Likud MK to haredi lawmakers: Recognize non-Orthodox movements

Coalition MK calls on haredi leaders to recognize other 'streams' of Judaism. 'This is their state too.'

Benny Toker ,

Avraham Nagosa (file)
Avraham Nagosa (file)
Miriam Alster/Flash90

Chairman of the Knesset Committee for Immigration and Absorption, MK Avraham Neguise (Likud), called on haredi leaders to drop their long-standing opposition to non-Orthodox Jewish movements and recognize other “streams” of Judaism.

Long considered a non-negotiable issue for Orthodox leaders in Israel, the state has maintained a policy of not recognizing non-traditional religious movements; an arrangement that has served as a cornerstone for the so-called “Status Quo” agreement on religion and state since 1948.

Speaking with Arutz Sheva on Thursday, Neguise said it is imperative for Israel to maintain close ties with Diaspora Jewry, and to recognize the connection many Jews – including non-Orthodox Jews – abroad have with the Jewish state.

“Diaspora Jewry is a strategic, economic, diplomatic, and security asset,” Neguise said.

“We’re one nation, one family, and we need to minimize disputes between Israel and the Diaspora as much as possible; after all, this is their state as well. Therefore, we must do everything we can to make every Jew feel that the State of Israel is their home.”

“More than once we’ve had intense debates in the committee on the subject of recognizing conversions performed overseas by various streams of Judaism. Every Jew needs to feel like the State of Israel is his home, and that he is always welcome here. Some of those [non-Orthodox Diaspora] Jews send their children to serve in the [Israeli] army; they are sharing in our fate, and it is important to treat them accordingly, so that they feel like they belong here.”

Regarding the ongoing debate over demands by leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements in North America for an enlarged prayer space at the Western Wall incorporated into the larger Western Wall Plaza, Neguise said he believed a compromise was possible.

Religious lawmakers last year torpedoed a plan to revamp the non-Orthodox prayer space next to the plaza, which would have granted representatives of the Reform and Conservative movements partial control over the plaza area – something haredi leaders warned amounted to de facto recognition.

“The Prime Minister is dealing with the issue,” said Neguise. “The government has allocated a budget to make the space suitable for prayers for other streams [of Judaism]. There have always been disagreements among Jews, but we always have known how to find solutions to our disagreements; we learn from our mistakes and that builds us up as a people. In every family there needs to be a flexibility on both sides. The same is true with the haredi community as well as with the various [non-Orthodox] streams, because this is our only country.”