Reform congregation wins right to build synagogue in central Israeli city

(JTA) – A Reform congregation has won a legal battle to build a synagogue building in the central Israeli city of Hod Hasharon.

Kehillat Yonatan was founded in 2001 as an independent Progressive congregation. It is named after the son of its spiritual leader, Rabbi Michael Boyden, who moved with his family to Israel from England in 1985. Israel Defense Forces paratrooper Yonatan Boyden was killed in 1993 in southern Lebanon.

The Lod District Court on Thursday ordered the municipality of Hod Hasharon, a wealthy city located several miles north of Tel Aviv, to halt delays on the project and to allow the synagogue to build on the parcel of land initially allocate to it in 2013 after repeated requests for a parcel of land on which to build the synagogue and education centre.  The court also ordered the municipality to pay about $8,500 in legal fees to the synagogue.

The congregation was represented by the Israel Religious Action Center, the Israel advocacy arm of the Reform movement. It alleged that the project had been subjected to excessive red tape because it involved the Reform movement, according to Haaretz. It first submitted a request for land for a synagogue building 15 years ago.

Hundreds of area residents attend High Holiday services at the synagogue and thousands attend lectures and other programs throughout the year, Haaretz reported.

“We provide a home for thousands of Jews who want to develop a modern Jewish lifestyle in a country crying out for religious pluralism and alternatives. Our educational campus, unlike any other in the area, attracts Israelis not only from Hod Hasharon but from all over the region. Through our creative approach we have been successful in connecting old and young, families and singles with their heritage,” the congregation says on its website. It says that it has raised $1 million of the $2 million needed to build and furnish the 13,000 square-foot synagogue.

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