TEL AVIV (JTA) – Nearly three-quarters of Israelis object to the removal of a Conservative rabbi from a bar mitzvah ceremony for disabled children intended to take place at the Israeli president’s residence.
The ceremony has been run for 20 years by the Conservative movement and was scheduled to take place at the end of June. It was supposed to be co-officiated by one Conservative rabbi, Mike Goldstein, and one Orthodox rabbi, Benny Lau. But the Conservative officials said two weeks ago that Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, sent them the official ceremony program without Goldstein’s name.
A poll released Monday by Hiddush, an Israeli religious pluralism organization, found that 71 per cent of Israelis object to the president’s decision to remove Goldstein as a co-officiator.
In its description of the incident in the poll, Hiddush wrote, “The President’s residence canceled a Bar Mitzvah ceremony for disabled children because a Conservative rabbi was supposed to lead the ceremony along with an Orthodox rabbi.” While the Conservative movement was the party that backed out of the ceremony, Hiddush wrote to JTA that the president is to blame for the cancellation.
Rivlin’s spokesman, Jason Pearlman, told JTA earlier this month that the event program had yet to be finalized. He said a number of possible options for the ceremony are still on the table.
The Hiddush poll also found that 59 per cent of Israelis believe Israel should recognize Conservative, Reform and Orthodox rabbis equally.
The survey of 507 adult Jewish-Israelis was conducted by the Rafi Smith Polling Institute on June 15.