Kariv condemns Orthodox monopoly over religious life in maiden speech

First Reform rabbi to serve as MK says rights of ‘millions of Israelis’ violated by monopoly of Chief Rabbinate, says he will speak for Diaspora Jews in Knesset.

abbi Gilad Kariv, the director of the Reform movement in Israel attends preparations for the new Knesset on April 5.  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
abbi Gilad Kariv, the director of the Reform movement in Israel attends preparations for the new Knesset on April 5.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
MK  Gilad Kariv, the first Reform rabbi to serve as a member of Knesset, condemned what he described as a monopoly on Jewish life in Israel, which he said discriminates against and violates the basic rights of millions of Israeli citizens.
Speaking from the podium in the Knesset plenum in his maiden speech, Kariv also lamented what he said was the deterioration in relations between the State of Israel and Jews in the Diaspora, and said he would speak the voice of Diaspora Jews while in the Knesset.
During his speech, Kariv lauded what he called “the Jewish pluralist renewal movement,” saying that it has raised “several important ideological flags” such as “tolerance, equality and, most importantly, the recognition that there is more than one way to be a Jew.”
But he asserted that heavy obstacles had been put in its way, particularly “the monopoly over Israeli Judaism that has been given to one particular stream and institution,” in reference to Orthodoxy and the Chief Rabbinate.
“This grim reality of a monopoly, coercion and discrimination in the name of religion, continuously violates the basic rights of millions of Israeli citizens: women, hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their children, members of the LGBTQ community, liberal citizens as well as Jewish renewal communities, Israeli citizens of other religious affiliations and many others,” said Kariv.
“This violation, in turn, severely undermines Israel’s commitment to democratic values, equality and freedom of religion and belief.”
Kariv, of the Labor Party, argued that the monopoly over religious life has deepened “feelings of alienation and anger, and causes a very broad part of the public to view the state religious establishments as a source of corruption and power struggles rather than inspiration and moral, social and unifying power.”
He also asserted that the government has “explicitly turned its back on millions of Diaspora Jews because of their communal and religious identity, and often because of their political views,” in reference to non-Orthodox and liberally inclined Jews in North America.
“Mending Israel’s relationship with the liberal Jews of the world on the basis of mutual respect and recognition are worthy Israeli and Zionist goals,” continued the freshman MK, adding that the love of such Jews for Israel is “genuine” but that “they rightly feel all too often that this love is one-sided.”
Kariv said that Israel faces numerous challenges that, he said, proponents of “chauvinism and racism” sought to avoid, including equality and opportunity for all citizens, “protection of human rights... fostering a pluralist and patient society... and, of course, striving for a diplomatic agreement and peace – not only with those in the Persian Gulf but also, and mostly with, those with whom we share the Promised Land,” in reference to the Palestinians.