Wedding with blurred background.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
For the first time in the state’s history, formal hiring procedures have been
instituted for local religious councils by the State Attorney’s Office, it was
However, there are still no disciplinary procedures in
place for local religious council employees.
Until now, there has been no
framework for such procedures against employees in local religious councils,
unlike other state bodies and employees that have had them in place since
According to the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, which
submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice in 2007 regarding both hiring
practices and the lack of disciplinary procedures, the absence of a standardized
recruitment process within local religious councils has led to the inappropriate
allocation of jobs by the rabbis and management staff of those
This is something that the annual State Comptroller Reports have
repeatedly highlighted, MQG says.
Local religious councils are tasked
with providing religious services to Jewish residents living within its
municipal jurisdiction, and are under the authority of the Religious Services
Ministry. They provide administrative services for many religious matters, such
as marriage registration, synagogue construction and maintenance, burial,
kashrut certification and religious slaughter.
Employees on the councils
are under state jurisdiction and their funds and resources come from the central
There are 132 local religious councils up and down the
country employing 3,000 workers, for which the government spends NIS 201 million
In November, the High Court warned that if disciplinary
procedures were not implemented with 90 days, it could issue a final ruling on
the matter without a further hearing.
However, in the state’s response to
the court, filed last Thursday, it said that the prime minister, who has
oversight on the issue, will make a decision on the matter in the coming six
The state has frequently pointed to bureaucratic obstacles as the
reason behind the ongoing delay in the implementation of disciplinary
MQC and other groups on the petition argue that the lack of
disciplinary procedures for religious council employees allows them to act with
impunity toward the general public, encourages corruption and prevents the
implementation of best practice.
Attorney Dafna Kiro-Cohen, an MQG lawyer
working on the case, said she hoped the High Court would shortly issue a ruling
obligating the state to implement these procedures.
“Six years after this
petition was filed and innumerable excuses and instances of foot-dragging by the
state, the time has come to issue an order that will instruct the prime minister
and the Ministry of Religious Services to do what they should have done 30 years
ago, and implement the law relating to disciplinary procedures on religious
councils,” Kiro-Cohen said.
According to ITIM, an NGO that on provides
advice for people seeking to navigate the bureaucracy surrounding religious
services, the organization frequently receives complaints about the behavior of
religious council employees.
A common complaint, ITIM says, comes from
women seeking to open a file for marriage registration, who are refused by the
registrar on the grounds that they are not dressed modestly enough.