NEW YORK (Jan. 25)
“Complete freedom of religious belief and practice for all creeds in Israel was pledged here today by Rabbi Judah L. Maimon, Israeli Minister of Religions, addressing a press conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The Minister emphasized that the Israel Government has granted absolute autonomy to Non-Jewish communities in the exercise of their religious and communal affairs.
As a demonstration of the efforts which the Ministry of Religions is making to achieve harmony with the Christian groups in Israel, the Minister pointed out that in many instances Christian churches or Holy Places are given repair priority over Jewish religious places which also were destroyed in the recent war.
Touching briefly on the role of Jewish religion in Israel, the Orthodox member of the Israel Cabinet said that he is “firmly convinced that it is perfectly possible to conduct a modern state in full accordance with Jewish law.” The emergence of new inventions, the Minister declared, necessitates the establishment of an authoritative body, similar to the ancient Sanhedrin–the Jewish Supreme Court of Law–whose responsibility it would be to study Jewish law in the light of modern needs. Such a body should be composed of rabbis living in Israel, he said.
Asserting that more than 65 percent of the Jewish population in Israel is religious, Rabbi Maimon pointed out that Tel Aviv has 400 synagogues “which are filled on the Sabbath.” He said that during the last High Holidays, the Ministry of Religion conducted a survey in Tel Aviv and found that of the 200,000 inhabitants of the city, about 108,000 had attended religious services. “No one in Israel thinks of forcing religious beliefs or practices upon any individual; on the contrary, we want to make sure that no one will force the religious elements to violate their principles and way of life,” the Minister stated.