Israel and the Jewish People Now – How to Support Religious Pluralism in Israel

Israel and the Jewish People Now
“To Support the State of Israel and the Jewish People Everywhere”
How to Support Religious Pluralism in Israel
Marc Silverstein, Chairman, Israel Action Committee

Religious Pluralism in Israel
The American Jewish community is diverse. Some Americans identify themselves as Jewish Americans and others as American Jews. Some identify with a Jewish religious denomination– Modern Orthodox or Haredi (ultra-Orthodox), Conservative, Reform, Re-constructionist or one of several smaller religious streams, while many others do not. Some are members of a synagogue and some are not members of a synagogue. Some attend religious services and some do not. Some self-identify as Jewish by culture while others identify as Jewish by religion. Perhaps the most common area of agreement for most members of the American Jewish community is an acceptance of the principle of freedom of religion based on the First Amendment of the Constitution. Many in the American Jewish community thus strongly support religious pluralism in Israel and freedom of worship for all religions, including the non-orthodox Jewish community – the progressive Jewish community in Israel. This month I have drawn upon information about the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the public and legal advocacy arm of the reform movement in Israel and paraphrase information from recent issues of The Pluralist, the IRAC newsletter (www.irac.org/previous-issues).

“We are Orthodox, we won’t do a job for a Reform Jew.”
This is what a print shop employee told a member of a Reform congregation on Mevasseret Zion who came to the shop to print a few flyers. These kinds of incidents are on the rise in Israel because of how rapidly progressive Judaism is growing in Israel. Thirteen percent (13%) of Israeli Jews – almost 1 million people – identify as Reform or Conservative. There has been a rise in incitement against the Reform movement by ultra-Orthodox politicians and leaders, and incidents of discrimination, such as the one described above.

The Time Has Come for Change
One of the IRAC’s goals is gaining recognition for all Jewish movements, and equal treatment of progressive Judaism in Israel. Last year in the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting the IRAC organized a Knesset Conference, “The Time Has Come For Change” for the recognition of the Reform and Conservative movements.

Anat Hoffman is Executive Director of the IRAC. Last month during my trip to Israel I had the pleasure of briefly meeting with Rabbi Noa Sattath, Director of the IRAC. As members of the Cape Cod Synagogue, a Reform Jewish Synagogue, we can support religious pluralism in Israel by supporting the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC). Learn more at www.irac.org and support the IRAC www.irac.org/make-a-donation-to-irac.