Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - April 26, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

April 26, 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.

Activist Jews use Passover festival to protest ultra-Orthodox conversion stance

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com April 26, 2011

Sam Ben-Sheetrit, chairman of the World Federation of Moroccan Jews

“We will raise a cry against the ultra-Orthodox laws pushing away all those who want to join our people. Regrettably, the ultra-Orthodox groups have taken over our lives. Not only the money, the public coffer, but everyday life. They're simply closing doors in the face of all those who want to join our people."

"How do you think we improved Moroccan Jewry's image? We used the Mimouna to bring people together. We will demand of the ultra-Orthodox to stop bullying us, to get out of our life, to allow this country to work. I hope our bitter cry, and especially the government, are able to stop them."

‘Love the convert’ featured at Mimouna festivals

By Jonah Mandel www.jpost.com April 24, 2011

This year, the World Federation of Moroccan Jewry decided that the theme of the celebrations would be the biblical command to “love the convert” in the wake of the recent maelstrom shaking Israeli society and world Jewry over the proposed conversion bill and the shadows of doubt cast over IDF conversions, which were eventually resolved.

In addition to the opening Rehovot event, which will be attended by senior politicians and public figures, a special panel on converts and conversion will take place in Ashkelon on Tuesday as part of the official Mimouna events. Senior rabbis involved in the conversion process will participate, as well as converts, who will tell their stories.

Ra'anana rabbis slam attack on Reform synagogue

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com April 22, 2011

A number of rabbis and public figures from the city of Raanana have signed a letter strongly condemning the desecration of a local Reform synagogue.

"This act, like other acts of violence, saddens all of us," the letter said. "We stress that the Torah condemns any act of violence and harm to our fellowman."

Raanana's Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, a former interior minister and Shas chairman, signed the letter, despite being very close to the Orthodox Lithuanian leadership, which strongly opposes Reform Judaism. He added in his handwriting, "Her ways are ways of pleasantness."

Wave of vandalism hits non-Orthodox synagogues anew

By David Sheen www.haaretz.com April 22, 2011

A Netanya Conservative and Reform house of worship has become the target of stone-throwing attacks, allegedly by ultra-Orthodox youths waging a battle to scare the congregants into leaving.

The Reform congregation in Netanya prays in the bomb shelter of the Conservative Beit Yisrael synagogue, as it does not have a building of its own.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv says that although Netanya's city council and religious council have granted land and municipal buildings to dozens of Orthodox congregations in the city, they have consistently refused the requests of the Reform congregation.

Un-Orthodox Good News

By Neil Rubin Opinion http://blogs.jewishtimes.com April 22, 2011

The writer is Editor Baltimore Jewish Times

Sadly, when Israeli Orthodox leaders unite against violence aimed at Reform Jews it is news.

That is both a pathetic commentary on our times and provides a ray of light as intra-communal strife continues to cast its chilling shadow over the Jewish people. That light must be allowed to shine brightly across both sides of the Orthodox, non-Orthodox divide that increasingly defines the Jewish people.

Progressive Judaism growing in Israel, says Rabbi Gilad Kariv

By Paul Lungen www.cjnews.com April 21, 2011

According to Rabbi Gilad Kariv, “the dichotomy between the Orthodox and the secular” is changing. “The Israeli Reform movement, together with other partners, is changing this paradigm.”

Rabbi Kariv, executive director of the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism, believes Israeli society is beginning to embrace alternative ways to living a Jewish life. Secular Jews are turning to Judaism and more and indicators of Jewish life, such as attending synagogue and giving their children a Jewish education, are increasing.

Rabbi Kariv believes the prognosis for the future growth of Reform is encouraging. A survey taken three years ago showed about half the Israeli population “experienced more than once our spiritual or educational services.”

PHOTOS: Freedom Riders in Jerusalem

Click here for PHOTOS

Click here for “pashkevil” (Hebrew)

April 20, 2011

Suing for their freedom

By Ofri Shoval www.haaretz.com April 24, 2011

"Damages claims" are two words on the lips these days of many agunot - women whose husbands have abandoned them, disappeared or refuse to divorce them, and who, therefore, cannot obtain a religious divorce (a get) and cannot remarry. The idea that they can now sue their husbands for damages is almost revolutionary.

Susan Weiss [Center for Women's Justice] believes that ultimately, the rabbinate will lose state protection. She likens the rabbinical courts to the Sorcerer's Apprentice, the magician's broom that obtained a life of its own and ran amuck.

A limited mazal tov

Jpost.com Editorial www.jpost.com April 16, 2011

The civil union Law was born of the best of intentions to meet very real and pressing needs of a burgeoning component of our population. To leave them without recourse to full marriage in this country is unconscionable (all they could manage here thus far was a common-law union arranged by an attorney). The new law is a welcome breakthrough.

But while it may have been conceived whole, it was born amputated and crippled.

VIDEO: Interview with Masorti (Conservative) Kibbutz Hannaton’s Rabbi Yoav Ende

Click here for VIDEO

Click here for more info on Kibbutz Hannaton

March 2, 2011

From Holland to the Hebron hills

By Gail Lichtman www.jpost.com April 21, 2011

In 2003, at the height of the second intifada, Bert Woudwijk, the pastor of an Evangelical church in The Netherlands, arrived in Sussiya, an Orthodox community in the South Hebron Hills area. He was leading a Christian solidarity mission. But what he encountered in Sussiya would change his name, his country, his religion and his entire way of life.

Today, Bert Woudwijk is Aryel Tsion, a 45-year-old Orthodox Jew living in Sussiya with his wife, Shlomit, and their three young children.

For Liberal Olim, Southern Comfort

By Sharon Udasin and Adam Dickter www.thejewishweek.com April 18, 2011

The Stramers, who have lived in Beersheva for five years, have recently become part of a new, and as far as is known unique, pluralistic Jewish community whose members share a love of the Negev and a dedication to an open, liberal form of Orthodox Judaism.

Created by former New Yorker Ravit Greenberg in November, only a month after she and her husband made aliyah, the group, which functions like an independent minyan, has grown from a handful of people to about 40 members — half native Israelis and half new immigrants.

'Public not ready for religious IDF chief'

By Moriah Zeltser-Volshtein www.ynetnews.com April 18, 2011

Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Naveh:

"Unfortunately, in the past 15 years we have become confused. It's no longer like that. Religious Zionism is in complete decline. We have disposed of integrity and personal reason, the ability to accept the other, and we connect to 'make for yourself a rabbi' in its simplistic meaning."

..."I would like to clarify that I didn't get any role in the army for being a Mafdalnik. On the contrary, it was always harder. But our public liked to see me as belonging to them, and then suddenly felt betrayed. But I never felt as an emissary of that private public.

Misunderstanding the IDF Hesder program

By M. Lichtenstein Opinion www.jpost.com April 22, 2011

The writer is rosh yeshiva at Yeshivat Har Etzion.

The starting point and sine qua non for an understanding of the hesder program is the recognition that it is an attempt to strike a balance between two positive values whose practical demands compete with each other.

These two ideals are Torah study and serving the nation. Both are perceived as imperative from a religious standpoint, yet total devotion to one value precludes participation in the other.

A land of opportunity, for some

By Moshe Arens Opinion www.haaretz.com April 26, 2011

The ultra-Orthodox community is attempting to deny its children the education that would enable them to enter an advanced high technology economy.

The readiness of some to enlist in the IDF in recent years, and the technical education that some of them acquire during their term of service, is the first ray of hope that, in time, the ultra-Orthodox community will also begin to contribute to the Israeli economy and exploit the opportunities that it offers.

Israel’s 10 plagues

By Yair Lapid Opinion www.ynetnews.com April 19, 2011

6. Taking God’s name in vain

There’s nothing wrong with our God, the problem is all those people among us who claim that they are the only ones holding the right user manual.

Israeli ex-pats adjust to being Jewish in Canada

By Sheri Shefa www.cjnews.com April 21, 2011

Rabbi Landa, who estimated that there are about 50,000 former Israelis in the Greater Toronto Area, said that even if Israelis do go to shul, they most likely aren’t members.

“That concept doesn’t exist in Israel. In Israel, religion and state is one. The government builds the synagogues, pays the rabbis and buys prayer books every two years. So it’s very foreign to them,” he said.

...Anat Hoffman, executive director of Jerusalem’s Israel Religious Action Center, a legal advocacy arm of the Reform movement in Israel, said that some of her experiences growing up in Jerusalem actually turned her off from being more observant.

Report on RHR Beit Midrash at Hillel House, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

By Rabbi Gideon D. Sylvester www.rhrna.org April 22, 2011

The RHR Beit Midrash at the Hillel House of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been studying Jewish sources relating to each of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Each week, we have taken a different theme and explored the parallels and contrasts between Judaism’s perspective on human rights and responsibilities and those defined by the charter. It has been a fascinating journey of academic study and intense discussion.

Religious Tolerance Prize awarded to Yehoram Gaon

By Greer Fay Cashman www.jpost.com April 19, 2011

The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies will award Yehoram Gaon the Rabbi Marc and Dr. Henia Liebhaber Prize next month for the promotion of religious tolerance and cultural pluralism.

Different sides, same questions: The relationship between American Jews & Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion www.haaretz.com April 22, 2011

Ben-Ami and Rosner both accurately portray the current state of apathy and disenchantment among young Jews in America and Israel. If that were not the case, there would be a healthy and constructive relationship between the two sides and a greater openness towards Israel taking necessary risks in its quest for peace.

More Birthright grads are marrying in, says new study

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com April 22, 2011

A follow-up study of the impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel suggests that more participants are marrying within Judaism but are less concerned with the religion of their children. However, participants are still more likely to be interested in their babies being Jewish than non-participants.

See also: The Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies

May is Birthright Israel Month

http://ejewishphilanthropy.com April 22, 2011

Some 200 events in communities and synagogues across North America during the month of May will mark Birthright Israel Month, which celebrates Taglit-Birthright Israel sending nearly 300,000 Jewish young adults on the ten day trip and raises awareness for its new goal of sending 51,000 participants annually – or one in every two young Jewish adults – beginning 2013.

Click here for VIDEO

Taglit honors Sharansky in Argentina

www.ynetnews.com April 24, 2011

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky was welcomed to Buenos Aires on April 1 by the Argentine team of Taglit-Birthright Israel, at a lunch held in his honor, in partnership with the World Jewish Congress, and then toured the city with a group of local Taglit-Birthright Israel alumni

Jewish song contest tryouts underway

By Itamar Eichner www.ynetnews.com April 25, 2011

Diaspora Jews, prepare: Hallelujah, a global song contest in Hebrew for Jewish young adults abroad is hitting the road. Dozens of Jewish and Zionist organizations are calling on half a million Jews worldwide to apply or vote for the next "Jewish idol".

What if...?

Response to Rabbis Gordis and Perlo and David Breakstone

By Rabbi Daniel R. Allen Opinion http://ejewishphilanthropy.com April 21, 2011

Rabbi Daniel R. Allen is Executive Director Association of Reform Zionists of America.

What if there were 1,000,000 now secular Jews in Israel who had come to understand the available options for Jewish observance?

What if there were 1,000,000 Israelis who did not kowtow to the foreign British born “gift” of the chief rabbinate?

What if there were 1,000,000 Israeli who agreed that there are many legitimate paths in the observance of Judaism?

What if 1,000,000 Israelis voted for a government that insisted that every child in the state learn to read and write Hebrew, serve in the IDF, celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and learn math and science?

JNF Challenged on Discrimination

By Josh Nathan-Kazis http://forward.com April 20, 2011

A challenge to the tax-exempt status of Jewish National Fund’s American arm introduces a new wrinkle into an ongoing debate over how the Internal Revenue Service should treat charities whose foreign operations run counter to public policy of the United States.

A coalition of anti-Zionist groups has claimed in its challenge that JNF ethnically discriminates by refusing to sell or lease its land in Israel to non-Jews.

A guiding spirit

By Mark Rebacz www.jpost.com April 21, 2011

When a bunch of Jews get together, what do they talk about?” asks Aryeh Ben-David. “I’ve asked this question to Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews across the US and Israel, and it’s amazing – I always get the same list and almost always in the same order.”

Ben-David says the answers provided are usually food, family, Jewish geography, health, money, entertainment, etc. But one thing is always missing: God.

Visiting scholars examine Jewish identity of Jewish state

By Julie Gruenbaum Fax www.jewishjournal.com April 20, 2011

Eight religious and social leaders from Israel will visit Los Angeles synagogues May 6-7 to engage in conversation about the state of religious Zionism.

The Shabbaton, hosted by Religious Zionists of Los Angeles in honor of Israel’s 63rd year of independence, will have speakers in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood and in Hancock Park on topics including “Could Zionism turn out to be another false messiah?” and “Democracy and the Jewish state: Is it possible?”

Included will be several leaders from Tzohar, an organization that seeks to connect secular Israelis to the rabbinate in a positive way through lifecycle events and educational programs.

Religion and State in Israel

April 26, 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 26, 2011 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

April 26, 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 not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Group formed to battle ultra-Orthodox 'invasion' of secular neighborhoods

By Gili Cohen www.haaretz.com April 22, 2011

In recent months Fruman has established a national forum to preserve the secular way of life in several neighborhoods countrywide where residents feel their very home is threatened.

The forum objects to the Habad and Breslau centers that have opened up in secular neighborhoods and are acting to change the communities' way of life. They are also opposed to ultra-Orthodox organizations whose activists go around preaching and persuading people to lead a religious lifestyle.

Local residents up in arms after work starts on ultra-Orthodox school in Haifa

By Revital Hoval www.haaretz.com April 26, 2011

The residents of the Haifa neighborhood of Neveh She'anan are furious after building work commenced last week on an ultra-Orthodox school in the community without consultation. The site had previously been earmarked as a potential health clinic.

The protestors say that the establishment of the school was approved in recent weeks by the local committee in a rushed and irregular procedure, without proper consultation.

Four surveys yield different totals for Haredi population

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com April 21, 2011

There is no clear information on how many ultra-Orthodox people live in Israel, or how belonging to that minority is defined by the state, according to a new report by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The 59-page report, compiled by nine statisticians, compares four studies released by the bureau in recent years - each of which attempted to identify the size of Israel's Haredi population, but with disparate results.

The silent Charedi revolution: How the ultra-Orthodox are being helped into work

By Anshel Pfeffer www.thejc.com April 21, 2011

"The best solutions for the Charedi community can come from within the community, and nowhere else," says Yossi Deitch, chairman and one of the founders of the Kemach Foundation, as he looks through the personal files of some of the thousands of Charedi men and women who his organisation is helping into the workplace.

"So many committees have been set up to try to solve the problem of Charedi employment over the years, and have achieved nothing.

We succeeded because we know the sensitivities and the nuances between the various groups, and also by not going about our work with any fanfare. In over three years of existence, we have done no PR, it's all word of mouth."

Lessons of 'Only Yesterday'

By Aluf Benn Opinion www.haaretz.com April 22, 2011

This is how Israel is in 2011: Westward-facing Tel Aviv versus ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem where the rabbis are in control and the residents live on National Insurance. A state where politics are dictated primarily by attitudes toward religion. Agnon understood this when the Turks ruled here and the Jewish community numbered a few thousand.

Meanwhile, generations passed, the British Mandate came and went, the Holocaust mowed down European Jewry and millions are now living in the independent Hebrew state - and yet nothing has changed in 100 years.

VIDEO: Shahar Ilan discusses Haredim in the workforce (Hebrew)

Click here for VIDEO

April 16, 2011

Gevalt! A cellphone in Yiddish

By Amitai Ziv http://english.themarker.com April 18, 2011

Partner will launch a new cellphone soon with a Yiddish user interface. Alcatel's local importer, Accel Telecom, hired two Haredi translators for four months to complete the project in Israel - and the company is already advertising the new phones.

Poster calling to boycott stores where Arabs work with Jewish women spotted in Jerusalem

By Adi Dovrat-Meseritz http://english.themarker.com April 22, 2011

The problem the authors of the broadside (pashkevil, in Hebrew ) have is that Yesh, the Haredi arm of the Super-Sol supermarket chain, allows Arab men to work alongside Jewish women.

TheMarker has discovered that the organization behind the pashkevil is Lehava, a Hebrew acronym for "Preventing Assimilation in the Holy Land."

J’lem Haredim find gentile hametz buyer has taken it!

By Jonah Mandel www.jpost.com April 21, 2011

A gentile man taught a Jerusalem haredi community an important lesson when he acted on his right to take their leavened products bestowed upon him ahead of Pessah in what was obviously more than just a symbolic act.

Over 50,000 visit Hebron on Passover

By Yair Altman www.ynetnews.com April 23, 2011

More than 50,000 people visited the West Bank city of Hebron during the Passover mid holidays, sources in the city's Jewish community estimated Thursday.

Hebron's Jewish community celebrates twice a year, on Sukkot and on Passover, when the Cave of the Patriarchs is fully open to Jews, including the sacred room of Isaac, which is located on the side which is usually open to Muslims only.

VIDEO: Passover at Western Wall

Click here for VIDEO

April 21, 2011

Photo gallery: Thousands gather at Kotel for Birkat HaKohanim

www.jpost.com April 21, 2011

Ten thousand Jewish worshipers gathered at the Western Wall Plaza on Thursday to take part in the bi-annual Priestly Blessing, which usually occurs on the secondintermediate days of Sukkot and Pessah.

Noam Federman stopped at Temple Mount with kid-goat in tow

By Jonah Mandel www.jpost.com April 18, 2011

Jerusalem police on Monday detained right-wing activist Noam Federman nearby the entrance to the Temple Mount for fear that he was at the site to offer a Passover sacrifice. Two other Jews were arrested nearby on the same grounds, one of them a minor – Federman's son – with a kid in his possession, presumably the animal that would have been sacrificed.

Peres explains why this Pessah is different from all others

By Greer Fay Cashman www.jpost.com April 21, 2011

As has been his custom for several years, President Shimon Peres on Wednesday paid Pessah visits with Shas spiritual mentor and former Sephardi chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef and with the current Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger.

Peres makes a point of visiting Yosef and the chief rabbis during the High Holy Day season as well.

In the image of God

Passover Feature: My revolution of choice

By Tzvia Greenfield Opinion www.haaretz.com April 18, 2011

Dr. Tzvia Greenfield, a mother of five, heads the Mifneh Institute for Democracy and Jewish Identity, and was the first ultra-Orthodox woman to represent the peace camp in the Knesset.

The revolution I am striving for views religious and ultra-Orthodox groups among the People of Israel as continuing the grand journey of the Jewish culture that they have undertaken, while at the same time being willing to reconsider the terms of Judaism and to create a new spiritual and religious language, which knows both how to contain and give expression to all of us as free persons.

Arab bakers say they’ll keep low profile over Pessah

By Jonah Mandel www.jpost.com April 18, 2011

Arab pita bakers from around the Sea of Galilee and the northern Mediterranean coast will make every effort to avoid selling leavened bread (hametz) to Jews over Pessah.

This follows a meeting on Sunday with Deputy Minister for Development of the Negev and Galilee Ayoub Kara (Likud), during which he asked the bakers to be sensitive to the religious feelings of Jews on their holiday of redemption and freedom.

Arab MKs launch anti-chametz campaign

By Tzvika Brot www.ynetnews.com April 19, 2011

Israelis who plan not to eat chametz (leavened food) throughout the Passover holiday are receiving surprising support from Arab Knesset members.

The lawmakers have launched a campaign urging the Arab public to avoid selling pita bread and other leavened products at main intersections and other public areas, within and outside Jewish cities, so as not to offend Jews traveling across the country during the holiday.

Falashmura immigrants celebrate first Passover in Israel

By Dana Weiler-Polak www.haaretz.com April 18, 2011

Over a thousand new immigrants from the Ethiopian region of Falashmura will celebrate their first Passover in Israel.

The newly Israeli citizens will either celebrate the Jewish exodus at home with their families, or alongside thousands of Ethiopians at seders organized by the Jewish Agency and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, to be held at 16 absorption centers throughout the country.

See also: Olim celebrate 1st Passover in Israel

Israel Celebrates Mimouna

By Gavriel Queenann www.israelnationalnews.com April 26, 2011

Israel's President Shimon Peres, Sephardic Chief Rabbi "Rishon Lezion" Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Jerusalem's mayor Nir Barkat, Knesset members, and soldiers from the Givati Brigade were on hand Monday night to kick off the annual Mimouna festival in Jerusalem's Talpiot neighborhood.

Also this evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah are enjoying an open house in Or Akiva, where the traditional Mimouna delicacies will be served.

$2M help needy Jews mark Passover

www.ynetnews.com April 19, 2011

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, has provided $2 million to help as many as 200,000 needy Jewish people throughout Israel and the former Soviet Union receive packages of food for their Passover celebrations.

Guma Aguiar unveils plan; Jerusalem municipality: Not so fast

www.chabad.info April 21, 2011

Billionaire Guma Aguiar unveiled his grandiose plan earlier this week to convert his private residence overlooking the Western Wall into a bustling visitors center.

Yet sources in the Jerusalem municipality say that an arduous path still awaits Guma in procuring the proper permits to convert a residential property in a public one.

Justifying a banishment

By Admiel Kosman www.haaretz.com April 24, 2011

One of the many examples of the commentaries disseminated in the Sabbath bulletins on the subject of banishment and population transfer is the one that was written by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, head of the Har Bracha yeshiva in Samaria.

...Melamed's article is full of misreadings and distortions of ancient Jewish sources.

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger: Obama must free Pollard

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com April 20, 2011

Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has slammed US President Barack Obama for refusing to pardon jailed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

During the "High Shabbat" sermon (the Shabbat before Passover) at Jerusalem's Yeshurun Synagogue, Metzger said Obama could prove his commitment to Israel by releasing Pollard.

Psalmist of the secular

By Ben Shalev www.haaretz.com April 24, 2011

Today, once again, [Kobi Oz] is reinventing himself, this time with the "Mizmorey Nevochim" (Psalms for the Perplexed) project, whose second album, "Mizmorim Nosafim" (Some More Psalms ) came out this month.

When the album "Psalms for the Perplexed" came out about a year ago, quite a few people asked Oz if he had become religious. "People didn't know what to make of this album," he says. "What is it - is it funny? Is it proselytizing? Is it kabbala?"

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner: 'We Must Not Ascend the Temple Mount'

www.israelnationalnews.com April 20, 2011

A conference on the subject whether Jews may ascend the Temple Mount at the present time was held at the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who spoke at the event, said it is totally forbidden for Jews to ascend the mount.

Jerusalem's time tunnels

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com April 24, 2011

In the future, visitors may even be able to enter the Western Wall tunnels and continue all the way to the Via Dolorosa, in the heart of the Muslim Quarter. From there, it is a quick walk to the immense Zedekiah's Cave under the Muslim Quarter buildings. All told, this means that visitors could potentially spend hours on end exploring subterranean Jerusalem from end to end of the ancient city (though not including the Temple Mount), barely seeing the light of day.

Joseph's Tomb remains source of conflict

By Jonah Mandel www.jpost.com April 26, 2011

Besides the monthly busloads of visitors, who sign-up in advance for the coveted permission to make the trip, unauthorized and unprotected clandestine visits are regularly held by small groups of Jewish worshipers – most notably Breslav Hassidim, who give special significance to prayer at the burial sites of holy Jewish figures.

The Ethiopian experience in English

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com April 22, 2011

An exclusive group of Jewish educators will be treated to a special presentation of Ethiopian-Israeli theater in Jerusalem that has been translated for English-speaking audiences. ...will be performed for Birthright tour organizers, so that they have the option to make them a part of their Israel trip curriculum.

This Year we are Free

By Don Seeman Opinion www.algemeiner.com April 17, 2011

It is more complicated because Ethiopian Jews like others today live in a globalized world of intimate connections across national and cultural boundaries in which it is difficult to pigeonhole anyone.

...Yet there is also a simplicity here that deserves attention. The people who walked across the desert carrying little more than Psalms have found their own distinctive way into the Israeli pottage. They vote, serve in the army and struggle to save a few shekels like everyone else. This year they will sit with family at a Passover seder like everyone else and laugh or argue about whatever it is that big families laugh and argue about. But they will do it in the land that their grandparents only dreamed of.

Dimona's African Hebrews: Recalling their show of strength

By David Sheen www.haaretz.com April 22, 2011

The African Hebrew Israelites have recently achieved a modicum of respect in Israeli society. Members of the community have represented Israel in international competitions, most notably the Eurovision song contest. Many of their children serve in the Israel Defense Forces. A few dozen members have even received full Israeli citizenship.

In 2008, President Peres celebrated his 85th birthday in Dimona with the Hebrews, and told them, "Your community is beloved in Israel." But 25 years ago, the situation couldn't have been more different.

Ahead of Easter, thousands mark holy fire rite in Jerusalem

AP www.haaretz.com April 23, 2011

The small doorway to the traditional site of Jesus' tomb cracked open to reveal a bright flame and tens of thousands of worshippers cheered ecstatically, marking the pinnacle of Easter Week's holy fire ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Police firepower safeguards Holy Fire in Jerusalem as Orthodox Christians celebrate annual miracle

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com April 24, 2011

Tens of dozens of Christian worshipers yesterday took part in the Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Christian pilgrims flock to Jerusalem for Good Friday

AP www.haaretz.com April 23, 2011

Christian pilgrims filled the cobblestone alleyways of old Jerusalem to mark Good Friday, commemorating Jesus' crucifixion in the city two millennia ago.

Religious politics foil fire exit at Jerusalem's Holy Sepulcher

By Matti Friedman AP www.usatoday.com April 21, 2011

Thousands of Christian believers will fill the medieval chambers of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem on Saturday for a ritual known as the Holy Fire, packed shoulder to shoulder and holding burning candles as pilgrims have done for centuries. And, as in centuries past, the church will still have only one door and no fire exit.

Galilee hiking trail for Christian pilgrims unveiled

AP www.ynetnews.com April 20, 2011

Israel hopes to attract Christian tourists with a new pilgrimage route unveiled in the Galilee, a network of footpaths, roads and bicycle paths linking sites central to the lives of Jesus and his disciples.

Photos: Samaritans celebrate Shavuot atop Mt. Gerizim

Reuters and Ben Hartman www.jpost.com April 24, 2011

Members of the Samaritan sect gathered atop Mount Gerizim to watch the sun rise early Sunday morning as part of the traditional pilgrimage marking the holiday of Shavuot.

Photo-op on Mount Gerizim

By Chaim Levinson www.haaretz.com April 22, 2011

In recent years, the relative security lull encouraged Israelis, especially photography buffs, to venture into the West Bank and turn the Samaritans' ritual on Mount Gerizim into an obligatory outing. Last year, a record 10,000-plus people were in attendance, and dozens of buses were forced to let their passengers off a few kilometers from the sacred site.

Click here for PHOTOS

Religion and State in Israel

April 26, 2011 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.