Monday, November 29, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - November 29, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

November 29, 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.

IDF converts win ministerial backing, despite Haredi opposition

By Jonathan Lis November 28, 2010

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved Sunday a bill to protect the religious status of Israel Defense Forces soldiers who converted to Judaism through a military court.

At the committee meeting two weeks ago, another Yisrael Beitenu member, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, launched an attack on Minister without Portfolio Meshulam Nahari, of Shas.

Ministers: IDF conversions legal

By Aviad Glickman November 28, 2010

The [Shas] party's representative on the committee, Minister Meshulam Nahari, said that the bill constitutes a flagrant breach of the religious status quo, contrary to coalition agreements. But an appeal presented against the postponement was accepted and the proposal was once again on the government table.

Israel's conversion crisis was fabricated

By Nathan Jeffay Opinion November 18, 2010

Much of the Jewish world was up in arms at the start of the summer because of the "conversion bill". People objected because it gave authority over conversions to the Chief Rabbinate.

In reality, however, the proposed change was only bureaucratic, as conversions currently operate under the authority of the Chief Rabbinate, and what we saw was largely a manufactured crisis for the political ends of various political and religious groups.

How do we know? Because just when a review of all conversions seemed imminent, conversion was thrown into chaos by none other than the Chief Rabbinate.

Exposing the ‘Partnership Covenant for Religionless’

By Irit Rosenblum Opinion November 22, 2010

The author is a family law attorney, founder and executive director of New Family.

The “Partnership Covenant for the Religionless” legislation not only does not rectify the absence of separation of religion and state, it perpetuates and aggravates the problem by expanding the authority of the rabbinic establishment over marriage and family life to not only determine who is a Jew, but who is not a Jew, who belongs to another religion or who has no recognized religion at public expense.

Rabbinate Takes Action in American Jewish Divorce Case

By Maayana Miskin November 25, 2010

In an unusual step, an official rabbinic court in Tel Aviv has ordered a United States citizen to remain in Israel for proceedings in a divorce case. The man, who has refused to give his wife a divorce, was detained in Israel following her request; she is also a U.S. citizen.

Most Israeli Jews unhappy with state-religion policies

By Kobi Nahshoni November 25, 2010

Out of all the respondents, 80% said they were "discontent" (61%) or "not so content" (19%) about the current policy vis-à-vis state and religion, compared with 20% who declared themselves "pretty content" (16%) or "extremely content (4%).

The respondents were also asked whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should form a unity government excluding haredi parties in order to "repair" the situation. Fifty six percent of respondents replied affirmatively, while 45% said no; excluding haredi respondents, the division was 65% in favor and 39% opposed.

'80% of Israelis dissatisfied with state, religious policy' November 24, 2010

In light of the divide regarding religious and state policy, 61% of non-haredi citizens supported the establishment of a Likud-Kadima government without Shas and Torah Judaism.

High Court likely to let gender segregation on buses continue

By Yair Ettinger November 22, 2010

The High Court of Justice is leaning toward allowing the Egged and Dan bus companies to continue sex segregation on dozens of lines as long as there is no coercion or violence, Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein said yesterday in what was probably the last hearing before the court issues a verdict.

The Reform movement's Israel Religious Action Center, which was one of the petitioners, said it was satisfied with yesterday's hearing and that adoption of the Transportation Ministry committee findings means the High Court endorses the position that the segregation is illegal and the ministry must intensify bus monitoring to ensure there is no coercion or violence.

'Only partial segregation' in J'lem event

By Ronen Medzini November 25, 2010

The Jerusalem Municipality says the separation between men and women during a performance by haredi singer Yakov Shwekey will be partial.

"However, in light of the municipality's request, mixed seating and segregated seating will both be allowed during his concert. We are happy that we could meet the residents' high demand while providing an opportunity for many soldiers to enjoy the show free of charge."

Tel Aviv: No buses on Shabbat eve

By Yoav Zitun November 25, 2010

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai is not rushing to operate public transportation on Friday evenings, despite the high number of youths hurt in road accidents while returning from a night out in the city. The reason for the delay is the veto imposed on the decision by the City Council's haredi factions.

Religion is no excuse Editorial November 25, 2010

Under pressure from Shas and United Torah Judaism, the government backtracked Wednesday on its support for a bill that would have helped fight the worrying trend of draft-dodging among young women.

...Sadly, the government’s myopic readiness to cater to the whims of narrow religious extremism has led it to ignore the broader national interest of encouraging universal conscription.

Bill to curb women IDF dodgers nixed under Shas pressure

By Chaim Levinson November 25, 2010

The bill had been approved in the ministerial committee for legislation; however, following opposition by Shas, the coalition decided to vote against it in the Knesset. The only coalition member who voted for it was Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai.

Hasson said yesterday that the government had "once again chosen to surrender and serve its ultra-Orthodox partners at the expense of service in the IDF."

Likud MK Miri Regev: Bill draft-dodging by religious women not a failure

By Rebecca Anna Stoil November 26, 2010

“This situation cannot continue. We must make sure that everyone who can go to the army goes. We should extend the draft to haredim, and ensure that all women and minorities perform national service as well,” [Likud MK Miri] Regev concluded.

IDF uses Facebook to bust women lying their way out of the army

AP November 22, 2010

The Israel Defense Force says its monitoring of Facebook has helped catch 1,000 women lying about their religious background to avoid serving.

Israeli military service is largely compulsory, but religiously observant Jewish women can be exempted from service.

A military official said Monday that one woman who said she was a religious Jew posted a photo of herself on Facebook holding a menu from a non-kosher restaurant. Another updated her profile on the Sabbath.

Onward, Jewish Soldiers

By Dan Ephron November 20, 2010

A transformation is sweeping the Israeli military: deeply religious Jews are now filling leadership positions in numbers far exceeding their share of the general population. Given that religious Israelis tend to be more hawkish than most, the trend raises a real question about whether Israel can rely on the Army to implement the toughest parts of any future peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Male and female, He created them

By Reuven Hammer Opinion November 26, 2010

The writer is the head of the Rabbinical Court of the Masorti Movement.

There is a struggle going on today within traditional Judaism concerning the place of women. One side wishes to separate them from men and keep them not only out of public view but out of public functions. The other side wants to bring them in and make use of their talents and their potential. The outcome will be crucial not only for women but for the future of Judaism and the Jewish people.

More Israel experience = more Jewish identity

By Cindy Mindell November 25, 2010

Does an Israel experience really enhance American Jewish identity? Many studies have focused on the question. Consensus among Jewish professionals points to Jewish camping and time in Israel as the two most salient factors in ensuring Jewish continuity.

Now a new study conducted by Prof. Steven M. Cohen and Dr. Ezra Kopelowitz shows that participation in semester- or year-long programs in Israel is directly linked to stronger Jewish affiliation and leadership, regardless of the participant's Jewish background.

Jewish Ingratitude to Christians

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Opinion November 22, 2010

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach heads This World: The Values Network, which seeks to heal America through universal Jewish values.

The man more responsible than anyone else for building this bridge between Christians and Jews is Rabbi Eckstein, a man whose efforts, with Christian support, feeds thousands of hungry Jewish children and Jewish elderly every day in Israel and abroad.

Israel is a nation that dwells alone, with few friends and many prejudiced enemies. Rather than Rabbis and lay leaders attacking Christians as having nefarious motives for their charity, we should offer thanks and gratitude to hard-working Americans of faith who believe, as the Bible says, that through Israel all the earth is blessed.

Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel discuss freedom of religion

By Jonah Mandel November 28, 2010

Israel’s religious leaders met on Thursday in lower Galilee to discuss freedom of religion and worship in the Holy Land, as well as to offer a joint prayer for rain.

Burying their heads in the sand? November 26, 2010

Vandalism, desecration and destruction of the graves and ancient tombs, as well as fear of attacks and violence by the Arab residents nearby, has been the norm at the Mount of Olives cemetery for years, since it came back into Israeli hands in 1967.

Despite a considerable improvement in government financing – NIS 84 million in five years – for security measures and site rehabilitation, the situation is still far from acceptable, particularly when it comes to security.

Paper sued for refusing gay ad

By Naama Cohen-Friedman November 25, 2010

The Israeli GLBT Union filed a lawsuit against newspaper Makor Rishon Thursday for refusing to publish an advertisement urging gay and lesbian youth within the religious community to turn to the union in times of distress.

Netanyahu castigates PA for denying Jewish link to Kotel

By Barak David November 26, 2010

Waqf's wall?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday blasted a Palestinian Authority report claiming the Western Wall was not a Jewish holy site and was, in fact, sacred to Muslims.

Jews have no right to Western Wall, PA 'study' says

By Khaled Abu Toameh November 22, 2010

“Many studies published by Jewish experts have affirmed that there is no archeological evidence that the Temple Mount was built during the period of King Solomon,” the paper added.

“One can only conclude that Al-Buraq Wall is a Muslim wall and an integral part of the Aksa Mosque and Haram al-Sharif.

Amish community asks forgiveness of Jews at Kotel

By Jonah Mandel November 28, 2010

Representatives of the Amish community from the United States and Switzerland paid a visit to the Western Wall on Saturday night, during which they asked the forgiveness of the Jewish people over their group's silence during the Nazi's extermination of Jews during the Holocaust.

Religious women on the big screen

By Tzofia Hirshfeld November 22, 2010

A recent conference titled "Representations of women in the Israeli cinema", held at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, discussed changes in the status of women depicted on film and TV.

Director Einat Kapach surveyed the representation of religious women in Israeli cinema and the changes they have undergone.

Never-ending summer sends Rabbis, Imams, priests to pray for rain

By Yair Ettinger November 26, 2010

It has become unfortunately routine in recent years: When the weather forecasters have nothing good to say about the prospects for rain, the rabbis, imams and priests spring into action, conducting special interfaith prayers for the wet stuff.

Chief rabbis to lead prayer for rain at Western Wall

By Jonah Mandel November 28, 2010

Monday will be yet another day of fasting and prayer for rain, culminating in a massive prayer at the Western Wall at 3:30 pm, led by Israel's chief rabbis.

Rabbis pray for rain on hot air balloon

By Ilana Curiel November 26, 2010

Before dawn on Thursday, Rabbis Menashe Malka and Reuven Deri boarded a hot air balloon and ascended 1,000 feet in the air in order to pray for timely rain.

...Also on Thursday, worshippers gathered in the northern town of Hatzor HaGlilit, at the tomb of Honi HaM'agel, who became famous for his ability to successfully pray for rain during a year of draught.

The prayer was attended by chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar, council heads, rabbis and yeshiva students from the surrounding areas. The worshippers blew the shofar and recited a special prayer authored by Rabbi Metzger.

Teaching Judaism to little Jews in pajamas

By Ruth Eglash November 28, 2010

How do you teach Judaism to the Jews? According the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, it’s best done in one’s pajamas, and it’s best to start with the children.

Along those lines, the multi-million dollar Massachusetts-based philanthropic foundation, partnering with the Education Ministry, recently launched a new project aimed at teaching Judaism’s core values to thousands of Jewish preschoolers throughout Israel by distributing some 360,000 Hebrew children’s books for free.

Religion and State in Israel

November 29, 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 29, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

November 29, 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.

Is Shas' rebel rabbi a Haredi harbinger of change?

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion November 26, 2010

The "studying society" is no longer economically sustainable and if the rabbis do not lead their followers out of deepening penury, they will have a full-fledged rebellion on their hands.

A generation from now, Rabbi Amsellem's "heretical opinions" will be accepted wisdom, long after Chaim Amsellem the politician is forgotten.

Yishai publicly slams Amsalem; MK appointed bodyguard

By Jonah Mandel November 25, 2010

Earlier on Thursday, Shas newspaper Yom Leyom took the hostilities against Amsalem to new heights, comparing the lawmaker to Amalek.

The front page of the weekly paper, as well as much of a supplement, were dedicated to Amsalem, the Shas Council of Torah Sages’s Monday decision, and elaborations on the “sinful ways” of the MK.

Ultra-Orthodox Israeli draws ire with call to work

By Aron Heller AP November 26, 2010

Erez Tzfadia, a public policy expert from southern Israel's Sapir Academic College who has researched Shas extensively, said the rare rebellion marks a watershed moment for Shas.

He said the party has morphed from its initial mission of providing welfare for the lower class to becoming a right-wing party with an extreme religious doctrine.

"Shas failed in immersing its constituency because it couldn't improve their status ... the project failed and the gaps continued to grow," he said. "Instead, they now focus on Judaism and on hating the 'other' as a way of belonging. The name of the game is belonging."

Restoring the crown to former glory

By Yair Ettinger Opinion November 26, 2010

Q: Are you still an emissary of your rabbis?

Shas MK Amsallem:

"No. That's over. I am no one's emissary. I am completely independent. This is an exit to freedom.

Until now, the rabbis could tell me, 'Do this, or do that.' I think this is a kind of maturity the public in Israel needs. Rabbis should engage in Torah and legal rulings and yeshiva heads should teach Torah.

I will consult with rabbis, but with all due respect, I am not interested in having one set of rabbis or anther impose things at the level of a Council of Sages or Greats. With the councils, when rabbis are fed by politicos - only bad things come of it. Rabbis should be obeyed but this whole style, which is a copy of the Ashkenazi style, just doesn't look right to me."

Amsalem defies Ovadia Yosef’s order to quit Knesset

By Jonah Mandel November 24, 2010

Key to Amsalem’s approach, and perhaps what is most problematic to his party’s line, is his call on those who aren’t destined to be great Torah scholars and who have families to work, and not live on “shameful” allotments.

Ousted Shas MK refuses to give up Knesset seat

By Yair Ettinger November 24, 2010

"We can and must follow rabbis, but this whole style, which is a copy of the Ashkenazi style, a confederation of rabbinical courts, just doesn't appeal to me," he said.

Earlier this week, Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef said, "Some are saying yeshivas are great for wise students, who will be judges, who will be rabbis. Whoever isn't should go to work.

Israel’s No. 1 politician

By Emmanuel Rosen Opinion November 24, 2010

Leadership and the need for research work and orderly decision-making are replaced by smalltime politics, and Shas is smalltime politics at its finest.

It’s all about bargaining and scratching each other’s back, and all is enveloped by the rabbi’s holy robe. Yet behind the robe hides the truth, and it’s a sad one.

Brotherly hate in Israel

By Yair Lapid Opinion November 27, 2010

"I think you need to join the army," I said. "I think you need to get help in order to integrate into the job market, and I think your children should study math and English. I also think that if, instead of doing this, you wish to study at the yeshiva, there is no reason for me to pay your salary.
What does that have to do with hatred?

Elyashiv: Alleged yeshiva misdeeds damaging to Haredim

By Jonah Mandel November 23, 2010

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the most respected halachic authority in the Ashkenazi haredi world, spoke out in the most harsh terms against the possibility that three haredi educational institutions defrauded the state of dozens of millions of shekels.

Rabbi Elyashiv: 'Law of pursuer' for fraud

By Kobi Nahshoni November 23, 2010

The Rabbi Elyashiv's statements are unusually harsh, as the spiritual leader used a term that in its halachic form demands a death sentence.

And yet, it is clear that in this case, the term has been used in order to stress the seriousness of the situation and not in order to promote physical violence against those involved.

Court orders six suspects in forged yeshiva student ID scam to remain in custody

By Yair Ettinger and Nir Hasson November 23, 2010

Six men suspected of defrauding the state by presenting the Education Ministry with forged identity cards had their remand extended yesterday by five days in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court.

Police believe they presented more than a thousand fake IDs to gain stipends for fictitious yeshiva students.

Elyashiv: If it's true, 'din rodef' should apply to thieves

By Jonah Mandel November 22, 2010

“If the story turns out to be true, the thieves should be considered pursuers (din rodef),” the most respected halachic authority within the Ashkenazi haredi world was quoted as saying Sunday night, explaining that their alleged deeds were unacceptable and would cause irreversible damage to haredim everywhere.

Police: Haredi ID fraud spanned years

By Yair Altman November 22, 2010

The police began to covertly monitor the illegal activity a few months ago, when members of the Neturei Karta sect found out their names were being used to receive stipends from the State, and informed law enforcement officials.

Police: Haredim embezzled millions in ID fraud

By Yair Altman November 21, 2010

"The organizations we raided worked as factories through and through, systematically producing fake IDs, some for students not studying at yeshivas and some for people who do not exist," said Chief-Superintendant Haim Shmueli, who headed the raid.

Police bust Haredi sect suspected of forging ID cards for state funding

By Yair Ettinger and Nir Hasson November 22, 2010

Police suspect that the Masmidim forged ID cards of Eda Haredit members whose education was not funded by the government. Police said the operation was an effort to inflate the amount of state funding the Masmidim received.

Haredi ministers get threatening letters too

By Roni Sofer November 22, 2010

Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman on Monday received threat letters containing a suspicious powder. The police checked the powder and ordered the two not to enter their offices.

Similar envelopes with curses and white powder were received Sunday by two United Torah Judaism Knesset members.

Up to 20 years for 'abusive rabbi' followers

By Aviad Glickman November 23, 2010

Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday handed down a sentence of imprisonment to four followers of "abusive rabbi" Elior Chen, who was found guilty of child abuse.

One of the Hasidim, David Kugman, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars, while Avraham Maskalchi and Shimon Gabai were given 17 years. Roi Tzoref, whose role in the affair was relatively small, was sentenced to two and a half years.

Followers of Israeli 'rabbi' accused of child abuse sentenced for complicity

By Nir Hasson November 23, 2010

The child abuse affair was uncovered two years ago, when a child Chen had been treating was taken to the hospital unconscious. Once the story became public, Chen fled to Brazil, which extradited him back to Israel. He is now on trial at the Jerusalem District Court.

Haredi women go under the knife

By Tzofia Hirschfeld November 24, 2010

Something is happening to our woman of valor. She is no longer satisfied with sewing and selling sheets or with making belts for Canaanites. Even compliments from her husband, sitting with the elders, do not lift her spirits anymore.

...Dr. Fried summarizes:

"We must remember that the ultra-Orthodox society isn't a herd of animals locked behind a gate. The have very similar problems to those of the secular society. Emotionally, we are all human beings and we all want to feel good about our bodies."

Facing up to the fear

By Ruth Eglash November 26, 2010

While Rachel’s story is indicative of many women in physically abusive relationships, what sets her apart from the majority of victims seeking help is that she was raised in a religious family, and the shelter where she sought refuge three months ago is Bat Melech, the only battered women’s shelter in the country for Orthodox and haredi women and their children.

Weaponry found in luggage bearing rabbi's name in J'lem

By Jonah Mandel November 28, 2010

A piece of luggage containing an M-16 assault rifle and pistols was discovered in the parking lot of a residential building in Ganei Geula, a haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem, according to reports in the online haredi media.

Rabbi okays renting apartments to Arabs

By Kobi Nahshoni November 28, 2010

Renting out apartments to Arabs has been forbidden by Safed's rabbis, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has also pointed out that it is forbidden, and many other rabbis remain sheepishly silent on grounds of political correctness and admit that "there is nothing to be done, this is halachic law".

One person who disagrees with these rabbis is the head of the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva, Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, who states that "it is right and correct prefer renting out apartments within our own nation, but it is not right to ban renting out apartments to Arabs."

Israeli town launches campaign against foreign workers

By Ilan Lior November 24, 2010

Bnei Brak city hall launched a public campaign against renting flats to migrant workers and refugees two weeks ago, but it appears the municipality actually employs migrants, Haaretz has found. The city employs 10 foreign workers in its sanitary department through the subcontractor Ford Municipal Systems.

Ministries warn they can’t cope with Falash Mura influx

By Rebecca Anna Stoil November 26, 2010

Two weeks after the government’s decision to bring the nearly 8,000 remaining Falash Mura to Israel, government ministries warned Wednesday that they did not have sufficient funds to address the needs of the anticipated wave of immigrants.

During a hearing of the Knesset’s Immigration and Absorption Committee, representatives of the Welfare and Social Services, Education and Immigrant Absorption ministries all demanded additional funding and complained that the Prime Minister’s Office had refused any budgetary amendments.

Ethiopian teen attacked at mikveh

By Artzi Halfon November 22, 2010

A Bnei Brak resident barred a 13 year old Ethiopian teen from going into the mikveh recenty, claiming the boy was a "stinking kushi" (a derogatory Hebrew term for black people). He then hit the boy, his brother and his aunt.

Israel’s Un-Kosherfest

By Yechiel Spira November 25, 2010

I guess the point is that this annual food event is not to bash Israel, but to highlight what I have been preaching, that not everything in Israel is kosher, yet alone mehadrin. The free samples in Machane Yehuda and Malcha Mall have no more of a hechsher at times that the food at this event!

Religion and State in Israel

November 29, 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.