“You are not obligated to complete the work, nor are you free to cease from it.”
Rabbi Tarfon, in the Avot Tractate, said: “You are not obligated to complete the work, nor are you free to cease from it” (Avot Tractate, 2:21).
As we near the end of another civilian calendar year, we stop for a minute, to take this statement to heart. What a year we have had here at the Israel Reform Movement. Great accomplishments, alongside significant challenges, weave together the fabric that makes us who we are.
On a programmatic level, we have seen great progress over the past year. We have established new congregational initiatives, now including places such as Emek HaYarden and Ramat HaNegev; we have expanded our young adult programing, increasing the size of our Mechina by 25% with the addition of a new branch in Holon; we have led social justice initiatives through IRAC, such as the removal of gender segregation signs in Beit Shemesh; and we have renewed and expanded our Jewish-Arab initiatives through Keren b’Kavod.
We have reaffirmed the strong bond between us, here in Israel, and you, around the world, through the great work of Domim-aLike and your steadfast support in our struggle for religious equality; and we have seen all of this great work bear fruit in a recent survey, showing that 7% of all Israelis (over 800,000 Israelis) now identify themselves as Reform, Progressive, Jews, doubling the number of respondents to the same question four years ago.
Our great accomplishments do not come without challenges. We continue to fight for an egalitarian section at the Kotel, following the freezing of the resolution in July; we continue fighting against increased incitement against us, both on the street and even in the Knesset. However, we prove every day of the year that Israelis are “voting with their feet” and coming to our congregations, having life cycle events such as Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and weddings with our Rabbis, and joining with us in Tikun-Olam.
We do all of this with Rabbi Tarfon’s mimra in mind – though we cannot be responsible for all which takes place, we may not forsake the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead.
In the year ahead, together with you, our partners throughout the world, we will continue to build our movement and strive to achieve full recognition in Israel. We are grateful for the support of all our global partners and for the special North American campaign for Religious Equality in Israel initiated at the URJ Biennial by ARZA, ARZA-Canada and the URJ. For more information on the special campaign and how to donate to it please visit ARZA’s website. To donate to the IMPJ from outside the United States visit the our website.
As we stand at the doorstep of a new civilian year, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued friendship, partnership and support, without which none of this could happen. It is thanks to your support that we are able to continue to promote Jewish pluralism in Israel and work towards a better Israel. We simply cannot do this without you.
We look forward to a wonderful year ahead at the IMPJ and will continue fighting for an Israel we can be proud of.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv