Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - October 13, 2008

Religion and State in Israel

October 13, 2008

Editor – Joel Katz

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

High Court rules infidelity consequence-free

By Aviad Glickman www.ynetnews.com October 10, 2008

Infidelity during marriage does not constitute a "special circumstance" that would serve as good cause to deviate from an equitable division of assets following a divorce, the Israel High Court ruled on Wednesday. In doing so, it overturned a ruling by the Chief Rabbinate.

Infidelity is one thing, finances are another

By Ze'ev Segal www.haaretz.com October 12, 2008

Last week's High Court of Justice ruling, which overturned a Rabbinic Court of Appeals decision stating that a woman who commits adultery loses some of her financial rights during a divorce, naturally constitutes a convenient arena for conflict on the broader playing field of religion and state.

Nor is this the first time financial relations between spouses have constituted a cause for such conflict.

Religious courts: Society must shun divorce-deniers

By Tamar Rotem, www.haaretz.com October 11, 2008

The denouncing of a man for refusing to grant a get can be a major deterrent in ultra-Orthodox society, but so far the religious courts have been loathe to apply it.

However about a month ago, Briksman's picture was released on the Web site of the rabbinic court, alongside photographs of other men who have refused to give their wives divorces.

Holy Temple Hakhel Ceremonies Look Backward and Forward

By Hillel Fendel www.israelnationalnews.com October 10, 2008

The Sabbatical (Shemittah) year has ended, making way - in accordance with Biblical law and tradition - for Hakhel, a ceremony that will be remembered and reenacted over Sukkot.

The word Hakhel (pronounced Hock-hel) literally means "Gather the people together," and is a Biblical commandment (Deut. 31, 10-12) for the entire nation to gather in Jerusalem for the purpose of hearing parts of the Torah read aloud in an awe-inspiring ceremony. Hakhel must take place during the Sukkot holiday following the Shemittah year, in the courtyards of the Holy Temple.

The next day, on Thursday at 3:30 PM at the Western Wall plaza, another Hakhel-related ceremony will be held, involving the introduction of a new Torah Scroll to the Western Wall praying area. Sponsored by the Chief Rabbinate, government offices, and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, it will feature the presence of former and current Chief Rabbis, but will be less Temple-oriented in nature.

The latter ceremony will not involve trumpets or priestly garments, and its official title says it is "in memory of the Hakhel ceremony." The Temple Institute, on the other hand, is more forward-looking in its terminology, calling its event a "Reenactment of Hakhel, in anticipation of its restoration."

Ashkelon's only college bans non-kosher food from dorms

By Ofri Ilani www.haaretz.com October 10, 2008

Students at Ashkelon's only institution of higher learning are forbidden from bringing non-kosher food into the dormitory premises, Haaretz has learned.

The regulations function as a contract between students and the college, and Bar-Ilan University is authorized to remove students who do not adhere to the rule.

Supreme Court Rules on Kashrus Issue

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com October 10, 2008

The Supreme Court last week issued a temporary injunction ordering the Chief Rabbinate to halt the practice by which restaurants and caterers pay their mashgiach directly, as has been the practice under the Rabbinate supervision for many years.

The court is calling for establishing work standards for mashgichim, as well as qualifications, including an exam permitting candidates to exhibit a proficiency in kashrus matters and thereby being certified.

The court ruled the Chief Rabbinate, religious councils, and the Ministry of Religious Services have not maintained a proper defined standard since 2004 and have ignored previous court rulings on the matter of kashrus.

Ed. Min. pressured to reinstate Leviev program

By Or Kashti www.haaretz.com October 10 2008

Representatives of the Lev Leviev Foundation's Zman Masa (Journey Time) program for bolstering Jewish identity have recently been pressuring the Education Ministry to reverse its decision to stop using the program in schools.

The program, which focuses on understanding Judaism, is designed to be taught at state-run elementary schools.

With no blowing of trumpets

By Nadav Shragai www.haaretz.com October 7 2008

The people responsible for this year's ceremony are Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who is considered the leading Ashkenazi Haredi adjudicator of rabbinical law of this generation, and his disciple, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.

Two decades ago, the Haredim were already expressing reservations about holding the Hakhel at the Western Wall. At that time, they called president Herzog - whose father, former chief rabbi Yitzhak Herzog, had been in favor of reviving the Hakhel - "vinegar derived from wine," an epithet for a despised offshoot of a good family, and waged a noisy campaign against the event.

Now, with Haredim occupying all the positions of power, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, in consultation with Elyashiv and the chief rabbis, has decided that the president, the prime minister and the president of the Supreme Court will not be invited.

Instead, the dignitaries will be rabbis: the current chief rabbis - Metzger and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar - and their predecessors, Rabbis Yisrael Meir Lau and Eliahu Bakshi-Doron. Two well-known cantors, Binyamin Helfgott and Moshe Habusha, will also attend.

Sukkot segregation in Meah Shearim

By Neta Sela www.ynetnews.com October 12, 2008

Any women who may be planning to attend the traditional Simchat Beit Hashoeva festivities (water-drawing festival) in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Meah Shearim this Sukkot may want to think twice, as they may no be allowed to enter the area.

Meah Shearim Residents Threaten to Keep Visitors Out This Sukkos

www.hamercaz.com October 7 2008

A group of Meah Shearim residents have collected 2,000 signatures on a petition to stop the flood of visitors to the neighborhood on Chol Hamoed Sukkos.

"Our neighborhood is not a tourist attraction!" signs posted throughout the neighborhood proclaim.

"This year, we will not permit under any circumstances, for visitors and tourists to come to our neighborhood on Chol Hamoed Sukkos nights," the posters warn.

Sukka of Tolerance Built in Kiryat Menachem

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com October 10 2008

With tensions running high of late in the Kiryat Menachem neighborhood of Yerushalayim, a number of residents decided to take a step in what they perceive as being a positive direction – establishing a “Sukka of Tolerance”.

Teens affiliated with Israel Scouts, Ariel and Bnei Akiva have joined forces, explaining they will celebrate Sukkos with one-another in the hope of sending a message of tolerance to the neighborhood’s adults.

On Hashanah Rabba, there will be a night of learning which will include the non-frum teens. The night will include shiurim, lectures, and music, hoping to offer something for everyone.

Etrog imports OK'd to stymie smugglers

By Amiram Cohen www.haaretz.com October 7 2008

For the first time in 2,000 years of recorded history, Israel will have to import citrus fruit. Yesterday the Agriculture Ministry approved the import of 2,000 citrons, or etrogs, from Italy, mainly to foil smugglers of the fruit.

Jerusalem's Recycled Sukkah

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu www.israelnationalnews.com October 7 2008

The municipality of Jerusalem has erected the country's largest Sukkah, built from recycled materials.

AM:PM CEO fired for employing Jews on Yom Kippur

By Tani Goldstein www.ynetnews.com October 10 2008

Dudi Weissman, owner of the 24/7 chain store AM:PM decided to fire CEO Oded Blum Friday, after the latter sanctioned the employment of Jewish workers during Yom Kippur.

Branches of AM:PM, which are regularly open on Shabbat, were meant to be closed on Yom Kippur, like other Israeli franchises.

However, the chain opted to employ security workers to guard the stores, some of whom were Jewish.

Israeli Stores Employ Jewish Workers on Yom Kippur, Charedim Threaten Boycott

www.hamercaz.com October 10 2008

The AM:PM convenience store chain is being threatened with a boycott for reportedly employing Jews at a number of stores it kept open over Yom Kippur.

63% of Israelis Jews plan to fast on Yom Kippur

www.ynetnews.com October 8 2008

In the first part of the poll, respondents were asked whether they plan to fast on Yom Kippur and why.

Sixty-three percent said they would fast, 38% of them because of Jewish tradition, 23% because they observe mitzvoth and 2% "because everyone fasts."

Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they have no plans to fast during the day.

An analysis of the religious affiliations reveals a huge gap between haredi, religious and traditional people, a vast majority of whom plan to fast (93%-100%), and secular people who won't refrain from eating (56%).

Another analysis shows that the older the respondent, the lower the number of people fasting (89% of people aged 18 to 20, and 52% of people over the age of 51 plan to fast).

Israeli airports set for Yom Kippur shutdown

By Zohar Blumenkrantz www.haaretz.com October 8 2008

No planes will land or take off in Israel after 1 P.M. today because of the Yom Kippur holiday, which begins this evening, the Israel Airports Authority said yesterday.

It said 28,000 passengers are expected to pass through Israel's airports today, on 85 outgoing flights and 84 incoming ones.

Ben-Gurion International Airport will reopen for arrivals at 9:30 P.M. tomorrow and for departures at 10:30 P.M.

Yom Kippur is the only day of the year in which all the country's airports are closed and there is no domestic or international traffic in Israeli airspace.

Ynet readers extend their apologies

www.ynetnews.com October 8 2008

On the eve of the Day of Atonement, Ynet invited its readers to reveal whom they are apologizing to, from who they want an apology and for what transgressions. A mosaic of small sins and great failures was created.

Ben-Gurion Airport shuts down for Yom Kippur

www.ynetnews.com October 8 2008

Civilian aerial traffic in Israel will cease at 1 pm Wednesday ahead of the Yom Kippur holiday. Ben-Gurion Airport will reopen on Thursday evening at 9:30 for arrivals, while departures will begin at 10:30 pm.

Israel's internal airports will resume their activities at 9 pm Thursday.

Rabbi: 'Stale' water permitted on Yom Kippur

By Ari Gilhar www.ynetnews.com October 8, 2008

A halachic breakthrough by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, leader of Israel's Lithuanian non-Hasidic haredi Ashkenazi Jews, allows patients to drink as much "stale" water as they wish during Yom Kippur.

Most guesthouses open on Yom Kippur

By Ilana Fischer www.ynetnews.com October 8, 2008

Mandy Nesher, CEO of the www.weekend.co.il portal, says that as far as tourist industry members are concerned, Yom Kippur is a regular business day.

Communicating with the Divine

October 7, 2008

Communications Minister Ariel Atias is Shas's wunderkind.

In the 2006 elections, just five years after leaving the Torah study hall to work in Shas spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's kosher supervision apparatus ("I was 30 years old and had to find a way to support my family"), Atias was parachuted into Shas's Number 2 slot.

Do Shas's rabbis really reach out to all sectors of Israeli society? And if so, why do you think there is a need for organizations such as Tzohar?

Rabbis that are connected with Shas do not try to create a new religion. There is one religion. There is one Torah that was handed down to us from Moses on Mount Sinai.

When you talk about the rabbis who try to create a custom-tailored religion that fits like a suit each person in accordance with his personality, that is not religion.

We say to people, "this is the truth." If you cannot keep it all, keep part of it. Go to the mikveh, keep kosher. Do what is possible, and what you can't do, save for tomorrow.

But you cannot pick and choose. There is no such thing as different religions for different people. We are willing to help you come closer to God, but it has to be done in the true way.

What happened to the Deri revolution?

By Anshel Pfeffer www.haaretz.com October 10, 2008

Beyond a small, die-hard band of cronies, there doesn't seem to be any great enthusiasm for his return.

Journalists tend to see the low-income, traditional Sephardic constituency as easily manipulated by populist politicians, but the last elections, when they deserted their old political homes - Likud and Shas - in droves, proved that no one can take them for granted, not even the sorcerer Deri.

Was the Shmita Dispute Overblown?

By Anshel Pfeffer www.haaretz.com October 10, 2008

The shmita is over, and the arguments that raged a year ago between the ultra-Orthodox and the national-religious establishments over how to observe the Sabbath of the soil seem rather pointless now.

Pampering, Plucking and Dipping: A whole new kind of mikva

Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman


October 7, 2008

“Certainly it’s great that they are making mikva a more pleasant experience,” says Rabbi Dr. Haviva Ner David, whose doctoral thesis is on the halakhic evolution of mikva.

“But I would rather see a focus on developing spiritual aspects of mikva rather than on the woman’s body.

Empowerment and pluralism are also key issues.

I would like no attendants, for example, and to do away with that whole checking and watching.

An ideal mikva, in my dream, should give women freedom and privacy to explore their own spirituality in their own way.”

Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen delivers first speech by a Jew to Synod of Catholic bishops.

Click for VIDEO

Haifa chief rabbi addresses the Vatican

By Matthew Wagner October 7 2008

Haifa Chief Rabbi She'ar Yishuv Cohen expressed his opposition to the beatification of Holocaust-era Pope Pius XII Monday during an unprecedented address before the Vatican's Synod of Bishops.

Is that cellphone kosher?

By Erica Chernofsky www.bbc.co.uk October 6 2008

The BBC's Erica Chernofsky looks at how Israel's highly traditional ultra-Orthodox Jewish community is tackling the challenges and opportunities of new communications technologies.

Blind up in arms over ultra-Orthodox management of school sports facilities

By Ruth Sinai www.haaretz.com October 7 2008

A decision by Jerusalem's veteran school for the blind to allow an ultra-Orthodox sports club management company to run its sports facilities has placed it at loggerheads with an advocacy group.

The Center for the Blind says the Jewish Institute for the Blind is refusing show it the contract with KosherGym, which runs fitness rooms for the ultra-Orthodox and the Orthodox.

Rabbi Batzri: Get married before joining IDF

By Neta Sela www.ynetnews.com October 7, 2008

The mystic Rabbi David Batzri, head of the “Hashalom” Yeshiva in Jerusalem, urged young Jews to get married at the age of 17 and have 12 children.

Batzri told single Jewish youngsters at a Selichot prayer service held at Tel Aviv's Yad Eliyahu arena on Monday that

"anyone who is aged 17 and a day – get married at once! Don’t enlist in the army before you're married; and (young Jewish) girls shouldn't enlist at all."

Rabbi Sperber on Women Reading Torah

By Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman www.kolech.org.il October 13, 2008

The writer blogs at


Which comes first, community custom or the dignity of God's creatures?

That is the essence of the question about women having a public voice in synagogue, including reading from the Torah.

The view that women’s dignity is paramount may seem like common sense, but that argument is somehow considered radical.

Such is the experience of Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber, whose essay on the subject of Women and Torah Reading published this week on YNet and Kolech has incurred a disproportionate amount of hostility and ridiculous accusations that he is heretical, “Reform” (good heavens!) or a threat to the future of the Jewish people.

With Deri out, Porush courts Haredi elite

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com October 7, 2008

MK Meir Porush can expect to sweat it out until the last minute, without knowing the conditions under which he will become the agreed-on ultra-Orthodox candidate for Jerusalem mayor. And "the last minute" is no turn of phrase; the ultra-Orthodox don't ask by what day they need to submit the names of candidates - they ask by what time.

Metzger issues prayer in TA for Schalit's return

October 7, 2008

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger has issued a prayer for the safe return of captive soldier Gilad Schalit which he plans to distribute on Tuesday, to be read in synagogues throughout Israel on Yom Kippur and weekly on Shabbat after the Torah reading.

Revitalizing the dream

October 12, 2008

As we begin a new year we can be proud that we, the Jewish people, are united together through hard times as well as good; that Israel is there for the Jewish people wherever they are, and the Jewish people are there for Israel.

New humanitarian group aims to train Jewish leaders to 'fix world'

October 10 2008

There's a lack of young Jewish-Israeli leaders in the Tikkun Olam world, contend Adam LeAdam [Human being to Human being] founders Uri Amit and Yarden Tenenbaum.

Recognizing that lack in the field of humanitarian projects abroad, the two, both former emissaries of the Jewish Agency came together to form Adam LeAdam and develop a program to train and support future leaders, both Israelis and Jews from the Diaspora.

'Lost' synagogue reopens in Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter

By Matthew Wagner October 13, 2008

A group of rabbis, politicians, philanthropists and right-wing activists gathered Sunday in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City to celebrate the reopening of a synagogue located about 100 meters from the Temple Mount.

Police Protection for Kosel Rav

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com October 10, 2008

Police have assigned bodyguards for Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Kosel Rav, who is also the rav of the Holy Places around the country. This includes the kever of the Rashbi, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

According to police, there are “extremist elements” that object to the rav being in granted authority of the kever, and have gone so far as to threaten him and his family.

The making of a dove

By Yair Sheleg www.haaretz.com October 12, 2008

Book Review: Be'emunato: The Story of Rabbi Yehuda Amital, by Elyashiv Reichner Yedioth Ahronoth Books and Chemed Books

Over the years, Rabbi Yehuda Amital, head of the Har Etzion hesder yeshiva (where students combine compulsory military service with their Talmudic studies) in Alon Shvut, has become one of the rabbis that even secular Jews (including those on the left) love to love.

Second Temple period fragment with inscription 'Son of High Priest' found

Click here for VIDEO

By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10 www.haaretz.com October 10, 2008

Second Temple period fragment with inscription 'Son of High Priest' found

www.jpost.com www.jta.org October 7, 2008

Archeologists discovered a sarcophagus fragment identified with one of the high priests who served in the Second Temple.

The fragment made of hard limestone, discovered in salvage excavations along the security fence north of Jerusalem, bears the inscription "Ben HaCohen HaGadol" (son of the High Priest).

Monastery atop Church of Holy Sepulchre in danger of collapse

By Jonathan Lis www.haaretz.com October 7 2008

The historic Deir al-Sultan monastery on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is in danger of collapse.

The monastery's two chapels and the tiny rooms where its monks live could crumble, injuring the many tourists who visit the site, as well as the monks who live there, and even the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulchre itself.

Saving Christianity from itself

Haaretz Editorial www.haaretz.com October 10 2008

Israel's responsibility for the holy places in Jerusalem sometimes involves it in disputes and power struggles between religious communities.

There is no better example than the centuries-old dispute between the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church over the control of the Deir al-Sultan Monastery on the roof of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City.

Peres visits Akko, urges side to exercise tolerance

Sharon Roffe-Ofir www.ynetnews.com October 13, 2008

President Shimon Peres arrived in the northern Israeli city of Akko on Monday, accompanied by Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar.

Israel Radio hosts Ramadan Quiz finals

By Yoav Stern www.haaretz.com October 10, 2008

The finals of the Ramadan Quiz were held Tuesday by the programming department of Israel Radio in Arabic. This was the first time the quiz was held in this format.

The head of the Israel Radio's Arabic programming, Yasser Atila, said Thursday: "We are working on quizzes for Christians and Druze. Our goal is to have an encounter between cultures and promote peace and understanding among the various religions."

Victims of polygamy

By Sarab Aburabia-Queder www.haaretz.com October 10, 2008

Dr. Sarab Aburabia-Queder is a lecturer at the Blaustein Institute for Desert Research of Ben-Gurion University, and a feminist activist in the Bedouin community.

We in the Bedouin community do not normally discuss sensitive issues like polygamy with the general Israeli public.

…Over the past two years, a number of Bedouin women's organizations in the Negev have tried to come out against the phenomenon of polygamy, whether by raising awareness of the issue within the community via conferences, or by using religious dialogue as a way of moderating it.

But in each case, they have been met by merciless attacks from religious officials, who continue to promote the practice by comparing our situation to that of the states in the West.

Their argument is that, if in the West, there is prostitution, then "at least in Arab society, we do it via legal marriages."

Religion and State in Israel

October 13, 2008

Editor – Joel Katz

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