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Israeli High Court Decision a Win for Reform Judaism

Pelavin: “Today’s Israeli High Court of Justice decision ends one of the longstanding manifestations of government discrimination against non-Orthodox Judaism.”

Contact: Kate Bigam or Jeff Oakley
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 19, 2009 – The Israeli High Court of Justice today ruled in favor of ending funding discrimination against conversion programs run by non-Orthodox streams of Judaism. This case, brought by the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism, is a landmark recognition of Jewish pluralism in Israel. A statement from Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center, is available here. Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Today’s Israeli High Court of Justice decision ends one of the longstanding manifestations of government discrimination against non-Orthodox Judaism. The Court ordered the Immigration and Absorption Ministry to allocate resources equally when funding private conversion institutions.

As Reform Jews, we are well aware that our religious practice, treated equally in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere throughout the Diaspora, is not recognized in Israel. The irony of a Jewish state that does not allow its Jewish citizens to celebrate life, death and events in between through the religious expression of their choosing is deeply saddening.

Our colleagues at the Israel Religious Action Center and the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism have been tireless in their efforts to remedy the injustices in the Israeli government’s policies and practices that disfavor non-Orthodox religious activities. The Court has again made clear that there are multiple valid streams of Judaism in Israel, and that the state must take active responsibility for pluralism to ensure freedom of religion.

We call on the government of Israel, at all levels, to clearly, expeditiously, and unequivocally take the necessary steps to implement today’s decision. Even as we celebrate today’s decision, we are hopeful that it will be just one step on the path to full religious equality, as guaranteed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis



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