Monday, August 11, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - August 11, 2008 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

August 11, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Chief Rabbi agrees to new conversion committee

By Matthew Wagner, August 6, 2008

After fighting the move for over a month, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar finally caved in Monday night and approved the appointment of two independent-minded members to a five-person committee tasked with the job of choosing a new head for the Conversion Authority.

The two additional members will be law Prof. Yedidya Stern of Bar-Ilan University and Mirla Gal, former director-general of the Absorption Ministry.

The other members of the committee include Amar, who is also the chairman, Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel and Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander.

Amar had hoped to choose two people of his own liking, thus giving him the majority in the committee.

Conversion crisis turns physical

By Yair Ettinger, August 6, 2008

The conversion crisis that has set the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox camps at odds spilled over into a fistfight yesterday at Mossad Harav Kook in Jerusalem, an institution identified with Orthodox Zionism.

The brawl broke out during a conference speech by a Rabbinic High Court judge, Rabbi Avraham Sherman, who had been invited to speak about his controversial ruling that conversions performed by Rabbi Haim Druckman's special conversion court are null and void.

Druckman supporters waved placards and heckled Sherman, prompting an uproar that escalated to violence.

Judge urges haredi conversion primacy

By Matthew Wagner, August 7, 2008

"On questions that deal with the future of the entire Jewish people, the great halachic sages of the generation must be consulted," Rabbi Avraham Sherman said.

"I call on religious Zionist rabbis to meet with the great rabbis of our day to reach an agreement on the issue of conversions."

"In the modern era the great rabbis see converts as a potential danger to the spiritual purity of the Jewish people," he said.

"Too often in the rabbinical courts we come across supposed converts who never had the intention of observing an Orthodox way of life. This should concern all Jews, haredi and religious Zionist alike. We must unite and make sure that no considerations foreign to Halacha taint the conversion process."

Yosef's blessing of Bibi stirs up Shas supporters

By Matthew Wagner, August 4, 2008

One day after Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef publicly blessed Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu for his "secret gestures" to strengthen Torah study, sources close to Shas were split on how to interpret Yosef's comments.

“Paying his dues”

Haaretz cartoon by Amos Biderman August 5, 2008

Proposed ketubah addendum would annul marriage if you refuse divorce

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 5, 2008

A select group of rabbis and Jewish theologians attended a clandestine gathering at Britain's Manchester University some 10 days ago, to begin formulating solutions to the phenomenon of women denied a Jewish bill of divorce.

Participants included Rabbi Shlomo Daichovsky, the most veteran judge at the rabbinic High Court in Jerusalem, and Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen, chief rabbi of Haifa and a member of the Rabbinate's supreme council.

Besides rabbis Daichovsky and Cohen, veteran senior members of the rabbinic establishment in Israel, the meeting was attended by Efrat's Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Rabbi Michael J. Broyde, a member of the Rabbinical Council of America, and others.

The preferred proposal at the meeting was to draft an addendum to the ketubah, or Jewish marriage contract, that would make it possible to annul the marriage if a spouse is refused a divorce.

'The rabbis treated me like I was air'

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 5, 2008

A possible solution in the offing to the problem of get denial could help women who marry in the future, but will come too late for Bat Sheva Gabai and other women like her.

"The rabbinic courts administration does not include in these figures thousands of women who are in negotiations over distribution of assets, and are forced to forgo enormous sums to win a get," says Susan Weiss, who heads The Center for Women's Justice.

"In practice every woman is potentially get-denied because the man has unlimited bargaining power, since under Jewish law he does not need a get to live with another woman, and any children born to them would not be considered mamzers," a form of illegitimacy.

Video: Israelis mark Tisha B'Av

IBA News August 10, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

Poll: What will cause Jerusalem’s 3rd destruction? August 10, 2008

A survey conducted for Ynet’s Jewish section and the Gesher Organization for Tisha B'Av.

Seventeen percent believe that designating the city solely for religious and ultra-Orthodox populations is more worrisome.

…Amongst the secular participants, however, the issue of splitting Jerusalem received first place in a narrow victory since 29% believe that the transformation of Jerusalem into a completely haredi and religious city is more dangerous.

Poll: Secular candidate would crush Haredi MK in Jerusalem mayoral elections

By Yair Ettinger, August 6, 2008

Secular candidate Nir Barkat would defeat the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) MK Meir Porush by more than 20 percent if Jerusalem were to hold mayoral elections today, two recent surveys show.

Haredi MK tapped as candidate for Jerusalem mayor poses 'real test' for secular

By Yair Ettinger, August 6, 2008

MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) appears to be the ultra-Orthodox candidate for Jerusalem mayor, replacing the previous ultra-Orthodox choice of Uri Lupolianski, the incumbent mayor.

The ultra-Orthodox are well aware that Porush is totally different from the smiling Lupolianski.

"Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox pet is going home, and now comes the real thing," said ultra-Orthodox journalist Yossi Elituv.

"Now the secular public in the city is facing a real test: Will it be able to accept a Haredi with a beard to the floor and all the stereotypes? Porush is not a pet.

He will hold the reins in his hand, transfer empty secular schools to the ultra-Orthodox. He has the motivation to conquer the city, not just on paper."

Musical seats

By Peggy Cidor, August 7, 2008

"Lupolianski didn't bring us [haredim] jobs or any benefits," a prominent haredi businessman said this week.

Indeed, Lupolianski steered clear of cronyism, but that's expected to change with Porush.

"The only thing that could save Porush is the usual mistake by the secular public: to field more than one candidate. As far as I can see, I think Porush can rely on the secular Jerusalemites [to do so]; we have already heard of three different candidates."

NRP, NU step up efforts to create new broad traditional list

By Matthew Wagner, August 10, 2008

The National Religious Party and the National Union have stepped up efforts to create a unified electoral list that would represent the broadest possible constituency of religious and traditional voters, as an early election becomes increasingly likely, sources close to the negotiations said Sunday.

…Some of those mentioned as possible committee members include singer Yehoram Gaon; Rabbi Shmuel Zafrani, an adviser to former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu; and Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, one of the heads of the Petah Tikva Yeshiva.

Cabinet Approves Incentive to Above-Ground Burial

By Yechiel Spira, August 8, 2008

The cabinet this week approved giving a NIS 1,000 incentive to families agreeing to above-ground burial, a reality that began a number of years ago, a result of the critical shortage of in-ground burial plots.

The weekly HaShavua chareidi newspaper reports that 87% of the population is willing to accept above-ground burial.

The Chief Rabbinate Religious Council and other rabbonim have ruled there is no halachic reason against multi-level burials.

Past Perfect: Legislating or persuading

By Rabbi Berel Wein, Opinion August 7, 2008

The writer is a noted scholar, historian, speaker and educator.

But just as religious coercion is futile and harmful, secular coercion is also futile and harmful.

These issues are not a matter of legislation, decrees and governmental fiat. They are a matter of reasoned discussion and persuasion.

It may be that the haredi school system is unchangeable by any means. If so, that is really their choice in life.

The Haredim Want to Learn

By Dan Kaufman, (Hebrew) August 7, 2008

The writer is a researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and a lecturer at Sapir College

Columns (from rt. to left): Level of Interest; Computers; Math; English

Rows: Interested/Very Interested in Studying; Somewhat Interested; Not Interested

Israel's greatest untapped source of brainpower

I agree that democratic theory does not mandate government funding of private education.

Nevertheless, there are compelling public policy grounds to justify the continual funding of haredi post-elementary education.

…The fastest way to halt the growing trend of haredi men following haredi women into the workforce would be a frontal attack on the haredi education system. That, as much as her multiculturalism, explains Yuli Tamir's surprising defense of the yeshiva ketana system.

Exclusively inclusive: The divisive education law

The writer is a senior research fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

Instead of demanding that the law be more thoroughly implemented, MKs Esterina Tartman and Rabbi Michael Melchior, joined by members of all factions, pushed through a bill that will weaken the system, enervate the periphery, and direct more state resources to groups already blessed with cultural and economic capital.

The sponsors’ declared intention is admirable: to bolster Jewish studies and promote a rapprochement between the religious and the secular.

But not only will the law fail to achieve its sponsors' goals, it will curtail Jewish studies in much of the state system and increase the polarization between sectors of Israeli society.

Little Bat-El aims for taekwondo gold

By Haaretz Staff and Reuters August 5, 2008

While most top Israeli athletes are largely secular, Gatterer is an observant Jew who does not travel by car on the Sabbath and often has to walk long distances to her competition venue. At Beijing, Gatterer will compete on a Thursday.

Kashruth has been an issue, and Gatterer has become accustomed to taking a suitcase full of kosher food with her. In Beijing, she plans to take some of her own food although kosher fare will also be provided by the organizers, an Israeli Olympic official said.

Peres to participate in Tisha B'Av services in Beijing

President Shimon Peres, who will be in the Chinese capital as guest of the Chinese Government for the opening of the 2008 Olympics, will be joined by Chabad Rabbi Shimon Freundlich at a reading of the Book of Lamentations on Saturday night.

Aside from that, there will be no kashrut problems for the president or any other visitors to Beijing who observe the Jewish dietary laws.

Dini's Kosher Restaurant which is under Freundlich's certification and across the road from the American Embassy has a complete selection of Jewish, Chinese and Western food which it can serve in its large dining area or send vacuum packed to hotels not only in Beijing but anywhere in China.

Israeli Olympic athlete kicks boys but keeps kosher

By Moriah Zeltser Volshtein, August 5, 2008

What about practice or competitions held on Saturday?

“There’s no practice on Saturday. And my Olympic matches don’t fall on Saturdays. We checked it.”

But if they were holding Saturday competitions, would you have given up on Beijing?

“I compete on Saturdays,” Gaterer answered frankly. “I don’t see a contradiction. I don’t drive to the competitions, they’re no a monetary prizes, the referees are gentiles. The only issue is food and I bring hot (instant) cups because there’s no kosher food.”

Religion and State in Israel

August 11, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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