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Israel to sponsor non-Orthodox rabbis for first time (REUTERS) Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Jon Hemming JERSALEM, ISRAEL 05/29/12 4:42pm EDT)Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/29/us-israel-religion-idUSBRE84S19V20120529 Reuters News Service Reuters News Service Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
(Reuters) - Israel will pay the salaries of non-Orthodox rabbis for the first time, the Justice Ministry said on Tuesday, a move hailed by reformed Jews as "historic", but one that keeps the Orthodox in control of much of the country´s religious services.

In 2005, a number of liberal Jewish groups petitioned the Supreme Court to receive state funding for municipal posts held by non- Orthodox rabbis.

Though most Israeli Jews are secular, a strictly-Orthodox rabbinic court is the country´s authority in nearly all Jewish religious ceremonies, like weddings and conversions, and until now only those rabbis were paid by the state in such posts.

The government, in its response to the court, said that while it will sponsor the new posts out of respect to those non-Orthodox rabbis, the decision will "have no influence on judgment in religious matters".

Though it will only affect a limited number of posts, the Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism on its website called the move a "historic achievement".

"It´s a first, but significant, step in making all forms of Judaism in Israel equal," said the movement´s director Rabbi Gilad Kariv. (© Thomson Reuters 2012. 05/29/12)

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