Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - January 23, 2012 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

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

By Rabbi Dov Linzer www.nytimes.com January 19, 2012
DovLinzer, an Orthodox rabbi, is the dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical Schoolin the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

This is part of a larger battle being waged in Israel between the ultra-Orthodox and the rest of Israeli society over women’s place in society, over their very right to have a visible presence and to participate in the public sphere.

By Gil Shefler www.jpost.com January 20, 2012

Tzipi Livni addressed the WIZO delegates, telling them Israel did not have to pick between Jewish law, or the halacha, and state laws.
“There is a clash between those who derive authority from the torah and halacha and the rabbis and another group to whom the source of authority is the law and judges,” she said. 
“I don’t think you have to choose between the Jewish values and democratic values of Israel.
That’s not the choice. We have to act so that both sides live in harmony so that it is possible.”

By RabbiHaviva Ner-David Opinion www.slate.com January 23, 2012

When I called my state socialized-medicine provider a few weeks ago to make a doctor’s appointment, I was told to come in modest dress, because the clinic is located in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood.

Uncomfortable with the mandate, I made the appointment to see the same doctor somewhere else, although I will have to travel farther to get there.

It is winter here, so wearing a big, long coat would not have been a major inconvenience. But on principle, I will not be party to this blatant—and rapidly spreading—violation of my civil rights.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 19, 2012

Shlomo Fuchs, who allegedly called a female soldier “a whore” on a bus he was traveling on in December, has been released from house arrest. 

However, he remains banned from using public transport, as stipulated by the Jerusalem District Court after he was first arrested.

www.ynetnews.com January 18, 2012

At the police's consent, the judge canceled all other restrictions imposed on Fuchs, including house arrest.

By Chaim Landau Opinion www.jpost.com January 17, 2012
The writer is the director of Perspectives Israel

The question, then, is what we citizens can do about this escalating situation. Looking into my smiling daughter’s face, I am resolved to take the following steps:

1. We must be active in our schools, whether Mamlachti (state) or Dati Mamlachti (state-religious), to ensure that our daughters and sons receive a top notch Jewish education taught in an engaging way.

2. If we want our daughters to be full members of the Jewish community, then we should affiliate ourselves with those synagogues and institutions that relate to women as full members and not as spectators.

3. On the political level, as voters, we must make it clear to the parties with which we affiliate or choose to vote for that religious freedom and the inclusion of women are not negotiable.

By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com January 18, 2012

The exclusion of women is taking on a new form in the ultra-Orthodox city of Modiin Illit: Extreme haredi elements posted signs in one of the city's business centers last week, calling on men and women to use separate elevators.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com January 17, 2012

More than 200 women threw off symbolic black head coverings on Tuesday afternoon to protest discrimination against women in public, during a “flashmob” that took place in downtown Jerusalem.

By Jonathan Rosenblum Opinion www.jpost.com January 20, 2012

How Israel has one of the most easily manipulated medias in the world and is once again paying a heavy price for media-generated hysteria.

By Rabbi Micah Peltz www.haaretz.com January 18, 2012

While we exposed them to the complexities of the land, we also watched as they each developed their own sense of Ahavat Yisrael – their love of Israel.  

… But this love is tarnished when women are needlessly discriminated against. Especially when it is by those who claim to be living Torah while they are actually subverting it.

By Robin Garbose Opinion www.haaretz.com January 20, 2012
Robin Garbose has been directing theater, network television and film for nearly 28 years.

Can Haredi culture go overboard in its quest for modesty?

When women are denied a voice or when intimidation is used to hinder critical thinking, there is a problem. And assaulting women, either physically or verbally, in the guise of enforcing tzniut is unconscionable.

As Adina Bar Shalom, daughter of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, recently asserted, "The exclusion of women from the public domain violates Torah. Halakha treats women with the utmost respect."

By Deborah S. Dahan Opinion www.jpost.com January 22, 2012

The point is not whether my friend bears unfounded grudges towards the haredi community for the treatment of its women; rather it is about her seeming lack of concern for other groups of women in Israeli society who suffer from humiliations far more disturbing than traveling on a segregated bus.

By Rafi Walden Opinion www.ynetnews.com January 19, 2012

...The reason is deeper and is one that the haredim would never admit to: There is a reason for concern. 

While no less strict haredim in New York or London work and provide for their families, in Israel’s haredi strongholds women are the breadwinners who provide for the family.

...these men feel a need to emphasize, time and again, that they are the center of their surroundings, thereby having to stress the inferiority of women and excluding them.

By Rabbi Dov Lipman Opinion http://pjmedia.com January 17, 2012

The myth must be dispelled. Religious extremism is not taking hold in Israel. It is being squelched. In a world where fanaticism and fundamentalism are so rampant, the citizens of Israel are putting on a clinic regarding the only way to stem the tide of the ever-spreading reach of such ideologies: staring it in the eye and calling it what it is: bad, evil, unspiritual, ungodly, and intolerable.

http://makomisrael.org January 20, 2012

For several weeks now there has been an ongoing furor about the place of women and religion in Israel: Orthodox soldiers walked out of a ceremony involving singing women. Mehadrin bus lines force women to sit at the back of the bus.

Women are removed from advertisement hoardings in Jerusalem. A Haredi sect in Bet Shemesh uses unacceptable means to try to stop girls going to school in their area.

In an attempt to clear our heads, we are trying to work out what are the underlying fundamental questions at play? What, if anything, do these different incidents have in common?

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com January 22, 2012

Beginning this week, there has been a sharp break between the Eda and the police. Moderate elements within the sect are coming out secretly against the radicals, out of ideology but also because they fear the violent branding will affect the Badatz kashrut authorization that provides a living for hundreds of Eda families.

The police are emerging as the winners in the struggles. The Gur Hasidut, which is embroiled with the Sicarii in a real-estate war in the Batei Warsaw neighborhood of Jerusalem, is nurturing its relations with the top police commanders.

By Oz Rosenberg www.haaretz.com January 17, 2012

On Monday, just two weeks after a big demonstration sparked by an incident in which an ultra-Orthodox man spat at a local 8-year-old girl dressed "immodestly," another student at Beit Shemesh's Orot state religious school was targeted by Haredi teens on the short walk home from school.

By Steven A. Rakitt Opinion http://ejewishphilanthropy.com January 19, 2012

Many in Beit Shemesh told me how proud they are of their community. They point to excellent schools, the beautiful countryside, good jobs and friendly mixed neighborhoods of haredi, secular and modern Orthodox Jews.

They urged me to help tell the story of the “other Beit Shemesh”, the part of the community that is not in the news.

Non-haredi members of the community reminded me repeatedly that the extremists do not reflect the vast majority of haredim in the community who oppose the harassment and violence. They tell a more nuanced story.

By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com January 16, 2012

The exclusion of women phenomenon, which has stirred a row in Israel, has been occupying the country's ultra-Orthodox media in recent weeks as well.

By Rabbi Natan Slifkin Opinion www.jpost.com January 17, 2012
The writer is the author of a variety of works on the relationship between Judaism and the natural sciences. His website is www.zootorah.com and he also maintains a popular blog, www.rationalistjudaism.com.

Haredi society has achieved astounding accomplishments in building up a society of commitment to Torah study and religious observance. But it is now undergoing a period of unprecedented internal and external turmoil.

...More than ever, there is an opportunity, and a need, to integrate haredi society into Israel. But there are forces in haredi society that are strongly opposed to such integration, and many haredim maintain a healthy dose of suspicion vis-a-vis the non-haredi world.

By Rabbi Marc Angel Opinion www.jewishideas.org January 17, 2012

While the Hareidi extremism has correctly been criticized for its unfair attitudes and treatment of women, I believe the Hareidi position is equally insulting and unfair to men.

...Our goal as thinking halakhic Jews is to be clear on our responsibility to be holy, and to treat ourselves and others as fellow human beings--not as sexual objects. 

As we live as modest and respectful human beings, we enhance our own dignity and the dignity we show to others. This is not an inconsiderable accomplishment.

By Felice Friedson and Arieh O’Sullivan www.themedialine.org January 17, 2012

“By the time you are up to 10% of the population of whom 70% of the male part of the population doesn’t work, you are getting to a macro-economic issue,” Stanley Fischer, governor of the Bank of Israel, said at a briefing. “This is not sustainable. We can’t have an ever increasing proportion of the population continuing to not go to work.”

“A haredi town would not be self sustaining. Nobody would pay taxes. Nobody works. Well, hey, this is where [they] are taking the entire country. Do that math. This is a problem,” Dan Ben-David, a Tel Aviv University economist who heads the Taub Center for Social Political Studies, told The Media Line.

By Aviad Glickman www.ynetnews.com January 18, 2012

Justice Minister Ne'eman:
"In times when the Torah is being denigrated by a few minority groups who turn their backs on the Jewish people's prime tasks, this hesder yeshiva is a symbol of how to combine Torah with public responsibility and sharing the burden and not just isolation and taking budgets."

By Yossi Klein Halevi Opinion www.theglobeandmail.com January 18, 2012

The real threat to Israeli society comes not from the acts of Haredi extremists but from the distorted relationship of the Haredi community to the state.

Haredim not only exclude themselves from the responsibilities of Israeli citizenship but demand that the mainstream subsidize their separatism.

Thanks to Israel’s dysfunctional coalition system, Haredi parties have been able to extract wholesale draft deferments for their young men and vast subsidies for their institutions.

By Benny Morris http://nationalinterest.org January 18, 2012
Benny Morris is a professor of history in the Middle East Studies Department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

So Israeli Jewish society continues to advance, paradoxically, in two contrary directions: The majority is moving toward a more open, secular, Western lifestyle and polity; and the (growing) minority is moving backward, toward a medieval, obscurantist life, attentive to what are perceived as God's wishes and commands.

See here for AUDIO file: 
By Matthew Bell www.theworld.org January 18, 2012
“Most of the Ultra-Orthodox community is completely sane,” Yehuda Meshi-Zahav said in an interview at his Jerusalem office. “These people recognize that Israel is made up of different sectors that all belong here. But there are still extremists. They have too much influence on the community.”
Meshi-Zahav said the leaders of the Haredi community need to speak out against Ultra-Orthodox extremism.

www.pri.org January 16, 2012

Idit Karni, a mother of four, in Jerusalem, thinks it's easy to overlook the extreme complexity of the debate that is going on in Israel. Karni has been leading a campaign to bring women to the front of the public consciousness.
"We don't agree that the different advertising firms will choose to exclude 50 percent of the population just because, for economic reasons, it makes more sense to exclude them from advertisements in places with higher populations of ultra-Orthodox," said Karni.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 19, 2012

Four of the six men arrested on Sunday on suspicion of having committed financial offenses in their management of a charity were released from prison on Thursday under limited conditions.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com January 19, 2012

Bnei Brak's Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib Landa has warned that turning on faucets in some multi-story apartment buildings leads to the desecration of Shabbat.

The rabbi issued a halachic ruling explaining that the using the tap directly turns on an electrical water pumping system – an offense which, according to the Torah, can be punished by stoning.

By Jonathan Rosenblum, Mishpacha Magazine www.jewishmediaresources.com January 20, 2012

... the crazies in Ramat Beit Shemesh cite the Torah as the justification for their actions, and claim to act as they do to uphold Torah values.

In that situation, is it so far-fetched to argue that those who believe that their actions represent a ziyuf (falsification) of Torah values should say so?

That doesn't mean apologizing for them – one can only apologize where one bears some kind of responsibility. But it does mean decrying the distortion of Torah.

By Amir Mizroch Opinion http://amirmizroch.com January 16, 2012

There is a double challenge here: the mainstream ultra-Orthodox leadership, if they can be found, must start putting their house in order.

The minority is running roughshod not only over the country as a whole, but primarily over the haredi community itself.

By Eitan Haber Opinion www.ynetnews.com January 18, 2012

So is it still possible to restore the relationship between these two camps, the religious and the secular, which at this time appear to be so remote from each other? 

Well, we would settle for living side by side while showing tolerance and understanding to the other side. There is no other choice.

Haaretz Editorial www.haaretz.com January 18, 2012

The law that perpetuates discrimination in favor of the ultra-Orthodox community at the expense of secular people - known as the Tal Law after retired Supreme Court Justice Zvi Tal - has justified its opponents' fears and proved wrong its supporters' pretensions.

...Israeli society, the military and - no less - the ultra-Orthodox community need shaking up. This must start with the shelving of the Tal Law.

By Akiva Novick www.ynetnews.com January 20, 2012

Girls of Ethiopian, American, French, Russian, Moroccan and Mexican descent all study in the same classroom. This takes place in the Beit Yaakov ultra-Orthodox school in the community of Tel Zion, where one must not even mention the concept of racial discrimination.

By Oz Rosenberg www.haaretz.com January 23, 2012

Rabbi Mordechai Elon conceded Sunday that he might have indeed kissed and hugged two of his students - both of them minors - but denied doing so for sexual pleasure, but rather as a way to console and encourage the students.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 22, 2012

Elon, who was a leader in the national-religious community and former dean of Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem, was charged in October with inappropriately touching, kissing and stroking a 17-year old student in 2003 after a friend of his, who had also been a student of Elon’s, was killed in a car accident.

By Oz Rosenberg www.haaretz.com January 22, 2012

Elon said he does not remember meeting A., who was not one of Elon's students, but who had allegedly sought the rabbi out at a time of personal distress at the suggestion of a friend. 

Elon said, however, that it was possible that there had been physical contact with A., but that this would have been to comfort him, and not for any sexual gratification.

By Revital Blumenfeld www.haaretz.com January 22, 2012

The government is bringing just 110 Ethiopian Jews into the country per month, 90 fewer than the agreed figure, despite recognizing that the official reason for the reduced intake no longer exists.

By Daniel Estrin AP www.miamiherald.com January 18, 2012

The 58 kessoch who arrived in Israel in those early days maintained their leadership role in the Ethiopian Jewish community, and in 1992 successfully lobbied the Israeli government to grant them salaries and status similar to those of government rabbis. 

But as the aging clergy began ordaining a new generation of kessoch over the past decade, and those new leaders also wanted recognition, Israel's rabbinate objected.

After public demonstrations and a brief hunger strike, the newly ordained kessoch struck a bittersweet deal last month with Israel's ministry of religious services.

The ministry would finally implement a 2010 government resolution to recognize 13 of them and give them state salaries. But Israel's state rabbis made it very clear to the new kessoch: They would be the last.

www.ynetnews.com January 16, 2012

The KCAC is a multi-partisan caucus comprised of seventeen Knesset members. Established in 2004 by the late Dr. Yuri Shtern, it is today chaired by MK Rotem.

By Judith Sudilovsky Religion News Service www.huffingtonpost.com January 19, 2012

According to the Jan. 6 report, the Christian growth rate of 0.9 percent lags behind the Jewish rate of 1.7 percent and the 2.7 percent growth rate among Muslims. Christian Arabs have a growth rate of 1 percent, while the rate among non-Arab Christians is 0.7 percent.

About 154,000 Christians live in Israel, representing about 2 percent of the population, according to the bureau.

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