Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
“In Or Yehuda we held Lag B'Omer early this year”
Aharon told the Post that he was very sorry for the book burning and that it was not planned, and that he was aware that the incident may have caused damage to relations between Christians and Jews.
The deputy mayor said he had organized, together with "three or four" yeshiva students from the city's Michtav M'Eliahu Yeshiva to go to apartments in the city's Neveh Rabin neighborhood, which has many Ethiopian immigrants, and round up packages given to them several days earlier by messianic Jews.
The packages contained a New Testament and several pamphlets, which Aharon said "encouraged on to go against Judaism."
"I wasn't even on the scene when the boys rounded up all the Bibles and brought them all to one place [near the synagogue in Neveh Rabin].
They started burning them before I got there. Once I arrived the most I could do was pull a Bible out of the fire.
I put it in nylon and its now in my car. I am really sorry for the book burning, but I did not organize it, it was a spontaneous thing by the yeshiva boys," Aharon said.
"We respect all religions as we expect others to respect ours. I am very sorry that the New Testament was burned, we mean it no harm and I'm sorry that we hurt the feelings of others," he said.
However, he added, Israel could not allow messianic Jews to "come into our homes and incite against our religion, and turn our children away from Judaism. That is against the law."
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Peter Knobel, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:
“…We share the concerns of Jews in Israel about messianic activities of Christian missionaries, but such activities must be dealt with through appropriate legal means, as determined by the laws of the State of Israel.
We are appalled that Deputy Mayor Azi Aharon would apparently make comments encouraging such acts. We call upon him to apologize immediately, and we urge rabbis of all streams in Judaism to condemn these actions and to reaffirm the bonds of friendship and respect that should mark relations between Jews and Christians throughout the world.”
The writer is the executive vice president of United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism.)
I certainly do not endorse missionizing activities in Israel, but the images of book-burning Jews makes me shudder.
Israel and Jews throughout the world must condemn this atrocious behavior and take the bold and necessary steps to ensure that this one-time occurrence remain a singular nightmare.
The Messianic Jews number a few thousand in Israel, and as long as they do not stalk children or try to convince them to change their religious beliefs, their standing in this country should be equal to that of other religious and ethnic groups who enjoy freedom of practice and worship as stipulated in the Declaration of Independence and protected by law.
Jews for Jesus in Israel
By Matthew Wagner, JPost.com May 22, 2008
The bruised and tattered State Conversion Authority is once again in turmoil after its head, Rabbi Haim Druckman, was unceremoniously dismissed by the Prime Minister's Office.
The surprise development this week that the Prime Minister's Office would not renew Druckman's employment contract, which expires at the end of June, sparked a flurry of speculation regarding the motive.
The Prime Minister's Office stated that Druckman's advanced age of 75 was the reason for the dismissal. The retirement age in the civil service is 67. Druckman was hired in 2004.
Druckman, however, rejected that explanation.
"I was already 75 when they renewed my contract," he told Army Radio on Thursday. "Doing this now is foolish and malicious. And the way it was done was disrespectful as well. No one talked to me, I just got a letter delivered to me by a messenger."
Druckman said the Prime Minister's Office was kowtowing to haredi political pressure to oust him from his position.
By Neta Sela, Ynetnews.com May 22, 2008
A source familiar with the decision wondered how "someone who was called in by the prime minister to perform a sacred duty is now dismissed by a government clerk… This move plays right into the hands of the hostile orthodox factors within the conversions establishment.
"This is a fatal blow to the establishment and might lead to its crumbling all together." The Prime Minister's Office, added the source, "is crushing the system while pretending to modernize it."
By Matthew Wagner, Jpost.com May 20, 2008
The Conference of European Rabbis announced this week that it would not recognize converts who were converted by rabbis in Israel, singling out Rabbi Haim Druckman, head of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate's State Conversion Authority.
"We oppose the phenomenon of Israeli rabbis shuttling to Europe especially to perform a conversion and then shuttling back," said Rabbi Moshe Lebel, Rabbinical Director of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) in a telephone interview from Moscow. "These rabbis are not familiar with the reality in Europe," he added.
"I know of several cases where Druckman and other Israeli rabbis performed conversions for people who lived in communities in places like Germany and Scandinavia where it was almost impossible to adhere to a religious way of life. There was no minyan, no kosher butcher, no mikveh."
By Yechiel Sever, Dei’ah veDibur May 22, 2008
"The Justice Minister does not understand the meaning of a Jewish state. There is no way to turn non-Jews into Jews except through conversion done according to halacha.
We're already accustomed to seeing here in the State of Israel, in all matters associated with Judaism, that the ends justify the means.
We must redouble our efforts to fight this, not allowing the walls of Judaism or Kerem Beis Yisroel to be breached," said Rabbi Gafni.
By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz Opinion May 26, 2008
Judaism is too serious a matter to be left in the Chief Rabbinate's hands. We must divest the rabbinate of the task of integrating immigrants with no religion into the Jewish people.
…It is inconceivable for a large population to leave the question of how to be Jewish in the hands of the ultra-Orthodox. It is inconceivable that a secular non-Jew who wants with all his might to be a secular Jew should have to disguise himself as religious.
There are several options for secular conversion.
One would involve a public announcement by secular Judaism groups saying that they see all immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are classified as not having any religion as full-blown Jews.
…Another possibility would be to hold private secular conversion ceremonies, but only for those who have taken Judaism courses.
…And here is another option: focusing the secular conversion process on teens.
By Tomer Zarchin and Yair Ettinger, Haaretz May 21, 2008
The comptroller's review of administrative procedures at rabbinic courts found problems with 83 percent of cases at the Tel Aviv court, and 71 percent of cases handled in Petah Tikva.
In 17 percent of the cases checked, delays were found in the procedure for granting the get - a step that follows a divorce ruling, and without which a couple is not considered divorced.
Absences by judges led to hearings being postponed by several months in 26 percent of cases checked.
By Matthew Wagner, JPost.com May 20, 2008
In two separate initiatives, a coalition of Orthodox Jewish women's rights organizations are calling on attorneys, marriage registrars and rabbis to support the institutionalization of prenuptial agreements as a solution to the phenomenon of women denied a divorce (agunot).
The Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at Bar-Ilan University, the Center for Women's Justice and the Jewish Women's Foundation of New York have recently joined forces to publish a pamphlet encouraging the use of prenuptials that target public figures who preside over marriages.
Meanwhile, the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel, Matan, Mifnim and Yad L'isha together with the Rackman Center have organized two conferences - one this week, another next week - aimed at teaching marriage professionals the benefits of prenuptial agreements.
Rachel Lev-Mor, a rabbinical court advocate, said that the revolution in prenuptials has already started.
"People who are getting married and the public figures who preside over these marriages are using them more and more," said Lev-Mor.
"Rabbi after rabbi is quietly recommending it suggesting it to their students and their communities. Progress is being made."
By Hana Levi Julian, IsraelNationalNews.com May 22, 2008
The National Service budget for next year has been restored with a last-minute agreement to transfer funds from the Prime Minister's Office to the Education Ministry.
A decision by Education Minister Yuli Tamir to slash the program by at least a third was averted at the last minute Thursday morning in a deal between MK Ami Ayalon, the minister responsible for national service, and the prime minister.
According to Ayalon's spokesman, Olmert ordered the transfer of NIS 18 million from his own office to cover the national service budget and allocation of an additional NIS 60 million for next year's budget.
By Ruth Sinai, Nadav Shragai and Or Kashti, Haaretz May 20, 2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet this week with Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On and Minister Without Portfolio Ami Ayalon to seek a solution to the crisis over the future of national service, the civilian alternative to army service.
The recent cut contradicts a cabinet decision to establish a national service administration, headed by Ayalon, that would expand the national service program from its present majority of Orthodox Jewish participants to Arabs and non-Orthodox young people.
By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz Opinion May 20, 2008
…the struggle against the national service cutback is not the nationalist religious public's struggle, but the entire public's. Even if nationalist religious institutions receive unjustly larger allocations of volunteers.
…Perhaps the nationalist religious public should simply announce that until the national service positions are reinstated, no young women will volunteer for the service. Let's see Tamir explain to the hospitals or the Shin Bet how to fill the places of the missing volunteers. Let's see how long it takes her to revoke her decision.
By Hanan Greenberg, Ynetnews.com May 21, 2008
Chief Military Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Avichai Ronsky:
"The military rabbi is an inseparable part of the combat unit, and just as the rabbi risks death in entering the battlefield together with the soldiers, it is a simple fact that if the unit leaves for an operation on a Saturday, the rabbi must leave with it."
"The criticism derives from a basic misunderstanding of the rabbi's position within his unit," Ronsky said.
"The military rabbi is known to us from days of yore, when he was a priest… This rabbi, the priest, stood before the soldiers prior to their departure for battle and imbued them with the fighting spirit, and later even went with them to war."
"The military rabbi's main task is to fortify the soldiers. This fortification is necessary for battle, for it is known that the charging of an enemy at the risk of one's life is not a natural human impulse, and certainly not for our young soldiers.
"A rabbi who is involved in his unit and accompanies them throughout their training and operations can assist the soldiers in overcoming the spiritual distress and crises they experience," he concluded.
By Yuval Azoulay, Haaretz May 21, 2008
GOC Central Command Major General Gadi Shamni announced recently that soldiers in the ultra-Orthodox battalion of the Nahal infantry brigade, a branch of the Israel Defense Forces which combines military and voluntary civilian service, would soon begin defending the Jenin line.
This is the first time soldiers in the battalion will engage in operational activities in this area. Since the battalion was created, nine years ago, its soldiers have served only in the Jordan Valley.The battalion enlists ultra-Orthodox youth who are not studying in yeshivas.
About 2,500 young ultra-Orthodox men have enlisted in the battalion to date, and members of the IDF human resources department recently said they intend to open another battalion in 2010 to meet the growing demand of ultra-Orthodox youth to serve in a battalion of this type.
Wikepedia entry for Lipa Schmeltzer
By Yechiel Spira, www.TheYeshivaWorld.com May 21, 2008
An estimated 35 “Mechinot,” IDF Prepatory Yeshivas may be compelled to close their doors if the government does not infuse badly-needed funds into the network.
According to Rabbi Moshe Hager, who heads the organization representing the yeshivas around the country, budgetary cuts from the Education Ministry and other sources have left the yeshivas with NIS 19 million a year in place of NIS 29 million, resulting in dire realities with some yeshivas inability to pay salaries.
May 22, 2008
A prominent Modern Orthodox rabbi is at the center of a case being taken to secular court on the grounds that his organization ignored the ruling of a rabbinical court in a contract dispute.
A former employee of Ohr Torah Stone, which was founded by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, has filed suit against the organization in New York State Supreme Court to confirm an arbitration ruling by the Beth Din of America, a widely respected rabbinical court run by the largest union of Orthodox rabbis in the United States, the Rabbinical Council of America.
Prof. Howard M. Friedman, www.ReligionClause.blogspot.com May 20, 2008
A New York state trial court refused to recognize the validity of a divorce decree issued under unusual circumstances by an Israeli Rabbinical Court.
The couple involved are Israeli citizens now living in New York. The Israeli decree was based on a religious divorce ("Get") issued by a rabbinical tribunal in Brooklyn.
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.