Pluralism in Israel

Pluralism in Israel

Row of Israeli flags on flagpoles, blowing in the breeze

As we celebrate Israel’s independence this week, here are two things your congregation can do right now to help strengthen Israel as a pluralistic, democratic society.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs
Three Israeli wedding couples under the chuppahs at Washington Hebrew Congregation on March 26, 2019

This past week, I spent a significant amount of time thinking about love for Israel -- my own and that of our Reform Jewish community.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs
White lace chuppah with Star of David below

In North America, we take for granted freedom of choice in marriage. Not so in Israel, where it is wholly controlled by the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate.

URJ Staff
Rabbi Rick Jacobs at the Kotel (Western Wall)

Israel helps me retain my optimism. Whenever I land there, I never fail to feel a slight buckling in my knees, the joy of returning to that marvelous, confounding place.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs
Israeli flag blowing against the blue sky

The title of a recent article was “It’s time to show a little love,” but the truth is that there was no love or integrity in what the author wrote.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv
Press Release

URJ today released preliminary findings from two important surveys concerning the effectiveness of its work in priority areas: Israel and Youth Engagement. On the eve of the largest URJ Biennial ever, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, URJ Presidents says, “Our work raising up the next generation of Jewish leaders in North America and advocating for religious pluralism in Israel are among our very highest priorities, and we are proud to see that these authoritative surveys provide data to support what we have long thought to be true: The URJ’s work in these areas is making a profound difference. Individually, and especially when viewed together, they make a strong, data-driven argument that the Reform Movement is making great progress on priority concerns.”

Press Release

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, issued the following statement in response to denigrating comments about North American Jews by Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister: The Deputy Foreign Minister has a right to her ill-informed and insulting views. But such views disqualify her holding such an important role in Israel’s diplomatic corps. Her comments serve to underscore how the Israeli government disdains the majority of North American Jews. 

Press Release

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, issued the statement below in response to hateful comments about Reform Judaism by Jerusalem's chief rabbi: Although I defend Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar’s right to hold hateful, odious beliefs about me and the Reform Movement, what I find indefensible is that his salary is being paid by the Israeli government.

Press Release

Today, the Israeli Supreme Court made an important statement by signaling that they are fed up with the Netanyahu government’s decision to “freeze” its own governmental decision forged in compromise with our Reform Movement and our allies. The court gave the Israeli government two weeks to come back with a counter argument to the court, an extremely short window that seems to imply great impatience with the government’s behavior. 

Press Release

Senior leadership of the Reform Movement, the largest movement in Jewish life, sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to unnecessary and demeaning body searches imposed on female rabbinic students at the Western Wall in Jerusalem:


Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

We are writing to express our outrage and dismay about the humiliation of a cohort of Reform rabbinic students, all of whom are the future leadership of the Jewish people, at the entrance to the Kotel on August 23rd, Rosh Hodesh Elul.

Two of our female rabbinic students, who are spending their first year of studies in Israel, were stopped at the entrance to the Kotel. After they passed through a metal detector (which clearly indicated that they were not posing any security threat), they were asked to lift their skirts and shirts in a demeaning way, an action that completely defied the decisions the Supreme Court reached on this matter.