"One of the most important values is the empowerment of the Jewish identity, with emphasis on the national system, from a pluralistic outlook, from an understanding that there is no other way but the one representing Judaism," said Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar during the conference.
"None of the Israeli social currents have a monopoly on Judaism," he added.
'Conversion Bill divides Jewish people'
A few months earlier, Sa'ar expressed opposition to the Conversion Bill, which gives the Chief Rabbinate sole jurisdiction over Judaism conversion. He stressed on Thursday that such a law would cause a rift in the Jewish community both in Israel and worldwide.
"I opposed, I oppose and I will oppose legislation that divides the Jewish people, pulls Jews apart and pulls us away from the Jews in the Diaspora," he said during the conference.
Sa'ar mentioned in his speech a program that teaches the fundamentals of Judaism and Zionism that is active in 1,500 educational institutions, and said that he plans to put together a similar program that teaches the Torah and other subjects. He stated that his office has made efforts to establish a council that would oversee integrated secular and religious education in Israeli schools.
Sa'ar addressed in his speech the haredi military recruitment reform, which the government approved recently. "The existing situation causes justified resentment, because there is no equality in the division of the burden," he said. "The reason that I voted early this week for the government decision regarding haredi enlistment was that I saw an opportunity in it, a chance to change the existing situation. If they would tell me to find an alternative that would bring change, I'm not sure I could propose one."
'Peres must lead battle against racism'
Also during the conference, Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog said that he met with Arab students from Safed College and was "horrified."
"I felt like I was in Alabama in the '40s," he said. "I demand the president of the to lead decisively the State's battle for existence and Israeli democracy – against racism, the prosecution of human rights organization, against incitement, against the Liebermanism and against the rabbis who promote Jewish fundamentalism, which opposes the spirit of Jewish Law.
"(Shimon) Peres must use the public's approval to be a leader in this battle," he added. "I'm sure that a multitude of people who are afraid for the future of the Israeli democracy, who support pluralism and freedom of opinion, would join the president in his call."
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