Thursday, February 7, 2013

Religion and State in Israel - February 7, 2013 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

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

By Amir Mizroch

The Haredim see the uninterrupted continuation of Torah study and draft exemption as an existential issue. There is only black and white here, not 50 shades of grey, not even 2 shades of gray.

The entire power structure of the haredi political system is based on the complete control that the rabbis have over their flock. Once young men start serving in the army, national service, or, God forbid, work for a living – they may start getting their own ideas. 

It doesn't matter that both Bennett and Lapid were proposing gradual, moderated and meaningful plans to equalise the national burden. There is no real compromise that the haredim can agree to.  For the haredi rabbis [not necessarily their flock] the prospect of change itself is the end of the world.

Their entire system, all of their energies, are focused on keeping things as they were in the ghettos of eastern Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Bennett’s party, which includes a slew of religious Zionist rabbis, was threatening to upend the order of the world, no less.

Some leaders in the religious Zionist community are unhappy over Habayit Hayehudi chief Naftali Bennett's apparent embrace of Yair Lapid, the head of Yesh Atid, ahead of coalition negotiations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Rabbi Tzefania Drori, the municipal rabbi of Kiryat Shmona and a leading religious Zionist figure, issued a warning to Bennett on Monday over the issue of drafting haredim into the military.

By David M. Weinberg

The haredi draft issue is proving to be the sticking point in the current coalition negotiations. Rightfully so, because focusing on this matter is the key to ending the chokehold that ultra-Orthodox parties have had on Israeli politics and matters of religion and state for the past 20 years.

…The insufferable overflow of self-righteousness, and the hostility toward broader Israeli society, evident in haredi political behavior needs to be curbed. The haredi political juggernaut needs to be rolled back. Instead, it is time for moderate religious Zionism to reassert its place in matters of religion and state and public policy.

Bennett should not back down.

By Ari Shavit

[T]here is no practical justification for a head-on collision with the Haredim in 2013. On the contrary: We must strengthen the positive process of change they are undergoing. We must exploit their relative political weakness to reach unprecedented understandings with them. Instead of excluding Shas, we must embrace it and offer it a new covenant, one that will advance the Haredi revolution rather than turning it into a counterrevolution.

Will Shas take the lead on this issue, or will it be dragged behind the stricter Ashkenazi line on yeshiva study? Will it be able to deconstruct the Rabbi Yosef sent to President Shimon Peres last Thursday, according to which “it is necessary to conduct negotiations with utmost seriousness and find suitable solutions for full-time Torah scholars”? Shas is signaling that it is willing to talk and resolve the issue, but it’s only the start.

Joint Shas leader Eli Yishai said on Saturday night that he feels Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu prefers to form a new government without Shas.

“I don’t see a way and a possibility to conscript the Orthodox by force,” said Yishai, adding that the change would have to be gradual rather than instantaneous.

“Lapid wants a reform in one day,” he said, warning that Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, with whom Lapid has been holding talks, would also object to such over-hasty reforms.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett are coordinating their positions with the aim of advancing legislation that will equalize the military service burden.

Also, Yesh Atid is demanding the chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee. The Finance Committee’s current chief is MK Moshe Gafni from United Torah Judaism. His predecessor was Yaakov Litzman, also from UTJ.

Eighty percent of the Jewish public said that they were in favor of creating a government that would promote an agenda based on civil issues, specifically freedom of religion and equality in shouldering the civic burden. Amongst Likud Beiteinu voters, 87% support a civil government and only 13% are against it. Amongst Yesh Atid voters, 99% are in support; The Tzipi Livni Party, Meretz and Labor- 100%,, and among ‘Jewish Home’, 68%. Only 38% of Shas voters support the establishment of a civil government has 39%.

The survey further asked if the public thinks that Yair Lapid should insist on a government coalition without Shas and UTJ. A majority of 54% of the Jewish public believes that Lapid should indeed work to create a government without the two Ultra-Orthodox parties, while 46% are against it. Amongst secular voters, 70% support a government without the ultra-Orthodox parties while 93% of ultra-Orthodox voters are against it.

Click here for CARTOON, CARTOON and CARTOON: "Shas doesn't like the tunes Yair Lapid is playing"

By Rachel Levmore

Exactly one year ago over one hundred Orthodox male rabbis and female Torah scholars gathered to build upon their frustration over the advancement of the ultra-Orthodox stance as the seeming representation of Orthodox Judaism in Israel. 

The group, en masse, opposes the approach of the Nationalist Haredi stream (Hardal) which has taken on many of the patterns of thought that were once considered to be the sole domain of the Haredi world.

But here is the great mystery: The semi-egalitarian synagogues, the Orthodox trend that began in the Jerusalem congregation Shira Hadasha in 2001 and in recent years has caught on in dozens of other places in Israel, from Be’er Sheva to Modi’in and Mazkeret Batya, has been unable to breach the wall of establishment Modern Orthodoxy in the United States.

By Laura Wharton

What has the supposedly rightist government of Netanyahu, about to be re-created, actually done? They have increased spending on anti-Zionist Ultra-Orthodox education while virtually liquidating all supervision of these schools.

Under the Nahari Laws, Ultra-Orthodox schools were given permission to receive funding on an equal basis to schools following the standard state curriculum; today in such Ultra-Orthodox centers as Jerusalem, ultra-Orthodox schools entirely exempted from Education Ministry supervision were even renovated with public funding.

By Rabbi Marc Angel

In 2010, 1.05 billion shekels (NIS) worth of allocations were added onto the budget, specifically for religious purposes, which is almost four times more than the budget of the Ministry of Religious Services in that same year. 

In 2011, the amount came close to NIS 850 million, of which NIS 140 million were categorized by the committee as "For Gafni Coalition Use," referring to the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism member and Chair of the Knesset Finance Committee, Moshe Gafni. 

Willing to work and no longer ready to accept a life of poverty, young Haredim are gradually warming up to the modern Orthodox and even secular segments of society - but carefully and on their own terms.

But most of those seeking a profession that provides a good living are turning to general studies like law or business administration rather than technology. General study programs are more accessible, popular and adapted for people working their way through school or attending yeshiva.

By Yehuda Shein

Once it was politically correct to disparage the Sephardics and discriminate against them under various pretexts, when the real reason of course was racism and hatred of the other's culture. Today this is no longer popular, but it is still okay to vilify haredim and discriminate against them.

By Zahava Englard

I contend that over the 2 millenium, Judaism has been hijacked and distorted into something that even Moshe Rabeinu wouldn’t recognize had he popped in for a visit today. And at the risk of being accused as arrogant by those more knowledgeable than I, I further contend that the interpretations that view women as men’s property through various practices camouflaged as halachot must go.

Tnuva Food Industries, the No. 2 advertiser to the Haredi sector, increased its ad budget by about 20% to about NIS 3.8 million in 2012, while cutting back overall ad spending by about 20% as well.

The Super-Sol supermarket chain reduced its overall ad spending by about 50% over the past two years but increased its advertising budget for the religious and Haredi communities to NIS 3.23 million, putting it in fourth place.

The "IDF Jewish Power" (Otzma Yehudit Letzahal) app enables soldiers to be up to date about Jewish matters 24 hours a day, to listen to words of Torah, and to receive IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz's weekly message on the Torah portion, information on Jewish military law, prayer, and access to the rabbinate's Website and Rabbi Peretz's Youtube postings, among other things.

The Chabad Hasidim are furious that Shefa Yamim Exploration and Mining, which is searching for diamonds near Haifa, has been using the name of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to promote its business.

"The Rebbe never said there are diamonds near Haifa," the organization stated: "This is just how one businessman interprets things he once said."

By Allison Kaplan Sommer

At the very least, these women are owed the respect of an apology; at most, compensation for their pain suffering if they received Depo-Provera for years and truly didn’t understand they had a choice about it.

But sadly, I fear that the frontal assault and demonization of the agencies who worked tirelessly to bring Ethiopian Jewry to Israel will lead to even stronger denials and defensiveness, which will only bolster the paranoid and hate-fueled conspiracy theories.
The victim in all this will be the truth - and once again, the Ethiopian women themselves.

By Beejhy Barhany

There should be an apology by no less than the Prime Minister, not only to Ethiopian Jews but to all Jews worldwide, that their leaders are sorry for participating in such a deplorable and inhumane act.

...Israel must act decisively to right this wrong. It must alert all women that were unknowing recipients of the drug, and provide mental and physical health support to these women and their families. It must write new laws to ensure this does not happen again — to Ethiopian Jews or any other minority group. And it should begin a state-wide campaign of education on the strengths and benefits that Ethiopian Jews contribute to Israeli society.

Orthodox Rabbi Seth Mandel returned from Uganda on Wednesday, where he helped the Putti villagers build their first eruv. He said that while they are not Jewish and do not require one, they were happy to get it and are actively interested in an Orthodox conversion.

“They don’t believe that they are a part of the Ten Tribes and they aren’t interested in moving to Israel,” he told The Jerusalem Post.

But it has not been a pitch-perfect journey for the 17-year-old, who is the latest musical phenomenon to emerge from the African Hebrew Israelite community, also known as the Black Hebrews. 

Like Ophir Ben-Shetreet, a fellow contestant who was recently suspended from her religious high school in Ashdod for singing in public, Pierce has discovered how difficult it is to achieve superstardom while trying to uphold her community's values of modesty and discretion.

A meeting Tuesday between representatives of the Vatican and Israel has brought them closer to ratifying the Fundamental Agreement governing diplomatic relations between the two states, which will establish the rights of the Catholic Church in Israel as well as regulate property and taxation issues.

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