Monday, July 28, 2008

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

Religion and State in Israel

July 28, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Apology, and Obama note back in Wall July 27, 2008

The yeshiva student who pried Barack Obama's prayer note from the Western Wall apologized.

Identified only by the first initial of his name, Alef, and with his face obscured, the student went on Israel's Channel 2 television Sunday to confess that he took the presidential contender's note last week and passed it to the press.

"I'm sorry. It was a kind of prank," Alef said, his hands shaking as he fingered the tightly wadded-up sheet of King David Hotel letterhead.

"I hope he wasn't hurt. We all believe he will take the presidency."

Channel 2's religious affairs correspondent said she had passed the note from the yeshiva student to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which reinserted it -- deeply -- between the ancient slabs of stone.

Kotel rabbi slams publication of Obama's personal note July 25, 2008

Shmuel Rabinovitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall, criticized the Ma'ariv newspaper on Friday for publishing a personal note US presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama placed between the cracks of the Kotel early Thursday morning.

Speaking to Army Radio on Friday, Rabinovitz said that the publication was an intrusion of the senator's privacy.

The note was taken by a yeshiva student and given to the newspaper, which published it on Friday morning.

Maariv's publication of Barack Obama's Western Wall note spurs outrage, boycott

By Eran Azran, July 28, 2008

Maariv's response:

"Obama's note was published in Maariv and other international publications following his authorization to make the content of the note public. Obama submitted a copy of the note to media outlets when he left his hotel in Jerusalem.

Moreover, since he is not Jewish, there is no violation of privacy as there would be for a Jewish person who places a note in the wall."

Peeping Toms

By Shlomi Barzel, Opinion July 28, 2008

The sacredness of the Western Wall and the understanding that putting a note in its stones is an act between a human being and the Creator is not the taboo that was broken here.

The Rubicon that was crossed is the journalistic ethos, which seeks to ascribe to those in the profession judgment and even a minimal ability to withstand temptation.

Reform movement says short dollar is killing its growth in Israel

By Jacob Berkman, The Fundermentalist July 23, 2008

The Reform Movement today sent out a mass email appeal seeking $500,000 to help make up a shortfall in its budget for Israeli program.

The movement has lost 30 percent of its budget because of the falling dollar, said the email signed by the Reform hierarchy — and is soliciting one-time gifts of $500.

Click here for Reform Movement email appeal

Invoking Rosa Parks, Haredi Women Move to Back of the Bus

Leaders of the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate are calling on women to keep out of men’s eyesight whenever they travel by bus — by making their way to the back of the vehicle.

The directive, issued by the so-called Rabbinical Transportation Committee, is being distributed to thousands of schoolgirls and seminary students and posted on public notice boards in ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, neighborhoods.

…Joined by four other non-Haredi women who had run-ins on the buses and with the backing of the Jerusalem-based Israel Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, [Naomi Ragen] brought a case to the Supreme Court this past January.

While she wanted to outlaw the segregated buses altogether, she believed she stood on firmer legal ground demanding that a nonsegregated option exist wherever segregated buses run.

Government infighting preventing thousands of Falash Mura from immigrating to Israel

Click here for VIDEO July 24, 2008

Olmert wants to stop Falashmura aliyah, accept 1,300 already okayed

By Barak Ravid and Anshel Pfeffer, July 25, 2008

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will ask the cabinet to stop bringing Falashmura to Israel since a quota the government set three years ago has been filled.

However, around 1,300 Falashmura who have started the immigration process will be allowed to complete it.

Olmert said that Falashmuras who want to come to Israel would be able to undergo the immigration eligibility test independently through the Jewish Agency staff in Ethiopia.

Boim: US Jews won't accept Falash Mura

American Jewish groups who lobby for increased immigration of the Falash Mura to Israel are doing so "to earn money, collect donations and justify their existence," but are unwilling to bring these Ethiopians to their own communities in America, Construction and Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim said on Wednesday.

US Conservative Movement to Israel: Continue Ethiopian aliya

By Ruth Eglash, July 2, 2008

Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism:

"When there are thousands of people who want to become Jewish and move here, then we should really do everything we can to help them," he said.

"The ironic thing is that the Conservative, Reform and modern Orthodox rabbinate - who usually don't agree with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel - on this issue, actually do agree and it's the secular people who are against it."

UJC Now Reassessing Aid to Ethiopians

By Stewart Ain, July 23, 2008

Jim Lodge, the UJC’s vice president of Israel and overseas activities:

“It may be that at that point we will reissue, in intensified form, a request to federations” to reinstate the food program in Gondar.”

UJC, the umbrella group for the country’s federations, provided some $70,000 a month for the food program at the Gondar compound but that money ran out in May.

UJA-Federation of New York has earmarked $180,000 in its 2008-2009 budget to food and medical programs in Gondar.

Religious Zionists / Not by chance

By Nadav Shragai, July 23, 20008

It's no coincidence that men with knitted skullcaps - two of them soldiers - were involved in killing the terrorists who carried out the last three terror attacks.

Above all, however, education and life circumstances both play a significant role in the willingness of those who don knitted kippot to kill terrorists.

New Group Aims to Unify National Religious Camp

By Gil Ronen, July 23, 2008

A new organization named Kulanu ("all of us"), which aims to unite the national-religious factions into one party, held its first conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Rabbi Elyakim Levanon of Elon Moreh said at the conference:

"This council needs to be not just an entity that elects Knesset Members or creates the infrastructure for election of the party's candidates. It must accompany the Knesset Members with consultation, advice and guidance."

Banking on the Russians' plight

By Lily Galili, July 22, 2008

At present, MK Avraham Michaeli is talking with Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar in an attempt to solve the issue of conversion and civil marriages.

"We must resolve the plight of those who have tied their fates to Israel," MK Amnon Cohen declares.

"But neither Shas nor any other political framework can do so. That is a matter the spiritual leadership has to deal with. If there is anyone with the spiritual authority to do so, it is Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. The subject is very close to his heart."

But the more surprising fact is the Ashkenazi, secular Russian-speakers' use of Shas and Chabad (whose interests Cohen represents in the Knesset) services, such as the groups' schools and summer camps.

Hundreds of Russian-speaking children study at these institutions, especially those that belong to Or Avner and Lev Leviev's Or Hannah educational network.

Maccabi TA to sign player only if kosher

By David Marwani, July 23, 2008

Maccabi Tel Aviv will enter talks with Dutch midfielder Sjaak Polak as soon as the team receives documents confirming his Jewish roots, which would allow him to be considered a naturalized citizen, club officials said yesterday.

"There shouldn't be a problem over proving his Jewish roots," his manager said. "His grandfather is a Holocaust survivor."

In addition, The Hague's chief rabbi is said to be willing to vouch for him. Polak took part in the club's training sessions and impressed officials sufficiently for talks to start over signing the 32-year-old player.

Israel's boot camp for social entrepreneurs

By Brian Blum, July 27, 2008

Israel is well known for its high-tech entrepreneurial spirit. Now, a new non-profit organization hopes to use that expertise to train young Jewish professionals from North America how to become "social entrepreneurs."

A social entrepreneur, explains Aharon Horwitz, who along with Ariel Beery co-founded Presentense, the force behind the new initiative, uses the same business techniques and Internet savvy as his or her high-tech counterpart, but as a way to address major societal questions.

"The social entrepreneur is committed to the betterment of society," he tells ISRAEL21c.

The return of Jewish peoplehood?

By Ashley Perry, Opinion July 22, 2008

The Daniel Elazar Beit Va'ad Roundtable, among other objectives, seeks to galvanize a new approach to the reintroduction of peoplehood into the Jewish mainstream.

The initiative features some of the best thinkers and practitioners on contemporary Jewish issues brainstorming about real answers to complex questions.

New code aims to prevent sexual harassment in religious schools

By Kobi Nahshoni, July 25, 2008

Takana Forum, an organization that handles cases of sexual harassment within the religious community, has released a new code of rules to be followed by the religious education system.

Takana was established with the aim of "developing a model for dealing from within the religious community with trauma of a sexual nature imposed by an authority figure on those under his supervision or influence."

After studying the issue from its legal and religious perspective, two years ago the forum's members began to deal with complaints of sexual harassment that came from within the religious education system.

Mean streets, lost kids

By Tamar Rotem, July 23, 2008

Baruch Mashkovsky is director of the Jerusalem Municipality's Keshet Haredi program to advance ultra-Orthodox youth.

Mashkovsky, who is a member of the Belz Hasidic movement, believes the large numbers of ultra-Orthodox dropouts stem from the low socioeconomic class of some ultra-Orthodox Jews and a lack of appropriate educational institutions in Jerusalem.

He also warns that the average age of ultra-Orthodox dropouts has decreased in recent years.

"We increasingly see 12- or 13-year-olds at our facilities. We are only now beginning to make arrangements to handle this problem and build them appropriate facilities."

First Aid Bill May Not be “Chareidi Friendly”

By Yechiel Spira, July 22, 2008

According to officials in ZAKA and Hatzolah, the new bill being pushed along in the Knesset Health & Welfare Committee by MK (National Union) Prof. Aryeh Eldad may prevent many chareidim from continuing as volunteers in the above-mentioned organizations or in Magen David Adom.

The bill already passed its preliminary reading and the committee was preparing it for its first Knesset reading.

The bill defines the criteria for becoming a “chovesh” (medic - Israeli equivalent of an EMT) or a paramedic, citing the applicant must meet the following criteria:

Citizen or resident of Israel; completed 12 years of education; basic knowledge of Hebrew and English.

Some of the obvious problems may include those who did not attend state public schools, but were educated in the Talmud Torah system and do not have a diploma attesting to 12 years of education. They also questioned what becomes of volunteers who speak Hebrew and Yiddish, and do not know English.

MP4 replaces MP3 on the Haredi contraband list

By Yair Ettinger, July 24, 2008

Why are audio players allowed while video players are banned? Because films are much more dangerous.

The distance between the stores, however, also reflects the inexplicable contradictions in the ultra-Orthodox attitude toward technology.

Why was the cellular telephone endorsed and SMS disqualified? How did the MP3, until recently considered a detestable device, suddenly become acceptable, and what will the ultimate fate of the Internet be?

One of the salespeople in the MP4 store offered this frustrated answer: "The ultra-Orthodox public suffers a high dropout rate from its yeshivas and is constantly looking for a scapegoat. Today, it's the MP4."

Rising popularity in use of internet rabbis

By Kobi Nahshoni, July 23, 2008

A survey conducted for Ynet Judaism and the Gesher organization revealed that most people turning to the Q&A sections do so for technical reasons like internet accessibility and lack of accessibility to rabbis.

Gesher Director Shoshi Becker:

“The fact that the issue of Judaism is completely open to users and not branded to one stream of Judaism or another is the root of the internet’s strength.

“From my ‘Gesher’ perspective this is a wonderful tool which removes boundaries between religious, secular, traditional and ultra-Orthodox Jews and allows Jews around the world accessibility to Jewish contents.”

Ultra-Orthodox sect introduces world of 'kosher Internet'

By Tamar Rotem, July 28, 2008

For the client, Rimon Internet acts as an Internet provider. The person connects to it and can only surf sites whose contents have been approved. At the company they offer three different, closed packages.

All allow access only to sites that are safe with respect to modesty - that is, there are no photographs of women on them.

…Belz allows its adherents to surf news sites, but not those with contents that are not to its liking. Thus, for example, the sites of Haaretz or TheMarker, as well as Globes, with the photos missing, are open for surfing. NRG and Ynet, however, are forbidden. University sites are also open.

The religious feminist Kolech site is not accessible, nor is Hadaf Hayomi, which offers a daily page of Gemara.

"We prefer that people study from a book," said one functionary. The educational Matah site is also blocked, as is Mikranet, which provides modern commentaries on the Bible.

Haredis likely behind vandalism of Jerusalem ads featuring actress July 24, 2008

Dozens of ads for the Telma breakfast cereal featuring Israeli actress Orna Banai have been ripped down in Jerusalem over recent days, likely by ultra-Orthodox protesters angry over the prolific imagery of a woman on billboards across the city.

The cereal advertisement, however, shows mostly Banai wearing generally modest clothing, though it is mostly her face that is seen in the picture.

Religion and State in Israel

July 28, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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