iRep: Israel Religious Expression Platform
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES AND DELEGATE ASSEMBLY
OF THE JEWISH FEDERATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA, INC.
HELD AT UJA-FEDERATION OF NEW YORK
130 EAST 59TH STREET, NEW YORK, NEW YORK
EXCERPT FROM MINUTES (pp. 8-9):
Mr. Butler then presented iRep. He explained that iRep (the Israel Religious Expression Platform), is a volunteer project and was designed by the GPT Working Group on Strengthening the Fabric of Israel’s Civil Society. Recognizing that freedom of religious expression is one of the most critical and complicated issues facing world Jewry today, the group met extensively with experts and consultants in Israel as well as professional and lay leadership throughout North America on the subject. iRep’s goal is to ensure, through education, that views on religious expression do not accelerate a rift in the relationship between Israeli and North American Jews. Because Federations feel so passionately about this issue and due to this issue’s many complexities, this initiative will seek voluntary support from Federations, building a coalition of the willing from among Federations that would like to support this initiative. Marriage freedom will be the first issue iRep will attempt to address because there are several proposed bills in the Knesset regarding this matter. Based on consultations with counsel, iRep has been carefully designed to ensure that JFNA maintains its distance from the internal politics of Israel and refrains from any form of political lobbying that may be inconsistent with JFNA’s tax exempt status.
Upon motion duly made and seconded for approval of the iREP voluntary initiative as submitted, Mr. Siegal opened the floor for questions.
Responding to a question on the definition of “marriage freedom,” Mr. Butler stated that the terminology was intended to be broad and inclusive because it reflects a host of alternatives. Mr. Butler further noted that there are various discussions around civil unions and civil marriages and that the Task Force will initially focus on the issue of civil marriage. Mr. Butler also responded to a comment that iREP is not truly voluntary because the iREP employees will be JFNA employees with JFNA endorsement regardless of a Federation’s participation by stating that JFNA must be able to respond and provide Federations with leadership and support for an opportunity that they want to engage in while also allowing non-supportive Federations to maintain their distance from the project.
Mr. Silverman pointed to the dialogue JFNA has had with a number of interested parties including: JAFI (Natan Sharansky in particular); UIA; UIA counsel; the Conservative Movement; the Rabbinic Council of America; and the Orthodox Union, etc. He added that while the iREP proposal has been shared and discussed with many, on-going feedback and objections will likely remain.
There being no further discussion, upon motion previously made and seconded, the Board voted to approve the iREP voluntary initiative, as submitted.