Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com April 8, 2009
Armed with camera and an eye - and a nose - for fresh-baked bread, each informant will relay concrete evidence of the illicit culinary activity to a group of legal activists. Police, municipal officials and the Interior Ministry will be notified of the transgression.
…Not all religious leaders agree with the forum's tactics. Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, chairman of Tzohar - a group of modern Orthodox rabbis - said that coercion was counterproductive.
"I personally believe that secular Israelis should want to have a hametz-free public domain, because otherwise, in what way is this state Jewish?" said Feuerstein.
"But I also believe that any attempts to force people via legislation will only turn them off. Coercion does not bring anyone closer to Judaism."
Jpost.com Editorial www.jpost.com April 8, 2009
Were the Rabbinate a bastion of probity and spirituality, a relentless campaigner for Jewish unity and Ahavat Yisrael, we might be inclined to forgive its occasional dalliance with religious coercion.
But it is none of these things. So its declaration that it will "out" stores selling leavened products on Pessah is just the latest instance of this country's established church getting its Judaism precisely wrong.
The R, however - with little success - has been pressuring supermarket chains (most of whom anyway do not sell hametz) to fiddle with their checkout so hametz items can't be processed.
How superfluous - as if supermarkets were inundated with tactless customers surreptitiously grabbing from inaccessible shelves and trying to sneak their purchases past the checkout clerks.
By Shahar Ilan www.haaretz.com April 13, 2009
The so-called "Chametz Law" has not been forcibly implemented anywhere, and anyone who wants to distribute leaven during this year's Passover has been able to do so, said attorney Gilad Barnea yesterday.
Barnea is representing four Jerusalem businesses charged two years ago, the first such cases since the law was enacted in 1986.
Last year Jerusalem Magistrate's Court judge Tamar Ben-Asher issued a ruling allowing stores relative lenience to sell leaven during the holiday.
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz refused the religious parties' attempts to petition the ruling and said his interpretation of the law was similar.
www.jpost.com April 12, 2009
By Gil Ronen www.israelnationalnews.com April 10, 2009
The IDF held a massive Seder for 400 "lone soldiers" who have no parents in Israel. Lone soldiers are defined as those who immigrated to Israel without their parents or whose parents have emigrated from Israel, as well as orphans and soldiers who are not in touch with their families for other reasons.
By Efrat Weiss www.ynetnews.com April 8, 2009
Extreme right-wing activist Noam Federman was detained for questioning Wednesday afternoon along with his children after arriving at the Temple Mount with a goat for sacrifice.
Federman was stopped by police at the gates of the Temple Mount with the goat he planned to sacrifice for the Passover holiday, and taken to the nearby police station by squad car.
By Noah Kosharek www.haaretz.com April 8, 2009
Idan Rossman, 29 from Tel Aviv, plans to spend this Seder with five friends at the Be'erotaim caravanserai near the Azoz village in the Negev.
Idan and a diverse bunch of five friends - one former kibbutznik, three formerly religious girls hailing from the ideological settlement of Kedumim and two religious boys from Jerusalem - will pass what is a traditionally strictly familial night by the campfire, reading the Haggadah, singing and playing their guitars.
By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com April 12, 2009
More than 50,000 Jews flocked to the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City before dawn Wednesday to recite a prayer said once every 28 years to bless the sun.
Thousands more took part in prayer sessions around Israel, including on the roofs of Tel Aviv's Azrieli buildings and the ancient desert fortress of Masada.
www.jpost.com April 10, 2009
The prayer in Jerusalem was led by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the most prominent halachic authority of the Lithuanian yeshiva world, and the Gerer Rebbe, Rabbi Ya'acov Arye Alter.
There was good mix of haredi and non-haredi Jews, as well as dozens of curious onlookers and photographers from .
By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com April 12, 2009
Thousands of Jewish worshippers attended the Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) ceremony, which is traditionally held at the Western Wall every Passover.
Hundreds of Kohanim (priests) wrapped in talitot (prayer shawls) blessed the members of the audience, which came from all across Israel, with the blessing:
"May God bless you and guard you, may God make His face shine on you and show favor to you, may God lift up His face on you and give you peace."
After the ceremony the audience walked pass Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar and Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, received their blessing and wished them chag sameach.
By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com April 7, 2009
of the Ger Hassidic Sect, Rabbi Ya'acov Alter, approved on Monday MK Ya'acov Litzman's appointment as health minister, according to Litzman's spokesman.
Litzman will have all the powers of a full-fledged minister, but will be called a deputy minister so he can refrain from taking part in cabinet decisions.
Since 1953, when Agudat Yisrael's Rabbi Yitzhak Meir Levine stepped down as Social Affairs Minister, Ashkenazi haredi MKs have refrained from being appointed ministers for religious reasons.
Being a member of the cabinet is seen as having collective responsibility for decisions that are opposed to Halacha, such as the desecration of Shabbat.
By Shahar Ilan www.haaretz.com April 10, 2009
UTJ insists on defining the position as a deputy minister rather than a minister, so that it will not be a partner to all the sins of an atheist government.
A mere few weeks ago, the party had made great efforts not to accept the Social Affairs portfolio with the status of a deputy minister, but rather sought a more important post.
The post that was found was at the Health Ministry. So why did every member of the faction try to fob it off on another colleague?
By Ran Reznick and Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com April 8, 2009
The Israel Medical Association vowed yesterday to continue pushing for the appointment of a full-time health minister following the announcement that MK Yaakov Litzman would be named deputy health minister.
The IMA has petitioned the High Court of Justice over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's failure to name a health minister, and protests will begin after the Pesach holiday.
By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich www.jpost.com April 7, 2009
Litzman, who was born in Germany in 1948 and taken by his parents at the age of two to New York, grew up in Brooklyn's mostly haredi Boro Park neighborhood.
He immigrated to Israel with his wife, a clerk at a haredi newspaper, with whom he has five adult children. They currently live in Jerusalem's Ezrat Torah neighborhood.
…Not only did he quote biblical sources several times during the short, modest ceremony at a synagogue event hall across the street from the ministry, officials also added Torah references and "God willing" to their speeches.
At least one staffer dug into her closet for a modest dress instead of her usual jeans, and wondered whether to shake his hand (she didn't).
By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich www.jpost.com April 12, 2009
Even before he formally takes over the Health Ministry as deputy minister, United Torah Judaism MK Ya'acov Litzman says he wants to beef up on weekends.
Shaare Zedek director-general Prof. Jonathan Halevy noted that there were fewer patients in the hospital on weekends partly because some elective patients preferred to be at home on Shabbat and holidays.
Jewish are permitted by Halacha to work on Shabbat and festivals, but then there are also a larger number of non-Jews on duty.
www.haaretz.com April 8, 2009
The rabbi did this by forbidding the troops from exercising the right to grow beards for religious reasons.
The Conservative, or Masorti, soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces brigade told Army Radio they have been warned that should they grow beards, they would have their furloughs revoked.
…they were told that they could not be given the permit for religious reasons because the Nahal rabbi did not recognize their stream of Judaism.
"From the army's point of view, there is no such thing as Conservative soldiers," they were told, according to Army Radio.
By Mordechai Kedar www.ynetnews.com Opinion April 11, 2009
Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University’s department of Arabic.
The anxiety over the prospect of rabbis replacing education officers stems from the primal fear gnawing at some secular camps in the face of Judaism and its role within Israeli society and the State.
… Get over it. The problem is not the IDF Rabbinate, but rather, those who use it and its success as a means to slam the moral and dedicated national-religious community, which constitutes a mirror for those who are not like it.
By Miriam Erez www.haaretz.com Opinion April 10,2009
Miriam Erez, a freelance translator, immigrated to Israel in 1981. She blogs at http://StandByYourName.blogspot.com
…Instead of looking to the government for salvation, the Kiryat Hayovel residents and others in their predicament should learn two words: community organizing.
Ettinger's article described "an organization that seeks to preserve the neighborhood's [secular] character."
Note that I put the word "secular" in brackets. That's because though it was in the quote, it's superfluous.
The terms "secular" and "Orthodox" need to be removed from this discourse entirely.
The important issue is that the veteran residents want their neighborhood to remain an appealing place to live, as it was when they arrived and as it has been until now.
By Gideon Levy www.haaretz.com Opinion April 10,2009
…Religion has never been separate from the state here; hand in hand they oversee our way of life.
Orthodox society and its leadership should not be blamed for this.
The Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox have the right to do everything they can to impose their faith on the secular majority.
It's the secular who are to blame. Just as it's not yeshiva students' fault that they are not drafted, but rather the fault of the secular majority that allows this, so it is with the other aspects of our lives.
We, the secular people, are to blame for all this. We're the ones who give in.
By Abe Selig www.jpost.com April 12, 2009
A program has been developed to help religious and haredi students prepare for the psychometric examination - the standardized entrance exam for the country's universities and academic colleges - by removing content they might deem immodest or offensive.
The initiative comes from the Institute for the kosher l'Mehadrin Exam, established by Rabbi Chaim Fogel, a Jerusalem-based rabbi involved in a number of educational initiatives and institutions.
The was instituted not only to encourage the integration of the religious and haredi community into the Israeli workforce, Fogel said, but to be referenced by other religious and haredi , in order to raise the educational level in those institutions.
By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com April 7, 2009
Members of Kiryat Yovel’s chareidi community are unwilling to come to terms with last week’s court ruling released by the Jerusalem Local Court siding with secular residents who object to using a home for a Shabbos minyan.
Residents are now taking their case to the Jerusalem District Court, seeking to have the earlier ruling overturned.
Chareidi residents feel the court’s ruling was not in line with Freedom of Religion, insisting the use of a vacant home for Shabbos tefillos is not a violation of zoning ordinances as the court states.
By Gali Berger, Calcalist www.ynetnews.com April 13, 2009
Pashkavils (posters) accusing businessman Nochi Dankner of being "the greatest Shabbat desecrator of all" have been distributed in Bnei Brak and in Jerusalem's ultra-orthodox neighborhood on Passover eve.
Dankner is the owner of the Yesh supermarket chain which caters to the haredi market.
According to the posters, many businesses owned by Dankner's IDB group work on Shabbat and also facilitate Shabbat desecration by others.
These businesses include cellular service provider Cellcom, which operates its customer service on Saturdays, and Israir airline and Natur tour operator, which organize trips on weekends.
By Kobi David www.ynetnews.com April 10, 2009
Ahead of the summer season, kashrut supervisors in the northern city of Tiberias will be equipped with laser guns designed to eliminate bugs, the local rabbinical council decided recently.
Every kashrut supervisor in the city will be required to carry the gun on him during visits to the venues under his charge, in order to prevent food infestation.
Rabbi Rafael Cohen of the Tiberias municipality kashrut department said that the guns' purchase will be paid for by business owners who hold a kashrut certificate issued by the city.
By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com April 13, 2009
A non-profit organization called Brit Yosef-Yitzhak, which has provided more than 35,000 pro-bono circumcisions since it was founded 20 years ago, is footing the bill for the entire procedure.
"It is a real self-sacrifice to undergo a brit late in life," Amit said.
"We try to do everything to make it as easy as possible. We arrange everything from transportation to and from the hospital, medical costs, the mohel, the festive feast after the brit, and we even change the bandages the day after."
A circumcision costs an average of $1,000, he said.
"Sometimes we have to send a mohel to faraway places like Taiwan, South Korea, India, Japan or even Yemen and the cost rises to $7,000 or $8,000 per circumcision."
www.israelnationalnews.com April 12, 2009
While families throughout the world were in a last-minute rush to clean their homes for the Passover holiday -- some even renovating and buying new furniture -- the Israel Antiquities Authority was also busy, caring for one of Judaism's most sacred sites, the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
By Ory Chudy, Calcalist www.ynetnews.com April 11, 2009
The Interior Ministry's Regional Committee for Planning and Construction in the Jerusalem District recently approved an addition measuring 950 square meters (10,225 square feet) to a building on the northern part of the Western Wall plaza.
According to an Interior Ministry official, "The plan, which was prepared by architect Ada Karmi, includes the addition of a two-story wing at the front of Strauss House and another, fourth floor on top.
"This area will be populated by a police station, the Chain of Generations Center, operational grounds and services for visitors and workers of the Western Wall plaza."
By Shmuel Rosner www.jpost.com April 11, 2009
Our goal was to make a place for those "secular" Jews to study Judaism and get in touch with their without being forced to conform to the rigid confines of "Religiousness" in Israel today -- in short, a place for secular Jews to find religion, or a "secular yeshiva."
In English, it might be better to call it a "Pluralistic Yeshiva," in which students study Torah, Halacha, Aggada, and Jewish philosophers from Rambam to Buber, and do so in an open format in which different opinions are welcomed and open discussion is encouraged.
Far from cutting ourselves off from religion, we are merely trying to break the monopoly that currently exists on it here in Israel, and bring it to those who may be skeptical about its relevance or even cynical about its impact on society.
By Barry Davis www.jpost.com April 12, 2009
Jacky Levy - and his actor cohorts from the Incubator troupe - fills a void in our society so snugly, yet so oxymoronically, that the success of his weekly Kalabat Shabbat sessions (in Hebrew) at Beit Avi Chai, in retrospect, seems guaranteed.
Levy is ardently Jewish, despite having issues with some of the pillars of Orthodoxy.
…On a personal note, Levy recently achieved closure on an important chapter in his formative years.
"I was always a rebel at yeshiva," he , "and, before I left, I told my rabbi that he had done everything in his power to dissuade me from remaining observant but that I would stay religious nonetheless..."
By Maya Spitzer www.jpost.com April 7, 2009
At one of Jerusalem's most well-known spots for holding family , there's not a lot of simha in the air.
Heichal Shlomo, which owns the events hall in the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem, released a statement on March 29 warning that it is not responsible for any events scheduled past May 20, as the operator of the hall, Yisrael Erlinger, has been asked to leave and has been requested not to hold any events in the hall past that date.
According to Gura Berger, press representative for Heichal Shlomo, Heichal Shlomo brought an arbitration suit against Erlinger at the rabbinic court in Kiryat Ono on February 19, claiming that Erlinger had violated the terms of his contract on three counts.
By Ruth Eglash www.jpost.com April 13, 2009
The entrance to Casa Shalom, the country's foremost center for Marrano-Anusim studies, is almost as well concealed as the secret Jews it researches.
Located in the pastoral village of Gan Yavne, not far from Ashdod, the humble entrance - down several steps and behind one of the well-kept villas - gives little indication to the treasures it holds.
…According to Gloria Mound, the acceptance of Marrano Jews by Israel is a "vital matter that affects Jews ."
"This country is always complaining that the aliya figures are falling, but there are literally millions of Jews who want to come here," she says.
"In fact, coming to Israel should be the easiest thing for them to do but it's so complicated and difficult that they don't even bother trying."
AP www.jpost.com April 12, 2009
Christians prayed at an ancient church and sang in a garden outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City as they marked Easter Sunday in the city where they believe Jesus was crucified and resurrected.
www.jpost.com April 12, 2009
AP www.jpost.com April 12, 2009
Thousands of Christian clergymen, worshipers and pilgrims thronged the alleyways of Jerusalem's Old City, chanting hymns and bearing crosses as they marked Good Friday by retracing Jesus's final footsteps.
AP www.jpost.com April 12, 2009
Also Sunday morning, Orthodox priests in black robes and beards and carrying palm fronds filed into the Holy Sepulcher for their Palm Sunday ceremony.
By Etgar Lefkovits www.jpost.com April 6, 2009
A Christian on-line broadcaster will be streaming live Easter services from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Sunday in an effort to connect believers around the globe to the Holy Land.
The unprecedented to the Jerusalem holy site, which Christians traditionally hold to be the site of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, will be available free of charge on www.ipraytv.com
By Mel Bezalel www.jpost.com April 11, 2009
Despite the widespread tourism decline across the world due to the financial crisis, hotel occupancy in Israel was expected to reach 75 per cent over the Pessah period - mostly thanks to Christian pilgrims here for Easter.
In 2008, Christian tourists comprised two-thirds of the three million visitors to Israel, and this year, a new record is expected as Pessah, which began on Wednesday evening, overlaps with Easter, which is celebrated today.
By Irit Rosenblum www.haaretz.com April 8, 2009
About 10,000 Christian pilgrims are expected to come to Israel in May during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, significantly fewer than the "over 40,000" that Tourism Ministry officials spoke about less than a month ago.
The 2000 visit by John Paul II brought more than 47,000 pilgrims to Israel. Genesis Tours, which has an exclusive arrangement to fly pilgrims in and put them up, said there may be a few thousand additional pilgrims making arrangements with other travel agencies.
By Danny Sadeh www.ynetnews.com April 6, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI, who will be arriving in Israel for a short visit in a month-and-a-half, will also get to take a 40-minute trip through the country's skies, without even having to leave the holy city of Jerusalem.
The pope will be visiting Jerusalem's Time Elevator site, and get to inaugurate its new attraction – the Aerial Odyssey.
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.