Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - March 12, 2012 (Section 1)

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

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com March 13, 2012

In January 2011, the Conservative and Reform movements in Israel decided to freeze petitions they made to the High Court of Justice to have conversions done under their auspices recognized by the state. 

In return, the government agreed to set up a framework for negotiations between the Interior Ministry, the Jewish Agency and the Conservative and Reform movements to produce a clear set of criteria by which to approve or deny the application for immigrant status by someone who converted outside of Israel.

To date, there has only been one meeting between the relevant parties, which took place at the beginning of 2011.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the executive director of the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism:
“Instead of establishing a clear policy, it prefers to maintain an ambiguous situation, and once again the government is showing that converts from overseas are not truly welcome in Israel.”

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com March 7, 2012

Following the retirement of Rabbi Haim Druckman from his position as head of the Conversion Authority in February, all of the conversions awaiting approval have yet to be signed due to the government's inability to find a consensus figure to direct the authority.

The certificates act as proof of Judaism and are given to those seeking to acquire Israeli citizenship.

By Nathan Hersh Opinion www.haaretz.com March 11, 2012
Nathan Hersh served in a combat unit of the Israel Defense Forces until 2011. He currently studies at the International Program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation at Tel Aviv University and is a contributor to FriendaSoldier.com.

Increased Haredi presence in the army will not bridge the gap between ultra-Orthodox and secular Israelis. Instead, it will bring the problems that already divide Israeli society to the military, and the military is not built to handle it.

...Religious soldiers are often under especially great pressure to put the army’s needs before their religious obligations, sacrifices that assure the army’s cohesion and ability, guaranteeing its power. 

But ultra-Orthodox soldiers will face even greater pressure to adjust. And it is clear that the ultra-Orthodox are incapable of that adjustment.

By Michael C. Dorf Opinion http://verdict.justia.com March 12, 2012
Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School.

President Beinisch offered two main responses to Justice Grunis’s point.  First, she observed that the principle of equality protects individuals, not groups.  

A majority of non-haredi Israelis could think it appropriate to exempt haredim from military service, but that exemption might still be unfair to the remaining non-haredim who resent and oppose the difference in treatment, and who must serve in the military when haredim need not do so.

Second, President Beinisch challenged the assumption that haredim lack political power, relative to non-haredim.

By Suzanne Last Stone http://iengage.org.il March 6, 2012

Three distinct sorts of arguments are in the air - divided along the themes of assimilation, segregation, and accommodation.

The assimilationists argue that drafting the haredi population is essential in order to integrate them into Israeli society as quickly as possible.

...In contrast, several voices in the public sphere argue strongly for continuing the exemption. They point to the special political character of Israel as a state that has always valued the rights of distinct sub-groups.

...The High Court’s decision offers yet a different model of the character and commitments of the state and its deepest values. The Court stressed the importance of equality: the equal sharing of burdens.

http://hiddush.org March 5, 2012

68%, more than two-thirds of the Jewish population of Israel, including 81% of Likkud voters, support withholding public funding for yeshiva students if they refuse to enlist in military or civil service.

82% of the Jewish Israeli population hold that in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling that invalidates the Tal Law, a new law must be passed to enforce mandatory conscription of all or most yeshiva students into service.

69% support the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate the Tal Law.

By Charlotte Silver http://ipsnews.net March 11, 2012

"The judges don’t know what they’re talking about because they are coming from a secular background and don’t know the rules of Judaism. They shouldn’t be making these decisions," Rabbi Simon Hurwitz [Aish Hatorah Yeshiva] told IPS.

Rabbi Hurwitz moved to Israel nearly 39 years ago from Baltimore in the U.S. He explains that after living a mostly secular life in America, he became observant after being properly exposed to Judaism.

By Lahav Harkov www.jpost.com March 11, 2012

Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) has proposed a bill that seeks to undo one of the legal ramifications of the Tal Law’s cancellation, by passing separate legislation on yeshivas that combine Torah studies with army service.

By Ilan Ben Zion www.timesofisrael.com March 12, 2012

The Knesset approved a bill on Monday evening that will crack down on women who dodge Israel’s compulsory draft by claiming to be religious.

The Knesset approved the law with a vote of 21 for and five against. The new law aims to minimize the number of exemptions granted to women who falsely claim to be religious by requiring them to provide evidence to that effect. Until now, in order to get an exemption, women were only required to affirm they were religious.

By Elana Sztokman Opinion http://blogs.forward.com March 7, 2012

Agunot are women who still believe in Jewish law, who are still trying to work within the system of traditions that they call their own, who still rely on religious authority figures – who are all male and for the most part thus far unhelpful – to determine their personal status.

In this sense, they are more like Esther than Vashti. Because if they were really fighters, they would walk away.

By Dvora Meyers Opinion http://blogs.forward.com March 7, 2012

But what the Friedman case demonstrates is that none of the rabbinic machinations are all that effective.
Friedman has ignored the rulings of more than one Jewish court and all of the public and media pressure exerted thus far. 

So what to do in those instances where none of the legalistic maneuvers and traditional methods of coercion have worked?

In an interview with the Jewish Review about the issue of agunot, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the spiritual leader of the Efrat in the West Bank, was asked why some of the halachic proposals that would enable a rabbinic court to dissolve marriage contract even without the husband’s consent haven’t been accepted by the Orthodox community.

His answer was pointed: “I think to a certain extent there is a lack of judicial courage in our time.”
See also: The Agunah - Finding a Solution: An Interview with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Volume 3 , Issue 1 (Sept, 1989 | Tishrei, 5750)

Dr. Rachel Levmore Opinion http://blog.jofa.org March 5, 2012

Stating that the agunah problem -in the United States, Europe and Israel – has not been resolved in the past year would be an understatement.

Although significant progress has been made in Israel in the increased signing of the Israeli Agreement for Mutual Respect, which is a preventative step that has gained recognition amongst Israeli rabbis, there have been no systemic solutions implemented to resolve agunah cases which exist.

Moreover, at least in the US, the agunah problem has moved out of cloistered Jewish circles and is becoming part of general knowledge of non-Jews.

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

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, along with several other senior rabbis, issued a public statement on Tuesday warning the public that visiting the Temple Mount is forbidden by Jewish law.

According to the statement, the warning is being issued at this time because of increased organized attempts to go up to the holy site.

Rav Chaim Richman, Director of the International Dept. of the Temple Institute, issued a dissenting opinion to the proclamations by the chief Rabbis regarding the proihibition of ascent to the Temple Mount.

By Ilan Lior www.haaretz.com March 13, 2012

When a cemetery was opened on land belonging to Kibbutz Givat Brenner nearly a decade ago, it was intended to provide eternal rest for people of all religions who would not be granted a religious burial, or just don't want one.

The civil service has proved so popular that the cemetery, called Menuha Mehubedet (Hebrew for "dignified rest"), is running out of land and has built a 33-meter-long, four-level hillside structure for burial.

"The religious establishment supports us because we're their Shabbes goy," said cemetery director Aryeh Abir...

By Uriel Heilman www.jta.org March 1, 2012
www.ynetnews.com March 10, 2012

Bradley Chalupski, Israel’s best hope for a medal on the bobsled track at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014, is, technically speaking, not even Israeli.

His only visit to Israel came last year on a Birthright trip, and the Israeli Olympic Committee isn't even aware of his existence. Moreover, Chalupski competes in skeleton, a sport that’s virtually unknown in Israel and the rest of the world.

By Mordechai I. Twersky www.haaretz.com March 9, 2012

The State of Israel stands to lose as much as $12 million in transfers from North American Jewish Federations, and untold millions more from U.S. charitable funds, if a proposal by the Obama administration to tax charitable giving is approved, according to senior public policy officials.

"I am worried," says William Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of the Washington Office of the Jewish Federations of North America.

By John S. Ruskay Opinion http://ejewishphilanthropy.com March 11, 2012

There is much talk today of the distancing of the next generation of our people. That’s true, but I still believe that Israel has the magnetic power to reignite young and old to an equivalent odyssey of an obsessive and life-long positive relationship.

This will require a combination of the experiential – teen trips, Birthright, Masa – with opportunities to continuously wrestle with the complexities of Israel today.

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