Thursday, October 15, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - October 15, 2009 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

October 15, 2009 (Section 2) (see also 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.

Jewish Agency to halt Western Wall ceremonies for olim

By Yair Ettinger and Nir Hasson October 13, 2009

The Jewish Agency will stop holding citizenship ceremonies for new immigrants at the Western Wall plaza, in keeping with a demand by the rabbi responsible for the site.

Tomorrow, a ceremony scheduled to be held at the plaza will be held instead on the roof of a nearby yeshiva overlooking the Western Wall.*

…Sharansky and the Jewish Agency apparently have accepted the Rabinovitch's demands to stop the ceremonies, agreeing they were civic, not religious.

Under the compromise, the ceremonies will be held on the roof of the Aish Hatorah yeshiva, or by Robinson's Arch, where [Conservative] Jews have been allowed to hold mixed-gender prayer sessions.*

Rabinovitch told Haaretz the request to stop holding the ceremonies at the wall had nothing to do with segregation.

"This is a purely administrative question about the character of the Western Wall. The Wall is not a banquet hall," he said.

When asked whether official ceremonies held at the Wall, including the annual IDF memorial ceremony, would be canceled, officials at the heritage foundation said, "The official state ceremonies will go on. It just goes to show the Wall is not dominated by the ultra-Orthodox."

*Update: Ceremony was held in the Jewish Agency courtyard

Rabbi Rabinovitch: Western Wall not becoming Haredi

By Kobi Nahshoni October 14, 2009

According to Rabbi Rabinovitch, the holy site "is not a banquet hall", and therefore "clear rules" were set several years ago stating that only prayer events would be held at the site.

Rabbi Rabinovitch accused elements in the Jewish Agency of "misusing the Wall for political needs with all kinds of false claims."

He added, "I see no difference between them and the radical Muslims who claimed that Israel was burying under it and launched riots. Those are setting fire to the Temple Mount and these are setting fire to our internal home."

"The Jewish Agency plans to continue holding the ceremony near the Western Wall, with all members of the immigrants' families – women, men and children – experiencing the moving event together."

New Immigrants Ceremony - Not at Western Wall

By Hillel Fendel October 14, 2009

Rabbi Ratzon Arusi, a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council and Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Ono, agrees. “We must not allow the Western Wall to become a secular site,” the unofficial Chief Rabbi of the Yemenite community told Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew news magazine.

The Western Wall plaza today is more like a synagogue – and even more so – in that prayers are constantly being held there, and therefore we must treat it with the sanctity accorded a synagogue, by not holding secular events there and the like.”

VIDEO: Hoshana Rabah by the Kosel 5770

VIDEO: Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall

VIDEO: Jerusalem March draws some 70,000 people

Sukkot and the Rise of Christian Tourism in the Holy Land

By Nathan Jeffay Opinion October 12, 2009

The popularity of the Tabernacles celebrations, even in tough economic times underscores the fact that Christian pilgrims will visit Israel through thick and thin, if given the right encouragement.

And it shines a spotlight on the difference between the effectiveness with which the relatively ill-resourced International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem and the mighty Israeli government manages to provide this encouragement.

In the Sukkot Marketphoto report

Galilee Diary: Sukkah season

By Marc Rosenstein Opinion October 13, 2009

Many people, of course, build a sukkah as a religious obligation…However, thousands of sukkot are erected around the country - by families, by kids in empty lots, by youth groups - not to fulfill a religious commandment, but because that is what Jews do after Yom Kippur.

In some ways, for better or for worse, the sukkah in secular Israeli culture is like the Christmas tree in secular American culture - a religiously attenuated yet still very popular symbol of the season.

Female halachic advisers bring change

By Matthew Wagner October 12, 2009

The ceremony on Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of Dr. Deena Zimmerman's graduation class and also celebrated the recent graduation of the sixth class of Halachic advisors.

Zimmerman, who is responsible for the Internet site, is careful to point out that the female halachic advisers are not replacing rabbis.

"Every question that the yo'atzot answer on our site is first approved by one of our rabbis," she explains.

Rabbi Yaakov Warhaftig, who, together with Rabbi Henkin, approves all the Internet answers and is available for the female advisers to consult, said the yo'atzot program was never meant to undermine the rabbinic establishment.

Created in God's image, women wait on religious rights

By Ariana Melamed Opinion October 9, 2009

Women who insist on their equal status in Jewish worship are slated for many more long years of misunderstanding from communities outside those that already accept their stance.

In the foreseeable future, the Orthodox institution is expected to stand on its hind legs and wage an all-out war against women's attempts to take the monopoly over public worship out of men's hands. That's not so bad. Judaism is a religion that excels in long-term hope.

Whoever can wait patiently for the coming of the Messiah can also wait for joint public worship. Perhaps, in the end, the Messiah will be a woman.

Religious Zionism and non-Orthodoxy

By Ari Ackerman Opinion October 14, 2009

The writer is a lecturer in Jewish thought and education at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, and an academic adviser to the TALI leadership program.

The question of the relationship between religious Zionism and the Conservative and Reform movements entails at the least two distinct issues.

First, it involves the question of whether Orthodox students should be exposed to ideas, rabbinic figures and thinkers associated with these non-Orthodox streams of Judaism.

Second, it involves the question of the attitude of religious Zionism toward the efforts of Conservative and Reform Judaism vis-à-vis secular Jews in Israel and non-Orthodox Jews in America.

The opposition of religious Zionism to the efforts of the liberal streams vis-à-vis secular Jews derives primarily from a deeply misguided assumption: It is better that a secular Jew practice no Judaism than the "distorted" Judaism of the Conservative and Reform movements. Here Orthodoxy displays a woefully inadequate understanding of secular Jews.

Religious-Zionist Parties to Start Merger Talks

By Hillel Fendel October 13, 2009

Members of the Jewish Home and National Union nationalist-religious parties will meet next Monday to discuss a possible merger and the “recovery of the religious-Zionist vote.”

The Jewish Home currently has only three Knesset seats, and is the smallest party in the Netanyahu government. The more hawkish National Union, with four seats, is not a member of the government coalition – due to Netanyahu’s desire to form a more “centrist” government.

High Court Rejects Dati Leumi Petition Pertaining to Jerusalem Rabbinate Elections

By Yechiel Spira October 14, 2009

The High Court of Justice has rejected a petition filed by the dati leumi camp regarding the Jerusalem Rabbinate elections.

The claim is they lack adequate representation, explaining that since they are a majority of the residents of the capital, along with secular residents, it is unacceptable that the chareidi stream maintain a majority on the electoral committee.

The court ruled that since Minister of Religious Services Margi has agreed to take an exceptional step and order a reconvening of the committee, scheduled for tomorrow, October 15th, there is no justification for the petition at this time, explaining after the committee meets and petitioners feel the need exists, they may petition the court.

Dati Leumi Efforts to Win Jerusalem Rabbinate Race

By Yechiel Spira October 14, 2009

As Yerushalayim’s dati leumi community continues efforts to ensure the next chief rabbi of Jerusalem is aligned with its camp, there are [those] working towards promoting Rabbi Brigadier-General Avichai Ronsky, the IDF Chief Rabbi, as dati leumi candidate.

He is completing his term as chief military rav in about two months.

Rabbi Elyashiv to Peres: Jews forbidden on Temple Mount

By Yair Ettinger, Liel Kyzer, and Jack Khoury October 8, 2009

"According to Halacha, it is forbidden to ascend to Temple Mount," Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv is quoted by Israel Radio as telling President Shimon Peres.

"I've said this in the past, and I am once again repeating this statement that Jews are forbidden to go up to the site."

Elyashiv, the nonagenarian leader of the Lithuanian sect of the ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi community, hosted the president at his sukkah in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Troubled waters

By Yael Brygel October 11, 2009

Rabbi Haviva Ner-David, founding director of Reut: The Center for Modern Jewish Marriage says that the best solution to the deteriorating conditions of mikvaot is fund-raising and community action.

"I would not wait for the money to come from the municipal authorities, unless the point is to do that on principle.

It is true that it is a public building and that it should be taken care of by public funds, but if people really want it to happen and don't need to stand on principle, it makes sense to raise money from other sources.

If people can be patient and speak to the right people, they should be able to get public funds. Unless they just don't exist."

"I am of the belief that it [funding] should come from the community. Coming from the States, where the community supports such things, I think that if the community would get involved, it would make a difference.

I think the community has a tremendous responsibility to maintain mikvaot financially. If mikvaot had more money, the community would use them. It would be put to good use. It would be cleaner and the staff would get more than minimum wage."

Aish HaTorah celebrates first year in Tel Aviv

By Elan Miller October 12, 2009

"Everyone finds their way to Tel Aviv," enthused Rabbi David Ziering last week, as Aish HaTorah Tel Aviv celebrated its first anniversary, ironically enough, in Jerusalem.

…With branches around the globe for years now, Tel Aviv was a glaring omission on the organization's map, until last Succot.

Ziering explained that Aish is trying to "influence the jugular vein of Israel; get to the most influential people in Israeli society.

Chief Rabbi Lau Officiates at Brit Milah of Netanyahu’s Grandson

Click here for VIDEO

By David Gold October 8, 2009

The blessings were recited by Rabbi Lau; the sandek honor was conferred upon Prof. Ben-Tzion Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s father and the baby’s proud great-grandfather.

A visibly moved Netanyahu later spoke at the seudah, offering blessings to his daughter and son-in-law for a worthy son, to his father for long life and health, to all the guests and all Jews everywhere for a safe, secure and successful year—and “to myself,” he quipped, “that I have many more grandchildren.”

Jewish Billionaire Sues Prominent US Rabbi

By Baruch Gordon October 8, 2009

Energy industrialist and billionaire Guma Aguiar has filed a suit in the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court against prominent U.S. Rabbi Leib Tropper claiming that he misallocated funds intended for institutions and poor people in Israel. Rabbi Tropper's American attorney,

The two men were once very close. Aguiar was introduced to Rabbi Tropper by Aguiar's uncle and business partner, Thomas S. Kaplan.

Aguiar and Kaplan became co-founders and co-chairmen of Rabbi Tropper's Eternal Jewish Family organization. However, due to a serious financial falling out between Aguiar and his uncle, the latter is now the sole chairman.

Through their natural gas-exploration company Leor Energy, co-founders Aguiar and Kaplan discovered trillions of cubic feet of natural gas in Robertson County, Texas and ultimately sold their holdings in November 2007 for $2.55 billion.

Guma Aguiar – Holiday Celebrations


Click here for VIDEO interviews of Guma Aguiar

Web helps U.S. Jews lose that loving feeling, says historian

By Raphael Ahren October 9, 2009

Israeli news Web sites in English contribute in part to the waning love between American Jews and Israel, a prominent U.S. historian asserted this week, adding that Anglos in Israel can help counter the trend.

Since the advent of the Internet and exposure to more critical coverage of Israel, the once-utopian view of Israel Americans held has eroded, according to Jonathan Sarna, who teaches American Jewish history at Brandeis University and is currently on sabbatical in Jerusalem.

Facing Tomorrow – The Israeli Presidential Conference 2009

Facing Tomorrow, the annual global conference initiated in 2008 by President Shimon Peres will take place a second time on October 20-22, 2009 in Jerusalem.

The Conference focuses on our mutual tomorrow - investigating the trends that are shaping the future and exploring actions that could and should be undertaken towards the betterment of tomorrow for Israel, the Jewish people and the world at large.

Sessions include, among others, the following:

Is Aliyah Good for the Jews?

The Jewish World and the Global Economic Crisis

Joogle - Judaism in the Internet Age

Jewish Peoplehood – A Unity of Opposites

Is "Jewish Continuity" just a Slogan?

Should the Jewish World be Re-Organized?

'Reduced Jewish philanthropy may hurt our welfare services'

By Ruth Eglash October 8, 2009

The continuing decline in Jewish philanthropy, mainly in the US, could seriously harm Israel's nonprofit sector and, in turn, damage many of its welfare services, according to a paper to be presented later this month at the annual Presidents' Conference in Jerusalem.

Immigrant family fights expulsion after state rules they're not Jewish

By Dana Weiler-Polak October 14, 2009

Sivan (not her real name) went to the Interior Ministry office in Tel Aviv to update her address after she and her partner moved. But within a few minutes Sivan found herself a non-citizen and without any identification papers.

More expatriates returning, fewer immigrating this year

By Rebecca Anna Stoil October 13, 2009

Immigrant Absorption Minister director-general Dimitri Aperchev presented data on Monday showing aliya in the first three quarters of the year slowed compared to the average pace during all of 2008, while more Israeli expatriates were returning.

Molla denies he misused US donations

By Ruth Eglash October 14, 2009

Kadima MK Shlomo Molla hit back angrily on Tuesday at allegations made in The Jerusalem Post by an anonymous source that he had used donations from US Jewish organizations and individuals for personal expenses.

MK Molla misused private donations, sources claim

By Ruth Eglash October 13, 2009

In addition to donations he received from messianic Jews, Kadima MK Shlomo Molla also pocketed money he received from private funders and organizations within the mainstream Jewish community while in the US, a reliable source close to the country's only Ethiopian parliamentarian told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Hadassah stretches to meet costs of new tower by 2012 deadline

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich October 11, 2009

The Madoff affair and its reverberations on donors to Jewish and Israeli causes has led to the raising so far of only about $200 million of the $300 million cost of the hospitalization tower under construction on the Hadassah University Medical Center campus in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem.

US-born judge joins the Supreme Court

By Greer Fay Cashman October 14, 2009

His American accent overriding the fluency of his Hebrew, Judge Neal Hendel was one of 25 judges - three of them appointees to the Supreme Court, 21 to District Courts throughout the country and one to the vice presidency of the National Labor Court - who on Wednesday proclaimed the oath of office before being officially appointed by President Shimon Peres.

Hendel who is a graduate of the Yeshiva of Flatbush High School, has many former school friends in Israel. The Yeshiva of Flatbush has an excellent aliya record. Hendel is also an alumnus of Yeshiva University and Hofstra University Law School.

Noting that Hendel is religiously observant, and not the only religiously observant member of the Supreme Court, Beinisch declared that there are no marked places on the bench - "not a religious seat, not a seat for a woman and not a seat for an Arab." Judges are appointed in accordance with their abilities, their values and their legal culture, she emphasized.

Zionism at the crossroads

By Isi Leibler Opinion October 13, 2009

Continued dilution of fundamental Zionist objectives will have disastrous repercussions for the Jewish people. In addition to weakening Jewish identity and intensifying assimilation, it will lead to further alienation of Jews from Israel and weaken Diaspora Jewry's efforts on behalf of Israel, with particularly damaging consequences to Israel-US relations.

First Sustainability Shabbat set to be held in two weeks

By Ehud Zion Waldoks October 13, 2009

Jews will read the portion of Noah on Saturday, October 24, and new Jewish environmental organization Teva Ivri has been creating a program of lectures, study and awareness raising activities around that weekend. Several Jewish religious leaders abroad have made a similar call to recognize the modern-day applicability of the Noah story.

Kramer founded Teva Ivri a year ago after completing the Environmental Fellows Program at the Tel Aviv-based Heschel Center for Environmental Thinking and Leadership.

She is also an alumnus of the pluralist Kolot Beit Midrash Tehuda leadership program in Beit Shemesh and a former activist with the university student group Green Course.

Matisyahu - Sultan of Jerusalem

By Yaki Hapstein October 11, 2009

Two years after his last concerts in Israel and in honor of his fourth album "Light," which made it to number 19 on the American Billboards, Matthew Paul Miller, better known as Matisyahu, performed at the Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem.

A progressive first from a conservative think tank

By Elliot Jager October 14, 2009

Interview with Martin Kramer, who is spearheading the country's first liberal arts college.

Though Israeli universities are now also adopting the core-courses principle into their existing curriculum, Kramer insisted that Shalem's requirements would be the "most extensive and comprehensive" in the country. Their content "will also be unique, and reflect what Shalem values in Jewish and other traditions."

...Shalem will be looking for faculty whose values commit them to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel - the vessel for Jewish survival.

EJ: Where is the money for the college coming from?

Kramer: Well, the money will not come from the State of Israel. We will not ask for the usual per-student allocation. It will come from private sources in America, Europe and Israel.

EJ: Want to name names?

Kramer: We will name names when donors permit us to do so. We have a number of donors at a million dollars and above - including the Klarman family foundation of Boston and George and Pamela Rohr of New York.

The Rabbi of Love

By Dan Adler October 14, 2009

I met Rabbi Yitzhak Dovid Grossman three weeks ago in a beautiful apartment across from the Western Wall.

…Migdal Ohr shows what happens when a nation’s conscience is matched by its ingenuity. It is a distinctly Jewish contribution to the Jewish state, and it’s a model for such institutions worldwide. It’s not just a light unto the nations, it’s a shining light.

Religion and State in Israel

October 15, 2009 (Section 2) (see also 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.

All rights reserved.