Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Religion and State in Israel - October 20, 2008

Religion and State in Israel

October 20, 2008

Editor – Joel Katz

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

With Jerusalem on the precipice, mayoral election seen as crucial

By Dina Kraft www.jta.org October 19, 2008

For secular residents, the growth of Jerusalem's fervently Orthodox population is further cause for concern that the Orthodox will dominate the personality and priorities of the city.

Meir Porush, who advocates holding the national government accountable on unfulfilled pledges to invest millions of dollars in Jerusalem, hopes to win the mayoralty by galvanizing the city’s powerful fervently Orthodox voting bloc.

Orthodox residents make up 30 percent of the city's Jewish population but comprised the majority of voters in the city’s last municipal election, helping usher in Lupoliansky, the city's first Orthodox mayor, in 2003.

Gerrer Chassidim will Not Support Porush’s Mayoral Bid

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com October 19, 2008

During the motzei Shabbos gathering of Gerrer Chassidim in Yerushalayim, including rabbonim and askanim, it was decided that the Gerrer Chassidus will not support Rabbi Meir Porush in his bid to become the next mayor of Yerushalayim.

While no one actually came out and said the words, the hints and tone of the gathering were quite clear and the message was understood.

Meretz leader in Jerusalem calls charges against bus ad 'libelous'

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com October 17, 2008

Laura Wharton, Meretz municipal candidate in Jerusalem

The American-born Wharton explained the campaign is part of an appeal to Anglos to retake the city from the ultra-Orthodox.

"Most English speakers in this country come from democracies," she said, "and I think there is a certain awareness that if you win the elections it doesn't mean you can do whatever you want.

Unfortunately, I think the Ultra-Orthodox don't see things that way. They figure if they won they won, and whatever they can get away with they should do. I think it's wrong and we have to fight against that."

Former Deputy Mayor Chaim Miller on Election

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com October 19, 2008

Former Deputy Mayor Chaim Miller, affiliated with the Gerre Chassidus, who lost in the last election, is not running.

He explains that with all the problems regarding the chareidi candidate selection process, the non-frum have learned absolutely nothing, which is evident by the increase in the number of lists, working against one another.

Actually, the division among the secular is a most welcome reality for the Porush campaign, Shomrei Emunim, realizing the lost votes only serve to strengthen his chances of winning the election.

Jewish group: Porush at peace with Arab sovereignty over Temple Mount

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com October 15, 2008

The Movement for the Establishment of the Temple has called on its members not to back Jerusalem mayoral candidate Meir Porush, citing a recent interview in which the Knesset member (United Torah Judaism) said he was in favor of upholding Arab authority over the Temple Mount.

Chabad bans women from Succot event

October 15, 2008

Responding to haredi pressure, Chabad blocked the participation of women in its Succot celebrations in Jerusalem's Shikun Chabad neighborhood Tuesday night.

Chabad's rabbinical leadership acquiesced to a call by heads of the most important hassidic sects - Ger, Belz, Sanz, Sadigora and Viznitz - to restrict the music and dancing to indoors, effectively preventing women from participating.

Last year Chabad ignored a call by the Lithuanian rabbinic leadership to tone down its festivities.

However, this year for the first time hassidic leaders joined the call.

Sukkot strife in Meah Shearim over modesty

By Neta Sela www.ynetnews.com October 20, 2008

Violence erupts between Hasidic, extremist sects in ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood over holiday festivities.

‘Hatred existing between sides is awful. Instead of dancing, rejoicing, they are fighting. If this is what’s going on in here, I guess Messiah must really be coming soon,’ says saddened resident.

Separate but equal haredi style

By Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman http://blog.elanasztokman.com October 17, 2008

…the removal of women from public spaces in the haredi world has been given legal status through such things as Egged regulations and so forth.

The practice of restricting women’s movement, travel abilities, and communication is a form of violence that causes real pain and detriment to the well-being of women.

Just because haredi women are not protesting, it does not justify a cultural practice that violates the human dignity of 50% if the population.

…If haredi women are, for the most part, “happy slaves,” then the responsibility falls on the rest of society to protest the abusive practices.

Rabbis against desecrating Jewish holidays

By Neta Sela www.ynetnews.com October 14, 2008

Tel Aviv’s Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, the city’s neighborhood rabbis and religious city council members joined together in protest against the AM:PM affair in which two of the 24/7 chain stores employed Jewish workers during Yom Kippur.

As part of the protest, the rabbis demanded that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, the Tel Aviv Municipality, and the law enforcement authorities “examine the unprecedented issue and enforce the Hours of Work and Rest Law and the Municipal Law in the face of these law-breakers and violators.”

In addition, the rabbis turned to Tel Aviv business owners in the announcement, begging and pleading that they “please refrain from hurting our feelings and harshly trampling Shabbat and holidays.

MK Orlev: Religious legislation has exhausted itself

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com October 19, 2008

Forming the State's Jewish identity through Knesset legislation appears to have exhausted itself and must be used only in rare and special cases which have no other solution, National Religious Party Chairman Zevulun Orlev said in a recent publication.

According to the Knesset member, "The main road we must focus on at this time is the way of education, information, dialogue and conviction."

Parade, Hakhel and Green Sukah

www.israelnationalnews.com October 20, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

Thousands participated in the Jerusalem Parade.

The Temple Institute holds Hakhel Ceremony.

The Jerusalem Municipality “Green Sukkah” .

Thousands attend priestly blessing

www.jpost.com October 17, 2008

Thousands of Jews participated in the priestly blessing, or Birkat Cohanim, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Thursday.

Click here for VIDEO

Tens of thousands attend priestly benediction in Jerusalem

By Neta Sela www.ynetnews.com October 17, 2008

Tens of thousands participated Thursday in the traditional Birkat Hakohanim (priestly benediction) which takes places at the Western Wall in Jerusalem every mid-holiday of Sukkot (intermediate days of the Jewish holiday between its first and last full days).

'Hakhel': Bring the kids

October 15, 2008

It is mistaken to think that the hakhel of Mt. Sinai and the hakhel once in seven years are events consigned to the past.

…The last two mitzvot of the Torah are hakhel and the commandment to write a Torah scroll. They focus not on private matters, but rather on deepening the public experience of Torah.

The mitzva of writing a scroll of Torah, which applies to each individual Jew, intensifies the entire Jewish people's connection to the Torah.

The mitzva of hakhel observed in an attenuated form in Israel this week (and not again for another seven years) recapitulates the communal experience of receiving the Torah at Sinai.

Hundreds gather at Akko 'Peace Sukkah'

By Hagai Einav www.ynetnews.com October 15, 2008

As the atmosphere that produced the riots in Akko ebbs, a jolted city tries to repair its fragile microcosm. Hundreds made their way on Wednesday afternoon to the 'Peace Sukkah' erected in the city by the Shomer HaTzair movement to take part in a unique reconciliation summit.

MK Melchior discussed the incitement that began on Yom Kippur.

"We will not accept any form of incitement. It is written that in the sukkah there must be room for every Jew.

In Israel's sukkah there must be room for its Muslim and Christian citizens.

We must cast out those who incite, and who hate, and leave room only for the good.

Season's greetings

Opinion October 19, 2008

Celebrating the religious festivals in Israel is something one does naturally.

…The Jewish holidays in Israel are definitely celebrated in an only-in-Israel way.

…We live in a global village, and it often seems as though the neighbors' grass is greener; but I'm proud that our garden in Jerusalem weathered the sabbatical year on its own and now we can get back to work nurturing and cultivating it. That is, of course, aharei hahagim - after the holidays.

Thousands of Christians Pledge Their Love & Support for Israel

October 19, 2008 www.infolive.tv

Thousands of Christian supporters of Israel from over 100 countries gathered in Jerusalem on Saturday night to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

Days earlier many participated in the annual Jerusalem march. During the week of Succot, about 8000 Christian friends of Israel including the leaders of Evangelical Christian communities participated in seminars and toured the country's Christian sites.

The festival, was sponsored by Malcolm Hedding President of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem with assistance from the Ministry of Tourism.10/19/08

Thousands of Christians Join Israel in Celebrating Succot at the Annual Jerusalem Parade

October 16, 2008 www.infolive.tv

Thousands of Christian supporters from all over the world join Israelis on the annual Succot parade on Wednesday, filling Jerusalem's streets with an array of color and song.

Infolive.tv brings you the sounds, sights and comments from parade participants, all of whom expressed staunch support for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

For Sukkot, Christian pilgrims keep Kinneret's tourism industry alive

By Eli Ashkenazi and Irit Rosenblum www.haaretz.com October 19, 2008

While domestic tourism continues to decline in Israel, Christian pilgrims are keeping tourism afloat in the vicinity of Lake Kinneret during the Sukkot holiday.

The number of Israeli tourists visiting the area dropped by 30 percent during the holiday's intermediate days, but some 70,000 pilgrims are expected to arrive during that week, 20 percent more than visited during last year's holiday season.

Celebrating on the Streets of Jerusalem

By Steve Lipman www.thejewishweek.com October 20, 2008

In recent months Christian supporters of Israel have come under increasing criticism from parts of the Jewish community who suspect Christians of harboring missionary or apocalyptic motives.

Rabbi Shai Piron against Women Dancing with Torah

By Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman http://blog.elanasztokman.com Opinion October 19, 2008

See article also at Kolech’s website

Another dire portrait of how the status of women continues to regress in the year 2008: Rabbi Shai Piron, hailed as one of the most liberal Orthodox rabbis in Israel, published a ruling in today’s Ynet , that women are not allowed to dance with the Torah.

…This “ruling” sets women back by a generation, if not two. Moreover it delegitimizes women’s search for spirituality, and empowers men to block women’s advancement simply for wanting to.

That is, the second a man expresses anti-women sentiment, the “discord” he creates becomes reason enough to keep the status quo. Piron’s circular reasoning is outrageous.

I hope his followers realize that he can no longer classify himself as a “progressive” or “liberal” rabbi.

He is old and rigid, and promotes the disenfranchisement of women.

I think the women of the community in question should leave and go elsewhere. Avoiding “discord” is not a legitimate excuse for keeping women enslaved. Women, just walk away.

Find a pro-women community elsewhere.

Ascending to a higher plane

October 19, 2008

The writer is the chairperson of the National-Religious Women's Organization-Emunah, which received the Israel Prize in 2008.

As one who stands at the head of the National-Religious Women's Organization-Emunah, it seems to me appropriate to weigh up the changes that have transpired over the last years with regard to the status of the religious-Zionist woman.

One typical example is that women are studying Torah, are delving into Halacha and Jewish sources.

A second example is the new definition of roles within the family.

The third example I find in the synagogue.

I must emphasize that in each of these areas I am not speaking about any deviation from the Halachic frameworks of what is permitted and what is not.

Waiting to enter the fold

October 19, 2008

Gloria Mound is the executive director of the Casa Shalom Institute for Marrano-Anusim Studies.

…But for the majority, problems really begin when, as is happening in ever-increasing numbers, newly orientated Jews want to make aliya.

While we at Casa Shalom have had a number of successful applications for Anusim to receive a Return Document from the Israeli Rabbinate, these highly valued certificates continue to be a rarity.

In the past few months, more and more overseas applicants to attend Israeli conversion classes have been refused visas.

Meanwhile, those already here and successfully passing exams, have not been granted the legal papers to enable them to seek employment, for as long as two years afterwards, not to mention the period of their studies when they also were not permitted to work.

Desecrating God's name, not a holy day

October 19, 2008

The writer has a Ph.D. in mathematics and a Masters degree in Jewish Studies with a specialty in halacha and Talmud from the Schechter Institute in Jerusalem.

The fact that no rabbinic authority has made this rather obvious point publicly has permitted the Torah and Judaism to appear in a negative light, rather than to have "the paths of peace."

Indeed a desecration of the Name of God has been committed by permitting people to believe that the Jewish religion is cause for Jews to be incensed because a gentile drove on a Jewish holy day.

It is not the Jewish religion or the Torah that is the cause of this incense, but rather bigotry and zealotry.

Temple time?

October 17, 2008

The Temple Institute was founded in 1987 with the explicit goal of rebuilding the Temple.

Located in the Jewish Quarter, some 100,000 visitors, about half of them Christian, visit the institute each year to learn about the First and Second Temples and preparations for the Third Temple.

Rabbi David Forman, former director of the Israel office of the Union for Reform Judaism, also takes issue with the institute's aims.

"I'm opposed for two reasons: one is purely ideological/theological, and the second is practical/political," says Forman.

Police Limiting Jews Seeking to Visit Har HaBayis

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com October 19, 2008

Police on Sunday are limiting the number of Jews permitted to visit Har HaBayis at one time. Police explain no group larger than 20 people will be permitted on the Temple Mount at one time due to fears that too many Jewish visitors may spark a confrontation.

Last week, 700 Jews visited Har HaBayis in one day, the largest number since the Holy Site was liberated from Jordanian occupation in the 1967 June Six Day War.

Rabbinic intervention helps keep housing cheap in religious areas

By Guy Liberman www.haaretz.com October 19, 2008

People tend to prefer to live in homogenous neighborhoods that obey their way of life. There are whole cities, such as Bnei Brak and Elad, with a strong observant character: towns populated mainly by the ultra-Orthodox. And dotted around the country are ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in cities of mainly secular character.

The residents of the religious areas in the secular cities receive the same services as the other residents but may resort to blocking roads to traffic on Shabbat, not to mention having rabbinic supervision over prices at retail shops.

But what does a religious character in a neighborhood do to property values?

Tel Aviv residents fear ultra-Orthodox invasion

By Eli Senyor www.ynetnews.com October 15, 2008

Is Ramat Aviv becoming ultra-Orthodox? It depends who you ask.

One of the local movie theaters turned into a "kollel" (an institute for advanced studies of Talmud and rabbinic literature for Jewish men), a Histardrut (labor federation) clubhouse on Reading Street turned into a haredi kindergarten, and previously, a Jewish Agency building was transformed into a mikveh (ritual bath). Moreover, the Ramat Aviv mall is closed on Shabbat.

Private Firms Provide Kosher Internet as Bezeq Talks Stall

www.vosizneias.com October 20, 2008

Following a lack of progress in negotiations between Bezeq and the rabbinical committee on communications on the subject of kosher Internet, private companies have sprouted in haredi communities, which offer Internet access and filtering.

These companies do not always operate with the approval of the rabbinical committee on communications but rather with approval from local leading haredi rabbis.

Open heart surgery

By Nehemia Shtrasler www.haaretz.com Opinion October 19, 2008

In 2003, Benjamin Netanyahu sharply slashed child allowances. The ultra-Orthodox claimed that the cuts would not lead to a reduction in the birthrates of their communities since this is considered a divine commandment (mitzvah).

Yet the statistics reveal that the ultra-Orthodox also take financial considerations into account.

It has become apparent that the average number of newborn children in an ultra-Orthodox family has decreased by slightly more than one child per family while the drop in Arab and Bedouin newborns is even steeper. In addition, more and more ultra-Orthodox are joining the job market.

Ramot Residents Oppose Chareidi Kindergarten

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com October 20, 2008

Officially, Jerusalem City Hall reports that caravan homes stationed in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood, on Truman Street, are intended for community use, as a social facility for the neighborhood’s youth, but residents insist they have learned this is just not so.

Angry residents accuse outgoing Mayor Lupoliansky and his head of chareidi education of trying to pull a fast one during their last days in office, explaining the caravans are intended for a chareidi kindergarten, which they oppose.

Danny Ayalon Resigns as Nefesh B'Nefesh Co-Chairman

By Hana Levi Julian www.israelnationalnews.com October 19, 2008

Former Ambassador Danny Ayalon has resigned from the North American aliyah organization Nefesh B'Nefesh (N.B.N.) after serving nearly two years as its co-chairman. N.B.N. announced the resignation Sunday morning in a statement that said Ayalon had decided to continue promoting aliyah, immigration to Israel, "from the arena of public service."

Ayalon, who joined the Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) party in August, is expected to run for the Knesset on its list after first serving as chairman of World Yisrael Beiteinu, a position that has remained unfilled since the death of former MK Yuri Stern.

Wandering Jews

By Ariel Beery www.haaretz.com Opinion October 17, 2008

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

…with our world moving toward greater mobility, we might reflect in our temporary dwellings as to how we may better build institutions to address the needs of the near-strangers among us.

That is, how do we adapt local institutions to the steady flow of visitors who have no intention of staying put?

And can we create global institutions that provide services that aren't bound by physical limitations?

Fabulously Observant: Aliya is like coming out

October 16, 2008

As my aliya next year approaches, I have begun to notice the similarities between deciding to move to Israel permanently and the other momentous life decision I've made: coming out as a gay man.

Now, it's true that I've been celibate for eight years, starting a few years before becoming a "returnee" to Orthodox Judaism. I no longer plan on having same-sex relations or a male partner ever again.

But the fact is coming out is the other major life choice I've made that has such large ramifications in my self-image and lifestyle. Even becoming Orthodox wasn't so momentous, because I had spent most of my life as a fairly observant Conservative Jew.

Pro-Israel, pro-Africa

October 20, 2008

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is where Hedding is in charge of special projects, mainly the annual Feast of the Tabernacles, which is expected to draw some 8,000 Christians to Israel this week.

(Her father, Rev. Malcolm Hedding, heads the embassy, which is co-publisher of The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition.)

Third of FSU immigrants avoid circumcision

October 7, 2008

Almost a third of male immigrants from the former Soviet Union are uncircumcised, according to a survey by the Geocartography Institute commissioned by the Jerusalem AIDS Project.

Of those who have undergone ritual circumcisions, 37.3 percent had the procedure here and 5% had it performed when they were over 50. One percent underwent circumcision while they were in the IDF.

Fewer than half had a brit mila at the halachicly required age of eight days.

Room with a Jew: Settlers Lure Israeli Tourists

October 15, 2008

Some 1,000 billboards have gone up across the country, showing photographs of cherubic settler children dressed in biblical costumes and carrying the slogan “Judea and Samaria — the story of every Jew.”

…“Judea and Samaria have become identified only with Orthodox,” he said. “It’s very problematic, and precisely what we need to address.”

This land should be Jewish

By Ariel Gilboa www.ynetnews.com Opinion October 16, 2008

Attorney Ariel Gilboa is a member of the Constitution Team at the Institute for Zionist Strategies

The question on the agenda in a recent High Court hearing regarding Jewish National Fund (JNF) land was whether this land, bought with the money of Jewish donors over generations, should be sold to non-Jews as well.

…The issue of JNF land is not a legal question, but rather, an ideological and moral matter that is at the root of the State of Israel’s essence as the Jewish people’s national home.

'Live from Mount Sinai'

By Ayelet Dekel www.haaretz.com Opinion October 20, 2008

Amichai Lau-Lavie's method - "Storahtelling" - revives the ancient role of interpreter in the synagogue, "translating" the texts into contemporary discourse.

Religion and State in Israel

October 20, 2008

Editor – Joel Katz

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