Monday, March 24, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - March 24, 2008 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

March 24, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Rabbi: Don't hire, rent homes to Arabs

By Matthew Wagner, March 19, 2008

In response to Rabbi Dov Lior's comments, attorney Einat Horowitz, head of the Reform Movement's legal arm, said that

"We view with concern the new wave of calls against Arabs since the terrible terrorist attack on Mercaz Harav.

"There is a phenomenon of rising racial incitement against Arabs that distorts Judaism and is also illegal. We call on the attorney-general to wake up and act to enforce the law and prohibit calls like this.

"It is inconceivable that public figures, including those who are salaried state employees, continue to voice discriminatory exhortations unchallenged.

State officials need to intervene and make it clear that these comments are illegitimate."

Rabbi Lior speaks out against hiring of Arabs

By Efrat Weiss, March 20, 2008

"It is strictly prohibited to hire Arabs, or to rent houses on Israeli land to them," head of the Yesha Rabbis Council and chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba and Hebron, Rabbi Dov Lior ruled this week.

"Their employment is out of the question, not only in the yeshivas but also in hotels or factories; basically anywhere," he added.

Rabbinic fatwas

Haaretz Editorial March 21, 2008

In recent days a number of halakhic instructions have been issued seeking to widen the division between Jews and Arabs.

These rulings also heighten a dangerous process in which a national conflict between two peoples that can be resolved by compromise is transformed into a religious conflict where extremist halakhic rulings and fatwas - their Islamic counterparts - prevent compromise and perpetuate hatred.

Int'l Agunot Day: 'I want women to know it's not a mitzva to suffer in silence'

By Ruth Eglash, March 19, 2008

"I want all women to know that it is not a mitzva to suffer in silence," said Zehava. "I urge them to speak out and seek help any way they can."

"Women go into a marriage of their own free will and they should be allowed to leave a marriage in the same way," said Robyn Shames, executive director of International Coalition of Aguna Rights (ICAR), who is also familiar with Zehava's case.

Shames said that Wednesday's demonstration would hopefully, among other things, encourage the legislature to push through a bill on the division of property between divorcing couples that has already passed its first reading in the Knesset and is an important step to affording agunot women and those refused a divorce their freedom.

She also said that the public had to be made aware that they should not accept individuals who refuse to give their partners a divorce.

See also: ICAR Petition – Denouncing get recalcitrance

Saving women from the 'chain'

By Sarah Breger, Haaretz March 21, 2008

The writer is a 2007-08 Dorot Fellow, is a volunteer with Young Israel Rabbis in Israel.

It is imperative that the prenuptial agreement become standard procedure in Israel.

As more couples sign, social stigma will vanish and it will become a normal part of the marriage ceremony.

The rabbinate should actively promote the agreement when a couple goes to register for marriage. Information about the prenup should be part of the curriculum in premarital courses required of men and women, and should be publicized through schools, youth movements and the army.

Lawyers who specialize in family law can do much to encourage couples to sign by explaining the agreement's legal implications.

Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel - The Agreement for Mutual Respect: A Prenuptial Agreement for the Prevention of Get-Refusal

Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel - Agunah & Get Refusal: Prevention and Intervention

Anti-missionaries suspected in attack

Police investigating the sending of a package which exploded in the home of a Christian pastor in Ariel are leaning toward the theory that a Jewish anti-missionary was behind the attack, the preacher told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

Oritz's Jewish-born wife, Leah, is a member of Jews for Jesus. The pastor says dozes of families in Ariel have been influenced by his teachings. "We have about 50 families," he declared.

He described a long history of tensions with anti-missionary activists in Ariel, which included flyers and a petition calling for the family to leave the city.

"My neighbor said he had been told by religious Jews that if we were the only ones living in this building, they would have bombed it," Oritz said.

"When we first came into this town, the rabbi visited us and told me I was not allowed to talk about Yeshua [Jesus] outside of my apartment. I told him that as far I know, this is not a crime in this country. This is a democratic country, people can say whatever they want outside their house," Oritz said.

"They put posters all over town warning residents to keep away from us and calling for us to be excommunicated, and there was a demonstration in front of our house. If all my neighbors had signed the petition calling on us to leave, I would have to leave by law. Some of my neighbors refused to sign," he added.

Loving Jesus, fearing the neighbors in Ariel

By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz March 24, 2008

"The same people who hounded that family might find me tomorrow," one man said, describing his fear and reluctance to be identified.

He comes to this home weekly to meet and pray with about 20 other men and women. Most are from the United States, but some are from the former Soviet Union and others, like the man who spoke to us, are native Israelis.

He said he was a member of several religious cults before he "saw the light" while reading the New Testament seven years ago.

Messianic Jews: We're subjected to harassment

By Roni Gal, March 21, 2008

Caleb Meyers, the representative of the messianic Jewish community in Israel, explains that

"There is a campaign of harassment against the Messianic Jewish community by radical religious organizations that are trying to create dehumanization – especially in religious newspapers."

Click here for Israel Channel 2 news documentary concerning the Messianic Jewish Community in Israel.

Chief Rabbi Amar: We have done Ethiopian Jewry a grievous wrong

By Tani Goldstein, March 18, 2008

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar said Monday during a joint meeting with the Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee that “the State of Israel, the Chief Rabbinate included, has done Ethiopia’s Jews a grievous wrong.

Rabbi Amar urged the government to find practical solutions for the Falash Mura’s plight, and to allow for their rapid conversion to Judaism.

The Reform Movement responded by noting that “the rabbinic establishment does not really want to help new immigrants convert to Judaism, and such statements are merely smoke and mirrors.”

Chief Rabbi calls for changes to Ethiopian conversion

By Ruth Eglash, March 17, 2008

Ethiopian immigrants should be able to convert to Judaism in their native land and make aliya under the Law of Return, announced Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar Monday.

Amar was speaking at a hearing of the Knesset's Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on the conversion process in Israel.

Amar said that former prime minister Ariel Sharon had previously called for conversions to take place in Ethiopia while the immigrants are waiting to come here, rather than spending their first two years after making aliya converting to Judaism instead of studying Hebrew.

The immigrants, who are known as Falash Mura, are Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity more than a century ago. They must currently make aliya under the Law of Entry because their Judaism is still in question.

MK Rabbi Gafni: "Conversion must only be done according to Halochoh."

By Eliezer Rauchberger and Yechiel Sever, Dei’ah veDibur March 20, 2008

A spokesman for Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur:

"Of course there can be no compromise in requiring the conversion candidate to make an earnest commitment to all of the mitzvas, without which the conversion is invalid — even bedi'eved.

Therefore along with all of these efforts to streamline the conversion system, the Chief Rabbinate must once and for all clearly tell the Interior Ministry and all other government officials involved that there is no way to use conversion as a solution to the problem of the hundreds of thousands of non- Jews who came to Eretz Yisroel in recent years, and the number of genuine conversions performed over the course of a year can reasonably be expected to be to no more than a few hundred."

MK Pines: Bill for Falash Mura to enroll in secular schools

By Ruth Eglash, March 17, 2008

Knesset's Internal Affairs and Environment Committee chairman MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) also announced his plans to propose a bill enabling Ethiopian immigrants to enroll their children into the secular school system.

Currently, all Falash Mura immigrants must send their children to religious schools, overwhelming the system and creating segregated schools in which the majority of the pupils are of Ethiopian origin.

Government opposes proposal to annul Tal Law

By Neta Sela, March 24, 2008

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation decided Monday not to support a bill submitted by Knesset Member Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) for the annulment of the Tal Law, that allows yeshiva students to postpone their military service and which was referred to by Pines as "the draft-dodging law."

Pines explained his bill by saying that

"the implementation of the law is a complete failure. Only a tiny minority of yeshiva students have chosen to serve in the security forces, and their ability to contribute through national service hardly exists in practice.

"Instead of dealing with the draft dodging problem, the law has drastically worsened it," he added.

Hesder heads, IDF Manpower's Stern clash again

Hesder yeshiva heads will face off with IDF OC Human Resources Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern next week in a special Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting over the religious needs of hesder soldiers.

On April 1, Stern is scheduled to appear before the Knesset committee together with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to explain his policy of forcibly integrating yeshiva students in "mixed" secular-religious platoons.

Rabbi Re'em Hacohen, head of the Otniel Hesder Yeshiva near Hebron, called Stern's insistence on a quota of mixed companies "childish."

"Stern doesn't seem to understand that coercion does not work," he said.

Hacohen, who personally favors integrating religious soldiers with their secular comrades, said

"The IDF should respect the needs of those students and yeshiva heads who want a segregated environment in the army. After all, this is a group of highly motivated guys who want to contribute, who are willing to fight for the state."

Rabbi Melamed: Soldiers must refuse orders contradicting Jewish law

By Kobi Nahshoni, March 23, 2008

In an op-ed released prior to Purim, prominent Zionist Rabbi Zalman Melamed stated that “when an IDF soldier is given an order which contradicts halacha or Jewish law, he must not find ways to evade acting as ordered or make excuses for not following orders, but state outright and directly that he refuses to act in any manner which contradicts halacha.”

Shinui is coming back

By Yair Lapid, March 23, 2008

Listen to an expert: Shinui is coming back. It will be called by another name, and it may take a few months before you hear about it.

…In the two years that passed since Shas returned to the government’s warm embrace it appeared that they got the message. They treated the feelings of the seculars cautiously, almost with anxiety. Even their attempts to regain control of the budget were made with great silence. Yet then came the last few months:

…this is what is most infuriating: The speed with which Israeli politics has gone back to suck up to the Orthodox.

Seculars losing culture war

By Yosef Paritzky, March 18, 2008

…here, we have a public that is referred to as "secular" and that is seemingly free, progressive, and liberal. Yet it's all only seemingly so. This public's opinions are so weak, it is so ignorant, and so indifferent to its rights that it allows religious fundamentalism to do whatever it wishes without uttering a word.

The free public agrees to be forced what to eat and how to get married and divorced. It agrees to the absence of public transportation on Shabbat and holidays.

It agrees to bear the burden of military service while those who curse the State enjoy an exemption. It agrees, submissively, to have a significant part of the taxes he pays handed over as a political bribe to anti-Zionist parties.

Now it also agrees, through its silence, to be told what it is allowed to see in public.

Pluralistic rabbis: In same-sex wedding, both can break glass

By Matthew Wagner, March 19, 2008

In a solution to a decidedly postmodern Jewish dilemma, a group of pluralistic, secular rabbis ruled this week that when standing under the huppa in a same-sex marriage ceremony, both partners can be given the honor of "breaking the glass."

Ofer Korenfeld is chairman of Havayah, an organization that arranges "Jewish-inspired" lifecycle events

Havayah, was created by the Midrasha at Oranim Teachers College in Kiryat Tivon; the kibbutz movement's Bina Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture in south Tel Aviv, known as the "Secular Yeshiva"; and the Institute for Jewish Ceremonies. The program's focus is on celebrating, in a Jewish way, events such as births, bar and bat mitzvot and marriages.

One option, among others

By Vivian Eden, Haaretz March 21, 2008

The writer was born in the United States and has lived in Israel on and off since 1961and is on the editorial staff of Haaretz English edition.

In their calls for "national unity," which are meant to be heard by the entire Israeli public, elders of the religious right also imply that the contents of a secular life are of little value.

…Though we can all cherish and respect that past, there is no need for non-religious Jews to buy into the contention that their own way of life in the here and now is of lesser value.

…It is time to relegate the religious way of life to its proper place as one option equal to many others in Israel.

Portion polemics, kids' style

By Elad Rubinstein, March 19, 2008

Every Wednesday a group of fifth graders from Enriched Jewish Studies (TALI) schools in the greater Jerusalem area meet up to tape a weekly radio program on Jewish topics and for an hour or two, they discuss the weekly portion, holidays or other events.

“This is a new and unique program, which provides enriched Jewish Studies in public (secular) schools,” says Nava Tal, who initiated the unusual radio spot.

Religion and State in Israel

March 24, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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