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Jacob Kraus

As a part of the Knesset’s summer session, Israel’s legislative body recently passed a law banning Reform and Conservative conversions at the state’s publicly-funded and maintained ritual baths, or mikvaot. The bill, which passed on Monday, July 25, came as a response to a Supreme Court ruling made in February that required the Ministry of Religious Services to open their mikvaot to Conservative and Reform conversions. The Ministry, which is dominated by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, argued before the court that Reform and Conservative conversions were not religiously valid and therefore...

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Israeli Reform Jews march in the Jerusalem pride parade

Across the world, pride parades are often more than a celebration of the LGBT community; they can be acts of solidarity in the face of discrimination and fear. This was especially true in Jerusalem last week, when 25,000 people marched through the streets of the city to affirm the humanity of LGBT Israelis.

This year’s parade took place after a number of setbacks had threatened the parade’s success. The week before, organizers had cancelled the Beersheva pride parade due to a Supreme Court ruling that would have kept marchers away from the city’s main thoroughfare. In the days...

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The "Echoes" Symbol, (((  )))

On June 6, the Anti-Defamation League chose to add a chilling combination of regularly-used punctuation to their database of hate symbols. The newest addition is the “echoes” symbol, a set of three parentheses that enclose a name online. Members of the alt-right, a politically conservative movement where white nationalists and anti-Semites have found a virtual home, developed the symbol and use it to target Jews online. A number of journalists, including the New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman, report having their name tweeted inside the three parentheses in order to signal a barrage of anti-...

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Summer in Israel is probably best known for days at the beach, hiking in the hills and the many foreign tourists who come to visit the country. But the summer is also a critical time for Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, which meets for a three-month session that began on May 23 this year.

Intrigue surrounding this summer’s session began even before the session itself opened, as Prime Minister Netanyahu negotiated a deal to expand his coalition from 61 seats, the smallest possible majority in the body, to 66 seats. Under the agreement, the right-wing Yisrael Beitinu (Israel, our...

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Reform Rabbis Gathered at the Kotel's Egalitarian Plaza

Late in January, the Israeli Government voted to approve a historic agreement to establish an egalitarian space at the Western Wall that would, for the first time in Israeli history, recognize the role of Reform and Conservative Judaism at the Kotel. Since then, though, the plan has seen fierce opposition and delays. Now, many of us are wondering: When will we see the improvements that were promised more than five months ago?

This is the exact question a delegation of American Jewish leaders posed to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem on June 1. URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs,...

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