Reform Judaism in Israel wins small battle for recognition

May 20, 2009

Ultra-Orthodox Jews dance at a wedding in Jerusalem. REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen (JERUSALEM)

The Reform Judaism movement in Israel claimed a small victory in its fight for recognition when the High Court this week ruled in favor of state funding for non-Orthodox conversions.

For years Reform and Conservative rabbis in Israel have been trying to break the monopoly of the ultra-Orthodox Rabbinic Court, which is the sole authority for Jewish ceremonies like weddings and conversions. That’s an especially big responsiblity in a country where there is no civil marriage, essentially forcing all Jewish Israelis to seek an Orthodox rabbi when they wish to wed — or go abroad.

The more modern, liberal movements have a less strict interpretation and observance of Jewish law than the Orthodox, who make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population.

This week’s ruling came after the Reform movement petitioned the court, seeking state funding for conversions carried out by non-Orthodox movements. Whether it will have any real impact is unclear, since the Jewish state still only recognises Orthodox conversions for legal purposes.


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I started to chuckle when I read your line “That’s an especially big responsiblity in a country where there is no civil marriage…”

If only the Rabbinical Court ‘dayanim’ (judges) saw themselves as fulfilling a RESPONSIBILITY!

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Posted by Joel Katz | Report as abusive

Why do we tend to view theocracies with contempt, except Israel?

Posted by Ayin bar Adolf | Report as abusive