Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - December 12, 2011 (Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

By Lahav Harkov www.jpost.com December 10, 2011

All schools receiving government funding should be required to teach Education Ministry's core curriculum, according to an education bill being brought to a vote at the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday.

MK Einat Wilf also pointed out that there is no halachic problem with combining secular and religious studies, as is proven by many haredi [ultra-orthodox] schools outside of Israel. In addition, MK’s Hotovely and Orbach, who co-sponsored the bill, are Orthodox.

By Talila Nesher www.haaretz.com December 9, 2011

The High Court of Justice Thursday instructed Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, the Education Ministry and mayors of Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Modi'in Ilit and Betar Ilit to reply in a week to a petition demanding an end to quotas restricting Sephardi girls' admission to state-funded ultra-Orthodox girls high schools.
MK Chaim Amsellem (Shas) commended the petition. 
"The Education Ministry is collaborating with the schools' principals and Haredi parties to silence the problem and perpetuate the discrimination.”

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 8, 2011

Laloum also said that he had received widespread support, including rabbinical backing, from across the religious spectrum, including from Ashkenazim.
“You have no idea how much the Ashkenazi community is disgusted with this corrupt behavior of the school administrators, which is also given the full support by the political representatives of the haredi community in the Knesset.”

By Tomer Zarchin www.haaretz.com December 8, 2011

"This is no ordinary petition," Laloum said yesterday. "This is a grave indictment against the Education Ministry, which is abandoning thousands of girls to the ultra-Orthodox political hacks. The discrimination must end now. We demand a transparent and supervised registration process for the schools. The quotas must be done away with."

"Instead of measuring a school's prestige by its academic standards, virtually the only criterion for these schools' standing is the rate of 'Mizrahi' girls in it," the petition says.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 8, 2011

“We demand in this petition there should be a transparent registration process, and a system which adheres to the principles of the Jewish religion, of Halacha [Jewish law] and of the Torah.”

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com December 8, 2011

The High Court of Justice yesterday issued a show-cause order requiring the government to explain why it shouldn't overturn the income support payments for married yeshiva students that went into effect last year.

The order means that unless the government provides a convincing argument, the court will rule the payments illegal.

Shahar Ilan, vice president of Hiddush, said, "The income support payments for avreichim circumvent [the rules of] income support, and their sole purpose is to create another kitty for the yeshivas.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 8, 2011

The petition was filed in January by the National Students Union, Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality, the Masorti (Conservative) Movement, the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement, the religious-Zionist Neemanei Torah VeAvodah NGO and several other organizations.

By Oz Rosenberg www.haaretz.com December 7, 2011

Police arrested two senior Education Ministry officials this week on suspicion of taking bribes from an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva in exchange for giving the school more state funding than it deserved.

Police believe the fraud netted the Jerusalem yeshiva, Oz Meir Chabad, tens of thousands of shekels worth of unwarranted funding every month.

The yeshiva, which falls under the ministry's education and welfare services department because it accepts students who have dropped out of other educational frameworks, has only a few dozen students. But according to the Education Ministry, it has been funded for months as if it had several hundred students.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 6, 2011

Following recent reports that the Finance Ministry has suspended inspections of state-funded yeshivot, MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) insisted that he was in favor of such inspections, as long as other state-funded institutions are also put under similar scrutiny.

Following the imposition of the stricter inspection procedures, the number of registered students receiving state stipends declined by 6.5 percent.
Shahar Ilan, Hiddush: “Instead of the haredi leadership coming out against this terrible phenomenon of yeshivot falsely reporting the number of their students and taking money from the state through deceit, it is doing everything to enable the that this practice continues without hindrance."

By Yair Altman www.ynetnews.com December 12, 2011

Tourists visiting Jerusalem were very unhappy to discover Monday that the Mughrabi Bridge was closed to pedestrians. The gate is considered to be the only access point for non-Muslim visitors to Temple Mount.

Yehuda Glick, chairman of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, said the decision is also likely to frustrate some of the Jewish worshipers: "Temple Mount is sacred to the people of Israel and to Christians too. It has 12 gates, 11 of which are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for Muslim worshipers, who can use them freely, with no security checks.

Glick urges the government to "implement the freedom of worship for Jews and allow them to enter Temple Mount through more than one gate, until a new bridge is built."

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com December 12, 2011

Officials closed the Mugrabi Bridge on Sunday, three days before the municipality deadline to close the ramp leading from the Western Wall plaza to the Temple Mount.

The Jerusalem city engineer, Shlomo Eshkol, has warned over the past year in a series of letters to the prime minister and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation – which oversees the area – that the temporary bridge is unsafe.

By Oz Rosenberg www.haaretz.com December 8, 2011

The Jerusalem municipality has ordered the immediate closure of the Mughrabi Bridge in the old city, which leads from the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount, saying it poses a danger to the public since it is on the verge of collapse.

www.jpost.com December 9, 2011

The Jerusalem Municipality threatened on Thursday to close the bridge that links the Western Wall plaza to the Temple Mount next week due to safety concerns, a move that could incite violence across the Arab world.

www.jpost.com December 8, 2011

The Jerusalem municipal engineer Shlomo Eshkol said he intends to order the Mughrabi Bridge linking the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount closed immediately, citing the danger it poses to the public.

AP www.ynetnews.com December 8, 2011

A Muslim clerical trust known as the Waqf runs the compound under Israel's overall security control.
Yusuf Natsheh, director of the Waqf administration, said the Waqf was not consulted about the plan to shut down the walkway, which he called a "disastrous" policy liable to touch off protests.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com December 6, 2011

Egged’s Line 1, which runs from the Central Bus Station to the Western Wall, has returned to the streets of Mea She’arim more than a year and a half after the bus cooperative stopped servicing most of the Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox neighborhood due to violence against the buses.

By Amir Mizroch Opinion http://amirmizroch.com December 11, 2011

According to the CBS report, in the year 2059 there will be some 16 million souls living in Israel.
The ultra-Orthodox population will grow by 580% to reach 5 million people. The ultra-Orthodox currently make up 10% of Israeli society, and according to the CBS report, is expected to rise to over 30%.

...One of the immediate conclusions of the CBS report is that there is an immediate need for changes to the country’s deep structural imbalances and flaws. The change needs to occur on two levels:
1. The ultra-Orthodox leadership, as well as its rank-and-file must be convinced that their situation and continued dependency on state subsidies is untenable, and they must be given sticks and carrots to get into the employment market...
2. The system of government needs to be changed before the ultra-Orthodox, by their sheer number of voters, make it impossible to change the system of government to a more equitable disposition.

By Nathan Lipson, Guy Rolnik, Oren Majar, Tali Heruti-Sover, Hagai Amit and Nati Tucker http://english.themarker.com December 12, 2011

Education, however, is secondary to another burning issue: the "Haredization" of Beit Shemesh. Whole neighborhoods are turning observant, leading to conflicts with the secular population. 

Yet on Thursday night, Haredim and non-observant sat together at the round tables. Voices did rise high: "How can you want me to do anything social with Haredim?" shouted one man. "They don't even recognize me as a Jew."
"Emotions ran high," reported Rabbi Shmuel Pappenheim, former editor of the Haedah newspaper of the extremist ultra-Orthodox Edah Haharedit organization, which doesn't even recognize Israel.
"But we have to sit together. I don't know why we haven't done it before today ... it could lead to change in the way the groups view each other. We have to learn to live together."

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 7, 2011

Yosef Meir Hazan, a prominent militant in the extremist ultra-Orthodox Sikrikim (Sicarii)group, was released from imprisonment to house arrest at a hearing on Wednesday in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com December 8, 2011

The Egged bus company began holding test drives in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim this week, after avoiding entering the area for the past year due to violent attacks on the part of ultra-Orthodox zealots.

By Eli Mandelbaum www.ynetnews.com December 9, 2011

Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak held a protest against television and its products on Tuesday evening, during which 1,000 (relatively old-fashioned) TV sets were thrown into large garbage bins.

By Yoav Zitun www.ynetnews.com December 6, 2011

Haredi soldiers' leisure activities get surprising upgrade: Computers with Internet connection have been installed in recent weeks at IDF posts in the Jenin area, where fighters of the Netzach Yehuda Battalion are stationed.

The computers include a content-control software preventing the fighters from accessing porn sites and blocking any immodest pictures. Facebook and other social networks are accessible, however.

By Yoav Zitun www.ynetnews.com December 12, 2011

Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar were approached with this predicament after the IDF evaluated possible outcomes of a rocket attack on Israel causing a mass causality event.

Now the Chief Rabbinate must reexamine this sensitive issue and decide whether to recommend transient burial or the transfer of the bodies to cooling facilities until the final burial in civilian cemeteries.

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com December 7, 2011

The Religious Services Ministry is launching a PR campaign later this month to try to convince Israelis to bury their dead in stacks - sometimes above ground. For around 20 years, the government has warned about a decrease in available land for traditional burials.

The ministry will also enlist rabbis to spread the message that Jewish law has no problem with multilevel burials.

By Barak Ravid www.haaretz.com December 12, 2011

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday voiced support for a law that would ban mosques from using loudspeaker systems to call people to prayer.

The so-called Muezzin Law, proposed by MK Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu) applies to all houses of worship but the practice is prevalent only in mosques.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 12, 2011

A vote scheduled for Sunday in the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs on a bill to reduce the sound of the Muslim call to prayer – and noise from other houses of prayer – was pushed off for two weeks.
“Freedom of religion should not be a factor in damaging quality of life,” the MK said.

MK Michaeli proposes that instead of using PA systems, the call to prayer could be announced over designated radio frequencies, through text messages to cellphones or “other creative solutions.”

www.ynetnews.com December 11, 2011

The Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs is scheduled to discuss a bill initiated by MK Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu) proposing to ban the use of loudspeakers by mosques on Sunday. 

However, it appears the bill does not have the necessary majority and may well be removed from the Knesset's agenda.

Elements in the Justice Ministry are opposed to the bill claiming that it [infringes upon the] Freedom of Religion.

By Gili Cohen and Jonathan Lis www.haaretz.com December 9, 2011

Rosh Ha'ayin's mayor and his constituents are taking a stand against Muslim muezzin prayer calls emanating from nearby Kafr Qasem, objecting that the sounds are a disturbance that harms their quality of life.

By TheMarker http://english.themarker.com December 12, 2011

There is no halakhic problem, says a document examining economics from the viewpoint of Jewish religious law, "with giving a 'haircut' to bonds of a company that ran into financial difficulties, as long as there was no deliberate intention by the company's management to impair investors' funds."

The position paper, drawn up by the Keter Institute for Economics According to the Torah, rules that giving bonds a "haircut," under financial difficulties is even desirable, according to halakha, if it makes it easier to provide interest payments in the event of profits.

By Ilan Ben Zion Opinion www.haaretz.com December 12, 2011
Ilan Ben Zion is an active blogger currently living in Jerusalem; he is a graduate of Tel Aviv University with a Masters in Diplomacy and a veteran of the IDF.

These are not isolated incidents, rather, symptoms of a growing puritanical stringency among young modern Orthodox women who believe that all acts between a woman’s hand and a man’s person are equally sinful.

By Abigail Pickus http://ejewishphilanthropy.com December 11, 2011

The Jerusalem Secular Yeshiva is one of a host of new, niche-driven yeshivot – ranging from secular to religious and even environmental – that are popping up throughout Jerusalem, infusing life to the tapestry of Jewish options in the world’s holiest city.

Yeshivat Talpiyot – formed by a group of Jerusalemites who have one foot in the religious world and the other in academia – is a place for Jews to study traditional texts in traditional ways, but in a more modern, pluralistic context.

If these two yeshivot are geared towards Hebrew-speakers, a new incubator for Jewish Educational Entrepreneurship for English speakers, which is  called, Threshold, is also opening in Jerusalem.

By Herb Keinon www.jpost.com December 10, 2011

Taking a page out of David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin’s playbook, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will begin hosting a regular Bible study group in his official residence for researchers, public officials and invited guests.

Netanyahu announced the establishment of the study circle on Friday at a ceremony marking 30 days since the passing of his father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi. The study group will be named after Ben-Artzi, a noted poet and Bible teacher.

By Noam Ben-Zeev www.haaretz.com December 12, 2011

The study groups reflect a new eagerness to discover piyyutim - the eagerness of the second generation of immigrants, which is beginning to discover its musical and cultural origins, forgotten because of the changing world and the natural tendency of young people to turn their backs on their parents' values, which are seen as old-fashioned.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 12, 2011

The decision to expropriate the site from the management of the various charitable trusts who have administered it up till now sparked significant opposition from ultra-Orthodox groups who see the expropriation of as a desecration of the holiness of the site.

Ben-Nir said he didn’t expect to encounter any more problems, but admitted that the trusts which invested money and donations to the complex continue to be troubled by the decision.

By Oz Rosenberg www.haaretz.com December 8, 2011

Prominent Rabbi Mordechai Elon went on trial in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court yesterday on charges of forcible sexual assault against two students who had sought his emotional support.

Elon's lawyer, Jacob Rubin, told the trial's opening session yesterday that Elon would admit to some of the facts in the indictment, but only those that in and of themselves do not constitute an acknowledgment of having committed a crime. Rubin said his client would deny carrying out any kind of indecent sexual acts on his students.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 7, 2011

During the hearing, Elon’s counsel requested that the trial be conducted in full public view, without revealing the identity of the complainants.

According to the indictment, which was filed in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court in November, Elon, 51, allegedly interacted with two 17- year-old students in an inappropriate manner, including hugging, holding, stroking and kissing them. The indictment alleges that the acts were carried out for sexual gratification.

www.jpost.com December 4, 2011

Hundreds of Ethiopian spiritual leaders arrived in Jerusalem on Sunday to protest the state's refusal to officially recognize them as religious authorities, Army Radio reported.

The kessim have received no recognition from the state, despite performing weddingsand brit mila (circumcision) ceremonies for the Ethiopian community.

By Ruth Eglash www.jpost.com December 9, 2011

In an attempt to ease daily living conditions for thousands of Ethiopian Jews waiting to immigrate to Israel, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) agreed this week to make a $350,000 donation to cover the community’s basic nutritional needs.

Currently there are up to 4,500 Falash Mura – Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors were forced to convert to Christianity more than a century ago – who have received final approval for aliya from the Israeli government.

By Len Lyons www.forward.com December 6, 2011

Backtracking on an earlier commitment, Israel will delay by at least one year completion of its admission of some 4,000 Ethiopian Jews already approved for entry, some of whom have been waiting since 1991 to immigrate there.

The government has instructed the Jewish Agency for Israel to reduce the flow of Ethiopian immigrants to only 110 per month, a 45% reduction from the rate of 200 per month that it promised in November 2010. At this rate, the completion of their aliyah, or emigration, will be postponed until March 2015, rather than March 2014, as had been planned.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com December 10, 2011

Jerusalem City Council members from the Meretz party met on Thursday with the Armenian patriarch, to apologize for the increase in ultra-Orthodox spitting at priests as they walk in the Old City.

According to Meir Margalit, the Meretz city councilor who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio, the phenomenon of haredim spitting at the ground as priests walked by has gone on for years but has gotten considerably worse in the past six months.

www.adl.org December 7, 2011

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has called on the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to publicly denounce the repulsive decades-old practice by ultra-Orthodox Jews of spitting at Christian clergymen they encounter in the street.

By Michele Chabin, Religion News Service www.huffingtonpost.com December 6, 2011

Developed by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and the Jewish National Fund, the project has the enthusiastic support of local Christian leaders, whose flocks depend on the tourist trade.

Two out of three tourists who visit Israel are Christian, according to the tourism ministry. Leading a group of journalists down a section of the trail on horseback, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said the Gospel Trail "represents a major means for maximizing the tourist potential" of the Sea of Galilee region.

"It will encourage economic growth in the north through the creation of new jobs," he said, "and an increase in income from the visitors."

AP www.washingtonpost.com December 7, 2011

A new trail across northern Israel offers travelers the chance to walk — or trot — through New Testament sites in the footsteps of Jesus.

The newly opened Gospel Trail winds for 39 miles, heading south from Nazareth, across gentle green hills, through Jewish and Arab towns and down to Capernaum, the fishing town where Jesus is said to have established his home base. 

The Tourism Ministry believes the new trail may attract up to 200,000 Christian pilgrims to northern Israel over the coming year.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 8, 2011

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger signed a historic declaration on Tuesday in Nicosia, Cyprus, with Archbishop Chrysostomos, primate of the Church of Cyprus, in which the two men promised to deepen relations between the Church and the Jewish people.

The declaration affirms the illegitimacy of the doctrine of collective Jewish guilt for the deicide of Jesus.

AP www.ynetnews.com December 7, 2011

The leader of Cyprus' Orthodox Christian church and Israel's chief rabbi have signed a joint declaration aimed at forging closer bonds between the two countries' citizens.

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
All rights reserved.