Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - June 29, 2009 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

June 29, 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.

Rabbinate demands Haredi control over conversion

By Matthew Wagner June 24, 2009

Rabbi David Stav, a senior member of Tzohar Rabbis, an organization of moderate Orthodox Zionist rabbis, called Sherman's comments scandalous.

"Sherman is committing the biblical sin of insulting the convert," Stav, who is chief rabbi of Shoham, said on Tuesday.

"A group of haredi functionaries are willing to place under suspicion thousands of converts just because they want to wage a political power struggle.

Stav said haredi activists were using the conversion issue to shore up their rabbinical clout vis-à-vis the Orthodox Zionist establishment.

Stav, who serves as the Chief Rabbinate's marriage registrar in his town, said he accepts all converts converted by a legitimate Rabbinical Conversion Court.

Chief Rabbi versus Chief Rabbi on Conversions

By Michele Chabin June 24, 2009

Knesset Member Uri Orbach of the Jewish Home party said Rabbi Metzger should be fired.

“The honor of the converts supersedes that of the chief rabbi, who does not recognize the conversions of his own system.
If the chief rabbi believes his job is to obey and flatter his haredi sponsors, it would be best to find him employment outside of the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel.”

In a statement to journalists, Rabbi David Stav, co-founder of the national-religious Zohar Rabbinical Organization, which works with rabbinical courts to help new immigrants authenticate their Jewish roots, said it is “inconceivable that the chief rabbi of Israel can be speaking in front of a privately run conference and expressing complete distrust in the system of judges that he is meant to be heading.”

Rabbi Seth Farber, founder of ITIM, which helps converts and others overcome hurdles related to personal status, said his organization has received several calls in recent days from worried Conversion Authority “graduates.”

“Until now a conversion certificate from the State of Israel was an unassailable certification of one’s Jewishness. Now the chief rabbi has intimated that no convert can feel secure in his or her Jewishness,” Farber said, explaining the disquiet.

Orthodox Zionist rabbis break law to help converts

By Matthew Wagner June 25, 2009

Modern Orthodox rabbis have organized to violate the law to help converts who are unable to marry because they are not recognized by haredi chief rabbis of cities.

"I know several Orthodox Zionist rabbis of cities who agree to register converts for marriage even when neither the convert nor his or her partner live in the rabbis' cities,"
Rabbi David Stav said on Wednesday. He is a senior member of Tzohar Rabbis, a group of moderate Orthodox rabbis.

Rabbi Seth Farber, head of ITIM, a non-profit organization that helps people navigate the Chief Rabbinate's bureaucracy, said city rabbis should be compelled to register all converts converted by the Chief Rabbinate.

"These rabbis are employees of the Chief Rabbinate and they receive a salary from the State of Israel. Therefore they have a duty to recognize conversions performed under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate," Farber said.

"If their intellectual integrity does not allow them to recognize conversion performed by the Conversion Authority then they should resign."

Amar moves to bar controversial rabbinic judge from conversion cases

By Matthew Wagner June 26, 2009

In a move that pits him against the haredi rabbinical establishment and endears him to thousands of converts to Judaism, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar issued a written order that effectively bars a controversial haredi rabbinical judge from adjudicating in conversion cases.

Amar's directive would allow him to remove from a conversion case any judge - but it is seen as being directed, in particular, at Rabbi Avraham Sherman, a judge on the High Rabbinical Court who one week ago issued his second highly controversial halachic opinion on a divorce case involving a woman who converted to Judaism.

Chief Rabbi Amar commits to Conversion Authority

By Matthew Wagner June 26, 2009

In a meeting with Absorption Minister Sofa Landver on Wednesday, Amar reiterated his commitment to recognize all conversions performed by the Conversion Authority, according to Landver's spokesman.

Landver voiced her concern that Sherman's attack on the Conversion Authority would discourage potential converts from converting.

"No one will be willing to go through the trouble of converting if there is a real fear that, sometime down the road, the conversion will simply be annulled," she said.

Israel no longer nation for Jewish people

By Rabbi Seth Farber Opinion June 28, 2009

Memo to the board members of the Jewish Agency

We need to reinvent conversion in Israel as part of a dialogue between the modern Orthodox and the Reform and Conservative communities. We should insist that the State of Israel sign on to a modus operandi that will not keep us beholden to the views of a select few.

As an Orthodox rabbi, I believe that we can create a conversion system that does not compromise Halacha in any way, but maximizes transparency, integrity and commitment. We need to set goals and develop a program that will take us there. We cannot afford to wait another six months or a year.

In the immediate sense, I believe you can insist that Israeli marriage registrars register converts. In fact, I have proposed a bill in the Knesset that would sanction marriage registrars who refuse to register converts (incredibly, registrars in at least 8 major cities refuse to register converts!)

Aliya and Conversion Question

By Maurice Singer June 26, 2009

The expert is Maurice Singer, an Independent Consultant and former Senior Aliyah Consultant at the Jewish Agency.

Q: My father is Jewish, and from a very observant family. My mother converted to Judaism before I was born. I was bar-mitzvahed. a) Am I a Jew? b) Could I become a full citizen of Israel?

A: If your mother completed an Orthodox Conversion then you are recognized by all as a Jew.

If it was not, then the Orthodox Rabbinate won't recognize you as halachically Jewish. But you may still make aliyah and be a full citizen of Israel.

VIDEO: Haredi riots over Jerusalem parking lot

IBA June 29, 2009

Click here for VIDEO

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman June 26, 2009

“Where to?”

“First the Gays, then the Parking Lot”

Eda Haredit decides to intensify protests in J'lem parking lot row June 29, 2009

The Eda Haredit has decided to intensify its protests over the Jerusalem parking lot row.

In a meeting Monday night, heads of the organization, led by Rabbi Tuvia Weiss, decided to hold a mass prayer rally on Saturday as well a demonstration outside the Jerusalem Municipality sometime next week to protest the Shabbat opening of the Carta lot, located near the Old City.

Taliban Judaism does not work in modern world

By Gil Troy June 28, 2009 Opinion

The writer is a McGill history professor

Unfortunately too many Orthodox Jews and religious Zionists are not just bystanders to haredi and rabbinic extremism but enablers. Too many fear the extremists.

This cowardice comes from a brand of religious one-upsmanship extremists the world over have mastered. People from the center, no matter how passionate or pure, end up having their credentials questioned by the ayatollahs in religion and the commissars in politics.

Too many modern Orthodox Jews and religious Zionists act insecure when amid their more radical brethren.

Fateful dates

By Peggy Cidor June 25, 2009

When asked by this journalist at Tuesday's press conference announcing the decision to reopen a parking lot on Shabbat, if he planned to draw conclusions regarding the behavior of his haredi coalition members, Barkat answered that on the contrary, "it is time to embrace them as they are also going through difficult times."

Difficult times? The United Torah Judaism members off the city council coalition?

The same United Torah Judaism members who failed to explain to the mayor who trusted them that in such delicate issues as Shabbat their word is worth very little as soon as the tough guys from the Eda Haredit see things differently?

Had they been a little more reliable or courageous, they might have spared the mayor from showing the extremist faction of haredi society that he doesn't really know how to handle them.

Jerusalem needs peace

By Dudi Zilberslag Opinon June 30, 2009

The sane Orthodox majority expects his secular brethren to show greater understanding to its ideological distress, and seeks to at least maintain the symbols, if not the entire pot.

Even if you did not feel it, we showed restraint many times. We made many concessions for the sake of peaceful life in the city.

…The leaders of this city, headed by Nir Barkat, have the holy duty to return the situation to what it used to be, and to engage in a process of self-reflection: Is it worthwhile to stir conflict among the city’s residents for the sake of 450 vehicles of central Israel residents who travel to Jerusalem on Shabbat and park at the Karta parking lot?

Jerusalem haredi city councilmen to fight parking lot

By Matthew Wagner June 29, 2009

One Haredi councilman - Rabbi Shmuel Yitzhaki of Shas - has already resigned from Barkat's coalition in protest.

The other three Shas representatives are waiting to hear what their spiritual mentor Yosef tells them to do.

The five Ashkenazi haredi representatives from Degel Hatorah and Agudat Yisrael are also presenting a firm front.

But with only nine council seats among them out of a total of 31, the haredi representatives lack the political strength to force Barkat's hand. The only tool the community has is street demonstrations.

For haredi protesters, a free Shabbat ride to jail

By Etgar Lefkovits June 29, 2009

They are protesting the opening of a parking lot in Jerusalem, claiming to be pained by the desecration of Shabbat.

Yet for those haredim who rioted on Saturday, the possibility of being arrested and forced into a police van to be driven to the city lockup on Shabbat did not seem a sufficient deterrent against violence.

Boaz, a haredi protester:

"Look, the haredim have nothing to lose - they are not losing money or work by coming to the protests," he said. "In contrast, the police and the city have to amass forces, which takes time and money."

The protester noted that a previous dispute over Shabbat traffic on a major city thoroughfare, Rehov Bar-Ilan, took years to resolve.

"It's going to be a hot summer," he concluded.

What about the peace?

By Neta Sela Opinion June 26, 2009

For some reason, the sense that emerges is that some people protest not because of the Shabbat and the peace, but rather, for the sake of the action.

Or in other words, in the spirit of the story about Rabbi Zonnenfeld, and as an Orthodox Jerusalem resident said this week:

“We need to protest and that’s it; without too much philosophizing and weekly discussions before and after on what we’re allowed and not allowed to do.”

Police probe threats to Barkat's life

By Etgar Lefkovits June 29, 2009

"As an observant person, I believe in keeping Shabbat but I can understand the mayor's position," said city councilman David Hadari of the National Religious Party. "We need to live side by side, religious, secular and haredim in peace."

We must support Barkat

By Hanoch Daum Opinion June 26, 2009

Members of the ultra-Orthodox sect are very lonely and very bored. For those who are unfamiliar with them, I am referring to a radical sect within the broader Orthodox community where the men are born into a demanding and uninspiring life path: Religious studies every day, the whole day, until the end of time.

Jerusalem shaken by riots

1 gravely hurt in Shabbat parking riots

Six hurt in ultra-Orthodox protests in Jerusalem

J'lem mayor seeks deal to avert secular-haredi crisis

J'lem bracing for more Haredi riots as mayor vows Shabbat opening

Thousands of Haredim protest against opening of Jerusalem parking lot

Court orders J'lem's Karta parking lot be open on Shabbat

2 police officers wounded by rioting haredim in Jerusalem

Court postpones parking lot hearing

Gay Pride in Jerusalem June 25, 2009

Nitzan Horowitz, an openly-gay member of Israel's parliament, led songs in Jerusalem's gay pride parade as protestors yelled anti-gay epithets.

Pride and prejudice

By Margaret Stoner June 25, 2009

Yonatan Gher, executive director of the Jerusalem Open House:

"As of last year, there has been no more controversy. Through conversations, we were able to help them [the haredim] cease their protests," he reports.

Gher says that Open House has had a subtle relationship with the Orthodox leadership for a number of years.

"What we are doing this year is explaining that the issue has nothing to do with them. We are not holding [gay] pride events in Jerusalem because of them but because we are a part of this city, and we want to have to the visibility we deserve as residents of the city."

The Many Sides of Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade

By Erika Solomon June 25, 2009

Na’ama, a member of Bat-Kol, an organization for Orthodox Jewish lesbians, agreed, adding:

“It’s not like a protest-it is a protest. I don’t want to take it for granted that I can walk here. But we also have to fight for other rights, like the right to marry. And we still have a struggle with the rest of the Orthodox community to get them to accept us.”

Reform Jews such as the youth group Netzer participated in the pride parade in large numbers, to show solidarity.

One member said, “We want to show that Reform Judaism is open. There’s more than one way to be Jewish. We can’t follow egalitarianism in one sense and not another.”

Gay Pride in the Holy City?!

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion June 22, 2009

The Masorti Movement has never been an official sponsor of the Pride event although Masorti rabbis and members have always participated.

But with regard to the right of the Gay community to hold the event, a Masorti position was officially stated, by its head, some years back:

"What we are doing is protecting the community's right to hold this event in the face of so much hatred. We're doing this in the name of free speech and tolerance."

Religion and State in Israel

June 29, 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.