Monday, 11 March 2013 00:00
Today, on the Jewish celebration of Rosh Hodesh, the New Israel Fund is thrilled to announce a special grant to Women of the Wall, the preeminent organization working for gender equality at Judaism's holiest site.
According to the Protection of Holy Places Law, any religious ceremony "not according to local custom" is prohibited in Israel. Local custom, in practice, has been interpreted as Orthodox custom. Violators of the law face up to six month of jail time and/or a fine.
Each Rosh Hodesh, Women of the Wall organizes an egalitarian prayer at the Kotel (Western Wall). Draped in tallits and reading aloud from the Torah, they face harassment, intimidation, and even arrest.
The 10,000NIS grant will be used to conduct research evaluating Israeli public opinion on the imposed gender separation at the Western Wall, as well as other critical issues relating to pluralism and equality in Israel. NIF believes that all Israelis should be able to practice Judaism according to the dictates of their own conscience. The research will be one more important tool in the battle for religious pluralism in Israel.
In addition to special funding for Women of the Wall, this past month at our bi-annual Board of Director’s meeting in Jerusalem, NIF approved grants to several cutting-edge organization promoting religious pluralism in Israel.
These organizations include:
- Even Shtiya is a community of newly religious Jews living in the Haredi world. NIF’s grant will allow for the publication and marketing of a new magazine, which will serve as a platform addressing the problems and topics of interest to this growing constituency. The grant is part of NIF's initiative to build a bridge between the ultra-Orthodox and mainstream Israel society, as well as to promote openness and social change within all sectors of Israel.
- Taking Responsibility–Israel 2048 provides training for Israeli youth committed to the values of responsibility, efficiency, and ethics. NIF’s grant will help the group start a pilot program in the fall.
- The Hartman Experimental Torah High School for Boys, established by the Shalom Hartman Institute, is a junior and senior high school in Jerusalem. NIF's grant will assist in running volunteer programs focused on creating dialogue with "the other" – asylum-seekers’ children as well as Palestinian and Haredi teenagers – with whom the students don’t regularly encounter.
- Yotzim Leshinui works to help integrate the formerly religious into mainstream Israeli society. Presently, the group operates entirely on a volunteer basis. NIF’s grant provides the seed funding to allow them to build an organization infrastructure.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 18:55