Reform rabbis in Jerusalem. [File].
(photo credit: Reuters)
Israel’s Reform rabbis have started receiving government- paid salaries for the
first time, a year and a half after the state agreed to do so.
Movement said on Wednesday that the rabbis of four regional councils have now
received their salaries for 2013, with the state transferring NIS
The Reform Movement, along with Reform Rabbi Miri Gold of
Kibbutz Gezer, submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice in 2005
demanding that rabbis of non-Orthodox streams of Judaism who serve as heads of
religious communities be paid by the state.
In May 2012, the Attorney-
General’s Office announced that the state had agreed to pay the wages of
non-Orthodox rabbis serving in regional councils, just as it does for Orthodox
However, there were lengthy delays in the implementation of the
agreement and the Reform Movement submitted another petition to the High Court
in February 2013 insisting that the wages of four regional council rabbis be
The salaries of Rabbis Miri Gold of the Gezer Regional Council,
Stacey Blank of the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council, Gadi Raviv of the Misgav
Regional Council and Benji Gruber of Hevel Eilot Regional Council have now all
been paid. The salaries, however, were paid by the Ministry for Culture and
Sport, rather than the Ministry for Religious Services.
Ministry for Religious services is the body that pays government rabbis’
salaries, Shas, which ran the ministry when the state agreed to pay in 2012,
refused to finance the reform rabbis from its budget.
The Reform Movement
agreed that the funds could come from the Ministry for Culture and Sport as long
as the recipients were recognized as rabbis by the state, which they have
Director of the Reform Movement in Israel Rabbi Gilad Kariv
welcomed the development and said the organization would continue to work toward
ensuring that Israeli citizens could choose non-Orthodox rabbis to provide their
“This is an historic and important step in the
long struggle for pluralism, freedom of religion, and recognition by the State
of Israel of all Jewish denominations,” said Kariv.
He said the Reform
Movement would at the same time continue its work toward “separating the
religious establishment from government authorities.” Nevertheless, he added,
while the state continues to fund religious services and rabbis’ salaries, the
organization would fight to ensure that such funding is provided in an equal and