Monday, June 28, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - June 28, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

June 28, 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.

*Articles on the Emmanuel Haredi school segregation case will be included in an upcoming special edition.

Callous, institutionalized, official discrimination

By Mendel Lopez Opinion June 24, 2010

Mendel Lopez is a pseudonym

As someone who was brought up on the Torah traditions of Sephardi Jewry and who aspires to move forward along the paths of holiness, I can see no other world in which my family and I can live.

In my view, the discrimination against Sephardi Jews that is so prevalent in the haredi community in Israel is not a sectoral issue that can simply be solved by concerted efforts at the community level.

...[A]n inability to accept the Other or Otherness is a built-in feature in the haredi outlook.

Class action

By Peggy Cidor June 25, 2010

Benny Cohen, then head of the Haredi Education Department at the Jerusalem Municipality:

“In Ashkenazi haredi families, when a member leaves the religion, the rest of the family ostracizes him. In some extreme cases, they will even sit shiva for him or her because they fear an eventual impact on the other children. They would rather sacrifice one child than jeopardize the rest."

“But in Sephardi families,” he continued, “you can find a haredi son, a religious Zionist, a traditionalist and a totally secular child. They all respect their parents, share the same holiday or Shabbat meal and remain a rather close-knit family.

It may look warm and beautiful, but haredi Ashkenazi families look upon it differently. They are afraid of a girl who might visit an aunt who has a TV at home and perhaps dresses in a way that is too provocative in their eyes. So they will never accept a girl whose family has ‘a problem,’” he said.

Taking in order to give

By Shahar Ilan Opinion June 21, 2010

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

The court's really important ruling last week was its abolishment, as of the end of 2010, of welfare payments for married yeshiva students.

...the money that is saved should not be taken from the Haredim. Instead, it should be invested in vocational training for yeshiva students, in job creation, in small-business loans, and in salaries for more Haredi soldiers, including in the career army.

...It should be invested in rescuing Haredi society from poverty and creating a situation in which many fewer Haredim will need guaranteed income allowances. It is doubtful that there could be a better investment than this for the Israeli economy.

The Haredi Challenge

Forward Editorial June 23, 2010

The State of Israel is faced with so many existential challenges, from within and without, that it is foolhardy to privilege one above another, especially from afar. But the continued, passionate defiance of secular law and government authority by ultra-Orthodox Jews is quickly posing a serious threat to the very nature of Israeli democracy.

...The common thread, increasingly, however, is a mounting resistance to the rule of law, whether expressed through court decisions or government policy, and a determined willingness to separate from the norms of Israeli society.

The decline and fall of Haredi Judaism

By Michael Hirsch Opinion June 27, 2010

I survey the situation, I see a movement that has lost its way, forgotten its mission; most disturbing of all, the branch of Judaism which should be steering us in the right direction, the Orthodox (of which I myself am a member), is the one leading us astray.

Simply reading the daily newspapers or listening to the news on the broadcast media leaves one to wonder – whatever happened to Jewish religious/ethical principles?

The five-state solution

By Daniel Gordis Opinion June 24, 2010

The writer is senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

Those who argue that the two-state solution will not work are right. We need not a two-state solution, but a five-state solution.


4. Haredia will be the ultra-Orthodox state. Based primarily in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Mea She’arim, Geula and Sanhedria, along with Bnei Brak and perhaps a few other localities, Haredia would be the country that last week’s 100,000 plus protesters clearly desire.

It would have a Supreme Council of Rabbinic Elders, not the vile secular Supreme Court that so offends them.

They would be free to do whatever they wished with their schools, and with their Sephardim.

They could impose a halachically based system of law as other countries have done with Shari’a.

They could virtually guarantee the exclusion of all the nefarious influences they so deeply object to in contemporary Israel.

They could impose whatever standards for conversion they wished, without causing a rift with the rest of the Jewish world, which would actually have more in common with Turkey than it will with Haredia.

In London, as opposed to Israel, most Haredim go to work

By Meirav Arlosoroff June 22, 2010

In Israel, the majority of Haredi men study in yeshivas and don't work. In London, it's the opposite.

Most Haredi men do work, even if their jobs are not particularly well-paid. An analysis by Hagay Levin of the Prime Minister's Office's National Economic Council, based on Gonen's research, found that 18% of Haredi men in London study in a yeshiva their entire lives.

Most of these are the best students. But in Israel, the parallel percentage is between 60% and 75%.

Former Jerusalem deputy mayor Yosef 'Pepe' Alalu, should residents be afraid of Nir Barkat?

By Nir Hasson June 23, 2010

Interview with Yosef 'Pepe' Alalu:

Haredim are not stupid, they understand that without secular people and without a strong secular community they have nothing to do in Jerusalem. Without us there will be terrible poverty here, there won't be roads and there won't be parks.

Study: Faith in court system tumbles among Haredim, settlers

By Tomer Zarchin June 22, 2010

Among the ultra-Orthodox public, only 9 percent trust the court system, down from 14 percent last year and 15 percent in 2000.

Nevertheless, this community's trust level does not seem to be particularly affected by any specific ruling; it has remained far below that of the general population throughout the decade, the study concluded.

Jerusalem: Haredim attack vehicle over Electra stickers

By Shmulik Grossman June 22, 2010

During Sunday's incident, which occurred at around 7:30 pm, the two women inside the vehicle, who were on their way to visit a rabbi in Mea Shearim and receive his blessing, were surrounded by dozens of ultra-Orthodox who pelted the vehicle with stones.

The women alerted police, who arrived at the scene several minutes later and managed to rescue the women unharmed.

Haredi media: World Cup 'waste of time'

By Ari Galahar June 23, 2010

The National Religious and the haredi sectors are not celebrating the World Cup. Despite thousands of haredi and National Religious yeshiva students who will occupy themselves in the coming months with the results of World Cup matches, nothing has been written of the international soccer tournament in the haredi press.

How Hasidism Went Astray

By Arthur Green June 23, 2010

Out of the Holocaust’s ashes, the community began to rebuild itself...

All of this happened with the support of other Jews, very prominently including the government of Israel. We were all deeply moved and impressed by the faith-energy displayed by this old-new Jewish community, committed to reconstituting itself in new and uncomfortable surroundings.

Impressive natural increase, in contrast to the rest of us remarkably infertile Jews, helped the postwar Hasidim regain significant numerical representation within world Jewry.

Israeli military draft exemption laws worked to create a huge society of largely idle Hasidic males, supposedly full-time Torah students, a phenomenon completely unlike anything in earlier Hasidic history.

Naturei Karta assault Haredi MKs in Jerusalem

By Yair Ettinger June 24, 2010

United Torah Judaism MKs Moshe Gafni and Uri Maklev were assaulted on Thursday both physically and verbally by extreme ultra-Orthodox members of the Naturei Karta movement in the religious Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea She'arim.

Discrimination Within Orthodoxy?

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz Opinion June 25, 2010

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz is the Founder & President of Uri L’Tzedek, the Senior Jewish Educator at UCLA and a 5th year PhD candidate at Columbia University in Moral Psychology & Epistemology.

This case is not simply a remnant of old racial divides between Western and Eastern Jews, but rather is indicative of an insidious and expanding problem.

...As our vibrant Modern Orthodox culture remains fully committed to halakhah while increasingly embracing religious pluralism, halakhic egalitarianism, communal inclusiveness, and universal social justice, our leadership should no longer allow discriminatory Hareidi positions to be the global face of Orthodoxy.

At an Israeli Crossroads

By Bambi Sheleg Opinion June 24, 2010

The ultra-Orthodox educational system is supported by the state, but the latter is not invited to express its opinion regarding the content of studies and the values conveyed in its schools.

The state functions as a kind of automatic bank teller for the ultra-Orthodox community. In effect, the governments of Israel have erected a kind of "state within a state." And now, this sub-state is threatening the primary state.

Shimon Peres on the ultra-Orthodox

The Los Angeles Times June 22, 2010

Q: Some ultra-Orthodox would agree that there is only one law, but they say it's religious law that trumps the state.

President Shimon Peres: If they want to educate their children in a different way, they can make a private school. The state will not pay for it. The law of the land is that all schools that are supported by the state cannot have any discrimination or any separate system of education.

We need a constitution

By Mordechai Kremnitzer Opinion June 23, 2010

The Democracy Institute's proposed constitution does not perpetuate rabbis' control over marriage and divorce. It leaves this matter to a political decision. Only a person willing to risk breaking down the court entirely will support a decision by the judiciary on such a loaded issue.

The institute does, however, suggest establishing a separate body for registering civil partnerships.

Contractor bows to Haredi pressure to protect Muslim gravesite

By Yuval Azoulay June 24, 2010

In the face of pressure from ultra-Orthodox activists, a contractor in Yavne has agreed to pour a layer of concrete at his own expense - one million shekels - before constructing a building on a suspected gravesite.

"We don't care if these are Jews, Muslims or Christians," Atra Kadisha activist Arahle Yekter told Haaretz. "A tomb is like a home. The dead person purchased the land in which he will lie for his eternal rest, and this rest must never be interrupted in any way."

Religion and State in Israel

June 28, 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 - June 28, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

June 28, 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.

*Articles on the Emmanuel Haredi school segregation case will be included in an upcoming special edition.

Conversion Conversation in Jerusalem

By Rabbi Daniel Allen and Rabbi Daniel Freelander Opinion June 22, 2010

The writers are ARZA Executive Director and URJ Senior Vice President

Jerry Silverman, President of the Jewish Federations of North America, stated clearly that while the Rotem bill in its original form had much to recommend it, the amendments that have subsequently been added are not acceptable to the Federations, period.

The Knesset ministers present seemed to think that the bill will not pass. We urged them to have Prime Minister Netanyahu remove the bill from further action.

The bill has passed first reading but must pass two more readings in the Knesset to become law. We took the position that ideally the bill should die in committee. They indicated that they understood how important it was to us that the bill not come to the Knesset floor, and committed themselves to working towards that end.

Israel to introduce revamped Jewish studies curriculum in state schools

By Or Kashti June 24, 2010

The educational curriculum in state-run institutions for this coming school year will include a new subject: Jewish culture and tradition.

The new subject will include lessons on Jewish culture, the Hebrew calendar and "the Jewish people's connection to the Land of Israel."

In addition, students in the sixth grade will be required to learn the weekly Torah portion; students in seventh grade will be taught the order of prayers in the Jewish liturgy; eighth graders will undergo instruction in Pirkei Avot (Sayings of the Fathers ); and ninth graders will delve into Theodor Herzl's novel "Altneuland."

In Israel, Bat Mitzvahs Where Torah Is Read Remain Rare

By Allison Kaplan Sommer Opinion June 24, 2010

My niece’s ceremonial aliya to the Torah, however, is still an oddity in Orthodox Israel, as my daughter’s will be in the non-Orthodox Israel.

How ironic that the experience of a Torah-centered bat mitzvah — which so solidified my Jewish identity and commitment at a young age, and set me on a path that led me to Israel — is such a rare commodity in the Jewish state itself.

Jerusalem police reject Gay Pride parade route

By Nir Hasson June 25, 2010

The organization Jerusalem Open House is launching its annual Gay Pride parade on July 29, but the police have rejected the suggested route of the march.

The group said police rejected the route because it passes near an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva on Bezalel Street.

The Orthodox Jews fighting the Judaization of East Jerusalem

By Nir Hasson June 25, 2010

It is possible to estimate cautiously that about half of the 30 key activists in Sheikh Jarrah are now or were in the past religiously observant. Most are young people in their twenties and thirties, and they represent an entire spectrum.

Sharansky's new vision for Jewish Agency comes under fire

By Cnaan Liphshiz June 25, 2010

A senior Jewish Agency official this week joined opposition to the organization's recent shift in focus toward Jewish education, saying it "ignored Israel's most urgent need and demographics." A partner of the Jewish Agency called the shift "a gamble which might not turn out well."

Jewish Agency's new plan for the Diaspora proves its irrelevance

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion June 25, 2010

The Jewish Agency's new strategic plan is a formidable document. The breathtaking result of a year's joint labor by dozens of Agency officials, lay leaders and experts is over 3,600 words that succeed in saying almost nothing.

...The strategic plan has offered no credible alternative vision, and the Jewish Agency has lost any reason for its existence.

Before the tree's fruit dies

By Natan Sharansky Opinion June 25, 2010

We also hope that the strategic change will have a two-way effect: Young people in the Diaspora will be exposed to Israel, and young Israelis, many of whom take no interest in their brethren abroad, will get to know them. The national roots and Jewish identity of both will be strengthened. The Jewish people as a whole will harvest the fruits.

J Street resolutions stir up World Zionist Congress

By Cnaan Liphshiz June 25, 2010

Kenneth Bob, a J Street board member who represented Ameinu, the Labor Zionist entity in the U.S., said he believed J Street would officially join the WZO in the near future.

"J Street was only founded two years ago, and this is the first World Zionist Congress since its formation," he said.

This Is What Jewish Democracy Looks Like

By J.J. Goldberg Opinion June 23, 2010

If you really want to get a handle on the troubles dogging Israel’s relationship with the Jewish Diaspora, look no further than the World Zionist Congress, which opened with great fanfare in Jerusalem on June 15 and limped to a whimpering close two days later.

You talk about two Jews and three opinions? This brawl involved 550 Jews with 1,100 sharp elbows and 2,000 years’ worth of grudges.

Jewish Agency approves new mission

By Haviv Rettig Gur June 24, 2010

Some concerns were raised that the new mission could mean less funding for aliya programs, but officials insisted the new focus on identity would translate into greater aliya, not less.

Jewish Agency to focus on Diaspora, not local projects, to combat assimilation

By Nir Hasson June 24, 2010

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his support for the plan.

"The Jewish world must set itself the goal of making it possible for every Jewish young person who wants to visit Israel to do so within five years."

Sharansky: New policy sees Israel as center of Jewish world

By Haviv Rettig Gur June 22, 2010

“Some are saying we are replacing aliya with identity programs,” Sharansky notes, countering, “What we’re saying is that strengthening identity will bring aliya.”

Others question whether the agency will be able to fundraise for its dwindling coffers with the new focus.

Jewish Agency to change focus

By Haviv Rettig Gur June 21, 2010

For an organization with an annual budget over $300m., such a stark change in its programming focus is a dramatic move.

Identity Check

By Yehuda Mirsky Opinion June 21, 2010

In sum, the attachments of young American Jews to both Israel and Judaism rise and fall due to a range of commitments, experiences, and values that are themselves subject to the winds of history and the vicissitudes of circumstance. Specific Israeli policies are one, by no means decisive, element in the mix.

Connect. Inspire. Empower. Or, why we all should care about the Jewish Agency’s new strategic plan.

By Dan Brown Opinion June 21, 2010

In getting to some of the tachlis, it is apparent that JAFI is trying to move itself away from being a quasi-governmental entity to a new entrepreneurial culture. Radical thinking indeed for this organization.

While recognizing the strength of partnerships with Israel’s government, there was also acknowledgment that JAFI should only do things that JAFI is capable of doing. That the organization needs to relinquish those areas that are not core. No easy task.

Reassessing the Israel-Diaspora link

By David Newman Opinion June 21, 2010

The writer is professor of political geography and dean elect at Ben-Gurion University, and editor of the International Journal of Geopolitics.

Israel does need to harness its supporters in the Diaspora but it needs to do it in such a way that it is representative of the entire and diverse range of views and positions, more closely reflecting the reality of the fragmented Israeli public opinion.

...It is time to sit down and reassess the nature of Israel- Diaspora relations if we want them to be mutually beneficial to both sides.

'Israel to fund high-school programs'

By Haviv Rettig Gur June 23, 2010

After spending tens of millions of dollars in recent years to bring college-age Jewish youth on subsidized trips to Israel, the government and Jewish Agency are launching a major new effort to offer similar funding for high-schoolers.

Within 5 years every young Jew should be able to see Israel

By Haviv Rettig Gur June 23, 2010

The Jewish world should set a goal that within five years it will be able to facilitate a visit to Israel for any young Jew who wants to make the trip, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

From the future of Zionism to a near-violent brawl

By Jacob Wytwornik and Liam Getreu Opinion June 20, 2010

Jacob Wytwornik is a new immigrant, originally from Melbourne, and represented Mizrahi at the World Zionist Congress. Liam Getreu, also from Melbourne, is chairman of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, which he represented at the congress.

More than a hundred of the youth delegates met throughout the congress to discuss how we can take more responsibility for Zionism in Israel and throughout the Diaspora. It is essential that those calls are heeded and translated into seats at the table and a real voice in the Zionist movement.

Judge to decide JNF leadership dispute

By Gil Hoffman June 27, 2010

The Petah Tikva District Court will hold a hearing on Sunday that could decide who will be the chairman of the Keren Kayemet L’Israel/Jewish National Fund, after an ongoing dispute between current chairman Effi Stenzler and Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon.

Simhon may have to wait up to three years to head JNF

By Ofra Edelman June 24, 2010

The Ometz government watchdog group is requesting an enforced "cooling-off period" of between one and three years, because Simhon has authority over the JNF in his capacity as agriculture minister.

Four Generations, One Aliyah

By Sharon Udasin June 22, 2010

Three generations of the Wurtzel-Entel family were on board for the move of a lifetime.

Chana Wurtzel and her husband Yitzi, who live in Far Rockaway, Queens, were acting on years’ worth of dreams to finally make aliyah to Israel. They would be accompanied, of course, by their four children, ranging in age from 10 to 18 months. But Chana’s parents, Joan and Eliezer Entel, it turned out, were just as enthusiastic about the move as she and her husband were.

Then there was grandma — generation No. 4.

Kyrgyzstan violence spurs aliyah

By Liel Kyzer June 22, 2010

The Jewish Agency estimates that between 1,000 and 3,000 residents of Kyrgyzstan are eligible to immigrate to Israel. Agency chairman Natan Sharansky said since the outbreak of the unrest in Kyrgyzstan, 60 Jewish families there have begun the aliyah process.

Kyrgyzstan Jews make aliyah

By Itamar Eichner June 22, 2010

Amid escalating riots against Uzbek minority in Kyrgyzstan, 12 Jews from Kyrgyzstan landed in Israel on Monday.

The immigrants were the first group to arrive since ethnic riots broke out in the country.

Immigrants picket to save their ulpan

By Raphael Ahren June 25, 2010

Some 45 mostly Anglo immigrants Wednesday demonstrated in front of Jerusalem's city hall on behalf of the popular Ulpan Beit Mitchell, which they said the municipality planned to close.

Study of American Jews making its way into Israeli schools

JTA June 23, 2010

The Jews of America may make up the largest Diaspora community, but that does not mean Israeli children learn much about them.

State schools largely stick to Zionist ideology – that all Jews should live in Israel and those who do not at the very least should be actively engaged in helping support the Jewish state. In turn, there is scant study of contemporary Jewish life in America.

Acting out history

By Raphael Ahren June 25, 2010

When the Ramot Zion synagogue was built in Jerusalem's French Hill neighborhood 36 years ago, it was one of the country's first non-Orthodox congregations.

Celebrating the anniversary, Baltimore-born art historian and longtime member Joe Hoffman curated a photographic exhibition depicting the shul's history.

Material Girl in a Kabbalah world

By Theodore May June 27, 2010

With a traditional Hasidic look, wispy white beard, soft voice and thick glasses, Yaacov Kaszemacher is not the person you’d most expect to have a strong opinion on a pop superstar like Madonna.

But Kaszemacher and the Material Girl share one important thing in common: they’re both students of Kabbalah. Only, Kaszemacher doesn’t believe that Madonna is a real Kabbalist.

Religion and State in Israel

June 28, 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.