Beyond the headlines

How the current government in Israel impacts the IMPJ and its efforts through IRAC to secure a democratic Jewish State

Beyond the headlines

How the current situation in Israel impacts the IMPJ, Israeli Reform Jews and the work of IRAC

For decades, the Israel Reform Movement, and its legal and advocacy arm, the Israel Religious Action Center, have been serving on the front lines of nurturing Israel as a Jewish and democratic state – One that adheres to the vision of Israel’s Declaration of Independence as a country for all its citizens; and one that Jews around the world are proud to call home.

Today, members of the new government threaten to override Israel’s core values with an insidious racism, extremism, and discrimination. A barrage of coalition agreements form a powerful storm that endangers IRAC’s legal achievements which secured Israel as a Jewish and democratic homeland. A legal revolution, if allowed to pass, will block attempts to challenge in courts the extreme initiatives of the government and will gravely harm Israel’s democratic nature, leaving the rights of Reform Jews, women, LGBTQ and Arabs unprotected.

Beyond the headlines lies an even more insidious attack: Due to the anti-Reform views of the new government and its ministers, the Israeli Reform Movement stands to lose more than $1.5 million in government funding. These programs provide critical support for rabbis and congregational activities, educational and humanitarian programs, and assistance to new immigrants, including many from Ukraine and Russia – as well as the legal and public advocacy work of the Israel Religious Action Center.

Here’s how it impacts the IMPJ and IRAC:

Rabbis and congregational activities

Over 50 congregations and regional initiatives are currently active in the Reform Movement, from Kiryat Shmona in the Galilee to the south of the Arava near Eilat. At least 12 of these rabbis stand to lose their rabbinic salary due to the potential cuts that may happen in the field of pluralistic Judaism due to the current political situation, and congregational growth across the IMPJ may be stunted. Our rabbis lead congregational life in urban and peripheral areas across Israel together with local volunteer leadership, and provide service to a wide variety of Israelis, including thousands of pluralistic life cycle ceremonies. Without governmental funding, they may not be able to continue their sacred work.

Educational programs

The Israel Reform Movement’s educational activities provide accessible pluralistic Jewish education to the local Israeli classroom, allowing many secular Israeli children and youth to access progressive Judaism for the first time. Now, we stand to lose a substantial amount of funding that allows us to operate this important programming for thousands of Israeli children and youth in hundreds of classrooms.

New immigrants from Ukraine and Russia

IMPJ’s activities for new immigrants from the Former Soviet Union engage those who have been in Israel for years as well as new arrivals from the Ukraine and Russia. Activities range from Jewish community life, holidays and services in their native tongue, to integration and absorption into Israeli society, women’s empowerment circles, Jewish study for conversion and legal aid; this programming helps new immigrants acquire civic status in Israel, forge their own path to Jewish renewal and be part of a Jewish community in Israel that is customized to their unique needs. Without the recognition of Reform conversion due to the political situation at present, and without the “grandfather clause” the Israeli citizenship of many will be harmed.

Tikkun Olam

Each of IMPJ’s congregations operates their own social justice programs in a variety of fields from inclusion for people with disabilities to shared society programs; women’s empowerment circle for abused women to humanitarian aid, in collaboration with IMPJ’s Center for Social Responsibility: Keren B’Kavod. Without governmental funding IMPJ’s social justice, volunteerism and Tikkun Olam programs may not be able to continue.

Israel Religious Action Center

We lay great importance to our social action and advocacy work, promoting freedom of religion for all citizens of Israel; tolerance of all religious faiths in Israel and their members; prevention of manifestations of discrimination, exclusion and racism. IRAC works toward equalizing the rights of non-Orthodox Jewish streams, against the exclusion of women and gender segregation in the public sphere, and against racism and racist incitement. IRAC has achieved groundbreaking rulings for the cancellation of the segregated bus lines, the cancellation of the exclusion of women from an Ultra Orthodox radio station, as well as for the disqualification of racist candidates from running for the Knesset. IRAC also operates a Legal Aid Center for Olim (new immigrants), which offers assistance to thousands of Olim each year, including dozens from Ukraine and Russia. IRAC also operates a Racism Crisis Center which offers legal and mental health advice to victims of racism. IRAC is one of the leading organizations fighting against the legal revolution promoted by the government.

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