Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - April 30, 2012 (Section 1)

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

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com April 27, 2012

The High Court of Justice has affirmed the validity of thousands of conversions called into question by the Rabbinical Court of Appeals in 2008, but refused to discuss the rabbinical courts' authority to annul conversions in general.

Nevertheless, the justices leveled harsh criticism at the rabbinical courts' conduct.

The women and various organizations that joined their petition thus asked the High Court to rule not only on their particular cases - which had already been resolved, since their Jewishness had since been affirmed by the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court during a new hearing on their original cases - but on the rabbinical courts' authority to overturn conversions in general. This, however, the justices declined to do.

By Nathan Jeffay http://forward.com April 25, 2012

Over the past four months, 15 people who have converted in the Diaspora, through Diaspora rabbinates that Israel deems legitimate, have found themselves denied citizenship under the Law of Return for one simple reason: They were too keen to immigrate or, as Israelis say, using a Hebrew term, make aliyah.

Israel’s Interior Ministry has long asserted that it has the power to withhold immigration rights from converts unless they have been residents of their Diaspora community for a period of time after they convert. 

It has done so in defiance of a 2005 Supreme Court ruling stating that because all Jews have equal rights to aliyah, converts may immigrate as soon as they become Jewish.

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com April 27, 2012

Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah: “Let us hope that this ruling, handed down just after Independence Day, will symbolize a general change in the way the government relates to the conversion process.

Instead of conversion policy being decided by the views of extremist judges, not Zionists in the best case, and anti-Zionists in the worse, conversion policy should be determined by national officials, such as Rabbi Druckman.”

By Gabe Kahn www.israelnationalnews.com April 25, 2012

Legal expert Dr. Aviad Hacohen said, "The court said some sharp things which speak for themselves. Hopefully the ruling will mean the petitioners will face no further humiliation in Israel, but instead be treated with respect as befits the values of of the Jewish state."

By Harry Maryles Opinion http://haemtza.blogspot.com April 27, 2012

Even though its heart is in the right place - the Supreme Court is not a Halachic body and in my view has no business deciding issues of Halacha.   

So I’m not sure what was accomplished other than to further divide Charedim from Religious Zionists. Their actual status of these converts as Jews thus remains unchanged in the sense that the right still believes they are not Jews while the left believes they are.

Furthermore it gives these people a false sense of security in thinking that a secular court in Israel can declare them Jewish – end of story. They will find that they will not be accepted into the Charedi world as Jews at all.

The award committee noted that the monetary portion of the prize was awarded to educational and [Army] conversion programs. There is a connection between the two?

"Certainly there is a connection. There are many with a relationship to Israel who wish to come to Israel and be with Israel.

From a religious Zionist point of view the army and the state are bound up as one. We must care for our brothers who come to Israel after a long period of physical and spiritual bondage. We have to feel for such people. If any of them wants to become a Jew in every respect, we must help them. These things are connected."

JPost Editorial www.jpost.com April 28, 2012

Direct coercion will only strengthen the most extreme elements in the haredi community who are fundamentally opposed to any form of military or national service.

Instead, the 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.

By Ophir Bar-Zohar www.haaretz.com April 28, 2012

Israel's political system will know whether or not it's heading for early elections following the vote on a replacement to the so-called Tal Law on May 9, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Saturday, adding that his Yisrael Beiteinu party has exhausted its obligations to the coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

By Lahav Harkov www.jpost.com April 26, 2012

The bill – written by MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu), chairman of the Knesset constitution, law and justice committee chairman – quotes Maimonides, who said that those who do not work for a living are desecrating God’s name, and that it is forbidden to receive payment for learning Torah.

Up to 1,000 yeshiva students be able to receive an exemption from military service, in order to encourage those with exceptional talents. The same amount of excellent university students, athletes and artists may receive an exemption, as well.

www.jpost.com April 29, 2012

"The new law will also include civilian service for Arabs.  This must be done without setting public against public.  The change will entail expanding frameworks and increasing budgets.  This is high on the list of priorities for the security of the state," he added.

www.jpost.com April 29, 2012

"If the prime minister and the foreign minister want elections, we are ready for elections at any moment. The election campaign has begun on the backs of the haredi public because they think that will bring them mandates," Yishai stated.

www.ynetnews.com April 29, 2012

60% of the religious sector, 58% of traditional [Jews] and 49% of seculars, said that a compromise should be reached in order to cause the haredi public to enlist willingly.

But 35% of those polled said that haredim should be drafted through the uncompromising enforcement of the existing law. Some 4% argued that the growing enlistment trend within the ultra-Orthodox communities makes intervention unnecessary.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com April 24, 2012

"Yeted Ne'eman," a haredi daily affiliated with United Torah Judaism:  "It must be firmly stated – the true 'draft dodgers' are the ones in the tent," adding that the activists are "endangering the Jewish people's existence" by "razing the ground on which we stand."

By David Lev www.israelnationalnews.com April 25, 2012

“G-d should bless the IDF soldiers who stand on guard for our benefit. Without them, we could not learn Torah. We would be under the thumb of the evil persecutors who harm the Jewish people. G-d should preserve them and keep them alive and well, as it is He who is fighting against our enemies.”

By Ann Rodgers www.post-gazette.com April 30, 2012

"I want American Jews to feel that they have license to make their voices heard in Israel about this," said Ms. Hoffman, a former member of the Jerusalem City Council who now directs the Israel Religious Action Center, the advocacy arm of the Reform movement in Israel.

"The fact that the keys to the holiest site for the Jewish people have been given to the smallest and most extreme faction of the Jewish world is a shame."

Just before leaving for her American tour, she wrote to the rabbi in charge of the Wall.

"I wrote him that we wished to make use of one of the ... Torah scrolls that are here for public use. I reminded him that women were also at Sinai when the Torah was received," she said.
"I haven't heard anything back from him, and I doubt that I will."

VIDEOS from Women of the Wall

By Amira Lam www.ynetnews.com April 28, 2012

"The fight for the right for public transportation on Shabbat is a struggle for the state's character," Huldai said. "There is no reason in the world why a resident of Haifa cannot get on a train on Shabbat and arrive for a picnic at (Tel Aviv's) Yarkon Park. The time has come to break the status quo vis-à-vis the haredim."

http://hiddush.org April 29, 2012

In the heart of Jerusalem this past Shabbat, dozens of protesters attended Saturday's "Tent of the Stuck" rallied in favor of public transportation on Shabbat.

The event was cosponsored by Hiddush and a youth forum, "Bamah". Sitting at the bus station on Shlomtzion street, surrounded by popular bars and restaurants of Jerusalem, protesters spoke out about the need for public transportation to and from this area on Saturdays.

By Rachel Gur http://blogs.timesofisrael.com April 29, 2012

Meretz MKs Nitzan Horowitz and Ilan Gilon are currently advancing a bill that would allow adopted grandchildren to automatically inherit their adoptive grandparents.

Currently, in the absence of a will, an adopted child inherits only their adoptive parents — not their grandparents.

Haredi parties oppose the bill, which continues the decades-long trend of moving judicial authority over inheritance from halachic sources and rabbinic courts to civil courts and legislation.

The law will be debated in the Law Committee, chaired by Israel Beitenu MK David Rotem, this Wednesday.

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

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill Sunday morning that would give the interior minister and religious services minister the final say in the destruction or rezoning of all religious buildings in the country.

MK Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz expressed sharp opposition to the bill, stating that it constituted an attempt by Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi, both of Shas, to take control over religious properties.

http://keshetrabbis.org/ April 26, 2012

Keshet-JTS, an organization of students at the Conservative movement's flagship seminary in New York, congratulates the Masorti Movement in Israel and the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem on its historic decision to admit openly gay and lesbian students for rabbinic ordination in Israel. 

Our communities are stronger, and our Torah is richer, when the experiences of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are celebrated.

By Stuart Winer www.timesofisrael.com April 30, 2012

The Emek Hefer Regional Council Rabbinate has canceled the kashrut certification of a catering company that apparently served nonkosher meat at last week’s Independence Day banquet hosted by President Shimon Peres. The company failed to attend a special hearing about the incident on Monday morning.

By Stuart Winer www.timesofisrael.com April 29, 2012

The President’s Residence is investigating claims that a catering company served nonkosher meat during a presidential Independence Day banquet.

By Anshel Pfeffer www.haaretz.com April 27, 2012

The sudden departure this month of the Jewish Agency's veteran chief financial officer, Yaron Neudorfer, is sending shock waves through the cash-strapped organization as it grapples with a severe budget deficit.
One veteran agency official predicts a period of chaos following Neudorfer's departure.

"They are losing the man who knows all the ins and outs of the budget and the strategic plans and have no one prepared to take his place at such short notice," says the official. Uri Yisraeli, the head of the budget department and the agency's number two moneyman, is also leaving the organization.

By Itamar Eichner www.ynetnews.com April 27, 2012

Studies carried out recently among US Jews indicate that only one in five has visited, or is planning to visit Israel.

The worrying findings have led the UJA Federation of New York to present an innovative plan: "Birthright Israel for Boomers" - a tourism program aimed at adults that follows the outline of programs already in place for the younger generation.

This study provides a roadmap of American Jewish giving to Israel. Overall, we identified 774 organizations that transfer American Jewish donations to Israel, including 667 “American Friends” organizations.

By analyzing the years these organizations were established, we identified substantial growth in the number of Israeli NGOs engaged in raising funds from American Jews.

For the peak year of 2007, we tabulated $2.059 billion in donations contributed to causes in Israel through American Jewish organizations and foundations.

Using various methods to estimate historical trends, we argued that Jewish donations to causes in Israel increased substantially during the 1990s and 2000s.

We further argued that American Jewish giving in Israel contributes significantly to the Israeli Third Sector and signals ongoing American Jewish connection to Israel.

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By Rabbi Mishael Zion Opinion http://ejewishphilanthropy.com May 1, 2012
Rabbi Mishael Zion is Co-Director, Director of Education, The Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel.

Jerusalem has not one, but two holy mountains: The Temple Mount in the east, and Har Herzl in the west. Har Herzl, or Har haZikaron, “the Mountain of Memory” has a very deliberate architecture:
Israeli independence, and the celebration of its achievement, is important. But it is not sufficient.

We need to continue the process, counting up the days to the time where we discuss, agree and sign a covenant of what we – Israel’s stakeholders: citizens and diaspora Jews – want Israel’s existence to be about. Har Herzl is not enough, we must find Israel’s new Mt. Sinai so that this exciting project can take flight. 

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