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Knesset Rejects Bill to Recognize Reform Judaism Movement in Israel

A proposal to recognize non-Orthodox trends within Jewry was rejected yesterday in the Knesset by a vote of 42-26. The draft resolution, proposed by Amnon Rubinstein of the opposition Shinui (Change) Party, would have recognized the Reform movement, known in Israel as the Movement for Progressive Judaism, as a religious body on equal footing with the Orthodox rabbis. It would have enabled Reform rabbis to perform weddings and to conduct other religious duties, including burial services, with the aid of the government.

Rubinstein said Israel is the only country in the Western world where rabbis other than those of an Orthodox trend were not allowed to perform religious functions. He said Reform rabbis did not represent merely a minority group but the majority of Jews in the Western world.

Replying for the government, Justice Minister Moshe Nissim asked the Knesset, to reject the motion as passage at the law would interfere with the status quo which formed the basis for the establishment of all coalition governments in the past.