Monday, September 8, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - September 8, 2008 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

September 8, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

US Reform Movement hopes Nefesh B'Nefesh will support 'flex aliya' concept

By Allison Hoffman, September 4, 2008

Leaders in the US Reform Movement said Tuesday they hope the privately run aliya organization Nefesh B'Nefesh will support programs developed with the Jewish Agency to attract liberal Jews who want to split their time between Israel and their existing homes in North America.

…Some Reform rabbis raised concerns that their congregants - especially those with complicated familial ties whose eligibility for aliya might be questioned under Nefesh B'Nefesh rules that were narrower than the Jewish Agency's - might be wary of working with an organization perceived as friendlier toward more traditionally religious Jews.

Under the new agreement, the Jewish Agency will still exercise final approval on the eligibility of prospective olim, and will continue to assist those who meet its standards but not those of Nefesh B'Nefesh.

"We'll have to ask the difficult questions about who will be recognized for aliya, of how our constituents will not only continue to receive support but don't find themselves being called into question," said Rabbi Andrew Davids from the Association of Reform Zionists of America.

It's 'absolutely not' end of JA and Channel 1 News, September 1, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

Nefesh B'Nefesh Takes Over Jewish Agency Duties September 8, 2008

Click here for VIDEO (Interview with Nefesh B’Nefesh representative)

Following success in revitalizing Aliyah from N. America Nefesh B'Nefesh has been given control of Aliyah from the continent.

Making aliya the American way

By Haviv Rettig, September 3, 2008

The agreement [the Jewish Agency] signed with Nefesh B'Nefesh is the first acknowledgement in practice that the challenge of connecting to American Jewry - in other words, to more than three-quarters of the Diaspora - is a challenge that requires American thinking in order to succeed.

In making peace with Nefesh B’Nefesh, the Jewish Agency may have ticked off its own board

By Jacob Berkman, The Fundermentalist September 4, 2008

In striking a deal last week with Nefesh B’Nefesh and agreeing to partner on promoting aliyah in North America instead of continuing an often nasty custody battle over would-be immigrants, the Jewish Agency for Israel might have put out one fire with a rival only to start another in-house with its own board.

The Jewish Agency's diminished role

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 5, 2008

Last week, the Jewish Agency signed its own death certificate.

The agreement with Nefesh B'Nefesh (NBN), the private organization that has been helping thousands of Jews immigrate from the United States and Canada, whereby the agency will cease its aliyah operations in North America and NBN will become the only address for those thinking of making the plunge, means that the agency is relinquishing its main historic mission in the world's largest Jewish community.

It also embodies the fundamental change in the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora. 

A Zionist earthquake

By Rabbi Michael Freund, September 3, 2008

Indeed, what makes this development so exciting is that it could prove to be a test case for other key fields of government responsibility.

…Let's hope that the Zionist earthquake now under way will continue to shake things up, and that in its wake will come a new, more exciting order.

What's in a name

By Daniel Orenstein, September 5, 2008

Daniel Orenstein, a former trustee of JNF-USA, is a postdoctoral fellow at the Technion Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning and a visiting fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies.

They're at it again! In one corner, a powerhouse philanthropic agency of the Zionist world - the Jewish National Fund of the United States (JNF-USA).

In the opposite corner - the owner of more than 10 percent of Israel's land and one of its primary land-management agencies, the Keren Kayemeth L'Israel (KKL).

The latest disagreement, according to a recent article in the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth, is over who has the rights to the name "Jewish National Fund" in English and to the iconic blue box.

JNF-USA is reportedly taking legal steps to make both name and box its own registered trademarks. The larger issue is the future of millions of dollars in donations collected by JNF-USA.

'Teacher's birthright' may get $100m. boost

By Haviv Rettig, September 4, 2008

The plan to bring thousands of Diaspora Jewish educators to Israel on free trips could receive over $100 million in state funding, according to initiatives being developed in the Prime Minister's Office, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

…Though still in the planning stages, the new teachers' track could already be underway by 2009, since the funds are available in unused budgets slated for Masa participants.

In recent weeks, the government has taken steps to team up with organizations in Israel and abroad already running such trips, including the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation of Salem, Massachusetts, and Israel's Oranim Educational Initiatives. 

Don’t touch our eruv

By Neta Sela, September 3, 2008

According to one of the area’s residents, the whole story began two years ago when haredim began placing eruv posts inside the neighborhoods in addition to those already placed by the religious council.

…According to Danny, the basis for their opposition to placement of eruv posts is first and foremost the illegality of it all especially since the posts are not placed in accordance with neighborhood authorities or backed by necessary legal permits.

…“It doesn’t surprise me that at the end of the day people are taking measures because the secular public is sick and tired of the fact that the municipality doesn’t enforce its laws,” he said.

The Jerusalem Municipality City Comptroller Shlomit Rubin…wrote in her letter that “as far as I know the competent authority permitted to place an eruv in the city is the religious council and the eruv was indeed built and maintained by the council for years.

The culture wars come to Kiryat Yovel

By Yair Ettinger, September 3, 2008

Did anyone say culture war? 

Local elections are in the offing, and what is happening in one Jerusalem neighborhood is beginning to look like a street battle - though so far, with property damage only.

Every Saturday, a group of secular residents takes to the streets of their neighborhood, Kiryat Yovel, in order to vandalize the poles and wires set up by a private Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) organization. 

A few days later, the Haredim fix the damage, which then recurs the following Shabbat. They claim the damage so far has cost NIS 150,000.

Yerushalayim’s Eruv Questionable This Shabbos

By Yechiel Spira, September 4, 2008

After a number of weeks of secularists intentionally downing portions of the Yerushalayim eruv, it appears that rabbonim responsible for the mehadrin eruv in chareidi and other areas will call on the tzibur this Shabbos to refrain from carrying between neighborhoods.

In essence, the rabbonim are not willing to rely on the central eruv which connects one neighborhood to another, and responsibly parties will be compelled to ensure each local eruv is in order.

Petah Tikva religious schools reject kids of Ethiopian immigrants

Click here for VIDEO

By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10 September 2, 2008

Several Ethiopian families say their children were refused entry by Petah Tikva schools, having been told by administrators that there were too many of their kind. 

Several religious schools in Petah Tikva came under fire last year for refusing to enroll dozens of Ethiopian children.

Because many are in the midst of an obligatory conversion process, they must attend religious schools, some of which reject them, claiming they are not sufficiently Jewish.

Modern Orthodox protest haredi 'discrimination' in capital

By Etgar Lefkovits, September 4, 2008

A few dozen modern Orthodox residents of the capital's Katamonim neighborhood protested on Tuesday, saying the only religious elementary school in their neighborhood is predominantly haredi even though the area's residents are a mix of modern Orthodox and secular.

The dispute is the latest in a series triggered by the growing haredi presence in non-haredi Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Ultra-Orthodox school nixes girls from Sephardi kindergarten

By Or Kashti, September 4, 2008

The ultra-Orthodox Beit Yaakov school in Elad is refusing to accept girls into its first-grade class if they attended the Agudat Yisrael preschool, where most of the children are from Sephardi families.

The school belongs to the Ashkenazi independent school system that is funded by the Education Ministry but has broad pedagogic freedom.

The parents of one of the girls filed an administrative petition against the school earlier this week at the Tel Aviv District Court. Until a ruling is handed down, the girl will be staying at home. 

Prof. Gavison: Secular education's ignorance endangers State

By Yaheli Moran Zelikovich, September 8, 2008

The cultural ignorance of the secular education endangers the State's strength, Professor Ruth Gavison warned Sunday evening at the graduation ceremony of the Mandel Leadership Institution in Jerusalem.

The Hebrew University law professor also warned against the lack of joint civil studies in the different streams of education.

Education Ministry to ban 'Bible Lite' study booklet

By Tamar Rotem, September 5, 2008

The Education Ministry is to ban Bible aid booklets that help elementary and junior high school students by "translating" the text into simple Hebrew.

Private publishers defend the booklets by arguing that biblical Hebrew is a foreign tongue to young Israelis.

Teaching experts lambast the booklets, warning that children will skip reading the Bible and opt for the simplified version. 

This will not only deteriorate Bible studies but also impact the Hebrew language, which is based on the Bible, they say. 

Parents keeping children home over coed classrooms

By Raanan Ben-Zur, September 8, 2008

The children's parents are refusing to send them to school over a decision that they claim has been forced upon them – namely the reverting of the class to a coed facility.

The national-religious school had previously provided the parents with a choice between same-sex and coed schooling, but this year the rules were changed without the parents' consent.

Is Ramla turning into Bnei Brak?

By Gal Gozlan, September 6, 2008

Ultra-Orthodox newspapers published last week featured ads announcing a new project about to be launched: "The City Gates project in Ramla – the new haredi district."

The ads included telephone numbers and an address in the city of Bnei Brak as contact details for those interested in taking part in the project.

An inquiry revealed that the address mentioned leads to a representative of the Boneh Olam Company, who offers apartments as part of an extensive project for the haredi population, which will include thousands of housing units. Construction is said to begin in the city of Ramla after the High Holidays.

Is Jerusalem really becoming ultra-Orthodox? The figures may surprise you

By Rinat Nahum-Halevy, September 8, 2008

Photo courtesy of Mirah Curzer

Demographic changes partly explain the process of Haredization in some of Jerusalem's neighborhoods, but further elucidation seems required.

One explanation is that crowding in the ultra-Orthodox areas has diminished in recent years.

Another explanation for the Haredization of certain areas is the availability of alternative housing solutions for the departing population.

…The bottom line is that there is a demand for housing by the ultra-Orthodox throughout Jerusalem, and real growth in certain areas.

…Another element in Jerusalem is the entry of ultra-Orthodox builders into the market

Think Again: Getting to know you

Photo courtesy of Mirah Curzer

There are two opposing trends within the haredi world. On the one hand, there are those whose entire focus is on protecting the "purity of the camp" and erecting as many barriers to the outside world as possible.

Then there are those whose primary concern is with sharing their own joy in Torah life and study with the broader Jewish society.

The latter also feel the need to protect themselves and their children from alien influences. 

They do not believe religious observance is a lifestyle choice, or imagine that there is no tension between contemporary secular culture and Torah values.

You are what you read

By Yair Ettinger, September 4, 2008

The publisher of Bakehila, Dudi Silberschlag:

"The real story here is about the party faithful. They see how Mispacha and Bakehila are growing, and passing the establishment papers in circulation and in their slice of the advertising, and the influence they have on Haredi public opinion.

The main issue is their influence.

Once upon a time, the weeklies were just a mere little brother who could be ignored - and I'm not just talking about us, but also about Mishpacha.

But today it's the weeklies that are in the role of the big brother, and that is what is frightening the party bigwigs. 

So what we see is dark envy on the part of people who want to keep mouths shut."

Returning to Mother Rachel September 8, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

Following years of security restrictions easier access to the tomb of Rachel the Matriarch has been granted.

Rabbi Aviner against Rosh Hashana visits to Uman

By Kobi Nahshoni, September 8, 2008

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner has attacked the Jewish New Year's Eve trend of massive prostration on the grave of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov in the Ukrainian town.

Under the title “The Land of Israel and not Uman,” Rabbi Aviner claimed that “leaving a family, a wife and children during Rosh Hashana is a moral problem and even a halachic one.”

Breslov hasidim ask State to secure Rebbe Nachman's grave in Ukraine

By Nissan Schtrauchler, September 4, 2008

Breslov Hasidim have sent letters to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asking that the government provide security for the tens of thousands of people visiting the gravesite of the sect's founder in Uman, Ukraine each year.

Currently, security at the grave of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov is provided by the Ukrainian authorities and a few dozen volunteers…

…No less than 25,000 people are expected to flock to Rebbe Nachman's grave during the upcoming Jewish New Year.

Chabad, Inc.

By Nati Toker, September 5, 2008

Israeli operations are directed by the chairman of the Young Chabad organization, Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Aharonov. 

He is in charge of national activities, though the local branches often work independently. 

Chabad communities are scattered throughout the country, from Beitar Ilit through Lod to Migdal Ha'emek. Nearly every one has a Chabad House, which usually includes a synagogue.

Chabad activity in Israel focuses on enrolling secular people in its network of schools, summer camps and Bible lessons. 

Young Chabad members visit army bases to give soldiers traditional baskets of sweets on Purim and jelly doughnuts on Hanukkah. During Pesach they send packages of matzah to needy families.

Not so good for the Jews?

By Nati Toker, September 5, 2008

Chabad's most powerful Israeli figure is Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Aharonov, chair of Young Chabad.

He and other top Young Chabad figures were arrested in 2007 by the Central District Police Fraud Division, on suspicion of embezzling $60 million from their organization. 

Aharonov's considerable power prevents many Chabad followers from speaking out against him, but off the record, they make serious accusations.

Haredim move to eradicate 'foreign' pop

By Matthew Wagner, September 4, 2008

Musicians who use rock, rap, reggae and trance influences will not receive rabbinic approval for their CDs, nor will they be allowed to play in wedding halls under haredi kosher food supervision, according to a new, detailed list of guidelines drafted with rabbinical backing that differentiates between "kosher" and "treif" music.

…The man responsible for drafting the list is Rabbi Efraim Luft of Bnei Brak, who heads an organization called the Committee for Jewish Music.

Luft works in conjunction with Bloi's organization and with the Jerusalem-based Council for the Purity of the Camp headed by Rabbi Yitzhak Meir Safronovitch. 

These are the two most important and influential "modesty patrols" in the haredi community.

Over the past several years haredi activists have enlisted almost all the major rabbinical authorities to stifle a burgeoning haredi pop music scene.

Last year, a letter forbidding all public music concerts, even when men and women in the audience are separated, was signed by a who's-who of Israeli rabbinical authorities.

Haredi Singer Lands Big Gig

By Nathan Burstein, September 4, 2008

Tzitzit and a black yarmulke were just part of the spectacle August 26 as Gad Elbaz, a 26-year-old from near Tel Aviv, became the first Haredi singer to perform at Israel’s Caesarea Amphitheater, a space unofficially reserved for the very top tier of the country’s musical elite. 

The show featured special lighting effects and small-scale pyrotechnics as well as a seating scheme intended to separate male and female audience members for reasons of modesty.

Luntz Street Mehadrin Survey – Part III – Korisin Chinese 

By Yechiel Spira, Jerusalem Kosher September 07, 2008

…At present, kashrut in Israel, particularly Jerusalem, is a complicated issue and all that says “mehadrin” is not necessarily mehadrin and you, as the patron, have the right to know.

I can only suggest that one limits oneself to the authorized kosher supervisions, and avoids those eateries with unauthorized “mehadrin” certificates as per the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

Some of the unauthorized agencies seen all around Yerushalayim include; Keter Kashrut, Nezer Kashrut, Hidur Kashrut, and Nachlat Yitzchak. As per the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, none of these agencies are authorized to provide kosher supervision.

Rabbi Tendler Defends Temple Mount Ascent

By Elliot Resnick, September 3, 2008

The Temple Mount Institute

"The rabbanim are not talking halacha," Rabbi Moshe Tendler told The Jewish Press. "They're issuing a political statement."

Rabbi Tendler argues that "everybody, certainly every rosh yeshiva and every talmid chacham, knows exactly" where a Jew may walk on the Temple Mount thanks to the research of such rabbis as the late Rabbis Shlomo Goren (former Israeli chief rabbi) and Yechiel Michel Tikochinsky.

The letter's expression, "We have lost knowledge," Rabbi Tendler said, refers to the "99 percent of tourists" who walk in forbidden areas.

"I wouldn't accuse the rabbanim of talking Halacha," he said, "because then I'd have to accuse them of being am haratzim [ignoramuses]. 
The rabbanim, baruch Hashem, are talmidei chachamim and know exactly what I know I believe they're just backing up a government position."

The Official 1925 Supreme Moslem Council (Wakf) Guide Book to the Temple Mount

The Temple Institute has acquired a copy of the Official 1925 Supreme Moslem Council (Wakf) Guide Book to the Temple Mount.

Of particular interest is page four, paragraph two, in which the booklet admits proudly to the Temple Mount's inexorable connection to the Holy Temple built by King Solomon on land purchased by King David, complete with a reference to II Samuel 24:25.

A second reference to the Second Temple is made on page sixteen, again in the second paragraph describing the underground chamber known as Solomon's Stables. Quoting the Jewish historian Josephus, the document cites the "conquest of Jerusalem by Titus in the year 70 AD."

Click here for Temple Institute’s PDF file of guidebook

Mar Elias schools: investing in excellence

By Or Kashti, September 8, 2008

Although the Mar Elias Educational Institutions officially belong to the Catholic Church, one-third of the staff are Jewish, and about 60 percent of the students are Muslims. 

…In 1993 Israel and the Vatican signed a convention under which it was agreed that "the Holy See and the State of Israel once again declare the right of the Catholic Church to establish, maintain and administer educational institutions at all levels, in harmony with the rights of the state."

Now tourists can follow 'Jesus Trail'

By Galia Gutman, September 8, 2008

Maoz Inon and David Landis are two entrepreneurs aiming at proving Christian tourists with a unique Holy Land experience.

Their project is called "The Jesus Trail" and starts in Nazareth and includes places like Sepphoris and Cana, and ending in Capernaum. The path then back goes through the Jordan River and Mount Tabor.

Religion and State in Israel

September 8, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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