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.

Religion and State in Israel - March 12, 2012 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

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

By Hila Weisberg www.haaretz.com March 7, 2012

Employment among ultra-Orthodox men has increased by 7% in the past two years, according to the Bank of Israel.

In 2011, 45% of Haredi men had jobs, compared with 38% in 2009, according to the central bank's research department, which processed raw data from the Central Bureau of Statistics.

www.ujafedny.org March 6, 2012

The glue of Israeli society, the experience shared by most men and women over the age of 18, is service in the army. And yet, until recently, a growing slice of Israel’s population hasn’t been part of that experience.

Haredi men in the Shachar program train for a combat support corps specializing in teleprocessing and communications.

It is a tradition rooted early in the state of Israel’s history for Haredi men to continue yeshiva study rather than serve in the army, but in recent years, a program called Shachar has been working with both the army and interested members of the Haredi community to enable these men to serve in a way that is conducive to their religious and familial obligations.

By Nadav Shemer and Alisa Odenheimer www.jpost.com March 6, 2012

Despite the rapid increase in the employment rate of haredi men, their participation in the business sector is still relatively low compared to other Jews, the report said. 

Haredi employees work fewer hours than other Jews, which reduces their wages and makes it more difficult to lift their households above the poverty line, it said.

By Guy Katsovich www.globes.co.il March 6, 2012

Analysis of changes in employment patterns of haredim are complicated by the difficulty in defining the haredi community in official figures and surveys.

A haredi household is defined as one in which a person studied or studies in a yeshiva. The problem is exacerbated because in response to pressure to encourage haredi men to work, some men are seeking a higher education at an institution that is not yeshiva.

By Ran Rimon www.ynetnews.com March 10, 2012

The Bank of Israel stated that the figures might be inflated due to the identification method of haredi households used by the survey.

By Nehemia Shtrasler Opinion www.haaretz.com March 9, 2012

In the late 1990s, then-Finance Minister Avraham Shochat tried to pass a law in the Knesset taxing large inheritances. The bill was opposed by many of Israel's rich, and that was understandable.
But one day, Shochat received a phone call from a United Torah Judaism MK, who told him, "We opposed it, too."

"What do you have to do with inheritances?" the surprised Shochat asked. "After all, you represent people who have a hard time making ends meet, and they certainly don't have millions."
The MK responded: "In our circles, it's accepted practice for the parents to give every young married couple an apartment."

"How's that possible?" Shochat shouted. "After all, you have eight children on average. Where does all the money come from?" "Don't ask about what is beyond your comprehension," said the religious MK, undoubtedly with a smile on his face. The tax was not imposed.

By Gideon Vennor www.jewishagency.org March 1, 2012

We believe that the majority of Beit Shemesh residents are moderates, wishing to live peacefully side by side. 

Indeed, many – including a significant number of Haredim – see value in living in a heterogeneous community. 

The willingness of the moderate majority to act in various ways to advance a vision of a city that is home to all its communities is an important key to the flourishing of the city.

By Alisa Coleman Opinion http://blogs.timesofisrael.com March 11, 2012

A few years ago I began to notice female faces being blurred out of advertisements in magazines.  
I thought it was crazy, but I did nothing about it.   I am sure many others had the same reaction but did nothing.

Now we have reached a situation where women are not even in posters, women are pushed to the back of buses and it has even become the norm that women are screamed or spat at because of how they are dressed.

We have all been bothered by many things for a long time, but no one has done anything about it.

By Tali Farkash www.ynetnews.com March 10, 2012

Deep inside haredi society, a secret sub-community of unknown size leads a double life, its members facing complex, sometimes insurmountable dilemmas.

Some fear losing the family they have built. Others are concerned about how the family they were born into would react.

Others yet fear losing the jobs they hold in the haredi sector, dreading the meager prospects they might face in the outside world. Many lack the education and Western life skills. Most don't speak English, and some speak nothing but Yiddish.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com March 9, 2012

[Purim] A third hotline reported that Shas spiritual leader Rabb iOvadia Yosef announced he has wronged MK Chaim Amsellem by removing him from the party, and invited him to rejoin its ranks. The decision supposedly was based on a dream he dreamt.

Amsellem, who collaborated with the jokers, went on the air to declare his rejection of the invitation, calling the faction "corrupt."

By Shay Fogelman www.haaretz.com March 9, 2012

Lev Tahor came into being in the mid-1980s in Jerusalem. In the early 1990s it followed Rabbi Helbrans to the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and from there to the town of Monsey, upstate in Rockland County. About a decade ago, the community settled permanently in the Canadian town of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec.

Throughout this time, the name of the community – and especially that of its leader – was associated with various scandals, including some that reached the courts or were the subject of police investigations in the United States and Israel.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com March 12, 2012

Prominent haredi rabbis, Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman and Chaim Kanievsky, have instructed their pupils living in the south, who have been away over the weekend, to not return home until the escalating situation finally calms down.

In response to the many questions they received in recent days, both rabbis reached the same conclusion on Sunday: Until the danger passes, the situation in the south falls under the Jewish principle of "life-saving," therefore they must avoid the dangerous location.  

By Ilana Curiel www.ynetnews.com March 7, 2012

Efrat Daniel, an 18-year-old from Dimona, has been sitting at home for the past three months instead of going to the Shalhevet HaDarom High School in the city. 

The reason: The institution has declared that Efrat's decision to work at a fast food chain alongside members of the opposite sex is against the school code.

The school blames the student's parents for not committing to the school's modesty code and for showing disdain for the situation. 

The student claims that her return to school was tied to a condition – that she attend a seminar for girls after graduation, something which would prevent her from going to national service.

Rabbi Ratzon Arusi, a member of the Chief Rabbinate and Rabbi of the city of Kiryat Ono, said on Tuesday that a law prohibiting the courts to discuss issues related to the sanctity of the people of Israel should be enacted. 

His remarks came after the family court in Tel Aviv deciced to recognize a lesbian couple as mothers of a child.

By Chaim Levinson and Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com March 11, 2012

The most divisive issue pertains to the national religious community's attitude toward the State of Israel, and the concept of mamlachtiyut, which refers to nonpartisan patriotism and selfless commitment to the state.

Pupils of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook are locked in a debate about when it is permissible to reject the bonds of mamlachtiyut, and adopt a different, rebellious attitude toward the State of Israel.

By Yair Ettinger and Zafrir Rinat www.haaretz.com March 8, 2012

Rabbi Haim Druckman, a leading religious-Zionist rabbi who until last month headed the Conversion Authority, and Azaria Alon, one of Israel's earliest environmental activists, are the winners of this year's Israel Prize for lifetime achievement, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar announced yesterday.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com March 8, 2012

Rabbi Haim Druckman, dean of Ohr Etzion Yeshiva, chairman of Bnei Akiva Yeshivot and a leading figure in the national-religious community, will be awarded the Israel Prize for contributions to education and society, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced on Wednesday.

Druckman, who also served as director of the State Conversion Authority from 1990 until February of this year, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for special contribution to state and society.

By Orly Vilnai www.haaretz.com March 8, 2012

The Israel Prison Service plans to test a treatment program for prisoners convicted of political corruption, according to the head of the Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority, the statutory body that helps set standards for prisoner releases.

The PRA requested that such a program be instituted following the statements made by former Shas minister Shlomo Benizri after his early release from prison last week.

"If Shlomo Benizri had been any other prisoner, he would have been returned to prison or at least warned after making such comments," said PRA director Dr. Haim Iluz-Ayalon.

By Rony Schneider Opinion www.haaretz.com March 13, 2012

And now Shlomo Benizri, the former minister and Knesset member who swore on the Bible to remain faithful to the State of Israel and its laws, the man who was convicted by the Jerusalem District Court and whose conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court, has no sooner been released from his prison cell than he began to lash out.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com March 11, 2012

The Tel Aviv Bnei Akiva branch is offering its members a "kosher" alternative to the city's many extravagant Purim parties.

...The branch will therefore be transformed into a trendy nightclub with a D.J playing every type of music all provided by a professional production company. However no alcohol will be served and dancing will remain separate for boys and girls.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com March 9, 2012

Religious Students at the National School for Engineers in Haifa succeeded in getting a lesson postponed, originally scheduled at a time that would have prevented them from hearing the Megillah reading for the Purim holiday.

According to the national-religious Kipa news website, the institute’s administration initially refused to cancel the lesson, despite the student’s protestations.

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com March 11, 2012

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently conveyed a message to Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran saying he supports his decision not to sing the national anthem at the judges' swearing-in ceremony about two weeks ago, Haaretz has learned.
See also: CARTOON

By Nirit Anderman www.haaretz.com March 8, 2012

An Israeli short film by Amos Gitai is to be part of an international project in which 10 leading directors will make movies about religion.

The Israeli movie, called "Book of Amos," is now being shot in Tel Aviv.

By Gil Shefler www.jpost.com March 13, 2012

Israeli politicians seeking election are used to wooing rabbis and other religious leaders asking for their blessing and – more importantly – for the support of their followers at the ballot box.

But in France – where the separation of state and church is sacrosanct – such instances are rare. Which is why the meeting on March 2 between would-be French parliamentarian Valerie Hoffenberg and Rabbi Yaakov Ifargan, an influential mystic from Netivot with a large following among French Jews, was unusual.

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