Monday, August 25, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - August 25, 2008 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

August 25, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Woman fired for refusing to work on Shabbat

By Nissan Shtrauchler, August 23, 2008

“I can’t understand how people are made to work on Shabbat in a Jewish country,” says Shimrit Tzuberi, 25, who was recently fired from her job at the Holmes Place gym franchise after refusing to work on the Jewish day of rest.

Tzuberi's lawyer, Attorney Yonit Shlain-Ben Or from the Israel Religious Action Center:

“The struggle for the freedom of religion in Israel has to include defending a person’s right to refrain from working on the day of rest and to note the Sabbath in accordance with their world view and faith.

The fact that Shimrit turned to an organization that works within a framework of Reform Judaism proves that the struggle for religious freedom serves all sectors of Israeli society; seculars and religious alike.”

By Yom Kippur, New-Pharm will close on Saturdays

By Uri Rodriguez-Garcia, August 20, 2008

New-Pharm Drugstore Ltd. owner Rami Shavit announced that the chain would complete its plan to keep all stores closed by Yom Kippur in two months. He announced the intention to close the chain on Saturdays in December 2007 shortly after acquiring it through New Hamashbir Lazarchan Ltd.

Seven of the eighteen New-Pharm stores that opened on Saturdays already no longer do so. The Hamashbir department store chain has been closed on Saturday's since 2005. Shavit said that the policy to close the stores on Saturday was part of the company's labor policy to enable employees to enjoy the weekend with their families.

"We consider opening stores on Saturday to cause direct harm to the company's employees, hence the importance of the measure," he said.

Rabbonim: Do Not Support Resorts that Desecrate the Shabbos

By Yechiel Spira, August 22, 2008

The Rabbinical Committee for Kedushas Shabbos in Israel has released a proclamation reminding vacationers during the ben hazmanim vacation period to avoid visiting and supporting resorts that are not Shomer Shabbos.

The rabbonim feel that if chareidi vacationers are stringent in their adherence to supporting only Shomer Shabbos resorts, more attractions will undertake to close on Shabbos, realizing the potential fiscal gain by such a move.

One warning issued by rabbonim pertains to Kfar Blum, which presents itself as suitable for the chareidi public, but in essence, the attraction is not Shomer Shabbos and should not be patronized. In its adverts, Kfar Blum shows chareidim enjoying the resort, which can easily mislead unsuspecting vacationers.

Tribes and tribulations Editorial August 25, 2008

As a staunchly Zionist newspaper, we want to see ever-increasing numbers of Jews making Israel their home.

Yet it is disingenuous for the Orthodox establishment to encourage aliya from Africa, Asia and South America because immigrants from those places are more theologically pliable while tens of thousands of potential Jews already here from the former Soviet Union get the rabbinate's cold shoulder.

At the end of the day, all potential Jews need to be given the necessary tools and encouragement to make an affiliation with Jewish civilization inviting.

And those desirous of making a formal commitment to Judaism need the appropriate options for conversion - Orthodox, traditional or progressive.

PMO: No decision yet on Bnei Menashe

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 21. 2008

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office yesterday denied reports that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had decided to allow the remaining 7,000 members of the Bnei Menashe community in India to immigrate to Israel.

The officials said Olmert had not made up his mind yet, and that Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, who must sign the immigration approval, strongly objects to the move.

Cabinet secretary Oved Yehezkel, who is in charge of the Diaspora, supports bringing the Bnei Menashe community here.

Historic: Bnei Menashe Permitted to Move to Israel

By Hillel Fendel, August 20, 2008

In a decision that is being called "historic," the government has resolved to allow the remaining 7,232 members of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community in India to immigrate to Israel.

The decision comes ten months after another Cabinet decision demanding Cabinet approval each time a group of ten or more Bnei Menashe wished to immigrate to Israel.

The welcoming decision was made over the past few days by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, after Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit was finally convinced to remove his objections.

It was Sheetrit who led the original decision of last October, voluntarily transferring to the Cabinet his authority to approve immigration - and thus essentially preventing Bnei Menashe from arriving.

Rabbis: Light rail train 'a disaster for Judaism'

By Ari Galhar, August 25, 2008

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The ultra-Orthodox community opposes the Jerusalem light rail train. The Haredi population’s Rabbinical Transportation Committee approached Knesset members and ministers this week in a request to reconsider the routes for the capital's light rail train.

“In our meeting with transportation experts it became clear that the Transport Ministry is planning on cancelling a large part of the haredi [bus] lines that exist in the city,” the committee stated in a letter written a month and a half ago.

In addition, they expressed a fear regarding the cancellation of the “kosher” bus lines that operate in Jerusalem and on which there is a separation between men and women.

A population in danger of extinction

By Shahar Ilan, Opinion August 19, 2008

For decades the Haredi population of the upscale Bayit Vegan quarter remained within the boundaries of that neighborhood and did not move to nearby Kiryat Yovel.

However, a few years ago, the ultra-Orthodox rabbis gave their followers permission to start moving into Kiryat Yovel.

As a result, Haredim began renting and buying apartments, especially in the neighborhood's cheaper areas.

…The only way to stop the trend toward ultra-Orthodoxy in Kiryat Yovel is to provide a supply of apartments for the Haredi population in other parts of the city.

…The more secular residents leave the city, the more secular people in other parts of the country feel alienated from Jerusalem.

A not insignificant number of secular Israelis feel reprehensive about the growing trend toward ultra-Orthodoxy in the country's capital.

Proposed haredi kindergarten causes stir in J'lem neighborhood

The dispute follows a neighborhood struggle to prevent the city from allocating land intended for a state school to be used for a haredi yeshiva, and comes on the heels of opposition to the city hall-backed construction of an eruv in the neighborhood.

Mehadrin Eruv Damaged in Yerushalayim

By Yechiel Spira, August 24, 2008

The mehadrin eruv running in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Kiryat Menachem and Kiryat Yovel was damaged last Shabbos.

Rabbonim visited the areas to see the damage after Shabbos, and they were pained to see poles were knocked down and the eruv cord cut in a number of areas. This was not the first attack against a mehadrin eruv in Yerushalayim.

Why Shas fails its own constituency Editorial August 24, 2008

Shas’s claim that augmented child benefits would save tens of thousands of children from poverty is simply unconvincing. Who is to say that the stipends - directly deposited into parents' bank accounts - benefit their children? Better to earmark such funds for programs aimed directly at children, such as school hot lunch programs.

…Shas, in short, may be doing itself a political favor by championing increased child allowances. But it is doing the haredim themselves a disservice, one that could keep them in a condition of dependency for years to come.

Cutting the umbilical cord?

By Matthew Wagner, August 21, 2008

The aftershock from last week's publication of the Treasury's 2009 budget proposal is still reverberating throughout the haredi community.

With the cabinet slated to vote on the proposal on Sunday, fiscal issues have been pushed to center stage in the haredi media.

Haredi newspapers lamented the proposed cut of NIS 200 million from the NIS 400m. yeshiva budget, which pays stipends to post-high school-age men who study in yeshivot.

Soldiers might return Torah study bonus

By Matthew Wagner, August 18, 2008

Some 300 IDF career soldiers might be forced to return tens of millions of shekels after they were accused of deceitfully using accredited Torah studies to boost salaries.

In 2002, about 300 soldiers and hundreds of police received certificates from institutes connected with leading rabbis stating that they had successfully completed the agreed upon course of Torah studies.

However, it later turned out that many of the security personnel who took part in the Torah studies learned for fewer than the mandatory five years. Some received credits for high school and post-high school Torah studies.

In some cases soldiers and police received credits without ever participating in the program.

OU to supervise ritual slaughter in Israel

By Matthew Wagner, August 19, 2008

For the first time, the Orthodox Union (OU) has expanded its kashrut supervision in Israel to include shekhting (ritual slaughter).

With nearly a dozen different shekht supervisors, OU will be facing a lot of competition. Some of the biggest supervisors include Beit Yosef, Edah Haredit, Rabbi Landau, Agudah, and Belz, in addition to the various regional supervisors that operate under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate.

Rabbinate attacks restaurant blacklist

By Matthew Wagner, August 20, 2008

The Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and a group of capital restaurant owners have threatened to sue a rabbinic organization that published a damning report on the state of kashrut supervision in the Holy City.

Kosharot, an organization based in Elon Moreh that provides advisory services in the field of kosher supervision, compiled a blacklist - complete with names and addresses - of dozens of kosher restaurants around Jerusalem after conducting an investigation.

Kosharot recommended not eating in these restaurants despite the fact that all of them were under the supervision of Jerusalem's Rabbinate.

Israel: Media Continues to Mislead the Public Regarding Kashrus Issues

By Yechiel Spira, August 20, 2008

Responding to a request from a rabbi who deals with American post-high school students, Kosharot prepared a document of restaurants to permit Rabbi Zimmerman to guide his foreign students through the maze of kashrus issues in the capital.

Kosharot official Rabbi Moshe Katz stated openly after someone released the document to the public that it was “not complete and contained inaccuracies” but nevertheless, the press is having a field day with it, citing it is “inaccurate” and it does not enjoy the backing of the Chief Rabbinate.

In Israel, kosher extends beyond the kitchen

By Dana Harman, The Christian Science Monitor August 18, 2008

Click here for AUDIO

The kosher social seal is awarded to eateries that pledge to treat those preparing and serving the food in an ethical way. This means paying overtime, providing health insurance, and ensuring the equal treatment of minorities – the list goes on.

What does this have to do with Judaism?

"Everything," says Asaf Banner, the young religious Jerusalemite who directs Bemaaglei Tzedek, a nonprofit organization that started the social seal project three years ago. "The Torah is a system of life.

Religion and State in Israel

August 25, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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