Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
Special Comprehensive Coverage on IDF Conversion Bill
By Rebecca Anna Stoil and Jonah Mandel www.jpost.com December 16, 2010
The hotly debated IDF conversion bill sailed through its preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, but its future remains uncertain, with a coalition crisis threatening to erupt.
...In the meantime, Shas hopes that it can still derail Rotem’s bill. Faction members hope that Amar will be able to reach an agreement with IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Rafi Peretz and the government that will satisfy Netanyahu and prevent Likud from supporting the bill in its future readings.
“It’s good that the bill passed the preliminary reading, but what is really needed is that the law be enforced among marriage registrars who refuse to recognize the conversions conducted not only in the IDF, but also by the State Conversion Authority,” ITIM head Rabbi Seth Farber said.
By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion www.haaretz.com December 17, 2010
Why were the Haredi politicians so worked up this week about the Military Conversion Law?
...It's about economics just as much as religion. The claims by Haredi politicians that giving the IDF Rabbinate powers to perform conversions splits the giyur process into two separate tracks is disingenuous at best.
...But it is not just the private giyur industry which is afraid to lose out here. A much more fundamental issue is at stake. In recent decades, the Haredi-controlled batei din (rabbinical courts) have totally redefined the meaning of conversion, reducing acceptance into the Jewish People to conformity of a long checklist of halakhic demands.
By Gary Rosenblatt Opinion www.thejewishweek.com December 15, 2010
Placing full control of the conversion process with the Chief Rabbinate would be a major setback in the effort to integrate hundreds of thousands of Russian Israeli citizens into a full Jewish life, the liberal groups argued. It could also be a further obstacle to having non-Orthodox converts be accepted in Israel, should they choose to move there.
By Rebecca Anna Stoil and Gil Hoffman www.jpost.com December 17, 2010
One bill that the faction official said that the [Israel Beiteinu] party “really wants to advance” is the law that would establish civil unions for all Israeli citizens, and not just for two individuals who are both listed as having no religion.
By Prof. Yedidia Stern Opinion www.ynetnews.com December 16, 2010
Sadly, since the chief rabbi has abandoned his responsibility to prevent the oppression of converts (hona'at ha-ger), Israel's public officials must now take action to put an end to such oppression.
It is imperative that the government of Israel fend off political pressure, act morally, and assert that whoever converted to Judaism in the IDF is a Jew, full stop.
By Prof. Yedidia Stern Opinion
By Lynn Schusterman Opinion
End: Special Comprehensive Coverage on IDF Conversion Bill
By Rivkah Lubitch www.ynetnews.com December 13, 2010
Did you think that if you married in Cyprus you wouldn’t have to appear before a rabbinical court in order to divorce? You were wrong.
And now there’s something new: You thought that if you married in Cyprus all property disputes between you and your spouse would be adjudicated in civil court?
Wrong again. In a lengthy and reasoned decision, the Netanya Rabbinical Court ruled that rabbinical courts have jurisdiction over contested property and alimony cases even if a couple married in a civil ceremony.
By Dina Kraft www.hadassahmagazine.org October/November 2010
Rachel and Itai (not their real names) had become embroiled in a larger controversy. An increasingly suspicious and stringent rabbinical court system—the government body in charge of overseeing marriage, divorce, conversion and burial—is questioning the personal status of Jews, especially those from abroad.
The couple found help through the hotline of a nonprofit organization called the Jewish Life Information Center, known by its Hebrew acronym, ITIM. Founded eight years ago by New York-born Orthodox Rabbi Seth Farber, ITIM helps Jews navigate the rabbinate’s bureaucracy.
By Emily Levy Shochat Opinion www.jpost.com December 17, 2010
The writer is the chairperson of the Masorti Movement in Israel.
Freedom of religious expression and religious pluralism is the major area of concern for me at this time. That may not be surprising, as I am the chairperson of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel, but my concern is not parochial.
My concern is for the very essence of our country – a country defined as the homeland for the Jewish people, but one in which not all Jews are respected and treated equally.
By Daniel Sokatch www.huffingtonpost.com December 17, 2010
Daniel Sokatch is CEO of the New Israel Fund.
Israel must debate, re-examine and reform the relationship between religion and state. It must establish a civil sphere to provide every Israeli with freedom of religion and conscience.
Citizenship and personal identity must be a matter of impartial legal procedure, no longer held hostage to the decrees of ultra-Orthodox authorities.
All streams of Judaism -- and for that matter, Christianity and Islam -- must find welcome in a democratic Israel.
www.fnst-jerusalem.org December 18, 2010
“Only a new political movement backed by an engaged and determined civil society and civil society organizations are able to change the status quo of the orthodox monopoly and religious coercion in Israel”.
This was one of the main conclusions of the final seminar in 2010 of the ‘Forum for Liberal Thought’, a discussion forum devoted to promote and highlight liberal values/thought and policies and a long-lasting partner of the foundation in Jerusalem.
By Jonah Mandel www.jpost.com December 13, 2010
During the opening session, to be attended by Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger, cabinet ministers and members of the Knesset, Arusi will propose his Jewish law renaissance, which besides the mandatory evaluation of Knesset bills, will determine that every High Court of Justice ruling must relate to Jewish law as well, and that all judges undergo special training in Jewish law.
By David Lev www.israelnationalnews.com December 16, 2010
This past week, the Netzach Yisrael organization, under Rabbi Arusi's leadership, held its 20th Annual World Conference on Monetary Law, discussing and promoting various aspects of Jewish (Halakhic) law on monetary issues.
But the conference is more than about just halakhic minutiae, as Rabbi Arusi told Israel National News; it's about promoting Jewish monetary law to be the law of the land.
'Law and Disorder' (2nd part)
By Yossi Verter www.haaretz.com December 17, 2010
A few minutes after the Knesset passed the army conversion bill in its preliminary reading, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman staged an impromptu press conference. He lavished praise but also brandied a stick.
This stick, bearing the words "religion and state," could break the coalition's foundation. In the absence of peace negotiations (thank heavens, there is no danger of peace), religious matters are the time bomb threatening Netanyahu's coalition from the right.
By Professor Ira Sharkansky Opinion http://blogs.jpost.com December 15, 2010
The writer is a Hebrew University Political Science professor.
Judaism is many things, with an inclination to argument being one of them. A Jew should not be surprised at challenges to any of the above.
The advantage to a tribal community is that membership is not dependent on belief, or holding a particular posture. Antagonists can accuse one another of not being proper Jews, but any statement that a Jew is not a Jew lacks significance. And rest assured that I will not question the halachic status of any who choose to quarrel.
By Lior Dattel http://english.themarker.com December 13, 2010
Employees of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist Organization have declared a labor dispute, and are even threatening to strike. The workers are protesting the appointment of Rani Traynin, the head of the Yoav Regional Council, as deputy chairman under Natan Sharansky.
By Reuven Weiss www.ynetnews.com December 16, 2010
Twenty one young Jews from around the world, members of the Tzabar unit of the scouts movement, enlisted over the past few days into the Israel Defense Forces Paratroopers Brigade after experiencing a few months of absorption into Israeli society on various Kibbutzim around the country
http://www.jafi.org.il/ December 16, 2010
By Itamar Eichner www.ynetnews.com December 19, 2010
Barak Argov, 19, the son of an Israeli father and an American mother has decided to leave the paradise in which he is leaving – Hawaii - and immigrate to Israel in order to join the Israel Defense Forces.
By Zohar Blumenkrantz www.haaretz.com December 13, 2010
The Israel Airports Authority will not be building a mosque and a church in the near future despite its pledge to do so, according to a correspondence by officials at the airports authority and Ben-Gurion International Airport with Eitan Heller, an activist with the peace group Artists Without Walls. Chapels for the other faiths were supposed to have been built in the new airport, which opened six years ago.
By Ksenia Svetlova www.jpost.com December 17, 2010
After some searching and questioning he confirmed that his grandmother was in fact a Jew who married a young Jordanian soldier back in 1946, ran off to Nablus with him and converted to Islam.
Later the family emigrated to Kuwait, where employment opportunities were vast. The Jewish past of the grandmother was never publicly discussed.
By Joshua Bloom www.rhrna.org November 4, 2010
Over the last seven years, RHR has worked with hundreds of Israeli students through its Human Rights Yeshiva. The program attracts both religious and secular students from the widest range of political, cultural, and economic backgrounds. Participants study issues of human rights that are relevant in Israeli society. The students also volunteer in a hands-on capacity with RHR or other human rights groups working for positive social change.
http://www.rhr-na.org/ December 1, 2010
By Yoav Friedman www.ynetnews.com December 19, 2010
Q: Tell us a little about the conversion process. Did you enjoy it? What did you like about it?
"I learned many new things. In fact, despite being Jewish – almost everything I learned was new to me. And yes, I definitely enjoyed it very much."
Q: Do you feel different after his process?
"It'll probably sound like a cliché, but I feel like a new and better person."
By Matt Beynon Rees www.globalpost.com December 12, 2010
A new road — literally — leads pilgrims to the once-inaccessible St. George Monastery
By Judith Sudilovsky www.hadassahmagazine.org October/November 2010
Many of the founding Catholic pioneers, or halutzim, as they call themselves, were monks and nuns who felt the need to unite as Catholics with the Jewish people in response to the horrors of the Holocaust that they had witnessed. Others, like Anyela Apple, accompanied their Jewish spouses, the majority from Poland, to Israel but retained their own religion.
The community’s aim was to serve as a bridge between the Catholic Church and the people of Israel by strengthening the relationship of Jews and Christians and sharpening the church’s awareness of its Jewish roots and the Jewish identity of Jesus and the apostles.
...In general, the Hebrew-speaking community maintains a low profile and is relatively unknown among Jews and even in the larger Arab Catholic church.
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
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