Thursday, July 31, 2014

Religion and State in Israel - Special OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE edition - July 31, 2014

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

photo: Western Wall Heritage Foundation 

The family of slain American-Israeli soldier Max Steinberg visited the Western Wall for the first time Sunday night since arriving in Israel to bury their son. 

Evie and Stuart Steinberg, and their remaining son and daughter, Jake and Paige, who arrived last week for the funeral of St.-Sgt. Steinberg, 24, a southern California native killed in Gaza in an attack on the armored personnel carrier in which he was riding, were accompanied by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and his wife.

The war in Gaza is naturally being covered in the U.S. But this past week, with two soldiers who grew up in the U.S. -- Staff Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli and Sgt. Max Steinberg -- killed in battle, the coverage has taken on a different light: excited, focused on the lone soldiers.

By Allison Kaplan Somer

You can dislike Israel. You can oppose Zionism. You can feel no sadness or sympathy whatsoever for Max Steinberg - the American-Israeli soldier killed by Hamas fighters in Operation Protective Edge - and whose funeral drew 30,000 mourners on Wednesday. 

But reacting to his death by blaming Birthright, the organization that funded and operates free 10-day trips to Israel for young Jewish adults is simply ridiculous. 

By Bradley Burston 

I have long been used to Israelis knowing nothing about American Jews who come to live in Israel. I am less used to American Jews not knowing the first thing about them, but drawing extensive conclusions nonetheless. 

By Rabbi Eric Yoffie 

The unity of purpose in American Jewish ranks encourages and inspires but, as is always the case, will not last forever. When a lasting ceasefire is eventually accepted and the fighting in Gaza stops, Israel will go back—as it should—to the healthy give-and-take of normal political life, and the division between the two major political camps will reassert itself.  



Chief Rabbi of the IDF Brig. Gen. Rabbi Rafi Peretz, Dr. Chen Kogel of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, Col. Yaffa Mor of the IDF Manpower Directorate's casualty division, and Chief Rabbi of the Jordan Valley region Rabbi Shlomo Didi visited the Shaul family home in Poria Illith on Sunday.

Over the course of three hours, the officials convinced Shaul's parents, Zahava and Herzl, and his siblings, Aviram and Ofek, to begin the ritual mourning period.

An IDF officer involved in military operations inside the Gaza Strip was attacked by haredi extremists on Monday while on temporary leave in Beit Shemesh. 

Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman:
“While I applaud the condemnation of the attack from haredi leaders and I know that only small numbers of extremists would ever attack soldiers, I don’t think the haredi political and rabbinic leaders can claim complete innocence,” Lipman said.

“Their non-stop incitement against the government and the suggestion that haredim should serve in the army plays a role here,” he continued. 

"Avichai Rontzki from Itamar, a former IDF chief rabbi ... delivered a messianic, fiery speech, which to me and many of my friends seemed strange and incomprehensible. He praised the miracle of God's army, an army in which my comrades and I did not know we were serving. 

… When they brought us back out, we just wanted to eat, shower, sleep and call home, mom and dad. We got close to Kibbutz Nahal Oz and then they gathered us together. You know how it is in the army - when told to gather, you gather. Waiting for us was a bunch of Breslev Hasidic Jews singing 'Messiah, Messiah', dancing and bouncing around. We formed a circle around them, and a bunch of fighters danced with them in ecstasy." 



Deputy Minister for Religious Services Ben-Dahan informed the committee that more than 6,500 farmers in Israel have or are receiving guidance, advice and assistance for choosing one of the options available to them during the shmita year. 

This includes switching to hydroponics agriculture for the year, a method of growing produce in water without soil, which is permitted during shmita; the heter mechira solution; the Rabbinical Store House solution in which representatives of the rabbinical courts act as the consumer’s agent without the direct input of the farmer; or for the farmers to simply take a full, state-subsidized sabbatical. 


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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Religion and State in Israel - Special OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE edition - July 24, 2014

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


Tens of thousands of mourners paid their final respects to Sgt. Max Steinberg, the slain IDF soldier who was laid to rest on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem on Wednesday. 

Steinberg, the Los Angeles native who immigrated to Israel and enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces as a lone soldier, was among the 13 soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Twenty-nine Israeli troops have been killed since the army launched its ground incursion into Gaza last week. 





Chabad strives to play a key role in lifting the spirits of Israelis - soldiers and civilians - in the face of the enemy threat. 



By Avital Chizhik

The dissonance is so uncomfortable that I often wonder if I would live with myself more easily if I were in Israel now, rather than here, safely, in my Diaspora cocoon.

Some Sages posit that hell isn’t physical torture of fire and brimstone, but rather internal agony alone.

Is there some comfort in enduring external conflict, united with one’s people in a bomb shelter somewhere, rather than watching it from afar and suffering from ‘survivor’s’ guilt alone? I wonder. 



The foremost religious arbiter in the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic Shas movement raised eyebrows on Wednesday when during a special prayer held at Jerusalem’s Western Wall for IDF soldiers, he remarked that “Israel doesn’t need an army.” 


Forget the Iron Dome. What Israel needs for protection is a whole lot of tznius, or modesty.


Shalom Norman, CEO, Triguboff Foundation“Absorption of this population has been a great success socially, most immigrants define themselves as Jews and feel part of the collective.
At the same time, there has been an institutional failure on the part of the rabbinic system and the Ministry of Interior, in the regulation of the formal status of these immigrants, who expect the government to regulate their status. ”
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin: “Sometimes conversion courts make converts endure the torments of hell, for no reason.”
Love the stranger” is not always their guiding motto. Community rabbis must be involved in conversion, and it was a grave error to remove the matter from their jurisdiction- for they are the ones who must welcome and assist the converts in their communities. ” 


Just as we sat down for some coffee, a Code Red alarm sounded; I was startled, but R was undeterred. “I don’t care about being injured by shrapnel, about a wall falling on me,” she said. “Today I will receive my get.”  


Modern societies take for granted that one loves freely and stops loving freely. Yet, as the remarkable movie by Shlomi & Ronit Elkabetz suggests, that freedom is denied to women in modern Israel by the rabbinical tribunals.  

The Tel Aviv municipality will convene in two weeks to discuss a new version of a bylaw allowing supermarkets and kiosks to open on Shabbat.

An earlier attempt at such a bylaw was vetoed by Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar a month ago. The municipality hopes the new version will meet his approval, but since it would still allow a large number of stores to open all over the city, it’s not clear that the changes will overcome Sa’ar objections. 


A bill proposed by Hatnua MK Elazar Stern and approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation to allow restaurants open on Shabbat to obtain a kashrut license has been blocked by the Bayit Yehudi party.  


In yet another blow to relations between the religious establishment in Israel and the Diaspora, the Chief Rabbinate recently rejected the validity of a divorce certificate issued by a highly respected Orthodox rabbinical court in Western Europe.

The case involves a man who divorced some years ago in his country of origin in Europe, which cannot be specified at this time, and he is scheduled to re-marry in August in Israel. 


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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Religion and State in Israel - July 17, 2014

Editor – Joel Katz   
Religion and State in Israelis not affiliated with any organization or movement


The bombing “doesn’t bother me,” immigrant David Zafran explained. “The main thing is to be here.”
“It’s more dangerous for Jews in France,” agreed Jeremy Tawil, a Tel Aviv-bound Parisian. “I am not scared.
There is a God.”
“Our coming does not depend on the war, but [is] because of our children,” added Eric Azizi, a newcomer from Paris who arrived with his wife and three kids. “Even if Israel is burning, we will be there.”

Diaspora Jews hit with appeals from 'emergency funds' for Israel’s crisis 





By Gideon D. Sylvester 

If Rabbi Perl can demonstrate the sincerity of his apology, by implementing this tolerant agenda, he will bring much needed moderation to the Religious Zionist community thereby preventing future bloodshed. If he cannot, he must resign immediately.
By Daniel Goldman 

I believed that
 Rav Noam Perl ought to take responsibility and resign his position as Mazkir. Notwithstanding my own view, and after a three hour debate, it became clear that the consensus around the world is that Rav Noam’s apology was heartfelt and that he should lead the movement to rehabilitate it from the significant damage that has been done. 

A tentative agreement has been made between MK
 Elazar Stern and Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan in which a controversial bill proposed by Stern to reform the conversion process will be withdrawn while the principle of the legislation will be enacted by government order.

… Other details of the government order, which were contested during negotiations on the proposed bill, are yet to be fully agreed upon.

These include the question of what qualifications the other two members of local conversion courts will need, aside from the municipal chief rabbi, and whether registration will be available only on a regional basis according to the candidate’s place of residence or nationally in any of the new local courts that are established.

Two couples in Beersheba finished their conversion to Judaism and were married by Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-
Dahan on Thursday, despite the city coming under rocket fire during the ceremony.


Having seemingly agreed upon a solution to his contentious conversion bill,
 Hatnua MK Elazar Stern had another controversial bill approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Monday, which will allow restaurants to receive a rabbinate kashrut license and stay open on Shabbat.

The current law governing ka
shrut licensing states that the rabbi issuing a rabbinate kashrut license may only take into account the laws of kashrut, but in practice he will not do so if the establishment is open on Shabbat. 

By Rabbi Uri Regev

We need to go back to the drawing board, expand the scope of discussion in Tel Aviv and elsewhere and involve both workers’ unions and business owners’ unions in this discussion. Shabbat should not be a launching point for unfair business competition, nor threaten the livelihood and quality of life of small business owners.

It should not conflict with the importance of a weekly day of rest for most workers and safeguarding the right to employment of Shabbat observers.

These and other considerations call for a new model, different from both the “status quo” and the current “facts on the ground”.

It should provide access to convenience stores which offer basic food staples in relevant neighborhoods, without giving undue advantage to the large chains over small family owned and operated stores.



The director of the
 Hiddush religious freedom lobbying group, Reform Rabbi Uri Regev, also weighed in, saying that Winter had involved religion in military affairs and that his superior officers should remind him of the required separation between the two.
By Rabbi Lopes Cardozo

The only thing the government can do is suggest that
 Chareidi yeshiva students go for basic training and build yeshivot in the army. The students would have to walk around in uniform and learn full time, learn with other soldiers, do community service, or something similar.  

… Still, the greatest mistake was not made by the government but by the
 Chareidi leadership. When it organized a demonstration in which nearly 600,000 black-hatted yeshiva students participated to show their love for Torah, one could hear a pin drop just before the crowd burst out in an unprecedented cry of Shema Yisrael.

That was the perfect opportunity to prove their love for our brave soldiers and all of Israeli society by having all 600,000 men and women recite prayers for the welfare of the soldiers and all Jews in Israel.

Personal narrative answering the question: 'What is my Israel?' 
Created by Alli Cohen, HUC-JIR Rabbinical Student and iCenter Fellow.


 Reuven Rivlin hinted at a possible rapprochement with the Reform movement during a speech to representatives of the American Jewish community at the Knesset on Tuesday. 

 comments, in which he obliquely commented on the rift between himself and the largest American Jewish denomination, were well received by representatives of the non-Orthodox streams. 

Opinion: Religion has another message


By Meira Welt-Maarek 

The fact that the present Israeli Chief Rabbinate does not recognize our learning toward 
semicha and that of our musmachot, graduates, toward dayanut, impacts on our ability to serve communities and institutions in various capacities.

The impediments are social and political rather than
 halakhic. The forward vision of Rabbi Riskin
 and of the Women’s Institute for Halakhic Leadership to train women for positions that don’t yet exist is a testimony to the power of dreams.

The passion, commitment, and deep religiosity of the women and the inexorable forces of rapid social change promise to combine in furthering the realization of that dream.


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