Israel News Online staff
The Jewish Religious Equality Coalition (J-REC) is visiting Israel to advocate for religious pluralism.
Created and led by the American Jewish Committee, J-REC is a broad-based coalition of American Jews and Israelis dedicated to the realization of full religious equality in the Jewish state, and is mobilizing support for the creation of alternatives to the Chief Rabbinate.
The group will meet with Israeli government officials, the Knesset Diaspora Committee, the Chief Rabbinate, and civil society organizations active in promoting religious pluralism.
Since its founding in 2014, J-REC has warned repeatedly that the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over personal issues such as conversion and marriage poses a threat to Israel’s democratic nature.
“Fundamental questions of Jewish identity and peoplehood transcend geographical borders, and cannot be considered solely an internal Israeli matter,” said Steve Bayme, from the American Jewish Committee.
“Concerns in the U.S. Jewish community about the Chief Rabbinate’s extensive influence on personal status issues are palpable, and compel us to speak out and rigorously advocate for change.”
According to J-REC, the Chief Rabbinate has become an object of derision, even scorn, in many quarters, both in Israel and the Diaspora.
Last year, the American Jewish Committee conducted a survey of American Jewish opinion, which found that 74 percent favor extended legal recognition to non-Orthodox weddings, divorces and conversions.
The survey also found that 41 percent consider securing legal recognition of equality for all streams of Judaism the most important change necessary in Israeli Judaism.