Thursday, February 14, 2013

Religion and State in Israel - February 14, 2013 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
Special Women of the Wall edition coming soon

Alongside the spin and sloganeering that always accompany coalition negotiations, the past week also witnessed a genuinely unprecedented political event: Almost every day, leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis were hosting religious Zionist rabbis at their homes, at the request of the Haredim themselves.

“Every time he would come to the king, they would talk about security, about the coalition and the opposition,” he said. 

“Everyone would be discussed between them and he would give him advice on how to act: ‘Don’t go with Lapid. He is wicked, he hates yeshivas.’

"We must integrate the haredim (into society) because without them there will not be a true political process," Netanyahu said, explaining the desire to include everyone in the coalition. 

"On the other hand, in order to promote equal distribution of burden, you cannot establish a government that is dependent on the haredim."

Lapid on Wednesday released a statement saying he saw Torah study as “part of the existential fabric of Israel” and praised those who devoted themselves to it full-time. 

But that was no excuse for not teaching English and mathematics to young children in the ultra-Orthodox community, he wrote, or “for 18-year-olds not serving their country, or for 28-year-olds not entering the workforce.”

The attack against Bennett was okayed, if not ordered by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's house," one of the paper's editors said.

"I represent a very large public, both religious and not, and I cannot accept nor do I understand the meaning of these attacks," Bennett wrote on his Facebook page.

By Nehemia Shtrasler

I'm unashamed to admit: I enjoyed myself. I enjoyed seeing Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef writhing. …

The Jewish people are better off with a Netanyahu-Lapid-Bennett government, together with Livni and Mofaz, but without the Haredim. 

That will also give Rabbi Ovadia, Deri and Yishai time to do some soul-searching, to acquire some modesty, moderation and respect for others. It will do them good.

By Amir Mizroch

Look at the faces and ages of the rabbis in the first picture. They represent the past, old men [and only men] who will do anything to live their lives [at the expense of others, of course] as things were in the ghettos of Eastern Europe at the turn of the last century. 

Change is their greatest enemy. For them, there is no future, only the past. And it must be preserved at all costs.

By Aluf Benn

How can the next Israeli government bridge the growing secular-religious divide? …

Increasingly, demographic trends have made Jerusalem more religious and Tel Aviv the bastion of liberalism. 

Many seculars have moved out of Jerusalem, leaving neighborhood after neighborhood to the Orthodox. Most non-kosher restaurants have gone with them. The current mayor, Nir Barkat, is a secular businessman who encourages students to live in the old city center in order to recreate a more balanced demography. 

But it’s an uphill battle, when elsewhere in Jerusalem women sit at the backs of buses, and advertisers avoid female faces on billboards. The convenience store on King George Street, at the heart of Jerusalem’s center, is probably named “24/6.”

By Reuven Hammer

How ironic, then, that the educational system of the ultra-Orthodox community and of the Shas school system is the exact opposite of this very broad and open education that Kook advocated. It is so narrow that even the basic subjects of math, science, literature and foreign languages are shunned, to say nothing of “doctrines of ethics and religion in every nation and tongue.” 

Even the so-called “core curriculum” that is required by the Education Ministry is not taught in these schools, without which it is difficult – if not impossible – to find employment in the modern world.

“I share the same value system,” [MK] Rabbi Dov Lipman said, citing the importance of studying Torah, the “fears about societal influence” and the desire to limit interaction between men and women. “The Haredim have done themselves a disservice by saying it’s us against them and we will not be part of Israeli society.”

He said he took his four children, now ages 8 to 15, out of ultra-Orthodox schools because he wanted his son to be able to play baseball and his daughters to marry men educated to work as well as study Torah.

Year: 2012 Author: Benjamin Brown     Series: Hebrew Books Softcover | 122 pp. | Hebrew

What do Haredim have against democracy? Many have no problem with it and are pleased to live in a democratic country and enjoy its benefits. Several of their spokespeople, however, express harsh criticism of democratic rule in general and Israeli democracy in particular.

By Aner Shalev

In the state of the ultra-Orthodox, apartments are listed for sale at half price, and young people are given special funding to learn Torah instead of working or being drafted. The residents of the ultra-Orthodox state pay almost no taxes, and their financial and security needs are met by the State of Israel − which many of them do not recognize.

Israeli governments have developed this pathological structure, creating outrageous inequality. The hidden message here is that the Torah and the land are more important than the people. 

This situation must cease immediately, and the means to stop it are primarily economic. Israel cannot afford to support an education system that does not include core studies, thereby fostering unemployment and poverty. Cutting the budget for yeshivot should force the ultra-Orthodox into the army and the workforce.

By Izhar Oplatka

For decades we seculars have watched with disbelief as you – those who do not serve alongside us in the army, do not celebrate Independence Day and do not teach your children the country's heritage – received so much funding just because our leaders were willing to sell us (the majority that works and loyally serves the country) out for Knesset seats.

… But the younger generation is not willing to think in terms of Left and Right, nor is it willing to enslave itself for your political support; the members of the younger generation refuse to be your suckers anymore.

By Gideon Levy

Like every kind of hatred, hatred of the ultra-Orthodox has its sources, motives and reasons, only some of which are justified. Everything about the ultra-Orthodox is different − their language, values, culture and, of course, faith. They remind us of the Diaspora of our ancestors, which we want to forget.

They are perceived as “parasites,” who live off society and do not serve in the army, almost a crime in Israeli society − they do not “share the burden.” The fact that, nevertheless, they are one of the two poorest groups in the country does not arouse any compassion or sympathy.

Book Review by Shahar Ilan
Beshem Hatevunah (“In the Name of Reason: Conversations with Rabbi Chaim Amsellem”) by Ari Eitan. Yedioth Books (Hebrew)

This book is a harsh indictment of the fact that a large percentage of ultra-Orthodox society evades army service, work, a secular education and participation in the Zionist enterprise. It is an indictment of Shas, which instead of “restoring the crown” of moderation to the Sephardi public, became an imitation of Ashkenazi Haredi extremism.

Amsellem admits in the book that in the past he, like every other ultra-Orthodox politico, defended the community’s “learning society.” He even led a kollel (married students’ yeshiva) himself. “I too was brainwashed. ... It’s permitted and even desirable for a person to be able to say ‘I was wrong!’”

By Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie

Finally, the taboo has been shattered.   For more than 3 decades, Israeli politicians have not talked seriously about the need to get haredi men into the army and into the workplace. And haredi rabbinical leaders have not talked about it either.  

The politicians were silent out of fear of losing haredi support in government coalitions they hoped to create. 

Haredi rabbis were silent because they did not want to expose their young men to the dangers of secular culture; and furthermore, neither were they prepared to relinquish the near absolute control that the yeshiva system gives them over the lives of their people.
But all of that is now in the past.

Members of the Gur hasidic sect have joined Zionist youth organizations for the 2013 Youth Movement Congress at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial on Thursday.

This year’s event, organized by the Education Ministry and Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies, marks the first time that the hasidic movement, one of the largest in Israel, sent representatives to the coeducational event.

In a slow process, awareness of the danger of sexual crimes in ultra-Orthodox communities has increased in recent years. More and more, rabbis and modesty patrols, especially in the cities of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, are cooperating with police and social services. 

This year, a book was added to the curriculum in Haredi girls' schools to raise awareness of sexual abuse and sexual assault with the idea that is preferable to be on the side of caution.

However, raising awareness of sex crimes is a long and complex process and a sense of fear among crime victims remains.

Avi lives in one of several communal apartments subsidized by Hillel, an NGO that helps facilitate ex-Haredis’ transition into mainstream Israeli society. 

One night last week, five boys who share another Hillel-subsidized apartment across town sat around checking out pictures of their former selves on their smartphones.

Against the backdrop of the Israeli basketball game on TV, some smoked cigarettes, and they swapped advice on army units and university programs.

In an op-ed written in response to Rabbi Shlomo Aviner's a declaration that women are forbidden to serve in the Knesset, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Stern discusses the struggle between the integrationist and isolationist trends within Religious Zionism and calls on the silent majority to present a spiritual-religious alternative to the "Hardal" way of life.

By Rabbi Shlomo Brody

Unfortunately, Rabbi Metzger allowed for the municipal burial societies to determine local practice, thereby preventing an appropriate resolution in all cities. One hopes that the next chief rabbi will ensure that the sensitivity of Jewish law will be reflected at all funerals and other life-cycle events.

By Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz

By publicly embracing her music and breaking societal ranks, while refusing to abandon her care for religion, she has found her voice and become a voice for many who seek an autonomous path to God and Torah.

… As an Orthodox rabbi committed to all the precepts of halakha, I find watching this process both challenging and fascinating. 

One thing is for sure: it is a sign of the times. To use a musical metaphor, we live in the age of the “remix”: young Jews are permitting themselves to choose their own way, challenging the classic definitions and traditions of Judaism.

Says filmmaker Zuria: “After ‘Sentenced to Marriage’ I did major research on fundamentalist religion’s obsessive hypocrisy regarding women. I came to realize that today, in part of the religious Jewish world, there is an attempt to define driving by women as something that is immodest.

Yaron Ratzon, director of the Philatelic Service responded: "The Philatelic Service issues stamps dealing with various issues, while strictly observing that 50 percent of the figures on the stamps are women. It must be noted that the stamps, official symbols of the State of Israel, are sold in all post offices to all populations in a uniform fashion. Therefore we take special care that the issues, illustrations and photos do not insult the feelings of any segment of the population."

The Chief Rabbinate’s kashrut division sat down this week with the heads of Israel’s burekas industry to discuss the shapes of burekas and their impact on the general populace.

Factory owners warned that many of the proposals were inviable on an operational level, either because of the baking process or concerns over the final product. The industrialists also insisted that the proposed laws of kashrut be enforced in bakeries and confectioneries nationwide.

"El Al must fly on the Sabbath, because there is no other way to survive in the world of global aviation," El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. controlling shareholder Izzy Borovich told "Globes" today. Borovich owns 17% of Knafaim Holdings Ltd., which owns the 39.3% controlling interest in El Al, but he has no active position in the airline.

They had come to harness the power of a dead rabbi, Yonatan ben Uziel, a man they believed would intercede on their behalf in heaven, granting any Jew a match within the year -- as long as they prayed at his tomb or paid a fee.

Judie Oron’s gripping young adult book “Cry of the Giraffe” (Annick Press, 208 pages, $12.95, in paperback; also available as an e-book), a fictionalized account based on the events of her daughter’s life and written from Wuditu’s point of view.

He was renowned as an expert on the subject of the applicability of Jewish civil law in a Jewish state. In 1973 he published a book on Jewish civil law that is considered an important work in the field.
In 1979, Elon was awarded the Israel Prize for Hebrew law.

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