Sunday, February 14, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - February 15, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

February 15, 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.

Black Bus

Click here for VIDEO

By Ayelet Dekel February 11, 2010

Black Bus (Hebrew title: Soreret), a documentary produced and directed by Anat Yuta Zuria, will have its international premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), taking place from February 11-21, 2010.

Third in a trilogy concerned with the relationship of women to Jewish religious law, the film observes that which remains hidden from view – the lives of ultra-Orthodox women.

Black Bus takes a route marked by images and associations, rather than linear narrative, viewing this world from the perspective of its two protagonists: women who have left the Ultra-Orthodox community – a blogger and a photographer.

Scenes from their lives are like stops along the way, set against the background of the ongoing debate in Israel over the issue of sex-segregated buses.

Segregate or suffer

By Ron Friedman February 12, 2010

An updated list of gender-segregated buses operated by Egged and obtained by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday reveals that on five intercity routes passengers have no choice but to use “mehadrin buses,” and that on more than 25 other routes, females who don’t want to board via the rear door have to switch buses two or three times and often pay substantially more to reach their destination.

The list of routes, compiled by the legal department of the Reform Movement’s Israel Religious Action Center, reveals, for example, that it is impossible to travel from Ashdod to Safed by bus without boarding a mehadrin line or making a transfer.

The same goes for people traveling from Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem and from Ashdod to Bnei Brak. The sole Saturday night bus from Ashdod to Haifa is also of the segregated variety.

Queen Esther’s Progeny Still Ride on the Back of the Bus

By Francine Klagsbrun Opinion February 9, 2010

Haaretz Cartoon by Erin Wolkowski October 28, 2009 “Jews, Save Us!”

It’s easy to dismiss these incidents as trivial. After all, Israel faces pressing problems of security and of vilification by hostile nations, and we certainly need to defend and protect it in every way possible.

But such occurrences are not inconsequential, nor are they only about haredim or women or even Israel. Every ruling that chips away at women’s freedom or dignity chips away also at the soul of a country that is at the center of Jewish life.

Our tradition lauds Queen Esther for speaking out. The least we can do is speak out also, for women whose voices are being squelched.

Where’s Rosa Parks?

By Steve Lipman February 9, 2010

“We are pleased with Minister Yisrael Katz’s recognition of the needs of the haredi public, said Shimon Stern, a spokesman for the Rabbinical Committee for Transportation Affairs.

“Seven countries in the world have separate cars for women who desire it, and it is legitimate to have this in Israel as well.”

Egged and the Wheels of Justice

By Shira Schmidt Opinion February 7, 2010

Laughter broke the tense atmosphere of the Israel Supreme Court session on Thursday Feb.4 (20 b’Shvat) when both sides, those in favor of gender-separated seating on Mehadrin buses and those against, reacted with smiles to the quip by Justice Elyakim Rubinstein.

I sat through the court session and, with Adar coming up, decided to record the humor and the jokes, which I will emphasize below.

VIDEO: TV Interview with Sara Einfeld January 16, 2010 (Hebrew)

See article on Sara Einfeld: No hole in the sheet

Sarah Einfeld, previously a Gerrer Hassid and currently a secular divorcee mother of two, has told her story across the pages of Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. She is also featured in Anat Zuria's film "Black Bus" (see trailer above).

Reform position and guidelines regarding the "Western Wall" February 12, 2010

Statement from the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism: Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Executive Director

IMPJ adopts the following operating principles with regard to the Kotel:

…3. IMPJ’s efforts will focus on the general character of the site and its accessibility to a range of Jewish communities, and not only to one component of the public struggle, including the activities of the Women of the Wall.

4. IMPJ will aspire to engage additional partners in this endeavor. The basic terms for partnership will be strict adherence to Higher Court rulings with regard to the Kotel Plaza. IMPJ will neither cooperate with nor support organizations which deliberately do not comply with these guidelines.

5. In light of the failure of the compromise to conduct joint prayers at Robinson’s Arch, IMPJ will place a central focus on the creation of a third public area at the Kotel, which will be an egalitarian plaza open to the public at large, for the purpose of prayer or a visit to the Kotel.

Whose wall?

By Rabbi Marc Rosenstein February 9, 2010

As long as we Reform Jews speak the language of secular democracy and claim moral authority as a persecuted minority - so long will we continue to be considered an irrelevant nuisance here.

Our strength is in offering a meaningful alternative at the level of the community, the school, and the synagogue, in realizing the vision of - and modeling - a Judaism that can meet the spiritual needs of the citizens of a modern state and can live in harmony with democracy.

It is too easy to say what we don't want (religious discrimination) and too difficult to say what we do want (i.e., do we really want Israel to look just like the United States?

If so, how will it be a Jewish state?). We need to be the visionaries of a state that lacks them in our generation - not still another group of victims vying for headlines and sympathy.

Dare I Daven at the Kotel? February 11, 2010

A Statement from Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President of the (Conservative Movement's) Rabbinical Assembly

Discrimination and harassment –whether sexual, racial, or religious--are demeaning and dehumanizing.

We fool ourselves if we think we can stand by while Jews in the Jewish state utilize government agencies to harass and oppress other Jews based on religious practice. The soul of the state of Israel and of the Jewish people is at stake.

Is the Entire Kotel Plaza Really a Synagogue?

By Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin

Responsa in a Moment Volume 4, Issue No. 3, February 2010

I) Was the area near the Kotel considered a synagogue before 1948 and did it have a mehitzah?

II) Why is the Ministry of Religion in charge of the entire Kotel plaza?

III) What is the halakhic status, as opposed to the legal status, of the Kotel Plaza; is it really a synagogue?

IV) How should the State of Israel deal with the fact that the entire Kotel plaza is slowly but surely becoming a Haredi synagogue?

Reform Judaism, Progressive Values and Israel Today February 12, 2010

This week, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, wrote a letter to his rabbinic colleagues about his recent trip to Israel.

“Legislation advancing religious freedom and pluralism will not be possible with this government, which includes two ultra-Orthodox parties needed to maintain its majority.

My task, therefore, was to argue that even if a major step forward was not possible, it was essential that Israel’s government avoid a major step backwards.”

“I met as well with the leaders of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. Since much of their funds are raised in North America, the financial crisis here has impacted them in a significant way.

Both ARZA and the World Union for Progressive Judaism, which have historically provided most of their support, are now struggling financially, as are the Union, the College-Institute, and all Jewish organizations and congregations.

Gay and Haredi in Jerusalem

By George Robinson February 9, 2010

Haim Tabakman’s appearance belies the somber nature of his impressive first film, “Eyes Wide Open.”

The film, which is playing at the Cinema Village (22 E. 12th St.), is a mesmerizingly slow trip inside the Haredi community of Jerusalem, a visually beautiful yet austere recounting of the mid-life crisis of Aharon (Zohar Strauss), inheritor of his late father’s butcher shop; Aharon takes on Ezri (Ran Danker) as his apprentice and falls in love with him.

Eyes Wide Open – FILM Trailer with English subtitles

Click here for VIDEO

VIDEO: Israel TV Program ‘Yoman’ - Requesting Recognition” February 12, 2010 (Hebrew) [Fast forward to 39:35 mark]

Gay and Religious - Including: Rabbi Ron Yosef, HOD; Aviad Doron, Havruta; Rabbi Ronen Lubitch, Nir Etzion

Finance Committee: Scholarships for Torah research exempt from tax

By Haim Bior February 12, 2010

The Knesset Finance Committee has forced the Finance Ministry to include researchers at non-academic Torah study institutes on a bill that would make academic scholarships tax-exempt.

The bill was given the green light for its second and third readings Wednesday morning, after MKs Uri Ariel (National Union) and committee chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), succeeded in including non-academic Torah researchers in the bill.

Women discuss 'kosher' use of social media

st February 8, 2010

Anglo-Israeli women will hold a one-day conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday, February 17, to discuss how Torah-observant people and organizations can use social media as a tool to build their businesses.

The featured speaker and religious advisor to the Conference is Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits, Director of the Jerusalem Kollel and a respected "posek" (advisor) on contemporary halachic issues, particularly for Jerusalem's English-speaking haredi community.

There will be sessions on the halachic (legal) and hashkafic (philosophical) issues relating to social media use, and how to make the internet a safer place for business users, children and students.

For more info, see Kishor - Professional Jewish Women

VIDEO: Knesset Members Study Torah February 9, 2010

In a special Tuesday session of the House of Torah Study for Knesset Members, headed by Education and Culture Committee Chairman Zevulun Orlev, leaders from the Jewish Federation of New York took part in Torah study with Knesset members.

Orlev: Religious public shouldn't pay for 'Eretz Nehederet'

By Gil Hoffman February 14, 2010

“There is no reason why the religious public that doesn’t watch TV on Shabbat should have to pay a fine for their observance. I will work to get this scandalous decision canceled.”

Young Haredim building their muscles

By David Regev February 8, 2010

The course was initiated by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry in a bid to help members of the ultra-Orthodox community integrate into the workforce. Gideon Zaken, head of the ministry's Jerusalem district, recently approached the Buot center, which specializes in training haredim in swimming and water therapy professions and asked for a workplace to train haredim.

Ben-Eliezer: Chareidi Community is Significant & Important

By Yechiel Spira February 8, 2010

Minister of Industry & Trade (Labor) Binyamin Ben-Eliezer on Sunday attended a conference sponsored by HaMevaser addressing the ‘leaders’ in the chareidi community.

Dozens of leading entrepreneurs, heads of businesses, MKs, ministers, and public officials attended the annual event held on the grounds of Graphoprint in Tel Yitzchak, the place where the newspaper is printed. The event was used to rate the top 100 companies serving the chareidi community.

A special insert booklet appears in Monday’s HaMevaser, containing an in-depth report from the survey, which was conducted during recent months, questioning 538 chareidi families.

Banned or Not? Kosher Internet Access Office in Yerushalayim

By Yechiel Spira February 9, 2010

YWN-Israel has stumbled across a kosher internet office services flyer, in the Ezras Torah area of Yerushalayim.

The flyer, in English, obviously addresses the English-speaking community, offering a full complement of office services for the frum women, citing the recent ban published by Gedolei Yisrael Shlita, to remove internet from Torah homes.

The flyer boasts approval from the “gedolei mashgichim” and offers morning and afternoon hours.

Haredi son, parents hold double wedding

By Kobi Nahshoni February 10, 2010

A young Christian American man who made aliyah seven years ago, converted to Judaism and became a student in one of the most prestigious Hasidic yeshivot in Jerusalem got married last week.

"Hakol Haharedi" news distributor reported that the groom's parents, who were inspired by their son's new path decided to do the same.

Rabbonim to MDA: No Station in Modi’in Illit!

By Yechiel Spira February 10, 2010

Magen David Adom is planning to establish a station in Modi’in Illit, explaining the city of 50,000 residents demands a station towards expediting emergency medical response and care. According to Kikar, in recent weeks, MDA regional director, Yitzchak Ben-Aaron met with Modi’in Illit rabbonim to discuss the planned station.

According to the report, the rabbonim shlita rejected the idea outright.

Will Haredi kosher vacations to Turkey solve tourism crisis?

By Elad Tene February 10, 2010

A delegation of religious and haredi journalists visited last week in Antalya and met with the Head of the Antalya Region in the Turkish Ministry of Tourism Ibrahim Ajar, who sponsored their visit.

A senior haredi media source told Ynet that this sort of vacation is tailor-made for "haredi-light" people, which he explained was a new stream that developed in recent years and includes some 10% of the haredi population.

According to the source, this new group includes both Lithuanian and Hasidic Jews who are not bothered by having a television set in the hotel room, speak freely with women, dress up in brand-names and have consumption patterns that are similar to the religious public at large.

Study: Hareidi 'Kosher' Cellphone Campaign a Flop February 14, 2010

One of the biggest campaigns ever undertaken by the Hareidi religious establishment – the campaign against cellphones with internet access and advanced services – has been a flop, according to a study.

Rabbis to deem Haredi internet kosher

By Kobi Nahshoni February 11, 2010

The war being waged against haredi internet channels is still in full swing, but one site has received its very own 'kosher' certification. "Etrog," which was closed following a rabbinical protest, will soon be relaunched after an agreement in principle was reached stating that it would publish only "suitable" content and would be under the supervision of a "spiritual committee."

This is an unprecedented move that will likely result in a similar move for other haredi sites.

Court indicts Chabad member for assault, threats February 11, 2010

An indictment was filed Thursday at the Beersheba Magistrate Court against a Chabad member who is accused of assaulting and threatening two members of the Ger Hassidic group.

Haredim riot in Jerusalem over man's arrest

By Efrat Weiss February 11, 2010

Residents of Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood on Thursday evening set fire to dumpsters and hurled stones on buses following a court decision to extend the remand of a haredi man arrested on suspicion of causing disturbances.

Shas Playing Hardball to Compel Degel to Back Off

By Yechiel Spira February 11, 2010

Shas, as has been seen in the past, is not a novice to the political arena and not without the ability to strike when pushed into a corner.

Shas is now signaling that if Degel HaTorah attacks regarding Shas’ decision to enter the World Zionist Organization continue, Degel can forget about Shas’ support for the bill seeking to add deputy ministers to Jerusalem. The bill was put forward by MK R’ Uri Maklev.

Haredi bidders win most new Beit Shemesh lots

By Einat Paz-Frankel February 11, 2010

The Israel Land Administration today published the results of the tenders for land zoned for the construction of 2,000 apartments in Beit Shemesh. The publication was delayed by the Supreme Court because of a petition for an injunction filed by Beit Shemesh councilmen who opposed turning the town into a Haredi bastion.

Poll: Only 25% of Haredim aware of green construction February 11, 2010

The Haredi-religious public's awareness of green construction and the environment is 60% lower than the level of awareness among the secular public, according to a survey conducted by the Geocartography institute.

About 27% of the haredi-religious public are aware of the green building issue, compared to about 45% among the secular public.

More Anti-Shabbos Tensions in Yerushalayim

By Yechiel Spira February 11, 2010

[There are] plans to challenge the current status of the community, beginning with demands to dismantle the gate that closes Mem Gimmel Street on shabbos, leading to the Undsdorf area. In recent weeks, a metallic gate was added to the community towards enhancing the eruv.

…residents maintain the new addition to the eruv totally prevents the entry of vehicles on shabbos, and they are unwilling to accept this.

Religion and State in Israel

February 15, 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 - February 15, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

February 15, 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.

Rabbi blames inaccessible system for fall in conversions

By Mark Rebacz February 11, 2010

Rabbi Seth Farber, director of nonprofit organization ITIM:

“Many potential converts don’t even consider the process, just because of its bureaucratic challenges and potential to be annulled or not recognized at some later date,” he explained.

“These people go to school with our children, serve in the army and share the same religious holidays [with] us,” he says. “They must not be scrutinized under a microscope, and choices they make after conversion should have no bearing on the conversion itself.”

VIDEO: 20 Year Anniversary of Aliyah from Former Soviet Union

For background on this story, see Jewish in Tel Aviv, Gentile in Ashkelon

By Tamar Ish Shalom Israel TV Keshet Channel 2 February 3, 2010

Click here for VIDEO on Conversion issue (Hebrew)

Maxim and Alina Serjukov had to register their intention to marry in the village of Beer Tuvia after the top rabbi in their hometown of Ashkelon rejected her conversion.

Science, Religion and God

By Charlotte Gordon February 11, 2010

Book Review: “Maimonides, Spinoza, and Us: Toward an Intellectually Vibrant Judaism” Jewish Lights. Rabbi Marc D. Angel, PhD

The Israeli Chief Rabbinate refuses to acknowledge conversions performed by Reform and Conservative rabbis, as well as those Orthodox rabbis who are not “Orthodox” enough.

According to Angel, many “Torah true” Jews support this stringent view of conversion because they believe the Jewish soul is intrinsically different from the non-Jewish soul. Pitting himself against this kind of xenophobic thinking, Angel urges readers toward greater inclusivity and openness.

An offensive conversion 'solution'

By Miriam Shaviv Opinion February 11, 2010

But the truth is that, in every single instance, the confusion and discord is sown by one party: Charedi rabbis who are imposing ever stricter standards for conversion, standards that are unprecedented historically, halachically dubious and which increasingly tend to exclude any convert who is not willing to take on a strictly Orthodox lifestyle.

For them to break a perfectly good system and then come complaining that it “doesn’t work”, and needs to be abandoned, is simply chutzpah.

Beth Din rejects rabbi’s call for end to conversion

By Simon Rocker February 11, 2010

The London Beth Din has rejected a call from a senior rabbi for a worldwide halt to conversions.

Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of Mill Hill Synagogue, chairman of the US Rabbinical Council, proposed the suspension in a JC article last week because of continuing controversy over converts in Israel.

First ex-Marrano Israeli rabbi returns to Spain as emissary

By Mark Rebacz February 8, 2010

For the first time since the expulsion of Spain’s Jews in 1492, a descendant of Marrano Jewry who immigrated to Israel and received rabbinic ordination will return to Spain to serve as a rabbi.

Rabbi Nissan Ben-Avraham, a resident of Shiloh and father of 12, has been appointed a new emissary to the Marrano (or Bnei Anusim) community of Spain.

Born in Palma in 1957 to a religious Catholic family, his given name at birth was Nicolau Aguilo.

According to Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, in recent years there has been an awakening among the descendants of the Bnei Anusim to discover more about their identity.

Yisrael Beiteinu: No citizenship revisions, no civil marriages

By Mazal Mualem February 10, 2010

Even though Avigdor Lieberman said yesterday that he was satisfied with Yisrael Beiteinu's achievements a year after the elections, several important clauses in the party's coalition agreement have not been fulfilled, and they are unlikely to be met in the future.

Another major issue is legislation allowing Jews to marry non-Jews within Israel. Under the coalition agreement, a solution would be found within 15 months of the government's establishment.

Like the Citizenship Law, this too was a major pre-election promise to the party's base of hundreds of thousands of Russian immigrants. A major obstacle to implementing this is Shas.

Hijab in the Rabbinic Court

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion February 9, 2010

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

It’s a mistake is to think that whoever comes within the four walls of the Rabbinic Court must dress in accordance with the demands of the judge, or even of the Court.

…So long as the Court is under the aegis of the state – a rabbinic judge can’t refrain from hearing the pleadings of a married attorney until she places a piece of cloth on her head.

But of course it is clear who is making the rules here and who is quietly taking orders. There is no doubt that women would wear anything they are told to wear – even a hijab – in order to receive the services that they need from the rabbinical court.

Major Fines for Violating ‘Day of Rest’ Laws in Israel

By Yechiel Spira February 10, 2010

The Tel Aviv District Labor Court fined Big Mama HaNatziv LTD of Tel Aviv of violating worker’s rights by having employees work on Shabbos, without paying them overtime since they were working on their legal day of rest.

Open on Shabbat

By Michele Chabin February 6, 2010

Michele Chabin is the Israel correspondent for The Jewish Week.

"If someone wants to be religious, they can't tell us what to do. It's not that we're anti-religious. But our feeling is, 'You come when you want to and we'll accommodate you.'"

That's the attitude of many kibbutzniks, storeowners, and restaurateurs around the country who operate their businesses on Shabbat.

Although numbers are hard to come by, such enterprises--from plant nurseries and furniture factories to movie theaters and falafel stands--are believed to be in the thousands if not tens of thousands.

Although most municipalities have strict regulations regarding Shabbat closures, including the requirement that anyone employed on Shabbat be a non-Jew, enforcement is erratic.

Likud mayors complain to Netanyahu about Shas control of municipal budgets

By Mazal Mualem February 10, 2010

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was assailed by mayors and deputy mayors from his own Likud Party on Monday over what they termed Shas' takeover of municipal funds for the benefit of its own institutions.

The anger was principally directed at the so-called "Nahari Law," which requires municipalities to give the same funding to "recognized but unofficial" schools that they do to state schools.

The two main "recognized but unofficial" school systems are affiliated with ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism.

State Threatens Ashkenazi Parents with Criminal Charges

By Yechiel Spira February 9, 2010

The state is warning the parents of 74 Ashkenazi girls, students in a Beis Yaakov in the Shomron community of Emanuel, that if they do not return their girls to the school they will face criminal charges, trials and possibly a jail time.

While Deri slept, something new happened

By Carlo Strenger Opinion February 12, 2010

Aryeh Deri continues the myth initiated by the Chazon Ish that secular Judaism is an "empty cart," that it has produced nothing that can compare to the thousands of years of the religious Jewish heritage.

It is time for Deri - and many others who think like him - to wake up: 200 years may not sound much to them, but the world has changed dramatically in these centuries.

Secular Jews have emerged as a major cultural force, and, among others, have built the country that the Haredim are now trying to teach how to be Jewish.

The rabbi and the role of Big Brother

By Niva Lanir Opinion February 9, 2010

The truth is, we are completely fed up with hearing that Deri's bookshelf is full and the bookshelf of the new Judaism - which Deri invented with his mere words - is empty.

We are sick of hearing that his cart is full and ours is empty. Agnon, Alterman, Goldberg, Yizhar, Gouri, Oz, Grossman, Shabtai, Pinkas and many others wrote new Hebrew and even renewed it, although Deri has never set eyes on their works, apparently.

Shas rabbi: Ahmadinejad can go to hell

By Kobi Nahshoni February 14, 2010

Shas' spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, slammed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his weekly sermon Saturday evening, referring to the Iranian president as "Haman of our generation" and saying that he "can go to hell".

Proposal: Chief Rabbis Can Continue for a Second Term

By Yechiel Spira February 11, 2010

It appears that some officials in the Chief Rabbinate of Israel are testing the waters, speaking with lawmakers to elicit their response to the idea of permitting the chief rabbis of Israel to serve a second term. To date, this was not the case.

Officials are holding discreet meetings with chareidi, dati leumi and non-frum MKs, seeking to probe the possibility of moving ahead with such a proposal.

If such a move is approved, it would permit one or both of the current chief rabbis to continue in his post for an additional term of 5 or 10 years. At present, the chief rabbis serve one ten-year term.

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Election on Hold Again

By Yechiel Spira February 12, 2010

It appears that Jerusalem City Hall has decided to accept the position of the legal advisor of the Ministry of Religious Services and delay the election for new chief rabbis in Yerushalayim.

Elderly Join with Mayor Barkat against the Chareidim

By Yechiel Spira February 14, 2010

Israel’s Histadrut HaGimla’im Union representing the nation’s elderly has announced it stands firmly at the side of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat against the chareidi community in the upcoming elections for the chief rabbis of the capital.

Correctional facility

By Coby Ben-Simhon February 12, 2010

Interview with Attorney Gilad Barnea

As part of the Jerusalem Now campaign, Barnea succeeded in waging another legal battle of principle.

"In the campaign, Shas activists distributed bottles of 'oil charm' with the blessing of [the venerable Kabbalist] Rabbi Kadourie. We decided to fight that.

We complained to the chairman of the central elections committee that the bottles of oil were illegal, because they were a forbidden gift that sought to influence voters by means of 'amulets or whispers.'

Battle of the Israel Programs

By Michele Chabin February 9, 2010

In interviews with the Israeli media and in heated exchanges on the Internet, Berman’s detractors assert that his actions were unethical and possibly illegal.

Dan Krakow, director of Young Judaea in Israel, said Berman “incorporated the company, built the Web site and recruited staff, among other things, prior to leaving his employ with us.”

Hadassah’s legal counsel “is pursuing the matter,” Nancy Falchuk, national president of Hadassah, said through a spokesperson.

On Being Michael Steinhardt

By Gary Rosenblatt February 9, 2010

The writer is Editor and Publisher of The Jewish Week

A self-professed atheist, Michael Steinhardt might be offended — or else amused — to be described as a modern-day prophet.

According to Steinhardt, rather than fully support the effort — a documented success in creating life-changing, positive Jewish experiences for many of the 225,000 young participants — most Jewish groups are busy with their usual agendas, which he says are at best ineffectual.

To him, it is unconscionable that 35,000 young people who registered for the free 10-day trips Birthright sponsors last year were left on the waiting list because not enough money had been raised to allow them to participate.

Only 4% of FZY’s year program participants marry out

By Ruth Eglash February 11, 2010

Spending a year in Israel with the British Jewish youth movement the Federation of Zionist Youth significantly reduces assimilation and highly strengthens commitment to the State of Israel, according to a first-of-its-kind study to be published next month for the organization’s 100th anniversary celebrations.

Not democratic, not Zionist

By Shlomo Avineri Opinion February 11, 2010

The idea of granting the right to vote in Knesset elections to Israeli citizens residing abroad is undemocratic and anti-Zionist.

That is why it does not matter who will benefit from it politically: We should object to the move in principle.

Who should vote? Editorial February 10, 2010

The Zionist enterprise is about the ingathering of the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland – not a virtual ingathering in the Diaspora.

There can be no ballot-box influencing of that enterprise without responsibility. The vote, in short, should be reserved for those who live with the consequences.

Memo to Israel’s Leaders: Reinvent the Jewish Agency

By Yoav Shoham Opinion February 2, 2010

Yoav Shoham is a professor of computer science at Stanford University and co-founder of The Jewish Peoplehood Project Index.

…If JAFI is not reinvented it will become increasingly marginalized.

5. A vision of the new JAFI:

a. The old contract between world Jewry and Israel has all but expired. For many, 1948 and 1967 are at best a dim memory. Israel’s military, economic, demographic and political situation has changed dramatically in the past 60 years so as to completely change the equation. Needed is a new contract;

VIDEO: 20 Year Anniversary of Aliyah from the Former Soviet Union

By Tamar Ish Shalom Israel TV Keshet Channel 2 February 2, 2010

Aliyah stories (Hebrew)

Suspected Jewish terrorist admits to anti-missionary activities

By Yuval Azoulay February 10, 2010

Suspected Jewish terrorist Yaakov (Jack) Teitel told his interrogators he was an active member of anti-missionary group Yad L’Achim for five years, Haaretz has learned.

The Bnei Brak-based ultra-Orthodox group has gained notoriety in recent years for its actions against Messianic Jews, whom it perceives as a "sect" seeking to convert Jews to Christianity. The organization also prides itself on "rescuing" Jewish women from relationships with Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.

Conservative synagogue in Arad set alight

By Ben Hartman February 10, 2010

Unknown assailants torched a building housing a Conservative synagogue in Arad on Monday night, a year after a failed attempt to burn the shul.

No one was hurt in the fire, which scorched the outside of the building but was extinguished before it damaged the synagogue within.

The Shira Hadasha synagogue is one of 60 Conservative shuls in Israel, and the only non-Orthodox synagogue in Arad.

ITIM Bar/Bat Mitzvah program in Public Schools (Hebrew)

Israel’s Kosher Market Approaches $11 Billion February 8, 2010

With nearly 70% of Israelis (including non-Jews) preferring kosher products, sales of kosher certified products are approaching $11 billion.

A new report by the Foreign Agriculture Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, notes that Israelis also prefer imported kosher foods, which in 2009 was valued at $1.8 billion out of $14.4 billion in overall food sales.

Finding Jerusalem's lost souls

By Nir Hasson February 8, 2010

Finding the grave was made possible thanks to an innovative project mapping and restoring the cemetery on the Mount of Olives undertaken by the association. So far they have located 20,000 graves.

According to estimates, there are some 120,000 Jews buried in the giant cemetery. The oldest graves date back to the First Temple era but new graves are added every week.

Hesder Yeshiva Students to Home Front Command February 10, 2010

The Home Front Command, together with the Hesder Yeshivas in Israel, has agreed that Hesder Yeshiva students will be called up during times of emergency to the Home Front.

Religion and State in Israel

February 15, 2010 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.