For those of you who were able to view the ZFA President, Jeremy Leibler interviewing Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of IRAC, (the Israeli Religious Action Centre), you would have gained a deep understanding as to why the Diaspora Progressive Movement supports this wonderful woman and her quest on our behalf so strongly.
Her stand out comment to me was “Israel is the table where Jewish values are discussed”. Anat went on to explain that this is the reason why we need to be part of the conversation in Israel, as well as in the Diaspora.
It is IRAC which speaks for Progressive Jews in the Supreme Court of Israel. IRAC argues our case for equal recognition of our faith, our Rabbis, our way of life including the way we like to marry, be buried and educate our children, particularly in Israel.
As Anat made clear, much has been achieved. Our Rabbis our now being paid by the State, if not equally, women no longer have to sit at the back of the bus, a person who has converted to Judaism in the Diaspora can finally make Aliya to Israel, even if in Israel his/her conversion is not recognised by the Rabbinate.
The Rabbinate still has a monopoly over marriage and burial, with those two lifecycle events not being able to be performed and recognized by a Progressive/Reform Rabbi in Israel. So sadly Progressive Jews travel overseas to marry.
She made a strong case for the separation of religion and State as is the case in Australia and most Western Democracies. It would mean, as in Australia, that no Government Minister is able to make decisions on matters of religion or the recognition of differing streams of Judaism.
You should be aware that some of the money we raise here in Australia for the Progressive Appeal goes to supporting the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and IRAC.
The aim is to build the Progressive Movement and bring that strong voice of Progressive Judaism to the table in Israel where Jewish values are discussed and our Progressive voice should be heard.
If you wish to visit or revisit this interview with Anat Hoffman or any of the other ZFA Lockdown Learning conversations you can go to, or subscribe to the ZFA You Tube channel: ZFA Lockdown Learning Series.
ARZA President, Helen Shardey