Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - January 2, 2012 (Section 1)

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

*Special edition on gender segregation and Haredim in Beit Shemesh coming soon.

By Aviad Glickman www.ynetnews.com January 2, 2012

...when the petitioners turned to Cnaan Media and asked to purchase significant advertising space, the latter refused, claiming that the company does not advertise pictures of women in Jerusalem for fear that radical elements will vandalize the buses.

By Nir Hasson, Gili Cohen and Ofir Bar-Zohar www.haaretz.com January 2, 2012

Activists against exclusion of women from the public sphere in Jerusalem petitioned the High Court of Justice yesterday, demanding that they be allowed to run ads featuring photographs of women on buses in the capital.

The petition was submitted after Cna'an, the company in charge of advertising on Egged buses in Jerusalem, refused to accept a campaign that featured photos of women with the slogan, "Jerusalemites, pleased to meet you."

By Moran Azulay www.ynetnews.com December 27, 2011

Despite adamant statements by various Knesset members against radical religious groups' demand to impose segregation between the sexes in the public sphere in Israel, it seems that the House itself is not completely free of it: Ynet learned Tuesday that women have been practically barred from singing in Knesset ceremonies.

By Tsafi Saar www.haaretz.com December 28, 2011

Cinematheque Tel Aviv attempted to prevent men from attending screenings of the movie "The Heart that Sings," according to a man who attempted to purchase a ticket to the film Sunday.

Algazi said that only when he protested angrily and when the people around him heard the exchange, did the ticket seller change her mind and state that it was "not a prohibition but a request."

By Sara Trappler Spielman http://blogs.forward.com December 30, 2011

It is the first time the festival screened a Haredi film and invited only women, possibly insulting male moviegoers. 

Three years ago the festival withdrew “Greytowers” based on the women-only restriction, for fear of discriminating against male patrons. In response, Garbose held protest screenings at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center located across the street from the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

“We can’t advertise a public screening and not allow half our public to attend,” Daniella Tourgeman, the festival’s curator, said at the time.

By Yoav Zitun www.ynetnews.com January 1, 2012

One of the participants told Ynet that "the army's orders come before anything else, and in cases of a dilemma or difference between the Halacha and a commander's order, we explain to the soldiers that the order comes first, regardless of whether it's an exercise or an operational activity, a ceremony or an event which includes women performers."

One the other hand, he added, "it's absurd that there are many religious soldiers in the army, and more and more haredim are expected to enlist while there is no consideration in cases of non-operational or unofficial events.

www.jpost.com December 30, 2011

"The same oversight that occurred in Beit Shemesh will not occur in the IDF," Brig.-Gen. and IDF rabbi Rafi Peretz wrote to IDF officials, referring to the recent series of extremist religious assaults and verbal attacks against women in the flashpoint town near Jerusalem.

By Yoav Zitun www.ynetnews.com January 1, 2012

"We, who know the importance of respecting women, should make sure this phenomenon does not make it into our ranks," he added.

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

During Sunday’s meeting, Peretz said IDF rabbis were obligated to prevent discrimination against women in the army as part of the broader obligation to preserve military unity.

“The order of the day is love of one’s fellow and unity of the ranks,” he said. “This is the most important command at the moment, as I see it.”

By Gili Cohen www.haaretz.com January 1, 2012

The singing of women in the IDF was also discussed in the meeting, and IDF officials reiterated the new instructions handed by the IDF chief that all soldiers, including religious cadets, must attend official ceremonies, including those which feature women singing.

However, religious cadets can choose whether to attend informal IDF events in which women sing.

By Moran Azulay www.ynetnews.com December 28, 2011

The Tzohar bill, which proposes mitigating amendments to the Marriage Law, passed its preliminary Knesset reading on Wednesday, despite fierce objections by the religious parties.

The vote was carried 57 to 15, with Shas and United Torah Judaism voting against the legislation, which proposes allowing couples the freedom to choose which Rabbinate office to get married through.

By Dr. Rachel Levmore Opinion www.jewishpress.com December 28, 2011
Rachel Levmore, Ph.D., is a Rabbinical Court Advocate, coordinator of the Agunot and Get-Refusal Prevention Project of the Council of Young Israel Rabbis and the Jewish Agency, and author of “Spare Your Eyes Tears” (published in Hebrew), on prenuptial agreements for the prevention of get-refusal.

Lest one think non-Orthodox Jews are immune to these problems, the impact of the get issue on non-Orthodox Jews is deftly explained by Rabbi Seth Farber, who notes that if new olim want “to open a marriage file in Israel, they will have to provide certification from a recognized Orthodox rabbi.” 

A woman who’s been divorced will have to produce a get and in the case of the daughter of a woman who’s been divorced, “the rabbinate will insist on seeing an Orthodox get from the mother before they allow the daughter to open a marriage file.”

By Ophir Bar-Zohar www.haaretz.com December 29, 2011

The Religious Services Ministry is waiting for a halakhic ruling before deciding whether to allow women to give eulogies in cemeteries, even though a ministerial committee authorized them to do so, a ministry official said Wednesday.
"It is unthinkable that a halakhic ruling" - a rabbinic ruling on a point of Jewish law - "should dictate a government ministry's decision," said Culture Minister Limor Livnat, head of the interministerial task force set up to deal with a recent spate of ultra-Orthodox violence and discrimination against women. "I will not allow it."

By Eli Ashkenazi www.haaretz.com December 30, 2011

The "purity trail," the bridge built only seven months ago at the Tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai at Mount Meron in the Galilee, will soon be demolished. 

The bridge, designed for use by Cohanim, or descendents of the ancient Jewish priesthood who are not allowed to come into contact with the impurity of a grave, was constructed without the necessary permits - even though the state encouraged its construction and even committed to paying half the NIS 500,000 cost.

By Aliza Kline Opinion http://mayyimhayyimblog.com December 26, 2011
The writer is Executive Director of Mayyim Hayyim

I am involved in a very exciting and challenging project working closely with a group of Reform and Conservative rabbis as well as Modern Orthodox feminist leaders planning a new, welcoming mikveh and education center in the heart of Jerusalem,  – recently, members of this group toured the site and studied plans.

…I am consulting with Rabbi Haviva Ner David, who directs a mikveh and education center modeled on Mayyim Hayyim, at Kibbutz Hannaton in the North, and I have just begun talking with people at Kibbutz Ketura in the South who plan to open a new mikveh within the year.

…I recently made a presentation to the New Israel Fund’s Mikveh Round Table, women leaders concerned with the current state of mikveh in Israel. This group is focused on the training, compensation, and rights of the mikveh attendants as well as the rights of the individuals seeking to immerse.

By Hirsch Goodman Opinion www.jpost.com December 29, 2011

There can be no status quo with the haredi community doubling in size every six years or so, soon five, then four, and, like the plant in The Little Shop of Horrors, soon become insatiable. The state will not be able to support the phenomenon, and the haredim, already desperately poor, will become poorer, and more dependent.

Nothing here is standing still, which is what the term “status quo” implies. Instead there is a dynamic where the numbers are changing rapidly, accelerating and perpetuating a gross social and economic injustice, eating away at the heart of the nation.

By Dan Brown Opinion http://ejewishphilanthropy.com January 1, 2012

The Diaspora has a powerful weapon at its disposal – the significant and continuing funding it provides to Israel – thereby relieving the State of funding many initiatives themselves. 

One result, successive governments find it all to easy to give in to the pressures from extremist parties on issues that have a direct effect on not only Israel, but also the Diaspora.

Maybe the time has come for those providing this meaningful philanthropy to begin closing the purse; to begin applying pressure where they can.

By Bob Hyfler Opinion http://ejewishphilanthropy.com January 2, 2012
Bob Hyfler is a consultant to non-profit organizations.

There are however issues on which no “live and let live” middle ground is possible. 

When the democratic norms of the state come in conflict with religious practice it is religion that must bend. The obvious presenting example is gender equality. 

If the state establishes a single standard for the treatment of its citizens and the education of its children no religious community can opt out of that principle or standard. To allow such to happen would deny to women and girls the tools and the opportunity to freely choose their own lifestyle and fate.

By Alfred Bodenheimer Opinion www.haaretz.com December 30, 2011

[T]he concept of Jewishness is beginning to break down and to be deconstructed.

Will we be able to solve the problem? The first step toward doing so involves acknowledging the very idea that troubles the Jewish community, obviously in Israel, but probably no less in the Diaspora: admitting that today, at least in Israel, the designation "Jew" is primarily, or even exclusively, political in meaning, and that it should be treated accordingly.

By Anshel Pfeffer www.haaretz.com December 29, 2011

Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former minister and Meimad party leader who has also served as the chief rabbi of Norway for thirty years, is being mentioned as one of the candidates for the post of chief rabbi of Britain.

A senior executive in a Jewish organization, who asked to remain anonymous, said this week that "Melchior combines a solid Orthodox background with a track record of standing up to the more fanatical elements of Orthodoxy and working harmoniously with the Reform and Liberal movements.

By Revital Blumenfeld www.haaretz.com January 2, 2012

Senior agency officials say the Jewish Agency plans to stop transferring funds to the Immigrant Student Authority toward the end of the year, a consequence of internal reorganization at the agency.

Haaretz has learned that other cuts by the agency are also in the offing, including cuts that could lead to the closing of absorption centers in Ashdod, Be'er Sheva and Jerusalem.

The Jewish Agency is also planning to implement cuts that would dry up funding for immigrant organizations such as the Association for Americans and Canadians in Israel.

By David Brinn Opinion http://israelity.com December 21, 2011

The members of Havura Ma’aleh Adumim, the first and only egalitarian, pluralistic congregation in the city outside Jerusalem welcomed its first Torah with a touching service including dancing and singing outdoors, a candle-lighting for Hanukka and the ceremonial eating of some gourmet sufganiyot (donuts) from the local Neeman bakery.

By Rabbi Reuven Hammer Opinion www.jpost.com December 30, 2011

It is obvious that as long as Israel continues to have an official Chief Rabbinate (which is anything but modern Orthodox) and grants it exclusive religious power, the Masorti Movement will be forced to work under legal and fiscal impediments. 

This is a great pity, because this third way, to use Frankel’s term, could prove meaningful to many Israelis who are looking for a pathway into Judaism and are not finding it in the “official” religion of Israel. 

What a shame that Israel remains the only country in the free world where one brand of Judaism, and only one, can function freely and legally.

By Dan Brown Opinion http://ejewishphilanthropy.com December 28, 2011

Fortunately, it is not often that international Jewish organizations make such egregious decisions, that you sit-back, scratch your head, and wonder ‘what-ever were they thinking?’

Such was the case with the recent Chanukah candle-lighting ceremony celebrated by B’nai B’rith World Center at the restored Hurva Synagogue in the Old City. 

A synagogue that not only places the women’s section so high up opera glasses are helpful to see what is taking place, but has a policy of not allowing women in the main beit knesset at any time, even when no services are taking place.

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