Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Israel May Have Coalition Government That Dramatically Changes Current Religion-State Arrangements

A New York Jewish Week article today speculates that dramatic changes in the relationship of religion and government could be in the offing in Israel as Benjamin Netanyahu moves to form a coalition government that may exclude the haredi (strictly Orthodox) Shas and United Torah Judaism parties. In the coalition negotiations, Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid and Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home Party, which together hold 31 seats in the Knesset, have pledged they will not join a government with the haredi parties.

Among the changes that could result are limiting or ending draft exemptions for yeshiva students, easier conversion to Judaism of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who have been unable to prove that they are Jewish under Jewish religious law, an end to the Orthodox monopoly over Jewish marriage and divorce, and proportionate government funding of the Reform and Masorti (Conservative) branches of Judaism along with Orthodox.