Monday, September 5, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - September 5, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

September 5, 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

A Moral Stand

By Efrat Shapira-Rosenberg Opinion September 2, 2011

Efrat Shapira-Rosenberg is a project officer at the Avi Chai Foundation in Jerusalem and a host on Channel 2 TV.

Tel Aviv Demonstration

All the excuses that we’ve been hearing about why religious people shouldn’t join the demonstrations are just that – excuses.

The reasons we are not supposed to go to these demonstrations have nothing to do with what rabbis and other so-called leaders of the religious-Zionist community have been saying – the lack of modesty in the tent camps or the breaking of the laws of the Sabbath at the demonstrations.

And they certainly have nothing to do with my own personal favorite: that we shouldn’t go because there was music at the demonstrations and it is forbidden to listen to music during the nine days of mourning that precede the fast of the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av.

No, none of these excuses were the real reason that we were supposed to stay home and not join the “secular” protest. The real reason is that the cause isn’t considered “meaningful” or “morally significant” enough.

Israel's social protest gave birth to a new language

By Yitzhak Laor Opinion September 4, 2011

…Ever since the protest began, it has been carried out along two conceptual channels: On television, they interview all kinds of spokesmen that no one has appointed.

Shahar Ilan, for example, continues to see everything as an attack on the ultra-Orthodox. After all, Ashkenazi students cannot call on their Mizrahi counterparts to join in a common struggle and to harass yeshiva students.

Prof. Dan David also continues to scare us with talk of "an Arab-Haredi majority," and both of them are brought to the television studios on the back of the "protest wave."

Time and again, there are those who try to bring into the protest discourse things that were not said there.

Social rights activist: Israeli government should finance couples forced to wed abroad

By Yair Ettinger August 30, 2011

The state should finance overseas weddings for couples who are not allowed to marry in Israel, civil rights activists have told the Trajtenberg committee, the government-appointed panel for socioeconomic change.

“Some 300,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union are not recognized as Jews according to the halakha and are denied the right to marry in Israel,” says Alex Tentzer, an activist for civil marriages in the Russian-speaking community.

Interior Ministry grants citizenship to gay spouse of immigrant

By Raphael Ahren September 2, 2011

The Interior Ministry recently granted citizenship to a non-Jewish gay man married to a Jew, for the first time applying the Law of Return to a spouse in same-sex marriage.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the move represents a policy change in the ministry, which could help many more same-sex couples immigrate, or merely a one-time ruling.

Is the Interior Ministry undergoing a sea change?

By Raphael Ahren September 2, 2011

Star of David Love Sticker

Experts are split on whether the Interior Ministry is being increasingly open to changes undergoing Diaspora Jewish communities or still looking to tighten the reins on who can enter the country as a citizen, following the granting of citizenship rights to the gay spouse of an immigrant as well as other aliyah applicants who had previously been rejected by the Shas-controlled body.

Do Israeli judges 'look down' on Jewish civil law?

By Elad Benari August 15, 2011

According to a new study by Dr. Aviad Hacohen, Dean of the Shaarei Mishpat College, despite the talk by officials in Israel’s judicial system about the importance of Jewish law and its integration into the Israeli legal system, in practice no use is made of it and those who use it are looked down upon.

Petition against Israel radio station which does not allow women on the air

IMW to File Petition Against Radio Station September 4, 2011

For Eris

The Israel Media Watch organization is preparing to file a petition in the High Court against the Kol Berama radio station, which does not allow women to broadcast on the station. The station, part of the Second Broadcasting Authority, is loosely affiliatedwith the Shas party.

Last Ethiopian Jews Finally Make Exodus to Israel - Falash Mura Given Permission to Move

By Len Lyons September 1, 2011

VIDEO: Falash Mura leaving Ethiopia for Israel

Click here for VIDEO

Falash Mura leaving Gondar, Ethiopia for Adis Adaba and then Israel.

Video shot by Len Lyons, author of “The Ethiopian Jews of Israel: Personal Stories of Life in the Promised Land” (Jewish Lights, 2007)

Rabbis withdraw support for gay marriage

By Kobi Nahshoni August 29, 2011

Senior Religious Zionism Rabbis Yaakov Ariel, Haim Drukman and Elyakim Levanon have withdrawn their support from a recent initiative seeking to match between religious homosexuals and lesbians until the religious and ethical aspects of the issue are clarified, Ynet has learned.

The three even demanded that the Kamoha association, which is part of the matchmaking initiative, immediately remove their names from the list of supporters on the association's website – until further notice.

See also: Helping Gay Men Marry Lesbians

IDF female soldiers transferred after Haredi recruits arrive

By Yaakov Katz and Lahav Harkov August 30, 2011


The IDF Ground Forces Command has decided to transfer four female soldiers from an Artillery Corps battalion to another unit due to the upcoming arrival of religious soldiers to the battalion, military sources said on Monday.

The four female soldiers had recently signed on for an additional year of service to continue serving in the battalion.

Several days ago, they were summoned by the battalion commander and informed that they would be stationed in another unit upon the arrival of the religious soldiers, who cannot serve alongside female soldiers.

Shul Hopping: Wailing At The Wall

By Joseph Winkler Opinion August 30, 2011

But as I make my way to the back, to watch over the men and the women, to stand as an observer, I realize a person can become hardened even to holiest of sites, inured to the most beautiful of scenes. The analytical side of my personality returns.

...More specifically, coming off the heels of some real comfort-zone-pushing shul hopping, the mechitza here, the high metallic wall that requires climbing to see over, the allotment of half the amount of space to women than given to men offends my religious and human sensibilities.

The orthodox hegemony over the rules of the country comes roaring back. How do I separate the complexities of this country from my simple desire to connect to something larger than myself?

Israel's Erin Brockovich wages bold campaign to save her nation's soul

By Barney Zwartz September 5, 2011

[Anat] Hoffman, who calls herself ''profoundly religious'' in the more liberal Reform tradition of Judaism, thinks the influence of the ultra-orthodox on secular society is one of Israel's biggest problems, and turns Israelis away from religion.

''Look at Israel's entrepreneurship in every field, from medicine, to agriculture, to nine Nobel prize winners. We are second only to the US in patents registered. Israel takes your breath away, except in one thing - Judaism.

''There are ultra-orthodox in New York or Melbourne, but they don't ask for segregated buses because they can't get away with it. Israel is too important to be left to the Israelis.''

Bringing the many faces of Judaism to Israel

By Ilan Ben Zion Opinion August 29, 2011

Ilan Ben Zion is an active blogger currently living in Be’er Sheva; he is a graduate of Tel Aviv University with a Masters in Diplomacy

How many secular Israelis could be turned on to Judaism through alternative streams extant in the Diaspora?

Those who shun or are oblivious to Jewish religion because of the singular association with Orthodoxy might prefer Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist Judaism, but have never been introduced to them.

...The major obstacles to changing this singular Israeli approach to Judaism are the lack of education about Diaspora Jewry in Israeli schools and the monopoly the Orthodox Rabbinate holds in Israel.

Can Reform Judaism prosper in the Jewish state?

By Aaron Leibel August 31, 2011

Reform's success in Israel is a test the movement must pass, [Rabbi Richard Hirsch] writes.

"If liberal Judaism can flourish only in a non-Jewish environment and not in a Jewish environment, then we will be like fish that can live out of water - and a fish that lives out of water is not a fish."

Only when liberal Judaism becomes strong in Israel will there be "a proper relationship" between liberal Jewish movements in the two countries."

Don’t call me Orthodox

By Rabbi Stewart Weiss Opinion September 2, 2011

The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana.

The murderer, Asher Dahan, was described in the news accounts as a “religious” Jew. “Religious”?! Are you serious? Do you mean to say that you can stab a defenseless person six times and still be deemed “religious”?

...What, exactly, defines a Jew as Orthodox, hassidic or religious? If one eats a cheeseburger on Yom Kippur, or publicly smokes outside the shul on Shabbat, he is secular and irreligious; yet if he observes ritual practices but murders a child or abuses several wives, he still remains within the observant fold?

Thoughts on the Agunah Problem

By Dr. Israel Drazin August 29, 2011

Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of seventeen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides.

Rabbi David Hartman addresses this problem in his new book The God Who Hates Lies: Confronting and Rethinking Jewish Tradition, Jewish Lights Publishing, especially in chapter 5, “The Mistaken Halakhic Presumptions of Rabbi Soloveitchik.”

Hartman points out that the problem has remained unresolved because even in modern times, “the Orthodox Jewish community, broadly speaking, has coalesced around a conviction that change per se is destructive to the halakhic (legal) system, which must be preserved in the greatest extent possible” even when “moral intuition, logical argument, or observed realities serve as valid bases for critiquing inherited halakhah.”

...Hartman states that Rabbi Emanuel Rackman offered a sensible solution to the aguna problem that complied with halakhah.

Go North celebrates 650 olim August 30, 2011

Some 500 Nefesh B’Nefesh olim celebrated the third anniversary of the organization’s Go North program in Carmiel's Park Hagalil on Sunday.

'Jewish Jordan' Jon Scheyer makes aliyah August 31, 2011

Duke University All-American basketball player Jon Scheyer made aliyah Tuesday on a group flight organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.

Click here for large PHOTO

Former Duke basketball star Jon Scheyer makes aliyah to Israel September 3, 2011

Immediately stepping off the plane at Ben-Gurion Airport, Scheyer - who recently signed with Super League powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv - received his immigrant ID card.

Relative of David Ben-Gurion becomes 2011 Jewish Idol

By Elka Looks and Alona Ferber August 26, 2011

Mexican singer Adam Kleinberg, a relative of Israel's founding father, David Ben-Gurion, won first prize at the 2011 Hallelujah singing competition Thursday night, as local families, seniors and music enthusiasts gathered in Ramat Hasharon's central square.

Las Vegas girl gambles on Israel

By Tania Didio Opinion August 31, 2011

Tania Didio , 18, from Las Vegas, lives in Kibbutz Magen, in the regional municipality of Eshkol. An alumna of 'Lapid', which brings thousands of Jewish high school-age teenagers to Israel from around the world, Tania is a participant in Garin Tzabar, of the Tzofim (Israel Scouts) Movement, which is in partnership with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.

To be honest, in the beginning, I came to see the Dead Sea, the Kotel, to take photos in Tel Aviv night clubs, to press “Like” on facebook, and then to go back to Nevada.

...So, as befits a Las Vegas girl, I decided to take a gamble. Needless to say I am practised (and don’t tell anyone, that your 18 is the American 21) – so I take a gamble on my security bet. Therefore, I am enlisting into the army. I am making aliyah. I am leaving the desert winds. I am leaving the sparkles of Las Vegas.

State ups funding for non-religious burial practices

By Yair Ettinger August 30, 2011

The finance and religious services ministries have announced a dramatic increase in their budgeting for secular, so-called alternative burials in Israel. The decision comes in the wake of severe criticism the state received from the High Court of Justice on the matter.

U.S. millionaire funding health care of 'Hebrew Israelite'

By Raphael Ahren September 2, 2011

A U.S. millionaire has come to the rescue of a non-Jewish but halakhically-observant man facing health issues after he was profiled in Anglo File last month.

Saul Fox, the founder and CEO of one of California's most successful private-equity firms, donated $10,000 to help cover the health expenses of Claud Moore, who lives in Beit El but has no insurance or health fund coverage.

Haredim look for Jerusalem mayor candidate

By Greer Fay Cashman September 1, 2011


With just over two years to go until the next municipal elections, the haredi movers and shakers are looking for a suitable candidate who will appeal to both religious and secular Jerusalemites. One of the names proposed is that of Prof. Jonathan Halevy, the director of Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

Halevy, though religiously observant, is not haredi. However, Shaare Zedek operates along halachic guidelines, and Halevy does much to accommodate the needs of the haredi population.

Votes of no-confidence

By Peggy Cidor September 1, 2011

Elections are elections. Whether they are held for parliament or for the head of a building committee, it’s always a matter of life and death. Well, almost. In this particular case, it is yet another issue that centers around the eternal secular-haredi struggle.

The special committee has decided that in addition to Gilo, Baka, Pisgat Ze’ev and Beit Hanina, Ramot will also get to elect a new neighborhood leadership.

Religion and State in Israel

September 5, 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.