(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon promised during a Succot event in Tel Aviv that the Treasury will provide funding to Jewish renewal and pluralist groups.
His comments represent something of a breakthrough since such organizations generally haven fallen through the gaps of state funding, being eligible for neither money allocated to religious studies and institutions nor those given to cultural activities and the arts.
“You have my word, the Treasury that I head will help and be a partner, Kahlon said Thursday at the annual Succot Hakhel Festival at the Tel Aviv Port organized by the Panim organization. “Immediately after Succot MK Rachel Azaria [Kulanu] together with Panim director Michal [Berman] will meet with Treasury [officials] to advance and find a legal way to help with financing.”
Panim is an umbrella organization of some 60 so-called Israeli-Judaism organizations involved in pluralist Jewish renewal activities and in strengthening Jewish and Israeli identity in Israeli society.
The finance minister, who told the gathering about his traditional religious background said it was a pleasure for him “to speak about the Torah and liturgical poems, and the ethics and values the Torah markets to us in the best and most pleasant way.”
Kahlon also said his Kulanu party was based on the social justice values found in the Bible of ensuring just treatment of the less fortunate and most vulnerable in society.
Azaria, who also was in attendance, spoke of the need for greater societal unity.
“We have returned [to the Land of Israel] after 2,000 years to live here together, to build a state and, therefore, we have a deep connection to Israeli-Judaism, and we will work on funding this Israeli- Judaism,” she promised.
Berman told the gathering hundreds of thousands of Israelis “[who are] searching for a broader interpretation of the ideas of Judaism and Israeli-ness” are participating in these types of organizations, and that the promise of state funding was welcome.
“Twenty years have passed since we began to talk of Israeli-Judaism, which is less defined by words such as ‘religious’ and ‘secular’ and is more of a cultural movement, about studying and deeds which come from Jewish tradition and are tailored for modern life.”