Monday, May 17, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - May 17, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

May 17, 2010 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

Petition: Force Haredim to study basic subjects

By Aviad Glickman May 16, 2010

The High Court of Justice was presented with a petition Sunday demanding that it order the Knesset and the Education Ministry to explain why ultra-Orthodox schools are not being forced to teach basic subjects, such as Mathematics and English.

They add that the law harms the legal rights of students attending the small yeshivas, and that it "perpetuates their economic dependence on the community and welfare payments from the state".

No democratic state, they conclude, agrees to fund a school system devoid of governmental inspection.

2 petitions challenge Haredi education policies

By Dan Izenberg May 14, 2010

Two new and separate petitions challenging the refusal of the haredi educational system to teach core curriculum subjects essential for the modern workforce are currently afoot in the High Court of Justice.

One was filed last week by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC). The other, due to be submitted in the next day or two, was prepared by Uriel Reichmann, president of the Interdisciplinary Center – Herzliya, former Education Minister Amnon Rubinstein, and four men who left the haredi community into which they were born.

79% of Jews: Haredi schools must teach math, English

By Jonah Mandel May 14, 2010

Seventy-nine percent of Israeli Jews think all haredi schools should be forced to teach the core curriculum subjects, according to a poll conducted this week by the Smith Institute on behalf of Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality in Israel.

Seventy-seven percent of the poll’s respondents said civics must also be a mandatory subject in haredi schools, and 57% favored stopping all funding to educational institutions that do not teach the core curriculum subjects.

And if they teach the core subjects?

By Avirama Golan Opinion May 12, 2010

Now, with the so-called Nahari Law allowing local governments to fund "recognized but unofficial" institutions (such as Haredi-run schools), they have become an oversized engine around which the wheels of privatization spin.

Ultra-Orthodox politicians apply pressure, the government recoils and the already-diluted state education system is enlisted into funding the Haredi school apparatus.

The Israeli public left paying the price has had its fill and is growing increasingly incensed with the Haredim.

Ayalon to discuss conversion bill with U.S. Jewish leaders

By Raphael Ahren May 14, 2010

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon yesterday pledged not to proceed with a controversial conversion bill before consulting with Reform and Conservative leaders in the U.S.

According to Nicole Maor, who directs the Israel Religious Action Center's legal aid center for new immigrants, the intent of the article related to the Law of Return is "to make life more difficult for non-Orthodox converts," as experience has shown that Orthodox converts are often more readily accepted by Israeli authorities than those belonging to other streams.

Furthermore, she argued the section is entirely superfluous. "There is no one in Israel today who is converting anyone who is [an] illegal [migrant]," she said.

Personal ties with the issue

By Raphael Ahren May 14, 2010

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon says he personally familiar with the conversion issue, thanks to his Ohio-born wife Anne, who comes from a Christian-Zionist family. She converted in the U.S. after meeting him in the late 1970s.

US Jews: Conversion bill 'Disastrous'

By Jonah Mandel May 11, 2010

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Reform Movement in Israel, called the letter “testimony to the strong bond between Reform and Conservative Judaism, and the State of Israel and its citizens” and “evidence of the true concern that aggressive, unilateral legislation on conversions will bring about feelings of alienation and insult among millions of Jews in the Diaspora.”

Yizhar Hess, executive director of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel, said that “the prime minister must listen carefully to the voices emanating from North American Jewry. Reform and conservative Jews are the core leadership of all the organizations aiding Israel – AIPAC, Hadassah, the Jewish Federations.

Jewish Federations and religious streams tell Netanyahu they oppose conversion bill

By Jacob Berkman May 10, 2010

“By legislatively granting the power of conversion to the Chief Rabbinate exclusively, this bill explicitly connects conversion to a single religious stream,” Silverman wrote.

“It does not recognize conversion via the streams that represent 85% of Diaspora Jewry. This message is inconsistent with the democratic ideals on which the State of Israel was founded.”

Misunderstanding Diaspora Jews

By David H. Lissy May 11, 2010

The writer is Executive Director and CEO, Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel

The sad part of Rotem’s visit was not that we failed to agree, but that it became clear he simply does not understand diaspora Jewry.

Thus, when he says we should not care about his bill because it does not affect conversions here (a statement which is not clearly certain) he fails to understand our link to and deep concern for the Masorti and Reform movements in Israel as well as our commitment to pluralism in Israel.

"Woman, abomination, desecration"

(original text here: The mitzvah and its “punishment”)

By Noa Raz Opinion May 14, 2010

This is not a story about a man attacking someone at a bus station. It's not even a story about violence against women. It's a story about religious violence. It's a story about attacking a person due to his/her faith, due to his/her will to serve God in his/her own way, in private, according to his/her outlook, according to his/her understanding of the Holy Torah.

The problem does not only lie with that man, the attacker. It lies with those who educated him, with his leaders who shamelessly and violently talk out against any religious practice that is not Haredi.

What Will It Take? The Fight for Religious Pluralism in Israel

By Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik Opinion May 14, 2010

What we’re talking about now is not just equal rights, or equity in government funding.

This is now about the basic responsibility of a state to guarantee the safety of its citizens, and to insure that its culture does not become one of lawlessness.

Israel is perilously close to lawlessness, at least in regard to Haredi Jews feeling that violence against Jews who are different from them is not only understandable, but also warranted.

Battle of the sexes over Western Wall prayers

By Anne Barker May 17, 2010

Anat Hoffman from the Israel Religious Action Centre says there should be room at the wall for every Jew, regardless of their practice.

"What we're doing is according to Halacha, according to Jewish law. It's just changing the custom a bit," she said.

Talya Lev and Bat Kol: Recipient of ROI Community Grant

By ck May 1, 2010

Talya Lev:

"Bat Kol is an Israel-based religious lesbian group. It’s meant to provide a path of love and acceptance for Orthodox and religious lesbians to express both their sexual orientation and their religious beliefs without sacrificing either identity.

It’s a very diverse group. Some were brought up Orthodox and left the community, others are very Orthodox but for the most part, they are all seeking greater spirituality within the confines of a sympathetic, non-judgmental community of peers who share and understand each others experiences."

Israeli-U.S. Conservatives Still Split On Gays

By Michele Chabin May 11, 2010

Their exit highlights the differences between American and Israeli Conservative rabbinical schools — the former, which does ordain openly gay rabbinical students, the latter, which does not — and the students caught between them.

Reform Zionism

By Rabbi Marc Rosenstein Opinion May 11, 2010

He is presently the director of the Israeli Rabbinic Program of HUC-JIR, as well as the director of the Makom ba-Galil

If there is one place in the world where we Reform Jews have the opportunity and the obligation to translate our universalistic ethical principles into the messy reality of the political world, it is here, in the country that purports to be the Jewish state, the one place in the world where we are sovereign, where the buck stops with us.

If we don't lead the way to building a state that is a Jewish state worthy of the name (and I don't just mean that Reform rabbis will have equal rights to marry), then, ultimately, Zionism will have failed, and Reform Judaism will be exposed as irrelevant to Jewish history.

Once Left for Dead, Conservative Kibbutz Now Thrives

By Josh Tapper May 10, 2010

“I think it’s the best place for a Masorti Jew in Israel,” Gliksman, who was born in Jerusalem, said of Hanaton in an email. “It’s important to have Conservative, Reform, and other ways of expressing Judaism, so this diversity will reach all the Jewish citizens of Israel.”

Unlike the United States, where the Conservative and Reform movements dominate the religious landscape, Israel’s rabbinical authority is dogmatically Orthodox. With little political or religious capital, the kibbutz, Epstein said, can be a place for Masorti Jews to foster their own identity.

Historical building to become 'springboard for Jewish life in TA'

By Meredith Ross May 10, 2010

The historical building Beit Lorenz in Tel Aviv’s Neve Tzedek area was dedicated Wednesday evening as a center for pluralistic Jewish culture for the residents of Tel Aviv and Jaffa.

The project is the vision of Rabbi Roberto Arbib of congregation Kehillat Sinai.

“My idea was ready fifteen years ago. I began to plan this center where Israelis from all streams, whether secular or religious, will find a place and create a dialogue with spiritual and cultural issues within the state of Israel.”

Poll shows ranks of secular Jewish minority in Israel continued to drop in 2009

By Asaf Shtull-Trauring May 17, 2010

Just 42 percent of the Jewish population defines itself as secular, according to a socioeconomic poll commissioned by the Central Bureau of Statistic in 2009.

The findings, which were released yesterday, show that 8 percent of Israeli Jews view themselves as ultra-Orthodox, 12 percent characterize themselves as religious, 13 percent are religiously observant, and 25 percent adhere to traditional custom but are not religiously observant.

Click here for Israel Central Bureau of Statistics - Social Survey 2009 - Religiosity in Israel - Characteristics of Different Groups (Hebrew)

They characterize themselves as:

  • 18% Haredi
  • 12% "Dati"
  • 13% "Masorti Dati"
  • 25% "Masorti, not so Dati"
  • 42% "Hiloni"

Israel: The Battle over a Mezuzah in a School

By Yechiel Spira May 13, 2010

The plan to affix a mezuzah in the Meva’ot I’ron School near Kibbutz Ein Shemmer should be cause for celebration, but instead, it has resulted in a bitter conflict, with some students and parents yelling “religious coercion”.

Letting go of Jerusalem

By Anshel Pfeffer May 14, 2010

Dr. Micah Goodman, a lecturer on Jewish philosophy at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and director of the Ein Prat Academy:

"It is clear to me that the religious have lost their monopoly on Shavuot. A decade or so ago, Shavuot night study took place almost exclusively in synagogues, but now nearly every community and cultural center in the city has a full plate of pluralistic lecturers on offer.”

Beneath the radar, though, something more fundamental may be happening. Through inattention, occupation and sheer laziness, we have got the Jerusalem we deserve.

It may be wishful thinking, but for one night a year, the dual-monopoly that the Haredi community seems to have, both over the cultural identity of Jerusalem and over Torah study, seems to crack.

State Comptroller: National service for yeshiva students flawed

By Anshel Pfeffer May 12, 2010

An investigation by the State Comptroller's Office has found that the small percentage of yeshiva students who choose to do national service via the Tal Law encounter a range of obstacles.

In Support of Jailed Student-Soldiers

By Hillel Fendel May 16, 2010

Hundreds of people took part in a post-Sabbath “Melave Malka” event at Prison Six, in solidarity with several hesder yeshiva soldiers imprisoned there.

The student-soldiers are being held there because they refuse to leave their yeshiva, Har Bracha, and sign up with another one. The army is demanding that they do so, following its breaking ties with yeshiva Dean Rabbi Eliezer Melamed because of his criticism of the army.

'Bnei David' IDF prep course receives home in Eli

By Kobi Nahshoni May 12, 2010

Twenty-two years after the initiation of the pre-military yeshiva preparatory course, Bnei David, that contributed to the integration of thousands of kippah-wearers into the highest IDF command posts, Rabbi Eli Sadan officially consecrated the continuation program that will see to the integration of its graduates into key positions in civilian life.

State: No reason Peretz should not be chief IDF Rabbi

By Aviad Glickman May 9, 2010

The state filed a response to a High Court petition against the nomination of Rafi Peretz to the office of chief IDF rabbi.

The petition demanded his nomination be removed because of an accident in which two soldiers fell from a helicopter he was piloting, but the state claimed that this was not a good enough reason.

Is the IDF’s Netzach Yehuda a Success?

By Yechiel Spira May 14, 2010

Rabbi Schwartz stress that it was never his intention to pull people out of the beis medrash, but to attract those who are not learning.

He points out that Rav Shach ZT”L always warned that “those who are not learning jeopardize the position of those who are learning as they should” and he agrees, stating that those committed to learning Torah should continue doing just that.

Fertility Treatment Gets More Complicated

By Gabrielle Birkner May 14, 2010

Gabrielle Birkner is Web editor of the Forward, and founding editor of its women's issues blog, The Sisterhood.

What does a Jewish child need most from a mother? Forget about the chicken soup—it's all about the eggs, say a growing number of prominent rabbis. Several recent rabbinic rulings on fertility treatment dictate that a child conceived in vitro is Jewish only if the egg came from a Jewish woman.

The issue is most pressing in Israel, in part because tight restrictions on egg donation have long compelled infertile women to procure eggs abroad, where most donors are not Jewish.

Rabbis ascend Temple Mount to mark 43 years since recapture

By Abe Selig May 11, 2010

Forty-three years after Motta Gur’s 55th (reserve) Paratroopers Brigade stormed the Old City and recaptured the Temple Mount during the Six Day War, 43 rabbis made their way to the holy site on Monday – the largest such group to visit the Temple Mount in generations.

J'lem Day eve: Rabbis flock to Temple Mount

By Kobi Nahshoni May 10, 2010

This is the third time in recent years that a group of rabbis gathers to visit the Temple Mount, and the event has become a tradition since the 40th anniversary of Jerusalem's liberation.

What's happening to Diaspora Jews?

By Shlomo Avineri Opinion May 10, 2010

I would like to note that I'm not comfortable with a situation in which people who don't live in Israel and won't be bearing the possible repercussions of the policies they advocate give themselves license to intervene in the political process here.

This applies to figures on the right as well as on the left. For all of Diaspora Jewry's affinity to Israel, the tough political decisions must be ours - and ours alone - to make, and it isn't fitting for non-citizens to have any part or parcel in those decisions.

Response to Shlomo Avineri: Diaspora Jews can and should have their say on Israel

By Alex Sinclair Opinion May 13, 2010

One can point to many obvious examples of Israeli policies that have been carried out without taking into account Diaspora Jewish opinion: the laws on conversion, on state non-recognition of non-orthodox marriages, and the despicable situation at the Kotel (Western Wall), which is rapidly turning Judaism’s most ancient monument into one of the main forces for the disintegration of Jewish peoplehood.

Taglit Birthright Israel Celebrates 10 May 11, 2010

The El-Israel events marking the 10th anniversary of Birthright-Israel commenced yesterday in eleven cities and sites throughout Israel.

The events created joint encounters between thousands of Taglit Birthright participants and Israelis, among them university students, soldiers and hi-tech employees.

Free alternative to day schools?

By Jacob Berkman May 11, 2010

As day schools have become an overly expensive option for some in the Orthodox world, an Israeli program that has offered Diaspora Jews free high school education in Israel is beefing up its outreach to Orthodox Jews and pitching itself as a free alternative.

Na'ale is recruiting current high school freshmen to move to Israel for the next three years and be enrolled in Israeli high schools for their sophomore through senior years.

Masa Israel Invests in US-Israeli University Partnerships May 13, 2010

Masa Israel is excited to announce the launch of a new capacity-building initiative to encourage study abroad and academic exchange in Israel.

The program will provides $50,000 grants to U.S. universities wishing to develop and execute academic partnerships with institutions of higher learning in Israel.

Sharansky initiates Nobel-style prize for Jews

By Itamar Eichner May 16, 2010

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky is promoting a program that will grant a Nobel-style prize, worth $1 million, to be granted once a year to a Jew from Israel or the Diaspora for making a significant contribution to all of humanity.

Returning expats to get immigrant status

By Itamar Eichner May 13, 2010

The state is offering all expatriates a "new immigrant" status if they return to Israel, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry announced Wednesday. The status carries government benefits and large tax exemptions.

Barak secures JNF appointment

By Gil Hoffman May 17, 2010

Labor chairman Ehud Barak emerged victorious in a battle over the world chairmanship of the Keren-Kayemet Le’Israel Jewish National Fund at Labor’s Executive Committee meeting Sunday night at Tel Aviv’s Eretz Israel Museum.

Barak must hold vote for JNF head

By Gil Hoffman May 16, 2010

The Labor Party's Executive Committee will hold what is expected to be a stormy meeting at the Land of Israel Museum in Tel Aviv Sunday night after an internal party court ruled that Labor chairman Ehud Barak cannot appoint his ally, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, as world chairman of KKL-JNF.

Labor officials said it was premature to deal with the KKL-JNF chairmanship when it is still unclear whether Labor will even be given the post in coalition talks in the World Zionist Congress that will not begin before next month.

JNF head charges Labor brass with breaching charter for postings

By Mazal Mualem May 14, 2010

The chairman of the Jewish National Fund is accusing Labor chairman Ehud Barak and Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon of violating the Labor charter in attempting to have Simhon appointed to head the foundation.

Why Christian Zionists Really Support Israel

By Pastor John C. Hagee Opinion May 12, 2010

Pastor John C. Hagee is founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel

Christian support for Israel starts with the Bible, is strengthened by an understanding of history and endures because of the Judeo-Christian commitment to democratic values. Everything that forms the Christian understanding of the world leads to the same conclusion: Christians should support Israel because it is simply the right thing to do.

'Senior priest blackmailed by Palestinian lover'

By Roee Nahmias May 11, 2010

A new scandal involving a senior cleric is rocking one of Israel's communities. Ynet has learned that according to the suspicions, a senior religious scholar was blackmailed on sexual grounds by two men.

According to several sources, the cleric had an intimate relationship with a 21-year-old Palestinian from east Jerusalem when the latter was renovating his house.

Religion and State in Israel

May 17, 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.