Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - March 16, 2009 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

March 16, 2009 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu sign coalition deal

By Attila Somfalvi www.ynetnews.com March 16, 2009

Lieberman's party has also been granted several of its demands on the issue of civil marriage.

The deal guarantees that legislation regulating marriage between Jews and non-Jews will be passed within two months, and that a legal solution for other individuals prevented from marrying according to Jewish law will be found within 15 months.

On the matter of conversions the agreement states that local and municipal rabbis will be able to perform conversions with the Chief Rabbinate's approval, and also wed people who converted and set criteria for annulling conversions.

UTJ on Civil Marriage

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com March 16, 2009

A special rabbinic committee was to decide Sunday night whether or not UTJ could support a law that would allow Israelis who are not Jewish, Christian or Muslim to marry.

Israel Beiteinu has demanded that marital reforms constitute part of its coalition agreement with the Likud.

Shas seeking to make home in Housing portfolio

By Mazal Mualem www.haaretz.com March 12, 2009

Three factions are fighting over the Housing portfolio, which prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has promised the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. 

Shas is resolved to appoint the party's MK Ariel Atias - today minister of communications - as housing minister, while United Torah Judaism, the other ultra-Orthodox party, wants the ministry mainly to be in control of the Israel Lands Administration. 

…Shas, which has participated in almost all the governments since the mid-eighties, has never before demanded the Housing Ministry. 

Now it wishes to ease the housing problems of the ultra-Orthodox community, where many couples are ineligible for a home mortgage as they lack a regular, sufficient income. 

Shas also sees the ministry as a means of appealing to secular low-income families, thus potentially winning supporters from outside the ultra-Orthodox community. 

Likud looks for ways to satisfy UTJ without giving it Housing

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com March 16, 2009

Likud offered the five-member UTJ faction the Social Affairs Ministry or the Health Ministry, but UTJ chairman Yaakov Litzman said his party was insisting on one of three portfolios: religious affairs, housing or deputy education for yeshivas and ultra-Orthodox education. 

Religious parties say Likud will include yeshiva funding in state budget

By Nadav Shragai www.haaretz.com March 15, 2009

The National Union leadership said an initial agreement had been reached with Likud to fund ultra-Orthodox yeshivas and hesder yeshivas (yeshivas whose students combine their studies with military service) as part of the government's basic budgetary framework. 

…On making funding for ultra-Orthodox yeshivas and hesder yeshivas part of the basic government budget, National Union leader Yaakov Katz said on Friday: 

"During the election campaign we made it clear that this was an ultimate demand, to stop the need for horse-trading and lobbying every month for the world of Torah." 

Katz also called the initial agreement he said had been made, "a real revolution in understanding the value of Torah studies through government funding. 

It will mean an end to the embarrassing phenomenon of yeshiva heads having to beg every year for money from the government."

Even before cabinet is formed, Netanyahu's team gets its act together

By Barak Ravid www.haaretz.com March 11, 2009

Netanyahu's bureau chief is expected to be Natan Eshel, former managing director of the Orthodox daily Hatzofeh, and now deputy managing director of the daily Israel Hayom. That paper's owner, Sheldon Adelson, is very close to Netanyahu.

NGO heads meeting with Likud over new education reforms

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

Over the past few weeks, the heads of a nongovernmental organization have been meeting with senior Likud officials to compile a list of far-reaching reforms to state schools. 

…Another proposal refers to the "core plan," which the Education Ministry has been unsuccessful in imposing on ultra-Orthodox schools.

The organization's experts propose full state funding in exchange for making six subjects (math, science, English, Hebrew, heritage and civic studies) mandatory in all religious schools. 

The proposal on the ultra-Orthodox branch offers to make the six core subjects account for 70 percent of the curriculum, allowing schools scholastic autonomy in the remaining 30 percent.

Watchdog to probe unaudited Haredi schools 

By Zvi Zrahiya www.haaretz.com March 11, 2009

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has decided to investigate previously unaudited educational institutions.

The significantly enlarged auditing field will now include over 60 institutions, including the Shas-affiliated Ma'ayan schools and kindergarten networks.

Talmudic Studies Jerusalem Federation and Beit Yaakov day-care centers, associated with United Torah Judaism, have also joined the list.

The decision will allow state authorities to examine whether any improvements have been made in the religious educational networks.

Rabbi Offers Money to Solve Fiasco in Jerusalem of High Schools Rejecting Girls

By Ezra Reichman www.vosizneias.com March 15, 2009

Rav Yitzchak Pindrus, who is in charge of the Chareidi Education Dept. in the Jerusalem municipality has innovated the idea of paying a high school 150,000 NIS ($35,000) grant if they agree to open a class taking in girls who are high candidates to be rejected.

He believes that a part of the problem is the lack of classrooms, since the chareidi community has grown so rapidly in the past years.

Supreme Court rejects request to try Safed's chief rabbi

By Aviad Glickman www.ynetnews.com March 16, 2009

The Supreme Court rejected the petition submitted by the Israel Religious Action Center against Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, demanding that Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu be put on trial for making anti-Arab statements.

The Supreme Court justices ruled that the court tends not to intervene in the attorney general's decisions on such matters, especially after an arrangement was reached with the State Prosecutor's Office, which included an official apology on the part of the rabbi.

Betzedek Joins Mehadrin Bus Lines High Court Petition

By Yechiel Sever http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com March 12, 2009

Betzedek has joined a High Court petition filed by Kavei Mehadrin after no representative for the chareidi public was involved in the case by the courts.

The High Court is scheduled to hear a petition regarding the conditions for operating the Mehadrin bus lines. 

After reaching the conclusion that these lines are legal, the High Court ordered the Transportation Minister to appoint a committee to set regulations to guide how the bus lines are operated.

…The judges accepted Betzedek's request to serve as "a friend of the court," a status reserved for entities the court recognizes as experts in the matter at hand.

Rabbis urge public to shun El Al

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com March 15, 2009

After failing to reach a deal with El Al that would see the company operating separate flights for the ultra-Orthodox sector, rabbis are now calling on their public not to fly with the Israeli company at all, and prefer foreign airlines instead.

Ahead of Passover, the high season for visits in Israel and abroad among haredim, the rabbinic committee on transportation has published a statement urging the public to fly only with airlines that offer movie-free flights, or flights with designated areas that are movie-free.

Military service: An entry ticket into Israeli society

By Anshel Pfeffer www.haaretz.com Opinion March 15, 2009

Last week, the head of the IDF's Personnel Department, Major General Avi Zamir, announced that from this year, the army would induct twice the previous number of young ultra-Orthodox men into the Netzah Yehuda battalion, which only a few years ago was on the brink of disbandment.

This along with new projects for recruiting men from the Haredi community into technical positions. 

Recent data also shows that for the first time in living memory, the number of 18 year-olds preferring yeshiva studies over army service actually went down in 2008.

In my meetings with the Netzah Yehuda soldiers over the last decade, I have never heard them speak of Zionism either - it's all about social inclusion and mobility for them also.

They see the IDF as a way out of the poverty trap of the yeshiva world, and their best opportunity for employment afterwards. 

Here comes the future

By Diana Bletter www.jpost.com March 12, 2009

Today, a new wave of religious-secular mechina programs has the same goals, combining study with community activism, and are open to secular Jews as well as the observant. The program's agenda was no less than trying to spark a dialogue between religious and secular Jews, and to begin to heal the rift in the nation.

The Mechina Nachshon at Kibbutz Shoval, near Beersheba, was launched that same year with a small group of students.

…And over the past 12 years, it has served as an inspiration for 16 other mixed secular-religious mechina programs around the country, from Kiryat Shmona to Beersheba.

Chabad and the IDF

www.collive.com March 12, 2009

Click here for photos

Photo - www.collive.com 

Thousands of IDF soldiers were visited on Purim by Chabad Shluchim and Chassidim.

Among them was Rabbi Menachem Ofen who came to the IDF's Captain School in southern Israel with a Megillah, Shalach Manos and an illusionist. The troops danced away with Jewish music in the background.

Barak Gives Permit to Two Additional Hesder Yeshivas

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com March 10, 2009

Outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak has given official status to two additional hesder yeshivas, bringing the number of hesder yeshivas nationwide to 47.

One of the new yeshivas is in Kiryat Gat. The second, which was started about four years ago, has now received official recognition. It has about 45 talmidim, some already serving in the IDF.

Paratroopers Celebrate with Chabad

www.shturem.org March 10, 2009

Last night 25 paratroopers came to Chabad of Gan Ner to celebrate Purim, before they leaving on a navigation mission. 

The Rebbe's Shliach to Gan Ner, Rabbi Avshalom Kil, sang and danced with the soldiers, together with a group of Tmimim from Tomchei Tmimim Migdal Haemek.

The little that remains on the Temple Mount

By Nadav Shragai www.haaretz.com Opinion March 11, 2009

For years, the Jerusalem District Police "benefited" from the fact that few Jews visited the Temple Mount, sparing the police this "headache." 

But now the situation is changing. The halakhic consensus that Jews are forbidden to ascend the mount has been broken. 

More and more rabbis are permitting Jews to visit, and more and more Jews are seeking to do so. 

Matzot prices not dropping this Passover

By Yehudit Yahav www.ynetnews.com March 16, 2009

Despite the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry's signed order to drop the price of regulated bread by some 4% due to a reduction in global wheat prices, the price of matzot, which are also made out of wheat, will not be dropping this Passover.

The matzah market in Israel is estimated at NIS 120 million ($28.7 million) per year.

KFC Israel going kosher

By Meirav Crystal www.ynetnews.com March 9, 2009

Going kosher pays, as international fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken has learned, and is now taking steps towards receiving full kashrut in its Israeli branches.

Thanks to a special approval granted by the global chain, KFC Israel announced on Sunday that it would start marketing its chicken meals with a kosher soy-powder coating rather than the standard milk-power coating.

Rabbi Aviner supports importation of Breslov grave

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com March 12, 2009

The Breslov Hasidic camp is currently promoting the importation of the bones of their founding leader, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, and one of the senior rabbis of the Religious-Zionist movement has joined the struggle.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who has previously opposed the Jewish New Year's Eve trend of massive prostration on the Rebbe's grave in the Ukrainian town of Breslov, has expressed his support for a petition being circulated by the Hasidic community, which calls on the government to bring the holy site to Israel.

Women barred from funerals in Yemenite community

By Tzofia Hirschfeld www.ynetnews.com March 16, 2009

"It is customary here that women do not escort the dead inside the cemetery," said Motti Avdiel, a Chevra Kadisha volunteer at the place.

"The first part of the funeral takes place at an open square located near a roofed area. During the eulogies the women are asked to stand outside, while the men stand under the roof.

"When the funeral proceeds towards the grave the women are forbidden from approaching the grave; a woman can't escort her husband… only after the men leave, the women are allowed to approach the grave," he explained.

Preventing women from mourning

By ‘Oranit’ (prepared by Nomi Saraga) www.jpost.com March 12, 2009

This article first appeared in www.kolech.org and in Kolech's English blog.

Kolech also published a (Hebrew) review of the halachic aspect of this matter:

The pain of my loss was aggravated by the cruel restrictions made by the people of Yavne's cemetery.

They discriminated against me because I am a woman. They chastised me for expressing my feelings and forbade me from seeing my cousin's burial.

Besides feeling stunned and sad, I also felt guilty for not protesting aloud. The emotional Catch-22 was too much for me; I could not bear to make a difficult situation even worse by raising a commotion.

Religion and State in Israel

March 16, 2009 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Religion and State in Israel - March 16, 2009 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

March 16, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Papal Visit May Stop Jews from Praying at Western Wall

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu www.israelnationalnews.com March 16, 2009

The planned visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the Western Wall may force a ban on Jews from praying there for the first time since the holy site was restored to Israel after 2,000 years. 

Security officials have been discussing the issue with Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who said he is vehemently opposed to the idea.

Government authorities responsible for the safety of the Pope want to clear the area from the evening before his visit until he leaves.

“The Kotel must be open during the entire visit for every person who wants to pray,” Rabbi Rabinowitz said.

“Jews have been praying at the Kotel for almost 42 years. There is no preference of one person over another.”

Rabbis meet with pope to smooth interfaith tensions

By Lisa Palmieri-Billig www.ynetnews.com March 13, 2009

"This was not just another meeting," commented Haifa Chief Rabbi She'ar-Yashuv Cohen, who headed the delegation. 

"This was a special experience, a turning point, the end of a crisis. We could not have expected a warmer reception."

Other members of the delegation were Chief Rabbinate Secretary-General Oded Wiener, Kiryat Ono Chief Rabbi Rasson Arussi and Israeli Ambassador to the Holy See Mordechai Lewy.

Pope’s visit to Israel

By Zohar Blumenkrantz www.haaretz.com March 10, 2009

Haaretz has learned that the Pope will land at Ben-Gurion International Airport at about 11 A.M. on May 11, on a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight from that country.

Pope Benedict XVI will be accompanied by an entourage of about 40, in addition to about 70 reporters.

A state reception will be held at the airport. The Vatican is expecting about 5,000 Christian pilgrims to arrive in Israel for the visit. The Pope will leave Israel on May 15, on an El Al flight.

40,000 Israelis expected to attend papal mass

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com March 11, 2009

Some 40,000 people are expected to attend the mass the pope will lead on his scheduled visit to Israel in May, the Vatican said in a briefing on Tuesday. 

The highlights of the visit will be three masses in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, and the Pope will also visit the mosques on the Temple Mount. Catholic church leaders noted on Tuesday that this will be a pilgrimage, rather than a state visit. 

The Vatican's ambassador to Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco, said the controversy surrounding a caption under the portrait of Pope Pius XII, who served during World War II, in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial remains unresolved, but added that the Vatican can distinguish between a specific disagreement and profound respect for the victims of the Holocaust. 

The Pope will probably visit the museum, but not the new wing where the disputed picture is installed. 

The Vatican has also reached arrangements with the Israeli government concerning Palestinian participation in the events; one scenario could see the arrival of 100 Christians from Gaza. 

Vatican sources added that the visit is likely to result in an increase in the overall number of pilgrims visiting Israel, but did not state a particular number. 

Another pope

By David Horovitz www.jpost.com Opinion March 13, 2009

For Israelis and Jews worldwide, I'd venture, there is really only one Pope.

…It is, rather, John Paul II, the last pontiff to visit our country, and the first to do so officially, having himself presided over the institution of full diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel, and having made his millennium pilgrimage to the Holy Land the culmination of his papacy and everything it stood for.

His soon-to-arrive successor has yet to achieve remotely comparable elevation.

Jewish-Christian Relations Symposium

By Greer Fay Cashman www.jpost.com March 16, 2009

Attitudes the Jewish community in Israel towards Christianity and the Christian world [was] the subject of a symposium to be co-hosted by the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations and the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies [on March 16, 2009]. 

The symposium [was] addressed by religious and lay speakers, both Christian and Jewish.

RCA Backtracks On Conversion Policy

By Rabbi Avi Weiss www.thejewishweek.com Opinion March 11, 2009

Rabbi Avraham (Avi) Weiss is the senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and a longtime member of the RCA. He is also co-founder of the International Rabbinic Fellowship.

[The Rabbinical Council of America] has refused to affirm a conversion that I, together with two other rabbis, performed. To make matters worse, the RCA made its ruling without notifying or consulting me or any other member of the converting Beit Din (Rabbinic Tribunal). 

…The idea that an RCA tribunal can unilaterally undo a conversion by another RCA member in good standing is intolerable.

It not only creates an untenable environment for the rabbi, as it de-legitimizes his professional integrity, but, more egregiously, it creates an atmosphere of fear for the convert that the Jewish life he/she has been living for years will be seen, someday, by some official rabbinic body, as a lie. 

Schechter seminary dean not opting for additional term

By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com March 15, 2009

Rabbi Einat Ramon will not seek another term as dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary (SRS) in Jerusalem, according to an official letter released Sunday to Schechter's board, faculty and students.

Ramon will return to full-time teaching and research at the Schechter Institute.

According to the Schechter Institute Web site, Ramon was the first Israeli-born woman to be ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York in 1989.

Gov't considers new ways to entice olim

By Maya Spitzer and Haviv Rettig Gur www.jpost.com March 16, 2009

The cabinet approved an initiative on Sunday billed as an effort to promote a new wave of aliya from the former Soviet Union. Immigrants who come during 2009 are eligible, with benefits paid out through 2010.

Families will get grants of NIS 24,000, much of it to help with the first year's rent and vocational training. The money is in addition to the absorption basket given to every new oleh.

The NIS 32 million program is being funded in equal parts by the Jewish Agency and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry.

Obituary: Philanthropist William Davidson gave generously to Israeli, Jewish causes

By Greer Fay Cashman www.jpost.com March 16, 2009

Among the causes he funded here was Hadassah University Medical Center, Ein Kerem, to which he and his wife, Karen, gave $75 million in 2007 toward the in-patient tower currently under construction.

Davidson was the founder of the Davidson Center and the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, and was named an Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem.

The excavations along the southern wall of the Temple Mount are referred to as "the Davidson excavations" in tribute to his generous donations to the project.

Haredi modesty patrol 'mercenary' sentenced to 4 years for assault

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com March 16, 2009

This appears to be the first conviction of a person connected to a modesty patrol, even though these organizations have been linked to numerous acts of violence over the years, mostly in cities with large ultra-Orthodox populations like Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. 

Judge Noam Solberg wrote in his decision that Buzaglo was "hired to beat and abuse, to curse and threaten, to humiliate and brutalize," and that "the punishment must reflect the abhorrence of his acts, [and] compensate for the evil harm to the body and spirit of the plaintiff, and deter him and others like him." 

Haredi rescue organizations collapsing

By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com March 13, 2009

The emergency and rescue organizations, the flagship of the ultra-Orthodox volunteer projects, are rapidly collapsing. 

The financial crisis, petty struggles between the groups themselves and the impossible competition from Magen David Adom are costing these organizations, based in Jerusalem, dearly.

This week it was reported that Hatzolah Israel, the leading haredi rescue group, has nearly totally crashed after losing the sponsorship of Rabbi Moshe Ifergan (known as "the x-ray rabbi.")

Ichud Hatzolah is also struggling to keep head above water, while ZAKA is constantly losing resources and volunteers.

ZAKA Expands International Rescue Unit

By Walter Bingham www.israelnationalnews.com March 13, 2009

After years of experience in dealing with mass casualty incidents in Israel and around the world, ZAKA - the Israel-based, United Nations-recognized volunteer rescue and recovery organization - is expanding its International Rescue Unit.

Jerusalem: Stinky solution for Purim riots

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

The leaders of the ultra-Orthodox Haredi Community in Jerusalem have come up with an original way for dealing with the nightly riots associated with Purim celebrations in the capital's haredi neighborhoods.

This year they used dead fish against the young rascals, and with the help of local police succeeded in keeping the area relatively quiet, after two tumultuous years.

New Group of Chareidi Girls Dancing Hip Hop at Weddings, Is it Kosher?

By Ezra Reichman www.vosizneias.com March 15, 2009

The latest sensation is a three-women hip hop dance troupe called Danciot (formed by combining "dance" + "dosiot"), molded under the expert guidance of producer David Pedida, the notorious creator of Oif Simchos and the Kinderlach choir.

The women dance hip hop to the sounds of Oif Simchas music at weddings and other events. G-d forbid they are untznius; they are dressed in long sleeved-shirts and long skirts.

"It began rather simple," explains Pedida. "Our production company had many requests for entertainment for chareidi women.

The chareidi community only has unprofessional performances, so I decided to found the most professional group I could. 

In Their Own Space

By Joseph R. Hoffman www.jpost.com March 12, 2009 Issue 25, March 30, 2009 of The Jerusalem Report

These are not the images of ultra-Orthodox Jews, or haredim, that the Israeli public is used to seeing. More often, haredim are seen demonstrating against what they see as violations of Jewish law, or praying at the Western Wall.

"I want to show the other side as well," says Menahem Kahana, who has been photographing ultra-Orthodox Israelis doing what they do for 15 years.

A selection of the results can be viewed in "Haredim," a solo exhibition of 67 of Kahana's photographs running at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv until June.

Lonely scholar

By Dalia Karpel www.haaretz.com March 13, 2009

Interview with Prof. Yehuda Liebes, 64, a preeminent scholar of Jewish thought, has published numerous studies on the kabbala and Jewish mysticism (he prefers the term "mystic Judaism").

Since 1971, he has been on the faculty of the Hebrew University's Department of Jewish Thought.

Working in Jerusalem: Fringe benefits

By Gil Zohar www.jpost.com March 12, 2009

Joel Guberman has a colorful story - but it's all in hues of royal purple and brilliant blue.

From a nondescript building in an industrial zone in the Judean Desert east of Jerusalem, the New Jersey-born occupational therapist is engaged in a halachic revolution - getting Jews to adopt the lost commandment of wearing of blue tzitziot (ritual fringes).

Guberman is an expert on techelet - the little-understood dye referred to 48 times in the Bible that colored the tassels of Jews' prayer shawls.

Religion and State in Israel

March 16, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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