Tuesday, December 27, 2011

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

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

*SPECIAL edition on gender-segregation and Haredim in Beit Shemesh coming soon.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 23, 2011

The Interior Ministry has rejected an application for permanent residency by an Orthodox convert, after the Chief Rabbinate informed the ministry it did not recognize her conversion.

The woman converted in 2005 under the auspices of the rabbi of one of the oldest established Orthodox synagogues in the US (located in New York). The rabbi is a well-respected Orthodox religious leader.

The decision by the ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority to consult the Chief Rabbinate violates a June agreement between authority director Amnon Ben-Ami and Knesset Committee for Aliya, Absorption and the Diaspora chairman MK Danny Danon (Likud).

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com December 23, 2011

A U.S.-born convert is taking the Interior Ministry to court for failing to grant him immigrant status because officials say they have proof he still believes in Jesus and is engaged in missionary activity.

Several people dealing with conversions in Israel who have an intimate knowledge of the case also said they share the ministry's suspicion.

www.jewishideas.org December 23, 2011

The Israeli Chief Rabbinate has recently rejected the applications of several Orthodox Jewish converts who have applied to live in Israel.

This rejection has been reported widely in the Jewish media, and has generated much discussion--and anger, frustration, disgust. These cases are being appealed, and we hope that these converts will indeed be allowed to settle in Israel as Jews.

The Chief Rabbinate only accepts Orthodox conversions performed under their jurisdiction and/or with their express approval. Orthodox rabbis who refuse to bend to the will of the Chief Rabbinate are excluded from the Chief Rabbinate's "approved" list.
This policy is problematic on many levels.

[…] 6. A person who has undergone a halakhic conversion is 100% Jewish, regardless of anything the Chief Rabbinate says or does. The halakhot of conversion must not be allowed to be held hostage to the misguided and extreme views of the Chief Rabbinate or to the Chief Rabbinate's struggle to maintain power and authority for itself.

By Avi Woolf Opinion http://aiwac.wordpress.com December 18, 2011

Those who wish to retain the current system of government batei din argue that all we need to do is put in “the right people”.

This means either Religious Zionist or at least like minded black hat dayanim who will rule in the interests of the nation and the oppressed, even if it means taking heat for being a “mekel” or for relying on minority halachic views.
In my opinion, this is a hopeless endeavor for two reasons...

By Rabbi Shaul (Seth) Farber Opinion www.jpost.com December 20, 2011
Rabbi Shaul Farber received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University and his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University. He is the founder of ITIM: The Jewish Life Information Center and rabbi of Kehillat Netivot in Ra'anana where he lives with his wife, Michelle, and their five children.

I got a call this week from a couple who are trying to get married through the rabbinate. She’s from Ukraine, and was sent by the marriage registrar to the rabbinical court to “prove her jewishness.”
No problem.

Well, the rabbinical court sent her to their private investigator.
No problem.

By Gil Hoffman www.jpost.com December 20, 2011

Religious Affairs Minister Ya’acov Margi (Shas) appealed a decision by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday in favor of a bill enabling residents to register for marriage in any municipality, setting the stage for a clash between Shas and Israel Beiteinu at next week’s cabinet meeting.

Shas officials said the bill violated the coalition agreement that bars changes in the status quo on matters of religion and state without the agreement of all parties in the coalition. But coalition Chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said Shas supported similar legislation in the past, so it cannot veto the bill.

By Yanir Yagna www.haaretz.com December 20, 2011

A couple from the south finalized their divorce on Monday - for the second time in two weeks, due to the rabbinical court's suspicion that a witness had not signed the divorce document properly.

Rabbi Yitzhak Dahan, the head of the Be'er Sheva Rabbinic Court:
“In this case ... a question arose regarding the signature of one of the witnesses. Due to the very slight suspicion, the court decided to arrange a second divorce. The divorce was arranged yesterday to the satisfaction of the parties.”

By Yaniv Kubovich www.haaretz.com December 25, 2011

The founder of a program designed to encourage graduates of pre-army training programs and hesder yeshivas (which combine military service and religious study) to join the police force says his approach is the best way to place members of the religious Zionist community into key police positions.

...Although official police policy is that members of the Israel Police must serve anywhere they are sent, unofficially, the Israel Police have said the recruits from the hesder yeshivas have been given assurances that they will serve in the center of the country and will not to be sent to serve in the West Bank.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com December 25, 2011

Some 200 Religious Zionism rabbis have signed a letter calling on the government not to evacuate the West Bank outpost of Migron, but rather find a way to legally authorize it and continue its development.

The signatories include Rabbis Yaakov Ariel, Haim Drukman, Zvi Tau, Zalman Nehemia Goldberg, Shlomo Aviner, Yaakov Yosef, Elyakim Levanon, Eliezer Melamed and Eli Sadan.

By Rabbi Shalom Hammer Opinion www.jpost.com December 22, 2011

Over the past few weeks, much has been made about the obligation for observant soldiers to leave IDF ceremonies when its agenda includes women singing, as Halacha dictates that it is a problem for a man to hear a woman singing live.

...However, what I have found most disturbing is that this entire episode reflects poorly on religious Zionism and its leadership, as it reveals that it is incapable to meet one of its essential duties; dealing with a secular society at large in both a pragmatic and responsive fashion.

By Joel Braunold Opinion www.haaretz.com December 21, 2011
Joel Braunold is a Bnei Akiva alumnus and a former staff member of OneVoice Europe who is currently studying at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

While there are many good reasons why we might not want Rabbis to have ideological disputes in public, I feel that now we need it.

There are thousands of amazing modern Orthodox educators who have inspired generations of students who need to speak up and reclaim what it means to be an Orthodox Jew.

They need to do this to restore the image of what a frum Jew is both at home and abroad.

By Tomer Zarchin www.haaretz.com December 26, 2011

Earlier this year, Suzi Ayad, a Netanya resident, submitted a claim in the city's small claims court, demanding NIS 32,000 from the local Hevra Kadisha burial society. During the funeral of a close friend, the plaintiff was required to stand, along with other women mourners, behind an Orthodox religious partition (mechitza).

The foundation for the claim is the law banning discrimination in products and services, leisure venues and public places.

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com December 20, 2011

Religious burial societies can establish guidelines for the conduct of funerals, but they cannot force them on relatives of the deceased, a senior Religious Services Ministry official told the societies in response to a number of complaints about discrimination against women attending funerals.

 [In contrast to Ohana, Religious Affairs Minister Yaakov Margi] insisted that separation of men and women, as well as permitting women to deliver eulogies, are issues of Jewish religious law that must be subject to the judgment of the individual burial societies.

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

Religious Services Minister Yakov Margi (Shas) and the ministry's director-general, Avigdor Ohana, launched a new campaign Monday aimed at making it easier for families for accept the "multi-level burial" of their loved ones – the most common burial method in Israel today.

A group of ultra-Orthodox men held a demonstration outside the auditorium, claiming that the innovative method contradicts Halacha and is "not Jewish burial". The move was blasted by haredi media as well.

By Robin Garbose Opinion www.jpost.com December 25, 2011
The writer has been directing theater, network television and films for nearly 28 years.

In the context of these issues, it is significant that the Jerusalem Cinematheque, a bastion of secular Israeli culture, agreed to include my film, The Heart That Sings, in the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival.

For the first time the festival featured a film made exclusively for women, with a request for men not to attend, in keeping with its mission “to explore Jewish religious practice and promote crosscultural understanding.”

By Ilan Lior www.haaretz.com December 20, 2011

For the past several months, the Belz Hasidic synagogue on Ahad Ha'am Street in the center of Tel Aviv has been playing a Jewish melody from loudspeakers on the roof of the building just prior to the onset of Shabbat.

...Now the synagogue's management has agreed to stop playing the pre-Shabbat music altogether.

By Nathan Guttman www.forward.com December 20, 2011

In its 30 years of existence, Shas has evolved from a marginal ethnic political group to Israel’s fourth largest party in the Knesset and is today the unchallenged kingmaker of Israeli politics.

Now, Shas — or in its full name, the Sephardic Torah Guardians Movement — is attempting to establish a beachhead among American Sephardic Jews and, it hopes, replicate its success in Israel. On December 4, the group launched its United States affiliate, American Friends of Shas, based in Brooklyn.

The new organization’s goals are still in flux and, while activists agree its main mission should be raising the profile of Shas in America, some are also calling for active fundraising to support the party’s operations in Israel.

... [Rabbi Hanania Elbaz, of the Avenue X Ahi-Ezer Congregation in Brooklyn and a founding member of American Friends of Shas] explained that money raised in the U.S. could help Shas fare better in the next elections and “if Shas is stronger, it will be able to extract more money from the government for yeshivot.”

By Revital Blumenfeld www.haaretz.com December 19, 2011

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAI) is set to launch a international virtual school network later this week, in an attempt to bolster ties between Jewish students around the world and Israel.

By Natasha Mozgovaya www.haaretz.com December 22, 2011

"We are not shy about talking about our values," [Rabbi Richard] Jacobs said.
"There is more than one way to be Jewish, we believe that democracy is essential and Israel is a place that should always welcome those who are seeking homeland, but it also has to be a beacon of what's right - and tzedek [justice] has to be in the heart of this state."

By Jordana Horn and Rebecca Anna Stoil www.jpost.com December 21, 2011

Rabbi Richard Jacobs: “The change has let people see Reform, and other expressions of non-Orthodox Judaism, as having some possibility,” Jacobs said.
“There is more openness right now to the tradition and bringing the tradition into the modern world. A lot of Israelis are challenged by the ultra-Orthodox monopoly and they have their own battle with that political side of Judaism, but what we’re seeing is a searching and longing for spiritual grounding.”

www.ynetnews.com December 22, 2011

Seventy-six new immigrants from North America infused Israel with the light of Zionism by celebrating the first night of Hanukkah as new Israeli citizens.

The newcomers arrived Tuesday morning at Ben-Gurion Airport on a Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah flight organized in conjunction with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency.

By Shmuel Rosner www.jewishjournal.com December 26, 2011

Q: Should [Israel] allow progressive rabbis to marry couples, should it recognize progressive conversions?

A: Minister Yuli Edelstein (Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs):
Israel in fact recognizes the various streams that exist in Judaism. For example, conversions performed by Reform and Conservative Rabbis are recognized for the purpose of the Law of Return. 
During the last few years, there have also been changes in a number of areas which demonstrate this including marital registration, easing burial restrictions, etc. 
We must also remember that there are a number of streams of Judaism in Israel and as a result no change should offend another significant segment of the population.

By Hanan A. Alexander Opinion www.jpost.com December 21, 2011
The writer is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, Professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Haifa, and Sr. Research Fellow of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

The Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, which prepares Masorti-Conservative rabbis in Israel, sits at the intersection of at least four overlapping tensions, between disparate roles of higher Jewish education, rival notions of religious pluralism, competing understandings of human sexuality and different approaches to textual reasoning.

The departure of three senior administrators from the school in as many years, reported by The Jerusalem Post on Friday, December 9, is partly related to these tensions.

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com December 23, 2011

Two Anglo Jerusalemites last Tuesday launched a new "incubator for Jewish educational entrepreneurship" in the capital.

Called "Threshold," the six-month fellowship seeks to create "a cohort of educators who we will transform into 'social entrepreneurs,' enabling these exceptional men and women to begin their own organizations, create their own jobs, and have a meaningful occupation that will enable them to continue their lifelong dream of living in Israel," explained Yehoshua Looks, who established the program together with Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz.

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