Monday, June 11, 2012
Only days after the historical agreement with the Israel Government regarding our petition on the case of Rabbi Miri Gold, 1,200 members from Israeli Reform and Progressive congregations gathered in Kibbutz Shefayim (near Tel Aviv) to celebrate the 20th Biennial Conference of the Israel Movement for Reform & Progressive Judaism (IMPJ). These two events demonstrate how on the one hand, the our movement promotes the values of pluralism, freedom of religion, and equality for all Jewish streams through our legal public action, led by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), and on the other hand, touches the lives of thousands of Israeli families through our community, education and cultural grassroots activities.
These unique forces came together during the convention when we celebrated 25 years of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) – the legal and public arm of our movement, along with 25 years of Ganei Haim – the Jewish pluralistic network of preschools.
During the Biennial, leading politicians came to Shefayim to speak to our audience, giving further evidence to the impact our movement has on Israel's society. Furthermore, the conference concluded with welcoming four new congregations into the movement (Kehillat Yovel in Gedera, Kiryat Hayovel Havurah in Jerusalem, Mishkanot Ruth in Jaffa and Kehillat Halev in Tel Aviv). This Biennial was yet another exhibition of how our activities are leading Israel’s Jewish renaissance and strengthening Israel’s democracy.
I'm sorry you were not able to be with us to witness this, and hope you will join us at our Jubilee Biennial in May, 2014. Until then, I would like to invite you to watch this shor video, showing highlights of the events that captures the spirit of this Biennial.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv
The Israel Attorney-General’s announcement to recognize Reform and Conservative rabbis for government funding received widespread media coverage. For example:
The Washington Post commented that "… financial inequality, coupled with the government’s refusal to recognize non-Orthodox conversions and weddings performed in Israel, has sparked fireworks between successive Israeli leaders and American Jews. That’s why Reform, Masorti and many modern-Orthodox Jews consider the precedent a victory".
The New York Times further reported that these two progressive movements “…have about 100 congregations, and about 8 percent of Israeli Jews identify with [them]”. Read more…
The Israeli journalist Yair Ettinger of Ha’aretz, said this decision is “…an unprecedented move”. Read more…
Rabbi Gilad Kariv called it “A big step for Judaism” in his Ha’aretz op-ed.
You can also see here the joint letter of congratulations from Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Trade, Industry & Commerce Minister Shalom Simchon, as well as the press release from the Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.