יום חמישי, מרץ 15, 2007
Reform support for Israeli movement
Leaders of Reform Judaism from around the world opened a conference in Jerusalem on Thursday whose agenda included a multimillion-dollar expansion of activities in Israel and a demand that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert take steps to officially recognize the movement and its conversions and rabbis.
The plan will include more than $100 million to support various activities of Israel's Reform movement, including
education and synagogue expansion, as well as elements that are not usually part of a religious movement's activities, such as investment in new Jewish art, providing religious services outside the synagogue, and social activism.
At a meeting with Olmert on Thursday morning at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, the leaders demanded an end to "institutionalized discrimination" against Reform institutions and beliefs, particularly in the allocation of government funds and the recognition of conversions and rabbis, both in Israel and abroad.
As a strict separationist, I would prefer that no religious organizations receive state subsidies or "recognition." But if subsidies and official recognition are going to continue to go to Orthodox institutions (and they will), I suppose it is about time Reform got to feed at the government's pork trough, too.*
The state aside, this initiative strikes me as a very good thing. Just last Shabbat we had a young visitor from Israel to our shul. I spoke to him afterwards and one of the things he said really struck me. He was impressed by hearing music, seeing women at the bimah, and the participation in our service. He had never seen anything like it in Israel.
* Pardon the very non-kosher reference. What do they call the "pork barrel" in Israel, anyway?