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Gal-On calls for firing of Shas minister Margi
By JPOST.COM STAFF
02/06/2012
Meretz leader speaks out against religious services minister's comments disparaging state decision to pay non-Orthodox rabbis.
 
Meretz chairwoman on Saturday called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to fire Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi, after the Shas minister spoke out against the state’s decision last week to pay the salaries of non- Orthodox rabbis in accordance with a recommendation from the High Court of Justice.

Until now, non-Orthodox religious leaders have not been recognized as rabbis and their communities have had to pay their salaries with money raised via membership dues. The Religious Services Ministry pay the wages of many Orthodox rabbis.

Speaking at a conference of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, Gal-On called the decision to pay non-Orthodox rabbis “the first step of a long journey to fix the injustice and discrimination that have gone on for years. The High Court has said ‘enough’ to the kidnapping of Judaism by an extremist group which turned it into a political tool.”

Following the announcement that the state will recognize non-Orthodox rabbis, Margi’s office said on Tuesday that if the minister is forced to pay the wages of non-Orthodox rabbis, he will ask Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef for permission to submit his resignation.

However, the non- Orthodox rabbis are to be paid through the Culture and Sport Ministry.

Speaking to Army Radio the following day, Margi blamed Reform Judaism for hundreds of years of assimilation.

“The Reforms think they are bringing a new spirit to Judaism, but in practice it is bad spirit,” Margi said.

Gal-On said on Saturday that “as long as the connection between the Orthodox establishment and the state is not broken and the forced and unwanted haredi [ultra- Orthodox] rabbinate monopoly on the way in which Jews in Israel lead their lives continues, it will not be possible to apply renewed Judaism in Israel.”

The Meretz leader called for the implementation of civil marriage in Israel, recognition of non-Orthodox conversions, and equal rights for men and women.

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.
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