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IRAC takes on gender segregation in higher education

S had a major assignment due by midnight, but was forced to take a lower grade and turn it in late because she had no access to the resources she needed in the college library as it was closed to women that day.
This is a reality for students on campuses in Israel that are trying to attract ultra-Orthodox students. Freedom and equality, the most basic principles of academia, are suspended on ultra-Orthodox college campuses and students’ acceptance is on the condition that they dress and behave a certain way or be expelled.
The Israeli government promises its citizens’ education. In order to fulfill its promise and encourage the ultra-Orthodox to pursue higher education, colleges must create learning spaces that meet the religious and cultural needs of ultra-Orthodox students. This means ultra-Orthodox only campuses and special tracks of learning. Programs where professors and instructors are only men, classes are separate for men and women, and there is a strict dress code for women on campuses – including a “modesty suvervisor” who determines if behavior and dress are modest enough for the campus. Non-compliance leads to expulsion. It robs us of the essence of academia.
There is a very fine balance between the importance of education and the values of freedom and equality. Encouraging the ultra-Orthodox to attend institutions of higher education so that they can become productive members of society is very important, but at what expense?
In 2018, IRAC is working to make sure campuses trying to integrate ultra-Orthodox Israelis into their student body do not go beyond what is legal. We will continue to take action to ensure that cafeterias, libraries and degree programs do not segregate or exclude women. We are working to collect information and build the legal arguments to end gender segregation in institutions of higher learning.

Click here to support IRAC’s work to end gender segregation in the public sphere.



2018-01-09T09:15:13+11:00January 9th, 2018|News|

“You are not obligated to complete the work, nor are you free to cease from it.”

Dear friends,

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

2018-01-03T12:09:45+11:00January 3rd, 2018|News|


Dear Friends,

Chanukah is a time when we can truly celebrate all of the light that our congregations and programs are bringing to Israel. From Kehillat “Birkat Shalom” in Kibbutz Gezer, who held a special program for Olim from South Africa in Ramleh, creating mosaic hanukiyot (menorahs), to the Chanukah market in Kibbutz Lotan, held in partnership with Keren b’Kavod, and Candle lighting at Congregation “Ma’alot Tivon” in Kiryat Tivon with residents of the “Kfar Tikvah” senior living facility, these congregations and programs bring to life the miracle of Chanukah in its modern form, spreading light across Israel.

Just before Chanukah, we were afforded the wonderful opportunity to celebrate the light of Jewish Peoplehood at the URJ Biennial. In attendance at this year’s Biennial was the largest ever Israeli delegation, and the greatest attention to Israel-related matters in Biennial history. In his Shabbat D’Var Torah, URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs mentioned our mutual pride in the growth of the Israeli Reform Movement; as a recent poll showed, 7% of Israelis now identify most with Reform Judaism, doubling our presence in the past five years and bringing our values to every corner of Israeli society. Also in his remarks, Rabbi Jacobs pledged that over the next two years, the North American Reform Movement will invest more in Reform Judaism in Israel. We are grateful for the support and look forward to working with our partners around the world towards a more pluralistic and democratic Israel.

It is on that note that I invite you to take part in a celebration of Reform Judaism in Israel at our 23rd IMPJ Biennial, taking place June 1-2, 2018. This year we will be expanding our international track and look forward to sharing this joyous occasion with you.

The Festivals of Light may be coming to a close, however we will continue the illumination of religious pluralism in Israel. The road is long, but the opportunity is great. The Promised Land is not reached in a day, but when it is, another miracle takes place.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv

2017-12-20T09:41:09+11:00December 20th, 2017|News|
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