|Israel to fund non-Orthodox rabbis in reform victory|
|The Ministry of Religious Affairs has stated that it is moving towards a system to fund communal rabbis whereby the serving rabbi of any congregation, whether Orthodox or non-Orthodox, will be financially supported by the Ministry. The statement was made in response to a High Court Petition filed by the Reform Movement in Israel and the Conservative Movement, against the Ministry in January 2013 that argued that the fact that none of 157 state-employed neighborhood rabbis in Israel were from non-Orthodox streams constituted illegal discrimination.
However, The Jerusalem Post understands that it is doubtful is such measures will be successfully implemented.
In it’s reply to the High Court petition, the Ministry wrote that it is currently conducting a widespread reform of religious services, and that the position of the Deputy Minister for Religious Services, Eli Ben-Dahan who runs the ministry, as well as the full Minister Naftali Bennett, is to allow 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 too.” 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 Ministry of Religious Services 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.
“The announcement of the Ministry today is an important step in advancing this model,” Kariv added. Separately, Bayit Yehudi strongly objected to what they termed legislative vengeance against them by Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni.
Livni informed Deputy Minister for Religious Services Eli Ben-Dahan on Thursday that Hatnua was vetoing the planned reforms for the provision of religious services he announced last week, not including the congregational model for rabbinic funding, until such time that the bill proposed by her party to enlarge the electoral body for the chief rabbis, which was nixed yesterday by Bayit Yehudi, is revived as government legislation.
Bayit Yehudi states that it vetoed the enlargement of the chief rabbi electoral committee, termed the Stern bill after its architect Hatnua MK Elazar Stern, because the Likud party was seeking to have all fifty new delegates on the committee appointed by the prime minister, not as was agreed between Bayit Yehudi and Hatnua that the new delegates would be conducted in cooperation between both parties.
“This is a sad day for the citizens of the state, and it is puzzling that Minister Livni, who continuously elevates liberalism, decides to prevent the revolution in religious services,” Ben Dahan’s office said in a statement to the press on Thursday. “What is certain is that the direct result of Livni’s decision will be the eradication of competition and efficiency in the provision of religious services. We will fight this politicized and unwarranted decision.”
In turn, Hatnua denounced Bayit Yehudi for vetoing the Stern bill which they said was an ethical piece of legislation which should be adopted. “Therefore we vetoed the the bill for religious services of Bayit Yehudi in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation,” the party said.
I am 100% against this.
Israel needs to be at the guardian of Judaism not the facilitator of groups that have diverted from the main thoughts in Judaism that have kept Judaism alive for 2000 years.