Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - April 9, 2012 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

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

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

The Interior Ministry is refusing to explain the means by which it determines whether or not Orthodox converts who converted abroad are eligible to make aliya.

“ITIM plans to reach out to the Knesset to investigate the outrageous behavior of the Interior Ministry and we also plan to ask the government to publish the criteria they are working with, in accordance with the Freedom of Information law,” Rabbi Seth Farber said. “This will be a first step in approaching the Supreme Court once again over this matter.”

“If the government acknowledges that it is operating based on a draft, and it won’t publish that draft, then what are Orthodox converts supposed to do?” Interior Minister Eli Yishai refused a request by the Post to comment.

By Tamar Rotem www.haaretz.com April 6, 2012

Chabad Hasidim, Hasidim affiliated with the Eda Haredit, and especially the Toldot Aharon Hasidic sect are the most scrupulous of all. 

Shmuel Pappenheim, a former spokesman for the Eda Haredit, explains just how far the limits of strictness reach: "At Passover," he says, "it is customary not to visit and not to host people, except for close family members, of course, because no one will eat at anyone else's home."

By Mitch Ginsburg www.timesofisrael.com April 9, 2012

One needn’t be a detective to crunch the numbers. If the IDF reports that it has purchased 25,000 liters of grape juice and each soldier is mandated by Jewish law to have four cups of the sweet drink, then anybody can come up with a fair idea of how many soldiers the IDF has kept on base during the night of the Passover seder. 

The arithmetic regarding the 155,000 pounds of matzo — based on, say, two pieces per meal, per soldier — might provide similar results.

By Stuart Winer www.timesofisrael.com April 9, 2012

Infantry troops looking forward to a festive Passover meal had to make do with cold food because of a disagreement between their cook and a religious supervisor in charge of enforcing Jewish dietary laws, in an incident that drew complaints from soldiers and attention from local media.

www.ynetnews.com April 5, 2012

According to the survey, 56% of the Israeli public believes that the law is needed both for the Jewish character of the State (34%) and in order to maintain the status quo between the religious and secular citizens of Israel (22%).

In contrast, 42% believe the law is redundant: Some think "it needs to be a social norm that stems from mutual respect (24%) while others believe the individual's freedom must be respected and that chametz should be allowed on Passover (19%).

Some 61% of respondents declared that they would be having a full-fledged seder with all the trimmings (with the majority of this group made up of traditional and religious Israelis).

Some 33% said they would have a festive family dinner during which parts of the Haggadah would be read (secular Israelis).

AP www.washingtonpost.com April 5, 2012

In Tel Aviv, about 950 businesses keep kosher year-round. Rabbi Shimon Baluka, director of the Tel Aviv-Yafo Rabbinate’s kosher department, says the Passover rules are so tough that only a third of the kosher businesses take the trouble to get certified. The others close for the holiday.

Besides the pre-Passover inspection, about 100 supervisors will ensure kosher restaurants stay to the rules during the holiday, Baluka said.

By Mitch Ginsburg www.timesofisrael.com April 4, 2012

According to Major Rabbi Asher Landau, the head of the kashrut department in the IDF rabbinate, the IDF’s Passover purchases are tremendous and they include: 220,000 pounds of matzo meal, 155,000 pounds of matzo, 7,500 pounds of meat for brisket, 25,000 liters of grape juice (there will be no wine whatsoever), 20,000 pounds of marble cake and some 30,000 pounds of powered kneidelach mix.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com April 4, 2012

A Modi’in-based charity project is calling this year for people to donate their hametz, or leavened products, to the many African migrants and asylum seekers currently residing in Tel Aviv.

By Mordechai I. Twersky www.haaretz.com April 6, 2012

As the country's new immigrants prepare to mark their first Passover in Israel as Israeli citizens, many English-speaking olim are sorting through a range of thoughts and emotions - from wide-eyed exuberance and national pride to studied reflection.

By Mordechai I. Twersky www.haaretz.com April 6, 2012

Passover's second-seder meal continues to challenge immigrants in Israel as they try to strike a balance between their new holiday customs and those of their out-of-town guests.

By Rabbi Daniel R. Allen Opinion http://ejewishphilanthropy.com April 4, 2012

Israel and Zionism should be at the core of our Passover observance. The Exodus from Egypt had a goal not just of freedom for the Jewish People but a return to our own land, our own sovereignty, and our own Jewish ways of living. 

We are required to make the story meaningful for every generation; hence we should be asking four important questions about Israel and considering four kinds of Zionists.

By Sharon Udasin www.jpost.com April 10, 2012

Getting to the Western Wall on the blisteringly sunny second day of Hol Hamoed, the intermediate days of Passover, was no easy task.

By Rabbi Haim Amsalem Opinion www.jpost.com April 4, 2012
The author is a member of Knesset, an ordained rabbi, and the founder and chairman of the Am Shalem movement.

Citizens have a difficult time with the stringent and extreme rabbinate when trying to arrange the most basic life-cycle events. 

Women feel intimidated when they walk in certain parts of the country. Men are serving more army reserve time than necessary. 

Families are paying more than their equal share of taxes while supporting tens of thousands who should be sharing the tax burden. Secular Israelis feel the state slipping out of their hands and they are in panic mode.

By Avirama Golan Opinion www.haaretz.com April 4, 2012

The problem is that every detour further illustrates the religious monopoly; every time we let slide the blatant powers of religious coercion, we give the rabbis more control. 

What appears to be dizzying freedom is therefore nothing more than weakness and surrender. And just as secular people have given up their freedom to define the state's Jewish character, religious people have given up the freedom to bring halakha up to date.

By Joanna Paraszczuk, Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com April 4, 2012

State planning authorities must examine plans to expand the women’s section at the Western Wall as part of reconstructions of the Mughrabi Bridge, and must take into consideration security issues, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

The panel of justices Miriam Naor, Esther Hayut and Neal Handel said that the national planning council’s appeals subcommittee had been wrong when it found that expanding the women’s section had been removed from the agenda, since the regional planning committee had explicitly endorsed it.

Naor said that the appeals subcommittee had in any case not discussed the matter, and so returned the issue to them to make a decision on the issue of expanding the plaza.

Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of the Women of the Wall, “There should be access to the Western Wall for everyone, and we should stop acting as if the Western Wall is an Orthodox synagogue...”

By Yaakov Lappin www.jpost.com April 8, 2012

Police arrested the head of Jerusalem-based humanitarian aid network Hazon Yeshaya, a charity that provides thousands of hot meals each day to people in need, and nine of the organization’s employees Sunday on suspicion of pocketing millions of dollars from donors abroad for poor people, including Holocaust victims.

By Eli Senyor www.ynetnews.com April 8, 2012

According to suspicions, the association which was supposed to supply food to elderly survivors purchased dozens of tons of food, but instead of giving it out, sold the food for profit. The investigation led police to arrest several association employees and their contacts.

By Oz Rosenberg www.haaretz.com April 6, 2012

Police have asked the attorney general to shut down the ultra-Orthodox news website Behadrei Haredim, several of whose executives and editors are accused of extorting large sums of money from public figures in exchange for not publishing damaging information on them.

By Roi Mandel www.ynetnews.com April 3, 2012

A tape supporting the allegations against the Hadrei Haradim website managers has been obtained by Ynet. 

"The aim is to create a positive public atmosphere for the client, and not just prevent a negative one," the site's CEO is seen saying during a meeting with a haredi businessman.

"I have a very limited number of clients, whom I keep happy," the CEO said. "They have nothing to worry about. The smallest client pays $10,000 a month."

By Daniel Schmil www.haaretz.com April 5, 2012

The Meretz party on Wednesday motioned the High Court of Justice to order the Transportation Ministry to accede to a request for buses to run in Tel Aviv on Shabbat. The rub is that, according to ministry officials, no such request was ever made by the Tel Aviv municipality.

The city confirms that but says the request is in process and will be made.

By Joanna Paraszczuk www.jpost.com April 4, 2012

Meretz MK Horwowitz added that the resolution by the Tel Aviv Municipality regarding public transport on Shabbat was a “historic decision.”

He accused the transportation minister of surrendering to religious coercion and “hiding behind the hollow facade of the ‘status quo.’” 

“The government is mistreating the large segment of the public who do not have a car, who cannot drive or who do not want to pay for fuel and parking, and who would like public transportation, all because of ancient arrangements with ultra-Orthodox parties, which are now obsolete,” Horowitz added.

By Shari Eshet Opinion www.ncjw.org April 2, 2012

The bill, introduced by a women’s organization in an attempt to force the religious courts to uphold the laws of the land and not just halacha (a tricky proposition at best) has been watered down.

While intentions were good, this new bill is a fumbled attempt by the Knesset to direct religious courts toward helping agunot, making the situation worse by providing the religious courts more power, not less. This is what happens when religion and state mix.

By David Ellenson and Daniel Gordis Opinion www.timesofisrael.com March 28, 2012

What is particularly interesting about [Chief Rabbi Isaac] Herzog’s corpus is the degree to which—in other responsa—he is conscious of the impact of Israeli statehood on some elements of conversion law.
Herzog is sensitive to the difference between his own era and that of the tannaim and the Rambam; and he is also deeply sensitive to variations among places.

He speaks of the differences in the worlds of Israel and the Diaspora and, in a number of situations, even allows those dissimilarities to affect his decisions.

By Shmuel Rosner www.jewishjournal.com March 18, 2012
Interview with Daniel Gordis and Rabbi David Ellenson

In one fascinating case, Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog, the first Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, noted that conversion needs to be undertaken “for the sake of heaven,” meaning “for no ulterior motive.”

But what if one wanted to convert specifically so he or she could make aliyah and join the effort to build a new Jewish state?  

In December 1948, he ruled that in certain cases, converting for the sake of making aliyah was to be considered a conversion for the sake of heaven.

By Daniel Gordis and Rabbi David Ellenson www.timesofisrael.com March 28, 2012

One would need a heart of stone not to be deeply touched by the pseudonymously written column “A Convert in a Strange Land.” 

Here is the voice of a woman raised in the Jewish community, whose prospective conversion does not entail leaving a previous religion behind, who presumably has the support of her family – yet for whom, despite all this, an awareness of Judaism’s conflicting attitudes to converts is the source of great pain.

By Jessica Steinberg www.timesofisrael.com April 4, 2012

Most of Israel’s boutique wineries were not kosher for many years, as they were established primarily by secular Israelis whose personal discovery of good wine led them to begin growing their own grapes, sometimes crushing the grapes in their garage and then producing and bottling their own wines.

As some of the wineries grew over time, reaching thousands and then tens of thousands of bottles per year, they faced a marketing conundrum. The local Israeli market was generally too small to sell all the bottles, but the export market in Europe and North America wasn’t all that accepting of Israeli wines.

By David Sperber http://zeek.forward.com April 4, 2012

Jewish feminist art by women active in the traditional religious world is still a marginal phenomenon in the general art world and in the Israeli art field in particular.

This article, together with the first major exhibit in a museum to exhibit such work, “Matronita: Jewish Feminist Art” (The Museum of Art Ein Harod), which I co-curated, invites a reflection on the complexities of the feminist Jewish religious experience.

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