In a landmark case in 2012, Miri Gold became the first non-Orthodox rabbi to have her salary paid by the Israeli government. Raised in a Detroit Jewish community where she was denied a bat mitzvah, Gold made Aliyah in 1977 and joined Kibbutz Gezer with other American expatriates. She began leading services informally and helping children study for bar and bat mitzvahs, but didn’t consider ordination until her own daughter’s bat mitzvah in 1993. She was ordained by Hebrew Union College in Israel in 1999 and became the official rabbi of Kibbutz Gezer, with her salary (like those of many non-Orthodox rabbis) underwritten by donations from abroad. In 2005 Gold petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of herself and other Reform rabbis, and after seven years, the Israeli attorney general ruled in their favor. After some resistance, the government complied, but chose to pay salaries for Gold and other non-Orthodox rabbis through the ministry of culture, not the ministry of religious services. Despite that caveat, Gold views the victory as more than just financial, because it draws attention to options for religious engagement beyond Orthodoxy. She continues doing outreach to unaffiliated Israelis.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Miri Gold." (Viewed on January 19, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/gold-miri>.