Monday, July 18, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - July 18, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

July 18, 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.

Israel Wrestles With How — or Whether — To Recognize Gay Couples

By Nathan Jeffay July 18, 2011

Just as every Jew has the right to immigrate to Israel and receive citizenship under the Law of Return, so does his or her “spouse,” even if that spouse is not Jewish. But whether Israel would honor this for same-sex as well as heterosexual couples has never been tested.

Now, an American Jewish man has given Israel’s Interior Ministry, which is controlled by the Haredi Shas party, a July 31 deadline to give his husband citizenship. The couple’s alternative is a high court petition for citizenship, which legal experts believe will likely succeed.

The couple’s lawyer, Nicky Maor of the Israel Religious Action Center, the lobbying arm of the Reform movement, said that they are victims of “illegal discrimination.”

She commented,

“As the Law of Return uses the word ‘spouse’ as opposed to citizenship laws, which use the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife,’ here there’s not even any interpretation needed and there’s no basis for distinguishing between heterosexual and same-sex marriage.”

Groups educating Haredi women on ‘Mehadrin’ bus lines

By Jonah Mandel July 14, 2011

The group – which was the bulk of the passengers for most of the ride – was marking the launch of the “Grab A Spot” initiative, in which female students at the Hebrew University ride public buses in haredi areas to ensure that gender segregation is not being forced upon female passengers, who are allowed by law to sit in any part of the bus, and not be restricted to the rear, as is the norm on these lines.

IRAC Director Anat Hoffman, whose movement is supporting “grab a spot,” agreed that there has been an improvement in the past months, but stressed that there must be efforts made to free the haredi women – especially the young ones – from the mindset that has been instilled in them regarding their place in society.

“See them,” she said, pointing at a small group of girls who boarded the bus from the middle door, and walked to the back of the vehicle.

“They’ve been indoctrinated. It will take about 10 years to change that mindset,” she said, noting that it has been a decade since the segregated buses began operating, and five since IRAC filed their court action. “The verbal and physical abuse focuses on young haredi girls,” she added.

Israeli 'Freedom Riders' Ensure A Woman's Place At Front Of The Bus

By Michele Chabin July 13, 2011

On July 7, the Jerusalem-based Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), which had successfully petitioned the High Court to ban religious coercion on public transit, officially launched a program to encourage visiting Jewish tour groups to ride the once-segregated buses.

Anat Hoffman, who heads IRAC, said the Freedom Rider program, which was inspired by the civil rights activists who challenged racial segregation in the American South, is a way to share Israelis' struggle against religious coercion with Jews around the world.

Prior to the court ruling, Israelis and foreigners rode the segregated buses, and their reports were eventually tallied and submitted to the court, Hoffman said.

Like the female passengers who initiated the court petition, some of the volunteers were subjected "to verbal abuse, pushing, name calling and shouting," Hoffman noted.

Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv: Scream, insult, embarrass and harass ‘uppity’ women

By Sharon Shenhav Opinion July 13, 2011

The writer is a Jerusalem-based lawyer and Director of the International Jewish Women’s Rights Project of the International Council of Jewish Women.

How should ‘uppity’ women be treated in Israel today?

When [a yeshiva student] boarded the bus he discovered a woman sitting in the front. He informed her that this was a mehadrin bus, and that she must move to the rear section reserved for women. The woman refused to move, so the yeshiva student screamed at her, insulting her in front of all the other passengers, and continued to harass her verbally throughout the journey.

...Rav Elyashiv responded by stating that he had heard the details of the incident, and there was no need for an apology.

PHOTOS: MKs experience gender-segregation first hand in Jerusalem July 13, 2011

Click here for PHOTOS

MKs join the Israel Religious Action Center of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism to experience gender segregation on public buses first hand ...

VIDEO: Jerusalem: Why it Matters to Jews - Anat Hoffman and Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger

Click here for embedded VIDEO

By Luis Ramirez July 17, 2011

But the way Anat Hoffman sees it, much remains to be done before this sacred spot can be, in her view, considered truly holy.

She recalls how Israel demolished Palestinian homes after the 1967 war to make way for this plaza.

She has also led a fight to remove the partition that segregates men and women in this outdoor synagogue.

"I would start with paying back and compensating every person who lived here at the Mughrabi neighborhood for this plaza. Only then, I think, we'll be able to tread this wall and feel holiness. Then I'll blow the partition to all hell," she said.

Women and Walls

Mary Brett Koplen, Pardes Summer learner, shares her Rosh Chodesh experience with Women of the Wall. For more of Mary Brett’s writing or to see her original post, visit her website: Where the Gnome Goes (A Traveling Blog). July 10, 2011

I am standing with the Torah for 15 minutes, when a woman with frayed sleeves approaches us. Age points the tips of her shoulders down, and her head is covered in a many colored tichel.

“Sefer Torah?” she asks in a thick accent whose words I barely recognize. “Ken,” we say. Her face breaks into a smile that drips from her eyes, then she is talking in excited Hebrew, throwing her hands into the air, and the woman I am standing with is nodding and saying, “ken, ken, ken.”

I watch as this woman, tears on her face, reaches out for Torah, kissing it, burying her face in its cover, then quickly she pulls herself away and disappears.

Court orders Netanya to help build Reform synagogue

By Jonah Mandel July 14, 2011

The Reform Movement in Israel marked a victory on Thursday, when the Tel Aviv Administrative Court ruled that the city of Netanya must allocate a building for the local Reform community, it committed to do years ago, and renovate it at the municipality’s expense.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv head of the Reform Movement, said that the decision “corrects a historic injustice against the community and the Reform Movement in Israel, and we hope will turn over a new leaf in the relations between the movement and the city’s institutions.

Reform rabbis against boycott law

By Kobi Nahshoni July 16, 2011

Dozens of Reform rabbis have signed a "manifesto" against the boycott bill adopted by the Knesset this week and are calling on the wide public and religious leaders to act against it.

In the letter, members of the Israeli Council of Progressive Rabbis strongly criticize the controversial law, ruling that "it's a mitzvah to protest against it and fight it until it disappears."

Rabbinical Courts Report 2010: Fewer agunot released

Modiin sees surge in divorce rate

By Kobi Nahshoni July 12, 2011

The figures also reveal a sharp drop in rabbinical courts' success in releasing agunot ("chained" women) from their marriages. According to the [Rabbinical courts' report for 2010], 77 agunot were "released" and allowed to marry other men in 2010 after their husbands were located in Israel or abroad and convinced to grant them a divorce, compared to 162 cases in 2009 (-53%).

The courts' figures do not include all women refused a divorce, as some of them are not defined by the courts as agunot, but they point to the judges' extent of success in getting them a divorce.

Religions and Democracy in Israel

By Brian Freedman July 14, 2011

Click here for Photos

More than 50 guests gathered to hear Mr. Darawshe, Yair Sheleg and Rev. Samuil Fanous discuss religions and democracy in Israel, the topic of the ICCI’s annual lecture, which took place on June 22.

Yair Sheleg, an Israeli Jewish journalist and researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute, argued that internal reform within religions was paramount to interreligious reform and dialogue, and that the rule of law should be obeyed, “as a religious principle.”

He also discussed the need to separate religion from the State of Israel, criticizing the lack of civil marriages in Israel, for example.

Sheleg, a skullcap-wearing Jew, also emphasized the common values among the three monotheistic religions.

Secular MK Fears Israel Becoming a Religious State

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu July 17, 2011

Knesset Member Daniel Ben-Simon, a former journalist for the left-wing Haaretz newspaper, said at a Sabbath “cultural event” that “a quiet revolution” by the religious community is taking place in Israel.

"I have a feeling the national religious establishment is preparing a long-term plan,” he said in Rehovot.

Enemies or allies? The relations of religions and states

By Rabbi David Rosen July 6, 2011 Collegium Novum, Cracow

The exclusive monopoly of "recognized" denominations denies the principle of the freedom of religion (to which Israel is committed by its Declaration of Independence) to those denominations that are not officially "recognized".

...the Orthodox Jewish monopoly means that the non-Orthodox Jewish denominations are not officially recognized.

The paradoxical result is that Islam and Christianity enjoy a status in Israel that is denied to non-Orthodox Judaism! In other words, the state of Israel provides for a pluralism of religions, but not for Jewish religious pluralism!

This situation will only be rectified with the advent of civil marriage. (In fact a very minimal provision for such is currently being introduced for "those who have no religion” which may well be a harbinger of more significant developments to come.)

Prof. Alice Shalvi receives lifetime achievement award by New Israel Fund and Dafna Fund

By Greer Fay Cashman July 12, 2011

A short list of Shalvi’s achievements includes the establishment of the English literature department at Ben-Gurion University, introducing a revolutionary curriculum at the Pelech experimental school for Orthodox girls, creating the Israel Women’s Network, reaching out to Palestinian women to find common denominators, and most recently a four-year stint as rector of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies.

Along the way, there were people who disapproved of both her religious and political activities, but there are arguably more who admired her integrity, her tenacity and her commitment to equality, peace and justice.

Prof. Alice Shalvi Receives New Israel Fund Award for Social Leadership July 14, 2011

Prof. Alice Shalvi was awarded NIF and Dafna's Fund Prize for social and feminist leadership during the NIF Board meeting in Jerusalem earlier this month.

In a highly moving ceremony, she was commended for her inspiring leadership and significant contribution to feminism, religious pluralism, separation of synagogue and state, social justice and equality and human rights.

Click here for embedded video

Is Israel ready for a SlutWalk of its own?

By Alona Ferber July 12, 2011

Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center, and chairwoman of advocacy group Women of the Wall, welcomes minority efforts to reclaim public space, but argues that SlutWalk raises issues that “will take another two generations for Israelis to deal with.”

“The idea of modesty in the Jewish doctrine is so huge, going in the street and saying I can wear what I want touches a very deep nerve in Israeli society,” she says.

Israeli kindergarteners to be required to sing national anthem weekly

By Asaf Shtull-Trauring July 14, 2011

Beginning this September, Jewish nursery and kindergarten teachers will be required to open the week with the raising of the Israeli flag and the singing of "Hatikva," in accordance with new directives issued by the Education Ministry.

Respecting Hatikva Editorial July 15, 2011

We believe, along with the education minister, that the state has the right and the obligation to use the public school system to help strengthen its citizens’ national identity.

...In a state that defines itself as both Jewish and democratic, the right to respectfully refuse must be respected alongside the right of the state to try to inculcate its citizens with patriotism.

Jewish Unity and the State of Israel

By Rabbi Ehrenkrantz Opinion July 10, 2011

Rabbi Ehrenkrantz is the President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, PA.

We must maintain our engagement with and commitment to a safe and secure Israel.

However instead of depending solely on Israel to be the unifying factor for Jews worldwide, we must find additional and tangible ways to live our connections to Judaism and to other Jews, wherever we find ourselves.

Nefesh B'Nefesh brings new immigrants to Israel July 11, 2011

Nefesh B’Nefesh is expecting to welcome 245 new immigrants to Israel on Tuesday morning, arriving on the organization’s first chartered flight of Olim for the summer.

Hundreds of new immigrants arrive in Israel

By Jeremy Sharon July 12, 2011

On Tuesday, 245 North Americans were brought to Israel by Nefesh b Nefesh on a chartered flight dedicated for the new immigrants, in partnership with the Jewish Agency. The new arrivals ranged in age from a two-month old baby to an 81-year old man who made aliyah with his wife.

On the flight were 45 families with 103 children, 51 singles, 15 people going in to the army, six dogs and a cat, and they came from states as diverse as Arizona, Colorado and New York as well as from Canada.

Can One Be an American Zionist Rabbi?

By Benjamin Resnick Opinion July 12, 2011

Benjamin Resnick is in his third year of rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and just returned from an academic year in Jerusalem.

So although recent hand wringing about whether or not the new generation of liberal rabbis is committed to Israel is misplaced — we overwhelmingly are committed — our current discourse on the subject could use a healthy dose of honesty about what the challenges are.

By all means we need to talk about politics, and by all means we need to support dialogue between Israelis and American Jews. But we also need to turn our attention inward and think carefully about how (and if) we can integrate these conflicting values.

Debating Peoplehood July 13, 2011

...If we wish to ground “the peoplehood agenda” in meaning and intention, we must fully embrace the Jewish social justice values that clarify our collective purpose and anchor Jewish identity today.


President, American Jewish World Service

New York, NY

The Real Peoplehood Problem

By Daniel Septimus Opinion July 15, 2011

Daniel Septimus is the CEO of MyJewishLearning, Inc., publisher of and

Galperin’s peoplehood agenda is an emperor without clothes — not because the agenda is limited to brainstorming, but because there is no essential substance to “peoplehood.”

What is the content of Galperin’s “bond of peoplehood”? What is this bonded people supposed to do? What values do they cherish and share? What mission do they work to achieve?

3,000 party at Taglit Mega-Event' at Ramat Gan

By Jeremy Sharon July 17, 2011

Around 3,000 participants on Taglit-Birthright’s summer programs attended the organization’s “Mega- Event,” on Thursday night on the campus of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, the second of two such parties this summer.

Jerusalem planning board okays Museum of Tolerance plan

By Nir Hasson July 13, 2011

The Jerusalem district planning and building committee yesterday approved the plans for the city's controversial Museum of Tolerance.

Though the new plan widely diverges from Gehry's, the Wiesenthal Center didn't submit it as a new plan; it instead asked the committee to treat it as a set of changes to the old one, which is a much quicker process.

The Wiesenthal Center said neither the area of the museum nor its purpose has changed since the original plan, so there was no need to begin the approval process from scratch.

Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance gets final OK

By Ronen Mezini July 12, 2011

The authorization of the planning committee marks a significant landmark, and construction of the museum is slated to begin within the next few months. The controversial building will include a library, convention center and a theatre.

'Jewish Eurovision' strikes again

By Liron Nagler-Cohen July 14, 2011

After 20 years, the "Jewish Eurovision" is making a comeback: Close to 30 Jewish communities from across the world are sending representatives to the world's biggest Jewish song contest, Hallelujah, which will be held on August 25 in Ramat Hasharon.

Telling porkies - When pigs fly

By Ronit Vered July 15, 2011 (see 2nd article)

Photo posted with permission

Jeffrey Yoskowitz spent his time in the Holy Land on pig-related travels, visiting Kibbutz Mizra in the north and the “pork triangle” in Jerusalem (the area in the capital where there are delis that sell pork products), and conducting hundreds of interviews with pig breeders, pig sellers, chefs and pork-eaters of all kinds. These interviews were also the inspiration for the Pork Memoirs blog.

“I understand and identify with both sides − Israelis who eat pork and those who don’t − though I’m opposed to the kind of extreme violence that leads to the burning down of shops that sell the meat,” he says.

“I often wonder what Herzl, the visionary of the Jewish state, would have thought about the issue of pork in Israel. I think he would actually have been pleased to see pork chops on the menu of an Israeli restaurant.”

Religion and State in Israel

July 18, 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.