Monday, August 2, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - August 2, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

August 2, 2010 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

Cabinet exempts Haredi yeshiva students from IDF

By Yair Ettinger and Moti Bassok August 2, 2010

The cabinet secretly decided two weeks ago to cancel compulsory military service for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, despite the objections of the Israel Defense Forces.

The decision, which followed pressure by the treasury and ultra-Orthodox coalition parties, was made during the intense debates on the Economic Arrangements Law in mid-July.

The cabinet decided that anyone who studies in an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva up to age 22 would be able to make do with one year of national service, in a hospital or in the Magen David Adom ambulance service, for example. Immediately after that he would be able to join the labor force.

VIDEO: Haredim in the IDF פאות ירוקות - השכמה בטירונות

Click here for VIDEO

Making History - Interview with Israel President Shimon Peres

By Benny Morris July 26, 2010

[Morris]: I ask Peres about Ben-Gurion’s agreement to waive the conscription to military service of the ultra-Orthodox, known as haredim, and to subsidize their Torah studies in yeshivas.

Was this not a mistake, given today’s reality of massive exemptions from military service and the social crisis caused by massive government subsidies of the haredi tendency to have disproportionately large families and not work?

Peres: Ben-Gurion appointed me to negotiate the [exemption from service] with them. I think it was in 1951. I saw in my mind’s eye my grandfather. I was not a neutral observer. At the time, we were talking about 100-150 yeshiva students altogether. The ultra-orthodox leaders said: If there is no exemption, the yeshivot will be established in other countries. [I thought:] Israel without yeshivot?

Peres implies that he is averse to today’s mass exemptions. He adds that he—and perhaps Ben-Gurion—expected the haredim to change over time and become productive members of society.

Peres: To be a haredi is not eternal.

[Morris] It seems to be.

Peres: Haredi women are beginning to go to work; haredim are going to the army.

[Morris] We’re still talking very small numbers.

Dozens protest Haredi draft dodging in Tel Aviv

By Yoav Zitun July 23, 2010

Dozens of activists of all sides of the political spectrum gathered near the house of Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv on Friday and demonstrated against draft dodging and in favor of equal share of the burden.

The protest marks a decade since the establishment of the committee which legislated the Tal Law exempting ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students from army service on religious grounds.

Miri Baron, chairman of the Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden, who also organized the demonstration said,

"Barak promised us a decade ago 'one people, one enlistment' and it's time for him to keep that promise. The youngsters who came to protest today know that if they don't serve we won't have a country. Discrimination is so plain to see but the defense minister doesn't care."

Wrong questions in the wrong place

By Rabbi David Martin Opinion July 29, 2010

The writer, an ordained Orthodox Rabbi, is an international lawyer based in Tel Aviv.

The six-month hiatus will be useful and productive only if the participants in this saga finally realize that the goal should be, not to reform the conversion process, but to get the secular State of Israel out of the business of legislating religious questions, and to provide reasonable, practical, non-stigmatizing solutions for those individuals who are not halachically Jewish, but nonetheless are or should be fullfledged members of Israeli society.

Keep Dreaming: When Chelsea wed Marc

By David Breakstone Opinion July 30, 2010

The writer is vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization and a member of the Jewish Agency Executive.

(Vernonica) feels herself as Jewish as any of them, completely identifies with Israel as a Jewish state and is proud of her contribution to the Zionist dream. She’s thankful for everything that she and her family have gotten from this country. There’s only one thing she’s still asking for: She wants in.

For years Veronica has yearned to convert, but the demands made upon her by the Chief Rabbinate are far in excess of what she can deliver. She won’t tell them she’s prepared to observe all the commandments.

She won’t promise to send her children to a religious school. They won’t settle for anything less.

Nativ helps IDF soldiers convert

By Misha Galperin July 30, 2010

Dr. Misha Galperin is President and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development

Nativ was created when a group of people came together to brainstorm the explosive issue of conversion at the Neeman commission in the late 1990s. With the proper sensitivity and excellent facilitators -- in this case, the Institute for Jewish Studies, the Jewish Agency and the IDF with the support of North American Jewish Federations, Keren Hayesod and Genesis Fund – frameworks can be created to make the conversion process in Israel reasonable, accessible and meaningful.

Since Nativ’s inception in 2001, more than 10,000 immigrants have taken part in the program, with over 4,000 converting to Judaism. After the seven week course, those who are not Jewish by halacha and interested in converting continue for two more two-week seminars and then appear before the IDF Rabbinate, which performs the conversion.

Interview with Elazar Stern

By Orly Vilnai August 2, 2010

(Elazar Stern, is the state's belated effort to care for Shoah survivors the correction of an historical wrong?)

Maj. Gen. (res.) Elazar Stern, former chief education officer and the head of the army's Human Resources Directorate:

Stern: When I dealt with yeshiva students in the army, they told me to take it slowly the way I did with conversions; when I dealt with conversions they told me that I am dealing with the army about conversions, and I flouted them, and now the IDF's conversion programs already has 4,500 soldiers who have converted.

They said about me that I was a big mouth, and now they know this is the place where conversions are the most normal process in Israel. I didn't stop then, not with the conversions and not with the yeshivas, and not here either.

Report on Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals--Activities in Israel

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel Opinion July 26, 2010

The Institute is devoting considerable time--and money--to our Israel-based work, since we in the diaspora are much influenced by what is happening in Israel.

The Institute, together with ITIM and Ne'emanei Torah vaAvodah, is working to liberalize the conversion policies in Israel.

We have hired an attorney to draft a brief for a case that can be brought to the Israeli Supreme Court, with the intent of breaking the monopoly of the Hareidi-dominated rabbinate in the area of conversion.

Audio: Sponsor (MK David Rotem) Explains Conversion Bill, Blames Reform And Conservative Movements For Opposition August 1, 2010

Click here for AUDIO

Government benefits never die

By Shahar Ilan Opinion August 1, 2010

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

[Housing and Construction Minister Ariel] Atias is furthering a glorious tradition that embraces the idea that the job of Haredi party hacks is to extract as many resources from the Zionist state as possible to fund a way of life that avoids education, army service and employment.

Senior economists including Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer say the current situation cannot continue because it will bring down Israel's economy. But what does Shas care? If Israel becomes a third-world country, there will be many more poor people here, meaning Shas will attract many more voters.

Israel Prosperity Seen Unsustainable as Haredim Refuse to Work

By Gwen Ackerman and Alisa Odenheimer August 2, 2010

Moshe Linker spends his days studying Jewish religious texts in Jerusalem, supporting his three children with a seminary stipend, state child payments and his wife’s teacher salary.

“We live in a Jewish nation and provide it with the spiritual energy to keep it going,” he said in a phone interview. “That’s at least as important as the economy.”

In the 30 to 34 age group, 75 percent of ultra-Orthodox Israeli men study full-time, according to a 2009 report published by Israel’s National Economic Council in Jerusalem. In London, the only other place detailed, the figure is 17 percent.

Carmiel mom starts high tech firm for Haredi women

By Goel Beno July 29, 2010

What is a woman to do when her husband attends yeshiva school and there is no one making a living for the family? Ask a group of haredi mothers who took the matter into their own hands – and started working for a high tech company established especially for women in their situation.

This special venture was initiated by Hanita Friedman, a 47-year old haredi mother-of-five from Carmiel, who dreamt of establishing and managing a high tech firm for haredi women only, in order to help their families make ends meet.

Israeli Society and the ‘Society of Learners’ July 29, 2010

The decision of the High Court regarding support for kollel students has again raised one of the most contentious issues in Israeli society: the existence of a "society of learners" in which most ultra-Orthodox men study over the course of their adult lives with the support of the State and do not join the workforce or serve in the army.

  • Professor Shlomo Naeh explains that throughout history, there have been models of support for Torah scholars; however, this always involved the intellectual elite rather than a whole community.
  • Professor Zvi Zohar explains the roots of the learning community in the Land of Israel and the halachic revolution that allowed the unique form that it took in the context of the State of Israel.
  • Professor Elhanan Reiner requests that we separate the issue of the learning community in Israel from the question of the status of Torah scholars in the Jewish community throughout the ages. In his opinion, the issue should be examined as part of Israeli political discourse.

Discrimination claimed in Modiin Illit haredi schools

By Nissan Strauchler July 28, 2010

While the shocking discrimination in Emmanuel schools has yet to be solved, another case appears within the haredi community.

Sephardic residents of Modiin Illit report blatant racism on the part of Modiin Illit Mayor Yakov Gutterman and the ruling Ashkenazi establishment in the city, which they claim discriminates against them in the religious and educational institutions, the city's admissions committee, and the upkeep of their neighborhoods.

"I already gave up on getting my daughter into a seminary here," said one of the fathers on Tuesday. "She underwent an intense investigation of her knowledge and her way of life, while her Ashkenazi friend was only asked who her relatives are and that was it."

Haredi teachers fail general knowledge test

By Amir Shoan July 27, 2010

The paper presented the test as a survey of general knowledge to 25 teachers from the haredi sector as well 25 teachers who work at state schools.

The results were shocking. Among haredi teachers, the average score was 59, with 40% of those tested getting five or more questions wrong.

...Teachers belonging to state schools received an average of 96, and many were surprised at the simplicity of the quiz.

[M]ost male teachers have only finished eight years of formal education, and because of the lack of supervision it is often difficult to know what, exactly, these men are teaching their students.

"No one actually knows what or how they teach, or what they know aside from Torah. Haredi education is largely obscured from the view of the secular public, and supervision is irrelevant. They do whatever they want," said Dr. Nahum Balas, who researches the education system.

The Battle for an Egalitarian Israel? The Immanuel Case Chronology

By Yifat Biton Opinion July 29, 2010

Dr. Biton is Associate Professor of Law at Sha'arei Mishpatim Law College in Israel. She holds a Ph.D. from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Law School. Dr. Biton is the co-founder of Tmura, The Israeli Anti-Discrimination Legal Center

After the Beit Yaacov administration met with the petitioners, both sides decided that they will continue negotiating the case outside the court.

The parents were thereafter released from incarceration, and the Court ordered the parties that a detailed settlement be submitted to him by the end of Aug.

Living the stage open for the parties' agreement, no outlines or preconditions were set in advance to ensure the anti-discriminatory nature of such future agreement.

Furthermore, the Beit Yaacov administration itself never recognized its discriminatory practice neither has it provided any guarantee to eliminate similar practices of that kind in any of its other schools.

Father adopts religion, but loses son

By Einat Fishbein August 1, 2010

A five-year custody battle ended recently when a 17-judge panel at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasberg determined that Noam Shuruk, whose mother kidnapped him to Switzerland after his father joined the Chabad community, is to remain in her care.

Graves to disrupt runway work?

By Arie Egozi July 29, 2010

Ultra-Orthodox figures on Wednesday pushed to halt renovation work on Ben Gurion International Airport runways after the Israel Antiquities Authority discovered ancient graves at the site.

A few days ago, Antiquities Authority workers discovered the ancient graves at the site of the renovations.

On Wednesday it appeared that haredi figures had been informed – the same groups that had tried to prevent the construction of the ER room at the Barzilai Medical Center (Ashkelon) and are now demonstrating in Jaffa against construction at a site in which other graves have been discovered.

Moving closer to paganism

By Uri Misgav Opinion August 1, 2010

For hundreds of years now, the finest rabbis and students have been engaging in strict interpretation of mitzvahs and prohibitions, depreciating Judaism to a shallow ritual of hollow, trivial discussions that often appear to be sheer madness to outside observers.

'On planes prayer can be said sitting down'

By Kobi Nahshoni July 30, 2010

Rabbi Yehuda Leib Steinman, one of the leaders of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community ruled recently that during flights one is best advised to pray the Amidah prayer (The Standing Prayer) sitting down, restfully, rather than standing up

Israel playwright quits theater committee after anti-religious remarks

By Jonah Mandel July 30, 2010

Playwright Miriam Kainy resigned on Thursday evening from her position on the Israel Theater Prize committee, following the public storm created the previous day when she expressed her desire that religious men not take part in the committee, which is currently being formed.

'Growing number of religious kids sexually active'

By Merav Batito August 2, 2010

Dr. Aviad Hacohen, dean of the Sha'arei Mishpat College and member of the Takana forum fighting sexual abuse in the religious sector, has studied the phenomenon and stated in 2007 that 95% of sexual offences in Jerusalem were performed by the religious and haredi.

Q: Have you, as a legal expert on the matter, witnessed a growing trend of sex among minors within the religious sector?

"The religious public is not immune to global trends. The phenomenon which we are witnessing in the world is seeping into this sector too. There is no doubt that it has grown in the last decades, despite having always existed."

Haaretz cartoon by Amos Biderman - July 27, 2010

"Meanwhile in Yitzhar"

Rabbi Shapira to rabbis: Don't be afraid , join me

By Kobi Nahshoni August 1, 2010

Head of Yitzhar's Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, who was arrested and questioned last week on suspicion of incitement to violence against non-Jews, commented on the incident for the first time in the press on Sunday, and urged his fellow rabbis to join him and express the Halacha's stance on the "ethics of war".

Police detain second rabbi in connection to book condoning murder

By Chaim Levinson July 29, 2010

The police's Unit of International Crime Investigations on Thursday detained Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, the president of the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar in connection to a book that condoned the killing of non-Jews.

Police release rabbi arrested for inciting to kill non-Jews

By Chaim Levinson July 27, 2010

Police released the head rabbi of a prominent yeshiva yesterday hours after arresting him for encouraging to kill non-Jews.

Top settler rabbi arrested for allegedly inciting to kill non-Jews

By Chaim Levinson July 26, 2010

The head rabbi of a prominent yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar was arrested Monday for writing a book that allegedly encourages the killing of non-Jews.

Rabbis oppose Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira's arrest

By Kobi Nahshoni July 26, 2010

The Religious Zionist movement has issued a blanket condemnation of the arrest of Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira over the book he authored. Dozens of rabbis, Knesset members, and National Religious public figures have signed a petition against the rabbi's arrest, claiming that he expressed "a halachic opinion."

Kosher conundrums

By Gil Hoffman July 30, 2010

The shibuta was just one of 18 courses at the “mesora dinner” cooked by renowned chef Moshe Basson and organized by Zivotofsky and Jerusalem dentist Ari Greenspan in an effort to pass along the chain of tradition of which animals, birds, fish and locusts are kosher and which are not, a quest the two Aris have been working on for the past 28 years.

More than matzo balls: With locusts and deer, Jerusalem dinner shakes up the kosher kitchen

AP July 29, 2010

The men behind a unique six-hour eating marathon in Jerusalem want diners to know two things about locusts: First, they taste great stir-fried, and second, they're kosher.

When 240 observant Jews sat down to the 18-course dinner earlier this month, they were served a veritable zoo of animals that were unlikely candidates to be eaten under traditional Jewish dietary laws, known as kashrut.

Strauss Offers Gelatin Compromise to Yeshivas, Charity, Etc.

By Hillel Fendel July 29, 2010

Nearly four years ago, mother and daughter Tova Nagler and Revital Mann, from Bnei Brak and nearby Givat Shmuel, respectively, filed a class action suit against Strauss Dairies. The two claimed that as consumers who wish to eat only kosher foods, they were misled between the years 1999 and 2004 into purchasing Strauss products that were made with gelatin.

The products bear a Chief Rabbinate seal of kashrut,” the suit stated, “even though the Rabbinate did not approve the gelatin in the products.

Teacher molested kids for 20 years, while community turned blind eye

By Tamar Rotem July 29, 2010

For almost 20 years, one man allegedly sexually abused dozens of children on Moshav Kommemiyut, an ultra-Orthodox community in the northern Negev. Yet no one ever complained - either to the police or to the welfare authorities.

Ban Jewish burka, say Israeli Haredi rabbis

By Nathan Jeffay July 29, 2010

Israeli rabbis are set to ban the burka for a small group of radical Jewish women who have taken to wearing it.

Two years ago, it emerged that around 100 women in the city of Beit Shemesh had begun to cover their faces with a veil and wear numerous layers of clothing to obscure their body shape. When many rabbis criticised the trend, the women took no notice because they considered the rabbis too moderate.

But now, the religious body admired by the most religiously hard-line elements in Israel - even the Neturei Karta anti-Zionist sect - is about to apply its clout and try to quash the trend.

Unofficial guide to haredi wedding

By Yechiel Fleishman July 26, 2010

In honor of the Jewish calendar's holiday of love, Ynet presents the unofficial guide to the typical ultra-Orthodox wedding – from the engagement ceremony to the Seven Blessings.

Government 'tried to bury' report on Temple Mount excavations

By Nir Hasson August 1, 2010

It is over two months since State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss completed his report on excavations at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – yet the Knesset will only discuss his findings this week, giving rise to charges that the government tried to suppress the controversial document.

Lindenstrauss's report is expected to point the finger at government bodies, as well as the Waqf, in failing to monitor work on the site. The national Antiquities Authority, the police the Prime Minister's Office, the Attorney General and the Jerusalem municipality are all expected to come under fire.

Street Theater Tackles Touchy Topic - The Temple Mount

Click here for VIDEO

Religion and State in Israel

August 2, 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.