Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - June 29, 2009 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

June 29, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

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.

Court rules rabbinate can't deny kashrut certificate to Messianic Jew's bakery

By Tomer Zarchin June 30, 2009

Following a lengthy legal battle, the High Court of Justice on Monday ordered the Ashdod Rabbinate to grant kashrut certification to a local bakery owned by a Messianic Jew.

Justices Eliezer Rivlin, Yoram Danziger and Salim Joubran ruled that both the Ashdod Rabbinate and the Chief Rabbinate Council, which backed its decision, had exceeded the authority granted them by the Kashrut Law when they demanded that the bakery meet special conditions not demanded of other enterprises solely because the owner is a Messianic Jew.

The court [said] the only considerations the rabbinate may consider in granting kashrut certificates are those directly related to kashrut. As long as the applicant's personal beliefs do not affect the kashrut of the food, the rabbinate has no right to discriminate on account of these beliefs, it ruled.

Court declares Jew for Jesus 'kosher'

By Matthew Wagner June 30, 2009

"It's absurd that the Supreme Court is telling rabbis how to keep kosher," Ashdod Chief Rabbi Yosef Sheinen said in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post.

"What does the Supreme Court know about kashrut?" asked Sheinen. He said that according to his understanding of Halacha, an apostate Jew could not be trusted to adhere to the laws of kashrut.

Justice Eliezer Rivlin wrote that his court accepted the distinction made in the Raskin case between "core" kashrut issues and considerations that were not directly pertinent.

Messianic Jew's kashrut certificate revoked

By Aviad Glickman June 30, 2009

The judges wrote in their ruling that:

"The Rabbinate's conduct indicates that as far as it is concerned only Jews can receive this much coveted kashrut certificate."

They also ordered the Rabbinate to issue Konforti a certificate as long as she adheres to the usual requirements.

Justice Minister to propose civil marriage solution

By Aviad Glickman June 30, 2009

Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman has prepared a brief concerning civil marriage in Israel, which states that it should be made possible for couples who are either not Jewish or are consider to have no religious denomination.

The brief, drawn up as part of Yisrael Beiteinu's coalition agreement with the Likud, reviews a previous bill proposed to the Knesset by Yisrael Beiteinu and is expected to be presented to the government on Tuesday.

The coalition agreement between the two parties stipulated that the government must push for a law regulating marriage for non-Jewish couples.

Million dollar baby?

By Rivkah Lubitch June 28, 2009

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

A Haifa Rabbinic Court recently ruled that a husband was required to pay his wife the "ketubah money" (the sum of money a husband stipulates in the ketubah) - in this case, one million dollars, since that was the amount he promised her under their chuppah.

This is apparently not the first time, nor the last, that a Rabbinic Court has ruled that a husband is required to pay ketubah money amounting to an astronomical sum.

So where are the rabbis that marry these couples?

We can imagine who the foolish groom is who writes a NIS 1 million sum in the ketubah - but who is the wise rabbi who allows such a thing to occur?

Doesn’t the person in charge of the wedding ceremony have a responsibility not to allow a groom, in a moment of arrogance or social pressure, to fix a sum that he can never realistically pay, if and when that day should come?

Where is the Chief Rabbinate that should be issuing a decree in this matter?

Legislation committee bill awards more funds to haredi schools

By Aviad Glickman June 29, 2009

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a bill by MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) demanding additional funding for ultra-Orthodox schools.

Gafni, who serves as chairman of the Knesset's Finance Committee, proposed a bill allotting additional funds to private schools belonging to United Torah Judaism and Shas. The funds will be extracted from the local authorities, according to the bill.

The new bill also awards the ultra-Orthodox institutions funding for 100% of school hours, whereas they currently receive funding for only 75%. Gafni claims the bill reinstates the status quo from a number of years ago.

MK threatens to challenge 'Gafni bill' in High Court

By Zvi Zrahiya June 29, 2009

Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh will appeal to the Supreme Court if the "Gafni bill" on state sponsorship for religious schools is passed in its present form, Haaretz has learned.

The bill, proposed by MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), suggests that the only private schools to enjoy state funding will be the Independent Education Institutes affiliated with UTJ and the Ma’ayan educational network affiliated with Shas.

Lingerie wars

By Stewart Weiss Opinion June 30, 2009

The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra'anana

Driving down the streets of Ra'anana a couple of weeks ago, motorists noticed large posters of a scantily-clad young woman, promoting a local lingerie store called Hope.

Only problem was, on most of the posters, the woman was almost completely obscured by heavy black lines that had been drawn to block out almost everything except the name of the company.

But who had done this?

You could almost picture these intrepid members of the modesty patrol, surreptitiously sneaking around at night, paint brush in hand, merrily masking the maiden, and so sparing the innocent and the pure from the sexy, scandalous scenes that had invaded their neighborhood.

But lo and behold, it soon was learned that it was

Cockroach closes down Knesset cafeteria

By Amnon Meranda June 23, 2009

"One of the Shas ministers invited me for lunch, so I came. We all sat there together, Knesset Member Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas), Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen (Shas), and some others."

According to one of the cafeteria's owners, "Following a debate that arose after the cockroach was found on one of the diner's plates, the kosher overseer decided to revoke the kosher certificate. Therefore, at this stage, the buffets are closed."

Nazareth Illit to build haredi neighborhood

By Sharon Roffe-Ofir June 25, 2009

The initiative has received the support of Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who publicly urged haredim to settle in the new neighborhood. Six-hundred families have already signed up.

Approval to construct a new neighborhood on the marked land was granted a decade ago, and the Ministry of Construction and Housing has already invested some NIS 130 million ($32.6 million) to build a neighborhood that will include 10,000 housing units in the area.

Yishai expressed his willingness and even asked to have his picture with the planned neighborhood in the background published in ultra-Orthodox newspapers, and discussed the matter with Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

"Minister Yishai said he has given us his blessing," Gapso said.

Fur flies as Knesset bill threatens 'shtreimel' supply

By Rebecca Anna Stoil June 25, 2009

MK Ronit Tirosh's bill to ban imports of fur products from East Asia earned the rare support of the coalition but irked haredi MKs who worried that nothing less than a centuries-old tradition could be at stake.

One house faction, however, was less than satisfied with the bill. UTJ Faction Chairman MK Menahem Eliezar Moses, who represents Agudath Israel, immediately jumped into action, fighting to preserve the round fur hats known as "shtreimels" worn by a number of hassidic groups as well as by members of certain other Jerusalem haredi communities.

Although no UTJ members were present during the voting, the bill did earn the support of a number of their haredi counterparts in Shas.

Kiryat Degel HaTorah Slated for Ramat Beit Shemesh Gimmel

By Yechiel Sever June 25, 2009

Members of the Beit Shemesh branch of Degel HaTorah convened a special meeting to survey the work of the faction's representatives on the city council and to discuss various matters on the local agenda, including new construction in Ramat Beit Shemesh Gimmel.

Today the chareidi education system in Beit Shemesh comprises the majority of the Municipal Education Department. While government and government-religious schools have a total enrollment of 10,000 students, chareidi institutions number 15,000 students.

1st 'Museum of Jewish people' to open in Tel Aviv June 27, 2009

The world’s first museum to tell the story of the Jewish People will open to local and international visitors in Tel Aviv in 2012.

The $25 million project was announced in Tel Aviv on Thursday at a meeting of the International Board of Governors of Beth Hatefutsoth, by its chairman, Leonid Nevzlin

Israeli Rock Finds Religion

By Robbie Gringras June 24, 2009

‘I feel like a fish that spent its entire life in an aquarium and has suddenly discovered the sea,” Kobi Oz enthused, prior to going onstage with his new set, “Psalms for the Perplexed,” all of it written after several years of his “soaking in the rich marinade of Judaism.”

So what’s happening? Has secular Israel gone frum?

The answer is far more complex, fascinating and hopeful. It would seem that unexpectedly, unpredictably and in often contradictory ways, Jewish learning and literacy has become a significant part of Israeli popular culture — regardless of belief or observance.

Fla. judge tosses out embezzlement case against to Nefesh B'Nefesh donor

By Raphael Ahren June 26, 2009

American-Israeli businessman and philanthropist Guma Aguiar was cleared last week of embezzlement charges, brought before a Florida court by his uncle, who claims he misused funds because he believed he was the messiah.

Aguiar, who recently made a name for himself by donating several million dollars to Nefesh B'Nefesh and other Jewish organizations, denies believing he is the messiah, calling his uncle's accusations absurd. He is currently in the United States and does not give interviews to the press.

Businessman and philanthropist Guma Aguiar lawyer’s warning letter against blogger

By Raphael Ahren June 26, 2009

Besides dealing with two lawsuits and a soccer club in financial straits, he is also going after bloggers he feels are defaming him.

In May, Aguiar's lawyer Eitan Gabay wrote a letter to an American-Israeli blogger who questioned Aguiar's motives for leading a Jewish life. Aguiar has acknowledged publicly that while he was born a Jew, his parents raised him as an Evangelical Christian from the age of two.

"Written material in the blog is evidence of a serious violation of the prohibition of 'lashon harah' (libel) and harassment," stated the letter, which was posted on the Web and confirmed by Aguiar's spokesman, adding that some statements on the site "border on defamation" and "infringement of privacy."

The letter continued by stating that Aguiar considering filing a police complaint and a lawsuit if the blogger didn't immediately delete the contentious posts.

The blogger, an Orthodox rabbi, reacted by quickly deleting all entries dealing with Aguiar's past.

"I am simply not in the position that I can afford to be hounded by a billionaire," he told Anglo File last month.

Report: Rav Ovadia will Nix Deri’s Bid to Return to Political Arena

By Yechiel Spira June 28, 2009

According to the daily Yisrael HaYom, Maran Rav Ovadia Yosef will not give his bracha to Rav Aryeh Deri to announce a return to the political arena, with many reports stating he will seek to return to his former position as head of the Shas Party.

Is Aryeh Deri planning his political comeback?

By Yair Ettinger June 28, 2009

Deri will soon end the seven-year period of moral turpitude that began the day he left prison after serving his sentence for receiving a bribe, fraud and breach of trust that prevents him from returning to politics.

It has been known for a long time that Deri would reenter politics - Deri himself has said so - but it is unclear in which framework.

The source said Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is not only satisfied with Yishai; he has deep reservations about Deri, who in 1999, when Shas was at the height of its power with 17 seats, seemed to outshine Yosef whenever the two appeared together.

A league of their own

By Gail Lichtman June 25, 2009

Some 260 women from all over Israel, ranging in age from 16 to over 80, joined together for the 10th Anniversary National Masorti Women's Study Day, which took place at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem on June 19.

Prof. Alice Shalvi adds that having the symposium only for women gives them the chance to be taught by women teachers who can serve as role models.

"It is very important for the self-image of women to see that women have reached such high levels of knowledge."

Judaism gets in touch with its feminine side

By Margaret Stoner June 27, 2009

Naama Kelman, the newly appointed dean of the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, is the first woman to be appointed to this position in Israel.

She was also the first woman to be ordained in Israel. The number of women and men entering the reform seminaries in the United States is now equal, but in past years there have been slightly more female students, Kelman said.

There are challenges to being a woman rabbi in Israel, though, according to Kelman.

"Here," she said, it's an equal opportunity for discrimination to be a non-Orthodox rabbi in Israel. That's a huge challenge because of the Israeli culture and religious establishment. They are just recently opening up to religious alternatives."

Rabbi Riskin Explains 'Resurrection' Remarks

By Hillel Fendel June 29, 2009

A Christian Embassy video features Rabbi Shlomo Riskin using language that some Jews charge is theologically problematic. Speaking later with Israel National News, Rabbi Riskin retracted part and explained the rest.

The video, circulated by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ), shows Rabbi Riskin – a highly-respected Orthodox rabbi and scholar who founded the city of Efrat in Gush Etzion and is now its Chief Rabbi – speaking of the “grafting” of evangelical Christianity onto Israel and "resurrecting" G-d.

Pope doesn't pull in tourists

By Danny Sadeh June 27, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the Holy Land did not have the expected impact on Israel's tourism industry as was originally thought.

Figures published this week by the Israel Hotel Association reveal that May, the month of the pope's visit, saw a 31% decrease in the number of tourist lodgings in Israel.

Reform Movement’s HUC campuses will stay open

By Cliff Peale June 24, 2009

The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion college's board of governors late Tuesday endorsed a plan to keep its four campuses open while restructuring and cutting costs to close a budget deficit of more than $3 million a year.

It also will continue to recruit to campuses in Cincinnati, New York, Los Angeles and Jerusalem while expanding online classes. But it will integrate programs at the campuses to save administrative costs.

Madonna to take new daughter to Western Wall

By Itamar Zohar June 25, 2009

Madonna plans to bring her newly adopted 3-year-old daughter with her to Israel this September, when she is slated to give two concerts here, the British newspaper The Sun reported yesterday. Inter alia, Madonna plans to take daughter Mercy to see the Western Wall.

"The Wailing Wall is a very sacred place for anyone with links to the Jewish faith, and she wants all the children to see it," a source close to the singer told the Sun. Madonna, though not Jewish, is intensely interested in kabbala.

Mercy was adopted from Malawi earlier this month. Madonna will also be bringing her other adopted child, David Banda.

Religion and State in Israel

June 29, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

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.