Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - March 16, 2009 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

March 16, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Papal Visit May Stop Jews from Praying at Western Wall

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu www.israelnationalnews.com March 16, 2009

The planned visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the Western Wall may force a ban on Jews from praying there for the first time since the holy site was restored to Israel after 2,000 years. 

Security officials have been discussing the issue with Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who said he is vehemently opposed to the idea.

Government authorities responsible for the safety of the Pope want to clear the area from the evening before his visit until he leaves.

“The Kotel must be open during the entire visit for every person who wants to pray,” Rabbi Rabinowitz said.

“Jews have been praying at the Kotel for almost 42 years. There is no preference of one person over another.”

Rabbis meet with pope to smooth interfaith tensions

By Lisa Palmieri-Billig www.ynetnews.com March 13, 2009

"This was not just another meeting," commented Haifa Chief Rabbi She'ar-Yashuv Cohen, who headed the delegation. 

"This was a special experience, a turning point, the end of a crisis. We could not have expected a warmer reception."

Other members of the delegation were Chief Rabbinate Secretary-General Oded Wiener, Kiryat Ono Chief Rabbi Rasson Arussi and Israeli Ambassador to the Holy See Mordechai Lewy.

Pope’s visit to Israel

By Zohar Blumenkrantz www.haaretz.com March 10, 2009

Haaretz has learned that the Pope will land at Ben-Gurion International Airport at about 11 A.M. on May 11, on a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight from that country.

Pope Benedict XVI will be accompanied by an entourage of about 40, in addition to about 70 reporters.

A state reception will be held at the airport. The Vatican is expecting about 5,000 Christian pilgrims to arrive in Israel for the visit. The Pope will leave Israel on May 15, on an El Al flight.

40,000 Israelis expected to attend papal mass

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com March 11, 2009

Some 40,000 people are expected to attend the mass the pope will lead on his scheduled visit to Israel in May, the Vatican said in a briefing on Tuesday. 

The highlights of the visit will be three masses in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, and the Pope will also visit the mosques on the Temple Mount. Catholic church leaders noted on Tuesday that this will be a pilgrimage, rather than a state visit. 

The Vatican's ambassador to Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco, said the controversy surrounding a caption under the portrait of Pope Pius XII, who served during World War II, in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial remains unresolved, but added that the Vatican can distinguish between a specific disagreement and profound respect for the victims of the Holocaust. 

The Pope will probably visit the museum, but not the new wing where the disputed picture is installed. 

The Vatican has also reached arrangements with the Israeli government concerning Palestinian participation in the events; one scenario could see the arrival of 100 Christians from Gaza. 

Vatican sources added that the visit is likely to result in an increase in the overall number of pilgrims visiting Israel, but did not state a particular number. 

Another pope

By David Horovitz www.jpost.com Opinion March 13, 2009

For Israelis and Jews worldwide, I'd venture, there is really only one Pope.

…It is, rather, John Paul II, the last pontiff to visit our country, and the first to do so officially, having himself presided over the institution of full diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel, and having made his millennium pilgrimage to the Holy Land the culmination of his papacy and everything it stood for.

His soon-to-arrive successor has yet to achieve remotely comparable elevation.

Jewish-Christian Relations Symposium

By Greer Fay Cashman www.jpost.com March 16, 2009

Attitudes the Jewish community in Israel towards Christianity and the Christian world [was] the subject of a symposium to be co-hosted by the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations and the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies [on March 16, 2009]. 

The symposium [was] addressed by religious and lay speakers, both Christian and Jewish.

RCA Backtracks On Conversion Policy

By Rabbi Avi Weiss www.thejewishweek.com Opinion March 11, 2009

Rabbi Avraham (Avi) Weiss is the senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and a longtime member of the RCA. He is also co-founder of the International Rabbinic Fellowship.

[The Rabbinical Council of America] has refused to affirm a conversion that I, together with two other rabbis, performed. To make matters worse, the RCA made its ruling without notifying or consulting me or any other member of the converting Beit Din (Rabbinic Tribunal). 

…The idea that an RCA tribunal can unilaterally undo a conversion by another RCA member in good standing is intolerable.

It not only creates an untenable environment for the rabbi, as it de-legitimizes his professional integrity, but, more egregiously, it creates an atmosphere of fear for the convert that the Jewish life he/she has been living for years will be seen, someday, by some official rabbinic body, as a lie. 

Schechter seminary dean not opting for additional term

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com March 15, 2009

Rabbi Einat Ramon will not seek another term as dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary (SRS) in Jerusalem, according to an official letter released Sunday to Schechter's board, faculty and students.

Ramon will return to full-time teaching and research at the Schechter Institute.

According to the Schechter Institute Web site, Ramon was the first Israeli-born woman to be ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York in 1989.

Gov't considers new ways to entice olim

By Maya Spitzer and Haviv Rettig Gur www.jpost.com March 16, 2009

The cabinet approved an initiative on Sunday billed as an effort to promote a new wave of aliya from the former Soviet Union. Immigrants who come during 2009 are eligible, with benefits paid out through 2010.

Families will get grants of NIS 24,000, much of it to help with the first year's rent and vocational training. The money is in addition to the absorption basket given to every new oleh.

The NIS 32 million program is being funded in equal parts by the Jewish Agency and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry.

Obituary: Philanthropist William Davidson gave generously to Israeli, Jewish causes

By Greer Fay Cashman www.jpost.com March 16, 2009

Among the causes he funded here was Hadassah University Medical Center, Ein Kerem, to which he and his wife, Karen, gave $75 million in 2007 toward the in-patient tower currently under construction.

Davidson was the founder of the Davidson Center and the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, and was named an Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem.

The excavations along the southern wall of the Temple Mount are referred to as "the Davidson excavations" in tribute to his generous donations to the project.

Haredi modesty patrol 'mercenary' sentenced to 4 years for assault

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com March 16, 2009

This appears to be the first conviction of a person connected to a modesty patrol, even though these organizations have been linked to numerous acts of violence over the years, mostly in cities with large ultra-Orthodox populations like Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. 

Judge Noam Solberg wrote in his decision that Buzaglo was "hired to beat and abuse, to curse and threaten, to humiliate and brutalize," and that "the punishment must reflect the abhorrence of his acts, [and] compensate for the evil harm to the body and spirit of the plaintiff, and deter him and others like him." 

Haredi rescue organizations collapsing

By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com March 13, 2009

The emergency and rescue organizations, the flagship of the ultra-Orthodox volunteer projects, are rapidly collapsing. 

The financial crisis, petty struggles between the groups themselves and the impossible competition from Magen David Adom are costing these organizations, based in Jerusalem, dearly.

This week it was reported that Hatzolah Israel, the leading haredi rescue group, has nearly totally crashed after losing the sponsorship of Rabbi Moshe Ifergan (known as "the x-ray rabbi.")

Ichud Hatzolah is also struggling to keep head above water, while ZAKA is constantly losing resources and volunteers.

ZAKA Expands International Rescue Unit

By Walter Bingham www.israelnationalnews.com March 13, 2009

After years of experience in dealing with mass casualty incidents in Israel and around the world, ZAKA - the Israel-based, United Nations-recognized volunteer rescue and recovery organization - is expanding its International Rescue Unit.

Jerusalem: Stinky solution for Purim riots

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com March 13, 2009

The leaders of the ultra-Orthodox Haredi Community in Jerusalem have come up with an original way for dealing with the nightly riots associated with Purim celebrations in the capital's haredi neighborhoods.

This year they used dead fish against the young rascals, and with the help of local police succeeded in keeping the area relatively quiet, after two tumultuous years.

New Group of Chareidi Girls Dancing Hip Hop at Weddings, Is it Kosher?

By Ezra Reichman www.vosizneias.com March 15, 2009

The latest sensation is a three-women hip hop dance troupe called Danciot (formed by combining "dance" + "dosiot"), molded under the expert guidance of producer David Pedida, the notorious creator of Oif Simchos and the Kinderlach choir.

The women dance hip hop to the sounds of Oif Simchas music at weddings and other events. G-d forbid they are untznius; they are dressed in long sleeved-shirts and long skirts.

"It began rather simple," explains Pedida. "Our production company had many requests for entertainment for chareidi women.

The chareidi community only has unprofessional performances, so I decided to found the most professional group I could. 

In Their Own Space

By Joseph R. Hoffman www.jpost.com March 12, 2009 Issue 25, March 30, 2009 of The Jerusalem Report

These are not the images of ultra-Orthodox Jews, or haredim, that the Israeli public is used to seeing. More often, haredim are seen demonstrating against what they see as violations of Jewish law, or praying at the Western Wall.

"I want to show the other side as well," says Menahem Kahana, who has been photographing ultra-Orthodox Israelis doing what they do for 15 years.

A selection of the results can be viewed in "Haredim," a solo exhibition of 67 of Kahana's photographs running at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv until June.

Lonely scholar

By Dalia Karpel www.haaretz.com March 13, 2009

Interview with Prof. Yehuda Liebes, 64, a preeminent scholar of Jewish thought, has published numerous studies on the kabbala and Jewish mysticism (he prefers the term "mystic Judaism").

Since 1971, he has been on the faculty of the Hebrew University's Department of Jewish Thought.

Working in Jerusalem: Fringe benefits

By Gil Zohar www.jpost.com March 12, 2009

Joel Guberman has a colorful story - but it's all in hues of royal purple and brilliant blue.

From a nondescript building in an industrial zone in the Judean Desert east of Jerusalem, the New Jersey-born occupational therapist is engaged in a halachic revolution - getting Jews to adopt the lost commandment of wearing of blue tzitziot (ritual fringes).

Guberman is an expert on techelet - the little-understood dye referred to 48 times in the Bible that colored the tassels of Jews' prayer shawls.

Religion and State in Israel

March 16, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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