Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

RELIGIOUS PLURALISM IN ISRAEL

Adopted at the 106th Annual Convention of the
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Jerusalem, Israel
March, 1995 / Adar II, 5755

In this resolution, the Central Conference of American Rabbis endorses and expands the resolution on religious pluralism made at its 105th convention in 1994:

"Background

The Israeli Proclamation of Independence of May 14, 1948, states that full freedom of religion and conscience is to be guaranteed to all citizens of Israel. For the past 46 years, Moslems, Christians and members of other non-Jewish religions have enjoyed freedom to practice their religions, and their clergy have been empowered to perform marriages and grant divorces. However, Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Jews have had almost no religious rights because their rabbis are not recognized under Israeli law and are prevented from performing basic life cycle functions. Furthermore, these Jews are denied state support for their religious institutions. Thus, the theoretical right of equality for all Jews in the State of Israel is translated in practicality into second-class religious rights for the majority of Israeli Jews. The urgency of addressing the lack of religious pluralism in Israel is underscored by the periodic crises over the status of religion in Israel, crises in which the American Jewish community has become involved, and by the 150,000 Soviet and Ethiopian olim who currently cannot marry in Israel.

"THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Central Conference of American Rabbis call for the Government and Knesset of Israel to extend full freedom of religion to all Jews in Israel, to end religious coercion, to end the religious monopoly granted to one segment of Jewry, and to repeal all laws which discriminate against Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Jews, and

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR, in consonance with the UAHC Biennial resolution, undertake -- together with the other arms of our Movement in North American, Israel and the rest of the world, as well as with the other movements and individuals who support these principles -- a concerted effort aimed at implementing full religious freedom for the sake of our people in the State of Israel and for klal Yisrael, and

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR direct the Israel Committee to work among our members and their congregations to raise consciousness and develop support for the upbuilding of a liberal Jewish alternative in Israel, and

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR resolve to undertake to place this issue on the agenda of the Jewish community in North America through local Community Relations Committees, relevant Federation committees and in other organizational venues, local and national, and

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR demand the formation of a clear, unequivocal policy that calls upon the State of Israel to (1) recognize in law the basic human right of marriage, especially for new immigrants and Jews by choice, and (2) grant legal recognition to the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements, whose institutions will make religious pluralism a reality in Israel."

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Central Conference of American Rabbis, meeting in Jerusalem for this 106th Convention, now reaffirm these resolutions, while taking note of these developments:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR note with pleasure that our movement has begun to obtain government funding for HUC-JIR and the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism.

The CCAR also notes with satisfaction the successful passage of a resolution submitted by ARZA and Mercaz to the American Zionist Movement, meeting in convention in January, 1995. We deplore the voluntary suspension of membership by Amit Women, Emunah Women and the Religious Zionists of America in protest, a move which further damages the future of Jewish cooperation in North America.

We commend ARZA and Mercaz for carrying this initiative to the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, where the issue of Jewish religious pluralism in Israel will be raised in an NJCRAC consultation.

We further commend ARZA as it prepares to launch "Operation Equality," a campaign to raise $2 million over the next two years to underwrite the pursuit of religious rights in Israel.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Central Conference of American Rabbis joins with the Rabbinical Assembly and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association in a call to the Government and Knesset to recognize in law the right of the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements, and to authorize their rabbis and institutions to function legally in ceremonies related to marriage, conversion and burial, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that, reiterating the language of the 1994 resolution, we jointly call upon the Government and Knesset "to extend full freedom of religion to all Jews in Israel, to end religious coercion, to end the religious monopoly granted to one segment of Jewry, and to repeal all laws which discriminate against Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Jews," and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we jointly support the effort to place the issue of religious pluralism in Israel before the NJCRAC for full discussion and action, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR urge its members to support ARZA's Operation Equality energetically, in order to further the aims herein described, so that Torah can once again flow freely from Zion, and God's word from Jerusalem.