Sunday, October 24, 2010

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

Religion and State in Israel

October 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.

MK Rotem to propose bill dissolving Chief Rabbinate October 22, 2010

Head of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) has said that he will propose a law that would dissolve the Chief Rabbinate Council and allow the creation of a new one, as well as officially recognize conversions by IDF rabbis in an announcement on Friday.

According to the new proposal, military rabbis will also be empowered to marry those who joined the Jewish people in the military-sponsored conversion process.

Rabbinate sets up advisory committee on IDF conversions

By Yair Ettinger October 22, 2010

The Chief Rabbinate has steered clear from making a decision on the validity of thousands of conversions carried out in an IDF-sponsored program, setting up a committee to look into all conversions in Israel.

Yizhar Hess, director of the Conservative movement, said "the hostile takeover by the ultra-Orthodox on the Chief Rabbinate suggests that the historical function of the Chief Rabbinate has come to an end."

Chief Rabbinate to probe IDF, civilian conversion

By Jonah Mandel October 21, 2010

MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu), whose efforts to pass a law aimed at making the orthodox conversion process more accessible failed last Knesset session, was furious at the council's decision.

“The very existence of a Rabbinical Council hearing on the topic is a scandal, that proves there are rabbis who do not understand the importance of conversion. The IDF conversions are in full accordance with Halacha, and have been going on for years.

The fact that there are factors pressuring rabbis raises the notion that it would be a good idea to disperse the Chief Rabbinical Council,” Rotem said, adding that he would promote legislation to that end.

Head of ITIM Rabbi Seth Farber expressed his disappointment over the decision, and his expectation of “the Chief Rabbinical Council to act in a statesmanlike manner, and not to succumb to pressure applied by go-getters, who misinform the senior haredi rabbis.”

“All of the IDF conversions are conducted with full acceptance of mitzvot, and adhere to all of the necessary halachic criteria,” Farber said.

A fundamental solution to the ‘conversion crisis’ or a practical one?

By Shmuel Rosner Opinion October 21, 2010

Shmuel Rosner is a fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute and a Jerusalem Post blogger.

The first question that must be raised in every discussion related to conversion is whether to take a fundamental or practical approach.

...The practical reflects a priority of fundamentals, and therefore does not ensure a solution. The question whether to choose local, limited solutions – whose success is also not assured – over an attempt to resolve at least some of the fundamental problems is still open.

Gov't to block aliya of granddaughter of Holocaust victim

By Ruth Eglash October 20, 2010

An aliya application from a Swiss woman whose grandmother was murdered by Nazis is expected to be denied in the coming days.

Officials at the Interior Ministry have indicated that proof she provided documenting her grandmother’s Jewishness is questionable, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Monique Martinek found out only two years ago that her grandmother – her father’s mother – had been murdered for being a Jew; before then, she and her family had no idea of their Jewish roots or the fate of the grandmother during World War II.

Disgraceful rejection of a latter-day Ruth Editorial October 21, 2010

This selfless, evocative declaration of allegiance sufficed for welcoming Ruth into the fold of ancient Israel. But were Ruth’s story transported to our day, Israel’s Ministry of the Interior would disdainfully reject her application under the Law of Return.

This is precisely what is befalling a latter-day Ruth who altruistically left comfortable and peaceful Switzerland to live a likely less comfortable life in not-always- peaceful Israel.

'Haredim are ignoring Tal Law’s public service option'

By Dan Izenberg October 20, 2010

During the discussion, Leah Uziel, of the State Comptroller’s Office, informed the committee that a large number of haredi volunteers were working in education, even though the law specifically excluded that field from the types of public service activities they could fulfill.

She also found that a portion of those signed up for the civic service in the welfare field, invited wards to their homes for Shabbat and then recorded that they had worked for 24 or 36 straight hours. The quota for a week’s work is 40 hours.

Gov't to review proposal to ease haredi draft exemptions

By Jonah Mandel October 19, 2010

The government will rethink its July decision to make it much easier for haredi men to obtain exemptions from military service, following High Court petitions submitted by Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality, and the Movement for Quality Government.

Rabbi supports Yair Naveh as next deputy chief of staff

By Kobi Nahshoni October 19, 2010

After the extreme Right called on teens not to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces if Major-General (res.) Yair Naveh becomes Deputy Chief of Staff, the designated deputy received support from an unexpected source – Beit El's Rabbi Zalman Melamed, who sent Naveh his good wishes on the appointment.

New IDF Program Gives Equal Time to Army, Torah

By Maayana Miskin October 20, 2010

Seventy-five new IDF recruits are the first to take part in a special program, Shiluvim that allows soldiers to split their time equally between active military duty and Torah study. Last week, they began preparing for their active service.

The new program, whose name translates roughly to “integration,” makes it possible for young religious-Zionist soldiers to serve in a religious framework for two full years. They will learn Torah for two years, instead of the more than three years required by the hesder program.

VIDEO: IDF Receives Torah Scroll from US Jewish Youth

By Elad Benari October 21, 2010

Click here for VIDEO

On Wednesday, the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) and the International Young Israel Movement – Israel Region (IYIM) donate a Sefer Torah to the IDF for the 187th time.

This was done as part of a project which has been running for the past 12 years and was initiated by NCYI Executive Vice President Rabbi Pesach Lerner and Rabbi Yedidya Atlas of the IDF Rabbinate.

The unique project allows for IDF soldiers in bases throughout Israel to fulfill their spiritual needs, while connecting them with synagogues in the United States.

IDF Plays Matchmaker to Hareidi Soldiers

By Maayana Miskin October 22, 2010

As part of an initiative to help hareidi-religious soldiers integrate their religious practices with their IDF service, the army is working with a group of rabbis to provide a professional matchmaker for soldiers in the Netzach Yehuda battalion – a primarily hareidi-religious battalion that has been given the nickname “Nachal Hareidi.”

Israel a model (of sorts) on gays in the military

By Michele Chabin October 23, 2010

Israel, like the United States, is a largely secular society with deep religious roots. And Israel, like the United States, is home to vocal religious conservatives who frown on homosexuality.

But Israel, unlike the United States, has allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for 17 years. In fact, they are required to.

Food for thought at Shabbat meal

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion October 24, 2010

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinic court pleader who works at The Center for Women’s Justice

Recently I was the guest of an Orthodox Jewish community that makes a point of being open and accepting to homosexuals and lesbians.

In spite of the fact that the issue is familiar to me on a theoretical level, the encounter during one Shabbat with so many religious people with various sexual orientations, and with families that operate in such different ways from what I am accustomed to, gives me a lot of food for thought.

Local rabbis help launch group supporting Women of the Wall

By Amanda Pazornik October 21, 2010

An online campaign to support women who want to pray aloud at the Western Wall has its epicenter in the Bay Area.

Rabbis Menachem Creditor of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, and Pamela Frydman Baugh, who served at Or Shalom Jewish Community in San Francisco, are the international co-chairs of Rabbis for Women of the Wall, a group that launched this week with the sending of a letter.

Private Eyes Help Plight of 'Chained Wives'

By Dina Kraft JTA October 21, 2010

Ariella Dadon still marvels at being free.

For more than 21/2 years, she was married to a man she describes as unfaithful, physically violent and emotionally abusive. For four years, she struggled to get a divorce. But the rabbinical court ruled repeatedly that she needed to bring in "proof" of her husband's infidelities.

Probe into Ashkelon brutality case opened

By Yaakov Lappin and Ron Friedman October 24, 2010

Ashkelon police confirmed Thursday that it was conducting a mutual investigation into the complaint by Trina Woodcox against Oz Unit immigration inspectors, who she claimed beat her and her family members during a wrongful arrest in her home in Ashkelon Tuesday evening, and the inspectors’ claim that they were the ones attacked.

...Meanwhile the family’s lawyer, Nicole Maor, who acts as legal counsel for the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement, filed a complaint with the police internal affairs unit, requesting that an investigation be conducted immediately into the actions of the Ashkelon police force.

Interior Ministry's Oz police unit accused of beating U.S. immigrants

By Bradley Burston October 21, 2010

The Interior Ministry's controversial Oz immigration police unit has been accused of beating and verbally abusing members of an African-American family from Kansas City whose members converted to Judaism several years ago, and are living in Ashkelon pending a decision on their citizenship request.

...Wilcox wrote Kansas City Reform Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff, who had converted the family to Judaism, "My heart is breaking right now.

"We have so much love for Israel. But it seems like Israel does not love us back."

US converts accuse immigration inspectors of assault

By Ron Friedman October 21, 2010

The Masorti Movement has written a letter to Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch, demanding that they investigate the event and bring to justice the “violent officers.”

“The family decided to immigrate to Israel and is active in the Netsach Israel congregation in Ashkelon. Their dream is to live a full Jewish life here in Israel,” the letter stated. “However, their skin color is not white, but black."

No Knesset majority for applying loyalty oath to all citizens

By Jonathan Lis October 20, 2010

The revised version is likely to be particularly problematic for Shas, which, like UTJ, is an ultra-Orthodox party. UTJ MK Moshe Gafni told Haaretz on Monday that he opposes the bill, in part because of the religious objection to Jews swearing any kind of oath. That reason would presumably apply to Shas as well.

PM backtracks: Loyalty oath will also apply to new Jewish citizens

By Jack Khoury, Yair Ettinger, Chaim Levinson and Jonathan Lis October 19, 2010

[B]ecause applying the oath to non-Jews requires amending the Citizenship Law, while applying it to Jews requires amending the Law of Return, the proposals will be legislated on different tracks and apparently even go to different Knesset committees.

Thus it is theoretically possible that one could pass while the other failed.

Gafni said the ultra-Orthodox object in principle to loyalty oaths, and he therefore opposed the bill even when it applied only to non-Jews.

Hareidi Opposition to Requiring Loyalty Oath from Jews

By Gil Ronen October 19, 2010

According to Makor Rishon, Netanyahu will find it hard to overcome the objections of the hareidi religious parties in his coalition, which are not interested in requiring hareidi Olim to pledge allegiance to a “Jewish and democratic” Israel.

Generally speaking, many, if not most, hareidi religious streams do not see themselves as Zionist and have a problem with the establishment of a Jewish state that does not follow Torah Law. The concept of democracy is also not necessarily popular in some religious streams, where it is seen as a western concept foreign to Judaism.

Loyalty oath isn't racist, but it will destroy Israel

By Yehuda Ben Meir Opinion October 19, 2010

The amendment to the citizenship law upon which the government has decided is not a racist law; there is not an iota of racism in it.

...None of this, however, detracts from the stupidity in the government's decision.

Jewish Agency set to vote next week to radically restructure organization

By Raphael Ahren October 22, 2010

After months of debates and vague statements about the Jewish Agency's future, the 80-year-old organization's leaders will vote this Monday on implementing its new strategic plan, which many officials expect to constitute a wide-ranging overhaul, including the dismantling of its aliyah department.

Securing the Jewish Future: Next Steps October 22, 2010

Based on the unique added value of our core expertise, we will focus all our efforts on the following two global strategic drivers, both of which are highly effective in strengthening Jewish identity and a sense of connection.

A fully-integrated range of continually-expanding and deepening Israel experiences to enrich Jewish life and create aliya opportunities;

A range of identity-building social activism opportunities for all young Jews to help vulnerable populations and bridge social gaps in Israeli society.

The key to partnership? Sharansky

By Jacob Berkman October 20, 2010

So how exactly did Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency for Israel -- two organizations with a long-running rocky relationship -- manage to make common cause and work together (as I reported last week)?

Fundermentalist’s take: In our conversation, it became clear that Gelbart believes the two organizations could not have coalesced without Sharansky at the Jewish Agency’s helm.

Meaning and belonging in Israel and the Diaspora today

By Yehuda Mirsky Opinion October 21, 2010

The challenge of managing and deepening relationships between Israel and world Jewry has been with us for decades. Today far-reaching changes are being rung on these familiar questions.

For Diaspora Jews, Israel is one possible element of their Jewishness; for Israeli Jews, Jewishness is one possible element of their Israeliness.
What has changed?

Numbers up for Nefesh B'Nefesh's 'Go North' program

By Tamar Morad October 22, 2010

The number of families from North America settling in the Galilee through an immigrant assistance program will be approximately 300 by the end of 2010, nearly double the number of immigrants in 2009, the year the program began.

What is the Jewish Agency? Here’s a Lexicon from A to Z.

By David Breakstone Opinion October 24, 2010

David Breakstone is a member of the Jewish Agency Executive and vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization.

This week, its international Board of Governors convenes in Jerusalem to confront changing realities that require JAFI to refocus if it is to continue serving as a global Jewish partnership of purpose, ensuring the future of our people with a strong and vibrant Israel at its center.

Big words, but I would like to believe not too big for who we are. Which is what? Often asked, I’ve decided to lay it all out in a lexicon from A to Z.

Knesset Diaspora panel becomes focus of political dispute

By Gil Hoffman October 24, 2010

Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) took revenge against Labor rebel MK Daniel Ben-Simon on Saturday night, announcing that he would prevent the latter from taking over the chairmanship of the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee.

Aliyah job fairs held across North America October 22, 2010

In an effort to make North American Jews more aware of the wide range of opportunities that the strong Israeli job market has to offer new immigrants to Israel, Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency for Israel are conducting career-focused Aliyah Fairs in four major cities across North America.

Reaching out

By Ruth Eglash October 19, 2010

As soon as he walks through the doors of Jerusalem soup kitchen Carmei Ha’ir, Rabbi Yehiel Eckstein is greeted with the reverence due a king.

...“I believe that Evangelical Christians can be strategic partners for the Jewish people and in securing the State of Israel. There are millions of Christians out there and if we reach out to them, they will stand with us and fight against anti-Semitism.”

Love without borders

By David Suissa Opinion October 13, 2010

David Suissa is the founder of OLAM magazine and

What is it about Evangelical Christians and their support for Israel that really gets to me? I understand what makes some Jews — especially liberal Jews — nervous about this group: their conservative values (on issues such as abortion and separation of church and state); an uncompromising stance on the Middle East peace process; the theological slant to their support for Israel; and a propensity among some of them to proselytize to Jews.

Spiritual leaders discuss holy places and debate violence

By Jonah Mandel October 21, 2010

The second Annual Interfaith Ethics and Tolerance symposium took place in Jerusalem on Tuesday, and local religious leaders benignly grappled with the loaded topic of the meaning holy sites bear for the various creeds.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva... chaired the conference in his capacity as academic adviser to the Jerusalem Center for Ethics.

Religion and State in Israel

October 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.