Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
By Tomer Zarchin www.haaretz.com July 14, 2009
Among [Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe] Drori’s explanations for his failure to convict was his desire not to hurt the defendant's chances for being appointed a rabbinical court judge.
…Justice Levy said yesterday that the defendant should not receive preferential treatment over other defendants who did not aspire to a rabbinical court appointment.
Among the character reference letters submitted to the court during the original trial was one from Shas party chairman Eli Yishai, who is now interior minister. Yishai requested that the court refrain from conviction in order not to damage the defendant's personal and professional future.
The defendant's father is the chief rabbi of a major Israeli city.
By Dan Izenberg www.jpost.com July 13, 2009
According to Channel 2, the Jerusalem District Court judge came under pressure from Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas), with the latter saying that a conviction would ruin the haredi student's rabbinic future.
…He also argued that it was wrong to hide the incident from a Dayanim Election Committee which would have to decide if the defendant were worthy of becoming a Dayan.
"Would the committee want to appoint such a person if they knew about his conduct in this case?" he asked.
By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com July 7, 2009
In recent weeks N. received a letter from the State Conversion Authority, which operates under the aegis of the Chief Rabbinate, informing her that her conversion and Jewish status had been revoked.
…MK Molla did not rule out the possibility that there was a connection between the court battle against the young rabbi and the annulment of N.'s conversion.
"Perhaps someone in the Rabbinate is angry with N. and wants revenge," the MK said.
By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com July 7, 2009
The State Conversion Authority revoked an Ethiopian woman's conversion to Judaism after discovering the woman used her new Jewish status to secure automatic citizenship for her non-Jewish husband, a senior Conversion Authority source said Tuesday.
www.israelnationalnews.com July 11, 2009
A government ministerial committee will discuss Sunday a proposal to prevent the Rabbinate from canceling conversions.
The law proposed by MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima) says that the ease with which rabbinical courts can dispute conversions "causes thousands of families to live their lives in fear that their and their children's Jewishness will be challenged because they are not observant enough."
By Dina Kraft www.jta.org July 7, 2009
According to the new regulations -- they have not been approved officially but already are being employed, according to advocates who deal with converts -- converts to Judaism from the Diaspora must remain for at least nine months before and after their conversions in the community where they converted before they can immigrate to Israel.
The rules also mandate 350 hours of classes and hands-on practice for converts in the Diaspora (modeled on standards set in Israel for its official conversion institute) and bar any convert who has a non-Jewish relative living in Israel and anyone whose stay in Israel was previously deemed illegal for any period of time.
The rules, proposed by the previous interior minister, Meir Sheetrit, are awaiting approval by the attorney general’s office and are being reviewed by the Justice Ministry.
By Alexander Yakobson www.haaretz.com Opinion July 9, 2009
The strict ultra-Orthodox rabbis are winning the debate over conversion, or so it seems. But this is a pyrrhic victory.
The more the ultra-Orthodox take control of conversion, the more conversion becomes irrelevant.
People who find the religious door to the Jewish people closed will come in through the civil and secular door, over which the rabbis have no control: The door to integration into Hebrew-speaking Jewish Israeli society.
This door is not mentioned in any law but exists in Israel's social and cultural reality. This reality is stronger than the High Rabbinical Court.
By Abe Selig www.jpost.com July 13, 2009
Despite its passing in the Knesset over two weeks ago by a wide margin, the so-called Gafni bill - an initiative led by MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) which would require local authorities to provide full funding for most haredi schools - was dealt a serious setback during a Knesset Education Committee hearing on Monday, in which supporters of the bill were forced to retreat from their previous demands.
Einat Hurvitz, the director for the legal and public department of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC):
"The haredi institutions are still not implementing the core curriculum [including math, science and English] that would sufficiently prepare their pupils to enter the workforce," Hurvitz said.
"And within the next two to three years, 30% of the country's pupils are expected to be enrolled in haredi institutions.”
By Or Kashti and Zvi Zrahiya www.haaretz.com July 14, 2009
Dr. Aviad Hacohen, the dean of Sha'arei Mishpat College in Hod Hasharon and head of the legislative committee of the education advocacy organization Hakol Hinuch:
"This bill is inappropriate because it further erodes the status of public education, contrary to the dictates of the law and accepted policy in the State of Israel."
The bill "strikes a heavy, disproportionate blow to equality," he said, referring to the other recognized but non-public educational networks.
Rabbi Shai Piron, the head of Hakol Hinuch, said
"The intention of receiving 100 percent from the state without giving anything in return is unethical and unacceptable anywhere in the world. This is a complete dismantling of the public education system."
By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com July 12, 2009
The Military Rabbinate was forced to cancel the participation of several cadets in a training course for military rabbis that opened at the IDF's officers training base on Sunday, after the base's commander refused to accept to the course people who had not completed full military service.
This decision effectively disqualifies almost all ultra-Orthodox candidates from becoming army rabbis, most of whom postpone their enlistment in order to study Torah and end up doing minimal service.
www.jpost.com July 7, 2009
Former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu has called on religious IDF soldiers to choose imprisonment over hearing a woman singing during military events and ceremonies, an Israeli paper revealed on Tuesday.
By Hagai Segal www.ynetnews.com Opinion July 12, 2009
But even if we assume that [IDF Chief Rabbi Ronsky] spoke out against the enlistment of women, so what?
The IDF chief rabbi is a sort of advisor to the army chief on Jewish affairs, and as such it is his duty to make his opinion heard even if it is incommensurate with the IDF’s official position.
…As long as the rabbi does not call for the persecution of religious female soldiers, but rather, merely expresses a principled Jewish law-based reservation over their enlistment, he is faithfully doing his job.
Or in other words, the IDF chief rabbi is not a rabbi on behalf of anyone.
By Merav Michaeli www.haaretz.com Opinion July 7, 2009
"A priori, women should not serve in the army," said Israel Defense Forces Chief Military Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Avichai Rontzki two weeks ago, and he was right.
Yes, yes, he was right. I'd like to back him up and call on the military establishment not to recruit females into the IDF, but not for the same reasons.
It's clear why the chief rabbi doesn't want females serving in the army. He wants them obedient to rabbis' authority, modest and pure for marriage, serving their husbands in sanctity and purity, with no one else having already made use of them.
In this the chief rabbi joins many other rabbis in the dispute over the question: Who do the women serve, rabbis or commanders?
…Indeed, my female friends, the time has come. I thus join the chief rabbi's call to the state: Don't draft women into the IDF.
Rabbi Andrew Sacks www.jpost.com Opinion July 6, 2009
The writer is Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel
…The haredim have threatened to boycott the Chief Rabbinate if a non-haredi is elected (the rules of who votes are very complicated). You know what? Who cares? Let them boycott!
One haredi member of the City Council, Shlomo Rosenstein, said "If there's a rabbi whose level or Halachic views do not correspond with the haredi demands, the spiritual leaders will call on the community to shun the Jerusalem rabbinate."
By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com July 7, 2009
Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi of Shas has inherited a pressing, complex issue: the paucity of burial sites in Israel, particularly in the greater Tel Aviv area.
A State Comptroller's report released in May warned that, "It is expected that no burial plots will remain in Yarkon Cemetery within only a few months."
A long sequence of professional reports released since the 1990s warned of the impending crisis, though none were heeded.
Last week the government took its first step in addressing the matter, reinstating the Ministerial Committee on Burial Affairs, headed by Margi himself.
By Peggy Cidor www.jpost.com July 9, 2009
The issue of declining enrollment in state secular education and, for that matter, in the state religious stream, is not new to Jerusalem and its residents. The situation is one of the most troubling consequences of the demographic changes experienced by the city.
…Quite often, the closing of a secular educational institution is, in fact, the first sign that a neighborhood is becoming more religious and eventually haredi. That's the way it happened in Ramot, in Ma'alot Dafna, and now it is happening in Rehavia and Baka and Kiryat Hayovel.
By Yehudah Lev Kay www.israelnationalnews.com July 14, 2009
The Lander Institute in Jerusalem has announced a new BA program which will combine religious studies with a degree in business management.
Called Neshama, Hebrew for “soul” and an acronym for “Management, Marketing, Finance, and a Religious Atmosphere”, the program will combine regular studies for a BA while also teaching students business ethics according to Jewish law.
www.theyeshivaworld.com July 13, 2009
[Rav Mordechai Asher, the Rav of the Chabad Shul in the Kiryat Yovel area of Yerushalayim] explained to Ladaat.net that about 2.5 years ago, a number of people decided to attempt to take over the shul, resulting in an ongoing legal action.
The opponents he explained damaged locks and at one point, event chained doors closed to prevent anyone from davening in the shul.
He went on to explain that a beis din of rabbonim in the area suggested a compromise solution last week, but the solution is not acceptable to him and his followers. Others however decided to act, and security cameras captured them in the act, breaking into the shul on Friday, prompting the rav to file a complaint with police.
This apparently angered some, resulting in the attack on Sunday, during which four Avreichim dragged the rav into the shul, bound his hands, beat him and then rolled him down the stairs.
Hat Tip: http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/
By Dina Kraft www.jta.org July 12, 2009
One haredi rabbi who lives in the neighborhood and spoke to JTA on condition of anonymity said that most of his neighbors, like him, oppose the behavior of the violent haredim, but they are too intimidated to act against them.
“Most rabbis definitely do not accept what is going on,” he said. “But as for coming out in public, I believe they are afraid to because if they do so, they, too, would be attacked.”
…Residents were “shocked that for the first time anyone stood up to the” fundamentalists, said Rabbi Dov Lipman, a Modern Orthodox immigrant from Maryland who has been at the forefront of both confronting and mediating with the more extreme haredi sects in Beit Shemesh.
“As much as we are protecting ourselves, we are also freeing those who live in the community who are under siege.”
The haredim causing trouble are mostly transplants from Neturei Karta and Satmar haredi communities in Jerusalem who migrated to Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet, like many suburbanites, in search of more affordable housing.
By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com July 8, 2009
Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu warned this week of the rising prominence of the liberal stream in religious Zionism and slammed rabbis who "kowtow to women."
He commented on a recent statement by the chief education officer, who said religious soldiers must stay put during such ceremonies, despite the halachic problem.
"A person cannot be forced to go against the Torah. Today it's singing, tomorrow it's singing plus half naked women… a breach in such a question is like fire – you don't know where it's going to end."
By Yair Ettinger and Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com July 10, 2009
A group of ultra-Orthodox buyers is expected to win the tender issued by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for 64 apartments in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood, municipal officials said yesterday.
Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox families have moved to the largely secular neighborhood in recent years, and the secular residents fear an ultra-Orthodox take over if the university's apartments are also purchased by ultra-Orthodox families.
By Matthew Wagner www.jpost.com July 11, 2009
More than 30 percent of junior high and high school-aged haredi youths are "hidden dropouts" who are technically registered in an educational framework but are dysfunctional students, according to a Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) - ASHELIM estimate released this week.
…Dr. Uzi Rebhun and Gilad Malach pointed out in the their study that even students who succeed in the haredi school system are unprepared to entire the labor market, are discouraged from doing mandatory army service and are not educated to respect Zionist ideals.
If a large percentage of haredi students are also dysfunctional this complicates the problem of integrating this rapidly growing population into
mainstream Israeli society.
www.ynetnews.com July 9 ,2009
A majority of the Israeli Jewish public believes that the protests surrounding the Carta parking lot in Jerusalem spur hatred and conflict between the sectors and do not promote Shabbat observing.
A breakdown of the respondents according to religious affiliation revealed that in all sectors the riots were perceived as a dividing factor: 71% of seculars, 53% of traditional Israelis, 52% of haredim and 42% of religious Jews viewed them as such.
Only 30% of haredim said the demonstrations helped protect the Shabbat, while 18% of them said these constitute Shabbat desecration.
By Etgar Lefkovits www.jpost.com July 8, 2009
This type of violence is against everything that the Torah stands for and is an ugly perversion of Torah values," Rabbi Yakov Horowitz told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, in a telephone interview from New York.
Horowitz said that by not speaking out publicly against the violence, even though they oppose it, haredi leaders are empowering extremists in the community.
"Our lack of speaking out and distancing ourselves is perpetuating this distorted view that this type of violence is somehow following the Torah's ways," he said. "Nothing could be further from the truth."
By Rabbi Yakov Horowitz www.rabbihorowitz.com July 7, 2009
To sum up, I certainly stand by everything I wrote in the three columns I released and what I said in the interview that I gave on the Zev Brenner show.
However, the theme of the Jerusalem Post column that I criticized rabbinic leadership is a distortion of what I feel – and said.
By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com July 10, 2009
The swine flu scare has recently prompted one of the leading spiritual figures of the ultra-Orthodox world to change one of Judaism's time-honored traditions - that of drinking wine together from the same glass.
Yaakov Aryeh Alter, seventh and current rabbi of the Hasidic dynasty of Ger, instructed his disciples in Jerusalem a few weeks ago to toast with individual and disposable plastic cups containing a few drops of wine from the rabbi's own glass.
By Jonathan Rosenblum www.jpost.com Opinion July 11, 2009
The reasons for the change are many. One is the waning of Zionist ideology…The demise of Zionist ideologues is mirrored by the decline of anti-Zionist ideology.
…And finally, Israel is the center of an undreamed-of renaissance in Torah learning after the Holocaust. Government support has played a not-inconsiderable role in that rebirth.
www.theyeshivaworld.com July 12, 2009 Credits: Refael Ovadia/Topshot Images
Photos taken last week, when over a thousand people and children attended a prayer gathering in protest of the Shabbat desecration invoked by the opening of the Karta parking lot on Shabbos.
The event was organized by the Eidah HaCharedis and a police permit was granted for the event.
By Peggy Cidor www.jpost.com July 9, 2009
...[Mayor Barkat's] adviser is a fine young man, known and appreciated by his haredi peers and by secular figures in the media. Until recently, a bright future was predicted for him by all.
Until, that is, the Kikar Safra parking-lot issue erupted and dimmed Uri Kroizer's prospects.
Whatever the reasons were that compelled him to act the way he did - naiveté or lack of deep understanding of the society he grew up in - the results, so far, are rather gloomy.
Last week Kroizer (and his family) were accused of desecrating Shabbat, causing blasphemy and, perhaps the worst accusation of all, having become a collaborator with evil forces.
By Dovid Landesman www.cross-currents.com Opinion July 12, 2009
Rabbi Landesman is a veteran mechanech and mechaber sefarim in Israel
…Or take the stone throwers and garbage burners of Jerusalem.
You can dismiss them as a fringe element, but I fear that they are a growing gang of young men who have discovered that force is an effective means of acquiring one’s ends.
Can any of us be sure that the violence that they employ against the police will not translate itself into violence within their families and communities?
Is it possible that the apparent increase in reports of abuse within the UO [ultra-Orthodox] community are the result of the increased levels of violence that this community uses to accomplish their goals?
Is there not a co-relation between the Va’adei ha-Tznist and the tactics that they use and the ever increasing numbers of kids who are off the derech inside these communities?
By Mathew Wagner www.jpost.com July 13, 2009
There is now a shortage of between 25,000 to 30,000 housing units for the haredi population, United Torah Judaism Chairman Menachem Eliezer Moses said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post last week.
…Without a coherent government housing plan, construction rates will never keep up with haredi fertility rates, said Moses.
By Dotan Levi, Calcalist www.ynetnews.com July 10, 2009
Anglo Saxon Realty Company holding talks to market key money housing to ultra-Orthodox population in capital's Bukharin Quarter; project to include 25 four-room apartments
The price of a similar apartment in the Bukharin Quarter could reach $400,000, while the price offered to haredi couples will stand at $210,000.
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.