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In a bid to revive its struggle for official recognition by the state of Israel, the Reform movement here has collected over 5,000 signatures on a recently launched petition.

Beginning with the words "We, too, deserve Rabbis," the petition cites the case of Miri Gold, the American-born Reform rabbi who three years ago turned to the Supreme Court demanding to be officially recognized as spiritual leader of her community.

The petition, initiated by the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and the Israel Religious Action Center, will be submitted to President Shimon Peres after it garners more than 10,000 names.

It calls upon Israel to "immediately recognize" Rabbi Gold and "apply government funding to support the work of Rabbi Miri Gold and her peers, and to equally support all streams of Judaism in the spirit of Klal Yisrael."

Most of the signatories live in the United States, Britain and Australia.

In 2005, Rabbi Gold and the Reform movement filed an appeal with the High Court of Justice demanding that the 58-year-old be recognized as rabbi of her Kehilat Birkat Shalom, which is located in Kibbutz Gezer, near Ramle. A final decision is still pending.

"In our region, there are 16 salaried Orthodox rabbis, including the one who serves Gezer and basically does nothing," said Gold, who moved to Israel in 1977 from Detroit..

Rabbi Gold said that "the court case dragged on because the government lawyers claim that there is work being done on a sweeping policy change about community rabbis, and therefore they say they have frozen rabbinic appointments in the meantime. It's like a filibuster."

The petition is available online at www.irac.org