Monday, May 3, 2010

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

Religion and State in Israel

May 3, 2010 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

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.

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

By Stewart Ain April 27, 2010

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

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

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

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

Impact of proposed Israeli conversion law under debate

By Uriel Heilman April 28, 2010

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

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

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

“Let’s start with this,” he said.

Ayalon to US Jewry: Allow conversion bill

By Rebecca Anna Stoil May 3, 2010

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon:

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

Op-Ed: Proposed Israeli conversion bill is deeply flawed

By Uri Regev Opinion April 29, 2010

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

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

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

Jewish leaders oppose conversion bill

By E.B. Solomont May 2, 2010

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

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

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

Judges, take charge

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion April 30, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Chief Rabbinate versus the Jewish People

By Bambi Sheleg Opinion April 29, 2010

The writer is Editor of Eretz Acheret

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

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

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

The secular state

By Benny Perl Opinion April 28, 2010

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

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

Isn't it time?

By Rabbi Meir Azari Opinion April 29, 2010

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

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

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

Violence does not constitute grounds for a divorce

By Batya Kahana-Dror Opinion April 29, 2010

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

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

The ‘Get’ Rap

Click here for AUDIO

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

Did did you get the Get?

Oh yeh I got it done

You see I copped a plea

at the Bet Din, officially

They cut it for me

The male hierarchy

They told me I could be free

If I paid them a fee...

Segregation is Unacceptable Humiliation April 17, 2010

Zahava Fisher:

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

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

Haredim protest 'missionary activity' in Holon

By Yoav Zitun May 1, 2010

Click here for VIDEO

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

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

Letter to my Haredi friend

By Yair Lapid Opinion May 1, 2010

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

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

Religious Zeal Drives Housing Crisis in Ramat Shlomo

By Sanaz Meshkinpour and Jose Leyva May 1, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

By Yair Ettinger and Tomer Zarchin April 28, 2010

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

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

Treasurer Pollack Being Replaced in Betar Illit

By Yechiel Spira April 27, 2010

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

Lag BaOmer 5770 in Modi'in Illit

By Yehuda Boltshauser / Kuvien Images May 1, 2010

Click here for VIDEO

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

By Nathan Jeffay April 28, 2010

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

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

Revelers set differences aside at raucous Lag Ba'omer celebrations

By Eli Ashkenazi May 2, 2010

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

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

Lag B'Omer pilgrimage attracts 500,000

By Ahiya Raved May 1, 2010

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

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

By Malkah Fleisher May 1, 2010

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

Click here for Photos:

Authorities brace for huge Lag Ba’omer crowds at Meron

By Ron Friedman April 30, 2010

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

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

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

By Hana Levi Julian April 29, 2010

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

Cruel kosher slaughter method still in use

Kobi Nahshoni contributed to this report April 29, 2010

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

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

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

Rav Malinowitz on the RBS Mikva Controversy April 27, 2010

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

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

Mikveh at bottom of priorities in Kfar Vradim

By Mirit Kouschnir-Stromze April 28, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

Religion and State in Israel

May 3, 2010 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.

Religion and State in Israel - May 3, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

May 3, 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.

Haredi school segregation survives High Court challenge

By Chaim Levinson and Yair Ettinger May 2, 2010

The High Court of Justice yesterday instructed the Beit Yaakov school in the ultra-Orthodox town of Immanuel to figure out a way to run classes for both Ashkenazi and Sephardi girls without racial segregation.

This means the students would continue to be segregated, but not based on racist or ethnic criteria, representatives of the Immanuel ultra-Orthodox community said.

…The petitioners - Yoav Lalum of the Noar Kahalacha nonprofit organization and Dr. Aviad Hacohen, dean of the Sha'arei Mishpat law school; the Education Ministry and the court will have to agree on the criteria, Justice Edmond Levy ruled.

One of the parents, Yitzhak Weinberg:

"We maintain a separatist way of life, that's the ultra-Orthodox way,"adding that the ethnic issue is of no concern to him, and that he and the other parents "only want religious and educational segregation."

Deal on Emmanuel school reached

By Dan Izenberg April 29, 2010

The parties in the dispute over a haredi girls’ school in Emmanuel failed on Thursday to agree on the details of a compromise whereby 77 pupils who left the school to study in a pirate institution would return to the school where they are registered.

After several hours of talks that ended in deadlock, the court granted the parties another seven days to reach an agreement.

The general outline of the compromise was laid down earlier by justices Edmond Levy, Edna Arbel and Hanan Meltzer.

It called for the girls’ immediate return to the school, the acceptance of a hassidic track there, the drafting of a written constitution for that track which would not include any type of ethnic discrimination, and an appeal mechanism for families whose request to join the track was rejected.

Court to weigh sanctioning parents for school's segregation

By Yair Ettinger April 30, 2010

The rabbinic leader of the Slonim Hasidim, to which most of the Ashkenazi families in Immanuel's separate Hasidic track belong, said he personally would agree to sit in jail rather than abide by the High Court ruling.

In an unusual step, the rabbi said he was considering attending today's hearing, and would also allow his followers to be interviewed by the non-Haredi press.

Religion or Pseudo-Religion: Orthodoxy and Torah Values

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel Opinion April 24, 2010

Is this religious behavior? Can schools that promote such vile discrimination be considered as religious?

On the contrary, these schools are repulsive examples of religion gone wrong.

No parents--of whatever background--should want their children to attend such schools. Schools that teach and enforce discriminatory policies are morally deficient and cannot be considered as bastions of Torah. Rather, they disgrace the Torah.

While passing themselves off as being religious, these schools (and all their administrators, teachers and parents who support the system) are mockeries of Torah religion.

Racist humor falls flat with Meretz councilman in Jerusalem

By Nir Hasson April 30, 2010

In a private meeting yesterday with a Meretz member of the city council and her aide, deputy Jerusalem mayor Yitzhak Pindros allegedly said in jest that "at Haredi education we do not accept Sephardim, monkeys, Russians and Ethiopians."

Pindros denies saying that and says that Laura Varton, the city council member, is "a liar and an anti-Semite."

Tel Aviv mayor: Haredim cultivate ignorance

By Yaheli Moran Zelikovich May 2, 2010

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai made harsh statements Sunday against the ultra-Orthodox education system, which he described as jeopardizing the future of Israeli society.

The haredim also teach whatever they want, and are unwilling to teach the civic core of subjects, which any modern country would want for its citizens, in order to know what democracy means and be able to sustain themselves as adults and not become a liability on the tax-payer."

He further added,

"Today the State of Israel is probably the only country in the world where private education is being funded by the public, without it having to adhere to a minimum of educational demands."

Huldai calls Haredim ignorant; Shas says TA mayor is bigoted

By Yair Ettinger and Noah Kosharek May 3, 2010

Huldai said he knew his remarks exceeded the bounds of political correctness, but that "there is no choice but to speak openly about the existence of two sides in Israeli society: those who contribute to strengthen it and make it flourish ... and the other side, of those who are funded by [the first side]."

Only 1 in 8 pupils in Jerusalem is secular

By Ronen Medzini May 2, 2010

Among Jewish students, haredi students make up 61% of the first-grade age group. Just 19% are secular, and another 19% are National Religious.

The percentage of haredi pupils in that age group is double the relative representation of haredim in the adult Jerusalem population, which is a bit less than 30%.

Jerusalem Municipality 'bolsters Zionist population'

By Ronen Medzini May 2, 2010

MK Einat Wilf (Labor) called to stop funding the haredi education system until it adopts the core study program.

"These shocking figures should worry all of Israel's citizens. If the country continues to neglect the public education system and nurture the recognized but unofficial education system, we will all face a gloomy reality," she said.

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus of the United Torah Judaism Party said the figures "are indicative of the social trends in the city.

"The city is obligated to care for all of its sectors, including the haredi sector," he said.

8 Har Bracha students AWOL

By Kobi Nahshoni April 28, 2010

Eight Har Bracha yeshiva students are missing from military service and are "wanted" by the army, including three combat soldiers from the Kfir brigade who left their base without permission.

Ynet has learned that they intended to turn themselves over to their commanding officers in the coming days so that the IDF would be forced to cope with their protest.

A Month After Passover, Eating Matzoh To Promote Inclusion

By Elana Sztokman April 28, 2010

In the spirit of Pesach Sheni’s powerful message of inclusion, this year for the first time, Pesach Sheni was marked on Monday, April 26 as the “Day for Religious Tolerance.”

The celebration, initiated by Bat-Kol, the organization of religious lesbians, and Kolech, an Orthodox feminist organization in Israel, was explained by Bat-Kol activists Dina Berman Maykon and Tamar Gan-Zvi Bick:

Sara Netanyahu: Bible appeals to secular youth too

By Kobi Nahshoni April 26, 2010

Sara Netanyahu added that the fact that third place was won by a 15-year-old secular boy who goes to high school near the university in Jerusalem, and whose hobbies are sports and theater, proves that the Bible also appeals to non-religious youth, who do not study in yeshivot or seminaries.

She added this has also increased awareness for bible studies among the secular youth.

Journey to Jerusalem: The Movie

By Rory Kress April 27, 2010

A video retrospective of our trip to the Middle East

Professor Ari Goldman, former religion reporter for the New York Times, has taught the “Covering Religion” course every spring for the past 16 years, preparing his students to write about religion for a diverse readership.

Journey to Jerusalem from Rory Kress on Vimeo.

How much do they really love Zion?

By Akiva Eldar (see second story) April 27, 2010

Before Independence Day, the Emek Yezreel College commissioned a survey of the attitude of young Jewish Israelis (Hebrew-speakers aged 20 to 30) toward the national anthem, "Hatikvah."

Prominent among those who said the anthem does not represent them were people with low incomes (8 percent) and religious respondents (11 percent), as compared to 2 to 3 percent among people with average and high incomes and 1 percent among people who define themselves as traditional.

A Ray of Light in a Lion’s Den

By Avi Shafran Opinion April 30, 2010

“Boy, you’re brave,” said the first fellow to approach me at the table after the symposium.

The panel discussion, on Sunday, April 25, was the second time in as many months that I had made a presentation on the topic of Jewish religious pluralism in Israel.

Back in March, it was a University of Maryland conference on “Israel as a Jewish State.” Sunday’s symposium, sponsored by the Institute for Living Judaism and Hadassah’s Brooklyn branch, was entitled “The State of the Jews in the Jewish State: Religious Pluralism in Israel.”

'Feminist' religious lecturer loses appeal against dismissal

By Or Kashti May 2, 2010

Dr. Hannah Kehat said the only reason she was fired from her position at the Orot Israel teachers' college was that she "dared raise a feminist voice in the national religious camp for women suffering from rape and sexual harassment, and worst of all, succeeded."

Kehat, who is the founder of the religious women's organization Kolech, said this week that religious society is waging a fight against religious feminism.

Read What Leading Rabbis Had to Say at Our Conference on the Future of Modern Orthodoxy April 28, 2010

Rabbi Yuval Sherlow

We don't need to be an alternative rabbinate, we need to be the rabbinate, and in order to be the rabbinate we need first of all to decide that this is important to us-we haven't yet decided that; we still haven't determined that the question of the Jewish character of the state of Israel is important to us.

Rabbi Shaul Farber

The chief rabbi of my city (Raanana) won't let me officiate at weddings, because I am " too left-wing". Is this an ideological issue? It's a political reality. We have to find solutions to the question of the rabbinate.

Rabbi Daniel Sperber

Conversion: We have been de-legitimized. Our rabbis, our educational institutions, we have been suffering from the de-legitimization by the haredi and hardal public for too long.

Rabbanit Chana Henkin

Before the nineties there was an almost uniform design on all of the kippot in the Religious Zionist community. The dances at weddings and Simchat Torah were all similar. Today I see people who don't want to label themselves, people whose individualism is loudly evident, and there are different points of view and opinion.

El Al employees complain of religious discrimination

By Zohar Blumenkrantz May 2, 2010

Three El Al employees who are observant Jews have complained the company discriminates against them because of their religious preferences.

All three are cargo operators who keep the Sabbath, which prohibits them from working on Friday night and Saturday.

They claim that their religious observance has affected their flight standing, and turned to El Al worker's committee chairman, Yossi Levy, who delivered their complaint to the head of the company.

In lieu of policy, throwing money at the problem

By Haviv Rettig Gur Opinion April 27, 2010

An almost defunded Diaspora Affairs Ministry, a temporary absorption benefit for returnees, a Foreign Ministry department dealing with anti-Semitism that is virtually unmanned – these are not the ingredients of a serious Diaspora policy.

200 Yemeni Jews to immigrate to UK

By Danny Adino Ababa April 26, 2010

The 200 Jews living in Yemen under tight security will immigrate to Britain rather than to the United States as originally planned.

The move constitutes a dramatic change in the State of Israel's battle over the Yemeni Jews against anti-Israeli haredi elements interested in absorbing them in the US.

Knowledge-Nation Israel: A New Unifying Vision

By Carlo Strenger Opinion Winter 5770 / 2010, no. 39

The concept of a knowledge-nation is highly inclusive. It can speak to a whole spectrum of Jewish lifestyles and worldviews.

It is, for reasons aforementioned, extremely relevant for the Jewish ultra-Orthodox world, predicated as it is on a culture of study.

The Haredi sector could easily find its place in a knowledge society.

Though many ultra-Orthodox Jews prefer to protect their children from the influence of the secular worldview, fields such as high tech, finance, or law pose no such threat, being all but divorced from questions of belief and philosophy.

Indeed, an increasing number of Haredim today are taking courses in such fields as computer science, law, and accounting.

Branding Israel for PR does more harm than good

By Scott Copeland Opinion April 30, 2010

Instead of turning to the world of advertisement and public relations, we ought to turn to cultivating and training the kinds of educators, rabbis, communal leaders, and public intellectuals who are not frightened to raise difficult questions, and not afraid to share with their students and communities that there are no simple answers, that real life is riddled with complexities, and that healthy communities - like healthy families - lay out dilemmas and challenges on the table and work to contend with them together.

The Impresario of Zionism April 28, 2010

Herzl was not the first theoretician of political Zionism, or the first to think sensibly about the steps needed to create a third Jewish commonwealth.

His unparalleled contribution was to put Zionism on both the Jewish and the international agenda. As the movement's leading prophet, he waged a fanatically intensive yet tactically shrewd campaign that virtually willed the state into being.

Celebrating decade of Taglit-Birthright in Israel April 30, 2010

Over the past decade, Taglit-Birthright Israel has brought over 250,000 young Jews to Israel and Taglit-Birthright Israel's activities have succeeded in creating actual change in how these participants, who live in the Diaspora, view their Jewish identity.

Taglit-Birthright Israel has even changed the attitude of students all over the world towards Israel.

Is JDC Bucking the System?

By Gal Beckerman and Jane Eisner April 29, 2010

A prolonged standoff over how to direct American Jewish funds overseas has led to a serious conflict over the community’s priorities: sustaining poor Jews around the world, or strengthening Jewish identities and ties to Israel?

JDC committee suggests changes to funding structure

By Jacob Berkman April 29, 2010

An internal policy committee at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is offering the organization's board 13 formal recommendations for revamping how it raises money -- many of which could have a major impact on the North American network of local Jewish charitable federations.

Birthright flourishes, potential competitor sinks

By Raphael Ahren April 30, 2010

Taglit Birthright-Israel plans to bring 21,000 Diaspora youths on free 10-day trips to Israel this summer, twice as many as during the 2009 season, the organization recently announced. Meanwhile, Oranim Educational Initiatives - which until last summer recruited roughly a third of all Birthright participants but launched a rival program after a falling out over ideological differences - will not be offering any free trips this season for lack of funds.

JNF sheds light on solar deal

By Raphael Ahren April 30, 2010

Keren Kayemet L'Israel-Jewish National Fund slammed a report this month in Globes that slammed its contract with a local solar energy company.

Calling it "one of the strangest deals in its 110-year history," the Israeli business paper Globes last month described alleged problems in KKL-JNF's $3 million investment in APC, a company located in Kibbutz Ketura that builds photovoltaic solar farms in the country's south.

Responding to the Globes report, Yosef Abramowitz, the American-born head of APC, told Anglo File this week, "This relationship with the JNF is not only kosher, it's glatt kosher."

A Letter from Richie Pearlstone – Jewish Agency Strategic Planning Process April 29, 2010

In assessing the unique challenges of today under the leadership of Natan Sharansky, and in dialogue with our partners, we have suggested the following new articulation of the mission for the Jewish Agency:

Connect Jews throughout the world with their people, heritage and homeland, and inspire and empower them to build a thriving Jewish future and a strong Israel

Culture clash

By Coby Ben-Simhon April 29, 2010

Kibbutz rabbi Yoav Ende:

"I came here to build a special, idealistic community, and one that was also Conservative and pluralistic, where people live together equally and women are counted for a minyan (prayer quorum) and there is no barrier separating men and women in the synagogue,"

"But in the heat of the disputes, people forget to talk about the new life at Hanaton. And it does exist. Kibbutz Hanaton is basically the only kibbutz that belongs to the Conservative Movement, and after many years it is being renewed. It is going back to its beginnings."

Religion and State in Israel

May 3, 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.