Sunday, June 12, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - June 13, 2011 (Section 1)

June 13, 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.

Reform rabbi criticizes IDF conversion program

By Avraham Zuroff June 7, 2011

At a recent Knesset plenum dedicated to conversions in Israel, Rabbi Uri Regev, founder of the Hiddush religious pluralism group, said that the majority of IDF converts don’t remain religious after their conversions.

“According to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, if a convert doesn’t intend to keep the commandments, his conversion is invalid,” he said. He castigated the Israeli rabbinate for “putting its head in the sand” by endorsing IDF conversions. “If these would be cars, we’d make a recall,” he told the Knesset Committee.

Nevertheless, the Hiddush leader doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Rabbi Eisenstein. While Regev is against the Supreme Court’s demanding that Israeli religious judges accept all conversions, he is a proponent of civil marriage, something that most Israeli Orthodox rabbis are against.

IDF conversions and the Book of Ruth

By JJ Gross Opinion June 6, 2011

The writer is an advertising creative director who made aliya in March. His son, who preceded him, is a lieutenant in the IDF.

These young men and women who are defending the State of Israel (and its masses of haredim) both meet and exceed the criteria set by Ruth herself – not only because these soldiers would qualify as Jews under the Nuremberg laws, but because they prove their Jewish identity through their actions, their uniforms, their sacrifices, their language and their adopted culture.

Israel dares not cynically exclude them as a way to feed a haredi craving power. Israel dares not exclude them, for the sake of its own soul.

Anti-conversion group to soldiers: Don't convert

By Kobi Nahshoni June 11, 2011

A group challenging the legitimacy of State-controlled conversions circulated thousands of flyers in synagogues across Israel this week, urging non-Jewish soldiers not to convert and to demand that military clergymen be installed according to their various denominations.

"Jews against Conversion" believe that State conversions are not halachic-based but rather "a political invention… and a concoction that endangers the future existence of the Jewish people."

According to the group, the rabbis controlling the process are "fraudulent," and "any conversion presided over by such rabbis will no more turn you into Jews than it would turn a rabbit into a rooster."

Rabbi Naftali Shriver [sic], who is active within the group, said the flyer was the group's response to a recent "conversion campaign" among immigrants. He said the group is comprised of Israelis from all walks of life – religious and secular, Jews and non-Jews and immigrant who do not wish to convert.

For more on Rabbi Naftali Schreiber, see Conversion - or genocide? April 8, 2008

Israel deports Biblical hero! June 7, 2011

This week we celebrate Shavuot, the holiday on which we read the Book of Ruth.

The following is a simulated correspondence between IRAC and the Ministry of Interior if the Biblical Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David and Judaism’s first convert, were to be seeking legal status in Israel today.

Chag sameach!

Eternal Rest

Tikun Olam on Shavuot Erev Shavuot 5771 / 2011 June 6, 2011 The New Israel Fund

"Where are they going to bury him? Do they know about his mother? Will they allow him to attain eternal rest in the military cemetery, or will they perhaps try to create some secluded plot for him, on one pretext or another?"

"News of his death reached us late at night and plunged us all into deep pain. Then - we tensed. Uriel’s mother had undergone a Conservative conversion: according to the fundamentalists who are in charge of most cemeteries in Israel, Uriel was not considered Jewish."

A good wife

By Pamela Peled Opinion June 6, 2011

The writer, a PhD, is a lecturer in English Literature at Beit Berl and IDC in Herzliya.

We want Jews to join us; we offer tax breaks and lessons in easy Hebrew. So it seems a little crazy to me that we make it so hard for people who are knocking on our door. Shouldn’t we be opening our arms wide and saying, “Shalom aleichem, welcome; good luck”?

PHOTOS: Protesting the Orthodox Rabbinate monopoly over marriage in Israel June 9, 2011

The Israel Religious Action Center of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, represented by Motti Bebchuk, and Free Israel, represented by Eyal Akerman, joined hands today to demonstrate in Jerusalem against the monopoly the Rabbinate has over matrimonial law in Israel.

Dressed up as brides and grooms and carrying a Chuppah - a canopy under which a Jewish couples stand during their wedding ceremony, activists chained themselves to each other and to Rabbinical Court doors symbolizing the tight grip of the Rabbinate. Their slogan is "We Are Being Squeezed Into One Frame" emphasizing the absence of choice.

Click here for VIDEO

Still members of the tribe

By Shoham Smith Opinion June 7, 2011

Both my husband and I are secular. Heretics. We loathe religious coercion. And yet we are much closer to Judaism than are our children.

...Many secular people feel as we do. In recent years, the more energetic among them have not been satisfied with bemoaning the current generation, which is gradually dwindling, assimilating and becoming diluted, cut off from its roots:

They went and established a series of initiatives: the TALI schools for reinforcing Jewish studies; secular batei midrash like Alma and Bina, and mixed ones like Elul; pluralistic houses of worship; initiatives in the field of studying piyyutim; and tikkun leil Shavuot for a secular audience.

Shavuot 2011: Obscenities as words of Torah

By Yossi Sarid Opinion June 7, 2011

That's all we need: For a complete goy - a Moabite, on top of all her other problems - to marry Mahlon, who, even though he has fallen low, is still a Jew.

By what right did she cleave to Naomi - a healthy woman, after all, who doesn't need a Filipina in constant attendance - so that she could later seduce another wealthy Jewish man, thus enabling her to remain without a permit from the rabbis and without even a pro forma conversion? And how did it happen that "all the people" were happy and supportive, without a single opponent?

After all, even back then, they could have deported her as a foreign agricultural worker who had infiltrated into Israel by means of dubious paperwork.

And they would have left her great-grandson, David, without a chance of even being born, much less later being anointed as Israel's king.

Being the Chosen People, while caring for human rights

By Jonah Mandel June 7, 2011

Religious members of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, known primarily for its Friday marches in the east Jerusalem neighborhood, for the first time will hold a Shavuot learning session Tuesday- night at Kol Haneshama, a Reform synagogue in the capital’s Baka neighborhood, called “The tension between the Jewish discourse and that of human rights.”

The event, which is being held in conjunction with Rabbis for Human Rights, is supported by the New Israel Fund, which has spent some NIS 100,000 on Shavuot learning events that hold true to the NIF’s values of “liberal and pluralistic thought,” as the organization’s Israeli executive director Rachel Liel said in a statement. The events will be held in 40 different communities.

Religious pluralism on Shavuot

By David Newman Opinion June 6, 2011

The writer is dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Ben-Gurion University.

No longer the exclusive domain of the Orthodox, Shavuot night has become a night-long learn-in for the religious and secular, the Conservative and the Reform, the youth movements and the neighborhood study groups.

The pluralism that is so sorely lacking in many areas of Jewish and religious life in Israel has homed in on the night of Shavuot as a demonstration of the rich diversity of Jewish ideas and alternatives.

Shavuot Torah Study for Religious & Secular together in Tel Aviv June 7, 2011

A Bnei Akiva coordinator told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew service that the Torah-based groups will be joined by the Scouts and Hashomer Hatza'ir movements, young children and adults. She added that a learning program has been developed to suit everyone, including secular Israelis, noting, "This creates a bond among the people of Israel."

Shavuot celebrated with a taste of both old and new

By Gili Cohen June 9, 2011

As soon as the sign was given, the children stopped splashing each other on the lawn and climbed onto the tractors decorated with flowers and posters. One energetic grandmother whipped out her iPhone to photograph the event - celebrating Shavuot holiday in Moshav Ben Shemen.

Knesset aide nudged by early morning tefillin SMS

By Lahav Harkov June 9, 2011

Photo: Lior Finkel (courtesy to

For the past three weeks, Lior Finkel hasn’t needed to set an alarm clock – she’s gotten a wake-up SMS at 7 a.m. each day. Finkel, an aide to MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz), and many other parliamentary aides have been receiving daily text messages from an organization whose goal is to encourage Jews to put on tefillin in the morning.

...“I decided that I’d had enough, and I sent a message saying: ‘I put on tefillin, now leave me alone,’ along with a picture of myself, a woman, wearing tefillin,” Finkel said.

“The next day, the harassment stopped,” she said. “I guess they were right – I put on tefillin, and redemption came.”

Rabbi Richard Jacobs' Remarks to Board of Trustees Upon His Election as President of the URJ June 12, 2011

Rabbi Richard Jacobs:

Aleinu -"it is up to us" to foster a deep love for and engagement with Israel among Reform Jews of North America, young and old.

With Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, ARZA and the World Union for Progressive Judaism, we can be builders and supporters of Medinat Yisrael and will continue to do so. Israel is not only a bundle of pressing issues and challenges, but more importantly our dynamic and inspiring Jewish homeland.

When Israel gets into our hearts then I know that we will never stop fighting for an Israel that is secure, religiously free, guided by justice and dwelling in peace.

A movement of change

By Rabbi Michael Marmur Opinion June 6, 2011

The writer is vice president for academic affairs of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. He lives in Jerusalem.

Many liberal Jews are struggling to recalibrate their relationship to Israel. In this process, [Rabbi Richard] Jacobs is not part of the problem, but part of the solution. In the way he leads his own life, he models deep commitment to Israel, just as he insists on promoting the liberal values he holds dear.

Wanted: A pro-Israel leader

By Karin McQuillan Opinion June 6, 2011

The writer is part of Congregation Beth Israel in Carmel, California

I don’t want to be told by Rabbi Jacobs that it’s okay to lobby Congress against Israel. It’s not okay. It’s not okay to selectively boycott Israel. None of that is the least bit okay with me and with thousands of other Reform Zionists.

Rabbi Jacobs, the New Israel Fund and J Street represent maybe 5% of American Jews.

Rabbi Jacobs does not represent me.

Tending the Relationship between North American Jews and Israel June 9, 2011

Cross-posted: From the Place Where We are Right Flowers Will Never Grow: Tending the Relationship between North American Jews and Israel

By Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld Opinion June 9, 2011

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld is Dean, Rabbinical School of Hebrew College.

It saddens me that Rabbi Daniel Gordis has chosen to misrepresent our educational work and our community in such an egregious way, particularly by taking out of context and sharing – without permission – private and personal communications.

Over the last two years, we have worked hard at the Rabbinical School not only to create opportunities for sustained learning and dialogue here in the U.S., but also to develop a more robust study-in-Israel program, under the excellent educational leadership of Rabbi Peretz Rodman.

Beyond Survival

By Dr. Tal Becker Opinion June 5, 2011

Unlike the political Zionism that underpins the crisis model, a values-based narrative is inspired on what may be called "aspirational Zionism." Political Zionism was primarily concerned with Jewish survival and it promotes a State that defines its Jewishness in minimalistic and, largely if not exclusively, survivalist terms.

Israel is Jewish in the sense that it has a Jewish majority to maintain Jewish political self-determination; that the Law of Return enables all Jews to find refuge here; that the State feels an obligation to protect Jews worldwide, and that the State's public symbols and days of rest have Jewish origins.

Future of Jewish people to be discussed at J'lem summit

By Gil Shefler June 12, 2011

In the future, Korda said ROI will launch a new platform where ideas for Jewish innovations could compete against one another “in a friendly way.”

He also said he hoped the ROI community would grow to include 1,000 members in its fold.

“We’re the glass half-full people,” Korda said. “A lot of the Jewish world does a lot of work on things like negative trends and assimilation work, but we like to focus on the optimistic side.”

The Jewish leaders of the future?

By Gil Shefler June 7, 2011

We chose 10 people – media moguls, political activists, diplomats, artists and speechwriters – under the age of 32 who are doing interesting things in the Jewish sphere.

Job losses as the Jewish Agency shrinks in Israel

By Nathan Jeffay June 10, 2011

The Jewish Agency for Israel is to close for a fortnight in the summer as a money-saving measure, docking pay from employees.

Leonid Nevzlin acquires 20 percent of Haaretz shares June 12, 2011

Leonid Nevzlin, chairman of the board of trustees at Beit Hatfutsot - the Museum of the Jewish People - is joining Haaretz as a partner and will acquire 20 percent of the company's share capital valued at NIS 700 million. All the funds will go into the company.

Patrick Gallagher to design the new Beit Hatfutsot Museum of the Jewish People May 18, 2011

Patrick Gallagher, President and Founder of Gallagher & Associates, a leading, international professional design firm, has been chosen by Beit Hatfutsot's Board of Directors and International Steering Committee to lead the planning and the renovation of Beit Hatfutsot's core exhibition covering approximately 4,000 square meters (45,000 square feet).

The development costs for the entire project are estimated at approximately NIS 210 million. The Government of Israel has promised NIS 40 million for this project and Beit Hatfutsot has already secured a major commitment from the NADAV Foundation. Other large commitments have been made by the Claims Conference and private donors.

Israel is among nations invited into 16-team qualifying round for 2013 World Baseball Classic June 2, 2011

Israel has been invited to participate in a new 16-team Qualifying Round for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

“We are very grateful to MLB and the MLBPA for allowing Israel to participate in prestigious tournament,” said Haim Katz, President of the IAB.

“It is a tribute to our efforts and progress in promoting the great game of baseball in Israel. Participation in the World Baseball Classic is particularly exciting to us as it enables us to create a team of not just Israeli citizens but of all those of Jewish heritage.

We look at this mission as a partnership between the North American Jewish community and Israel and as a vehicle to strengthen the ties between us.”

Here Comes the Arava Sun at Kibbutz Ketura

By Bracha Arnold June 7, 2011

And indeed, there was a large emphasis on “tikkun olam,” the Jewish concept of fixing the world. “This is the world’s first solar field with a neshama (soul),” said co-founder of APC David Rosenblatt. One such example is the tithing of the solar field.

According to the traditional Jewish law of “pe’ah“, the owners of a field must leave the four corners of his field unharvested so that the poor may take from his field.

Similarly, the corners of Ketura Sun’s solar field have been dedicated to four different non-profit organizations, who will, over the next twenty years, benefit from the funds earned by each corner. The organizations are Jewish Heart for Africa, Bustan, the Elie Weisel Foundation for Humanity, and the Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center.

Aside from that, Ketura Sun is committed to working with the local Bedouin communities, who hope to build the next solar field on their land.

Religion and State in Israel

June 13, 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 - June 13, 2011 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

June 13, 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.

Religious homosexuals join the Tel Aviv march for Gay Pride

By Jonah Mandel June 9, 2011

Homosexual religious groups will be represented in a special float at Friday’s Tel Aviv Gay Pride March – a reflection of their growing prominence in both the homosexual and religious communities they come from.

The lesbian Bat Kol group, ‘Proud Minyan,’ religious groups from within the Israeli Gay Youth Organization, and Havruta will all be in the march.

Thousands take part in Tel Aviv pride parade

By Elad Rubinstein June 10, 2011

Among the marchers were also many religious men, some of whom were seen carrying Israeli and gay flags.

"In the community where I live I am forced to remain inside the closet, but I see no contradiction between my ideology and faith and my being gay.
I am proud of being who I am just as I am proud to be a Zionist, a patriot and an IDF reserve combatant," a religious man from Samaria said.

Knesset Speaker Rivlin shows support for gays despite Haredi outrage

By Lahav Harkov June 6, 2011

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin met on Monday with leaders of the gay community in honor of Gay Pride Month despite complaints from haredi MKs.

Gay celebrities, like pop singer Ivri Lider, and political activists attended the event, initiated for the third year in a row by MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), who was joined this year by MK Nino Abesadze (Kadima). Gay teenagers sat in the audience, as did same-sex couples with their children.

Out and proud in the Holy Land

By Yoni Cohen Opinion June 10, 2011

As a self-confessed modern Zionist, these words from Israel's national anthem make me happy and proud to be in Israel.

I have heard the phrase many times since making aliya three years ago, as well as during my very Zionist upbringing, but when I saw the phrase splashed across a huge colorful banner at my first ever gay pride parade in Tel Aviv, I was nearly brought to tears.

Police recommend fraud indictments for yeshivas

By Lior Dattel June 10, 2011

The police have recommended that a number of yeshivas be indicted for fraud, after an investigation found that the institutions received funds for students the yeshivas knew were not studying there.

The suspected fraud is estimated at NIS 55 million.

After the alleged fraud was revealed, the state revoked the monthly stipends for some 5,000 to 10,000 yeshiva students. But the money will not be returned to the state, it will be divided up between the rest of the students and institutions.

10,000 yeshiva students allegedly defraud Education Ministry

By Yossi Nissan June 9, 2011

Hiddush for Religious Freedom and Equality VP Shahar Ilan told "Globes" that, because of tighter auditing of yeshiva's by the Ministry of Education, yeshivas at their own initiative deleted 10,000 fictitious students from their rolls to avoid losing government funding.

Hiddush protested that the money not spent on fictitious stipends will not be used to integrate haredim in the labor force through job training or other incentives. Hiddush calls for even stricture audits and to prosecute the heads of yeshivas who defrauded the government.

Torah Study or Profession?

By Rabbi Eliezer Melamed Opinion June 7, 2011

By Rabbi Eliezer Melamed is the Dean of Yeshiva Har Bracha

As far as our present inquiry is concerned, if a person finds that he is not suited to be a teacher or to serve in the Rabbinate, he is no longer permitted to study Torah on a full time basis and to be supported by the community or from charity.

Jerusalem light rail gender-segregation has heavy price

By Tali Farkash Opinion June 10, 2011

While Israelis were busy with the cheesecakes and flower arrangements that go along with Shavuot earlier this week, haredi zealots have been busy with their next battle: Imposing the 'kosher bus' rules on the Jerusalem light rail.

...the light rail is just another battle in the war on gendered freedom of movement in Israel. This war is no longer just about specific buses in specific haredi areas. It is a nationwide war which currently includes sidewalks, supermarkets, planes, and HMOs with separate medical services.

All things being equal

Joel Magalnick Editor June 7, 2011

Ruth Carmi, 29, is currently a law fellow for the New Israel Fund’s Israel-U.S. Civil Liberties Law Program. She visited Seattle in May to speak with local attorneys about human rights issues in Israel for the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s Cardozo Society.

The issue of segregation in Israel is familiar to anyone who was involved in the civil rights movement of the 1960s in the U.S.: IRAC was instrumental in persuading Israel’s Supreme Court earlier this year that bus companies cannot force segregation of women and men.

“The bus drivers cannot tell women they must go to the back,” Carmi said. “Not only is it illegal, but it’s demeaning, it’s humiliating and it’s against the basic law of human dignity, which is an important statement by the Supreme Court.”

Jerusalem Old City's Jewish Quarter almost entirely Haredi, study finds

By Nir Hasson June 10, 2011

Prof. Daniel Sperber, a resident of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City and an Israel Prize laureate in Jewish studies, has noticed a demographic and sociological change in the Jewish Quarter over time, from a diverse neighborhood of secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews to one that is almost entirely Haredi.

[Doron Bar and Rehav Rubin] conducted a historical and geographic study of the changes the neighborhood has experienced.

They concluded that from a religious Zionist standpoint, the Jewish Quarter's development since 1967 has been a failure.

But from a historical perspective, the neighborhood has resumed the ultra-Orthodox character it had before the 1948 War of Independence.

On Shavuot, Women Asked To Walk a Longer Kotel Route

By Renee Ghert-Zand June 7, 2011

The handbills describe the narrow streets and alleyways of the Old City as being very crowded on the holiday, so obviously women should be the ones to be inconvenienced by walking via the Jaffa Gate. The shorter Nablus Gate route is reserved for men, the flyer pronounces.

The Future of Israeli Hareidism

By Pinchas Landau Opinion June 11, 2011

Pinchas Landau is a Jerusalem-based independent economic and financial consultant. Born in London, he studied at Hebron Yeshiva and the London School of Economics prior to making aliya with his family in 1976.

I will argue here that the future is one of greater integration, but that outcome is far from assured. If the Hareidi sector of society adheres to the ideology of separation—which has been one of its bastions and sources of strength and which has, at least in some respects, intensified in recent years—then the tensions between the wider society and the Hareidim will be exacerbated, and the suppressed conflicts will likely become steadily more overt and possibly violent.

10 Haredim arrested for causing damage to archeological site June 12, 2011

Ten haredim men on Sunday caused damage to an archeological site near Kfar Ibtin in the North, police said.

80 Haredim protest at parking lot open on Sabbath June 11, 2011

Kosher phones to be cracked – by rabbis and IDF

By Hillel Fendel June 6, 2011

Some 300,000 kosher cellular phones – SMS-disabled - are in use by members of Israel’s hareidi-religious sector. The IDF is seeking ways for them to receive IDF Homefront Command emergency instructions.

Minister Eli Yishai changes daylight saving rules, mandating 10 extra days of summer

By Jonathan Lis June 6, 2011

Daylight Saving Time will now be determined solely by the civil calendar and last about 10 days longer than in the past, Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced yesterday.

The minister capitulated to months of intense public and political pressure to lengthen the period of what is known locally as "summer time."

If the night on which DST is meant to end falls on a Jewish holiday, the switch will be delayed until the holiday is over.

Despite Rabbinate's promises, meat from inhumane slaughterhouses still being marked as kosher

By Raphael Ahren June 10, 2011

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel still certifies meat slaughtered in Latin American slaughterhouses that employ a method generally considered unnecessarily cruel, despite having pledged to stop doing so by 2011, Anglo animal rights activists said recently.

"It's been fours years now," [Rabbi Adam Frank] told Anglo File. "The first three years the public was pacified by statements on behalf of the Israeli Rabbinate that they would ensure a changed would occur. Either they misled the public or they lied."

Rabbis Against “Price Tags”

By Rabbi Barry Leff Opinion June 9, 2011

Early Tuesday morning extremist settlers set a mosque on fire in the West Bank town of Mughayar. Graffiti they left at the site explictly said it was a "price tag" for the Israeli government's evacuation of the illegal outpost of Alei Ayin. You can read more about the incident here.

I visited the mosque this morning with a delegation from Rabbis for Human Rights.

Coalition spends Shabbat in Safed

Shalit activists heckle coalition MKs during Safed retreat

By Eli Ashkenazi June 12, 2011

The walking tour came after a busy night: After arriving on Friday afternoon, the guests attended a reception that including klezmer music performed by local musicians, during which the coalition members sang "Kol ha'olam kulo, gesher tzar me'od," attributed to Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, as well as the traditional Friday night song "Shalom Aleikhem, Malakhei Hashalom," which was composed in Safed.

Works by local artists and musicians, as well as the products of farmers and manufacturers in the north, were exhibited. Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, lit Shabbat candles together with Shohat and his wife, Sivan.

Holy city of Safed gussies up to host coalition for the weekend

By Revital Hoval June 10, 2011

During their tour, the MKs … will head to the Jewish areas, visiting the study hall of Rabbi Yosef Karo, author of the Shulhan Arukh, and the Ashkenazi synagogue of the Ari, the 16th-century kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, where they will hold the traditional Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat service.

Jerusalem mikveh recycling water June 9, 2011

The water at the mikveh (ritual bath) of Pisgat Ze'ev in Jerusalem will soon be recycled thanks to an advanced system, the first of its kind in Israel. The move is expected to save more than a million gallons of water a year.

The experimental recycling program has just recently received the approval of the Health Ministry, which stipulates that the water at a mikveh must be changed once a day.

Jerusalem approves revised plan for contested Museum of Tolerance site

By Nir Hasson June 12, 2011

After a two-year delay the Jerusalem municipal planning committee approved on Monday the plan to build the Museum of Tolerance in the city center.

The new building will have three floors and two additional underground ones, compared to the five floors above ground in Gehry's design. An archaeological garden, with a Roman aqueduct discovered at the digs on the site, will be built in the museum center.

New Museum of Tolerance receives initial nod

By Melanie Lidman and Gil Shefler June 9, 2011

Following the economic recession which dried up donations, the Simon Wiesenthal Center scrapped the original building plan, which was designed by architect superstar Frank Gehry, in favor of a $150 million cheaper version offered by Tel Aviv based Chyutin Architects, which was revealed last September.

Death of the spirit

By Tomer Ganihar Opinion June 7, 2011

Tomer Ganihar, photographer, writer and filmmaker, wrote the column "Electricity in the Air" in the weekly Ha'ir from 1993 to 1999.

The spiritual revolution in Israel entered my consciousness by chance on the Shavuot holiday of 1991.

...Twenty years after it inundated the country, on this Shavuot holiday, it looks as though the spiritual revolution has begun to expire. Where do we go from here? The answer, my friends, depends on you.

The world's most influential Jews June 6, 2011

32. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Talmudist

The works of Steinsaltz, a Chabad hassid, were banned by the senior haredi Ashkenazi rabbinic leadership in 1989 for his “audacity” to ease Talmud study away from its traditional form, and his “blasphemous” and “disrespectful” academic approach to biblical figures in a series of publications from earlier that decade.

39. Yitzhak David Grossman Chief Rabbi of Migdal Ha’emek

A scion of a Jerusalemite rabbinical dynasty, Grossman decided following the Six Day War of 1967 to move to the northern town of Migdal Ha’emek to help the community through educational and social work. A year after arriving, he was appointed as the town’s chief rabbi, a position he holds to this day, and in 1972 he founded Migdal Ohr, an educational network serving thousands daily. A member of the Chief Rabbinical Council, Grossman received the Israel Prize for his life’s work in 2004.

40. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar

Amar’s term as chief rabbi is scheduled to end in 2013, but he will no doubt strive to continue to be a key player in the intricate game of religion and politics in Israel.

41. Rabbi Menahem Froman Hai Shalom Chief Rabbi of Tekoa

One of the founders of the Gush Emunim settlement movement and a longtime resident of Tekoa, Froman – who teaches in yeshivot in Tekoa and Otniel – for decades has been doing his utmost to promote dialogue and understanding between Jews and Muslims

42. Rabbi Shlomo Riskin

Shlomo Riskin (b. 1940) is a proud exponent of modern Orthodoxy in the hilly landscape of Efrat, the town of which he was a founding member and has served as its chief rabbi since its beginning in the early 1980s. A student of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik who also has a PhD from New York University, Riskin – after establishing himself as leader of the Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York – packed up his family and made aliya.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow: Don't work in mixed pools June 9, 2011

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva, has ruled that a man must not work as a lifeguard in a swimming pool where women bathe or in a kayak rental facility where visitors arrive in their swimsuits.

Herzog or Orwell?

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester Opinion June 7, 2011

Gideon Sylvester is rabbi of the United Synagogue's Tribe Israel, and directs the Beit Midrash for Human Rights at Hillel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Sponsored by the Hillel Foundation and Rabbis for Human Rights)

The time has come for our rabbis, educators, political leaders and law enforcement agencies to speak up and root out this evil from our midst.

That way, we can return to the wondrous vision of the State of Israel not only as a refuge for Jews, but as a democratic Jewish State guided by ethics of loving kindness and justice for all its citizens.

First Yahrzeit of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu Marked

By Elad Benari June 7, 2011

It has been one year since the death of Israel's former Chief Sephardic Rabbi HaRishon LeTzion, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu.

Rabbi Eliyahu was the revered spiritual leader of the religious-Zionist world for many years, and was respected by all streams for his brilliance, erudition and kindness. He served as Israel's Chief Rabbi between 1983 and 1993.

New airline hopes to fill Sun d'Or hole

By Zohar Blumenkrantz June 9, 2011

Lead Air is seeking to fill the hole left by Sun d'Or, the El Al subsidiary that lost its license in April. Sun d'Or had not met international criteria for being an independent airline, which included having its own staff and planes.

The company had been dependent on El Al's infrastructure and existed as a way for the airline to operate flights on the Jewish Sabbath and holidays without losing the business of religious Jewish customers.

Women’s group prays on Temple Mount

By Gil Ronen June 12, 2011

Eighteen women ascended to the Temple Mount last week, in yet another manifestation of the growing Jewish interest and longing for the Temple Mount.

The women – from Ofra, Alon Moreh, Kochav HaShachar, Havat Gilad and Jerusalem also said a prayer.

Religious farmers refuse to plant wheat named 'Benedict XVI'

By Itamar Eichner June 7, 2011

Israel's Volcani Center for Agricultural Research, which belongs to the Agriculture Ministry, has recently been forced to change the moniker of a type of wheat named after Pope Benedict XVI because religious farmers refused to grow it.

Archaeologists unearth Acre church from the Byzantine Period

By Jack Khoury June 12, 2011

The structure is about 1,500 years-old and it is believed to have served as a church. The structure was uncovered during a rescue excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority following an unauthorized dig in the area that uncovered the structure.

Religion and State in Israel

June 13, 2011 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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