Monday, April 11, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - April 11, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

April 11, 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

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

Israel Reform & Conservative Movements demand: Appoint non-Orthodox IDF Rabbi

By Kobi Nahshoni April 8, 2011

The Progressive Judaism and Masorti movements are demanding that the defense minister and Israel Defense Forces chief of staff appoint a Reform or Conservative military rabbi to provide religious services to non-Orthodox Jewish soldiers.

In a letter sent by leaders of the two moments to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, they claim that the current Military Rabbinate cannot or is not interested in providing the religious needs of soldiers with a different worldviews, and therefore the IDF must give them an alternative

New Reform Head on Conversion Issue

By Stewart Ain April 5, 2011

Turning to Israel’s controversial Conversion Bill — which is now on hold because of non-Orthodox opposition to its attempt to give Israel’s Chief Rabbinate responsibility for all conversions — Rabbi Jacobs said it is a sin that the Jewish people have not yet found a way to convert as many as 300,000 Russians who have been living in Israel for years.

“I’d love to see a broader definition of the conversion process,” he said. “If there are official [conversion courts] with narrow parameters, there should be others” with a broader definition.

Each would have standards satisfactory to the different movements of Judaism, and the State of Israel would recognize them for the purpose of marriage."

VIDEO: Is Orthodox conversion kosher? New solutions for an 'unsolvable' problem March 24, 2010

By Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo Click here for VIDEOS: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Joining the Jewish people was always a sensitive issue, but in today’s open global society, the issue of conversion truly stepped into the spotlight. What are the criteria to be Jewish? What where they 500 years ago? What should they be today? And maybe the most interesting question is: Why?

Rabbi Cardozo discusses the heart of this issue, in his opinion, the question of "not who is a Jew, but what is a Jew?" In addition, he shares his personal story of conversation and the wisdom and insight from decades of dealing with this profound question.

Feminists in Focus: Divorce, Deadbeat husbands and DVDs

By Amy Kronish April 5, 2011

Recently, a new and informative documentary has been produced on the subject, called Women Unchained by Beverly Siegel and Leta Lenik. The women in this film live in both Israel and North America and are plagued by the blackmail being legitimized by the rabbinical courts. The film talks about the toll that is being exacted – the stress, money, turmoil, and emotional pain.

...Perhaps Jewish halacha (law) will find a way to solve this agunah problem, especially since legal creativity has solved other issues of Jewish law. Already there are forward-thinking and compassionate rabbis in both Israel and North America who are searching for ways to handle these cases of vengeance and control. The extortion that has become too common must cease.

“A place of prayer for all people”

By Deborah Blausten Opinion April 7, 2011

There is nothing more natural or more authentic than a group of Jews who wish to share together in a collective expression of their faith.

The same women on the women’s side who told me that they would pray for my soul as I joined the group and scowled, tutted and pointed as we prayed, batted no eyelids at the far greater affront to their Jewish practice that several men on the women’s side of the mechitzah presented.

Click here for Women of the Wall Photo.

Not allowed at the Kotel

By Aaron Howard April 4, 2011

Whose Kotel is this? Is the Kotel a national space for all the Jewish people or a private Orthodox synagogue?

And, if it is a shared cultural space, why are non-Orthodox Jews excluded? Why is it impossible to have a Bat Mitzvah at the Wall? Why is it asur (forbidden) for a woman to pray aloud or read from the Torah, if that is her authentic custom?

Rosh Hodesh Nisan

By Raya Even-David Opinion April 7, 2011

Translated with permission by Emily Shapiro Katz

I do not understand why it is against the law to pray out loud at the Kotel, or if it is in fact against the law, or why the policeman picked me and not the men screaming in loud voices far more provocative and loud than me.

I prayed from the heart, with eyes closed, not in anger, not to hurt anyone, God forbid – only to greet the arrival of Nissan with women and friends who believe as I do in our right to pray as an organized group at the Western Wall.

Rabbis endorse ‘educational’ initiative on Pessah sacrifice

By Jonah Mandel April 7, 2011

An initiative to raise the awareness of the centrality of the Pessah sacrifice is gaining momentum, after central rabbis from major streams have endorsed the educational effort.

[Rabbi Yehuda Glick] noted the wide support of leading rabbis for his initiative, including from Chabad-member and Kiryat Motzkin Chief Rabbi David Meir Druckman, Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, Rabbi Benaya Shmueli, the Admor of Erloy Hassidic court, Rabbi Shmuel Shapira and of course Kanievsky.

...Asked what his organization will do with the money accumulated if redemption does not come in time for this Pessah and sacrifices are not offered, Glick said that half of the funds would go to charity, and half to yeshivas and kollels dedicated to studying about the Third Temple.

Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu calls for sacrifice on Temple Mount

By Kobi Nahshoni April 5, 2011

The annual attempts to resume the Passover sacrifice received a first significant rabbinical backing recently. Safed's Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, a prominent religious Zionism leader, has called on the public to perform the sacrifice mitzvah on the eve of the Jewish holiday, in about two weeks.

Moscow Patriarchate speaks out against J'lem gay pride

By Jonah Mandel April 7, 2011

The Moscow Patriarchate has slammed the existence of gaypride events in Jerusalem, in an attack that actually appears to indicate criticism of internal Russian affairs.

The executive director of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance noted the diversity of Jerusalem, as well as the violence facing LGBT members in Moscow.

“While extreme religious leaders in each of the three faiths, who consider Jerusalem a holy city, would like to see a Jerusalem like the one described now by the Russian Patriarchate – the majority of the practitioners of these faiths envision a Jerusalem that celebrates its diversity,” said Yonatan Gehr, in response to the Moscow announcement.

Muslims offended by Trinny & Susannah April 8, 2011

Newspaper ads for the "Trinny & Susannah Do Israel" show have sparked a row among Muslims, as they show the two British fashion advisers dressed in immodest clothing against the backdrop of the al-Aqsa Mosque and Western Wall.

Channel 10 apologized for the incident on Wednesday evening and promised to change the ads immediately.

VIDEO: Kotel Cleaned and Notes Removed for Passover

Photo Gallery: Western Wall notes removed to make room for new in annual clean

By Nadav Shragai April 4, 2011

As masses of Jews begin intensive preparations for the upcoming Passover holiday, employees at Jerusalem's holy site, the Western Wall, have embarked on a spring cleaning of their own.

Photo Gallery: Kotel undergoes spring clean for Pesach

By Jonah Mandel and Marc Israel Sellem April 6, 2011

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which gives the Kotel such a face-lift twice a year - before the upcoming Passover and ahead of the Jewish New Year – are considering a third annual clean-up, due to the growing influx of requests and notes.

Click here for Photo Gallery

Between the cracks

By Roy Arad April 7, 2011

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the rabbi of the Western Wall, tells me that this year there are many notes. I'm trying to figure out if that means there are more problems to be dealt with or if there's more hope. Then, he says forcefully, "More people come here."

The "Little Western Wall" creates tension in Jerusalem's Old City

Safed Chief Rabbi says struggle to keep the city Jewish moving forward

By Eli Ashkenazi April 8, 2011

The chief rabbi of Safed issued a statement this week proclaiming that efforts to keep the city Jewish are beginning to progress and must be widened, though he also added a plea for non-violence in the "struggle."

What should be the Character of the Chief Rabbinate?

By MK Zvulun Orlev Opinion April 9, 2011

For the last few years, the Chief Rabbinate has been criticized by some elements within religious Zionism.

This was based on the fact that the Rabbinate first ignored the concept of the beginning of the redemption and then even adopted an approach that denies this status.

It sometimes appears that the Rabbinate acts out of fear of the Chareidi approach, which denies the concept of the beginning of the redemption, and it sometimes seems as if it is a rabbinical body belonging to a specific Jewish sector.

Everybody who cherishes the Chief Rabbinate should pay attention to this criticism and should do all he can to return it to the original approach.

U.S. Dept. of State 2010 Human Rights Report: Israel April 8, 2011

Many Jewish citizens objected to exclusive Orthodox rabbinic control over aspects of their personal lives.

Approximately 310,000 citizens who immigrated, either as Jews or as family members of Jews, are not considered Jewish by the Orthodox Rabbinate. They cannot be married, divorced, or buried in Jewish cemeteries within the country.

What Is the Jewish Agency That We Need?

By Professor Michael Chlenov April 10, 2011

Professor Michael Chlenov is Secretary-General of Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.

We believe the main goal of JAFI today is to be a bridge between the Diaspora and Israel, to bring everything and anything Israel to the aged Jewish communities in different parts of the world.

This is a task that no one else can do, and should become JAFI’s main task. JAFI should try to restore its severely tarnished reputation, restore the educational programs, devote serious time to Hebrew studies, bring information about Israel to our communities, and organize programs that will allow our Jews to visit Israel, to see and feel Israel.

What did the Israeli lawmakers learn about the U.S. Jewish community?

By Natasha Mozgovaya April 9, 2011

The relationship between Israel and Jewish communities in the Diaspora has been complicated for many decades.

...Recently, one of my Israeli readers wrote to me following an article I published: “They [the U.S. Jews] are in love with the idea of Israel, but they do not know us – and I am not sure they are interested to meet the real Israel. I do not blame them, it can be ugly”.

Knesset caucus to focus on relations with American Jews

By Jordana Horn April 10, 2011

A program to promote better relations between Israeli leaders and the American Jewish community has led to plans to form a caucus in the Knesset on Israeli-North American Jewish relations, MKs told reporters in New York on Friday.

...Saying Israelis were “undergoing open-heart surgery on the question of the character of the Jewish state,” Ben-Simon said Israelis could take a page from the American playbook in terms of tolerance and diversity.

Education is key in a changing U.S. Jews-Israel relationship

By Jonathan Sarna and Jay Ruderman April 4, 2011

Jonathan Sarna is the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History. Jay Ruderman is president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which has offices in Boston and Rehovot, Israel

...If every measure considered by the Knesset carried a “Diaspora impact statement” (analogous to our environmental impact statements), consciousness of how Israel’s actions impact upon world Jewry would be heightened.

Time to untie Israel Bonds

By Matti Golan Opinion April 7, 2011

The irony is that today there is really no economic justification for the existence of Israel Bonds. A large proportion of the money raised goes on salaries and other payments to the organization's employees. And what about strengthening the tie between Jewry and Israel?

"When you look at who buys the bonds," says Sheetrit, "you find that the buyers are mainly US banks and pension funds, more than individual Jews around the world."

Avraham Burg answers readers' questions on anti-Semitism in the modern world April 4, 2011

Avraham Burg is the former Jewish Agency Chairman and Speaker of the 15th Knesset

There is here a very confusing mixture in terms and concepts. What is Jewish? A religion, a national definition, a cultural expression, civilization power?

There are so many different definitions for the same word and therefore so many misunderstandings come out of it. However, any definition of Jewish will contain a very serious religious component that leads to a very serious question: Should any modern state have a religious ingredient in its definition? The answer is no. More precisely, definitely no.

Yiddishe cowboys to make aliyah?

By Adi Gold April 10, 2011

Tony Gelbart, CEO and founder of Nefesh B'Nefesh, explains that they are planning to broaden their activities in Texas through individual contacts and parlor meetings.

"All of our research shows that there's something about Texas Jews that is very Israeli, and I don't mean only the love of barbequing. Their love of nature and wide open spaces brings many of them to the periphery of Israel."

Why I choose to return

By Eran Davidi Opinion April 6, 2011

The writer is a Master of Laws student at Columbia University in New York

My name is Eran and I’ve been living for almost a year now in New York, in a nice apartment near wonderful Central Park. I also study at a top-notch private university. In a few months I’ll be completing my studies, and naturally I’m thinking about the future.

...So why will I be returning to Israel? It’s precisely the stay here that made me realize that we have no other place except our country.

Ford Foundation, Big Funder of Israeli NGOs, Pulling Out

By Nathan Guttman April 6, 2011

After being a target for political attacks during the past year, progressive nongovernmental organizations in Israel are now bracing for another hit: the loss of one of their largest donors.

The Ford Foundation, which has provided $40 million to civil society NGOs in Israel since 2003, will not resume its funding for programs in Israel once its current grant round ends in two years. The reason, the organization explains, has to do with changing priorities, not with politics.

...The foundation’s decade-long partnership with the [New Israel Fund] was fraught with criticism over its choice of grantees and causes, which were mostly on the liberal end of the political spectrum.

Russian billionaire to found 'Jewish Al-Jazeera' April 7, 2011

Russian “oligarch” and Jewish philanthropist Alexander Mashkevich announced on Wednesday his intention to found a Jewish version of Al-Jazeera.

"Every day and every hour people get negative information about Israel," Mashkevich said at the Keren Hayesod - United Israel Appeal conference in Washington D.C. "Therefore, the most important thing is to represent Israel on an international level, with real information."

Israel Bonds denies allegations it paid for Netanyahu's travels April 7, 2011

Israel Bonds denied Thursday allegations that they funded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trips abroad, claiming the Knesset paid for his travels, with the fundraising organization covering only the travel expenses of his wife, Sara.

Interview with Rabbi Richard Jacobs, the new leader of the Reform movement

By Shmuel Rosner April 4, 2011

When Rabbi Jacobs was still a rabbinical student, he tells me, he had coached Israeli teen-agers on a basketball court of a community center in Jerusalem.

“I want members of the Reform movement to have such bond to all Israeli society,” he says. And of course, he also wants the Israeli wing of the Reform movement to which “I’m very committed” to grow stronger. “To have Israel become the inclusive place it was meant to be.”

New Reform Head Walking Pro-Israel Tightrope

By Stewart Ain April 5, 2011

He said he wholeheartedly supports the work of the New Israel Fund, a group dedicated to civil rights and religious pluralism in Israel.

Noting that he was proud to sit on its international board for a decade, since 2001 he has chaired its pluralism grants committee, which he described as “helping to shape a more tolerant Israel.” The grants, he said, include a prayer service attracting secular Israelis in Tel Aviv as well as Modern Orthodox groups fostering tolerance.

Canadian Christian Zionists host MKs

By Gil Hoffman April 7, 2011

A delegation of MKs from the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus will wrap up a weeklong tour of outreach to Canadian Christian Zionists and native Canadian “First Nations communities” on Thursday.

Friends of J'lem bombing victim grapple with her loss

By Tovah Lazaroff March 31, 2011

Bible translator Mary Jane Gardner lived among the Ife people for 20 years in the Togolese Republic, but when asked to describe herself, she said that she was just an ordinary Christian.

...Gardner had left Africa for Israel to study in the Home Bible Translators program, which is part of the Hebrew University.

Religion and State in Israel

April 11, 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 - April 11, 2011 (Section 2)

April 11, 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.

17 yeshivas to lose state funding, asked to return money April 4, 2011

The Education and Finance Ministries have said that 17 out of 1,500 yeshivas reviewed by the state will not receive further financial support, and are requested to return funds received in the last period, Israel Radio reported Monday.

State offering yeshiva dropouts lessons in Torah - and technology

By Lior Dattel April 7, 2011

The Education Ministry plans to include 500 Haredi teenagers in a technology matriculation program next school year.

The program will combine core classes with religious studies, and is intended for 15- to 16-year-old boys who dropped out of yeshivas.

Rabbis will teach the students religious subjects.

Haredi rabbis: Don't volunteer in Magen David Adom

By Kobi Nahshoni April 6, 2011

Ultra-Orthodox leaders are calling on the religious public not to volunteer in Magen David Adom, claiming that serving in the rescue organization leads to serious religious prohibitions and leads to spiritual danger.

The ad is part of the ongoing battle between haredi rabbis and the national emergency organization, following MDA's attempt to recruit young ultra-Orthodox people for civilian service.

Bad fences make bad neighbors

By Tamar Rotem April 8, 2011

Oshrat Parzam, a first-grade teacher: "I'm sorry to hear that the Haredim are claiming that our children could have a bad influence on theirs. I understand the differences in education, in their religious worldview at school age, but at this age there's no place for separation. What's the meaning of putting up a fence in the middle?"

..."They said that they're afraid their children will be influenced by the secular children," says Kirmaier, "that they'll learn curses from our children, that they'll see children without a skullcap."

The story of the fence is not an isolated incident. It needs to be understood against the backdrop of a long series of disagreements in the neighborhood in recent years.

New org to educate Haredi community on animal rights

By Sharon Udasin April 5, 2011

[Ezra Zohar] has teamed up with a haredi community activist, Yehuda Shein of Beit Shemesh, to co-found a haredi animal rights advocacy group called Compassion, whose Hebrew letters are also an acronym for “haredi recruits for animals.”

The organization will serve to spread knowledge about the cruelties endured by animals as well as general environmental issues, according to the team.

“Recently, we’ve received the support of important rabbis from all streams in our campaign to ban battery cages for laying hens, among them Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, Rabbi Benjamin Lau, Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner and Rabbi David Rosen.”

Charedi media fall foul of the rabbis

By Nathan Jeffay April 7, 2011

Israeli rabbis have launched a bitter attack against Charedi newspapers and magazines which operate without their approval.

The two main Charedi newspapers in Israel, Hamodia and Yated Ne'eman, which between them sell 45,000 copies daily, are both are overseen by a rabbinical board who keep tight control over what they publish.

Barkat's 'Culture Center' Plan May Backfire, Say Jerusalemites

By David Lev April 8, 2011

Known far and wide as a city dedicated to the spiritual, Jerusalem has long had a secular side as well – mostly centered in the Talpiot industrial zone, with nightclubs and restaurants of all types.

Barkat's plan aims to capture that spirit and transfer it to the city center and the Russian Compound – but that plan, many believe, will doom the city to endless rounds of protest and controversy, as those areas border Hareidi neighborhoods like Me'ah Shearim and Geula.

First of all, teach the core subjects April 6, 2011

Letter to Editor

In response to, "Don't ask what a Haredi can do for his country, help him," March 30
Avirama Golan is wrong - Israeli society should not stop worrying about whether the ultra-Orthodox study the core subjects. On the contrary, standing firm over the obligation of every school to teach these subjects is the only chance to save Haredi children from ignorance, poverty and dependence on their leaders.

By Laura Wharton

Jerusalem city councilor for Meretz

Innovative No More

By Philissa Cramer April 4, 2011

The stakes of radically revising that system are existential, according to Tel Aviv University economist Dan Ben-David, who also heads the Jerusalem-based Taub Center for Public Policy, where annually he compiles and analyzes statistics about the country’s progress.

Those data have convinced him that the country will soon become unable to shoulder the burden of supporting the ultra-Orthodox who opt out of the workforce—and that education is the only sector that can help the country avert economic disaster.

1 in every 5 new olim won't participate in Passover seder

By Jonah Mandel April 10, 2011

Some 12% of all the secular people surveyed won't be holding a Seder, a figure comprised of 18% of the new olim surveyed, in contrast to only 6% of the Israeli-born populace.

Head of Bina Center Eran Baruch: “The fact that 18% of the new olim do not mark the holiday in any way is very worrying, and indicates a trend of severe alienation experienced by the immigrants toward Judaism and the rabbinical establishment, which represents Judaism to them.”

4 Ways of Connecting your Seder to Israel

Unfortunately in Israel today, religious pluralism barely exists:

  • Conservative/ Masorti and Reform Rabbis are not recognised by the Chief Rabbinate
  • Non-Orthodox synagogues receive no financial support from the State
  • Weddings or conversions carried out according to Conservative/Masorti tradition are not approved by the Rabbinate
  • Women are not accepted as equals in religious practice, even leading to being arrested for praying in public places like the Kotel

Had He only built us the Temple, and not rebuilt the Jewish State

Had He only rebuilt the Jewish State, and not brought Jews to Israel from over 100 different countries of the Diaspora

Had He only brought Jews to Israel from over Diaspora, and not brought religious pluralism

L’Shana Haba לשנה הבאה equal in Israel. ! דיינו

After criticism, institute promises to find a seder for every blind person

By Dana Weiler-Polak April 8, 2011

The Jewish Institute for the Blind in Jerusalem has promised that every blind person looking to celebrate Passover will have a seat at a seder table.

The center's assurances follow a report in Haaretz earlier this week, in which other organizations voiced concern that blind celebrants would be left with nowhere to observe the holiday.

Israelis to send chametz to Japan

By Akiva Novick April 10, 2011

In the coming days, volunteers of the My Israel movement plan to visit homes across Israel, wait at the entrances to supermarkets and try to collect all the Israeli chametz and send it, with the Foreign Ministry's help, to tsunami-hit areas in Japan.

Machon Meir launches kids TV series on Pessah

By Jonah Mandel April 8, 2011

Head of Machon Meir Rabbi Dov Bigon, whose institute is behind the television stations, said that the idea behind opening the station’s content to an English-speaking audience came to him while on a trip to the US. While there, educators bemoaned the lack of educational and Jewish content available to Jewish children.

Photo and Audio Essay: Bar-Ilan students, faculty welcome spring with a blessing

Click here for Photo and Audio Essay [right click and view in Full Screen]

By Mordechai I. Twersky April 7, 2011

On this first day of the Hebrew month of Nissan, which the Bible considers the advent of spring, scores of students and faculty streamed from university buildings to recite the special blessing, Birkat Ha-Ilan, for the blossoming of the trees.

African migrants celebrate freedom at ‘Refugee Seder’

By Ben Hartman April 8, 2011

Around 500 African migrants broke unleavened bread with Israeli friends and volunteers at an early Pessah Seder held in south Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Park on Thursday night.

More than a dozen NGOs helped put on the event, including Amnesty Israel, the Hotline for Migrant Workers, the UN Refugee Agency, the Bina Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture, and the African Refugee Development Center.

Mumbai attack orphan to be among beacon-lighters

By Greer Fay Cashman April 5, 2011

Four-year-old Moishe Holzberg, whose parents Gavriel and Rivka, Chabad emissaries in Mumbai, were killed in a terror attack in November 2008, will light one of the 12 beacons of hope and triumph this Independence Day, the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry announced this week.

Moishe Holzberg, who is being raised by his maternal grandparents, Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg and his wife Yehudit, was chosen along with his grandfather to light the beacon at the Mount Herzl military cemetery, as representatives of the Chabad light that emanates into the darkness of the world.

Israel's Torch Lighting: In Chabad's Name? April 7, 2011

Adapted from an essay written by Rabbi Dovid Meir Drukman

The writer is Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Motzkin

So, are Lubavitchers Zionists or not?

Correct, we are Zionists. But not the so-called Zionists who created the State of Israel, rather we are Zionists who pray thrice daily that "G-d lay His eyes upon Zion".

The difference is immense.

...I beseech of those who do choose to go to light a [torch], to do so in honor of the State of Israel. Do it in honor of Theodor Herzl. Speak of the greatness of secularism and Israel's own accomplishments, omitting G-d's name, and definitely don't mention the Rebbe and his Shluchim.

Ascent in Safed Doubles Size

By Rivka Chaya Berman April 7, 2011

Ascent, a center for Jewish edu-tourism in Safed, offering mystical Jewish experiences since the early 1980s, signed a mortgage on the nearby Tel Aviv Hotel in time for the Passover tourism rush.

Ascent’s hostel remains open, and the new acquisition – freshly painted, carpeted, and spiffed up – increases the center’s total capacity from 70 to 250 guests.

NGO to launch biggest-ever campaign against abortions

By Ruth Eglash April 6, 2011

The campaign is part of the ongoing efforts of non-profit organization Efrat, whose goal, according to its website, “is to inform women faced with unwanted pregnancy that there are choices.”

...In addition to the video clip, Efrat, which claims its message is not necessarily entrenched in religious beliefs, will launch simultaneously a series of television and radio commercials encouraging women thinking about aborting a pregnancy to come forward and seek help.

IDF mission plans Japanese-style Seder

By Kobi Nahshoni April 4, 2011

When Tzvi Yehuda Mansbach took his officers course and became an Israel Defense Forces rabbi, he never imagined that one day he would be providing religious services for dozens of soldiers at the ends of the earth.

But then the earth shook and Mansbach, the Home Front Command's Central District rabbi left his office in Zrifin and got on a plane – destination: Japan.

Orthodox IDF soldiers accused of abusing Palestinian prisoners

By Anshel Pfeffer April 6, 2011

An Israel Defense Forces soldier from a unit made up exclusively of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men was convicted on Wednesday in the Central Military Court of illegal use of a weapon and disgraceful conduct.

Young Israel Donates 190th Sefer Torah to the IDF

By David Lev April 9, 2011

Although generally thought of as an American organization, the Young Israel movement has been very involved in Israeli life for decades – and last week, the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) and the Israel branch of the International Young Israel Movement dedicated, for the 190th time, a Sefer Torah to the IDF.

Did rabbi sexually assault bride?

By Yair Altman April 6, 2011

Well-known Jerusalem Rabbi David Tovol was arrested last Sunday on suspicions that he committed indecent acts against a newlywed bride who sought his advice, Ynet has learned.

An Orthodox Jew Leads Toledo to a Women's National Basketball Title

By Elana Sztokman April 6, 2011

Shafir received rabbinic approval to pursue her dream from Chaim Burgansky, rabbi of Hoshaya.

“The halachic rationale is based on the fact that although the Halacha says that it’s forbidden to jump and run on Shabbat, someone who derives pleasure from it can do it. But exercise is forbidden,” he told the Forward in an e-mail.

“Practice is in the category of ‘exercise’ and therefore forbidden, but the game itself is fun for the player. Who wants to sit on the bench?”

VIDEO: Arts and Culture Day for Religious Education Students

By Elad Benari and Yoni Kempinski April 4, 2011

Click here for VIDEO

A special day of arts and culture for students of Israel’s state religious schools was held last week in the city of Lod as part of the weeklong celebration of Religious Zionist Education in Israel. The day featured workshops by some of Israel’s top artists in the fields of theater, music, dance, drama, cinema and more.

Yigal Amir kept from prayer group

By Ofra Edelman April 6, 2011

The assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin will be held in isolation for an additional six months, the Petah Tikva District Court ruled yesterday, despite an earlier Supreme Court decision allowing Yigal Amir to pray with others.

Israel Electric Corp pulls the plug on Maimonides' grave over huge unpaid electric bill

By Eli Ashkenazi April 6, 2011

The Israel Electric Corporation has cut power to the grave site of the preeminent philosopher and Torah stage Maimonides - also known as the Rambam - in Tiberias, a site visited by hundreds of thousands of people every year.

The lack of electricity has forced the organization that operates the site to close it down in the evening.

Unpaid bill makes holy site go dark

AP April 7, 2011

Rabbi Israel Deri, one of the managers of the site in the Galilee city of Tiberias, admitted Wednesday that the bill "fell between the cracks." As a result, the tomb - where people come to pray around the clock – is now closed to night visitors.

"We accumulated a debt. We didn't pay. And we're working on it," Deri said. Signs at the entrance announce that the site is closed at night "due to a power glitch."

VIDEO: Prayer at Joseph's Tomb: 2,000 Attend

By Gil Ronen April 5, 2011

Click here for VIDEO

About 2,000 people attended a nighttime prayer session at the Tomb of Joseph in Shechem Monday night. The prayers were held to mark Rosh Hodesh - the first day of the new month of Nisan - and was organized by the Samaria local authority and the "One Shechem" group.

Rabbi: 'Intermarriage in Yafo Due to Mixed Arab and Jewish Schools"

By Elad Benari April 7, 2011

According to Rabbi Yuval Alpert, who heads the Gar’in Torani (Torah core group) in Jaffa, the city’s public schools, in which Jews study side-by-side with Arabs, have led to high intermarriage rates.

Messianic Temptations

By Yehudah Mirsky Opinion April 7, 2011

For his part, [Rabbi] Zvi Tau, grasping the significance of the steady intellectual and spiritual collapse of classic political Zionism, has replaced it with a powerfully suggestive interpretation of the metaphysical significance of Jewish statehood.

Those who hope to steer Zionism—and religious Zionism in particular—by more humane and sustainable lights would do well to ponder his example, and propound other interpretations.

The criminal campaign against Y.

By Yehuda Ben Meir Opinion April 10, 2011

In the next few days, the government is expected to approve Yoram Cohen's appointment as the new head of the Shin Bet security service.

...These groups' inappropriate intervention demonstrates their continued degeneration into behavior best described as sectarian, tribal and provincial; behavior that is antithetical to the fundamental principles of the original concept of religious Zionism.

Will rabbis allow brainy Shabbat driving?

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich April 8, 2011

As the interface between brain and machine moves from science fiction to reality, rabbis will be debating whether a vehicle one merely sits in and drives solely with brain activity can be used on Shabbat.

Bank of Israel Gov. Fischer would like Sundays off too April 7, 2011

Shalom proposes that Israelis work Friday mornings in exchange for taking Sunday off, as per practice in most of the world. He proposes that the Friday workday end at 1 pm during winter and 2 pm during Daylight Savings Time. He claims that the long weekend will boost productivity and improve efficiency through better coordination with the world.

Trash troubles pit Bahai Center against local kibbutz & village

By Jack Khoury April 5, 2011

The Bahai Center has objected for years to garbage trucks passing near the site, which has received international recognition as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The Bahais are demanding that the government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intervene on their behalf, since Israel is obliged by international covenants to preserve holy sites.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's daughter Adina Bar Shalom in peace plan: Withdraw from Golan, E. J'lem

By Mazal Mualem April 6, 2011

Former security chiefs, academics and businessmen have drafted a peace plan they hope to use as a platform to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to renew deadlocked talks with the Palestinians.

Also members are businessman Idan Ofer, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's daughter Adina Bar Shalom...

Chabad Friend "Fights Father, Forgoes Family"

By David Yisraeli April 3, 2011

In an interview with the Sof Hashavua magazine, daughter of Shas spiritual leader and former Israeli Sephardi Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Mrs. Adina Bar-Shalom spoke of her brother's choice to "leave the family."

The sacred layers of holy cities

By Gray M Beltran Opinion April 9, 2011

As I walked through the winding alleyways of the Old City, shaded by tall walls of Jerusalem stone, I experienced a sharp twinge of déjà vu.

It was my first time in Israel, yet something about the environment—the centuries-old architecture, the nourishing, Mediterranean sunlight—recalled an earlier time in my life.

Religion and State in Israel

April 11, 2011 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

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