Jewish Journal


July 13, 2010

Reform rabbi: Israel’s pluralism threatened by new conversion law


Reform Rabbi Galia Sadan plays several roles in the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism: She is rabbi of the Beit Daniel synagogue in Tel Aviv, coordinator of the Council of Progressive Rabbis and director of a conversion school at the Beit Daniel Center. The school, she says, converts about 200 people annually. Sadan, like many Reform and Conservative rabbis, is a native Israeli, despite both denominations’ image as comprised primarily of immigrants from the United States and Europe.

On July 17, the World Reform Movement will commemorate the establishment of the first Reform temple 200 years ago, in Germany. But closer to home, it is busy opposing Yisrael Beiteinu’s controversial conversion bill, which was frozen by the prime minister immediately its approval by the Knesset Constitution Committee yesterday.

So what happened 200 years ago?

“On July 17 two hundred years ago, the first temple was dedicated in the city of Seesen. The person behind it was Rabbi Israel Jacobson, who was very active, first in Seesen and then in Berlin. In addition to the changes he introduced in the religious ritual, such as giving sermons in German and using an organ and choir in the services, this was the first attempt to establish interfaith relations. Christians were present at the dedication, as a group ... In his opening speech, [Jacobson] spoke of both Jews and Christians. There was no attempt to violate tradition, but rather to make cosmetic changes to bring Jews closer to the world of tradition.”

Read the full story at HAARETZ.com.

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