Group pushing religious freedom in Israel launched


LOS ANGELES (JTA) — An organization calling for full religious freedom and diversity in Israel was launched in Tel Aviv.

Hiddush, a Hebrew word for innovation and renewal, was launched Monday and is headed by President and CEO Rabbi Uri Regev, a native Israeli and until recently president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, and Chairman Stanley Gold , a Los Angeles businessman and philanthropist .

A statement released by the organization blames the lack of freedom of religion in Israel on “a chief rabbinate and an ultra-Orthodox ideology” that controls the lives of Israeli Jews “from birth to death and almost everything in between.”

A survey of 1,200 Israelis conducted on behalf of the organization showed that 92 percent of Israel’s secular Jews favored abolishing the Orthodox monopoly on marriage. Among all respondents, 84 percent opposed the exemption of military duty for yeshiva students, and 83 percent supported freedom of religion and conscience.

In addition, 80 percent were dissatisfied with gender-segregated seating on certain bus lines, 63 percent backed equal state funding for all Jewish denominations and 62 percent wanted public transportation to run on Saturdays.

The survey had a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

Recommended from JTA