Israel's Movement for Progressive Judaism
Rabbi Denise L. Eger is the founding Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood's Reform Synagogue. She is the first female president of the Southern California Board of Rabbis and is also president of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis. This post originally appeared on her blog and is republished with permission.
[On January 6th], I had breakfast with Rabbi Gil Kariv, director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. The IMPJ is the native Reform Jewish movement of Israel. And it is growing! Even in a country that seems so divided between the secular and religious Jews-more and more Israelis are discovering the beauty and relevancy and spirituality of Reform Judaism. Not an American or European import-but the movement of Israel that has developed its own unique voice and sound even while sharing values in common with its North American and European brothers and sisters!
Israeli Reform congregations sprinkled throughout Israel can not handle the load! Rabbi Kariv spoke to me about the need to more than double the number of Reform congregations throughout Israel so that they can meet the more than 1.5 million who are thirsty for a Jewish, egalitarian, spiritual expression of our tradition. Rabbi Kariv spoke about the vision of starting more than 30 new congregations throughout Israel!
Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem is training native-born Reform Israeli rabbis to serve the needs. Anat Hoffman and the Israel Religious Action Center is challenging the religious injustices built into the Israeli government and political system that continues to exclude Reform rabbis and reform congregations from funding. The Reform movement's Mechina program is training young Israeli teens in their years before they go into the Israel Defense Forces with liberal Jewish ethics and a progressive vision of Judaism and Israel.
It is exciting to hear of these developments and how we in the States might support their growth and their vital work that will transform Jews and Judasim but most importantly transform Israelis and the Jewish state. I look forward to supporting their work and working to help build the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism.