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
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
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
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.
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.
contributed to this report.