The transfer of funds from Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sport to pay the salary of Rabbi Miri Gold and other rabbis serving on regional councils marks a historic step forward for the Reform and Masorti movements in Israel. The Rabbinical Assembly applauds this important victory for religious equality that holds great promise for the unity of the Jewish people around the world.
The transfer of these salaries to rabbis serving the Jewish people is consistent with the principles of Freedom of Religion and Conscience guaranteed by Israel’s declaration of independence, and hearkens to a time, hopefully not far off, when the Jewish state will fully embody the democratic ideals of freedom of religious expression under which it was founded. So long as the citizens of the State of Israel continue to choose state funding of religious activities, it is crucial that equal funding for all streams rapidly become normative. Given the vast nature of the state-funded Orthodox monopoly, religious freedom is precluded as a practical matter in the absence of such equal funding.
This landmark development comes at the same time as a significant statement by former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren, calling for religious equality of all streams of Judaism in Israel. We call ourselves the nation-state of the Jewish people, now we must live up to it, Oren said. The Conservative Movement joins Ambassador Oren, Prime Minister Netanyahu and all who wish to work towards this vital goal. Not only the security of the State of Israel, but the unity of the Jewish people, depend upon it.