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Religious Services and Pluralism in Israel

Illustration | Flash 90

 Over the past two years, the Nation, Religion and State program at the Israel Democracy Institute has conducted an in-depth examination of religious services in Israel as a basis for proposing alternative models that would upgrade the quality of these services and make them more pluralistic. This work has produced two policy papers: Is it Kosher Here? and The Religious Councils: Religious Services, Public Administration and Politics.

The conference aims to bring together the leaders, civil servants and experts involved in the provision of religious services for a joint discussion and to expose the general public to their current state and the various options for enhancing pluralism in religious services.

The conference is being held amidst a lively public debate on these issues in general, and the reform of the kashrut market in Israel in particular, which is slated for presentation in the Knesset in the coming weeks.

10:00–10:30 A.M.


Yohanan Plesner, President, Israel Democracy Institute

Professor Yedidia Stern, Vice President of Research, Israel Democracy Institute; Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University

Dr. Shuki Friedman, Director, Center for Religion, Nation and State, Israel Democracy Institute; Faculty of Law of the Peres Academic Center

10:30–11:00 A.M.

Session 1: Religious Services in Israel – Is the State Fulfilling its Commitment? 

Rabbi MK Eli Ben Dahan, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Defense

11:00 A.M.–12:30 P.M.

Session 2: The Kashrut Market – Towards Privatization?


Dr. Shuki Friedman, Israel Democracy Institute; Peres Academic Center 


Rabbi Moshe Dagan, Director, Chief Rabbinate 

MK Rachel Azaria, Kulanu party

Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, President, Feuerstein Institute; Co-Chairman of the Zohar Rabbinical Organization; Rabbi of the National Religious community in Jerusalem's Har Nof neighborhood

Yuval Teller, Housing and Religion Coordinator, Budget Division, Ministry of Finance

12:30–1:15 P.M.

Lunch Break

1:15–2:30 P.M.

Session 3: What is the Right Way to Provide Religious Services?


Ariel Finkelstein, Researcher, Center for Religion, Nation, and State, Israel Democracy Institute


Adv. Oded Plus, Director General, Ministry of Religious Services

Professor Gideon Sapir, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University

Sigal Moran, Head, Bnei Shimon Regional Council (Outgoing )

Eldad Mizrahi, Chair, Religious Council, Tel Aviv

2:45–4:00 P.M.

Session 4: Equality in Religious Services


Tehila Friedman, Researcher, Shalom Hartman Institute


Dr. Yizhar Hess, CEO of the Conservative Judaism movement in Israel

Adv. Orly Erez-Likhovski, Deputy Director of the Legal Department, Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism

Rabbi Dr. Ronen Lubitz, Rabbi of Kibbutz Nir Etzion; President, Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah, a religious-Zionist movement 

Adv. Riki Shapira, Researcher, Center for Religion, Nation, and State, Israel Democracy Institute

4:00–4:45 P.M.

Closing Session: Religious Services in Israel and the Jewish World


Prof. Yedidia Stern will interview Isaac Herzog, Chairman, Jewish Agency