Monday, January 11, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - January 11, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

January 11, 2010 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

VIDEO: Interview with Anat Hoffman, Women of the Wall January 6, 2010

Women of Wall chairwoman questioned over prayer service

By Kobi Nahshoni January 7, 2010

Anat Hoffman:

"An officer sat there who asked me if I initiated the minyan, how many women came, whether they wore tallitot and donned kippot, and whether we held the Torah scrolls and held a procession to Robinson's Arch. This is, after all, what have been doing every first of the month for 21 years already."

"He took me into the next room, dipped my hand in ink, and took my fingerprints. Not a happy day," said Hoffman.

"When he asked me if I have anything to add, I said: 'I am sorry for you, for me, and for Israel, where this issue is investigated.'"


By Rahel Jaskow Opinion January 7, 2010

Anat Hoffman: "I was asked the following questions:

  • Do you know what the Supreme Court decision was?
  • What did the police officer demand from Women of the Wall during their prayer services on Rosh Hodesh Kislev (November 18) and Rosh Hodesh Tevet (December 18)?
  • Are you a member of the organizing body of these prayer services?
  • How many women attended?
  • Did men shout at you?
  • What did they shout?
  • Were women wearing tallitot?
  • What is a tallit?
  • Did the women wear kippot?
  • Did you hold a Torah scroll?
  • Did you hold a Torah scroll with intent to read it?
  • Did you hold a procession in the direction of Robinson's Arch?
  • Did you say on Army Radio that the aim of your group is to hold a quiet protest against the discrimination against women at the Western Wall?
  • For what reason do you think there is discrimination against women at the Western Wall?
  • Do you personally wear a tallit and a kippah?
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?"

Women of the Wall Leader Interrogated by Police

By Jane Eisner January 6, 2010

“It’s a sad moment,” said Hoffman.

She has gone to the police station in Jerusalem many times to lodge complaints against people who she says have attacked and occasionally physically hurt members of her group; none of those people have ever been arrested, she said. But this is the first time that she has been subject to interrogation herself. A skillful advocate, she said that the questioning did not bother her, but the fingerprinting did.

“There is something very violating about it,” she said.

The Wall is Wailing

By Rabbi Avi Shafran January 8, 2010

Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.

Women of the Wall

Those who are unhappy with the Israeli Supreme Court’s 2003 decision have the right to their unhappiness, and even to seek to have the court revisit the issue.

But if they choose instead to intentionally flout the law, they should honestly acknowledge that they are courting prosecution through civil disobedience – not seek to portray themselves as innocent victims wondering what they might possibly have done wrong.

Maybe in 2010, Zionism Means Enduring Prison

By Mya Guarnieri January 9, 2010

When Hoffman arrived at the police station, she was told that she is a suspect in a felony case for her activities at the Kotel. She was informed that everything she said during questioning could be used against her in a court of law.

At that point, "I was still in a good mood, actually," Hoffman tells The Huffington Post. "But it was the fingerprinting that got to me--that stain got to me. It was a violation, I felt humiliated."

Liberating the Wall

The Forward Editorial January 6, 2010

These outrages cannot be ignored by American Jews and must be viewed for what they are: another chapter in the ongoing struggle to determine whether Judaism’s most sacred site will belong only to a distinct, intolerant minority or whether it can truly welcome all the Jewish people.

…The awe-inspiring, radiant entrance to the Wall has been turned into the foyer of a Haredi synagogue.

Woman sprays tear gas at Orthodox man in bus segregation fracas

By Yaakov Lappin January 7, 2010

A woman who boarded a bus designated for religious passengers sprayed tear gas at an Orthodox man who demanded she move to the rear section last week in Ashdod.

The incident began on Friday, when an 18-year-old Orthodox man noticed the woman, 60, sitting at the front of the bus on a route on which men and women are segregated for purposes of religious modesty.

The man objected to the woman's seating location, and asked her to move to the back, police said, but she refused to budge.

The exchange quickly escalated into a confrontation, police said.

See also original Ashdod Hebrew article

Religious MKs join Chief Rabbinate in fight against Supreme Court

By Matthew Wagner January 8, 2010

In a battle pitting religion against state which seeks to redefine the balance of power between the sacred and the profane, religious legislators have joined rabbis to fight the Supreme Court.

Religious forces in the Knesset and outside of it are seeking to pass legislation that would give the Chief Rabbinate total control over the issuing of kosher supervision certificates.

Kadima, Likud MKs support Chametz Law

By Amnon Meranda January 7, 2010

The amended 'Chametz Law' is slated to be passed by the Knesset before the upcoming Passover holiday.

No less than 24 members of Knesset, some of them from the opposition, have joined the Shas initiative to amend the law such that displaying chametz, or leavened food, in any business will be prohibited during the holiday.

About one third of the Kadima faction supports the move.

Computer Software Addresses Chametz Pesach Sales

By Yechiel Spira January 7, 2010

The operators of the supermarkets agree that the barcodes of chametz items will be entered into the new Pesach software, which will block the checkout of any of those items during Pesach.

As such, if one sticks one’s hand behind a curtain and takes out a chametz item, the checkout will not be able to process it since the barcode will be rendered non-operational.

Jerusalem 'Chief Rabbi electing process tainted'

By Matthew Wagner January 6, 2010

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat warned in a letter to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz on Tuesday that he will petition the High Court of Justice against an election process likely to lead to the appointment of two haredi chief rabbis of Jerusalem.

"It is essential that a chief rabbi of Jerusalem come from a mainstream Judaism in a city where 70 percent of the Jewish population is not haredi," Barkat said in the letter to Mazuz.

"It is, therefore, important that one of the two chief rabbis elected belong to the religious Zionist stream of Judaism."

Rabbis Met in Bnei Brak – Reject New Justice Ministry Restrictions

By Yechiel Spira January 5, 2010

Rav Nachum Eisenstein, an organizer of the Monday afternoon kinos addressing new Justice Ministry demands from civil service rabbis spoke with Kol Chai Radio, explaining the position of the rabbonim.

The Justice Ministry and the courts are attempting to instruct the rabbonim as how to run the office, how to register giyurim, make decisions pertaining to kashrus. They are not knowledgeable to make decisions in halachic areas, but nevertheless want to make the decisions in place of the rabbonim.

If left with no alternative, it could result in a total separation between the rabbonim and the state.

Chief Rabbinate Opposes Justice Ministry Directive for Monthly Reports

By Yechiel Spira January 4, 2010

Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger Shlita has expressed the Chief Rabbinate’s opposition to a Justice Ministry ruling compelling state-appointed rabbis in periphery areas to submit a monthly report of their activities.

The rabbis in cities around the country are certain the new regulation is a first step and they will soon be compelled to do the same. They explain their objections are a matter of principle, since they are not “civil service clerks’ and they should not be treated as such.

Reform Loses Bid to Block New Synagogues in Netanya

By Hillel Fendel January 6, 2010

A nine-month Reform movement bid to ban new synagogue construction in the city has been blocked. Tel Aviv District Court Judge Sarah Gadot rejected an appeal by two Reform Judaism groups to stop any new synagogue construction in the city.

Shoham residents fight Shas minister's plan to establish 'superfluous' religious council

By Yuval Azoulay January 8, 2010

Shoham is fighting an order by Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi to set up a religious council in the town, even though secular and religious residents alike are content with the religious services already being provided.

In Shoham, religious services have been provided for years by the town's religious services department rather than an independent religious council.

Residents say they are proud of what they term the town's exemplary religious-secular coexistence and are uninterested in any changes that might disrupt it.

Israeli cities fight bid to fund religious councils in poor towns

By Noah Kosharek and Fadi Eyadat January 7, 2010

Mayors of wealthier cities voiced outrage yesterday at the Knesset Finance Committee decision Tuesday to force them to fund religious councils in poorer towns from their budgets.

The move is part of a Shas-sponsored bill from the previous Knesset, known as the differential budgeting law.

The decision also obliges municipalities to increase their share in the budgets of their local religious councils.

"The Shas people are using the law to reach for the money of residents of large cities and give it to their men," said Holon mayor Moti Sasson.

Large cities may foot bigger part of religious council bills

By Jonathan Lis January 6, 2010

The Knesset Finance Committee yesterday approved a change in criteria under which local authorities fund religious councils.

Larger, financially stronger local authorities will now pay a larger share of their religious council budgets and smaller local authorities in less well off locations will be required to pay a reduced portion of the costs at religious councils.

The new provisions will mean that NIS 27 million will be transferred from the budgets of large local authorities to fund religious councils in smaller and financially weaker locations.

Plunder under a religious cloak

Haaretz Editorial January 7, 2010

In 2003, the government decided on a comprehensive reform of the local religious councils, basing itself on the 1992 Tzadok Committee's recommendations, and a devastating 1996 State Comptroller report.

These reports detailed how the religious councils, instead of providing religious services to the population as a whole, had deteriorated into a playground for the religious parties and a source of cushy jobs for their hacks.

They found that corruption was rife in these councils. These unwieldy and wasteful independent councils were meant to become departments of the local authorities supplying religious services to all faiths and communities, similar to the departments of education welfare and health.

Haaretz cartoon by Amos Biderman January 10, 2010

Shas party scraps bill that would add dozens of deputy mayors to salary rolls

By Jonathan Lis January 10, 2010

Shas yesterday scrapped the so-called "jobs law" bill, which would have added dozens of deputy mayors in cities and towns of over 200,000 residents.

The bill would have secured jobs for dozens of political activists at an annual cost of about NIS 1 million per new deputy mayor.

Unsustainable Haredi system needs systemic change

By Rabbi Levi Brackman Opinion January 10, 2010

Rabbinic leadership is needed on the highest level to change a system that is forcing many in their communities to take desperate steps just to cover their families’ basic needs.

…The stigma associated with working in a profession or trade needs to be similarly dispelled within the haredi community.

This type of action will have an immensely positive effect on the staggering levels of poverty within that community.

Let’s hope that there is the foresight to take such action because the current system is completely unsustainable in the long term.

Haredi Web geeks fight rabbis' crackdown on internet

By Yair Ettinger January 5, 2010

Under a blitz attack by ultra-Orthodox rabbis, the people behind the country's ultra-Orthodox Web sites are attempting to return fire.

Guy Cohen is the CEO of Global Networks, the Internet media company whose Web portals include the ultra-Orthodox Behadrei Haredim.

He is threatening a million-shekel lawsuit against Rabbi Moshe Karp of Modi'in Ilit, the behind-the-scenes leader of the three-week-old campaign against the sites.

Gedolei Torah Publicize Internet Guidelines

By Yechiel Sever January 7, 2010

Maranan verabonon decided unequivocally that no hechsher or oversight can be granted to "chareidi" websites, and that no one may collaborate with them in any way.

"The above prohibition means under no circumstances can a hechsher or oversight be granted to ‘chareidi’ Internet sites that publish general and community news or forums..."

Fear and loathing in North Tel Aviv

By Noah Kosharek January 6, 2010

The fight against Chabad in Kochav Hatsafon began about two years ago, when the Kochav Hatsafon Tel Aviv Community Synagogue Association tried to establish a synagogue in the neighborhood.

Behind this association are Chabad figures who, according to the old neighborhood committee, mostly do not even live in Kochav Hatsafon. The committee refused to allocate a plot for a synagogue.

Rabbi Elyashiv: Don't sell kidney to fund wedding

By Kobi Nahshoni January 4, 2010

A halachic query directed at Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv illustrated the dire situation of ultra-Orthodox parents in a financial bind faced with meeting their children's wedding costs.

Shas Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: Shabbat desecrators worse than beasts

By Kobi Nahshoni January 10, 2010

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef verbally accosted those who desecrate the Sabbath during his weekly Saturday evening sermon.

He claimed that those who do not keep Shabbat are "foolish people" who are "worse than beasts."

Not a Zero-Sum Game

By Jonathan Rosenblum Opinion January 6, 2010

Chareidi employment is another area in which there is an intersection between the interests of the broader Israeli society and the Torah community. (The two interests are not necessarily identical, just overlapping.)

The ability of Israel to compete economically in the world is primarily dependent on brainpower. And the Torah world represents Israel’s greatest untapped source of that brainpower.

Egged Significantly Cuts Service to Meah Shearim Due To Vandalism

By Yechiel Spira January 4, 2010

According to a Kikar report, Egged during the past two weeks has significantly curtailed bus service to Jerusalem’s Meah Shearim neighborhood, apparently in response to vandalism attacks.

The murder could have been prevented

By Avirama Golan Opinion January 6, 2010

Not only the murder itself could have been prevented, but also all the terrible suffering that preceded it, of which the murder is the climax.

These were not prevented because of those same social norms, and the rabbis who let things degenerate are wholly responsible.

This time the ultra-Orthodox community's official and unofficial spokesmen will not be able to exonerate their leaders by fobbing us off with the familiar excuse of "just another drug addict turned newly observant - you send us all your nut cases."

This murder occurred in the innermost circle of the veteran Breslov Hassidic sect.

Supreme Court halts tender for construction of 2,176 homes for Haredim in Beit Shemesh

By Guy Liberman January 6, 2010 (hardcopy)

Supreme Court Judge Isaac Amit ordered the Housing Ministry not to unseal bids for purchase of land for construction of 2,176 residential units in Beit Shemesh.

The decision was handed down on an appeal y nine members of the Beit Shemesh city council, who are seeking to redefine the terms of the tender, on the grounds that it was biased in favor of the ultra-Religious Haredi community, contravening the council’s decision to auction off the land in an equitable manner to all sectors of the towns’ populace.

Amit has ordered the Housing Ministry to respond to the allegation within 14 days. The Housing Ministry denies the allegations.

Mother seeks divorce from 'abusive rabbi'

By Kobi Nahshoni January 7, 2010

The Jerusalem Rabbinical Court discussed Thursday for the first time a divorce claim filed against abusive "rabbi" Elior Chen by the mother of the children he abused, according to an indictment filed against him last year.

Ger Tzedek Takes Chassidic Music Scene by Storm January 6, 2010

Israel’s new sensation in Chassidic music is not from Jerusalem or Bnei Brak. Until a few years ago he was an African-American Christian from Ohio.

Will Boycott of Shefa Shuk Return?

By Yechiel Spira January 6, 2010

According to a report appearing in The Marker, a new branch of AM:PM in Nachlat Binyamin will be operating on shabbos.

The AM:PM stores are owned by Dudi Weissman, who also owns Shefa Shuk supermarkets, signaling a possible renewed cheirim of the supermarkets.

Haredi entertainer suspected of molesting kid

By Ronen Medzini January 8, 2010

Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox community was surprised by the arrest of Haredi entertainer David Bruckner on suspicion of sexually harassing a 12-year-old boy.

Jerusalem Municipality Removes Dozens of Eruv Posts

By Yechiel Spira January 7, 2010

Neighborhood rabbis and the Religious Council in Jerusalem are protesting deliberate actions by the municipality to furtively take down dozens of eruv posts in the southern part of the city.

Rabbis change views on who's the 'mother' of IVF children

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich January 7, 2010

Many of the country's most influential rabbinical arbiters have gradually changed their minds from considering the woman who undergoes in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor eggs the baby's halachic mother, to regarding the donor - even if she is not Jewish - as the real mother.

Protecting Diaspora synagogues with Jewish technology

By Matthew Wagner January 5, 2010

On Monday, Rabbi Israel Rosen from the Tzomet Institute presented to dozens of Diaspora rabbis kosher solutions; a wide range of security gadgets that could be used on Shabbat to protect synagogues and Jewish community centers.

In Israel, there are a combination of factors, explained Rosen that made Tzomet's solutions more popular. First, there is less reliance on non-Jews.

Second, there is more awareness of security issues. And finally, there are more religious Zionist rabbis in prominent positions who are open to the use of state-of-the-art technologies to prevent Shabbat desecration.

Rabbis from Around the World Convene in Jerusalem

By Yoni Kempinski January 5, 2010

The annual International Conference of Rabbis is taking place this week. The conference, organized by the Department for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora of the World Zionist Organization, brought approximately 150 representatives from Israel and the Diaspora to Jerusalem.

One and the same

By Yael Mishali Opinion January 7, 2010

Both secularism and ultra-Orthodoxy are temporary extremities within the Jewish people, and most of this joint sector will ultimately be absorbed into traditional sane Judaism, which adapts itself to the time and place. Based on all relevant polls, this is the largest and most significant sector in the State of Israel.

Shas to join World Zionist Organization? January 10, 2010

The ultra-Orthodox Shas party is considering joining the World Zionist Organization.

Israel's Prostitution Bill, and the MKs Blaming the Exploited

By Elana Sztokman January 5, 2010

A man goes to a prostitute, and then blames her for making him sin. No, this is not the beginning of a joke.

Rather, it’s the argument currently being made by Knesset members from the (all male) Shas party in a current round of deliberations about the legality of prostitution.

“The women are the guilty ones in the prostitution industry, and men are just the victims, because women tempt them,” according to Shas Knesset member Nissim Zeev, speaking at the hearing of the Committee on the Trafficking of Women last week.

Major Jewish Philanthropist Explores Chabad’s Russian Roots

Guma Aguiar Prays in Rostov

After returning from a visit to the burial sites of the founders of Chabad in the Ukraine, Guma Aguiar announced that he will dress in Chabad clothes each Shabbat and begin to learn Chassidic texts.

Click here for more Guma Aguiar VIDEOS

Religion and State in Israel

January 11, 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.

Religion and State in Israel - January 11, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

January 11, 2010 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Religious advocates decry rabbinate statement calling conversions reversible

By Cnaan Liphshiz January 8, 2010

A precedent-setting statement this week by the Chief Rabbinate, which said all conversions may be retroactively annulled at any time, is adding fuel to a legal battle over the status of state-sponsored conversions in Israel.

"This is an immoral, inhumane and anti-Halakhic assertion," said Rivkah Lubitch, a Rabbinic Court advocate from the Center for Women's Justice. "Let us hope that the High Court of Justice finds it is also illegal."

"This is a significant blow to converts," said Seth Farber, who heads the Jerusalem-based nonprofit ITIM. "We are slowly splintering into two peoples." An American-born rabbi, Farber is a key opponent of the controversial phenomenon.

On Tuesday, Shas MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem, formerly chief Sephardic rabbi in Geneva, spoke out against retroactive nullifications when he launched a book he had penned, detailing his research of the attitudes of great past Jewish sages to conversion.

MK Rabbi Amsallem: Old-New Conversion Solution

By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz January 4, 2010

Knesset Member and Rabbi Chaim Amsallem (Shas) will present a book he wrote on the subject of conversion to the Knesset Speaker on Tuesday.

In the book, Rabbi Amsallem puts forth an encompassing solution to the conversion of non-Jewish descendants of Jewish forebears, specifically designed for implementation in the State of Israel.

Entitled Zera Yisrael ("The Seed of Israel"), Rabbi Amsalllem's book offers a carefully researched halachic (Jewish law) position that he believes should serve the needs of most of Israel's non-Jewish immigrant population.

Houston woman in sex scandal undergoes conversion in Israel

By Matthew Wagner January 8, 2010

A woman from Houston who got mixed up in a sex scandal with a prominent haredi rabbi from Monsey, New York, arrived in Israel clandestinely and was converted to Judaism on Sunday in Alon Shvut by Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Hebron-Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior and a third rabbi who preferred to remain anonymous.

The decision by Eliyahu, Lior and the third rabbi to convert Orand after they were convinced of her sincerity is seen by some Zionist rabbis as part of a larger battle between warring camps in the Orthodox rabbinical world.

The fact that these three rabbis, who in recent years have not been involved with conversions, went out of their way to help Orand is seen both as a strong stamp of approval for Orand's pure intentions as well as a clear message to the haredi rabbinic world.

"This is an answer to Haredi rabbis' stringent approach to conversions," said Rabbi Israel Rosen, former head of the National Conversion Courts and a serving conversion court judge, who helped facilitate Orand's conversion.

…Eliyahu said that as a member of the Chief Rabbinate's government body, he was operating within the framework of the local rabbinic establishment.

Orthodoxy and scandal

By Rabbi Seth Farber Opinion January 7, 2010

The writer is the founder of ITIM: The Jewish Life Information Center and rabbi of Kehillat Netivot in Ra'anana

I believe that Orthodoxy needs to rethink the particular issue of conversion - particularly regarding the vulnerability of candidates and the possible abuses of centralization and delegitimization.

But at the same time, we also need to recognize the bigger picture and develop tools that properly balance the prohibition of lashon hara and chillul hashem with the responsibility of being honest and candid both in and to the modern world. I don't believe God expects any less from Jacob's children.

Advocates for 'agunot' find new voice on YouTube

By Ruth Eglash January 8, 2010

Bubbe Bikorta's "Never Ending Story," which is replete with bedtime lullabies, is one of five short video clips - one in English and four in Hebrew with English subtitles - aimed at highlighting the horrors of a marriage gone wrong and the unfair treatment of women in the religious judicial system in Israel that were launched on YouTube this week by the Center for Women's Justice.

Created to raise public awareness of the plight of the estimated hundreds of agunot‚ "chained women" whose husbands refuse to grant them divorces, each clip is based on a true story, Susan Weiss, the center's founding director, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Jewish grandmothers and the Israeli Rabbinate

By Sarah Breger January 6, 2010

Grandma is fighting back.

The Center for Women’s Justice, the Israeli non-profit organization dedicated to upholding a woman’s right to just treatment in the Rabbinical Courts in Israel has created a series of web clips highlighting the injustices and injuries that result from the very workings of the courts.

Preventing mamzerut - at what cost?

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion January 10, 2010

The writer is Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel

In general, our rabbis have searched for leniencies to avoid stigmatizing a person as a mamzer. But they have not done as well as they should.

They could also do more to reduce the number of Agunot ("chained women" who are unable to remarry because their gets aren't granted), or the blackmail by husbands withholding a get.

In the Masorti Movement, using the rabbinic tools that have been employed for generations - at least until a wave of fear washed over too many of today’s rabbis, who back away from creative solutions - we ask that couples about to be married sign a pre-nuptial agreement that may vastly reduce the danger of a women becoming an Aguna.

An end to evasion

By Shahar Ilan Opinion January 10, 2010

The writer is vice president of research and information for Hiddush - For Religious Freedom and Equality.

Reports heard by the Knesset subcommittee overseeing the implementation of the Tal Law indicate that, for the first time, there may actually be a light at the end of the tunnel of evasions.

And yet, the situation is far from satisfactory. The number of ultra-Orthodox who serve is equal to just one third of the yeshiva students receiving army exemptions annually (5,500). Graver still, those serving represent just 3.5 percent of the 55,000 yeshiva students registered to indefinitely defer their service. In other words, though progress is being made, it remains just a drop in the sea of draft evasion.

The subcommittee discovered another problem: 80 percent of those committed to civilian service serve in Haredi welfare agencies, not in emergency or security-related organizations. National service was not intended as yet another way to fund ultra-Orthodox groups; in this respect urgent change is needed.

Sharp rise in Haredi IDF enlistment in 2009

By Matthew Wagner January 7, 2010

Deputy Head of IDF Manpower Brig. Gen. Amir Rogovsky told a Knesset team responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Tal Law that about 700 haredi men joined the IDF's various "Shahar" programs. Shahar stands for haredi service (sheirut haredim) and targets married haredi men.

Shahar programs focus on training haredi men for non-combat roles such as computer programmers, technicians and mechanics.

According to data provided by Head of IDF Manpower Avi Zamir to a sub-committee of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, about 300 soldiers are inducted into the Nahal Haredi, a battalion designated for haredi soldiers.

There are differences of opinion regarding how many of these soldiers are actually haredi. Many come from quasi-haredi backgrounds while others are more zealous Orthodox Zionists.

2,000 yeshiva students served in 2009 January 6, 2010

Hiddush CEO Uri Regev praised the development and said it proved that yeshiva students can certainly do military service like everyone else. The data, he said, also showed how important it is to teach general studies like mathematics and English in haredi institutions, which would assist their students to integrate into good employment positions.

'Understanding with yeshivot will prevent rift'

By Roni Sofer January 10, 2010

"The instance of Har Bracha Yeshiva must be isolated from the rest of the hesder yeshivot.
Reaching an understanding with the hesder yeshivot is meant to prevent the threat presented by the phenomenon of spreading insubordination in the case of clashes with settlers in Judea and Samaria," Prime Minister's Office Director-General Eyal Gabai said over the weekend in closed talks.

West Bank rabbi: Religious IDF soldiers shouldn't refuse orders

By Jonathan Lis January 6, 2010

Rabbi Haim Druckman, who heads the committee of hesder yeshivas, on Wednesday, told an aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he strongly objects to insubordination among Israel Defense Forces soldiers serving in the West Bank.

Druckman added that there are cases in which a soldier cannot execute orders that are contrary to his conscience, in the same way that "a person with a broken hand cannot carry a heavy load."

He clarified that he does not view this as insubordination.

Druckman hopes for PM's support on Har Bracha

By Matthew Wagner January 7, 2010

Rabbi Haim Druckman, Chairman of the Union of Hesder Yeshivot, attempted Wednesday to garner Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's support against Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to remove the Har Bracha Yeshiva from the hesder framework.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post Wednesday, Druckman said that he was opposed to insubordination.

"But I also believe that a religious soldier whose conscience does not allow him to carry out such an order is just like a soldier with a broken leg who is physically unable to serve," said Druckman.

"The officer should understand this and proceed accordingly." Druckman said that according to his understanding of Halacha, it is prohibited to evacuate settlements with the intention of ceding the land to Palestinians.

"However, there are different opinions among rabbis. It is not a clear-cut situation."

Study: 25% of Religious Girls Serve in IDF January 7, 2010

A study by the Orot Israel Seminary shows that a substantial number of religious girls serve in the IDF.

In an interview with Arutz 7, one of the study's authors, Dr. Moshe Stofel, says that despite the lack of cooperation between the IDF and religious girls' high schools – which encourage girls to perform National Service, in line with the Halachic stance of the Chief Rabbinate – between 20% and 25% of girls serve in the IDF.

The figures are based on draft statistics from before the 2005 disengagement. Stofel said it was not clear if fewer religious girls chose to serve as a result of the disengagement.

IDF Cancels Raises for Religious Continuing Education January 10, 2010

Israel's government radio, Reshet Bet, reports this evening that the IDF is refusing to recognize and pay compensation for continuing education to career soldiers, particularly NCO's (Non-commissioned officers), who studied Jewish studies with the approval of the IDF's Chief Rabbi.

Chief Rabbis in call against abortions

By Nathan Jeffay January 7, 2010

Irit Rosenblum, executive director of New Family, a non-profit organisation that opposes rabbinic involvement family affairs, was particularly angry about Rabbi Metzger’s comments to the local media following the release of the letter, in which he indicated that he views confronting abortion to be part of Zionists’ demographic battle to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel.

This is a “cynical use of women’s bodies under the umbrella of Judaism”, she said.

'Financial crisis drives Haredi women to seek abortions'

By Kobi Nahshoni January 9, 2010

"Since the beginning of the financial crisis there has been an increase in the number of women opting for abortions, including religious and haredi women who can't bear the costs of raising another child," said Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Schussheim, chairman of the Efrat foundation for the prevention of abortions.

Schussheim made the statements following the announcement of Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar to fight the phenomenon, which he commended.

Once failing kibbutz pins hopes for revival on Conservative Judaism

By Ben Harris January 5, 2010

While some of Israel's kibbutzim are in steady decline, 10 mostly young families have arrived at Hannaton since the summer. They are part of a larger group of 20 families aiming to revitalize the country's only official Conservative kibbutz.

"My vision is to have here a religious, pluralistic, Conservative community that will be on one hand very religious, very connected to its Judaism, and on the other hand very much connected to its society," Rabbi Yoav Ende said.

"We're here to build a model that if it can be replicated, it can make a statement to Israeli society."

Life after Madoff

By Haviva Ner-David Opinion January 8, 2010

My plan was to bring my work as a rabbi up north. Another rabbi who joined the kibbutz with our group had been hired by the Masorti movement to revive the educational center located on the kibbutz.

In fact, he was the one who initiated the revival, since he felt that the educational center could flourish only in the midst of a flourishing Masorti-minded community.

He was also looking for people with innovative ideas for educational programming and was excited for me to do my seminars and work with couples out of the center, in addition to other life cycle programming.

The aliyah mindset

By Yoel Meltzer Opinion January 3, 2010

I was asked by several people to relate to some of the potential difficulties that making aliyah entail.

Chief among them were the concern for finding a sustainable livelihood, the fear of not finding a spouse, the difficulty of having to adjust to a different standard of living and the general difficulty in dealing with what is occasionally a very different mentality.

More communication, cultural exchanges in 2010

By Haviv Rettig Gur January 8, 2010

The government will take a more active role in expanding the contacts between Israeli society and Diaspora communities, and will strive to create shared educational and cultural activities, according to a working plan presented to the Knesset on Wednesday by the Ministry for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs

…Another program slated to be launched together with Taglit-birthright Israel is termed "11th day" by the ministry, a reference to the day after birthright's 10-day tours, when many participants choose to extend their free visit to Israel to see family or continue touring on their own.

Other projects include helping to train Jewish school principals in the former Soviet Union, and ambitious plans for a "Diaspora Week" to be held in conjunction with Tel Aviv's Beit Hatefutsoth Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, a research and educational institute focused on Jewish peoplehood and identity.

Independent 10-day Israel trip launched

By Haviv Rettig Gur January 6, 2010

Photo courtesy of Jewlicious

A private Israeli company is bringing 120 North American Jewish youth to Israel on a free 10-day trip aimed at strengthening their Jewish identity.

The Kfar Saba-based Oranim was once a major operator for trips funded by Taglit-Birthright Israel, but broke with the famous program last year.

Funding In-Marriage Out Of His Own Pocket

By Sharon Udasin January 5, 2010

Birthright officials admitted at the time that they had received criticism from a number of participants who expressed dismay over Lifshitz’s hard-hitting drive to quell intermarriage, in particular his tagline — “make Jewish babies.”

But they denied trying to squelch his message of marrying within the faith. Momo’s tagline has now morphed to “raise your children Jewish.”

“I said shalom to Birthright, and I wished them the best of luck,” Lifshitz told his new Israel arrivals during their opening session. “I cannot do that anymore; I have to do it my own way.”

Key directors resign from Young Judaea

By Ruth Eglash January 7, 2010

American Jewish youth movement Young Judaea and its long-running sponsor, Hadassah Women's Organization, suffered another blow Wednesday following the resignation of key staff member, YJ/FZY Year Course Director Keith Berman.

Berman's decision to leave Young Judaea after more than 20 years with the movement closely follows the resignation of its director, Rabbi Ramie Arian, who is scheduled to step down in the coming weeks.

It also comes after a slew of staff firings in Israel and cutbacks to key aspects of the Year Course program.

Over the past year, Young Judaea has also seen its funding from Hadassah slashed as the woman's organization reports undergoing a process of refocusing its resources and restructuring.

Young Judaea Loses One of Its Best

By Danny Reed Opinion January 5, 2010

Keith Berman, the director of Year Course resigned from his position after 10 years at the helm. He had dedicated 25 years of his life to working for Young Judaea in various positions.

An idealist, an expert Jewish informal educator and somebody who can run a professional, exciting, and stimulating year program with one hand tied behind his back--which is essentially what he has done for the last few years.

Writing the Limmud theme song

By Robbie Gringras Opinion January 8, 2010

Limmudniks - that strange new denomination of Jews who pay more than $800 to spend their Christmas break surrounded by Jewish pluralism and tolerance - have been following our religious problems in Israel with a concern verging on heartbreak.

…Into this chasm of disappointment stepped Kobi Oz.

The Israeli Judaism of Kobi Oz seemed to be a cultural resource, a smiling companion, a call to social action: much like the kind of Judaism that comes to life during the week of Limmud.

Michael Steinhardt: Non-Orthodox Jewish Education is a Shandah January 8, 2010

In a rare personal television interview, Michael Steinhardt, one of world Jewry’s most philanthropic benefactors and a co-founder of Birthright Israel, expresses scathing criticism of non-Orthodox Jewish life in the Diaspora (though Steinhardt sees himself as anything but an Orthodox Jew).

Zionist youth movements say they face financial ruin

By Cnaan Liphshiz January 8, 2010

World Zionist youth movements are facing a financial crisis which could lead to their imminent collapse, leaders of all major such movements told the Knesset this week in a plea for government intervention.

If this happens, "hundreds of thousands of Jewish youth will lose their only significant link to the State of Israel and to their Jewish identity," a coalition of chairpersons from Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, World Bnei Akiva, Maccabi World Union and other movements wrote to the Knesset.

Yemen's Jews fear for their lives, yet refuse to make aliyah

By Daniel Edelson January 7, 2010

According to (President of the Israeli Federation of Yemenite Jews Dr. Moshe Nachum), one of the main factors deterring Yemenite Jews from making aliyah is the financial aid provided by members of the Jewish Satmar community in the United State, which is known for its radical stance against Zionism and the State of Israel.

Are the remaining Jews stuck in Yemen?

By Haviv Rettig Gur January 6, 2010

The trickle to Israel is likely to continue, though Jewish Agency officials, including Aliya Department director-general Eli Cohen, remained mum this week on the possibility.

"It makes sense from a security perspective to take them out in a trickle so they don't raise suspicion," said Rickman.

"When we were talking about this [in the US State Department], the fear was that you'd have them all show up at the airport in one day. These people don't look like everybody else in Yemen."

Caught in Strife, Yemen’s Jews Cling Fiercely to Their Ancient Heritage

By Josh Berer January 6, 2010

They are the ones who have stayed when almost all their brethren left, for the most part for Israel. And most remain determined to stay: Yemen is their home, and the thought of having to reinvent themselves in America or Israel is daunting and unappealing to them.

...In fact, nearly 10 of them have studied in Israel, some for two years or longer, and have chosen to return to Yemen rather than stay in Israel.

Members of Bnei Menashe to make aliyah

By Itamar Eichner January 8, 2010

Some 7,200 members of Bnei Menashe, a group of people hailing from north-eastern India who claim lineage to one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, will make aliyah after converting to Judaism in Nepal.

According to the plan, members of Bnei Menashe will travel to Nepal in groups of 200-300 people and then undergo conversion by teams from the Rabbinical Court who will be sent specially for the task.

After the conversion process is complete, they will be allowed to immigrate to Israel with an immigrant visa. The government estimated that within one to two years, the entire community can be brought to Israel.

Rally: Not authorizing Falashmura aliyah crime against Zionism

By Yael Branovsky January 10, 2010

Some 500 Ethiopian-Israelis demonstrated outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Sunday and demanded that the government approve the aliyah of 8,700 members of the Falashmura denomination.

During the rally, Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) said, "I am determined to lead the struggle and conclude the deliberations by the relevant government offices. We'll have to convince the Treasury, which opposed the (Falashmura aliyah) in the past."

A Jewish Blogger Finds a Following by Digging in the Dirt

By Samuel G. Freedman January 8, 2010

Blogging on the site, Mr. Rosenberg, 51, has transmuted a combination of muckraking reporting and personal grudge into a must-read digest of the actual and alleged misdeeds of the ultra-Orthodox world.

He has broken news about sexual misconduct, smear campaigns and dubious business practices conducted by or on behalf of stringently religious Jews.

“Shmarya often reminds me of journalism in the old days — when editors would sometimes go at one another physically in the street,” Jonathan D. Sarna, a historian of American Jewry at Brandeis University with expertise in Jewish journalism, wrote in an e-mail message.

“I know that he is fiercely hated in some Orthodox circles, but he has had many a scoop, and is certainly THE destination for those who want dirt about Orthodoxy exposed to the world.”

See also: Radio Interview January 10, 2010

Swamped with singles

By Yael Brygel January 9, 2010

One of the key religious issues faced by the characters in Srugim is the conflict between Halacha and sexuality, an issue that Shapira suggests applies in particular to Yifat, one of the five main characters.

Watch Srugim ch. 3 in Family | View More Free Videos Online at

Politicians rally with Jewish and Christian clerics against clergy abuse

By Yair Ettinger and Nir Hasson January 4, 2010

A rare meeting between clerics from various churches, representatives of the Foreign Ministry and the Jerusalem municipality, and a rabbi belonging to the Eda Haredit anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox stream gathered last week in Jerusalem in an effort to stave off a diplomatic crisis between Israel and a number of foreign states.

The meeting was spurred by the growing number of complaints from churches in the vicinity of Jerusalem's Mea She'arim quarter about violence and harassment toward them on the part of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Film Review: Self-fulfilling prophecies

By David Alexander Nahmod January 3, 2010

A fascinating collaboration between filmmakers Kate Davis, Franco Sacchi and David Heilbroner, Waiting for Armageddon focuses on the intense passion that American Evangelical Christians have for the State of Israel.

A lone voice in the wilderness

By Gail Lichtman January 10, 2010

As a Muslim who accepts this premise of the Koran, Palazzi has no problem with Jewish sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel - including Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

During his visit here, he repeatedly urged Israel to assert its sovereignty by building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and wresting political control of the Wakf (the Supreme Muslim Authority) and the Temple Mount from the Palestinian Authority.

Kitchen Nightmare? Pork on the Menu in Israel

By Dominic Waghorn January 2, 2010

The "Other White Meat" is Not Welcome in Jaffa January 3, 2010

A retired Jewish cardiologist is set to make history -- and generate a bit of controversy -- with Israel's first ever cookery book devoted to pork.

Religion and State in Israel

January 11, 2010 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

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