Rabbi Gilad Kariv. Seeking respect and equality
Photo: Niv Calderon

State sued for discriminating against Reform synagogues

Religious Affairs Ministry ordered by court to pay three Reform congregations $2,500 each for refusing to include their synagogues on its online database

The Ministry of Religious Affairs was recently sued by the Reform Movement in Israel for refusing to include Reform synagogues on its list of synagogues around the country.


The movement filed a lawsuit with the Kfar Saba Magistrate's Court based on the law against discrimination, which is usually applied in cases where individuals are refused entry to a nightclub due to their appearance or ethnic affiliation.


"We found out that the ministry's website features a database of synagogues from across the country, as well as 22 different prayer versions, but that not even one Reform prayer version or synagogue appeared on it," said Attorney Orly Erez-Lachovsky who represented three Reform congregations in the case.


"We approached the Religious Affairs Ministry, but they ignored us. We therefore filed a lawsuit for discrimination on religious grounds.


"Shortly after that the list of synagogues has been taken off the site entirely, and despite the request of a magistrate court judge that it publish an updated list, the ministry refused to do so, even at the price of keeping the list of the site," she added.


In light of the ministry's refusal, the judge ordered the State to pay each of the synagogues $2,500 in compensation.


While satisfied with the court's ruling, the Reform movement remained disappointed with the Religious Affairs Ministry. "It's saddening to discover that the heads of the Religious Affairs Ministry prefer to take the list of synagogues in Israel off the site rather than include Reform synagogues on it," said Rabbi Gilad Kariv of the Israel Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.


"We believe that the court's ruling represents the opinion of most of the citizens of Israel, and that the day will soon come when the State of Israel will treat all the congregations of the Jewish people with respect and equality," he added.


The ministry said in response: "The minister of religious affairs can only be sorry for the court's conduct with regards to the Reform movement."


פרסום ראשון: 01.04.09, 10:06
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