Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - June 8, 2009 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

June 8, 2009 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

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.

Haredim clash with police in Jerusalem

Israel Channel 2 TV June 6, 2009

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Haredim clash with police in Jerusalem

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By Ronen Medzini www.ynetnews.com

June 6, 2009

No end in sight to Jerusalem parking lot dispute

By Etgar Lefkovits www.jpost.com June 9, 2009

But as Barkat has learned the hard way, it appears that the agreement he reached with his haredi partners was woefully insufficient as he did not take into account the "Haredi street," whose feelings on the issue were immediately stirred up by the anti-Zionist Eda Haredit sect.

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IBA News www.jpost.com June 7, 2009

Barkat determined to keep parking lot open on Shabbat

By Etgar Lefkovits www.jpost.com June 8, 2009

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat intends to keep the city hall parking lot open on Shabbat despite violent haredi protests against the move, he said Sunday.

"The parking lots must stay open on Shabbat since they provide a real solution to a real problem without desecrating Shabbat," Barkat said in a statement released by his office.

Police Break Up Rioting Ultra-Orthodox Jews

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www.road90.com June 8, 2009

Barkat meets with haredi councilmen over parking lot fiasco

By Ronen Medzini www.ynetnews.com June 7, 2009

One of the suggestions made at the meeting was to open an alternative parking lot, namely the Karta lot near the Old City. 

The Karta parking lot, near the Jaffa Gate, is an ideal solution to the masses visiting central Jerusalem over the course of the weekend. It has remained closed on Shabbat thus far due to haredi resistance that this would lead to the opening of stores in the shopping mall above the parking lot.

They also feared agreement on their part would be seen as capitulation. Now however, it seems as though the ultra-Orthodox representatives are in favor of the move.

The protest leaders, however, have vowed they will accept no compromise. Predominantly members of Eda Haredit – an anti-Zionist sect – those who organized the protest said that they would fight any attempt to open the Karta lot.

Haredi Jerusalemites blame their own for Sabbath opening of parking lot

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com June 8, 2009

Who are the people who "lent a treacherous and criminal hand to stabbing our holy Sabbath in the back," by allowing a municipal parking garage to be opened in Jerusalem on Saturday? 

The leaders of the ultra-Orthodox protest against the opening of the Safra Square lot are not pointing fingers at the capital's secular mayor, Nir Barkat - rather, at his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, who belong to the United Torah Judaism faction. 

According to the newspaper Ha'eda of the ultra-Orthodox, anti-Zionist Eda Haredit, UTJ signed secret agreements with Barkat to allow the opening of the garage on the Sabbath. The claim is exaggerated, but not groundless. 

At their request, Barkat determined that only the Safra parking lot would open, that it would be operated by non-Jews and that no fees would be charged.

Court frees 6 Haredim arrested during riots in J'lem

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com June 8, 2009

The six ultra-Orthodox protesters arrested during violent demonstrations Saturday over the opening of a municipal parking lot on the Jewish Sabbath were released yesterday by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court. 

Barkat: No place for violent haredi demonstrations

By Ronen Medzini www.ynetnews.com June 7, 2009

"I think this was just the opening move," Zaka Chairman Moshe Meshi Zahav said Saturday.

 "It's very comfortable for the haredi community to paint Barkat as anti-religious; the time is ripe for that. The fact that the first day of the protest garnered thousands showed that it was a success.

'No one has a monopoly over Shabbat'

www.jpost.com June 8, 2009

"No one has a monopoly over Shabbat," Tzipi Livni said. 

"Kadima wants Israel to be a Jewish State with Jewish values, and Shabbat is definitely part of that. Nonetheless, any instance of violence against police is not a political issue, but rather a question of values."

Visit Jerusalem on Shabbes

By Neri Livneh www.haaretz.com Opinion June 9, 2009

[The anti-Zionist Eda Haredit] leaders called on their faithful to take to the streets in their thousands, even though the opening of the parking lot had been coordinated with the city council's ultra-Orthodox members, and despite attempts by the mayor to negotiate with them.

The leaders called on their people to take to the streets for a simple reason:

They need to remind the world that they're still around. They're not represented in City Hall or government institutions and they're not a part of any agreement, so protest is the only way to establish themselves as a key interest group.

The demonstrations, like the shouts of "Shabbes" and "Nazis," define them, like movement defines a wave. 

Edah Haredit – Wikipedia entry

The Edah HaChareidis, also written Edah Haredit, and popularly also known as the Badatz, is a prominent anti-Zionist Haredi communal organization in present-day Jerusalem, consisting of several Haredi groups representing most of the Yerushalmi (traditional pre-war) Jerusalem community.

Knesset panel overrules Litzman's objections on new Barzilai emergency department

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich www.jpost.com June 2, 2009

Construction of an urgently needed fortified and expanded emergency department at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon will begin immediately after years of delay, despite strong opposition by Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman, a United Torah Judaism MK who objects to the relocation of graves found at the site. 

Litzman told the committee on Tuesday that the hospital facility should be built on the parking lot, but the committee voted down his proposal.

Litzman vetoes moving Barzilai graves

By Ronny Linder-Ganz www.haaretz.com June 3, 2009

Construction of a rocket-safe ward at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon looks farther away than ever: Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism yesterday vetoed the thought of moving ancient graves found on the site earmarked for the protected facility. 

"I will not allow graves to be moved in Israel, nor will the Chief Rabbinate allow it," Litzman said at a meeting of the Knesset's Labor, Welfare and Health Committee. "I suggest building [the safe facility] in the parking lot." 

Kfar Sava gets its own civil cemetery

By Dana Weiler-Polak www.haaretz.com June 9, 2009

After years of discussions, a civil cemetery was recently dedicated in Kfar Sava. The new cemetery is funded by the National Insurance Institute and will be operated by Menucha Nechona, a nongovernment organization that offers Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jewish burial ceremonies as well as civil ceremonies. 

Until now, the only option open to people in central Israel seeking a non-Orthodox Jewish funeral or burial with a nonreligious ceremony had no choice but to pay large sums to cemeteries situated in kibbutzim.

The new cemetery provides for free burial for Kfar Sava residents, in accordance with their own religious tradition and wishers.

Nonresidents will be asked to pay the NIS 11,000 per plot price set by the Ministry for Religious Services. That is less than half the NIS 24,000 charged by cemeteries on kibbutzim. 

New cemetery brings personalized, 'alternative' burials to Kfar Saba

By Haviv Rettig Gur www.jpost.com June 8, 2009

"Many, many Israelis are dissatisfied with the burial services of the hevra kadisha [official state-funded burial societies] in their city," believes Shalom Noy, chairman of the Menucha Achrona Cemetery in Kfar Saba.

Many Israelis face obstacles to being buried according to their wishes, Noy explains, such as religiously intermarried couples who cannot be buried together because of the religious divisions in official cemeteries.

Many more Israelis simply want a ceremony or burial that represents their beliefs and lifestyle, and that precludes the standard Orthodox ceremony or what some say are the often bureaucratic and unfeeling funerals conducted by official hevra kadisha groups.

"Many people want a respectable ceremony to say good-bye to their loved ones. For them, that could mean burying them in a coffin, having a ceremony in a respectable public space, or taking control over the ceremony without having to listen to rabbis or the religious establishment," Noy says.

According to Noy, the Menucha Achrona Cemetery will offer both traditional and alternative funerals and burials. A section of the cemetery has been set aside as a Jewish-only plot that has been consecrated for the purpose by the town's official hevra kadisha.

"We don't have a problem with halacha," says Noy. "If you want halacha, that's your choice."

Yisrael Beiteinu ministers absent from vote on civil marriage bill

By Aviad Glickman www.ynetnews.com June 7, 2009

Yisrael Beiteinu's ministers were absent from a vote on a civil marriage bill Sunday, despite having promoted the issue as one of the cornerstones of their campaign for office.

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation rejected the bill, proposed by MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima), in the absence of Yisrael Beiteinu's ministers.

If passed, the bill would have allowed citizens of Israel to marry without obtaining a religious license. It describes in detail all of the steps required in order to obtain a civil marriage license, including the legal procedures involved.

'Secular politicians must stop politicizing the rabbinate,' Tzohar rabbis warn

By Haviv Rettig Gur www.jpost.com June 6, 2009

"Secular politicians must stop using the Chief Rabbinate as a political pawn in coalition agreements," warns Rabbi Rafael Feuerstein, cofounder and chairman of the Orthodox rabbinic organization Tzohar.

"It is the secular leadership who should have the highest interest in an apolitical rabbinate," Feuerstein said on Thursday, blasting the makeup of the new Knesset-appointed Dayanim (rabbinical court judges) Selection Committee, which is majority-haredi.

After handing rabbinical judge appointments to the haredi political parties, Feuerstein said, "the secular leadership should not come later and complain about the conversion problem or the problem of agunot [women whose husbands refuse to grant them a divorce]."

Courts to shift Right after Knesset vote

By Gil Hoffman www.jpost.com June 9, 2009

The Knesset also chose United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni and Kadima MK Otniel Schneller as its representatives on the selection committee of religious court judges, defeating Habayit Hayehudi MK Uri Orbach.

The selection of the haredi Gafni over the moderate Orbach was due in part to political deals made by the candidates in the race for the selection committee for the civil courts.

Rabbi Seth Farber, director of Itim, a center that helps Israelis navigate the rabbinical courts, said one vote would not make a big difference on the committee, which is dominated by the haredim.

"The vote was reflective of the political trend of the haredi parties wielding their power," Farber said. 
"Politicians sold their votes on the rabbinical courts, not taking into account how the issues of personal status decided by these courts affect the very heart of the Jewish state."

Chief Rabbi speaks out against Right-led incitement

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com June 9, 2009

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger on Monday condemned right-wing activists who threatened the life of Central Command Chief Gadi Shamni.

In a conversation with Ynet Metzger said that "death threats cross the red line" and added that, "Unfortunately, past experience has taught us that incitement comes with a heavy price and that words can lead to murder."

The chief rabbi stressed that "there is no halachic, moral or religious permission to use violence, including verbal violence."

Conflict Intensifies in Kiryat Yovel

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com June 4, 2009

The latest round of dispute surrounds sixty-four 55 square meter apartments in two buildings owned by Hebrew University. 

The small apartments were once dormitories and the buildings are now up for sale. Chareidim are interested, along with a plan to refurbish them by making each apartment one-third larger.

Chareidi Politicians Meet over Court Ruling Closing Kiryat Yovel Shul

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com June 5, 2009

Chareidi elected officials met on Thursday in the Jerusalem City Hall complex to discuss the Jerusalem District Court ruling prohibiting mispalalim in Kiryat Yovel from davening in a store front which they rented for that purpose. 

They reject the court’s ruling, which they view as closing a shul due to “procedural technicalities”.

The city attorney, Yossi Havilio, explains the area was zoned as a business district and therefore, the store cannot be used as a shul.

Most seculars believe media biased against haredim

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com June 2, 2009

Many in the religious and ultra-Orthodox society blame the media of being hostile towards them, and a new study that was recently released found that most seculars agree.

According to the study, 66% of seculars think that the media coverage of the haredi sector is unfair and unbalanced, and effectively contributes to fueling tensions between the different sectors in Israeli society.

The study also found that 74% of seculars defined their knowledge of the haredi public as "poor," while 88% of them admitted that the secular media is their primary source of information on this society. 

Haredim take on sex abuse of children

By Ruth Eglash www.jpost.com June 3, 2009

"We have an epidemic on our hands, and there is complete denial here that there is anything wrong," she continues. 
"I spoke to the rabbis and other community leaders here, but they all called me a liar and said that this kind of thing does not happen here... but it does."

Sadly, Zehava, a recent immigrant from the US, has proof of such abuse and is one of a growing number of parents from Ramat Beit Shemesh becoming increasingly frustrated with their leaders' continual denial of the problem.

Housing Crunch Time on the West Bank

By Joshua Mitnick www.thejewishweek.com June 3, 2009

Since he got married three years ago, Yisrael Harkesef has been looking to move into a new apartment he purchased on the southeastern edge of this sprawling fervently Orthodox settlement.

…With a population of 40,000, residents and officials say that Modiin Illit is bursting at the seams from a shortage of new homes.

In the last four years, as the number of apartments fails to keep pace with the population growth and residents fear the end of new land reserves, the average price of a two-bedroom apartment has doubled to $180,000. 

Construction contractors say they are building new units on apartment building roofs and converting unfinished basements to meet demand.

Yishai Determined to Build in Modi’in Illit and Betar Illit

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com June 1, 2009

Interior Minister and Shas leader Eli Yishai remains determined to overcome American objections and to move ahead with new housing projects in Betar Illit and Modi’in Illit.

Yishai hopes to spell out the critical housing shortage in Israel, especially in the chareidi community, and will further add that calls for building are not prompted by a desire to take over new land, but they are justifiably motivated to provide adequate housing for the growing population.

Talmud Torah Principals Back HaRav Eliashiv's Call Not to Introduce Any Changes

By Yechiel Sever http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com June 4, 2009

The Torah-true world is standing firmly behind instructions Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv shlita reiterated Erev Shavuos not to accede to repeated financial enticements and other incentives used to persuade principals to introduce various changes in the way things have been run in the past. 

One of the recent goals of the government officials has been to persuade the schools to alter their status from "exempt" (pottur) to "recognized but unofficial" (mukkar she'eino rishmi).

Sharansky chairmanship of Jewish Agency in danger

By Haviv Rettig Gur www.jpost.com June 6, 2009

American funders' wish to reform the leadership of the Jewish Agency may "de-Zionize" it by cutting its ties to the Israeli political system, a longtime member of the Jewish Agency Executive warned on Thursday.

The reform process, being pushed most strongly by the United Jewish Communities of North America, will weaken the representation of the World Zionist Organization - which brings together Israeli political parties and overseas Zionist groups and religious movements - in the leadership ranks of the Jewish Agency.

"The Americans think the problem with the Jewish Agency leadership has been [its dependence on Israeli] politics," said Rabbi Dick Hirsch, chairman of the WZO's Zionist General Council and a WZO representative in the Jewish Agency Executive, its supreme governing body.

Ex-U.S. ambassador to head Jewish policy institute

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com June 4, 2009

Stuart Eizenstat, a lawyer and former U.S. Under Secretary of State, has been appointed to chair the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute in Jerusalem. 

The Harvard-educated Atlanta native, who served as U.S. ambassador to the European Union from 1993 to 1996, replaces Dennis Ross, who resigned in January to join the Obama administration.

Eizenstat was also President Jimmy Carter's chief domestic policy adviser, and served as deputy treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton. 

Financial crisis leaves some Israel programs to flounder, yet others thrive

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com June 5, 2009

While most Israel programs for Diaspora youth report a significant drop in applications due to the financial crisis, others were able to maintain and even increase their numbers. 

As internships in U.S. dry up, career advisers turn to Israel for opportunities

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com June 5, 2009

As the U.S. job market continues to shrink, some of America's most senior campus career advisers visited Israel last week to explore internship options for their graduates, who are struggling to secure internships back home.

The 14 advisers are directors of career centers at different campuses with sizable Jewish populations, including Brandeis, Boston University, University of Florida, New York University, George Washington and Rutgers. Their visit to Israel was the first of its kind.

They came as guests of MASA Israel Journey, a project which offers young adult non-Israelis a host of Israel programs over a semester or year. Though open to anyone, MASA offers subsidies to Jewish applicants only. 

Relocation, recession play role in WUJS growth

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com June 5, 2009

One Israel program bucking the recruiting trend is WUJS, designed for college graduates, which doubled its numbers this year. Its director attributes the program's success to moving away from the South. 

"No disrespect to Arad, but going there for six months was no longer speaking to young people," the director Mike Mitchell told Anglo File. 

Neo-Zionism 101

By Kobi Ben-Simhon www.haaretz.com June 4, 2009

Shoval, a non-religious student of 28 from Ramat Hasharon, is the leader of a students' movement called "Im Tirtzu [If You Will It]: The Second Zionist Revolution."

He established the ideological infrastructure of the movement two years ago, describing it as an extra-parliamentary movement whose goal is "to buttress the values of Zionism in Israel, to ensure the future of the Jewish people and the State of Israel, and to advance Israeli society in the face of the challenges that lie ahead."

Thousands of olim denied gun licenses for failing Hebrew tests

By Eli Shvidler www.haaretz.com June 8, 2009

Thousands of immigrants have lost their jobs as security guards after failing Hebrew tests now required in order to receive gun licenses. The Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs will meet today to discuss the matter. 

Committee chairwoman Lia Shemtov (Yisrael Beiteinu) decided to convene the committee after Haaretz revealed that the new regulations have led many immigrants to lose their gun licenses or be refused permits. 

Israel seizes Catholic Church assets

Rome (JTA) www.jta.org June 8, 2009

Israel's Finance Ministry reportedly seized the assets of one or more Catholic Church institutions in Israel over tax issues.

The reports Monday in the Italian media and from a Church news agency did not name the institutions in question, but said the action had been carried out by the Finance Ministry's chief tax collector, Yehezkel Abrahamoff. Israel is pressing for payment of disputed tax demands.

Religion and State in Israel

June 8, 2009 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

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.

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

Religion and State in Israel

June 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.

High Court debates Tal Law

By Aviad Glickman www.ynetnews.com June 7, 2009

Israel's High Court of Justice met Sunday in a session to discuss the controversial Tal Law - which exempts young haredi men from military service on religious grounds. 

In a full forum, headed by Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, the nine judges considered a petition to overturn the law, submitted to the court by a coalition of reservists, wounded veterans, parents of soldiers in compulsory service and others.

During the session, Justice Ayala Procaccia said that, in dealing with this and other laws related to the haredi community, the state is inconsistent in its approach to Haredi education.

"The whole basis of the Tal Law is the promotion of education, but recently a law was passed in opposition to a previous court ruling, which allows the state to finance yeshivot without requiring them to conform to basic state curriculum," she said. 

"How does the state's intent of educating the haredi public to serve in the IDF fit in, if the state simultaneously allows students in this community to be exempt also from learning basic subjects?" she asked.

Chief justice blasts state over lack of progress on Tal Law

By Tomer Zarchin www.haaretz.com June 8, 2009

"This is not a revolution, it's slow evolution," the High Court president, Justice Dorit Beinisch, said yesterday when the expanded bench of nine justices heard the figures. 

"The state's main efforts seem to revolve around the attempt to have more yeshiva students do civilian service for one year, than to do real army service," Beinisch also said. 

Court hears petition against Haredi IDF exemption

By Dan Izenberg www.jpost.com June 8, 2009

Justice Ayala Procaccia asked Licht to explain why, if the haredi leadership had come to understand this, it had forced through a law permitting them not to learn the secular "core curriculum" in the yeshivot ketanot, which are attended by high-school age boys. 

These core studies teach students skills that are meant to help them find a place in the modern world.

"On what basis do you expect the Tal Law to succeed and a process of change to take place in the haredi community, when we see that no such change is going to take place in the haredi educational system?" asked Procaccia. "Such changes don't happen by themselves."

Eliad Shraga, who represented the Movement for Quality Government, said the number of haredim currently in the army or public service was a drop in the bucket.

He said that as opposed to these figures, there were roughly 56,000 haredim of military conscription age who were studying in yeshivot and renewed their deferments each year.

This figure, he added, did not include tens of thousands of young haredim who had not served in the army and were still of draftable age but had married and had enough children to no longer be draftable. 

These students had to be taken into account when comparing the number of haredim serving in the army or in public service with those who do not serve at all.

The IDF rabbinate breaks faith

By Gershom Gorenberg www.haaretz.com Opinion June 7, 2009

The IDF Rabbinate has a legitimate task: serving soldiers with religious needs. It should offer spiritual support and help soldiers meet their religious obligations as they fulfill their military duties. 

Its job is not to promote a religiously hard-line and politically ultra-nationalist version of Judaism. 

If the rabbinate can't fulfill its real purpose, the IDF should disband it and create a chaplaincy corps that can do the job.

Stern Fights Draft Dodging, Hareidi-Religious IDF Exemption

By Maayana Miskin www.israelnationalnews.com June 1, 2009

Retired IDF Major-General Elazar Stern spoke at an event rallying for the end of the Tal Law, which allows full-time yeshiva students to postpone their IDF service. Prior to his retirement earlier this week, Stern served as head of IDF manpower.

The issues of hareidi-religious IDF exemptions, and of draft dodging in other Israeli Jewish communities, threaten more than just IDF manpower, Stern said. Israeli society is “rotting from within,” he said.

Tal Law opponents who hosted the event said that over one-third of Jewish Israelis do not serve in the IDF. 

That number will grow as the hareidi-religious population grows, and as draft dodging becomes more socially acceptable in other segments of society, opponents warned.

Committee sees overwhelming public support for separated bus line ahead of recommendation

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com June 2, 2009

The Transportation Ministry committee dealing with special bus lines for the ultra-Orthodox population, the so-called Kosher lines, has wrapped itself in total secrecy in advance of submitting its recommendations to the High Court of Justice in a few weeks. 

Most of these comments against the Kosher lines were anonymous, but this week a relatively unknown yeshiva head from Bnei Brak, Rabbi Yosef Haim Nakash, raised a storm when he published a signed article on the well-known ultra-Orthodox Internet site Bechadrei Chadarim.

Nakash came out strongly against those not only demanding separation of the sexes on buses but even on the street. 

"When did such a prohibition emerge that a married couple is not allowed to sit next to each other," he asked. 

"The public is not willing! At least a large part [of the public] is interested in being with their family, as has been customary for generations... At this rate, in a few years, or even months, we will not be able to leave the house together," wrote Nakash. 

His words caused quite a stir as they are seen as contradicting the words of the more famous ultra-Orthodox rabbis who are leading the battle for expanding the separate bus lines. 

Haredi women push for segregated lines

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com June 3, 2009

A group of ultra-orthodox women has recently launched a campaign supporting gender separation on public buses, in response to claims that segregation was being forced on haredi women by rabbis.

The lobby's founder, Rebetzen Yocheved Grossman of Mea Shearim, explained to Ynet that the initiative enjoyed the support of the wives of senior rabbis from all the haredi circles.

…Grossman argued that it was the Egged bus company's interest to try and fulfill its customers' wishes.

"Why should I have to get squeezed between two men and rub against them while the Halacha forbids this?"

An unwanted hand on the halachic scale

By Jonathan Rosenblum www.jpost.com Opinion June 8, 2009

Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman's recent proposal to employ retired IDF rabbis on special conversion courts falls into that category (as do the earlier transfer of the Conversion Authority from the Chief Rabbinate to the Prime Minister's Office and the creation of a special conversion track within the IDF, with specific numerical targets). 

The impetus for Ne'eman's proposal is not to expedite the process, but the desire to lower the standards for conversion. 

Thus he deliberately chose those rabbis most socialized to view themselves as halachic problem-solvers for the state and who are not generally drawn from the upper echelons of rabbinic scholarship.

Such attempts to subject the halachic process to the dictates of the secular state serve neither the interests of religion nor the State.

Arrivals: Daniel Kipgen: From Inphal, India to Kiryat Arba

By Jerrin K. Zumberg www.jpost.com June 7, 2009

Photo not connected to Daniel Kipgen

When Daniel Kipgen was 15, he and his family began practicing Judaism in the remote hills of India's northeastern Manipur state.

As Bnei Menashe, Kipgen and his family are among the hundreds of Indians in the past decade who have fulfilled the dream of living in Israel.

Kipgen went through a conversion process in India that wasn't that "serious," he says, but began the steps he would later take to become "Jewish" once arriving here.

Secular Jews may be minority in Israeli schools by 2030

By Ofri Ilani www.haaretz.com June 3, 2009

Secular Jews are expected to become a minority in Israeli schools and among the draft-age population within 20 years, according to a recent study published in the current issue of U.S. magazine Foreign Policy. 

The study, which is based on figures from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, predicts that by 2030 Arabs and ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Jews together will compose close to 60 percent of Israel's elementary school population and about 40 percent of eligible voters. 

Prof. Sergio Della Pergola of Hebrew University, an expert in contemporary Jewish demography, said he was familiar with the figures cited in the Foreign Policy article but was not convinced that the article's predictions would prove accurate. 

It remains unclear whether ultra-Orthodox fertility trends will remain steady in the coming years, he said, since much depends on state funding for child allowances.

Meshing into the mainstream

By Anshel Pfeffer www.haaretz.com Opinion June 7, 2009

A study published this week on the Foreign Policy Web site predicting that by 2030, secular Jewish Israelis would be a minority within the school system and the recruitment age-group, plays to the fears of an Israel that is swiftly descending into an abyss of religious sectarianism and fundamentalism. 

…What the Foreign Policy study does underline is the fact that Israeli society now faces a new and daunting challenge:

Over the next two decades, it will have to find a way to accommodate two groups that have not chosen in the past to be part of the Israeli mainstream - indeed, in many ways they were excluded. Neither group automatically accepts the Zionist narrative, but they are here to stay. 

Spirituality Amid Dogma? Some Approaches to Educating for Religious Belief within in a State Religious School in Israel

By Elana Maryles Sztokman http://jtec.macam.ac.il June 2009

Review of Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 75, Issue 2 April 2009, pages 150 - 172 

This article, the result of three years of ethnographic research at the state religious Levy Junior High School for Girls (all names and identifying details have been altered to protect the informants) in Israel from 1999 to 2002, examines theological, philosophical, and political aspects of religious Zionist education and the tensions between indoctrination and resistance. 

It explores the shifting religious identities of religious adolescent youth in Israel within the context of a state religious educational institution.

Mehadrin Food Still Problematic in the Israel Air Force

By Yechiel Spira www.theyeshivaworld.com June 4, 2009

For several dozen chareidim who are members of the IAF, obtaining mehadrin food is still problematic at times. The soldiers are members of a chareidi unit, “Shachar K’Chol”, a unit operating under the auspices of the IDF Rabbinate.

After they enlisted the services of an, an agreement was reached by which the IDF is compelled to provide mehadrin food for Shomer Shabbos soldiers requesting it.

IDF Developing Sabbath-Friendly Keyboard, Computer Screen

By Gil Ronen www.israelnationalnews.com June 5, 2009

The IDF Rabbinate is hard at work on the development of a special touch screen that would make it possible to use vital computer systems without violating Sabbath, reports IDF magazine BaMachaneh (In the Camp).

Another project, currently in its pilot phase, involves special Sabbath keyboards. 

The IDF is also examining the possibility of changing the incandescent bulbs in the IDF’s communications equipment with LEDs (light emitting diodes), since turning on an incandescent light involves the actual lighting of a fire, which is explicitly forbidden by the Torah. 

Rabbinate crews are also planning to install special electrical switches that will enable opening of electrical gates on Sabbaths in IDF bases that use them.

IDF Soldiers Stationed in Hebron Find a Home with Chabad

By Zalman Nelson http://lubavitch.com June 1, 2009

When they’re not monitoring Hebron’s network of anti-terrorist security cameras and gathering intelligence, female soldiers of the (IDF) stationed here love to hang out with Batsheva Cohen.

The dynamic Chabad representative bakes challah with the soldiers, explores questions of Jewish identity, and infuses their tour of duty here with a joyfully Jewish experience.

…“We’re always looking for opportunities to engage with the local soldiers, to reach out to them,” said Cohen who hosted the entire battalion, commander included, of the base closest to the center, on a recent Shabbat.  

“They army is always looking for ways to save money. I told the commander, why not send the cook home for Shabbat and come to us.”

That Shabbat, 68 soldiers joined 20 other visitors to Hebron around the table at the Chabad center. Batsheva’s husband, Danny, leads the Shabbat dinner with lively conversation, a much needed inspiration for the soldiers.

Paratroopers Celebrate a Bar Mitzvah in the Cave of Machpelah

Source: www.col.org.il http://shmais.com June 8, 2009

During Chabad House activities in Hebron, the staff met Andrei, a soldier originally from Molodova, who never put on tefillin or was called up to the Torah.

A special bar mitzvah ceremony was held at the Cave of Machpelah for Andrei with his division, and everyone celebrated his call-up to the Torah with dancing and joy. 

My Story: Aliza's haredi wedding

By Sara Smith www.jpost.com Opinion June 8, 2009

I don't need the grilled hot dog, the thin slices of roast beef. I don't seek the so-called equality in shul of female aliyot or mixed seating.

I can hold my own in a Talmud class, and am quite content to exchange whispered tidbits with the girls in the women's section. I don't, however, like being relegated to society's back of the bus.

Flipping out in Israel is overrated

By Michael Orbach http://thejewishstar.wordpress.com June 5, 2009

The year in Israel may not be as pivotal to religious development as was previously thought, according to a new study published by the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and University-School Partnership, an Azrieli affiliate.

The study, coauthored by Dr. David Pelcovitz, the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Psychology and Jewish Education at Azrieli, and Rabbi Steven Eisenberg, the Mordecai Zeitz Doctoral Fellow at Azrieli, found that while students increased in religiosity over their year in Israel, the changes were relatively minor. 

The “brainwashing” staple of the year in Israel, the Pelcovitz-Eisenberg study indicates, may simply be a myth.

Good Old-Fashioned Discipline - British Teens Get a Taste of Orthodox Life on Reality TV

By Nathan Jeffay www.forward.com June 3, 2009

It was clear that something unusual was going on in the Orthodox-only village of Nof Ayalon, in central Israel, when residents spotted a bikini-clad teenager strutting her stuff.

Nof Ayalon, near Modi’in and not far from the Green Line, very much bears the imprint of its founders. It was set up in the mid-1990s by the nearby Yeshivat Sh’alvim, and ever since it has been a bastion of punctilious observance and modest dress.

Until, that is, the middle of May, when a British teenage girl with a penchant for provocative outfits arrived as part of a reality TV show. Also taking part in the program was a teenage boy who is a self-styled Goth and body-piercing enthusiast.

Both youngsters are non-Jewish high school dropouts from Hampshire, England, and the idea of the program they were taking part in was to see whether a week living with an Orthodox family could transform them from madcaps to menches.

Observant Magen David Adom personnel to answer Shabbat calls by clenching their teeth

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich www.jpost.com June 7, 2009

Magen David Adom staffers and volunteers who are religiously observant have been advised to use their teeth to respond to emergency calls using their new Mirs communications devices on Shabbat and festivals.

The cell phones will be placed in a special holder that keeps the folded devices open at all times, with a thin metallic arm sticking out that they can pull with their teeth to communicate with MDA stations.

According to Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Halperin, head of Jerusalem's Scientific and Technological Institute for Halacha, such a mechanism for using the phone to save lives on holy days is permissible according to Jewish law.

All-women religious band Tofa'ah still rockin'

By Josh Lichtenstein www.ynetnews.com June 8, 2009

This year the all-women religious rock band Tofa'ah is celebrating 28 years of playing music. When the band was founded in 1981, the idea of an all women, Jewish rock-and-roll/blues/jazz band that only performed for women was unheard of. 

The band inspired religious women by offering an acceptable outlet to explore Jewish identity and the arts.

To listen to Tofa'ah and watch concert clips, check out: www.myspace.com/tofaah

Experimental program to recycle wastewater tries to get God, Mother Earth on the same page

By Zafrir Rinat www.haaretz.com June 3, 2009

An experimental program to purify and recycle wastewater from mikvehs (ritual baths) will soon be launched in Jerusalem. 

For fear of health hazards, the Health Ministry had until now always vetoed efforts to recycle gray water in urban areas, though it did approve a few experimental programs at isolated country clubs. 

However, it has authorized the project proposed by Shomera, an environmental organization active in religious circles, and the Water Authority.

"From our perspective, this is not just a project to recycle water; it is also an opportunity to make a connection between Judaism and preserving the environment," said Miriam Garmaise of Shomera. 

Israeli adults outdo European peers in taking care of aged parents, particularly the religious

By Ofri Ilani www.haaretz.com June 5, 2009

Adults who grew up in religious families feel a stronger obligation to help their aged parents than those from secular homes, according to a new study. 

…The researchers also found a correlation between the extent of religious observance of the respondents and the sense of obligation to their parents. 

"Among those who said they were not at all religious there was a relatively high rate of those who did not help their parents. On the other hand, among the very religious, the likelihood was high that they helped," Lowenstein said.

Religion and State in Israel

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

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Editor – Joel Katz

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