Monday, May 3, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - May 3, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

May 3, 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.

Israel Conversion Bill A Hard Sell to U.S. Jews

By Stewart Ain April 27, 2010

The Israeli lawmaker who authored the proposed controversial conversion bill flew to New York this week to convince Reform and Conservative Jewish leaders to support it, promising to withdraw the bill if they do not.

Rabbi Yoffie insisted that the true purpose of the new legislation is “to prevent us from either having the Law of Return or from using current law to gain full recognition for conversions in Israel.

The American Jewish leadership feels that this would be a significant blow to our standing in Israel and our ability to even maintain our current position under existing law.

“Is this bill good for the state, does it advance the cause of religious freedom and advance the cause of the Reform and Conservative movements? The answer is no.”

Impact of proposed Israeli conversion law under debate

By Uriel Heilman April 28, 2010

Rotem says the conversion bill is essential for Israel’s future. Without it, he warns, the non-Jewish, non-Arab population of Israel will swell to 1 million by 2035.

“There is a historic opportunity here to solve and dismantle a ticking time bomb that when it explodes, we in Israel won’t know what to do with ourselves,” Rotem told JTA.

…Ultimately, Rotem acknowledges that his bills may not go far enough, but says they are an improvement over the status quo.

“Let’s start with this,” he said.

Ayalon to US Jewry: Allow conversion bill

By Rebecca Anna Stoil May 3, 2010

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon:

“We are in many senses together in the same boat – we, including the religious Zionists, are in the same boat as North American Jewry regarding the ultra-ultra Orthodox establishment,” continued Ayalon, maintaining that situations such as the continued tensions surrounding Women of the Wall are untenable.

Op-Ed: Proposed Israeli conversion bill is deeply flawed

By Uri Regev Opinion April 29, 2010

Rabbi Uri Regev is president and CEO of Hiddush, which advocates for religious freedom and equality in Israel.

It is time that Israel be guided by its own founding vision for equality and freedom of religion. This is the desire of the majority of Israelis and world Jews: pluralism rather than constantly giving in to the haredim. This will not only strengthen Israel as a democracy but also will enhance Israel’s Jewish character.

Freedom of religion will bring Jews back, in creative ways, to their rich Jewish heritage. Religious coercion will only drive them further away. Both Israel’s well-being and its future relationship with the Jewish people will depend on ending the anti-pluralistic monopoly of the haredim. The Rotem bill in its current formulation is a move in the wrong direction.

Jewish leaders oppose conversion bill

By E.B. Solomont May 2, 2010

North American Jewish leaders remained firm in their opposition to a conversion bill being advanced by Israel Beiteinu, following a series of meetings with Israeli officials in New York.

In Wake of Rotem/Ayalon Meetings with Jewish Leaders in New York, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Movements Release Statement Critical of the Conversion Bill April 30, 2010

…While we recognize the goals Mr. Rotem is working to achieve and deeply respect his efforts, we cannot lend our support to a bill that will have such devastating ramifications. This moment, when Israel faces a great many challenges, both at home and abroad, is no time to enact legislation that has the potential to divide the Jewish community or to alienate Diaspora Jewry.

Judges, take charge

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion April 30, 2010

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinic pleader who works at the Center for Women's Justice

In the short run, all eyes are on the High Court of Justice, which will have to deal with the various petitions and take a clear stand.

If the High Court of Justice stammers many converts and their families will be thrown to the dogs and their rights will be trampled.

If the High Court of Justice takes a clear stand – the haredi world is likely to revolt.

In the long run the solution may lie only in the separation of religion and state and the complete privatization of the rabbinic courts.

Everyone will convert whom he pleases, how he pleases, and will marry or not marry whom he pleases, just as it's been for two thousand years in the Diaspora.

The Chief Rabbinate versus the Jewish People

By Bambi Sheleg Opinion April 29, 2010

The writer is Editor of Eretz Acheret

Our intention is to make it publicly known that we cannot go on in this fashion: the gap, in terms of ethics and consciousness, between the majority of the Jewish people – both in Israel and abroad – and the world of many of those who make the halakhic decisions in the Chief Rabbinate, is abundantly obvious and problematic.

The continued existence of an institution whose leaders intentionally infringe on the basic rights of the public, which, by force of law, must come before it in judgment, cannot be sustained.

Therefore, the Jewish-Israeli public has two alternatives: to dismantle the Chief Rabbinate, or to rebuild it from the bottom up so that women, converts, and those from all streams of Judaism, will feel that they are bringing their matters before judges who rule justly, according to Jewish law.

The secular state

By Benny Perl Opinion April 28, 2010

Rabbi Benny Perl is head of the Bar-Ilan Arts and Sciences Yeshiva High School in Tel Aviv and a member of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel board of directors.

It must be stated, clearly and simply: The system of halakhic ruling and spiritual leadership, that was designed to provide a solution for isolated communities, must undergo a deep, prolonged process to render it capable of both fully preserving its identity and providing answers within a broad framework of government.

Isn't it time?

By Rabbi Meir Azari Opinion April 29, 2010

The writer is rabbi of the Reform Beit Daniel synagogue in Tel Aviv

I would like to take this opportunity to turn to the Orthodox rabbis who understand what is happening in the world: Isn't it time we amended this situation? Hasn't the time come for a real dialogue between you and the non-Orthodox denominations of Judaism?

…I am not asking you to agree with the path of Progressive or Conservative Judaism, but you must make it clear that the voice of the non-Orthodox movements is a legitimate one in the State of Israel and the Diaspora today.

Violence does not constitute grounds for a divorce

By Batya Kahana-Dror Opinion April 29, 2010

Batya Kahana-Dror is an attorney with Mavoi Satum, an advocacy organization that champions the rights of agunot, women whose husbands refuse to grant them a get.

Over the past few decades, the issue of the status of women in Israel's rabbinical courts has become one of the most important areas in which Jewish values are being subjected to the test of their compatibility with democratic principles. The revolution in human rights seems to have passed by the country's rabbinical court system

The ‘Get’ Rap

Click here for AUDIO

Anne Etra is a writer, fitness professional, cool aunt, and yes, rapper. She lives in New York.

Did did you get the Get?

Oh yeh I got it done

You see I copped a plea

at the Bet Din, officially

They cut it for me

The male hierarchy

They told me I could be free

If I paid them a fee...

Segregation is Unacceptable Humiliation April 17, 2010

Zahava Fisher:

“I am not aware of a single eminent rabbi who has ever ruled that there must be gender segregation in public places. Even the separation of men and women in Orthodox synagogues is a matter of custom rather than halacha.

Ultimately insists Fisher this issue is not about religion, or even an inability of men to resist their own erotic thoughts and take responsibility for their behavior, but rather an attempt by Ultra-Orthodox men to control and repress their women.

Haredim protest 'missionary activity' in Holon

By Yoav Zitun May 1, 2010

Click here for VIDEO

Some 900 people on Saturday participated in a conference of the Jehovah's Witnesses denomination in the central city of Holon. The event was held under tight security at a municipal basketball hall in the Kiryat Sharet neighborhood.

At around 11 am, about 100 ultra-Orthodox men arrived in the area and began hurling stones and potatoes at the building, smashed its windows and tried to break in. They were stopped by a police force and security guards.

Letter to my Haredi friend

By Yair Lapid Opinion May 1, 2010

I look at you and you seem like a good father to me, but loving your children also means concerning yourself with the kind of people they'll grow up to be and the kind of world they'll be living in.

Our children are heading for a world where they won't be able to coexist. I support you unwillingly, subjected to an aggressive and conscienceless coalition, yet my children will simply not be able to do it.

Religious Zeal Drives Housing Crisis in Ramat Shlomo

By Sanaz Meshkinpour and Jose Leyva May 1, 2010

Baruch’s situation is typical. He, and many ultra-Orthodox twenty-somethings represent a population explosion that has been taking place for some time within Israel’s Haredi community. And Israeli officials say the expansion is a direct response to their need for housing.

In Ramat Shlomo, the demand for housing is particularly high both because of the Haredim’s high birth rates, and the religious zeal to be near Jerusalem.

…Haredi families living in Ramat Shlomo have an average of eight children per household, according to the Jerusalem Statistical Yearbook. The neighborhood’s rapid growth has pushed the demand for space and, in-turn, the price of the units.

Now there are simply not enough apartments for younger couples who want to live in the observant Jewish neighborhood, close to their families and rabbis, and within the Haredi community.

Key figure in Holyland case consulting Haredi rabbis about breaking his silence on affair

By Yair Ettinger and Tomer Zarchin April 28, 2010

Meir Rabin, whom police believe was the go-between in the Holyland bribery affair, has been consulting leading rabbis about how he should proceed in the investigation, and the questions he has reportedly asked indicate that he is considering breaking his silence, Haaretz has learned.

Last week, two of his brothers went to Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, the son-in-law of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who is considered the spiritual leader of the "Lithuanian" faction of the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox community. Kanievsky received the two brothers several times, at their request.

Treasurer Pollack Being Replaced in Betar Illit

By Yechiel Spira April 27, 2010

Councilman and community officials busied themselves with phone calls on Monday surrounding the imprisonment of Yehoshua Pollack as a suspect in the ongoing Holyland investigation.

Lag BaOmer 5770 in Modi'in Illit

By Yehuda Boltshauser / Kuvien Images May 1, 2010

Click here for VIDEO

On Lag B’Omer, Kabbalah’s ‘Patron Saint’ Inspires Pilgrimage, Donations

By Nathan Jeffay April 28, 2010

According to Bar-Ilan University professor Jeffrey Woolf, an expert on contemporary religious trends, the current level of interest in Bar Yochai is unprecedented, having “increased astronomically in the last 10 to 15 years,” thanks to a growing number of spiritual seekers drawn to Kabbalah and those looking for ways to explore their Jewish identity.

In generations past, interest in him was largely confined to mystics, he said. The 500,000 people expected this year is more than double the turnout of a decade ago.

Revelers set differences aside at raucous Lag Ba'omer celebrations

By Eli Ashkenazi May 2, 2010

Around 30,000 revelers thronged last night's Hillula ceremony marking the Lag Ba'omer holiday at the tomb of Shimon bar Yohai on Mount Meron in the Upper Galilee.

As this year's holiday fell on a Saturday, many arrived at the shrine honoring the first-century mystic only in the evening hours.

Lag B'Omer pilgrimage attracts 500,000

By Ahiya Raved May 1, 2010

Police estimate that nearly 500,000 worshippers will arrive at Mount Meron on Saturday, Lag B'Omer eve.

VIDEO: Hundreds of Thousands Celebrate Lag Ba'Omer in Meron

By Malkah Fleisher May 1, 2010

Approximately 4,000 police officers with cars, helicopters, and a Zeppelin aircraft are on hand to guide and protect the pilgrims. Magen David Adom emergency medical services personnel are present.

Click here for Photos:

Authorities brace for huge Lag Ba’omer crowds at Meron

By Ron Friedman April 30, 2010

Those who opted to forgo the Saturday night rush and spend the weekend in the north were faced with steep prices as rooms in the region were at a premium. According to Ma’ariv, a mattress on the floor of a room and even a vacated storage facility or poultry pen in Moshav Meron was going for NIS 100-250.

A bed in a shared room costs NIS 350-500. A private cottage goes for NIS 1,500-4,000 and a private house on the moshav was rented for NIS 28,000 for the weekend.

Education Ministry: 'Don't Start Bonfires on Saturday'

By Hana Levi Julian April 29, 2010

The Rabbinate and the Ministry of Education have asked the nation's schools not to begin preparations for the traditional Lag BaOmer bonfires on Saturday afternoon, in order to avoid desecrating the Sabbath.

Cruel kosher slaughter method still in use

Kobi Nahshoni contributed to this report April 29, 2010

Two years ago the Chief Rabbinate announced that it would take action to implement a slaughter method that does not cause unnecessary suffering to animals.

Accordingly, the Rabbinate said it would issue an order that only meat slaughtered with the "boxing" method, and not the "shackle and hoist" method, be imported to Israel.

Animal rights groups praised the initiative. However, a video clip that surfaced recently reveals that at least some of the slaughterhouses have not changed their methodology, and there is still high demand for meat coming from their plants.

Rav Malinowitz on the RBS Mikva Controversy April 27, 2010

Rabbi Malinowitz's Opinions on the Mikvaot Controversy, as reported by Catriel Lev

I met with Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz on Monday, the 26th of April, 2010, to hear his opinions on the Ramat Beit Shemesh Mikvaot controversy.

Mikveh at bottom of priorities in Kfar Vradim

By Mirit Kouschnir-Stromze April 28, 2010

The Kfar Vradim Council has unanimously approved the construction priorities recommendations drawn up by a special committee, which rated the construction of a mikveh at the bottom of the list.

A petition against the construction of the mikveh was distributed last week via e-mail.

"Kfar Vradim is a secular and pluralistic community, but pluralism doesn't mean changing its secular nature. Religious residents may live amongst us but must not enforce their lifestyles on us."

Re-purification of the waters as Jerusalem mikva'ot go green April 25, 2010

The Jerusalem Municipality, in conjunction with the Jerusalem Religious Council and the Ministry of Health, will soon begin the experimental installation of water purification systems in one city mikveh as a test study, allowing mikveh gray water to be transferred daily into an external storage tank, cleaned, filtered, purified and cycled back into the mikveh the following day.

Religion and State in Israel

May 3, 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.