Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - August 17, 2009 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

August 17, 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.

Sephardi rabbis declare day of fasting over swine flu

By DPA www.haaretz.com August 16, 2009

Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Ovadia Yosef declared a day of fast and prayer this Wednesday because of the swine flu epidemic.

The unusual fast day was announced in a joint letter published by Amar, Israel's Chief Sephardic Rabbi, and Yosef, the spiritual leader of Shas.

The "evil" swine flu spread from Mexico throughout the world "because of our many sins," they stated in their letter.

It called for fighting the disease by "medical means and by maintaining excellent hygiene," but also through fasting and prayer from sunset Tuesday to sunset Wednesday.

Those who were unable to do so, should fast at least half a day, or take a vow of silence for half a day, they said.

Don't kiss mezuzot – Swine flu

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

Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar also addressed the issue, saying,

"If a specific order is given in the matter, the mezuzah must be kissed from the air, to ensure that the custom is not forgotten."

Haredi reporter Ozel Vatik interviewed seven doctors - including Emergency Room directors and specialists on infectious diseases – on the risks of contracting the virus from kissing a mezuzah – a custom that is highly common among religious and traditional Jews.

The doctors unanimously agreed that bacteria leave high levels of residue on such objects, but six of them refused to comment on mezuzot in particular, "so as not to get in trouble with the rabbis".

Court sides with kashrut supervisor fired for not backing Shas

By Tomer Zarchin www.haaretz.com August 17, 2009

The Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court ruled a Holon kashrut supervisor had been dismissed improperly, after he was fired by Holon chief rabbi Avraham Yosef for not supporting Shas. Yosef is the son of Shas's spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Last year, Haaretz published a transcript of an October 2008 conversation between Hayon and Avraham Yosef, in which the rabbi announced that Hayon was being dismissed after he learned Hayon had hung posters for Agudat Yisrael during the municipal elections.

"You will not work for me. You want to strike at my father, and you imagine I will employ you?" Yosef said, according to the transcript.

When Hayon denied undermining Yosef's father, Yosef suggested Hayon find work with his own father, suggesting that he support Hayon.

"As of yesterday," the Holon chief rabbi added, "you don't work here."

Removing hypocrisy

By Edna Ullmann-Margalit www.haaretz.com Opinion August 12, 2009

The High Court justices made some emphatic statements last Thursday when they issued a precedent-setting ruling banning the segregation of Ashkenazi and Sephardi girls at the Beit Ya'akov Girls' School in Emmanuel.

…the court tore off the cloak of hypocrisy. The judges denounced the school's argument that the segregation was due to religious, not ethnic, considerations, calling it "camouflage for discrimination" cloaked in cultural disparity.

Tuesday the rabbi's wife took the psychometric test

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com August 17, 2009

A new psychometric preparation course was launched exclusively for ultra-Orthodox girls last week, under rabbinic supervision, Haaretz has learned.

The Hakima psychometric prep institute censored its regular psychometric course books to suit religious sensitivities. The course is open only to women.

Hakima also secured special permission from the National Institute for Teaching and Evaluation to allow girls to take the test separately from boys, due to considerations of modesty

"It's been 12 years since the so-called revolution began in the ultra-Orthodox society, and still there are no significant changes among men," said Dr. Yaakov Lupo, who researches ultra-Orthodox society.

"There's no way they can integrate unless their higher education curriculum changes. If between the ages of 13-23 you have no contact with math, English, spoken Hebrew and technology, there's no chance you can catch up."

Parents in Galilee town sue to get kids secular education

By Jack Khoury www.haaretz.com August 14, 2009

The parents of 13 secular seventh- and eighth-graders from Shlomi petitioned the Haifa District Court last week to demand that the students be transferred from the northern town's mixed secular-religious junior high school.

Instead, the parents want their children placed at the state secular school in Kabri, or another secular school in the area.

The parents claimed that despite its mixed curriculum, which in theory accommodates both religious and secular needs, the ORT school in Shlomi is in practice a religious school in terms of both curriculum and atmosphere.

Petah Tikva Orthodox schools refuse Ethiopian students

By Or Kashti www.haaretz.com August 13, 2009

At least 100 students of Ethiopian origin in Petah Tikva do not know what school they will be attending in the fall, with the opening of the school year just two and a half weeks away.

The uncertainty stems from the fact that the city's private schools with an ultra-Orthodox or national Orthodox bent have refused to accept children of Ethiopian origin.

…According to Hakol Hinuch's executive director, Rabbi Shay Piron, only a few weeks ago the private schools had demanded 100 percent of the funding they are entitled to according to the so-called Gafni law, and that "now it turns out that they are willing to take part in zero percent of public obligations, like helping to absorb immigrants."

Judge: 'Abusive mother' may hurt other kids

By Aviad Glickman www.ynetnews.com August 12, 2009

The Supreme Court on Wednesday criticized the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court decision to place a woman suspected of abusing and starving her three-year-old son under house arrest before professional experts examined the threat she poses to her surroundings, and despite the fact that suspicions that she had hurt her other children have not been looked into.

The judge accepted the State's appeal, ordering the probation service to immediately prepare a review of the threat posed by the woman in order to determine the conditions of her arrest.

Reflexive violence

Jpost.com Editorial www.jpost.com August 12, 2009

What is it about the sub-culture of a not inconsiderable number of haredim, primarily those belonging to sects adhering to social insularity and theological extremism, that makes them habitually turn to violence when frustrated?

Rather than hold a peaceful protest, lobby elected officials, or seek relief via litigation, too many of those associated with the anti-Zionist Edah Haredit, a constellation that encompasses Satmar, Toldot Aharon, Toldot Avraham-Yitzhak, and elements of the Breslav, Dushinsky and Munkacs sects, reflexively - so it seems - turn to thuggery and intimidation. So do some other haredim.

The year of hatred

By Aluf Benn www.haaretz.com Opinion August 12, 2009

Even the great Ben-Gurion was unable to establish a constitution, change the electoral system or force state education on the ultra-Orthodox.

The task of leadership in 2009 is not to force a unified national narrative on everyone, but to seek out and foster common interests that will make it easier for rival tribes to live together and allow groups on the margins to integrate into the mainstream.

That will not make the hatred go away, but perhaps it will channel some of the energy now invested in it for the greater good.

Rush to Judgment in Gay Club Killings

By Jonathan Mark www.thejewishweek.com Opinion August 12, 2009

...But in Tel Aviv, let’s blame the Orthodox. After the murders, an editorial in Haaretz (Aug. 3) admitted, “It is still too early to draw conclusions,” but so what.

After all, the ultra-Orthodox and even the regular “religious,” said Haaretz, “openly incite against gays and lesbians and their rights.”

Secular Group Decries 'Hareidi Kotel Takeover'

By Gil Ronen www.israelnationalnews.com August 14, 2009

Activist secular group 'The Jerusalemites' complains that the women's prayer area in front of the Kotel was reduced in size, and that men and women are separated in the external courtyard, are signs of the 'haredization' of the Kotel.

"The Kotel is turning from a national site to a hareidi one," activist Mark Stern said, "and we want to change this situation so that everyone feels comfortable going to the Kotel."

The Kotel has turned "from a public, patriotic space to the private back yard of hareidi groups," another activist said.

"Evidence of this is the dramatic reduction of the Women's Court after the collapse of the Mughrabim bridge; physical separation of men and women in the external courtyard and opposition of hareidi leaders to patriotic activities such as the swearing in of IDF soldiers."

Separate Beach in Eilat

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com August 13, 2009

For the first time, there is now a separate swimming beach available in Eilat for the enjoyment of the frum community. Channel 1 TV News reported on Wednesday night that the city’s first separate beach is scheduled to open next week.

There will be a three-meter high mechitza separating the men’s and women’s areas. The beach is being opened at a cost of NIS 3 million in response to growing requests from city residents.

Secular Negev kibbutzniks make way for ultra-Orthodox newcomers

By Yanir Yagna www.haaretz.com August 17, 2009

New life is being breathed into two Negev kibbutzim from an unlikely source: a group of ultra-Orthodox Zionist families from central Israel and West Bank settlements.

Kibbutz Tlalim, south of Be'er Sheva, managed to bring in 28 ultra-Orthodox families, who have lived there for the past three years after Tlalim shed its kibbutz trappings and became an ordinary community.

The families arrived under the auspices of Or, a movement dedicated to encouraging settlement in the Negev, and the Ramat Negev Regional Council.

The members of the core group are all young, ultra-Orthodox Zionists, some of whom came from the center of the country and others from West Bank settlements.

Report: Family Refuses to Transfer Infant to Hadassah Ein Kerem

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com August 17, 2009

The story begins about 5 weeks ago, when a 36-year-old chareidi woman gave birth to a son in Jerusalem’s Bikur Cholim Hospital.

The child was born with a problem, resulting in bleeding inside his head. Doctors at Bikur Cholim stabilized his condition, but the experts recommend the child be transferred to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, the only hospital in Israel equipped with the high-tech medical technology and staff capable of treating his condition, intracranial bleeding.

According to a Yediot Acharonot report, Prof. Husa Cohen heads the neurosurgical team capable of treating the infant, with doctors stating with a modicum of certainty his life can be saved with the technology and expertise available at Hadassah.

Nevertheless, the parents of the infant remain adamantly opposed to the transfer of their son to the hospital, apparently due to the Meah Shearim mother case.

In praise of ‘Jewish glue’

By Assaf Wohl www.ynetnews.com Opinion August 13, 2009

The photo posted on the front pages of newspaper says it all. A police officer hugging a religious boy and everyone is overjoyed.

All of those who were already celebrating the disintegration of Israeli society would do well to enlarge this photo and hang it in their offices.

Ben-Eliezer wants to adapt haredi employment center nationwide

By Sharon Wrobel www.jpost.com August 18, 2009

Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer plans to adapt Modi'in Illit's employment-center model to the rest of the country in an effort to bring thousands of haredim into the workplace.

Encouraging the haredi population to join the workforce would be one of the ministry's goals, he said.

The plan would entail the implementation of special training programs tailored to the needs of haredim, special support programs for small businesses and an employment track at the Investment Center that will give preference to haredi employment in factories, he added.

The ministry's data found that although employment participation of haredi women, which has grown to 49.1 percent, is far higher than that of haredi men between the ages of 20 to 64, with a rate of 37.4%, it is still significantly lower than that of secular women, at 70%, and that of secular men, at 79.9%.

On the record – Interview with Dudi Zilbershlag

By Peggy Cidor www.jpost.com August 16, 2009

Dudi Zilbershlag has reached the end of his tether. After two decades in which he was one of the outspoken voices of the haredi community, he announced that he has decided to cut his ties with the secular media.

"It was wrong to be nice to the secular media," Zilbershlag says bitterly. "It didn't help and, frankly, today I understand that it was a mistake."

Zilbershlag, a Vizhnitz Hassid who is a successful PR person, famous for his commitment to haredi-secular dialogue, points a finger at what he describes as the outrageous way haredi society has been treated in the secular press in recent weeks.

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar Calls for Sticking With Basics to Learn Gemara

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com August 17, 2009

Rishon L’Tzion HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Moshe Amar Shlita is calling to put away the Schottenstein and Steinsaltz gemaras in yeshiva to permit bochrim to learn Gemara the way they should.

He expressed his disapproval of the Schottenstein and Steinsaltz gemaras, which he feels make learning too easy, depriving the bochrim of the need to invest in their learning and thereby acquiring the skills to learn Gemara as they should.

Shas chief's little-known role in Benizri corruption case

By Gidi Weitz www.haaretz.com August 13, 2009

Interior Minister and Shas chairman Eli Yishai launched a high-profile public campaign this week aimed at persuading President Shimon Peres to pardon former minister Shlomo Benizri, a Shas party colleague who was recently sentenced to four years in prison for bribe-taking, fraud, breach of trust, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit a crime.

What is less well-known, however, is that the trial court found Yishai himself was personally involved in one of the incidents for which Benizri was convicted.

Solidarity Dinner for Former Minister Benizri

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com August 18, 2009

Shas cabinet ministers are expected to attend a Thursday night solidarity tribute for former minister, Rav Shlomo Benizri, who next month begins serving a four-year prison term following a conviction on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. The event is scheduled to take place in the Ohr HaChayim Yeshiva.

Ads indicated Rishon L’Tzion HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Amar Shlita would be in attendance but aides to the Rav stated this is not the case and his name was used without consent.

New Kashrut Agency in Israel

By Yechiel Spira www.jerusalemkoshernews.com August 16, 2009

It was by all accounts a historic event, the launching of a new kashrus agency in Israel, one that enjoys widespread support. The event was hosted in Bnei Brak’s Vishnitz Hotel on Tuesday, August 11, 2009.

All Chassidic bodies have joined force, explaining they have created a hechsher that will integrate the hidurim of all the respective groups incorporated in the effort.

The new agency is being called Badatz Kehillot HaChareidim in Eretz Yisrael, the product of a year’s work. The official date of the launch of the new agency is 21 Av 5769. Organizers believe that from its inception, the new agency will be directing products at 30,000 families.

The directors of the agency will be Admorim, the Rebbe’s of the respective Chassidic courts, who have handpicked the rabbonim who will represent them on the board.

Kashrus for the Masses - Part 2

By Yechiel Spira www.jerusalemkoshernews.com August 17, 2009

The second law we mentioned permits the Rabbinate to delegate it’s authority to “others”. In essence, this means that the different kashrus agencies known as BaDa”TZes are empowered to grant certification by the Rabbinate.

This is a rather odd situation, as many of these BaDa”TZes are opposed in principle to the concept of The Chief Rabbinate and its authority. (BaDa”TZ is a acronym for Beis Din TZedek - righteous court of law.

The term is often a misnomer; some of these BaDa”TZes are not a Beis Din - court of law, and a number of them are very far from being righteous. More on that in future columns.)

The third law we mentioned is that a district rabbi, (rav ayzori), rav of a city, kibbutz or moshav, is empowered to grant certification in the area of his jurisdiction.

Religion and State in Israel

August 17, 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.

All rights reserved.