Monday, November 30, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - November 30, 2009 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

November 30, 2009 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

The ‘Crime’ of Praying with a Tallit, and a Plea for Tolerance

By Nofrat Frenkel Opinion November 24, 2009

Nofrat Frenkel is a fifth-year medical student in Israel and an active member of the Masorti kehillah in Kfar Saba. This was translated from the Hebrew.

The Kotel belongs to all the people of Israel. The Kotel is not a Haredi synagogue, and the Women of the Wall will not allow it to become such.

I was banned from visiting the Kotel for two weeks, and a criminal file has been opened against me. I hope that the file will be closed, especially so that my medical studies will not be jeopardized. Perhaps, with God’s help, this regretful event will awaken wide public objection, enough for the high court to re-evaluate its decision and annul it.

Jerusalem is the city of holiness and justice for all humankind. From Zion, the voice calling for equality should be heard, for boundless love, for better understanding between people. Jerusalem has already been destroyed, due to unfounded hatred. Let us hope it will not happen again.

The Kotel

By Naomi Opinion November 18, 2009

...And so, as it came time to read Torah, we had a quick conversation - "It's quiet today. Can we just read here?" Anat Hoffman, director of the Israeli Religious Action Center, and member of the board of Women of the Wall, took a quick poll of other board members, and consensus was quickly reached.

I began to feel excitement building among the group - an energy that I felt was lacking up to that point suddenly began to hum through the assembled women. "We have a new Torah!" Anat declared, "that was given to us by the Women of Reform Judaism at the Biennial in Toronto. It only weighs four kilos!"

Nofrat, a fourth-year medical student in Beer Sheva, who wakes up every month at 4am to get to Jerusalem in time for the service, was to read. She wrapped herself in her tallit (outside of her jacket), and we began the Torah service. And then everything started to go haywire.

The crime: Illegal enveloping in a tallit

By Gil Troy Opinion November 26, 2009

The arrest of Nofrat Frankel in the women's section of the Wall, and, if reports are correct, the fact that she was held in custody for two-and-a-half hours, insults all Israelis who believe in the rule of law and freedom of religion, no matter how religious or non-religious.

…I support the compromise whereby women and mixed groups of men and women can pray at the Southern Wall [Excavations] - under Robinson's Arch, while the Western Wall Plaza follows the protocols of an Orthodox synagogue.

Countering Haredi dominance at the Western Wall

By Kobi Nahshoni November 26, 2009

A sign instructing separation between men and women which was posted in the Western Wall's upper square was removed Tuesday by the site's employees.

The act follows claims according to which the holy site has been taken over by haredim employing strict modesty codes and led by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz.

In addition, Israeli flags have been recently placed at the square, that have been missing in the last years. Their removal was also attributed to the ultra-Orthodox dominance at the site and was allegedly aimed to clear the Western Wall of Zionist characteristics.

Western Wall books containing ‘Prayer for Israel’ ripped

By Nissan Strauchler November 29, 2009

The Western Wall is meant to be a place of worship for all. However, it appears that Zionist overtones are not well-received there. Pages with the prayer for the State of Israel on them and a special prayer for the welfare of IDF soldiers were found ripped out of prayer books at the site.

Knesset Member Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi):

"The Kotel, beyond being a holy site and a place of worship, is a symbol of Jewish heritage that touches all of the Jewish public. Creating a stringent haredi atmosphere at the Kotel will push away anyone who isn't Haredi.

Jerusalem Municipality withdraws ads promoting Shabbat event

By Kobi Nahshoni November 29, 2009

United Torah Judaism council members in the Jerusalem Municipality sent a harsh letter Thursday to Mayor Nir Barkat protesting the municipality's promotion of a festival they say desecrates the Sabbath.

Jerusalem municipal officials said the events involving Shabbat desecration had been removed from electronic publications and that the production company had made a copying error in its ads.

The disenfranchisement of converts can't continue

By Rabbi Seth Farber Opinion November 26, 2009

The writer is the founder of ITIM: The Jewish Life Information Center and rabbi of Kehillat Netivot in Ra'anana.

Imagine you are stopped by a policeman in Jerusalem, who demands to see your driver's license.

While you wait in your car, he goes and checks your record and then comes back to your car. "I'm sorry," he says. "Your license was issued in Tel Aviv. It isn't valid here. We're impounding your car."

Sound unrealistic? It isn't. At least not when it comes to conversion.

Want to adopt a prospective convert?

By Matthew Wagner November 24, 2009

The Immigration and Absorption Ministry is in need of about 2,000 Orthodox families interested in "adopting" prospective converts to Judaism.

About six months ago the ministry began advertising to enlist Orthodox families interested in accompanying immigrants on the path to conversion to Judaism.

But there is still a serious dearth.

Shas to fight bill that would help find women draft dodgers

By Jonathan Lis November 28, 2009

The ultra-Orthodox Shas party is expected to appeal a bill that would help identify women who falsely claim to be religious in order to avoid mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces.

The new law is meant to allow the IDF to immediately recruit girls who falsely report their status. But Shas ministers blamed the Ministerial Committee for Legislation last week for carrying out "underhanded" opportunism. They said the panel voted on the proposal without the knowledge of Haredi parties in order to keep them from rejecting the bill.

IDF general slams 'rabbi's values'

By Amnon Meranda November 25, 2009

Major-General Avi Zamir, head of the Israel Defense Forces Personnel Directorate told the [Knesset] committee members about meetings he had with the leaders of the union of hesder yeshivot, which combine advanced Talmudic studies with military service, during which he demanded a public and sweeping condemnation of all cases of disobedience.

"During the meeting, I presented the serious incident as it is perceived by the IDF. I asked whether it is worthwhile recruiting hesder yeshiva students, who are educated this way. I demanded actions, not just a condemnation."

Zionist rabbis back rebellious soldiers

By Matthew Wagner November 24, 2009

Leading religious Zionist rabbis convened late Sunday night in Jerusalem and reiterated their support for soldiers who refuse to follow IDF orders calling to evacuate Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

"Our position is that we oppose all insubordination that impedes the IDF's mission of protecting the Jewish people," said Kochav Ya'acov's Rabbi Mordechai Rabinovitch, who is also the spokesman for the rabbis who call themselves "The Path of Faith" (Derech Emuna).

Not refusal at all

By Avirama Golan Opinion November 26, 2009

The clandestine gathering of the heads of the hesder yeshivas (which combine Torah study with military service) this week in Jerusalem let the cat out of the bag.

Anyone who thinks it really is possible to describe those from the hesder yeshivas who raise signs and oppose evacuation as "refuseniks" must now understand that the old definitions no longer suit the settlers' domination of the Israeli reality.

Poll: 39% blame IDF for troops' insubordination November 26, 2009

The poll found that 39% blamed the IDF for disobedience during outpost evacuation, due to the fact that army commanders were giving orders which soldiers could not carry out. Some 38% claimed that the rabbis were responsible for insubordination, citing atmosphere in yeshivas as the cause.

An analysis of the results shows that the religious public blamed the IDF, whereas the seculars mostly blamed the rabbis (49%), but also the army (27%).

Some 40% of respondents said that the rabbis were the most influential figures on refuseniks, 39% pointed to friends and close community, 16% named family members, 7% pointed to the media and 3% said that authors and intellectuals were most influential on refuseniks.

A poll analysis indicated that the secular public pointed to the rabbis as influential figures (46%), whereas the Masorti public was divided between friends and close community (35% each).

Among the ultra-Orthodox and religious communities it was the soldier's environment which was deemed most influential (38% and 30% respectively).

Rabbi Metzger on Shalit: Rightist rabbis irresponsible

By Kobi Nahshoni November 24, 2009

Rightist rabbis, who have used halachic justifications to object to the Shalit prisoner swap deal in the works, are irresponsible, Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger told Ynet on Tuesday.

"As long as a rabbi or halachic adjudicator does not have all the information laid before him, including IDF and intelligence reports, it is not possible to take a decisive halachic stand (on the issue)," Rabbi Metzger said.

"Halacha must not be ruled upon based on reports from the Arab media."

Shas uses new rule to appoint its members to religious councils

By Yair Ettinger November 29, 2009

Many Shas members have recently become members and heads of religious councils in communities throughout the country, apparently due to efforts by Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi.

The minister, a Shas member, has taken advantage of a new regulation that lets him make appointments if a year after elections a local authority has failed to agree on religious council members.

Shas, Likud overrepresented in Tel Aviv religious councils

By Noah Kosharek November 29, 2009

Members of an opposition faction at the Tel Aviv municipality said in a petition to the High Court that the city's religious council does not reflect the city council's composition, as required by law.

The petition filed by the head of the Ir Lekulanu (City for All) faction, Aharon Maduel, said factions far smaller than itself - such as those of Shas and Likud - received greater representation on the religious council than it did.

Religious Services Minister won't approve posts in Be’er Sheva

By Yanir Yagna November 29, 2009

The religious council of Be'er Sheva is currently the focus of a legal battle between the city and Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi, after the municipality petitioned the High Court of Justice to demand Margi explain his failure to approve the council's makeup.

The city submitted the list of people that it had selected to sit on the city's religious council to Margi's office two weeks ago, but Margi has not approved it. Other religious councils in additional cities are also awaiting the Shas minister's approval.

Jewish Agency may 'borrow' government money to avoid deficit

By Haviv Rettig Gur November 24, 2009

Officials close to discussions between the Jewish Agency and the government over helping to shore up the agency's financial condition have told The Jerusalem Post in recent days that under no circumstances will the government directly fund the agency.

At the heart of the issue is the Jewish Agency's legal status abroad. If it receives direct Israeli government funding, the agency and its donor organizations could lose their tax-exempt standing in their home countries.

The Jewish Agency, the Government and the $12 million

By Dan Brown November 23, 2009

This amount is an advance against the sale of housing units, and secured by same, from the Jewish Agency’s subsidiary company, Amigour, for units that will be sold over the next several years.

We have also learned there is no plan for any government money to go into the Jewish Agency budget.

The government is acting strictly as a lender, and not as a funder. We have also been assured there is no interest on either the government’s part, or the Agency’s part, to alter the current legal structure between the two, a step that would be necessary if the government were to directly fund the Agency.

Study: Nefesh B'Nefesh immigrants have added NIS 800m to economy

By Raphael Ahren November 24, 2009

Immigrants who came to Israel with the assistance of Nefesh B'Nefesh have contributed a net sum of NIS 808 million to the Israeli economy, according to a study commissioned by the organization and released Monday.

Philanthropic portal to raise funds for Israel's charities

By Ruth Eglash November 27, 2009

In addition to raising funds for non-profits, Ben-Dor said he hopes IsraelGives will democratize Israeli philanthropy and encourage transparency among charities, which are ranked higher on the site as they submit more information about themselves.

Canadian oleh sets up Internet portal for Israeli charities

By Dana Weiler-Polak November 25, 2009

The website enables NGOs to share information about their projects and activities in the form of papers and other documents, photos and video clips in their profiles. The site encourages transparency by rewarding those organizations that reveal more information about themselves with a higher ranking in the site's search engine.

IDF: Hundreds of immigrants without Hebrew in combat units

By Anshel Pfeffer November 24, 2009

Hundreds of new immigrants are serving in combat units even though they don't know enough Hebrew, commanders and officers in the Israel Defense Forces Education Corps say.

New coalition of youth organizations blasts Jewish Agency for ignoring teens

By Cnaan Liphshiz November 27, 2009

The Jewish Agency has come under fire this week from officials operating short-term Israel programs for Diaspora teenagers who criticized the agency for "omitting a crucial element from its plan to bolster Israel programs by purposefully ignoring teenagers."

Gideon Shavit, co-chairman of Lapid - a new coalition for 24 organizations that bring Jewish high school pupils to Israel from the U.S., South America and Europe - said:

"The issue of Israel programs for high school students has been intentionally kept off the agenda by the Jewish Agency to allow it to push its own programs."

Jewish Agency, Arkia Airlines strike deal to fly immigrants to Israel

By Zohar Blumenkrantz November 29, 2009

Arkia Airlines and the Jewish Agency signed a cooperation deal on Sunday to fly Jewish immigrants to Israel, putting an end to El Al's monopoly as the only Israeli airline that flies immigrants into the country.

Mouths filled with hatred

By Larry Derfner November 26, 2009

News stories about young Jewish bigots in the Old City spitting on Christian clergy - who make conspicuous targets in their long dark robes and crucifix symbols around their necks - surface in the media every few years or so.

It's natural, then, to conclude that such incidents are rare, but in fact they are habitual.

Anti-Christian Orthodox Jews, overwhelmingly boys and young men, have been spitting with regularity on priests and nuns in the Old City for about 20 years, and the problem is only getting worse.

…The only Israeli authority who has shown any serious concern over this matter, the one high official whom Christian and Jewish interfaith activists credit for stepping into the fray, is Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.

God's promise of land to Jews has deep pull on secular Israelis

By Rachel Elboim-Dror Opinion November 27, 2009

The writer is a professor of education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Although most of the Jewish population of Israel is secular and therefore seemingly unaffected politically by God's promise of the land to Abraham in Genesis, it appears the divine promise that "I will give unto thee and to thy seed after thee the land of thy sojournings" holds ancient power.

The pull is unconscious for most but very deep, which has an effect on most Israelis.

Knesset Members to Get Bible Lessons

By Malkah Fleisher November 29, 2009

In a joint initiative between Hebrew University, the Knesset, and the Ministry of Education, Jewish studies experts from Hebrew University will give courses to Israeli parliamentarians on the Jewish Bible.

Professors Yair Zakovich (Department of Bible) and Avigdor Shinan (Department of Hebrew Literature) of the Institute of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University will arrive at the Knesset building this Tuesday, to begin a series of meetings on "Personalities in the Bible and Midrash". The courses will also address issues of leadership.

Religious services minister wants Sephardic Jewry center

By Kobi Nahshoni November 23, 2009

Minister of Religious Services Yakov Margi on Thursday sent a letter to Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz and Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, requesting a meeting be called in order to execute the law that calls for the establishment of a center for the "preservation of the heritage of Sephardic Jewry, its rabbis and its poets."

Religion and State in Israel

November 30, 2009 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.