Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - February 4, 2008 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

February 4, 2008 (Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

5-year plan for Ethiopian Jews

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz February 3, 2008

The cabinet is to announce a five-year plan for encouraging the immigration and absorption of Ethiopian Jews in Israel, following the approval of the proposal by the Ministerial Committee for Immigration, Absorption and the Diaspora.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Immigrant Absorption Minister Yaakov Edri will present the plan, which focuses on providing incentives to immigrants between the ages of 16 and 35 in order to increase their success in the areas of education, the military and employment.

The plan also includes increased mortgages for young couples and a comprehensive renewal program for residential areas with large numbers of immigrants from Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Jewish Sigd Festival to Become National Holiday

By Ezra HaLevi, IsraelNationalNews.com January 31, 2008

The Ethiopian Jewish holiday of Sigd will soon become a national holiday. Preliminary legislation submitted by MK Uri Ariel (National Union) was approved Wednesday.

The bill will next be voted upon by the Knesset’s Labor and Welfare Committee.

The proposal was supported by MKs from National Union, NRP, Shas and Likud, as well as Labor and Meretz.

The ramifications of adopting Sigd as a national holiday would be that the Education Ministry would teach about it in schools and employees would be given the option to take the day off, such as is currently the practice for days like Jerusalem Day and the holiday of Purim.

The Prime Minister’s Office would also be assigned the responsibility of funding the yearly Sigt festivities in Jerusalem.

Photo Feature: Sigd, Holiday of Return and Longing

Text by Ezra HaLevi, IsraelNationalNews.com

Photos by Josh Shamsi, Arutz-7 Photojournalist

The holiday is called Sigd (one syllable), which means prostration in Amharic and shares its root with the word for temple.

The ceremony resembles the one held for the renewal of the Divine covenant by Ezra the Scribe during the Second Commonwealth, described in the Book of Nechemia.

Our Rebbe is the messiah

The writer, based in New Jersey, is a former Chabad rabbinical student and active in the movement's educational work.

We are still working toward and praying for the complete fulfillment of the confirmed messiah. In each generation there is only one spiritual leader of Jewry - and if a generation merits redemption - this individual becomes the messiah.

This redemption will soon materialize, and the Rebbe is the messiah. Our task now is to provoke the full revelation, in order to see the Rebbe's transition from presumed to confirmed Moshiach.

Exposing Racism in Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Schools


“My own daughter was rejected from attending first grade in the Bet Yaakov school in the Givat Shaul neighborhood of Jerusalem,” recounted Yoav Laloum, Director of the Noar C’Halacha Youth Organization.

“I petitioned the court and they compelled the school to accept her.

The ultra-orthodox establishment has a lot of soul-searching to do. This type of discrimination is totally unacceptable.”

Ultra-Orthodox press digitally erases women from images

By Neta Sela, YNetnews.com February 2, 2008

So how many members were there on the Winograd Commission?

A prominent ultra-Orthodox website, www.ladaat.net chose to digitally erase the image of Winograd Commission member, Professor Ruth Gavison, from their coverage of the commission’s report.

The Ladaat website, explained Levy, is currently operated by ultra-Orthodox internet providers 'Rimon' and 'Nativ' which use stringent content filters to remove inappropriate content, such as photographs of women.

“Even if the woman in question is modestly and appropriately dressed, as soon as a woman’s photo appears on our site they’ll pull the plug on us, said Levy.

“Our very existence as a haredi website is contingent upon our maintaining a very strict, exacting moral code that we cannot deviate from.”

Haredi Rabbis Call For Day of Prayer to Save Israel

By Ezra HaLevi, IsraelNationalNews.com

The hareidi-religious Council of Torah Sages in Israel and the United States has issued a call for a day of prayer and fasting this Tuesday in response to the threats facing the Jewish people.

Bezeq launches a "kosher" telephone line for the Haredi community

Bezeq.co.il February 3, 2008

Bezeq is launching the first "kosher" telephone line in Israel under the name "Clean Line".

The new service blocks access to content deemed inappropriate for haredi (strictly observant) Jews. By activating the service, Bezeq allows this community to enjoy the benefits of the latest technologies while not contravening its way of life and its beliefs.

To meet the need of the haredi community for a "clean" phone line, Bezeq went to great lengths, at considerable investment, to develop a completely reliable system that filters out all content defined as inappropriate.

The work was fully coordinated with the Rabbinical Committee for Communications Affairs, which is exclusively in charge of filtering out the inappropriate content, while Bezeq provides the technological platform for doing so.

The Minister of Communications, Ariel Atias, personally followed and promoted the move, and welcomed the launch. In every phone call from a clean line, the destination number is checked against a list of prohibited numbers – which is constantly updated – and if the number appears on the list, the call is not connected.

"Clean Line" is another stage in Bezeq's strategy for its haredi customers: more than a year ago, the Company sponsored the promotion and encouragement of non-use of profane language in telephone calls, and recently launched a call track offering 200 weekday call minutes per month at 0 agorot per minute.

Bezeq, ever attentive to the special needs of the haredi community, will continue to meet the challenges of communications, pioneering advanced technological solutions, and is proud to work alongside and for the community and to assist it in adhering to its lifestyle.

Also in cooperation with the Rabbinical Committee and with ISPs, Bezeq is running trials for "clean" internet in which inappropriate content is blocked. Once launched, the service will join the other unique advanced services offered to the haredi community.

Planned Beit Shemesh mall sets off haredi protest

Haredi residents of Ramat Beit Shemesh are protesting plans to build a shopping mall complex in their neighborhood.

The project in Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph has gained initial city approval and includes a mall, office buildings, a college, and apartments, Beit Shemesh Municipality spokesman Yehuda Gur-Arieh said.

"We want to see as few secular people as possible in our neighborhood and certainly not on Shabbat," said resident Michal Shtrafberg.

"People here feel very uneasy about this plan, which was originally made 10 years ago, and which opens up this small neighborhood to the whole world,"
Perlstein said in a telephone interview.

New website launched for religious gay community

By Kobi Nahshoni, Ynetnews.com February 4, 2008

Last week the religious organization HOD (an acronym for religious gays in Hebrew) launched what they described as the “first independent website run by and intended for the gay and lesbian religious community.”

Recognition and acceptance are therefore foremost on the site operators’ agenda,

“We want to embrace both identities, gay and religious,” explained Itay, noting that “we (religious gays) can be found everywhere in the religious world, and simply want to eliminate the stigma, disgrace and sometimes outright violence that has been leveled against us within the religious community.”

The Ma’ale School of Television, Film and the Arts – “ve’Ahavta”

Ma'ale School of Television, Film and the Arts is the only institution of its kind in the world

Founded in 1989, Ma'ale trains filmmakers to produce work inspired by and linked to their Jewish heritage, fostering a unique connection between the world of media and Jewish culture.

The school aims to build bridges between Jewish tradition and social experience, as well as between the religious and secular worlds.

Click here for VIDEO clip from the film “ve’Ahavta” (includes English subtitles)

Click icon for Full Screen

MK Zeev: Gay 'plague' could destroy Israel

By Aviram Zino, YNetnews.com January 29, 2008

MK Zeev said that if it was up to him he would put gays in rehabilitation centers "along with drug addicts and alcoholics".

Zeev went as far as comparing the gay movement to a "plague that may destroy Jewish Israel", adding that this "plague" should be dealt with "just as the Health Ministry is dealing with bird flu."

Let gays march

By Or Shai, YNetnews.com January 30, 2008

The writer is the action coordinator and member of the management committee of the LGBT Haifa forum

The demand to prevent the gay pride parade from taking place in Jerusalem for “religious reasons” is cynical and hypocritical. Who’s next?

Will the Ethiopian community be banned from protesting in Jerusalem because the Chief Rabbinate does not recognize them as kosher Jews?

Will intermarried couples be banned from protesting in the capital because intermarriage contradicts Jewish law?

Will Arab Israelis be banned from marching in Jerusalem to spare the feelings of racists?

Islamic Movement head indicted for incitement

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz January 31, 2008

The head of the Islamic Movement in Israel's Northern Branch, Ra'ad Salah, was charged Tuesday in Jerusalem Magistrate's Court with incitement to violence and racism over a fiery speech he gave a year ago in which he invoked the blood libel.

At a protest in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, Salah accused Jews of using children's blood to bake bread.

"We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children's blood," he said.

Tekoa rabbi drafts Israel-Gaza cease-fire agreement, deal for Shalit

By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz February 4, 2008

Rabbi Menachem Froman of the West Bank settlement of Tekoa has for years been involved in interfaith dialogue toward Israeli-Palestinians peace.

The Hebrew and Arabic document contains verses from the Koran and the Bible and states, "God is the greatest of all and He alone can bring an end to the problems between the noble Palestinian people and the distinguished Jewish people in the Holy Land."

Israel to ask PA to repair Joseph's Tomb

JPost.com February 3, 2008

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that he had instructed Defense Minister Ehud Barak to act toward the reconstruction and restoration of the tomb and that the issue would be brought up in an upcoming meeting between Olmert and PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad.

Olmert wrote that "Joseph the Righteous symbolizes coping with crises out of faith and the ability to turn every situation into a tool which enables us to progress."

'Hatikva' in Arabic?

By Gadi BenMark, Haaretz February 1, 2008

The original version, with Hebrew lyrics, remains unaltered.

For the Arabic lyrics, Israel can commission a contest among Arabic speakers and poets. The mission would be to put together text to which any Israeli citizen who speaks Arabic can relate. This is a tall order.

It needs to be an anthem of hope, an anthem that any Israeli citizen can sing in Arabic, whether they are Jewish, Christian or Muslim, for as long as they can sing - and best of all if they just received an Olympic gold medal.

Time for an Arabic ‘Hatikva’?

Writing in Ha’aretz, Canadian-Israeli lawyer Gadi BenMark proposes an interesting third way.

Still, I think he doesn’t go quite far enough in one key respect, which reflects a common — and larger — shortcoming in conventional thinking about issues of Israel’s national identity, specifically as it relates to the country’s Arab minority.

Tunnel under Muslim Quarter

By Meron Rapoport, Haaretz January 30, 2008

The Israel Antiquities Authority has decided to dig a tunnel under the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, close to the Temple Mount.

Two weeks ago, the IAA denied such a decision had been made.

The tunnel will connect those under the Temple Mount and the site of Ohel Yitzhak, some 150 meters from the Temple Mount wall.

The decision to begin the dig was taken in spite the fact that no plan was filed to the planning authorities.

Moreover, the Palestinians under whose homes the tunnel will pass were not consulted, even though the law grants them ownership over the territory under their property.

MK: Israel Railways Violating Sabbath Laws

By Hillel Fendel, IsraelNationalNews.com January 29, 2008

Once again, religious Knesset Members are trying to get Israel Railways to abide by the Sabbath rest laws.

On Monday, MK Uri Ariel (National Union) submitted a Knesset query to Transportation Minister Sha'ul Mofaz, regarding the ongoing Sabbath-desecrating construction work.

Ariel explained that an alternative had been found that would help obviate Sabbath desecration, yet it was not being used.

UNESCO chief: We are trying to mediate over Temple Mount bridge

By Assaf Uni, Haaretz February 1, 2008

UNESCO is attempting to mediate among Israel, Jordan and the Waqf Muslim religious trust over construction at the controversial Mugrabi Ascent in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Koichiro Matsuura, discussed the efforts in an interview with Haaretz this week. Matsuura is visiting Israel next week.

"We see our role as a facilitator and mediator, and our aim is to arrive at an agreed solution."

Matsuura said UNESCO "doesn't want to deal with political issues - we are duty-bound to preserve the authenticity of Jerusalem."

A miscarriage of understanding

As a Torah observant woman I wouldn't touch America's pro-life or pro-choice camp with a 10-foot forceps, as neither position represents the complex and compassionate Jewish approach to the issue. Jewish law does not sanction a total ban on abortion, nor has it ever endorsed abortion-on-demand.

This Jewish mother wishes she could conjure up a "morning-after pill" which would compel my coreligionists into taking a hard look at the consequences of our relationship with the Christian Right.

Meanwhile, it is essential that everyone understand that Israel is a unique nation, with uncommon obligations, and that the Jewish people are certainly entitled to ensure religious continuity, seek moral clarity and formulate legislative solutions for our own people in our own way.

Will Haifa be moving its dead?

By Yeroham Shmuelvitch, Ladaat.net (Hebrew) January 31, 2008

Haifa Deputy Mayor Zvi Dahari (Shinui) is requesting the Hevra Kadisha to adopt an initiative to transfer couples buried together many years ago to be buried in 2-layer burial.

According to Dahari, the idea has been checked with Halachic authorities and is not problematic, as long as the remaining heirs agree.

Christians Anonymous

By David Smith, JPost.com February 3, 2008

Anonymous. The word comes to mind when researching Jerusalem Christians, likely the world's oldest Christian community.

In November the Interior Ministry reported an increase "in the hundreds" of Arab applications for Israeli citizenship. Most experts agree the increase stems from speculation that east Jerusalem might fall under Palestinian Authority control.

Based on the well-publicized Christian exodus from Bethlehem and persecution against Christians in Gaza - both cities under PA control - it is assumed many of these applications are from Christians.

Justus Reid Weiner, a human rights lawyer, recently echoed these remarks while addressing the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Weiner says there will be no more Christians in the PA-controlled territories in 15 years unless Western institutions help with jobs.

"The systematic persecution of Christian Arabs in Palestinian areas is being met with nearly total silence by the international community, human rights activists, the media and NGOs," he says.

Pilgrims In The Promised Land

It started with a bag of rice and a Bible tract. That was all Karen Dunham had to give poor refugees when she began her ministry five years ago in the West Bank town of Jericho.

The Clearwater woman went where few American women dared to go. She felt led to the Middle East, she says, to bring humanitarian aid and Christian teachings to the Arabs.

Kibbutz Mizra = Tiv Ta'am

The Wet Sprocket JeffYosko.blogspot.com

I think the new store’s vision is to connect Israelis to a Zionist past, to attract a clientèle that is not opposed to eating treyf but doesn’t like what Tiv Ta’am has come to symbolize.

I’m also convinced that by portraying itself as an established part of Israeli culture, Kibbutz Mizra is trying to remind Israelis that treyf is nothing new to Israel and was in fact a feature of early pre-statehood Zionist life.

Maybe that's why no "grand opening signs" announced the store's newness--it chose to seamlessly appear one day, as if it had always been there.

With its new brand of stores, Tiv Ta’am has thus provided a contrast to its own modern, in-your-face, and hotly political boutique food shops.

And to some people it is just a store that sells an assortment of pork products and basic foodstuffs. These people would probably find my analysis over the top and ridiculous. But then again, it takes a special kind of critical eye to be a semitic swinologist in the Holy Land.

The end of Yeshiv Ein Tzurim?

By Kobi Nahshoni, Ynet.net.il (Hebrew) February 1, 2008

No registration, no money, and the religious kibbutz nears a decision: closing the “Shiluv” yeshiva in Ein Tzurim.

Yeshiva Head: “We’re dying to continue. This is a Mark of Cain for the religious left. Movement director: “No final decision yet. All the options remain open”. Also: will the yeshiva turn in to a “institute for Torah research on Torah and Labor values”?

Antennas on Synagogue roofs desecrate God’s name

By Idan Yosef, NFC.co.il (Hebrew) February 2, 2008

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s son rules that one should avoid placing cellular antennas on synagogue roofs.

Reasoning: Concern that it will be said that the synagogue is earning a profit on Shabbat.

Undoing the ulpan

By Leora S. Fridman, Haaretz February 1, 2008

The writer is a Dorot Fellow living in Tel Aviv. She has studied at Tel Aviv's Ulpan Gordon, and at the ulpanim of both the Hebrew University and Ben-Gurion University.

The days of the Israeli ulpan are numbered.

The passing of the ulpan system would mark another nail in the coffin of a collective Israeli identity, as these classes not only taught new arrivals the fundamentals of modern Hebrew, but provided them with an automatic community of peers, who together experienced the trials of acclimatization and survival in their new home.

Israel's cultural diversity is one of its strengths and beauties, and the ulpan, far from being the enemy of pluralism, has long been one of the few places where members of different backgrounds could meet and mix, against the background of a common language. It would be a shame to give up on all of that on the basis of a few statistical studies and bureaucratic maneuvering.

Religion and State in Israel

February 4, 2008

Editor – Joel Katz

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