First Woman Rabbi in Israel is Performing Congregational Duties

The first woman rabbi in Israel — Kinneret Shirion — is performing congregational duties for the Reform movement’s Community Synagogue in Ramat Aviv, a Tel Aviv suburb, but she is doing so without recognition from the Orthodox rabbinical establishment, which is a government agency.

The Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism said that Shirion, 30 , was ordained by the New York branch of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institution of Religion in 1981 and served as a pulpit rabbi in Adelaide, Australia and in Wilton, Conn. before coming to Israel in 1983.

Shirion is married to an Israeli scriptwriter. The couple has a two-year-old daughter.

The Israeli state rabbinate does not recognize any non-Orthodox movement or its rabbis. Those rabbis do not have authority to perform marriages or officiate at burials which are owned or controlled by the Orthodox Hevra Kadisha Burial Societies.

Both the Conservative and Reform movements have established offices in Jerusalem, building synagogues, schools and kibbutzim. Backed by their world movements, the non-Orthodox groups in Israel are fighting with mounting persistence for full recognition.

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