Monday, December 28, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - December 28, 2009 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

December 28, 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.

'Rabbinical courts can annul conversion'

By Matthew Wagner December 24, 2009

Rabbinical courts have the legal authority to retroactively annul conversions to Judaism years and even decades after they were performed, even if the conversion was performed under the aegis of the Chief Rabbinate, according to a legal opinion by attorney Rabbi Shimon Ya'acobi, the legal adviser to the Rabbinical Court Administration, that was released to the press Wednesday.

Ya'acobi also argues that city rabbis have the right to question the Jewishness of converts to Judaism who come before them to be registered for marriage.

Ya'acobi's legal opinion is nothing short of a bombshell in the ongoing battle over the Jewishness of thousands of converts who converted under the aegis of the state-funded National Conversion Authority and conversion courts in the IDF.

Letter to Editor - One-sided opinion December 2, 2009

…It all boils down to an age-old halachic argument between those who feel converts are "good for the Jews" or "bad for the Jews."

These subjective decisions all have good Talmudic basis, and depend primarily on whether the deciding authority is more influenced by a sense of gevura or a sense of hessed - in contemporary terms, a strict constructionist interpretation of stated Halacha, or a more charitable one.

In the present time, the division between these two views among religious leadership may be more destructive than the issue itself.

Rabbi Macy Gordon


U.S. rabbi involved in sex scandal led fight against Israel conversions

By Yair Ettinger December 24, 2009

Rabbi Tropper's stated goal in founding the Eternal Jewish Family was to "fortify the walls of conversion," amid an ideological debate between the Haredi and national camps in Israel.

While functioning as a well-known rabbi in the New York area and head of the Kol Yaakov yeshiva, Rabbi Tropper enlisted wealthy Jews in the Haredi fight against to non- ultra-Orthodox conversions, especially those carried out by special conversion courts in Israel headed by Rabbi Haim Druckman.

As such, the doors of senior Haredi officials were thrown open to him, including that of Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv, a leader of the Lithuanian Haredi sect, and rabbi Tropper himself had the title of gaon ("most learned") bestowed upon him by the ultra-Orthodox press - all because of his efforts and comments against conversions by the Conversion Authority, against the "infiltration" of gentiles into the people of Israel.

Shas renews efforts on 'hametz law'

By Matthew Wagner December 23, 2009

Shas is pushing to strengthen the Hametz Law - which prohibits the display of bread for sale or consumption during Pessah - before the spring holiday arrives.

MK Avraham Michaeli (Shas) on Wednesday submitted an amendment to the law, first passed in 1986, that would override a novel interpretation to it given by a Jerusalem judge nearly two years ago.

The goal, Michaeli said, is to reinforce the law and give it the prohibitive strengths originally intended by the legislators.

The law states that "No merchant will display a hametz product in public for the sake of sale or consumption."

…Shas's Michaeli wants to remove the words "in public" from the original law.

Shas to introduce Chametz Law amendment

By Amnon Meranda December 23, 2009

"The court's definition of 'public,' which referrers to the sale of leavened foods only in public domain twists the legislator's original meaning, allowing for a situation in which, for example, a supermarket serving thousands of customers will be barred from selling leavened foods, but a vendor standing in a dark alley could do so," said the proposed amendment brief.

"The word 'public' should be stricken and leavened foods should be barred from any display in any business."

High Court: Jew for Jesus baker must apply for new kashrut certificate

By Dan Izenberg and Matthew Wagner December 22, 2009

The High Court of Justice on Monday ordered the Jew for Jesus owner of a bakery in Ashdod to apply for a new kashrut certificate instead…[of finding] the Rabbinate in contempt of court for failing to implement a ruling issued in June.

Judge Procaccia told Shraga, "Submit a formal application including the promise to fulfill all the regular conditions and you will receive an answer. We will be able to adjudicate the case on the basis of that answer, if, indeed, there will be a need to."

The attorneys for the Rabbinate would not promise to approve the application. Attorney Hani Ofek, representing the Chief Rabbinate, told the court that Conforty must apply to the Ashdod Rabbinate. If she were not satisfied with its response, she could appeal to the Chief Rabbinate.

"Rabbi Sheinin made it clear that no matter what the High Court decides he will never do anything against Halacha," said Portnoy.
"Even if they hang the rabbi from a tree he will never transgress the Halacha. And according to Halacha there has to be a kosher supervisor on the premises at all times."

Ashkenazi students skip school in wake of anti-segregation ruling

By Or Kashti December 25, 2009

The Education Ministry on Wednesday threatened to prosecute parents of students in a West Bank settlement school under the mandatory education law, unless the students returned to their classrooms.

The Ashkenazi students of the ultra-Orthodox Beit Yaakov girls' school in Immanuel stayed home on Wednesday, yet again, as part of an organized protest against the decision by the Education Ministry and High Court to end the segregation between Sephardi and Ashkenazi students.

"No court ruling or Education Ministry decision can bring the two groups together," an Immanuel resident said Wednesday.

The Pluralist

By Lauren Gelfond Feldinger December 27, 2009

Interview with Dr. Adam Hofri-Winogradow, assistant professor at the Hebrew University's Faculty of Law, an expert on legal history and comparative law.

Q: Could religious law play an even bigger part in the future?

A: It is possible, yes, that there will be more religious law applied. If a massive majority of Israel's Jews come to support the application of Halacha to additional subjects, and this support is reflected in the Knesset, we could eventually edge somewhat closer to a "Halacha state," so far as the law applied to Israel's Jews is concerned.

Petah Tikva's Haredi parents take their beef to Yishai

By Nir Hasson December 24, 2009

Parents of children in Shas' Maayan Hahinuch Hatorani educational system in Petah Tikva will demonstrate this morning in Jerusalem outside the Interior Ministry office of party chairman Eli Yishai - the first open sign of a break between the grassroots of the movement and the Shas leadership.

The problems started with the passage of two laws called "Nahari law 1" and "Nahari law 2," named after MK Meshulam Nahari (Shas), a minister without portfolio. The laws were intended to regularize the transfer of funds from local authorities to ultra-Orthodox schools.

Municipalities have used the laws to justify cuts in funding and services for Haredi schools and required them to provide various services themselves - or pay for them.

Where is justice for women?

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion December 21, 2009

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinic advocate with the Center for Women’s Justice

Even religious people who pray for ‘judges of old’ were horrified when Justice Minister Ne'eman suggested that we apply Din Torah to Israeli law. Many think that it is possible to adopt Halacha into a modern legal system, but only after it has been adjusted for our generation.

…Would the honorable minister please answer the following question: Would his imagined legal system allow women to testify? Would it allow a secular Jew to testify? Could women act as judges? Would there be equality between men and women? Between Jew and non-Jew?

…"Why should I, as a woman, agree to accept Jewish law if it discriminates against me and won’t accept my testimony in a court of law"?

Israeli Politics and a Woman's Womb

By Elana Sztokman Opinion December 24, 2009

This phenomenon of religious women challenging the male domination of thought and knowledge is fascinating.

In this case, it’s not about women taking on formal leadership roles, but rather about taking ownership of their own bodies, thought processes and lives — without rejecting religious life.

In fact, their commitment to religiousness is in some ways reinforced through this form of empowerment. Indeed, Adler’s “talking back to the rabbi” is arguably more significant than some of the formal changes going on with Orthodox women, such as women being halakhic advisers on “family purity.”

Egged secretly begins running bus line on Shabbat

By Yanir Yagna December 21, 2009

The Egged bus cooperative, Israel's main public transport company, has apparently secretly begun to operate buses on Shabbat, Haaretz has learned. Buses Nos. 370 and 380, on the Be'er Sheva-Tel Aviv route, depart Be'er Sheva before the Sabbath is over. The early departures are not featured on the company's Web site.

One of the company's drivers told Haaretz:

"I guess they don't want to upset the ultra-Orthodox. Buses leave Be'er Sheva an hour and a half before the end of the Shabbat every Saturday."

Jerusalem Eruv Poles to Be Returned on Tuesday

By Yechiel Spira December 22, 2009

While the sides involved will be meeting in Jerusalem City Hall next week, a meeting on Monday resulted in agreement, that under the watchful eye of Jerusalem Religious Council officials, Jerusalem City Hall employees on Tuesday will return the approximately 30 eruv poles that were torn out in the capital during recent days, by City Hall.

Haredi ex-MK claims Reform anti-religious activists, media exaggerate scale of Mea She'arim violence

By Abe Selig December 24, 2009

"There is a group of people who are against the haredim all the time," former Knesset member and haredi journalist Rabbi Israel Eichler said. "They are mainly funded by Reform Jews from America who want to portray the haredi world in a bad light."

"The truth of the matter is that the secular, haredi and [national] religious public live in peace and quiet throughout Jerusalem, be it on the city's buses, on the streets, in the bank or in the business world.

Those who are trying to heat up the situation are the media and radical anti-religious activists, who receive millions of dollars from the United States to launch smear campaigns against the haredi and religious public, including the settlers," he went on.

"Every child who throws a rock turns into 'thousands of haredim' or a situation that resembles Iran," Eichler added. "This makes their donors in America happy, who want to convince people the danger is the haredim and not the Arabs."

Litzman defends move to separate sexes in psych wards

By Dan Even December 24, 2009

The initiative to separate the sexes in psychiatric hospitals in Jerusalem was discussed by the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee yesterday. Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) is behind the move, and presented the committee with an order from the Jerusalem Juvenile Court which he claims requires him to hospitalize minors in wards segregated by gender in psychiatric hospitals.

Litzman also informed the committee that he intends to separate minors in this way in all such hospitals around the country. He said the segregation was meant to make life easier for ultra-Orthodox patients who ask to be hospitalized.

Haredi girls petition against psychometric exam prerequisite

By Aviad Glickman December 22, 2009

Five ultra-Orthodox young women filed a petition Thursday with the High Court of Justice demanding they be accepted into the nursing school at Netanya's Laniado Hospital without psychometric exam scores.

The petitioners further claimed that in setting this prerequisite they were being prevented from joining the work force simply due to their haredi affiliation.

They also demanded that the court order the two officials to explain why more reasonable conditions were not set which would have properly reflected the different needs of members of the ultra-Orthodox community.

War over the homeland

By Ron Leshem Opinion December 22, 2009

Twenty years from now, most of Israel's young people will be ultra-Orthodox or Arabs. Denial devices blind our eyes to this statistical fact.

It may be inconceivable, but it is certainly possible that in 30 years we'll be living in an unenlightened third-world country, subject to Torah law as interpreted by extremist rabbis who gradually, in a series of small steps, turn out the lights.

Saar: Increase Academic Scholarships for Haredim December 21, 2009

Education Minister Gideon Saar said Sunday night that academic scholarships should be increased for the Hareidi religious sector in order to permit more of them to get academic degrees.

Saar made the comments during a visit to the hareidi-religious campus of the Ono Academic College.

Police attacked by Haredi mob in Jerusalem December 24, 2009

Police officers on Thursday morning were attacked by a haredi mob after being dispatched to the ultra-Orthodox Beit Yisrael neighborhood in Jerusalem to tend to a woman who was assaulted by the "modesty patrol."

Two cops hurt in clashes with ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem

By Yair Ettinger December 27, 2009

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox demonstrators gathered on Sunday evening at an industrial zone in Jerusalem where Intel has its compound, to protest the company's decision to stay open on the Sabbath.

As their protests picked up speed over the course of the evening, the demonstrators began throwing rocks at police officers, wounding two. Two protesters were arrested in the wake of the clashes.

Haredim removed from Golda Meir Blvd.

By Abe Selig December 27, 2009

Special police forces on foot and on motorcycles dispersed the Haredi protesters who had managed to block Jerusalem's Golda Meir Blvd. on Sunday evening, in the culmination of a 1,500-strong haredi protest against Intel's continued Shabbat operation of its microchip factory in the capital.

Haredim demonstrate Intel Shabbat operations in Jerusalem

By Abe Selig December 27, 2009

Hundreds of haredim were protesting Sunday evening across the street from the Jerusalem Intel plant.

The haredim offered prayer and recited psalms as protesters continued to arrive. The event remained calm and without disturbance.

Charedi websites close following ban

By Anshel Pfeffer December 23, 2009

Two Charedi news websites closed down this week and a wave of resignations has hit other sites following the strictest rabbinical ruling against the internet to date.

A letter signed two weeks ago by some of the most senior rabbis of the Charedi community in Israel, including Rabbis Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Aharon Leib Steinman and the leaders of the main Chasidic sects, reiterates a “severe prohibition of private usage of internet in every home”.

Statement about Dei'ah VeDibur December 17, 2009

The focus of the campaign of the Gedolim against chareidi Internet sites is directed at the forums and blogs that are conducted on an anonymous basis for fun and profit.

Dei'ah VeDibur is the opposite of these. I am fully identified. The site is run on with a low-key style with the aim of informing about the issues that affect the chareidi community. The site has no advertising and no one benefits in any material way if there are more or fewer viewers.

We do not wish, by our presence, to be seen as in any way endorsing or encouraging use of the Internet.

Mordecai Plaut

Planning body advances plan to solve Tel Aviv area's grave problems

By Ron Friedman December 23, 2009

High-density burial, which is permitted by Halacha, is seen as one of the main solutions to the burial-ground shortage. A special interministerial committee was established in 2003 for the purpose of promoting the practice.

…Another practice that has been adopted of late is burying loved ones in private cemeteries belonging to kibbutzim. This has become particularly popular among those who do not want an Orthodox funeral service.

Many kibbutzim use land adjacent to the kibbutz to bury kibbutz members and their families. In recent years, they have also agreed to bury non-members in exchange for substantial sums, a practice frowned on by the Religious Services Ministry.

Gafni Ties Court Funds to Beis Din Funding

By Yechiel Spira December 23, 2009

MK (Yahadut HaTorah) Rabbi Moshe Gafni, who chairs the Knesset Finance Committee, rejected a treasury request for NIS millions to refurbish courtrooms during a committee session on Monday.

Gafne questioned why the treasury is only seeking funding for courts, and not batei din [religious courts], which he explained are generally in greater need of refurbishing then the civil courts.

He said if the treasury wishes to refurbish courts, then it must also find funds to simultaneously address the alarming and dilapidated state of many religious courts.

Court Rejects Reform Attempt to Block Shul Construction in Netanya

By L.S. Wasserman December 17, 2009

The Be'er Channah Foundation has succeeded in canceling a temporary restraining order issued following a request by Reform figures that had put a halt to the construction of the Be'er Channah Beis Knesses in Netanya's Ramat Poleg neighborhood.

Six months ago Reform figures managed to obtain a restraining order to halt construction on all of the plots allocated for synagogues throughout the city of Netanya…

Teva Pharmaceuticals Seeking a Hechsher

By Yechiel Spira December 25, 2009

According to a Ladaat report, the Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva has turned to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, seeking a hechsher [kashrut certificate] for its products.

Senior company officials have already met with Chief Rabbis, Rishon L’Tzion HaRav Moshe Shlomo Amar Shlita and HaRav Yonah Metzger Shlita.

Petitioners demand indictment for Yitzhar rabbis

By Dan Izenberg December 21, 2009

A group of petitioners on Sunday called on the High Court of Justice to indict two Yitzhar settlement rabbis for writing and marketing a book in which they say Jewish religious law permits the murder of Palestinian babies and that at times it is preferable to deliberately kill innocent people.

The book was written by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, head of Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, and Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, a teacher at the school.

Rabbis draft prisoner swap guidelines

By Kobi Nahshoni December 22, 2009

A group of leading Zionist-religious rabbis have drafted a document that for the first time presents clear guidelines for prisoner swaps.

The rabbis who signed the document include Shlomo Aviner, Yaakov Ariel, Haim Druckman, and Dov Lior.

Forum looks to Jewish sources for public policy insights

By Matthew Wagner December 23, 2009

On Wednesday, in the fifth in a series of conferences dealing with a wide range of subjects that bring together science and Torah, economists and Torah scholars will be getting together at Bar-Ilan University's Beit Midrash to show that ancient Jewish texts can teach us something about creating a better modern economy while at the same time showing that contemporary economic theories can help us to understand age-old rabbinic teachings.

The program is called "Nitzotzot: The President's Doctoral Forum for Innovation in Torah and Science," and it pairs outstanding doctoral students with erudite rabbis to foster a cross-fertilization of ideas.

Old Macdonald's had a 'shiur'

By Emily Hochberg December 25, 2009

When the congregation of the New Synagogue of Netanya, better known as the "MacDonald's shul," gathers on Saturday, it will be marking a 30-year milestone for new olim.

Crumbling Tiberias synagogue to regain its former glory

By Eli Ashkenazi December 27, 2009

Two descendents of Rabbi Haim Shmuel Hacohen Konorti stood Wednesday in the 173-year-old synagogue that bears the honorific by which their ancestor was known - "the senior."

Dolev and Ninio have established a non-profit association for the conservation of the Ninio courtyard, and have recently brought several groups into the project of rescuing the site.

Conservation work began this week, supported by the Tiberias municipality, the city's economic corporation and the Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites.

Traditional Jewish Music Sought in Secular Kibbutzim

By Hillel Fendel December 22, 2009

A new initiative by the Ayelet HaShachar (Morning Star) outreach organization is gaining in popularity in the Galilee: Cantorial (hazanut) evenings featuring traditional Jewish cantors singing traditional Jewish music.

The first one was held in Kibbutz Kinneret, one of the first kibbutzim (agricultural cooperative communities) in Israel and long considered a bastion of secularism, and enthusiastic requests have already come in for more.

Jewish activists planning Temple Mount ascent

By Abe Selig December 16, 2009

A group of activists dedicated to bringing Jews to the Temple Mount told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that they were hoping to see hundreds of participants take part in a planned "mass pilgrimage" to the site scheduled for Thursday morning in honor of Hanukka, which celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple after it was recovered from Hellenist Greeks more than 2,000 years ago.

Model Altar of Unhewn Stones Completed at Temple Institute

By Gil Ronen December 25, 2009

The Temple Institute in Jerusalem announced Friday the completion of a model of the biblical altar which G-d, through Moses, commanded the nation of Israel to build at the Mount of Eval (Ebal) overlooking Shechem:

Religion and State in Israel

December 28, 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.