Monday, November 30, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - November 30, 2009 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

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

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

After 'Free Jerusalem' rally, both sides remain steadfast

Abe Selig November 29, 2009

A day after more than 1,500 people gathered in downtown Jerusalem to protest recent violent Shabbat demonstrations by members of the capital's Haredi community in recent weeks, neither haredi leaders nor organizers of the protest gave any indication they would relent.

Nir Pereg, a spokesman from the Forum for a Free Jerusalem, a coalition of various groups that organized Saturday night's protest, said his group "wasn't scared of the haredi response."

"The rally wasn't for them," Pereg said. "It was for us, for our community and for our leaders."

"It's simply more Jerusalemites saying enough!" he added.

2,000 march for a 'Free Jerusalem'

By Jacob Kanter and Abe Selig November 29, 2009

"The Kotel for All"

Vowing to "take the city back," the protesters converged for a large rally at Zion Square, waving signs and banners carrying the slogan "Iran is here - Enough of the haredi violence."

Merav Cohen, from City Hall's Hitorerut Yerushalayim (Wake Up Jerusalem) political party, said she was thrilled to see such a large turnout.

"We were really surprised by the amount of people that showed up," Cohen told the Post after the rally had ended.

"We knew that this was an issue people cared deeply about, but to see so many Jerusalemites, and people who came from elsewhere, was really the boost we were looking for."

Cohen added that while similar rallies in the past had seen the participation of mostly secular Jerusalemites, Saturday night's modern Orthodox crowd had been an added surprise.

The march was sponsored by the Forum for a Free Jerusalem - a grouping of different citywide movements and political parties, like Hitorerut, - which began sponsoring counter-demonstrations when members of the haredi community began protesting the opening of the municipal Karta parking lot over the summer.

Thousands protest Haredi violence in Jerusalem

By Ronen Medzini November 28, 2009

Jerusalem's deputy mayor Joseph "Pepe" Alalu:

"The residents of Jerusalem are not indifferent, and will not give up on a pluralistic city. It's time Haredim understand that this city must provide the needs of the free people."

Missed messages

Letter to the Editor November 30, 2009


...Thousands of Secular, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Masorti Jews marched together peacefully down the streets of Jerusalem, demanding freedom and mutual respect in the city.

The demonstration wasn't anti-ultra Orthodox Jews. The message was positive. The demonstrators called for religious pluralism in Jerusalem. Their message was that when Gen. Motta Gur proclaimed that "the Temple Mount is in our hands," he never thought to exclude women wearing talitot in the Kotel plaza.

The message articulated on Saturday night was that the Jerusalem's silent majority has opened its mouth - loud and clear.

Rabbi Barry Schlesinger

Rabbi of Kehilat Moreshet Avraham, Jerusalem

Barkat: Intel dispute now being solved

By Jacob Kanter and Abe Selig November 29, 2009

The dispute with Haredi protesters over Shabbat parking near Jerusalem's Jaffa Gate has been solved, and similar bitter protests over Shabbat operations at the city's Intel plant are also well on the way to resolution, an upbeat Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said on Saturday night.

…Barkat noted that

"It took me years to help Intel reopen their plant here... There are 700 employees of Intel in Jerusalem… and some are haredi, women, Arabs, Jews, all over. And Intel is a very, very important plant in the city.
And to get them to be satisfied with their investment here is strategic for us. I believe that they are happy, and we must expand-especially in high-tech."

A coalition for Jerusalem Editorial November 29, 2009

It would be more practical to pursue a broad-based Zionist coalition aimed at bringing together socially conservative Jerusalemites, the modern Orthodox along with progressives of various stripes to campaign for:

  • Protecting mixed and secular neighborhoods from haredi encroachment, while lobbying for non-luxury housing construction that caters to these demographic groups;
  • Demanding an equitable allocation of municipal resources especially in education, religious services and culture;
  • Insisting on an absolute respect for the rule of law.

One can oppose Haredi bullying without ridiculing other aspects of the community's lifestyle and without seeking fundamental changes in the religious status quo at the municipal level.

Capital gains

By Nir Hasson and Yair Ettinger November 27, 2009

There are no wars in the mayor's world, at most exchanges of views. Of Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss, the leader of the Eda Haredit community - who has declared war on "rasha" (a Hebrew wordplay on "mayor of Jerusalem" and the word "wicked"), as the street posters he's signed call Barkat - the mayor says: "He is a rabbi with an important role to play in Jerusalem, and I hope the dialogue between me and his community will get on the right track, as we both hope."

The shopping center on Olswanger Street (in Kiryat Hayovel) is one of the most fascinating sites along the "seam line" between Haredim and non-Haredim.

The synagogue has turned into a magnet and symbol of the different types of tension in Jerusalem - demographic, real estate, legal and political - but this has been a quiet process.

VIDEO: 'I hope city will calm down’

Click here for VIDEO November 29, 2009

David Horovitz interviews Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on recent tensions.

Haredi Intel protest markedly smaller November 29, 2009

The number of demonstrators this time was much smaller than in previous weeks, due to an agreement by most haredi groups to move the protests to a weekday.

On Friday some forty haredim arrived to protest in front of the offices. Police forces were deployed at the scene and no violations of the order were reported.

Haredim blocked on way to Intel

By Efrat Weiss November 28, 2009

Police blocked several dozen haredi protestors who were trying to make their way to the Intel plant in Jerusalem's Har Hotzvim industrial area on Saturday.

Despite a decision by haredi leaders in the capital to hold protests against Intel only on weekdays, some 40 ultra-Orthodox residing in nearby neighborhoods gathered outside the plant Friday night and held an impromptu rally at the site.

Intel, ultra-Orthodox continue negotiations

By Yair Ettinger November 27, 2009

The council of rabbis conducting the talks say the delay in resolving the issue stems from the difficulty of monitoring an agreement.

The extremist Eda Haredit is reportedly not participating in the talks.

A question of authority

By Jonathan Rosenblum Opinion November 26, 2009

One of the most common stereotypes of Haredi Jews is that they are automatons, whose entire lives are determined by directives from the Torah leaders of the generation (gedolei Torah, literally, Torah giants).

…Nevertheless, the stereotype is a myth that often hampers outsiders in their efforts to comprehend events in haredi society.

Haredi society is far more dialectical than the common view holds. Change often wells up from below rather than being directed from above. Many times the Torah leaders of a particular generation adopt the public role of upholding a particular societal ideal, even as that ideal is under pressure from forces beyond their control.

We are witnessing such a process today with respect to issues concerning earning a livelihood in the haredi world.

Give us a chance

By Rony Paluch Opinion November 29, 2009

Rony Paluch is a partner in the law firm of Hager, Paluch, and a member of the public advisory council to the State Comptroller and Ombudsman.

Israeli society cannot continue dancing at both weddings: It cannot both hate the ultra-Orthodox for their separatism and not allow them to work.

Young ultra-Orthodox men are studying very practical professions - law, accounting, computers and paramedical professions - with the fervent hope that they will integrate into workplaces, prove themselves and support their families.

If we are not given an opportunity, we will understand once and for all that the fine talk about the academic revolution is just that - fine talk.

Jerusalem’s Sabbath Wars

By Dina Kraft November 24, 2009

Uri Regev, a Reform rabbi who now heads Hiddush, an organization that promotes religious freedom and equality, told The Faster Times that one of the most disturbing factors of the protests is that “they threaten the continued operation of the Intel plant in Jerusalem, though it is one of the most important sources of employment and income for the city and the country.”

“It is unfortunate for Judaism and for Israel, that the debate over the nature of Shabbat in the modern democratic and Jewish State of Israel is dominated by the Ultra Orthodox.

We should all respect Shabbat, as a key contribution of Judaism to world, as a day of rest and nourishment of the soul.

The discussion as to the desirable boundaries and accommodations should involve the labor unions, the trade and commerce associations, secular, Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews alike (and non-Jewish Israelis as well).
Shabbat is far too important to be left to the extremist religious fundamentalists alone.”

At the edge of the abyss

By Shahar Ilan Opinion November 25, 2009

The writer is vice president of research and information for Hiddush - For Religious Freedom and Equality.

The solution is not for the ultra-Orthodox to stop being ultra-Orthodox, but rather for them to start working and serving in the army, to integrate into mainstream society like Haredim in London or New York.

But the Haredi leaders lack the necessary vision, fail to understand the scope of the national threat and do everything in their power to maintain the status quo under which the men in the community do not work.

Since the Haredi community will not change voluntarily, there is no option but to make some tough decisions…

Politics, Not Principle

By Rabbi Irwin Kula Opinion November 25, 2009

I feel for my non-Orthodox colleagues and for non–Orthodox Jews who do not have the same rights as Orthodox Jews, but there is little we can do from here except support institutions committed to religious pluralism, though even here we always need to ask at what expense, given that dollars are limited.

Is religious pluralism more important than taking care of the poor, or immigrants, or insuring a strong strategic relationship with the United States?

Let’s be honest, even when the Israeli courts order the government to address issues; the courts are ignored.

The true desecrators of our Jewish tradition

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion November 24, 2009

The writer is Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel

Let's get something straight. The State of Israel is a democracy, not a theocracy.

However, the lines are frequently blurred as Israel is also a Jewish state and often reflects Jewish values.

Unlike the American system that creates a "wall of separation between church and state," Israel has no constitutional division. Indeed, Israel has no constitution.

Haredi schools falsely register students to get funds

By Tamar Trabelsi-Hadad November 28, 2009

An examination conducted by the Education Ministry reveals several schools in Jerusalem have enrolled students who have never attended a class.

In recent months the Education Ministry has employed the services of private investigators following information received of suspected fictitious registration of children to ultra-Orthodox schools in Jerusalem.

The inquiries revealed that in several of the (institutions) children who were listed as students did not attend classes.

Ministerial malpractice Editorial November 29, 2009

Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman has drawn a sharp rebuke from the head of the Israel Medical Association (IMA) for personally and repeatedly intervening in the care of a patient at Schneider Children's Medical Center.

…The IMA declared that Litzman had "no right to intervene" in this case. We agree. Israel can't afford to have politicians or clergymen micro-managing medical cases any more than it can tolerate having transportation ministers supplant air-traffic controllers at Ben-Gurion Airport.

If Deputy Health Minister Litzman concludes that his fiduciary responsibilities to Israel's citizens cannot be reconciled with his deeply held religious convictions, let him draw the necessary conclusions.

Housing minister comes under fire over Haredi homes in Beit Shemesh

By Ranit Nahum-Halevy November 25, 2009

The Housing and Construction Minister and Beit Shemesh's mayor have come under fire over a plan to build new housing in the town, because they cater exclusively to the ultra-Orthodox community.

Nine Beit Shemesh councilmen are demanding that tenders for the new construction projects be cancelled, saying they violate the requirement that all new construction suit all the town's communities.

Ultra-Orthodox in Beitar Illit ban together against Arab workers

By David Regev November 24, 2009

Rabbis in the city agreed during an emergency meeting following conversations with Illit and Hashikma to appoint inspectors to oversee the work done by the Arab workers.

Every Arab worker suspected of attempting to harm the residents or the values of the town will be kicked out.

One of the inspectors will be Rami Levi's kashrut supervisor, who will be tasked with overseeing the 40 Arab employees to ensure that they do not harm the haredi women who do their shopping at the store.

The 'shtreimel' battle

By Matthew Wagner November 25, 2009

The shtreimel, or traditional fur hat, preferred by hassidic movements originating in Galicia, Hungary and Romania, might become a difficult item to obtain if animal rights activists have their way.

Haredi legislators aggressively attacked a bill proposed by MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) and backed by animal rights groups that would prohibit the import of animal furs from the Far East, including China.

Modi’in Illit: Dozens of Chareidi Women Out of Work

By Yechiel Spira November 24, 2009

Dozens of chareidi women, residents of Modi’in Illit, have received notice that they are about to be unemployed as one of the area’s larger employers of women is closing its doors, ImageStore, providing electronic document archival service.

Mob chases film crew out of Mea Shearim

Ben Hartman November 26, 2009

Dozens of ultra-Orthodox youths in the Mea Shearim neighborhood drove out a film crew on Thursday, reportedly throwing stones and hurling curses at the student filmmakers.

…The neighborhood's modesty police patrol then arrived and began shouting and threatening to break their equipment if they did not leave immediately.

At one point, members of the mob threw the camera and boom on the ground, but the equipment was not damaged, Ofer said.

J'lem city hall disassociating from Shabbat events following Haredi pressure November 26, 2009

The Jerusalem Municipality is disassociating itself from the "Hamshushaliyim" events taking place on Shabbat, Army Radio reported Thursday, following pressure of ultra-orthodox factions in city hall.

Members of United Torah Judaism demanded that the notices on the events be removed from the city's official Website, as they promote cultural events, such as tours, musical performances and film screenings, which at times desecrate the sanctity of the Jewish day of rest.

No one is poor by choice

By Prof. Daniel Gutwein Opinion November 29, 2009

The writer is a lecturer at the University of Haifa

The concurrent increase of poverty among the ultra-Orthodox and the working poor dispels the common excuse that ultra-Orthodox poverty is "poverty by choice," which can be escaped simply by getting a job.

It exposes this as hypocrisy, which veils the role of the dismantlement of the welfare state and organized labor.

The data in the report shows not that ultra-Orthodoxy causes poverty but rather that poor people tend to become ultra-Orthodox, as the Shas phenomenon shows.

'My motto is Live and Let Live'

By Matthew Wagner November 27, 2009

Rahamim Maloul, the newly elected haredi mayor of predominantly secular Rehovot, said Thursday that Anglo and secular residents did not have to be concerned about the haredization of the city.

Maloul said that he would work towards maintaining the present status quo between religious, haredi and secular residents of the city.

United Chareidi Communities kashrut hechsher to be launched

By Yechiel Spira November 24, 2009

A number of months ago, the decision was made to launch yet another hechsher in Eretz Yisrael, called the Hitachdut Kehillot HaChareidim Hechsher (United Chareidi Communities), composed of a few different Chassidic courts.

Included in the hechsher are a number of Chassidic courts, including Belz, Karlin, Slonim, Sanz, Erlau, Breslov and Seret Vishnitz.

Religion and State in Israel

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

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.