Court: Look into rabbinic appointments

Committee to re-examine possibility of Reform rabbis on religious councils.

The High Court of Justice on Thursday instructed a committee examining the issue of appointing rabbis to public positions in regional councils to consider the possibility of appointing Reform (Progressive) rabbis to these positions. The order came at the end of the court's first discussion of a petition submitted by the Kibbutz Gezer near Tel Aviv, the Progressive Movement, the Progressive congregation in the kibbutz and the congregation's Rabbi Miri Gold. The petitioners were demanding that Gold be hired by the Gezer regional religious council, which has 16 Orthodox rabbis on its payroll. According to the petition, Gold serves as the rabbi of Congregation Birkat Shalom, which is located on the kibbutz, and ministers to hundreds of other residents of the regional council outside of Gezer. The petitioners also noted that hundreds of rabbis throughout Israel hold official positions which are paid for by the public. All these rabbis are Orthodox and male. The petitioners charged that this policy constituted rank discrimination against the Progressive and Conservative (Masorti) movements and against female rabbis. The petitioners had also asked the High Court for an interim injunction prohibiting the state from appointing any more rabbis to public positions before the court ruled on the main body of the petition. The court did not grant the request, but ordered the state to inform the petitioners before any religious council position was filled.