Monday, January 25, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - January 25, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

January 25, 2010 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

Hotline founded for women offended by 'kosher' buses

By Kobi Nahshon January 19, 2010

Yuval Yavne, an activist in the forum established by the organizations responsible for the hotline, says he and his colleagues "want the picture displayed in full".

"This is not just about buses in which women are forced to sit in the back, but also about sidewalks, places of prayer, and many other locations.
The removal of women from the public sphere under the guise of halachic ruling is dangerous to democracy and Israeli society as a whole," he added.

New Israel Fund encourages Haredi feminist uprising against gender segregation

By Matthew Wagner January 20, 2010

A left-leaning umbrella organization active in fighting for the rights of non-Orthodox Jewish expression and Arab equality has begun a campaign to encourage haredi women to protest against gender segregation on buses and in other public places.

"In recent years, discrimination against women has emerged predominately in public buses, where women are forced to sit in the back; at holy sites such as the Western Wall, where women are not allowed to practice religion as they wish; and on sidewalks, where they are even not allowed to walk certain pavements in Jerusalem," the New Israel Fund said in a statement on Monday.

The NIF said that its campaign includes ads and posters placed on buses that pass through haredi neighborhoods, and leaflets handed out in strategic locations where haredi women gather, such as mikvaot [ritual baths] and the women's sections of synagogues.

In addition, posters placed in haredi neighborhoods call on women to use the hotline.

The NIF plans to distribute leaflets that include gifts for the women, who will find them in synagogues all over Jerusalem.

Separate but (un)equal: Gender segregated bus lines of Jerusalem

By Julie Duggan Swansea University, Wales UK January 19, 2010

The purpose of this treatise is to examine the practice of gender segregated transport in the Ultra Orthodox communities of Jerusalem.

Our main protagonist throughout is American born Jewish author Naomi Ragen, who first came to the authors attention in February 2007.

Mehadrin Bus Lines Becoming Increasingly Controversial

By Yechiel Spira January 20, 2010

Israel Radio Reshet Bet news magazine host Keren Orbach on Tuesday morning hosted a number of guests to comment on the controversial mehadrin bus lines, the compelled separate seating on public bus lines in chareidi areas with men in the front and women seated in the rear.

Har Nof resident Zahava Fisher told Israel Radio Reshet Bet host Keren Orbach she got onto a mehadrin line, sitting towards the front because “I don’t accept this decision to seat women in the rear”.

Orbach told Israel Radio that there is a famous p’sak from Rabbi Moshe [Feinstein] zt”l that one can indeed travel on mixed public transport and those unable to endure this should remain home.

A general inspector steps up

By Peggy Cidor January 21, 2010

Jerusalem City councillor Shlomo Rosenstein has already achieved a few local victories.

The most famous - or infamous - of these is the creation of the segregated mehadrin bus lines. Rosenstein, who holds the municipal inspection portfolio, recently suggested that haredi residents should be hired to carry out inspection in the haredi neighborhoods.

Free the Kotel a 2nd time

By Yizhar Hess Opinion January 22, 2010

Attorney Yizhar Hess is the Director-General of the Masorti Movement in Israel

Do you want to know how the Orthodox establishment in Israel bolsters its status? How it succeeds in creating institutions and functions, which are seemingly for the benefit of the public but which in practice deepen the systematic exclusion of non-Orthodox trends in Judaism and the alienation of world Jewry?

The Kotel is a good example. More than 20 million shekels were given to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation in the course of one year, while the Masorti movement must provide all of its own equipment - Torah scrolls, Siddurs, and ushers - in order to enjoy a few hours a day in a certain section - I almost wrote “second-class section” - of the Western Wall.

We will continue to struggle for the Western Wall.

The Controversies at the Kotel

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel Opinion January 18, 2010

My opinion is that no formal prayer services should be allowed at the wall--not for men, not for women, not for Orthodox, not for non-Orthodox.

The Kotel should be a place for private prayer and meditation, and that's it.

If people want to have formal prayer services, they should reserve space in the enclosed areas to the left of the Kotel square; and those services should be conducted however the group that reserves the space wants.

Silver Cord Binds Jews Who Support Pluralism in Israel

By Amanda Pazornik and Pat Murphy January 18, 2010

Photo courtesy of Bill Wilson © 2010 Sentinel Photojournalist Bill Wilson is a San Francisco-based veteran photojournalist.

At Union Square, participants used colored markers and a large roll of white paper to write supportive messages to Women of the Wall members. The notes will be flown to Israel and placed in the Western Wall.

Molly Harris, 14, of Marin was one of the few teenagers who attended the morning service. She said she always likes to participate in events tied to Israel, but this one had more significance.

“Because I’m a girl, it was horrible to learn how the women are treated,” said Molly, the daughter of StandWithUs/San Francisco Voice for Israel leader Dr. Michael Harris.

“The next time I go to Israel, I want to go to the Wall and pray with a tallit on.”

Too Often We Forget About Each Other

By Anat Hoffman Opinion January 18, 2010

Photo courtesy of Bill Wilson © 2010 Sentinel Photojournalist Bill Wilson is a San Francisco-based veteran photojournalist.

Women who pray out loud at the Kotel are told that their voices offend the very stones of the Wall - no mention that in the name of protecting the feelings of these sacred stones, a living woman can be made to feel marginalized and humiliated. Too often we forget about each other, we forget we're each alive.

What the Israeli Embassy replied about Women of the Wall

By KFJ January 21, 2010

I sent the Israeli Embassy an email provided to me by NIF and the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform movement, supporting the Women of the Wall’s call for gender equality at the Kotel/Western Wall. This is their reply. Pfft.

…The State of Israel affirms its commitment to upholding its democratic and pluralistic values and to ensuring freedom of religion on a daily basis.
In this spirit, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled on April 6, 2003, that space adjacent to the Western Wall should be specifically designated for the conduct of religious services that do not conform to long-established practice at the area known as the Kotel.
In light of this ruling, the site or Robinson’s Arch, which adjoins the Western Wall and is along the same retaining wall of the Temple Mount above, was designated to host egalitarian services that encourage both men and women to wear tallit and read from the Torah.

Recording of Anat Hoffman speaking about arrest of Women of the Wall member January 21, 2010

Recording of Anat Hoffman at Pro-Zion event held with Southgate Reform Synagogue on Thursday 26th November - Anat talks about the arrest of Nofrat Frankel and the history of women of the wall as well as the work of IRAC.

AJC Raises Concerns with Israeli Government over Treatment of Women of the Wall January 23, 2010

AJC, in a letter to Israel’s Internal Security Minister, has raised concerns about the treatment of Women of the Wall members, in particular Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center, who was subjected to humiliating questioning and fingerprinting by the police.

Mazuz: Jerusalem Municipality favors Haredim

By Ronen Medzini January 18, 2010

Outgoing Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has decided to join a petition against the Jerusalem Municipality's decision to fully fund the activity of ultra-Orthodox educational institutions, while clearly discriminating against other sectors.

Attorney Einat Horowitz, head of the legal department at the Israeli Religious Action Center, said in response: "The main importance of this case is determining the red lines for authorities' conduct in matters pertaining to funding haredi networks."

The Never Ending ‘Get’ Story

Click here for VIDEO

The Center for Women's Justice is working to ensure that women are treated with dignity and equality in Israel's Rabbinic Courts, and to correct any injustices that may befall them. The stories that Savta Bikorta tells are real. She is a figment of our imagination.

Get-Refusal and the Agreement for Mutual Respect: Israel Today

By Rachel Levmore Hakira Volume 9, Winter 2010

[At present, only 2 pages of article online; full article online once the next edition is published]

…In fact, Israeli and Diaspora rabbis alike have recognized for many years the power of a prenuptial agreement, formulated in accordance with halakhah, to diminish the number of instances of get refusal.

Leaving the Fold

Click here for to watch entire Film online

LEAVING THE FOLD is a documentary film, which tells the story of five young people born and raised within the ultra-Orthodox Jewish world who no longer wish to remain on the inside.

As children they grew up in a closed society where deviation from the rules of conduct is often punishable by ostracism, intimidation or worse.

Leaving The Fold from Bunbury Films on Vimeo.

Fighting 'Arabization' or solving housing shortage?

By Matthew Wagner and Ron Friedman January 24, 2010

On Tuesday, the National Planning Council subcommittee responsible for general planning principles recommended that the National Planning Council authorize the construction of Kasif, a new haredi city in the Negev, 10 km. west of Arad.

The move was met with criticism from environmental organizations for its effect on open spaces, but also from local leaders.

…In addition to Kasif in the Negev and Harish near Hadera, which are still in preliminary stages of planning, there is another haredi-only project planned for a neighborhood of Upper Nazareth called Har Yona.

Haredim in the Negev Editorial January 21, 2010

About 80 percent of Kasif's homes will be subsidized, owing to the presumed financial hardship of most prospective dwellers. Housing subsidies are not unusual in Israel, especially in remote locales, but this again is sure to generate ill will.

All that said, Kasif - first decided upon in 2007 - is indispensable. There are an estimated 700,000 haredim in the country and a shortage of 100,000 housing units. All current plans - including the new town of Harish east of Hadera - will only offer some 30,000 units.

Israelis cannot willfully wish their haredi compatriots away, no matter how aggrieved they feel. We mustn't lose sight of genuine need and plight.

C'tee green-lights new Haredi town in Negev

By Rinat Nahum-Halevy January 21, 2010

Kassif, the ministry says, is most advantageous because of its size and the possibility of expansion, topographical environment, proximity to the national infrastructure corridor, state ownership of all of the land, lack of sensitive natural and scenic assets and access to financial and planned centers.

New Haredi city approved in the Negev

By Michal Margalit January 19, 2010

The planning document states that the land zoning and internal land use are based on the haredi lifestyle. The apartments will be fairly large, extensive land has been zoned for religious schools and religious cultural centers. Land has also been zoned for suitable employment for the haredi population.

Net population density balances the necessary apartment size for large haredi families in multistory buildings without elevators, with these families' limited financial wherewithal.

Yair Lapid under pressure to enter politics

By Gil Hoffman January 22, 2010

A year and a half after the death of Shinui leader Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, his son Yair, who followed him into journalism, is under tremendous pressure to also follow him into the political arena, sources close to Lapid said Thursday.

The Hiddush organization, which bills itself as a non-denominational partnership for religious freedom, has taken polls that showed two-thirds of the public consistently support changes that advance religious freedom and pluralism.

Hiddush CEO Rabbi Uri Regev said that a party with a civil agenda could even attract the support of modern Orthodox voters who are just as troubled as the secular by issues like retroactively canceling conversions and restricting women to the back of buses.

Poll: Most Israelis prefer not to shop on Saturday January 21, 2010

A poll conducted by Ynet and the Gesher Foundation has revealed that most of the Israeli public would prefer not to shop on Saturday. However on the issue of whether a civilian can be forced to work on Shabbat the results were split.

84% of seculars polled said they believed the opening of places of business on Saturday testified to liberalization, while 70% and 76% of religious and ultra-Orthodox respectively attributed it to the loss of religious tradition.

Shabbat war: Haredim vs. gas station shops January 20, 2010

After protests against Intel and the Karta parking lot have died down, the Eda Haredit faction now has its sights on a new target – Gas station convenience stores that open on Shabbat.

Eda Haredit activists claim that 10 such stores desecrate Shabbat by opening every weekend – some in close proximity to areas with high ultra-Orthodox concentration.

The activists discovered that seven Yellow convenience stores, two So Good stores, and one Menta store open on the day of rest, even though the chains in question also appeal to the haredi public.

All in this together

By Jonathan Rosenblum Opinion January 21, 2010

In the long run, there is no alternative but to develop new outlying communities. The ability of such communities to attract residents will depend on their accessibility to the center of the country. Without Route 6, for instance, it is doubtful that planning for a new haredi community in Harish would have proceeded so far. An expansion of the periphery would, in turn, bring down prices in the center of the country.

In no area, however, are the interests of the general and haredi populations so congruent as haredi employment. Israel's high rate of non-employment, to which haredim are a major contributor, is a major cause of our low productivity and sliding relative standard of living.

Minister of Labor: Pleasure to see Haredi women working

By Tani Goldstein January 24, 2010

What's making the minister of industry, trade and labor so happy these days? "It's such a pleasure to visit Modiin Illit, to enter the office and see 1,400 haredi women working in front of computers and another 300 answering telephones," said Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) Thursday during a speech at the annual congress of the Manufacturers Association of Israel in Airport City.

Cut child allowances, nix tax break on pension savings, OECD counsels Israel

By Meirav Arlosoroff January 22, 2010

Israel's average is also impacted negatively by the high proportion of poverty among Haredim (60%) and Arabs (50%). Both sectors are characterized by a low proportion of working adults, relatively low salaries when they do work, and high birth rates, which leads to the statistic that a third of Israeli children are categorized as poor, compared with an average of 12% for the OECD.

The OECD made a number of recommendations, some of which are revolutionary.

…Cut child allowances: For all, but mainly, for families where nobody works. Divert the money saved on allowances to paying negative income tax to poor workers, and increasing daycare support for poor workers.

Eyes Wide Open (“Einaym Pkuhot”)

Eyes Wide Open is a gay love story in the heart of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem.

Click here for Film Trailer

SuperBus Disappointed – Chareidim Don’t Want to Drive

By Yechiel Spira January 18, 2010

The management of SuperBus is not only disappointed, but perplexed, admittedly, as to why members of the chareidi community have not responded to the call to enlist chareidi drivers, at a good hourly wage, good benefit package, and enabling people to work in their home community of Modi’in Illit.

Turks enlist Haredi community to battle tourist embargo

By Nati Toker January 19, 2010

In its battle against the unofficial embargo imposed by Israeli tourists on Turkey, the Turkish government is focusing its efforts on the ultra-Orthodox community.

A delegation of Haredi journalists will be leaving for the nearby nation next week, to visit attractions and Jewish sites of interest, courtesy of the Turkish Tourism Ministry.

This Time, Jerusalem City Hall Targets Ramat Eshkol Shul

By Yechiel Spira January 21, 2010

Jerusalem City Hall officials this week slapped an eviction order on the doors of the Bnei HaYeshivos Shul in Ramat Eshkol, a major shul for the budding frum chareidi community, the weekly chareidi HaShavua reports.

The eviction order explains the city property is being used without permission, and therefore, the tenants are compelled to vacate.

Orlev Demands Action against Chareidi Mosdos Facilitators

By Yechiel Spira January 21, 2010

MK (Habayit HaYehudi) Zevulun Orlev, in his capacity as chair of the Knesset Education Committee, is calling for an urgent session of the Knesset committee after learning of the existence of facilitators, people acting as agents to mediate between parents and [institutions], taking NIS thousands to guarantee the admission of talmidim into chareidi mosdos.

Being a Chabad emissary

By Kobi Nahshoni January 19, 2010

So where is hostility towards Chabad missions greater – in Mumbai or in Ramat Aviv? It seems as though missions abroad do not undergo workshops on “operating in unsympathetic surroundings” or even on “competitors.”

In Israel, there are both. Lone Chabadniks in outright secular towns with elitist images said: “We have found that it is just a label. There are more ‘non-problems’ than problems.”

“They are simply afraid of Mea Shearim, of Intel, and of some haredi perception of ‘they’re going to close our streets on Shabbat’ – a theocracy in north Tel Aviv. They should just come to Kfar Chabad and see that there is traffic there, too, on Shabbat."

Chabad hears the siren call too: Chaim Lebovits bids for drilling license off Palmahim coast

By Avi Bar-Eli January 22, 2010

Businessman and Chabadnik Chaim Lebovits submitted a bid for the oil exploration license of the Med-Ashdod area off Israel's southern coast.

Chief Rabbi: Kosher Meat from Argentina is Fine

By Gil Ronen January 19, 2010

Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi Yonah Metzger returned to Israel this week from a kashrut inspection tour of meat factories in Argentina – the source of 80% of the beef sold in Israel.

The rabbi said at the end of the tour that the meat which carries the kashrut stamp of the Chief Rabbinate is no less kosher than Israel-produced meat bearing the most highly revered “Badatz” stamps.

Jerusalem Chief Rabbinate Elections; When?

By Yechiel Spira January 21, 2010

It appears that Wednesday’s euphoria surrounding the announced 21 Adar date for elections to elect a Sephardi and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim was a bit premature. After years of the Jewish capital remaining without chief rabbis, a date was announced, but it now appears the announcement was released from the Ministry of Religious Services prematurely, resulting in a bit of anger.

Date Set for Jerusalem Rabbinate Elections January 19, 2010

Elections for the Chief Rabbi's offices in Jerusalem are set for the 21st of Adar (Sunday, March 7). The date was announced in a letter sent by Rabbi Nissim Ben Shimon, chairman of the city's election committee, to the legal advisor of the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

The letter ignores a request by the Jerusalem legal advisor, Yossi Havilio, to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to intervene in the elections, on the claim that the elections committee does not properly represent the population of the city.

Thousands Commemorate the 'Baba Sali'

By Hana Levi Julian January 19, 2010

Ten of thousands of Jews streamed into the southern Israeli town of Netivot on Monday night and Tuesday to mark the 26th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira, known to thousands as the Baba Sali”.

Photo Essay: Baba Sali January 18, 2010

Shas Minister Atias: Ashkenazim don't go to synagogue

By Jonathan Lis January 22, 2010

Sectarian tensions once again took center stage at the Knesset yesterday, with Housing Minister Ariel Atias, of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party Shas, reportedly charging that "Ashkenazim don't go to synagogue," and MK Meir Porush, of the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism, saying that a religious person cannot be a member of the Kadima party.

MKs argue over synagogue habits

By Rebecca Anna Stoil January 20, 2010

During the heated debate Wednesday on the Shas-sponsored bill to extend tax exemptions for places of worship, coalition MKs from both haredi parties infuriated opposition members when they slung racial stereotypes and claimed that Kadima members must be atheists.

Greek patriarch seeks pardon for convicted Shas minister

By Tomer Zarchin and Yair Ettinger January 21, 2010

Convicted former minister Shlomo Benizri got a show of support recently from an unexpected source: No less a person than the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, submitted a request for Benizri's pardon to President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.

Justice Ministry officials said they were stunned by the request: It is highly unusual, they noted, for a senior church official to seek amnesty for a former cabinet minister.

Religion and State in Israel

January 25, 2010 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.