Court orders Netanya to help build Reform synagogue

As per original its commitment, Netanya ordered by Tel Aviv court to provide space for synagogue and renovate at municipality's expense.

By JONAH MANDEL
July 14, 2011 19:21
2 minute read.
SYNAGOGUES ABROAD have begun to incorporate Jerusalem stone.

stone synagogue 58. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The Reform Movement in Israel marked a victory on Thursday, when the Tel Aviv Administrative Court ruled that the city of Netanya must allocate a building for the local Reform community, it committed to do years ago, and renovate it at the municipality’s expense.

For seven years, the Reform “Natan Yah” community has been demanding of the Netanya Municipality to provide it with a structure for prayer, to no avail. In March 2007 the community and the Reform Movement filed suit, demanding the municipality give them a particular building.

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The municipality agreed to give them a different building, and even committed to renovating it, and the Reform Movement withdrew its court action.

In 2008, the lawsuit was renewed after the municipality did not move ahead with its commitment, and the plaintiffs showed that it was the nature of their religious movement that had caused the city to do so.

At the court’s instruction, the city’s allocation council recommended in 2009 that the building go to the Reform community, and all that was needed was the municipality’s approval. At the meeting to that end, however, Netanya Mayor Miriam Feierberg Ikar told her city council that she hadn’t been aware that the city’s welfare division needed the building for a club for 150 at-risk children.

The council voted to prefer the children over the Reform community.



The court on Thursday gave the city 90 days to hand over the building to the Reform Movement, and ordered the municipality to renovate it at the cost of NIS 100,000 within 120 days, as per its original commitment.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv head of the Reform Movement, said that the decision “corrects a historic injustice against the community and the Reform Movement in Israel, and we hope will turn over a new leaf in the relations between the movement and the city’s institutions.

Residents of Netanya, as any other citizens of Israel, have the right to decide the type of synagogue they subscribe to, and the manner in which they choose to celebrate their Judaism. We hope this verdict will indicate to other municipalities that it is their duty to treat all Jewish streams with egalitarianism and fairness.”

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