Monday, February 21, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - February 21, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

February 21, 2011 (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.

Rabbis reach deal on IDF conversions

By Kobi Nahshoni February 20, 2011

According to the compromise – brokered by former Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri – Rabbi Yosef added a restriction to his ruling, stating that a convert who did not really intend on adopting a religious lifestyle while undergoing the conversion process would not be recognized as a Jew.

...The Ashkenazi haredi marriage registrars are expected to give [converts] a hard time, trying to prove in any way possible that they did not really intend to observe mitzvot.

The Sephardic rabbis, Yosef's students, will argue that this can be proved only in very rare cases and that adopting a secular lifestyle – even shortly after the conversion process is completed – does not necessarily prove that the convert acted in a deceitful manner.

Haredi-Lithuanian leader Rabbi Elyashiv: Protest IDF conversions

By Kobi Nahshoni February 16, 2011

Leader of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox faction Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv has called on the public to take part in a mass protest to be staged following Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's ruling legitimizing Israel Defense Forces conversions. Sources close to Elyashiv confirmed the report.

Rabbi Haim Druckman blasts Haredim at conference on converts

By Jonah Mandel February 15, 2011

Rabbi Haim Druckman blasted haredi elements who cast doubts on the validity of conversions performed by the State Conversion Authority, which he heads, and by the IDF, during a symposium Monday at Jerusalem’s International Conference Center.

“There are people who won’t let the facts confuse them,” he angrily said of the Lithuanianharedi claim that most military converts do not go on to maintain an observant lifestyle, which would prove their intent was not pure and therefore their conversions should be annulled.

Modern Orthodox Canadian convert denied right to make aliyah by Israel's Sephardi Chief Rabbi

By Yair Ettinger February 15, 2011

[Thomas] Dohlan's case is part of a wider a precedent in which Amar has been made the chief arbiter of who is and isn't a Jew.

The Interior Ministry, which is in the hands of the Haredi-dominated Shas Party, appointed [Chief Rabbi Shlomo] Amar to serve as a sort of higher religious authority over all the world's Orthodox Jews, in order to determine which Orthodox conversions carried out abroad are kosher and which are not.

In response to an inquiry by Haaretz on correcting the issue, the ministry announced explicitly for the first time that while there are no established criteria or regulations about the matter, the Chief Rabbinate is "the authorized decision making party with regard to Orthodox conversions undergone abroad."

More Russian speakers converting via state process

By Yair Ettinger February 15, 2011

Muli Yeselson, head of the PMO's conversion division, said the PMO last year issued 27 percent more conversion certificates to people who had immigrated from the former Soviet Union. The number of converts from those countries rose to 1,335 from 1,052 in 2009.

Conversion Showdown: Rav Ovadia vs. the Ashkenazim

By J.J. Goldberg Opinion February 19, 2011

A nasty fight is heating up between Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the mentor of Shas, and the rabbinic leadership of the Ashkenazi Haredi world.

The Ashkenazi rabbis have called for a mass demonstration against Ovadia this coming Wednesday, and tens of thousands are expected to attend.

Ruling of Rav Ovadia Yosef and Rav Shlomo Amar on Conversions

By Elli Fischer February 16, 2011

The full translation appears at Kol Ha-Rav

Stop preaching to us about the IDF conversions

By Barbara Sofer Opinion February 18, 2011

The [IDF] conversion course aims at producing entry-level Jews young enough to bring up Jewish families, not hoary-headed yeshiva principals and rabbinical court judges.

...This isn’t a gut course in Jewish basket-weaving; the vaunted halachic expert Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has approved the conversion program offered during IDF service.

Bill would make divorce facilitators subject to religious law

By Dana Weiler-Polak February 18, 2011

A government bill to be discussed by the Knesset Constitution Committee next week would require social workers, psychologists, mediators and other professionals employed by the rabbinical courts to act in accordance with religious law in any work they do for these courts.

The bill would set up special professional assistance units in the rabbinical courts similar to those that exist in the family courts.

...the bill would give the head of the rabbinical courts − i.e., the chief rabbi − the power to set the units’ working procedures. Opponents fear that could result in him vetoing the hiring of secular people or women.

Bill would allow betrothed to choose religious council

By Yair Ettinger February 17, 2011

The Knesset has passed in preliminary reading a bill allowing couples to choose the religious council in which they will be registered and the rabbi who will conduct the ceremony.

The bill, proposed by MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), is meant to loosen somewhat the tangle of red tape facing couples who wish to register for marriage. In its present form, the law only allows couples to register in the city one of them lives in.

'When did the robe cling to the body?'

How the Rabbinical Court casts doubt on conversions

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion February 18, 2011

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinic court pleader who works at The Center for Women’s Justice

Read and know: this is how converts who want to marry – or divorce – according to Jewish law are interrogated.

Click here to read X’s story and the story of the three days of interrogation that she underwent in the regional rabbinic court after the High Court of Justice asked the court to review the matter.

(The document was submitted to the High Court of Justice as a letter from T and was signed as an affidavit - identifying details have been deleted.)

1st ever Bnei Menashe officer in IDF makes history February 20, 2011

History was made on Wednesday when Shalem Gin became the first IDF officer from the Bnei Menashe community. Gin received the rank of second lieutenant in front of friends and family at a ceremony held at the Bahad 1 military base in the Negev.

Gin, 20, was born in Mizoram, a state in northeastern India. He and his family made aliyah in 1995. Gin joined the IDF in 2009 and enlisted in the Engineering Corps, where he finished near the top of his class in his commanders course.

Education Ministry to sponsor school trips to Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs

By Or Kashti February 16, 2011

The Education Ministry is planning a new program beginning next year in which students will visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

The Ministry said the visits would not be obligatory and were meant to allow those who were interested to participate.

Plan for school trips to Hebron garners praise, ire February 17, 2011

Following [Education Minister] Sa’ar’s interview, former education minister Amnon Rubinstein took issue with the idea of taking children to see the Tomb of the Patriarchs without “showing them the price paid by Palestinians in Hebron.”

Meretz head: Sending students to Hebron is form of brainwashing

By Nir Hasson, Or Kashti and Jonathan Lis February 17, 2011

Opposition MKs and an educator yesterday denounced Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar's plan to fund student visits to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

Education Ministry sources said the program would start with Jerusalem students, and would later expand to include all students.

Education Minister initiates student trip to Hebron holy site

By Or Kashti February 15, 2011

[Kiryat Arba] Mayor Malachi Levinger praised Sa'ar for the "historic" program which would allow "hundreds of thousands of students to be exposed for the first time to the city of the patriarchs and the ancient Jewish heritage hidden there."

Say yes to Hebron trips

By Yoaz Hendel Opinion February 21, 2011

Well, ladies and gentlemen, despite the objections voiced by the above figures, Hebron is part of our heritage. One may dislike our presence there in terms of politics, yet one cannot deny the significance of the city and of the Cave of the Patriarchs.

VIDEO: Israel Channel 10 TV News on Jews praying on the Temple Mount (Hebrew)

February 15, 2011

Click here for VIDEO

Reform leaders push new image of strong, growing Israel movement

By Sue Fishkoff February 14, 2011

Certainly the Reform movement in Israel continues to be discriminated against by the Orthodox-controlled rabbinate, Yoffie points out, and by Chief Rabbinate policies that thwart funding for Reform synagogues or rabbis but favor Orthodox ones. But “overemphasizing” that discrimination can only backfire, he said.

“We cannot generate support for our movement by presenting ourselves as victims,” he said.

Why liberal Judaism is in free fall?

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion February 18, 2011

Do the Reform and Conservatives have any chance of imitating the Orthodox take on localism?

Certainly it will be an uphill struggle, as the basic instinct is lacking there, but the local and national organizations have to find a way of encouraging and supplying the tools, while refraining from the urge to direct from above.

It may be their only chance to reverse the inexorable trend of descent into irrelevancy.

Jewish values and State vs. Synagogue and State

By Rabbi Aaron Goldstein Opinion February 18, 2011

Thus far, the debate in Israel has been dominated by the extremes, ultra-orthodox and ardent secularists who reject any notion of Judaism in relation to the State.

On many occasions I have spoken for the separation of Synagogue and State in Israeli politics but I realised that I was allowing my thoughts to be funneled through the definitions of the dichotomy of ultra-orthodox and secular. I was not considering a continuum between the two.

Poll: 42% say Judaism treats women well February 14, 2011

Asked whether Judaism is egalitarian in its attitude towards men and women, 47% answered it was not; 29% replied there was a moderate level of equality; and 24% said Judaism was egalitarian.

Analysis shows that the haredim (79%) and the religious public (58%) believe there is equality while the seculars replied there was none (58%). A gender analysis revealed that 29% of men believe that Judaism is egalitarian as opposed to only 19% of women.

Walk the religious line

By Danny Spektor February 15, 2011

Saxophonist Daniel Zamir, once a far leftist, now takes stage as a haredi Jew, speaks fluent Yiddish and plays with top musicians at secular clubs.

With no intention of giving up his love of music, he sees it as his life's mission: 'God wants me to do this'.

Crime boss allowed visit from rabbi

By Ofra Edelman February 17, 2011

Alleged crime kingpin Amir Mulner, who is serving a 32-month sentence for weapons-related crimes in Hasharon prison, will receive a two-hour weekly visit from the prison rabbi, the Petah Tikva District Court ruled yesterday.

A visit to the Mount of Olives

By Steve Linde February 20, 2011

When relatives from South Africa, Maureen and Paul Rome, flew to Israel this month for the brit mila of their grandson, Yonatan Flax, I suggested that I take them to the Mount of Olives to see the grave of Yisrael Yona Shagam.

He had lived in Mea She’arim and was buried in 1907, just seven years after his arrival in Palestine from Lithuania.

Rabbi Motti Elon, Takana, and the Rule of Law

By David Morris Opinion February 17, 2011

In the larger picture, an important step needs to be taken by criminalizing those in positions of authority and status who behave inappropriately with those under their authority.

Generation Y Jews must return to tradition to find meaning

By Rabbi Kenneth Brander Opinion February 14, 2011

Rabbi Kenneth Brander is the David Mitzner Dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future

Just look at the new phenomenon in Israel where National Service was once the sole purview of the religious Zionist community;

recent years have seen a rise of new organizations like Ma’ase, Shlomit, Sheirut Leumi Mamlachti empowering young adults of Israel’s secular community to volunteer for a year of service before their obligatory time in the army or enabling those exempt from army service who still wish to impact the destiny of the state of Israel.

These organizations are collectively serving thousands.

An Entirely (Surprising?) Other Side of Birthright Rights

By Marc Belzberg Opinion February 16, 2011

Marc Belzberg, Chairman of the Board of Mibereshit – The Foundation for Jewish Renaissance

Yes, indeed. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Muss: “Forces need to be joined so that together, we will truly revolutionize young Jews…”

However, not merely “… around the Diaspora.” But also here – in our national birthplace – with its birthright too.

Mr. Muss, I certainly hope that we will find a way to programmatically interface your Diaspora high school teens with ours and the college age Birthright young adults with our Masa Yisraeli soldiers … they each need the other – as do we.

Beyond ‘Yes or No’ Jewishness

By Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick Opinion February 16, 2011

Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick is a senior research associate at the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University.

The State of Israel, with its many profound problems around personal status, recognizes the advantages of distinguishing “Jewish for what purpose?”

Non-Orthodox converts to Judaism, and other Jews without documentation sufficient for their Jewishness to be recognized by the Chief Rabbinate for religious purposes, are welcomed as olim to Israel under the Law of Return.

The state’s designation of eligibility for immigration doesn’t resolve those individuals’ ritual status, and their ritual status doesn’t undermine their right to citizenship.

J Street organizing its own college Israel trip February 16, 2011

J Street is organizing its own Israel trip for Jewish college students after Birthright Israel declined to partner with it.

In a letter to J Street supporters, the organization announced that its campus arm, J Street U, would organize a trip to Israel and the West Bank for 10-15 student leaders this summer.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin's 'anecdotage'

By Jack Riemer February 18, 2011

Book Review: 'Listening to God'

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is surely one of the giants of our generation. He has had two careers – both of which have been full of achievements.

Religion and State in Israel

February 21, 2011 (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.