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Court Orders Government to Review Funding Policy for Reform Seminary

In a ruling that could have major ramifications for the status of non-Orthodox religious institutions in Israel, the High Court of Justice has ordered the government to explain why it has not funded the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College.

In its ruling this week, the High Court gave the State Attorney’s Office 45 days to explain why the state has not provided funding for HUC.

The Religious Affairs Ministry had previously denied the college access to funds that had been reserved for Orthodox yeshivot.

Rabbi Uri Regev, who filed the petition for funding on behalf of HUC, believes the final ruling will have ramifications for the funding of other non-Orthodox institutions of learning in Israel.

According to Regev, the Religious Affairs Ministry supports 1,450 Orthodox yeshivot, but has denied HUC any funding at all.

The petition filed by Regev claims that HUC is entitled to state support on the same basis as Orthodox yeshivot and seminaries.

But the state responded to the petition by saying it could not support the college’s co-ed instruction and the integration of religious and secular studies in its curriculum.

“We are very encouraged by the interim decision,” said Regev. “It gives us an indication the court may not be satisfied with the legal arguments” driving the state’s funding formula, which currently excludes all egalitarian and non-Orthodox institutions.

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