Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - October27, 2008 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

October 27, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Rabbi Yosef calls on Shas supporters to vote for Porush

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com October 27, 2008

United Torah Judaism's candidate for Jerusalem mayor, MK Meir Porush, has received his first public endorsement from a major spiritual leader in the ultra-Orthodox community, two and a half weeks before the elections.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of Shas, on Saturday night urged his party's supporters to vote for Shas' list for the municipal council and for Porush on the separate ballot slip for mayor.

Porush is focusing his campaign on the national religious sector, the same public for which secular candidate Nir Barkat is vying.

Both men are convinced that this particular population will determine the election's outcome.

However, in order to win, Porush, who is trailing behind Barkat in the public opinion polls, will have to unite the entire Haredi public. Rabbi Yosef is the first to publicly endorse his candidacy.

Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlita Endorses Meir Porush for Mayor

Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com October 26, 2008

Chacham Ovadia Shlita continued his election instructions to Shas followers, explaining that 

“in the Heavenly Court we are judged and we must act appropriately,” going on to explain that 
“by casting a ballot for Porush on 13 Cheshvan, we may earn a higher place in the World to Come since Porush will build mikvaos and continue his good deeds, and we are compelled to ensure his success….

…A mikve costs $250,000 and we must take part in building. How can I do this? I barely meet my monthly expenses with my salary,” stated the Rav rhetorically. 
“By voting for Porush, that’s how! With placing a simple white piece of paper in a ballot box, one buys one’s Olam Haba”.

Needed: A passionate mayor . . .

By Elan Ezrachi www.haaretz.com Opinion October 24, 2008

Dr. Elan Ezrachi is the director of the International School for Jerusalem Studies at Yad Ben-Zvi.

At the very center of the city's plight is the ultra-Orthodox population, who make up about 20 percent of Jerusalem's citizenry.

Given that the capital will continue to be a stronghold of the Haredi community - with a very high birth rate that is altering the demographics of local schools - what can be done to balance their legitimate needs with the ability of the city to sustain itself economically?

Younger members of this population cannot afford housing in Jerusalem any more than young secular residents can. 

…The Haredim should be encouraged to contribute to the well-being of the city by joining the workforce while protecting their own vital interests.

As long as they lack housing in their neighborhoods, they will spill over into others. By constructing housing appropriate for all, it should be possible to prevent other sections of the city from becoming predominantly Haredi.

Jerusalem needs leadership that understands this, and will seek to moderate the friction between different populations. 

. . . and a city council to keep him honest

By Rachel Azaria www.haaretz.com Opinion October 24, 2008

Rachel Azaria is co-chair of the Hitorerut-Yerushalmim list for city council, which is made up of young professionals who aim to improve conditions for Jerusalem's secular, traditional and modern-Orthodox residents.

The elections are expected to be decisive for the city's future.

The last five years have been difficult ones for the capital's non-ultra-Orthodox residents.

Although Haredim constitute some 25 percent of the city's voters, for the past half-decade they have dictated the municipal agenda, directing resources principally to their sectorial needs.

For non-Haredim, voting is an opportunity to redress the imbalance that has been the stuff of Jerusalem city politics since 1993. 

Ultra-Orthodox politics

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com October 22, 2008

There is no need to play the self-righteous card. After all, politics is politics.

But at present, particularly as we approach municipal elections in Jerusalem, the pot has reached its boiling point and will likely leave the entire ultra-Orthodox political establishment with nasty burns. 

…Until November 11, it seems every political operative in the fractured ultra-Orthodox community will continue to pray hard for the downfall of his respective rival. 

Rabbi Aviner: Porush has no consideration for national-religious public

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com October 27, 2008

 “(Jerusalem mayoral candidate) Meir Porush and the ultra-Orthodox public have no consideration for the National-Zionist population. 

They aren’t interested in them, do not recognize them and do not think they have any significance,” said Rabbi Shlomo Aviner ahead of the November 11 vote.

He also mentioned during an interview with Kol Hai Radio that the “national-religious population prefers a true partnership than an inferior stance,” and for this reason, he said, most of them support secular candidate Nir Barkat, who promised National-Religious representatives senior positions at the municipality.

Israel military rabbi under fire for 'brainwashing' soldiers

By Amos Harel www.haaretz.com October 23, 2008

The Chief Military Rabbinate has recently expanded its educational activities in IDF combat units, and in doing so has entered areas previously served only by the Education Corps.

Many commanders accept offers of such programs since the rabbinate pays for these activities, while the units must foot the bill for events run by the Education Corps. 

…Non-profit organizations and religious citizens have been contributing money via Libi - The Fund for Strengthening Israel's Defense.

The contributions are earmarked for specific purposes, in this case the rabbinate's educational activities. The sums are significant, and give the rabbinate an advantage over the Education Corps.

Army values / IDF infiltrator?

By Amos Harel www.haaretz.com October 24, 2008

The head of the Manpower Branch will now examine why the Rabbinate invaded the Education Corps sector, without bothering to coordinate with them. 

The real mover behind the power grab is Lt. Col. Zadok Ben-Artzi, the head of the Jewish Awareness department. His friends say he has a feeling of being on a "continual divine mission." 

…These battles are being fought while in the background a major demographic change is taking place in the IDF: Over a third of the combat officers in the lower ranks are religious.

The IDF is actually more open to Jewish values than in the past, even after it threw out Lubavitch Hasidim from its bases over 10 years ago.

But the processes Ronski and Ben-Artzi are igniting seem to be a worrying attempt to destroy the status quo. Only intervention by Ashkenazi can stop this and get the Rabbinate into perspective.

Labor MK demands IDF be investigated for alleged proselytizing

By Amos Harel www.haaretz.com October 26, 2008

The chairman of the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee, MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor):

"The [military] rabbinate is overstepping its authority, which is solely to provide religious services, and is acting in an aggressive manner in order to cause Israel Defense Forces soldiers to become religiously observant.

This activity undermines religious-secular relations in the IDF and leads the army into dealing with areas beyond its scope. It uses the IDF to advance religious and political ideas.

The [military] rabbinate is bringing religion in through the back door, in a dangerous manner, and harming the IDF's ability to fulfill its mission." 

Without a Lord of (military) Hosts

Haaretz Editorial www.haaretz.com October 26, 2008

The military rabbinate's desire to expand beyond the narrow boundaries of meeting the religious needs of interested soldiers undermines the foundations of the IDF's existence.

Israel is a state of democratic law, not one of religious law. And it has a secular majority, which would be outraged if anyone tried to change its way of life through religious coercion. 

…The senior command's acquiescence in military rabbis' efforts to expose nonreligious soldiers to religious propaganda violates the obligations of the chief of staff and his generals - and the defense minister and the cabinet above them - toward citizens whom the law has forced to don a uniform. 

Chief IDF rabbi taught Torah to jailed Jewish extremists

By Amos Harel www.haaretz.com October 27, 2008

The chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces has in the past year been visiting prisoners associated with extreme right-wing groups, some of whom are serving jail sentences for planning or helping to carry out terrorist attacks against Arabs, Haaretz has learned. 

Brig. Gen. Rabbi Avichai Ronski, who assumed his position in 2006, has met with the prisoners to teach them about Judaism.

The IDF Spokesman's Office responded to a query about the visits by saying that the encounters were a private initiative of Ronski. 

Orthodox, but not Jewish enough for aliya

By Seth Farber www.jpost.com October 23, 2008

Two criteria related to conversion delegitimize even the most serious of Orthodox converts.

The first - which is reasonable in its conception but not in its realization - prevents Orthodox converts from making aliya subsequent to their conversion. 

…But a second criterion is even more deleterious to the Jewish fabric of the state. In the past two years, the Chief Rabbinate has radically downsized the list of recognized Orthodox rabbis whose conversions will be confirmed for purposes of marriage.

…The State has to learn to rely on Diaspora Jewish communities.

Benny Lau Attacks Rabbi Elyashev on Conversion Issue

www.hamercaz.com October 27, 2008

During a recent event regarding the status of conversions in Israel, Dr. Benny Lau attacked Rabbi Elyashev’s position on maintaining a strict Halachic standard.

The gathering, which took place in Beit Morashah in Yerushalayim, discussed the decision to consider all of Rabbi Chaim Druckman’s conversions unacceptable.

“Rabbi (Shlomo) Amar’s understanding on the topic of conversions is clear,” Lau stated.

“Only it is not being put into action because of the fear…Rabbanim cannot speak their minds because of being terrorized by Rabbi Elyashev.” 

Lau insinuated that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef also disagreed with Rabbi Elyashev but was afraid to make his opinion public.

Lau also attacked Dayanim that belonged to the religious Zionist movement, saying many of them are “enemies not visible to the eye.”

According to him, “some of ‘our’ own Dayanim come from Batei Medrash that make them too focused on their own sect…some of them want to wreak destruction in the area of conversions even more than Rabbi Elyashev.”

The event ended with Dr. Moshe Holinger of Bar Ilan University calling for religious Zionist Dayanim to band together to come up with less strict guidelines for Geirim that would be accepted by the Reform and Orthodox movement, even at the price of having to break away from the Charedim.

Chevra Kadisha: Crash victim won't be buried in coffin

By Roi Mandel www.ynetnews.com October 26, 2008

Conflict arose Sunday over the burial of one of Friday's light plane crash victims as his family requested to lay him to rest in a coffin, while Chevra Kadisha, the Israeli burial society, refused and demanded he be buried in a shroud.

The family of Menachem Ben-Zaccaria of Netanya, who was killed in the crash along with three others, was told that using a coffin was against Halacha and would be impossible.

Netanya's chief rabbi said that an official Chevra Kadisha representative inspected the body, and that it was intact, therefore there was no need for a coffin.

(The deceased's sister) Havi criticized Chevra Kadisha's conduct, saying, "It's a shame on the State of Israel that they behave this way. Because they are a monopoly that lives at our expense, they allow themselves to do whatever they want. Unfortunately, this is our State of Israel."

Livni considers more power for rabbinical courts in bid to lure Shas

Click here for VIDEO

By Mazal Mualem www.haaretz.com October 24, 2008

Prime Minister-designate Tzipi Livni has reportedly said she would discuss a demand from Shas to extend the rabbinical courts' jurisdiction to civil disputes between couples to try to persuade the ultra-Orthodox party to join the coalition.

…As far as Shas is concerned, the move is a coup - bolstering the rabbinical courts that would be able to rule on property issues between couples, among other things. 

Court issues temporary ban on Shabbat fencing meet

By Aviad Glickman www.ynetnews.com October 24, 2008

The High Court of Justice decided on Friday to set a temporary ban on an athletic meet scheduled for Shabbat, pursuant to a petition by a young fencer who is a religious Jew.

Yuval Freilich, the Israeli fencing champion aged 13 and under and under, and his father Gabi, petitioned the High Court on Wednesday, asking it order the Israel Fencing Association to refrain from holding tournaments on the Shabbat.

The petition cited Yuval is discriminated against simply for being religious, and that the Israel Fencing Association's actions hinder go against the Equal Opportunities Act. 

Watchdog organization petitions against state funding for talmudei torah

By Dan Izenberg www.jpost.com October 15, 2008

The Movement for Quality Government on Wednesday petitioned the High Court of Justice to order the government to stop subsidizing haredi elementary schools that are not recognized by the state and are not under its supervision.

According to the petition, the Ministry of Education allocates each year more than NIS 170 million to haredi elementary schools, known as talmudei torah, which are not part of the recognized Independent education and Ma'ayan Hachinuch Hatorani haredi streams, even though there is no legal basis for the funding.

"If Israel is based on the rule of law, this situation cannot continue. Not only does it transfer millions of shekels of public money without a legal basis... 
[The state] transfers the funds to a private body which has no experience or training in supervising the spending of the funds and whose interests are not identical with the public interest," the petition says.

Vexing Appeal to High Court to Halt Funding for Talmudei Torah in Eretz Yisrael

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com October 24, 2008

Chinuch Atzmai [Independent Education System] Director Rav Avraham Yosef Lazerson explains there is nothing new here, calling petitions by the Reform Movement and Movement for Quality Government 

“tsunamis of hate and jealousy and an ongoing attempt to bring the chareidi chinuch in Eretz Yisrael to a state of despair.”

Chinuch Atzmai Issues Continue to Occupy Agenda of Gedolei Torah

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com October 24, 2008

Behind the scenes is the matter of launching a new non-profit towards assisting Chinuch Atzmai.

A number of months ago, a person loyal to Maran Elyashiv [who does not reside in Yerushalayim] approached the gadol hador and requested his approval for the letter drafted — the letter to be sent to the Registrar of Non-Profits to launch the new organization.

Schnorring suddenly gets harder

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com October 23, 2008

The haredim have been the hardest hurt by the financial crisis. 

Haredi educational institutions refuse to adopt the curriculum requirements dictated by the Education Ministry. As a result, they receive only partial state funding. The missing funds needed to run these institutions are supplied by tuitions and donations.

In haredi circles, financial matters have become an obsession…However, there has been little talk among haredi leaders about making changes in haredi society that would reduce its inordinate dependence on philanthropy.

"There have been tough times in the past, and we have never seen a significant change in the haredi way of life," said a senior administrator connected with the yeshiva world. 

"If anything, when the economy is good, there is more of a temptation to leave the yeshiva and get a job. But when there is a recession, all the opportunities dry up."

Religion and State in Israel

October 27, 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 27, 2008 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

October 27, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Civil Fights: Subsidizing the demographic war

By Evelyn Gordon www.jpost.com October 23, 2008

But what of Shas' claim that higher per-child allotments for large families are necessary to reduce poverty? 

That, it turns out, is simply false.

According to the Bank of Israel's latest annual report, the haredi poverty rate averaged 52% in 2001-3, when Shas' formula was in effect, compared to only 44% in 1997-2000.

In other words, by encouraging higher birthrates and lower workforce participation, the higher allotments actually increased haredi poverty.

Moreover, after initially rising when the allotments were slashed, the haredi poverty rate fell from 64% in 2005 to 59% in 2006/7, as haredim began adjusting by having fewer children and getting jobs.

How child allowances impact on fertility, haredi employment

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com October 26, 2008

According to a Bank of Israel report published in April, cuts in allowances have indeed had an impact on fertility rates. 

The average number of children in a haredi family has fallen from 4.3 in 2001 to 4.1 in 2006.

The average number of children under two years old in haredi families has fallen 18 percent, from 0.45 in 2001 to 0.37 in 2006. In Betar Illit and Modi'in Illit a 10% drop in fertility rates has been reported during the same period.

Bank of Israel economists said this was in part due to the cut in the allowances, which made couples rethink family planning.

But there is another major factor explaining the reduction in birth rates: More haredi women are joining the labor market. 

Women's pursuit of a job to help make up for the lost child benefits has resulted in postponement of pregnancies.

The tragic truth of modern Israel

By Dan Ben-David www.haaretz.com Opinion October 24, 2008

The author teaches economics in the Department of Public Policy at Tel Aviv University.

Three-quarters of ultra-Orthodox males and Israeli-Arab females of prime working ages (25-54) are not employed, while the rates of non-employment of their spouses are double Western averages.

In 1960, only 15 percent of the country's primary school pupils studied in the ultra-Orthodox and Israeli-Arab educational systems. 

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, in just four years, the 50 percent barrier will be crossed. 

If today's youth adopt the work habits of their parents, it should be clear that, in another generation or two, the resultant majority of the country's population will create an untenable financial burden on the minority - who, by no small coincidence, will also be the sole bearers of the national defense burden.

Gerrer Rebbe Shlita: Learn to Make Do with What We Have

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com October 24, 2008

“We must learn to make do with little. We must return to the lifestyle of the previous generation.

Just the opposite of what we see today in yeshivos, with lights remaining on an entire Shabbos without any cheshbon.

It is a bad educational example for our children. It teaches children not to value money. Our children will not adjust properly in their lives,” the Rav stated quoting the Rebbe.

Shouldering More of the Giving Load

By Michele Chabin www.thejewishweek.com October 20, 2008

Evangelical Christian organizations, which already donate tens of millions of dollars to Israel every year, are being asked to shoulder an even heavier philanthropic load due to the global economic slowdown and the low value of the dollar against the shekel.

…Despite the market meltdown, however, major pro-Israel Evangelical organizations say their supporters are continuing to donate to Israeli causes, often more generously than in previous years, because the Bible tells them to do so.

Hagee Ministries to give $9.5 million in Israel

www.jta.org October 24, 2008

John Hagee Ministries has raised another $9.5 million for Israeli and Jewish causes, according to the organization.

John Hagee, who founded Christians United For Israel, will announce donations of $9.5 million on Sunday at a “Night to Honor Israel” event at his Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Tex.

Hagee is controversial because of his closeness to Jewish settlers and because of his eschatology, which prescribes a Jewish return to Israel as a precondition of the messianic age. 

Celebrating on the Streets of Jerusalem

By Steve Lipman www.thejewishweek.com October 20, 2008

In recent months Christian supporters of Israel have come under increasing criticism from parts of the Jewish community who suspect Christians of harboring missionary or apocalyptic motives.

Last week several thousand Christian supporters came to the Jewish state and expressed their continued support — with their feet.

…Claire Perry, from Mechanicsville, Va., said she felt “obligated to Israel for being able to share its salvation.

Christians March in Jerusalem

By Rabbi Brad Hirschfield www.thejewishweek.com Opinion October 20, 2008

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is the author of “You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism”.  

The President of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, he writes a daily column for Beliefnet.com (Windows & Doors).

Let’s hear it for the thousands of Christians who took to the streets of Jerusalem last week to proclaim their love of Israel – especially because the event was largely free of the right-wing politics that often mark such events both in Israel and in America.

…I celebrate both the Christians who marched yesterday in Jerusalem and their decision to focus on their love of Israel rather than a particular political-theological agenda.  And unless you really do hate one side or another in the Middle East, that should be a no-brainer for everybody.

Aliyah from South Africa Doubles

By Gil Ronen www.israelnationalnews.com October 26, 2008

After leveling off for several years, Jewish emigration from South Africa is on the rise. 

According to JTA, while no exact figures are available, the Israel Center at the South African Zionist Federation predicts the total number of olim (immigrants) from South Africa, which reached 178 in 2007,will double or even triple in 2008, possibly reaching 450 or more.

[Sidney Shapiro, the Director of the South African Zionist Federation in Israel] also cited another new trend:

"Whereas in last five years we've seen a large proportion of religious people among the olim, not more than 45 percent of this year's immigrants are religious. 
I am saying this as a positive thing: it means that secular families also making Aliyah."

There's no place like home

By Itamar Eichner www.ynetnews.com October 27, 2008

The silver lining: The global financial crisis hitting world markets seems to have one favorable effect as far as Israel is concerned, as thousands of Israelis who have been living abroad for the past few years head back to their homeland.

According to the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, some 15,000 Israelis are expected to return to the Jewish state by the end of 2009.

Aliya expert: Non-Jewish immigrants

By Maurice Singer www.jpost.com October 27, 2008

The expert is Maurice Singer, Senior Aliyah Consultant at the Jewish Agency.

Q: I am Jewish and can prove as much. My girlfriend was born a Christian, and although she is not a practicing Christian she is not planning on converting. We both love Israel and would like to move there.

Would we be allowed to move to Israel? Would it be easier if we had a civil marriage? Would she be barred from living in Israel if we weren't married?

A: A non-Jew who is married to a Jewish New Immigrant is included within the boundaries of the Law of Return.

Whereas the partner or fiancé of an Immigrant is not. I trust that this answers your question.

Revealed: the secret JNF cash transfers

By Anshel Pfeffer The Jewish Chronicle www.thejc.com October 23, 2008

Hundreds of thousands of pounds were transferred from JNF UK to an Israeli organization set up by its former leaders without being stated in the JNF accounts.

Nes Israel (as it was originally known) came under the scrutiny of the Charity Commission and its Israeli equivalent last year and has been under investigation this year by forensic accountants called in by the JNF’s new leadership.

HAT TIP to Dan Brown from eJewish Philanthropy

JNF’s Israeli charity: ‘conflicts of interest, misrepresented accounts’

The Jewish Chronicle www.thejc.com October 24, 2008

There is evidence that Nes Israel and the JNF have been under common control and yet the results of Nes Israel have not been consolidated with those of JNF group.

There is evidence that Mr. Winters attempted to divert a donation to the JNF directly to Nes Israel's bank account.

Allegations have been made that Nes Israel acted outside of its charitable objectives.

There is evidence that Nes Israel has been audited by a family member of one of its Board members and evidence that the cost of audit services is excessive.

There is evidence that the JNF Car Rally has been used to raise funds for Nes Israel. 

There is also evidence that the auditor and Financial Controller misrepresented the source of Nes Israel's income through the creation of backdated documentation. This practice was condoned by Mr. Winters.

There is evidence that donations from the JNF to Nes Israel have been used to purchase a property costing approximately US$1m which appears to be 100 per cent owned by Nes Israel.

Matchmaking seminar for once-religious

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com October 22, 2008

The Rosh Yehudi Center in Tel Aviv will hold its first-ever singles seminar next month which is intended for young people who left the religion. The seminar will also include rabbis and marriage counselors.

On the agenda: Lectures and seminars with rabbis and marriage counselors. The most prominent speaker there will be Safed's Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.

…Israel Zeira, general manager of Rosh Yehudi, added that “at the end of the day, those who left the religion look completely secular but they have a screaming soul and the need to find a similar partner just like anyone else.

Mystic circles

By Yair Sheleg www.haaretz.com October 24, 2008

Interview with Prof. Joseph Dan

In 1997 Dan was awarded the Israel Prize in his field and delivered the acceptance speech on behalf of the recipients.

He took the occasion to attack the neglect of Jewish studies by secular academics, which had enabled Orthodoxy to "take over" the world of Judaism. He has not changed his mind about this, he says. 

"The typical secular person identifies Judaism with Haredim. That is the whole of Judaism, he thinks, and he hates it.

I admit that in the past I harbored a similar instinct. Many years ago I attended Rosh Hashanah services in a Reform synagogue in Cincinnati, where they had an organ and a choir. It was a very moving ceremony, but I, a totally secular person, was shocked. What, I thought - is this Jewish?

I no longer feel that way, but in my opinion this is still the instinct of most secular Jews. 
The result is that the enmity of the secular population for what they perceive as Judaism is absolutely unbelievable, and it is becoming ever more extreme.

Forty years ago, writers like Bialik or Agnon were not considered 'Jewish' artists. They were our culture. 

But over time, everything that is associated with tradition is being labeled 'Jewish' with a corresponding decline of interest." 

Our Jewish ignorance

By Joseph Paritzky www.ynetnews.com October 26, 2008

We have raised a whole generation of ignoramuses here who have no clue about basic Jewish terms.

Their language is meager, their dialect is vague, and their cultural education is embarrassing.

The Education Ministry must go back to the glory days and maintain the many forms of Jewish culture studies in Israel.

Israelis are allowed not to believe, but they should be familiar with what they choose not to believe in. It's possible, and in my view even desirable, not to lay tefillin if you are not a believer, but it would be very worthwhile to know what tefillin are and why they were created.

Stolen willows, purloined palm fronds

By Ehud Zion Waldoks www.jpost.com October 23, 2008

According to Halacha, nothing stolen can be used at all for ritual uses, but that didn't stop some people seen over the Succot holidays sawing down aravot (willow) trees at the Aminadav Forest just outside Jerusalem and near Ein Kerem.

Willows are supposed to be beaten on the floor on Hoshana Rabba, the day before Simhat Torah.

Witnesses report seeing a bearded man wearing a large kippa sawing the willows. Next to him were two saws and big bags. He was heard saying into his cellphone that he was "cutting 400 more." There were reportedly aravot all over the ground next to him.

Others in the forest, seeing that the man cutting the willows was not being stopped, started cutting willows for their own use.

…In an effort to reduce thievery before the holiday, Hadad said, KKL offered s'chach(branches to cover the succa) at several different centers to try and discourage people from cutting down their own. Cutting down trees, palm fronds or willow branches on KKL land or nature reserves is prohibited by law.

Hadad said they had not considered offering willow branches to the public, as well, before the holiday.

Restoration of Ancient Synagogue in Jerusalem's Old City Causes Arab Outrage

www.infolive.tv October 23, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

After 72 years in the Moslem Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, a refurbished synagogue located 80 meters from the Temple Mount opened its doors.

Restoration work of the Ohel Yitzhak synagogue was conducted by Israel's Antiquities Authority who attempted as much as possible to remain true to the building's original style.

The synagogue opened its doors recently, creating outrage among Moslem and Christian and Greek Orthodox residents and religious officials, who immediately set up an emergency meeting to condemn what they perceive as the Jewish invasion of the Old City.

Pilgrimage to Roots of Faith and Strife

See also photo gallery: Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank

By Isabel Kershner www.nytimes.com October 23, 2008

They came in waves, ardent Jewish settlers, religious women from central Israel, black-clad followers of Hasidic courts and groups of teenage boys and girls, almost a thousand of them in all.

The destination was the holy place known as Joseph’s Tomb, a tiny half-derelict stone compound in the heart of a residential district that many Jews believe is the final burial place of the son of Jacob, the biblical patriarch.

…The tomb, they believe, sits on the parcel of ground that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver, according to Joshua 24:32, an inheritance of the children of Joseph, meaning that its ownership is not in doubt.

Temple Institute on the Hakhel

www.templeinstitute.org October 23, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

Rabbi Chaim Richman and Temple Institute Director Yehudah Glick discuss the Hakhel events which the Temple Institute conducted during the first of the intermediary days of Sukkot.

Click here to read more and view pictures of the Temple Mount Hakhel gathering

Click here to read more and view pictures of the Old City Hakhel ceremony

Why celebrate diversity?

By Rabbi David Hartman Shalom Hartman Institute October 23, 2008

As one who has written and lectured around the world on the importance of tolerance and pluralism, I’m often asked who was the philosopher that influenced your vision of pluralism? Who were your great teachers that led you in the path of pluralism?

Fundamentally, I learned pluralism growing up in Brooklyn and Brownsville and playing basketball. I don’t know if you heard about Lincoln Terrace Park, but, that’s where I learned living pluralism.

Religion and State in Israel

October 27, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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