Wednesday, September 16, 2009

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

Religion and State in Israel

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

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

Campaign to break Orthodox monopoly

By Ron Friedman and Matthew Wagner September 15, 2009

Hiddush, a trans-denominational organization aimed at promoting religious freedom in Israel, was launched at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Monday.

The new group, a partnership between Israeli Jews and World Jewry headed by Rabbi Uri Regev and American businessman and Jewish philanthropic and communal leader Stanley P. Gold, challenges the status quo of the religious power structure in Israel and aims to build up grassroots momentum for change.

Some of Hiddush's goals include instituting civil marriages as well as ensuring recognition for Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist marriages and conversions, and providing equal funding for non-Orthodox religious services, said Regev, CEO of Hiddush, in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post.

He spoke out against the social ills facing the country that in his opinion were caused by the religious involvement in the state, including inequality in education, employment and army service, discrimination against women, refusal of ultra-Orthodox schools to implement the legal requirement for teaching mathematics, English, sciences and civics and the limitations on use of public transportation.

Survey: Israelis support religious pluralism September 16, 2009

In conjunction with their launch, Hiddush commissioned a large-scale public opinion survey by well-known Israeli pollster Rafi Smith where time and again, a majority of Israelis were found to be against the status quo.

This marks the beginning of an ongoing Religion and State Index that Hiddush will conduct. Among the key findings:

84% of secular Jewish Israelis think the state should grant equal status to all 3 major streams of Judaism (Orthodox; Reform; Conservative);

84% object to the current system of mass exemption from army service for men who study in yeshivas;

92% of secular Israelis support ending the ultra-orthodox monopoly on marriage; 95% of new immigrants from the Former Soviet Union;

64% of all Israeli Jews support introducing civil marriage and/or Reform/Conservative;

72% of Jewish Israelis object to the current policy of making conversion to Judaism contingent on observing the Sabbath and Kashrut (ritual dietary laws) and retroactively revoking conversions for not fully observing Sabbath/kashrut;

66% of Jewish Israelis believe that Israel should take into consideration the opinions of world Jewry on matters of law of return, conversion, marriage and matters of religion & state;

80% of Jewish Israelis object to the gender-segregated Mehadrin bus lines, public bus lines that segregate women and requiring that they sit in the back;

Tension between secular and ultra-orthodox is second in importance, after Arab-Jewish tensions, and double that of the tension between left and right or between poor and rich;

71% support reducing financial support given to yeshivas and large families (5+ children) in order to increase participation in the workforce;

60% of Jewish Israelis support the separation of religion and state in Israel.

Rosh Hashanah - A time for dreaming

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion September 13, 2009

The writer is Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel

I dream of the day when all parking lots will be open on Shabbat in Jerusalem - but nobody will want to use them.

I dream of a day when there will be no protests if drivers do decide to use them.

I dream of the day when we have a Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem who comes from the religious Zionist world - and she is able to serve all of the city's residents.

I dream of the day when religion will not be used as an excuse to avoid paying taxes or serving our country…

There must be a middle ground

By Eliezer Whartman Opinion September 13, 2009

There should be no state support for religious institutions or functionaries. They should be funded privately, as they are in the US.

Religious issues should be brought before an impartial commission made up of rabbis of the three denominations: Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. The Knesset and municipal councils are not proper places for debating religious matters.

There should be no compulsory religious court jurisdictions over family matters. If both sides wish to bring their case before a religious court, that is their right, but they should not be compelled to do so.

No institution should receive public funds if its members do not serve in the IDF and do not pledge allegiance to the flag.

Reform and Conservative rabbis must be given the same rights as Orthodox rabbis

The offices of the chief rabbis, established under Turkish rule, should be abolished. They are superfluous and often harmful. The same holds true for municipal religious councils.

All men and women of military age should be compelled to serve in the armed forces. Those who cannot serve for "religious reasons" should spend an equivalent amount of time in public service.

The teaching of Jewish consciousness and Zionism should be reinstituted into all school systems.

Schools which do not meet the minimum state curricular requirements should be shut down.

Equal time should be allowed to all denominations of Judaism on publicly-owned media.

Don't convert

By Avirama Golan Opinion September 10, 2009

Those primarily to blame for the growing power of the Orthodox establishment are not the religious or the ultra-Orthodox, but the secular.

In a capitulation born of a mixture of fear and ignorance, most of them have allowed the rabbis, ever since the state was established, to dictate the manner of their births, marriages and deaths.

…In light of the unrestrained lunacy of the Hardal (Zionist ultra-Orthodox) rabbis and their war against those rabbis who have sought to make conversion easier, young Ethiopian leaders have been left with no choice: They must ignore the pressure and, like Kehat, issue an emancipation declaration to their community.

Don't give in, they must say. Don't convert.

…The Rabbinate will surely not declare them kosher, but don't be afraid. You are Israelis and your children are Israelis, and it makes no difference what the Rabbinate writes - or what the state shamelessly copies from it.

Looking Past the Cry of Racism

By Jonathan Degani Opinion September 9, 2009

Part of a genuine conversion is the guarantee that the one converting will keep the mitzvot. This means that all Ethiopian "converts" must go to religious schools.

…In 10 years, when all Ethiopian Jews will be considered full-fledged Jews without a problem and Jewish law is maintained, we will look back and thank the Chief Rabbinate for holding its ground at a time when they could have satisfied everyone and pushed the problem down the line.

Secret no more

By Cnaan Liphshiz September 13, 2009

The reemergence of the Bnei Anusim phenomenon has created challenges for Portugal's mainstream Jewish community, for the Chief Rabbinate in Israel and for the Bnei Anusim themselves - many of whom seem to share a deep sense of exclusion and frustration alongside a profound desire to belong to the rest of the Jewish people.

This summer, hundreds of Bnei Anusim convened in Barcelona for a conference focusing on Israel advocacy.

…Other Bnei Anusim, however, seek formal recognition as Jews, including conversion.

They are aided by Shavei Israel (formerly Amishav), a Jerusalem-based organization that seeks to strengthen the connection between the Jewish people and "lost Jews" from around the world. The group, which maintains a permanent emissary in Portugal, has assisted dozens of Bnei Anusim converts in the country.

"We don't need to become Jewish, we are and have always been Jewish," he says.

Vitorino, his wife and five children underwent Orthodox conversion in 2004, with help from Shavei Israel.

The Chief Rabbinate has not yet recognized the 2004 conversion, which was approved by Lisbon's chief rabbi.

Michael Oren, 31: from Holland to Betar Illit

By Gloria Deutsch September 10, 2009

With an Israeli father and a Dutch mother, Michael Oren and his siblings assumed they were Jewish and Israeli when growing up in Amsterdam.

His father, an artist who moved to Holland in the 1970s and married Michael's Christian mother, always brought them up to love Israel and to be strongly Zionist.

Shlomi residents say forced to send kids to religious school

By Aviad Glickman September 15, 2009

Fifteen residents of the northern border town of Shlomi in northern Israel filed a High Court petition on Tuesday against Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar and Shlomi Local Council head Gabi Na'aman demanding they be allowed to transfer their children to a secular school in the Western Galilee region.

They forgot quickly

By Yair Lapid Opinion September 8, 2009

Just like in the previous round, the Haredim are going too far because they believe no reaction will be forthcoming.

The seculars appear to them as too weak, too indifferent, and too spoiled; the haredim think the seculars don’t really care. Just like in the previous round, they’re wrong.

The letters I didn’t send

By Yair Lapid Opinion September 16, 2009 - Part 2

There is no secret conspiracy to bring them over to the Zionist side, but rather, merely an attempt to provide them with tools that one of these days will allow them to turn into productive citizens.

I fail to understand what is so wrong about that. All over the world, we see religious Jews working and making a living for themselves and their families; why shouldn’t your children do that too?

We’re not scared to die

By Tali Farkash Opinion September 9, 2009

Part 1 - In response to: They forgot quickly by Yair Lapid Opinion

Special military arrangements for the benefit of the haredi community in the Intelligence Corps, Air Force, Education Corps, and Nahal Brigade are the first steps in a bid to allay very real fears and anxieties.

This is a slow process that cannot be expected to end in one day, after more than 50 years of reclusive haredi life.

Any attempt to accelerate the process through threats and boycotts will prompt the opposite reaction than desired.

We are also fed up

By Tali Farkash Opinion September 11, 2009

Part 2 - In response to: They forgot quickly by Yair Lapid Opinion

I am outraged by the fact that the haredim in Israel are forced “back into the closet”.

They are asked to sit quietly, in the dark, while studying the Talmud as not to disturb secular Israelis with their unwanted presence.

Religious resident row ends in libel suit

By Cnaan Liphshiz September 11, 2009

A heated fight over the potential arrival of ultra-Orthodox families to a predominantly secular town near Jerusalem has resulted in an unusual court case, involving an employee of the Joint Distribution Committee and an American born Holocaust scholar who called him an anti-Semite.

‘Tznius’ (Modesty) Home Visit Campaign in Secular Beit Hakerem

By Ezra Reichman September 14, 2009

The pink flyer, which was titled "Daughter of the King", was distributed to many homes during the home visits made by the callers.

The flyer adheres women,

"Honor yourself by covering yourself. Tznius will give you peace of mind. Remember that you are a daughter of the king, a princess.
Princesses don't roam the streets... tznius is highly praiseworthy and one should try to fulfill it to the utmost."

On the second part of the flyer is a prayer to the Master of the Universe to help a woman achieve her desire to be modest.

"Help me be a kosher, modest and truthful woman as You desire."

Haredi web surfers to learn Mishna in Ramon’ memory

By Yair Ettinger September 15, 2009

A Haredi web site dedicated to studying Mishna in memory of Capt. Asaf Ramon was set up on Sunday.

The "Behadrei Haredim" Web portal devoted its headline to the initiative, which represents a small breach in the official Haredi policy of distance from Israeli national tragedies in general and in the army in particular.

People who respond to the memorial effort will commit to study all six books of the Mishna, as is customary in times of mourning.

Jewish-American businessman Guma Aguiar 'not interested in politics'

By Izzy Ein Dor September 15, 2009

Click here for VIDEO

For more videos of Guma Aguiar click here

Jewish-American businessman Guma Aguiar, who recently took over the ownership of soccer powerhouse Beitar Jerusalem after donating $4 million to the team, said he has no political aspirations, unlike previous owner Arcadi Gaydamak.

Speaking to Ynet at the Hadar Yosef Tennis Center in Tel Aviv, said he chose to support Jerusalem's team because the city "is the center of the universe."

Florida court: Aguiar can’t come within 20 meters of witnesses

By Yuval Goren September 10, 2009

A Florida district court banned industrialist and Beitar Jerusalem soccer club patron Guma Aguiar from coming within 20 meters of prosecution witnesses in a trial between himself and his Uncle Tom Kaplan.

The ban follows a complaint by Rabbi Leib Tropper, who claimed this week that Aguiar assaulted him and threatened to throw him from the window of a Jerusalem hotel last April.

Israel police were not able to explain why the assault investigation against Aguiar was closed two weeks later.

The Jerusalem district prosecution decided to reopen the investigation following an appeal filed Tropper's lawyer.

Diaspora Minister to Swedish Jews: Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism

By Cnaan Liphshiz September 16, 2009

Tuesday's videoconference is part of a project initiated by European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor, which aims to foster stronger ties between Diaspora communities and Israel.

The project will allow representatives from one Jewish community every month to hold a video-recorded discussion with an Israeli official or opinion-shaper. The videos will be posted online at

The next videoconference will be held in October with Hungarian Jews, and the one following with representatives from the Jewish community in Milan.

IFCJ initiates largest food drive ahead of New Year

By Ruth Eglash September 10, 2009

In an effort to reach as many needy people in the State of Israel as possible, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) initiated this week its largest food drive to date.

In addition to the gift cards, the IFCJ will also assist in distributing food baskets through humanitarian aid organization Latet and Kollel Chabad to an additional 75,000 Israelis in need.

Bringing religion back to the frontlines

By Rabbi Michael Melchior Opinion September 16, 2009

A former Knesset member, the writer leads several civil society movements.

The way to narrow the gap between the mess we are in and the place we would like to go could be through religious peace and interreligious dialogue.

…The Mosaica Center, which I head, deals with the core questions of coexistence and endeavors to create cooperation particularly among people with religious beliefs, who have been totally excluded from the process until now.

The two very intensive spiritual months of Ramadan and Tishrei create a double period of spirituality, an opportunity for finding God and for God to find us.

As both Judaism and Islam express it, it is a time for us to recognize where the human limitation is and where we need to leave it to the Him to assist us and direct us. May it be God's will that we utilize this unique opportunity to build hope in a world which desperately it.

A fast of thousands

By Noreen Sadik September 15, 2009

The faithful go year-round to the Temple Mount to pray, contemplate or just take a break. The Dome of the Rock and al-Aksa Mosque fill during the prayers, which are five times a day.

During Ramadan, female worshipers fill the Dome of the Rock, while males pray in al-Aksa. Every Friday, Islam's holy day, the sanctuary is crowded with some 150,000 worshipers.

According to manager Farid Haj Yahya, the project, which is sponsored by the United Arab Emirates, provides meals to 3,000 people every day, numbering approximately 100,000 people during Ramadan.

The total amount consumed is 36 tons of meat, in addition to rice, vegetables, yogurt, juice, bottled water - and, to emulate the prophet's example, dates.

Religion and State in Israel

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

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.

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

Religion and State in Israel

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

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

The Knesset is evading the draft

By Shahar Ilan Opinion September 16, 2009

The author is deputy director general for research and public relations of Hiddush, an association to promote equality and freedom of religion.

The severity of the problem can be seen in the report the IDF gave recently to the team that monitors enforcement of the Tal Law.

The report predicted that in 2020, some 25 percent of 18-year-olds will evade military service under the aegis of yeshiva studies.

The significance is clear: Later, they will also be absent from the work force.

The low rate of work force participation among Haredi men is nudging the economy toward the Third World.

Thus Haredi draft evasion is changing from a moral problem of discrimination to a strategic problem that threatens to damage our national resolve and cause the economy to collapse.

Court finds Haredi man who stripped in supermarket guilty of ‘indecent conduct’

By Yael Levy September 15, 2009

The Rishon Lezion Magistrates' Court acquitted Arieh Yerushalmi, an ultra-Orthodox man who stripped in a supermarket store during Passover, from charges of indecent assault in public, yet found him guilty of indecent conduct in a public place.

During Passover of last year, Yerushalmi entered a non-kosher supermarket chain store and stripped in protest of the store's policy to continue selling leavened food during the holidays.

Yerushalmi claimed that according to the verdict given by the court in Jerusalem, the supermarket was not declared a public domain for the sale of matzot, and therefore his acts did not take place in a public domain either.

Click here for original article from April 6, 2009

Sanhedrin in place of the High Court

By Yair Sheleg Opinion September 14, 2009

Should not such fateful decisions be made by a forum including people like Professor Asa Kasher, author A.B. Yehoshua and Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, instead of judges like Yitzhak Amit, Neal Hendel and Uzi Fogelman, with all due respect to their legal abilities?

Would not rulings on our most important ethical matters receive greater respect if they were made by such a forum?

…perhaps, we would be best adopting the ancient, beautiful Jewish word "Sanhedrin," even if it is rooted in Greek, and despite the fact that it would not be run solely by sages in the historical sense. Rather, it would feature modern sages - secular, religious, and of course, non-Jews.

IDF Chief Rabbi Permits Shabbos Travel

By Yechiel Spira September 11, 2009

A halachic ruling from IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier-General Rabbi Avichai Ronsky has created a stir among member of the Chief Rabbinate Corps.

The rabbi ruled that senior officers may join military police and police patrolling entertainment spots on shabbos, seeking to locate soldiers who are intoxicated, those in uniform and plain clothes alike.

Litzman challenges Rabbinate's control over hospital rabbis nomination

By Kobi Nahshoni September 13, 2009

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) intends on appointing a number of rabbis and kashrut supervisors for hospitals across Israel due to problems with Jewish law and kosher impairments he asserts exist in the facilities.

Litzman is set on choosing on his own the various functionaries, an authority usually held by the Chief Rabbinate, and has recently been engaged in a dispute with Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar on that account.

Rabbi Cherlow: Traveling to overseas tombs – idolatry

By Kobi Nahshoni September 13, 2009

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow is not impressed with the recent phenomenon of hundreds of businessmen discovering their 'Jewish sparkle' upon visiting tombs of righteous rabbis.

Following the travel of millionaires and celebrities to a famous grave site in Bulgaria with Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, Rabbi Cherlow, a leading figure in the Religious-Zionist camp releases a short article in which he implies that the act amounts to idolatry.

Health Ministry: Resist the urge to kiss your rabbi

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich September 11, 2009

Observant Jews who kiss the hands of esteemed rabbis, their own hands after shaking somebody else's or publicly owned Torah scrolls or holy books out of respect or devotion should tame their urge and avoid this practice for their own and others' health.

Despite financial troubles, Breslau Hasids still flocking to Uman

By Yair Ettinger September 16, 2009

Experts are saying the economic crisis has changed things up.One effect is the price of airline tickets, which have risen in past years.

If some 20,000 travelers took off for Uman in past years, this year the number stands at about 16,000 or perhaps a mere 12,000, forcing the airlines to begin bringing the prices down in the past few days.

A ticket that cost $1,200 two weeks ago is now being sold for $850, or even less.

Chabad of Israel Prepares To Welcome 130,000 Secular Jews to High Holiday Services

By S. Fridman September 9, 2009

Chabad-Lubavitch of Israel is expecting to greet an additional 130,000 Jews—many self-described as non-observant—at prayer services this Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

Lubavitch Youth Organization of Israel is setting up 200 venues throughout Israel, many of them tents which will serve as open synagogues during the High Holidays.

These are in addition to services that will be conducted at the 230 Chabad centers in Israel, open as well, to all.

Video Interview: Yolish Krauss, Operations Chief of Jerusalem Demonstrations

Interview by Rabbi Yair Hoffman September 9, 2009

Video in Hebrew; Transcript in English

Yolish Krauss is described as the “Operations Chief” for the Eida Chareidis. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post recently, Mr. Krauss identified himself as one of the coordinators of the violence in the demonstrations.

Rabbi Hoffman: Do you want your children to see you calling others a Nazi? There are people that spit into people’s faces. A female journalist was spat upon. Do you want your children to see such spitting? The ways of the Torah are gentle ways..

Yoilish: But why is “Darchei Noam” only one way? Why does it not bother you that female officers come hold and strike an avreich? She goes to another one and beats him! Now, we asked the police not to bring female police officers. This is much worse. Now, how come you don’t see this side? This is horrible. Even according to their laws this is illegal! But here no one talks. Spitting on a person - everyone talks.

Rabbi Hoffman: Just because they do something wrong does not give us an excuse to do something wrong!

Yoilish: I am obligated to do this.

Rabbi Hoffman: You are obligated??

Yoilish: If she touches Avrechim, if she touches men, of course we have to.

Rabbi Hoffman: Wait, this was a journalist. And they spat in her face! It was a torrential rain!

Yoilish: Where was this on Bar Ilan?

Rabbi Hoffman: Yes.

Yoilish: They have already asked me this question, this story. How was she dressed?

Rabbi Hoffman: Even so!

Yoilish: No, let me explain. What do you mean, “Even so?” She -

Rabbi Hoffman: Wait, was she not created in the image of G-d? When there is a dead body why is it forbidden to let the body remain unburied? True? Why is it forbidden?

Yoilish: That is true.

Rabbi Hoffman: Why is it so? Because it is the image of G-d. It makes no difference whether they are religious or irreligious. Why? Because he or she has the image of G-d. Now we are going and we are spitting on her face?? She is the living image of G-d. This is the image of G-d? We are obligated to do this??

Yoilish: If she is the daughter of a king, she must conduct herself in the manner of daughters of kings. To sit at home. To walk with modesty. But if she goes out immodestly like a tramp, what are we to do? We have no choice.

Rabbi Hoffman: We tell her, “My daughter, this is not how we are to dress.. Come to me for the Sabbath.. Dress like this on the Sabbath. I would love to show you the Sabbath... “And in this manner we influence her. But we do not spit on her face!

Prosecution: Haredim influenced 'starving mother' investigation

Abusive mother allowed to visit toddler

Prosecution: Haredim influenced 'starving mother' investigation

Woman who allegedly starved son: State doesn't know Haredi mothers

Probe: Cop who fired into air at protest acted appropriately

'Defending rabbis' honor no excuse for murder'

By Kobi Nahshoni September 11, 2009

"Defending a rabbi's honor is no excuse to commit such an act," Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said in response to Wednesday's murder of yeshiva student David Mansharov in Netanya.

Police suspect that Mansharov was stabbed to death by two fellow yeshiva students following an argument over a halachic ruling.

The "Haredim" website reported that the students were arguing over the status of the head of their yeshiva, Rabbi Amos Gueta.

Yeshiva man killed by fellow students

By Yaakov Lappin September 9, 2009

The murder victim and the two suspects all attended the Kolel Yeshiva in the city, which takes in newly religious young people with a history of crime, as part of an effort to rehabilitate violent offenders

Vishnitz Hasidim battle over a birthright and build a very big tent

By Yair Ettinger September 14, 2009

The Vishnitz Hasidim are preparing for an influx of the sect's followers from Israel and abroad ahead of the High Holy Days by building a 3,000-square-meter tent in a vacant lot in Bnei Brak.

This year, the Vishnitz Hasidim will temporarily leave their center in Bnei Brak's Kiryat Vishnitz neighborhood and move to the tent complex on Ezra Street.

The tent has 2,300 seats for men, another 1,500 places for standing room in bleachers and seating for 1,700 in the women's section.

The tent is also connected to a well-publicized split between Rabbi Israel Hager and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager, the two sons of the ailing, 93-year-old Vishnitz grand rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager.

New weapon in Mea Shearim: Raspberry syrup

By Ari Galahar September 14, 2009

A new initiative put together by anonymous Mea Shearim residents is making the lives of youths there just a little bit harder, and stickier.

Every week, just before Shabbat comes in, raspberry syrup is smeared on all public seating areas in the neighborhood.

The campaign's objective is to prevent young men and women from sitting on the benches and engaging in conversation.

Before the ambulance comes

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich September 12, 2009

Despite the diversity, the average United Hatzalah volunteer is a religious man sporting a black kippa, a beard and ritual fringes. And the average recipient of their lifesaving assistance doesn't know the difference between MDA and UH, or why both organizations are essential.

…As about 65% of volunteers are Orthodox men concerned that what they do not violate Jewish law, UH consults with Rabbi Azriel Auerbach.

Ariel Atias: One minister for all

By Guy Liberman September 15, 2009

Critics needed no more to label Atias another ultra-Orthodox party politician who was looking after only his constituency.

"It's impossible to escape the feeling that Atias is looking after only the ultra-Orthodox sector," said a senior real estate industry official.

"On one hand, he's saying from every dais that he wants to flood the country with plots of land and thereby lower apartment prices.

But in practice, the only ones benefiting from his great efforts are the ultra-Orthodox. What about the secular public? Israeli government ministers are supposed to look after every sector of the population."

Shas heads pay Benizri first visit

By Eli Senyor September 14, 2009

Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef and Chairman Eli Yishai on Monday visited former Shas Minister Shlomo Benizri, who is serving a four-year sentence at the Maasiyahu Prison after being convicted of bribery charges.

Accompanying Yosef and Yishai in their visit to the Ramla prison were members of the Council of Torah Sages, Rabbi Rafael Pinchasi and Rabbi Shimon Badani.

Shas leaders visit Benizri in prison

By Jonathan Lis and Yair Ettinger September 15, 2009

One of the men documented the meeting with a cell phone, which was not taken away from the visitors as required by protocol.

The men met in a spacious office instead of the prison's meeting rooms. The Prison Service said the visitors were there as part of a "religious meeting" and not a regular meeting in citing why they were allowed to keep the cell phones.

Sephardim change last names to fit in

By Kobi Nahshoni September 19, 2009

As the public and legal struggle to curb discrimination within haredi educational institutions continues, many still face difficulties in enrolling their children to desirable ultra-Orthodox schools, and some parents of Sephardic descent have resorted to changing their last names just to fit in.

Haredi weekly "Mishpacha" (Family) reported in its most recent edition a growing trend of ultra-Orthodox families of eastern descent Hebraizing or "Ashkenizing" their surnames in order to increase their children's chances of being accepted to Ashkenazi seminaries and yeshivas.

Rabbi Yosef to Gilad Shalit: Your salvation is near

By Kobi Nahshoni September 15, 2009

Shas' spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, sent captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit a prayer book and a book of Psalms with a personal inscription and a blessing that he should be released soon from Hamas' hands.

Religion and State in Israel

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

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.