Monday, August 4, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - August 4, 2008 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

August 4, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Video of Barack Obama's prayer note taken at Western Wall

CoVisions Productions and David Cohen, July 25, 2008

“Seconds after Senator Obama steps away from the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Seconds after Obama left the stones, some of his entourage stepped up to the wall (seen dressed in suits) while young men began gathering notes in their hands in what appeared to be the search for Obama's freshly placed personal note.

He is joined by others who unwrap notes and read them.”

Producer films theft of Barack Obama's prayer note from Western Wall

By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10 August 4, 2008

Video courtesy of CoVisions Productions and David Cohen

Barack Obama's two-day visit to Israel in late July was somewhat overshadowed by the removal of his prayer note from the Western Wall and its publication in the daily Maariv.

Maariv said a religious student gave the note to the newspaper.

Rabbis condemned the note's removal as sacrilegious and pundits called it an embarrassment for Israel. The perpetrator subsequently apologized for his actions.

But now, the removal of Obama's note itself can be seen, thanks to independent producer David Cohen, who documented the theft.

Kotel rabbi to crack down on note-removers

By Matthew Wagner, August 3, 2008

Chief Rabbi of the Kotel Shmuel Rabinovitz said Sunday he will fight "the despicable phenomenon" of removing personal notes of prayer from the cracks in the Western Wall.

Rabinovitz's official announcement comes after such a note written by Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the US presidency, was removed from the Wall and its contents were published by a Hebrew daily.

…Footage of the aforementioned yeshiva student was broadcast on Israeli television over the weekend, which prompted Rabinovitch to announce that he would post custodians at the Kotel who would prevent the removal of notes.

Panel nixes expansion at Western Wall

By Akiva Eldar, August 4, 2008

The Interior Ministry's Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee approved the original plan of the reconstruction project for the Temple Mount's Mugrabi Gate on the condition that certain changes be made in it.

At the end of a hearing some two weeks ago, the committee accepted the objections submitted by the Ir Amim organization to the plan for transformation of the area underneath the new bridge into a space for Jewish prayers.

In so doing, it rejected an initiative of the Western Wall's rabbi, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, which had gained the support of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to take advantage of the collapse of the bridge as an opportunity to expand the women's section at the site.

Porush likely candidate for J'lem mayor

By Matthew Wagner, August 4, 2008

Haredi sources close to Porush told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that Lupolianski would honor a rotation agreement signed between the hassidic and Lithuanian factions within UTJ.

Lupolianski's honoring of the agreement paves the way for Porush to become the capital's next haredi mayoral candidate.

Agudat Yisrael to name MK Porush its candidate for J'lem mayorship

By Jonathan Lis, July 31, 2008

MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) is expected to be chosen today as his Agudat Yisrael faction's candidate for mayor of Jerusalem.

However, since UTJ is a joint list comprising two different factions - Agudat Yisrael and Degel Hatorah - this does not mean he will be UTJ's candidate for mayor.

Before the last municipal elections, Porush signed a rotation agreement with Degel's candidate, current mayor Uri Lupolianski, under which Lupolianski would serve one term, and Porush would be UTJ's candidate next time around.

Hitorerut B'yerushalayim: Youth revolution

A new political movement, Wake Up Jerusalem (Hitorerut B'yerushalayim), has been established to focus on creating a viable future for the city's youth.

After the Bridge of Strings inauguration debacle, the group organized an officially approved alternative ceremony.

"For us as a movement, the Bridge of Strings is a scandal regardless of whether you think it's aesthetically great or terrible," says Fisher. "The budget for the opening ceremony alone was NIS 2 million - [nearly] a quarter of the yearly municipal culture budget spent in a single night."

The group is also planning an event for Tisha Be'av, where religious and secular figures will speak about the meaning of mourning.

Gov't may foot bill for Diaspora schoolteachers' Israel trips

By Haviv Rettig, July 30, 20008

The government may soon help fund trips to Israel for Diaspora educators, under a proposal being examined in the Prime Minister's Office.

On Monday, an internal advisory meeting chaired by cabinet secretary Oved Yehezkel discussed a new track for Masa, a government agency that brings Diaspora youth to Israel for five- and 10-month programs.

"The plan is to create a new path" for teachers in Jewish schools in the Diaspora to come on two-week trips, Yehezkel told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.

Though still in the planning stages, the project could be underway by 2009, since "the money is there" in unused funds slated for Masa participants, he said.

It's all about money

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 1, 2008

The calculation is simple.

The Ethiopians might be hard-working citizens and good soldiers, as their supporters claim, but they are a drain on the economy.

The Westerners, in contrast, bring on average $100,000 each into the country, in capital and business. These are the Jews Israel is after in the 21st century.

Trailblazing through history

By Haviv Rettig, August 3, 20008

It is easy to see why [Professor Yehezkel] Dror, an emeritus professor of political science at the Hebrew University, would be considered an excellent choice to head the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, which was formed by the Jewish Agency in 2002 to do Dror's brand of strategic thinking for the Jewish people as a whole.

…"My starting point is the future of the Jewish people, which is not assured. The biggest challenge is the detachment between Israel and the Diaspora.

Young Israelis and young Jews in the United States live in a different cosmos, the communities have totally different structures, and how many Israeli ministers even understand what's going on in the Diaspora?"

Holier than thou?

By Peggy Cidor, July 31, 2008

Interview with Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ)

Different groups of haredim, according to Eckstein, have not been always eager to acknowledge the origin of the money, but still accepted it. This pattern continued until it aroused the anger of city councillor Mina Fenton (National Religious Party), who is neither liberal nor haredi.

Fenton, a prominent anti-missionary activist, succeeded in ending the cooperation between Eckstein's organization and the municipal Welfare Department by the end of 2004 - about a year after Mayor Uri Lupolianski was elected.

Rabbis, whether haredi or Zionist, are divided on whether it is kosher to accept money from Christians who openly admit that their plan is to save the Jews and bring them to the Holy Land in order to quicken the coming of their messiah.

…Fenton is convinced that any cooperation with Christian Zionists spells destruction for Israel. She is particularly concerned with rabbis, whom, she says, are "sinners and stain the community, like in my own party, MK Benny Elon, who serves even as chairman of the Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus. What a disgrace!"

Chief Rabbi Metzger: Married women should give up maiden name

By Neta Sela, July 30, 2008

Married women should give up their maiden name, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger told hundreds of women at a convention Monday dedicated to Jewish family values and religiosity.

"We are currently in an era of permissiveness and there are many messages that create cracks in the Jewish home's whole structure," the rabbi told the women in attendance.

"The agenda whereby a woman wants to bring the independent entity of her last name to the home should be reconsidered," the rabbi said.

"If this came out of unity it's one thing…but If there is a message that the woman is an independent entity and the husband is an independent entity, this does not unite the home into a whole home."

Women want their voices heard

By Kobi Nahshoni, August 3, 2008

Ynet has learned that women’s organizations are intending on organizing a unique “musical demonstration” in light of the exclusion of female Knesset members from the choir singing "Hatikva" during British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's visit two weeks ago.

Roni Aloni-Sadovnik, one of the protest’s organizers:

“As long as it remains people’s choice at their own personal functions, so be it, but the prohibition of female artists from working at ceremonies organized by the Knesset, the President’s Residence, the municipality and the IDF, is out of the question.”

Goodbye, Jerusalem

By Uri Orbach, August 3, 2008

I don’t care that Meir Porush will replace Uri Lupolianski as mayor of Jerusalem. This is really a small matter. What, should I be scared of him just because his beard is a little longer?

After all, we are dealing with a well-known figure, a deputy minister – what can he do that Lupolianski didn’t?

The fact that he’s considered a little more Orthodox and a little more belligerent doesn’t scare me too much. It’s the same thing more or less; things will remain the same. What’s the difference?

Knesset Passes Funding Law for Pre-Military Academies, 72-0

By Hillel Fendel, July 31, 2008

Pre-military academies in Israel currently number 34, nine of which are in the process of receiving recognition.

Of the 25 recognized mechinot, 13 are yeshiva academies, and the others are "general" - either secular or mixed secular/religious.

The first mechina - Yeshivat Bnei David - was established in the Samaria town of Eli 1987, and within two years there were four more.

In 1997, the first non-religious mechina sprouted - Nachshon, currently located in Metzudat Yoav near Ashkelon.

Factory owner introduces 'Jewish incentive program'

By Nissan Shtrauchler July 30, 2008

Is it moral to offer payment for observing mitzvahs? Felix Bilik, who owns Bilik Felix Metal Industries in Sderot, sees nothing wrong with the practice.

Over the past two years, Bilik has offered to add NIS 400 to the wages of any employee who starts observing religious ordinances.

The act, he said, is not a missionary, but rather a legitimate way for his employees to make some extra cash.

Jerusalem Bnei Akiva branch badly vandalized

A Jerusalem branch of the Bnei Akiva youth movement was badly vandalized this past week, allegedly by Jewish perpetrators, police said Sunday.

The vandals in the attack on the Bnei Akiva chapter in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev hurled a Torah scroll on the ground, destroyed the ark where the Torah scrolls are kept, threw holy books on the ground, and scrawled English- and Russian-language graffiti on the walls of the branch's synagogue, said Nariah Meir, a Bnei Akiva leader in Jerusalem.

Religious Zionists Enshrine Gaza Pullout in Mourning Ritual

In Avi Ben-Shimon’s home in the West Bank town of Emmanuel, a memorial candle will burn throughout the fast day of Tisha B’Av, which begins at sundown August 9.

It will not, however, commemorate the main theme of the 25-hour fast, which is the destruction of the two ancient Jerusalem temples.

Rather, it will commemorate what Ben-Shimon calls a modern-day “tragedy” — evacuation of the Jewish settlements in Gaza.

National-Religious Parties Considering Historic Merger

By Hillel Fendel August 4, 2008

A highly-placed source in the NRP-NU told IsraelNationalNews that "historic talks" are being held between leading members of the NRP, Tekumah and Moledet, and that "one united party - not just a technical list for the purpose of Knesset elections - is likely to be the result."

He said that the problem of "Who will lead?" is to be solved in nationwide primaries.

Chabad Temple seminar rankles Islamists

A brief course offered by the Chabad Hassidim about the Temple endangers the Aksa Mosque, Islamic Movement spokesman Zahi Nujidat said Tuesday.

The three-part seminar, which is being held this week and next week at some 200 Chabad Houses throughout the country, comes less than two weeks before Tisha Be'av, which marks the destruction of the Temple.

In contrast to members of the modern Orthodox Zionist rabbinical leadership, Chabad Hassidim do not even ascend the Temple Mount, [Chabad spokesman Rabbi Menachem Brod] said.

Surrounding the walls

For seven years, Sivuv She'arim has gathered people from across the country to march around the Temple Mount in celebration of the new Hebrew month. Uniting them is a love of the Land of Israel and a desire to speedily rebuild the Temple.

See also: The Temple Mount Gates by Leen Ritmeyer August 1, 2008

Youths contribute to advancement of Third Temple

By Kobi Nahshoni, July 31, 2008

Mourning over the destruction of Jerusalem is normal in the month of Av, but at the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faith Movement all focus is on the “big day” - the day in which the Third Temple will be built.

As part of the preparations, hundreds of teenagers are expected to sign the “Temple Treaty” and to proclaim, “We commit to doing everything in our power to abide by this commandment and to devote at least half an hour a week toward this effort.”

The kindest cut

By Raphael Ahren, August 1, 2008

Yisrael Campbell had enough of circumcisions. Indeed, the Philadelphia-born standup comedian, who converted from Catholicism to Reform, then to Conservative and finally to Orthodox Judaism, has had his share of foreskin curtailments.

…Campbell has at long last made peace with his Jewish identity. Even if the ultra-Orthodox won't accept him as a full Jew because his last conversion was done under Rabbi Haim Druckman, whose conversions have been declared null and void by their Supreme Rabbinic Court, Israel's leading English-speaking comedian does not intend to go through the process again.

There are aspects of ultra-Orthodoxy that Campbell admires, such as the slow, devoted manner of prayer.

But he still feels strongly about the non-Orthodox movements to which he once belonged. Many Orthodox Jews would say that the Reform and Conservative movements lead Jews astray from authentic religion, but for Campbell they brought him closer.

He became Orthodox more because he longed for regular ritual practice and a sense of belonging than for theological reasons.

Funny, He Doesn’t Look Like a Christopher

By Rebecca Honig Friedman, July 25, 2008

Click here for VIDEO interview

A Conversation with Matthew Kalman, Filmmaker

By simone, August 3 2008

Meah Shearim was the only place where filming was a little dicey.They're more wary of cameras there.

In fact, we had an alternate beginning to the film which showed Yisrael emerging from a group of charedim, but the other charedim in the crowd were none too happy about it, so we decided to cut that part.

Orthodox Comic Converts to N.Y.

By Joshua Mitnick, July 30, 2008

“When they ask me why did you convert to Judaism,” begins his routine on getting past El Al security, “I say, ‘For the women.’”

Religion and State in Israel

August 4, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.