Feb. 21, 2013
News from the Israel Movement for Progressive and Reform Judaism

IMPJ Receives $230,000 Allocation for Southern Israel Communities Sustaining Rocket Damage from Gaza in November Conflict

ARZA, with the Union of Reform Judaism, and other branches of the Reform Movement, rushed to meet the many critical needs of affected communities, by partnering with the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and other organizations to create the JFNA Israel Terror Relief Fund. This historic collaboration occurred in the wake of the one-week Operation Pillar of Defense, November 14-21, 2012, that saw over 1,500 rockets fired at Israel by 21 different Palestinian terror groups. A link for that fund has been on the ARZA website and ARZA Chairman, Rabbi Bennett Miller, is a member of the allocations committee (representing the whole Reform Movement) that is allocating and distributing over $5 million to provide relief, rescue and resilience training to communities throughout southern Israel.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), said, "From the moment the rockets started falling in Israel, our number one priority was to bring spiritual and physical support to the people who were affected." URJ President Rick Jacobs added, "I am confident that the IMPJ will be able to help thousands of our Israeli brothers and sisters who have been, and tragically remain, in distress."

Rabbi Bennett Miller said, "We raised funds quickly, supported and aided our partners in Israel so that they could plan and develop dynamic responses to the crisis, provided trauma relief to those affected and began planning for any future crises that may arise."

IMPJ Petitions High Court to Implement Ruling for Israel to Pay Non-Orthodox Rabbis

The Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) accused the Israeli government of dragging its feet on paying Reform and Conservative rabbis, despite a High Court ruling ordering it to do so, in a petition to the court that it filed on Tuesday, February 12. In the original petition, filed in 2005 for the Reform congregation at Kibbutz Gezer (Birkat Shalom) and Rabbi Miri Gold, the IMPJ demanded equal funding of non-Orthodox religious services from the local authority.

The IMPJ petition states, "After seven years of litigation, the state accepted - albeit with clenched teeth - the proposal of this esteemed court and agreed to fund salaries of non-Orthodox rabbis by way of support tests." It continues, "These tests were meant to create a mechanism for employing Orthodox rabbis in a way that non-Orthodox rabbis could receive similar conditions. But rather than properly implementing the ruling, the state has used foot dragging tactics - and in the end published tests that blatantly discriminate against non-Orthodox rabbis."

For example, the state demands non-Orthodox rabbis to work in their congregations full-time, while Orthodox rabbis are not required to work a minimum number of hours. They also required a minimum number of attendees at Reform prayer services and placed a cap on salaries of non-Orthodox rabbis, neither of which requirements exist for the Orthodox.

The petition says further, "In light of the state's outrageously unfair and blatantly unreasonable behavior, the petitioners are forced to petition this esteemed court once again so it can make it crystal clear to the state that is must behave equitably and reasonably in the funding of religious services."


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