Israel Religious Action Center
of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism
Highlights of Achievements

IRAC’s 25 Major Achievements in 25 Years

1. In May 2012, after a seven year legal battle on behalf of Rabbi Miri Gold, IRAC won  recognition and state funding for 15 non-Orthodox rabbis. This is a huge victory for religious freedom in Israel. 

2. IRAC achieved three major Supreme Court decisions that recognize Reform and Conservative conversions. The legal victories in 1995, 2002, and 2005 are vital to the ongoing struggle to recognize Reform and Conservative converts as Jews in Israel.

3. IRAC’s Legal Aid Center for Olim (LACO) has served over 70,000 clients and in 2004 was officially recognized by the state as the preeminent organization for new-immigrant rights in Israel.

4. IRAC won a case in 2011 in which the Supreme Court ruled gender segregation on public buses illegal, a huge victory in IRAC’s goal to identify and end all forms of gender segregation in the public sphere in Israel.

5. IRAC’s legal team won a case in 2010 to guarantee municipal funding and 500,000 shekels to fund activities retroactively for the Jerusalem Open House, the city’s LGBT community center.

6. In 2007 IRAC won the first ever state funded Reform and Conservative synagogue buildings, securing plots of land and buildings from the state for Reform and Conservative congregations.

7. IRAC won a case defending the rights of an Orthodox man who was not hired because he observed the Sabbath. This case became a precedent that bars employment discrimination based on religious preference.

8. IRAC initiated a case to file charges against Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Tsfat, for racist incitement, effectively ending his bid for Chief Rabbi of Israel and bringing awareness to and legal action against religious-motivated racism from rabbis receiving state salaries.

9. IRAC secured the construction of paved roads to schools in unrecognized Bedouin villages in order to ensure the safety of the children who live there.

10. With a precedent-setting case in 2007, IRAC prevented the cruel deportation of battered spouses and widows who have not completed the naturalization process.

11. IRAC has identified and eliminated racism and incitement to violence in advertisements in the print media, billboards, internet, and on the radio.

12. Keeping families together: IRAC compelled the Interior Ministry to cancel its blanket policy that did not recognize adoptions occurring close to aliya. We have also obtained automatic resident status for foreign parents of soldiers who have served for at least one year.

13. Expanding into the field: With our new staff to engage the Israeli public, IRAC has developed a large network of Israeli volunteers for our growing presence at demonstrations, in the streets, and online.

14. Fighting corruption: IRAC has shed light on state workers who are illegally allocating funds based on personal preferences, leading to the establishment of a disciplinary court to deal with the matter.

15. Through legal action, IRAC has reduced the bias against parents who do not adhere to Orthodox practices and are seeking to adopt, as Israeli adoption laws had historically given preference to Orthodox couples.

16. IRAC led the battle to insure the creation of alternative cemeteries in 1996 for those who do not want or qualify for an Orthodox burial.

17. IRAC set yet another precedent by convincing the Interior Minister to greatly reduce the financial burden on Olim and granting healthcare to new immigrants’ elderly parents, not eligible under the law of return, after they have been here for a reasonable amount of time.

18. IRAC is the leader of the Forum for Free Choice in Marriage, in which we have succeeded in promoting the option of wedding ceremonies performed outside of the Rabbinate. Although the Orthodox Rabbinate has absolute authority over Jewish marriage in Israel and these marriages are not recognized by the state, the spread of alternative weddings brings us closer in the goal to achieve civil marriage in Israel.

19. After persistent legal advocacy, IRAC improved grazing rights and reduced unfair water rates for Bedouin shepherds in Israel through several victories in 2007.

20. IRAC has blocked legislation that would guarantee Haredi quotas in various departments of state and prevented misappropriation of funds by several religious organizations.

21. In response to IRAC’s petition, the National Religious Services Authority announced to the religious councils across Israel that mikveh attendants must allow all Jewish women, not only the Orthodox, to bathe in the ritual bathhouse.

22. IRAC succeeded in breaking the Orthodox monopoly on the hundreds of local municipal religious councils in Israel, making way for Reform and Conservative members. This also resulted in greater transparency and the cleaning up of rampant corruption in the religious councils.

23. In 2009, IRAC won a case that finally permitted women to display their portraits on public advertisements for election campaigns in Jerusalem. This precedent-setting case will keep women visible in Jerusalem and national politics.

24. IRAC has won State funding for non-Orthodox conversion classes, setting a precedent towards equal funding for Reform and Conservative religious services.

25. Representing Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, IRAC succeeded in gaining the College’s recognition as an educational and religious institution in order to remove an unfair tax burden on the campus. IRAC has consistently been able to win this recognition for various Reform, Conservative, and pluralistic institutions.


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