Sunday, February 27, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - February 28, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

February 28, 2011 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Rabbis lobby Yishai on behalf of Canadian Orthodox convert denied aliyah

By Yair Ettinger February 23, 2011

Several dozen U.S. and Canadian rabbis wrote to Interior Minister Eli Yishai yesterday, asking him to clarify his ministry’s regulations on conversions to Judaism done outside Israel, and to ensure these conversions will be recognized by the state.

The Supreme Court had ruled previously that the Interior Ministry must recognize the conversion of Reform or Conservative converts from abroad, but left Orthodox converts out of the ruling.

Dohlan’s case demonstrated for the first time that the actual decision is being made by the rabbinate. Yishai told Haaretz the practice was inappropriate, but the instructions of the ministry on the matter remain unchanged.

US rabbis: Recognize our conversions

By Kobi Nahshoni February 23, 2011

ITIM Director Rabbi Dr. Shaul Farber warned of a rift among the Jewish people, saying:

"In the situation created people who have undergone a conversion process in Reform or Conservative communities are eligible for aliyah, while those who underwent an Orthodox conversion – their conversion is not recognized."

He said this was a dramatic change in the status-quo, which is like "a slap in the face of Orthodox communities in the US."

Orthodox Rabbis Call Israeli Interior Ministry Policy ‘Unjust’ February 22, 2011

Now, a number of Orthodox rabbis here including Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side, Rabbi Yosef Blau of Yeshiva University, and Rabbi Adam Mintz of Congregation Rayim Ahuvim on the Upper West Side, agree.

They and others representing the RCA, the Orthodox Union and Yeshiva University have signed the letter that states:

“As rabbis and as Zionists, we call upon you to clarify the situation and rectify the injustice being done to our converts, ourselves and the Jewish people.”

Sharansky: We can't allow conversion crisis alienate Diaspora Jews

By Jonathan Lis February 23, 2011

Interview with Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency

I want to separate the argument about conversion from the recognition of Judaism for the sake of citizenship-eligibility under the Law of Return.

It’s so important that a person who undergoes conversion according to the tradition of his community and who the community accepts as a Jew be eligible to make aliyah under the Law of Return.

From time to time problems have come up on this subject, especially in cases of Reform or Conservative conversions.

Now problems have also started cropping up in cases of Orthodox conversions. It turned out that in cases of Orthodox conversion, the Interior Ministry would contact the Chief Rabbinate and turn to various Orthodox bodies to consider the person’s Judaism.

It turned out that sometimes these bodies would be influenced by political considerations; for example, if the community’s rabbi was accepted or not. And the answers were given on that basis, even though the information was in no way connected with eligibility to make aliyah.

...We’ll advise the government to instruct the Interior Ministry to turn to us instead of the Chief Rabbinate to check a person’s Judaism with this or that rabbi abroad.

U.S. Rabbis Blast Israel Over Immigration Policy For Converts

By Michele Chabin, Religion News Service February 24, 2011

Rabbi Seth Farber, an American-born Orthodox rabbi in Israel who helped spearhead the rabbis' letter, said Interior Ministry officials "don't understand the landscape of North American Jewry. They believe that the Chief Rabbinate is the central authority of Orthodox communities around the world, but this is inaccurate."

Farber, the director of ITIM, an organization that often advocates for converts, called it "ironic" that the most religious converts are coming under scrutiny while Reform and Conservative converts are not.

Conversions Debate Update February 24, 2011

According to President and CEO Jerry Silverman, "JFNA will continue to push hard for a more concrete change in the Interior Ministry's procedures that will seek greater compliance with Supreme Court decisions and eliminate the Chief Rabbinate from this process.

We will continue to work closely with our partners until all Jews are treated equally and have the ability to make aliyah, regardless of their background."

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef backpedals on broad approval of IDF conversions

By Yair Ettinger February 21, 2011

Heavily pressured by ultra-Orthodox rabbis, Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef yesterday qualified a sweeping authorization of IDF conversions that he had issued last month.

...Yesterday he clarified that statement, saying his words apply only to candidates who are sincere in their declaration that they intend to uphold religious commandments.

Converts who clearly mislead dayanim (religious court judges) and who have no intention of upholding the commandments, are not to be considered eligible to marry under Jewish law and custom, Yosef explained yesterday.

Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Israel [Movement for Progressive Judiasm], released the following statement:

"In an unsurprising cynical fashion, peace was reached between the various ultra-Orthodox factions at the expense of IDF soldiers who convert to Judaism, and who will lead Jewish lives with the constant fear of what could happen when they register to get married."

Unlikely Shas alliance forged over conversion compromise

By Yair Ettinger February 23, 2011

The son of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef gave former party leader and rival Aryeh Deri a green light to try and reach a compromise with the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox community following Yosef’s controversial ruling okaying army conversions.

Eda Haredit calls off IDF conversions approval protest

By Jonah Mandel February 21, 2011

The Eda Haredit had been under heavy fire recently, after it started organizing the demonstration, which was perceived by [Rabbi Ovadia] Yosef’s supporters as directed against him.

Not only did the Chief Rabbinate’s kashrut division recently tighten its supervision over the procedural – as opposed to halachic – aspects of the Badatz Eda Haredit kashrut industry, but also the Religious Services Ministry, headed by Shas’s Ya’acov Margi, warned the Eda Haredit last week that it would inspect its marriage registration, following a State Comptroller’s Report on the topic.

A place among the Jews Editorial February 22, 2011

At the very least, the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over marriage registration, which too often has been hijacked by the most extremist representatives of Orthodoxy, should be dissolved and the various streams within Orthodoxy should be permitted to conduct marriages in any place in the nation.

Ideally, recognized non-Orthodox streams – Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist – should be allowed to do so as well – as long as they adhere to basic consensus tenets, such as matrilineal descent.

With respect to Israeli citizenship, we wholeheartedly embrace the initiative put forward by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky that his organization, not the Chief Rabbinate, be responsible for determining whether a Diaspora convert belongs to a recognized Jewish community or not.

Kadima: 'IDF conversion is conversion in all senses'

AP February 21, 2011

"We will not agree in any way that IDF soldiers who converted will live their Jewish lives with apprehension and fear because of the whim of the Chief Rabbinate judges.
No political deal between the courts of the rabbis will be done on the backs of the soldiers."

North American rabbis demand Interior Minister Yishai 'rectify injustice'

By Jonah Mandel February 21, 2011

ITIM Rabbi Seth Farber:

“The Chief Rabbinate is saying that to come to Israel you have to have a certain standard. But if someone is accepted as a member of the RCA, the RCA should accept their conversions,” he added.

Sharansky: More converts should be able to immigrate

By Jonah Mandel February 22, 2011

In an effort to curb the trend of Orthodox converts from abroad not being recognized by Israel for citizenship, the Jewish Agency on Tuesday appealed the Interior Ministry for a more dominant role in identifying established Diaspora communities as such.

Conversion rates rise among Eastern Europeans

By Kobi Nahshoni February 22, 2011

There was a 27% increase in conversion certificates issued to Eastern European immigrants in 2010, and a 6% rise in the number of IDF soldiers and parents of soldiers who converted.

[Rabbi Haim Drukman] also championed state conversions, saying that haredi claims suggesting the converts were not leading Jewish lifestyles after receiving the required stamp of approval, were false.

He added that as long as the converts accepted Judaism at the time of their conversion, they remain Jews even if afterwards they did not perform rites.

Choosing Judaism Three Times

By Judah Gross February 23, 2011

Many people, throughout history, have converted to Judaism. Some have even converted twice, often to fulfill a more stringent set of Jewish legal requirements.

This year, Rebecca Strober may convert for the third time.

...But regardless of what happens, Strober does not plan to become Jewish for a third time. She wants to move forward with her life—hoping to study anthropology at Hebrew University—and does not see how Nativ could be invalidated.

"My conversion was not only Orthodox, it was government-sponsored and looked over by three Orthodox rabbis,” she said. “Converting again would be telling an entire community that they're bullshit."

Israeli Chief Rabbis Visit IDF's Chief Rabbi

By Elad Benari and Yoni Kempinski February 21, 2011

On Sunday, Israel’s chief rabbis, Rabbi Yona Metzger and Rabbi Shlomo Amar, visited the Military Rabbinate unit of the IDF. The two rabbis were greeted by the Chief Military Rabbi, Rafi Peretz, and by the new Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Yair Naveh.

The meeting was held in the wake of a heated debate over military conversions...

Click here for VIDEO

'Get-o-omics': The Economics of Agunot

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen February 23, 2011

That there are Orthodox Jewish men who hold a get, or Jewish divorce decree, over their estranged wives’ heads out of spite and to extort money from the women’s families — making the women agunot — is a sad reality.

The creators of a new documentary film, “Women Unchained,” hope to shed new light on this seemingly intractable issue, and create communal pressure for change.

Click here for VIDEO (Facebook)

60 years later, spies' lives revealed

By Akiva Novick February 20, 2011

"Your husband is not who you think he is. He is not Arab. Your husband is a Jew who was sent into your village on a mission by the defense establishment."

This was the news a few Israeli Arab women received from the head of the Mossad mission in France in 1964.

...Three rabbis were then brought to the Israeli embassy in Paris, including Chief IDF Rabbi Shlomo Goren, to convert the women to Judaism. Considering the special circumstances, the rabbis ruled that the children can be accepted as Jews even though their mothers were not.

Come and convert our tribe - Jewish Uganda February 24, 2011

"When Rabbi Greenspan said that we were not 100 per cent halachic, he meant that although we are observant, we have no direct Jewish lineage, and we are not yet accepted by Orthodox bodies in Israel. This suggests that we will have to undergo conversion. The rabbis learned about us from the website []."

VIDEO: Battle for Jerusalem

Click here for VIDEO

This trailer was produced and directed by Liz Nord, Edited by A.M. Peters, and Shot by Roy Gluska, with additional camera work by Liz Nord and Jonathan Amerikaner. The music was composed and recorded by Jim Heffernan (

"Battle For Jerusalem" follows five young, Jewish artists and activists who strive to revitalize Israel’s capital in the midst of an escalating conflict for control of the city between the growing ultra-Orthodox and the majority moderate communities.

Against many odds, these committed citizens are working to keep the city vibrant and religiously tolerant, resulting in a burgeoning cultural renaissance.

Battle for Jerusalem - Background Trailer from Liz Nord on Vimeo.

Devout and proud

By Tamar Rotem February 25, 2011

Kamoha (Hebrew for "like you") is the third organization in Israel to be established to represent and support religious gay men; Amit says its activities are aimed at ultra-Orthodox of all levels of devotion.

Its predecessors are Hod (the Hebrew acronym for religious homosexuals), created in the 1990s, and Havruta - Religious Homosexuals in Israel, founded in 2007.

Religious gays offered 'conversion therapy'

By Kobi Nahshoni February 25, 2011

For years, organizations for homosexuals have refused to acknowledge the possibility of changing a person's sexual inclination. A newly established association of religious gays and lesbians is now giving those psychological "conversion therapies" a chance.

The Kamoha – Orthodox Homosexuals organization is the first such group which does not rule out the notion that a homosexual can become straight. The association is now setting up a charity to fund "conversion therapy" for religious men aged 18 to 25 who are attracted to people of their own sex.

Billionaire Tisch to be next Jewish Agency board chair

By Gil Shefler February 21, 2011

“It’s a new era,” agency chairman Natan Sharansky said. “Motivation to make aliya today stems from a strong Jewish-Zionist identity and not distress related to the economy or personal safety.”

Tycoon James Tisch elected to head Jewish Agency BOG

By Raphael Ahren February 25, 2011

"There is still a major focus on aliyah," Tisch said in response to critics who fear the new strategy will negatively impact on immigration to Israel.

"The Jewish Agency has identified Jewish identity and Jewish peoplehood as really important issues. It may be an issue that doesn't resonate so well in Israel but for Diaspora Jews it is really important," he added. Tisch quoted statistics saying that 500 Jews "disappear" every day.

The New Jewish Agency February 22, 2011

The Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors, bringing together representatives from Jewish communities around the world this week in Jerusalem, approved a new structure for the organization which will focus on connecting young Diaspora Jews with Israel and increasing aliyah, according to a strategic plan led by the Chairman of the organization Natan Sharansky.

But Israel is now a more Jewish state than ever, the religious dominate in politics


Wayne Firestone, Hillel president:

“Due to today’s religious coercion, people move away from religion, the lack of separation between religion and the state causes a distancing between the religious and the secular.

We have to work with both sides, the secular elements of the population must understand that hareidim are their brothers, and the hareidim must find a common cause with the secular group, without dictating who is a Jew and determining what is considered conversion and what isn’t."

Demand for Birthright-Taglit hits new high in N. America

By Gil Shefler February 23, 2011

The Birthright-Taglit program, which brings young Jewish adults from the Diaspora to Israel on free, 10-day educational tours of the country, said it received 40,108 applications during the seven day registration period for summer trips that ended on Tuesday – 1,334 more than the year before.

Demand soars for Birthright trips

Demand Soars for Taglit-Birthright Israel Trips

J Street goes it alone with Israel program

By Raphael Ahren February 25, 2011

After Taglit-Birthright Israel refused to allow a trip organized by J Street, the dovish Israel advocay group's student division J Street U is currently planning its own Israel trip for American youths.

New Institute to Expand Jewish and Israel Studies at UC Berkeley

By Andrew Cohen February 24, 2011

Berkeley Law has launched a new institute that will expand Jewish and Israel studies on the UC Berkeley campus.

In coming semesters, the institute’s faculty will introduce additional courses in Israeli history and constitutional law, expand Jewish Law offerings to undergraduates, and host its first annual campus-wide conference, on Israel as a high-tech nation.

Merkaz Hamagshimim closes its doors in capital after 14 years

By Raphael Ahren February 25, 2011

The Young Judaea youth movement is closing Merkaz Hamagshimim, the popular community center for young English-speaking immigrants it has operated in Jerusalem since 1996, Anglo File has learned.

Movement officials said the Merkaz was no longer needed but that some services will continue to be provided by other segments of the organization and that no staff has been fired. Merkaz alumni and immigrant association officials said they regretted the move.

Keep Dreaming: Jewish Identity 101

By David Breakstone Opinion February 25, 2011

The writer is vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization and a member of the Jewish Agency Executive

If we really want our MKs to explore Jewish identity meaningfully – and to talk about the challenges of intermarriage in a venue where it is unquestionably appropriate to do so – then we need to create an environment where the full diversity of opinion and expression is validated. We need to bring them to Limmud.

Non-profits to gather in Jaffa to examine their future

By Ruth Eglash February 27, 2011

FONSI – Future of Non Profit Summit-Israel is a follow up to a similar event held recently in New York and is an initiative of REACH3K, a company that consults non-profits on their development and fundraising strategies and CAUSIL, a New York-based organization that helps brands, organizations and individuals engage in the best practices of communications, marketing and technology.

Religion and State in Israel

February 28, 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.

Religion and State in Israel - February 28, 2011 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

February 28, 2011 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Israel's rabbinic leadership is turning its back on the State

By Yedidia Stern Opinion February 24, 2011

The writer, a law professor at Bar-Ilan University, is vice president of research at the Israel Democracy Institute.

For the first time, the Jewish collective has the authority and responsibility of wielding tools of power, with all the consequences.

But the rabbis, instead of sharing in the burden of sovereignty, shake it off. The undercurrents of their positions show a lack of recognition of the importance of the central Jewish phenomenon of our time: the Jewish state.

The prosecution v. the bad guy

By Gadi Gvaryahu Opinion February 24, 2011

The writer is executive director of the Forum Yod Bet B'Heshvan to encourage tolerance and openness.

For some reason,[Israel] Harel skips over the chapters on revenge and taking the law into one's hands and directed, among other things, at the massacre perpetrated by Baruch Goldstein and the "price tag" policy.

...It was not at random that someone who was himself involved in planning the revenge acts committed by the first Jewish underground, and someone who referred to Baruch Goldstein as a martyr who joins the martyrs of the Nazi Holocaust, provided a formal endorsement for "The King's Torah."

Carmel fire widow accuses Hadera rabbi of incitement

By Yaakov Lapin February 21, 2011

Na’ava Boker, widow of Asst.-Cmdr. Lior Boker, who was the head of operations for the Northern District, said Rabbi Rafael Buvlil of Hadera had claimed that Lior Boker died as divine punishment, due to an investigation he led that found that yeshiva students set fire to a synagogue in order to blame Hadera’s secular residents.

This week, ‘God’s policemen’ were out and about again

By Judy Montagu Opinion February 22, 2011

Why were Lior Boker and all those precious others consumed by the Carmel inferno?...

Those of us who eschew a random universe know that, when all is said and done, we cannot know the reason. We understand that there are some things beyond our understanding.

That is, after all, the essence of faith.

Gadhafi and King Lior

By Sefi Rachlevsky Opinion February 27, 2011

The wretchedness of the law in the face of Rabbi Dov Lior has many meanings, and Lior's refusal to be interrogated over his support for "The King's Torah - The Laws for Killing Gentiles" - only marginally gets at the heart of the matter.

Religious Zionism rabbis slam Katsav supporters

By Kobi Nahshoni February 27, 2011

Three Religious Zionism leaders – Ramat's Gan's Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Har Etzion Yeshiva head Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein and Rabbi Dr. Nahum Eliezer Rabinovich, head of the Birkat Moshe Yeshiva in Ma'aleh Adumim – issued a "manifesto" against the letter supporting Katsav, who was convicted of two counts of rape and sexual harassment.

Religious Zionist rabbis send letter of support to Katsav

By Kobi Nahshoni February 24, 2011

Senior Religious Zionism rabbis still believe former President Moshe Katsav, who has been convicted of rape, is innocent. A letter sent by dozens of community rabbis, yeshiva heads and educators urges Katsav to "be strong and continue to insist on the truth uncompromisingly," Ynet learned Wednesday.

The letter's signatories include Rabbi Zvi Tau, considered head of the "national" stream within Religious Zionism; Rabbi Shlomo Aviner of Beit El; and Rabbi Moshe Hager, chairman of the association of military preparatory academies.

Rabbis: OK for president to rape

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion February 24, 2011

Rabbi Andrew Sacks is the Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel

Remember the “Get Out of Jail Free” card in the game of Monopoly. Well, it seems as though not a few prominent rabbis in Israel are trying to play that card right now.

Rabbinic court candidates draw womens groups' ire

By Yair Ettinger February 25, 2011

The Rabbinic Judges Appointment Committee is to vote Tuesday to appoint three rabbinic judges to the High Rabbinic Court. Womens groups are waging a campaign against most of the 12 candidates.

Batya Kahana-Dror, director general of Mavoi Satum, a group that assists women who are unable to obtain divorces, railed against Prover and Sheinfeld.

"Appointing the likes of Prover or Sheinfeld throws back the rabbinic court system ... as an Orthodox woman I think that the women of Israel will have to ... do everything in their power not to reach the rabbinic courts. It will be a danger."

His country. Right - or wrong

By Yossi Verter February 25, 2011

Amidror's arrival creates an unprecedented lineup in the history of the prime minister's office: Three of the seven top spots will be filled by religious skullcap wearing Jews, namely Shefer, political adviser Ron Dermer and Amidror himself.

Could it be that in the Middle East, where scarcely a second goes by without a leader needing to exchange a word with an adviser, that the prime minister will not be able to speak with several of his top advisers on the Sabbath?

Identities in boxes

By Elana Maryles Sztokman Opinion February 24, 2011

Maybe in a few years, she will yet be part of a more genuine social phenomenon of truly breaking down the boxes.

Maybe she and her friends will all continue to form a community in which “religious” and “secular” are not even defining terms, where these labels carry no meaning whatsoever, where everyone can sit in a room together without counting how many people come from which sector.

Maybe they won’t even notice. Or maybe they won’t even know. Maybe, nobody will ever bother to ask, “Are you religious?” because it simply won’t occur to them.

Now that would really be something.

Advertising war exposes Israel's religious-secular divide

By Nathan Jeffay February 24, 2011

There is a new battleground for Israel's secular-religious tensions: the advertising sales room.

The Orthodox anti-missionary charity Yad L'Achim is suing Army Radio for refusing to air its advertisement.

Interior Ministry pushing for buildings in Haredi town despite proximity to highway

By Zafrir Rinat February 27, 2011

The government is planning residential neighborhoods near the Trans-Israel Highway, to be part of the new ultra-Orthodox town of Harish.

The Interior Ministry is pushing for the initiative's approval, even though these neighborhoods would be exposed to noise far exceeding the allowed limit, officials told Haaretz.

Haredim 'taking over' periphery

By Ofer Peteresburg February 23, 2011

As real estate prices in central Israel rise, the ultra-Orthodox public is eyeing the periphery's outer circles – areas which have miserably failed in attracting strong populations from the center.

According to [Rabbi Uri Regev, director of Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality],

"The State of Israel must provide housing solutions for haredim, while demanding they integrate into the labor market so as not to become a burden. But at the same time it must ensure a planning policy which will prevent battles between haredim and other populations and areas becoming haredi."

After residents' two-year battle, court nixes plan to build ritual bath in secular Rehovot neighborhood

By Gili Cohen

Plans to build a mikveh in the heart of a secular neighborhood in Rehovot were quashed last week when the Petah Tikva court for administrative affairs prohibited the city from allocating land for its construction.

Residents of the area around Rehovot's Chen Boulevard have been fighting the construction of the mikveh for the past two years.

'Arab unrest signals Messiah's coming'

By Kobi Nahshoni February 23, 2011

The cellular portal Haredim, which offered a collection of responses on the matter, quoted Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Lithuanian sector in Bnei Brak, as blaming the instability in the region on contemptuous attitudes towards Torah study.

MKs debate whether to recognize Hebrew as primary language

By Ron Friedman February 25, 2011

United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler expressed concern that changing the law would harm the haredi population’s ability to conduct education in Yiddish.

He said he was supportive of the proposal as long as it didn’t apply to education in non-state schools, where many in the haredi sector use Yiddish as their primary language.

Haredim boycott Materna after price hike

By Ruti Levy February 25, 2011

After the price of Materna infant formula rose 7% this month, the ultra-Orthodox supermarket chain Bar Kol decided to do something about it: They simply replaced Materna with rival imported brands.

Kosher cooking in a material world

By Roy Arad February 22, 2011

Nearly 10,000 ultra-Orthodox women (Haredi men were forbidden to enter) crowded into the carnival of shopping that accompanied the competition.

...The large hall was dotted with booths sponsored by various brands. Sometimes it was hard to walk because the place was so crowded. Most of the brand names were trying to win the affection of the ultra-Orthodox public.

Black hats in a sea of green

By Zafrir Rinat February 21, 2011

For several years environmental groups have battled single family-home communities sprawling into the open landscape. Now they are turning their attention to rapidly expanding Haredi towns and the establishment of new ones in the midst of open spaces.

A special study commissioned on the jurisdictional boundaries of Katzir-Harish completed its work several weeks ago...

Green groups are worried about open spaces being harmed by housing plans for Haredim in two other places: Elad, a Haredi city with growth aspirations, and Kasif, a city being planned in the Arad Valley.

Shas cooperation enhances Haredi Holocaust education

By Jonah Mandel February 24, 2011

A new joint effort between the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum and Shas’s Ma’ayan Hinuch Torani is enhancing the Holocaust education of the educational network’s haredi Sephardi pupils.

...“We hope such a program will work with [the Ashkenazi haredi educational institutions] as well. The success with Ma’ayan Hahinuch Hatorani exceeded our expectations,” Hochman said.

Education Ministry official calls Bible studies' decline a 'disaster of biblical proportions'

By Or Kashti February 24, 2011

The number of students taking the advanced matriculation Bible exam in recent years has dwindled drastically, a senior Education Ministry official said on Tuesday at a conference on Bible teaching in Tel Aviv.

Sharing my personal perspective on the future of Jerusalem

By Charlie Kalech Opinion February 26, 2011

Ironically, there are an increasing number of non-governmental religious institutions that practice a more diverse range of Jewish practice as the fabric of Jerusalem’s synagogues becomes more varied.

However, as the congregants of these communities seek educational alternatives, they are met with the need to compromise their principles, in the best-case scenarios, and often they are also met with acute frustration and despair because currently there is no answer for Jerusalem’s observant population who believe in principles of egalitarianism and pluralism.

IDF Deputy Chief: Israel's army needs faith in God more than tanks

By Yair Ettinger February 21, 2011

The events currently shaking the Arab world "were ordained from above" by a guiding hand, Israel Defense Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Naveh said on Sunday. Naveh added that the Israeli army needed faith in God now more than its supply of planes and tanks.

Naveh made the statements while accompanying Israel's two chief rabbis, Rabbi Yona Metzger and Rabbi Shlomo Amar, on their visit to the chief military rabbi's office at the Tzrifin base.

Interview with Rabbi Eliezer Melamed

“Teaching in Order to Put into Practice”

By Arnon Segal February 11, 2011 (From newspaper “Olam Katan”)

Q: A year has passed since the ‘hesder’ between the army and ‘Yeshiva Har Bracha’ was cancelled. Rabbi Melamed, how is your relationship with the Rabbis who felt differently?

“My position remained precisely the same – it is a ‘mitzvah’ to serve in the army, and on the other hand, it is forbidden to fulfill orders expelling Jews from the Land of Israel."

Woman sues after finding stranger buried in her plot

By Tomer Zarchin February 24, 2011

A Kiryat Malakhi woman has filed suit with the Ashdod Magistrate's Court seeking the immediate removal of a corpse that was mistakenly interred in a burial plot alongside her deceased husband and which she purchased years ago.

VIDEO: Chilean Miners Visit Western Wall

Click here for VIDEO

Chilean Miners - We Kept our Faith Like the Jews

Chilean miners start pilgrimage to Holy Land

By DPA February 24, 2011

Twenty-four of the Chilean miners who were trapped underground for more than two months last year arrived in Israel yesterday for an eight-day pilgrimage to express their gratitude for being rescued.

"It's a blessing to be here, in the place of origin of God, to whom we prayed so much while being inside the mine," Jose Enriquez, 56, told reporters in Jerusalem.

Chilean miners arrive for ‘pilgrimage of thanks’

Anglican bishop appeals deportation order over sale of land to Palestinians

By Nir Hasson February 24, 2011

The Anglican bishop in Israel, Suheil Dawani, petitioned the Jerusalem District Court yesterday demanding that Interior Minister Eli Yishai return his visa, which was confiscated after it was discovered that he sold land to Palestinians.

Thousands Rallied in Ashdod Against Missionaries February 25, 2011

Thousands assembled in front of a missionary center in the Ashdod industrial zone this past Monday evening to participate in a tefillah rally/protest organized by Yad L’Achim.

Ethiopian Israelis reject possible project head appointment

By Ruth Eglash February 22, 2011

The likely appointment of a new CEO to head one of the Ethiopian community’s flagship organizations for absorption and education has been sharply criticized by some community leaders, with one group seriously threatening to take legal action if the appointment comes to fruition, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The agent of Kabbalah

By Danny Spektor February 21, 2011

Rabbi Yehuda Berg arrived in Israel on Sunday, this time to launch his new book, "The Prayer of the Kabbalist: The 42-Letter Name of God," at the Jerusalem international Book Fair. It's his sixth book in Hebrew and the 16th in English.

Airline apologizes for carrying pork on Israeli flight

By Nicky Robertson February 23, 2011

A United Kingdom budget airline has apologized to its Jewish customers after loading ham and bacon baguettes on to the flight instead of the standard kosher food.

EasyJet's kosher flight meal - bacon

By Robyn Rosen February 17, 2011

Trainee Accountant Victor Kaufman couldn't believe his ears when he settled into his seat for a budget flight from Israel.

For shortly after take-off, the crew announced they were about to begin serving food - which included bacon baguettes and ham melts.

Jews' connection to the land must not be severed, even in Hebron

By Moshe Arens Opinion February 22, 2011

Who are the people, including the editorial writers of this newspaper, who have gone ballistic over the education minister's announcement that students should be taken on heritage trips to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron?

Deputy FM Ayalon: We’ll bring Israeli diplomats to Hebron

By Tovah Lazaroff February 24, 2011

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Israel Beiteinu) on Wednesday became the second prominent politician this month to announce a plan to strengthen the nation’s ties to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

He told the Knesset he was launching an educational program to bring Foreign Ministry cadets and Israeli ambassadors preparing for placements abroad to visit the cave, as well as other heritage sites.

Returning to the source of it all

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion February 25, 2011

Recently, though, I have a feeling that this return to the source is beginning to seep into the mainstream.

...And I get the same vibe in other places - in my meetings with young soldiers taking an interest in the historical past of the places where they train and operate; in a writing workshop I have been giving, to mostly secular twentysomethings, who are choosing biblical texts for their exercises. More and more young Israelis are looking to hook up to a primeval Jewish source.

Religion and State in Israel

February 28, 2011 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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