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Ethnic Equality


Israel’s State religious establishment discriminates against specific ethnic groups—particularly Ethiopian-Israelis and Soviet-Israelis—in a variety of ways. The Chief Rabbinate rejects the authority of kessim, Ethiopian-Israeli religious leaders, to perform State-sanctioned wedding ceremonies, and to vouch for the Jewish identities of community members. State kosher supervision agencies have prevented Ethiopian-Israelis and Russian-Israelis from working in kosher food and wine establishments. Recently, a State rabbi demoted an Ethiopian-Israeli mikveh attendant purely on the basis of her ethnic identity. This institutionalized discrimination causes individuals and communities to be disenfranchised from Jewish life, and violates fundamental democratic principles of fairness and equality under the law.

ITIM Achievements

  • Partnered with Ethiopian-Israeli social activists to advocate for kessim to be allowed to officiate at State-recognized weddings, and to vouch for the Jewish identity of community members
  • Legally represented an Ethiopian-Israeli mikveh attendant discriminated against by the State religious establishment
  • Successfully represented Ethiopian-Israeli winery employees who had been prevented from coming into contact with the company’s wine (all were reinstated in their positions)

Current Activities

On an ongoing basis, the ITIM Legal Center represents parties subject to institutionalized ethnic discrimination within the State religious establishment. The ITIM Public Policy Center continues to advocate for the rights of kessim to be fully-recognized by the State as the spiritual leaders of their communities.

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