Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - February 6, 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 Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com February 3, 2012

Will the State of Israel be forced to pay for missing core studies? Dozens of former ultra-Orthodox men and women are seeking to sue the State for damages they allegedly suffered by not studying basic subjects like math or English in the schools they were educated in.

According to the plaintiffs, ever since leaving the religious world they have spent many years and a lot of money in order to catch up on the crucial material – and should therefore be compensated.

The lawsuit was initiated by the Maavar association, which usually works to bridge between former religious people and their families.

By Nathan Jeffay Opinion http://blogs.forward.com February 3, 2012

This is going to be fascinating to watch. How will the state respond to a lawsuit holding it responsible for an educational approach, chosen by the plaintiffs’ parents, which it opposes but hasn’t, until now, had the confidence to fight? 

And if these ex-Haredim succeed, what’s to stop still-observant Haredim who say their earnings power has suffered from suing, too?

By Yair Harush www.ynetnews.com February 1, 2012

An ad published this week by Maccabi Health Services called on members of all health maintenance organizations in the city of Ashdod to take part in a blood donation initiative – but only if they are men.

The ad showed a smiling ultra-Orthodox man and called on HMO members to donate blood as part of "men's blood donation in cooperation with Maccabi Health Services."

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com February 2, 2012

Faces of young girls presenting Purim costumes have been blurred in ads published in Beit Shemesh's ultra-Orthodox newspapers, leading to a consumer boycott against the toy store chain marketing the costumes.

The first to protest the incident was Hadassa Margolese, the mother of eight-year-old Naama who was humiliated by religious zealots on her way to school.

By Allison Kaplan Sommer http://blogs.forward.com January 31, 2012

“The circulars are actually printed in [the Haredi neighborhood] of Ramat Beit Shemesh,” Margolese told The Sisterhood. “But they were put in my mailbox in my neighborhood in a part of the city which is not Haredi.

The store itself is downtown where non-Orthodox and Modern Orthodox people shop. The store and the company needed to be told that we don’t believe in blurring female faces and anyone who wants to put their advertisements in our mailboxes in our neighborhood with blurred faces would lose our business.”

By Dr. Peggy Drexler Opinion www.huffingtonpost.com January 31, 2012

So the questions remain:
Why is female sexuality and empowerment so deeply threatening to the conservative religious cultures? 

What would happen to those cultures if women were free to make their own sexual choices, and exercise their own personal power? Would free, healthy, sexual, productive women bring down a society or dramatically strengthen it?

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com February 6, 2012

Natalie Mashiach and Hadassah Margolis, recent victims of extremist ultra- Orthodox violence and intimidation in Beit Shemesh, drove in a small convoy with other activists to the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Sunday to call on the government to tackle the extremist tendencies of sections of the haredi community in their city.

“Can someone in the government wake up and please do something?” Mashiach asked, addressing the press outside the Prime Minister’s Office.

“We residents are held captive, but we’re not going to give up on our city. Together – secular, traditional, national- religious and moderate haredim – we will not flee. We will fight for our homes and we will fight for our city.”

Israel must not let women’s rights be trampled
Editorial www.jweekly.com February 2, 2012

Israel has always been a grand experiment. As the Jewish homeland, it embraces the expansive Jewish universe, from ultra-secular to deeply religious, including a large minority of non-Jewish citizens. That diversity is part of Israel’s strength.

Yet Israel watchers have long wondered: Can a Jewish state also exist as a thriving democracy with equal rights for all? Unless the government unreservedly upholds women’s rights and cracks down on those who would make Israel a medieval theocracy, we may not like the ultimate answer to that question.

By Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz Opinion www.haaretz.com February 5, 2012
Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz is Dean of HaOhel Institutions in Jerusalem, now launching a new venture, Threshold.

If we are to be fair, it is clear that the assault of Western values and culture on the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle is formidable; it is only natural that they should be afraid.

But to me it is clear that while they think of themselves as the ones who fear God, it is fear of the world that most defines the haredi path. Could not an authentic and deep faith in God's hand in the world provide them with a more confident sense of balance, and allow them to draw closer to the “Ledge”?

Israeli feminist Anat Hoffman coming to Bay Area for nine talks

By Rebecca Spence www.jweekly.com February 2, 2012

“Americans have been trained to care about Israel’s security and think of it in terms of Israel being surrounded by millions of enemies,” Anat Hoffman said in a phone interview in advance of her 11-day California visit, which hits the Bay Area on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

“But security is not just measured by soldiers on the border. It’s also measured by an 8-year-old girl’s ability to go to school without being bullied.”

By Itamar Eichner www.ynetnews.com February 5, 2012

The US State Department is concerned over recent violence exhibited by extremists in Israel's haredi community and has published a travel recommendation for tourists.

"Most roads into ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhoods are blocked off on Friday nights, Saturdays, and Jewish holidays. Assaults on secular visitors, either for being in cars or for being 'immodestly dressed' have occurred in these neighborhoods," the consulate said.

By Nehemia Shtrasler Opinion www.haaretz.com February 3, 2012

To ensure that there be absolutely no doubt that most of the subsidized housing should go to the ultra-Orthodox, Atias stipulated that 30 percent of the apartments must go to families with two children and 45 percent to families with three children or more.

Atias' criteria make a mockery of social justice. Because social justice means a positive correlation between what you give to the state and what you get from it. But on the housing issue, the less you give, the more you'll get.

By Moran Azulay www.ynetnews.com January 30, 2012

Earlier Monday, the Israel Land administration unanimously approved the proposed regulations, which grant priority housing to those who have served in the army but do not favor households where both partners work.

The parties blasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government for "violating the middle class' basic right for … affordable housing."

By Stella Korin-Lieber Opinion www.globes.co.il January 30, 2012

They continue to laugh in our faces. From today, it’s not just Minister of Housing Ariel Atias who has fixed it so that the criteria for affordable housing will be in accordance with his peculiar outlook on life, but also, and it’s official, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz.

They joined in Atias’s clever and cunning exercise, diverted public attention to the strengthening of the criteria giving preference to those who have served in the army, and ignored the matter of exhausting earning capacity.

By Shmarya Rosenberg Opinion www.forward.com February 1, 2012

[D]id you know that when you purchase many popular kosher food items, you may be financially supporting that violence?

...Most of us do not want our money to be used to pay the stipends of men who stone Israeli police, vandalize Israeli buses, spit on “immodest” little girls and attack “immodest” women.

One way to ensure it won’t be is to stop buying products that carry the Badatz Yerushalayim and CRC kosher seals. Another is to raise Satmar’s involvement in Edah HaCharedis with American politicians who help Satmar organizations receive government funding.

www.ynetnews.com February 3, 2012

ZAKA Chairman and Founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav has lashed out against the recent wave of ultra-Orthodox violence in the strongest possible terms, comparing their actions to those of terrorists.

In an unparalleled assault against those behind the recent violence, Meshi-Zahav asserted, “This has been going on for too long, these so-called haredi hooligans have wreaked havoc through harassment and violence. It doesn’t really matter how they justify the actions, often they are just bored and find excuses later.

"Whatever the reason, they cannot be allowed to go on like this, at the expense of innocent men, women and children, whose only crime is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

By Yehuda Meshi-Zahav Opinion www.jta.org January 30, 2012

The silence of the majority of our leaders has allowed a tiny fringe group of extremists to hijack the media into thinking they represent the entire haredi Orthodox community in Israel.

This terrible generalization could not be further from the truth and is insulting to those of us who have worked for so many years to bridge the gaps of understanding with all sectors of Israeli society.

By Ram Ozeri http://english.themarker.com February 2, 2012

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer:
"Among the Arabs, population growth has moderated a little, but among the Haredim it's the opposite. I hold the Haredi community in the highest esteem, but I have to say that continuing growth by a population segment that doesn't work can't go on forever. It has to stop."

By Adrian Filut http://www.globes.co.il February 2, 2012

Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer's unusually sharp attack on the low participation in the workforce by haredim (ultra-orthodox) at the Herzliya Conference yesterday may have been prompted by hard questions asked by the head of the IMF Mission to Israel, Peter Doyle, senior government officials told "Globes" today.

The sources said that Doyle, during his numerous meetings with Bank of Israel, Ministry of Finance, and other government officials, expressed his concerns over the low participation in Israel's workforce, and the extraordinarily low participation by haredi men was .

http://jiis.org/ JIIS Bulletin #9 - February 2012

A new JIIS study is examining the gamut of issues related to integrating educated haredis into the workforce. And what the researchers have found so far is fascinating.

Indeed, the project so far has identified a series of barriers that at present make haredi integration into the labor force harder than that for the general population – social barriers of both the haredis and potential employers, barriers related to the type and quality of training given to the ultra-orthodox, barriers regarding availability of work, and so on.

www.haaretz.com February 5, 2012

A new bill advanced by Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On aims to provide financial aid to youths leaving the religious world, similar to that given to new immigrants upon their arrival in Israel.

Eli Bitaan: “It’s the state that deprived me of an education given to any other person my age. The state gave up on my education as a Haredi out of political motivations and never gave me an equal opportunity.”

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com February 1, 2012

“I don’t feel we’ve won yet, I feel we’re on our way to solving the problem,” said Margolese. “My daughter feels safe at school now, so that’s a good thing.”

“But we want to feel safe on the streets on Beit Shemesh and Ramat Beit Shemesh. We want to feel like we can go anywhere, dressed however we’re dressed, and not be attacked,” she added.

“This is a microcosm of the whole country,” said Coleman. “The country shouldn’t give in because they are worried about people rioting, and we won’t give up until people can walk safely.”

By Yair Altman www.ynetnews.com January 31, 2012

Natalie Mashiah, the woman who was assaulted by haredi extremists in Beit Shemesh last week, is demanding some answers.

Aharonovitch and Shaham met Mashiah during a tour of Beit Shemesh. "I want to know why there isn’t enough manpower," she said.

"When I called the police two terrified officers came. I pointed to my assailants and the officers told me not to worry and that by midnight all 15 attackers would be arrested. If we had enough officers who weren't so terrified maybe things would look differently."

www.communitym.com February 1, 2012
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: 
I am writing with regard to what has been recently occurring in our land, that, to our dismay, various entities are attempting to disgrace the Torah of Israel through actions that ought not be done, thereby causing a public desecration of the Divine Name, giving no thought to the results of their actions. 
They have gone so far as to humiliate and embarrass people in public, to insult, curse and slur, and the rabbis are not approving of this behavior. I therefore decided that this is not a time to remain silent, and I am unable to mince words.

By Moran Azulay www.ynetnews.com January 30, 2012

MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) accused the media on Monday of turning the Israeli public against the ultra-Orthodox sector by publishing "anti-Semitic talkbacks and incitement."

Speaking before the Knesset plenum, Eichler likened the media's conduct to that of the Weimar Republic, referring to the early Nazi regime in Germany.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com February 1, 2012

Police arrested four men in the ultra-Orthodox Mea She'arim neighborhood in Jerusalem who threw stones at inspectors from the Tax Authority on Wednesday morning.

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com February 3, 2012

Haredi families buy up apartments vacated by secular residents, a glatt kosher supermarket opens, and other apartments are turned into synagogues. It's Jerusalem's Gilo Aleph neighborhood, another area in the capital going ultra-Orthodox.

Jerusalem City Council member Rachel Azaria says the attempt to separate ultra-Orthodox and secular people has failed.

"The Haredi people who come to Gilo want to live in a mixed neighborhood, they want to live in a place where a man can sit beside his wife on the bus," she says. "So instead of separating we must define common living rules in which nobody disturbs the other in the public sphere."

By Tom Segev www.haaretz.com February 2, 2012

This is a story of an alleged rape in Mea She'arim, Jerusalem, 100 years ago. "The whole country was in an uproar," wrote S.Y. Agnon, "saying this is Jerusalem and these are its Hasids."

By Tamar Rotem www.haaretz.com February 3, 2012

A new study that focuses on the private and public lifestyle of Gur Hasidim lifts the veil further on sanctity in the sect.

"Sanctity is the ideology of the art of drawing apart," says Dr. Nava Wasserman, whose study of private and public life among Gur Hasidism was the subject of her doctoral dissertation (which she wrote under the guidance of Prof. Kimmy Caplan, at Bar-Ilan University).

Her study is a rare achievement, in that sanctity is an oral tradition, and among Gur Hasidim, it is passed on only via private instruction. She describes the sanctity society through the eyes of women and men who are for the most part from the hard core of the sect.

By Tamar Dresler www.ynetnews.com February 5, 2012

The ultra-Orthodox and religious communities have denied for years that such a problem exists in their midst. Today, some of rabbis take part in the fight against violence and understand that this is something they need to be dealing with. But still, the path to freedom for an abused Orthodox woman is filled with obstacles and heartache.

In addition to the shelter, there is a hotline that receives no less than 100 calls a month from ultra-Orthodox women, worried friends, neighbors and social services nationwide.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com February 2, 2012

A new mehadrin, super-kosher kashrut authority was launched this week from Safed, targeting the national-religious community.

The more discerning members of the crocheted kippa-wearing public will be now able to purchase fresh poultry slaughtered under the auspices of the Badatz Orot Eliyahu authority.

Badatz Orot Eliyahu is the brainchild of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed, and Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg, dean of the Orot Ha’ari yeshiva in Safed.

By Elli Fischer Opinion www.jpost.com February 4, 2012
The writer is an author and translator from Modi’in. His recent retrospective about Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, entitled “Halacha for Americans,” appeared on Jewish Ideas Daily.

In the case of Haagen Dazs, the rabbinate has changed a policy of benign neglect that allowed individual consumers to make their own choices about kashrut standards.

Of course, one can live without Haagen Dazs ice cream. Nevertheless, it is deeply insulting to have the country’s official kosher-certification body cast aspersions on longstanding and halachically accepted practices.

By Peggy Cidor www.jpost.com February 2, 2012

Simhayof recovered quickly after the initial shock (he is a trained politician, after all) and launched what he calls “the beginning of the end of Barkat’s days on the city council.”

What did he mean by that? Simhayof says that first of all, he will personally see to it that for the rest of the mayor’s term on the council, Barkat’s life will be miserable.

But more importantly, from now on Simhayof will be leading the camp that is actively seeking a candidate to challenge Barkat in the 2014 mayoral elections.

“We already have names, and none of them are haredi – we already learned that lesson [with former Uri Lupolianski],” he explains. “But they are very good people, and I swore to myself that Barkat will not be the next mayor if that is the last thing I do in local politics.”

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com February 6, 2012

As Shas gets ready to welcome back a former minister jailed for corruption, party chairman Eli Yishai looks like he may be gearing up to become its next martyr.

In a recent issue of the Shas journal Yom L'yom, Yishai wrote about the upcoming release of former minister Shlomo Benizri, whose is due to be freed in April.

By Yaniv Kubovich www.haaretz.com January 30, 2012

The Israel Prisons Service parole board decided Monday to reduce the sentence of former minister Shlomo Benizri, a member of the Shas party who was recently sentenced to four years in prison for bribery and other offenses.

www.jpost.com February 3, 2012

Kiryat Arba's Chief Rabbi Dov Lior compared US President Barak Obama to Haman - an enemy of the Jews in the Book of Esther- during a conference in the West Bank this week, Army Radio reported Friday.

He also labeled the Obama a "kushi" of the West, a derogatory term used to describe people of African descent.

By Elana Sztokman Opinion http://blogs.forward.com January 31, 2012

The most surprising part of the story about Rav Aharon Bina’s alleged emotional abuse of his students at Netiv Aryeh comes from the reactions: It is astounding to see how many people apparently knew this has been going on but continue to sing his praises. This entire episode raises some difficult questions about what is really going on in the yeshiva world.

...When I think about the ongoing dysfunction in the Orthodox community today, a community that is so bizarrely obsessed with obedience, conformity, and the absence of the female presence, it all starts to make sense. This is a community that has come to value submission to authority, that places these warped values on a pedestal, and makes deviation from the crowd all but impossible.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com February 1, 2012

In a landmark decision, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled last week that police can forbid Jewish worshipers from blowing the shofar at the Kotel Hakatan, a small part of the Western Wall that is considered the closest point to the inner sanctuary of the Temple Mount.

Small groups can bring Torahs and gather for prayer events in coordination with police and the Western Wall Heritage Fund. However, no ritual objects can be installed permanently at the site, such as chairs, a cabinet to hold prayer books or a Torah ark.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com January 31, 2012

Small groups can bring Torahs and gather for prayer events in coordination with police and the Western Wall Heritage Fund. However, no ritual objects can be installed permanently at the site, such as chairs, a cabinet to hold prayer books or a Torah ark.

www.ynetnews.com February 5, 2012

Seventy-one olim from Ethiopia arrived in Israel on Thursday accompanied by lay leaders from the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA).

The UJA-Federation generously donates over $3 million annually to Ethiopian aliyah and absorption in Israel, as well as medical and educational services for those still in Ethiopia. At the moment, there are more than 6,000 Ethiopian Jews (Falash Mura) seeking to make aliyah to Israel.

By Ruth Eglash www.jpost.com February 5, 2012

Responding to recent calls by young Ethiopian-Israeli activists for overseas Jews to push the government to tackle widespread discrimination against the immigrant community, a senior American Jewish leader told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that it was not the place of the Diaspora to intervene on a political level in Israel’s social problems.

The relationship between American Jewry and Israel is very delicate,” said John Ruskay, executive vice president and CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York. He was in Israel last week after spending four days in Ethiopia visiting Jews waiting there to immigrate.

By John S. Ruskay Opinion www.ujafedny.org February 3, 2012

This week, I accompanied 82 Falas Mora as they made their journey from Ethiopia home to Israel — bearing witness to the fulfillment of a promise made long ago. I was joined by 19 of our leaders, including UJA-Federation board chair Alisa Doctoroff and campaign chair Marcia Riklis, on a mission organized by the Jewish Federations of North America.

We spent two days in Northern Ethiopia learning about the life of the Falas Mora, visiting the synagogues, cemeteries, and schools they had erected to sustain their Jewish commitment even though their ancestors had converted to Christianity.

In a synagogue in Gondar, we joined hundreds adorned in tallitim and tefillin for morning prayers that concluded with “Am Yisrael Chai” and “Od Avinu Chai” sung with a poignancy and passion that none of us will soon forget.

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com February 3, 2012

Armenian residents of Jerusalem's Old City are protesting a municipal decision to designate a parking lot in the area solely for Jews, although part of it stands on land belonging to the Armenian Patriarchate.

By Itamar Eichner www.ynetnews.com January 31, 2012

After 18 years of tough negotiations, the Catholic Church agreed to waive its demand to receive sovereignty over the Cenacle (the location of the "Last Supper") on Jerusalem's Mount Zion. 

In return, Israel agreed to consider giving the Church access to the place and even consider a leasing option.

It was also agreed that the Vatican would start paying a reduced property tax for its assets in Israel. Over the years, Israel suffered losses of tens of millions of shekels due to the Vatican's failure to pay property tax.

By Giulio Meotti Opinion www.ynetnews.com February 4, 2012
Giulio Meotti is a journalist with Il Foglio.

Israel should no be bowing to the Vatican, as the Jewish State is admirably committed to protecting the holy sites of all religions and guaranteeing the right of worship for all faiths. 

However, instead of saying “keep your hands off Jerusalem, it’s not for sale,” the Israeli government accepted the Vatican’s ransom request.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com February 5, 2012

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams met with Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar on Thursday during a week-long personal pilgrimage to Israel and the West Bank.

By Michele Chabin www.ncregister.com February 2, 2012

When Pope Benedict XVI announced that New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan was to be elevated to cardinal on Feb. 18, many people expected the popular archbishop of New York to cancel a Holy Land retreat he had planned to lead.

But Cardinal-designate Dolan, who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wouldn’t hear of it.
He didn’t want to disappoint either the 50 New York-area priests who were scheduled to accompany him or the Holy Land Christians who had long anticipated their visit.

By Alona Ferber www.haaretz.com February 3, 2012

Throngs of American Christians flock to Israel's storied capital every year. But Jacob Newberry, who grew up in a conservative, Baptist home in a small Mississippi town, is on a decidedly different kind of pilgrimage.

Now "pretty firmly atheist," 28-year-old Newberry has been living in Jerusalem since September and documenting the experiences of people with similar religious backgrounds who are in Israel on some form of spiritual journey.

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