Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - October 6, 2008 (Section 1)

October 6, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Deri backs out of J'lem mayoral race

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com October 6, 2008

Former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri announced Monday that he would not appeal a court decision that blocks him from running for the Jerusalem mayoral elections.
"Despite the recommendations of my legal advisers I have chosen not to appeal the decision. 
I have also rejected the recommendation that I ask for clemency from the moral turpitude attached to my sentence.

"I have no intention of returning to politics via a shortcut even though I know and others are convinced that my conviction was not justified. 

I have resolved to finish off my imposed political exile to the last minute and pay my debt to society.

Deri: Court punishing my supporters by barring me from Jerusalem vote

By Yair Ettinger and Ofra Edelman www.haaretz.com October 3, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

'I will abide by rabbis' rulings'

By Yair Ettinger and Ofra Edelman www.haaretz.com October 3, 2008

Former Shas leader Aryeh Deri cannot run for mayor of Jerusalem this year, due to his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, the Jerusalem District Court ruled yesterday. 

The former Shas chairman refrained yesterday from saying whether he would support the candidacy of Meir Porush, who was the Haredi community's chosen candidate before Deri announced his interest in entering the race.

"I am a Haredi, who abides by the laws of the Torah," Deri said.

"All my life, I was taught to listen to the Torah sages, and that is also how I educated an entire generation. 

I will listen to whatever the rabbis tell me regarding whether to support anyone, and whom." 

Meir Porush scores Haredi support in Jerusalem mayoral contest

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com October 2, 2008

Senior leaders from Agudath Israel and Degel Hatorah, which together make up United Torah Judaism, met Sunday night and decided to support the former's candidate, MK Meir Porush, in the November 11 election. 

Nevertheless, there were contradictory reports after the meeting about whether it was decided that all the Haredi parties would support Porush for mayor, or only whether to support him as the head of the UTJ list for the city council. 

Ready to rejoin public life

By Avirama Golan www.haaretz.com October 3, 2008

Commentators tend to see his declaring himself as a candidate and his court petition as a trial balloon to gauge the public response to his return to politics.

Perhaps. But then why did the Haredi media report as early as a year ago that the rabbis were pressing Deri to run for mayor?

And why do all the signs point to his having explored this possibility at length?

The reason is that Jerusalem is not only a national problem.

It is also the biggest Haredi problem, and with the city already in their hands the rabbis have no intention of losing it.

On the face of it, this is a worrisome message for the city's non-Orthodox population.

In fact, the secular public must realize that this political game has deep Haredi roots and passions going back many years. 

Deri's return to Shas more likely with mayoral option closed

By Matthew Wagnerwww.jpost.com October 5, 2008

Although Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef will have the final word, Aryeh Deri's return to Shas is looking more likely as chances of his being able to run for Jerusalem mayor ebb, Shas sources said Sunday.

"If elections are postponed until Aryeh can legally be elected [July 2009] the pressure on Shas to bring him back will be almost unbearable," a Shas source said. 

"On the other hand if elections are called before Aryeh can return to politics it would be difficult to imagine seeing him returning to Shas after the elections."

Turning-Point Election for Israel’s Capital?

By Michelle Chabin www.thejewishweek.com September 29, 2008

The 30-something Jerusalemite said, “I don’t want a mayor who will introduce buses on Shabbat, for example. Jerusalem is the holy city and should reflect this.”

Daniel Otmazign, the owner of a hair salon, said, “Many people I know want a change. People sit in my chair. They talk, and I listen.”

The one thing Otmazign’s customers don’t want, he says, “is another haredi mayor who will neglect the non-haredi part of the city. Even my religious customers say this.”

 Treating her three young grandchildren to falafel, 67-year-old Miki Shimon, who is secular, said she trying to convince all her friends to vote in the upcoming elections.

“If, God forbid, someone haredi becomes mayor, I’m afraid my children will move away from the city. I’ll be all alone here, God forbid.  Isn’t this city religious enough?”

Many Jerusalemites don’t think so.

Yonatan Schwartz, a young yeshiva student, said he plans to vote for “the haredi candidate,” whoever that ultimately turns out to be.

“Honestly, the rest of the city’s residents have nothing to fear,” Schwartz said, trying to sound reassuring. “We haredim tend to be good, law-abiding neighbors who aren’t into drugs or violence.  

“We live according to the Torah. I can’t think of a better code of ethics than our holy Torah,” Schwartz said.

Interview with Arkadi Gaydamak

By Peggy Cidor www.jpost.com October 5, 2008

How do you see the relationship with the haredi community?

It is important that we maintain our support for religious circles because they are maintaining our traditions.

They have kept them over the centuries for us, and I think that it is quite a difficult life they have.

They are the true representatives of the Jewish culture.

We have a duty to protect their style of life, but they cannot take care of others' interests.

For example, how can Mr. [Meir] Porush, whom I respect, take into account the interests of the Christian community?

Mr. Barkat is a very positive man, but he cannot obtain this either.

We don't have time to lose. I believe that only I have the charisma necessary for that task. The Israeli nation [Am Yisrael] is divided in many groups, and Jewish tradition is the only thing that unites us.

Protests get Jews for Jesus radio ad pulled in the North

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com October 6, 2008

A wave of irate protest silenced a Jews for Jesus radio campaign last week on a local radio station in the North.

The slogan of the radio campaign is "Yeshu [a derogatory form of Jesus] equals Yeshua [accent on penultimate syllable] equals yeshua [accent on the last syllable]."

In three different versions of the ad, ethnically identifiable Israeli Jewish voices - one Russian, one Moroccan and one haredi Ashkenazi - express surprise at being told that Jesus is equivalent to redemption.

At the end of the ad a voice-over says, "Confused? Call for more information," and provides a phone number.

The radio ad is part of larger campaign, directly primarily at the North, that includes full-page ads in the weekend editions of Ma'ariv and Yisrael Hayom, two Hebrew dailies.

In addition, Jews for Jesus activists sporting T-shirts and passing out literature have been active in recent days in the North, including Nahariya, Kiryat Shmona and the Haifa area.

According to members of Jews for Jesus, the municipalities of Tiberias and Karmiel each took down a large-screen Jews-for-Jesus ad located at prominent intersections.

Haifa Chief Rabbi at Vatican: Wartime Pope let Jews down

By Reuters www.haaretz.com October 6, 2008

The first Jew to address a Vatican synod on Monday told the gathering that Jews "cannot forgive and forget" that some major religious leaders during World War II did not speak out against the Holocaust. 

Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen's words, spoken in the presence of Pope Benedict, were a clear reference to wartime Pope Pius XII, who many Jews say did not do enough to help them. 

Orthodox convert fights for recognition

By Haviv Rettig www.jpost.com October 5, 2008

Twenty-five-year-old Jose Portuondo-Wilson is wondering what it takes to prove to the government that he is Jewish.

Eighteen months after his Orthodox conversion in Chicago, he is resorting to a High Court of Justice petition to force Interior Ministry bureaucrats to approve his aliya

…Four months after the second application, on August 21, Portuondo-Wilson received official notice that his aliya was denied by the Interior Ministry. The reason: the rabbinical court that performed his conversion was "unrecognized."

"I don't care whether the Israeli Rabbinate recognizes my conversion or not, but I don't want them to have a monopoly over who can convert," Lopatin said. 

"We should take the monopoly away from them. Like with [kashrut supervision], there are different supervisions."

Portuondo-Wilson's conversion, he insists, "is halachically valid, and socially recognized."

An Interior Ministry spokesman would not comment on the specific case, but said rabbinical courts abroad were recognized only if they appeared on a list kept by the Conversion Authority in the Prime Minister's Office.

…In the meantime, [Portuondo-Wilson] is contemplating rabbinical school. He may become the first Orthodox rabbi in history to be denied aliya, he notes with humor.

Future foreigners' conversions in doubt

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com October 3, 2008

Out of concern that Israel will be labeled a proselytizing nation, the Justice Ministry this week asked Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar to stop converting citizens of foreign countries. But Amar is proving reluctant to do so.

In a meeting on Sunday, attorney Harel Goldberg of the Consultation and Legislation Department in the Justice Ministry requested that Amar halt these conversions. 

Goldberg had sent a letter to Amar more than a month ago warning of the legal problems involved with the practice.

…If the conversion is part of the naturalization process to become Israeli, then it is less problematic from a legal perspective. 

But Amar has presided over dozens of conversions of people who came here solely to be converted, and who then returned to their countries as Jews.

Singaporean celebrity becomes Jewish

By Boaz Arad www.ynetnews.com October 1, 2008

He was a huge television star, an actor, and a popular radio broadcaster, but Andrew Lim always felt as though something was missing. Then, one day, he saw the light – in Judaism.

Lim knew almost nothing about Judaism until he happened to arrive in Israel as part of a sight-seeing tour, in order to witness firsthand the sights he had read of so many times in the New Testament.

…Lim, or Eliyahu Abraham as he is now called in Hebrew, converted to Judaism in Australia together with his wife and children.

He kept his day job – a radio broadcaster – and in his free time runs his local Beit Chabad's Torah studies. He dreams of coming to Israel once again, this time with his family, to see where it all began.

Chris's Bris

By Leora Eren Frucht www.jrep.com Issue 13, October 13, 2008 The Jerusalem Report

"I really will have come full circle," he smiles, "but in the process, I will have changed my name, my religion, my nationality and my marital status.

There seems to be something inherently paradoxical about being Orthodox, which implies reverence, and being a comedian, which calls for irreverence.

Yet, Campbell manages to be both. In his private life, he allows himself little leeway in his religious observance. 

(When he flew to the U.S. on Tisha B'av, he fasted for 32 hours instead of the mandatory 25 because he was flying across several time zones.)

"Halakhic structure is for me a way of being in a relationship with God," he explains.

Honor, haredi-style

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com October 2, 2008

Which restaurants and food products are kosher and which are not? Who is allowed to get married and who is not? Who can be a rabbi and who cannot?

Last week, elections took place to choose the state-empowered body - the Chief Rabbinate Council - that is supposed to answer these questions.

The elections were an upset. The non-hassidic, Lithuanian-haredi rabbinic leadership, which gradually has been gaining more power within the Chief Rabbinate, suffered a major setback.

…The battle between Ovadia Yosef and Elyashiv will probably have little impact on the wider public. 

With or without Avraham Yosef on the council, heter mechira will continue to be implemented by the Chief Rabbinate. Jewish farmers would lose too much money if it were not.

And the Supreme Court has already ruled in favor of these farmers against the previous Chief Rabbinate Council.

Rather, the struggle between Yosef and Elyashiv is for influence and power, and ultimately, for rabbinic hegemony. Yosef, the son of a grocer, wants to "return the crown to its rightful owner."

Slowly but surely, he is succeeding.

Jewish ‘modesty patrols’ sow fear in Israel

Associated Press www.ynetnews.com October 6, 2008

In Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where the rule of law sometimes takes a back seat to the rule of God, zealots are on a campaign to stamp out behavior they consider unchaste.

Many ultra-Orthodox Jews are dismayed by the violence, but the enforcers often enjoy quiet approval from rabbis eager to protect their own reputations as guardians of the faith, community members say.

And while some welcome anything that keeps secular culture out of their cloistered world, others feel terrorized, knowing that the mere perception of impropriety could ruin their lives.

 Animal activists: Kapparot custom 'brutal abuse of animals'

By Yoav Zeitun www.ynetnews.com October 6, 2008

In their struggle to stem the slaughter of countless chickens during the Yom Kippur ritual of Kapparot (atonements), activists of Let Live (Latet Lihyot), an animal rights group, are planning to file animal abuse complaints with police against those who carry out the ritual.

The head of the movement, Attorney Reuven Ladiansky, said that "there is a better alternative in giving money to the poor, and sparing the animals. According to the laws of the State, no animal may be slaughtered outside of a slaughter house."

A day that connects man and place

By Orna Coussin www.haaretz.com October 3, 2008

Last Yom Kippur, I checked my watch to measure the exact time: Forty-five minutes of moderate walking, no more, to get from one end of the city to the other.

…How fortunate we are in Tel Aviv: We have Yom Kippur. Last year, on Yom Kippur, carbon monoxide levels fell from 205 parts per billion, on the day prior to the holiday, to just 2 parts per billion at its height - a phenomenon unmatched anywhere in the world.

And pollution isn't the only thing that's reduced. So is stress and rushing around and grim purposefulness.

…But this year one may also wander the streets in a kind of protest. For Yom Kippur alone is not sufficient to atone for the sins between man and place; but one can at least get out there and make a start.

Haaretz Rosh Hashana Supplement

I am warmly disposed toward Reform and Conservative Jewry

By Shulamit Aloni www.haaretz.com September 30, 2008

Nowadays, I feel warmly disposed toward Reform and Conservative Judaism, and when I travel overseas, I attend Reform and Conservative synagogues to hear the liturgy.

Where no Hebrew child has gone

By Yoram Kaniuk www.haaretz.com September 30, 2008

Yoram Kaniuk's latest novel, "Kesem al Yam Kinneret," was recently published by Yedioth Ahronoth.

Black hole

By Uzi Weil www.haaretz.com September 30, 2008

Uzi Weil is an author and translator.

Weddings and anti-weddings

By Ronit Matalon www.haaretz.com September 30, 2008

Ronit Matalon's novel "Kol Tza'adeinu" (The Sound of Our Steps) was published this year by Am Oved.

Memorial Industries, Ltd.

By Shmuel Hasfari www.haaretz.com September 30, 2008

Shmuel Hasfari is a playwright and a screenwriter.

A house of prayer, in the heart

By Omri Tegamlak Avera www.haaretz.com September 30

Omri Tegamlak Avera is the author of the book "Asterai," published by Yedioth Ahronoth in 2008 (in Hebrew).

New course: How to blow a shofar

By Yaakov Levy www.ynetnews.com October 3, 2008

A special advanced study group is being held at the Beersheba Religious Council for the first time: During the Days of Awe (between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur), synagogue representatives are learning how to blow a shofar, the horn sounded during special prayers.

Amor made it clear that "as far as the Chief Rabbinate and the Religious Council are concerned, those who don't take part in the study group will not be authorized to blow the shofar."

Israel's most beautiful synagogues – part 1

Sigalit Fishbein www.ynetnews.com October 5, 2008

Ynet asked 10 leading architects to select a synagogue they are particularly fond of. 

1. Cymbalista Synagogue, Tel Aviv

2. The Italian Synagogue, Jerusalem

3. Ohel Yaakov Synagogue, Zichron Yaacov

4. Givat Ram synagogue, Jerusalem

5. Megillat Or Synagogue, Caesarea

New 770 building in Lod

www.shturem.net October 5, 2008 

Photo by Berele Sheiner

A groundbreaking ceremony took place for a new replica of 770 to be built in Lod.

This building will join a dozen other such buildings all over the world and in Israel.

Mother, Grandmother Who Gave Birth to Her 19th Child Speaks Out

Click here for VIDEO

Blessings That Never Cease

www.vosizneias.com October 3, 2008

Sima Zelmanov, principal of the Bais Chana Chabad High School in Tzfas, and grandmother of seven, gave birth recently to her nineteenth child a week after marrying off her sixth child.

In doing so, Mrs. Zelmanov, 47, bore an uncle to her grandchildren, the oldest of whom is four. Mrs. Zelmanov is in the unique situation of having both a five-year-old daughter and this four-year-old grandson.

“They are good friends,” Mrs. Zelmanov told Mishpacha a day before the bris.

Sima, who has been married for 27 years, is the principal of the city’s Chabad high school for girls. Her eldest child, a son, is 26. Six of the couple’s children are married.

Sima and her husband are waiting for the birth of their eighth grandchild due next month.

Religion and State in Israel

October 6, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Religion and State in Israel - October 6, 2008 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

October 6, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Protestors support targeted Sternhell

By Ronen Medzini, www.ynetnews.com October 2, 2008

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, a leading Reform group, connected the rally to the Fast of Gedalia – which commences today.

"Our coming together here on this day is not fortuitous. 

The Fast of Gedalia is the only Jewish holy day that does not center on foreign enemies, but rather on domestic actions," said Kariv, adding that it was imperative to learn from the past.

"We are here to warn that if we do not have the presence of mind to stop the violent zealots, we will find ourselves in the same situation the Jews were after the destruction (of the first Temple in Jerusalem) following the murder of Gedalia son of Achikam, or alternately, where Israeli society was 12 years ago after the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin."

Sneh's new party calls for religious equality

By Gil Hoffman www.jpost.com October 6, 2008

Former Labor Party minister Ephraim Sneh unveiled an ambitious and provocative platform for his new Israel Hazaka Party at an event with some 200 supporters in Tel Aviv on Sunday night.

The platform on matters of religion and state, which was written by former Shinui MK Erella Golan, calls for equating all the Jewish religious streams in the law and granting full rights to everyone who arrived by the Law of Return without the need to convert to Judaism.

"In my view, if someone's mother is gentile, but he served three years in the Golani Brigade, he doesn't need a religious procedure to become an Israeli with full rights," Sneh said.

Petition to Pressure Israel on Status of Progressive Rabbi

www.wupj.org October 2, 2008

The Israel Religious Action Center is circulating a petition calling on the State of Israel to immediately recognize and pay the salary of Rabbi Miri Gold, who serves as the spiritual leader of Birkat Shalom, a Progressive congregation at Kibbutz  Gezer, half-way between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

It is also calling on the state to do the same for all of her non-Orthodox peers, and to provide equal funding for all streams of Judaism.

So far, only Orthodox rabbis receive government salaries for jobs such as pulpit work, officiating at weddings and burials, and kashrut supervision.

Tefillin? Not in this school

By Hila Shay Vazan www.ynetnews.com October 1, 2008

photo by AngerBoy

A high school in the central city of Modiin forbade a student to bringing his phylacteries onto school grounds, threatening to expel him.

…The high school principal refused to respond and directed us to the Modiin Municipality's spokesperson, who said that "nothing is stopping those who wish to put on tefillin at the school privately and personally.

The student was asked not to bring his tefillin to school and to persuade others to join him."

Secular Israelis Accept Orthodox Services

By Nathan Jeffay www.forward.com October 2, 2008

Kibbutz Nachshonim is one of around 250 venues across Israel where the Orthodox organization, Tzohar, will send rabbis and volunteers for Yom Kippur services in an effort to confront the antipathy that many secular Israelis have toward Orthodoxy.

…For Yom Kippur, Tzohar’s program is known as Praying Together, and Tzohar expects to offer it to 50,000 people this year — double the number from just five years ago.

The services, which are run by some 2,000 rabbis, yeshiva and seminary students, and young couples recruited by Tzohar, are informal and, most importantly, free of charge.

TV Interview with Itay Epshtain, Director Alma Haifa and Special Projects

www.jpost.com October 1, 2008

Alma institute offers alternative 'slichot' in Yarkon Park

Jpost.com staff www.jpost.com October 1, 2008

Tel Aviv's Alma Home for Hebrew Culture is organizing an alternative slichot event tonight at the Wohl Amphitheater in Yarkon Park on Thursday.

The evening of study and music, held in the open under the autumn night sky, offers a mixture of traditional and modern liturgy with Hebrew songs of introspection and yearning.

…Calderon notes that, over the past decade, "Israelis who do not define themselves as 'religious' and for whom the synagogue does not play a central role in their lives, have returned to the custom of slichot - prayers of atonement. 

This year's gathering will features lectures by Calderon ("The lure of the forbidden - on the nature of sin in Talmudic stories") and Yair Lapid ("Jacob and Esau - the forgiveness that never was"), and live music by Abate, Shem Tov Levy and Rona Kenan, performing traditional and modern arrangements of songs of prayer and liturgy.

Mayoral candidate promises more non-kosher delis

By Nitsan Yanko www.ynetnews.com October 3, 2008

Is Genadi Borshevsky the new hope of secular residents of the central city of Petah Tikva? At least according to his platform he is.

Borshevsky, a council member on behalf of Yisrael Beiteinu, promises to allow the opening of stores selling pork in the city center and to operate public transportation on Shabbat.

"I am certain and believe that the entire public in the city from all streams should be respected, and I believe this should all be done in mutual agreement.

However, it's unthinkable that people want to travel somewhere on Shabbat and are not allowed to do so."

Hadash says may build church in Carmiel

By Galit Peri www.ynetnews.com October 3, 2008

The Hadash movement on Thursday presented its first ever Arab list for the upcoming municipal elections Carmiel, vowing to work for the establishment of a church in the northern city, if needed.

…The third point is caring for the different groups which have special needs in Carmiel, like Christian new immigrants, Arabs in the city and the freedom of religion and culture."

"There are thousands of Christians living in the city of Carmiel in underground conditions without freedom of religion and ritual, and it's about time they get this right to freedom as all other religions in the country."

Will you work to build a church in the city?

"If needed, we'll definitely want to build a church and focus on the celebration of Christian holidays in the city. 

We want life in Carmiel to be kind to people of other religions, alongside cooperation and coexistence with the Jewish population in the city.

Get’ - 15 years after husband's disappearance

By Miriam Bulwar David-Hay www.jpost.com October 6, 2008

The Netanya Rabbinical Court recently took the unusual step of hiring a firm of private detectives recently to track down a husband who disappeared 15 years ago, leaving his estranged wife an "aguna", reports www.mynet.co.il

And the rabbinate's efforts proved successful. 

The husband was eventually found in Beersheba, from where, with the help of police, he was brought back to Netanya to give the woman a divorce.

Status of Jewish women was better in the Middle Ages than now, says Prof Naomi Cohen

By Elana Sztokman www.blog.elanasztokman.com October 3, 2008

Current rabbinic attitudes towards women have in some ways regressed in the modern era, argued Professor Naomi Cohen, speaking to a packed crowd at the Annual Leah Globe Memorial Evening of Mavoi Satum in Jerusalem.

One of the key initiatives for change is the program for the Alternative Beit Din, a plan in collaboration between Mavoi Satum, Kolech, and Neemanei Torah Va’avodah to start a religious court that is outside of the state bureaucratic apparatus.

“We need a system that is not just outside the Beit Din but also has a whole different way of thinking – an openness, tolerance, and an understanding of modern society,” said Kahana Dror.

Rabbi Haim Druckman: The 'darling' of religious Zionism

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com September 25, 2008

Occasionally, due to circumstances beyond their control, some public figures break out of their roles as run-of-the-mill institutional heads and become an embodiment of a cause.

That is precisely what happened to Rabbi Haim Druckman, outgoing head of the National Conversion Authority.

Druckman's nearly overnight metamorphosis into the darling of religious Zionism was the direct result of an unprecedented attack launched on him by Rabbi Avraham Sherman, a member of the High Rabbinical Court.

Expanded Diaspora affairs ministry may be on tap

By Haviv Rettig www.jpost.com October 6, 2008

The Post has learned that no Diaspora-related issues, including questions of religion and state, have been raised in the current coalition negotiations.

The Post has learned, however, of a meeting Monday morning between Yehezkel and the part-time Diaspora Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog (whose primary portfolio is Welfare and Social Services) at which the two will discuss fashioning a new Diaspora Affairs Ministry.

The new Diaspora affairs minister, under a plan conceived in the Prime Minister's Office some three months ago, would combine many of these functions - combating anti-Semitism, promoting Jewish identity inside and out of Israel, managing Masa and other agencies, and the day-to-day connection to the Diaspora - into one permanent cabinet-level position.

Wail of a Time

By Lynn Harris www.nextbook.org September 26, 2008

I've been screamed at before. 

Protests at abortion clinics leap to mind; I've held signs, silently, as the more vocal among the anti-abortion activists howled and shouted the rosary, the volume of their clamor matching the depth of their conviction. 

But I’d never been screamed at like this before. And this time, I was the one trying to pray. 

…This particular service was the monthly gathering put together by Women of the Wall (WOW), an interdenominational group that has fought since 1988 in courts and in situ to allow women to pray as a group at the Kotel, wearing tallitot, and handling, being called to, and reading from Torah. 

Who moved my note?

By Neta Sela www.ynetnews.com September 30, 2008

As before every Rosh Hashana, a campaign was held at the Western Wall in recent days to clean the stones from the thousands of notes placed between them every day by the many visitors.

The cleaning campaign was held to mark the tradition of "Yashan mipnei chadash totzi'u" (remove the old because of the new – Leviticus 26:10)

Orthodox join growing Israeli trend of spending Yom Kippur in hotels

By Eli Ashkenazi www.haaretz.com October 6, 2008

Israelis in growing numbers, including the Orthodox, are choosing to spend Yom Kippur in hotels and inns. 

A Haaretz study shows that resort villages in the Galilee and the Golan Heights which will be open on the Day of Atonement this Wednesday night and Thursday are reporting an average of 60 percent occupancy. 

Women look for shidduch in synagogues

By Tova Dadon www.ynetnews.com October 4, 2008

A new phenomenon has emerged during the penitential prayers held in the southern city of Kiryat Gat after midnight:

Young girls arrive in masses at the synagogues' women's gallery, and while seeking forgiveness for sins they committed over the past year, they search for potential mates among at the young men praying at the temple.

Meanwhile, the boys appear to cooperate, many of them telling of dates which take place at the end of the prayers.

Chief Rabbi: False use of kippa despicable

By Neta Sela www.ynetnews.com September 30, 2008

Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has called on defendants going before the bench to "stop sporting a kippa just for show."

"I cannot judge someone's heart," said Rabbi Metzger.

"If someone has committed a crime and truly wished to repent, it is, by all means, the right thing to do; but this new thing we're seeing, where killers are arrested and then they wear a kippa when appearing before the judge, is despicable.

"It is an abuse of religion and a complete disregard of the judges' intelligence," he said.

Swan song for kibbutz yeshiva

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com October 3, 2008

Enrollment has long since been suspended, and both students and faculty have come to terms with seeing the curtain close on the yeshiva in Kibbutz Ein-Tzurim.

Considered the flagship rabbinical school of the religious kibbutz movement, the decision to close down the yeshiva was not an easy one.

…The proliferation of hesder yeshivas and pre-army prep institutions (mechinot) both contributed to the loss of interest in the yeshiva's once unique program.

As shmita ends, gardeners gear up for hard work

By Eli Ashkenazi www.haaretz.com October 3, 2008

"I have to relearn how to hold a hoe," joked Haim Step, who is responsible for beautifying the gardens at Lavi, a religious kibbutz in the lower Galilee.

Step had waited eagerly for the end of the shmita (sabbatical) year, during which the fields must lie fallow, according to Jewish law. 

Now that the new year is here, he said, he expects to find a lot of work waiting for him. 

Contrary to popular belief, which holds that shmita is a year of rest for farmers, Amra said that "from the point of view of work, the shmita year is a regular work year.

We continued to produce saplings, but we had a strange feeling - we worked and worked, but the saplings remained here and were not distributed.

But at the same time, shmita is a good and healthy thing for nature, because it is a year of rest for the soil." 

Religious Jews sign prozbul, promise to pay off debts

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com October 3, 2008

The end of shmita - the sabbatical year during which, according to Jewish law, the land must lie fallow - was marked by a rare event in Jewish communities around the world: the signing of a prozbul, a document that enables loans to be collected even though all debts are supposed to be forgiven during shmita. 

…Though the commandment of doing away with debts is in fact null and void, this year, certain members of the religious Zionist movement tried to "revive" it.

The Torah and Land Institute, along with the Pa'amonim charitable association, conducted a national campaign over the past few weeks to collect money from the public as "loans."

Russian immigrants explore their Jewishness at Limmud event in Israel

By Dina Kraft www.jpost.com October 2, 2008

Interest in the event, which had to be expanded after hundreds more than expected registered for it, reflects a growing curiosity among immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union about their Jewish heritage.

Almost 20 years since the historic immigration of some 1 million Jews to Israel began, immigrants both old and young are examining their Jewish identity as they try to make sense of their place in the Jewish state.

Russia's chief rabbi: Living in Israel weakens faith

By Neta Sela www.ynetnews.com October 2, 2008

Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar has harsh words for Israeli society, particularly the ultra-Orthodox community, in regards to its treatment of Russian Jews who immigrated to Israel.

…Lazar says that the reason for the failure of Russian integration is the fact that the immigrants were not prepared for their new lives, as well as the cold shoulder they got from the haredi community. 

This, he said, pushed them into the embrace of Israel's secular public.

…"Even the gentiles understand that religion is not meant to be divisive, and it's a shame that not all Jews understand this. 

The official recognition helps our struggle against Reform and Conservative sects, who seek to take over Judaism."

Israelis guard Haredis' return from Kiev

By Zohar Blumenkrantz www.haaretz.com October 3, 2008

On Rosh Hashanah eve, advertisements showing scantily-dressed women were removed from Ben-Gurion Airport to spare the Hasids' feelings as they passed through. 

The duty-free shops also removed pictures and advertisements that might embarrass the ultra-Orthodox pilgrims. 

The Airports Authority also prepared special compounds for the Hasids' check-in and security checks, set up separate passport control counters and stationed ushers to help maintain order.

In addition, it set aside prayer areas and offices for the pilgrims' travel agents in the airport. 

At the Hasids' request, the authority also delivered special kosher food to Ukraine, on top of the single food box each traveler was allowed to take on the plane. 

Uman in photos

By Israel Bardugo, Uman www.ynetnews.com October 6, 2008

Some 20,000 Israelis visited Rabbi Nachman's grave in the Ukrainian city of Uman, which became an Israeli town for a week.

Ynet photographer Israel Bardugo spent the Jewish New Year with Breslov Hasidim and prayed as part of a Chabad quorum. 

Here is a peek into his festive journey.

Jewish-Christian NPO paid exec $824,000 salary

By Anshel Pfeffer www.haaretz.com October 3, 2008

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, received an annual salary of $824,000 last year, according to a tax return that the nonprofit organization filed in the United States. 

According to the tax return, the IFCJ raised $75 million in 2007, out of which it distributed some $42 million in donations to various programs and paid $30 million in wages and administrative expenses. 

An IFCJ spokesman in Chicago told Haaretz:

"Rabbi Eckstein's wages were just a little more than $400,000. Another sum of $400,000 was put into a pension fund for him, because until now, no pension allocations had been made for him.

In light of this, his salary is reasonable for an American charity of this magnitude.

We have an independent board of trustees that sets Rabbi Eckstein's wages according to the accepted norms for large Jewish organizations in the U.S."

Religion and State in Israel

October 6, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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