Thursday, March 14, 2013

Religion and State in Israel - March 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 edition on Women of the Wall coming soon

After coming to terms with the fact that they won’t sit in the next government, ultra-Orthodox politicians reportedly threatened Sunday to establish separate institutions for Jewish conversion if regulations become too lenient and no longer conform to the Chief Rabbinate’s standards.

State-religious elementary schools will introduce separate classrooms for boys and girls from the fourth grade, the Education Ministry's Religious Education Administration decided this week.

The Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah religious Zionist movement, which has been fighting to reduce segregation for years, said in response to the Education Ministry's intervention: "We believe that the halachic assumption encouraging segregation, which the document implies to, stems from perceptions that do not match halachic and ideological stances which exist at this time."

As first reported Monday by Army Radio, the new rules provide for mixed classrooms through the 3rd grade, but from 4th through 6th grade, boys and girls will study separately in state religious schools.

The directive also allows each school to vary that policy and impose gender separation in earlier grades or dispense with it in later grades with the support of two-thirds of the pupils’ parents. Any vote by the parents will apply to the school for a period of six years.

As is basically the case already, in state religious junior highs and high schools, all classes will be separated by gender unless a special exception is made with the approval of the ministry’s state religious education council.

By Renee Ghert-Zand

I am glad that the court decided in favor of the teacher, but I am saddened by the fact that she had to sue in order to get justice. 

The situation should not have ended up a legal battle. It should have been turned into a teachable moment for the school’s students. Not only did the school fail to give the teacher credit for aspiring to motherhood, it didn’t give the teenage girls due credit either.

The school’s administration was clearly afraid of change.

By Dr. Samuel Lebens

Today, we have two sets of religious parties in the Knesset. One set, the ultra-Orthodox parties (Degel Hatorah and Shas), serve as a subsection of the People of Israel, the only subsection that they deem to be truly legitimate heirs of our ancestors—their own community.

The other set, the National-Religious party (Habayit Hayehudi), serves the land of Israel. Both parties will sacrifice anything upon the altar of their respective causes, and neither of them is serving the cause of the Torah. Therefore, they are both guilty of a form of idolatry.

Ben Sheetrit—at 17, one of the youngest of the show’s more than 50 contestants—is a student at an Orthodox yeshiva for girls in Ashdod and the only Orthodox young woman in the competition.

By Arie Hasit

At the heart of Ben-Shetreet's suspension seems to be the idea of the personal example that she set for other religious young women; If her school or community celebrated her performance, as opposed to condemning it, her singing might encourage other religious young women to sing in front of men, too.

Instead of coining such a message abhorrent, religious educators should be promoting it.

By Anat Hoffman

Representing several of these women, last week we filed a lawsuit against the city of Beit Shemesh, claiming that city authorities have allowed a small but extreme sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews to act as a “modesty police” against the city’s residents. 

The suit centers on street signs that were put up in public places telling women they can only enter wearing “proper dress” and a description of the kind of dress that is considered proper. 

City officials, including the ultra-Orthodox mayor of Beit Shemesh, have so far refused to intervene and act against the radical group behind these signs, thereby giving the signs tacit approval.

They are also bracing for reduced clout at the municipal level; this would be mainly felt at haredi institutions, which would lose financial support of anywhere between 500 million shekels ($134 million) and 1 billion shekels ($268 million) ,..

Independent haredi schools that are not supervised by the Education Ministry, and whose curriculum does not include core subjects, might also lose funding. These schools, whose student population stands at about 50,000, get about 300 shekels ($80) per student (55% of the budgeting for a secular pupil).

Some 9,000 yeshiva students might lose their eligibility for income support, which currently stands at a monthly allowance of 1,100 shekels ($295).

By Oudeh Basharat

Israel's Eastern Jewry deserves an enlightened leadership enhanced with universal humanistic values.

MK Rabbi Shai Piron, who is number two on the Yesh Atid list, and has been mentioned as a possible candidate for education minister, was put on the defensive today for advising someone on a religious internet forum in 2002 during the second intifada not to sell his house to an Arab, Army Radio reported Tuesday.

In 1986, bus stops in Israel were torched one after the other. The culprits, young ultra-Orthodox men, explained that they had set fire to the bus stops because of "posters of abomination" hung on them, which showed models in revealing swimsuits.

Now, 27 years later, the Chabad Center is demanding 10% of the inheritance of Gottex founder Lea Gottlieb, who was considered Israel's "swimsuit queen." According to estimates, Gottlieb's estate is worth tens of millions of shekels.

Several prominent American Jewish organizations representing the Orthodox community have signed a letter calling on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to “secure” the Mount of Olives and its 3,000-year-old Jewish graveyard from what they described as “continuous violence against visitors, rampant grave desecrations, dumping of refuse and gross defilement of the cemetery by local Arab youths.”

“If suicide bombers are holy, if people are growing up to hate, how can we believe in peace for the future?” the chief rabbi asked.

The 130-year old Ottoman era Jerusalem train station will reopen this spring as a cultural and entertainment center, which will be open on the Sabbath. The project includes landmark buildings, a park, restaurants and fashion stores.

Today, only a handful the niggunim of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, one of the greatest Hasidic rabbis of previous generations, are still familiar even to Jewish listeners. 

Among them is “Dudeleh” − also known as “The Flute” − one of the best-known tunes of the Bratslav Hasidic movement, to which Burstein and Frank belong.

An arson attack was carried out on a Tiv Taam store, part of a nationwide chain that operates on Shabbos and sells non-kosher merchandise. 

Police investigators are certain the blaze that caused heavy damage to the store was the result of arson, with the store owner and chain management calling the scene “one similar to a suicide bombing attack”.

“Every Jew that goes to the Temple Mount puts another stone in the building of the Temple, and is making another step to fulfill Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount,” MK Feiglin told viewers. That is precisely what makes Muslims nervous.

Feiglin, for his part, told Army Radio on Tuesday that he supports the Women of the Wall’s fight to pray as they wish at the Western Wall.

By Sinem Tezyapar

As a devout Muslim, I take pleasure in seeing Jews pray to God, anywhere in the world. It would please me very much if they would be able to pray at the Temple Mount as well.

For Jews, the entire area of the Temple Mount is holy and cannot be used for secular purposes. Nowadays, observant Jews who do go up enter only those parts that are outside the area where the Holy Temple once stood. 

Before going up, they go to amikve (ritual bath) and they do not wear leather shoes on the mount. While on the Temple Mount they are constantly aware that they are standing on the holiest spot of Judaism. ...

Muslims also hold that the entire area of the Temple Mount (or, as they call it, Haram al-Sharif) is sacred and inviolable; nevertheless, they also permit all kinds of secular activities on the mount.

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