Monday, February 8, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - February 8, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

February 8, 2010 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

State: Conversions' annulment illegal

By Aviad Glickman February 2, 2010

The Attorney General's Office filed its High Court rebuttal on the matter of conversion annulment Monday, stating that the rabbinical courts' decision to retroactively annul conversions should be made null and void.

The State alleges that "fundamental faults" can be found in the regional rabbinical courts' ruling, as well as in the Great Rabbinical Court's decision to deny several appeals on the conversions' annulment.

The State's brief named lack of due process as one of the main reasons the decision must be overturned.

Chief Rabbi: Judges won't deliberate nullifying conversions

By Kobi Nahshoni February 2, 2010

Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar signed over the weekend new measures stipulating that rabbinical courts will no longer deliberate misgivings regarding the validity of conversions, and instead will transfer such files to a special panel chosen by the rabbi himself, Ynet learned.

As part of his role as chief rabbi, Rabbi Amar serves as president of the Great Rabbinical Court and as the supreme rabbinical authority on the State conversion layout.

The new measures are the fruit of a joint initiative between the rabbi and the Justice Ministry in preparation for the High Court hearing on the petition against rabbinical judge Avraham Sherman's conversion nullifications.

The secret code of repealed conversions

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion February 4, 2010

Rivkah Lubitch works at the Center for Women's Justice

If you converted to Judaism and also got divorced, check the divorce documents that you received from the rabbinic courts.

If it says 'the son of our forefather Abraham'? You're not in bad shape.

If it says 'convert'? You're on your way to a repealed conversion.

Rivkah Lubitch studied the opinion paper submitted by the Rabbinic Court to the High Court of Justice and discloses how converts are being marked.

Jewish in Tel Aviv, Gentile in Ashkelon

By Nathan Jeffay February 3, 2010

In Tel Aviv, where she works, Alina Serjukov is Jewish. In Ashkelon, where she lives, she’s considered a gentile.

Alina discovered her strange predicament in the run-up to her January 14 wedding, when she and her husband attempted to register their upcoming marriage with the local rabbinate.

But the official rabbi in Ashkelon refused to accept that she is Jewish, even though a regional rabbinic court, part of a network of such courts headed by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, had written to confirm that she had a valid conversion to Judaism and should be considered Jewish.

Her husband, Maxim Serjukov, called the situation “ridiculous.”

“My wife is Jewish in every place except for in Ashkelon — in the army, in the Chief Rabbinate and in the rest of Israel, just not in Ashkelon,” he told the Forward.

Why Orthodox rabbis must stop conversions

By Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet Opinion February 4, 2010

The writer is rabbi of Mill Hill United Synagogue.

I believe it imperative for the Jewish world to desist engaging in conversions altogether for the foreseeable future (except perhaps in special circumstances such as adoptions).

…Conversion is the single biggest issue ripping at the fabric of Jewish society. If we persist in our current trend, we will self-destruct.

Even if the whole Jewish world will not accept a change in approach, at the very least I call on my Orthodox colleagues, in the absence of all conversion authorities pulling together, to consider it.

Hundreds of Rabbonim Attend Eilat Conference

By Yechiel Spira February 1, 2010

Regarding giyur [conversion], they discussed the alarming situation of goyim who possess a teudah, a state recognized certificate of conversion while never undertaking to keep Torah and mitzvos.

The rabbonim insisted such a certificate may never be recognized. They added some of these so-called giyurim openly admit they believe in Yeshu.

Monopolizing Marriage: The Rabbinate’s Control of Marriage in Israel

By: Tzivia Traube Kol Hamevaser Volume III, Issue 4 February 1, 2010

Tzivia Traube is a senior at SCW majoring in English Literature.

Kol Hamevaser is The Jewish Thought Magazine of the Yeshiva University Student Body

See saved file

It is strange to think that a democratic, westernized country in the twenty-first century lacks civil marriage and coerces the secular majority to comply with religious traditions. Although Israel is a Jewish state, it is not a religious state.

Panel defers discussion of bill to let rabbis hear civil cases

By Jonathan Lis February 3, 2010

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation decided yesterday to postpone discussion for two weeks on a controversial bill to expand the rabbinical courts' power to handle civil cases.

The postponement stemmed from disagreements among the coalition's various factions, according to sources involved in the committee's work. Specifically, ministers from both Labor and Yisrael Beiteinu said they would not support the bill.

Bar Ilan’s Rackman Center Decries Call to Expand Authority of Rabbinical Courts

By Yechiel Spira February 1, 2010

Calls by MK Moshe Gafni (Yahadut HaTorah) to expand the authority of the nation’s rabbinical courts have resulted in sharp criticism from many who oppose the move, including the Rackman Center – The Ruth and Emanuel Rackman Center for the Advancement of Women’s Status, affiliated with Bar Ilan University’s Faculty of Law.

The center’s leaders fear that such a move would lead to “further trampling the rights of women” in the rabbinical courts, and therefore, such a move must be avoided.

Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Dahan, the director-general of the nation’s rabbinical courts joined MK (Labor) Prof, Yuli Tamir on Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) Monday morning, speaking with host Razi Barkai. [See article for transcript]

Yair Lapid's next show

By Aluf Benn February 3, 2010

Lapid is marketing himself as a representative of the authentic Israeli: He respects the Bible and combat soldiers, opposes religious coercion and loves Hebrew songs.

He appeals to the nonreligious who pretend they want change but are really clinging to the Israel of old, before Shas appeared on the scene.

…Mani Mazuz's intentions are not clear, but like Lapid, he talks like a political wannabe. In an interview with Ari Shavit, the former attorney general surprised us with a call for same-sex marriages in Israel - which puts him squarely on Lapid's side, "the secular rabbi," and against the religious parties.

Foreign workers: Let them eat Matzah

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion February2, 2010

Rabbi Sacks is Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel

We have so very much in which we can take pride here in Israel. But one dark spot is our failure to actualize the message of Pesach.

As observant Jews, we in the Masorti Movement see the ethical commandments as no less important than the ritual Mitzvot.

…I call upon the political parties in the Knesset to address the so-called "Matzah law." I too would like to see Hametz removed from the stores on Pesach. But I want this done not by the enactment of still more legislation forcing observance. I want this to come through education.

City, Minus Sex, Plus Religion Equals "Srugim"

By Esther Kustanowitz February 4, 2010

Conference Shed Moonlight on Lunar Calendar

By Yoni Kempinski February 1, 2010

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem hosted an international conference January 30 through February 1, called: Living the Lunar Calendar: Time, Text and Tradition.

Leading international scholars presented three days of lectures, sessions and events, including a fully-guided tour to Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden for centuries.

Includes a VIDEO interview with Prof. Lawrence H. Schiffman, New York University.

Consider yourself at home

By Elan Miller February 5, 2010

Once a month, nearly 200 lone soldiers eat Friday night dinner at the Great Synagogue.

Schapiro is at pains to point out that, “Although we are a traditional synagogue run in accordance with Halacha, we ask no questions of the soldiers. They come, and we provide. There is no coercion, no attempt to impress any particular approach – we absolutely respect our guests.”

Religion and State in Israel: Decade in Review

By Yair Sheleg February 1, 2010

Yair Sheleg is a Senior Researcher at IDI and a regular Op-Ed contributor to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

It would be advisable to try to reach as broad an agreement as possible on as many issues as possible - a social treaty of sorts in which reciprocal concessions would be made simultaneously, enabling each side to accept more readily the possibility of compromise.

A sector that is still prepared to make concessions of this kind should not be allowed to capitulate to hardliners who object to any and all accommodations.

The willing parties must shape their own agreements and enact them in binding form, acting on the assumption that although the ideological extremes will disagree and cast aspersions, nonetheless - in their heart of hearts - many of them will be glad that someone has come along to take the chestnuts out of the fire.

A sense of space: Envisioning an Israel that enables religious difference

By Rabbi Donniel Hartman Opinion February 2, 2010

Rabbi Donniel Hartman is the President of Shalom Hartman Institute

In Israel, however, the vast majority of Jews have rejected the notion of separation of state and religion.

As a Jewish state, we have chosen that the Jewish religion should have a dominant role and place within the culture, language, and policy of the State.

When we came home to Israel we came to a place where we did not need the separation of state and religion in order to grant us legitimacy and basic rights.

…the fact that we haven’t developed a way to balance our desire that Judaism be a part of the public life and domain, and at the same time enable religious difference, is an oht kayin (the Mark of Cain - a stigma or disgrace).

That which was so essential in defining Israel as a Jewish home is now itself undermining the sense of home.

J'lem Theater may be next battleground in ‘Shabbat wars'

By Abe Selig February 3, 2010

While haredi protests over the Shabbat operation of Jerusalem’s Karta parking lot and Intel factory have ebbed, a new front in the so-called “Shabbat wars” may be opening up, and this time it appears to be coming from the capital’s secular residents.

An online petition launched last Friday calls on Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to open the Jerusalem Theater – a long-cherished municipal establishment – on the Jewish day of rest, and in five short days, it has already garnered more than 3,400 signatures.

Petition demands Jerusalem Theater stay open on Sabbath

By Nir Hasson and Yair Ettinger February 4, 2010

"The supply of culture in Jerusalem on Friday and Saturday is very limited. There is no reason that this institution is not open, movie theaters operate in Jerusalem," said Bigelman.

"The theater may be a municipal institution but Teddy Stadium is such an institution and is open on Saturdays. The theater is also not near ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods."

US Jewish leaders see Edelstein as mediator

By Hilary Leila Krieger February 4, 2010

Minister of [Diaspora Affairs] Yuli Edelstein received an earful from American Jewish leaders concerned about how Israel is treating non-Orthodox Jews during a trip this week to the US.

Israeli Diaspora Minister Promises U.S. Reform, Conservative Leaders Cabinet-Level Dialog

By Nathan Guttman February 3, 2010

According to Edelstein, the frustration of the Jewish community over rights of Conservative and Reform Jews in Israel has created a potential disconnect between the community and Israel and could dampen relations in the long run.

Yuli Edelstein on J Street, NIF, the crisis with the Diaspora

By Ron Kampeas February 4, 2010

One of the topics that arose in New York, Philadelphia and Washington was the topic of the recent events in Israel, Jewish pluralism, if you will, including Women at the Wall and the buses (the segregated buses for the fervently Orthodox) and other topics.

'U.S. Jews concerned over state of pluralism in Israel'

By Natasha Mozgovaya February 4, 2010

The Israeli minister also said that as far as he was concerted the issue didn't end with recognizing of the Reform and Conservative movements, adding that "an official recognition, some signed document, isn't going to automatically make problems like those that arose with "Women of the Wall" go away. There are issues to be dealt with beyond this or that legislation."

Moscow cancels Jewish Agency meet over presence of Putin adversary

By Anshel Pfeffer February 5, 2010

The Jewish Agency canceled a board meeting planned for St. Petersburg, Russia, later this month, after Moscow yesterday told the Israeli embassy that it would not allow it to take place.

Agency sources attributed the diplomatic row to the presence on the board of businessman Leonid Nevzlin, who is a political enemy of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Russia Nixes Jewish Agency February Meetings February 3, 2010

The Jewish Agency had planned to hold their February Board of Governors Meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia. Apparently the Russian government was not in agreement. Here’s the letter that just went out to those attending.

Jewish Agency Chairman’s Billionaires’ Conference February 3, 2010

By Eli Bardenstein Maariv [translation]

Jewish oligarchs, most of whom had refused up till now to work with the Jewish Agency, are expected to take part for the first time in a public event identifying with Israel, Zionism and aliyah.

This will take place in three weeks in St. Petersburg. The person who succeeded in bringing the oligarchs together with the divided Jewish community of Russia and the Ukraine was the Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky.

The Jewish Agency: Bold Gamble or Huge Miscalculation?

By Dan Brown February 4, 2010

This is mostly political – the global kind. It’s about philanthropist and Jewish Agency Board member Leonid Nevzlin and the fact the Russian government considers him a fugitive. It’s about Sharansky, quite properly, not being able to assure the powers that be in Russia that Khodorkovsky’s imprisonment would not be discussed in the public dialogue.

But this is also a serious management failure by the Jewish Agency. It is clear they did not obtain the necessary permissions for this meeting. Whether through bungling, chutzpah, internal politics or just plain ego they announced this historic event without all their ducks in order.

The Ideological Case against Joining the Zionist Movement

By Rabbi Natan Grossman Yated Ne’eman-Israel February 1, 2010

The widespread controversy following Shas’ decision to join the World Zionist Organization reflects the astonishment at efforts to legitimize cooperation of the chareidi community with the secular nationalist establishment.

The underlying worldview of chareidi Jews is that there can be no coming to terms with heresy. The shock with which the recent move of Shas was received points to the trepidation truly G-d-fearing Jews feel toward any undermining of the foundations of our beliefs.

Rabbonim Call Shas Move to Join WZO ‘Chilul Hashem’

By Yechiel Sever February 4, 2010

Rabbonim who head cities and congregations in Eretz Yisroel and abroad have been voicing disappointment and protest against the great chilul Hashem that has resulted from the Shas Party's decision to join the World Zionist Organization, noting the exultant response among Reform and Conservative figures to what they call Shas' "historical precedent."

Wrong Address

By M Shotland Opinion January 4, 2010

As Rabbi Gafni said, we have no intention of ceasing, even for a minute, our battle against the militant secularists.

We will never recognize the Reform as a legitimate Jewish group, no matter what. We will also protest and criticize anyone else who weakens the chareidi position, and these critical principles.

Former Young Judaea head launches rival year program

By Ruth Eglash February 2, 2010

Former Young Judaea Year Course director Keith Berman, who announced his resignation from the organization last month, has launched a new “year in Israel program” for teens Monday aimed at stirring up competition for long-term programs here and making such experiences more affordable to young Diaspora Jews.

Aardvark Israel is launched: What Does It Mean?

By Benji Lovitt February 2, 2010

Some questions: Is competition, choice, and change a good thing or are consumers now choosing between two of the same product?

If Aardvark Israel "only" brings young people to Israel but does so in potentially large numbers, does it matter or mean any less that it lacks the backing and framework of Hadassah, Young Judaea, or another established parent organization?

Is it more important to "save" Young Judaea or to develop new and alternative Israel program options? Is it one or the other? Is there a conflict of interest here?

Young Judaea head blasts predecessor for launching program day after quitting

By Raphael Ahren February 5, 2010

The incoming director of Young Judaea's Year Course expressed "outrage" over learning his predecessor launched a rival gap year program merely one day after officially leaving the organization.

Young Judaea's Israel director, Dan Krakow, said everyone at his organization was "totally taken by surprise" by Aardvark's sudden launch.

While he emphasized Young Judaea "feels in no way threatened, harmed or disturbed," he added it would have been "inappropriate" if staff had indeed created a competing program while working for Young Judaea and using its resources.

Study slams ulpan performance, reforms may be in the works

By Cnaan Liphshiz February 5, 2010

Israel's state-funded Hebrew enrichment system for new immigrants may be reformed, following the recent release of a critical report which speaks of deep dissatisfaction with the system among students.

Immigrant Absorption Ministry looks to reform ulpan system

By Ruth Eglash February 3, 2010

The Immigrant Absorption Ministry is looking to overhaul Hebrew language instruction program for new immigrants, following the publication last month of a report that shows the current system has failed most of those arriving in the country, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

South African Jews beg Netanyahu to save direct El Al route

By Gil Hoffman January 27, 2010

The leaders of the Jewish community in South Africa wrote Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a desperate letter this week, pleading with him to prevent the cancellation of El Al Israel’s Tel Aviv-Johannesburg route, the only direct flight between Israel and South Africa.

Aliyah, courtesy of Ethiopian Airlines

By Zohar Blumenkrantz February 2, 2010

Due to a spat with El Al over its prices, the Jewish Agency has taken to flying new immigrants from South Africa to Israel via Ethiopian Airlines, with a stop in Addis Ababa.

El Al has direct flights between Tel Aviv and South Africa and will continue to do so three times a week, even though it was supposed to stop as of yesterday.

Envisioning Jewish Peoplehood

By Melissa Zalkin Stollman February 2010

To make the notion of Jewish Peoplehood compelling and meaningful to the life of the congregation and its members.

To integrate a sense of Am Yisrael into the synagogue curriculum of each stage of Jewish learning in congregations, from pre-school, through religious school and into adult education.

To provide congregational leaders who are committed to the Jewish people resources for thinking about Jewish peoplehood in creative ways.

To generate models for Jewish peoplehood education that serve as an inspirational vision for congregants.

To build a cadre of trained and passionate congregational leaders committed to ensuring a common destiny for the Jewish people.

To chronicle, analyze and evaluate Jewish peoplehood research and resources in a free and accessible platform.

Jewish Agency reaches out to Israelis abroad

By Elaine Durbach February 3, 2010

The Jewish Agency for Israel has been engaged primarily in reaching out to Diaspora Jews, but now it is also seeking to connect with Israelis living abroad by way of the Internet, and the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey is joining that effort.

Lawyer for Guma Aguiar: He will not own team by next season February 2, 2010

Click here for VIDEOS of Guma Aguiar

“Following consultations and lengthy consideration by Guma Aguiar and his family, I was asked to work to stop professional and financial proceedings regarding Guma Aguiar’s future ownership of the Betar Jerusalem Football Club and Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team.

This means Guma Aguiar will not be the owner, or the sponsor, of either Betar or Hapoel Jerusalem starting next season,” Aguiar’s lawyer, Eitan Gabai, said in a press statement Tuesday evening.

Following hospitalization, Aguiar to pull out of Beitar, Hapoel Jerusalem

By Moshe Boker and Vered Cohen February 4, 2010

Click here for VIDEOS of Guma Aguiar

Yesterday's announcement by Guma Aguiar's attorney, Eitan Gabay, that the billionaire energy industrialist would be withdrawing his patronage from the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club and the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball club came as no surprise to the clubs' respective managements.

On free Jewish trips to Israel, love is in the air

By Nicole Neroulias February 2, 2010

The Williamses, now settled in Washington, D.C., represent a growing number of newlyweds who found love with fellow travelers or people they met through Taglit-Birthright Israel, a free program that has sent some 215,000 18- to 26-year-olds to Israel from around the world.

Sh’ma – A Journal of Jewish Responsibility

Click here for Digital version February 2010

See also online version (selected articles only)

Israeli schoolchildren to study Soviet Jewish immigration February 3, 2010

A course in the history of Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union has been introduced in Israeli high schools, a spokesperson for the education ministry said on February 3.

The new course coincides with the 20th anniversary of the "Great Aliyah," the name for the 1-million-strong wave of Soviet Jews who moved to Israel during the disintegration of the world's first socialist state.

The Meaning and Liberal Justifications of Israel's Law of Return

By Dan Ernst Ewha Woman’s University

Israel Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 564-603, 2010

January 31, 2010

Hebrew University International Law Research Paper No. 03-10

The Article argues for a new assessment of the significance of Israel’s Law of Return - that the Law of Return reflects not the sovereign prerogative of a state to control immigration, but the right of every Jew to settle in the Land of Israel.

Religion and State in Israel

February 8, 2010 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.