Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
“Take down that mountain over there for me, and that one too.”
By Etgar Lefkovits www.jpost.com May 7, 2009
"What we have that no one else has is the Holy Land, with Jerusalem at its center," the former adds this week in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
Seeking to hone in on what he sees as the three key tourist groups - evangelicals, Catholics and Russian Orthodox - Misezhnikov is planning a worldwide tour this summer to meet with key evangelical and Catholic leaders this summer to promote tourism.
By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com May 12, 2009
By Eli Ashkenazi www.haaretz.com May 12, 2009
Last year, the state comptroller criticized state authorities for poor organization at the mass gathering, leading to radical changes this year.
"They even provided soap for the bathroom sinks," a Magen David Adom medic who attended the gathering yesterday said.
The new tunnel, meant to facilitate access to the site, was one change. In addition, makeshift huts and illegal structures that covered the area last year were cleared, and some 4,000 police officers took up key positions to prevent overcrowding.
Finally, a complete ban was imposed on private cars entering the Mount Meron area, despite attempts by prominent community members to obtain special permits for their vehicles. Dozens of buses offered worshipers free transport to the site from three different car parks nearby.
By Michele Chabin www.thejewishweek.com May 6, 2009
Judy Siegel, the Jerusalem Post's longtime health reporter, attributes some of this apparent ignorance to the fact that environmental science is rarely taught in fervently Orthodox schools.
"The rabbis don't know anything about air pollution. [Non-haredi] kids in the youth movements know more, but haredi kids very little."
Some members of the haredi world are working to change this.
Rabbi Yosef Juliard, co-principal of the Torat Habayit network of haredi boys' schools, integrates environmental awareness into his school's religious curriculum.
Juliard said his environmental curriculum - very uncommon in fervently religious schools - involves every holiday.
"We teach that it is a Jewish imperative to care for our surroundings. This is the way I was raised, and I was shocked when I saw how others celebrate the holiday. We focus more on the spiritual aspects than the physical."
By Eli Ashkenazi www.haaretz.com May 7, 2009
Another charity, Hilula D'Rashbi, distributes sandwiches and cold drinks to the visitors. This year, however, it is also hoping to take commercial advantage of the anticipated throngs: The organization is offering various advertising opportunities at Mount Meron. The most expensive package entitles the advertiser to two giant billboards - one near the plaza where the dancing will take place and the other at the site where the main bonfire will be lit - and costs NIS 150,000. A single billboard will run NIS 50,000.
Yosef Shvinger, director of the Center for Holy Sites at the Religious Affairs Ministry, also expressed surprise at the plans to sell advertising. "In principle, advertising is not allowed there," he said.
By Sam Greenberg www.jpost.com May 6, 2009
The Tourism will begin marketing site of Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai as a to the haredi community, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said on Wednesday.
"The central event on Lag Ba'omer attracts around 400,000 people, and around a million visitors visit the site throughout the entire year. In the coming months, the ministry will begin marketing operations in haredi communities around the world," said Misezhnikov in a press release.
Every Lag Ba'omer a memorial celebration is held at Rabbi Shimon Bar- Yochai's grave in Meron, as per his request before he died.
To accommodate the large crowds, the Tourism Ministry has spent NIS 7 million developing the area over the past year. Most of the money went to improving walkways, parking lots, traffic planning, lighting, water systems and trash facilities. Money was also invested in improving the security, firefighting, ambulance and police services in the area.
"This place has huge potential that hasn't been fulfilled yet," said ministry spokesman Amnon Lieberman on Wednesday. According to him, this is the second most visited religious site in Israel, after the Western Wall.
Lieberman said the ministry expects that its investments in the site and on publicity will be offset by the additional tourists.
By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com May 6, 2009
Tel Aviv City Hall has announced cut trees will be made available for Lag Ba’Omer on Sunday. Trucks packed high with wood will be stations in three areas towards making the free legal wood available.
City officials are hopeful residents will take advantage and thereby reduce the instances of well-intentioned people taking wood without permission and in some cases, causing damage and monetary loss to people and property.
By Hana Levi Julian www.israelnationalnews.com May 12, 2009
Jewish philanthropist Guma Aguiar turned down a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI Monday and headed north with hundreds of thousands of Jews who made their way to the Galilee mountain gravesite of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
The philanthropist, who reportedly is considering buying the Jerusalem Beitar soccer team, was one of the notables who opened the Lag b’Omer holiday ceremonies at the gravesite of the Mishnaic Sage in the village of Meron.
By Aviad Glickman www.ynetnews.com May 6, 2009
The petition states that Christopher's grandfather and Nina Aires' grandmother were Jewish, which grants them the right of return by law.
They claim they have appealed to the Interior Ministry a number of times but were rejected because they are Messianic Jews. They say the ministry sees members of their faith as missionaries and has denied their appeals for this reason.
By Donald Snyder www.jpost.com May 7, 2009
…Twelve years after his ordination, when his mother was hospitalized, he asked her about his origin. She told him that his birth parents had been Jews and that they had died in the Holocaust.
Weksler-Waszkinel wants to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, which permits anyone with a Jewish parent or grandparent to be eligible for automatic citizenship.
His application may fail because of a 1962 Israeli Supreme Court decision which denied a bid for citizenship to Daniel Rufeisen, a Polish Jew who converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite monk.
The court argued that the average person would agree that Rufeisen was not Jewish. The lone dissenting opinion, by an Orthodox Jew, said that Rufeisen should be considered a Jew because Halacha says that a Jew cannot repudiate his or her Jewish identity.
By Ruthie Blum Leibowitz www.jpost.com May 7, 2009
…But major concessions will be made by the secular population, as well.
We say that there are four core issues that should be exempt from the constitution: ; conversion; Shabbat; and kashrut observance in official public places. Judicial review will not be exercised on these core issues. Instead, they will remain in the hands of the Knesset.
In other words, the four core issues that have to do with our Jewishness will be out of judicial bounds.
By Adi Dovrat and Nati Toker www.haaretz.com May 12, 2009
In an attempt to strengthen its relations with the ultra-Orthodox community, the Super-Sol grocery chain published a flier in last weekend's Yedioth Ahronoth calling on readers to perform the Sabbath blessing.
This move was coordinated with the boycott underway against its rival, Blue Square's Shefa Shuk. The flier comes after advertisements by Super-Sol offering special deals on products related to the Sabbath dinner.
The renewal of the campaign may be related to Supersol's attempt to counter a boycott being conducted against it.
By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com May 5, 2009
No less than three members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government are claiming the title of minister of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) education: Meir Porush, the deputy education minister; Meshulam Nahari, a minister without portfolio in the Prime Minister's Office; and Moshe Gafni, chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee.
Each sees himself as responsible for the Haredi school system and its budget. And though three is a crowd, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, chairman of United Torah Judaism, is attempting to advance the appointment of Avraham Horn, of the Gerrer branch of Hasidim, as an official adviser to the prime minister on ultra-Orthodox education.
By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com May 6, 2009
When it comes to ultra-Orthodox kindergartens, the Jerusalem municipality flouts Education Ministry rules for financing schools. All kindergartens are supposed to have at least 31 children enrolled to qualify for state funding - but the city passes state funding on to Haredi schools even if they do not meet this requirement.
Moreover, the city gives additional hundreds of thousands of shekels a year of its own money to ultra-Orthodox kindergartens. This has enabled them to open in non-Haredi and even secular neighborhoods, which outrages many residents.
By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com May 6, 2009
A new regulation at Shas' Ma’ayan Torah education network prohibits female workers from showing up to work without a head covering that covers their hair completely.
A letter ordering women to dress accordingly signed by the network's Director General Yoav Ben-Zur has been distributed to all employees this week. Shas' school network caters to tens of thousands of children across the country and receives funding from the state.
Another worker stressed that the new rule bans women from wearing wigs and requires them to only wear scarves.
By Maayana Miskin www.israelnationalnews.com May 7, 2009
The study was conducted by Doctor Yuval Sinai of Yishma, the Implementation of Hebrew Law group at Netanya Academic College.
Justice Elyakim Rubenstein was most likely to quote Jewish sources, Sinai found, and did so in 77 rulings, which constituted 27 percent of his total rulings.
Sinai also examined the behavior of past judges and found that Justices Jacob Turkel and Mishael Cheshin were both relatively likely to quote Jewish sources, with 18 percent and 12 percent of their rulings respectively citing Jewish law. Former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak quoted Jewish law in six percent of his rulings.
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.