On June 17th, Israel’s newly installed minister of religious affairs, David Azoulay, called the Reform movement “a disaster for the nation of Israel.” A disaster. With one word, the person chosen to be in charge of the religious affairs of all Israeli Jews denigrated an entire Jewish Movement. A movement with millions of constituents in Israel and around the world, and with a proud history of contributing to Judaism’s colorful tapestry.

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu issued a statement last night saying that he “strongly disagrees” with Azoulay’s comments. He pledged to “ensure that Israel remains a place where all Jews can feel at home.”

This is a good start, and we commend the Prime Minister for not wasting any time in recognizing the gravity of the situation. But it is not enough. Actions speak louder than words.

This was not an isolated incident. The Orthodox establishment in Israel has a long history of slinging mud, discriminating and inciting senseless hatred against progressive Jews. Women who dare to wear a tallit and read from a Torah at the Kotel are called “provocateurs.” Conservative Rabbis are forbidden to officiate at community-organized bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies for local children with special needs because…they and their synagogues are not Orthodox. The list goes on.

It’s time for a proactive and comprehensive plan that will put this issue to bed once and for all. We have written the government to denounce this latest attacks against the Reform and Masorti/Conservative Movements in Israel, and to demand that the government initiate a strategic negotiation process with the movements to extend full rights and equality to progressive Jews.

Please share this email with your family, friends and colleagues so that they are informed about these latest developments. Stay tuned for an update from us, as we push to fulfill the Prime Minister’s pledge that Israel be a place that every Jew–Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox, and secular alike–can call home.


Anat Hoffman, Executive Director, Israel Religious Action Center

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Executive Director, Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism

The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) is the leading civil and human rights organization addressing issues of religion and state in Israel. The public and legal arm of the Reform Movement, IRAC advocates on behalf of a broadly inclusive Israeli democracy based on the principles of social justice and equality.