Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Religion and State in Israel - October 29, 2007

Religion and State in Israel
October 29, 2007
Editor: Joel Katz

Rabbinate threatens to fine rebel rabbis
By Matthew Wagner, JPost.com

The Chief Rabbinate's legal advisor warned Monday that Tzohar rabbis would be slapped with fines if they did not desist immediately from providing alternative kashrut supervision.

"We will not sit idly by while rabbis, no matter how respected they may be, openly break the laws regulating kosher supervision in Israel," said Shimon Ulman, the chief rabbinate's legal advisor, who said he planned to push for fining Tzohar rabbis at this Thursday's meeting of the Chief Rabbinate's governing body.

Tzohar went ahead with the launching despite a Supreme Court ruling last week that, if implemented, made the need for the alternative supervision unnecessary.

Tzohar's Chairman, Rabbi Rafi Feurstein explained that until his organization saw the Supreme Court decision implemented it would move forward with the creation of a competing kosher supervision body.

High Court orders Rabbinate to use shmita status quo
By Amiram Cohen and Yair Ettinger, Haaretz

The judges, Beinisch, Elyakim Rubinstein and Esther Hayut, stated in their decision that they were not forcing any local rabbi to act against his beliefs or interpretation of Jewish law. The ruling stated: "Our statements are directed only against the decision of the Chief Rabbinate to change its policy and to refrain from exercising its authority."

In addition, the judges ruled that the Rabbinate did not balance the interests involved: the independence of the municipal rabbis against the economic, national and legal interests of farmers and the general public.

Beinisch also said that the Rabbinate's decision was out of proportion, they had no authority to take a more stringent stance unnecessarily, that such a decision seriously harmed farmers' livelihood leads to discrimination and resulted in inequality due to the high prices of produce.


The not so Chief Rabbinate
By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz

It seems that the shmita crisis proved beyond any doubt that the Israeli Chief Rabbinate is actually located in the small Jerusalem apartment of "the great Jewish religious legal decisor of the generation," Rabbi Elyashiv.

He is the one who appointed Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger to the post in 2003 - on condition that he bring about the end of the Heter Mechira. But on the eve of the shmita year, Metzger understood that he could not pay off this debt. Now it is easy for Metzger to paint himself to his supporters as the victim of court coercion in the Heter Mechira affair.

If the High Court cannot judge religious matters

Haaretz Editorial

The Court's decision will prevent municipal rabbis from exploiting their authority to impose their stricter version of the laws of shmita on the entire population.

It is an important ruling not just for this specific case, but for the principle it embodies: "The test of reasonableness" - the principle that the High Court justices use when they examine every government decision - applies also to the Rabbinate.


Rabbinate's shmita decision overturned
By Matthew Wagner, JPost.com

"Today's decision is a victory for democracy," said company owner Eyal Yisraeli.

"I have nothing against religious people," he added. "I am even willing to fight for their right to live in accordance with their beliefs. But rabbis have no right to force their beliefs on others."

Heter mechira represents 85% to 90% of the local produce market, according to Yerachmiel Goldin, who is in charge of shmita in the Agriculture Ministry.


The truth about shmita
By Avi Shafran, JPost.com

The writer is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.

A 35-year-old organization, Keren Hashvi'is, raises millions of dollars each shmita year to help support shmita-observant farmers.

CLICK HERE for Keren Hashvi'is VIDEO on shmita

If the High Court cannot judge religious matters
Haaretz Editorial

If the "Consensual Constitution" that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised to pass this year, along with the compromise that prevents the High Court of Justice from intervening in matters of religion, are both accepted, then the courts will be unable to save the country from examples of blatant religious coercion, as it did yesterday.

This is an excellent example of the High Court of Justice's contribution to allowing normal life in Israel, and also shows that there is no chance to separate religion from the state in the foreseeable future.


Friedmann opposes constitution that compromises on religious matters
By Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz

Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann is opposed to introducing a constitution if it includes a compromise on matters of religion and state, which would preclude the High Court of Justice intervening in these areas.

At issue are five main areas:

Rabbinical court jurisdiction regarding marriage, divorce and intimacy, as it stands pre-constitution;

conversion to Judaism and other religions;

the Jewish nature of the Sabbath and Jewish holidays in the public domain;

observing kashrut (Jewish dietary laws) at state institutions;

and granting Israeli citizenship to the relatives of anyone eligible to immigrate to Israel.


A constitution for Israel / Toward substantive democracy
By Mordechai Kremnitzer

The writer is a senior fellow of the Israel Democracy Institute and a framer of the IDI's Constitution by Consensus.

The proposed compromise, which involves removing several elements in the religion-state realm from the power of the Supreme Court to abolish laws is indeed a painful compromise from a liberal point of view.

However, when in the face of the price we weigh the obligation, which is part of the compromise proposal, to set forth a prescription for relationships - enabling couples in the future not to subject themselves to the judgment of the rabbinical courts - and also the other advantages, it becomes clear that this is a compromise that entails a significant price but which is worthy from a practical liberal point of view.


A common denominator and a hope
By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz

The status quo between religion and state was the brainchild of a society that knew how to make concessions and how to reach agreements. We have since lost the capability to compromise.

Bridging the abyss
By Rabbi Tony Bayfield, Haaretz

The writer is head of the Movement for Reform Judaism in Britain

My colleagues in the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism are doing a heroic and vital job. Despite their continuing and scandalous disenfranchisement, on both the legal and financial levels, they have built synagogues and provide life-cycle services for tens of thousands of Israelis.

But sometimes they feel all their efforts are but a drop in the ocean, or, rather, the beating of butterfly wings against a glass wall, on the other side of which the life and death of the Zionist dream is being acted out.


Montreal's Jews aren't going anywhere
By Yoni Goldstein, Haaretz

Yoni Goldstein is an editorial writer at Canada's National Post, and a columnist at the Canadian Jewish News

Perhaps the time has come for Israel in general to reevaluate its relationship with Diaspora Jewry and acknowledge that there are other places in the world perfectly suited to Jewish living.


Ghosts & Goblins
By Rabbi David Forman

To think we are beholden to rabbinic ghosts and goblins for decisions that might affect the welfare of the Jewish state is spooky.

We must stop seeking spiritual guidance from our Ovadia Yosefs, who tell us we are cursed, deserving of some dreadful calamity because of a defective mezuza or irregular attendance in synagogue.

Chief Rabbi visits [U.S.] to deal with conversion
By Jennifer Siegel, The Forward

The Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel traveled to the United States last week to hammer out the specifics of a new agreement on Orthodox conversion practices.

Over the coming year, according to Rabbi Basil Herring, executive vice president of the RCA, the RCA plans to open 20 conversion courts throughout North America.

They will operate according to centralized procedures intended to ensure that all conversions are recognized in Israel, but this will also make conversions harder in many cases.

According to guidelines for the courts, released last April, judges will refuse to convert the adopted children of Jewish couples if the parents do not practice a fully Orthodox lifestyle.

"In America, we have about 21% of affiliated Jews who are Orthodox, versus 39% Reform and 31% Conservative, so you can see this is a minority that is claiming authority for the majority," said Kathy Kahn, director of the Department of Outreach and Membership at the Union for Reform Judaism.

"The [conversion] ritual performed [by a Reform or Conservative rabbi] could be completely authentic, but if the rabbi is not recognized, it does not matter."


Friedmann: High Court should address Jewish citizenship only
By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz

The High Court of Justice should not review petitions by non-Jews on citizenship issues, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann recently told the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee in a request to limit such petitions to the jurisdiction of administrative courts.

If the committee accepts Friedmann's proposal, the High Court of Justice will only rule on immigration matters that pertain to Jews, relatives of Jewish immigrants and collaborators who worked with security services.

Supreme Court rejects petition - religious court judges to be sworn in
By Kobi Nahshoni, Ynet.co.il (Hebrew edition)

The Supreme Court rejected the petition brought against the committee responsible for appointing religious court judges.


18-year aguna suing Justice Ministry
By Dan Izenberg, JPost.com

Rachel Avraham waited 18 years for her divorce.

She was 36 years old when she left her husband, home and all her property behind in Yavne and took a cab with her five daughters and one son, ranging in age from 14 years to half a year, to her parents' home in Binyamina.

Last month, in an unprecedented lawsuit, Avraham, backed by the non profit organization, Center for Women's Justice (CWJ), sued the Justice Ministry, which is in charge of the rabbinical courts, for NIS 4.5 million in Ramat Gan Family Court.

Attorney Susan Weiss, the founder of the Center for Women's Justice, told the Post that the Avraham case was a classic one for revealing so many different faults in the rabbinical court system - for example, that there is no finality in its rulings, that it allows husband to manipulate the system and that the courts themselves indulge in a power struggle with the secular courts.
She said since the Justice Ministry was in charge of the religious courts, they were ultimately responsible for its faults.

"In this lawsuit, we're saying, 'Something's wrong, and someone must take responsibility,'" said Weiss. "And it's not just the husbands or the rabbinical courts."

Panel: Recognize Theofilis as rightful Greek patriarch
By Meron Rapoport and Barak Ravid, Haaretz

The decision, spurred by American pressure and the personal involvement of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is supposed to put an end to a convoluted affair in the course of which various parties in Israel tried to condition the patriarch's appointment on his selling real estate properties to Jews.

Israel to recognize Greek Patriarch
Ronny Sofer, YNetnews.com

The Israeli government decided to recognize the appointment of Greek Orthodox Patriarch Archbishop Theophilus III on Sunday after he made clear that he had no obligation to give a list of church land holdings to Jordan or the Palestinian Authority.

The patriarch doesn't get mail
By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz

On one thing the Internal Affairs Committee was in agreement: Patriarchs without property have it a lot easier in Israel.

For more than two years Israel has not recognized the Greek Orthodox patriarch Theofilos, whose church is among the important landowners in the country.

Israel's only crematorium to re-open
By Matthew Wagner, JPost.com

Just months after a religiously motivated arson attack destroyed Israel's only crematorium, the Aley Shalechet Funeral Home announced Sunday that in the coming month it would import a new machine to be installed at a secret location.

"We don't plan to give in to violence or threats," said Alon Nativ, owner and manager of Aley Shalechet (Autumn Leaves).


J'lem church officials suspect extremist Jews behind arson
AP, Haaretz

A church in central Jerusalem was set afire before dawn Wednesday and suffered extensive damage, police said. Arsonists, suspected to be extremist Jews, forced their way into the church and set it afire, church officials said Wednesday.

The sanctuary used by four separate congregations, including Baptists, had been burned down in 1982 by an ultranationalist Jewish group and later rebuilt, said a pastor at the church, Charles Kopp.


Evangelicals bring Iranian Jews to Israel
AP, YNetnews.com

Evangelical Christians in US convince dozens of Iranian Jews to move to Israel offering cash incentives of $10,000 and claiming Iran's tiny Jewish community in grave danger.


From blessing to curse
By Ofri Ilani, Haaretz

The kabbalistic pulsa denura curse entered the parlance of the broad Israeli public in October 1995, after the airing of a film depicting its being cast against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. One month later Rabin was assassinated.

Most people assumed that the curse was of ancient mystical origins, but a recent study shows it was in fact invented and used to political ends by officials within Israel's ultra-Orthodox community.

Girls must not miss Torah studies during teachers' strike'
By Kobi Nahshoni, YNetnews.com

"Each day that girls go idle and do not study the Torah causes them irreversible psychological damage.

Appropriate facilities where they can study the Torah during the strike must be found," said Ramat Gan's Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, a veteran rabbi from the Religious Zionist community, when relating to girls missing their Torah studies during the ongoing teachers' strike.


After lengthy struggle, Herzl's grandson to be reinterred in Israel
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz

The remains of Theodor Herzl's only grandson, who committed suicide 61 years ago, are to be brought to Israel next month and buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

Two months ago, permission was granted by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who also approved the reinterment of the Herzl children, although Norman was a suicide and was not mentioned in Herzl's will.

Ultra-Orthodox women, unite!
By Tamar Rotem, Haaretz

Last week 15 kindergarten teachers suddenly appeared at the office of the Education Ministry ombudswoman.

Their excitement was obvious as they handed her a sheaf of papers: the Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court decision barring the Agudat Yisrael nursery school network from firing them.

Chairs were brought in from other rooms, and finally they told their story, the story of the women who created the first ultra-Orthodox labor union.

The kindergarten teachers shattered a taboo in ultra-Orthodox society - fighting for one's rights.


Mother, what is sexual harassment?
By Sami Peretz, Haaretz

In the end, the goal is to increase awareness and reduce the amount of sexual harassment. If we have to skirt around the wording in order to do so, it is still kosher.

Preventing sexual harassment is more important than educating the ultra-Orthodox sector by force.

About Us

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Religion and State in Israel - October 22, 2007

Religion and State in Israel
October 22, 2007
Editor: Joel Katz

The plan: Reform converts will also be recognized
By Uri Yablonka, nrg.co.il

The Reform and Conservative (Masorti) movements in Israel are in accelerated negotiations with the government to recognize non-Orthodox conversions for the purpose of the "Law of Return", according to nrg.co.il.

Progress was reportedly made between Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel and representatives of the Reform and Conservative Movements in a meeting held on Wednesday (October 17, 2007).

State Attorney representative Yochi Gnessin and Rabbi Gilad Kariv [Associate Director, Israel Religious Action Center] participated in the meeting.

It was agreed that leaders of the non-Orthodox movements and the government would request a postponement of the Supreme Court hearing on the issue.

Rabbi Kariv stated that the remaining issue is for Reform and Conservative conversions conducted entirely in Israel to also be recognized by the State for purposes of the Law of Return.


Zionist rabbis consider independent conversions
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz

Forty-five rabbis from the national-religious movement have agreed to serve in proposed independent conversion courts that would operate without the recognition of the Chief Rabbinate.

This challenge from within the Orthodox establishment to the Rabbinate's control of the process of converting to Judaism in Israel is a response to a long-standing perception that the rabbinical establishment is in thrall to the ultra-Orthodox tradition of making conversion difficult.

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar opposes the idea of the volunteer judges, on the grounds that they will not be rabbis vetted by him and operating in accordance with his directives. Justice Ministry officials, meanwhile, argue that volunteers cannot hold official judicial positions.

Chief Rabbi Amar to demand stricter conversions during U.S. visit
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz

Amar is visiting the U.S. in order to approve the appointment of religious court judges (dayanim) to the conversion courts of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA).

Amar is actually considered to be more lenient in conversion matters in Israel, but he is under strong pressure from ultra-Orthodox rabbis who want to severly restrict the number of conversions, and who are demanding that all converts keep a strict Orthodox lifestyle.

Lieberman: State lacks courage to fix systemic conversion issue
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz

Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, speaking at a panel dealing with the Law of Return and conversions, supported the position that no change should be made to the Law of Return.

"As it is there is no one rabbinical authority, no-one agrees with each other so we need a political solution," he said.

Kadima MK challenges rabbinate authority in new bill
By Matthew Wagner, JPost.com

"Tzohar rabbis apparently do not understand that if they open up an alternative kashrut to the existing one, the next step will be the legitimization of Reform Judaism," the source said.

"Tzohar and other religious Zionist rabbis think they are still living back in the good old days when they were in the same coalition with Shinui and were able to freely destroy religious services."

"The Chief Rabbinate has failed in its mission to provide kosher supervision and marital services to the entire Jewish nation," said MK Menahem Ben-Sasson in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

"For the sake of Orthodox Judaism, we have to take away the rabbinate's exclusive control over kashrut and marriages."

The sabbatical is just the beginning
By Yair Sheleg, Haaretz

"If the move succeeds," says Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein [Tzohar], "we will work to expand to other areas as well," and even states that conversion will be the organization's next focus.

The rabbi warns, if the [shmita] crisis is not quickly resolved, it is likely to intensify within a month.

Women's groups, progressive rabbis bid to overturn rabbinic judge appointments
By Matthew Wagner, JPost.com

Secular women's rights groups Thursday joined forces with progressive Orthodox rabbis and religious women's organizations to petition the High Court to overturn the appointment of 19 new rabbinic judges last month.

Kolech, rabbis of the religious kibbutz yeshiva on Ma'aleh Gilboa, the Na'amat women's organization, The Women's Lobby, Ne'emanei Torah Ve'avoda, Mavoi Satum, and other groups argued in their petition that the appointments of the judges, who will deal almost exclusively with divorce law, were tainted with nepotism, political pressures and procedural flaws.

The petitioners claim that if not for nepotism and inordinate haredi influence, new, more progressive rabbinic judges would have been chosen.


Peres reaches out to leader of British Reform Jews
By Daphna Berman, JPost.com

During the half-hour meeting at the President's Residence, Peres addressed delegation leader Rabbi Dr. Tony Bayfield as "rabbi," according to participants. Bayfield heads the Movement for Reform Judaism in the United Kingdom.

"If rabbis have a right to decide who is a Jew, the Jewish people have a right to decide who is a rabbi," Peres reportedly told the group.

The president also said that he was "troubled" by attempts to narrowly define Jewishess. "We are a disappearing people," he said.

"We are not the Chinese. There are only 14-15 million of us. We need to be more careful, generous and understanding."

Reform Reflections: Nouns and adjectives
By Rabbi Michael Marmur, JPost.com

The vocabulary of Jewish life in Israel has been impoverished by what I am calling the binary approach to Jewish identity.

The fundamental problem is not that our rabbis cannot officiate at state-recognized weddings (they can't), nor that our institutions are starved of state funding (they are).

The main problem is that the attempt to ignore adjectives has helped create huge divisions.


Haredi youths assail woman on bus
By Etgar Lefkovits, JPost.com

A haredi woman was attacked on a Beit Shemesh bus by five haredi youths Sunday for refusing to move to the back of the bus, police said.

The woman, who was seated at the front, asked an IAF soldier to sit next to her for protection. The attackers then turned on the soldier.

"They started beating me murderously," the soldier said in an interview.

The midday attack on the Egged 497 bus culminated in a clash between several dozen haredi men and police.

During the melee, the suspects fled and the rioters were dispersed by police. There were no injuries reported in the incident, but the tires of a police vehicle were punctured.

High stakes
By Peggy Cidor, JPost.com

Recently, this once quiet quarter has been undergoing changes.

The arrival of a large number of haredi families, for whom the neighborhood offers both more affordable housing and proximity to the relatively expensive religious areas of Har Nof and Bayit Vagan, has many of Kiryat Hayovel's veteran secular residents up in arms.

Even as the influx has raised real estate prices in the area, locals fear the changes the haredim pose to the neighborhood's character.

The demographic shift began last year after a group of haredim tried to erect an eruv (symbolic religious enclosure) around the neighborhood without a permit. Shortly afterward, haredi rabbis gave the area their seal of approval and their adherents started moving in.

Degel Hatorah city council member Shlomo Rosenstein:

"Perhaps after Kiryat Hayovel becomes a haredi quarter, [the municipality] will understand that the only solution is to build more quarters for us, like Ramat Shlomo."


Shmita fight yields showdown between Zionists and haredim
By Dina Kraft, JTA

"The story is not shmita," said Bar-Ilan University sociologist Menachem Friedman, an expert on Israel's religious communities.

"The story is Zionism -- a confrontation between Zionism and the haredi world. And the question is if the Jewish state can survive without a real and vital agricultural economy."

In reversing the blanket approval of the heter mechira loophole, Israel's current Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, is "spitting in the face of [Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who eventually became the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi in prestate Israel]," Friedman said.

The haredim "see this as the expression of a historic victory," Friedman explained. "In a sense they see themselves correcting the 'incorrect' approach of Rabbi Kook."

Jews turn to Palestinians for kosher vegetables
By Reuters

Farmer Dror Maimoni, who, like many Israelis "sells" his land to non-Jews during shmita years, has scaled back production because his produce is not deemed kosher under the stricter rules.

"We have reduced the amount of produce to the minimum possible because our sales are not like every other year," Maimoni said.

London Beth Din: Avoid products grown in Israel during 'shmita'
By Matthew Wagner, JPost.com

A decision by the London Beth Din, the largest kosher supervision operation in Britain, would effectively translate into a situation in which the British Jewish community hurt Israeli Jewish farmers' business during the shmita [sabbatical] year.

The Beth Din posted an announcement Tuesday night on its Internet site stating that "it is preferable to avoid products grown in Israel" during the shmita [sabbatical] year.

Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, chairman of Tzohar, an Israeli organization of Modern Orthodox rabbis who recently launched a pro-heter mechira campaign, pointed out that the London Beth Din's decision ignored the plight of the Israeli farmers who depended on Jewish consumers both in Israel and abroad to buy their products.


Cartoon spat sends Shas packing from Knesset religious lobby
By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz

A new crisis has erupted between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi ultra-Orthodox over the usual bones of contention: racism, money, and politics. The quarrel resulted yesterday in Shas announcing its resignation from the religious lobby in the Knesset.

The current round began when Shas' spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, saw a cartoon in Yeted Ne'eman, the flagship journal of Degel HaTorah, the "Lithuanian wing" of the Ashkenazi Haredim.

Shas maintains that the conflict lies elsewhere. They point to their decision to support a Hasidic candidate as mayor in Beitar, an ultra-Orthodox city, against the Lithuanian candidate.

A struggle in Beitar is a struggle for Jerusalem
By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz

In a week and a half, there will be elections in Beitar Illit, and in this ultra-Orthodox settlement south of Jerusalem there is a war going on, which does not involve their Palestinian neighbors. It is entirely a war by Jews against other Jews.

The current mayor, Yitzhak Pindross (Degel HaTorah), and his deputy, who until recently was also his political ally, Meir Rubinstein (who is supported in part by Agudat Yisrael and Shas), are facing off. They are more or less even.

The results at Beitar will have an impact, according to experts, on the mayoral elections in Jerusalem and Bet Shemesh next year, and on the struggle between Haredi parties in the Knesset.

The struggle in Beitar is also contributing to an escalation of the confrontation between Degel HaTorah and Shas over the state budget, and this follows the decision of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party to back Porush and Rubinstein, rivals of the Lithuanian Haredi faction.

Porush has a similar agreement for the mayor's position in Jerusalem, but for now says "first we will finish in Beitar" and then he promises "we will talk about Jerusalem."


Ben-Sasson drafts constitution - 'Jewish,' but not 'equal'
By Sheera Claire Frenkel, JPost.com

The Knesset Law and Constitution Committee's panel began its work with a document that was drafted by the committee during the previous (16th) Knesset.

Led by MK Michael Eitan (Likud), the previous committee drafted more than 1,000 pages that included three versions of the constitution proposed by the Israel Democracy Institute, the Institute for Zionist Strategy and the Israel Religious Action Center.

To achieve the consensus he seeks, Committee Chairperson Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima) has already had to remove any mention of the Law of Return.

The current draft evades the issue by including a general statement that "every Jew is entitled to immigrate to Israel."

Another topic being debated is any mention of the word "equality," as there are arguments between secular and religious Jews, and with Arabs, over how that term should be defined.

The definition of Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state" has created another hurdle for the committee, as many Arab parties object to the word "Jewish," while religious parties object to the word "democratic."

It's time for Jews to grapple with the 'real' Israel, flaws and all
By Naomi Chazan, JTA

The struggle to impede the theocratic objectives of religious parties continues, with progressives working hard just to prevent further encroachment on what should be a firm religion-state divide.

Americans, whether Jewish or not, deserve more than a sound-bite understanding of what Israel is and where it may be going. Beyond the heartfelt support that most Americans feel for Israel are real dilemmas for the only fragile yet working democracy in the Middle East.

Most Israelis see the threat of religious ultra-nationalism, minority repression and economic inequity all too clearly.

It is time for true democrats in both Israel and the United States to challenge themselves with the reality of Israel in its 60th year: a vibrant, thriving country still striving for ideals not yet attained.


Religious Affairs: In a class of their own
By Matthew Wagner, JPost.com

While Ran Erez led the Secondary School Teachers Organization (SSTO) in a massive nationwide strike this week, effectively paralyzing more than a thousand secular junior high and high schools, at many state religious schools it was business as usual.

Rabbi Haim Druckman, chairman and spiritual mentor of about 60 Bnei Akiva yeshiva high schools and ulpanot, issued a directive to teachers in his schools that while all secular studies should be discontinued in accordance with the SSTO strike, all religious studies should continue as usual.

As a result, about 17,000 10th, 11th and 12th graders in religious schools continue to learn, albeit for fewer hours.


Kashrut-Monitoring Law on its Way to Legislation
By Hillel Fendel, IsraelNationalNews.com

Shas MK Chaim Amsalem wishes to plug up holes in the supervision of Jewish dietary laws (Kashrut) in Israel.

His bill, addressing problems warned about by various bodies including the State Comptroller and the now-defunct Religious Affairs Ministry, passed its preliminary Knesset reading last week.

"This bill is designed to implement the various recommendations that have been made," Amsalem concludes, "but which have not yet been manifested.

The current situation is harmful to both the status of the Chief Rabbinate's Kashrut authorizations around the country, and to the Chief Rabbinate itself. This bill comes to remedy that."

"This legislation will not cost the State additional expenses," the bill's [draft] copy states."

The costs for courses and salaries will be paid by outside bodies that will then charge the businesses, and yeshivot and Torah institutions will be able to generate revenue and jobs by training Kashrut supervisors."


Back to the aliya dark ages
JPost.com Editorial

On Sunday, the cabinet voted to transfer the power to approve entry into Israel for mass conversions and aliya from the hands of the interior minister to the government as a whole.

From now on, those wishing to convert and make aliya as groups - such as the Bnei Menashe tribe of northeast India - will need their entry visas approved at the weekly meeting of the entire government before they can enter the country to begin the conversion process.

Are Sheetrit and his colleagues worried about foreign-looking dark-skinned people running around the country? Surely not.

Are they worried by the potential arrival of a few thousand religious, perhaps right-wing, voters? Again, surely not.

Since no other explanation is forthcoming from the cabinet - the government has tried to slip this decision through without mention - we suspect that less-than-legitimate reasons lie behind it.

Why, then, would a country nervous about its collapsing demographics take steps to keep out those who have already proven that they are committed Jews and Israelis? Enlighten us, please.

Consensus found on bill to define brain death as rabbis reach breakthrough
By Ran Reznick, Haaretz

A breakthrough has recently occurred in the long-standing efforts to forge a broad rabbinic consensus on how to determine the time of death, which is necessary to obtain rabbinic support for organ donations, MK Otniel Schneller said.

Schneller told the subcommittee, which had invited him to present the progress of his negotiations with the rabbinic establishment, that the leaders of both the Ashkenazi and Sephardi ultra-Orthodox communities have now consented to his bill, as have the Israel Medical Association and the Chief Rabbinate.

ADI, Reform Movement launch 'book of life' project

(September 2007)

The Reform Movement and the National Transplant and Organ Donations Center (ADI) have launched a unique project called Book of Life, aimed at encouraging people to sign organ-donor cards.


The Sy Empire
By Zev Chafets, NYTimes.com

This affair nearly caused a schism in the Syrian community, which officially regards Rabbi Yosef as the world's most authoritative Talmudic scholar. A group of dissident rabbis later met at the summer enclave in Deal, N.J., and accepted the conversion as valid: she could marry.

They reasoned that it was wrong to humiliate Ovadia Yosef. They also reasoned that accepting this case as precedent would actually have a deterrent effect: how many other converts could expect the chief rabbi of Israel to go to bat for them?

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who, despite his softness on converts, has found financial backers for his theocratic Shas Party.

Jakie Kassin claims, in fact, that the party's seed money was raised in his living room in Deal, N.J., in the early '80s.

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Religion and State in Israel - October 15, 2007

Religion and State in Israel
October 15, 2007
Editor: Joel Katz

Draft constitution ignores crucial question of who is a Jew
By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz

The draft constitution being prepared by the Knesset Constitution Committee will not include the Law of Return, in order to forestall an argument over the "who is a Jew" issue. Instead, it will include a general statement that "every Jew is entitled to immigrate to Israel." However, the committee plans to submit a revised version of the Law of Return to the Knesset along with the proposed constitution.

The proposed revision would replace the "grandchild clause," which entitles all grandchildren of Jews to immigrate, with a clause entitling anyone who belongs to a Jewish community to immigrate.

A constitution is born
By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz

Since it began its term, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee almost has completed a draft of the preamble to the constitution.

The committee worked mostly with three versions: the constitution proposed by the Israel Democracy Institute; the right-wing proposal submitted by the Institute for Zionist Strategy; and the drafts by the Movement for Progressive Judaism's Israel Religious Action Center.

The Chief Rabbis' Shame
The Jewish Week Editorial

In recent years the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has become an embarrassment even to the small portion of the Jewish world that honors and respects the office, namely religious Zionists.

Bottom line, one must ask whether Israelis, the majority of whom feel alienated from and bitter toward religious life, would have a more positive attitude toward Judaism if they didn't have to deal with a state agency that controlled matters of their personal lives, from marriage to death.

And it surely doesn't help matters when those chosen to represent the height of spiritual character and religious leadership are perceived by most Israelis as uncaring if not downright unethical

Amar in US to resolve conversion rift
By Matthew Wagner, JPost.com

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar is meeting this week with representatives from the Rabbinic Council of America (RCA) in an attempt to reach an agreement over Israeli Rabbinate recognition of conversions performed in the US and Canada.
Amar, who heads the rabbinic courts in Israel and is also responsible for conversions performed here, has compiled a secret list of "approved" rabbinic courts in the US and Canada.

Chief Rabbi Amar allows Shabbat work at airport
By Zohar Blumenkrantz, Haaretz

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar personally confirmed the completion over the weekend of maintenance work on the main landing strip of Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Haaretz has learned that the airport was closed to incoming and outgoing international air traffic from 6 P.M. Friday to 5 A.M. yesterday, to prevent demonstrations by ultra-Orthodox Jews against the violation of the Sabbath and the coalition crisis it could have prompted.


NRP breaks ranks with chief rabbinate on shmita policy
By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz

The National Religious Party declared war against the chief rabbinate's policy on the shmita (sabbatical) year. This is a stunning turnabout for a party that has hitherto been the rabbinate's staunchest supporter.

In a meeting with Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger, NRP Knesset members threatened to sponsor legislation that would end the rabbinate's monopoly on kashrut certification if it does not reverse its policy of allowing local rabbis to ban the heter mekhira ("sale permit") in their jurisdictions.

Ex-chief rabbi defends shmita sale

Former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of Israel's Sephardi ultra-Orthodox community, issued an impassioned defense of the heter mechira, or sale permit, even as leaders of the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox community are trying to suppress its use.

Court hears petitions on shmita produce

The Chief Rabbinate reached one of its most controversial decisions in recent years through a telephone poll last month and without consulting or keeping a protocol, the High Court of Justice in Jerusalem heard.
Chief Rabbinate: We cannot override local shmita rulings

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and the Chief Rabbinic Council argue that allowing local rabbis to make their own decision constituted "pluralism in each and every community."

Farmers warn: Hard-line stance on shmita will cost state billions
By Amiram Cohen, Haaretz

Supreme Court judges expressed great surprise over the Rabbinate's change to a hard-line stance only days before the Jewish year started.

High Court hears final shmita arguments
By Matthew Wagner, JPost.com

Attorney Ilan Bombach, who represents the Chief Rabbinate in the Supreme Court case, said that the Supreme Court had no business interfering in a religious issue that was solely the Chief Rabbinate's purview.

Peres to meet, mend ties with U.K. Reform Jews
By Daphna Berman, Haaretz

In a bid to repair strained relations between the presidential office and Reform Judaism, President Shimon Peres is to host a delegation from Britain's Movement for Reform Judaism at his official residence in Jerusalem [on Thursday].

The delegation will be headed by Rabbi Tony Bayfield, head of the Movement for Reform Judaism, the British branch of Reform Judaism.

The refusal last year by former president Moshe Katsav to address Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, as "rabbi" set off an international storm.

Rabbi Uri Regev, President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, called Peres an "old friend of the Reform movement" and said that Peres' daughter, son-in-law and their children are all active members of a Reform congregation in Tel Aviv.

"What took place between President Moshe Katzav and the head of the American Reform Movement was completely unacceptable," Bayfield said this week from London. "But it is in the past, and now we have a new president and I don't want our meeting to be considered in the light of what is best forgotten." "We are, of course, glad that Israel now has a head of state who recognizes the importance of engaging with all sides in the Jewish world, just as we recognize the importance of engaging with Israel in its 60th anniversary year," Bayfield added.
JNF heads oppose law calling for major land swap
By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz

Most of the Jewish National Fund's leadership is against a law that would allow it to continue leasing land only to Jews, deputy JNF chairman Menachem Leibovitz told Haaretz

Leibovitz also told Haaretz that at the last meeting, the JNF's board of directors had decided to work toward an arrangement to give the state its lands in urban centers. The JNF would receive available rural lands in exchange.

Poll: 81% of Israelis want JNF land for Jews only

A unanimous 100% of National Union-NRP voters support JNF's policy followed closely by 97% of Agudat Yisrael voters, 93% of Yisrael Beitenu voters, and 89% of Labor voters.

85% of Likud voters and 78% of Kadima voters expressed support of JNF's policy.

God's army?
By Matthew Wagner, JPost.com

Rabbi Eli Sadan, head of the Bnei David Pre-Military Academy in the Samaria settlement Eli

They represent only about 3 percent of the total annual draft. However, slowly but surely these young men, who join the IDF after spending one, and often two, years studying how to use ideas found in traditional Jewish texts to build a modern army, are changing its face.

More than half of them have become combat officers and members of elite fighting units. In fact, a full 40% of graduates from officers' training courses are religious.

Yoav Margalit, a member of Kibbutz Netzer Sereni, is a colonel and infantry division commander in reserve duty.

He heads the Kibbutz Movement's defense committee, an educational body that encourages young kibbutzniks and those who study in the same high schools with them to excel in the IDF.

Margalit acknowledges that in recent years the religious pre-military academies have become the new IDF leadership.

"The IDF and other Zionist institutions were created without any truly Jewish influences," Sadan says. "And our goal is to change that.
Sadan's idea was to teach religious high-school graduates that there was no contradiction between religion and the military; rather they were one and the same. ____________________________________________________________________
Let the people decide
By Yehezkel Dror, Haaretz

The writer is founding president of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (established by the Jewish Agency for Israel), an Israel Prize recipient and a political science professor emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The entire Jewish people should participate in making decisions for the State of Israel that bear critical significance for their future.

However, on matters concerning the security of the State of Israel, Israeli citizens should receive more weight.

It is essential that the Israeli governing bodies and the decision makers in the Diaspora accept the principle of graduated participation of the entire Jewish people in state decisions that affect the people's future.

Nativ in Montreal persuading Russian-speaking JewsBy Amiram Barkat, Haaretz

The semi-covert immigration encouragement agency Nativ is preparing to expand its activities to North America, sources within the organization told Haaretz.

Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman is seeking to involve Nativ in persuading Russian-speaking Jews around Montreal, Canada to immigrate to Israel, they said.

God is watching over Israel, new oleh says
Dan Bentsur, YNetnews.com

Click here for VIDEO

Sculptors, doctors, professors, art therapists and future IDF soldiers among more than 200 new Jewish immigrants who arrived in Israel on flight sponsored by Nefesh B'Nefesh

According to Ayalon, Nefesh B'Nefesh has brought about 11,000 new immigrants to Israel over the past five years, and over 99% of them have stayed in the country.

The organization said some 2,200 more North American and British Jews are expected to immigrate to Israel over the course of the summer on seven specially chartered planes and eight group flights on El Al.

Jury still out on Nefesh b'Nefesh
By Yoav Fisher, JPost.com

While largely religious, the Anglos are not haredi, but rather represent a religious mix from Reform to modern Orthodox. Religious pluralism is something desperately needed in Israel. And their presence is already being positively felt;

Ultimately, how things play out for the Anglos, and for Nefesh b'Nefesh, depends largely not on the newcomers but on what happens in the larger Israeli society. __________________________________________________________________

By Anat Hoffman, Limmud.org

The writer is the Executive Director, Israel Religious Action Center
There are daily battles in courts, parliament, on the street and in the media about religious pluralism.

In the "formal" Israel there is only one way to be Jewish and it is the Orthodox way. The young Israeli palate knows only one flavor and it doesn't appeal to many Israelis, causing them to turn away from Judaism. The result is degeneration of the palate and degeneration of the religion.

The struggle for freedom of religion in Israel demands that there will be more than one way to be Jewish and religious in Israel. ____________________________________________________________________

Mughrabi Gate area dig on hold pending cabinet approval
By Akiva Eldar, Jack Khoury and Yair Ettinger, Haaretz

A salvage dig near the Temple Mount's Mughrabi Gate will not be resumed just yet, after Culture Minister Ghaleb Majadele appealed to the cabinet yesterday against a ministerial committee's decision to restart the work.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, chief rabbi of the Western Wall, retorted that the planned construction is vital to the safety of people visiting the Wall, and urged that it be completed as soon as possible. ____________________________________________________________________

Taglit-style Haredi program scores funding
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz

Ultra-Orthodox politicians have recently allocated NIS 10 million in public funds to encourage young Haredis to visit Israel.

The funds would build a Haredi alternative to the largely secular Taglit-birthright Israel trips.

The money is earmarked for ultra-Orthodox programs within the Education Ministry. Among other politicians, Shas Minister for education and welfare matters in the Finance Ministry Meshulam Nahari aided in securing the funding. ____________________________________________________________________

De-Hartog to stand trial for slapping MK
By Efrat Weiss, YNetnews.com

Police decide to indict Justice Ministry attorney who assaulted religious MK who compared him to the Nazis. The indictment will be served pending a hearing into the incident.


Running for mayor
By Peggy Cidor, JPost.com

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yehoshua Pollack holds one of the most important portfolios in the city council, that of the Planning and Construction Committee. For the past three years, he has also served as treasurer of the local council of Betar Illit

Q: Are you running for mayor in the next elections?

Of course I am. There's an agreement between Agudat Yisrael and Degel Hatorah. Degel had the first candidate, now it's our turn, a candidate from Aguda, and as far as I know, I am that candidate. There's no doubt about it.


Religious Pluralism: Obstacles, Challenges, Achievements

Imagine a country with no legal separation between religion and state, no civil marriage or divorce, and significant funding for only one stream of the majority religion.

That country is Israel.

Learn about the state of religious pluralism and freedom in Israel today - what has been achieved and what does the future hold.

With Naomi Chazan, former Member of Knesset, and Head of the School of Government and Society at the Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo; and Rabbi Rachel Cowan, Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.

Moderated by Steven Mazie, author of Israel's Higher Law: Religion and Liberal Democracy in the Jewish State.

New Israel Fund NIForum NYC Symposium
October 21, 2007


About Us

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Religion and State in Israel - October 8, 2007

Religion and State in Israel
October 8, 2007
Editor: Joel Katz

By Neta Sela, YNetnews.com

Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai said he would authorize a project to renovate runways at the Ben Gurion Airport on the condition that works on the weekend would be conducted by non-Jewish laborers.

Yishai decided that Jews would only be allowed to hold managerial positions in the project.

The Israel Aviation Authority began renovating the runways in July, and is planning to have the works completed by the end of November.

During this time, the airport would have to shut down on six consecutive weekends, to allow construction to be carried out on the runways.

Yishai's decision is in line with the Hours of Work and Rest Law, which prohibits working on Saturday.

The minister's aides also stated that his decision was backed by a halachic ruling of Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, and approved by Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.


By Evelyn Gordon, JPost.com

Beyond the immediate, kashrut-related benefits, Tzohar's revolt also has potentially far-reaching consequences for vital issues such as marriage, divorce and conversion.

Granted, Tzohar is unlikely to introduce competition on these issues anytime soon.

Nevertheless, should Tzohar's gambit succeed, the implicit threat will be there: Just as religious Zionists, once the kashrut monopoly's staunchest supporters, ultimately led a successful revolt against it, they are liable to do the same in other areas unless the rabbinate shapes up. That threat could even prompt the rabbinate to reform.

But if not, it is a good bet that the revolt will someday occur.

By Steven Erlanger, NYTimes.com

For most Israelis, said Rabbi Yehudah Mirsky, a theologian, heter mechira "helped Zionism create a modern agriculture in the new state."

But for many especially observant Jews, this is a dodge too far. They insist their produce must be grown by non-Jews on non-Jewish land.

"Heter mechira is a religious stretch, and the ultra-Orthodox are not ideologically invested in the enterprise of building a modern economy," Rabbi Mirsky said.

By Joshua Mitnick, The Forward

Back in the time of the Bible, Joseph dreamed about seven years of famine, and he was able to deal with it," said Aaron Katzman, a columnist at the Haredi newspaper Hamodia who criticized the group of rabbis challenging therabbinate's authority over kashrut inspection.

"With all of our technology, we can't get through this one-year shmita-cycle?"
By Aviv Lavie and Shiri Katz, Haaretz

Some growers, however, do intend to observe shmita fully. Shahar Caspi, an Orthodox Jew who farms organically on Moshav Herut in the Sharon region, recently informed his customers that the farm will not be in operation in the coming year.

Caspi and his family are planning to spend the whole year, until next Rosh Hashanah, in the United States.


By Megan Jacobs, JPost.com

Despite the recent ruling by the Chief Rabbinate that Jews may not participate in any Christian events, Rabbis Shlomo Riskin and Benny Elon spoke in support of the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem (DPPJ) on Sunday night at the Haas Promenade.

Organized by Rev. Robert Stearns of the group Eagles' Wings and Dr. Jack Hayford of The Church on the Way, DPPJ united over 150 nations and more than 150,000 churches worldwide in prayer.

By Neta Sela, YNetnews.com

For the first time this year, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel banned Jews from participating in the parade, fearing missionary influences. However, despite the ban, many religious and Orthodox Jews still turned out to watch and participate in the Sukkot festivities.

Representatives of the Rabbinate were present at the march handing out flyers, headlined "Missionary Threat", which explained the opposition to the Christian participation in the parade.


By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz

Finance committee chair, Likud MK Gilad Erdan says the chances the [KKL, aka JNF] law will be ready for its first reading at the meeting's close are slim.

He also estimates that before the bill passes, a number of compromises will be raised to enable the KKL to designate land for Jews only.

One option is to revoke the arrangement of administrating lands via the Israel Lands Administration and to return their administration to the KKL.

Another option is for the state to purchase about 1 million dunams of absentee lands from the fund that it sold to the KKL in the 1950s.

By Dror Etkes, YNetnews.com

The JNF is attempting to enjoy both worlds: Maintain the immense official power
trusted in its hands, while at the same time arguing that its blatantly
discriminatory policy does not undermine the values of equality.

By Uri Ariel, YNetnews.com

The writer is a Knesset member and chairman of the National Union-NRP Knesset faction

An overwhelming majority of Israel's citizens, with the exception of a handful
of radical leftists, wants a synthesis of democracy and Judaism that does not
blur the priority and preference to be accorded in the future as well to Jews,
the Jewish nationality, and to Jewish tradition.


Dresses that were voluntarily designed by 19 top Israeli fashion designers based on the stories of women refused a divorce and modeled by well-known celebrities at a special event held in June 2007.

By Susan H. Sachs, JPost.com

Interview with Rabbinical Courts Administrative head Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Dahan

The definitions of "get-refusal" or "intransigent" as the basis for the low figures cited by the rabbinate are contested, since the rabbinical court tallies only cases where the court decided that the couple should divorce.

The court does not consider those individuals who only overcame a recalcitrant spouse by paying a high price, those who despaired of a get and whose cases are no longer active, nor those for whom the court has yet to rule despite the passage of long years.

When asked about prenuptial agreements as a solution for difficulties associated with get-refusal, Ben-Dahan says that "on principle" he approves, and that "many dayanim and rabbanim accept them - if they are according to Halacha."

He did, however, designate one in particular that is halachically valid. This agreement is known as Heskem Lekavod Hadadi, or the Agreement for Mutual Respect.

By Ruth Sinai, Haaretz

A Rabbinical Court forbade a Sderot man to spend the holiday with his children, who live with their mother in another city, due to the security situation in the southern town.

The Jerusalem Rabbinical Court ruled the father may have the children, aged 3, 4 and 7, only if they spent the holiday away from Sderot.

By Cnaan Liphshiz, Haaretz

The European Court of Human Rights (CHR) last week issued an injunction against Swiss authorities, preventing them from forcibly sending an Israeli-born boy back to his father in Tel Aviv.

In an interview with Le Matin, Isabelle said she'd broken the law because she was afraid of Noam's father, who had become religious and joined Chabad shortly after his son was born in 2003.

By TheMarker/Haaretz

Lev Leviev, an internationally known real estate and diamonds magnate, paid money to 60 Israeli state schools through his foundation to teach "traditional values and Jewish culture".

The organization - The Leviev Foundation for Jewish Education and Identity - which he co-founded with his wife Olga, also supplies study material and books.

Here in Israel, he paid for "Travel Time" (zman masa) lessons at the 60 schools. His media adviser says Leviev had been horrified by the paucity of religious education at state schools, and decided to do something about it.

The religious lessons are provided from grades 1 through 6, and are taught by religious female students at teacher training colleges. The teachers discuss the importance of prayer and the halakhic view of history.

By Zev Chafets, NYTimes.com

Leviev's pragmatism ends, however, at the vexing and fundamental question of who is a Jew. American Reform Judaism recognizes patrilineal descent.

The State of Israel grants citizenship under the Law of Return to people with a single Jewish grandparent.

But Leviev accepts only the Talmudic rule that a Jew is anyone born to a Jewish mother, or someone who has undergone an Orthodox conversion and agreed to keep all 613 Jewish laws.

Lev Leviev's loyalty to Chabad is unquestioning. "The rebbe is my role model, and my values are his values," he says.

By Or Kashti, Haaretz

When Ruth (not her real name) asked to sign up for an ultra-Orthodox high school in her home town in the North, she was refused.

The official reason: Claims by the educational institution's management of so-called immodest behavior by her mother - which Ruth rejected out of hand.

According to Rabbi Yoav Lalum, claims of immodest behavior are usually a front for justifying discrimination. Lalum is the chairman of a non-profit organization battling ultra-Orthodox schools over sectorial discrimination against Jews of Sephardic heritage.

By Peggy Cidor, JPost.com

Anat Hoffman:

"I would like to hear how Yehuda Meshi-Zahav sees this rapprochement between him and me, a woman, a non-Orthodox Jew, a Reform Jew.

I would like to know how he sees this connection taking shape.

I would like him to answer my questions: Is there more than one way to be Jewish?

Is Judaism capable of including changes?

Does he see any way of partnership or at least some cooperation between his community and the Reform Jews in this city?"

Yehuda Meshi-Zahav:

"I believe Jerusalem should be protected not only from violence and war, but
also from any plan to change its spirit and character," he explains.

"I am convinced, actually I know for sure, that religious people - from all religions
- and secular alike, share at least one thing in common: No one here wants to
see Jerusalem become like any other city."


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