Monday, July 28, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - July 28, 2008 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

July 28, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Court: Ministry's noncompliance threat to rule of law

By Or Kashti, July 28, 2008

The Education Ministry's noncompliance with a 2004 High Court of Justice ruling that ultra-Orthodox high schools should not get government funding if they do not adopt the state's core curriculum threatens the rule of law, the High Court said yesterday.

…The Israel Religious Action Center and the Secondary School Teachers Association, which petitioned the High Court to get the Education Ministry to comply with the earlier ruling, said yesterday that they were considering filing another petition protesting the law passed last week.

The High Court went so far as to say that the law could not succeed "from the point of view of equality, and it will be struck down."

High Court blasts haredi school curriculum

According to Procaccia, "the aim of the core curriculum is to develop among students basic knowledge, proficiency and values of a communal life which will enable each one to function independently in a pluralistic and Israeli society.

The core curriculum is based on a broad common denominator, on humanist, universal values and on the fact that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state."

The Core and the Court / The fight has just begun

By Shahar Ilan, Opinion July 28, 2008

Although the court states it can do nothing because the law has already passed, this monumental verdict clears the way for future petitions by the Israel Religious Action Center and the Secondary School Teachers Association.

Procaccia's statements indicate that the prohibition against funding schools that do not teach the core curriculum is constitutional.

For example, she wrote that the core curriculum reflects the common values of all students in Israel, and teaching it is a necessary condition for government funding. If the High Court receives a petition against the law, these statements will be pivotal. It seems the fight has just begun.

Knesset makes it legal: Yeshivas don't need to teach math and English

By Shahar Ilan and Zvi Zrahiya, July 25, 2008

The law defines a new type of school - "culturally unique" schools.

These educational institutions, meaning the ultra-Orthodox yeshiva high schools, will receive 60% of the funding per student given to regular high schools, even though they will not be teaching the core curriculum.

They will not be able to receive funding beyond this from the Education Ministry, but will receive additional funding from their municipalities.

Yeshivas to receive State funds without teaching basic subjects

By Neta Sela, July 24, 2008

Rabbi Gilad Kariv of the [Israel Religious Action Center] said that "the bill officially negates the natural expectation that the Education Ministry will be involved in the curriculum studied by 50,000 students.

Rather than evolving and becoming more involved in ultra-Orthodox education following the High Court of Justice's discussion, the State is becoming irrelevant to everything that's happening with these students."

Referring to the government's support of the bill he said,

"For the first time in the history of Israel, the State is going to relieve itself of the responsibility over thousands of students, and become apathetic to the fact that they will not receive basic life skills, or be able to support themselves in the future."

Psychometric exam: Haredi Jews do it better

By Yair Ettinger, July 25, 2008

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox men who study in ultra-Orthodox courses are required to begin the secular subjects from scratch and to pass matriculation and psychometric exams within one year.

…Education Minister Yuli Tamir, who supported the new law, said yesterday that the main effort in the ultra-Orthodox community must be made after high school in vocational training courses, rather than by forcing them to study secular subjects in high school.

The education-dodging law

Haaretz Editorial, July 25, 2008

Considering that one-quarter of school-age children in Israel are ultra-Orthodox, the new law depriving them of education will have far-reaching social significance.

Ultra-Orthodox society has grown thanks to natural increase, and in the future, it will be even more dependent on the secular to support it. And the ultra-Orthodox political parties, whose power will obviously grow as well, will be able to demand, and receive, ever greater public funding.

Fed up with the Chief Rabbinate, Orthodox rabbis try an end run

By Yair Sheleg, July 25, 2008

Orthodox rabbis from the United States and Israel intend to set up an Orthodox court system as an alternative to Israel's rabbinical courts and to the rigorous norms for conversion to Judaism imposed on U.S. rabbis.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin:

"This rabbinical court system is required to deal with conversions and divorce, two issues whose handling by the Supreme Rabbinical Court is appalling.

We plan to set up several branches, including in Israel, or operate a mobile rabbinical court that will hold hearings in various places around the world as required."

"If they don't accept our conversions, we'll go to the High Court of Justice," said Riskin. "In any case, I'd rather be part of a court system that reflects my belief, even if it is not accepted by the Chief Rabbinate."

Olmert: Conversion is a national priority

Rabbi Seth Farber, ITIM:

"The prime minister's comments are an important first step in restoring confidence in the Conversion Authority, but words are not sufficient," he said.

ITIM has received hundreds of phone calls in the past two months, Farber said, both from those concerned about their conversion status and from individuals hesitant to convert.

In the next few weeks, Olmert wrote, the Conversion Authority would "begin to tackle the complexities of this issue," and hoped to see "concrete results" by the time of the UJC General Assembly in November.

Olmert responds to UJC’s plea to intervene in conversion crisis

By Jacob Berkman, The Fundermentalist July 21, 2008

Click here for Prime Minister Olmert’s letter

Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur: The Government Has No Authority to Make Promises on Clearly Halachic Issues

By Yechiel Sever, July 24, 2008

"The demographic problem cannot be solved through mass conversion and the government has no authority to make promises on clearly halachic issues.

If this happens, choliloh, we will be forced to openly announce that conversions done by the Government of Israel have no halachic value and should not be relied on at all…”

The ball is in the secular public's court

By Yair Sheleg, Opinion July 24, 2008

So the main obstacle to implementing the [Gavison-Medan] proposal - and in effect, any solution to the complicated problems of conversion, women denied a get, and the other issues included under the heading "relations between religion and the state" - is the political veto of the ultra-Orthodox parties.

Here the ball is in the secular public's court. Its willingness to accept coalitions in which the Haredim are not just satisfied with guaranteeing their rights (and even with receiving extra benefits), but demand for themselves a veto right that promotes a stringent halakhic approach, is in the end what is harming the farmers, the converts and women denied a get.

Religious Zionism today has a significant branch that is willing to deal with these issues courageously, and to propose reasonable solutions. But if the secular public continues to accept the Haredi coalition veto, there will be no chance to implement any of them.

Help olim join the Jewish people

By MK Colette Avital, Opinion July 27, 2008

What is required today is a paradigm shift in thinking towards the entire issue of conversions in Israel.

The monopoly in conversions given to the Orthodox should not be unconditional - it can only continue if the treatment of those wishing to convert is radically changed.

Conversions must be facilitated both by a more welcoming rabbinical system and by the removal of bureaucratic barriers.

Let us not forget- the people in question have already decided to join the Jewish nation by immigrating to Israel.

Their claim - as simple and honest as that of our matriarch Ruth, who declared "Your People is my people and your God- my God" - should be taken seriously.

Healing the rift within Orthodoxy

By Michael Freund, Opinion July 24, 2008

Ever since the conversion crisis erupted nearly three months, the war of words between religious Zionists and haredim has grown increasingly fiery, threatening to drive a stake right through the heart of Orthodox Jewry.

Indeed, one of the consequences of the ruling by the haredi-dominated Rabbinical High Court retroactively annulling conversions performed by religious Zionist Rabbi Haim Druckman was to swing open the floodgates of hateful intra-Orthodox rhetoric.

Man ordered to pay wife NIS 55,000 for refusing to divorce her

By Nurit Roth, July 23, 2008

A husband who refused to divorce his wife was ordered to pay her NIS 550,000 in compensation for the mental anguish he caused her.

Moreover, though the wife held a rabbinic ruling ordering her husband to grant her a get - a religious divorce - the Jerusalem Family Court ruled that a husband's refusal to do so could entitle the woman to compensation. That applied even if the wife lacked a religious ruling.

Court: Husband who refused divorce must pay damages

By Neta Sela, July 23, 2008

"It would seem that the civil courts have finally begun to realize that the rabbinical courts take too long in enforcing divorces, and have decided to treat the women justly," the woman's attorney, Ifat Frankenbourg of the Center for Women's Justice, told Ynet.

According to Frankenbourg, in many cases women do not receive their divorce because the rabbinical courts refrain from forcing it upon the husband.

"This is a huge step taken by the civil courts in order to compensate for the rabbinical courts' failure to solve divorce conflicts," she concluded.

Ruling a precedent, but fight isn’t over

By Rivkah Lubitch, Opinion July 27, 2008

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinic pleader who works at the Center for Women’s Justice

The three heroes of this story:

Rachel, who dared to go against the Haredi flow and filed for damages in civil court;

Judge Greenberger, who held that the harm of withholding (a get) does not depend on the rabbinical court’s ruling;

Susan Weiss, the lawyer who has taken up the gauntlet of the battle against get refusal and for women’s rights.

But the story isn’t over yet.

Religion and State in Israel

July 28, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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