Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - December 19, 2011 (Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

By Tanya Rosenblit Opinion www.ynetnews.com December 18, 2011

Why is limiting the rights and freedom of someone else considered fair when it comes in the form of adhering to Jewish law demands?

Since when does the Torah come before basic manners? How could religion be used so cynically and how come nobody realized until now that this is a social problem, and that its connection to religion is slim to non-existent?

How could it be that an entire community chooses to humiliate its daughters, wives and sisters and nobody raises a hue and cry? Who believes that one could really choose to live a life of humiliation and exclusion?

*SPECIAL edition on Tanya Rosenblit, "Mehadrin" buses and gender-segregation coming soon.

By Michele Chabin www.thejewishweek.com December 13, 2011

In an apparent about-face on a deal hammered out earlier this year among Israel’s Interior Ministry, the Jewish Agency and the Chief Rabbinate, an Orthodox convert whose conversion took place in New York was threatened with expulsion from Israel, The Jewish Week has learned.

...Documents obtained by The Jewish Week reveal that the Interior Ministry asked the Chief Rabbinate to decide whether Sivan’s conversion — performed by a well-known Orthodox rabbi of an Orthodox synagogue in Manhattan — met the criteria for aliyah.

This despite the fact that the Chief Rabbinate has no jurisdiction over immigration, which is a civil matter.

According to Israeli government protocols signed by the Interior Ministry earlier this year, the ministry must consult with the Jewish Agency on whether the converting rabbis in question are recognized authorities, and whether the convert is considered Jewish by his or her own community in the diaspora.

By Nathan Jeffay http://forward.com December 17, 2011

Prague-born Ragachova, 37, moved to Israel a decade ago, and in 2004 converted to Judaism in the Bnei Brak rabbinic court of Nissim Karelitz, one of the world’s best-respected and most stringent Haredi rabbis.

...“The conversion I passed is acceptable in every country in the world apart from Israel. It’s an absurd situation,” Ragachova told the Forward. She complained that she has been in limbo since her conversion due to her lack of citizenship. 

Until the court first considered her case in November, her lack of citizenship prevented her from working under the law. The temporary injunction she obtained now allows her to work during her case’s legal proceedings.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 15, 2011

The Knesset State Control Committee on Wednesday accused the Conversion Authority of foot-dragging on conversion applications, a lack of transparency and the implementation of unauthorized procedural guidelines.

The committee’s ire was directed specifically at the Conversion Authority’s committee for exceptional cases, which deals with anyone who is not a permanent resident, such as spouses of Israelis who have married in a civil ceremony abroad, students and those here on tourist visas.

Jeff Moskowitz www.tabletmag.com December 13, 2011

Kaniuk wasn’t necessarily trying to upend 60 years of Orthodox rule when he took his case to court this past spring. At 81, he hardly seems like a revolutionary.

...The Interior Ministry turned down his request to be labeled “without religion” in November 2010 with a Kafkaesque flourish. According to Kaniuk, the government claimed that without a certificate of conversion, his official religion could not be changed. Of course, there is no way to get a certificate signifying that you have given up religion altogether.

So, Kaniuk petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court to force the ministry to act.

By Adam Frank Opinion www.haaretz.com December 16, 2011
Adam Frank is rabbi of the Masorti Movement's Congregation Moreshet Yisrael in Jerusalem.

Recognition of the radical difference in Jewish life afforded by the State of Israel - a phenomenon unknown in the world for 2,000 years - certainly qualifies as justification for a re-imagining of halakhic conversion matters. 

Such a change is necessary both for the health of Jewish identity in Israel and for the attainment of untapped potential of Jewish possibilities in the Jewish state.

By Jonathan Lis www.haaretz.com December 19, 2011

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation Sunday decided to support legislation that would facilitate marriage among Jews who wish to avoid dealing with certain Orthodox rabbinical institutions, by allowing couples to register to marry in the rabbinical court of their choice.

By Lahav Harkov www.jpost.com December 18, 2011

After the bill passed its second vote in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, Kirschenbaum explained that, once it is approved by the Knesset, the initiative will bring a “revolution” in marriages that will solve many problems.

By Moran Azulay www.ynetnews.com December 18, 2011

Religious Services Minister Yakov Margi:
"I'm only trying to clean up the system and provide service, but we need some transparency here," the minister said. "A marriage certificate is not Yakov Margi's piece of paper, but a legal document of the State of Israel."

By Jonathan Lis and Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com December 18, 2011

If the law passes, it would make registering for marriage easier, particularly for converts. For instance, soldiers who converted through the Israel Defense Forces rabbinate - in a conversion procedure that has been questioned and rejected by some top religious authorities - would be able to register to be married by moderate rabbinical authorities who accept them as Jews.

By Lahav Harkov www.jpost.com December 18, 2011

Last week, the committee rejected the legislation proposed by Kirschenbaum due to opposition from Shas.

By Jonathan Lis www.haaretz.com December 15, 2011

… today when the rabbis of large cities no longer know their constituents, and many no longer live at the addresses listed on their identity cards, it is just as appropriate for couples to register wherever they like - near their place of study, work, or home.

By Jeremy Sharon and Lahav Harkov www.jpost.com December 15, 2011

Batya Kehana – director of the Mavoi Satum organization, which campaigns for divorce reform, and one of the proponents of the bill – said that it was hugely important that it be passed.

“I hope a compromise can finally be reached between everyone,” she said. “It would help hundreds of women who have received a ruling from the rabbinical courts that their husbands must give them a get, but are still waiting for it.”

The proposed amendment seeks to obligate rabbinical courts, or batei din, to hold hearings on applying punitive sanctions to husbands who ignore the courts’ orders to give their wives a get.

By Lee Chottiner http://thejewishchronicle.net December 15, 2011

The [comic] strip shows women in Jerusalem singing in public while haredi Jews picket with signs that read "Woman voice = abomination" and "Women singing is a sin."

Bazooka Jew's response to the scene? As he's about to pop a stick of gum in his mouth, he says, "Don't like it?? Stick it in your mouth!!!

By Eitan Glickman www.ynetnews.com December 15, 2011

The Technion's gym has decided to restrict entry to men only for two hours a week, causing an uproar among students at Haifa's technological institute.

The Technion spokesperson's office said in response, "The Technion has been protecting the privacy of religious students at the swimming pool for years, and this procedure is now being applied at the gym as well.

By Danny Adeno Abebe www.ynetnews.com December 16, 2011

"As a religious woman, I also believe in all the separation issue. But matters of health have never been part of the argument," Y. said this week. 

"Many women work at religious council and ritual baths, and they deserve to receive information about breast cancer.

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com December 16, 2011

Rabbi David Golinkin, a legal scholar deciding on questions of Jewish law who specializes on women's status issues, says there is no halakhic justification for IDF soldiers walking out when women sing."

He will discuss the prohibition of hearing a woman's voice in greater depth at a lecture marking the launch of his new book, "Responsa in a Moment, Vol. II"

The lecture will take place this Wednesday at 8:15 P.M. at Moreshet Avraham Congregation in Jerusalem.

By Elana Sztokman Opinion http://blogs.forward.com December 15, 2011

It’s a tough call, but I have decided that I’m going to continue to support Naomi Ragen.

This is why: Ragen has been a courageous writer on behalf of Jewish women since before it became popular, before Orthodox women’s activism had a name or a movement.

By Emma Hurd http://news.sky.com December 18, 2011

"What we're fighting against is a few extremists who are trying to distort Judaism. The faith is all about equality, and so is Israel," Rabbi Uri Ayalon told Sky News.

By Jeff Barak Opinion www.jpost.com December 18, 2011
The writer is a former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post.

Throughout its 12 pages, the phrase “breast cancer” never appears, only the coy euphemism “special woman’s cancer,” which isn’t even medically accurate given the (admittedly small) number of men who succumb to the disease.

If it wasn’t so tragic, the irony of a booklet that aims to promote awareness of breast cancer but is afraid to use the actual word “breast” would be funny.

...And as for graphics, just how helpful are photographs of someone pouring a green liquid from a test tube into a brown bottle or graphics of flowers in terms of showing women how to check their breasts for lumps?

By Ophir Bar-Zohar www.haaretz.com December 14, 2011

The index, which measures governmental restrictions on freedom of religion and freedom from religion, ranks 195 countries. Of these, fully 52 scored zero, including Russia, Romania, India, Mexico and Turkey. Israel has scored zero on CIRI's scale for several years now.

Rabbi Uri Regev, president of Hiddush - For Religious Freedom and Equality:
“What causes this shameful situation is the practice of [political parties] buying power in exchange for capitulation to religious coercion, while ignoring the wishes of the majority of people in both Israel and the Diaspora.”

By Ira Sharkansky Opinion www.jpost.com December 14, 2011
The writer is a Hebrew University Political Science professor.

Things change in politics, sometimes quickly. However, there is nothing clearly on the horizon to encourage the secular left and center that there will be a quick end to discomforts associated with extremists among the ultra-Orthodox and Religious Zionists.

By Uriel Heilman www.jta.org December 21, 2011

Q: Reform Judaism long has struggled to gain a foothold in Israel. Will it ever catch on there?

Rabbi Eric Yoffie: If we’re not a part of Israel, we move to the margins of Jewish history. The key is Israeli Reform rabbis. When we have 100 Israeli-born and -educated rabbis, it’s going be a different country and a different movement. Now we have 40-plus rabbis. In 10 years we’ll have 100.

By Repps Hudson www.stljewishlight.com December 14, 2011

Rabbi Gilad Kariv believes Reform Judaism holds the key to reviving the moderate center in Israel, which many commentators in recent years have noted may has been hollowed out and lost to extremists.

A primary effort of Kariv and the Reform movement in Israel is to use the Israeli courts to eventually recognize Reform Judaism as an equal to Orthodox Judaism. At present, he said, some 3,000 Orthodox rabbis are paid by the state, yet the rituals of Reform Jews are not recognized by the state.

His goal is to have Reform rabbis also receive salaries from the state, which would establish that they are on an equal footing with Orthodox Judaism.

By Evelyn Gordon Opinion www.jpost.com December 14, 2011

Last Monday’s Jerusalem Post editorial asked an important question about the advertising campaign that sparked the latest spat between Israel and American Jewry: Why did American Jews jump to the conclusion that the young man in the most controversial ad was Jewish?

The answer to that question is crucial to understanding two of the major causes of disaffection with Israel among young American Jews.

By Shmuel Rosner Opinion www.jewishjournal.com December 13, 2011

Obviously, Israel would rather survive with the support of US Jewry and not without it (by the way, the only real evidence pointing at declining US Jewish support for Israel is the writings of some prominent columnists - so maybe it is not the support for Israel that is declining but rather the influence of such writers on American Jewry. Just a thought). Israel would improve its chances for survival by having the backing of US Jewry. Israel should diligently work to keep having the backing of US Jewry.

But will Israel not survive without the support of US Jewry? – I think there’s a strong case to be made that it’s the other way around: If American Jews cease from supporting Israel, it is American Judaism that might not survive.

By Michael Freund Opinion www.jpost.com December 16, 2011

The Israeli press needs to be encouraged to devote more attention to the Diaspora. Ultimately it is we, the consumers, that need to press them for more extensive coverage by demanding that more attention be paid to the subject.

Similarly, greater efforts must be made to teach about the contemporary Jewish experience in Israeli high schools and universities. Young Israelis need to be inculcated with a deeper appreciation for the unbreakable bond that unites Jews everywhere.

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com December 16, 2011

A member of the Washington, D.C. board of the Jewish National Fund has resigned over the JNF's involvement in eviction proceedings against an Arab family in Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood.

Berman Institute – North American Jewish Data Bank, University of Connecticut
Edited by Arnold Dashefsky, University of Connecticut; Sergio DellaPergola, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Ira Sheskin, University of Miami.

Published by North American Jewish Data Bank in cooperation with Jewish Federations of North America and the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry

www.nif.org November 3, 2011

An infectious feeling of optimism emerged as 200 Israelis - a rare mix of young secular and Orthodox Jews in an increasingly polarized society - gathered at Bet Gat in the Ein Kerem neighborhood last week for the opening of Jerusalem's Secular Yeshiva. There was a sense that a new chapter was being written in this sacred city's rich religious history.
See Photos here

By Gil Zohar www.jpost.com December 1, 2011

Meled, a unique coed high school in downtown Jerusalem for dropouts – many of them Anglos – from the city’s religious secondary schools, girls’ seminaries and boys’ yeshivot, recently hired its first fund-raiser to meet the growing challenge of serving students from observant and traditional homes who don’t fit in traditional educational frameworks.

By Seth J. Frantzman www.jpost.com December 1, 2011

Jerusalem has long been a holy city, but until now it has not had a museum devoted to one of the central reasons that it is holy: the Bible. According to a decision by the Knesset on November 13, a site devoted to the Bible will be built in Jerusalem in the coming years.

By Karl Vick http://globalspin.blogs.time.com December 14, 2011

Doing his time for firing that pistol in the nightclub with Puff Daddy and J. Lo a dozen years ago, the rapper known as Shyne experienced a jailhouse religious awakening.  

The faith he says changed his life involved embracing his heritage as a black man, forswearing destructive behaviors, covering his head and taking a new name.

Yet it had nothing to do with the Nation of Islam.  The former Jamal Michael Barrow, a.k.a. Shyne, a.k.a. Shyne Poloeniut, now answers to Moshe Levi.  

He spends his days studying Torah and striding through the Old City of Jerusalem in the long tailored coats favored by Hasidic Jews, sidelocks a-bob and a rabbi’s lecture booming on his iPad.

By Ben Hartman www.jpost.com December 18, 2011

A number of “Yeshiva boys gone wild” stories have graced the Israeli media in recent years, usually painting a picture of kids sent off by their naive parents for a year of study in Israel that quickly becomes an exercise in nightly debauchery. 

For two American Jewish female filmmakers, the spectacle represents an opportunity to delve into how the traditional study year abroad experience in Israel affects the lives of US Orthodox youth.

To raise money to finish the project, freelance writer Anna Wexler, 27, and scientist and researcher Nadja Oertelt, 26, turned to the “crowd-funding” site www.Kickstarter.com on Monday, and have already received nearly half of the $16,000 needed to hire a professional editor for the final cut of Unorthodox.

By Eli Ashkenazi www.haaretz.com December 19, 2011

Around 70 of Israel's 257 kibbutzim that are not explicitly religious have synagogues. Some were built decades ago for the parents of members, the "old folk" as they were once called. Sometimes a small kosher kitchen was built nearby.

...Dr. Moti Zeira, director of Oranim College's HaMidrasha Educational Center for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Israel, ascribed the current conflict to increased religious observance in Israel and a change in the kibbutz population.

By Yair Altman www.ynetnews.com December 14, 2011

Just 48 hours after the Mughrabi Bridge, which leads to Temple Mount in Jerusalem, was closed over safety concerns, it has been reopened to pedestrians on Wednesday.

Jerusalem security forces have stationed a fire truck nearby as a safety measure as a Jerusalem Municipality engineer declared that the structure is a public health and fire hazard and is in danger of collapsing.

By Seth J. Frantzman www.jpost.com December 15, 2011

According to Ben-Dov, the damage from the 2004 incident “in which a few stones fell” from the Mugrabi ascent amounted to “almost nothing.” In his opinion as an archeologist, he says, it would have taken no more than NIS 50,000 to repair the original ramp, and there would have been no need to erect the bridge or fundamentally change the mound.

However, Rabinovitch, who works with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation – an organization set up in 1988 to manage the site – rejects these claims.
...Rabinovitch is dismayed. “We thought the temporary bridge would be there for a few months,” he says.

By Shmuel Rosner http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com December 15, 2011

Israel cannot readily accept a broken-bridge situation or a no-bridge one.

But neither can it stir a pot that could easily boil over: religious fanatics and political hacks could use this bunch of wooden planks as a miserable excuse to erupt into indignation over Israel’s supposed “aggression” and break out into violence.

Thus, under pressure from right-wing legislators, on Tuesday the Israeli cabinet agreed to reopen the bridge, with a fire department squad placed alongside it, and to renovate it rather than replace it.

By Barak Ravid and Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com December 14, 2011

The forum of eight senior cabinet ministers decided Tuesday to delay the destruction of the Mughrabi Bridge, which leads from the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount, until further notice.

www.jpost.com December 15, 2011

Jordan's foreign ministry called Israel's decision to reopen the Mugrabi Bridge in Jerusalem "a positive step," Army Radio reported Thursday.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com December 14, 2011

VIDEO: National Union MKs Uri Ariel and Arye Eldad took the bridge up to the Temple Mount Wednesday morning to put pressure on the government to replace the structure rather than use a temporary fix.

“The time has come for the government to exercise its sovereignty over the holiest spot in the Jewish religion,” Ariel said outside the Temple Mount.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com December 13, 2011

One of the options for the bridge’s opening is to have a permanent fire truck stationed at the Western Wall plaza to negate the danger of a fire on the wooden structure, which is considered extremely flammable.
See Photos: here and here.

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Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
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