Monday, April 28, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - April 28, 2008 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

April 28, 2008 (Section 1) (continued from Section 2)
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

By Avi Cohen, April 22, 2008
Arieh Yerushalmi said that he entered the Tiv Taam store in Bat Yam's industrial zone at 2:20 pm.
He noticed a group of minors and waited for them to leave. After they left, he said, he called the police and reported that there was a nude person in the store.
He then walked over to the bread counter and took all his clothes off, apart from a sock covering his private parts.
[Yerushalmi] explained that he could not be prosecuted for an indecent act in public, because according to the court's interpretation of the leavened food law, a supermarket is not considered a public place. He even wrote on his stomach, "This isn't public???"
In his investigation, [Yerushalmi] claimed that he was a yeshiva student studying in different yeshivot in Bat Yam. April 24, 2008
A large group of haredi demonstrators protest about Jerusalem eateries selling hametz during the week of Passover.

Hametz law sparks protests in Jerusalem
By Neta Sela, April 22, 2008
Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Israelis demonstrated on Tuesday in Jerusalem's Sabbath Square, in protest against the court's ruling in favor of the sale of leavened bread during Passover.
Facing them were only ten secular Jews, most of them from Tel Aviv, demonstrating in favor of the ruling. The seculars waved banners with anti-haredi slogans, and three of the demonstrators were detained by the police and later released.
One of the secular demonstrators admitted that those wishing to buy leavened bread on Passover could do so with ease, and explained that the issue was a principle.
"It's time religion was put in its place and everyone will be allowed to do as they please," he said. "The country and its institutions must be free of religion."

Haaretz Editorial April 23, 2008
The change, as we have said, is not great, but it brings a pleasant message for secular people, many of whom believe that they have already lost the battle against religious coercion.
It turns out that this very coercion, with the sense of power among the ultra-Orthodox and national-religious politicians that has accompanied it in recent years, has achieved exactly the opposite of what it intended. And while the debate surrounding the minor ruling from Jerusalem continues to rage, reality has come and emptied it of content, along with the Chametz Law itself.
The path of separating religion and the state is still long, and in the Israel of 2008 there are still many signs of religiosity that accompany Israelis nearly everywhere. Still, this Pesach marks an important and positive step.

By Yehuda Ben Meir, Haaretz April 24, 2008
The writer is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
To see how far the politicians pretending to represent Religious Zionism have strayed from its original ideology, we need only look at the religious politicians' furor about nothing over Magistrate Court's Judge Tamar Bar-Asher-Zaban's ruling on the interpretation of the Chametz Law.
[The chametz law’s] precise and limited wording: "A business owner will not put a chametz product on public display." There is no ban on selling chametz or serving it, only on "displaying" it "in public."
It is a great pity that Knesset members pretending to represent Religious Zionism are following the ultra-Orthodox extremism.

By Matthew Wagner, April 26, 2008
Lawmakers ruled that it was inappropriate to openly display hametz, even though there is no halachic prohibition against seeing the stuff, only owning it or deriving benefit from it. (The opinions are split on whether it is permissible to enjoy the smell of hametz on Pessah.)
There is a fundamental argument between haredim and religious Zionists over the legitimacy of using legislation to enforce religious observance in inherently personal matters, such as selling hametz on Pessah.
Generally speaking, haredi rabbis are much more inclined to use legislation as a means of enforcing halacha. In contrast, religious Zionists tend to support laws that are not solely halachic in nature but also have a nationalist element, such as the hametz law.

By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz April 24, 2008
When Trade Minister Eli Yishai of Shas or MK Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism promise to pass a law that will bypass the ruling of Judge Tamar Bar-Asher Zaban, it is almost self-explanatory.
But in extremist circles, to whom the Eda caters, there is a longstanding debate regarding the boundaries of protest against what is done outside the borders of the ultra-Orthodox community.
Since the anti-Zionist view has it that even under Zionist rule, the Exile continues, what difference does it make to an ultra-Orthodox person what the Zionists do?
The members of the Satmar Hasidic sect, for example, claim that a true extremist will ignore what is happening in the secular neighborhoods of the city.
On the other hand, the demonstration earlier this week is part of a trend toward stepped-up efforts by the ultra-Orthodox, including those anti-Zionist circles that are not represented in the Knesset, to fight against the symbols of the Jewish state.

By Dan Izenberg, April 23, 2008
Messianic Jews are entitled to Israeli citizenship according to the Law of Return if their father is Jewish, according to a precedent-setting ruling handed down last week by the High Court of Justice.
Fifteen years ago, the court rejected a petition by Messianic Jews who demanded to be recognized as Jews so as to automatically receive Israeli citizenship according to the Law of Return. In that landmark case, the court ruled that Messianic Jews had converted, and therefore were no longer Jewish.
Since then, the state has refused to grant all requests for citizenship according to the Law of Return by Messianic Jews.
Two years ago, however, a number of new immigrants to Israel belonging to the Messianic Jewish community petitioned the High Court after the Interior Ministry refused to grant them new immigrant status and citizenship according to the Law of Return.
These petitioners, represented by attorneys Yehuda Raveh and Calev Myers, argued that they were eligible for new immigrant status and citizenship because they were the offsprings of fathers who were Jewish, not because they themselves were Jewish according to the definition of "Who is a Jew" in the Law of Return.

By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz April 25, 2008
About a year and a half ago, Svetlana Zakolodkin and her daughter Anastasia were summoned to the Interior Ministry's Population Registrar and told that as far as the state was concerned, they were no longer Jewish.
Clerk Mila Moskowitz confiscated their identity cards and said they would not be getting new ones unless they signed a request to change their status to non-Jewish, they said. She gave them new cards, in which the religion and nationality boxes were left empty.
Their lawyer, Attorney Nicole Maor from the [Israel Religious Action Center], says that a signature obtained under pressure cannot be considered consent.
Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad commented, "In general, a request to change the listed religion and nationality is made after it has been proved unequivocally that the initial registration was based on false documents."
Haddad said the ministry does not alter these details without the family members' consent and signature. She dismissed the claims that the change was forced.

By Netta C. Gross, The Jerusalem Report April 28, 2008

Last year, assisted by Jerusalem matrimonial lawyer Susan Weiss, founder of the Center for Justice for Women, a non-profit women's rights advocacy group in Jerusalem, Avraham sued the Justice Ministry, which bears legal responsibility for the state's religious courts, and her ex-husband for 1 million shekels (approximately $286,000) in damages for the wasted years and alleged judicial missteps. No trial date has been set yet.
Weiss, founder of the Center, argues that turning a Jewish husband's religious right to withhold a divorce into a civil wrong that can harm his wife makes get-refusal a "perfect tort"- a wrongful act that causes injury, for which the law must award monetary damages. Some 25 such cases have been filed since 2000.
[Israel’s] early leaders promised the religious parties to anchor some dominant cultural/religious Jewish issues in law.
These assurances morphed into what became known as the "status quo" - an accommodation based on four principles: exclusive religious court jurisdiction on personal status; public and official observance of the Sabbath; kosher food in government institutions; and autonomy for religious schools.
As the first defense minister, Ben-Gurion also issued a small number of military deferments to ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, in order to revitalize Jewish centers of learning wiped out after the European Holocaust.

By Tomer Zarchin, Haaretz April 25, 2008
The landmark case involves a Cambodia-born boy, now eight years old, who was adopted in 2000 in the United States by two men who hold American and Israeli citizenship.
Following his adoption, the boy received American citizenship and was also converted to Judaism.
The parents returned to Israel shortly after the adoption, but their applications to the Interior Ministry to recognize the adoption and grant their child citizenship were unsuccessful.
Since 2001, the child has lived in Israel on a temporary residence visa that is extended annually.

Rabbi Arussi chief rabbi of Kiryat Ono, near Tel Aviv wrote:
"We need to know how to deal with homosexuality, which is the sin of our time, and woe to us for having come to this. We need to know how to deal with those sons of Israel born as homosexuals, in order to ease their pain, and to show them that there are other ways to find true happiness."

By Nitsan Yanko, April 24, 2008
Just before Israel marks its Holocaust Remembrance Day and memorial day for the fallen IDF soldiers, Religious Council head’ of Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel, Rabbi Hanania Tsfar, is speaking against the customary ceremonies.
Standing at attention while the siren is sounded “is worthless,” writes Tsfar in a letter sent to the head of the local Yad Labanim commemoration organization. By his standards, it is better to recite Psalms and Kaddish during that time.
Tsfar also asked Yad Labanim not to lay wreaths on gravesites and memorials, since it is considered “gentile practice.”

By Haim Bior, Haaretz April 22, 2008
About 327,000 workers, 15% of all salaried employees in Israel, work on their day of rest, according to a study conducted by the Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry's Research and Economics Administration.
The ministry and the Histadrut labor federation say that 30% of these workers are not paid the higher wage to which they are entitled for such work.
Nearly 60% of all salary earners who work on their day of rest say they are allowed no alternative day off, as required by law. A small minority, 9%, reported that they received alternative days of rest, but not regularly.

By Zohar Blumenkrantz, Haaretz April 22, 2008
El Al subsidiary Sun D'Or, has filed a formal application to the civil aviation authorities to become a commercial airline.
Sun D'Or would also fly on Saturdays and holidays, when El Al does not operate. Saturday flights are especially important for the New York route, although the line's current fleet does not have craft with the capacity for such long-distance flights.
Transatlantic flights would require the company to lease wide-body planes from El Al, a move that could generate strong opposition from that airline's Orthodox Jewish clientele.

By Jeffrey Yoskowitz, The Forward April 24, 2008

“Spending this year mucking about in Israel and making sometimes poignant, often irrelevant observations...with a bizarre fixation on pigs.”

Toward the end of January, I moved onto Kibbutz Lahav in an effort to understand the phenomenon of pigs in Israel.
While there are a number of similar farms in Israel, Kibbutz Lahav is unique because, as its slogan suggests, it is “the meat from the Kibbutz.”
All the other pig breeders operate in a zone in the North dominated by Christian Arabs, the only place where raising pork is legal, according to a 1962 law. Kibbutz Lahav, a Jewish-run farm, proudly operates outside the legal zone.
One day after work, when changing out of my coveralls and knee-high boots, a new immigrant from Brazil, Yehoshua, was discussing his former religiosity with Marcos when he mentioned in passing that he still didn’t eat pork.
“Me neither,” I interrupted their conversation, excited to discover I wasn’t alone. “I keep kosher.”

By Yair Sheleg, Haaretz April 23, 2008
"Jewish halakhic decisions," says Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber, "tended throughout most of the generations to be user-friendly.
This argument is not new, of course. For many years it was voiced by Conservative and Reform Jews, women's organizations and ordinary liberal religious Jews.
The innovation lies in the speaker, his background and the knowledge that he brings to his argument.
An Israel Prize laureate for his Talmudic research, Sperber is president of the Institute of Advanced Torah Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
A renowned scholar of Jewish law and the Talmud, he also is the rabbi of a congregation the neighborhood where he lives in Jerusalem, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

By Ofer Petersburg, April 22, 2008
A grandiose museum featuring an elaborated massive replica of the Temple is currently being erected opposite the Western Wall.
The three-storey museum, whose construction is valued at nearly $20 million will be erected in the Aish HaTorah Yeshiva complex. The museum will feature a journey through Jewish history, from the days of Abraham to the present, emphasizing the message and significance of the Jewish people’s presence in the Land of Israel and their degree of accomplishment in world improvement.
In addition to the great lavish interior, the museum’s crowning glory is no doubt the massive amphitheater, whose cost is being sponsored by veteran Hollywood star Kirk Douglas, and his no less famous son, Michael.
The amphitheater will feature a three-dimensional film depicting the history of the Jewish nation over a huge glass screen through which one can see the Western Wall. The museum will also include a learning center with a VIP wing to host movie stars, politicians and other celebrities from Israel and abroad.

By Avi Novis-Deutsch, Haaretz April 25, 2008
The writer is rabbi of Mayanot Congregation in Jerusalem's Talpiot neighborhood, is a volunteer at the national religious hotline for abused men and youth (02-532-8000).
Until not long ago, most of us had hardly heard about cases of familial violence within ultra-Orthodox society, so the recent media reports have come as something of a shock.
It may be hard to imagine such things happening in any family, let alone among those whose lives are led in such close observance of Jewish law. It would be a mistake, however, to lump all the recent cases in the same category.
There is, in fact, little to link violence that appears to be motivated by a religious authority, and sexual violence and incest that are committed by ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Hi-tech Torah learning
By JJ Levine, April 27, 2008

Rabbi Chaim Brovender, who founded local institutions Yeshivat Hamivtar and Midreshet Lindenbaum, is the head and founder of Web Yeshiva.
The Web Yeshiva broadcasts shiurim at all hours of the day, with the goal of fitting into busy schedules - and a wide range of time zones.
The staff includes both male and female teachers from respected yeshivot and seminaries. The co-ed nature of the Web Yeshiva (with the exception of certain classes on sensitive topics) makes it stand out in the Orthodox world.

By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz April 22, 2008
This was yet another round, and certainly not the last, in one of the most bitterest cultural wars in the ultra-Orthodox community in years.
Contrary to the struggles being waged by the ultra-Orthodox public against external factors such as the Shefa Shuk supermarket chain (for violating the Sabbath), he said, "Here it's a struggle that relates to the youth, and the rabbis have no control over the youth.
The rabbis don't give the youth any kind of prize - it is forbidden to go to the movies or to performances. So what is left? To read [the ultra-Orthodox writer] Haim Walder? They have to get a bit of freedom. It is the holiday between terms now."

By Lea Golda Holterman, Haaretz April 25, 2008
Introduction by Avirama Golan
This is not a fashion show. Not that there's no fashion in Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) neighborhoods. There is. Most definitely. Elite fashion that often comes with a very high price tag.
But the women that photographer Lea Golda Holterman met wanted to show her something else, something dear to their hearts and to their lifestyle, something that transcends fashion, fabrics and outfits.
For individual Cover Stories, click here:

By Shahar Zadok and Yaniv Magal, April 24, 2008
Bashalva was launched two months ago to specialize in investment in the haredi (ultra-orthodox) community. It has raised $5 million, and is managed by Yosef Boimgarten. The company's offices are located in Kiryat Belz in Jerusalem.
Bashalva will invest NIS 1.1 million in Verifuel Ltd., a new start-up founded by Aviv Tzidon, at a company value of NIS 7 million.

April 28, 2008 (Section 1) (continued from Section 2)
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Religion and State in Israel - April 28, 2008 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

April 28, 2008 (Section 2) (continues in Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Evangelicals visit for Israel's 60th

By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10 April 22, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

Last week, 3,000 evangelical Christian worshippers and preachers from around the United States visited Israel in a trip celebrating 60 years of independence.

The trip was led by Joel Rosenberg, the son of a Jewish man and a Christian woman, who found Jesus at a young age and became a famous preacher.

Celebrating Passover & Easter in The Holy Land

Click here for VIDEO April 23, 2008

The Jerusalem municipality has assessed that up to a million people will visit the Old City and the Western Wall over the Passover holiday in addition to the thousands of Christian pilgrims touring the holy sites.

On Tuesday a beefed up security presence guarded the crowds that thronged to the Old City.

Hundreds of Greek Orthodox pilgrims celebrating Easter marched towards the Qasr el Yahud site near Jericho on Tuesday before being baptized in the Jordan River. In order to cater for the influx of pilgrims celebrating Easter the army opened the baptism sites located next to the Jordanian border.

Holy Fire at Holy Sepulcher April 27, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

Thousands of worshippers crowded Christianity's holiest shrine in Jerusalem on Saturday to celebrate Easter Week's holy fire ritual.

Hundreds of police were deployed in and around the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City to control an estimated 10,000 pilgrims.

Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried where the church now stands. On the day before Easter, churches mark the holy fire ritual. It's in honor of the belief that a holy fire appears spontaneously from Jesus' tomb as a message that he has not forgotten by his followers.

Cross-denominational prayer to hit TA beach Friday

By Matthew Wagner, April 24, 2008

In one of the first cross-denominational prayer endeavors of its kind, Conservative, Reform and independent congregations will join together Friday evening on the Tel Aviv beachfront to commemorate the splitting of the Red Sea and to pray for the speedy release of captive soldiers Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Schalit.

Beit Daniel (Reform), Beit Tefila Israelit (independent), Tiferet Shalom (Conservative) and Havurat Tel Aviv (Conservative) will put aside liturgical differences to join in prayer on the night that, according to Jewish tradition, God split the Red Sea and brought the Jewish people out of Egypt.

A history repeated

Photo by Keren Manor

Red letters in the center of the banner read "Passover Seder for the African Refugees in Israel."

Tal Shaked, director of Bina's Secular Yeshiva, collaborated with Esteban Gottfried, director of Beit Tefilah, to organize the evening's content, including creating a special version of the haggada.

Bina director Eran Baruch elaborates on the link between the Exodus story and the story of the refugees attending the seder.

"Bina's mission is to make Jewish texts and culture relevant. What's more relevant than talking about Pessah? Celebrating with people who just a few weeks ago came out of slavery to freedom here."

Certifying kosher social values

By Daphna Berman, Haaretz April 25, 2008 [article may not appear in online edition]

The organization behind the project, Bema’aglei Tzedek, launched the social seal [“tav chevrati”] in 2005. It has caught on fast in Jerusalem, where some 140 cafes and restaurants to date now boast the certificate on their walls.

The social seal – a kosher certificate for social values – is based on the notion that consumers can engage in acts of social justice even as they carry on their daily lives.

The Demise of Ideology

If the oleh, literally the ascender, was once admired, and the yored, literally descender, was once frowned upon, that paradigm has been turned upside down.

Attitudes towards aliya and yerida, and even the very nature of aliya and yerida, have undergone a radical transformation in the 60 years since the establishment of the state.

…In an era in which ideology has lost its hold, the labels of oleh and yored are meaningless, and lifestyle is what interests people.

It is that issue that may ultimately determine what brings Jews to - and keeps Jews in - Israel.

"You can offer tax breaks to olim and returning residents. You can market Israel. But in the grand scheme of things," says Ben-David, "what matters is: Is this a place where you want to raise your kids? You don't need to cajole or buy people off if you make this a great place to live."

Revolutionizing Diaspora Ties

The writer is founding president of the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (established by the Jewish Agency) and professor emeritus of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

As an essential first step, we must abandon some of the basic assumptions that have dominated Israeli attitudes towards the Diaspora for the past 60 years and replace them with a new ideological and conceptual base.

Israel should no longer regard the Diaspora condition as temporary, pathological and dangerous. Instead, Israel must accept the Diaspora as a permanent and fully legitimate part of the Jewish people, essential for Israel's future and the future of the Jewish people as a whole.

Can Israeli Judaism survive?

By Uri Orbach, April 22, 2008

In America, non-Orthodox Jews feel that they cannot do much to resolve the problem, and that the danger of assimilation is immediate and daily.

Here in Israel, Israelis treat Judaism as something that is taken for granted.

Yet there are certainly concerns that in less than a generation, and upon the immigration of more non-Jews, the growing separation of religion and state, and the Jewish-cultural weakening of the State, we will face a crisis reminiscent of the one faced by American Jews.

Voluntary and involuntary Judaism

By Gil Troy, April 23, 2008

…living in a sovereign Jewish state, much Israeli Judaism becomes involuntary, either compulsory or automatic.

The law forces Israeli Jews to marry and divorce via the rabbinate, but other Jewish elements are simply givens in Israel, from speaking Hebrew to observing Jewish holy days as national holidays. More fundamentally, the state's Jewishness shapes perceptions of Judaism as a force intimately linked to state power.

By contrast, most North American Judaism is voluntary, divorced from the commandments, law, or even faith in God.

Rabbi Sherlo: Redesign synagogues, for women's sake April 25, 2008

The public must sit down and find the way to design the synagogue in order to make women an inseparable part of the prayer, Rabbi Yuval Sherlo ruled Thursday.

Sherlo, head of the hesder yeshiva in Petach Tikva and one of Religious Zionism's most prominent rabbis, explained that he did not believe there were any halachic rules in regards to this issue, stating that "this is obvious."

Rabbi Melamed: Revoke citizenship of non-Jews

By Kobi Nahshoni, April 28, 2008

"There must be legislation allowing Jewish people everywhere in the world to become Israeli citizens, even if they do not live here," asserted Rabbi Zalman Melamed on Sunday at a conference debating Torah-derived teachings as they pertain to minority issues in Israel.

"Even those with a democratic viewpoint understand that we must limit the rights of those who wish to harm the State. There are many non-Jews in Israel who are striving to undermine the country," he said at the conference.

"These people should not be able to vote who sits in the Knesset or determine who leads the country. The law must dictate that the subversive cannot be citizens."

Melamed is regarded as an influential authority in the Religious Zionism movement and currently serves as Beit El's chief rabbi.

President Peres meets with Rabbis

By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz and Hillel Fendel, April 24, 2008

President Peres also discussed with Rabbi Yosef, and later with Rabbi Metzger and Rabbi Amar, three central initiatives he is undertaking related to the religious sector, the Jewish character of Israel and Jewish unity.

The first initiative Peres discussed was the problem of poverty in the haredi-religious sector and ways to make it easier for haredi-religious men and women to join the workforce.

He suggested that the issue could be addressed in ways that would take the haredi cultural norms into account.

By way of example, President Peres suggested that certain computer-intensive jobs could be carried out by way of telecommuting from the homes of working haredi women or men.

The second initiative the President mentioned to the rabbis was the active encouragement of greater unity between religious and secular citizens of Israel. He said he was launching a public campaign to that end, which would last for several weeks, leading up to and culminating with Israeli Independence Day.

Religious-Zionist parties look to unite

By Gil Hoffman, April 23, 2008

…a new grassroots effort to unify all the religious-Zionist parties led by Avraham Brun, who for 25 years served as general-director of Yeshivot Hesder Association.

Brun has created a Hebrew Web site called Reshima Achat (One List) that has sought the endorsement of rabbis, politicians and the public at large for the idea.

So far, Brun has posted endorsements from people on the Left, currently and formerly connected to Meimad, such as party founder Rabbi Yehuda Amital and former MK Rabbi Yehuda Gilad. He also has the support of Marzel and right-wing rabbis like Dov Lior of Hebron and Zalman Melamed of Beit El.

Revolutionary Ideas to Bolster Religious-Zionist Camp

By Hillel Fendel, April 25, 2008

Will the religious-Zionist Knesset camp continue to decline?

Dr. Asher Cohen of Bar Ilan University has proposed that an open primaries be held, inviting all those in the country who identify with the goals of the religious-nationalist camp to participate and choose the religious-Zionist party's future MKs.

Rabbi Yisrael Rosenne of Gush Etzion has another idea. He heads the Zomet Institute for Torah and Science and is a regular columnist in the weekly Shabbat B'Shabato synagogue pamphlet, one of the main mouthpieces of religious-Zionism.

Disaffected, some religious Zionists turn against Israel

By Dina Kraft, JTA April 10, 2008

Religious Zionists once revered state institutions almost as if they were holy vessels, part of God’s plan for restoring Jewish hegemony in the Land of Israel and creating an Israeli state as a precursor to the messianic era.

Indeed, the prayer for the state published in 1948 by Israel's Chief Rabbinate, which for decades was repeated every Sabbath in religious Zionist synagogues, referred to the State of Israel as the beginning of the “flowering of the redemption.”

But now a few religious Zionists are turning against the state.

"God is my final authority, and we don't recognize you," another teenage Jewish settler reportedly shouted at a Jerusalem court earlier this year.

Convicted Shas MK to be replaced by Ethiopian Rabbi

By Hillel Fendel, April 27, 2008

Shas MK Shlomo Benizri, sentenced to 1.5 years in prison and an 80,000-shekel fine, will be replaced in the Knesset by Ethiopian Rabbi Mazor Bahaina.

Contacted by Arutz-7, Rabbi Bahaina said he immigrated to Israel at the age of 11 in 1982 (nine years before the weekend airlift of nearly 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in Operation Shlomo).

"We walked from Ethiopia to Sudan, and there we waited in camps until being brought to Israel," he said.

Young Mazor studied in the Yeshivat HaDarom yeshiva high school in Rehovot, then in a hareidi-religious yeshiva in Bnei Brak, then in the Sephardic yeshiva Porat Yosef in Jerusalem.

Known as a Torah scholar, he ran many social-educational projects in Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva. He now serves as the rabbi of the 10,000-strong Ethiopian Jewish community in Be'er Sheva, and is a member of the Be'er Sheva Municipal Council.

Religion and State in Israel

April 28, 2008 (Section 2) (continues in Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Monday, April 21, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - April 21, 2008 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

April 21, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Knesset hearing on chametz becomes Jewish identity debate

By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10 April 15, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

District Court rejects Hametz appeal

By Ofra Edelman, Haaretz April 18, 2008

The Jerusalem District Court [April 17, 2008] rejected an appeal by MK Avraham Ravitz (United Torah Judaism) calling on the Jerusalem municipality to enforce laws against the public display and sale of leavened products during Passover.

In rejecting the appeal, the court said Ravitz had approached the municipality about the matter on Sunday and did not wait for its answer before turning to the court. The court also said Ravitz should have appended an affidavit corroborating his claims, for example that the city is insufficiently enforcing the laws.

The court also rejected Ravitz's request that the court not publish the ruling so as not to increase public debate.

Haaretz Cartoon April 16, 2008 by Amos Biderman

By Yair Ettinger, Shahar Ilan and Tomer Zarchin, Haaretz April 15, 2008

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on Tuesday ruled that the state will not appeal a Jerusalem court's controversial decision to allow the sale of chametz by certain businesses during the holiday.

Mazuz's position is that the matzot law is not designed to prohibit, and does not prohibit, the sale or consumption of those products during Passover, but only instructs the owners of businesses not to publicly present chametz products for sale or consumption.

Mazuz ruled that the legal prohibition should be interpreted as banning the presentation of chametz in the public, external area of businesses. This would preclude the sale of the food on the street and in markets, as opposed to the showcasing of the products within the closed, internal space of shops.

Much Ado about Hametz

Dr. Yishai Blank, a senior lecturer in the faculty of law at Tel Aviv University:

The Israeli criminal code distinguishes between two types of public space.

There is an area in which the public has unconditional access or right of access, known in Hebrew as tziburi. And there is a space which can easily be seen by members of the public known as pumbi.

There are offenses that are prohibited in one public space and not the other. For instance, the burning of foreign flags, and the commission of indecent acts are prohibited in public when public refers to an area in which the act can be seen by others. In a public place where people don't see these acts, they would not be considered offenses.

The "Passover Law" prohibits the display of hametz in a public place where it can be seen (pumbi), but does not ban it from being in every place where the public has access (tziburi).

…There is no prohibition on the consumption or even the sale of hametz. There is a prohibition on the display of hametz in the public sphere.

There is a reason that the legislators chose one meaning of public (pumbi) and not the other. The idea is that when you walk down the street you shouldn't be forced to see hametz. If it's within a confined public sphere - such as a non-kosher restaurant - that's a different matter.

Haredi extremists plan Jerusalem protests over chametz ruling

By Tomer Zarchin, Shahar Ilan and Yair Ettinger, Haaretz April 16, 2008

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on Tuesday announced that the state will not appeal a Jerusalem court's decision earlier this month to withdraw charges against local business owners who had displayed chametz on their premises during Pesach in previous years.

Mazuz said the Festival of Matzot Law was not intended to prohibit the sale or consumption of chametz, but only its public display for sale or consumption.

As such, it would preclude the display in the public space, such as a street stall, an open-air market or a display case facing the street, but not within the closed confines of a place of business.

Jerusalem eateries worried about hametz violence

"We do not want a battle, and we do not want to fight with the haredi or modern Orthodox public, but we do want to live according to our lifestyle, without hurting others," said Shahar Levy, owner of the city's Resto-Bar.

Last year, about 100 haredim held a violent protest outside downtown Jerusalem eateries selling leavened products, pelted police with stones, and insulted customers.

Jerusalem mayor urges business owners not to sell bread during Passover

In a letter to business owners, Lupolianski wrote: "I am no fan of coercion, but rather, of dialogue."

…"As the mayor of Jerusalem, I turn to you and ask that this year too, during Passover, we shall continue the customary tradition in Jerusalem, which takes public sentiments into consideration," Lupolianski concluded.

Reactions to chametz ruling

By Tomer Zarchin, Shahar Ilan and Yair Ettinger, Haaretz April 16, 2008

Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Reform movement's Israel Religious Action Center in Jerusalem, described Mazuz's decision as "balanced and sane," adding:

"When will the religious MKs realize already that the Jewish identity of the State of Israel lies not on our plates but rather in our hearts."

Rabbis from the Tzohar Forum of Rabbis, on the liberal side of religious Zionism, said that Mazuz' decision

"reinforces the sense that the legal system has become a focus of democratic thought that has forgotten its role in shaping the face of the state as Jewish, not just democratic.

However, Tzohar also said in a statement,

"religious legislation on one hand and interference in the legal system on the other, are not a substitute for a probing discussion by Israeli society of common identity and symbols that is so necessary to reinforcing the Jewish identity of the State of Israel."

Is this Pessah different?

By Peggy Cidor, April 21, 2008

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yehoshua Pollack disagrees.

"I think it's a real case of hypocrisy," he says. "The religiously observant public began to ask questions and apply pressure. They asked us - and not only haredim - why we apply the law when a resident in a religious quarter closes a balcony without a permit, while we do not apply the Hametz Law.

"We were asked hard questions, we had to provide answers. No one can expect us to apply the law to the haredi residents, and close our eyes to lawbreakers if they are secular.

"Imagine what would have happened if an attorney from the haredi community would have sued us for not applying the law against those who openly sell hametz?" he says. "So we had to act and the mayor was right; he had to send the inspectors and file indictments. That's the law, what should we do differently?"

Law and order

By Peggy Cidor, April 17, 2008

"The original idea was that the state doesn't look into your private [life], but the public space should respect the Jewish traditions," explains an attorney from the [Jerusalem] municipal Legal Office.

Attorney Gilad Barnea, who represented Restobar owner Shahar Levy, one of the five indicted, says that for years, the laissez-faire attitude toward the enforcement of the 1986 Hametz Law was well known among business owners.

Why does the Chametz law matter?

By Jonathan Rosenblum, Jerusalem Post April 18, 2008

The chametz Law, which forbids the public display of chametz (leavened products) for the purpose of sale during Pesach, benefits the secular Jewish state not religious citizens.

…the law serves to remind Israeli Jews that they are members of a people with a very long history and distinctive practices that set it apart from all other peoples of the world.

Strengthening national identity, as many secular Israelis have come to recognize, is the key to Israel's long-term survival.

And symbols that have their origin in traditional religious practice – e.g., bans on the sale of pork, Shabbat closure laws, the closing of restaurants on Tisha B'Av – play a role in instilling Jewish national identity.

Chametz law makes sense

By Ze'ev Segal, Haaretz April 16, 2008

The interpretative approach and the enforcement policy, according to which the prohibition against the display of chametz applies to the public space of a business - as opposed to the closed, internal space - covers not only streets, markets and sidewalks, but also open public spaces within closed shopping malls.

This differentiates from the closed, internal space of places of business within shopping malls.

Religious parties picking the wrong Pessah fight

By Haviv Rettig, Opinion April 15, 2008

What these haredi MKs did not say - perhaps because they did not notice it - was that the judge also affirmed the legal prohibition of displaying hametz in public during the Pessah holiday.

The right of the Israeli Jewish majority to have its moral or religious prohibitions reflected in the public sphere, similar to the "blue laws" of the United States, is upheld regularly by Israel's judiciary, often when it is hardly necessary to do so.

…In politicizing the question, they have strengthened those who say that their goal is not social or religious, but political. When Israeli life is increasingly religious (and even, to a growing extent, Orthodox) how can they perceive themselves under siege of "liberal terrorism?"

In confusing religious affiliation with religious political victories, they send the message that parliamentary politicking has shifted their focus from the former to the latter.

Reform Reflections: Inspiration from the Haredi community

By Rabbi Michael Marmur, April 16, 2008

…Following the decision of the court, representatives of the edah charedit have sent letters to some sixty businesses and outlets pleading with them not to sell leavened products during Pessach in the City of Gold.

I like this response. By turning to these fellow Jerusalemites and asking them to reconsider their decision, these Haredi representatives are playing according to the rules of a modern liberal democracy.

…Jerusalem should be pure this Passover. It should be purged of poverty, and garbage, and corruption, and prejudice, and hate.

The price of freedom Editorial April 18, 2008

In the renascent Jewish homeland, which marks its 60th independence day next month, Israelis are grappling with how to cherish tradition while respecting the individual's right to freely disregard (sometimes foolishly) what should be treasured.

Consider the latest quarrel in Jerusalem over the sale of hametz during Pessah. A very few stores sell bread, which the law allows so as long as they don't ostentatiously display it in public. This strikes us as a reasonable compromise. So why interfere with it?

When issues of personal freedom, religion and collective values are at stake, coercion is not only counterproductive, it is often also unnecessary. Seventy percent of Israelis won't go near bread during the festival; 60% would like to see stores closed on Shabbat. That's because the values and mores of Jewish civilization appeal to traditional and secular Jews even when the motivation is not necessarily halachic.

And yet this age of great personal freedom will not have achieved its full potential until non-Orthodox and secular Jews - to paraphrase popular theologian Dennis Prager - start taking Judaism as seriously as do the Orthodox.

The pita principle

By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz April 15, 2008

The cabinet sent Minister Ruhama Avraham Balila into the debate. At first she tried to make do with: "The judge's decision is a challenge for the cabinet. We must study the matter thoroughly and deeply."

This did not seem to satisfy Shas, as later she tried again, announcing: "The cabinet does not object to the appropriate aims of the law being preserved," or in other words the passage of a law to reinstitute the law. She then said she would support Yishai's bill, which is bad news for the opponents of a new chametz law.

Man strips in protest of bread sales during Passover

By Avi Cohen, April 21, 2008

The man, dressed as a haredi, arrived Monday afternoon at a store belonging to the non-kosher Tiv Taam supermarket chain in the city of Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv. Upon his arrival, he undressed and remained with only a sock covering his private parts.

The man explained that he could not be prosecuted for an indecent act in public, because according to the court's interpretation of the leavened food law, a supermarket is not considered a public place. He even wrote on his stomach, "This is not public."

Poll: 81% won't buy bread on Passover

By Kobi Nahshoni, April 17, 2008

Fifty-two percent of the participants said they will make sure not to buy at a store using the permit, 31% neither on Passover nor afterwards, and 21% during Passover only. An additional 29% will not buy leavened goods but other groceries. Oppositely, 15% expressed satisfaction with the ruling, making it easier for them to find bread during the holiday.

A result analysis shows that only 29% of the seculars are happy with the option of buying leavened goods more easily. The rest will only buy other goods in these stores (48%), will not enter stores at all during holiday (12%) or prefer other stores even after Passover (6%).

Thirty-nine percent of the traditionalists will prefer not to enter these stores at all during the holiday, 33% will do the same after the holiday and 20% will only purchase unleavened goods during Passover as well.

It’s Pesach. . . so make sure you kosher your water

By Anshel Pfeffer, Jerusalem April 18, 2008

Jerusalemites will spend next week drinking, washing and flushing their toilets with Kosher le’Pesach water.

Why? Because a week before the holiday, the Israeli national water company, Mekorot, disconnected Jerusalem from the national pipeline that pumps water all the way from the Kinneret lake down to the Negev.

Throughout the Pesach week, households will have to rely on water drawn by the municipal water company, Hagihon, from local reservoirs and wells.

This annual tradition stems from the concerns of strictly Orthodox Jews that the bread thrown in to the lake by fishermen on the Kinneret and the remains of shore-side picnics might cause traces of chametz to reach their drinking water.

Hesder Yeshiva Boys to Run Passover Seders

By Hillel Fendel, April 17, 2008

In a joint, first-time initiative of the IDF Chief Rabbinate and the Union of Hesder Yeshivot, hundreds of army soldiers currently studying in yeshivot have been recruited to make army kitchens Kosher for Passover and to run Seder meals.

The hesder students, together with soldiers of the Chief Rabbinate, spent the days before the Passover holiday cleaning army base kitchens - no easy feat - and making them suitable for Passover use.

The hesder students will also take part in running traditional liturgical Passover Seders in various bases.

35% of Factories in Israel to Close for Chol Hamoed

By Yated Ne'eman Staff, Dei’ah veDibur April 18, 2008

Some 35 percent of all industrial factories in Israel will be closed for Pesach and all workers will be on vacation according to a survey conducted by the Manufacturers' Association.

Eighty-eight percent of food manufacturers that participated in the survey will be closed during Chol Hamoed, along with 32 percent of metal plants, 17 percent of textile factories and 10 percent of construction and consumer goods factories.

The Manufacturers' Association reports that 42 percent of industrial plants will work as usual during Chol Hamoed and 23 percent will curtail operations. Even of those factories with curtailed operations 44 percent will leave only a few departments running, 33 percent will operate with a limited number of workers and 22 percent will reduce the length of the workday.

Kibbutzim seek to revive declining community tradition - Passover seders

By Eli Ashkenazi, Haaretz April 18, 2008

Fein is not the only one determined to rekindle the kibbutz tradition of communal seders.

In the Lower Galilee kibbutz of Beit Keshet, Moshe Sadovsky is hard at work organizing the community's annual seder, which he helped revive a few years ago. Sadovsky, a graduate of an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva in Jerusalem, moved with his wife to the kibbutz four years ago after finding work there as a kashrut supervisor.

"I wanted to get to know secular Jews, and I wanted them to get to know me," Sadovsky explains.

Welcoming the stranger to the Seder table

By Solomon Israel, April 14, 2008

The Seder is a joint effort by Beit Daniel, Keren B'Kavod - the social action branch of the Israeli Reform Movement's Israel Religious Action Center - and the Mesila Aid and Information Center for the Foreign Community, a Tel Aviv municipal organization dedicated to providing social services and information to Tel Aviv's large population of foreign workers.

"We felt that we needed to do more," explained Rabbi Meir Azari of Beit Daniel. "If you are in Tel Aviv, you can't ignore the presence of the foreign workers... This is an opportunity to meet them, to show them that we care."

"I don't think that you will be able to see a lot of synagogues in Israel hosting non-Jews for the Seder," he said.

But he added, "For most of them, probably this is the first time that they are sitting and not serving. This is an opportunity for them to feel welcome."

Haredi boycott sparks secular protests in Bnei Brak

By David Wainer, April 15, 2008

Last week, in response to Weissman's decision to close down some of his AM:PM outlets, Sari Rozner Glazer and Anat Confortes announced a "counter-boycott" through a Facebook event entitled "We will buy at Shefa Shuk and we will keep AM:PM open 24/7."

The announcement called on anyone who cared about the issue to "come shop for your Pessah needs" in the Shefa Shuk outlet in Bnei Brak, where many haredim have been refraining from shopping.

In their Facebook group, Glazer wrote: "The battle that was started by leaders in the haredi community against the group Dor Alon, owned by Dudi Weissman, is a battle against the people's freedom of choice. Last week, the pressure applied by the haredi community succeeded in closing outlets of AM: PM (owned by Weissman) on Shabbat."

"We will shop in Bnei Brak as if it were a routine," she added. "We will express our will as 'Tel Avivim,' secular Israelis, and as people who care to safeguard the liberal identity of freedom in Israel. We have buying power and the power to influence."

It's not really about Shabbat

By Avirama Golan, Haaretz April 16, 2008

Israeli society should relate seriously to the Sabbath law and show national responsibility for the worker's right to rest on the day that Hebrew tradition gave the world.

This cultural and social fight should be waged with political and public tools by those with society's good in mind.

However, the people who initiated the ultra-Orthodox boycott do not fit this definition.

In the worst-case scenario, they wish to coerce Israeli society into their way of life. In another bad-case scenario, they are seeking to profit.

Survey: Public wants stores to close on Shabbat

By Adi Dovrat, Haaretz April 16, 2008

Just one-third of the public thinks that the chain stores should open for work on Saturday, and about 60% believe that they should remain closed, according to a survey in 'TheMarker,' which included 500 respondents.

Of the 30% of respondents who were of the opinion that chain stores should be open on Saturday, two-thirds defined themselves as secular. None of the religious and ultra-Orthodox respondents believe that the stores should remain open on Shabbat, but about 8%, said that didn't know, or refused to answer the question.

Asked whether the Dor Alon Group should agree to the demands of the ultra-Orthodox community to close AM:PM retail branches on Saturday, 44% of the respondents said yes - but a similar percentage said that the Group should refuse, an dthe stores should stay open on weekends.

Answers to the survey varied according to the degree of respondents' religious observance: nearly all ultra-Orthodox respondents said that Dor Alon should close down the stores on Saturday, compared to 70% of the religious respondents, and about 20% of the secular respondents.

Among the secular population, 70% said that the Group should not close down AM:PM branches on Saturday, compared to 16.5% who said that they should.

Among respondents who described themselves as 'traditional,' about 53% said that the branches should be closed, and 34% said that the Group should keep them open.

By virtue of her sex

By Ruthie Blum, April 17, 2008

Attorney Batya Kahana-Dror, 43-year-old Jerusalemite mother-of-four is the legal affairs adviser for Mavoi Satum (Dead End)

She is also a leading member of the Orthodox-feminist Kolech [Your Voice], through which she made "sexy" headlines earlier this month, due to an opinion piece she wrote that was posted on the organization's Web site.

Taking her cue from the ancient Greek comedy Lysistrata, in which the play's female characters withhold sex from their husbands, Kahana-Dror called upon her fellow women to refrain from going to the mikve [ritual bath, following menstruation, required before conjugal relations can take place] - amounting to the same thing.

See also: The Lysistrata option

"…What I want is for the Orthodox rabbinate here to confront such questions. I also want to see women Orthodox rabbis and women rabbinical court judges. This is possible from a halachic perspective. The fact that the rabbinical court is devoid of women is unthinkable in a democratic society.

…Not long from now, we'll be establishing alternative Orthodox rabbinical courts. I am about to start a forum for women who want to make this happen.

…Today, our rabbinical court sees its function as exactly the opposite of this. It isn't there to solve the problem, but rather to guard the Halacha, so that there should be no divorces extracted from men by force - to ensure that it's kosher."

Rabbinical court forces woman to divorce over medical condition

By Yoram Yarkoni, April 17, 2008

The Great Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem rendered a rare ruling Thursday, forcing a woman to agree to a divorce because she was diagnosed with epilepsy.

According to a report in Yedioth Ahronoth, the court further ruled the woman will not be eligible for alimony. The husband was, however, obligated to pay her the full amount mentioned in her ketubah – NIS 18,000 (approx $5,000).

“…The rabbis are going by a religious ruling rendered centuries ago. People with epilepsy live full lives just like everybody else," said the woman's attorney, Avraham Stern, adding his client intends to file a petition with the High Court to have the ruling overturned.

Court hunts 'wanton husband'

By Ruth Eglash, April 18, 2008

For the first time ever the rabbinic court system in Israel has turned to the secular media in an attempt to track down a wanton husband who is refusing to grant his wife a divorce.

"Agunot are one of our main concerns, and we are making every effort to find those husbands who have deserted them," said Ben-Dahan, noting that the court currently runs a page on its web site entitled "Wanted," which features the names and faces of runaway husbands.

Robyn Shames, director of the International Coalition of Agunah Rights, said she welcomed the move.

"I think it's fantastic - any move by the rabbinic courts to find men in an unwanted marriage should be applauded. Efforts need to be made to encourage society to change how they relate to men who refuse to give divorces - they should be treated just like men who violently abuse their wives, because it is a form of abuse."

For Chief Rabbinate, click here

By Itamar Eichner, April 16, 2008

The Prime Minister's Office is exploring several reforms in the National Authority for Religious Services – the Chief Rabbinate, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.

The PMO's move came after several surveys conducted in the matter, indicated that the Israeli public has lost its faith in the services provided by local religious councils.

Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel, who initiated the move, will be heading the team. Yehezkel was reportedly appalled by the surveys, which indicated over 70% of the secular sector wants nothing to do with the Chief Rabbinate; and that 61% of them believe it is obsolete – a sentiment shared by 40% of the general public.

Religion and State in Israel

April 21, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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