Israel Agrees to Recognize Non-Orthodox Rabbis
When activist Anat Hoffman learned that the Israeli government had agreed to pay a state-funded salary to several non-Orthodox rabbis — something their Orthodox counterparts have been receiving for decades — she recited the Shehechiyanu, an ancient blessing of thanks that Jews intone on special occasions.
“This was the first time the government called a non-Orthodox person — or a woman —‘a rabbi’” said Hoffman, who heads the Jerusalem-based Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the activist arm of Israel’s Reform Jewish movement.
The government’s landmark decision on Tuesday (May 29) comes seven years after Hoffman’s agency petitioned Israel’s highest court to recognize Miri Gold, a Detroit-born Israeli Reform rabbi, as a bona fide spiritual leader.
Until now, Israel’s Reform and Masorti (Conservative) movements, which together have about 250 rabbis and around 100 congregations, have received no official recognition of their leaders or institutions. In 2011, the government allotted the Orthodox movement $450 million; the Conservative and Reform movements received $60,000.