October 3, 2023 -
“Great Change in Israel” is posted on behalf of Tom Abelson, M.D., Past President of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple and Member of the Board of the Union for Reform Judaism
Great change can come in revolutions or in steps. Israel has taken a giant step in the direction of religious tolerance and diversity. And we are not talking not about tolerance for Christians or Muslims in Israel. We are talking about religious freedom, tolerance and diversity within the Jewish Community of Israel.
The attorney general of Israel has just released his consent to recognize Rabbi Miri Gold as the first Rabbi of a non-orthodox congregation in the history of Israel. All other state supported Rabbis in Israel are orthodox. There are many Reform and other Progressive Jewish communities, rabbis and synagogues in Israel. But Miri Gold will now be the first Reform clergy person to be recognized by the State as “Rabbi.” She will hopefully become the first non-orthodox rabbi to receive a check from the State of Israel and that will be both a concrete and very symbolic moment.
The Reform Movement in Israel, led first by Rabbi Uri Regev and now by Anat Hoffman of the Israel Religious Action Center, and supported by the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and our own Union for Reform Judaism, worked for many years toward this moment. This is one of the moments in history when one can be proud to be a Jew and especially to be a Reform Jew.
If I can editorialize for a moment, I believe that should there ever be peace in Israel, the success of Reform and Progressive Judaism in Israel will be the key to the development of true religious freedom and at least a modicum of separation of synagogue and state while keeping Israel as a Jewish country. And that will not happen without unbelievable effort in Israel and by the Reform Movement of which every member of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple is also a member.
How can we do our individual parts? One is to travel to Israel, but another is to join Israeli Reform congregations in Israel. The overseas fees are minimal and the reward for doing our part is great. I have joined three.
Today is a great day, even if it is only a step in the journey.
See the links below for more information: