JERUSALEM, Aug. 7 (JTA) — Local Israeli chief rabbis met in emergency session Thursday to protest a high court decision upholding the appointment of a Reform movement representative to Netanya’s religious council. In Netanya, Orthodox members of the religious council and Meretz activists engaged in a heated argument when the Reform representative, Joyce Brenner, showed up for the council meeting. Contravening the decision made earlier this week by the High Court of Justice, council members did not invite her to the meeting. Brenner, a social worker by training, expressed regret over the council’s reaction and said she hoped some sort of understanding could be reached. “I felt very sad about their reaction,” she told Israel Radio, adding that the non-Orthodox movements wanted to “provide an address for the people in Netanya who might need to use the services of the religious council.” “What we are opening up is a different kind of religious” outlook, she added. The local religious councils, supervised by the Religious Affairs Ministry, have exclusive jurisdiction over marriage, kashrut, burial and other religious matters for all Jews living in Israel. Members of each council are appointed by the local municipal council, the religious affairs minister and the local chief rabbi. The court ruled Tuesday that the Religious Affairs Ministry must register Brenner within a week as a member of the Netanya council. The ministry also was ordered to pay the Reform movement more than $8,000 compensation for legal costs related to the case. The court ruling came after four previous decisions in which it upheld the right of non-Orthodox representatives to serve on local religious councils. However, none have been allowed to participate. The two deputy ministers of religious affairs, Yigal Bibi of the National Religious Party and Aryeh Gamliel of Shas, protested this week’s court ruling. Gamliel said he would rather resign than enforce the court decision.
Local chief rabbis oppose ruling to place Reform Jew on council