The Rabbinate

Publications Regarding The Rabbinate


Press Release

Towards a New Covenant on Religion and State in Israel: Conference

At IDI's conference Former Defense Minister MK Avigdor Liberman said he will not advance the recruitment plan he had drafted with the Ministry of Defense. "Every 18-year-old will be required to enlist."


Towards a New Covenant on Religion and State in Israel

After years of struggles over issues related to religion and state, we hereby agree to adopt a new approach, which will create a covenant to provide a new system of arrangements and agreements to strengthen the link between the Israeli public and the Jewish identity of the State of Israel.


The Chief Rabbinate of Israel vs. the Jews

Turning 1.2 million Israelis with FSU origins into a state-sanctioned punching bag is intolerable, and calls for radical and immediate change


When the Government Provides Religious Services

Full separation of religion and state isn't possible, but why is the Chief Rabbinate in the kashrut business?

Press Release

Kashrut Supervision Services Bill

IDI is calling to amend the Kashrut Supervision Bill, so that instead of creating an additional layer of intermediaries, the market will be open, transparent and regulated by Rabbinate authorized rabbis.


Jews Worldwide Must Resist The Power Grab Of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate

Step by step, the Chief Rabbinate is turning itself into the central source of halakhic legitimacy not just within Israel’s borders but beyond them, and becoming a global force through securing its power all over the Jewish world.

Press Release

Preserving the Rabbinate’s monopoly over the kashrut market: the consumer will be the one to pay

The Israel Democracy Institute on the Ministry of Finance and Rabbinate's decision to preserve the Rabbinate’s monopoly over the kashrut market in Israel: the consumer will be the one to pay 


Israel's Battle for Peace Between Religion and State

The relationship between religion and state in Israel is stormy. Lately, it seems the ultra-Orthodox have launched a new offensive on several fronts. This op-ed was originally published by

Statement by IDI President Yohanan Plesner on the Advancement of the Mikveh Bill

Following today's advancement of the Mikveh Bill by the Knesset Plenum, IDI President Yohanan Plesner said, "The Mikveh Bill is not worthy of being included in the laws of Israel."

Press Release

'666,000 People Cannot Register to be Married in Israel'

The Israel Democracy Institute's Dr. Shuki Friedman took part in a "Nation, Religion and State" coalition meeting  under the oversight of Knesset Members (MKs) Aliza Lavie and Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid). The topic: Finding alternatives to marrying through the Israeli Rabbinate.


The End of the Chief Rabbinate?

According to Dr. Shuki Friedman, the rabbinate's failure to provide adequate religious services caused the current trend towards privatization of religious services, which is creating a de-facto separation between religion and the state.


Israel Should Recognize Judaism's Main Denominations

IDI President Yohanan Plesner writes that Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and secular Jews are all members of the Jewish people. The Israeli government must grant equal recognition to the central movements within Judaism, including equal funding for all.


Keeping Kosher: By Faith, Not By Force

To what extent should the Rabbinate interfere in a citizen's plate? Dr. Shuki Friedman, argues that kosher supervision should be based on trust not coercion, and warns that the attempt to preserve the Chief Rabbinate's monopoly on the kosher laws is a symptom of a larger problem.


Reinventing the Chief Rabbinate

In an article in <em>The Jewish Week</em>, Ms. Ayelet Libson of IDI's Human Rights and Judaism project questions the role of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and offers her view of what it could be.


The Fate of a Mamzer

In an article in The Jewish Week, Gitit Paz, a young scholar in IDI's Human Rights and Judaism project, discusses the status of mamzer in Jewish law and in contemporary Israel. 


Did You See the Tears of the Oppressed?

Rabbi Dr. Benjamin (Benny) Lau, head of IDI's Human Rights and Judaism in Action project, remembers Rabbi Ovadia Yosef as a courageous halakhic decisor who championed the needs of the oppressed.


No to the Separation of Religion and State in Israel

Should the American model of separation of church and state be applied to Israel? In an article in <em>The Jewish Week</em>, IDI's Yair Sheleg argues that Israel needs a unique model.


The Chief Rabbinate: A Religious Version of the State President

In an op-ed in Maariv, Yair Sheleg argues that the current roles of the Israeli chief rabbinate should be split and the rabbinate should serve solely in its representative capacity in the future.


Conversion in Israel: From Bethlehem to Chelm to Sodom

IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Stern responds to the State Comptroller's findings on conversion in Israel and calls for a solution that will enable Israelis from the former Soviet Union to join the ranks of the Jewish people.

Do Not Exempt Religious Schools from Accessibility Requirements

In response to the preliminary passage of an amendment that would exempt religious educational institutions from complying with accessibility requirement, a group of leading Israeli rabbis appealed to Israel's elected officials and requested their intervention to prevent the exemption from applying to religious schools. Rabbi Shay Piron, who directs IDI's work in this field under the auspices of IDI's Human Rights and Judaism project, coordinated this important effort. 


Religious Incitement: A Test Case for Freedom of Speech?

In an op-ed in Yedioth Ahronoth, IDI Vice President Yedidia Z. Stern responds to the proposed "Dov Lior Bill" and decries the possibility that members of the clergy—of any religion—be above the law and immune from prosecution for incitement to violence when their religious teachings may encourage criminal behavior.


Clear-Cut Racism or Complicated Relationship?

Are the ostensibly anti-Arab bills under consideration by the Knesset, the “Rabbis’ Letter” that forbids the sale of real estate to non-Jews, and the findings of the 2010 Israeli Democracy Index clear-cut indicators that racism is on the rise in Israel today? Or are more complex factors at play? IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg shares his views on this matter.


The "Rabbis' Letter" and Halakhah

The "Rabbis' Letter" signed by dozens of community rabbis in Israel in December 2010 asserts that Jewish law forbids the rental and sale of homes in Israel to non-Jews. Is renting property to non-Jews indeed forbidden by Jewish law? IDI Researcher Dr. Eliezer Hadad surveys opinions by contemporary rabbis who adopted a universalistic approach and found a halakhic basis for the equal rights mandated by both international norms and the Israeli Declaration of Independence.


An analysis of the proposed comprehensive counter-terrorism bill that was prepared by IDI's Terrorism and Democracy research team and submitted to the Ministry of Justice.

In an op-ed in Yedioth Ahronoth, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern urges the Israeli government to fend off political pressure, act morally, and assert that anyone who has converted to Judaism in the Israel Defense Forces is a Jew.


IDI Denounces Rabbis' Petition against Rental to Arabs

On December 7, 2010, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, and 49 other municipal rabbis in Israel issued a letter ruling that Jewish law forbids the sale or rental of property in Israel to gentiles. IDI joined the voices that condemned this letter.


From Ruth to Natasha

In this article, IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern explains the current conversion crisis in Israel, reviews the evolution of attitudes towards conversion in halakhic literature over the ages, and concludes with a proposal that is compatible with Jewish law while responding to pressing contemporary needs.

The Conversion Crisis: The Chief Rabbi of Israel vs. The Israel Defense Forces?!

The following op-ed by IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern was originally published in Hebrew in the <em>Yedioth Ahronoth</em> daily newspaper on December 8, 2010, just before the Knesset was scheduled to vote on a bill that would recognize the validity of all conversions performed within the context of the service in the Israel Defense Forces—a vote that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed by several days due to competing pressure within the political system. It urges the Israeli government to fend off political pressure, act morally, and assert that anyone who has converted to Judaism in the IDF is a Jew.


Conversion – Implications for Jewish Culture and Peoplehood

IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg argues that it is time to modify the requirements for those who wish to join the Jewish People, with the State overriding the religious establishment through legislation in order to resolve this issue, if necessary.


Two Jewish Nations and the Abyss Between Them

For many American Jews, identification with the State of Israel is a significant component of their Jewish identity.



Is the Chief Rabbinate's Monopoly on Kashrut Over?

The implications of the Supreme Court's ruling go far beyond the Kashrut market.