Not in my hotel?
Photo: Shaul Golan
Representatives of the non-Orthodox Jewish movements in Israel have complained to the tourism minister and the minister of public diplomacy and diaspora affairs against Israel's hotels, which they claim are systematically discriminating against tourist groups from abroad by not allowing them to hold prayer services according to their customs.
In a letter sent by Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and Yizhar Hess, the executive director and CEO of the Masorti Movement to ministers Stas Misezhnikov and Yuli Edelstein, they claim that many hotels refuse to allocate a room for prayer services or a Torah scroll for reform or conservative guests, in contrast to the trivial manner in which the service is offered to Orthodox guests.
Leaders of North American Conservative communities meet with ministers and MKs, hold afternoon prayer at Israeli parliament's synagogue. Rabbi Jennifer Gorman serves as cantor
"The attitude is insulting and humiliating, "Kariv and Hess stated in the letter. "The majority of the Jewish nation is not Orthodox, rather it is reform or conservative…and here, they come to a hotel in Israel to find that their Judaism, the one which led them to visit Israel and love it – is treated with contempt and worthy only of concealment."
The two noted that some of the hotels argue that the reason for the discrimination stems from concerns over the possibility that their kosher certification would be revoked. "If in fact kashruth supervisors in hotels or the local rabbinates are in fact doing so it is a blatant deviation from authority that has no legal basis," the noted.
The two movements summed up their plea to the ministers: "We ask that you find the proper public manner in which to make it clear that this is an invalid policy that is not compatible with the law, a policy that damages relations with Jews in the Diaspora and the image of the State of Israel as a Jewish democratic state."
Executive Director and CEO of the Masorti Movement Yizhar Hess said: "There is no connection between the rules of kashruth and their enforcement in the kitchen and the activities in other departments of the hotel. Soon the kashruth supervisor will ask to make sure that none of the guests is watching TV on Shabbat …if it wasn't so sad it would be funny.
"The kashruth monopoly gives the supervisors a great deal of power. If he wishes to, the supervisor can remove the kashruth certificate and leave the hotel owners at a loss. It's extortion, maybe even extortion and intimidation. Apparently, kashruth supervisors are the real hotel managers in Israel."
Hess protested against what he termed the scornful, arrogant and condescending treatment towards groups of non-Orthodox tourists and claimed that it was absurd that the Jewish State was the only place in the western world where there was no freedom of religion for Jews.
The kashruth division at the Chief Rabbinate stated in response that there was no directive stipulating the kashruth certificate would only be given if reform and conservative Jews were excluded. It added that it was possible that these are specific cases connected to local rabbinates and their customs.