Monday, November 22, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - November 22, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

November 22, 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.

Judge: Court to approve kosher buses

By Shahar Haselkorn November 21, 2010

The High Court of Justice will not ban gender segregation on haredi bus routes, and is likely to accept the Transport Ministry's recommendation to make the separation between sexes voluntary rather than compulsory, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein said Sunday.

Jerusalem City Council member Rachel Azaria told Ynet that the impending High Court decision will effectively validate the current segregation.

She called the decision an attempt to have the cake and eat it, too. "On one hand, the court says the separation is illegal. On the other, it allows it to exist," she said.

Israel Supreme Court may allow segregated buses

By Ron Friedman and Jonah Mandel November 21, 2010

IRAC's executive director Anat Hoffman:

“So as far as the practical level goes, there is room for disappointment, since the moment it is agreed that the back door will open, a haredi woman has no choice but to embark from there.”

Will the High Court allow gender segregation on public buses?

By Yair Ettinger November 21, 2010

The ministry's recommendations, adopted by the state, stress that even though it is illegal to enforce segregation on public buses, "voluntary separation should be allowed if it is not coerced."

Jerusalem to hold segregated event

By Ronen Medzini November 22, 2010

Jerusalem Municipality announced Sunday it would be holding an event honoring security forces in which segregation will be enforced, with ticket ads saying men would be seated in the main hall and women in the gallery.

Israel approves $23 million plan to renovate near Western Wall

By News Agencies November 21, 2010

Israel approved Sunday a five-year plan to the tune of NIS 85 million ($23 million) to renovate near the Western Wall and the adjacent Jewish quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem.

PA slams NIS 85 million Kotel development project

By Herb Keinon and Jonah Mandel and staff November 21, 2010

Women of the Wall Chair Anat Hoffman, however, stressed that if there won't be a pluralistic plaza for joint prayer, not necessarily in the place of the existent praying sections, “we can forget about international tourism.”

She noted that the majority of Jewish tourists are not orthodox, and Christian tourists also feel ill at ease when haredi ushers instruct them to remove crosses worn around their necks at the site. “We must not think only of the orthodox Jews,” she said.

Women of the Wall Rosh Hodesh Kislev November 2010

Click here for VIDEO November 15, 2010

Parents petition Israel Population Registry Law ‘bastard clause’

By Ruth Eglash November 19, 2010

It was a happy occasion when Michal (not her real name) gave birth to her first child in June.

However, just weeks later, when she arrived at the Interior Ministry to register her newborn daughter, she was told that the child’s biological father would not be recognized as such, due to the little known “bastard clause” in a law passed in 1965.

The law is based on Halacha, which forbids a woman to remarry for at least 90 days after being divorced or widowed.

Broken dreams

By Rebecca Anna Stoil November 19, 2010

The first time the two discussed her mother’s decades-old conversion to Judaism, “it was completely by accident.

His cousin was dating a young man and he said, ‘He’s not really Jewish, his mother converted,’ and then I told him that my mom also converted and I see myself as Jewish, even more so than many Israelis because in Israel the rabbinate is a governmental body, meaning religious identity is black or white. But in the US, there is a rainbow of different kinds of Judaism – there are more shades.”

Following that conversation, Fishman’s idyllic relationship began to take a wrong turn. Her boyfriend began to demand that she convert – this time through the rabbinate. The topic became the dominant one, and they began to fight over the issue on a daily basis.

Rabbi Uri Regev, director of Hiddush, says that Fishman’s story may be unique, but that the context is much greater.

[He] proposed, “the State of Israel should grant full legal recognition of conversions from all major streams, as well as the right to marry through both civil marriage and all recognized streams.”

US report: Religious coercion, violence in Israel rising

By Kobi Nahshoni November 19, 2010

Chairman of Hiddush - For Freedom of Religion and Equality, Rabbi Uri Regev:

"The report discusses at length the Israeli government's capitulation to the haredi parties' extortion and the way in which it compromises marriage rights, freedom of worship, women's dignity, the immigrant population, the non-Jewish communities and many others as part of a policy which gains power by funding religious institutes and capitulating to religious coercion while disregarding the will of the majority of the Jewish people in Israel and in the Diaspora.”

Click here for U.S. Dept. of State International Religious Freedom Report 2010

Analysis: Errors in US report on Israel's religious freedom

By Jonah Mandel November 19, 2010

An official State Department report on religious freedom in Israel raises valid points about the imperfect and intricate condition of faiths in the Holy Land, but inaccuracies and errors in it raise questions as to the methods of obtaining and analyzing the information employed.

Eight Haredi, four Zionist rabbinical judges chosen

By Jonah Mandel November 21, 2010

The Committee for Appointing Rabbinical Judges appointed 12 new rabbinical judges on Friday, who will serve in the regional rabbinic courts.

All the 12 were unanimously approved, four of them national-religious, four haredi Sephardi, and four haredi Ashkenazi, which can be considered equal representation to the three central streams of Orthodox Judaism.

Attorney Batya Kahana-Dror, director of the Mavoi Satum (“Dead End”) organization, which works for the rights of women who have been refused divorce and are therefore unable to remarry according to Jewish law (agunot), said that “yet again the committee preferred the political and sectorial interests of the haredi sector to the detriment of the wider public.

The appointment of haredi rabbinical judges, who are entirely under the control of haredi Lithuanian rabbis, is a disaster for the State of Israel and its women.

Committee appoints twelve new judges to rabbinical courts

By Yair Ettinger [print edition only] November 21, 2010

National Religious choose stricter lifestyle

By Akiva Novick November 18, 2010

Squeaky clean exam prep books, holistic medicine courses with breaks for prayer, theater free of female characters or actors – these are just a few indicators of national religious Jews moving towards a stricter, more orthodox lifestyle.

From one bubble to another

By Noah Kosharek November 19, 2010

"There has been a spiritual awakening in Tel Aviv in recent years," Eldad Mizrahi, chairman of the city's religious council, says.

"The young Orthodox people who come to live here see it as an ideal: to create Jewish life in the first Hebrew city." Mizrahi insists that "the goal is not to proselytize," but rather "to make the local residents a little better acquainted with the Bible and Jewish tradition."

A righteous rebel Editorial November 18, 2010

[T]his form of leadership has proved particularly successful in insulating the haredi community from modernity, including full integration in the world’s only Jewish state.

However, any authoritarian means of leadership that lacks external checks and balances, and suppresses alternative viewpoints no matter how reasonable they may be, is doomed to atrophy.

Amsalem’s rebellion provides hope that the haredi public will eventually wake up to this reality – and the sooner the better.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef slams maverick Shas MK Amsalem

By Jonah Mandel November 21, 2010

Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef slammed MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem (Shas) in his weekly Saturday night sermon in a first public reference to the maverick lawmaker, who on Wednesday announced that he wouldn't return his mandate despite the growing animosity in the party's leadership toward him.

Shas MK distances himself from party, but refuses to resign

By Yair Ettinger November 18, 2010

Shas MK Chaim Amsellem announced yesterday that he was distancing himself from his party, but said he will remain a member of the Shas caucus despite the party leaders' attempts to oust him.

Shas' enfant terrible is a voice of Haredi sanity

By Nehemia Shtrasler Opinion November 19, 2010

Amsellem is the enfant terrible of Shas. He's a one-man opposition to Shas leader Eli Yishai and he fearlessly opposes Shas' distorted worldview on all important issues - conversions, core studies in the schools, military service and employment. He doesn't even hesitate to accuse the party of "throwing all the wretched into a deep pit, just as Joseph was thrown."

Margi: Shas encourages followers to earn degrees

By Jonah Mandel November 16, 2010

As reported by The Jerusalem Post, veteran political commentator Shalom Yerushalmi drew up the lines for Amsalem’s projected new party in the November 5 weekend Maariv, based on conversations with the lawmaker and sources close to him.

The party would promote haredi employment and army service, all from a halachically committed standpoint, according to the report. Yerushalmi also mentioned the name of former Shas leader Aryeh Deri as a figure who could join Amsalem’s new party.

Facing ouster from Shas, rebel lawmaker may start new party

By Yair Ettinger November 15, 2010

For some time now, MK Chaim Amsellem has been looking for a way out of Shas. It may be that a way out has found him, and sooner than he may have planned.

Sources in the party have said that in recent days the spiritual leader of the party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, may ask Amsellem to give up his spot in the Knesset to the next in line.

Shas minister: Procreate instead of complaining

By Kobi Nahshoni November 16, 2010

Minister of Religious Services Yacov Margi (Shas) is calling on the secular public to boost its birthrate in order to battle the demographic threat Israel is facing.

In a forum titled "Haredim in Israeli society" held last week as part of the Israel-Sderot Conference on Social Issues, Margi said, "Bring more kids to the world instead of complaining about the haredim. I, as a haredi man, fear for the fate of Israel."

Israeli Jews at odds with liberal US brethren

AP November 19, 2010

When Hillary Rubin immigrated from the United States to Israel, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and descendant of a famed Zionist visionary felt that she had finally arrived in her true home.

But now that religious authorities are questioning the 29-year-old Michigan native's Jewish pedigree and refusing to recognize her marriage, she's having second thoughts.

Israel proposes separate marriage registry for state-sponsored converts

By Yair Ettinger November 15, 2010

A special rabbinical track should be created to register marriages in which one or both spouses underwent a state-sponsored conversion, the state told the High Court of Justice yesterday.

It thereby effectively said it would not force members of the official rabbinate to register such marriages, even though these rabbis receive their salaries from the state.

Expert tells MKs: We have 15 years to fight assimilation

By Gil Shefler November 16, 2010

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, the Israeli branch of the Reform movement, warned against alienating the children of mixed marriages.

“We need to be careful when we process the numbers,” he said. “To the best of my knowledge, and I’m not an expert on this issue, there may be 55% of marriages between Jews and non-Jews, but that does not mean there’s a 55% assimilation rate and that families in this group are torn away from the Jewish people."

Intermarriage rates among Diaspora Jews at all-time high

By Kobi Nahshoni November 17, 2010

A new study revealed by the Knesset Information and Research Center shows high rates of intermarriage among Jewish communities in the Diaspora.

During the past 50 years the rate of intermarriage among Diaspora Jews increased by over 200%, the study suggests, pointing to a weak Jewish identity as one of the main factors.

From vision to reality

By Rabbi Marc Rosenstein Opinion November 16, 2010

If the Reform movement can refrain from becoming an orthodoxy, if it can avoid falling into the standard Israeli public discourse of competitive victimhood, if it has patience, and wisdom, and inclusiveness, and openness to new directions and new models, then I believe it can become the way of the future here, and this year's crop of rabbis can be among the architects of that future.

Rabbi offered cash to steer students to Israeli yeshiva

By Michele Chabin November 16, 2010

Sometime in the past few weeks Rabbi Eli Mandel, vice-principal of Jewish studies at the Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, received an offer he felt compelled to refuse: “$1,000 cash” for every Tanenbaum CHAT student he directed to a certain Israeli gap-year yeshiva.

“I recognize that recruitment for Israeli yeshivot is a cutthroat business, but I was (perhaps naively) shocked at a recent proposal made to me by a somewhat prestigious yeshiva to remain nameless,” Mandel wrote in a much-discussed posting on Lookjed, a respected user-list for Jewish educators.

In the seven years he has provided guidance to students considering a gap year in Israel, “this is the first time I have been approached in this way,” Mandel said.

Post-college volunteers compare practices with Israel

By Sharon Udasin November 21, 2010

Masa organized the American- Israeli think-tank in collaboration with City Year, a Boston group that facilitates volunteer work in local schools and communities.

Other Jewish and general American organizations represented in the study tour were Teach for America, the Peace Corps, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the American Jewish World Service, UJA Federation of NY, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Avodah, Hillel, Jewish Funds for Justice, the New Israel Fund, Repair the World, Uri L’Tzedek and Ve’ahavta.

Israel Finds Common Cause With Evangelicals

By Michele Chabin November 18, 2010

Christian Zionist support for Israel is at an all-time high, observers say, and Israelis, American Jews and Palestinians are all taking notice -- some favorable, some not.

While Israel has long courted financial and political support from evangelicals, many Jewish American leaders have viewed the alliance with suspicion, leery about potential proselytizing and uncomfortable with evangelicals' domestic agenda at home.

Recently, though, the American Jewish community has found a new appreciation for evangelical support at a time of mounting international criticism of Israeli policy and financial hardships for many prominent Jewish groups.

The Korean girl in Bible class

By Tamar Trabelsi-Hadad November 18, 2010

Kim Xinai is something of an eye-catcher at Bar Ilan University, an institution of higher learning affiliated with religious Judaism.

Xinai, who is Korean, is studying for her doctorate in Bible Studies, a degree which combines biblical readings with ancient Jewish interpretations.

She speaks perfect Hebrew, and was sent to Israel by a South Korean university to complete her studies. After finishing, Xinai plans to go back home to teach the subject.

Yad L'achim Group: Israel, Army Radio Won't Air PSA Against Missionaries

By David Lev November 17, 2010

[Yad L'achim] prepared several radio advertisements that would run before major festivals, warning those planning to attend of the dangers – and how they could protect themselves.

However, as of now, those ads will not be played, at least on the radio stations belonging to the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the IDF. An Israeli Radio official called up Yad L'achim to inform them that their ad was being rejected, while an official of Army Radio wrote to the group that its radio stations could not run ads that “may damage the religious sentiments of different groups.”

Click here for Yad L'Achim Radio Advertisement (Hebrew)

Chief Rabbis call for day of fasting, prayers for rain

By Jonah Mandel November 16, 2010

Israel’s chief rabbis are calling on the public to pray for rain, and declared this Thursday a special day of fasting and prayer to atone for the sins that are likely preventing the direly missing rainfall.

Gay Couples Bypassing Conservative Marriage Laws

By Yermi Brenner November 18, 2010

The world’s first interactive online Torah study program

By Riva Gold November 18, 2010

What do an 85-year-old Israeli, a 10-year-old homeschooler, and a 33-year-old Polish Jew have in common?

They all study at, the world’s first fully interactive online Torah study program. The site, founded in 2007, brings Jews from across the world together to study Torah in real-time using video-conferencing technology.

A Jewish Renaissance?

By Yehudah Mirsky November 15, 2010

In recent years Israel has become a vast open-air laboratory for experiments in Judaism, re-fashioning rituals, reading old texts through new lenses, scrambling and fracturing familiar dichotomies between secular and religious.

Secular yeshivot, mainstream performers singing medieval Hebrew hymns, non-denominational "prayer communities" in hip Tel Aviv, kabbalistic therapy movements, Judaism festivals on once-socialist kibbutzim—something is going on here, but what?

Traversing the language barrier

By Mark Rebacz November 19, 2010

Yerushalayim Torah Academy (YTA) [is] a religious English-language high school that strives to help ease the transition into Israeli life and provide support for those students who don’t do well adjusting to a foreign language and culture.

Established three years ago with 24 boys, this year the school opened a girls’ branch as well, with 20 students – including Zemel’s 10th-grade daughter.

Knesset bill calls to extend daylight savings time to Nov. 1 every year

By Jonathan Lis [print edition only] November 21, 2010

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is set to decide today whether to endorse a private bill drafted by MK Nitzan Horowitz, calling to extend daylight savings time to November 1 every year.

Shalom: Daylight Saving Time should be imposed until end of October

By Attila Somfalvi November 21, 2010

Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said Sunday that Daylight Saving Time should be imposed until the end of October by law "as in most Western countries."

Religion and State in Israel

November 22, 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 - November 22, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

November 22, 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.

Police: Haredim embezzled millions in ID fraud

By Yair Altman November 21, 2010

Jerusalem Police on Sunday raided the offices of three ultra-Orthodox non-profit organizations, which operate yeshivas in the capital and nearby towns of Beit Shemesh and Beitar Illit. Officers believe that the organizations embezzled millions from the State.

The haredi institutions are suspected to have produced fake IDs in order to receive monthly stipends from the Education Ministry for alleged yeshiva students.

Ultra-Orthodox groups suspected of forging IDs to get millions in state funding

By Nir Hasson November 21, 2010

The groups falsely reported occupancy of hundreds of students in the religious schools under their management, when in fact only a few dozen students attend those institutions. Police are inquiring about the funds funneled to the institutions and foresee further arrests.

Incentives not to work

By Shahar Ilan Opinion November 18, 2010

The writer is deputy director for research and information at Hiddush - For Religious Freedom and Equality.

Again and again attempts are made to lull the public with the claim that the changes in the ultra-Orthodox economy are happening on their own and you can't force the situation.

The truth is that the changes in the ultra-Orthodox community began with Benjamin Netanyahu's economic decrees in 2003, when he was finance minister, especially when child allowances were slashed.

These changes are very slow, and the ultra-Orthodox community grows fast. Israel is swiftly following through on senior economists' grim predictions - that the Israeli economy will not be able to bear the weight of the yeshiva world.

Hundreds of students block roads in Tel Aviv to protest yeshiva stipend bill

By Asaf Shtull-Trauring and Yaniv Kubovich November 18, 2010

The atmosphere heated up with the speech by Menachem Gesheid, an ultra-Orthodox journalist and adviser to Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman.

...Gesheid was booed when he said that "unless we recognize the importance of the Bible and its Gordian Knot to the nation, we don't have anything to do here among millions of Muslims."

12 students injured during Tel Aviv protest against yeshiva student stipends

By Asaf Shtull-Trauring November 17, 2010

The [student] union's alternative calls for giving stipends to both yeshiva students and college students from poor socioeconomic backgrounds, and for letting them earn up to 150% the minimum wage (about NIS 5,700) until they lose their stipends.

The goal would be to encourage employment, the students say; the current yeshiva stipends discourage their recipients from working.

Students clash with police at 'yeshiva law' rally

By Tomer Velmer November 17, 2010

Earlier, Israel's Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar met with haredi and secular students from the Ono Academic College and asked them to maintain restraint.

Rabbi Amar noted that "it is important to deliver constructive criticism, but we must continue to live together as one people in our land, and even if there are disagreements and different opinions – it's imperative that we remain loving and bonded with one another."

Students submit alternative to yeshiva bill

By Meirav Arlosoroff November 15, 2010

The National Union of Israeli Students submitted an alternative proposal for the so-called yeshiva bill, which would instate in law income stipends for yeshiva students with families and who don't work.

New Israel Fund Forms Pluralist Forum to Oppose Special Benefits for Yeshiva Students November 16, 2010

NIF has launched a forum of eight grantees from all streams of Judaism including the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) of the Movement for Progressive (Reform) Judaism, Masorti (Conservative) Movement, and Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah to oppose the Yeshiva Students Law.

The forum has set up a think tank to devise a strategy for coordinating opposition to the new law and has begun activities by establishing a website and on-line petition to raise awareness about the issue. A major conference on the topic will be held at the Hebrew University in the coming weeks.

Clarion Call November 18, 2010

We, the citizens of the State of Israel, secular and religious, belonging to all streams of Judaism, state in a clear voice that the “Avreichim Law” does not suit the spirit of Judaism – not the Halacha, not the Jewish philosophical tradition and not the Jewish way of life.

Draft-dodging to reach 60% by 2020, manpower chief says

By Yaakov Katz November 21, 2010

In 2006, the number of haredi exemptions, at 45,000, was 9.6% of the draft. In 2010 it climbed to 62,500, or 13%. By 2020, that percentage is expected to increase to 20%.

Prime Minister's Office to recommend increasing Haredi draft

By Meirav Arlosoroff November 18, 2010

The state will most likely increase funding for the Israel Defense Forces' program to draft ultra-Orthodox and train them.

Eyal Gabai, the director general of the Prime Minister's Office, will recommend increasing the budget by NIS 100 to 150 million a year so as to enlist an additional 3,000 Haredim a year into the IDF

IDF freezes service deferrals for volunteering due to enlistment drop

By Anshel Pfeffer November 17, 2010

The Israel Defense Forces has decided not to increase its quota this year for the number of teens it allows to perform voluntary national service or to study at a pre-military academy for one year before beginning their mandatory military service, citing a decrease in the annual number of recruits.

Referring to the Haredi yeshiva students who refuse to serve in the army, [a principal of a religious pre-military academy] added: "Because of the draft dodging, not everyone can study or volunteer for a year before the army and come in more prepared."

A woman of combat who will find?

By Yossi Yehoshua November 21, 2010

More and more religious women, some already married, are passing up on national service and choosing to enlist in the IDF.

The IDF has avoided taking official steps to promote the issue in order to prevent confrontations with rabbis in religious high schools.

In a very hush hush manner, without creating any fuss or antagonism, these young women are enlisting in large numbers, becoming pioneers in units which never before included religious women: Air force, artillery and tank corps instructors, IDF command courses and more.

Hesder Torah Students on the Front Lines in IDF

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu November 21, 2010

Hesder yeshiva students on Sunday enlisted in a new program that puts them on the front lines for two years, instead of 16 months.

From Koogle to Yideotube, efforts to provide a kosher Internet

By Edmund Sanders November 19, 2010

Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis initially labeled the Internet as the biggest threat yet to Judaism, likening it to eating pork and calling it "1,000 times worse" than TV. As the technology spread, rabbis softened their stance and by 2005 allowed limited Internet use for work purposes only.

Now, as the Internet permeates most aspects of life, from banking to registering children at school, more Haredi families have no choice but to go online. About one-third admit to having Internet access at home, though the actual figure is believed to be about 50%.

With an outright ban on the Internet no longer feasible, ultra-Orthodox rabbis are realizing that their only option is to create a kosher variety.

Haredim staging Kiryat Gat takeover?

By Tova Dadon November 22, 2010

Yet over the past few years, a major demographic change has been felt throughout [Kiryat Gat] as 52,000 residents, one fourth of the city's total are classified as haredim. This change has brought a revolution in the city's construction and land holding plans which is not in line with a majority of the secular residents' outlook.

Haredi MKs get threat letters

By Roni Sofer November 21, 2010

Ultra-Orthodox MKs on Sunday complained of receiving threatening letters in envelopes with white powder inside.

"Stop sucking our blood," the letters say. "Pack up your stuff and your shtreimels and go to Brooklyn." The Knesset Officer has launched an investigation into the source of the letters, which were sent to MKs Uri Maklev and Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism.

Running into trouble

By Nicole Broder November 19, 2010

Kramer has used the same running route for 12 years. This was the third time she had been abused by haredim, whether stoning, spitting or verbal slurs, in exactly the same location.

“What I was wearing at the time of the attack is utterly irrelevant,” comments Kramer. “Even if I had been wearing a bikini, I still didn’t deserve to have stones thrown at me. Nobody does.”

Bnei Brak battles African 'infiltrators'

By Yoav Zitun November 21, 2010

A call center for whistleblowers has begun operating in recent days in the ultra-Orthodox city in central Israel. The hotline invites residents to report neighbors who rent property to migrants.

Interview: Mayor Yaakov Asher, why are you allowing rabbis to call for the expulsion of foreigners from Bnei Brak?

By Merav Michaeli November 18, 2010

Yaakov Asher is the mayor of Bnei Brak:

"We are a population which safeguards our daughters in particular, protects their modesty, and it could happen that these [foreigners] - and this can happen in other places too, but among this group of people who don't know what will happen tomorrow - there is a fear that it could lead to rape and other kinds of attacks.

Q: Studies show that most rapes are not carried out by strangers, but rather by people close to the victim's family or from their school - even among the ultra-Orthodox.

"No, no, no, excuse me, you are mistaken about this. It is not so."

Love thy neighbor

By Chaim Levinson November 19, 2010

Since declaring his halakhic decision that forbids the rental of apartments to Arabs, Rabbi Eliyahu of Safed is once again in the spotlight, dictating a Torah agenda, as he likes to do from time to time.

...Renting apartments is yesterday's news. It's a minor story, a battle for the image of a small city in the north. The next thing, according to Rabbi Eliyahu, is the battle over the army.

Racism under cover of the Torah

Haaretz Editorial November 18, 2010

The justice minister, the religious services minister and the mayors where these rabbis serve must warn them that they are abusing their positions and even suspend them if necessary. Otherwise, they too will bear responsibility for turning Israeli society into a tool in the hands of religious racist fanatics.

An unholy battle in a holy city

By Larry Derfner November 19, 2010

By pure coincidence, the main opposing forces in Safed’s latest anti-Arab flare-up are next-door neighbors. One is Eli Zvieli, 89, who became a target of threats and public denunciations after he rented an apartment to three Bedouin college students last month.

The other is Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, who vehemently repeated his decade-old call on Jews to refuse to rent to Arabs. They live in adjoining stone houses in the heart of the Old City and even share a rooftop balcony, divided by a low gate.

'He shall dwell with thee'

By Rabbi Naftali Rothenberg Opinion November 19, 2010

Rabbi Naftali Rothenberg is a senior research fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, and rabbi of the community of Har Adar.

Calls issued by rabbis not to rent apartments to Arabs, including such an appeal delivered recently by the chief rabbi of Safed, belie Israel's definition as a Jewish state. They contradict the state's Jewish character no less (and, perhaps, more) than they undermine its definition as democratic.

Safed rabbi to be suspended for 'inciting war between Jews and Arabs'

By Jack Khoury November 18, 2010

Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman asked Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman on Wednesday to begin the process of immediate suspension of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu from his post as municipal rabbi of Safed.

Calls grow against judicial rabbi who signed letter banning renting to foreigners

By Ilan Lior November 18, 2010

The Conservative Movement has asked State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to launch an investigation into a Tel Aviv rabbinic court judge who signed a letter calling on people not to rent apartments to foreign workers.

Safed chief rabbi defends ban on renting homes to Arabs November 17, 2010

The religious ban on selling or renting land to Arabs has a basis in Israeli law, Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu told Israel Radio on Wednesday.

Eliyahu pointed in particular to the Jewish National Fund law which mandates finding Jewish owners for land sold by non-Jews. The rabbi also stated that his religious decree is supported by the government's policy to "Judaize" the Galilee region.

Tel Aviv rabbinical judge signs anti-foreigner letter

By Ilan Lior November 17, 2010

Unlike civil court judges, the code of ethics for dayanim allows them to speak out on non-legal issues. But it stresses that they must do so "with the due care mandated by their station, while maintaining objectivity and refraining from a polemical tone."

US Jewish groups slam rabbis anti-migrant decrees

JTA November 16, 2010

The Anti-Defamation League on Monday called the decrees issued last week in the largely haredi city "biased pronouncements."

The American Jewish Committee also condemned the pronouncements. “This injunction is inspired less by religious belief than by fear and prejudice."

VIDEO: Rabbis Call on Netanyahu Not to Resume Freeze

By Elad Benari & Hezki Ezra November 17, 2010

Israel’s most revered Zionist rabbis and heads of prestigious yeshivas held an emergency conference on Tuesday regarding the proposal by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to renew the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria.

Rightist rabbis back Lieberman for PM

By Kobi Nahshoni November 18, 2010

Dozens of rightist rabbis rallied on Tuesday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's intention to accept the US proposal to renew the construction moratorium in the West Bank. The rabbis supported Netanyahu's replacement with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Givot investors threaten revenge over Sheshinski November 15, 2010

Does the answer to the danger of a steep rise in taxation on oil and gas discoveries lie with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef?

...David Weinberg, one of the main people behind the moves, has initiated an appeal to Rabbi Yosef to inform the public of the severe implications in Jewish law of the government's expected action.

Rabbis: Falash Mura must convert

By Kobi Nahshoni November 15, 2010

Ultra-Orthodox conversion officials clarified Sunday evening that the 7,846 members of the Falash Mura slated to immigrate to Israel from Ethiopia will have to undergo a strict conversion to Judaism. Those who fail to do so, the officials warned, would not be recognized as Jews and will have trouble marrying in Israel.

Israel is insulting its Ethiopian Jewish community

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion November 15, 2010

Yesterday's cabinet decision to "bring the last of the Falashmura to Israel" gives members of this community grounds to feel insulted.

It is patronizing, even hostile. It demands that activists on behalf of the Falashmura cease their activities and sets a quota beyond which no additional Falashmura will be brought here - as if they were barrels of hazardous waste that had to be eliminated.

Why are Israelis still romanticizing national policies?

By Anshel Pfeffer November 19, 2010

The prime minister or defense minister issues a proclamation and the Israeli media responds with glowing feature stories. What editor could ask for better pictures: A glorious fighter jet rockets through the clouds and a doe-eyed girl waits for a mother she has not seen for five years, to hold her in her arms. What is there to discuss?

Israel OKs another 8,000 Ethiopian immigrants—but these may be the last

By Uriel Heilman November 16, 2010

The question at the heart of the dispute over the aliyah of the Falash Mura is how many remain in Ethiopia, and therefore whether the aliyah will ever end. Opponents claim the number changes constantly because Ethiopians desperate to escape Africa’s poverty for Israel’s comforts are manipulating the immigration system. Advocates claim the numbers have changed only due to natural growth and to earlier Israeli government mistakes in counting the Ethiopians.

The father, the son and the Falashmura

By Benny Ziffer Opinion November 19, 2010

Simple, isn't it? You sit in a cabinet meeting, you fidget uncomfortably in your chair a bit and you recite what Mother Teresa taught you to say. Such as: There is a humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia. In what way is the Falashmura humanitarian crisis different from those of the other asylum-seekers infiltrating Israel from Africa, who are treated with zero compassion?

Cabinet agrees to bring in last of Falashmura within 4 years

By Nir Hasson November 15, 2010

Over the next year, 200 Falashmura will be brought here every month, and all 8,000 will be brought over within the next four years, the decision stated. After the first 600 immigrants have arrived, the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry will leave Ethiopia and transfer management of the transit camps it runs there to the Jewish Agency. NACOEJ is also one of the groups that pledged yesterday to cease its lobbying activity.

Absorbing the Falash Mura properly Editorial November 17, 2010

While we applaud the government for fulfilling its role as the ingatherer of exiles and reaching out to poor, lost and forgotten Jewish tribes that want to return home, their return to Zion does not represent the end of their story, but rather a new beginning – one that requires careful, ongoing attention.

The Housing Crisis for Ethiopian Olim November 17, 2010

Following the decision of the government on Sunday to give the Jewish Agency responsibility for bringing the remaining Falash Mura to Israel, Natan Sharansky, the organization’s Chairman, called on both the government and all relevant bodies to find solutions so that Ethiopian olim can buy apartments and leave the absorption centers for permanent housing within a reasonable length of time.

Elected Officials Trying to Change State Kashrut Law

By Yechiel Spira November 15, 2010

Meretz Party has put forward a bill in Knesset seeking to remove the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s control over kashrut, seeking to grant the authority to issue kashrut certificates to the Knesset.

Registered donors to get preference if they need organ

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich November 15, 2010

For the first time in the world, the Health Ministry’s Israel Transplant will “give priority” in the receipt of organs to people who previously signed an ADI card and gave consent to donate organs after their deaths.

[A] growing number of countries already have a policy of presumed consent... In Israel, such a policy is unlikely to be adopted, as it would arouse much opposition, especially among religious groups.

Religion and State in Israel

November 22, 2010 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

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