Monday, November 22, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - November 22, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

November 22, 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.

Judge: Court to approve kosher buses

By Shahar Haselkorn November 21, 2010

The High Court of Justice will not ban gender segregation on haredi bus routes, and is likely to accept the Transport Ministry's recommendation to make the separation between sexes voluntary rather than compulsory, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein said Sunday.

Jerusalem City Council member Rachel Azaria told Ynet that the impending High Court decision will effectively validate the current segregation.

She called the decision an attempt to have the cake and eat it, too. "On one hand, the court says the separation is illegal. On the other, it allows it to exist," she said.

Israel Supreme Court may allow segregated buses

By Ron Friedman and Jonah Mandel November 21, 2010

IRAC's executive director Anat Hoffman:

“So as far as the practical level goes, there is room for disappointment, since the moment it is agreed that the back door will open, a haredi woman has no choice but to embark from there.”

Will the High Court allow gender segregation on public buses?

By Yair Ettinger November 21, 2010

The ministry's recommendations, adopted by the state, stress that even though it is illegal to enforce segregation on public buses, "voluntary separation should be allowed if it is not coerced."

Jerusalem to hold segregated event

By Ronen Medzini November 22, 2010

Jerusalem Municipality announced Sunday it would be holding an event honoring security forces in which segregation will be enforced, with ticket ads saying men would be seated in the main hall and women in the gallery.

Israel approves $23 million plan to renovate near Western Wall

By News Agencies November 21, 2010

Israel approved Sunday a five-year plan to the tune of NIS 85 million ($23 million) to renovate near the Western Wall and the adjacent Jewish quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem.

PA slams NIS 85 million Kotel development project

By Herb Keinon and Jonah Mandel and staff November 21, 2010

Women of the Wall Chair Anat Hoffman, however, stressed that if there won't be a pluralistic plaza for joint prayer, not necessarily in the place of the existent praying sections, “we can forget about international tourism.”

She noted that the majority of Jewish tourists are not orthodox, and Christian tourists also feel ill at ease when haredi ushers instruct them to remove crosses worn around their necks at the site. “We must not think only of the orthodox Jews,” she said.

Women of the Wall Rosh Hodesh Kislev November 2010

Click here for VIDEO November 15, 2010

Parents petition Israel Population Registry Law ‘bastard clause’

By Ruth Eglash November 19, 2010

It was a happy occasion when Michal (not her real name) gave birth to her first child in June.

However, just weeks later, when she arrived at the Interior Ministry to register her newborn daughter, she was told that the child’s biological father would not be recognized as such, due to the little known “bastard clause” in a law passed in 1965.

The law is based on Halacha, which forbids a woman to remarry for at least 90 days after being divorced or widowed.

Broken dreams

By Rebecca Anna Stoil November 19, 2010

The first time the two discussed her mother’s decades-old conversion to Judaism, “it was completely by accident.

His cousin was dating a young man and he said, ‘He’s not really Jewish, his mother converted,’ and then I told him that my mom also converted and I see myself as Jewish, even more so than many Israelis because in Israel the rabbinate is a governmental body, meaning religious identity is black or white. But in the US, there is a rainbow of different kinds of Judaism – there are more shades.”

Following that conversation, Fishman’s idyllic relationship began to take a wrong turn. Her boyfriend began to demand that she convert – this time through the rabbinate. The topic became the dominant one, and they began to fight over the issue on a daily basis.

Rabbi Uri Regev, director of Hiddush, says that Fishman’s story may be unique, but that the context is much greater.

[He] proposed, “the State of Israel should grant full legal recognition of conversions from all major streams, as well as the right to marry through both civil marriage and all recognized streams.”

US report: Religious coercion, violence in Israel rising

By Kobi Nahshoni November 19, 2010

Chairman of Hiddush - For Freedom of Religion and Equality, Rabbi Uri Regev:

"The report discusses at length the Israeli government's capitulation to the haredi parties' extortion and the way in which it compromises marriage rights, freedom of worship, women's dignity, the immigrant population, the non-Jewish communities and many others as part of a policy which gains power by funding religious institutes and capitulating to religious coercion while disregarding the will of the majority of the Jewish people in Israel and in the Diaspora.”

Click here for U.S. Dept. of State International Religious Freedom Report 2010

Analysis: Errors in US report on Israel's religious freedom

By Jonah Mandel November 19, 2010

An official State Department report on religious freedom in Israel raises valid points about the imperfect and intricate condition of faiths in the Holy Land, but inaccuracies and errors in it raise questions as to the methods of obtaining and analyzing the information employed.

Eight Haredi, four Zionist rabbinical judges chosen

By Jonah Mandel November 21, 2010

The Committee for Appointing Rabbinical Judges appointed 12 new rabbinical judges on Friday, who will serve in the regional rabbinic courts.

All the 12 were unanimously approved, four of them national-religious, four haredi Sephardi, and four haredi Ashkenazi, which can be considered equal representation to the three central streams of Orthodox Judaism.

Attorney Batya Kahana-Dror, director of the Mavoi Satum (“Dead End”) organization, which works for the rights of women who have been refused divorce and are therefore unable to remarry according to Jewish law (agunot), said that “yet again the committee preferred the political and sectorial interests of the haredi sector to the detriment of the wider public.

The appointment of haredi rabbinical judges, who are entirely under the control of haredi Lithuanian rabbis, is a disaster for the State of Israel and its women.

Committee appoints twelve new judges to rabbinical courts

By Yair Ettinger [print edition only] November 21, 2010

National Religious choose stricter lifestyle

By Akiva Novick November 18, 2010

Squeaky clean exam prep books, holistic medicine courses with breaks for prayer, theater free of female characters or actors – these are just a few indicators of national religious Jews moving towards a stricter, more orthodox lifestyle.

From one bubble to another

By Noah Kosharek November 19, 2010

"There has been a spiritual awakening in Tel Aviv in recent years," Eldad Mizrahi, chairman of the city's religious council, says.

"The young Orthodox people who come to live here see it as an ideal: to create Jewish life in the first Hebrew city." Mizrahi insists that "the goal is not to proselytize," but rather "to make the local residents a little better acquainted with the Bible and Jewish tradition."

A righteous rebel Editorial November 18, 2010

[T]his form of leadership has proved particularly successful in insulating the haredi community from modernity, including full integration in the world’s only Jewish state.

However, any authoritarian means of leadership that lacks external checks and balances, and suppresses alternative viewpoints no matter how reasonable they may be, is doomed to atrophy.

Amsalem’s rebellion provides hope that the haredi public will eventually wake up to this reality – and the sooner the better.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef slams maverick Shas MK Amsalem

By Jonah Mandel November 21, 2010

Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef slammed MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem (Shas) in his weekly Saturday night sermon in a first public reference to the maverick lawmaker, who on Wednesday announced that he wouldn't return his mandate despite the growing animosity in the party's leadership toward him.

Shas MK distances himself from party, but refuses to resign

By Yair Ettinger November 18, 2010

Shas MK Chaim Amsellem announced yesterday that he was distancing himself from his party, but said he will remain a member of the Shas caucus despite the party leaders' attempts to oust him.

Shas' enfant terrible is a voice of Haredi sanity

By Nehemia Shtrasler Opinion November 19, 2010

Amsellem is the enfant terrible of Shas. He's a one-man opposition to Shas leader Eli Yishai and he fearlessly opposes Shas' distorted worldview on all important issues - conversions, core studies in the schools, military service and employment. He doesn't even hesitate to accuse the party of "throwing all the wretched into a deep pit, just as Joseph was thrown."

Margi: Shas encourages followers to earn degrees

By Jonah Mandel November 16, 2010

As reported by The Jerusalem Post, veteran political commentator Shalom Yerushalmi drew up the lines for Amsalem’s projected new party in the November 5 weekend Maariv, based on conversations with the lawmaker and sources close to him.

The party would promote haredi employment and army service, all from a halachically committed standpoint, according to the report. Yerushalmi also mentioned the name of former Shas leader Aryeh Deri as a figure who could join Amsalem’s new party.

Facing ouster from Shas, rebel lawmaker may start new party

By Yair Ettinger November 15, 2010

For some time now, MK Chaim Amsellem has been looking for a way out of Shas. It may be that a way out has found him, and sooner than he may have planned.

Sources in the party have said that in recent days the spiritual leader of the party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, may ask Amsellem to give up his spot in the Knesset to the next in line.

Shas minister: Procreate instead of complaining

By Kobi Nahshoni November 16, 2010

Minister of Religious Services Yacov Margi (Shas) is calling on the secular public to boost its birthrate in order to battle the demographic threat Israel is facing.

In a forum titled "Haredim in Israeli society" held last week as part of the Israel-Sderot Conference on Social Issues, Margi said, "Bring more kids to the world instead of complaining about the haredim. I, as a haredi man, fear for the fate of Israel."

Israeli Jews at odds with liberal US brethren

AP November 19, 2010

When Hillary Rubin immigrated from the United States to Israel, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and descendant of a famed Zionist visionary felt that she had finally arrived in her true home.

But now that religious authorities are questioning the 29-year-old Michigan native's Jewish pedigree and refusing to recognize her marriage, she's having second thoughts.

Israel proposes separate marriage registry for state-sponsored converts

By Yair Ettinger November 15, 2010

A special rabbinical track should be created to register marriages in which one or both spouses underwent a state-sponsored conversion, the state told the High Court of Justice yesterday.

It thereby effectively said it would not force members of the official rabbinate to register such marriages, even though these rabbis receive their salaries from the state.

Expert tells MKs: We have 15 years to fight assimilation

By Gil Shefler November 16, 2010

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, the Israeli branch of the Reform movement, warned against alienating the children of mixed marriages.

“We need to be careful when we process the numbers,” he said. “To the best of my knowledge, and I’m not an expert on this issue, there may be 55% of marriages between Jews and non-Jews, but that does not mean there’s a 55% assimilation rate and that families in this group are torn away from the Jewish people."

Intermarriage rates among Diaspora Jews at all-time high

By Kobi Nahshoni November 17, 2010

A new study revealed by the Knesset Information and Research Center shows high rates of intermarriage among Jewish communities in the Diaspora.

During the past 50 years the rate of intermarriage among Diaspora Jews increased by over 200%, the study suggests, pointing to a weak Jewish identity as one of the main factors.

From vision to reality

By Rabbi Marc Rosenstein Opinion November 16, 2010

If the Reform movement can refrain from becoming an orthodoxy, if it can avoid falling into the standard Israeli public discourse of competitive victimhood, if it has patience, and wisdom, and inclusiveness, and openness to new directions and new models, then I believe it can become the way of the future here, and this year's crop of rabbis can be among the architects of that future.

Rabbi offered cash to steer students to Israeli yeshiva

By Michele Chabin November 16, 2010

Sometime in the past few weeks Rabbi Eli Mandel, vice-principal of Jewish studies at the Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, received an offer he felt compelled to refuse: “$1,000 cash” for every Tanenbaum CHAT student he directed to a certain Israeli gap-year yeshiva.

“I recognize that recruitment for Israeli yeshivot is a cutthroat business, but I was (perhaps naively) shocked at a recent proposal made to me by a somewhat prestigious yeshiva to remain nameless,” Mandel wrote in a much-discussed posting on Lookjed, a respected user-list for Jewish educators.

In the seven years he has provided guidance to students considering a gap year in Israel, “this is the first time I have been approached in this way,” Mandel said.

Post-college volunteers compare practices with Israel

By Sharon Udasin November 21, 2010

Masa organized the American- Israeli think-tank in collaboration with City Year, a Boston group that facilitates volunteer work in local schools and communities.

Other Jewish and general American organizations represented in the study tour were Teach for America, the Peace Corps, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the American Jewish World Service, UJA Federation of NY, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Avodah, Hillel, Jewish Funds for Justice, the New Israel Fund, Repair the World, Uri L’Tzedek and Ve’ahavta.

Israel Finds Common Cause With Evangelicals

By Michele Chabin November 18, 2010

Christian Zionist support for Israel is at an all-time high, observers say, and Israelis, American Jews and Palestinians are all taking notice -- some favorable, some not.

While Israel has long courted financial and political support from evangelicals, many Jewish American leaders have viewed the alliance with suspicion, leery about potential proselytizing and uncomfortable with evangelicals' domestic agenda at home.

Recently, though, the American Jewish community has found a new appreciation for evangelical support at a time of mounting international criticism of Israeli policy and financial hardships for many prominent Jewish groups.

The Korean girl in Bible class

By Tamar Trabelsi-Hadad November 18, 2010

Kim Xinai is something of an eye-catcher at Bar Ilan University, an institution of higher learning affiliated with religious Judaism.

Xinai, who is Korean, is studying for her doctorate in Bible Studies, a degree which combines biblical readings with ancient Jewish interpretations.

She speaks perfect Hebrew, and was sent to Israel by a South Korean university to complete her studies. After finishing, Xinai plans to go back home to teach the subject.

Yad L'achim Group: Israel, Army Radio Won't Air PSA Against Missionaries

By David Lev November 17, 2010

[Yad L'achim] prepared several radio advertisements that would run before major festivals, warning those planning to attend of the dangers – and how they could protect themselves.

However, as of now, those ads will not be played, at least on the radio stations belonging to the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the IDF. An Israeli Radio official called up Yad L'achim to inform them that their ad was being rejected, while an official of Army Radio wrote to the group that its radio stations could not run ads that “may damage the religious sentiments of different groups.”

Click here for Yad L'Achim Radio Advertisement (Hebrew)

Chief Rabbis call for day of fasting, prayers for rain

By Jonah Mandel November 16, 2010

Israel’s chief rabbis are calling on the public to pray for rain, and declared this Thursday a special day of fasting and prayer to atone for the sins that are likely preventing the direly missing rainfall.

Gay Couples Bypassing Conservative Marriage Laws

By Yermi Brenner November 18, 2010

The world’s first interactive online Torah study program

By Riva Gold November 18, 2010

What do an 85-year-old Israeli, a 10-year-old homeschooler, and a 33-year-old Polish Jew have in common?

They all study at, the world’s first fully interactive online Torah study program. The site, founded in 2007, brings Jews from across the world together to study Torah in real-time using video-conferencing technology.

A Jewish Renaissance?

By Yehudah Mirsky November 15, 2010

In recent years Israel has become a vast open-air laboratory for experiments in Judaism, re-fashioning rituals, reading old texts through new lenses, scrambling and fracturing familiar dichotomies between secular and religious.

Secular yeshivot, mainstream performers singing medieval Hebrew hymns, non-denominational "prayer communities" in hip Tel Aviv, kabbalistic therapy movements, Judaism festivals on once-socialist kibbutzim—something is going on here, but what?

Traversing the language barrier

By Mark Rebacz November 19, 2010

Yerushalayim Torah Academy (YTA) [is] a religious English-language high school that strives to help ease the transition into Israeli life and provide support for those students who don’t do well adjusting to a foreign language and culture.

Established three years ago with 24 boys, this year the school opened a girls’ branch as well, with 20 students – including Zemel’s 10th-grade daughter.

Knesset bill calls to extend daylight savings time to Nov. 1 every year

By Jonathan Lis [print edition only] November 21, 2010

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is set to decide today whether to endorse a private bill drafted by MK Nitzan Horowitz, calling to extend daylight savings time to November 1 every year.

Shalom: Daylight Saving Time should be imposed until end of October

By Attila Somfalvi November 21, 2010

Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said Sunday that Daylight Saving Time should be imposed until the end of October by law "as in most Western countries."

Religion and State in Israel

November 22, 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.