Thursday, March 14, 2013

Religion and State in Israel - March 14, 2013 (Section 1)

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

The sides also agreed to advance legislation for equal share of the national burden. ...
Under the proposal, compulsory army service for men will be shortened from three to two years. Soldiers who continue to a third year will receive minimum wage and a grant for future academic studies.

The agreed-upon outline for equal share of the national burden also states that each year some 1,800 "diligent" yeshiva students will be eligible to receive a special grant, but yeshiva students between the ages of 21 and 26 who will discontinue their studies after receiving an exemption from army service will be fined.

Ultra-Orthodox recruits aged 21 and under will have the option of deferring their army service. They will later be divided into three categories: Those who serve in the army; those who will perform national service and those who are classified as "persistent" yeshiva students.

By Nehemia Shtrasler

Only when the ultra-Orthodox are in the opposition will Finance Minister Lapid be able to cut the huge budgets they receive, both for their yeshivas and in the stipends for married Torah learners. ...

Only when the ultra-Orthodox are in the opposition will Lapid be able to replace the criterion for receiving state-subsidized housing from “years of marriage,” the criterion outgoing Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias tailored for the ultra-Orthodox, to “utilization of employment potential,” which is more just and suited to secular and religious Zionist citizens. …

Only when there are no ultra-Orthodox in the government will it be possible to impose on them the core school curriculum and conscription into the Israel Defense Forces.

By Yuval Elizur

Let one thing be clear: all this political maneuvering has very little to do with the influence of religion on life in Israel. That will continue to be substantial. 

Even with the religious parties in the opposition, Israel will be still a country where most yeshiva students will not serve in the army, the Sabbath will be an officially enforced day of rest, and only kosher food will still be served in the army. There will still be rabbinical marriages although civil marriages may finally be possible through a series of interim arrangements.

But whatever the shape — and stability — of the ruling coalition that finally emerges, the veto power of the rabbis has been blunted and may finally be broken.

By Susan Hattis Rolef

It is difficult to know what will happen. Will the haredi parties undergo a metamorphosis? 

Will the traditional Ashkenazi haredi leadership give way to a more pragmatic leadership, that will also represent the interests of the so called “modern haredim,” who are trying to make their out of the haredi ghetto? 

And what will happen to Shas after Rabbi Ovadia, who will probably no longer be with us for the elections to the 20th Knesset?

Alongside the Haredi world's struggle against their inclusion in the military draft and matters of principle regarding religion and state, there is another price no less painful they will pay as the incoming government takes office: When they take their seats on the opposition benches, they will be lamenting not only the "harm" the new government will do to the Torah world but also more temporal, material losses.

The public conversation about equal sharing of the civic burden and the exclusion of the Haredi parties from the developing government coalition appears to be the start of a similar process for the Haredim. 

Their community will increasingly have to accept work, national and military service and modern education. Along the way, there will probably be a culture war, with some factions of Israeli society becoming radicalized.

Technion officials realize that Haredi students have a third-grade knowledge of math and don't know English at all. 

“They come to us with no knowledge,” said Muli Dotan, the head of the Technion’s pre-academic department, which runs the special program.
This lack of knowledge presents a tremendous obstacle.

Under the plan, only those who fully exploit their earning potential would be entitled to a range of government benefits, among them allowances. The treasury is now examining where these conditions can be applied and plans to lay out proposals for the new Finance minister and government.

The assumption is that a government without ultra-Orthodox parties provides a historic opportunity to fix Israel's allowances system and increase incentives for working by slashing payments.

Attorney General Weinstein decided that the courts that take action against community members who file a case in state courts or provide testimony to Israeli police could be found guilty for obstruction of justice, deposing testimony, or harassing witnesses.

According to Rabbi Regev, "The time has come for the ultra-Orthodox rabbinic authorities to understand that Israeli law applies to them as well. 

Their attempts to thwart legal proceedings in State courts will ultimately summon them into those same courts that they so disdain. 

No one has the right to threaten or blackmail individuals who for using the State's judicial system. Hiddush will continue to act against these criminal occurrences."

Adina Bar-Shalom, the eldest daughter of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, said on Tuesday that the lack of English and Mathematics education in haredi schools was a serious obstacle in increasing the numbers of haredim in higher education.

“It’s not possible to learn English or Math in a one-year pre-college preparatory course,” said Bar Shalom. “More than 50 percent of students who come to us do not succeed in English.”

She continued saying that this failure caused many students to drop out of college altogether.

A group of senior national religious rabbis led by Kiryat Arba’s chief rabbi, Dov Lior, sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the leaders of all political factions calling on them not to “harm” the ability of Torah students to continue their studies.

The warrants are the first on-the-ground consequences of the expiration last year of a law that allowed ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students to claim a de facto exemption for military or national service.

Until a replacement law is passed, which won’t happen until a new government is formed, the Israel Defense Forces has begun sending draft notices to the ultra-Orthodox under a universal draft mandate.

Many Haredi teens have said they would go to jail rather than serve in the army, which is considered verboten among certain religious sects.

By Mordechai Kremnitzer

IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer critiques several aspects of many of the current proposals for integrating the ultra-Orthodox into the army and calls on the Israeli public to stand firm on its demand for an arrangement that is fair and equitable.

By Rabbi Natan Slifkin

I'd like to propose a plan. It's something that would still be seen as innately unfair by those who do not believe that charedim learning Torah contributes to Israel's national welfare, but at least they ought to see the value in reaching a mutually acceptable compromise. 

And it's something that ought to be acceptable to charedim. The reason is that it is the approach of the father of the yeshivah world, Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin of Volozhin, otherwise known as the Netziv.

By Moshe Averick

It is time for the Israeli government to confess its sins and accept the orthodox/Hareidi community for what it is. 

What could be more absurd than a group of people tripping over themselves while trying to make peace with those who have been violently trying to destroy us for the past 70 years, and yet are unable to reach out and make peace with their own brothers?!
By Anat Hoffman

Lin Dror and her fiancé, members of a Reform synagogue in Mod’iin, have decided that they do not want to leave their country to marry. 

Next Thursday, March 21, 2013, they will marry on the steps of the Knesset in a ceremony officiated by Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon from Kehilat Yozma, and Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ).

By Arie Hasit

At first glance, Benn's article seems to attack all rabbis and the rabbinate as a profession, but a close reading makes clear that he intended to say that there are no moderate Chief Rabbinate rabbis, and there will be no such moderate rabbis so long as the Chief Rabbinate is part of a political system with coercive power.

At the end of his editorial, Benn writes that "those who wish to observe halakha can choose their rabbis and go on their way". The Israeli public has already internalized this instruction and is choosing its rabbis, many of whom are not affiliated with the Chief Rabbinate.

By Rachel Levmore

[T]he private member’s bill to be put before the Knesset, which was initiated this week through the first cooperative legislation between the Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi parties. 

In their joint venture, MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) and Shuli Mualem-Rafaeli (Bayit Yehudi) related to the selection process for the State Committee for the Appointment of Dayanim (Rabbinical Court Judges). ...

The bill proposed by MKs Lavie and Mualem-Rafaeli expands the number of members of the Committee for the Appointment of Dayanim from its present 10 (which is in and of itself a problem as it is an even number) to 11 members.

By Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Our chief rabbis have not yet realized what Benedict already understood. 

They too are sandwiched between a new religious Jewish world and the old manifestation of Judaism. 

They have not yet recognized the fact that a vast new horizon has opened up, which demands a new and bold religious Judaism that will inspire and make itself and halacha (Jewish law) desirable to the Israeli mainstream.

Rabbi Stav told Arutz Sheva that he is hoping "to release" the position of chief rabbi "from the political powers that held that position for the past few decades."

He was referring to the fact that hareidi rabbis held the post for the last two terms of ten years each.

Bennett is different from his predecessors at the top of the National Religious Party.

On the one hand, he was the first to shake off the deeply-rooted Haredi patronizing attitude toward the national-religious community and is also playing a central role in what is viewed as an anti-Haredi move. 

On the other hand, he never studied in yeshiva and does not speak with the basic Torah vocabulary of his NRP predecessors, even those who were no great scholars.

By David M. Weinberg

Ultra-Orthodox leaders are in an uproar because religious Zionists got the upper hand in the recent elections, and will probably be part of the next government while haredi representatives won’t. They’re yelling about the destruction of the “world of Torah” that will result from the societal reforms that Bayit Yehudi insists upon.

So here’s a news flash for my haredi brethren: You do not possess exclusivity on “the world of Torah,” and in historic perspective, you may yet come to thank Bayit Yehudi for nudging you to a better place.

“This incident shows how difficult it is for many women to obtain a halakhic divorce, allowing them to remarry,” said Ben-Dahan. “The culprit in this case is actually considered a solid member of the community, who preferred to sit in jail for years rather than give a divorce to his wife!”

“I believe that if we make things harder for them they will be more amenable to granting the get. I intend to introduce legislations in the coming days that will prescribe much harder conditions for such prisoners. I believe that with proper legislation we can solve many of these cases,” he added.

By Rina Ne'eman

Apart from being morally repugnant, Israel’s obstinate failure to embrace Jewish religious pluralism must be seen as foolhardy and a strategic liability....

It is time for Israel to recognize that Reform and Conservative Jews are not a watered-down form of the real thing. We are not “lesser than.” We are as passionate about and committed to our practices as the Orthodox are to theirs.

The relationship between Israel and the overwhelming majority of world Jewry that does not identify as Orthodox cannot continue to be one of unrequited love. It is time to fully recognize us and to accept us as a real, vibrant and equally genuine part of the Jewish State.

The Hiddush plan posits a new Basic Law: Freedom of Religion and Conscience, to be added to the 14 existing basic laws. 

This law would stipulate that any school that does not teach a full core curriculum in compliance with Education Ministry rules would be denied public funding. 

The law would also categorize the exclusion of women as a criminal offense, provide equal stipends for each child rather than discriminating in favor of large families, and cancel subsidies for nonworking young men studying in yeshivas.

By Rachel Azaria

How will we justify this vast gap between their lives in the secular, day-today world and their lives in the place dearest to us – our traditions, the synagogue, and our community? 

These are the questions that as religious feminists we are asking ourselves on International Women’s Day. 

But it is clear that these questions should also concern the entire religious community, including the rabbis who lead it. The challenge can and should be dealt with, and there is no doubt this will happen sooner or later.
And the sooner the better!

“Maybe Ruth was Boaz’s wife, but that’s not enough of a reason to have a street named after her. Also Rachel – she didn’t do what he father wanted her to do, she had a mind of her own.” 

The same goes for a number of other streets in the capital. That is, on the few streets that are actually named for women, says Rachel Azaria, a Jerusalem City Councilwoman who joined the students on their protest campaign.

By Vered Noam

The segregation of women from synagogue activities does not only hurt women but also hurts the place itself, which loses its authenticity and lives in a gone reality. A call for integrity and softness.

Our spiritual lives are divided by a partition, just like a synagogue. We push to the other side of that internal partition all the vital foundations of healthy critical thinking, compassion, and common sense.
Spiritual experience demands openness and listening, both inward and outward. How can we sing Lord’s song with a clenched fist?

By Michael Freund

So no more excuses! The call of Jewish destiny and the cry of previous generations must no longer be ignored. It is time for American, Canadian, Australian, British and other Orthodox Jews to set an example for their brethren, leave behind the exile and finally come home.

“Most Jews in the world now live in developed western democracies, where there is little pressure to emigrate,” said DellaPergola, an expert on Jewish demography. “Economic crises or anti-Semitism do enhance Jewish migration, but not to the point that we have witnessed so many times in the past.”

By Rabbi Jill Jacobs

We are increasingly unwilling to give the Israeli government a pass on the standards to which we hold the rest of the world. And we believe that the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jews should be a two-way street, in which we each acknowledge that we have much to learn from the other.

Nefesh B’Nefesh conducted a week of aliyah mega events and fairs in six major cities across North America together with the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, JNF-USA, and Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.

Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman will compete at the Maccabiah Games in Israel this summer.

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