Thursday, May 31, 2012

Game Changer in Israel

On our recent congregational trip, we had the pleasure of meeting and davening (praying) with Rabbi Miri Gold.  Rabbi Gold was dynamic and engaging, and we enjoyed our worship experience with her. We were later informed that Rabbi Gold was also fighting a very important battle on behalf of all liberal Jews in Israel for the right to be paid by the state to be able to serve her community as a rabbi.

To this end the Attorney General has just released a ruling allowing for Rabbi Miri Gold to serve as a community rabbi.

Now in the U.S. where church and state are supposed to be legally separate entities, the state does not directly subsidize clergy.  However in Israel, which is a Jewish state, clergy, albeit traditionally Orthodox rabbis only, have been paid by the state to serve a variety of communities.

So this is a huge step .  First of all, the state of Israel has acknowleged formally not only a woman rabbi, but a Reform woman rabbi.  Both of which are historic for the progressive movement not only in Israel, but also for us Reform and Conservative Jews in the U.S. and throughout the world.
So today we sound the shofar and celebrate this historic moment!

In response to this historic moment the Israeli Reform Action Center released the following statement:

Dear Partners,

We won! The attorney general has just released his consent to recognize Rabbi Miri Gold as the first Rabbi of a non-Orthodox congregation in the history of the Israel. Drink L'Chayim. Congratulate every Rabbi in our movement. Sound the shofar. Say She'hecheyanu. We won recognition for the first Reform Rabbi in Israel.

Over seven years you have played an invaluable part in this struggle. You stood with Miri every step of the way and we would not have reached this joyous day without your pressure from all corners of the Jewish world. The Israeli Attorney General accepted the request of the court and committed to equal pay for Rabbi Miri Gold for her work at Congregation Birkat Shalom. The State will give her the title "Rabbi".

The decision today paves the way for dozens of other Reform and Conservative Rabbis in Israel to receive a salary from the government for their holy work, in the same way that 4000 Orthodox rabbis do.

This historic victory is another step in leveling the playing field. This allows the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism to build on the success achieved so far by our congregational Rabbis, and deepen our work for the Israeli public.

Rabbi Gold said, “What joy! Finally there's more than one way to be a Rabbi in Israel!”

A few weeks ago, you sent over 5000 emails to Minister Margi telling him that stalling on this issue would fail. Your voice was heard. It is just as important to thank the government for doing the right thing as it is to pressure them when they are not. In that spirit, let’s write to Prime Minister Netanyahu and tell him that we are grateful that our Rabbi, Miri Gold, is finally able to perform her important work as an equal.

Haaretz Op-Ed 'A Huge Leap Forward - Maybe'

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