“A president cannot be president exclusively for the Orthodox and cannot turn the presidential residence into an Orthodox synagogue. It is regretful that a president otherwise so sensitive to the rights of different sectors and of the disenfranchised in society has a blind spot for freedom of religion and equality among the different streams of Judaism."
Above: Reuven "Ruby" Rivlin
Strong Majority Of Israeli Jews Want Conservative And Reform Rabbis To Have Equal Legal Status With Rabbis Who Are Orthodox And Haredi, New Poll Finds
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
59% of Jewish Israelis believe that Conservative and Reform rabbis have the same legal status their Orthodox and haredi counterparts have, a new poll conducted by the Smith Institute for Hiddush, a nonprofit that advocates for freedom of religion in Israel, has found, Ha’aretz reported.
The same poll also found that large majority of Israeli Jews disapprove of President Reuven “Ruby” Rivlin’s decision to bar a Conservative rabbi from a bar mitzvah ceremony for disabled children.
The Conservative rabbi taught the children under a program sponsored by the Conservative (Masorati) Movement.
But the ceremony was blocked by the haredi mayor of Rehovot, where the program is based. Rivlin stepped in and offered to host it at his official residence, but later insisted on having an Orthodox rabbi who did not have any connection to the children officiate along with the Conservative rabbi. When the Conservative Movement agreed, Rivlin backed out of the deal and demanded that only the Orthodox rabbi officiate. He also called Conservative leaders “obstinate” and tried to claim the original deal had never been offered, let alone agreed to. But he appears to have been lying.
Zionist Orthodox and haredim have almost no programs for disabled children, and most severely disabled children are denied bar mitzvahs and participation in other important forms of religious life, including receiving an aliyah to the Torah.
The poll found that 71% of Israeli Jews believe Rivlin’s decision to exclude the Conservative rabbi was “unjustified.”
“A president cannot be president exclusively for the Orthodox and cannot turn the presidential residence into an Orthodox synagogue. It is regretful that a president otherwise so sensitive to the rights of different sectors and of the disenfranchised in society has a blind spot for freedom of religion and equality among the different streams of Judaism,” the head of Hiddush, Reform Rabbi Uri Regev, said.
“One of the important jobs of the president is fostering relations between Israel and the Diaspora,” Regev continued, “where most Jews do not belong to the Orthodox movement. The growing crisis with the Conservative movement will make it difficult for him to fulfill this central role.”
The poll found the Israeli Jews who affiliate as Orthodox or haredi strongly supported Rivlin’s actions against the Conservative Movement.
While 93% of secular Jewish Israelis said Rivlin’s behavior was unjustified, 67% of Orthodox Jews and 92% of haredim thought Rivlin acted properly.
However, two-thirds of people who self-identified as supporters or members of the ruling Likud Party Rivlin belongs to thought Rivlin’s behavior was “unjustified” – highlighting what is becoming an increasing chasm between what the Likud Party’s rank-and-file believe about religion and state issues and the behavior of the party’s leaders, who increasing pander to haredi leaders in order to secure the support of the haredi political parties they could not hold power without.
The question of equal status for Conservative and Reform rabbis even more strongly highlighted the divide.
95% of secular Israeli Jews support equal status for non-Orthodox rabbis, but 90% of Orthodox Jews and 100% of haredim oppose it.90 percent objected to such recognition for non-Orthodox Judaism.
Rivlin’s office reportedly did not respond to questions about the poll.