Monday, July 6, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - July 6, 2009 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

July 6, 2009 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

Opening the parking garage on Shabbat

By Rachel Azariah Opinion July 2, 2009

The author is a member of the Jerusalem City Council from the Wake Up Jerusalemites faction.

I am a religious woman, and I believe it is essential to keep open the Carta parking garage.

I was educated in the State Religious school system; I grew up in Bnei Akiva. My public service is based on religious-Zionist values, including a commitment to Jewish law, to Israeli society at large and to the Jewish people.

Based on these values, I am certain that we should keep open the Carta garage. There is no connection between Sabbath desecration and opening it.

…The truth is that this has nothing to do with the Sabbath at all.

…We, the secular, traditional and religious public of Jerusalem, are united in our demand that anyone who wants to live in our city can do so - haredi, secular, religious and Arab.

That is true mutual responsibility. It is up to us to make it clear to the haredim that they can no longer decide for Israeli society what the public domain will look like.

Hostages at Safra Square

By Peggy Cidor July 5, 2009

On the sidelines of the Kikar Safra parking lot drama, Nir Barkat almost found his coalition breaking up last week and from an unexpected direction.

Shas officials told The Jerusalem Post that the mayor's decision to open the parking lot on Shabbat had taken them by surprise and that they had considered quitting the coalition as a result.

…Last Wednesday the secret meeting of the four ended in a bold decision to leave the coalition.

But then a message came, directly from Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's chambers, ordering them to cancel any plans for going independent and to stick with Barkat. For the Shasniks on the city council it was not so difficult to understand what lay behind the stern request.

"We have been turned into hostages," said one of them sadly.

"There is a not-so-secret agreement between Mayor Barkat and Rabbi Yosef regarding the upcoming elections for the city's chief rabbis.

In return for Barkat's support of Yosef's son's candidacy, Shas representatives have promised to support the election of a religious Zionist Ashkenazi chief rabbi.

And we, the party of the coalition on the city council, are the hostages of this agreement," concluded the city councillor.

Unquiet weekend Editorial July 6, 2009

One way for Diaspora Jews to register their censure of such extremist behavior is by insisting that Mea She'arim-based institutions seeking their support go on record as denouncing such Shabbat riots.

We are also waiting for leading non-haredi Orthodox rabbis to echo former chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and challenge the pernicious idea that it is halachically permissible to assault security personnel of the State of Israel - much less on the holy Sabbath.

Boycotting and whining

By Nadav Shragai July 6, 2009 Opinion

If the tens of thousands of members of the Eda Haredit anti-Zionist organization in Jerusalem had participated in the municipal elections and exercised their right to vote and make an impact, perhaps Nir Barkat would not have been elected mayor and the latest Shabbat riots would have been avoided.

The religious kulturkampf

By Isi Leibler July 6, 2009 Opinion

The intense political and economic challenges confronting us divert attention from a festering kulturkampf within the religious arena the outcome of which will impact heavily on the future of Israeli society.

…There are ticking time bombs waiting to explode. The aggressiveness of extremist groups, like the Eda Haredit in Jerusalem, which over the past weeks threatened "to set the country on fire" if a proposed Jerusalem parking lot remained open on Shabbat, must be dealt with firmly or the anti-Zionist zealots will achieve a new lease of life.

The time to confront burning issues such as the haredi school system, military service, conversions and Shabbat legislation is now.

Shabbat Protest is First Test for Barkat

By Joshua Mitnick July 1, 2009

Shai Izenberg, the news editor at the ultra-Orthodox Web site B’hadrei Haredim, said that the protest against the parking lots isn’t going to die down soon. The demonstrations have snowballed from the margins of the ultra-Orthodox into the mainstream.

“It’s gotten out of control. Now that it’s become a fight of the entire haredi community, he said. “If the situation in Jerusalem continues to burn, I believe that the ultra-Orthodox might pull out of the mayor’s coalition.”

“These are not normal days in the haredi politics,” wrote Yair Ettinger in the Haaretz newspaper.

“While it seems to the outsider that the haredi protest is directed only at the ‘religion hating’ mayor (as he is nicknamed in posters), the truth is that the anger is aimed just as much at members of the United Torah Judaism party who sit in his coalition.”

Jerusalem’s Shabbat wars fuelled by rabbis’ fear

By Anshel Pfeffer July 2, 2009

Leading rabbis such as Rav Yossef Shalom Elyashiv and the Gerrer Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Alter, have never been big fans of large demonstrations. They are afraid of losing control of their younger followers on the streets and prefer operating through political back-channels.

But the bitter rivalries between the “Lithuanian” community and the Ger Chasidim, who were blamed for the electoral downfall, mean that no group or rabbi can allow itself to be seen as going soft.

Israel endangered by secular failure to confront ultra-Orthodox

By Meirav Arlosoroff July 2, 2009 Opinion

Israelis who believe in the future of Israel as a modern, developing and democratic state, whether they be secular, national religious or Arab, may well become the minority in the future. In fact, it's a sure thing, as sure as the prediction of the 1970s that if secular Israelis didn't fight for Jerusalem's identity, it would be left to the Haredim.

Thirty years later, the prediction has come true.

The future for Tel Aviv is no more promising. Why should Tel Aviv's situation be any different from that of Jerusalem in 30 years if secular residents and proponents of a democratic Israel won't lift a finger to protect Israel's identity?

Reporter feels mob's hate in the Holy City

By Middle East correspondent Anne Barker July 6, 2009

Hat Tip:

I suddenly found myself in the thick of the protest - in the midst of hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews in their long coats and sable-fur hats.

They might be supremely religious, but their behaviour - to me - was far from charitable or benevolent.

As the protest became noisier and the crowd began yelling, I took my recorder and microphone out of my bag to record the sound.

Suddenly the crowd turned on me, screaming in my face. Dozens of angry men began spitting on me.

I found myself herded against a brick wall as they kept on spitting - on my face, my hair, my clothes, my arms.

It was like rain, coming at me from all directions - hitting my recorder, my bag, my shoes, even my glasses.

Big gobs of spit landed on me like heavy raindrops. I could even smell it as it fell on my face.

Somewhere behind me - I didn't see him - a man on a stairway either kicked me in the head or knocked something heavy against me.

I wasn't even sure why the mob was angry with me. Was it because I was a journalist? Or a woman? Because I wasn't Jewish in an Orthodox area? Was I not dressed conservatively enough?

In fact, I was later told, it was because using a tape-recorder is itself a desecration of the Shabbat even though I'm not Jewish and don't observe the Sabbath.

It was lucky that I don't speak Hebrew. At least I was spared the knowledge of whatever filth they were screaming at me.

Click here for VIDEO

Click here for AUDIO

Police Chopper Disturbs Shabbos Tranquility in Yerushalayim

By Yechiel Spira July 5, 2009

Shortly after shabbos, MK Eliezer Menachem Moses decided to contact Minister of Public Security Aharonovitch to share his feelings, to explain that a low-flying police chopper that hovered over the protest areas on shabbos was a significant disturbance of the holy day and he wished to express his disapproval over the chilul shabbos. Moses is a resident of the Shichun Chabad area, about a kilometer from the protest.

In his letter, the Yahadut HaTorah MK writes that a police chopper hovered over chareidi areas of the capital, flying very low, significantly disturbing the tranquility of the day, including tefillos in shuls as well as being offensive to the religious sensibilities of residents.

Moses cited the public chilul shabbos by the police chopper as unacceptable.

The Nauseating Violence in Eretz Yisroel

By Rabbi Yakov Horowitz Opinion July 1, 2009

Dear Readers:

The visual images and media descriptions of young men who dress like my children and yours throwing dirty diapers and rocks at police officers and burning garbage bins are vile and disgusting – in my humble opinion, a far greater chilul Shabbos than all the secular Jews driving in Yerushalayim.

…Those of us who have any positions of influence in our communities must speak up loud and clear and call this behavior what it is -- a disgraceful Chillul Hashem and a distortion of Torah values -- in the loudest and most unequivocal terms.

I am convinced that those of us who don’t, will have to give din v'cheshbon for not having done so.

Haredim protest Shabbat desecration

Police clash with Haredi protesters in Jerusalem

Violent haredi protests break out over Jerusalem parking lot

Haredi protestor: Only fringe youth use violence

J'lem: 11 haredim indicted for rioting

Toronto and the Israeli conversion dispute

By Paul Lungen July 2, 2009

Rabbi Lockshin called Rabbi Sherman’s renunciation of the Israel conversion court “a matter of grave concern. The main problem is that the decisions that have the blessing or the imprimatur of the state can be overturned by an individual rabbi later on.

“From a political point of view, it’s crazy,” he said. “It’s no way to govern a country.

“The bigger issue is the human damage,” he continued.

“People go through the system, do all they were asked to do and find out later someone decides it’s not valid. The hurt to people being treated this way, the human dimension,” is troubling.

“Even Toronto conversions can come under question from the Israel rabbinate,” he added.

No way out

By Rivkah Lubitch July 6, 2009

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinical advocate, working at The Center for Women’s Justice

Halachic scholars must start making radical changes to the Halacha being applied nowadays in the Rabbinic Courts, using the existing Halachic tools at their disposal—and these tools do exist.

If they don't do so, then their clients (the Israeli public) will vote with their feet and stop getting married "in accordance with the laws of Moses and Israel."

…Change, it seems, will not come about through the Rabbinic Courts. But why are only the women's organizations protesting loudly?

Where is the rest of the rabbinic community and the Halachic poskim (decisors)? The candidates for rabbinic judicial seats, halachic scholars and poskim in our community need to be asked their opinion on these subjects and be required to state their opinions publicly.

The Other Civil Union

By Michael Weiss July 1, 2009

The term “civil union” has acquired special meaning in the United States as the alternative legal code allowing same-sex couples to enjoy the social and economic advantages of marriage.

But in Israel, it connotes something simpler: the right for any couple, gay or straight, to wed without the approval of the Chief Rabbinate, an Orthodox governing body that still determines the only legally acceptable form of wedlock in the Jewish state.

Justice Minister drafts civil marriage bill

By Yuval Azoulay July 1, 2009

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman has drafted a bill on civil marriage that will be submitted to the Knesset shortly. The proposed law deals only with marriages between individuals who have no religion or who are not defined as Jewish.

It would not authorize marriage between a Jewish partner and a partner with no religion or of a different religion.

In its agreement to join the government coalition Yisrael Beiteinu received a commitment that the matter of civil marriage would be addressed. The party sees the proposed bill as a first step.

'Watch out, missionaries!' - Struggle between Messianics and Haredim in Arad

By Larry Derfner July 2, 2009

Members of the Arad [Messianics] congregation, which numbers about 50, say they've had their tires slashed dozens of times. They've been surrounded, threatened and cursed by Gur Hassidim in the market, on the streets or in their homes for about five years.

…[a Gur Hassid] said he wasn't against Christians, just against missionaries who proselytize Jews, insisting that this was against the law. (In fact, it isn't. Israeli law only forbids proselytizing minors or "bribing" potential converts with money or material favors.)

"This is not their land, this is the land of the Jews," he said. "All these missionaries have to be removed."

From Arad? I asked.

"From Israel," he replied.

'Shoah victims - reincarnated sinners' July 6, 2009

"There is no calamity that the people of Israel suffer that isn't part of [the punishment for] the sin of the golden calf.
The tragedies we've endured throughout generations - the Inquisition, the Holocaust - they are all part of the sin of the golden calf," Rabbi Yosef explained.

"After all, people are upset and ask why was there a Holocaust? Woe to us, for we have sinned. Woe to us, for there is nothing we can say to justify it," he said.

"It goes without saying that we believe in reincarnation," continued Yosef. "It is a reincarnation of those souls. Our teacher The Ari said that there are no new souls in our generation…all the souls were once in the world and have returned.

"All those poor people in the Holocaust…we wonder why it was done. There were righteous people among them. Still, they were punished because of sins of past generations."

Tempers flare as Knesset okays bill to fund Haredi schools

By Zvi Zrahiya July 3, 2009

The bill, first reported in Haaretz last week, would mandate extra funding for all schools defined as "recognized but unofficial."

Most such schools belong to one of the two Haredi school systems affiliated with parties that sit in the government - Hinuch Atzma'i, affiliated with United Torah Judaism, and Ma'ayan Lehinuch Torani, affiliated with Shas.

Education Min. expanding religious school program

By Or Kashti July 6, 2009

The Education Ministry is significantly expanding a privately-sponsored educational program operated by the Mibereshit movement run by national-religious rabbi Mordechai Elon. Students who participate in the program go on a six-day journey around the country, ending in Jerusalem.

The program was developed in 2006 by then-education minister Limor Livnat and the ministry department responsible for social and youth affairs.

Some 12,000 students go on the trip every year, and the current minister, Gideon Sa'ar, has expanded this number to 20,000 over each of the next two years as part of his plan to strengthen Jewish and Zionist education.

The program is jointly sponsored by the Education Ministry, Mibereshit and the students' parents, whose payments for the trip are transferred to the movement. Sources at the ministry said it will allocate NIS 10 million to the program.

Breaking down the separation wall

By Liat Rotem Melamed July 5, 2009

Eyal and the other community members believe that the time of separate education system has passed.

"Why should a secular and a religious teen meet each other for the first time in the army, when they are already full of stereotypes on one another? Why shouldn't they learn together and respect each other from a young age?" he asked.

And the Shoham families are not alone. There are currently about 20 such communities in Israel, numbering a total of some 2,000 families.

Ohr Yehuda Tries to Shut Down Nesivos Moshe School

By Y. Sheinfeld July 2, 2009

The school was started by Lev L'Achim organizers for children from families in the process of becoming more observant, but which cannot yet send their children to Chinuch Atzmai schools designed for fully-observant families. The Mayor said the school's success was drawing many students away from local government schools, resulting in the closure of several classes.

Enrollment for the 5770 school year is on the rise and many other parents are inquiring into the possibility of enrolling their children at the school. Unfortunately, due to a lack of space the school administration has had to turn away many parents rather than enabling them to educate their children in Torah and yiras Shomayim.

Religion and State in Israel

July 6, 2009 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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