Israel to Recognize and Fund Non-Orthodox Rabbis; Religious Services Minister Threatens to Resign

For the first time, Haaretz reports, Israel will recognize leaders of Conservative and Reform communities as “rabbis” and fund their salaries. Up till now, the state has recognized and funded only Orthodox rabbis. Unlike Orthodox rabbis, non-Orthodox rabbis will not have authority over questions of Jewish law, or Halakhah, and will receive funding from the Culture and Sports Ministry rather than the Religious Services Ministry. Nonetheless, Conservative and Reform leaders have welcomed the new policy, arguing that it will help equalize resources among different streams of Judaism in Israel and strengthen ties with the Jewish diaspora. Orthodox leaders are not so enthusiastic. For example, Religious Services Minster Yaakov Margi reacted to the announcement by threatening to resign if the government ever asked him to pay the salaries of non-Orthodox rabbis.

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