It may not come as a surprise to some, but according to a Yediot Achronot report from Tuesday, 11 Cheshvan 5774, The Movement party headed by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is spearheading a religious reform bill that aims to cater to the non-frum.
The Movement feels that “religion should be for everyone” and rather than elevating the people to adherence of Torah and mitzvos, The Movement feels it may or must bring Yiddishkheit down into the street – making it palatable to all by trampling halacha.
What are some of the issues the reform seeks to address?
1. Tried to get married but the local rabbinate questions your Jewishness?
2. Does the local rabbinate compel you to get kashrus supervision for your store?
3. You don’t wish to get married with the Chief Rabbinate but do not wish to travel to Cyprus?
4. You wanted to become a giyur but the rabbinate is preventing the process?
If these issues speak to you then you are in luck if Tzipi Livni and Elazar Stern have their way. Livni plans to bring her version of Yiddishkheit to the masses in an effort to make religious services available to all.
While Stern has presented the plan, Livni is behind much of it and she, as an attorney and justice minister had much of the bill written to conform to the legal intricacies involved. She plans to ease the burden of persons having to deal with the local or Chief Rabbinate. She is confident that Minister of Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett, who heads Bayit Yehudi, will be on board since he has stated on numerous occasions he wanted the ministerial portfolio to implement widespread religious services reforms.
Her vision includes:
1. One will be permitted to obtain state religious services anywhere in Israel and not just in the municipality one resides.
She explains that regarding kashrus, marriage and conversion services, the demands from a local rabbinate may and do vary from place to place. She envisions setting up a competitive system and therefore, a couple wishing to register for marriage may select any city in Israel to do so. They may also select the rav that bests suits their lifestyle to marry them.
She is confident that the competitive atmosphere will result a more liberal policy pertaining to these religious services.
2. Any city rabbi, regional council rabbi, local council rabbi (referring to state appointed rabbonim) will be permitted to convene a beis din to covert a candidate. This would result in conversion without the need for any additional approvals/permits.
3. Restaurants and food factories may seek kashrus from any rav in any city around the country, once again referring to civil service rabbonim, and not be limited to the local municipality in which their business is found.
4. All couple will be compelled to sign a pre nuptial in the hope of reducing the number of agunos in the future. This document will not compel giving a get, but it would compel seeking professional counseling, attending beis din hearings and paying a handsome some for each day there is failure to comply with a beis din’s ruling to give a get. This would all be enforceable by the civil court system should the need arise.
5. Couples living together but not officially married because they do not wish to get married would enjoy the same rights, privileges and responsibilities of married couples. This would include but is not limited to persons disqualified from marrying with the Chief Rabbinate and same gender partnerships. Their separation would be handled by a family court, not a beis din.
6. At least 40% of the body which selects rabbonim of cities must be women.
7. Only one chief rabbi will serve per city, eliminating the slot for both an Ashkenazi and Sephardi chief rabbi.
MK Stern adds “In order to preserve the State of Israel as a democratic Jewish nation we are working to combat corruption in religious service and to bring the Rabbinate close to the people. The reform plan intends to make the state religious services accessible to all.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)