On behalf of the leadership, staff and congregations of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, I want to wish you and your family a Chag Pesach Same’ach – a happy and meaningful Passover.
The Psachim Tractate in the Talmud teaches us that Hillel the Elder would eat the Matzah and Maror together, according to the verse from the Book of Numbers: “they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs” (9; 11). This custom, which was adopted into the Passover Hagadah and followed to this day, seems more relevant than ever.
In an ever-divisive society, both within and outside of Israel, the IMPJ continues working to make egalitarian and pluralistic Judaism a commonplace practice, striving to make Israel a place guided by both its Jewish and democratic values, where people of all Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds feel welcome and free to live and practice as they see fit. Over the past year: we have continued working to make the Kotel, the holiest site to the Jewish people, a place where all can worship according to their beliefs; we have continued striving towards an Israel where non-Orthodox conversions are recognized; we have continued establishing Reform and Progressive congregations in places where no egalitarian option is present; and have continued to fight against injustices in Israeli society.
On Passover, we are commanded to remember the story of the exodus from Egypt, and to always remember that we were strangers in the land of Egypt. From this, we are told: “And you shall not mistreat a stranger, nor shall you oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:20) We must take this line and apply it to our lives. With it as our guide, the IMPJ continues to struggle for the “stranger in our land” and stand up against the deportation of Asylum seekers. On this Erev Pesach, may you too take pertinent lessons from this holiday of freedom and teach them to your children, and may we see a future where these lessons guide our society.
We are gaining ground in Israel every day, this past fall we implemented a survey regarding Reform and Progressive Judaism on a national level in Israel. Among many intriguing results, it was found that 11% of secular Israeli Jews identify themselves as Reform and Progressive Jews, as opposed to around 6% six years ago. The survey also found that 56% of the secular public and 38% of the traditional (masorti) public have attended a lifecycle celebration (Bar/Bat Mitzvah or wedding) led by a Reform or Conservative rabbi in recent years. With these positive findings, we are motivated to continue making Reform and Progressive Judaism accessible to the Israeli public and will continue to expand our outreach, showing that there is more than one way to be Jewish in Israel.
As we approach Israel’s 70th Anniversary, I wish to invite you for a celebration of Reform and Progressive Zionism in the IMPJ's 23rd Biennial Convention, which will be held on the 1-2 of June in Kibbutz Shefayim.
The Biennial will include a full track in English for our guests from around the world.
Finally – I want to take this opportunity to thank you again for your partnership, friendship and support, without which, none of what we do could be accomplished.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv