Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - February 6, 2012 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

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

www.ynetnews.com January 31, 2012

The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday, demanding that it instruct the State to appoint a non-Orthodox rabbi in Jerusalem in a bid to end the alleged discrimination in religious services given to the capital's residents.

The petition, submitted by Reform and Conservative rabbis and communities, claimed that there were hundreds of neighborhood rabbis in Israel – all of them Orthodox men whose salaries are paid from taxpayers' money.

According to Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, "The State of Israel is the state of all factions and communities of the Jewish people, and the Orthodox monopoly over rabbinical services must end.

By Nurit Tsur Opinion www.jpost.com January 31, 2012
The writer is CEO of PresenTense Israel. She previously served as CEO of the Israel Women’s Network.

The most substantial bias against women that exists today in Israel is perpetrated by the country’s chief rabbinate, with the backing of politicians and lobbyists, both secular and religious, who care more about coalition politics than the full and equal participation of women in public life.

...If we want to break through this glass ceiling, and ensure women’s equality in the Jewish state, we must act quickly to change the structure of the rabbinate, to strengthen requirements for equal representation in all governmental bodies, and to make the bold statement that the Jewish People do not permit men to have sole authority over the lives of women.

By David Breakstone Opinion www.jpost.com February 3, 2012
The writer is deputy chairman of the World Zionist Organization and a member of The Jewish Agency Executive. The opinions expressed herein are his own.

“The results of the survey are evidence that Israeli Jews are committed to two significant values,” says Dr. Eli Silver, director of Avi Chai-Israel, under whose auspices the research was carried out: “preserving Jewish tradition on the one hand and upholding individual freedom of choice on the other.” What a flavorful idea.

The Chief Rabbinate, however, doesn’t appear to like it, and is doing whatever it can to squash the trend of the last several years that has seen a new generation engage with tradition in non-traditional ways.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 30, 2012

United Torah Judaism and Shas vetoed government support on Monday afternoon for a bill that proposes that two places for women be reserved on the committee which appoints rabbinical judges, or dayanim, to the rabbinical courts.

Although the bill was approved for a first reading in Knesset by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, UTJ and Shas claimed in Monday’s meeting of coalition faction chairmen that it would change the status quo in matters of religion and state.

According to the coalition agreement, UTJ and Shas may veto coalition support for any such measures.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com February 1, 2012

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger on Monday night called for dayanim, or rabbinical judges, to shut down the Supreme Rabbinical Court for Appeal in protest over the ongoing suspension of the appointments committee for rabbinical judges.

The committee was suspended by the High Court in November following a petition by the Emunah women’s rights groups protesting the complete absence of women on it for the first time in 12 years. Emunah argued that the lack of female representation on the committee violates gender equality laws.

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

The Supreme Rabbinical Court of Appeals upheld a life sentence handed down to a man who has refused for ten years to give his wife a bill of divorce.

In the hearing in November, details of which have only now been released, the panel of rabbinical judges – headed by rabbinical supreme court president Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger – ruled against Gorodetzki.
In a creative interpretation of the law, the judges ruled that it is Gorodetzki himself who is restricting his own freedom, as well as that of his wife, and that he holds the keys to his personal liberty.

According to a recent study conducted by the Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at Bar-Ilan University, punitive sanctions are imposed by rabbinical courts in only 1.5% of the cases in which they are applicable.

By Irit Rosenblum Opinion www.haaretz.com February 3, 2012

Irit Rosenblum, an attorney, is the founder and executive director of New FamilyOrganization 
According to Jewish law, Liat is "a fatal wife" (isha katlanit ), a type of "black widow." Marrying her is considered by the ancient sources to be potentially life threatening.

This is because a woman who has been widowed twice is suspected of having killed her husbands, if not actively, then by bringing a curse or bad luck upon them.

And since the curse could endanger any future husbands, a woman in this position is forbidden to marry a third time.

...It is time to end the monopoly held by religion over family life and to allow civil alternatives for marriage in Israel. Liat Harel's story is only one reason why.

By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com February 5, 2012

The Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim is in a state of uproar after a young ultra-Orthodox man took a second wife before divorcing the first one.

Pashkevilim denouncing him and his new wife have been posted on walls across the haredi neighborhood, including pictures of the woman.

According to a source in Mea Shearim, the unusual act was aimed at hurting the "Taliban women" faction, which the bride is affiliated with.

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

Despite a new ministerial directive presented to the Knesset on Wednesday instructing burial societies and municipal rabbis that they may not prevent women from giving eulogies at funerals, concerns remain that the directive will not be enforced.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, as well as religious rights groups, expressed disappointment that the renewal of a burial society’s license, which oversees Jewish funeral ceremonies, is not conditional on compliance with the ministry’s guidelines.

By Liron Nagler-Cohen www.ynetnews.com February 1, 2012

Suddenly, those young people – many of whom are native Israelis – discover that they are not registered in Israel as Jews. This means they cannot get married in Israel (or be buried as Jews), leading to complete undermining of the Israeli awareness among hundreds of thousands of citizens and the establishment of a society within a society.

In 2005, the Tzohar rabbis' organization decided to deal with the problem through the Shorashim project, which provides information to immigrants from the former USSR (and other countries) and helps them clarify their Jewish status when dealing with the rabbinical establishment.

By Nechama Duek Opinion www.ynetnews.com February 1, 2012

There is no justification for maintaining apparatuses that enjoy such huge budgets for the sake of so few encounters. We are talking about offices, secretaries, religious councils’ chairmen, their deputies, and their associates. We should also note that these people always happen to be haredim, who make a living this way – that is, we support them in our role as taxpayers.

...I believe that religious services should be managed within a small unit at the existing municipal apparatus, and I also think there is no room for imposing fees for these services. The payment should be included in the municipal taxes

By Assaf Inbari www.haaretz.com February 3, 2012

Once there was a secular majority. No more. That's the finding of a comprehensive, newly published study, "Beliefs, Observances, and Values among Israeli Jews"...

The illusion of a "secular majority" has been with us for many years, sabotaging the prospect of forging a pluralistic Jewish melting pot in Israel.

...The imaginary melting pot, into which Israel tried in vain to stuff the ultra-Orthodox and national-religious population groups, never had a chance.

By Uri Misgav www.haaretz.com January 31, 2012

But the vast majority of Israelis consider it logical to organize the entire life cycle - marriage, divorce, military service, diet, transportation, burial - according to comprehensive religious regulations, without any possibility of choice.

This religious steamroller, which is financed and operated by the state, constantly subverts its sovereign and democratic foundations...

By Doron Rosenblum www.haaretz.com February 3, 2012

Indeed, in the absence of a separation of this kind, there is no substantive difference between "the national Jews" and "the Haredim" other than some theological nuances, their lifestyles, and the trappings of the various political parties they form in order to divvy up the Knesset seats.

...Changing the face of the country? Separating religion and state? Israelizing and normalizing our existence? Forget it. After all, we are all Jewish nationalists.

By Carlo Strenger Opinion www.haaretz.com February 3, 2012

It is therefore time for Israeli society to bury a long-lasting myth: the belief that secular, liberal Israelis are the mainstream that in the future will once again own the country.

...Secular liberals must take a radical step. We should refuse to participate in the perversion of democracy that says that majorities should crush minorities.

...There is, of course, a third option, where the right and the religious come to understand and accept the basics of liberal democracy and respect minority rights. But that sounds like science fiction.

By Hagai Segal www.ynetnews.com February 3, 2012

The results have far-reaching implications for the basic assumptions of our communal life here. The Jewish State is gaining strength. Its first leaders threw their prayer shawls and tefillin overboard, and now we are bringing them back from deep water.

By Rabbi Dan Moskovitz Opinion www.jewishjournal.com February 1, 2012

But, in the meantime, we must not be silent. Now is the time to speak up, as progressive Jews, as modern Jews, as authentic Jews.

We must demand, through the purse strings of the American Jewish community, that our federations and organizations publicly withhold funding from these extremist groups that have turned a beautiful religious tradition into an ugly mob cloaked in religious garb, who spit on women, attack Israeli soldiers and policemen, and would just as soon send most modern Jews to the back of the bus, if not under it.

www.ynetnews.com February 1, 2012

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beiteinu) said that his party will begin to promote legislation that touches upon issues of state and religion even if it means hurting the coalition.

www.jpost.com February 1, 2012

According to the survey, only 28 percent of respondents believe that the Tal Law should be kept intact, a statement released by the Knesset Channel announced Wednesday.

The survey also found that 73% of respondents believe that haredim claim that prayer helps to protect Israel's security, and therefore they should be exempt from military service, is not justified. In contrast, 17% believe that this claim is justified.

By Linda Gradstein www.jta.org January 31, 2012

“The government didn’t correctly estimate the cultural gap between the haredim and the mere idea of military service,” said Zeev Lerer, a professor on gender and organization at Tel Aviv University. “The Tal Law failed and it will continue to fail. It will take a long and deep revolution to incorporate the idea of military service.”

Even if haredim did decide to join the army en masse, it’s not clear that the army is prepared to utilize them. On one hand, there is a growing manpower shortage. At the same time, the army has to make special accommodations for them, such as organizing all-male units and providing glatt kosher food.
“It really is more of a symbolic issue,” Lerer said. 

“As the army has become more dependent on women serving, often in more combat roles, I don’t see how they can absorb the haredim. It would mean a complete change in the identity of the army.”

By Amnon Levy Opinion www.ynetnews.com January 31, 2012

Today, after many years of postponement and vagueness, the time may have come to look at realistic options and give up the impossible.

...The option that remains is to officially exempt the haredim from military service (something that has happened in practice a long time ago) and gain them in the workforce.

...Given this state of affairs, wouldn't it be more appropriate to gradually shift to a professional army?

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

A group of religious former IDF soldiers have drafted a petition demanding the army to enlist them for reserve service, Ynet learned Wednesday.

The group, which consists of dozens of former combat troops who served on the strictly-haredi Netzach Yehuda Battalion, claimed that the IDF refuses to call them in for reserve duty. The few who have been asked to serve were assigned to non-combat roles, despite their fighter training.

"The army is looking into the possibility of establishing another reserve unit for troops who served on Netzah Yehuda," the IDF said. "(…) Due to the uniqueness of the sector and its needs, these soldiers cannot be assigned to other reserve units."

By Yossi Verter www.haaretz.com February 3, 2012

It appears now that the main result of last summer's protests will be that the ultra-Orthodox will start being drafted to army service or at least required to do national service.

The public supports this. Most political parties support this. Two weeks ago, Benjamin Netanyahu was still talking about extending the Tal Law by another five years, but now he lacks a majority to do that for even 15 minutes.

....Shas and United Torah Judaism cannot threaten to call for early elections, since elections are approaching in any case.

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

The Association for the Torah-Observant Soldier has submitted a complaint to the state comptroller protesting the treatment of religious soldiers at the IDF’s Officer Training School.

In a letter sent to the office of Micha Lindenstrauss on Sunday morning, the association listed a series of events that have occurred at the training school’s base in recent months which they say illustrates a pattern of frequent infringement upon the religious rights of observant Jewish soldiers.

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com January 31, 2012

A new national-religious rabbinical group that will include women in its leadership as equals is to be launched on Wednesday.

The group, to be known as Beit Hillel, already has 110 rabbis signed up, along with 30 women who are considered Torah scholars.

It was founded by congregational rabbis in the central region, who say they represent the silent majority of the national-religious population that is frustrated and alarmed by creeping extremism and the deterioration of women's status in the sector.

The organizers note that unlike rabbinic groups in the Hardal (Ultra-Orthodox-nationalist) stream, in Beit Hillel congregational rabbis will set the tone, rather than yeshiva heads, who, the founders say, are less in tune with the needs of households and families.

By Ilan Lior www.haaretz.com February 6, 2012

The Tel Aviv municipality has reconfirmed its policy of shutting down businesses on Shabbat, apart from the Jaffa area, which has a small Jewish population.

The municipality's decision comes after a reappraisal of its Shabbat policy instigated by a request made by the Tel Aviv District Court last October.

By Ben Hartman www.jpost.com February 1, 2012

Fourteen years after they launched their campaign, parents from Ra’anana are celebrating the opening this week of a new public school in the city, which they say will fill a glaring need in their children’s education.

The school adheres to the pluralistic yet religiously traditional makeup that is the DNA of the TALI school system.

Like others, Schwartz said his background in the American Jewish community influenced his desire to push for a TALI school. He said he and the other parents who supported the school had been inspired by the US Conservative Movement’s Solomon Schechter day schools and were essentially looking to build their own version in Ra’anana.

www.haaretz.com February 3, 2012

The families of 400 Tali students in Ra'anana attended a dedication ceremony on Sunday for the school's new building, named in honor of donor Stanley Frankel.

By Gil Shefler www.jpost.com February 1, 2012

When Rabbi Reuven Stamov arrives in Ukraine next March he might receive a mixed reaction from local members of Conservative Judaism. While they are certain to congratulate him on becoming the movement’s first rabbi in the former Soviet Union, they might also be wondering what took him so long.

By Revital Blumenfeld www.haaretz.com February 5, 2012

Sunday morning, when Reuven Stanov was accredited as a rabbi, the Conservative movement moved one step closer to realizing a mission it describes as almost messianic: building the first Conservative Jewish community in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The Ukrainian-born Stanov, 38, was accredited by the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem Sunday as part of its program of preparing Conservative rabbis as spiritual leaders.

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion www.haaretz.com February 3, 2012

American Jewish support is of course valuable to Israel (though sometimes, one feels it would be a good idea for Israeli leaders to meet other American Jews, not just those who tell them how wonderful they are ). But it cannot serve as a substitute identity.

By Gil Shefler www.jpost.com February 2, 2012

“Most Israeli politicians are ignorant and don’t care [that] their words affect the Diaspora,” he said.

By Liel Leibovitz www.tabletmag.com January 31, 2012

In this case, the calming idea is this distortion of American Jews: It doesn’t matter, Israelis tell themselves, that we’re no longer as invincible as we would like to believe we are, because these soft suckers, our cousins from America, are downright laughable.

By City Mouse Online www.haaretz.com February 2, 2012

Doron Karni, VP of International Marketing for Taglit-Birthright Israel said Taglit was "very pleased" to see that Eretz Nehederet, "the most prominent comedy television show in Israel, has put Taglit-Birthright Israel on the agenda as one of the most important programs in the Jewish world.”

According to Karni, the parody is a testament to the way in which Taglit-Birthright Israel “has become so entwined in Israeli culture.”

By Rabbi Haviva Ner-David http://layda.org January 30, 2012

At the newly-revived religiously and socially progressive Kibbutz Hannaton in Lower Galilee, a tradition has  evolved to hold a women’s circle at our mikveh (ritual bath) for each woman a few weeks before she is due to give birth.  

Thankfully, we have located on our kibbutz a unique mikveh in the Israeli scene: Shmaya: A Spiritual and Educational Mikveh in Galilee, where anyone can come to immerse for whatever purpose—with or without guidance, in private or with accompaniment .

That is how an old tradition of women immersing in the mikveh before giving birth was transformed at Hannaton into a ritual gathering that speaks to the modern, progressive women of our small kibbutz.

By Emma Silvers www.jweekly.com January 26, 2012

When Rabbi Gail Diamond and her partner made aliyah in 2001, they were making a choice to stay together. 

Though the two were married in a synagogue in East Falmouth, Mass. in 1996, the same-sex union wasn’t legal in the state until 2004.

By Esti Ahronovitz www.haaretz.com February 3, 2012

Dror Bondi, 35, is writing a doctorate on Heschel's interpretive approach and has published a book, in Hebrew, about Heschel...

...Not long after the [Rabin] assassination, Bondi began studying at the Ma'aleh Adumim hesder yeshiva and that is where he says he was exposed to general philosophy through reading the works of Rabbi Kook. He was searching for answers and became close to Rabbi Shimon Gershon Rosenberg (known as Harav Shagar ) and his students at the Siah Yitzhak Yeshiva in Efrat.

The Ein Prat Seminary is bursting with life. Yahel Eliahu from Jerusalem came here after serving in the air force. … The seminary was founded eight years ago by Micah Goodman, a scholar of Jewish philosophy and modern philosophy who lives in Kfar Adumim.

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