Head of Israel’s Reform Movement to Seek Place in Knesset as Labor MK

Rabbi Gilad Kariv says 'heavy cloud threatens Israeli society,' Labor must present moderate, democratic alternative to current government.

Gili Eitan

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, will be running for a slot on the Labor Party list in the upcoming Knesset.

“A heavy cloud threatens Israeli society,” he said in a message posted on his Facebook page. “Extremism has strengthened and become more threatening, and religious and nationalist zealotry have moved from the margins to the center. Today it is clearer than ever: The Labor Party must present a real alternative to these disturbing phenomenon and present a democratic, moderate, sane, Zionist and Israeli agenda.”

Kariv notified Labor Party Chairman Isaac Herzog of his decision today. He is not being guaranteed a sure spot on the party list, as were some of the other recent Labor acquisitions, most notably Hatnuah Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and senior economist Emanuel Trajtenberg.

Kariv ran in the Labor Party primaries two years ago as well, but came out in 28th place – too low on the list to make it into the last Knesset. He has been serving in his current position for the past five years.

“True, the list is crowded and there are excellent candidates,” he wrote in his Facebook post, but I believe that this time Labor must present a diverse team that will be capable of addressing all the critical areas that will determine Israel’s future: the political, the social, the Jewish and democratic.”

Rabbi Kariv's updated Facebook cover photo, which reads,"Returning the extremists to the margins."

He said he felt both “obligated and privileged” to represent and act on behalf of the Labor Party in matters pertaining to Israel’s Jewish and democratic character.

Born and educated in Tel Aviv, Kariv, 42, is married with three children. After graduating from Hebrew University law school, he was ordained as a Reform rabbi in at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. He subsequently completed his master’s degree in international and public law at Northwestern University.

Kariv became acquainted with the Reform movement as a teenager when he began attending its flagship synagogue in Tel Aviv, Beit Daniel, where he later went on to serve as a rabbi.

Before assuming his current position, Kariv was director of the Israel Religious Action Center, the advocacy arm of the Reform movement in the country.

As a soldier, he served in the elite “8200” unit of Israeli Military Intelligence.