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Conservative rabbis mull call for Chief Rabbinate’s dissolution

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Conservative rabbinical association is considering a call for the dissolution of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

The Rabbinical Assembly is expected to take up the measure Thursday, one of more than a dozen under consideration at the group’s annual convention currently under way in Jerualem.

According to a draft of the resolution under discussion, the R.A. says the Chief Rabbinate has had an "unfortunate impact on Israeli society," which often associates it with "corruption, favoritism and cronyism."

The resolution also says the rabbinate "misrepresents the nature of Judaism to the world at large" and calls on the state to disband it.

Liberal American rabbis have had a number of squabbles over the years with Israeli religious authorities, who wield state power through their control of several hot-button issues, including marriage and conversion. The rabbinate, which is made up largely of fervently Orthodox rabbis, has even run afoul of liberal Orthodox rabbis in the United States, who accuse it of taking unnecessarily strict and authoritarian religious positions. 

While some have responded to the problem by calling for an American-style separation of religion and state, the draft resolution endorses "state-supported religion in Israel" but calls for a more equitable distribution of resources to the various Jewish streams.

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