Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, spoke Tuesday at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, held at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem. Lapid declared that his political agenda includes making the Reform and Conservative movements – both popular in the United States – equal to orthodox Judaism in terms of state support.
“I want to do everything in my power to ensure the equality between all movements of Judaism in the state of Israel, Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform,” he declared. “In conversions, in budgets, in the eyes of the law. No one can claim ownership over the Jewish God.”
“Small, old, petty politics cannot determine something that is eternal as is the Jewish identity, this is just wrong,” he added.
Conservative and Reform Judaism differ from traditional Judaism on principles of belief such as the divine origin of the Torah and of the Oral Law. They also differ significantly regarding conversion to Judaism, and Reform and Conservative conversions are generally not recognized as valid by orthodox rabbis, who say converts must agree to full observance of Jewish law (halacha).
Lapid also said that he plans to promote civil marriage in Israel. Currently Israel recognizes marriages performed under the auspices of a recognized religion within Israel, and any marriage registered abroad whether religious or not.
The “complete dominance of orthodox rabbis” over marriage “is an insult,” Lapid argued.
He also spoke of his determination to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority for the creation of an Arab state in Judea and Samaria, a point that he has previously stated is a key condition to his partnership in any coalition.
Failure to separate from the Arab population of Judea and Samaria (Shomron) would mean that Israel ceases to be a Jewish state, he argued.
However, Lapid rejected one of the Palestinian Authority’s key demands, saying that Israel should not give up sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem.