Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - May 11, 2009 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

May 11, 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.

Non-Orthodox Judaism disappearing

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com May 12, 2009

The Reform and Conservative Movements are disappearing, Yeshiva University Chancellor Rabbi Norman Lamm said over the weekend.

"With a heavy heart we will soon say kaddish on the Reform and Conservative Movements," said Lamm, head of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

Saying Kaddish for Conservative Judaism?

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks www.jpost.com Opinion May 11, 2009

The Orthodox religious establishment is making itself increasingly irrelevant. Please take note that I am not suggesting that Orthodox Judaism is becoming irrelevant. But many of its institutions are.

The brouhaha over the sale of lands during the Shmita year, the refusal of the Israeli Rabbinate to accept converts form most mainstream American Orthodox rabbis, the ugly reception given to the Pope during his visit to Israel by some leading rabbinic figures, the corruption in the area of Kashrut, the discrimination against Sephardi children in Haredi schools in Israel, the continuing plight of Agunot, the refusal of the Orthodox establishment to accept rabbis who study at more progressive Yeshivot all bode poorly for drawing unaffiliated Jews close to the Orthodox world.

Why Wait?

Rabbi Chaya Rowen-Baker www.ynetnews.com Opinion May 7, 2009

The writer is the Rabbi of Masorti congregation Ramot Zion in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Navon and religious Zionists: Take care not to let your timidity bring about destruction.

Lift up your heads, gird your loins and declare: 

Not ordaining women as rabbis, as qualified to answer religious questions, and to serve as congregational leaders is a serious mistake that deprives the Jewish people of divinely inspired leadership and opens our tradition to accusations of misogyny, oppression and discrimination. It should be rectified at once!

…The feminist religious revolution is happening, with you or without you.

Where is Orthodox aliya?

By Michael Freund www.jpost.com Opinion May 6, 2009

…Why isn't there large-scale Orthodox aliya? Sure, Orthodox Jews are said to make up the bulk of new immigrants arriving here each year from the West. But the numbers remain small - just a few thousand annually - and most religious Jews in the Diaspora seem content to remain where they are.

This situation brings to mind the words spoken by Joshua to the people of Israel more than 3,000 years ago, when he asked, "How long will you be remiss in coming to possess the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given to you?" (Joshua 18:3).

Indeed, it has never been easier to move to Israel, now that we have been blessed with the existence of our own sovereign and independent Jewish state.

I don't mean to stand in judgment of anyone's personal decisions. But I do mean to suggest that Orthodox Jews in the West at least need to start asking themselves, and their rabbis, the question. 

After all, if they seek halachic guidance about what they put in their mouths, isn't it time they also ask about where they put their lives and bodies as well?

Orthodox gender separation

By Elana Sztokman http://blog.elanasztokman.com Opinion May 10, 2009

Over the past few months, Israeli society has witnessed a whole series of newly constructed practices for what are undoubtedly extreme views of the need for gender segregation:

• Separate sides of the street designated for a Sukkot holiday public festival in Jerusalem.

• The corpse of a woman removed from its burial place because it was next to a man in Tiberias

• Separate cashiers at the supermarket for men and women in Ramot.

• Separate public buses for men and women in Bnei Brak, Jerusalem, and more

• Separate El Al airline flights for men and women

• Separate offices for men and women in Modi’in Illit (some companies will not hire women in a company where men work)

• Separate exit times from synagogue in Safed (women were locked inside until all the men left)

• Banning of women from cemeteries in places including Elyachin, and silencing of women’s cries of mourning.

• The removal of all pictures of women from public advertisements – even women politicians, like Kadima head and former prime ministerial candidate MK Tzipi Livni

• The Photoshopped “erasure” of women cabinet members from Orthodox newspaper photos
• The covering up of dancers during a bridge opening ceremony in Jerusalem.

• Soldiers walking out of an army convocation ceremony because women were singing.

• Separate sections in the pharmacy for men and women in Bnei Brak.

A day in Jerusalem

By Yehudah Mirsky www.jpost.com Opinion May 8, 2009

...Zehava Fischer from Har Nof had made copies of a responsum by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, a towering 20th-century halachist, permitting mixed seating on public transportation on the grounds that this was not erotic contact, and that one who experienced it as such should engage in painful introspection 

…We talked a few minutes more. One of them had never heard of Rav Moshe Feinstein. And when his friend assured him that this was a big rav indeed, and I said that he had ruled it permissible to ride on buses with women, he was incredulous and a little intrigued.

Egged Begins Distributing Chareidi Weekly

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com May 5, 2009

Egged is beginning to distribute a weekly newspaper to its chareidi commuters, the ‘BaDerech’, which will be given out to riders on lines with a high percentage of chareidi riders. The paper will be distributed weekly from Wednesday to Erev Shabbos.

Egged marketing official Eyal Yechiel explains that on chareidi lines, the bus driver does not play a radio for passengers, and during intercity routes, which are at times lengthy; the newspaper will fill the void for travelers wishing to read it, providing relevant content for the chareidi public.

The newspaper will contain divrei torah on the current parsha, a section on halacha, daf yomi and more. There will also be a children and family page.

The project will be funded by adverts appearing in the newspaper from firms who view reaching the chareidi market in their strategic interest.

El Al appeals to European gays

Yoav Zeitun www.ynetnews.com May 6, 2009

Tel Aviv City Council member Rabbi Naftali Lobert said in response to the report: 

"This is a disgrace. Just as El Al was sensitive to the ultra-Orthodox community and refrained from flying on Shabbat and serves kosher meals, it shouldn't take part in this. And in general, this whole pride parade – it would be better to watch a show at the circus than this parade."

The Lubavitch Rebbe’s Views Cited in Israel’s Supreme Court Landmark Decision

By Zalman Nelson http://lubavitch.com May 4, 2009

Working parents can deduct childcare expenses from their taxes, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a landmark decision which upheld a Tel Aviv District Court decision.

In supporting their unanimous position, the five-justice panel of Eliezer Rivlin, Miriam Naor, Edna Arbel, Elyakim Rubinstein and Esther Hayut said they view childcare expenses as a necessary expenditure that enables parents to work and earn an income, calling it “a necessary result of natural parental responsibility for their children."

For Rubinstein, his decision was helped by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s writings on the laws and practice of charity in a book entitled Mitzvat HaTzedaka (The Mitzvah of Charity), later published in a second edition named Shaarei Tzedaka.

In the service of his country

By Rotem Shtarkman and Sarit Menachem www.haaretz.com May 7, 2009

Interview with Prof. Omer Moav, economic advisor to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz

"The problem in the ultra-Orthodox sector is that its education is economically unproductive: They study only Torah. 
It is scandalous that the state funds education that produces nothing in the workplace. And it is unfair to those children: They are denied choices and doomed to poverty."

CNN Video - Pictures behind closed doors

www.cnn.com April 2009

Photographer Menahem Kahana explores the closed and often secretive world of the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel.

Click here for VIDEO

Belz and Gerrer Rebbes Featuring VIP Shabbosim to Major Donors

www.vosizneias.com May 8, 2009

The chareidi community in Israel, which depends on a lifeline of donations from abroad, has come up with creative ideas during these days of economic distress.

This coming week, thirty gvirim from Israel and abroad will spent a VIP Shabbos with the Belzer rebbe in his retreat in Telz-Stone. They will eat at the rebbe's table and daven in his private minyan. 

For this privilege, they had to separate from at least $200,000. The gvirim's identities remains a guarded secret, but it is known that most of them are not from Israel.

This follows a pattern spearheaded by the Gerrer Chassidim. Only one and a half months ago, they offered a similar cozy Shabbos with the rebbe, for gvirim who donate upwards of $250,000 for the experience.

Haredi housing shortage worsening

Shai Pauzner, Calcalist www.ynetnews.com May 11, 2009

It's hard to find a second-hand apartment in the haredi market due to families' low turnover rates. The strong natural increase in haredi families makes it difficult for households to move to larger apartment often due to the economic limit, and thus they are forced to live in great crowdedness.

The crowdedness problem leads to solutions such as partial expansions of existing apartments, taking advantage of the apartment height by placing children's beds in floors, and making efficient use of every niche as a storage area.

"The housing distress in the haredi sector is a time bomb and its dimensions are getting increasingly worse. Therefore, the decision makers must address this matter immediately and come up with concrete solutions," Degani says.

Litzman may be just what the doctors ordered

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich www.jpost.com May 10, 2009

Before the Rebbe dispatched him to a political career in the Agudat Yisrael party, Litzman was director-general of Beit Ya'acov Girls schools in Jerusalem and initiated hassidic neighborhoods in Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Beit Shemesh and Arad.

Unusually for a haredi, Litzman hopes to have a woman - Ruth Ralbag, a former Jerusalem Municipality counsellor who did financial work in the Health Ministry - work closely with him. "I appreciate her and know her from when I was Finance Committee chairman. I would like her to be here, and it was a mistake when she was let go a few weeks ago."

Litzman says he does not want to turn the ministry into a haredi enclave. He has decided to appoint a committee of halachic experts to advise him on touchy issues from organ transplants and fertility treatments to dealing with graves in a spot where Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center wants to expand. But he will not fill hospitals with rabbis, he promises.

Litzman says he would serve as minister

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich www.jpost.com May 5, 2009

Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) would be willing to serve as a full minister if the High Court of Justice required it and his rabbinical arbiters - primarily the Gerrer rebbe, Rabbi Ya'acov Aryeh Alter - approved it.

But Litzman, in an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post on Monday, said he did not think the court would accept the petition filed by the Israel Medical Association, which demands that a full minister be appointed.

Growing Internet Connectivity in Chareidi Homes

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com May 12, 2009

According to data released by the Ministry of Trade & Industry, 24.6% of chareidi homes with computers are connected to the Internet, almost a surprising 25%. The ministerial study also reveals that 41% of chareidi homes have computers.

The study conducted by a branch of the ministry sought to document the extent of computer usage in chareidi homes as compared to other segments of Israeli society. The data was pulled primarily from the database information accumulated by the Census Bureau from 2002-2007.

The report adds that 21.2% of chareidi homes use the computer for work [as opposed to 50.4% among secular and traditional homes]. 

15.5% of chareidim use the computer for educational purposes [as opposed to 26% in secular and traditional homes]. 

Chareidi men are more likely to use the computer (19%) as compared to women (12%) and that chareidi men are connected in larger numbers (27%) than chareidi women (22.5%)

To serve the nation, again

By Samuel Sokol www.jpost.com May 5, 2009

The strictly Orthodox soldiers who performed their mandatory service in the IDF's Netzah Yehuda Battalion will soon begin to perform reserve duty, according to a precall-up notice obtained by The Jerusalem Post.

The more than 2,000 former soldiers who served since 1999 in the combat unit, known as the Nahal Haredi, do not currently perform reserve service, as there is no suitable framework for them. This has been a source of consternation for many of the men who volunteered to fight in this unit.

In 2007, 100 former soldiers sent a petition to the military demanding to serve in the reserves.

The IDF released the following statement. "When the [reserve] battalion becomes active, all efforts will be made to maintain all of the conditions that existed in the regular service battalion of Netzah Yehuda."

Behind the Beard, Without the Kippa 

By Elisheva Rosenblatt www.ou.org April 30, 2009

Click here for photo gallery by Abba Richman

The goal of Mashiv Haruach is to expose Tzahal’s (IDF) secular soldiers to the beauty and complexity of the Land of Israel, to Torah and to religious life. The program seeks to inspire soldiers to connect with their land and their people.

According to Rabbi Avi Berman, Director of OU Israel, Mashiv Haruach takes one day in a soldier’s service and breaks several barriers. A great divide has managed to split the people of this small land so that there is little dialogue between the secular and religious populations, and even less understanding. 

State Comptroller Documents Kashrut Deficiencies in Major Cities

By Yechiel Spira www.jerusalemkoshernews.com May 6, 2009

State Comptroller Justice Micha Lindenstrauss on Wednesday (May 6th) released his semi-annual report, a 63 chapter comprehensive volume addressing many aspects of Israeli life, including kashrus.

The state Comptroller’s report cites serious flaws pertaining to the process of issuing kashrut certificates in Israel, addressing the state’s authorized body, the Chief Rabbinate and local rabbinical councils. 

Members of the state comptroller’s staff were out in the field, seeking to meet with the mashgichim, but to their dismay, in many instances, too many, the mashgichim were ‘no shows’.

The report cites that some mashgichim are responsible for numerous places, drawing more than one salary, while not even showing up for one job.

New study: Jewish identity stronger among Israelis in New York than American-born brethren

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com May 6, 2009

Israelis living in New York are much more connected to their "Jewishness" than American-born Jews, according to a new study released earlier this week by United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York.

The surprising results might be partly due to the relatively high percentage of Orthodox Israelis in the area. 

The study claims that Israelis "far outscore" Americans in terms of synagogue attendance, kashrut observance, participation in Jewish charity events, volunteering to aid needy Jews, visiting Jewish museums and Web sites, as well as in membership in Jewish community centers.

Religion and State in Israel

May 11, 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.