Adopted by the 71st URJ Biennial
In 1987, the Israel Religious Action Center of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism was founded as the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel. Over the past 25 years IRAC has become a leading Israeli voice advancing pluralism and defending freedoms of conscience, faith, and religion. It has given a powerful and effective presence to Reform Judaism in the political and legal arenas of Israel – and an eloquent presence in the Israeli public. Today, IRAC is Israel’s preeminent advocate for civil and human rights, for religious liberty and for a broadly inclusive democracy.
IRAC’s work includes litigation, usually before the Israeli Supreme Court, advocating to members of Knesset, legal aid for olim (immigrants) and social action, including the humanitarian aid program Keren B’Kavod.
IRAC’s legal work has focused on recognition of Reform and Progressive Jewish life and institutions in Israel. Its lawyers have won more cases for religious pluralism and equality than any other entity in Israel and it has ensured fair distribution of government funds, fought for recognition of non-Orthodox marriage and conversion ceremonies and fought against gender-segregated buses.
IRAC’s Legal Aid Center for Olim (LACO), which began in 1992, has helped 75,000 new immigrants navigate the complexities of Israeli bureaucracy and integrate into their new homeland. LACO is the only program in Israel that provides free, comprehensive legal and counseling services for new immigrants. IRAC and the LACO staff have helped with conversion and status issues, family reunification challenges and more.
The Keren B’Kavod program created by IRAC reflects the importance of direct service within Reform synagogues as a compliment to its legal and legislative work. The program includes a massive food drive, called Kimcha D’Pischa, in honor of the holidays for the major religions in Israel: Passover, Easter, and the celebration of the Prophet Shu’ayb.
Under the leadership of its directors, Anat Hoffman and Rabbi Uri Regev, IRAC has become an indispensible voice for social justice in Israel. They have opposed injustice and promoted a more just, pluralistic and democratic society, prodding Israel to live up to the highest ideals of its founding.
Therefore, the Union for Reform Judaism:
- On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, congratulates the Israel Religious Action Center, its staff, its founding director, Rabbi Uri Regev, and current director, Anat Hoffman, and the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, of which IRAC is a vital part;
- Expresses our appreciation for the expansion of Reform Judaism’s rights in Israel, including religious freedom, funding for Reform Jewish institutions, and vibrant social justice presence, all strengthening religious pluralism and democracy;
- Reaffirms the commitment to and support for IRAC’s work that has been a hallmark of the relationship between the URJ and IRAC; and
- Encourages congregations visiting Israel to engage with IRAC on behalf of social justice in Israel.