Israel will now pay the salaries of all rabbis serving their communities, an act it already performs for Orthodox leaders.
The move follows a High Court ruling, in which Justices recommended the state employ spiritual advisors regardless of the sect of Judaism they practice.
Previously, Orthodox rabbis were the only individuals eligible for paid compensation from the Religious Services Ministry. Reformed rabbis were paid through funds raised by the communities they supported.
The decision drew ire from ultra-Orthodox leaders. Ya’akov Margi, minister of Religious Services and a member of the far-right Shas party, said he would tender his resignation if the government upholds the ruling. National Union Knesset member Uri Ariel said the High Court was “continuing to advance anti-Jewish policies causing serious injury to the values of Israel.” And Nissim Ze’ev, of Shas, called the decision “crass” and “harmful to the soul of the Jewish people.”
Meanwhile, leader of the opposition Shelly Yachimovich commended the decision adding that her Labor party “respects Orthodox Judaism but believes that there is a place for the expression of all streams of Judaism.”
Anat Hoffman, executive director of the legal unit of Israel’s Reform Movement, called it a “historic day” and a “significant step toward bringing pluralism to Israel.”
The news was the culmination of years of effort. In 2005, Rabbi Miri Gold and the Reform Movement filed a petition, calling for the inclusion of all rabbis in the paid program.
“This is a very important step toward achieving religious freedom in Israel for all its inhabitants,” Gold told the Jerusalem Post. “There is no patent on how to be Jewish,”