Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - November 3, 2008 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

November 3, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Porush: God Willing There Won’t Be Any Secular Mayors in 10 Years

Photo courtesy of Mirah Curzer

www.infolive.tv November 3, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

On the eve of Jerusalem’s mayoral elections, the city’s only ultra-orthodox candidate, Meir Porush, has made a major political blunder that may cost him the election.

At a gathering of Haredi supporters on Saturday evening, the candidate was quoted as saying that God willing, in another ten years' time there won't be a single secular mayor in any city in Israel.

Porush was asked about his remarks when he arrived at a fair on Jerusalem's Emek Refaim Street on Sunday evening, but when asked to elaborate on the comments he had made, he denying them entirely.

When he learned that the inflammatory remarks were taped and broadcast by Channel 2 News on Sunday evening and an audio recording of his speech was being widely circulated, he said he had merely been speaking of the connection between the National Religious and the ultra-Orthodox community.

Meir Porush: In 15 years, Israel won't have any secular mayors

By Yair Ettinger and Nadav Shragai www.haaretz.com November 3, 2008

"In another 15 years there will not be a secular mayor in any city in Israel, [except for] perhaps in some far-flung village," 

Porush, the ultra-Orthodox candidate in this year's municipal poll, told a pre-election gathering of Belz Hasidim. 

Porush's remark was not intended for general consumption; it was made in Yiddish to an all-Haredi audience at Jerusalem's Belzer yeshiva. 

But it became public knowledge when it was broadcast live, without his knowledge, by the cellular news service Hakol Haharedi. 

In his speech, Porush noted that the religious community's size, and therefore its influence, has been growing, due primarily to its high birthrate. 

Jerusalem, he pointed out, elected its first Haredi mayor five years ago, and Beit Shemesh may well do the same in next week's municipal election, as the Shas Party's candidate currently leads in the polls

Don't judge a Porush by his beard

By Neri Livneh www.haaretz.com Opinion October 29, 2008

Billboards across Jerusalem depict a sweet grandfatherly Smurf who greets pedestrians with the words: "Jerusalem will like Porush. From experience."

This promise, containing a veiled threat, is Meir Porush's campaign slogan.  

Thousands of Belzer Chassidim Attend Porush Support Rally

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com November 2, 2008

Thousands of Belzer Chassidim on motzei Shabbos attended a rally in support of Rabbi Meir Porush, who is a contender in the Jerusalem mayoral election.

The Rebbe’s gabbai, Rav Shimon Ze’ev Klein addressed the rally as well, stating 

“whoever does not vote for Porush results in a chilul Hashem,” stating to vote for the frum candidate is an act “L’Shem Shamayim”.

On The Eve of Municipal Elections Meretz Wants To "Liberate" Jerusalem from Haredi Influence

www.infolive.tv October 29, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

As the city of Jerusalem immerses itself in local politics during the run-up to the November 11th municipal elections, Infolive.tv met with leading City Council member Yosef "Pepe" Alalo to speak with him about his campaign for reelection and his vision for the future of the city.

Jerusalem Chareidi Sector Unites Behind UTJ List and Rabbi Porush's Mayoral Bid

http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com October 31, 2008

If the chareidi sector fails to unite in support of the single chareidi candidate for mayor of Jerusalem the chareidi sector is liable to lose all of the progress made in the current term to promote the sanctity of Jerusalem and to meet the needs of the chareidi sector and the Torah-based educational institutions.

Belz Chassidus Working Towards a Porush Success: Photos

www.theyeshivaworld.com October 29, 2008

Nir Barkat meets with Gur Hassidim to aid campaign

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com October 28, 2008

He may be known as the secular candidate for Jerusalem mayor, but Nir Barkat met this week with representatives of the Gur Hassidic sect in an attempt to gain ultra-Orthodox support for his bid.

Barkat is trying to take advantage of the split in the Agudat Yisrael party to bolster his campaign.

A struggle over control of the independent ultra-Orthodox educational system has led the party's Gur faction to try to help block the party's mayoral candidate, MK Meir Porush.

It's Sad To Be Mayor

By Kamoun Shimon www.jrep.com Issue 15, November 10, 2008 The Jerusalem Report

Ultimately, the elections may come down, then, to voter turnout and whether the secular, traditional and modern Orthodox sectors of the city will be motivated more by their fear of ultra-Orthodox control - and their outrage at incidents such as the dancers at the Calatrava Bridge and the refusal to sell advertising space on buses in the city - or by their own self-fulfilling apathy and alienation.

High Court petitioned to order Knesset vote on automatic property division

By Dan Izenberg www.jpost.com November 3, 2008

A coalition of social justice, women's and religious organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice on Friday, demanding that Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik put to vote in final reading a bill to divide the assets between a couple undergoing divorce before the divorce is granted.

The private member's bill, submitted by Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad), Zevulun Orlev (National Union-National Religious Party), and Othniel Schneller and Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima) is aimed at preventing either side in a divorce from blackmailing the other into conceding material rights in return for agreeing to a divorce.

…According to the bill, the assets of the couple will be automatically divided at a specific time in the divorce procedure. 

In most cases, it will be done one year after one of the sides has filed for divorce in court. 

In some cases, the division will take place at a given point in time after the couple has separated.

 In cases where there is domestic violence, the date of the division may be advanced.

The bill's sponsors believe that once the material "potential" of the divorce is neutralized, the recalcitrant party in many cases will give in and grant the divorce, since he has nothing to gain from not doing so.

MKs debate property distribution law

By Amnon Meranda www.ynetnews.com November 2, 2008

As the Knesset prepares for its election break, a battle is taking place in its corridors over a bill aimed at allowing couples to divide their property before a divorce is granted.

See also: Knesset Committee: Division of property before divorce

www.ynetnews.com October 1, 2008

Livni to introduce 'civil marriage' bill

www.jpost.com October 30, 2008

Kadima intends to introduce a bill to legalize civil marriage in Israel, the faction's chairwoman Tzipi Livni announced late Wednesday night.

"I support civil marriage," she told Channel 9, Israel's Russian-language channel. 
"It's an important issue in Kadima's platform, and I want to bring it before the Knesset now, before the recess."

She called the issue "a matter of principle," and said that it would be part of Kadima's platform in the upcoming elections.

The bill would enable some 300,000 Israelis who are currently seen by the state as "without religious affiliation," and as such cannot be married by the Rabbinate, to get married in Israel. Many of the citizens with such status are Russian-Israelis.

Livni said that she planned to put the bill forward before the Knesset breaks for elections, despite the fact that it would be have little chance of passing. 

Just putting it forward, she said, would show where Kadima stands on the matter.

Rav Amar Shlita Decries Lack of Local Rabbonim

www.theyeshivaworld.com October 30, 2008

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar is seeking to establish an organization which would include hundreds of rabbonim, hoping to use the new body to facilitate the appointment of rabbonim and fill the vacancies.

This body will be a rabbinical lobby and profession support organization.

The Rav plans to enlist top media consultants to train and assist rabbonim regarding how to conduct themselves with the media, a sphere in which most are lacking. 

He also wants to promote activities that will permit the rabbis to begin maintaining a higher profile and enjoy greater positive media exposure.

Portraits of women running for J'lem council not allowed on buses

By Etgar Lefkovits www.jpost.com October 30, 2008

A company responsible for advertising on the Egged bus company has refused to place a political advertisement on Jerusalem city buses showing female candidates for the city council, so as not to offend the haredi public.

The advertisement rejected last week by the Canaan advertising company, which is charged with advertising with the Egged bus cooperative, includes the portrait of two fully clothed women - along with a man - running for city council on a joint religious-secular list called Wake up Jerusalem-Yerushalmim. The municipal elections will take place on November 11.

A spokesman for the company on Wednesday stood by the rejection of the ad.

"All advertisements are subject to the approval of the Egged censor," Canaan company spokesman Ohad Gibli said.

"In order not to offend the sensitivities of a certain public, certain criteria have been defined regarding the content of advertisements."

Meretz ad in Ramat Gan deemed immodest

By Adi Sasson www.ynetnews.com November 2, 2008

Meretz's Ramat Gan branch was told last week that if the sleeves of the party's third municipal candidate, Yuli Goldstein, are not lengthened in the party's ad campaign the ads would not be posted on local buses.

The Canaan advertising company, which is responsible for ads on buses belonging to the Dan Bus Company operating in central Israel, referred to a sign featuring Goldstein wearing a short sleeved t-shirt, surrounded by high-rising buildings.

Three top rabbinate officials among 10 charged in religious-study certificates scam

By Ofra Edelman www.haaretz.com November 3, 2008

Three senior rabbinate officials are among the 10 people charged on Sunday with falsely certifying some 1,500 members of the security forces as having completed a course of religious study equivalent to a bachelor's degree. 

The defendants include the bureau chiefs of both current Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and former Ashkenazi chief rabbi Israel Meir Lau, as well as the deputy chief rabbi of the Israel Police. 

The other seven are officials of yeshivas in Beit She'an, Haifa, Be'er Sheva, Safed and Gan Ner. 

Most of the false documents were issued by Yitzhak Ohana, Rabbi Lau's former bureau chief, who at the time headed the rabbinate's examination department. 

Rabbi Metzger's bureau chief, Meir Rosenthal, was the one primarily responsible for distributing the certificates to the recipients; he was a student at Darchei Hora'a L'rabbanim at the time. 

Rosenthal, the indictment added, earned some NIS 2 million from the scam, which he failed to declare to the tax authorities. 

Aharon Gottesdiner, the police's deputy chief rabbi, not only participated in the fraudulent scheme, but also took a bribe from one of the yeshivas involved in it, the indictment charged. 

10 arrested in false rabbinical titles scam

By Dan Izenberg www.jpost.com November 2, 2008

During these years, the rabbinate issued certificates to 1,500 security officers who had studied at the yeshivas listed in the indictment. 

The state paid these alleged rabbis a total of NIS 250,000. 

Haredi woman sues Pelephone for 'ruining her life'

By Roni Lifshitz www.ynetnews.com October 28, 2008

An ultra-Orthodox woman filed a NIS 2.5 million (some $653,000) damages suit against Pelephone Communications, one of Israel's mobile phone service providers, claiming breach of contract which led to the "destruction of her home life."

…Several days after the husband found out about her conversations with another man, she said, she was subpoenaed to the regional Rabbinical Court and issued a divorce.

Furthermore, the judges warned her that she may also be deemed a "rebellious wife," which would strip her of her rights to any communal property and may prevent her from ever marrying within the Orthodox community again.

The Rabbinical Court did not award her any property; her ex-husband has taken all of what used to be their mutual belongings, he does not pay her alimony, nor does he have any contact with their two-year-old daughter.

As a result of the verdict, she added, she has been shunned by her community and the local chastity squads have begun an intimidation campaign against her.

Police fail to stop ultra-Orthodox 'modesty patrols'

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com October 30, 2008

Elhanan Buzaglo is currently being tried in a Jerusalem court. The state prosecution describes him as "a fist for hire" and he is charged with assaulting the complainant, Michal…

…The police had no difficulty connecting Buzaglo with Binyamin Meirowitz, a Gerrer Hasid who is known in Jerusalem to be connected unofficially with "the committee for the purity of our camp."

This is a veteran ultra-Orthodox organization which, in addition to its overt activities on matters of modesty, is said to have been active over the years in "enforcing the law" against pedophiles in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods and against ultra-Orthodox men involved in forbidden romantic affairs.

Among his other activities, Meirowitz owns the Ne'eman printing press, where Buzaglo worked, posting public notices. 

…In his memorandum, the investigator wrote that Buzaglo had spoken of "a great number of incidents, between 15 and 20 incidents, in which they had dealt with people.

He had received $2,000 for every job. He said he would have to think it over very carefully whether he wanted to make such a deal and if he decided to go ahead with it, he would tell us about all the people and all the cases." 

Standoff in Ramot as Jerusalem City Hall Tries to Raze Illegal Shul

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com November 2, 2008

Residents of Kadima Street in the Ramot area of Yerushalayim on Sunday morning were not about to sit by and permit municipal inspectors to destroy a shul that was set up in a temporary structure for the yomim tovim.

According to the commitment signed by Ariel Sharfer on behalf of the neighborhood, the structure was to be used during Tishrei to facilitate their needs during the yomim tovim, after which it would be voluntarily removed.

…According to a Kol Chai Radio report, the dati leumi residents of the area favor removing the shul, fearing if permitted to continue, the shul will contribute to the their community becoming increasingly chareidi. 

Rabbis send ultra-Orthodox to protest bars recently opened in Netivot

By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10 www.haaretz.com November 3, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

Tensions are high between secular and religious residents of the southern town of Netivot, due several recently-opened bars that have brought droves of Haredi protesters into the streets.

Three such establishments have opened in the city in the last several weeks, much to the chagrin of many ultra-Orthodox residents offended by the notion of what goes on inside. 

On Saturday night, hundreds of demonstrators heeded the calls of local rabbis and protested outside one of the bars. Several disputes erupted with residents who didn't take well to the protest.

Shefa Shuk Supermarket Chain to Close Following Charedi Boycott

http://hamercaz.com October 30, 2008

The Shefa Shuk supermarket chain will close for good within a month or two, owner Dudi Wiessman announced. A new supermarket chain, to be called "Shefa Tov," will open in its place.

Several days ago, the Blue Square group announced that over the course of the coming year it is investing 30 million NIS in a new supermarket chain targeting the Charedi community. Approximately 15 Shefa Shuk branches will be converted into Shefa Tov stores, the group said.

The Shefa Shuk chain is being boycotted by the Charedi community in protest of the Shabbos operation of several outlets of the AM:PM convenience store chain also owned by Wiessman. 

Financial reports suggested that the boycott took a heavy toll on the Blue Square group. However, it remains unclear whether the Charedi community will take to the Shefa Tov chain; most will see it as merely a Shefa Shuk reincarnation.

Chassidish Kashrus Agencies to Unite, Challenge Eidah HaCharedis Monopoly

http://hamercaz.com November 1, 2008

Sources say that there is deal in its final stages that could change the face of Kashrus in Israel.

The deal will result in a unified Chassidish Kashrus agency that organizers hope will appeal to a broad cross-section of the Charedi public.

The Belz, Agudas Yisroel, and Mehadrin-R' Rubin Kashrus agencies are to be replaced by a new, unified Kashrus agency. The new group will be called the "Badatz Vaad HaRabbonim".

The three Hechsherim will unite with a common goal in mind: to compete against the Badatz Eidah HaCharedis.

Two Brothers Jailed For Kashrus Fraud

http://hamercaz.com October 29, 2008

The court in Petach Tikvah has sentenced two brothers, owners of a plant which imports kosher organic foods, to suspended jail terms and heavy fines for Kashrus fraud.

Judge Leah Lev On stated that the two had falsely claimed that their products were kosher, even though they did not have any genuine Kashrus certification. Although these items were not kosher at all, it stated on their packaging that they were.

Rabbi’s ruling: Torah falls; community must fast

By Hila Shay Vazan www.ynetnews.com October 29, 2008

The Torah scroll that fell from the hands of a 12-year-old child during the traditional "hakafot" (circuit) celebrations at the Zechor Avraham Synagogue in Modiin, yielded a religious ruling by the city’s Chief Rabbi David Lau.

The decree stated that all the community’s men will have to fast in repentance next Thursday.

Reform Movement Wins Case on Seminary Property Taxes

www.wupj.org October 30, 2008

The Israel Religious Action Center, on behalf of the Reform Movement recently won a case concerning the status of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s municipal tax status in Jerusalem.

The taxation case concerned the decision by the Jerusalem municipality, which had reorganized its taxation system, to rescind the classification of HUC-JIR’s Jerusalem campus as a religious and educational facility, which entitled it to a substantial property tax reduction.

IRAC initially explained to the municipality that HUC-JIR still met the criteria for both designations.

When the municipality disagreed, IRAC sought a court ruling on the college’s status, and successfully argued that it is, in fact, both a religious and educational institution.

City officials later said the municipality apparently had misunderstood the word "seminary," confusing it with the Hebrew word seminar, which denotes a teacher’s college and has nothing to do with religious training.

Although a certain amount of humor can be found in this episode, leaders of IRAC believe the outcome was a victory for the entire Progressive movement in Israel.

Chareidim Protest Major Missionary Event in Haifa

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com November 2, 2008

A large protest was held by the chareidi community against a missionary event held in Haifa on Thursday night.

Twenty-five buses brought participants to a missionary event held in the Haifa Auditorium in the Merkaz Carmel area. The protest was sponsored by Yad L’Achim…

Hundreds of area residents took part in the protest, including HaRav HaGaon Dovid Zalman Zoldon of the Seret Vishnitz community. City Councilman (Agudah) Rav Aryeh Blitental was also in attendance.

4 Palestinians claim descent from Jews forced to convert

By Nadav Shragai www.haaretz.com October 29, 2008

Four Palestinians from the Hebron Hills contacted a group of rabbis on Tuesday and claimed to be the descendents of Jews who were forced to convert to Islam. 

The Palestinians were accompanied by Zvi Mesini, a researcher who wrote a book on the subject and assisted them in learning more about Judaism.

According to the Palestinians, their families had removed mezuzahs from their doors in order to avoid harassment by their neighbors. 

Noahides Warmly Welcomed Along Unfamiliar Journey

By Hillel Fendel www.israelnationalnews.com October 30, 2008

Two non-Jews took vows in Jerusalem this week, and judges in the new court of Jewish law known as the "Sanhedrin" deemed them full-fledged Noahides.

A delegation of rabbis from the nascent Sanhedrin, a Jewish legal court struggling for legitimacy in the Jewish world, heard and confirmed the vows, recited by a teenaged male and a young woman. It was made clear that this is not necessarily a step towards full conversion to Judaism, and that Judaism fully recognizes the role of non-Jews who are loyal to the Torah.

Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute told the newly-declared Noahides, 

"This is a new beginning for you, because you have gone from being a generic 'son of Noah' to being a Righteous Gentile, with a place in the World to Come. 
You have chosen this path not because you simply believe it is moral or the right thing to do, but because it was revealed by G-d to Moses at Mt. Sinai."

The Big Kahuna

Click here for VIDEO


A gathering of the tribe in Jerusalem

A Kohen-Levi international conference brings together Jewish priests to discuss the DNA connection, the nature of priesthood in modern life and looking ahead to serving in the Third Temple.

Religion and State in Israel

November 3, 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 - November 3, 2008 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

November 3, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Religion looks set to be a central issue in election campaign

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com October 30, 2008

Civil marriages and reforms in the rabbinical courts are just two religion-state issues waiting to be decided by the next government.

Other points of contention between religious and secular politicians include the writing of a constitution, which is adamantly opposed by haredi MKs, as well as reforms in various religious services, including conversions.

A cynical ethnic demon

Haaretz Editorial www.haaretz.com October 29, 2008

In a sophisticated bit of spin, [Eli Yishai, Shas] has accused associates of Kadima's head, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, of thwarting coalition negotiations between the two parties, claiming that they were "hypocritical, racist and arrogant," and that they had "released the ethnic demon from its bottle in an ugly way." 

What the Haredim should pray for

By Shahar Ilan www.haaretz.com October 28, 2008

The polls are consistently showing that Kadima, Likud and Labor would win a total of some 70 Knesset seats, and this creates an exceptional opportunity.

For years those who voted for these parties have felt that their interests were being trampled in favor of the religious public and were told that it would be impossible to set up a government without the ultra-Orthodox. 

This is an opportunity they cannot waste. Here are a few initiatives they can and should implement in such a government.

Enact a civil union law.

Pass a property distribution law that would distinguish between property distribution and divorce and considerably decrease the extortion power of husbands and rabbinical judges.

Equalize child allowances by providing equal allowances for every child, regardless of the child's place in the family.

The outrageous laws that grant the private ultra-Orthodox schools equal status to the state education system and exempt Haredi yeshivas from the core study program must be canceled.

Cancel the Religious Affairs Ministry and turn the religious councils into municipal departments.

Cancel the "Chief Israel rabbi" titles, which have become ridiculous and which nobody takes seriously.

Eli Yishai in first place

By Nehemia Shtrasler www.haaretz.com Opinion October 28, 2008

If Yishai truly wanted to deal with the poverty in the ultra-Orthodox community, he should have pressured Livni to make sure the curriculum of the Shas-sponsored El Hama'ayan educational system included all the "free" subjects, taught at the very highest level: science, computers, mathematics and English.

All these would prepare the young for a life of employment, which is the only way they can pull themselves out of poverty. 

Most parties agree on election date over ultra-Orthodox objections

By Shahar Ilan and Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com October 30, 2008

The date was chosen over the objection of MK Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), who said it was "inconvenient" because it is the day after the Tu Bishvat (Arbor Day) holiday that Hasidim typically celebrate into the night.

The minor holiday, which is not a national holiday, is also the date of the Gerrer Rebbe’s granddaughter's wedding - and Litzman is apparently worried that Gerrer Hasidim, a major element of UTJ's constituency, will have a hard time making it to the polls the following d

"If party activists are up all night, I've lost all of Election Day," said Litzman.

Chareidim Fear Tu B’Shvat Lag May Impact Elections

www.theyeshivaworld.com October 29, 2008

It has been decided, the general elections for the 18th Knesset will take place on Tuesday, 10 February, 16 Shvat.

Agudas Yisrael’s Rav Yaakov Litzman tried to persuade the Knesset speaker to select another date, but he was unsuccessful in his quest. 

He fears that many Chassidim will attend Tu B’Shvat tischin the day before and the ‘lag’ will result in a low chareidi voter turnout.

In addition, on motzei Tu B’Shvat, a grandchild of the Gerre Rebbe will be getting married and this will keep tens of thousands of Chassidim up late, with Litzman fearing the event may also negatively impact chareidi voter turnout.

Meimad to decide on direction as Labor ties show signs of fading

By Gil Hoffman www.jpost.com November 2, 2008

The Meimad Party is expected to make a decision this week on whether to continue its partnership with Labor, join forces with Kadima, or turn in a different direction, the party's chairman, MK Rabbi Michael Melchior, said Saturday night.

Melchior denied reports that his dovish, religious-Zionist party had already reached a deal with Kadima and broken its bond with Labor, which began in 1999 at the request of Labor chairman Ehud Barak.

Meretz's new MK brings fresh blood to the changing party, from a surprising direction

By Shelly Paz www.jpost.com November 2, 2008

Veteran Meretz MKs Yossi Beilin and Ran Cohen, who both announced their retirement from politics last week, will leave behind a huge gap in Meretz, which is drawing speculation regarding the left-wing party's future.

This gap is to be partially filled by ultra-Orthodox left-wing activist Dr. Tzvia Greenfield…

Greenfield, who was born in Jerusalem, currently resides in the capital's haredi neighborhood of Har Nof. 

She is the mother of five grown children and is married to an American pediatrician, with whom she lived in the US for a number of years.

She was raised in a haredi home and attended a Beit Ya'acov school. She attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, completing her doctoral degree in political philosophy there in 2005.

She has been engaged in political and social activities since the early 90s, when she established the Mifne Institute for Democracy and Cultural Identity, which is active within Israel's haredi community

Likud and Shas - natural partners?

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

According to the haredi weekly Mishpacha, Shas and the Likud have a secret deal to form a government coalition together.

Reportedly, the Likud promised to form a government coalition with Shas, and promised Yishai the Interior portfolio and deputy prime ministership.

The Religious Affairs portfolio will also go to Shas, according to Mishpaha, along with two additional ministries. Torah institutions' budgets will remain unchanged.

Rabbi Yosef: Woman can be prime minister

www.ynetnews.com November 2, 2008

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Shas spiritual leader:

"In regards to appointing a woman as prime minister – if she conducts herself with dignity and honesty, and is instrumental in strengthening religion more than any man who submits his candidacy, then we most certainly should give preference to electing the woman.

"It is absolutely forbidden to support any party whose representatives are not God fearing," he added.

"On the contrary, we must vote in favor of representatives that strengthen the power of the Torah. 
And if people who are not fit can be found in all the parties, then the ones that are closer to religion should be favored."

Rabbi Ariel: Elect women if they promote religion

www.ynetnews.com October 29, 2008

Rabbi Ariel wrote that it is hard to answer without knowing the conditions, but added that in principle, 

“if choosing a woman will advance Torah-related issues more so than if a man is chosen, a woman is preferable.”

Shas Rabbi assumes Biblical proportions in billboard battle

By Etgar Lefkovits www.jpost.com November 3, 2008

A new political advertisement on Jerusalem billboards quotes from the Bible and equates Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef with Moses.

"Who is on the LORD's side? Let him come unto me," reads the top of the advertisement in bold black lettering - the question Moses asks the people of Israel in Exodus 32:26, after having received the 10 Commandments and seeing the golden calf they had made in his absence.

An immense picture of a beaming Yosef - bedecked in his trademark sunglasses, turban and gold-embroidered robes - appears immediately beneath the Hebrew text.

The bottom of the advertisement concludes, "I believe," followed by the Shas logo.

Netanyahu rebuffs Shas bid to take over Education Ministry

By Shahar Ilan www.haaretz.com October 31, 2008

Speaking at the Knesset ceremony on the seventh anniversary of the murder of Minister Rehavam Ze'evi, Netanyahu said the idea of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party taking over the education portfolio in the next coalition government would be a "nightmare." 

Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said earlier yesterday that his party would demand the education portfolio to bolster the state's Jewish curriculum. 

Needed: a taxpayers party

By Nehemia Shtrasler www.haaretz.com Opinion October 31, 2008

What is missing now in the Knesset is a successor to Shinui: a taxpayers party that would raise the twin banners of economic freedom and freedom from religious coercion.

A party that would be a counterweight to Shas and would represent the humanist values of the secular majority.

A party that would also work to pass a civil marriage law, so nobody will have to fly to Cyprus in order to marry, as well as abolishing the local religious councils, which cost a fortune. They can be ordinary departments in the municipalities

Breslov Chassidus Wants a Slot on Shas Ticket

www.theyeshivaworld.com October 30, 2008

On Wednesday, Shas leader Eli Yishai met with Rav Shalom Harush, Rosh Yeshiva Chut Shel Breslov, a prominent leader in one of the numerous Breslov factions in Eretz Yisrael today.

It appears Breslov is seeking representation on the Shas lineup in the general election for the 18th Knesset.

Jewish Agency Hit by Financial Tsunami

www.israelnationalnews.com October 29, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

Jewish Agency cuts $45 million from 2009 budget

By Greer Fay Cashman www.jpost.com October 30, 2008

Giving after the crunch

By Anshel Pfeffer www.haaretz.com October 31, 2008

…The large organizations such as the Jewish Agency and JNF will lose much of their influence. 

The upside of these developments should be the elimination of the vast bureaucracy that filtered the charitable money down to its destination and a real engagement of a new generation of successful Jewish donors with the recipients and their communities. 

On the flip side, it will also mean a greater outside influence of money on Israeli society and politics.

Just as philanthropists are set to become a lot more selective as to where they put their money, they will also be a lot more demanding as to what that money can achieve.

JA slashing budget, cutting back staff due to financial crisis

By Cnaan Liphshiz www.haaretz.com October 31, 2008

The cutback will affect the Jewish Agency's activity abroad, particularly in the United States, the former Soviet Union and South America, where emissaries may be required to take on more duties. 

Click here for a copy of the Jewish Agency's 2008 budget for 2008.

As Kadima enlists Bielski, talk about replacing him begins

By Haviv Rettig www.jpost.com November 3, 2008

Already rumors have started about possible contenders to replace the chairman, with the most common name being Kadima's Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Boim, who expressed interest in the position when Sallai Meridor vacated it in 2005 to become Israeli ambassador to Washington.

…Before any permanent chairman is elected in a summer meeting of the WZO General Council, Bielski would have to formally quit in favor of the Knesset.

This would only happen, according to one Jewish Agency insider, if he won a high spot in the Kadima primaries and received a portfolio as part of the next cabinet.

Operating Budgets to Return to Religious Zionist Education

By Yishai Fleisher www.israelnationalnews.com November 2, 2008

Last Wednesday the Treasury gave its approval to the Finance Committee to return the funds which Education Minister Yuli Tamir slashed from the educational institutions of the Religious Zionist movement, including yeshivas and the national service.

According to the decision of the Finance Committee the monies will pass to the yeshiva high schools, the girls' seminaries, to the National Service, and other educational wings including dormitories and to Torah community groups.

Women Protesting through Song

By Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman http://blog.elanasztokman.com Opinion October 28, 2008

Miriam sang. Deborah sang. The women in the Temple sang. But today, in modern Israel, women are forbidden from singing, at least in public.

Over the past few months, there has been an increasing number of incidents in which women have been asked not to sing in the Knesset, in the army, and in IDF and Holocaust memorial ceremonies.

…Well, some women are not taking this quietly. Today, Roni Aloni Savodnik organized a “singing protest” outside the Knesset. She and group of her female friends did a remarkable thing: they sang.

“Our singing voices are spiritual and human and we will not allow ourselves to be insulting by the notion that ‘a woman’s voice is sinful’” Savodnik wrote in an essay in on the Kolech website .

She and a group of women stood outside the Knesset today and sang in full volume.

“We will continue to do this until Knesset speaker Daliah Itzik cancels the rule forbidding women from singing, until the Israel judiciary implements full equality in the government.”

Singing a different tune

By Nadav Shragai www.haaretz.com November 3, 2008

For years, Otniel Yeshiva, like other educational institutions affiliated with the religious Zionist movement, has not made do with just learning and living life according to halakha (traditional religious law), but is also searching for a more experiential spiritual world.

The two main axes of this search are Hasidism and music. 

…The general trend toward Hasidism is reflected in different ways, but undoubtedly its clearest indicator in recent years is the shift of hundreds and perhaps even thousands of youths from the national-religious sector to Bratslav Hasidism.

God as 'Big Mama'

By Tamar Rotem www.haaretz.com October 31, 2008

Ruhama Weiss teaches at several institutions, including Hebrew Union College, the Beit Daniel Center for Progressive Judaism in Tel Aviv-Jaffa and the Kolot Center for Jewish Women's and Gender Studies.

…Weiss, 42, is a divorced mother of two who lives in Jerusalem. Although she was never the kind of religious woman to keep her blouse buttoned all the way up and has always been opinionated - her friends dubbed her "the lefty" - she was a distinct product of Israel's national-religious educational system.

She grew up in a religious-Zionist household, dutifully attended the Bnei Akiva youth movement and studied at Horev.

…Weiss was among the pioneers who founded Midreshet Bruria in Jerusalem, the first all-female yeshiva.

"I was drawn to the Gemara in a kind of defiance. You say I can't? I'll show you," she says.

She was also one of a handful of women studying in the Hebrew University's Talmud department, surrounded by male yeshiva students.

After getting her degree, she taught Talmud for two years at the Pelech girls high school in Jerusalem - the flagship institution of the local liberal-religious community.

She also coordinated seminars for Bnei Akiva group leaders, but was kicked out of both places. 

Rockiah combines hard rock with the holy book

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com October 31, 2008

Newman, who moved from Washington, D.C. to Israel 15 years ago, says the band wants to give observant listeners another avenue to express their religion.

As for the non-religious, he says, "this is a way to introduce them to a whole different side of Judaism, a side they hadn't seen before, a side that is very artistic."

He added, 

"We find people who say: Wow, this stuff is cool, and this is Jewish? That's something to think about. We're not about to give Torah lessons, but if we can have this kind of effect, if we can help people connect to their Judaism, then why not?"

Rabbi Aviner prohibits double dating

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

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, whose controversial rulings on relationships and dating have sparked a series of public debates, spoke out against double dating Sunday in a Q&A section of a synagogue pamphlet.

Aviner ruled that a couple on a date should not meet with another couple, be they married or single, even if the reason for such an outing were to observe the other's behavior in a standard social environment.

3rd Year Yerushalayim Bais Yaakov Seminary Students Sent Home

http://hamercaz.com November 1, 2008

Students at a Bais Yaakov teacher's seminary in Yerushalayim returning to classes after the Yomim Tovin were surprised to find a letter addressed to the Shana Gimmel students indicating that they could not continue in the program this year.

Israel's Ministry of Education requires three years of study for a teaching certificate, rather than the two years that most girls remain in seminary.

But this week, students in the final year of the certificate program were told that classes had been discontinued by the Vaad HaRabbonim, except for those students who brought a signed letter from a school indicating that they are actively employed as teachers in the field they are studying.

New Jerusalem MBA program will stress Jewish ethics in business

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich www.jpost.com October 30, 2008

The Council for Higher Education has approved a new MBA at the Jerusalem College of Technology that will put much stress on Jewish ethics and morality.

This course at JCT (also known as Machon Lev) in the capital's Givat Mordechai neighborhood is the first of its kind in Israel, and appears extremely timely. Unethical behavior of US investment bankers was a major factor in the global financial crisis.

A room for making business deals and buying shares while implementing the principles of Jewish ethics has been installed on campus. Students will be able to use money for stock purchases from a special fund.

Gravesites of rabbinical sages mean big business for peddlers

By Noga Mashal www.haaretz.com October 30, 2008

The grave of Ben-Uziel attracts 1.5 million visitors a year. That's a lot.

The gravesite of Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai at Mount Meron, which attracts more than 200,000 for the Lag B'Omer hilula - public celebration for a sainted rabbi - gets some 2 million.

…The National Center for the Development of the Holy Sites is responsible for running 132 sites, some of which are sages' graves. There are more sainted rabbis' tombs around Israel: a guide written by Rabbi Yisrael Gliss mentions 267 of them. 

There's no law enforcement and the criminals keep returning, taking over the selling. It isn't peanuts, either: tens of millions of dollars a year change hands at Bar-Yochai's grave alone, Saida estimates.

"I assume that millions more are turned over at the other graves," he says. 

…Another reason for the absence of supervision is a battle between various bodies about management. 

Bar-Yochai's grave is formally under the wing of the National Center for the Development of the Holy Sites. 

But in practice it is co-controlled by embattled Sephardi and Ashkenazi bodies. 

New Yad Vashem books teach Holocaust to haredim

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com October 28, 2008

A new four-book series entitled Years Wherein We Have Seen Evil that teaches the Holocaust from a religious perspective was launched Sunday by Yad Vashem.

The books and the accompanying testimonies preserved on CD will be used as the basis for teaching the Holocaust in haredi educational institutions.

…Nava Weiss, head of Yad Vashem's Haredi Department, which was established seven years ago, said that tailoring the teaching of the Holocaust to the special needs of the haredi community is part of larger trend in Israeli society.

…Until recently, the haredi education system did not teach the Holocaust.

In part this was due to a dearth of teaching materials, said Weiss. But it was also part of the haredi rejection of Zionist narrative of the Holocaust and its refusal to recognize Holocaust Remembrance Day, which fell on the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Religion and State in Israel

November 3, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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