Reform, Conservative Radio Message Will Get Israeli Air Time, with Changes

Israel’s Reform and Conservative movements have reached a compromise with Israel Radio, paving the way for the more-liberal streams of Judaism to run commercials on public airwaves.

Last week, Israel Radio refused to air a series of commercials in which Reform and Conservative rabbis invited secular Israelis to learn about their movements and come to their egalitarian services on the High Holidays.

Israel Radio, which is under the auspices of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, said that as a public broadcasting network its advertising regulations prohibited broadcasting any commercials that were “ideologically controversial.”

The Reform and Conservative movements petitioned the Supreme Court, which last Friday gave the Israel Broadcasting Authority two weeks to explain why it would not run the ads.

The main slogan of the campaign and the radio advertisements is “there is more than one way to be Jewish.” A spokesman for the broadcasting authority said it considered the ad controversial because Orthodox Jews believe there is only one way to Jewish.

According to the compromise reached on Sunday, the Reform and Conservative movements will replace the main slogan with “this is our way — you only have to choose.”

Although the movements still reject the radio’s decision not to run the original ads, they withdrew their Supreme Court petition on Monday after the radio agreed to air the ads with the minor changes.

“We had no problem making these small changes because the main content remained in the ads,” said Rabbi Uri Regev, director of the Reform movement’s Israel Religious Action Center.

They also agreed to delete another line in one of the commercials that said the movements provide a Jewish experience even for secular Jews “who were not born with a prayer book in their hands.” The broadcasting authority said the phrase may have offended religious Jews.

Following the compromise, the first radio commercials were scheduled to be aired on Tuesday.

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