Monday, August 8, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - August 8, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

August 8, 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.

Religious Zionists should join protest

By Rabbi David Stav Opinion August 1, 2011

The writer heads the Tzohar rabbinical organization and serves as rabbi of Shoham

The Religious Zionist camp can come up with many reasons why not to join the social protest that suddenly erupted around here.

...Wouldn’t it be appropriate for this community to take part in the struggle and for its voice to be heard? Doesn’t the “Isaiah Vision” haphtarah we will read this Shabbat urge us to speak up for the weak strata of society that fail in coping with the harshness of life in Israel?

Shas: Gov't must comes to its sense

By Moran Azulay August 5, 2011

Shas, the Coalition's largest religious partner, voiced its support for the affordable housing protest movement Friday, blasting the government for allowing the housing plight to deteriorate into a full-blown crisis.

Whole Nation ("Am Shalem") party Chairman Rabbi Haim Amsalem – a former Shas MK – castigated the party for "sleeping on the job," saying that "Shas only appears to be a social party, but that's an illusion.

"Shas was the one to torpedo affordable housing on the past. Its members have been part of so many government and they let this happen… Some people perpetuate poverty and hardship for the sake of political gain," he said.

Shas is interested in perpetuating poverty because the weaker social classes are its power-base, Amsalem continued.

"Hardship is perpetuated under the guise of studying Torah. Shas' way is that of darkness, not of light.

Few Religious Jews Join Israeli Cost-of-Living Protests

By Miriam Shaviv Opinion August 2, 2011

As protesters against the high cost of living in Israel flood the country’s streets, one demographic is noticeably absent: the religious sector.

...They are mistaken to treat this protest movement with such apathy. The religious community is demonstrating a worrisome emotional detachment from mainstream Israelis. Standing on the sidelines of Israel’s summer revolution will carry heavy political costs.

...unless the religious camp makes its way down to the tent cities soon, it will find that a resurgent left has ended the decade-long, right-wing domination of Israeli politics.

Rabbis back PM in face of protests

By Kobi Nahshoni August 4, 2011

The new "rabbis' letter" – signed by Rabbis Dov Lior, Elyakim Levanon and David Chai Hacohen, as well as city rabbis and yeshiva heads – urged the prime minister to "solve the housing distress through massive construction in Judea and Samaria."

The protests: Plenty of blame to go around

By Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie Opinion August 4, 2011

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie is the president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

And where are the Chief Rabbinate and the Orthodox parties that profess to speak in the name of the Jewish tradition?

Religious voices should be at the center of this maelstrom, but instead they are silent. Torah, after all, has much to say about the nitty-gritty matters of economic fairness in the everyday lives of Jews and their neighbors.

National religious leadership joins protests

By Jonah Mandel August 3, 2011

Nearly three weeks after the first tent was pitched on Rothschild Boulevard, the national religious leadership seems to be officially taking a proactive stance in joining the public outcry, albeit separately from the secular Tel Aviv protest leaders, while at the same time influential rabbis from the sector are having a say on the doctors’ strike.

Education Minister quotes scripture to justify protests

By Jonah Mandel August 2, 2011

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar praised on Monday the tent protest movement, which “shows the existence of a social conscience,” and hinted through a biblical parallel that his government should find ways to work with, and not against, the protesters and their demands.

Israel Reform Movement on Social Protests

Statement by the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and the Council of Progressive Rabbis in Israel regarding the Current Social Protest in Israel August 2011

We support the current protests. We also emphasize that the social and moral fiber of the State of Israel also depend on the willingness of the different sectors that comprise Israeli society to take part in maintaining, defending and developing the nation.

Full participation in the work force, an equal distribution of the burden of national service, and the proper allocation of public resources must all be part of the Israeli agenda, even if these issues are not currently at the forefront of the protests.

Religious Zionism rabbis: Doctors' protest morally justified

By Kobi Nahshoni August 3, 2011

Four senior Religious Zionism rabbis have called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to intervene immediately in the public health crisis, ruling that the doctors' protest is justified from a moral and halachic point of view.

In an unusual move, the four rabbis – Yaakov Ariel, Haim Drukman, Dov Lior and Aharon Lichtenstein, representing different factions within the religious public – sent a joint letter to the protest's leaders, voicing their support and expressing their hope that the work dispute would end soon.

New Knesset bill is a danger to Israeli democracy

Haaretz Editorial August 7, 2011

The bill introduced by 40 MKs headed by Kadima's Avi Dichter for a new Basic Law establishing Israel as the "national home of the Jewish people" effectively shatters Israel's fragile definition as a Jewish, democratic state.

The bill replaces it with a definition that is nationalist and religious; the term "national home" stands in opposition to rationalist Zionism.

Jewish sharia

By Zvi Bar'el Opinion August 7, 2011

The bill, which is called "The National Home of the Jewish People," presumes to represent Diaspora Jews as well.

But from now on they will have to decide whether they want to continue living abroad in a democratic country that lets them practice their faith as they wish, or in a Jewish state that robs the foundations of democracy from them.

This is usually a silent Jewish community that is tolerant of its country of refuge, a refuge that is gradually becoming crammed with garbage that is liable to keep away any liberal Jew.

Lawmakers seek to make Israel more Jewish than democratic

By Jonathan Lis August 4, 2011

Forty lawmakers from both the coalition and opposition Wednesday submitted a proposal to the Knesset for a new Basic Law that would change the accepted definition of Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state."

According to MK Zeev Elkin (Likud), the law is intended to give the courts reasoning that supports "the state as the Jewish nation state in ruling in situations in which the Jewish character of the state clashes with its democratic character."

See also: Bill would secure country’s status as Jewish state

Herzl’s dream comes true in Tel Aviv

By Prof Amnon Rubinstein Opinion August 2, 2011

...Tel Aviv is the opposite of the fanatic nationalistic-chauvinistic mood that seems to have overtaken the Knesset.

This mood, promoted by the unholy alliance between the right wing and the ultra-Orthodox, is characterized by coercion: forcing religious practices on secular Jews; forcing rabbinical jurisdiction over Jewish marriages and divorces; forcing ultra-Orthodox conversion laws on those who seek to join the Jewish people; forced flag-waving, anthem-singing and visits to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron on school children; coercion of the whims of bureaucracy on anyone who seeks governmental assistance; coercion of religious Jews who belong to non-Orthodox communities.

Secular gather in tents, religious take to the streets

Gov't to take possession of Shimon Bar Yochai site

By Nathan Jeffay August 4, 2011

The Israeli government has sparked fury in the Orthodox community after deciding to take possession of the burial place of sainted second-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

...There are two hekdeshim, or trusts, that claim ownership of the tomb and its surroundings, both of which trace their rights back into the mists of time. One is Sephardic-run and the other Ashkenazic-run.

They have been feuding for as long as anybody can remember over who owns the site, and their disagreement has paralysed its development.

Lack of Passion Killed Israel's Civil Marriage Bill

By Allison Kaplan Sommer Opinion August 2, 2011

Sadly, in the reality of modern Israeli politics, majority opinion doesn’t necessarily translate into a Knesset victory, especially when it means fighting the very powerful and determined religious parties.

For the ultra-Orthodox parties, preventing civil marriage is a priority.

For the other legislators, it isn’t something the public is passionate enough about for it to be worth confronting the powerful religious parties.

That lack of passion is, unfortunately, pretty evident. Although they are sympathetic and support civil marriage, it is extremely hard to get average Israelis worked up about making it a reality.

Rethinking Jewish Marriage and Divorce

By Elana Sztokman Opinion August 5, 2011

We have to create a different way for getting married and getting divorced, one that does not assume that a man is purchasing a woman, one that does not make men the only active participants and leave women as passive, voice-less doormats.

We need a way that sees both men and women as equally representing the Divine and equally deserving of dignity and honor.

We need to redesign the Jewish way of marriage and divorce, acknowledge that what we have is just no good and start all over again. That would be the right thing to do. The Divinely-inspired thing to do.

Torah-observant but not Jewish, Beit El couple fights to stay here

By Raphael Ahren August 5, 2011

Sporting a white beard and long side curls and letting his ritual fringes hang out, Claud Lee Moore looks like a typical Orthodox resident of the West Bank settlement of Beit El.

But he is everything but ordinary. Born in Pie Town, New Mexico − a city of 2,900 named after a dried-apple pie business − he spent 27 years traveling the Bible Belt preaching the Christian gospel, before embracing Jewish observance and later moving to Israel.

Activist ‘wows’ crowd in Chautauqua, NY

By Arlene Fine August 5, 2011

“The police and haredi (rigorously Orthodox) men were screaming abuse at women who had the temerity to pray at the Wall,” [Anat] Hoffman said. “The Wall, one of our most sacred, cherished sites, has become a place where bullies set the tone and represents the ever-increasing power of right-wing Orthodox Jews, whose tremendous political clout has too much sway in Israeli politics.”

Hoffman pleads with segments of Israel’s secular community and Diaspora Jews to end apathy and speak out so that Israel’s haredi will not carry as much power in the Knesset and Supreme Court.

“Somewhere right now there is a young girl who will want to have her bat mitzvah at the Wall,” said Hoffman. “We are doing this for future generations of women. Our fight is not a marathon; it is a relay race, and it is up to Jews worldwide to help us carry the mantle.”

Rabbis and State Attorney’s Office officials meet

By Jonah Mandel August 5, 2011

A delegation of national religious rabbis met on Wednesday with senior representatives of the State Attorney’s Office in the Justice Ministry, in the wake of the tensions between the sides that peaked with the arrest of Rabbi Dov Lior in the end of June.

The meeting was hosted by Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, who as head of “special tasks” in the office was behind the arrests of Lior and other rabbis, who were taken in for questioning over their rabbinic endorsement of the book Torat Hamelech.

Prosecutor meets with Religious-Zionist rabbis on personal threats received

By Aviad Glickman August 3, 2011

The meeting, which was held in Nitzan's chambers, was attended by the chairman of the Ohr Etzion Yeshiva and Bnei Akiva Youth Movement head, Rabbi Haim Meir Drukman, Director of Beit Midrash Mahut Rabbi Elisha Vishlitzky, Director of Nahalat Yitzhak Rabbi Micha Halevi, and Religious-Zionist activist Chaim Pollak.

Tzipi Livni on religion and state in Israel

Tzipi Livni Praises Obama for Pressuring Netanyahu, Suggests U.S. Should Keep Up the Heat

By Jeffrey Goldberg August 5, 2011

Tzipi Livni: On top of this, you have the trend in Israel in which the ultra-Orthodox have the monopoly on Jewishness of the State.

Q: Do you mean how Judaism is defined?

Tzipi Livni: It's about everything. You have American Jews, Reform or Conservative, and they feel that Israel is becoming different, it is more difficult for them to feel connected to something that tells them they are not Jewish enough.

I mean, we heard this during the conversion bill controversy, when you had these rabbis saying that people who convert outside of Israel can't make aliyah (move to Israel).

And now you have the Ministry of the Interior rewriting the IDs, the nationality line in IDs, whether you are Jewish or not, and they exclude anyone who is not Jewish.

Is Peoplehood an Empty Concept

Original post: 26, 2011

By Dr. Ezra Kopelowitz Opinion August 4, 2011

Dr. Ezra Kopelowitz is a sociologist of culture, education, organizations and Jewish Peoplehood. Ezra’s research covers topics having to do with Jewish identity and education in Israel and the United States. He is is the CEO of Research Success Technologies and a fellow at the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.

...While Galperin does offer a definition of Peoplehood in his response to Septimus, the distinction between Peoplehood and identity remains fuzzy. Peoplehood is not about the individual Jew, but about relationships between Jews.

...My answer to Septemus is, following Mordecai Kaplan, Jewish Peoplehood is the life force and world view behind Jewish civilization as it evolved over the last 3,500 years. Not a bad result for an “empty concept”.

Our challenge is to nurture the meaning of Peoplehood in a manner that enables access for the current generation.

Strike can't stanch flow of immigrating doctors

By Raphael Ahren August 5, 2011

The ongoing doctors strike is apparently not keeping physicians from immigrating. Last week, almost a dozen North American doctors and dentists happily moved to Israel.

Last Thursday, they were among 10 doctors who joined some 110 other new immigrants on a group aliyah flight chartered by Nefesh B'Nefesh and the Jewish Agency.

The two organizations are bringing some 2,500 immigrants this summer from North America and the U.K., among them nearly 40 doctors plus several dentists, NBN officials said.

For the Sake of Zion I Shall Not Stand Still?

This book marks the first comprehensive research that focuses on the Jewish Diaspora's relations with Jerusalem, Israel's capital and the holiest city for most of the Jewish people.

The book focuses on six out of the seven largest Jewish communities in the diaspora and their relation to Jerusalem ever since the Oslo agreement. It examines both the opinions and the actions of Diaspora Jews vis-à-vis this city.

4,000 Ethiopian Falash Mura on their way to Israel August 1, 2011

Four thousand Ethiopian Falash Mura received Israeli immigration authorization in the past six months, Israel Radio reported.

US olim want ‘Israel’ on passport of their J'lem-born son

By Joanna Paraszczuk August 4, 2011

In an unprecedented lawsuit that could affect over 50,000 Jerusalem-born Americans, the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of a Jerusalem-born American boy whose parents are demanding consular officials record Israel as his country of birth on official documents.

All about Eve

By Neri Livneh Opinion August 5, 2011

Until I read Prof. Aliza Shenhar's superb book "Loved and Hated: Women in the Bible, Midrash and Modern Hebrew Literature" (Pardes; Hebrew ), I had only a vague idea - in other words, I was ignorant - about the true status of women in our religious sources.

...The model of the woman of valor, who "in the eyes of women is an abused bondswoman, exists to this day in the Haredi society," Shenhar notes, referring to ultra-Orthodox Jewry.

"To this day she is the figure in whose light mothers raise their daughters. In the Bible, too, it's clear what kind of woman is preferred.

Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch: Embodying Liberalism and Zionism

By Gil Troy Opinion August 2, 2011

Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University in Montreal, is the author of numerous books, including “Why I Am a Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today.”

On Monday, June 27, Zionist activists gathered in Jerusalem to launch Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch’s new book, “For the Sake of Zion, Reform Zionism: A Personal Mission.”

Rabbi Hirsch has also led the long, frustrating fight for religious pluralism in Israel, demanding a “Jewish State,” meaning a state with a Jewish character not a state privileging Orthodox Judaism.

In 1974, Rabbi Hirsch lectured Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin about the importance of opposing “the politicization of religion and the religionization of politics,” while nevertheless remaining friends with the thin-skinned, hot-tempered, Rabin.

Religion and State in Israel

August 8, 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.