Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - October 27, 2008 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

October 27, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Civil Fights: Subsidizing the demographic war

By Evelyn Gordon www.jpost.com October 23, 2008

But what of Shas' claim that higher per-child allotments for large families are necessary to reduce poverty? 

That, it turns out, is simply false.

According to the Bank of Israel's latest annual report, the haredi poverty rate averaged 52% in 2001-3, when Shas' formula was in effect, compared to only 44% in 1997-2000.

In other words, by encouraging higher birthrates and lower workforce participation, the higher allotments actually increased haredi poverty.

Moreover, after initially rising when the allotments were slashed, the haredi poverty rate fell from 64% in 2005 to 59% in 2006/7, as haredim began adjusting by having fewer children and getting jobs.

How child allowances impact on fertility, haredi employment

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com October 26, 2008

According to a Bank of Israel report published in April, cuts in allowances have indeed had an impact on fertility rates. 

The average number of children in a haredi family has fallen from 4.3 in 2001 to 4.1 in 2006.

The average number of children under two years old in haredi families has fallen 18 percent, from 0.45 in 2001 to 0.37 in 2006. In Betar Illit and Modi'in Illit a 10% drop in fertility rates has been reported during the same period.

Bank of Israel economists said this was in part due to the cut in the allowances, which made couples rethink family planning.

But there is another major factor explaining the reduction in birth rates: More haredi women are joining the labor market. 

Women's pursuit of a job to help make up for the lost child benefits has resulted in postponement of pregnancies.

The tragic truth of modern Israel

By Dan Ben-David www.haaretz.com Opinion October 24, 2008

The author teaches economics in the Department of Public Policy at Tel Aviv University.

Three-quarters of ultra-Orthodox males and Israeli-Arab females of prime working ages (25-54) are not employed, while the rates of non-employment of their spouses are double Western averages.

In 1960, only 15 percent of the country's primary school pupils studied in the ultra-Orthodox and Israeli-Arab educational systems. 

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, in just four years, the 50 percent barrier will be crossed. 

If today's youth adopt the work habits of their parents, it should be clear that, in another generation or two, the resultant majority of the country's population will create an untenable financial burden on the minority - who, by no small coincidence, will also be the sole bearers of the national defense burden.

Gerrer Rebbe Shlita: Learn to Make Do with What We Have

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com October 24, 2008

“We must learn to make do with little. We must return to the lifestyle of the previous generation.

Just the opposite of what we see today in yeshivos, with lights remaining on an entire Shabbos without any cheshbon.

It is a bad educational example for our children. It teaches children not to value money. Our children will not adjust properly in their lives,” the Rav stated quoting the Rebbe.

Shouldering More of the Giving Load

By Michele Chabin www.thejewishweek.com October 20, 2008

Evangelical Christian organizations, which already donate tens of millions of dollars to Israel every year, are being asked to shoulder an even heavier philanthropic load due to the global economic slowdown and the low value of the dollar against the shekel.

…Despite the market meltdown, however, major pro-Israel Evangelical organizations say their supporters are continuing to donate to Israeli causes, often more generously than in previous years, because the Bible tells them to do so.

Hagee Ministries to give $9.5 million in Israel

www.jta.org October 24, 2008

John Hagee Ministries has raised another $9.5 million for Israeli and Jewish causes, according to the organization.

John Hagee, who founded Christians United For Israel, will announce donations of $9.5 million on Sunday at a “Night to Honor Israel” event at his Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Tex.

Hagee is controversial because of his closeness to Jewish settlers and because of his eschatology, which prescribes a Jewish return to Israel as a precondition of the messianic age. 

Celebrating on the Streets of Jerusalem

By Steve Lipman www.thejewishweek.com October 20, 2008

In recent months Christian supporters of Israel have come under increasing criticism from parts of the Jewish community who suspect Christians of harboring missionary or apocalyptic motives.

Last week several thousand Christian supporters came to the Jewish state and expressed their continued support — with their feet.

…Claire Perry, from Mechanicsville, Va., said she felt “obligated to Israel for being able to share its salvation.

Christians March in Jerusalem

By Rabbi Brad Hirschfield www.thejewishweek.com Opinion October 20, 2008

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is the author of “You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism”.  

The President of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, he writes a daily column for Beliefnet.com (Windows & Doors).

Let’s hear it for the thousands of Christians who took to the streets of Jerusalem last week to proclaim their love of Israel – especially because the event was largely free of the right-wing politics that often mark such events both in Israel and in America.

…I celebrate both the Christians who marched yesterday in Jerusalem and their decision to focus on their love of Israel rather than a particular political-theological agenda.  And unless you really do hate one side or another in the Middle East, that should be a no-brainer for everybody.

Aliyah from South Africa Doubles

By Gil Ronen www.israelnationalnews.com October 26, 2008

After leveling off for several years, Jewish emigration from South Africa is on the rise. 

According to JTA, while no exact figures are available, the Israel Center at the South African Zionist Federation predicts the total number of olim (immigrants) from South Africa, which reached 178 in 2007,will double or even triple in 2008, possibly reaching 450 or more.

[Sidney Shapiro, the Director of the South African Zionist Federation in Israel] also cited another new trend:

"Whereas in last five years we've seen a large proportion of religious people among the olim, not more than 45 percent of this year's immigrants are religious. 
I am saying this as a positive thing: it means that secular families also making Aliyah."

There's no place like home

By Itamar Eichner www.ynetnews.com October 27, 2008

The silver lining: The global financial crisis hitting world markets seems to have one favorable effect as far as Israel is concerned, as thousands of Israelis who have been living abroad for the past few years head back to their homeland.

According to the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, some 15,000 Israelis are expected to return to the Jewish state by the end of 2009.

Aliya expert: Non-Jewish immigrants

By Maurice Singer www.jpost.com October 27, 2008

The expert is Maurice Singer, Senior Aliyah Consultant at the Jewish Agency.

Q: I am Jewish and can prove as much. My girlfriend was born a Christian, and although she is not a practicing Christian she is not planning on converting. We both love Israel and would like to move there.

Would we be allowed to move to Israel? Would it be easier if we had a civil marriage? Would she be barred from living in Israel if we weren't married?

A: A non-Jew who is married to a Jewish New Immigrant is included within the boundaries of the Law of Return.

Whereas the partner or fiancé of an Immigrant is not. I trust that this answers your question.

Revealed: the secret JNF cash transfers

By Anshel Pfeffer The Jewish Chronicle www.thejc.com October 23, 2008

Hundreds of thousands of pounds were transferred from JNF UK to an Israeli organization set up by its former leaders without being stated in the JNF accounts.

Nes Israel (as it was originally known) came under the scrutiny of the Charity Commission and its Israeli equivalent last year and has been under investigation this year by forensic accountants called in by the JNF’s new leadership.

HAT TIP to Dan Brown from eJewish Philanthropy

JNF’s Israeli charity: ‘conflicts of interest, misrepresented accounts’

The Jewish Chronicle www.thejc.com October 24, 2008

There is evidence that Nes Israel and the JNF have been under common control and yet the results of Nes Israel have not been consolidated with those of JNF group.

There is evidence that Mr. Winters attempted to divert a donation to the JNF directly to Nes Israel's bank account.

Allegations have been made that Nes Israel acted outside of its charitable objectives.

There is evidence that Nes Israel has been audited by a family member of one of its Board members and evidence that the cost of audit services is excessive.

There is evidence that the JNF Car Rally has been used to raise funds for Nes Israel. 

There is also evidence that the auditor and Financial Controller misrepresented the source of Nes Israel's income through the creation of backdated documentation. This practice was condoned by Mr. Winters.

There is evidence that donations from the JNF to Nes Israel have been used to purchase a property costing approximately US$1m which appears to be 100 per cent owned by Nes Israel.

Matchmaking seminar for once-religious

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com October 22, 2008

The Rosh Yehudi Center in Tel Aviv will hold its first-ever singles seminar next month which is intended for young people who left the religion. The seminar will also include rabbis and marriage counselors.

On the agenda: Lectures and seminars with rabbis and marriage counselors. The most prominent speaker there will be Safed's Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.

…Israel Zeira, general manager of Rosh Yehudi, added that “at the end of the day, those who left the religion look completely secular but they have a screaming soul and the need to find a similar partner just like anyone else.

Mystic circles

By Yair Sheleg www.haaretz.com October 24, 2008

Interview with Prof. Joseph Dan

In 1997 Dan was awarded the Israel Prize in his field and delivered the acceptance speech on behalf of the recipients.

He took the occasion to attack the neglect of Jewish studies by secular academics, which had enabled Orthodoxy to "take over" the world of Judaism. He has not changed his mind about this, he says. 

"The typical secular person identifies Judaism with Haredim. That is the whole of Judaism, he thinks, and he hates it.

I admit that in the past I harbored a similar instinct. Many years ago I attended Rosh Hashanah services in a Reform synagogue in Cincinnati, where they had an organ and a choir. It was a very moving ceremony, but I, a totally secular person, was shocked. What, I thought - is this Jewish?

I no longer feel that way, but in my opinion this is still the instinct of most secular Jews. 
The result is that the enmity of the secular population for what they perceive as Judaism is absolutely unbelievable, and it is becoming ever more extreme.

Forty years ago, writers like Bialik or Agnon were not considered 'Jewish' artists. They were our culture. 

But over time, everything that is associated with tradition is being labeled 'Jewish' with a corresponding decline of interest." 

Our Jewish ignorance

By Joseph Paritzky www.ynetnews.com October 26, 2008

We have raised a whole generation of ignoramuses here who have no clue about basic Jewish terms.

Their language is meager, their dialect is vague, and their cultural education is embarrassing.

The Education Ministry must go back to the glory days and maintain the many forms of Jewish culture studies in Israel.

Israelis are allowed not to believe, but they should be familiar with what they choose not to believe in. It's possible, and in my view even desirable, not to lay tefillin if you are not a believer, but it would be very worthwhile to know what tefillin are and why they were created.

Stolen willows, purloined palm fronds

By Ehud Zion Waldoks www.jpost.com October 23, 2008

According to Halacha, nothing stolen can be used at all for ritual uses, but that didn't stop some people seen over the Succot holidays sawing down aravot (willow) trees at the Aminadav Forest just outside Jerusalem and near Ein Kerem.

Willows are supposed to be beaten on the floor on Hoshana Rabba, the day before Simhat Torah.

Witnesses report seeing a bearded man wearing a large kippa sawing the willows. Next to him were two saws and big bags. He was heard saying into his cellphone that he was "cutting 400 more." There were reportedly aravot all over the ground next to him.

Others in the forest, seeing that the man cutting the willows was not being stopped, started cutting willows for their own use.

…In an effort to reduce thievery before the holiday, Hadad said, KKL offered s'chach(branches to cover the succa) at several different centers to try and discourage people from cutting down their own. Cutting down trees, palm fronds or willow branches on KKL land or nature reserves is prohibited by law.

Hadad said they had not considered offering willow branches to the public, as well, before the holiday.

Restoration of Ancient Synagogue in Jerusalem's Old City Causes Arab Outrage

www.infolive.tv October 23, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

After 72 years in the Moslem Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, a refurbished synagogue located 80 meters from the Temple Mount opened its doors.

Restoration work of the Ohel Yitzhak synagogue was conducted by Israel's Antiquities Authority who attempted as much as possible to remain true to the building's original style.

The synagogue opened its doors recently, creating outrage among Moslem and Christian and Greek Orthodox residents and religious officials, who immediately set up an emergency meeting to condemn what they perceive as the Jewish invasion of the Old City.

Pilgrimage to Roots of Faith and Strife

See also photo gallery: Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank

By Isabel Kershner www.nytimes.com October 23, 2008

They came in waves, ardent Jewish settlers, religious women from central Israel, black-clad followers of Hasidic courts and groups of teenage boys and girls, almost a thousand of them in all.

The destination was the holy place known as Joseph’s Tomb, a tiny half-derelict stone compound in the heart of a residential district that many Jews believe is the final burial place of the son of Jacob, the biblical patriarch.

…The tomb, they believe, sits on the parcel of ground that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver, according to Joshua 24:32, an inheritance of the children of Joseph, meaning that its ownership is not in doubt.

Temple Institute on the Hakhel

www.templeinstitute.org October 23, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

Rabbi Chaim Richman and Temple Institute Director Yehudah Glick discuss the Hakhel events which the Temple Institute conducted during the first of the intermediary days of Sukkot.

Click here to read more and view pictures of the Temple Mount Hakhel gathering

Click here to read more and view pictures of the Old City Hakhel ceremony

Why celebrate diversity?

By Rabbi David Hartman Shalom Hartman Institute October 23, 2008

As one who has written and lectured around the world on the importance of tolerance and pluralism, I’m often asked who was the philosopher that influenced your vision of pluralism? Who were your great teachers that led you in the path of pluralism?

Fundamentally, I learned pluralism growing up in Brooklyn and Brownsville and playing basketball. I don’t know if you heard about Lincoln Terrace Park, but, that’s where I learned living pluralism.

Religion and State in Israel

October 27, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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