Cancellation of Conversion Reform Angers Israelis

9 July 2015

In a major setback for religious freedom in Israel, the Israeli cabinet has approved a proposal by the religious party Shas to cancel the reform of the Jewish conversion process begun by the previous government. Minister of Religious Services and Shas MK David Azoulai rubbed salt in the wounds of much of world Jewry by declaring, “Reform Jews aren’t Jews.”

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Executive Director of NIF grantee the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, has demanded that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reprimand Azoulai. He also said, “The Israeli government has awarded a prize to the Orthodox monoply, even though its only achievement has been the double one of driving the Israeli public away from Jewish tradition, while continuing to harm the basic right of Israel’s citizens to equality and freedom of worship.”

Rabbi Kariv added, “The Cabinet decision to transfer the rabbinical courts responsible for conversion from the Justice Ministry to the Religious Affairs Ministry shows just how far the rabbinical courts are not part of a proper and democratic justice system but merely a branch of the corrupt and degenerate rabbinical establishment. This decision gives young couples in Israel another reason to turn their back on marriage at the rabbinate and vote with their feet and hearts against the rabbinical monopoly.”

“In this situation,’ he concluded, “We call on the forces of moderation in religious Zionism to shake off the illusion that the State rabbinical establishment can be rebuilt from within through short-term reforms, and to redesign State-religious relations in Israel on a community, clean and pluralistic basis.

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