Thursday, October 15, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - October 15, 2009 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

October 15, 2009 (Section 1) (see also 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.

Knesset MKs mull final draft of civil union bill

By Dan Izenberg October 14, 2009

Despite strong criticism from opposition MKs and human rights and other civil society organizations, Knesset Law Committee chairman David Rotem barreled ahead on Tuesday with his plans to promulgate a bill calling for civil unions as quickly as possible.

According to the bill, the government will appoint a registrar for civil unions. On condition that neither partner belongs to a religious community recognized by the state, they may reach an agreement and bring it for confirmation to the registrar.

Before the union is confirmed, the registrar will publish the details of the request and each religious court will have the opportunity to examine whether either member of the couple belongs to its community. If there is a dispute over the matter, the religious court will make the final decision.

Once the union is registered, the couple will have the same rights as married couple except for two matters. They will not be allowed to adopt a child or to use the services of a surrogate mother for 18 months after their union is confirmed, and they will not enjoy the status granted members of a married couple according the Citizenship Law, the Entry to Israel Law and the Law of Return.

The most controversial element in the proposal is the fact that it applies only in cases where both members of the couple are registered as having no religion. Thus, couples in which both partners are Jewish or belong to any of the other recognized religious communities in Israel cannot join in civil union, and the same applies to "mixed couples."

An important first step

By Elana Sztokman Opinion October 15, 2009

Elana Sztokman blogs at

Anyone who has encountered the real suffering brought on by this system cannot help but be in favor of civil marriage in Israel.

I suppose I should qualify that: Anyone who has encountered this system and has a beating heart cannot help but be moved. Although I’m not entirely sure that all religious court judges and haredi MKs fit into that category.

…As Joel Katz of Religion and State in Israel says,

“‘Before the union is confirmed, the registrar will publish the details of the request and each religious court will have the opportunity to examine whether either member of the couple belongs to its community. If there is a dispute over the matter, the religious court will make the final decision’…
So, does this mean the Rabbinical Courts are now (also) determining ‘Who is NOT a Jew’?”

Opposition to Civil Unions bill

By Dan Izenberg October 14, 2009

Human rights groups and other social action organizations submitted an opinion to the committee before Tuesday's hearing.

The organizations...wrote that the bill would affect only 170 couples, constituting 3.8 percent of all the couples who marry abroad each year.

They also warned that it would strengthen the Orthodox establishment by giving it a say in determining who is eligible to enter a civil union.

The proposed arrangement was discriminatory since it did not grant civil union couples the same rights as married couples, they said.

"The time has come to correct the injustice of decades whereby Israeli citizens and residents are deprived of their basic right to marry whoever they choose in the way they choose," the organizations wrote. "We call on you to oppose the bill and not let it through the committee."

Click here for a Civil Marriage Poll – Mavoi Satum

I support civil marriage in Israel:

· For all citizens of Israel

· Only for those who don't have any religion

· For those without religion and for those who are not supposed to get married, such as a Cohen and a divorcee, etc.

· Not for anyone

Taking on the tormentors

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion October 14, 2009

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinical court advocate, and works at the Center for Women's Justice

The halitzah ritual, as it is practiced in rabbinic court today, demonstrates the callousness of some of the rabbinic judges, officials and the system as a whole to the emotional well being of women and men who have been touched by death and tragedy.

Creative rabbinic minds have existed for many generations, but today no rabbinic leader seems to have the courage to take up the gauntlet to make sure that solutions such as the ones used in Algeria over 50 years ago are actually employed in a systemic way.

We need to start a campaign that will fight to change the ketubah so that it addresses the problem of halitzah. The change will not come from the rabbis, it will only occur as a result of a struggle undertaken by a concerned public.

Why was Ovadia Yosef recruited for a beer ad campaign?

By Zafrir Rinat October 13, 2009

"The rabbinical edict" [banner]

"Probably, the most righteous beer in the world"

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman October 13, 2009

In advance of hearings before the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee regarding amendments to the deposit law on beverage containers, the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (Adam, Teva, v'Din) is contending that purported ties between the Shas party and the drink manufacturers constitute a conflict of interest which precludes representatives from the party from participating in the hearings on the bill.

The environmental NGO approached committee chairman Ofir Akunis (Likud) and Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) last week with a request to bar Shas MKs from participating in Economic Affairs Committee hearings on the bill due to be held tomorrow.

The Minister who littered

By Nehemia Shtrasler October 9, 2009

A strange angle in this story is the Shas party's objection to expanding the deposit requirement. They argue that the deposit would increase beverage prices and therefore be a burden on families with many children that buy large bottles. They are ignoring that it would be possible to recycle these bottles and get the deposit back.

And anyway, since when is it a good idea to encourage consumption of sweetened and expensive beverages by families that are barely able to make ends meet? It is neither healthy nor economical. It would be better to encourage the drinking of water.

Shas reveals plans for higher education Knesset caucus

By Jonathan Lis and Ofri Ilani October 14, 2009

Shas has announced that it will be establishing a caucus in the Knesset in support of higher education in Israel - even though many of Shas' members have themselves forgone academic degrees in favor of continued Torah study.

Chairman of the Shas Knesset faction, MK Avraham Michaeli, who is an attorney and a graduate of Bar-Ilan University, said he believes Shas' work for higher education does not clash with the fact that its members devote themselves to Torah studies.

"Those who can devote all their time to Torah studies - there's nothing greater. Our assistance is for the entire public and for the Haredi public that cannot devote all its time to Torah study and wants to study academic subjects. This is a top-priority social step," Michaeli said.

Yishai: Deporting foreign children preserves Israel's Jewish identity

By Yair Ettinger October 14, 2009

Interior Minister and Shas Party chairman Eli Yishai said allowing these children to stay in Israel "is liable to damage the state's Jewish identity, constitute a demographic threat and increase the danger of assimilation."

Bnei Menashe celebrate Sukkot October 8, 2009

The Bnei Menashe community of northeastern India was able to celebrate Sukkot this year thanks to the generous support of the Shavei Israel organization, which sent numerous sets of lulavim and etrogim from Israel to India prior to the onset of the holiday.

…In recent years, Shavei Israel has brought some 1,500 Bnei Menashe back home to Zion, including 450 in the past three years who settled in the Upper Galilee. Another 7,000 still remain in India, waiting for the day when they too will be able to return to Israel and the Jewish people.

Introducing the 'Zionist Stimulus Package'

By Michael Freund Opinion October 14, 2009

The writer is Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel

If we want to boost the aliya figures, then let's open the door for thousands of "lost Jews" around the world who are seeking to return to Israel and the Jewish people.

They include the 7,000 Bnei Menashe of northeastern India, descendants of a lost tribe of Israel; the 15,000 Subbotnik Jews of Russia, whose ancestors converted to Judaism two centuries ago; and the remaining 8,000 Falash Mura in Ethiopia.

Right there you have 30,000 people who want to come here now. That is twice the number of immigrants that we will otherwise get this year.

Oy Vey, it's those 'Ultras' again

By Dovid Eliezrie Opinion October 14, 2009

The writer is the president of the Rabbinical Council of Orange County

The Haredi world has many challenges, primarily ones of too much success.

A wide variety of factors have contributed to the haredi world's rapid growth: the extraordinary freedom and opportunity in modem Israel and the West; a remarkable educational system that has created a renaissance of Jewish learning; low numbers of attrition from the religious lifestyle, a high birthrate and growing numbers of Jews finding their way back to observance after a century of assimilation.

There is much change going on at the grassroots level.

…Yet there are also challenges. The debate continues between those arguing for greater insularity and others saying there is a common destiny for all Jews in Israel.

Hiddush will fail unless it drastically changes its tactics…If philanthropists aligned with Regev really care about the engagement of the observant with the broader society and their economic advancement, they should drop the culture wars.

They will never get cooperation from the Orthodox if their strategy is to attack their beliefs.

Judaism in the Year 2040

By Robin Margolis Opinion October 8, 2009

The writer is coordinator of the Half-Jewish Network

  • What Happened To Israel In The Year 2040?

In the year 2009, one-third of all Israeli kindergarten children were Haredi/Hasidic ultra-Orthodox.

The Haredi/Hasidim of Israel continued to have more children than other Israelis, subsidized by the Israeli government child payments. The other fast-growing group was the Israeli Arabs.

In the year 2009, thousands of half-Jewish Israeli citizens, mostly the children of intermarried Russian Jews, were caught in a web of negative social policies and laws directed against them. Few voices were raised in Israel to defend them.

In the year 2040, the Haredi/Hasidim are poised to take over the Israeli government -- they are at least one-third to one-half of Israel's population.

Their primary election promise, announced as far back as 2009, is to create a sort of "Halachic Republic of Israel," like the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In the year 2040, their election promises also include a commitment to exclude all members of interfaith families from the Law of Return, except those who have voluminous documentary proof of a Jewish mother or maternal Jewish grandmother.

Gafni delays vote on budget cut for yeshivas

By Zvi Zrahiya October 12, 2009

The chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) is delaying the vote on the cabinet's decision of 10 days ago to cut NIS 2 billion from the 2009 budget - including a NIS 314 million reduction in the budget for yeshivas.

Knesset sources assume a solution will ultimately be found to cancel the yeshiva cut or at least a way to reduce it and Gafni will be able to support the proposal.

Jews and Arabs unite against Charedi town

By Ben Lynfield October 8, 2009

Arab Israelis and Jewish kibbutz members are both trying to stop the building of the first Charedi city in northern Israel. But the kibbutzniks are wary of being seen as working too closely with Arabs, fearing Jewish public opinion.

Ten different ultra-Orthodox denominations are each to be allocated 3,000 housing units.

Another Landlord Worry: Is the Elevator Kosher?

By Paul Vitello October 9, 2009

Most Jews would take the word of their own rabbi over any rabbinical ruling issued 6,000 miles away, he said.

For Mr. Jacob, the question seemed to require a more definitive answer.

“What I am told,” he said on Friday, “is that the decision was retracted.”


“Or it may be about to be retracted,” he said. “It was a really confusing opinion.”

Haredi town to get 'modest' National Insurance office

By Reut Harpaz-Eini October 12, 2009

The National Insurance Institute (NII) has approved a request to set up an office in the central ultra-Orthodox city of Elad.

The town's residents have been finding it difficult to visit the local office in the nearby city of Petah Tikva as there is no separation between men and women and because of the female workers' "immodest clothes".

New in Jerusalem: Agency for legalizing Haredi kindergartens

By Ari Galahar October 15, 2009

A new company opened by the son-in-law of former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky aims to legalize unauthorized kindergartens operating in private apartments in the capital and allow them to continue their activities.

According to the official, there are nearly 180 municipal kindergartens in Jerusalem operating without approval.

Vizhnitz rabbi warns followers: We won't teach children who have Internet at home

By Yair Ettinger October 13, 2009

Ultra-Orthodox Web sites continue to spring up on the Internet and surveys have found that increasing numbers of ultra-Orthodox Israelis are installing home Internet connections despite rabbinical opposition in the Haredi sector.

Two annual sermons by leading Haredi rabbis on Saturday were dedicated to the subject of the Internet.

Ultra-Orthodox Women Go to Work in Israel

By Daniel Estrin October 10, 2009

In the U.S., people continue to lose their jobs in the ongoing economic recession. But for many ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, being unemployed is actually a choice, allowing men the time to dedicate themselves to religious studies.

Traditionally, these men and their families were supported by religious institutions funded by private donors. But the recession has made those funds dry up. And now the community has been forced to shift away from a culture of poverty — with women leading the way.

'Starving mother', kids ruled out of Mea Shearim

By Aviad Glickman October 13, 2009

Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Ravid ruled Tuesday that the mother from Mea Shearim suspected of starving her toddler son will remain under house arrest and will not be separated from her children. Judge Ravid, however, ruled that she and her children must remain outside of the Jerusalem haredi neighborhood and that they will be under 24-hour surveillance.

30 Palestinians join ultra-Orthodox rescue service in Jerusalem

By Yair Ettinger October 15, 2009

The 30 Arab volunteers yesterday received their graduation certificates and new vests with the organization's logo, at a festive ceremony.

United Hatzalah responds to medical emergencies around the country. Most of the organization's 1,500 volunteers are Haredim but their ranks now also include two Arab physicians from the Old City and paramedics from the Old City, Beit Safafa, Jabal Mukkaber, Ras al-Amud, Silwan and other East Jerusalem neighborhoods.

ZAKA gets first Muslim recruits

By Yuval Azoulay October 15, 2009

A group of 10 Negev Bedouin recently completed training to become Zaka volunteers…

Rabbi suspected of multi-million shekel fraud

By Avi Cohen October 13, 2009

Rabbi Yosef Schneider, founder of the Israeli Center for Inventors and a renowned figure in the ultra-Orthodox community, was arrested on suspicion of fraud Tuesday.

The Israeli Center for Inventors aimed to provide fledgling inventors with step-by-step assistance on the way to realizing their ideas, but according to police suspicions, Schneider pocketed the fees paid to the center and failed to deliver the goods.

No Small Family Gatherings for 99-Year-Old Rabbi

By Lourdes Garcia-Navarro October 13, 2009

In Israel, ultra-orthodox families tend to be really large, but this one may be a record: A 99-year-old rabbi has an estimated 1,500 living descendents. His great-great-grandson just had a child, marking six generations of a single family.

Click here for AUDIO report

Rabbi Elyashiv hospitalized in J'lem with symptoms of pneumonia

By Matthew Wagner October 14, 2009

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was hospitalized Wednesday night at Sha'arei Hesed Hospital in Jerusalem with symptoms of pneumonia.

Update: Rabbi Elyashiv to Remain Hospitalized

Rabbi Lau Becomes New President of Encyclopedia Talmudit

By Yair Alpert October 14, 2009

At a moving ceremony, Yad HaRav Herzog, publisher of Encyclopedia Talmudit, chose former chief rabbi of Israel and chief rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, to serve as its president.

Religion and State in Israel

October 15, 2009 (Section 1) (see also 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 - October 15, 2009 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

October 15, 2009 (Section 2) (see also 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.

Jewish Agency to halt Western Wall ceremonies for olim

By Yair Ettinger and Nir Hasson October 13, 2009

The Jewish Agency will stop holding citizenship ceremonies for new immigrants at the Western Wall plaza, in keeping with a demand by the rabbi responsible for the site.

Tomorrow, a ceremony scheduled to be held at the plaza will be held instead on the roof of a nearby yeshiva overlooking the Western Wall.*

…Sharansky and the Jewish Agency apparently have accepted the Rabinovitch's demands to stop the ceremonies, agreeing they were civic, not religious.

Under the compromise, the ceremonies will be held on the roof of the Aish Hatorah yeshiva, or by Robinson's Arch, where [Conservative] Jews have been allowed to hold mixed-gender prayer sessions.*

Rabinovitch told Haaretz the request to stop holding the ceremonies at the wall had nothing to do with segregation.

"This is a purely administrative question about the character of the Western Wall. The Wall is not a banquet hall," he said.

When asked whether official ceremonies held at the Wall, including the annual IDF memorial ceremony, would be canceled, officials at the heritage foundation said, "The official state ceremonies will go on. It just goes to show the Wall is not dominated by the ultra-Orthodox."

*Update: Ceremony was held in the Jewish Agency courtyard

Rabbi Rabinovitch: Western Wall not becoming Haredi

By Kobi Nahshoni October 14, 2009

According to Rabbi Rabinovitch, the holy site "is not a banquet hall", and therefore "clear rules" were set several years ago stating that only prayer events would be held at the site.

Rabbi Rabinovitch accused elements in the Jewish Agency of "misusing the Wall for political needs with all kinds of false claims."

He added, "I see no difference between them and the radical Muslims who claimed that Israel was burying under it and launched riots. Those are setting fire to the Temple Mount and these are setting fire to our internal home."

"The Jewish Agency plans to continue holding the ceremony near the Western Wall, with all members of the immigrants' families – women, men and children – experiencing the moving event together."

New Immigrants Ceremony - Not at Western Wall

By Hillel Fendel October 14, 2009

Rabbi Ratzon Arusi, a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council and Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Ono, agrees. “We must not allow the Western Wall to become a secular site,” the unofficial Chief Rabbi of the Yemenite community told Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew news magazine.

The Western Wall plaza today is more like a synagogue – and even more so – in that prayers are constantly being held there, and therefore we must treat it with the sanctity accorded a synagogue, by not holding secular events there and the like.”

VIDEO: Hoshana Rabah by the Kosel 5770

VIDEO: Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall

VIDEO: Jerusalem March draws some 70,000 people

Sukkot and the Rise of Christian Tourism in the Holy Land

By Nathan Jeffay Opinion October 12, 2009

The popularity of the Tabernacles celebrations, even in tough economic times underscores the fact that Christian pilgrims will visit Israel through thick and thin, if given the right encouragement.

And it shines a spotlight on the difference between the effectiveness with which the relatively ill-resourced International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem and the mighty Israeli government manages to provide this encouragement.

In the Sukkot Marketphoto report

Galilee Diary: Sukkah season

By Marc Rosenstein Opinion October 13, 2009

Many people, of course, build a sukkah as a religious obligation…However, thousands of sukkot are erected around the country - by families, by kids in empty lots, by youth groups - not to fulfill a religious commandment, but because that is what Jews do after Yom Kippur.

In some ways, for better or for worse, the sukkah in secular Israeli culture is like the Christmas tree in secular American culture - a religiously attenuated yet still very popular symbol of the season.

Female halachic advisers bring change

By Matthew Wagner October 12, 2009

The ceremony on Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of Dr. Deena Zimmerman's graduation class and also celebrated the recent graduation of the sixth class of Halachic advisors.

Zimmerman, who is responsible for the Internet site, is careful to point out that the female halachic advisers are not replacing rabbis.

"Every question that the yo'atzot answer on our site is first approved by one of our rabbis," she explains.

Rabbi Yaakov Warhaftig, who, together with Rabbi Henkin, approves all the Internet answers and is available for the female advisers to consult, said the yo'atzot program was never meant to undermine the rabbinic establishment.

Created in God's image, women wait on religious rights

By Ariana Melamed Opinion October 9, 2009

Women who insist on their equal status in Jewish worship are slated for many more long years of misunderstanding from communities outside those that already accept their stance.

In the foreseeable future, the Orthodox institution is expected to stand on its hind legs and wage an all-out war against women's attempts to take the monopoly over public worship out of men's hands. That's not so bad. Judaism is a religion that excels in long-term hope.

Whoever can wait patiently for the coming of the Messiah can also wait for joint public worship. Perhaps, in the end, the Messiah will be a woman.

Religious Zionism and non-Orthodoxy

By Ari Ackerman Opinion October 14, 2009

The writer is a lecturer in Jewish thought and education at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, and an academic adviser to the TALI leadership program.

The question of the relationship between religious Zionism and the Conservative and Reform movements entails at the least two distinct issues.

First, it involves the question of whether Orthodox students should be exposed to ideas, rabbinic figures and thinkers associated with these non-Orthodox streams of Judaism.

Second, it involves the question of the attitude of religious Zionism toward the efforts of Conservative and Reform Judaism vis-à-vis secular Jews in Israel and non-Orthodox Jews in America.

The opposition of religious Zionism to the efforts of the liberal streams vis-à-vis secular Jews derives primarily from a deeply misguided assumption: It is better that a secular Jew practice no Judaism than the "distorted" Judaism of the Conservative and Reform movements. Here Orthodoxy displays a woefully inadequate understanding of secular Jews.

Religious-Zionist Parties to Start Merger Talks

By Hillel Fendel October 13, 2009

Members of the Jewish Home and National Union nationalist-religious parties will meet next Monday to discuss a possible merger and the “recovery of the religious-Zionist vote.”

The Jewish Home currently has only three Knesset seats, and is the smallest party in the Netanyahu government. The more hawkish National Union, with four seats, is not a member of the government coalition – due to Netanyahu’s desire to form a more “centrist” government.

High Court Rejects Dati Leumi Petition Pertaining to Jerusalem Rabbinate Elections

By Yechiel Spira October 14, 2009

The High Court of Justice has rejected a petition filed by the dati leumi camp regarding the Jerusalem Rabbinate elections.

The claim is they lack adequate representation, explaining that since they are a majority of the residents of the capital, along with secular residents, it is unacceptable that the chareidi stream maintain a majority on the electoral committee.

The court ruled that since Minister of Religious Services Margi has agreed to take an exceptional step and order a reconvening of the committee, scheduled for tomorrow, October 15th, there is no justification for the petition at this time, explaining after the committee meets and petitioners feel the need exists, they may petition the court.

Dati Leumi Efforts to Win Jerusalem Rabbinate Race

By Yechiel Spira October 14, 2009

As Yerushalayim’s dati leumi community continues efforts to ensure the next chief rabbi of Jerusalem is aligned with its camp, there are [those] working towards promoting Rabbi Brigadier-General Avichai Ronsky, the IDF Chief Rabbi, as dati leumi candidate.

He is completing his term as chief military rav in about two months.

Rabbi Elyashiv to Peres: Jews forbidden on Temple Mount

By Yair Ettinger, Liel Kyzer, and Jack Khoury October 8, 2009

"According to Halacha, it is forbidden to ascend to Temple Mount," Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv is quoted by Israel Radio as telling President Shimon Peres.

"I've said this in the past, and I am once again repeating this statement that Jews are forbidden to go up to the site."

Elyashiv, the nonagenarian leader of the Lithuanian sect of the ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi community, hosted the president at his sukkah in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Troubled waters

By Yael Brygel October 11, 2009

Rabbi Haviva Ner-David, founding director of Reut: The Center for Modern Jewish Marriage says that the best solution to the deteriorating conditions of mikvaot is fund-raising and community action.

"I would not wait for the money to come from the municipal authorities, unless the point is to do that on principle.

It is true that it is a public building and that it should be taken care of by public funds, but if people really want it to happen and don't need to stand on principle, it makes sense to raise money from other sources.

If people can be patient and speak to the right people, they should be able to get public funds. Unless they just don't exist."

"I am of the belief that it [funding] should come from the community. Coming from the States, where the community supports such things, I think that if the community would get involved, it would make a difference.

I think the community has a tremendous responsibility to maintain mikvaot financially. If mikvaot had more money, the community would use them. It would be put to good use. It would be cleaner and the staff would get more than minimum wage."

Aish HaTorah celebrates first year in Tel Aviv

By Elan Miller October 12, 2009

"Everyone finds their way to Tel Aviv," enthused Rabbi David Ziering last week, as Aish HaTorah Tel Aviv celebrated its first anniversary, ironically enough, in Jerusalem.

…With branches around the globe for years now, Tel Aviv was a glaring omission on the organization's map, until last Succot.

Ziering explained that Aish is trying to "influence the jugular vein of Israel; get to the most influential people in Israeli society.

Chief Rabbi Lau Officiates at Brit Milah of Netanyahu’s Grandson

Click here for VIDEO

By David Gold October 8, 2009

The blessings were recited by Rabbi Lau; the sandek honor was conferred upon Prof. Ben-Tzion Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s father and the baby’s proud great-grandfather.

A visibly moved Netanyahu later spoke at the seudah, offering blessings to his daughter and son-in-law for a worthy son, to his father for long life and health, to all the guests and all Jews everywhere for a safe, secure and successful year—and “to myself,” he quipped, “that I have many more grandchildren.”

Jewish Billionaire Sues Prominent US Rabbi

By Baruch Gordon October 8, 2009

Energy industrialist and billionaire Guma Aguiar has filed a suit in the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court against prominent U.S. Rabbi Leib Tropper claiming that he misallocated funds intended for institutions and poor people in Israel. Rabbi Tropper's American attorney,

The two men were once very close. Aguiar was introduced to Rabbi Tropper by Aguiar's uncle and business partner, Thomas S. Kaplan.

Aguiar and Kaplan became co-founders and co-chairmen of Rabbi Tropper's Eternal Jewish Family organization. However, due to a serious financial falling out between Aguiar and his uncle, the latter is now the sole chairman.

Through their natural gas-exploration company Leor Energy, co-founders Aguiar and Kaplan discovered trillions of cubic feet of natural gas in Robertson County, Texas and ultimately sold their holdings in November 2007 for $2.55 billion.

Guma Aguiar – Holiday Celebrations


Click here for VIDEO interviews of Guma Aguiar

Web helps U.S. Jews lose that loving feeling, says historian

By Raphael Ahren October 9, 2009

Israeli news Web sites in English contribute in part to the waning love between American Jews and Israel, a prominent U.S. historian asserted this week, adding that Anglos in Israel can help counter the trend.

Since the advent of the Internet and exposure to more critical coverage of Israel, the once-utopian view of Israel Americans held has eroded, according to Jonathan Sarna, who teaches American Jewish history at Brandeis University and is currently on sabbatical in Jerusalem.

Facing Tomorrow – The Israeli Presidential Conference 2009

Facing Tomorrow, the annual global conference initiated in 2008 by President Shimon Peres will take place a second time on October 20-22, 2009 in Jerusalem.

The Conference focuses on our mutual tomorrow - investigating the trends that are shaping the future and exploring actions that could and should be undertaken towards the betterment of tomorrow for Israel, the Jewish people and the world at large.

Sessions include, among others, the following:

Is Aliyah Good for the Jews?

The Jewish World and the Global Economic Crisis

Joogle - Judaism in the Internet Age

Jewish Peoplehood – A Unity of Opposites

Is "Jewish Continuity" just a Slogan?

Should the Jewish World be Re-Organized?

'Reduced Jewish philanthropy may hurt our welfare services'

By Ruth Eglash October 8, 2009

The continuing decline in Jewish philanthropy, mainly in the US, could seriously harm Israel's nonprofit sector and, in turn, damage many of its welfare services, according to a paper to be presented later this month at the annual Presidents' Conference in Jerusalem.

Immigrant family fights expulsion after state rules they're not Jewish

By Dana Weiler-Polak October 14, 2009

Sivan (not her real name) went to the Interior Ministry office in Tel Aviv to update her address after she and her partner moved. But within a few minutes Sivan found herself a non-citizen and without any identification papers.

More expatriates returning, fewer immigrating this year

By Rebecca Anna Stoil October 13, 2009

Immigrant Absorption Minister director-general Dimitri Aperchev presented data on Monday showing aliya in the first three quarters of the year slowed compared to the average pace during all of 2008, while more Israeli expatriates were returning.

Molla denies he misused US donations

By Ruth Eglash October 14, 2009

Kadima MK Shlomo Molla hit back angrily on Tuesday at allegations made in The Jerusalem Post by an anonymous source that he had used donations from US Jewish organizations and individuals for personal expenses.

MK Molla misused private donations, sources claim

By Ruth Eglash October 13, 2009

In addition to donations he received from messianic Jews, Kadima MK Shlomo Molla also pocketed money he received from private funders and organizations within the mainstream Jewish community while in the US, a reliable source close to the country's only Ethiopian parliamentarian told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Hadassah stretches to meet costs of new tower by 2012 deadline

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich October 11, 2009

The Madoff affair and its reverberations on donors to Jewish and Israeli causes has led to the raising so far of only about $200 million of the $300 million cost of the hospitalization tower under construction on the Hadassah University Medical Center campus in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem.

US-born judge joins the Supreme Court

By Greer Fay Cashman October 14, 2009

His American accent overriding the fluency of his Hebrew, Judge Neal Hendel was one of 25 judges - three of them appointees to the Supreme Court, 21 to District Courts throughout the country and one to the vice presidency of the National Labor Court - who on Wednesday proclaimed the oath of office before being officially appointed by President Shimon Peres.

Hendel who is a graduate of the Yeshiva of Flatbush High School, has many former school friends in Israel. The Yeshiva of Flatbush has an excellent aliya record. Hendel is also an alumnus of Yeshiva University and Hofstra University Law School.

Noting that Hendel is religiously observant, and not the only religiously observant member of the Supreme Court, Beinisch declared that there are no marked places on the bench - "not a religious seat, not a seat for a woman and not a seat for an Arab." Judges are appointed in accordance with their abilities, their values and their legal culture, she emphasized.

Zionism at the crossroads

By Isi Leibler Opinion October 13, 2009

Continued dilution of fundamental Zionist objectives will have disastrous repercussions for the Jewish people. In addition to weakening Jewish identity and intensifying assimilation, it will lead to further alienation of Jews from Israel and weaken Diaspora Jewry's efforts on behalf of Israel, with particularly damaging consequences to Israel-US relations.

First Sustainability Shabbat set to be held in two weeks

By Ehud Zion Waldoks October 13, 2009

Jews will read the portion of Noah on Saturday, October 24, and new Jewish environmental organization Teva Ivri has been creating a program of lectures, study and awareness raising activities around that weekend. Several Jewish religious leaders abroad have made a similar call to recognize the modern-day applicability of the Noah story.

Kramer founded Teva Ivri a year ago after completing the Environmental Fellows Program at the Tel Aviv-based Heschel Center for Environmental Thinking and Leadership.

She is also an alumnus of the pluralist Kolot Beit Midrash Tehuda leadership program in Beit Shemesh and a former activist with the university student group Green Course.

Matisyahu - Sultan of Jerusalem

By Yaki Hapstein October 11, 2009

Two years after his last concerts in Israel and in honor of his fourth album "Light," which made it to number 19 on the American Billboards, Matthew Paul Miller, better known as Matisyahu, performed at the Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem.

A progressive first from a conservative think tank

By Elliot Jager October 14, 2009

Interview with Martin Kramer, who is spearheading the country's first liberal arts college.

Though Israeli universities are now also adopting the core-courses principle into their existing curriculum, Kramer insisted that Shalem's requirements would be the "most extensive and comprehensive" in the country. Their content "will also be unique, and reflect what Shalem values in Jewish and other traditions."

...Shalem will be looking for faculty whose values commit them to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel - the vessel for Jewish survival.

EJ: Where is the money for the college coming from?

Kramer: Well, the money will not come from the State of Israel. We will not ask for the usual per-student allocation. It will come from private sources in America, Europe and Israel.

EJ: Want to name names?

Kramer: We will name names when donors permit us to do so. We have a number of donors at a million dollars and above - including the Klarman family foundation of Boston and George and Pamela Rohr of New York.

The Rabbi of Love

By Dan Adler October 14, 2009

I met Rabbi Yitzhak Dovid Grossman three weeks ago in a beautiful apartment across from the Western Wall.

…Migdal Ohr shows what happens when a nation’s conscience is matched by its ingenuity. It is a distinctly Jewish contribution to the Jewish state, and it’s a model for such institutions worldwide. It’s not just a light unto the nations, it’s a shining light.

Religion and State in Israel

October 15, 2009 (Section 2) (see also 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.