A cancelled bar mitzvah ceremony for boys with disabilities is highlighting a rift between Israel's Orthodox majority and its more marginal streams of Judaism.

President Reuven Rivlin had agreed to hold the ceremony at his residence but later suggested a non-religious event, angering the conservative movement organizing the bar mitzvah.

Most Jews in Israel are Orthodox, as is the religious establishment. Reform and Conservative Judaism, which are dominant in the United States but are small in Israel, have struggled to make inroads.

A former lawmaker, Rivlin has championed civil rights and as president, a ceremonial office, he has promoted pluralism. But he has derided Reform Judaism in the past.

Rivlin's office said Monday it was not the president's place to decide the "religious war" over the different streams.