Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - January 23, 2012 (Section 1)

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

By Jonathan Lis www.haaretz.com January 23, 2012

Head of the Israel Defense Forces' personnel directorate Major-General Orna Barbibai:
"There is no dispute that the challenging security reality demands that we enlist everyone into meaningful service," Barbai said.

By Nehemia Shtrasler Opinion www.haaretz.com January 20, 2012

Very few people know that the soldiers who take part in the hesder (Hebrew for arrangement) program do not serve 36 months like secular soldiers.

...Why should an arrangement like this not be given to any secular soldier who wants to study computers, engineering, economics or history at university? Are these subjects not as important as Gemara?

Therefore, it is not sufficient to cancel only the Tal Law and to recruit all the ultra-Orthodox to the IDF. That is clearly imperative.

But the hesder must also be canceled and religious youth must serve in the military for the full three years.

www.jpost.com January 23, 2012

Israel cannot accept a reality in which the IDF will transform from a people's army to a minority army, Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (FADC) chairman MK Shaul Mofaz said Monday, according to Israel Radio.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 18, 2012

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he would discuss with his coalition partners the appropriate length of time by which to extend the Tal Law, which is aimed at increasing ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF, and then bring the decision for government approval.

On Sunday, Netanyahu told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the law would be extended for five years.

www.ynetnews.com January 18, 2012

Members of the United Torah Judaism faction will hold an urgent meeting in the coming hours following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to postpone the vote on an extension to the Tal Law.

By Attila Somfalvi www.ynetnews.com January 18, 2012

Objections raised by ministers Avigdor Lieberman and Ehud Barak most likely played a central part in Netanyahu's decision. The prime minister postponed the debate so that he will have time to reexamine the issue.

http://hiddush.org January 17, 2012

Hiddush President, Rabbi Uri Regev, remarked “We call on Israel Beiteinu and Independence parties to torpedo thisproposed extension,” saying “The Tal Law, which was supposed to increase access for ultra-Orthodox men into military and civil service, has failed, in part because of the opposition of ultra-Orthodox leadership.

Any extension beyond one year will reward this failure and encourage further draft dodging.

The year extension, as proposed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, could be a good opportunity to make real change, stopping the distinguishing between classes of people and lead us on a path to actually exercising the principle of compulsory service.”

By Israel Harel Opinion www.haaretz.com January 19, 2012

A large sector, which is growing at an unprecedented rate, has no duty or obligation and is completely supported and maintained by the dwindling few who bear the whole burden and all the obligations.

...Only the gradual recruitment of Haredi men to the army and their integration into the country's intellectual circles and productive life can allay the fear among significant parts of the secular public.

The Haredi military unit and vocational training courses are to a large extent fiction, despite their public relations.

Haaretz Editorial www.haaretz.com January 18, 2012

The law that perpetuates discrimination in favor of the ultra-Orthodox community at the expense of secular people - known as the Tal Law after retired Supreme Court Justice Zvi Tal - has justified its opponents' fears and proved wrong its supporters' pretensions.

...Israeli society, the military and - no less - the ultra-Orthodox community need shaking up. This must start with the shelving of the Tal Law.

JPost Editorial www.jpost.com January 17, 2012

[T]he state must find ways to maintain gentle but insistent pressure on haredi young men to share with their non-haredi brethren in the collective endeavor to defend the Jewish state. 

Providing economic incentives to those who do serve, creating additional frameworks within the IDF and National Service that include the haredi population, and allowing evolutionary changes within this population to proceed unhindered are the best methods of facilitating integration.

By Rabbi MK Haim Amsalem Opinion www.jpost.com January 17, 2012
The writer is a member of Knesset, a rabbi, and chairman of the Am Shalem Movement, www.amshalem.org

A Jewish state should require those who receive IDF exemptions to perform national or civil service for an equal period of time.

Those who do so should be recognized as having served the state and should receive the benefits that come from such recognition.

At the same time, most of Israel agrees that a small, select group of scholars who are totally dedicated to Torah learning should study as their national service.

By Yoav Zitun www.ynetnews.com January 17, 2012

Some 4,000 high school seniors have already signed the 'senior's letter' - a petition calling on the country's leaders not to go ahead with the Tal law's ratification.
"We are motivated, but if we look at the data, our service, as significant as it may be, will not be enough at this rate. Our stance is against the law, not against the haredi sector. We do believe that their different must be taken into consideration but in a way that means they too will serve in the IDF."

By Ohad Shaked www.ynetnews.com January 19, 2012

In the mid-1990s, and mostly after the year 2000, the army started to take in haredim, yet encountered a serious problem – they are different than the rest of society.

...However, the army, just like society as a whole, does not really wish to integrate the haredim. The military wishes to create a melting pot, thereby making the haredim like them. In other words, this is about secularization.

www.jpost.com January 19, 2012

The Rabbinate will establish a committee to find an arrangement for religious soldiers who want to avoid hearing women singing in ceremonies, Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger announced Thursday.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com January 19, 2012

Chief Military Rabbi Brigadier-General Rafi Peretz called on religious high school seniors to enlist with the army Thurday, saying that loyalty to the Jewish state must be unconditional.

Peretz's remarks came in response to a petition that was put forth by yeshiva students urging the army to abandon policies of "secular coercion."

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 17, 2012

A small rebellion broke out in the heart of the national-religious world this week over the issue of women singing in the army.

Dozens of pre-army youth from several yeshivot have signed a petition in the past few days vowing not to enlist in the army until religious soldiers are exempted from army ceremonies in which women sing.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com January 18, 2012

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, a prominent Religious Zionism leader, is calling on young religious men to delay their enlistment with the IDF until every soldier will be allowed to excuse himself from military ceremonies which include women performers.

Rabbi Melamed, head of the Har Bracha Yeshiva which was removed from the hesder arrangement with the army due to his refusal to condemn soldiers' disobedience, made the remark in an interview with the Galei Israel radio station.

By Amos Harel www.haaretz.com January 19, 2012

The next confrontation is brewing over female instructors for religious soldiers.

A document issued by the Chief of Staff's adviser on women's affairs, reported by Haaretz last year, cited several cases in which field-unit soldiers refused to receive instruction from women, claiming it could lead to forbidden physical contact.

By Akiva Novick www.ynetnews.com January 17, 2012

Dozens of young ultra-Orthodox men are choosing to join the Israel Police instead of the IDF, following the army's war on the exclusion of women and the recent dismissal of the rabbi in charge of integrating haredim into military service.

In the police, the new recruits are promised better conditions matching their religious beliefs, such as complete gender segregation and strictly kosher meals.

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu www.israelnationalnews.com January 17, 2012

Three new immigrant girls from the US say they not only can stay religious and serve in the IDF but also can become officers, despite the Chief Rabbinate - and almost every other religious Zionist rabbi - ruling against it, enjoining girls to serve Israel through the National Service.

By Rabbi Eliezer Melamed Opinion www.israelnationalnews.com January 21, 2012
The writer is Head of Yeshivat Har Bracha.
Q: I am a military rabbi. After what you wrote in last week's column, should I resign?
A: You do not have to resign, but you must realize that you do not serve in a rabbinical role, and you certainly are not a 'mara d'atra' (local halakhic authority). 
You are a military chaplain whose job is to help soldiers fulfill mitzvoth and connect them to Judaism.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 19, 2012

Chairman of the Tzohar national-religious grouping of rabbis, Rabbi David Stav, sent a letter to all Members of Knesset on Wednesday, accusing Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger of trying to deceive them regarding Metzger’s opposition to the so-called “Tzohar bill.”

Stav said in his response on Wednesday that the law “clearly allows marriageregistration with the rabbinate alone” and that its dignity and status would not be harmed in anyway.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 18, 2012

Knesset State Control Committee chairman Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) called on Wednesday for broader implementation by rabbinical courts of a law that allows dayanim, or rabbinical judges, to impose punitive sanctions on men who refuse to give their wife a bill of divorce.
“The rabbinical courts must make greater use of the halachic authority that the law provides them, including taking steps to impose punitive sanctions on the initiative of the rabbinical courts themselves,” said Prof. Ruth Halperin Kedari, co-author of the Rackman report, during the hearing.

Haaretz Editorial www.haaretz.com January 20, 2012

Thousands of Israeli couples are forced to marry overseas or live as common-law spouses because of the ongoing capitulation by successive Israeli governments to the rule of the rabbinical establishment. 

Given this reality, it's hard to even imagine the state granting full recognition to the rights of same-sex couples.

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com January 20, 2012

Women must appear on the committee that appoints dayanim (rabbinical court judges), the High Court of Justice said on Thursday.

The petition was filed by religious women's organization Emunah, and the court has now given the sides two weeks to try to find a solution to the problem.

By Elana Sztokman Opinion http://blogs.forward.com January 17, 2012

The Committee to Appoint of Rabbinical Judges (dayanim) is, for the first time in more than a decade (since women’s groups started protesting the issue), is an exclusively male panel.

...Consider how many other issues are burning in Israeli society — half a million tent protesters this past summer, a country currently paralyzed by all-out strike, members and former members of government on trial for bribery — and yet none of these issues have raised the ire of the religious parties like this, causing them to cry foul this way. As if the only thing that really scares some men is to actually give women some power.

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com January 22, 2012

The document describes attempts by Shas to get a string of its people appointed to key offices - including Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, another of Rabbi Ovadiah's sons, to the office of chief rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Benjamin Atias, the brother of Housing Minister Ariel Atias, to lead the Petach Tikvah rabbinate, Yaakov Chikotai, who is married to Rabbi Ovadia's daughter, as head rabbi of Modi'in-Maccabim-Reut and others.

The impact of the scandal will depend to an extent on the state comptroller, who must decide whether or not to open an investigation into the appointments or even freeze them.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 23, 2012
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz): “The rabbinate, despite all its problems, is not the private business of one man, and it is not acceptable that it is managed in a ‘Sicilian’ style according to the interests of one family or another.”

www.ynetnews.com January 20, 2012

The State Comptroller's Office confirmed they had received the letter by Labor MK Eitan Cabel. It is being examined.

By Ophir Bar-Zohar www.haaretz.com January 18, 2012

Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Wednesday apologized to the families of the Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed during the Second Lebanon War, a day after he declared that Israel had failed in the Second Lebanon War because the troops did not "raise their eyes to God" and pray.

By Ophir Bar-Zohar www.haaretz.com January 18, 2012
"In the Six Day War, every Jew, and every Jew that went to battle, raised their eyes to the creator," the Interior Minister said. But in the Second Lebanon War, Yishai said, the IDF relied only on its own strength.
"This is a great lesson," Yishai said. "When all Arab states are against the Jewish people, what will save the Jewish people is study of the Torah."

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com January 22, 2012

Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Wednesday that the State's senior officials consult Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and that "everything he has said and they have done – has been a huge success."

By Rabbi Uri Regev Opinion http://hiddush.org January 23, 2012

While fully appreciating the potential efficacy of faith and prayer, it is another matter altogether to distort the facts to fit your religious purpose, claiming knowledge of Divine conduct in the outcome of wars without any humility.

Had Yishai said “Faith and prayer strengthen Israel and its ability to meet external threats”, very few would have faulted him.

...Either Yishai believes what he said, in which case, his perception of reality is suspect, or he does not believe what he said, in which case, he is a manipulative liar. In either case, he is unfit to serve.

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion www.jpost.com January 23, 2012
Rabbi Andrew Sacks is the Director of the Masorti Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel and the Masorti Movement's Bureau of Religious Affairs. 

Sound like the Chief Rabbinate has gone over the top? Sound silly? Well it is not. 

This is part of an ugly effort by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate to become the equivalent of a papacy by setting religious standards for all communities, both in Israel and abroad.

By Linda Gradstein www.jta.org January 17, 2012

“This is potentially an explosive transformation,” said Rabbi Uri Regev, the director of Hiddush, an organization that promotes religious freedom in Israel.

A poll conducted by Hiddush found that 43 percent of the general Israeli public and 55 percent of the secular public welcomes Lapid’s entry into politics.

One-third of the respondents said they would seriously consider voting for Lapid whether he forms a new party or joins an established one.

“This may be the beginning of the end of the dominion of the haredi parties,” Regev said.

By Gil Hoffman www.jpost.com January 23, 2012

Journalist turned politician Yair Lapid continued to reveal more of is views on key issues Monday, telling his followers on Facebook that he opposes giving Israelis abroad the right to vote.

Lapid also came out against the Tal Law on haredi (ultra-Orthodox) service in the IDF. He said the law should be repealed and a civil service authority should be formed.

When asked about separating religion from state, he said he supported civil marriage and separating religion from politics, but he did not back a complete separation of religion from state or the cancellation of the Law of Return.

Haaretz Editorial www.haaretz.com January 22, 2012

Nonprofit associations dedicated to guaranteeing that fertility treatments comply with Jewish religious law (halakha) are thriving in Israel.

...Is it that only the ultra-Orthodox deserve double oversight of the combining of eggs and sperm - oversight by both the fertility center and the kashrut supervisors?

Do non-Haredim undergoing IVF not deserve the same protections? And what about the medical training of these kashrut supervisors? Who decides that they have the skills needed for the job? And why are they given access to confidential medical information?

By Dan Even www.haaretz.com January 19, 2012

The Chief Rabbinate has frozen a tender it had issued for establishing a service to help families establish brain death for their loved ones, after transplant surgeons said they would not tolerate rabbinic involvement.

The tender under dispute was for setting up an office, with the rabbinate's help, that would operate 24/7 for families seeking halakhic and medical guidance in determining brain death, so they could give permission for their loved ones' organs to be harvested for transplant.

By Yair Sheleg Opinion www.haaretz.com January 22, 2012

The proper thing to do is relate the tension between Judaism and democracy as being pressure between two manifestations of the value of human dignity: dignity for the universal person, and dignity for the Jewish person who has the right to political and cultural sovereignty.

Any tension in this regard should be examined individually to try to resolve it with a minimum of damage to either of these two values.

By Benny Katzover Opinion www.haaretz.com January 22, 2012

I did not call for the establishment of a state based on Jewish law instead of a democratic regime...
...I did say the basic solution is to prefer something "Jewish" to something "democratic," as long as there is no "moral" clash between the two.

By Rabbi Tsafi Lev www.myjewishlearning.com January 17, 2012
Rabbi Tsafi Lev, is a CLAL Rabbis Without Borders Fellow. He is the Director of Jewish Studies at New Community Jewish High School in West Hills, CA, and a Lecturer for the Fingerhut School of Education Master of Arts in Education program at the American Jewish University.

I suggest that Israel make a clear separation of Synagogue and State.

...Only without a government sponsored Rabbinate can freedom of religion really flourish in Israel.

When that happens we can see Orthodox, Hassidim, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative Jews, and even right-wing Haredim, support each other in continual growth and closeness to our shared, One and Only God.

By Chaim Levinson www.haaretz.com January 20, 2012

A religious-Zionist Jewish studies center this week published a photograph of the members of the Fogel family who were murdered last March in the settlement of Itamar, but blurred the face of the mother for modesty reasons.

By Allison Kaplan Sommer http://blogs.forward.com January 23, 2012

Machon Meir published an apology:
If you read the apology carefully, it is clear that they believe the “mistake” was running the picture at all — not blurring Ruth Fogel’s face. From the apology, it is understood that the publication, like too many places, is officially a female-free zone.

By Jason Boxt Opinion www.huffingtonpost.com January 19, 2012

But for me, these incidents aren't as insidious or fundamentally troubling as the battle that is being fought by people like Anat Hoffman, of the Israel Religious Action Center and founder of Women of the Wall.

Her crusade -- well-off the radar of American mainstream press -- is to allow women the right to carry Torah, to pray as equals.

By Chaim Levinson www.haaretz.com January 20, 2012

The Israel Defense Forces has been "stunned" by the findings of a new study which says an officers' visitation program to Nazi death camps, meant to reinforce Jewish and national values, has had the opposite effect on up to 20 percent of the soldiers.

By Alan Hoffmann Opinion www.haaretz.com January 20, 2012
Alan Hoffmann is director-general of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

The Jewish Agency's new directions provide concrete answers to some of the Jewish people's seminal challenges, positively affecting Jewish identity, attachment to Israel and aliyah, and even a cursory look at the numbers seems to bear this out.

By Gil Shefler www.jpost.com January 17, 2012

Shmuel Rosner said he welcomed “meddling” from Jews abroad.
“To the Diaspora I would say come, criticize, intervene and meddle on one condition: Make sure you know what you’re talking about,” the journalist said.

By Allison Kaplan Sommer Opinion http://blogs.forward.com January 19, 2012

Don’t get me wrong: I share your vision of a kinder, gentler, rabbinate (since it is unrealistic to fantasize about separation of church and state). And it would certainly be wonderful if such an effort came to be. 

But I’m not waiting around for American Jewish organizations or individual U.S. Jewish billionaires to ride in on a white horse.

By Ruth Eglash www.jpost.com January 23, 2012

Using a sample of 509 adults here, the poll asked respondents ‘How important do you believe it is for Israeli lawmakers to consider the views of Jews in the Diaspora when creating legislation such as ‘Who is a Jew?’ In response, 77 percent said it was extremely important and 23% said it was important.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com January 21, 2012

North American students studying in Israel will grapple with difficult questions about what it means to be Zionist and about Israel’s purpose for world Jewry at the second annual Avi Schaefer Symposium in Jerusalem on Sunday.

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