Monday, March 3, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - March 3, 2008 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

March 3, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Test for the left

By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz March 2, 2008

In recent years Shas has been very careful not to make excessive demands regarding religious coercion. Now it appears to have shed all restraint.

Presumably, only the announcement of Meretz's safety net would be enough to rein in Shas and halt the liquidation sale on secular rights - especially if it is accompanied by a declaration that Meretz's asking price will be passage of a civil-union law.

Is Shas taking over?

By Attila Somfalvi, March 1, 2008

The criticism was mostly directed as Shas' people, headed by Communication Minister Ariel Atias, yet the address for complaints is elsewhere.

Knesset members of all factions and of all types voted in favor of this bill without flinching. Members of Kadima, Labor, and Likud, who stress their enlightenment and our freedom at every opportunity, buried their principles on the altar of political flattery to the ultra-Orthodox.

Shas - coming or going?

By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz February 29, 2008

For years Eli Yishai led a policy that might be described as "Let's not annoy the secular too much." In the background hovered the trauma of the "Just Not Shas in '99" demonstrations.

Now there seems to be a new Yishai, who threatens to resign from the government every other day and is reminiscent of Aryeh Deri in his heyday, or bad old days (depending on how you look at it).

Haaretz cartoon by Daniela - Feb. 12, 2008

Breaking the language barrier

By Tamar Rotem, Haaretz March 2, 2008

While Haredi functionaries are outraged by the Education Ministry's demand that their schools adopt its compulsory core curriculum, more and more young couples with a connection to the work force are searching for an indirect way to help their children close the educational gap vis-a-vis their non-Haredi counterparts.

English is considered the most important nonreligious subject.

Despite the growing demand, English classes are still a clandestine affair in the Haredi community.

It might be because the study of English is associated with the strict prohibition against the study of foreign languages (except for Yiddish), imposed on Jerusalem's Ashkenazi community 150 years ago.

The Haredi ambivalence toward the study of foreign languages is strongest in Jerusalem.

High-tech in the service of the rabbis

By Avirama Golan, Haaretz March 3, 2008

What a brilliant idea:

The rabbis, who have consistently rejected initiatives to enable men to combine study and work, have found in high-tech a new channel to rehabilitate the collapsing society of Torah learners, via an old and familiar method: the oppression of women.

The men will once again sit in the kollel (a yeshiva for married men), the women will once again work, and instead of technological education providing them with a key for change, it will deepen their exploitation.

Without any difficulty, the rabbis concocted a circular deal with the employers and the government that is giving them twice as much as what the government cut.

WIZO poll: Majority of haredim favor women working March 2, 2008

Over half of haredim, both men and women, support career pursuits for women, according to a survey commissioned by the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO), but women's rights in Israel still have a long way to go.

The survey, conducted by Hagal Institute and polling 501 respondents, found that 54% of haredim were in favor of women working, while the remaining 46% felt women should not work outside the home.

In contrast, 79% of the general population supported women working outside the home.

Can the synagogue help bridge Diaspora-Israel gap?

By Dina Kraft, JTA February 26, 2008

The seminar on Israel was sponsored by the Makom Institute, whose mission is to provide content and training to reimagine Israel's place in Jewish life.

Makom is co-sponsored by The Jewish Agency for Israel and North American Jewish community federations.

Rabbi David Lazar, the rabbi of a Conservative synagogue in Ramat Aviv, Kehillat Tiferet Shalom, introduced participants to songs like "Yarda Ha'Shabbat," which describes Shabbat descending over the Galilee, and “Ana B'Koach,” a kabbalistic poem that recently was set to music that became a hit on Israeli radio.

Another workshop examined the role of the Prayer for the State of Israel and how experimenting with different versions might help congregations think about their connection with the Jewish state.

Leading the session was Israeli Reform Rabbi Ofer Sabath Beit Halachmi, who wrote a new version of the prayer.

A tour of dreams and reality

Click here for VIDEO

By Daphna Berman, Haaretz February 28, 2008

"Israel is a real place, and it's both important and possible to have a real relationship with it," Paula Weiman-Kelman, who directed the film, said of the message behind "Eyes Wide Open."

"Israel is a miracle and a dream, but at the same time, it's a real place with real people and real problems."

There's no point in denigrating American Jewry

By Rabbi Reuven Hammer, February 28, 2008

The writer is a Jerusalem author and lecturer, is a former president of the International Rabbinical Assembly and the head of the Rabbinical Court of the Masorti Movement.

Whereas Israeli religious life is stifled by an archaic Chief Rabbinate (which our current government seems bent upon strengthening for reasons only politicians can fathom) American religious life is flourishing in an atmosphere of freedom.

The great religious revival we had hoped would come from the combination of Zionism and religion seems to have withered away in the corrosive atmosphere of politics, religion and coercive legislation.

Israeli Jewry has to strengthen its foundation in Judaism and its appreciation of the teachings of the Jewish religion and the concept of Jewish peoplehood.

Patronizing American Judaism instead of appreciating its strengths and even learning from then is not the way.

Face it: diaspora Jewry is dying

By Calev Ben-David, The Jewish Chronicle February 22, 2008

…for most of the past six decades, the Israeli-diaspora relationship has been conducted along the “Jerusalem and Babylon” model that was constructed at Israel’s inception.

The fact is though that current conditions no longer support such a paradigm.

Why Islamic law is Official in Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 15, 2008

Dr Aviad Hacohen, a constitutional law expert from Hebrew University and the head of the Mosiaca centre on state and religion, believes Israel’s system “has two main shortcomings.

“The first is that it creates a twin-track system of religious and civil law that are not always compatible.”

“The second shortcoming is that the system isn’t good for everyone. It can’t deal with mixed marriages, or those who are not recognised as belonging to a religion.”

Egalitarian minyanim? Not authentic. Not Orthodox

The writer is director of Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim, a seminary in Jerusalem for English-speaking women and lives in Alon Shevut in Gush Etzion.

Shira Hadasha is not a halachic congregation. Similarly, the guide published by Michal and Elitzur Bar-Asher, while largely drawing on genuine halachic sources, is also not a work of Halacha.

Jews who would like to worship God but feel the Halacha does not obligate them have many non-halachic frameworks available to them.

If the participants in "partnership minyanim" are interested in creating another non-halachic framework - one that perhaps bears a closer similarity to genuine halachic minyanim - then they should describe themselves as such.

If they do, however, wish to be halachic, then they must bring their suggestions before a recognized posek, and be willing to accept his rulings as binding.

Jewish Year Abroad

By Ben Harris, Wall Street Journal February 29, 2008

Flipping Out? Myth or Fact: The Impact of the “Year in Israel”

By Shalom Z. Berger, Daniel Jacobson and Chaim I. Waxman

"I suspect on some level [the Israel year] moves the community to a more separatist position," said Rabbi Yosef Blau, the director of religious guidance at Yeshiva University, who supports Israel study but considers it a double-edged sword.

"In Israel, the line between the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox is quite sharp, and that gets reflected back."

Samuel Heilman, a sociologist of American Jewry and the author of "Sliding to the Right" fingers the Israel year as a chief reason for Modern Orthodoxy's supposed shift toward traditionalism.

Rabbi Shalom Berger, one of the book's three authors, found that prior to landing in Israel, less than 20% of students rank high on a scale of ritual practice.

After the year of study, the number surges to nearly 70%. Rabbi Berger also found that students are more committed to lifelong Torah study and show stronger ties to Israel after they return.

'Religious Zionism sucked into abyss of haredi lifestyle'

By Kobi Nahshoni, February 27, 2008

In a recently published book, Rabbi Yigal Ariel, chief rabbi of Moshav Nov in the Golan Heights, condemned harshly the Religious Zionist movement for its recent tendency to become excessively haredi in character.

“Sadly, we (religious Zionists) are gleefully making rapid strides towards the haredi world,” said the rabbi. “Today we hear Religious Zionists speaking out against science, against the academic world, and even against basic rule of law.”

Study: 51% of Israelis secular

By Kobi Nahshoni, March 3, 2008

The IDI’s Guttman Institute released new survey data revealing very different figures, and indicating that Israel’s secular Jews constitute roughly half of the country’s population. The discrepancy between the two studies, researchers maintained, was due in large part to a misinterpretation of earlier survey data.

A message on the IDI’s website stated that “The 2008 Israel Democracy Index uncovered the following breakdown of Israel’s population: 51% of Israelis are secular, 30% traditional, 10% Orthodox, and 9% haredi. We are sorry for any misunderstanding stemming from earlier data which might have conveyed the wrong impression.”

The Guttman institute also maintained that its newly released data is virtually identical to survey data obtained from the Central Bureau of Statistics, which indicated that 44% of Israelis are secular, 25% are traditional but not religious, 14% are traditional and religious, 10% are Orthodox and 7% are haredi.

Many organizations, most notably the [Israel] Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, had contacted the IDI following the initial publication of its survey data and maintained that the results obtained are inaccurate and based on inconclusive evidence at best.

El Al Complying with Demands Set by Rabbonim

Dei’ah veDibur February 28, 2008

Vaadas HaRabbonim Lemaan Kedushas HaShabbos in Eretz Yisroel issued an official notice confirming that El Al is complying with the conditions set by the rabbonim as far as keeping the sanctity of Shabbos.

On the other hand three other Israeli airlines, Arkia, Israir and Sun D'Or, continue to desecrate Shabbos openly, says the Vaad.

The Vaadas HaRabbonim is urging travelers not to patronize these companies, noting that if passengers avoid these airlines, "tovo aleihem bircas tov." Sun D'Or is affiliated with El Al.

Walls of Shabbos Almost Completely Breached at All Large Shopping Malls

By Eliezer Rauchberger, Dei’ah veDibur February 28, 2008

The Knesset State Control Committee asked State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on Tuesday to conduct an inquiry and to issue an opinion regarding the lack of enforcement of labor laws and business licensing laws by Israeli authorities, which has allowed businesses to open on Shabbos in blatant violation of the law.

The committee meeting was convened following requests by the Forum of Grocery Store Owners in Tel Aviv and a request by Ramat Gan Deputy Mayor Yossi Ehrenberg regarding the Ayalon Shopping Mall. During the committee meeting, it was acknowledged that the State of Israel legislates laws to ensure Shabbos observance but that the law is openly violated and authorities make almost no effort to halt it.

Ehrenberg said the Ayalon Shopping Mall compels shop owners to open on Shabbos, threatening them with fines if they fail to abide by the scheduled hours, which include Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am to 1:00 am.

Prohibited Landscaping Carried Out at Municipal Sites

By Yechiel Sever, Dei’ah veDibur February 28, 2008

Rabbonim and poskim are issuing warnings over Shmittah breaches in projects carried out at various municipal sites and are calling on public representatives in each of these places to make every effort to preserve the sanctity of Eretz Yisroel.

Alongside Highway 6, trees are being planted in violation of halochoh. When the landscaping project began, activists notified the Chief Rabbinate about the problem, but nothing has been done to prevent this act of desecration.

Rabbonim also protested a JNF tree-planting project in the Jerusalem area that involves serious Torah prohibitions. At the beginning of this week Har Nof residents were astonished to see JNF tractors plowing olive groves on the slopes between Rechov Hamelamed and Har Hamenuchos.

Last week Moriah (a company owned by the city of Jerusalem) workers were spotted planting trees at the entrance to Highway 9 in Jerusalem, but following extensive efforts, Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky managed to put a stop to the work.

Rabbis to battle smoking in haredi public

By Neta Sela, February 28, 2008

In a campaign that will be launched Thursday, rabbis will issue halachic rulings banning smoking. The rulings will be posted on bulletin boards and buses, and published in the community's pamphlets.

The decision to launch the campaign ahead of Purim was based on the fact that during the holiday it is usually considered legitimate for children to smoke cigarettes.

Religion and State in Israel

March 3, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Religion and State in Israel - March 3, 2008 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

March 3, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Herzog backs down on rabbinic court bill

By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz February 27, 2008

"Concerns and anxieties over erosion of the status of the justice system have not escaped my attention." Herzog told Haaretz.

"With the agreement of Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak, Labor ministers and faction members, I support the freezing of the legislation," Herzog added.

Labor's Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon has registered an objection to the bill, and it is to be returned to the cabinet for further discussion.

Friedmann bill 'aims to stymie Metzger'

The Justice Ministry has prepared a bill aimed at preventing Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger from taking over as head of the Higher Rabbinical Court in April, a ministry source told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

The amendment states that if both rabbis agree or the Dayanim Election Committee so votes, the two chief rabbis may remain in the same post throughout their 10-year term.

Metzger, who has been head of the Chief Rabbinate Council since being elected Ashkenazi chief rabbi almost five years ago, is due to replace Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar as head of the Higher Rabbinical Court in April.

According to a Justice Ministry source, Friedmann decided that Metzger was unworthy of holding the post of chairman of the Higher Rabbinical Council because of his conduct after being elected chief rabbi.

Shas wants Jerusalem - for Rabbi Ovadia's son

By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz February 29, 2008

People in the ultra-Orthodox Sephardi party say Ovadia's eagerness to make his son chief Jerusalem rabbi is one of the main reasons for Shas to remain in the government.

Jerusalem has had no rabbi since 2003, when both its chief Sephardi and Ashkenazi rabbis died. No rabbis have been appointed since then, among other things due to the collapse of the city's religious council, which is part of the rabbi election apparatus.

Jerusalem's opposition leader, Nir Barkat said he would compromise if Shas assured him that at least one of Jerusalem's chief rabbis was not ultra-Orthodox and had done his military service.

"Our insistence is ideological. Most of the city's residents are not ultra-Orthodox. It is unthinkable that it should have two ultra-Orthodox rabbis," he said.

Jewish Agency demands Conversion Authority be more independent

The Jewish Agency's Board of Governors, which met in Jerusalem this week, issued the call to the government after a vociferous debate in the agency's Committee for the Unity of the Jewish People heard criticism that the current status of the new authority limits its independence.

It is currently classified as a department of the Prime Minister's Office, making it subject to the PMO's labor union, legal adviser and financial control.

In its unanimous call, the 120-member agency board called for the conversion authority to be given the status of a government authority, similar to the independent status of the Chief Rabbinate, which would allow it to conduct separate hiring practices, oversee its own budget and not be subject to junior PMO officials.

The agency also called for the government to work more closely with the Institute for Jewish Studies, the conversion education program established by the government and the Jewish Agency according to the recommendations of the Neeman Commission.

How Do You Prove You’re a Jew?


More than any other issue, the question of Who is a Jew? has repeatedly roiled relations between Israel and American Jewry.

Now, as Sharon’s experience indicates, the status of Jews by birth is in question. Equally important, the dividing line is no longer between Orthodox and non-Orthodox.

The rabbinate’s handling of the issue has placed it on one side of an ideological fissure within Orthodox Judaism itself, between those concerned with making sure no stranger enters the gates and those who fear leaving sisters and brothers outside.

The policy of suspicion is applied to all immigrants. Rabbi Rasson Arussi, chairman of the Chief Rabbinate’s committee on marriage, told me that “populations where there is doubt about Jewishness” include those from Western countries, specifically “the sectors connected to Reform Jews.”

“The rabbinate in Israel has put the Orthodox rabbinate” — meaning Orthodox rabbis in the United States — “on the same level as Reform rabbis,” [Rabbi Marc] Angel said.
He now advocates a position once unthinkable among R.C.A. rabbis: Israel would be better off if it instituted civil marriage and cut the state’s ties with the rabbinate.

Not surprisingly, leaders of non-Orthodox denominations in the United States sound both pained and vindicated when discussing the rabbinate’s policies.

“There is quite an irony in this,” Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, told me.

In the past, “Orthodox authorities in America have basically defended the system, and they’ve embraced this religious monopoly as being important and necessary, thinking all the while that it was directed primarily against us, us meaning the non-Orthodox community.”

Now their own bona fides are in doubt.

US conversion courts established

In the end the sides reached a comprise according to which two RCA rabbis and one representative from the Chief Rabbinate will authorize new conversion judges in the US.

Rabbi Basil Herring, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, said that while there were rabbis who had been excluded from the list of authorized conversion judges, they would have the opportunity to return to their conversion activities after proving that they adhered to the RCA conversion protocol.

RCA Seen Caving On Conversions

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen, February 27, 2008

RCA is establishing a national system of regional religious courts it is calling the GPS Network, for Geirus [conversion] Policies and Standards.

“About two years ago Rabbi Amar came up with the idea of enforcing his standards on all of the rabbis of the geulah [diaspora]. The RCA negotiated this compromise, which is a complete capitulation,” said Rabbi Marc Angel, retired spiritual leader of Congregation Shearith Israel on the Upper West Side, and founder and director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.

“It’s no secret that in Israel today [the Chief Rabbinate] represents the haredi element,” said Rabbi Avi Weiss, leader of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, and founder of “openly Orthodox” rabbinical school Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.

“It seems the RCA has bought into that, and I’m terribly concerned.”

He said the agreement heralds a dangerously slippery slope of potential attempts by the Israeli rabbinate to control what diaspora rabbis do.

Liberal Orthodox rabbis starting new 'fellowship' to counter rightward shift

By Ben Harris, JTA February 26, 2008

To its architects, the agreement reached between the Rabbinical Council of America and the Israeli Chief Rabbinate offers a way out of a long-running dispute over the recognition of conversions performed by American Orthodox rabbis.

But a small group of liberal Orthodox rabbis are unhappy with the deal, which was formally announced Tuesday.

They say it represents a broader pattern of what they describe as surrender on the part of the RCA, the primary association of Orthodox rabbis in the United States, to the dictates of a religious establishment in Israel increasingly under the right-wing sway of fervently Orthodox, or haredi, authorities.

U.S. Jews' opposition holds up Jewish Agency deal with Christian group

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz February 28, 2008

Opposition from Jewish community federations in the United States is hindering the implementation of an agreement between the Jewish Agency and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, under which the IFCJ was to double its donations to the agency.

The agreement, doubling the IFCJ's former level of donations, has raised objections from the agency's main donors in the U.S., where federation leaders have complained of not having been consulted by the Jewish Agency's chairman before he signed the agreement with the IFCJ.

The main sticking point now is the stipulation in the agreement that the IFCJ would be accorded the status of a funding partner, the same as that of the United Jewish Communities and Keren Hayesod.

A painful bus ride

By Sarah Shein, March 3, 2008

He yelled at me that I’m sinning and making others sin. I expressed my pity, but on the other hand I felt it was a compliment – at my age, as a grandmother, I apparently can still make someone think sinful thoughts. I promise that on my part, there will no trace of sinful thoughts. It’s not my thing.

So what do we have here?

A woman who must not share Torah wisdom, and who must sit at the back in order to respect the men, a public being lied to regarding a non-existent agreement with Egged, humiliation of women under religious pretenses, and much pain over the trampling of the Torah, whose ways are meant to be pleasant and peaceful.

I’m physically scared of their thuggery, (and therefore I did not use my real name,) but I’m even more scared of the dismantlement of the mosaic that brings us together.

Is it possible for my piece of the mosaic and his piece of the mosaic to co-exist?

I hope so, but my doubts grow every day, every time I ride the bus.

Segregated Israeli buses driving critics to court February 28, 2008

The court petition was filed by the Israel Religious Action Center, the legal advocacy arm of Reform Judaism in Israel.

It called the segregated bus lines, in their current format, illegal and discriminatory, and demanded that segregated buses be clearly marked, that parallel lines without such separation run on the same routes and that the operators commit to passenger safety.

"You can't use the license you have to provide public transportation and allow people to violently enforce their own cultural preferences," said Anat Hoffman, executive director of the IRAC.

Salvation through the back door

By Yair Ettinger, (Hebrew) February 27, 2008

Beitar-Ilit becomes first city in Israel where every bus-line has separation between men and women.

A proud father of a gay son

By David Fogel, Haaretz March 3, 2008

Full disclosure: I'm the proud father of a gay son. And I'm not the only one. Our prime minister, Ehud Olmert, is the proud father of a gay daughter…

…if I were Ehud Olmert, I would convene all the Shas MKs in a closed room and tell them the following: I have no intention of preaching morals to you and explaining to you what damage you are causing my daughter's community.

As far as I am concerned, you can continue to think whatever you wish.

But if you dare once again to utter such nonsense in public, you will find yourselves outside the coalition.

Chief Rabbinate Reviews Issue of Co-ed IDF Units

By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz, February 28, 2008

Participating in the special meeting of the committee were Chief Rabbi Metzger, Haifa's Chief Rabbi She'ar-Yashuv Hacohen, Kiryat Ono Chief Rabbi Ratzon Arousi, Rehovot Chief Rabbi Simcha Hacohen Kook, and other members of the Chief Rabbinate.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the rabbis announced their disappointment that "soldiers who are studying or who graduated yeshivas, and for whom serving in mixed-gender units or participating in courses taught by women is contrary to their Halachic (Jewish law) and moral understanding, were imprisoned for refusing to act against their conscience."

The Chief Rabbinate is intending to consult further with the heads of the nation's Hesder yeshivas, as well as with the Minister and Deputy Minister of Defense, the IDF Chief of Staff and the IDF Chief Rabbi.

Through the series of meetings, the Chief Rabbinate is hoping "to draft an appropriate and agreed-upon protocol that will prevent a conflict between a soldier's Halakhic and moral understanding and the obligation to maintain discipline and obedience in compulsory army service."

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: Pray for soldiers' well-being in synagogue

By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz March 3, 2008

"Our soldiers, the Israel Defense Forces, contribute themselves selflessly, enter the lion's den... how they need to be blessed. Had it not been for them, would we have time to study the Torah? To turn to the books?" he said on Saturday night during his weekly sermon in Jerusalem.

A prayer for the safety of IDF soldiers has never been accepted by all ultra-Orthodox factions, but Yosef broke the Haredi taboo on this several years ago.

During his address on Saturday, in light of the IDF operations in the Strip, he went further.

"It is not enough [to say the prayer only on Shabbat]. We need to say the prayer on Monday and Thursday too, and pray for them, so that God can save them from any trouble and difficulty, so they can return to their homes for a good life and peace".

MKs back bill to block porn, gambling sites

By Zvi Zrahiya, Haaretz February 28, 2008

The legal adviser to the Knesset Economic Committee said he would have difficulty defending the law if it were challenged in the High Court of Justice, due to the refusal of Communications Minister Ariel Atias (Shas) to submit to the committee the list of sites that would be blocked to the general public.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) threatened to petition the High Court against the law if it passed its second and third reading.

Internet censorship bill passes first reading

By Zvi Lavi, February 27, 2008

A bill aimed at censoring internet sites with content deemed 'inappropriate' for minors was passed in its first reading by the Knesset plenum on Wednesday.

The bill was passed by a 42-20 majority and will be sent back to the Economic Affairs Committee before returning for its second and third readings.

The bill's initiator, Knesset Member Amnon Cohen (Shas), claims the new law will protect the 60% of Israeli children who come into contact with offensive materials.

Hundreds of millions of shekels approved for Shas schools

By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz February 28, 2008

The Knesset Finance Committee yesterday approved the allocation of NIS 475 million to the educational institutions of the ultra-Orthodox Sephardi Shas party, as part of a coalition agreement. The money will go to religious and orthodox educational institutions.

Four MKs voted in favor: Yitzhak Vaknin and Amon Cohen (Shas), Nissan Slomiansky (National Union-National Religious Party) and Elhanan Glazer (Pensioners Party). MK Haim Oron (Meretz) and MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) voted against it.

Furious Shas leader demands chair of Finance Committee

By Zvi Zrahiya, Haaretz February 28, 2008

Perhaps the real urgency behind Shas' move is that [Yisrael Beiteinu MK Stas] Misezhnikov last week abstained in a vote on transferring NIS 475 million from the state budget to ultra-Orthodox institutions run by Shas, as had been stipulated in the coalition's written agreement with Shas.

If [Shas has] to settle for the Interior Affairs Committee, that would give them - among other things - power over daylight savings time policy, enforcement of local government rules regarding observance of the Shabbat, and the power to assist communities at their discretion.

Jewish Renewal grows up

This week, in a move that marks a new, more advanced stage in the development of Israeli Jewish Renewal, a beit midrash (study hall) was established in Ramat Gan that will provide advanced training for heads of Jewish Renewal communities.

Dr. Asher Cohen, a senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan's Political Science Department who recently wrote a paper on the failure of the Reform Movement to muster a significant following in Israel, said the movement lacked many of the drawbacks of Reform Judaism.

"First of all, there is no God," said Cohen. "Jewish Renewal is not a religion. So it does not turn off adamantly secular people.

"But more important, Jewish Renewal is a homegrown phenomenon. It is not something that has been transplanted from the US. This is a movement that is succeeding in making inroads in secular Israeli society."

Diti Peleg-Dagani, like many who are active in the Jewish Renewal movement, started in the Reform Movement. But she soon discovered that Reform traditions were turning Israelis off.

Government to rule as Dan moves to cancel Shabbat bus services

By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz February 28, 2008

Dan, which operates numerous bus lines in the Tel Aviv area, currently runs a number that start at 4:00 P.M. on Saturdays, before the end of the Jewish Sabbath when most public transportation is suspended.

Its decision to postpone the start of its service on Saturdays to 6:00 P.M. during the winter and 9:00 P.M. in the summer - after the Sabbath ends - was announced over the past few days in notices put up at the company's stations.

What, me hire Jews to work on Shabbat? Who knew?

By Haim Bior, Haaretz February 26, 2008

Manager of the Ashdod store 'Melekh HaJungle' Avi Levinstein added that most of the workers in the store are of Russian descent, which makes it difficult to identify them as Jewish.

Judge Moshe Tweivh noted Levinstein's comments, but ruled that he was in violation of the law of work and rest hours when he employed three workers over Saturday.

The judge levied an NIS 18,000 fine against the store, out of a maximum of NIS 37,000.

Religion and State in Israel

March 3, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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