Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - February 13, 2012 (Section 2)

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

By Lior Dattel www.haaretz.com February 12, 2012

Activists from several student unions plan to submit an urgent High Court of Justice petition on Sunday against Interior Minister Eli Yishai's plan to exempt yeshivas from property taxes.

The exemption would apply to all public institutions that have boarding schools, but the petitioners say it would mostly help large yeshivas.

It must be dropped or expanded to include student dormitories at colleges and universities, states the petition, which has the backing of student unions from eight universities and colleges.

By Lior Dattel www.haaretz.com February 10, 2012

The Council for Higher Education will invest NIS 180 million over the next five years to encourage Haredim to study and enter the workforce. The CHE approved the plan yesterday to make higher education more accessible to the ultra-Orthodox population.

Among the proposals are scholarships, classrooms with separation between men and women, and special educational materials that take into account and bridge the large gaps in knowledge in certain subjects.

By Rabba Sara Hurwitz Opinion http://morethodoxy.org February 7, 2012

Modesty is the halakha or Jewish code of law, most readily summoned upon as the basis to exclude women from public leadership roles.

Yet it is fairly typical for certain Modern Orthodox congregants to also be regular consumers of “immodest” television programs, films, and entertainment.  

These individuals deal with women in the secular boardroom and courtroom, but they do not want women standing before a shul because, well, it’s immodest.

My name is Hadassa Margolese, I am the mother of eight year old Naama Margolese from Beit Shemesh.
...My daughter, if anything, will learn from her mother that we are powerful, and we can make a change. 

We can make things better. Small steps at a time, but we will get there.
I'm on a mission now to be inspired by all the powerful women out there. There are so many influential women around me. I am inspired by the women who are making a difference in the world around them.

Behind the headlines, Orthodox changemakers are working hard to promote pluralistic, democratic and social justice values in their community and in Israel at large.

Engage with these inspiring activists, voices not commonly heard, who are instrumental in building a strong and democratic Israel on the foundation of Jewish values.

Opening remarks by Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon followed by conversations with:
·                     Shira Ben-Sasson Furstenberg, New Israel Fund
·                     Drori Yehoshua, Memizrach Shemesh
·                     Hanah Kehat, Kolech: Religious Women’s Forum
·                     Gadi Gvaryahu, Yud Bet B'Heshvan Forum and Brit Choshech Legaresh (Banish the Darkness)
·                     Batya Kahana-Dror, Mavoi Satum (Dead End)

By Elana Sztokman Opinion http://elanasztokman.com/ February 7, 2012

I don’t know why some people find it so difficult to get fully behind the issue of gender discrimination, why women sitting on the back of the bus is urgent but women earning 65 agurot on the shekel is not, why the status of women is only “interesting” if it is connected to something else deemed more worthy.

When members of the government and the media stay on gender without slipping away into religion versus state or IDF power, when our leaders are willing to look at their own sexist practices and not just those in the haredi world, then I will know that change is truly in the air.

By Shlomo Brody Opinion www.jpost.com February 10, 2012

...Clearly, however, many of the phenomena are deplorable, and require redress on three levels: (1) rectifying the massive desecration of God’s reputation (Hillul Hashem) created by extremists like the Sikarikim group and their neighbors who fail to condemn their actions; (2) creating greater understanding on the relationship between Halacha,democracy, and tolerance; and (3) clarifying the halachic sources related to these matters, the latter of which will be the focus of this essay.

By Nir Elis www.jpost.com February 10, 2012

Fashion magazine BelleMode caused a splash on the web this week when it released overtly sexualized high-fashion photos from its forthcoming issue depicting the issue of ultra-Orthodox gender separation on buses.

By Tamar Rotem www.haaretz.com February 10, 2012

In Gur Hasidism, there is a network of men called commandants, who counsel the young grooms regarding marital relations. If there is one thing L., a friend of R.'s, could not stand in her marriage, she notes, it was the commandant's intervention in her intimate life.

Sara Einfeld, a former Gur Hasid, says: "Men are liable to use this to control their wives and avoid treating them well, in the guise of spiritual 'elevation.'"

Y., a Gur Hasid, sent me the following message: "It is important to me that our outcry reach the sane world," he wrote.

By Haviv Rettig Opinion http://blogs.timesofisrael.com February 10, 2012

To be clear, I’m not saying that the struggle to integrate haredim into Israel’s social fabric and economy has succeeded. I’m only saying that the extremists are right to be worried. 

While the media focuses automatically on the increasing audacity and violence of the extremists, it is largely failing to notice that all the relevant social trends in the haredi community point in the right direction.

Haredim are not cartoons. They are real people, as sophisticated and rational as the rest of Israeli society. So it’s a shame to see them used as fodder to sell papers, when the reality – that they are modernizing and abandoning their self-imposed ghetto at breakneck speed – is being ignored.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com February 9, 2012

A small but significant segment of the haredi population is beginning to emerge, whose socioeconomic status could be defined as middle class, says a new study from the Israel Democracy Institute.

According to the report, unlike other segments of the ultra-Orthodox public, the middle class haredim 
are likely to work outside the community, often in professional vocations such as accounting or law.

www.idi.org.il February 6, 2012

On Wednesday, February 8, 2012, IDI hosted a conference on the development of the ultra-Orthodox middle class in Israel. 

This event was being convened as part of the activities of IDI's Nation State project, under the leadership of IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Anita Shapira, and presented the findings of research conducted jointly with IDI's Religion and State project, under the leadership of Prof. Yedidia Stern.

February 9, 2012

A small but significant segment of the haredi population whose socioeconomic status could be defined as middle class is beginning to emerge.

By Ranit Nahum-Halevy, Raz Smolsky and Nati Tucker www.haaretz.com February 8, 2012

Take a look at the questionnaire attached to the sales brochure, titled "The Binu Ami group is building the city of Harish - the new Haredi city." Beyond the usual questions (number of children, ID number ), you have to state which religious sector you belong to - Sephardi, Lithuanian, Hasidic or strictly Orthodox. Secular is not an option.

The questionnaire asks what kind of head covering (hat, wig or headscarf ) the mother of the family wears. And the father needs to state how many hours he spends studying Torah. Nor will they take your word for all this: applicants need to append a letter of recommendation from a rabbi.

By Meirav Arlosoroff www.haaretz.com February 8, 2012

Haredim manage to buy homes. How?

1) help from older generations who worked, and some of whom received Holocaust compensation payments from Germany.

2) massive low-cost building in the territories, which enabled the establishment of cheap Haredi cities such as Beitar Ilit.

3) biased assistance from the state. The criteria for assistance in purchasing a home are blatantly skewed in favor of the ultra-Orthodox.

The first two sources are disappearing. What remains is state subsidies.

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com February 8, 2012

Three out of every four Beit Shemesh children entering the first grade in the 2012/2013 academic year will be registered in official ultra-Orthodox institutions, according to figures published Tuesday by the Beit Shemesh education authority.

Of 7,000 Beit Shemesh five to eight-year-olds, for example, a total of 5,800 will be ultra-Orthodox.

By Yitzhak Benhorin www.ynetnews.com February 12, 2012

Recent controversies surrounding the treatment of women in the haredi community have led officials in Maryland's Montgomery County to suspend a sister-city agreement with Beit Shemesh.

By Victor Zapana www.washingtonpost.com February 11, 2012

County Council member George L. Leventhal (D-At Large) said “good judgment is prevailing.”

“I really support efforts to build bridges, but we have to be practical ... ,” said Leventhal, who is Jewish and visited Beit Shemesh in 2001. “The deeper you get into issues like this, the greater risk you run of getting your own constituents really mad.”

Council President Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), who is also Jewish, said people would never imagine something like this happening with a prospective sister city — “or else you wouldn’t enter into these discussions.”

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com February 9, 2012

But one organization, the ZAKA rescue and recovery organization, seeks to soothe societal wounds through a coming together not only of the many ultra-Orthodox volunteers in its ranks but of secular, Zionist and other religious people to bridge current divides.

By Andrew Silow-Carroll Opinion www.njjewishnews.com February 8, 2012

The haredi debate, at the very least, provides a middle ground. Unfortunately for Rabbi Shafran, Prophets and Protectors alike agree that Israel should be a place where, in Amsalem’s words, “every Jew in Israel — haredim, ultra-Orthodox, and secular; religious Zionist and traditional; Ashkenazim and Sephardim; recent immigrants and people who have lived there for decades — all [work] together to build a Judaism on the principles of respecting one another.”

It’s regrettable that the issue implicates innocents in the actions of the minority. But in terms of creating a Zionism that unites security and social justice, survival and morality, Exodus with Sinai, it’s a start.

By Gil Troy Opinion www.tnr.com February 2, 2012

[Netanyahu] should leverage the generous subsidies the haredim currently enjoy to force the rabbis to control the bullies and accept more responsibilities as Israeli citizens.

Needed reforms include teaching a core curriculum of general subjects in schools that receive state funding, limiting the number of army exemptions, and increasing vocational training.

In return, Netanyahu should pass legislation guaranteeing haredim a separate school system and particular exemptions, so their every benefit is not perennially in doubt.

And Netanyahu must move all Israelis beyond classical Zionism’s monolithic, tanned, bronzed secular “New Jews” finding unity in uniformity; today’s multicultural Israelis should celebrate diversity while sharing common civic commitments.

By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com February 8, 2012

Students at the Haredi College of Jerusalem were surprised recently to see a tall screen separating between men and women at the institution's public cafeteria, in addition to the gender segregation in classrooms.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com February 9, 2012

Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat met on Tuesday with 12 haredi women who in recent years began to write, produce, direct and shoot films, and who have now been chosen to take part in a project promoting film in the ultra- Orthodox sector.

www.ckj.org February 7, 2012

The first tragedy in this drama is the human one.
...The second tragedy is the massive Chilul Hashem.

My own prejudices aside, what should be done to counter the tragic
behavior in Israel of the Chilul Hashem that is bringing shame upon the entire
Jewish people, upon Torah and upon God?

First: There should be no coercion on religious matters, no .כפייה דתית
We cannot force Judaism on others.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com February 10, 2012

The Secular-haredi tensions over the exclusion of women reached new heights in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Yovel where there is a growing haredi community. Local bulletin boards were recently pasted with pictures of women posing almost entirely in the nude.

The pictures were put up during the Sabbath and included a caption that read: "The glorification of women."

By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com February 12, 2012

The editors of an ultra-Orthodox magazine were embarrassed to realize that they have published photographs featuring smutty language recently.

By David Sable Opinion www.thejewishweek.com February 17, 2012
David Sable, a member of board of directors of The Jewish Week, is an executive in the marketing and communications field.

But the problem isn’t really the radical rabbis. Rather it is so-called Modern Orthodox Jews like me, from the movement’s left wing, open fringes to its more strictly observant black hatters, who have become enablers of the type of violent intolerance that is threatening the democratic foundation of the State of Israel as well as the credibility of our own religion.

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com February 7, 2012

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, one of the most revered figures in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, is reportedly in critical condition after suffering from organ failure.

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich and Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com February 8, 2012

Hundreds of family members and strangers converged on Monday and Tuesday on the capital’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center out of concern for the health of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the leading haredi Ashkenazi rabbinical arbiter of the generation, who suffers from congestive heart failure and was in critical but stable condition.

By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com February 8, 2012
Eda Haredit members are fighting back against a recent wave of police arrests. The extreme ultra-Orthodox faction decided in recent days to step up its battle, and has begun filing personal lawsuits against police officers.

By Rabbi Zecharyah Goldman Opinion http://boulderjewishnews.org February 9, 2012
Many of us have, to our hearts grief, heard of the recent episode in Bet Shemesh, Israel where an Ultra-Orthodox religious man spat on a young Orthodox girl who was not — in his view — dressed modestly enough.
...This case presents us with the distortion and upending of religious values that are classic indications of religious insanity. The halakhic laws and values of: respect for human dignity, of loving your neighbor as yourself, of not damaging another person physically or psychologically are all dismissed in the abyss of fanaticism and what is present is the all-consuming value of modesty.

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com February 9, 2012

President Shimon Peres unveiled on Thursday a new medal of honor, awarded by Israel's president to individuals and organizations for their contribution to the State of Israel.

The first recipients of the honor will [include] Rabbi Adin Even Yisrael [Steinsaltz].

By Ruth Eglash www.jpost.com February 9, 2012

Despite comments made last week that it is not the role of Diaspora Jewry to intervene in Israel’s internal social affairs, a letter obtained by The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday shows that the New York Federation has been involved in calling for the government to help stamp out discrimination against Ethiopian immigrants.

By Nathan Jeffay www.forward.com February 12, 2012

Leaders of ZAKA, an Israeli medical and rescue organization best known for its work in the aftermath of suicide bombings, has launched a program that seeks to work with Muslim and Christian counterparts on emergency rescues.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com February 12, 2012

Police prevented former Likud leadership contender Moshe Feiglin from entering the Temple Mount Sunday morning, after accusing him and right-wing activists of attempting to disrupt order.

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