Monday, April 6, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - April 6, 2009 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

April 6, 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, UTJ reach conversion compromise

By Matthew Wagner and Gil Hoffman April 1, 2009

United Torah Judaism signed a coalition agreement with the Likud late Wednesday morning after a compromise was reached on the issue of conversion reforms.

…UJT MK Moshe Gafni said Tuesday night that the conversion compromise agreement was "very good."

"We made sure that all conversions require the full acceptance of an Orthodox lifestyle, including the acceptance of the yoke of mitzvot," said Gafni.

Ya'acov Weinroth, a haredi lawyer who has strong ties with the UTJ, managed to draft an agreement that was acceptable both to the religious sensibilities of UTJ's rabbinic leadership and Israel Beiteinu.

…According to [UJT MK] Maklev's spokesman, any amendments to laws that govern conversions would have to be approved by the Chief Rabbinate.

UTJ primed to join coalition

By Matthew Wagner March 30, 2009

Shas, under the advice of Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and with the backing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, agreed to certain changes in the way conversions are performed by rabbinic judges on the state payroll.

The Chief Rabbinate's Supreme Rabbinical Council also agreed to changes demanded by Israel Beiteinu, which include steps to be taken to make it easier for non-Jews to convert to Judaism.

For example, city rabbis approved by the Chief Rabbinate will be allowed to perform conversions. This would increase the number of rabbis permitted to convert.

The Ashkenazi haredi rabbinic establishment opposes this reform, arguing that in the 1990s when city rabbis were allowed to convert, there were several incidents of city rabbis accepting bribes in exchange for arranging the conversion.

Also, territorial restrictions on rabbinical judges' jurisdiction are to be abolished. As a result, a rabbinic conversion judge will not be restricted to converting Israeli citizens who live in his district.

But Ashkenazi haredi rabbis are concerned that potential converts will take advantage of this reform to choose the more lenient rabbinic judges to perform the conversions.

Among the compromises being proposed to counter UTJ opposition is the establishment of a rabbinic committee, to include representatives of Elyashiv that would ultimately decide which local rabbis can perform conversions, and which cannot.

Spiritual odyssey turned nightmare

By Matthew Wagner April 5, 2009

Fifteen years ago in Turin, Italy, Rachel - aka Emanuela - began the spiritual odyssey that eventually led to her passionate embrace of Orthodox Judaism.

Today, at 35, Rachel is two months pregnant, married to a kashrut supervisor and living in the Jerusalem area.

But her personal journey, which has taken a somewhat unpleasant turn, is still not over.

Although Rome's Orthodox Rabbinical Court declared Rachel Jewish on July 11, 2006; although the Chief Rabbinate of Israel recognized Rachel's conversion; and although Rachel was joined in wedlock to her devout husband by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel six months ago, the Interior Ministry refuses to recognize Rachel as a Jew.

Interior Ministry: Beit Din confirmation of US convert not enough

By Ruth Eglash April 1, 2009

An American-born convert to Judaism who has been officially accepted as Jewish by Israel's Chief Rabbinate is struggling to obtain recognition from the Interior Ministry so he can make aliya, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Lukas (Lev) Morgan O'Neil, who was adopted and converted to Judaism as a baby and who grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household in Orange County, California, has been caught in the midst of a bureaucratic quagmire over the past year, as Interior Ministry officials have consistently refused to accept his application to immigrate, asking for more and more documented proof of his Jewishness.

Papers alter Israel cabinet photo April 3, 2009

Two ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspapers have altered a photo of Israel's new cabinet, removing two female ministers.

Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver were grouped with the rest of the 30-member cabinet for their inaugural photo.

But Yated Neeman newspaper digitally changed the picture by replacing them with two men. The Shaa Tova newspaper blacked the women out.

Publishing pictures of women is viewed by many ultra-orthodox Jews as a violation of female modesty.

Other Israeli papers reprinted the altered images next to the original photos, with one headlining it "Find the lady".

Listen to Hebrew radio interview

Gafni beats out Litzman, will head Finance C'tee

By Zvi Zrahiya April 3, 2009

Knesset Member Moshe Gafni will be the next chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, the United Torah Judaism faction in parliament decided yesterday.

The race had been between Gafni and the committee's former leader, Yaakov Litzman. The Finance Committee itself has to confirm the appointment next week. 

Litzman Angry with Likud Negotiators

By Yechiel Spira April 5, 2009

Yahadut HaTorah’s Rabbi Yaakov Litzman is reportedly angry at Likud officials, who he views have betrayed him in his quest to become chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee.

According to reports, Litzman told Likud officials that he was instrumental in preventing Yahadut HaTorah from joining a government headed by Tzipi Livni and instead of repaying his loyalty, he was abandoned.

UTJ'S Moses takes over Health Ministry amid sea of protests

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich April 2, 2009

Amid protests from public health experts that a full-fledged health minister is needed in the third-largest government ministry, United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Menachem Eliezer Moses was informed Wednesday that he will be deputy minister in charge of a minister-less Health Ministry.

The 62-year-old Viznitz Hassid, who has 10 children and speaks only Yiddish besides Hebrew, will have to cope with concerns and doubts about his political clout as he takes over.

UTJ has had several MKs who served in government posts but never as ministers because as a "non-Zionist" party, it avoids such positions. Moses just became an MK and already will control the important ministry.

Pre-nuptial agreement now!

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion March 31, 2009

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinical advocate, working at The Center for Women’s Justice.

…we, the public, must do the minimum, which is actually almost all we can do, and that is – sign a pre-nuptial agreement that poses some sort of threat against the party refusing to give or even accept a get, and by doing so, temper and reduce the effect of get-refusal as much as possible.

Sign a pre-nuptial agreement to avoid aginut!

Divisive union

By Yair Sheleg April 2, 2009

Shahar Lifshitz, member of Bar-Ilan's law faculty:

"You have to understand that a large part of the Supreme Court's legal activism stems from the passivity of the public and its Knesset representatives.

Take the spousal union, for example. Does anyone think it's possible to go for years without a solution for 300,000 people who can't marry in Israel?

On precisely this issue, the Orthodox community should itself have provided an alternative, instead of sitting in the bleachers and cursing the referee."

Rabbi agrees to drop ban on eulogies delivered by women

By Matthew Wagner April 2, 2009

A rabbi in northern Israel who came under attack for what some called blatant male chauvinism agreed this week to stop reproaching women for eulogizing their deceased loved ones.

Haim Adani, Rabbi of Elyachin, a town of about 3,000 residents located near Hadera, agreed to stop preaching against women who asked to eulogize their loved ones and to join in the funeral procession.

Adani changed his funeral policy after receiving a threatening letter from Attorney Aviad Hacohen, himself an Orthodox Jew. 

In the letter Hacohen, who represented Mordechai Avdiel, a member of Elyachin's burial society, and others, warned Adani that he would take legal action unless the rabbi agreed to stop his gender-based discrimination.

69 Complaints Filed Against Rabbinical Courts

By Yechiel Spira April 5, 2009

A report released by State Ombudsman retired justice Eliezer Goldberg was presented to Justice Minister Prof. Yaakov Ne’eman last week.

A chapter of the report is dedicated to the nation’s rabbinical courts in 12 cities, including the Supreme Rabbinate Court. 80 complaints were addressed against dayanim in 2008, including 69 from 2008 and 11 remaining from 2007.

The number of legitimate complaints against dayanim rose from 14% in 2007 to 23% in 2008.

Court hands secular victory in ban on prayers in Jerusalem home

By Yair Ettinger April 6, 2009

Secular residents of Jerusalem's Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood chalked up a victory against their ultra-Orthodox neighbors Thursday when a court barred prayer services in a residential apartment. 

…Before the ruling, [attorney Rephael] Stub had said in court that the group would simply move to another apartment in the neighborhood. A representative of the ultra-Orthodox group confirmed this to Haaretz in response to Bar Asher-Zaban's ruling. 

[Jerusalem Municipality] Attorney Havilio has said that in such a case, he will take action against the other apartment owners as well.

Can you pray in a secular neighborhood?

By Yair Ettinger April 1, 2009

What the worshippers describe as an innocent assembly has become another chapter in the bitter battle between ultra-Orthodox and secular. Now, for the first time, the dispute will be adjudicated in court. 

[…Jerusalem Municipality attorney Yossi Havilio] did attribute his focus on the case to the fear of a "slippery slope" in the mostly secular neighborhood. 

"It is obvious that the Haredim want to move into Kiryat Hayovel as they did in Ramat Eshkol," the chairman of the Meretz city council list, Pepe Allalo, said outside the courtroom on Monday. "It is a well-planned process - today there isn't a single secular person in Ramat Eshkol…”

Another blow to education

Haaretz Editorial April 6, 2009

The most irresponsible clauses in the Likud-Shas coalition agreement appear to be those regarding budgets for ultra-Orthodox education. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, who headed Likud's negotiation team, have ensured not only that this generation carries on its back an ultra-Orthodox community, most of whose men shirk both work and military service.

They have also ensured that the next generation will continue to do so, and will finance a much larger ultra-Orthodox community. 

Court annuls 'outrageous' Agudat Yisrael teacher deal

By Or Kashti April 3, 2009

The Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court last week voided an agreement between the ultra-Orthodox Agudat Yisrael Party and the Education Ministry that would have deprived the party's kindergarten teachers of rights and worsened their conditions. 

The court called the agreement, which required that teachers in the party's network of kindergartens accept drastic pay cuts and wage minimums, "outrageous." 

The court blasted the Education Ministry, ruling that the agreement it had signed with Agudat Yisrael was contrary to state-education regulations, which oblige education systems, including the ultra-Orthodox kindergarten network, to pay their workers equal wages as those paid in recognized institutions. 

It's never too late: Circumcision at 87

By Tzofia Hirschfeld April 5, 2009

This weekend, for example, an 87-year-old man and an 81-year-old man were circumcised by a mohel (circumciser) working with the Ezrat Achim-Brit Yosef organization, which is dedicated to circumcising Jews of all ages across the world.

To this day the organization has circumcised some 35,000 Jews in hundreds of countries, including Guatemala, Japan and Finland.

"We let them know that such an option exists, and practically give it to them on a golden platter. When someone comes to us we ask him about his family, and this way we sometimes end up circumcising entire families."

Coming soon: VIP burials on Mount of Olives

By Ofer Petersburg April 4, 2009

A new real estate deal may emerge to be the most lucrative ever signed. A French group obtained 5.5 dunams (about 1.3 acres) of land for burial on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives from businessmen Eli Yisraeli and Yossi Reich for $24 million.

The group intends to establish a VIP burial section for wealthy Jews, with expected profits of $100 million

Currently, the price of a single burial plot starts at $8,500 and can reach $50,000 for a plot in close proximity to the grave of holy rabbis buried there.

Tel Aviv Municipality Celebrates the Rebbe’s Birthday

Source: April 1, 2009

The Chabad House of Tel Aviv and the municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo celebrated the Rebbe’s birthday and the centenary of the founding of Tel Aviv with the writing of a Sefer Torah in honor of the local shluchim and the city’s residents.

Mayor Ron Chuldai hosted the city’s shluchim at a special ceremony, which began with the writing of the final letters of the Sefer Torah. 

Also present were the chairman of the city council Yael Dayan, Chief Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, the Rabbis of the more outlying neighborhoods, and other public figures.

Speeches were given by head shliach Rabbi Yosef Gerlitzky and Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau. Mr. Huldai thanked the shluchim for organizing the writing of the Sefer Torah. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Neve Chen, emceed the event.

Afterwards, Rabbi Gerlitzky gave shemurah matzos to the mayor and the members of the city council, as well as an edition of the Tanya printed by Chabad of Tel Aviv. 

Jerusalem Mayor Barkat: Chabad Public School Exemplary

By Zalman Nelson March 30, 2009

As part of an inspection of local schools and educational initiatives his administration hopes to implement as they tackle the city’s scholastic challenges, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and several members of his staff made a three hour visit to Chabad’s Ir Ganim - Jerusalem school last week.

Principal Rabbi Shimon Yedger shared the history, development and philosophy of the school since he was sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem M. Schneerson of blessed memory, in 1984 to be the school’s principal when the student body numbered 86.

“The key here is our mission. Many of us were directly sent by the Rebbe to dedicate ourselves to working with these children,” said Rabbi Yedger who is in his 19th year as principal.

“It’s the main force behind our activities and programs, and each of us considers it an honor and privilege to help these kids grow as students and people.”

'Modesty squad' youth accused of attacking computer store clerks

By Aviad Glickman April 2, 2009

The prosecution has filed an indictment with Jerusalem's District Court against Shmuel Weisfish, 22, who is a member of the notorious ultra-Orthodox 'chastity squad'.

Weisfish is accused of attacking employees at a computer store in the capitol and threatening to torch the store and murder them. Charges include rioting, blackmail, threat, and aggravated assault and battery.

Religion and State in Israel

April 6, 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 - April 6, 2009 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

April 6, 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.

Passover stripper returns to non-kosher store

By Avi Cohen April 6, 2009

Photo - 

A 28-year-old man, who was arrested last year for stripping in a Bat Yam Tiv Ta'am supermarket branch in protest of the chain's sale of leavened food during Passover, struck again on Sunday, this time in Tel Aviv.

After the previous incident, Yerushalmi told Ynet that he could not be prosecuted for an indecent act in public, because according to the court's interpretation of the leavened food law, a supermarket is not considered a public place. 

He even wrote on his stomach [in Hebrew] “This isn't public???"

Barcodes the latest weapon in the fight to keep Passover kosher

By Yair Ettinger and Adi Dovrat April 2, 2009

The Chief Rabbinate is introducing barcodes this Passover as its latest weapon in the fight to ensure grocery stores meet kosher-for-Pesach standards. 

Stores will be required to place the special barcodes on all chametz products (leavened foods), or risk losing kosher certification granted especially for the Passover holiday period, the Rabbinate announced Wednesday. 

…Kashrut Department chief Rabbi Yaakov Sabag sent a letter to the managers of the supermarket chains on Wednesday, telling them that they have 48 hours to notify the Rabbinate whether or not they will be using the barcode system.

Although Sabag did not threaten to strip the chains of their kosher certification, he did write that the Chief Rabbinate will be obligated to inform the public about the possibility of chametz products being sold if a chain chooses not to join the program. 

Rabbinate first: Pessah barcode blockers April 2, 2009

"Selling hametz can't become a farce [on Pessah]," Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger told Army Radio.

If buyers are not told that they may be buying hametz, the businesses will have their certifications revoked for the duration of the holiday.

Pesach Kitniyot Rebels Roil Rabbis As Some Ashkenazim Follow New, Permissive Ruling

By Nathan Jeffay April 1, 2009

“Why should we uphold a meaningless restriction when the Torah permits us to eat kitniyot?
Rabbi David Bar-Hayim of Jerusalem asked rhetorically in an interview with the Forward. 

Bar-Hayim made history two years ago by formally lifting the ban on kitniyot in the Holy Land. His authority is invoked among the growing ranks of new kitniyot-eaters like Cohen.

According to some experts on changes in religious law, we are witnessing the beginning of the end for the ban on kitniyot in Israel. 

“In another generation, people in Israel won’t even know what you are talking about,” said Rabbi Donniel Hartman, co-director of the Jerusalem-based Shalom Hartman Institute.

“The attitude in the last few decades has changed and become stricter to the point of absurdity,” said kitniyot expert Daniel Sperber, a professor of Talmud at Bar Ilan University. 

Recent additions to the kitniyot list, he said, include cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil and even hemp.

If cows could ask even one question

By Eli Ashkenazi April 1, 2009

Passover came early for the cows among us this year, as milk-producing beasts across Israel found themselves subjected to a special diet weeks ahead of the holiday, to ensure that even long-life milk served during the course of the festival is certified as kosher by the Chief Rabbinate.

Yaakov Becher, the chairman of the Israel Cattle Breeders Association, said yesterday that initial preparations began two months ago, with the removal of straw from dairies and the installation of special filters in milking systems.

Communal Seder makes a return in kibbutzim

By Eli Ashkenazi April 6, 2009

After a break lasting several years, partly caused by rapid privatization, some kibbutzim have decided to renew the tradition of joint Seder meals. 

One such kibbutz is Amiad, in the Upper Galilee. Not only is it summoning its members back to the shared dining table, the secular kibbutz is also making sure the premises are kosher, by arranging a special visit by kashrut inspectors just before the holiday.

Minister of Information and Diaspora - the emptiest job of all

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion April 3, 2009

Dear Yuli,

Congratulations on your new ministerial appointment.

What a pity you've been given the emptiest brief of all in Netanyahu's mammoth cabinet. Yes, even emptier than the job given to your colleague Michael Eitan, who has been put in charge of "improving services for citizens, computerization and the Internet." At least Eitan won't have any competitors...

Netanyahu to ask Sharansky to be Jewish Agency chairman

By Gil Hoffman April 6, 2009

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will soon ask former minister and dissident Natan Sharansky to serve as chairman of the Jewish Agency, sources close to the two men confirmed on Sunday.

A source familiar with the effort to draft the former MK said that Netanyahu had been pressuring Sharansky to take the job and told him it could be a springboard to the presidency.

Netanyahu has reportedly even pressured Sharansky's current boss, international businessman Sheldon Adelson, to allow Sharansky to leave the institute that bears Adelson's name. But Adelson has insisted that he stay.

In Search of Meaning

By Netty C. Gross Issue 26, April 13, 2009 of The Jerusalem Report

…But today, 80 years later, troubling questions have arisen over the Jewish Agency for Israel's (JAFI) continued existence:

How much of JAFI's $340 million annual operational budget - which comes from the United Jewish Communities, the umbrella group representing 155 Jewish Federations and 400 communities across North America, and private donations - is wasted on redundant self-perpetuation of the jobs of its roughly 400 full-time employees?

And how much goes to realizing the organization's twin goals of building the State of Israel, mainly by bringing immigrants, and fostering the link between the state and the Jewish people in the Diaspora, principally through education? 

Cheap flight deals for returning expats

By Yael Branovsky March 31, 2009

Expatriates choosing to return to Israel this Independence Day will receive significant discounts on their tickets, if they purchase them on El Al Airlines.

Absorption Ministry Director-General Erez Halfon:

"I estimate that, pursuant to the great efforts and resources that the ministry is investing in Israeli citizens (abroad), many more families wanting to raise their children in Israel will return," he said.

Israeli Nonprofits, Shaken by Madoff Scandal, Regroup

By Isabel Kershner April 4, 2009

The aftershocks are still being felt here, but it appears that the scheme created losses in Israel amounting to at least hundreds of millions of dollars.

…While most of the nonprofits’ revenues come from the government and from services they provide, about 20 percent of their overall budgets come from philanthropy, and about half of that from abroad, an estimated $1.5 billion a year.

UJC budget plan may squeeze charities

By Allison Hoffman April 5, 2009

Facing a deepening US recession, the umbrella organization of Jewish communities throughout North America is considering a budget proposal that would bolster domestic operations at the expense of programs in Israel and throughout the world.

Giving the Diaspora a say

By Alan Baker Opinion April 1, 2009

The writer was legal adviser of the Foreign Ministry and ambassador to Canada. Recently retired from government, he presently heads the international department in the law firm of Moshe, Gicelter & Co.

Clearly, the challenge here is the extent to which the government should take into consideration concerns and interests of Diaspora Jewry on negotiating issues considered to be central to Judaism and the Jewish world, and how this could be done in the most mutually beneficial and rewarding manner?

…With a view to provide an answer to the calls by Diaspora Jewry for greater influence and standing in regard to negotiating issues central to the Jewish people, this writer proposes the appointment of a special ambassador to the Jewish communities of the world - a senior-ranking government official, intimately familiar both with the negotiating issues and with Diaspora Jewry, with wide diplomatic experience and without any particular political identity. 

Benedict XVI's Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Nazareth still waiting on funds for pope's visit

By Yoav Stern April 6, 2009

Nazareth has yet to receive a single shekel allocated by the government for infrastructure work ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's visit next month. 

The government's failure to hand over the funds - an estimated NIS 20 million to go toward structures including an amphitheater holding 7,500 stone seats and a new road - is delaying the publication of tenders for the infrastructure work, which is obstructing preparations for the mass the pope is slated to conduct in the northern Israeli Arab city. 

'Jesus Trail' in Galilee to be completed by Pope's visit

By Irit Rosenblum April 6, 2009

The Jesus Trail, a Galilee path that supposedly traces the route of Jesus, will be completed in time for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI next month, its planners said. 

The 65-kilometer trail was inspired by pilgrimage trails including the Camino de Compostela in Spain. It is designed to let pilgrims and tourists experience biblical stories as Jesus did - by foot.

43-percent surge in Christian pilgrims

By Etgar Lefkovits April 3, 2009

Christian tourism to Israel has increased by 17 percent since Pope John Paul II visited nine years ago, the Tourism Ministry said on Thursday.

Nearly 1.8 million of the 3 million tourists who came to Israel last year were Christians, the ministry said. In 2000, 1.5 million Christians came.

The number of Christian visitors from Eastern Europe and Africa was up dramatically in 2008 compared to 2000, while the figures for Western Europe and Asia fell.

Meanwhile, there was a 40% increase in Christians from the United States visiting Israel last year compared to the year 2000, while there were fewer visitors from Latin America, including a 64% drop from Argentina and 37% decrease from Mexico.

Christian pilgrims mark Palm Sunday in Jerusalem

AP April 5, 2009

Hundreds of Christians holding green fronds marked Palm Sunday in Jerusalem, celebrating Jesus’ triumphant entry into the holy city two millennia ago.

Catholic pilgrims, clergymen and local Christians attended Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally held to be the site of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

Archaeologists inspect Western Wall stone by stone in conservation effort

AP April 5, 2009

Israeli archaeologists are inspecting the Western Wall stone by stone in a new conservation effort at the Jewish holy site. 

Israeli Antiquities Authority archaeologist Jon Seligman says the work aims to make sure stones don't collapse on those praying below.

Hareidi Mayor Takes Over in Rehovot

By Hillel Fendel March 31, 2009

Yet another city in Israel has a hareidi-religious mayor, following a court decision to force Rehovot Mayor Shuki Forer to step down from office and make way for his successor.

The successor will be Deputy Mayor Rachamim Maloul, a Knesset Member from 1999-2003 on behalf of the Sephardic-hareidi Shas party. Maloul, a longtime resident and city council member of Rehovot, served on the municipal council on behalf of the Likud. 

Halachic ruling forbids strawberries

By Kobi Nahshoni April 2, 2009

Strawberries sold in Israel are infested with tiny insects that cannot be removed with water or pesticide, and are therefore forbidden according to halacha, The Torah and Land Institute has announced after a series of laboratory tests.

Beware of the Phony Mehadrin Kashrus Agencies

By Ezra Reichman, Ma’ariv March 31, 2009

A large number of seemingly "mehadrin" kashrus agencies in Israel are phony businesses set up to enrich the perpetrators.

…How could Balker set up his own "Badatz"? 

State laws stipulate that a food outlet cannot be certified kosher unless it is first certified by the Chief Rabbinate kashrus division. 

However, many organizations prefer, and the law permits, taking on additional stringent mehadrin kashrus certification. 

Until a few years ago, only a handful of mehadrin kashrus agencies took advantage of this possibility.

Lod Resident Apprehended for Issuing Phony Kashrus Certificates

By L.S. Wasserman April 2, 2009

A Lod resident who sold phony kashrus certificates marked, "This business is under the supervision of Beis Din Tzedek Bnei Yisroel, headed by HaRav HaGodol Menashe Belker," who was caught and convicted of issuing phony kashrus certificates in the past, was arrested this week for the third time after again producing fake certificates.

Where did religious Zionism go?

By Israel Harel Opinion April 3, 2009

Many people are asking, what happened to religious Zionism?

…national-religious youth are making their mark - qualitatively, quantitatively and actively - on nearly every significant deed in the country, leading a movement of optimism and of personal example for society as a whole, despite malicious mudslinging.

Ethiopian youths ousted from center in favor of newly religious

By Or Kashti March 31, 2009

The Kiryat Gat municipality will close the only youth center in the city serving Ethiopian adolescents in the afternoons, and intends to convert its home into a center for Torah study for the newly religious. 

…Religion classes are scheduled to be held three times a week, during the same hours that the center has been operating its youth programs, and Awaka says a request has been made that "girls not be in the area, so that there is no contact, as they do not dress sufficiently modestly." 

The center's director added that "the order was that either we let the religious activities enter, or we get out. Serving the newly religious is not part of our operating plan. We have nothing against religion, but this decision comes at the expense of the needs of our youth." 

Van Leer Jerusalem Institute Researching Prayer Groups and Prayer Communities in Israel April 2009

A new research group has formed as of January 2009 whose aim is to research the phenomenon of prayer groups and prayer communities in Israel.

In recent years, dozens of groups have been established, which regularly hold prayer services and activities on the Sabbath, Jewish festivals, and various occasions connected to the cycle of Jewish life.

These groups are not associated with any established synagogue or denominations and many of those who participate in these events do not view themselves as belonging to a religious congregation.

In the past year, about forty of these groups have added themselves to the Israel Registry for Non-profit Associations.

Don't scream 'Oh my God,' but sex is a mitzva

By Matthew Wagner April 3, 2009

We discussed foreplay techniques, positions, even the proper use of lubricants. For a man with a long beard and a paternal countenance, Kfar Etzion Chief Rabbi Elyashiv Knohl was surprisingly frank in his talk about sex.

However, it is not prurience, but a desire to help fellow Jews better serve God, that has motivated Knohl to plumb the depths of human sexuality.

After all, as he explains in A Guide to Marital Relations from a Torah Perspective - a slim booklet recently translated into English - having conjugal relations is a mitzva.

Religion and State in Israel

April 6, 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.