Initiative on Israeli Pluralism and Jewish Diversity

Perspective from our CEO

Why Are Many Israelis Denied a Jewish Wedding?

April 30, 2015  By Shep Englander


Since Israel’s founding, as American Jews, our primary relationship with the Jewish State has been to give our support though funding, advocacy, education and tourism.  However, as Israelis increasingly debate issues that will define the character of the Jewish state for decades to come, American Jews want to have a voice.  


We are painfully aware that as Americans, we are not burdened with Israel’s security concerns; our children are not drafted.  Nevertheless, if ...  Read more >

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Resources & News

Kim Heiman, Israelis Need Freedom of Choice in Marriage

I've been to two fake weddings in Israel — fake for two reasons. First, the couples had already travelled to other countries to be officially married. Second, the legal authority on marriages, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, would not have legally recognized the ceremonies I attended....

Danielle V. Minson, Freedom of Choice in Marriage: a Love Story

Once upon a time, Kim Heiman found love in Israel. “What can I say, girl from Nashville meets boy from Cincinnati–in Jerusalem of all places!” she marvels. Fast forward forty years later, and the former Jewish Federation of Cincinnati president is paying it forward: passionately paving the way for Israelis to write their own love stories in a way that’s personally meaningful for them....

Naomi Zeveloff, Is There a Brighter Future for Reform Judaism in Israel?

July 21, 2015 - Jerusalem native Noa Sattath came out twice to her family: first as a lesbian, and later as a Reform rabbi. But it was her second admission that ruffled her secular Israeli parents....

Rabbi David Ellenson, A Cry For Jewish Religious Equality In Israel

Wed, 07/22/2015 -- The avalanche of controversial events surrounding issues of religion and state in Israel and the attacks on liberal expressions of Judaism — even in Modern Orthodox form — have been unending in recent weeks, and there is no end in immediate sight....

Marriage, Divorce and Ritual: A Legal/Cultural Look by Smadar Dekel Naim

In Israel, according to laws dating back to the British Mandate, civilians can marry only under the auspices of the religious establishment to which the couple belong." Read more >

Ariel Beery: While the Diaspora Jewish community works hard to defend ...

While the Diaspora Jewish community works hard to defend Israel on campuses and in halls of government, Israel is the only country in the world with a significant Jewish community where a Jewish female soldier is barred from leading prayer in the local house of worship, where the family of a fallen soldier is forbidden to hold a Jewish funeral according to its custom, and where it is illegal for some Jews to be married in a Jewish wedding of their liking. If this country were in ... More >

Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi: "Jewish Destiny and the Women of the Wall"

One might argue that while Israel unifies the Jewish community in times of crisis, on an ongoing basis its complex realities often confuse, distance and divide world Jewry. No single aspect of the Jewish reality today challenges Jewish peoplehood and the potential for actualizing a Covenant of Destiny more than the realities of the State of Israel. Specifically, the future of the Jewish people will be determined by the answers to the following three big questions ... More >

Article on Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit–Halachmi's lecture at Rockdale

Addressing the 100–plus attendees at Rockdale Temple’s Feb. 27th Erev Shabbat service, Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit–Halachmi asserted that the complex cultural, religious and political realities of today’s Israel often confuse, distance and divide world Jewry. Nevertheless, she stated, “Our relationship with the State of Israel is currently the most important issue facing Jews throughout the world.” ... More >

Times of Israel: Proving I am a Jew, by David Brent

I have been dreaming of making Aliyah since my Bar Mitzvah 35 years ago. In recent years, I have been coming to Israel over the summer to study Hebrew. One of my Hebrew teachers became my friend. After a couple of years, we started dating. This past June, in a beautiful ceremony in the Galilee, she became my wife. I learned that getting married in Israel is not so simple ... More >