Thursday, October 8, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - October 8, 2009 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

October 8, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

On the way to the Third World

By Akiva Eldar October 6, 2009

A new non-profit organization called Hiddush for Religious Freedom and Equality is trying to take over the spot the politicians have abandoned. Its founders, Rabbi Uri Regev and Stanley Gold, have launched a public campaign.

In an online lecture for the launch of Hiddush, the author Amos Oz said:

"The prime struggle in Israeli society now ... [is] the struggle between tolerance, open-mindedness and pluralism on the one hand and fanaticism and hatred on the other."

Will the ultra-Orthodox hold Israel back?

By Stanley Gold Opinion October 4, 2009

Stanley Gold, president and CEO of Shamrock Holdings Inc., is also the chairperson of Hiddush: For Religious Freedom and Equality, a new educational and advocacy Israel-Diaspora partnership

[T]here is an impediment to continued economic growth in Israel: the current dynamic of strong state support for ultra-Orthodox regulations.

Today, Israel's economic and overall security is under threat from the increased hold that the ultra-Orthodox, or Haredim, have on religion for Jews in Israel.

…This situation of funding for and the entitlement of ultra-Orthodox religion in Israel is not handed down by divine commandment; it is not Torah-inspired; it is a human-made situation that can and must be changed.

Israel cannot be a just nation if it treats a majority of its public unjustly in order to curry votes from a small minority of its citizens.

Joined in prayer Editorial October 7, 2009

For 30 years, the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ) has lavished affection upon the Jewish state. Indeed, comfort is its raison d’ĂȘtre.

It was founded in 1980 as an evangelical response to the anti-Israel hostility already rampant. Its inspiration: Isaiah 40:1-2 - "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem…"

…And we commend the ICEJ for 30 years of unswerving friendship.

Tapping into their Hebraic roots

By Greer Fay Cashman October 6, 2009

"We didn't really start this as a Hebrew-roots celebration but as a synergy between Christians and Jews," says Malcolm Hedding, executive director of the ICEJ.

Hedding makes the point that although the millions of believers under the ICEJ umbrella are biblical Zionists, "we put their feet on the ground.

An institution like this would not exist after 30 years if it were flaky. We're engaged in academic, diplomatic, humanitarian and other activities all year round, but the Feast is one of our high-profile events."

Thousands of Christian pilgrims arrive to fulfill ancient Succot prophesy

By Josiah Daniel Ryan October 5, 2009

Click here for VIDEO

Around 4,000 Christians gathered on the moonlit beach of Ein Gedi to worship "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" and to fulfill an ancient Hebrew prophesy penned more than 2,500 years ago by the prophet Zecharia, which they say predicts that people from every nation will someday join hands with Jews to celebrate Succot.

The Succot feast held in Ein Gedi was the inaugural event for a week of celebrations being hosted by the ICEJ, with nearly 7,000 Christians in attendance.

The Ministry of Tourism said this "Feast of the Tabernacle" is the largest annual tourist event that occurs in Israel and that the boost to the local economy is expected to be between $16 and $18 million.

State-backed persecution

Haaretz Editorial October 6, 2009

The methods of harassment and persecution used by the ultra-Orthodox organization Yad L'Achim against innocent, law-abiding Israeli citizens goes beyond the limits of legitimate activity by a civilian body and borders on unlawful.

The organization, which has deployed a dense net of activists across the country and the world, is proud of "rescuing" Jewish men, women and children from the "claws" of other faiths and belief systems using coercive and dubious tactics.

…The government must call its employees to order immediately, to explain to Interior Minister Eli Yishai that he is not responsible for maintaining the purity of the Jewish race according to the formula of ultra-Orthodox zealots, and that any collaboration with Yad L'Achim is, in effect, a grave instance of persecution

Interior Ministry aims to deport elderly Colombian Anusim couple

By Ruth Eglash October 6, 2009

An elderly Colombian couple who claim to have Jewish roots and who have been living in Israel for five years are being pressured by the Interior Ministry to leave the country immediately.

"The Interior Ministry does not like the Anusim," said attorney Isaac Mazuz, who on August 3 filed a petition with the High Court on behalf of the family. "It does everything to stop these people from coming into Israel."

Mazuz told the Post that he planned to argue the family's case on the basis of their Jewish heritage, despite the fact that they do not have standard documentation.

"The mainly Ashkenazi Haredim who run this country treat these people like goyim," he continued, pointing out that at least one of Israel's chief rabbis has ruled that the Anusim should be viewed as Jews.

Barkat: Put Jerusalem Rabbinate in National Religious Hands

By Maayana Miskin October 1, 2009

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told the Supreme Court on Wednesday he supports a lawsuit filed by the Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah movement against a committee that selects rabbis in Jerusalem, charging that it is biased in favor of the hareidi-religious.

Barkat said that hareidi-religious rabbis have been given too much power within the city rabbinate and that the time has come to turn more positions over to religious-Zionist rabbis.

To support his argument, Barkat brought demographic data from recent Jerusalem surveys. Roughly one-third of Jerusalem's Jewish population identifies as hareidi-religious, he said, while two-thirds identify as secular, traditionally observant, or religious-Zionist.

Former chief rabbi creates hotline for religious issues

By Kobi Nahshoni October 1, 2009

Hundreds of hotline operators, dozens of yeshivot, five languages, and one telephone number.

The office of former Chief Rabbi of Israel Mordechai Eliyahu recently launched a hotline for Jewish issues that allows any caller to receive information and guidance on various topics 24 hours a day.

Among the topics to be covered are: marriage and relationships, raising children, faith, halacha, women's issues, spirituality and Kabbalah, finances, neighbor spats, purchasing mezuzot, and organ donation.

Chief Rabbi of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu initiated the project and recruited 34 heads of yeshivas from around the country, who then proceeded to recruit another 280 of their students and fellow rabbis to the project.

Dad in Israel, mom in Switzerland: Where will child live?

By Daniel Edelson October 7, 2009

The mother, 50, immigrated to Israel about a decade ago and fell in love with an Israel citizen. The two married, lived in Tel Aviv, and brought a son into the world six years ago.

However, the love story between them came to an end three years ago after the husband became religious and joined Chabad.

The women, concerned that her son's father would try to turn her son religious, received custody of him and decided to return with him to Switzerland.

“I have no problem that he be brought up with a religious lifestyle. Even now, he is learning in a religious nursery school in Switzerland, but I don't want him to be as religious as his father."

Survey: Should the IDF act according to Halacha during military operations? October 7, 2009

A joint survey by Ynet and the Yesodot Center for Torah and Democracy.

The first question participants were asked was:

"The Torah is filled with war commandments. Do you think the Israel Defense Forces should act according to the Halacha during military operations?"

Approximately 39% claimed that it is not appropriate in 21st Century, 38% said that the army should be aware of halachic stance on relevant issues but should act according to international laws and the Geneva Conventions, whereas 29% believe that the IDF, as a Jewish army, should adhere to its people's guidelines alone.

In terms of the various religious sectors within the Israeli society, the survey revealed that the majority within the religious and ultra-Orthodox sectors supports instating IDF as a "halachic" army (76% and 82% respectively).

Seculars, on the other hand reject any correlation between the military and the Halacha (51%), while common belief among the conservative Jews is that the army should be aware of halachic rules but not be obligated to adhere to them (41%).

Defense Minister Barak: Haredim Opening Up to State thru IDF

By Gil Ronen October 7, 2009

Defense Minister Ehud Barak hosted representatives of various organizations and volunteer groups in his sukkah in the Kirya defense establishment headquarters in Tel Aviv Wednesday.

In his speech to the guests, he hailed the hareidi-religious population for gradually opening up to the sovereign State of Israel.

Among those attending were representatives of the Tzabar, a program operated by the Israeli Scout Movement, which brings youths from abroad to Israel for military service.

These included cadets in pre-military academies and religious seminaries as well as rabbis from the Nachal Haredi – an army unit especially geared to hareidi-religious youths, in which Jewish laws are strictly adhered to.

Chareidi Rabbi Donates $100,000 to the IDF

By Yechiel Spira October 1, 2009

The rabbi of the IDF’s Ba’ad 1 officers training base has always dreamt of closing the base’s dining hall on Sukkot, but lacked the funds to set up a large sukka that would be capable of serving the military’s prestigious base.

That all changed this year, after Rabbi Yaakov Pinto of Los Angeles decided to step forward and donate the necessary funds to turn this dream into reality, Kikar reports.

Two large sukkot are being constructed, each 150 square meters (about 1,500 square feet), to accommodate the large population of the base.

Conserving the past

By Matthew Wagner September 30, 2009

It might sound anachronistic but the Masorti (Conservative) Movement has decided to revive a kibbutz in the Galilee once near demise.

Socialist ideals associated with kibbutz living, such as mutual responsibility and connection to the soil - considered a thing of the past for most Israelis living in the post-Zionist era - are being combined with non-Orthodox religious practices such as gender-equal prayer and liberal Jewish thought to create a unique fusion of American-style Judaism and Israeliness.

Women, wearing talitot and reading from the Torah, can celebrate their Judaism in this bucolic setting.

Secular Israelis interested in more Yiddishkeit but unwilling to adhere to Orthodox strictures can find it in a social activist environment.

Yizhar Hess, CEO and executive director of the Masorti Movement in Israel:

"Hanaton will serve as a testing ground for our conviction that the Masorti Movement is a bridge between secular and religious."

Rabbi Haviva Ner-David, considered [one of] the first woman to ever be ordained as an Orthodox rabbi and her husband, Jacob, managing partner of Jerusalem Capital, a venture capital fund, decided to move to Hanaton.

What Israelis need to know about intermarriage in North America

By Edmund Case Opinion October 5, 2009

The writer is CEO of

In the wake of the MASA "Lost Jews" controversy last month, reports that Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky believes that Israeli Jews need to understand Jewish life in the Diaspora better are welcome.

But what do Israelis need to know about intermarriage - and who is going to tell them?

…Helping Israelis to learn not to think and talk about intermarriage as the equivalent of assimilation will contribute to increased Jewish identity and connection among intermarried families - something that is of vital interest to the Jewish communities of both North America and Israel.

Darkness into light

By David Brinn October 5, 2009

Walking the streets of Jerusalem's Nachlaot neighborhood during the Tishrei onslaught of holidays, Matisyahu, his wife Tahlia and their two sons, look just like any other young, haredi family out for a stroll. And that's just the way the 30-year-old American singer likes it.

While he'll be leaving the country soon after the Barby show, Matisyahu thinks about Israel throughout the year, and like many observant American Jews, would like to fit aliya into his future.

"I would really like to make aliya, but when the time is right for me," he said.

"I'm going to be on the road for most of the next year, and I don't know what I'm going to be doing next. That sort of determines where I'll live.

Being in Israel for me is the place to be when I don't have anything going on. But I don't know if I'm going to be in that position in the near future."

Click here for VIDEO

Water bursting into flame

By Brian Blondy October 6, 2009


Dale Chihuly's new glass chandelier, 'Fire and Water,' which is featured at the recently redesigned Aish HaTorah building's atrium, is arguably one of the most significant works of glass art to be permanently exhibited in Jerusalem.

The installation is said to derive from the story of the Jewish sage Rabbi Akiva, who at 40 years old, saw dripping water corroding a rock.

In a moment of epiphany, Rabbi Akiva observed to himself that if the soft water could make a hole in the hard rock with the passage of time, then the Torah, which is often likened to water as well as to flame, could certainly make an impression on his own heart.

From the moment of his realization, he decided to devote his life to studying the Law and ultimately became one of the greatest Torah scholars in Jewish history.

Chihuly described the uniqueness of the Aish HaTorah piece, saying, "The light going through it makes a color that is impossible to get anywhere else." Indeed, with the combination of the rising sun and an amazing view of the Temple Mount through the generously sized windows, the atrium is a one-of-a-kind sight.

The light that refracts through the glass lends the sculpture and the room an almost mythical quality, contrasting Jerusalem's old and new in the space of a single glance.

Human Bible Project launched to web

By Josiah Daniel Ryan October 2, 2009

Facebook users can now add their own commentary in music, video, text and art to the wisdom of famous biblical commentators on a Web site that presents the Bible on a platform built for users of social networking media., which hosts the Human Bible Project, was launched by the Ramat Aviv-based Center for Educational Technology. The project revolves around a full version of the Torah in both Hebrew and English.

Conflict at Jerusalem’s Pool of Siloam

By Ronen Medzini October 4, 2009

How did a pastoral pool become another source of conflict in embroiled east Jerusalem? The neighborhood of Silwan, which is located in southeast Jerusalem and borders on the Old City, is one of the most politically loaded areas in the capital.

…Nearly every Friday afternoon, dozens of religious and haredi Jews, equipped with towels and soap, come to bath in the pool, essentially turning the site into a purification mikveh – or, Jewish ritual bath – for men.

Because the bathing is done in total nudity, entry to women, tourists, and Arab residents of the neighborhood is thwarted by the bathers even though it is a public site.

When Arab youths approach the site, virulent clashes often break out between the two sides. The every-day tension flares to even higher levels.

Religion and State in Israel

October 8, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.