Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Israel Supports Non-Orthodox

Israel has freedom of religion, but it also has an official religious establishment consisting entirely of Orthodox rabbis.  This establishment does not recognize ceremonies from the Conservative and Reform traditions, which is why, to pick one example, many Jews get a civil marriage abroad and then have it recognized in Israel, since they can't have one of their own tradition in the country.  Thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision, however, the wall of recognition of Conservatives and Reform Jews has finally been breached:
"But last week, in response to a Supreme Court petition calling for equal funding of pulpit rabbis, Israel’s Attorney General said that for the first time the state would begin paying salaries of clergy from non-Orthodox denominations. Liberal Jewish groups hailed it as a landmark in the campaign for wider pluralism, even though the Orthodox religious monopoly on the state-funded rabbinate is still intact...
"At the same time however, change is almost certain to prompt resistance from the parliament’s influential Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox religious parties, who have threatened to bring down government over issues of religion and state...
"Israel’s minister for religious services, Yaacov Margi, threatened to resign before agreeing to pay the salary of clergymen he views as apostates. A colleague from Mr. Margi’s party said the decision 'harmed the soul of the Jewish people.'"

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