As the fourth round of elections to take place in Israel in just 2 years draws closer, Progressive/Reform Jews in Israel and the Diaspora wonder if they may finally gain representation in the Knesset and proper recognition in the Jewish homeland. This question is examined by the Jerusalem Post, as follows.

Gilad Kariv: The Labor candidate who could be the first Reform rabbi MK. He is the Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism


FEBRUARY 4, 2021

Rabbi Gilad Kariv RABBI GILAD KARIV: The fact that I am in the fourth slot says something about the fact that Reform Judaism is not a marginal player or only identified with Diaspora Jewry.

It is no secret that the fortunes of the Labor Party have been flagging in recent years.

Formerly the longtime ruling party, its star has waned with the ascent of the Israeli Right as well as a host of competitors for the center ground of Israeli politics. Just six years ago Labor, in an alliance with Tzipi Livni, managed to obtain 24 seats in the 2015 elections, but in the last election, in March 2020, it could muster just three MKs, and that only by dint of an alliance with Meretz.

At the same time, the cause of progressive Jews in Israel has also stalled in respect to their desire for greater recognition and status in the Jewish state. A grand plan for a state-recognized progressive Jewish prayer area at the Western Wall was cancelled by the last stable government, which, together with a fierce fight over conversion, caused an unprecedented crisis between the government and the non-Orthodox denominations in Israel and the US.

But earlier this week, a political development occurred that might presage a fillip for both Labor and progressive Jews. In the Labor primaries on Monday, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the director of the Reform movement in Israel, obtained the fourth spot on the party’s electoral list for the upcoming elections.

The Jerusalem Post went on to discuss the improved position of Labor in the polls predicting a win of 5 to 8 seats. So, even if Gilad Kariv is moved further down the list because of a Labor deal with another party, he still has a good chance of becoming the first Progressive/Reform Rabbi to be elected to the Knesset. B’hatzlacha!

Please note. The IMPJ and ARZA Australia are nonpartisan organizations, not supporting particular political parties.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey

ARZA Australia President