Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - April 23, 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 Revital Blumenfeld and Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com April 20, 2012

Israel's Masorti (Conservative) Movement decided to approve the ordination of homosexual rabbis, in a dramatic vote on Thursday.

The Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, affiliated with the movement, will admit gay and lesbian students for training as spiritual leaders as of the upcoming school year.

In doing so the Israeli Conservative Movement is joining the American branch of the movement, whose rabbinical seminaries have been admitting gay students for some years.

By Amy Teibel www.huffingtonpost.com April 20, 2012

D'ror Chankin-Gould, 28, a gay student at the American Jewish University, the movement's rabbinical school in Los Angeles, said the decision was "something that we've been dreaming of for years."

"It's just been a lot of pain and a lot of tears and a lot of years to get to this place," said Chankin-Gould, who is in Israel for a year of religious studies.

"We have now an opportunity for more committed, wonderful teachers to rise up in Israel and to teach their Torah and to model for Israeli society and for the Jewish people what it means to include all of our voices."

By Rabbi Barry Leff Opinion www.neshamah.net April 20, 2012

Since some of the professors at Schechter are not comfortable with ordaining gays and lesbians from a halachic standpoint, we came up with a solution that preserves the principle of "halachic pluralism," meaning different halachic points of view are recognized as valid. I commend the board and staff members who worked this out, I was not part of that process.

No rabbi will be required to be part of the beit din (rabbinic court) that ordains any particular individual. Candidates for ordination will be able to choose their beit din from rabbis serving on a new "rabbinic council" that Schechter will form. 

Thus, if a particular rabbi does not believe it is halachically proper to ordain gays and lesbians he or she will not be required to be a part of a beit din for such rabbis.

By Gil Shefler www.jpost.com April 20, 2012

For Amichai Lau-Levine, who is training for the rabbinate and is openly gay, news that the rabbinical seminary in Jerusalem will admit LGBT students next is a personal victory.

“This decision is not just about LGBT rights,” he wrote in his blog. “It is an important statement about Halachic change, evolving social-legal norms and the courage to make progress in a society so suspicious of changes and so badly in need of this fresh approach.”

By Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu Opinion www.myjewishlearning.com April 23, 2012
Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu, is the Director of Rabbis Without Borders at CLAL – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.

I will never forget the day that myself and another student met with the then Chancellor Ismar Schorsch.
The two of us began to passionately speak about the Jewish values which informed our belief that gays and lesbians should be ordained.

After only a few sentences had left our mouths, the Chancellor interrupted and said, “Let me stop you there. Gays and Lesbians will not be ordained at JTS while I am still Chancellor. It is not going to happen.” Then, he escorted us out of his office.

By Jonah Rank Opinion www.timesofisrael.com February 20, 2012

If they even apply, gay and lesbian Jews may not enroll as students of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, Israel’s only program for training Masorti rabbis.

...At the end of the summer of 2007, gay and lesbian students entered the doors of JTS’ Cantorial and Rabbinical Schools. I met them (just as I met the other new students), and I was pleased to discover how wonderful they were. 

Many of them were serious about Jewish practice, like I was. Many of them were serious about their love for sacred texts, like I was. And many of them were serious about prayer, about Shabbat, about kosher food, and about the whole shebang, like I was.

By Rabbi Seth Farber Opinion www.jpost.com April 17, 2012
The writer, a rabbi, is the director of ITIM: Resources and Advocacy for Jewish Life and the rabbi of Kehillat Netivot in Ra’anana.

Beginning in 2002, the ministry initiated a secret protocol that raised the bar on who is considered a convert.

Even if one went through the 10 plagues of conversion, crossed through the Red Sea and accepted the Torah, one still is not accepted as Jewish by the State of Israel... unless. Unless one can demonstrate a host of proofs that seem to change with the winds.

By David A.M. Wilensky http://jewschool.com
Joel Alan Katz posted a link to the op-ed on Facebook, eliciting this from one prominent Conservative rabbi [Rabbi Andrew Sacks, ed]:
I have just returned from Budapest where I led a Seder for Dor Hadash – a Masorti affiliated group of young people. I expect to write about this profound and moving visit very soon. 
I would guess that half of the participants were not Halachically Jewish (maybe more). But from my perspective, they were certainly Jewish in all but a technicality. David makes some points that are very worthy of discussion. These points are even more relevant in many of the former Communist countries. 
I do not buy “The Rabbinical Assembly of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism should accept patrilineal descent: I am Exhibit A!” argumant. One could pull out B through Z to establish the opposite. 
I rather suspect that patralinial may be the next big controversy in the Conservative Movement.

By Ilan Lior www.haaretz.com April 23, 2012

The Tel Aviv Municipality has formally asked the Transportation Ministry for permission to operate seven new bus lines in the city on Shabbat, beyond the Shabbat lines already requested.
Most of the proposed new lines would connect southern neighborhoods with those in the east and north of Tel Aviv.

Tiomkin says the new lines will cover most of the city and decrease the use of private cars in favor of public transport "in harmony with the policy of the ministry, which isn't implemented for 60 days a year in Tel Aviv. The cost of the operation of these [new] lines will be covered by the passengers."

Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau issued a harsh response, calling on the mayor to cancel the decision, saying he was "filled with a feeling of deep disappointment and pain upon hearing of the council's decision.

www.timesofisrael.com April 19, 2012

Social media-driven political activism took a new turn over the weekend, when secular groups demanding that buses be allowed to run in Tel Aviv on Shabbat staged a “message-in” using popular traffic reporting software Waze.

The point of using Waze was to protest the fact that the only way to get around Tel Aviv was by car since buses weren’t available, said Ilai Har-Segor of the Free Israel group.

www.aabgu.org April 18, 2012

“Both religious and secular communities use their power as consumers, albeit in different ways, to shape the public sphere,” according to Drs. Guy Ben-Porat and Omri Shamir of the Department of Public Policy and Administration in BGU’s Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management.

“The shift away from the formal political realm is a result of a deadlocked political system that is no longer able to regulate boundaries between the religious and secular realm.”

AFP www.ynetnews.com April 20, 2012

For more than five decades, Leila Jabarin hid her secret from her Muslim children and grandchildren - that she was a Jewish Holocaust survivor born in Auschwitz concentration camp.

Although her family knew she was a Jewish convert, none of them knew of her brutal past.

It was only in the past week that Jabarin, who was born Helen Brashatsky, finally sat down and told them the story of how she was born inside Auschwitz, the most notorious symbol of Nazi Germany's wartime campaign of genocide against Europe's Jews.

By Aviva Lori www.haaretz.com April 19, 2012

“But I didn’t choose my religion,” he says, “as opposed to Rufeisen, who converted to Christianity of his own free will as an adult. 

In my case everything was forced on me when I was a few days old. If I were to receive new immigrant status, that would be the realization of my mother’s dreams; she was a Zionist and wanted to travel to Palestine. That would have commemorated her name. The fact that the state is denying me this right – that’s not love of God, it’s simply fanaticism. It’s fundamentalism. I’m sure that the God of the Jews loves me as I love Him.”

The Interior Ministry maintains a dry formalism: “An examination of the details of the case indicates that the Law of Return does not apply to Mr. Weksler.

By Ofer Aderet www.haaretz.com April 20, 2012

The body of Polish Col. Wladyslaw Kowalski lay in the morgue of Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv for five days. Nowhere in the country could a cemetery be found that would agree to his final request to be buried "alongside Jews."

The rabbinate was unwilling to compromise on its principles so that a Christian could be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

The fact that he had been declared one of the "Righteous Among the Nations," who had saved some 50 Jews during the Holocaust, among them his future wife, was not sufficient to change that decision - nor was the fact that during World War II he had himself circumcised as a sign of identification with the Jewish people.

By David Green www.haaretz.com April 23, 2012

Its title sounds dry, and its style is certainly scholarly, but if you want to understand the roots of Israel’s “culture wars,” a good place to start would be Menachem Mautner’s “Law & the Culture of Israel” (Oxford University Press, 267 pages, $60/£35)

Prof. Menachem Mautner: I think the religious-Zionist group is pivotal to the future of Israel, less because of its numbers than because of its institutions.

It has yeshivot, ulpanot, schools, newspapers and journals. It’s less materialistic, and it’s a group that constantly asks serious questions about the identity of Israel, how it should look culturally: How do you make one people and nation out of a society composed of both secular and religious Jews, both Jews and Arabs?

I’m also sympathetic because its people are ready to sacrifice for the general welfare and common good of the state.

By Benny Doron Opinion www.ynetnews.com April 21, 2012

Recently the Knesset was presented with a bill seeking to allow chief rabbis to hold their post for a second 10 year term in office. 

The law is mostly intended to allow the chief Sephardic rabbi the opportunity of extending his term in office which is why it has been nicknamed the Amar Law.

The same law would also enable the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Metzger to serve for an additional term, but the chances of him being reelected are slim.

By Jonathan Lis www.haaretz.com April 22, 2012

Yisrael Beiteinu has submitted a bill which would eliminate Israel's local religious councils and transfer their powers to municipal governments.

According to the proposal, the religious councils would be completely eliminated, while responsibility for the services that they currently provide would be transferred to local governments. The Interior Minister would be authorized to establish guidelines governing all aspects of the change.

www.theyeshivaworld.com April 22, 2012

The court was responding to a petition filed by community residents who feel the religious council has failed to include all the shuls in the electoral process and therefore, there is inadequate representation.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com April 20, 2012

The Chief Rabbinate has decided to delay Jerusalem Day events by 24 hours this year, from Saturday night to Sunday, in order to prevent any Sabbath desecration that may occur during preparations.

The decision applies mainly to private events and isn't mandatory for State institutions; no changes are therefore expected for national ceremonies planned for the holiday, which celebrates the reunification of the capital. Jerusalem Day is to take place on May 20.

By Yehudah Mirsky Opinion www.jewishideasdaily.com March 21, 2012

Israel is, on top of everything else, a gigantic open-air laboratory for experiments in Judaism and Jewish identity, mixing and matching old and new forms, deliberately and on the fly, with vision and no little improvisation.  

One of the more interesting recent specimens isReligiozionisticus Postreligious

Everyone, including the species itself, calls them datiyim l'she'avar, Religious Zionists (datiyim) who have left—or, more conveniently, Datlashim.  Their numbers are growing.

Tom W. Smith, NORC/University of Chicago
www.norc.org April 18, 2012

Religion and Economic Liberty
  • What does religion say about economic and political freedom?
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  • Is capitalism not only efficient but also moral?
Click here for Conference details

By Ariel Beery Opinion www.timesofisrael.com April 23, 2012
Ariel Beery is the co-founder and co-director of the PresenTense Group

Those of us who still believe in the Zionist dream, who believe the Jewish state is the only way the Jewish people can truly fulfill their creative collective potential in the world, need to act fast. 

It’s not enough to compare Israel to Western countries in terms of our quality of life, education, or services.

By Shlomo Shamir Opinion www.haaretz.com April 23, 2012

Nefesh B'Nefesh brings some some 2,000 new immigrants from North America to Israel every year.
That they are mainly religious does not mean they decided to make aliyah because of the preaching of rabbis or religious figures.

If a small minority on the fringes of the Orthodox community immigrates to Israel, it is despite the total silence on the subject of American Jewish religious leaders.

The previous generation of American rabbis still spoke of settling the land, preaching that it was a "mitzva" to do so.

Today Orthodox rabbis and other influential figures have dropped the issue entirely from their sermons and speeches.

By Charley J. Levine www.hadassahmagazine.org April 2012

Q. What transformed you from a Canadian Jewish student activist to a committed Zionist and suburban soccer dad living in Ra’anana, Israel?
A. I don’t know that I have been transformed. I was born in Israel, grew up in Canada and came back for my [Israel Defense Forces] service. I continue to commute to my office in Toronto.

It’s true that I did not grow up observant and I’m Orthodox today. I’m totally committed to Judaism and Zionism. I wanted my four daughters and son to grow up in the only Jewish state we have.

The family loves being here, and although I still bring organic maple syrup back from Canada, everyone feels at home. As for soccer, I am vicariously living out my fantasies through my 10-year-old son, who was asked to play for a Brazilian youth team when he was only 8.

By Nathan Guttman www.forward.com April 19, 2012

The various laws of return seem to be working. Fewer Israelis are moving to the United States while a growing number of American Jews are immigrating to the Jewish state and more Israelis living abroad are making their way back home, new immigration statistics show.

The numbers seem to herald a victory for Israel, which has taken bold steps to keep its citizens from moving away. But the immigration data may be more indicative of America’s economic woes than of Israel’s growing attractiveness.

By Michal Shmulovich www.timesofisrael.com April 20, 2012

Corporal Maya Liss, a 24-year-old new immigrant from Los Angeles, received the IDF Award of Excellence this week.

The new olah served as a coordinator for new immigrants in the IDF’s Meitav unit, which handles the placement of recruits and discharge of soldiers.

By Leonard Fein Opinion www.huffingtonpost.com April 23, 2012
Is liberal Zionism an oxymoron? These days, it's easy to think it is. Many people on the left have, reluctantly, accepted that right-wing extremists are today's true Zionists, and have, therefore, dropped away from Zionism, or have styled themselves "post-Zionists," or have come to regard Israel as irrevocably tainted by its Zionist identity.

Reviewed by Yoel Finkelman, Published on H-Judaic ,April, 2012
Commissioned by Jason Kalman, Men of the Minyan

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