The Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel

Masorti Matters Blog

Gideon Aronoff, Executive Director, Masorti Foundation

All of us at Masorti were watching the new government in Israel with great anticipation and high hopes for how it might fulfill the promise of change. We celebrated with our partners in the Movement in Israel. At first, it looked like the change might be coming. The Religious Services Director, Matan Kahana, was preparing legislation that would potentially open up the system of recognizing kashrut certification, taking full control away from the Chief Rabbinate and paving the way for recognition of Masorti/Conservative and Reform certification.  Yes, the legislation moves away from complete control by the Chief Rabbinate, but it does not, and apparently as it stands now, will not, recognize Masorti or Reform kashrut.

MK Professor Alon Tal, of the Kachol Lavan party (pictured above) and the only Masorti member of the governing coalition, expressed frustration and profound dismay that legislation designed to reform the current administration of kashrut certification currently leaves out Conservative and Reform Judaism.

MK Tal recently was quoted commenting, “I was at first encouraged and then disappointed by the new “change” coalition government’s steps to reform Israeli Kashrut regulations. At first, it looked like the Religious Services Director Matan Kahana was preparing legislation that would potentially open up the system of recognizing kashrut certification, taking full control away from the Chief Rabbinate and paving the way for recognition of Masorti/Conservative and Reform certification.

But that was not to be.  Yes, the legislation moves away from complete control by the Chief Rabbinate, but it does not, and apparently as it stands now will not, recognize Masorti or Reform institutions in Israel in the process of overseeing kashrut.”

MK Alon Tal, the only Masorti (Conservative) member of the governing coalition, expressed great frustration and profound dismay over the reality that the coalition’s legislative proposal designed to reform the current administration of kashrut certification, leaves out Conservative and Reform Judaism.

Tal continues, “I’m proud to be part of this coalition, which is creating the kashrut reform, because the best answer to corruption is to create competition, But it still perpetuates the Orthodox monopoly. As someone who grew up as a Conservative Jew, as someone who takes kashrut seriously, I find it insulting that the director-general of the Religious Services Ministry says there is no place for Reform and Conservative rabbis in the kashrut system in Israel. It spits in my face and the face of all Reform and Conservative Jews around the world.”

As MK Tal decalred once Minister Kahana “took on responsibility as Religious Services minister, he did so for all Jews in Israel, and he has a responsibility to be inclusive.” And yet, this is the response he’s received to date: “Let there be no doubt: there will be no Reform or Conservative participation in kashrut.

MK Tal refuses to give up the fight for comprehensive reform of Israel’s kashrut bureaucracy, and is advocating for an amendment to the proposed legislation that would add in a “Liberal Kashrut” standard to allow non-Orthodox rabbis to issue kashrut certificates.

The Masorti Movement of Israel, and its network of supporters throughout the Diaspora, applaud MK Tal for this principled stand. And commit to building support for true reform in Israel so Jewish life can embody the deep values of the Jewish tradition in a modern, pluralistic, and inclusive fashion. Masorti’s Jewish Pluralism Watch does much to advocate and educate on this issue and many others to effect real change in Israel and make Israel truly a home for ALL Jews.  

To learn more, read The Jerusalem Post’s article here or  Haaretz’s article here.

Support Jewish Pluralism Watch