Monday, September 29, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - September 29, 2008 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

September 29, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Deri may appeal if ruling goes against him

By Avirama Golan, September 29, 2008

Deri, who previously said he would accept a ruling by the Jerusalem District Court banning him from running for mayor, now says he may appeal against such a verdict.

"The differences are purely judicial - whether the moral turpitude is valid for five years, as it was before I entered prison, or seven years, as decided later, while I was serving my sentence," he says. 

Deri says that some countries such as the United States allow prisoners to be elected, let alone vote.

"Let the public decide on the moral issue of whether I am worthy of returning to public life and whether Jerusalem could benefit from a man like me." 

Deri to quit Jerusalem mayoral race if court rejects appeal

By Yair Ettinger, September 24, 2008

Former Shas leader Aryeh Deri said Tuesday that if he is legally barred from submitting his candidacy in the Jerusalem mayoral race, he will drop out without seeking to overturn the ruling. 

"I will tell the Torah sages not to appeal," Deri said. "I will do as I am told." 

In an interview with religious radio station Tel Hai Radio, Deri said he would advise Shas rabbis not to ask the Supreme Court to overturn a possible ruling preventing him from running for mayor. 

Court to rule Thurs. on Deri petition

By Dan Izenberg September 28, 2008

Deri's lawyer, Agmon, argued that the restrictions imposed by "moral turpitude" constituted punishment above and beyond the jail sentence and fine the court had handed down.

According to the law, Agmon argued, Deri's punishment could not exceed that meted out to him at the end of his trial.

He also argued that at the time Deri was sentenced, the law stated that a person convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude could not run for local authority office for six years.

A law passed after he was convicted could not be applied retroactively, and therefore the law that continued to apply to Deri only barred him from running for six years, said Agmon.

By Election Day, Deri will have been out of jail for six years and four months.

State: Deri can't run for municipality September 28, 2008

The state opposes former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri's plan to run in the Jerusalem mayoral race, the state prosecution said in response to an appeal submitted by Deri in the matter.

The purpose of the waiting period, the state said in its response to Deri's appeal, was "to prevent anyone is not worthy of serving in a public office from doing so, for the sake of maintaining the ethical purity of public appointees and the offices they oversee, as well as the public's trust."

The winner of Jerusalem's image campaign

Rabbi Michael Marmur, Opinion September 28, 2008

What's the big story of the week?

It is of course, the extraordinary decision to allow a cartoon figure to run for Mayor of Jerusalem.

Hundreds of thousands of households have had flyers delivered in which this figure beams out alongside a slogan promising that Jerusalem will love him.

The idea behind the caricature is clear: for Jerusalemites who are not ultra-Orthodox, the only chance of voting for Porush is a sudden rush of imagined nostalgia for Orthodox authenticity - the notion that he stands for traditional values and against the general slide into oblivion.

If they look too closely at what he says and stands for, his chances will plummet. In order to vote for him they will have to believe he is someone else.

Angling for mayor [Beit Shemesh]

By JJ Levine, September 25, 2008

As the mayoral race in Beit Shemesh heats up ahead of the November 11 election, Shalom Lerner hopes to be transformed from the Anglo favorite into the first choice among the city's electorate.

…But the key demographic in Beit Shemesh is the fast-growing haredi population. To capture the mayoralty, Lerner will have to make significant inroads in the mostly haredi Ramat Beit Shemesh and other haredi areas.

That means tackling the haredi community's own candidates, including Moshe Abutbul of Shas, as well as the current mayor, Daniel Vaknin (Likud), who in past elections has captured a large part of the haredi vote.

Lerner realizes that the growth of haredi communities has created a backlash from veteran residents who see their city being radically transformed.

His hopes of capturing the mayoralty depend on portraying himself as the "man in the middle" - the modern Orthodox representative who will be sensitive to haredi needs while protecting the character of old Beit Shemesh.

Lerner has promised to stand up against religious coercion, which has recently tarnished the city's image, but also supports community-appropriate institutions in haredi areas - from synagogues and schools to pools with separate swimming hours.

Ashkenazi haredim lose majority in Chief Rabbinate membership vote

By Matthew Wagner, September 23, 2008

The leaders of Ashkenazi haredim suffered a blow to their hegemony in the Chief Rabbinate on Tuesday night while Shas and the national religious camp scored significant victories.

In a vote for 10 new members of the Chief Rabbinate's Rabbinical Council, a large number of religious Zionist and Shas-backed rabbis were voted in.

Rabbis Ya'acov Shapira, head of Jerusalem's Zionist flagship Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, was chosen along with Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed. Both Eliyahu and Shapira are sons of former chief rabbis and both are considered national religious.

Religious Zionist rabbis who did not make it include Shoham Chief Rabbi David Stav, who is also spokesman for the Hesder Yeshivot and a senior member of Tzohar Rabbis, and Kiryat Shmona Chief Rabbi Tzfania Drori.

But the biggest upset was the election of Ashdod Chief Rabbi Avraham Yosef, the son of Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. The Lithuanian haredi rabbinic leadership was strongly opposed to Yosef's election, so much so that it caused a schism between Shas and the Ashkenazi haredim.

Sephardi, were chosen for five-year terms.

Ashkenazi rabbis elected include Rabbi Yitzhak David Grossman, of Migdal Ha'emek, known as the disco rabbi for his outreach with young disco-goers, Rabbi Ya'acov Ruzah, of the Tel Aviv Burial Society, and Rabbi Yitzhak Ralbag, marriage registrar of Jerusalem.

Sephardi rabbis included Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz of Ra'anana, Rabbi Shimon Elituv of Mateh Binyamin a Chabad Hassid, and Rabbi Ratzon Arrusi of Kiryat Ono.

The Chief Rabbinate Council Elections

Yechiel Spira, September 24, 2008

In essence, Tuesday’s election for the Chief Rabbinate of Israel Rabbinical Council was an election for the Chief Rabbinate’s government.

The election also provides a glimpse at the political realities, the political complexities, and the deal-making that govern the nation’s highest rabbinical body.

Religious Zionists could gain historic foothold in rabbinate

By Yair Ettinger September 23, 2008

The council oversees huge business interests, mostly related to kashrut supervision, and it is largely controlled by the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties: For years, its composition has been the result of political deals between these two parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism. 

This time, however, several religious Zionist rabbis may well be chosen, due to a dispute between the Ashkenazi UTJ and the Sephardi Shas. 

The Reform Movement, for its part, urged mayors on the electoral body to boycott the vote, due to the rabbinate's "loss of direction" and "the dire need to advance the separation of religious institutions from the government."

Mazuz stands by Druckman conversions

By Dan Izenberg and Matthew Wagner, September 25, 2008

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said Wednesday that the High Rabbinical Court's statement suggesting that the conversions preformed by Rabbi Chaim Druckman, former head of the Conversions Court, should be overturned, has no legal or halachic standing.

"As long as a conversion decree has not been rescinded by the appropriate religious authority, no rabbi or marriage registrar has the authority to question its validity," he said.

Attorney Susan Weiss of the Center for Women's Justice, who represented the woman in question, said Wednesday that Mazuz's brief was "good news ahead of the New Year," adding it indicated that the legal system was taking a clear stand in favor of both converts and the common good. 

Rabbinical court shuns 'divorce refuser'

By Neta Sela September 29, 2008

In an unprecedented move, the High Rabbinical Court on Sunday called on the observant public to shun a resident of Jerusalem who has been refusing to grant his wife a divorce for five years.

In ads published in Israel and abroad, a panel of rabbinical court judges calls out to the public to refrain from allowing Briskman to join a congregation or from associating with him for business or pleasure.

The judges also ask that the public refuse him any lodging, with or without pay, including patient visitation rights.

Melchior leads Sternhell solidarity visit

By Matthew Wagner, September 28, 2008

A group of dovish rabbis and academics visited Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell Sunday at his home to denounce an apparently ideologically motivated pipe bomb attack against the left-wing professor.

On Thursday, which is also the Fast Day of Gedalia, Ne'emanei Torah Ve'Avodah, a moderate religious Zionist organization, plans to hold a public prayer rally outside Sternhell's home in protest against the attack.

Other organizations and educational institutions slated to participate include the Hartman Institute and the Hertzog Institute.

Rabbi: Those who [injure] Prof. Sternhell lack Jewish morals

By Kobi Nahshoni, September 28, 2008

The Tzohar rabbis' organization released a statement Friday, expressing its "deep shock" over the attack against Israel Prize Laureate Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell, who was lightly injured by a pipe bomb detonated at his front door in Jerusalem.

"We view this violent act as a severe attack on the Torah, Jewish law, Israeli democracy and the sensitive fabric of life in the Jewish society," the statement said.

The rabbis' organization added that every rabbi, educator and Jewish leader has the moral duty to denounce physical or verbal violence of any kind, and explain the dangers of unfounded hatred to the Jews' existence in the Land of Israel.

In the name of the mother

By Akiva Eldar, September 24, 2008

It doesn't take long for Siham Nashashibi, 62, to allude to his family's distinguished lineage.

"My uncle brought Israel the Nobel Prize in Literature, and my Nobel Prize is that Israel has informed me that I am not a Jerusalemite," he says. 

…The National Insurance Institute has decided he is not a Jew, or even a Jerusalemite, and has revoked his disability pension and health benefits.

…His attorney, Adi Lustigman, says she is still having difficulty understanding how the son of a Jewish woman is not considered a Jew in the eyes of the Israeli authorities.

She says the Israel Religious Action Center, the advocacy arm of Israel's Reform movement, plans to go to court over the issue if it fails to convince the Interior Ministry to waive its objection to recognizing Nashashibi as a Jew.

Yesterday Nashashibi signed a lawsuit against the insurance institute that his attorney plans to file with the regional labor court.

Did Rabbi Raichik have to die?

By Yair Ettinger, September 25, 2008

Would it have been possible to save the life of Rabbi Yossi Raichik? 

Raichik, 54, died on Sunday morning following a prolonged illness - and after the opportunity to transplant into his body the lungs of a brain-dead woman had already passed.

Was it possible that the much-loved activist, a father of six, could have gone on living if a respected rabbinic authority had been found who would have approved the procedure? 

…The issue has been debated from the medical-ethical point of view all over the world, and it has been a subject of disagreement within the world of Jewish law too. 

MK Ravitz: [Affirmative] discrimination needed in religious schools

By Neta Sela, September 23, 2008

MK Avraham Ravitz (United Torah Judaism):

“Bonuses need to be given to schools that accept a larger percentage of the opposite ethnicity…I am for this kind of favoritism so that Sephardim will stop this stupid race to study with Ashkenazim.

"Why not the opposite? We need to find a real solution and not run to be admitted to schools that do or don’t want to accept children to school…”

“Shas MKs are successful in sending their children to whichever school they want due to their political status. But they don’t want to send their children to a school that won’t be successful in maintaining the balance between Ashkenazim and Sephardim."

According to Ravitz, children should not be involved in finding this balance. He believes that the real solution is [affirmative] discrimination in favor of the Sephardic institutions.

A New Year reminder of mutual responsibility Editorial September 29, 2008

On this Rosh Hashana Eve, which also marks the end of the Sabbatical - shmita - year, the Torah teaches an important lesson about greed and trust, a lesson which resonates particularly loudly today as America, and much of the rest of the world, grapple with a major financial crisis.

…Our society is far from the ideal, but it is our obligation to strive for the sense of mutual responsibility sought by the framers of Jewish law - an obligation underlined by the remarkable coincidence of the ancient enlightened shmita provisions and the current bitter financial crisis.

Fit to serve? Socially conscious kashrut sweeps Jerusalem

By josh September 24 2008

Bema'aglei Tzedek, a Jerusalem based consort of youths with a mind for social change, have taken it upon themselves to certify restaurants, catering halls, and other food service establishments with a social seal that verifies their commitment to workers' rights and handicapped access.

A full one third of Jerusalem eateries now carry the social seal, including 1868, Bar Kochba, Village Green, New Deli and Emil (a full list of participating restaurants can be found on their website here.)

A number of kibbutzim have also begun to employ the seal, even this place, which hopefully reformed its chicken stomping ways to get the seal.

Jerusalem May Continue Collecting Debts

By Yechiel Spira, September 26, 2008

For those who dreamed the end of shmitah year might bring some relief, the money you owe City Hall will be collected, and done so in accordance to Halacha.

Earlier in the week, the city’s treasurer arrived on the 6th floor of the main building in City Hall, meeting with Rabbi Eliezer Samchiuf, a deputy mayor who happens to holds the city’s finance portfolio.

A pruzbol was signed to ensure there were no halachic problems with the city seeking to collect debts after Rosh Hashanah.

The nusach chosen was the pruzbol in accordance to the Badatz Beit Yosef, under the direction of HaGaon Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlita.

Hundreds of Shomer Shmittah Farmers from North Honored at Event to Mark End of Shmittah Year

By Yechiel Sever September 25, 2008

Hundreds of "giborei koach" farmers from the North were honored at a special event in Afula sponsored by the National Center for Shomrei Shevi'is at Kommemiyus, which is under the aegis of Keren Shevi'is.

HaRav Avrohom Margaliot, the rov of Carmiel, noted this is a gathering of farmers who wholeheartedly devoted themselves to keeping shmittah properly, in accordance with Halacha. 

HaRav Y.M. Zonenfeld, the rov of Rechasim, said 90 years ago his father stood up to the porkei ol and declared, "The day will come when our Holy Land will be filled with shomrei Shevi'is," and now 2,500 farmers have let 350,000 dunams (85,000 acres) of farmland lie fallow.

Religion and State in Israel

September 29, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Religion and State in Israel - September 29, 2008 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

September 29, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Israel's Haredi press shuns images of Livni Reuters September 24, 2008

Citing concerns for feminine modesty, the ultra-Orthodox refuse to publish images of women in their newspapers - a core source of information as the reclusive community generally shuns the television, Internet and most radio stations.

At meetings with religious legislators on forming political partnership, Livni dons demure skirts and wrist-length jackets, not the pant-suits she usually favors.

A senior editor at Hamodia, an ultra-Orthodox daily, said there was no plan to reconsider the ban on publishing women's pictures.

"We have always done things according to the Torah," said the editor, who declined to be named. 
"This is the way it was since the beginning of the world, and the way it shall remain."

Poll: How do Israelis mark Rosh Hashana? September 29, 2008

A survey conducted by Ynet's Judaism channel and the Gesher educational organization shows that 69% of Israelis plan to pray in Orthodox congregations, while only 22% will choose the Reform or Conservative alternative.

In the first part of the survey, respondents were asked whether they plan to pray during the holiday and where they plan to do it. 

Thirty-two percent replied that they would pray in an Orthodox synagogue, 10% prefer Reform or Conservative places of worship and 4% choose quorums held in local community centers.

Fifty-four percent said they would not take part in the Rosh Hashana prayers at all. In total, 69% of the worshippers plan to pray in Orthodox congregations and 22% in Reform or Conservative synagogues.

An analysis of the religious affiliations reveals that they all prefer the Orthodox synagogues. However, 75% of seculars won't pray, as well as 29% of the traditional respondents and even 3% of the religious ones.

Two percent of the religious respondents said they prefer the Reform and Conservative synagogues.

Another analysis reveals that with age the number of worshippers drops. In the 18-20 age group 59% pray, in the 21-40 age group 48% pray, among the 41-50 age group 44% pray, and among the older age group only 41% pray.

Another figure shows that most men (52%) tend to pray while most women (60%) plan to stay home.

Deferring to the ultra-Orthodox September 2008

Deferring to the ultra-Orthodox has emerged as 2008’s hottest trend for Israeli right-wing politicians. 

As has frequently been the case in the U.S., it seems that Israeli conservatives can’t do enough to jockey for the religious fundamentalist vote. 

And just as in the U.S., the consequences for civil liberties and democracy are staggering.  

As a result of the hardening intransigence of the ultra-Orthodox, the gap between them and the rest of Israeli society is widening and dangerously threatening Israel’s social cohesion.  

Two recent events exemplify the issue – the opening ceremony of Jerusalem’s Chords Bridge and the annulment of thousands of religious conversions. 

Government Provides Building to Fourth Israeli Reform Congregation September 25, 2008

Congregation Sulam Ya’akov, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism affiliate in Zichron Ya’akov, recently took delivery of a state-supplied building for use as a synagogue and community center.

It was the fourth of four pre-fabricated structures the state has provided to the movement – congregations in Modi’in, Kiryat Tivon and Tzur Hadassah already took delivery.

Gideon Gerzon, president of Sulam Ya’akov, said its members are “honored” to be among the first IMPJ congregations to receive a state-supplied, pre-fabricated structure.

“Though we still face many challenges, this New Year will mark a new chapter in our congregation’s development. Sulam Ya’akov,” he added, “is Hebrew for Jacob’s ladder, and this uplifting step brings us closer to our dream of a home of our own.”

14,000 Bratslav Hasidim expected to travel to Uman for New Year holidays

By Zohar Blumenkrantz September 24, 2008

The first planeload of approximately 14,000 Bratslav Hasidim expected to make the traditional Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nachman near Uman, Ukraine, took off yesterday from Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Approximately 100 flights in four-day shifts are scheduled to fly the followers of Rabbi Nachman to Kiev and back. 

In addition to Arkia, three other Israeli companies, El Al, Sun D'Or and Israir will be flying to Kiev, as will the Ukrainian company Aerosvit. 

The Israel Airports Authority has set aside a special area in the Ben-Gurion departure terminal for the Bratslav groups. 

Airport yanks ads to appease Bratslavs

Zohar Blumenkrantz September 25, 2008

'Tis the season for the Bratslav Hasidim to make their traditional Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nachman, near Uman, Ukraine, in honor of which Ben-Gurion International Airport has taken down ads that might offend.

Some 14,000 Bratslav Hasidim are expected to make the journey this year, starting yesterday, and the ad pushing women's lingerie has disappeared from the Shahakim Lounge area.

The duty-free shops are also toning down the images touting their wares.

The Airports Authority is helping to facilitate the annual journey of the Bratslav with designated check-in counters, and security is opening for business to inspect passengers four hours before the flight.

Rabbonim Meet over Mehadrin Bus Line Concerns

By Yechiel Spira September 24, 2008

Rabbonim from Yerushalayim met with Maran Rav Elyashiv Shlita to express their concerns regarding the possible cessation of mehadrin bus service in the capital once the light rail service begins.

Rav Elyashiv told them to work and use all channels to avoid such an occurrence, the daily Yated Neeman reports.

The meeting follows information received by the Rabbinical Transportation Committee signaling plans to halt the mehadrin lines after the train service begins.

The rabbis feel that officials involved in the light rail plan forgot about the spiritual and physical concerns of the chareidi community.

In addition, the train will pass through frum and non-frum areas, making separate seating an impossibility they fear, adding the stops in downtown Yerushalayim will only be on Jaffe Street, in the heart of the entertainment area, which is unacceptable to the chareidi community.

The rabbonim, who met in the Rav’s home, expressed their hope that the transportation minister will not actualize plans to eliminate the mehadrin bus service in Yerushalayim.

Jerusalem's Mehadrin Bus Lines Threatened by Light Rail System

By Yechiel Sever September 25, 2008

The Rabbinical Transportation Committee is calling on all parties involved in the matter to ensure that the Mehadrin bus lines arranged for the chareidi sector are not cancelled when the light-rail systems starts to operate in Jerusalem.

Community in crisis

By Peggy Cidor, September 28, 2008

Three weeks ago, a special gathering of rabbis issued an urgent call to the principals of haredi educational institutions, asking them to do their best in light of the "new situation," and to avoid at all costs a cut in the monthly allowance for married yeshiva students.

According to estimates by forum attendees, $1 billion in donations was raised for 2008, which, when factoring in the dollar's devaluation, represents a drop of more than 30 percent of expected income compared to last year.

"If a miracle doesn't happen and there is no change in the situation, we will see many kollelim closing down and many avrechim will find themselves out of frameworks as of next year," Avi Rosen, editor-in-chief of the Haredi Press Line, wrote last week in his editorial.

…"But make no mistake," [Rabbi S.] continues, "we will not allow a major reduction in our quality of life. 

The yeshiva will always be at the center, no matter what. 

That is the reason why our rabbis urge us to continue to pay the married yeshiva students the monthly allowances, no matter what."

Yerushalyim Badatz Asks Owners to Regulate Sale of Iced Drinks September 23, 2008

The Badatz Edah HaCharedis has sent letters to store owners in the Geulah neighborhood of Yerushalayim, asking them to regulate their sale of iced coffee and slush drinks.

The machines that sell the cold drinks, known colloquially as "Barad", are a common sight at most stores in the area. During the summer, vendors run a brisk business selling them to overheated shoppers. 

The Badatz requested that the drinks not be sold between the hours of 1 and 3 o’clock on Friday afternoons and Erev Yom Tov. 

They explained that the crush of men mixing with women in Geulah at those hours might be mitigated somewhat if people weren’t loitering on sidewalks, drinking their cold drinks and talking with each other. 

Rav Kanievsky Shlita Gives a Bracha to Rami Levy for his Shmiras Shabbos

By Yechiel Spira September 22, 2008

Rami Levy, a controlling owner in the Rami Levy supermarket chain, recently met with HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita, receiving a bracha from the gadol hador for his stores maintaining a shomer Shabbos policy in all locations.

The Rav Shlita gave him a bracha for continued success while he adheres to keeping Shabbos.

Is the IDF Weeding Out Chabadniks from the IDF Rabbinate?

By Yechiel Spira, September 22, 2008

It is believed that the chief rabbi and/or his aides are working in earnest to prevent the rise of the Chabad rabbonim to the higher ranks within the military rabbinate.

Truth be said, there is no proof according to the Chabad Online report, but nevertheless, there is an alarming apparent pattern of Chabad-affiliated members of the IDF Rabbinate being held up from promotion and being dismissed from the military.

…According to the report, it is unclear who if anyone is behind the reality that many Chabadniks are suffering, with some compelled to end their service while others are not being promoted.

New Hesder Yeshiva to Open in Fully Arab Neighborhood September 24, 2008

The founding of a Hesder Yeshiva in the heart of the Arab Ajami neighborhood will be officially inaugurated on Tuesday with the arrival of a Sefer Torah.

Ajami, which is adjacent to the Givat Aliya neighborhood, is almost entirely populated by Muslims.

Mehadrin Eruv being Extended to Kever Rachel which will be Open on Rosh Hashana

By Yechiel Spira, September 26, 2008

The job is not an easy one but rabbonim affiliated with Yerushalayim’s mehadrin eruv are working to include Kever Rachel in time for the Yomim Tovim.

The project is a complex one, spanning several kilometers, calling for infrastructure, poles, and running the eruv line. Part of the work is being conducted in an area under PA (Palestinian Authority) control, with workers being protected by security forces.

The request for extending the Jerusalem eruv came from the IDF Chief Rabbinate, seeking to eliminate unnecessary chilul Shabbos by soldiers who at times are compelled to carry equipment from the Jerusalem border to Kever Rachel on Shabbos.

Rashbi Site Committee Pushes Ahead With Renovation Plans

By Yechiel Sever September 25, 2008

The Committee of Five, which now manages R' Shimon Bar Yochai's gravesite in Meron at the behest of gedolei Yisroel shlita with members representing various segments of the religious sector, is continuing its efforts to facilitate prayer and accommodate the needs of site visitors throughout the year.

The committee is in the process of bringing in a new member, Rabbi Ben Tzion Cooperstock, chairman of the Rashbi Hiluloh organization, alongside two other representatives of the Ashkenazi Hekdesh Committee, Rabbi Mordechai Yitzchok Lichtenstein and Rabbi Mattisyohu Sharam, who serve as members of the Committee of Five's Development Committee.

Religious Pluralism and Tolerance in Israel September 2008

The ultra-Orthodox establishment that controls Israel's civil sphere continues to exclude other streams of Judaism on issues ranging from marriage to conversion.

Non-Orthodox Jews comprise 70 percent of Israel's population, yet a tiny percentage of the budget for Jewish culture and education is allocated to Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and other streams of Jewish learning.

As a result, many non-Orthodox Israelis feel disconnected from Orthodox Judaism and develop a profound resentment of religious coercion, leading some to reject their Jewish identity in favor of a solely national affiliation.

Moreover, religious extremism too often joins forces with extreme nationalism, to the detriment of democracy and to the pursuit of peace.

A new year, a new age

By Ariel Beery, Opinion September 26, 2008

Ariel Beery is the founder and co-director of the PresenTense Group, which equips social ventures and communities for the information age.

The Jewish People are not currently aligned for the "prosumer" culture of the Digital Age, wherein the consumer helps the producer improve the product.

Our society was designed for a time when the authorities in our homes, communal institutions and synagogues managed our access to the outside world, and the knowledge made available to us was vetted for accuracy by experts and deliberated upon by rabbis who couldn't have anticipated the present circumstances.

Those same authorities and experts cannot exert the same control any more. And so, from a world in which citizens had information and choices "pushed" at them, they now have to be convinced to "pull" those choices, if we want to ensure the propagation of our values.

To do that, we need to address those intended consumers as co-producers, partners in the building of our common future. 

Jewish learning conference to be held for FSU immigrants

By Etgar Lefkovits, September 24, 2008

A two-day conference on Jewish culture and learning for Israelis from the former Soviet Union opens in Ashkelon on Thursday, in an attempt to strengthen their Jewish identity.

The first-ever Limmud FSU event is based on the 28-year-old Jewish cultural and study event that originated in England and is now being offered in 35 cities around the world, organizers said.

The 27-hour half-million dollar conference, which is being primarily funded by US Jewish federations and philanthropists, aims to offer new and veteran immigrants an intense dose of Jewish culture in a pluralistic setting.

Mr. J-Blog from J-town

By Ben Jacobson September 28, 2008

Despite, or perhaps because of, Jewlicious's lack of a cohesive editorial policy, those interested in tapping into the Jewlicious community run the gamut. 

Ultra-orthodox yeshiva Aish Hatorah, aliya organization Nefesh B'Nefesh and progressive charity The New Israel Fund are part of a rare roster that's approached Jewlicious for advertising or partnerships.

"The Left says we're right, and the Right says we're left. Well, they're wrong and they're right," CK (David Abitbol) shrugs. "So we're clearly doing something right.

Religion and Web Technology - Shalom Hartman Institute

By Richard MacManus September 23, 2008

Check out what the Shalom Hartman Institute from Jerusalem in Israel is doing on the Web.

Alan Abbey, the Website Manager of Shalom Hartman Institute, told us about his site

With Alan Abbey leading Hartman's web efforts, the Institute has a passionate web advocate. You really can't ask for more in any organization! Well done Alan and keep up the great work.

Goodwill ambassador

By Barbara Sofer September 26, 2008

Michal Elboim, who was able to bridge the chasms between religious and secular, Israel and Diaspora, continues to be a goodwill ambassador even after her death.

US report: Rise in violence against Messianic Jews and Christians

By Matthew Wagner September 24, 2008

US Department of State - International Religious Freedom Report 2008

Violence against Christian evangelical and Messianic Jewish communities in Israel increased significantly during the period between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008, according to the US State Department's Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.

The report, released last week, put blame for the "tensions" on "certain Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities."

But except in one case, the report, which noted numerous incidents of discrimination or violence against Christian or Messianic Jewish communities or individuals, failed to prove that the perpetrators were Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox.

US report: Interior Ministry refuses to process Messianic Jews

By Matthew Wagner September 24, 2008

US Department of State - International Religious Freedom Report 2008

The State Department mentioned claims by the JIJ that the Interior Ministry refused to process immigration applications from persons entitled to citizenship under the Law of Return if it was determined such persons held Christian or Messianic Jewish religious beliefs.

…Cohen, one of the 12 Messianic Jews who petitioned the Supreme Court and won, said that the Interior Ministry has so far ignored the ruling. He preferred to use only a last name out of concern that a high profile might hurt chances of receiving citizenship.

"None of us have received citizenship so far," said Cohen. 

"We were told two months ago that in one month's time we would receive our citizenship. But so far nothing has happened."

Vatican invites Israeli rabbi to speak September 25, 2008

The Vatican for the first time invited a rabbi to speak at its World Synod of Bishops.

The Oct. 6 address by Shear-Yashuv Cohen, the chief rabbi of Haifa and the co-chair of the Israeli-Vatican Dialogue Commission, marks the first time that such an invitation was extended to a non-Christian. Cohen will lead a one-day discussion of the Scriptures.

The three-week synod ends Oct. 26.

Cohen told the Catholic News Service that the invitation "brings with it a message of love, coexistence and peace for generations."

"We see in [the] invitation a kind of declaration that [the Church] intends to continue with the policy and doctrine established by Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, and we appreciate very deeply this declaration."

Messianic Jews promote Ethiopian aliya

By Ruth Eglash, September 28, 2008

What makes Operation Tikva different than other Jewish aid programs in Ethiopia, however, is that neither the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency for Israel, nor any other recognized aliya organizationis involved in it.

In fact, The Jerusalem Post has learned it is a program run by Messianic Jewish missionaries, and very few people in Israel even know about it.

Run by the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA), Operation Tikva is contravening the Israeli government's attempts over the last year to wind down official aliya operations in Ethiopia, and the project is being viewed in Jerusalem with alarm.

"These people are clearly not Jewish and they are working in areas where none of the people are Jews either; everything they are telling these people are lies," 

said Rabbi Menachem Waldman, a member of the Public Council for Ethiopian Jews, which has successfully persuaded the Israeli government to continue checking the eligibility for immigration of a further 3,000 Falash Mura (Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity more than a century ago) from the same region of Ethiopia.

"This organization [the MJAA] and the people that it is working with in Ethiopia are in no way associated with the Falash Mura community currently waiting in Gondar for Israeli government approval to immigrate," said Waldman, adding that missionary activity in the area is not a new phenomenon.

State watchdog: Decision to limit Falashmura aliyah was 'reasonable'

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 24, 2008

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has said that the government acted properly when it decided to limit the number of Falashmura (descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity) entering Israel, and stop bringing members of the community here. 

At the same time, Lindenstrauss proposed to the government that, for humanitarian reasons, it should examine the eligibility for immigration of some 3,200 additional Falashmura who have yet to be scrutinized. 

Religion and State in Israel

September 29, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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