4,000 rabbis there and for many religious subsidies, but only if they are Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, or Chassidic. For the first time in its 64-year existence, Israel agreed to pay the wages of Reform Rabbi Miri Gold. The American Council for Judaism commends Israel on this decision.
The action was taken to settle a civil rights case filed by Rabbi Gold in 2005. Religious Affairs Minister Margi, threatened to resign rather than add a non-Orthodox rabbi to the government payroll, so payment will be from the ministry of culture and sport.
“This is a very important step towards achieving religious freedom in Israel for all its inhabitants,” Rabbi Gold told the Jerusalem Post. Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Reform Israel Religious Action Center, called the decision a “ray of hope.” We concur.
There is still a lot of work left to be done to make Israel the pluralistic, tolerant and democratic state cautioned Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union of Reform Judaism. In Israel, Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist rabbis are denied recognition and authority, cannot marry, divorce or even determine which Jews are members of their branch of Judaism.
As a supporter of religious freedom, tolerance, integration and equality for Jews and people of all faiths throughout the world, the American Council for Judaism welcomes this move towards a more just and equal treatment. Israel has one of the largest Jewish communities in the world and the welfare of those Jews is very much our concern as it should be the concern of Jews everywhere.
If there is going to be government support for people of one religion, people of all religions have a right to equal treatment as well as the right to the free exercise of their own religions.
Frank Hytken, Vice-President, The American Council for Judaism, Dallas, TX