It’s Time for a New Israel-Diaspora Conversation
The Reform Movement in North America is larger than the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reconstructionist movements combined….With Sen. Lieberman’s retirement, every Jewish member of the Senate and House is a Reform or Conservative Jew….Reform and Conservative Jews are leaders in every part of our society, so the fact that Israel remains the only democracy in the world that legally discriminates against the streams of Judaism representing the majority of Jews alienates Jews and...erodes Israel’s image as a home to democracy and religious freedom....
It is time for a new conversation between Israelis and the Diaspora.
—URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs speaking at the Knesset, November 2013
Inroad into Religious Equality
“We’ve gotten a foot in the door [of religious equality] and are moving towards the next level—to be part of decisions on personal status: freedom of choice in marriage, divorce, conversions.”
—Steven Beck, director, Israel-Diaspora Relations, Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), in response to the successful resolution of a 2005 IRAC lawsuit against the State of Israel spearheaded by Rabbi Miri Gold. In early January 2014, Israel’s Culture and Sport Ministry transferred funds to Israel’s Reform Movement to cover the salaries of four non-Orthodox communal rabbis the government had been ordered to pay in June 2012—the first time such salaries have been paid by the government. Orthodox rabbis have long received funding by the Israeli government for their service to Israeli communities.