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Compromise Offered on Status of Reform Rabbis in Israel

Supreme Court Justice Meir Shamgar proposed a compromise today in connection with efforts “by Reform rabbis to gain equal status with the Orthodox religious establishment.

Shamgar suggested that Reform rabbis be permitted to perform marriages in Israel while the Orthodox would retain their prerogative as registrars of all marriages. The Orthodox have enjoyed a government-backed monopoly of religious functions in Israel since the State was formed. Marriages and other rites performed by non-Orthodox rabbis are invalid.

The Reform movement is protesting this situation in a hearing before a panel of five justices. Counsel for the State, which backs the Orthodox rabbinate, claimed it acts on behalf of all Jews in the country, regardless of whether they recognize it. “There is no room for various Jewish religions,” he said. The court will hear the appellants’ case at its next hearing.