Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com July 20, 2011
Yehudit Weizman, an immigrant from Hungary who grew up Jewish, married a Jewish Israeli in a Jewish ceremony, and was recognized as Jewish according to halakha by a rabbinic court in Tiberias to boot. But the Interior Ministry defines her and her three children as people with "no religion."
For the Interior Ministry, Weizman is a Christian, because her maternal grandmother converted to Christianity during World War II.
She will only be registered as Jewish on her identity card, with all the concomitant legal implications, if she converts, the Interior Ministry told her. Even ultra-Orthodox rabbis, including those working for the state, have not made such a demand.
After such cases reached the High Court of Justice, the Interior Ministry agreed to a compromise under which it would recognize certain petitioners as Jews, although the court refused to set rules on the matter.
But relief may be on the way in the form of a bill, initiated by Tzohar, a group of moderate Orthodox rabbis...
The bill would require the Interior Minister to recognize rulings by rabbinic courts acknowledging people as Jewish.
By Rabbi Marc D. Angel Opinion www.jewishideas.org July 5, 2011
Rabbi Marc D. Angel is Founder and Director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, and Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Shearith Israel.
This article is reprinted with permission from Hakirah: The Flatbush Journal of Jewish Law and Thought, Volume 7, Winter 2009.
At a time when thousands of people are seeking conversion to Judaism, the Orthodox beth din establishment is raising increased obstacles to them.
Unless converts are willing to promise sincerely to keep all the mitzvoth, they will be rejected as candidates for conversion.
If they have already converted, they now must fear that a beth din might invalidate their conversions retroactively if they do not maintain the proper level of religious observance.
The Jewish status of thousands of halakhic converts and their children are placed under a cloud, causing immense grief to the individuals involved and to the Jewish people as a whole.
...At this period of historic challenge, the Orthodox rabbinate can either rise to greatness or shrink into self-righteous isolationism.
Thus far, the rabbinic/beth din establishment has chosen the latter course. It is not too late to turn things around. The honor of God, Torah and the Jewish people are at stake.
By Jonah Mandel www.jpost.com July 21, 2011
On the backdrop of growing criticism from liberal circles against the Education Ministry over what they perceive as a rise in nationalistic values, the Reform Movement in Israel is noting with satisfaction the growth in the ministry’s support for their programs in the public-school system.
The upcoming school year will be the second year in which the movement will receive funding of approximately NIS 200,000, as part of the Ministry’s “centers for enhancing Jewish education,” explained the head of Israel’s Reform Movement, Rabbi Gilad Kariv.
By Tomer Velmer www.ynetnews.com July 20, 2011
A new civics curriculum is underway after being approved by the Education Ministry on Monday. The new curriculum has a bigger emphasis on the connection between a Jewish and democratic state.
The program's approval encountered a few obstacles due to a public battle between civics teachers and Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar who sought to introduce the change.
...The chapter on Israel's characteristics as a Jewish State will also include various aspects of the role of Jewish law in the public arena, as well as a debate over the status of the Hebrew language as Israel's official language.
By Tzofia Hirschfeld www.ynetnews.com July 20, 2011
According to figures released by Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, since 2003 there has been a 19% increase in the traditional-religious population (36,000 people in 2009), a 15% rise in the national-religious population (54,000) and 14% in the haredi population (78,000).
By Liz Nord Opinion http://battleforjerusalem.com July 9, 2011
Prior to my arrival in Jerusalem, the mayor had been in the process of promoting Rachel [Azaria] to be one of his deputy mayors, a move that would increase her power and visibility.
The Haredi City Council members, whose representation on the council is greater than their actual representation in society, blocked the move. Ultimately, they agreed to a coalition with the far-left Meretz party in order to keep Rachel out.
In other words, the Haredi members were so threatened and upset by the idea of a religious, yet socially liberal, woman rising in the ranks, that they chose to join forces with the councilors who are most ideologically different from them in order to prevent it.
By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com July 21, 2011
[Eldad Mizrahi, chairman of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Religious Council] points to additional reasons for the drop in the number of marriages in his city, including the fear of a commitment in light of the rise in divorce cases and the many alternatives for weddings "according to Jewish Law" – civil marriage or other agreements between couples.
He says the Rabbinate must acknowledge the "competition", make the registration procedures simpler and prevent bureaucracy or other phenomena making it difficult for people to visit its offices.
By Bernd Debusmann Jr. Reuters http://news.yahoo.com July 18, 2011
A New Jersey rabbi and his wife surrendered to authorities on Monday on charges of kidnapping an Israeli man and threatening to bury him alive if he did not agree to a traditional Jewish divorce.
By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com July 21, 2011
The High Court of Justice has given the government one last chance to respond to a claim that it is still avoiding its 15-year-old legal obligation to fund secular burials in Israel.
In deliberations held last week, the justices said they were likely to accept a petition filed against the treasury and religious services ministry by the Menuha Nehona, or rightful rest, movement, which provides civil burial services, and strongly attacked the behavior of the government.
[Attorney Yifat] Solel called the High Court decision "progress toward an end to the continued discrimination against secular people in Israel, who seek to be released from their captivity to the local burial societies."
By Esti Ahronovitz www.haaretz.com July 22, 2011
Prof. Naomi Chazan, president of the New Israel Fund:
"We fund Haredi, Mizrahi and Arab groups. We support new immigrants and also veteran citizens and the elderly.
We fund Noar Kahalacha, which combats ethnic discrimination in ultra-Orthodox educational institutions and went to court against discrimination of Mizrahi girls in schools in Emmanuel; and also Banish the Darkness, a religious-secular coalition against racism.
Shatil provides services to some 500 organizations. The donations come mainly from good Jews abroad, many of whom are longtime donors.”
Q: How do you see yourself the day after another law like this is passed?
“I hope these laws will not be passed. If the idea is to distance world Jewry from us, fine, go ahead and pass another of these laws, and that will be that. How can diaspora Jews be proud of an Israeli state that runs roughshod over human rights?”
Q: The average Israeli doesn’t really care what American Jews think of him.
“It’s not a case of what American Jewry thinks. The question is: What is good for us? Is it good for us to be gagged?”
By Gary Rosenblatt Opinion www.thejewishweek.com Editor and Publisher July 19, 2011
There is a recognition taking hold that people’s views on Israel are not just about policies, like settlements, but about people and values and connecting on a personal level.
There’s no one magic approach that works for everyone, but it’s clear that advocacy is best when it is grounded in education, and we need a lot more of it.
This idea of thinking of Israel in a new and meaningful way that brings us closer to understanding, appreciating and making real the Zionist dream is not a simple task. But it’s critically important, now -- for Israel and for us.
By Rabbi Daniel Greyber Opinion www.jewishjournal.com July 19, 2011
Israelis, please understand: We Diaspora Jews are your sisters and your brothers. As a member of the family, I plead with you: Get to know us, not as a stereotype, but as living communities and real people.
Love is a two-way street. I believe with all my heart that what will allow all of us to survive and build a better Jewish future is a feeling of connection and love between us.
I remain committed to Israel. I pray Israel feels the same sense of commitment to this connection.
I invite Israeli educators to visit the United States not (only) to raise money, but also so we can learn together and better understand one another’s worlds. Together we can nourish a deep love for the Jewish people in our communities. It is that love that unites us all.
By Yoav Friedman www.ynetnews.com July 22, 2011
Danny Oberman, executive vice president at Nefesh B'Nefesh, adds that "the cost of education in North America is among the main reasons for the decision of many families to immigrate to Israel, especially in the past two years, in light of the financial crisis in the US.
"We hear from many parents who made aliyah with us in recent years how happy they are with the decision they made, and with the fact that they not only got to give their children a better Jewish and Zionist education than in Jewish schools in the US, but also managed to save a lot of money.
"In quite a few cases, we are talking about saving more than $100,000 per family a year."
By Leonard Saxe and Jeffrey Solomon Opinion www.thejewishweek.com July 19, 201119
Cross-posted: Does Taglit-Birthright Israel Have a Political Agenda?
Leonard Saxe is director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University. Jeffrey Solomon is president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies.
Taglit-Birthright Israel is counter-cultural. It is particularistic in a universalistic world and its programming tackles issues of identity and group commitment that many contemporary young adults seek to avoid.
The program has created a new paradigm — a new way for diaspora Jews to relate to Israel — that emphasizes the connections among people, not mythology or ideology. In an era where political diversions are ever sharper and destructive, it is a breath of fresh air and sign of hope for the future.
By David Breakstone Opinion www.jpost.com July 22, 2011
A prime example is the recently published report “Jewish Peoplehood Education” – the outcome of a three-year exploration of the subject by a global task force commissioned by the UJA-Federation of New York and supported by the NADAV Foundation and The Jewish Agency for Israel.
The mandate it was given was “to grapple with how to engage the next generation with the Jewish collective.” Among the guiding principles it advances is that “The centrality of Israel in the formation of a Jewish peoplehood needs to be revisited, reinterpreted and rearticulated.”
...Tag on the phrase “including the upbuilding of the Jewish state as the ultimate manifestation of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, need for self-expression and capacity for self-reliance” and I’d be quiet.
By David Suissa Opinion www.jewishjournal.com July 19, 2011
David Suissa is a branding consultant and the founder of OLAM magazine.
The latest buzzword in the Jewish world is “peoplehood.”
...If you ask me, the most natural way to promote Jewish peoplehood is to teach the extraordinary history of the Jewish people.
...Our sense of solidarity can only be enhanced by a greater familiarity with our incredible journey.
Unfortunately, history is the ugly stepchild of Jewish outreach. It doesn’t have the romance of spirituality, the imperative of Torah study, the headiness of repairing the world or the practical relevance of daily rituals. What it does have, however, is narrative. Hundreds and thousands of narratives that have the power to bond us with the collective Jewish experience.
By Evelyn Gordon Opinion www.commentarymagazine.com July 21, 2011
The problem is this view reflects a profound misunderstanding of what a “Jewish state” actually means.
Judaism has never seen itself exclusively or even primarily as a religion; indeed, you won’t find the modern Hebrew word for “religion” anywhere in the first five books of the Bible.
The Biblical terms for what we today call Jews are Am Yisrael – “the nation of Israel” – and Bnei Yisrael, “the children of Israel.” And that’s precisely the point: From a Jewish perspective, the Jews are first and foremost a nation.
Thus, the term “Jewish state” is in no way analogous to “Christian state.” Rather, it’s analogous to “French” or “Danish” or “German” state. Just as these are the respective homelands of the French, Danish and German peoples, a Jewish state is the homeland of the Jewish people.
By Molly Tolsky Opinion http://forward.com July 22, 2011
Birthright was not going to get me.
I had heard about the brainwashing propaganda party that takes place on these 10-day free trips to Israel. I was well aware of Birthright’s intent, and pretty darn sure that it couldn’t possibly work on me. I was there to see the land, learn about the culture and return unscathed.
By Benjamin Spier www.jpost.com July 24, 2011
Alex Veksler says he doesn't regret giving up a job at a major US bank to bring his family to Israel.
By Mackenzie Green www.jpost.com July 24, 2011
The Stella and Alexander Margulies Education Center was dedicated at a ceremony on Mount Herzl on Thursday night.
The 1,000-sq.m. center, which stands adjacent to the Herzl Museum, houses a library and an interactive exhibit, which the museum hopes will draw researchers and students alike.
The NIS 16.5 million building was erected by Yakov and Yoav Molcho and was funded in large part by Marcus Margulies, a longtime supporter of the Jerusalem Foundation.
By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com July 22, 2011
Law professor Suzanne Last Stone was appointed earlier this month the new academic director of the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem.
The head of the Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization at Yeshiva University's Cardozo Law School, Stone is moving from the institute's board - where she served for several years - to its professional staff to "strengthen the academic dimension of [its] daily activities, in addition to maintaining quality control of all JPPI publications from the academic perspective," according to the organization.
By Natasha Mozgovaya www.haaretz.com July 20, 2011
Over 5000 Christians, mainly Evangelicals, gathered this week at the Convention Center in Washington for the annual conference of the organization CUFI, Christians United For Israel.
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
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