Monday, November 9, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - November 9, 2009 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

November 9, 2009 (Section 1) (see also 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.

Conversion with confusion

By Nissan Shtrauchler November 8, 2009

Maksim and Alina were due to exchange their wedding vows in 10 weeks, but instead of being busy preparing for the joyful event, they have been going through a nightmare – Their marriage was not approved by the Chief Rabbinate clerks in Ashkelon, where the couple resides.

"You do not keep mitzvoth, and therefore we cannot marry you," was the Rabbinate's explanation.

"It hurts. A person converts out of his own free will; wants to get married in his country which he served, and then has to face such a phenomenon," said Maksim.

"The country pays money for these conversions and recognizes them, while the rabbis abuse the power given to them," he added.

Rabbi Shaul Farber, director of the Jewish Life Information Center (ITIM), said on Thursday that "it is not plausible that marriage registrars who are employed by the country and are getting paid by the Chief Rabbinate will make up their own mind whether to recognize documents issued by their employers."

"Registrars who distrust the Chief Rabbinate must resign from their positions. If they don't do it themselves, the state should do it," Farber added.

The double lives of Jewish converts in Israel

By Rabbi Ed Rettig and Rabbi Seth Farber Opinion November 8, 2009

Rabbi Ed Rettig is acting director of the American Jewish Committee's Israel Office

Rabbi Seth Farber is founder and director of ITIM: the Jewish Life Information Center.

Today, together, we are issuing a call to the Diaspora Jewish community to speak up on behalf of a vulnerable group among us - converts to the Jewish people.

…As Zionists and as individuals who believe in the sanctity of Klal Yisrael, we cannot stand by while Israeli law is ignored and the delicate relationship between the Diaspora and Israeli communities challenged. This is not only an internal crisis; it affects Jewish communities everywhere.

When the "Who is a Jew" issue reared its ugly head in the 1980s, Diaspora Jewish leaders organized rabbinic missions to Israel to convince its leadership to recognize the hegemony of the local Jewish communities.

With that precedent in mind, we call upon Jews all over the world to speak up on behalf of converts. Write letters to the prime minister asking why civil authorities are not treating converts as full Jews; make conversion part of the Jewish communal agenda.

In doing the right thing for converts, we also hope to reestablish the appropriate balance between Israel and the Diaspora.

Kaifeng Jews arrive in Israel 2009

Click here for VIDEO November 4, 2009

Rabbinic Court publicizes identity of recalcitrant husband

By Matthew Wagner November 5, 2009

The Jerusalem Rabbinical Court decided on Thursday to publicize the identity of a recalcitrant husband who has refused for four years to give his wife a get (writ of divorce).

"Wanted" notices have been published on the Rabbinical Courts' Web site. And the court system's spokeswoman has contacted Israeli media in an attempt to track down David Shem-Tov.

"In an unprecedented move the Rabbinical Court is asking for the public's help to track down a recalcitrant husband who has repeatedly refused to give his wife a get," the court said in a statement.

David Shem-Tov has refused to appear in court on several occasions, according to the statement. As a result the court has tried to use various sanctions against the husband to force him to give a get.

PM sides with Conservative Movement, not Shas

By Matthew Wagner November 2, 2009

Re: 'Reform, Conservative should build shuls with their own money'

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu notified the Conservative Movement last week that statements made by Religious Services Minister Ya'acov Margi against non-Orthodox streams of Judaism "do not reflect" his own positions.

"We have informed Minister Margi that his recent statements in The Jerusalem Post do not reflect the positions of the Prime Minister," wrote Ron Dermer, senior adviser to the prime minister in a letter dated October 28.

The Prime Minister's Office also "made it clear that decisions regarding the allocation of public funds must be fully consistent with Israel's laws."

Netanyahu "strongly believes that strengthening the connection between Israel and Jewish groups throughout the world is a source of our national strength," the letter also said. "He will continue to fully protect freedom of worship for all and to work toward bringing the various streams of Judaism together."

Bill: If most hospital patients Jewish, food must be kosher

By Amnon Meranda November 7, 2009

A bill stating that any licensed hospital with a majority of Jewish patients must serve kosher food passed its preliminary reading on Wednesday.

Twenty-four Knesset members voted in favor of the bill, with only one – Labor's Ophir Pines-Paz –opposing.

Knesset Member Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), who initiated the bill, said it was "an inseparable part of the State of Israel's identification card as a Jewish state.

Why do Israeli reporters ignore the Jewish Diaspora?

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion November 6, 2009

Why don't we all grow up? We are brothers and sisters. But we live in different neighborhoods, on separate continents.

The Jews of both countries can all be proud of their incredible success stories and are all facing enormous challenges.

We should try and help each other out, without expecting much gratitude, but ultimately we all have to deal with our own troubles. American Jews are doing themselves a disservice by mistaking Israel's problems for their own.

The new partner

By Anshel Pfeffer November 6, 2009

The entrance of the Russians may be less a threat, and more just another symptom of the prolonged decline of the current UJC federation system.

"It's not only the oligarchs who are going their own way and advancing their private agendas," says a former head of the Israel office of one of the large federations

Eyes to the future

By Aharon Horwitz and Ariel Beery Opinion November 8, 2009

Aharon Horwitz and Ariel Beery are co-directors of the PresenTense Group, which is focused on upgrading the Jewish people's "operating system" for the 21st century.

If we believe the Jewish people have a role to play in this world, we must also invest in new ideas, products and services, even during the slow times.

The question, then, should not be whether to fund innovation - but rather, how to tie that innovation back into the core of our institutions, enabling our people to upgrade our operations for the future.

It is rare that this line of questioning is pursued in the boardrooms where funding decisions are made - and yet introducing it will lead to a new perspective on establishment-innovator relationships, and will enhance the value of innovation to our global community.

Natan Sharansky: Trips to Israel will stop assimilation from 'eating' Jewish people

By Cnaan Liphshiz November 8, 2009

"Israelis need to understand the Diaspora is not a passing phase and that immigration to Israel is now a matter of choice," he said.

"At the same time, the Diaspora communities need to drop their patronizing attitude to Israel, which some donors believe is a poor relation kept alive thanks to their generosity.
Israel is a strong society which in many respects is much stronger than the societies of the Diaspora."

'Diaspora Jews must make changes'

By Ruth Eglash November 6, 2009

The organized Jewish community in the Diaspora must make critical structural changes in order to make it through the current economic crisis, Allan Finkelstein, president of the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America, told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday in an exclusive interview.

Ukrainian immigrant recognized as Jew

By Aviad Glickman November 5, 2009

The High Court ruled Wednesday after a four-year-long battle that Raisa Sakoboracov's identity card will list the Ukrainian immigrant as "Jewish" and not "without religion," as the Interior Ministry had designated her.

The decision, written by Justices Edmond Levy, Edna Arbel, and Hanan Meltzer, shows that Sakboracov contacted a local court in the Ukraine in 1999 in order to change her mother's listing so that the mother would be declared a Jew.

After hearing testimonies from many witnesses and viewing archive documents, the Ukrainian court declared that Sakboracov's mother, who came from Russia, a Jew.

Former Diaspora affairs adviser on whether Law of Return makes it too easy for criminals to make aliya

Click here for VIDEO interview

Sheetrit: Law of Return must change

By Rebecca Anna Stoil and staff November 3, 2009

MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima):

"Every Jew who wishes to make aliya should live in [Israel] as a resident for a period of five years, and become a citizen only after learning Hebrew, studying the laws of the country and pledging allegiance to it."

MK to Ra’anana chief rabbi: Don't stigmatize olim

By Amnon Meranda November 4, 2009

Coalition Chairman Knesset Member Zeev Elkin (Likud) harshly criticized Ra’anana’s Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz for linking between the Ushrenko family murder and the immigration of non-Jews.

"I regret Rabbi Peretz's remarks," said Elkin. "These are hateful statements which lead to polarization and segmentation in the Israeli society."

Anat Hoffman, head of the Reform Movement's Religious Action Center, said in response to the rabbi's remarks that "once again, as before, Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz chooses collective moments of disaster in order to expose his dark ignorance.

"This time he verbally attacks people from the Soviet Union who are entitled (to make aliyah by the power of) the law of return. It's time for Ra’anana’s residents to come to their senses and renounce their city rabbi and his racist demagogy."

Ra’anana Chief Rabbi links Ushrenko family murder & immigration of non-Jews

By Neri Livneh Opinion November 6, 2009

Not even the Iranian threat, the spread of poverty in Israel or the growing violence are as frightening to Shas leaders as what they consider the real danger threatening the existence of the State of Israel - the Gentiles.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who has not let up in his struggle against the migrant workers and their Israeli-born children (in recent days, he surpassed himself by speaking of the threat of terrifying illnesses that the foreign workers might bring with them), has now found reinforcement for his approach.

After the police solved the murder of the Oshrenko family, Yitzhak Peretz, a former head of the Shas party and former interior minister who is currently chief rabbi of Ra'anana, took the opportunity to launch a racist attack on immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Since he doubts their Judaism, he considers them potential criminals.

Despite his shady past, alleged murderer allowed to make aliyah

By Anshel Pfeffer November 4, 2009

Though the Law of Return grants automatic citizenship to any Jew who requests it, it does include an exception that allows criminals to be kept out. However, this exception is rarely invoked.

The chaos of aliya

By Haviv Rettig Gur November 3, 2009

Before Israel decides how to screen olim, it must first decide who should screen olim.

The current system - this should come as no surprise to those familiar with Israeli bureaucracy - is messy and unclear.

Different organizations, some private, some governmental, handle different functions of the aliya process, while one organization performing one function in one country can have an entirely different function in another

The Unity Trip

By Meredith Price Levitt November 5, 2009

Israeli Consul General of Los Angeles Jacob Dayan personally invited the 18 L.A. rabbis from Orthodox, Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism to come to Israel

Dayan: “I want the Israelis to see the headlines and realize that these rabbis, who are from such different streams, can engage in dialogue.”

World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers global conference kicks off in Israel November 2, 2009

More than 250 presidents and executive directors of Jewish Community Centers and JCC networks from 30 countries representing over 1,100 JCCs will convene in Ramat Gan's Kfar Maccabiah Hotel on Monday for the eighth World Conference of the World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers.

VIDEO Interview with Jewish Community Centers head on Diaspora-Israel ties

After report, Yemen operation is happily out in the open

By Jacob Berkman November 3, 2009

Jewish Agency officials were particularly upset over what they described as HIAS and the Jewish Federations, then known as the United Jewish Communities, working with the Satmar Chasidic sect.

The Satmar community is anti-Zionist and reportedly has been on the ground in Yemen urging the Jews there not to go to Israel.

Natan Sharansky: Trips to Israel will stop assimilation from 'eating' Jewish people

By Cnaan Liphshiz November 8, 2009

In terms of Israeli-Diaspora relations, Sharansky spoke of a need to transcend a mutual patronization.

"Israelis need to understand the Diaspora is not a passing phase and that immigration to Israel is now a matter of choice," he said.

"At the same time, the Diaspora communities need to drop their patronizing attitude to Israel, which some donors believe is a poor relation kept alive thanks to their generosity. Israel is a strong society which in many respects is much stronger than the societies of the Diaspora."

A musical tribute to the Australian philanthropist Richard Pratt

By Veronique Bruggerman November 7, 2009

Through his foundation, Richard Pratt funded 350 projects in Israel ranging from education to integration to culture to health. He died of cancer six months ago.

"Whenever you have the chance to sing a song, stand up and take it," Pratt used to say. He was a passionate singer himself and even embarked on a stage career before returning to work for his father's company.

Click here for VIDEO

This video was made in memory of Australian philanthropist Richard Pratt (1934-2009) who spent most of his life giving so much to help others.

The people of Israel would like to honor and thank Richard for everything he has done for them, and so all over the country, the people dance for Richard Pratt!

Arrivals: Immerse yourself

By Abigail Klein November 7, 2009

Newly discharged from the International Relations Unit of the IDF, Peninah Rost is contemplating the rest of her life here.

She arrived on a Nefesh B'Nefesh charter flight two summers ago, and went to Kibbutz Tirat Zvi to prepare for the army with Garin Tzabar, a program that groups lone soldiers on kibbutzim that provide bureaucratic assistance, peer support and a home base.

Religion and State in Israel

November 9, 2009 (Section 1) (see also 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 - November 9, 2009 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

November 9, 2009 (Section 2) (see also 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.

Chabad campaign: Messages from Rebbe at basketball court

By Kobi Nahshoni November 6, 2009

The Chabad movement and the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball club have launched an advertising campaign to disseminate Jewish and Hassidic messages at the team's home court in Malha. Famous sayings attributed to the Lubavitcher Rebbe will appear on the large billboards that line the court.

Since last week's game against French club Roanne during Eurocup qualifiers, messages such as "Your one good deed does good for everyone" and "You want to change the world? The power is in your hands" will be shown during home games at Malha.

The messages are projected on a 32-meter long digital billboard before the eyes of tends of thousands of spectators at the court and watching at home.

In addition, the messages will also be printed in the team's pamphlets distributed in the thousands as well as on a banner on the team's internet site. The objective: "to encourage love of Israel and to increase Jewish identity."

Netanya Residents Protest Chabad Yeshiva Move

Source: November 5, 2009

The residents’ main concern, however, is that the new yeshiva is a sign that the area is on its way to becoming Chareidi.

“In Netanya, there are certain religious streets that became closed to traffic on Shabbos, and the secular residents sold their apartments and moved out,” said one resident.

“But our street has been secular for decades, and we have no intention of changing things.

We want to appeal to the Netanya Municipality and find out if there was any official agreement to open a yeshiva on our street, whether this yeshiva has a permit, and if things have been done according to the law.”

Distinctly Religious Offerings Earn Praise at Israeli Film Festival

By Chana Kroll October 29, 2009

The sixth annual Jewish Eye, which bills itself as a World Jewish Film Festival, marked a cinematic milestone this week when it served as the venue for the official Israeli premiere of “A Light for Greytowers,” a full-length strictly by-women, for-women production developed under the guidance of rabbinical authorities.

Law and the new order

By Yael Brygel November 7, 2009

The three programs [Midreshet Lindenbaum, Beit Morasha, Nishmat] – each of which provides a select group of exceptional women scholars with the opportunity to reach the highest level of Jewish scholarship, often with the same curriculum as rabbinical schools - were created to address different needs within the modern Orthodox world and, arguably, are unprecedented in their attention to training women for involvement in Halachic discourse and the application of Jewish law.

What is the future of women's leadership and the likelihood of Orthodox women receiving rabbinic ordination?

Orthodox Women & Religious Leadership

By Sarah Breger November 2009

Though the Orthodox rabbinate remains all-male, some Orthodox women have assumed para-rabbinic roles.

Bat Melech Marks 10 Years since Founding of First Shelter for Charedi Battered Women

By Benjamin Slobodkin (Hebrew article) November 8, 2009

Noah Korman started Bat Melech ten years ago shortly after encountering three cases of violence in Charedi families. Today Charedi women of every description arrive at the shelter he set up, generally bringing their children as well.

Gafni reaches deal to reduce yeshiva cuts

By Zvi Zrahiya November 8, 2009

The proposed NIS 314 million cut to yeshiva budgets, will be reduced, and will not affect state allowances for full-time yeshiva students.

These were part of NIS 2 billion in budget cuts approved by the cabinet. The budget cuts still will apply to some of the funds promised to Shas, United Torah Judaism and Habayit Hayehudi.

J'lem to get 2 additional deputy mayors

By Matthew Wagner November 5, 2009

The Knesset passed in a preliminary reading Wednesday a legislative amendment that would pave the way for two Haredi members of the Jerusalem Municipality's Council to receive salaries as deputy mayors.

If the present amendment passes in the Knesset plenum, remains unchanged after discussions in the Knesset Interior Affairs Committee and passes another final vote in the Knesset, Shas and United Torah Judaism will each be allowed to appoint one of their municipal representatives as a deputy mayor.

Rabbis petition for 'kosher' internet on cell phones

By Kobi Nahshoni November 3, 2009

Dozens of rabbis and educators from the Religious Zionism stream have recently signed on a petition demanding cellular companies to offer "kosher" internet packages to its customers. In exchange, they promise to support whichever company encourages the public to use this service exclusively.

Among those signed on the petition are rabbis spanning the whole spectrum of Religious Zionism, from Rabbi David Stav, chairman of Tzohar, all the way to Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira and Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, both associated with the nationalist haredi stream.

Is Elad A Chassidic Town?

Source: November 1, 2009

Deputy Mayor Yisrael Porush, who represents the Chassidic communities, raised during a council session the possibility of changing Elad’s official emblem so that it will be called “the city of Torah and Chassidus.”

'Taliban mother' jailed for 4 years

Ultra-Orthodox followers remain faithful to convicted woman

By Tamar Rotem November 5, 2009

"The whole trial was one long string of lies," declared A., a disciple of the so-called "Taliban mom," yesterday.
"What did she do wrong? She never did any harm to anyone. Me, she taught only good things. To love God, is that bad?"

10,000 guests attend massive Hasidic wedding

By Kobi Nahshoni November 6, 2009

It was the wedding of the year in the Hasidic world. More than 10,000 guests arrived at the Sanz Hasidic headquarters in Netanya to celebrate the wedding of Meir Meshulam, son of Sanz Grand Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Halberstam, the Klausenberger Rebbe of Netanya, to his cousin, Bracha Unsdorfer.

Experts: Ultra-Orthodox market growing

By Tani Goldstein November 6, 2009

The ultra-Orthodox community is considered relatively poor, but according to data presented at an Israeli Management Center conference on sector-specific marketing, haredim have greater purchasing power than is generally assumed.

According to Geocartography, there are currently 715,000 haredim living in Israel and the community doubles in numbers every 22 years, meaning that by 2020 it is likely to exceed one million.

The ultra-Orthodox community makes up 7% of Israel's adult population and 9% of its overall population, and the national-religion sector adds 10%.

Intel Announces that Employees at its Jerusalem Facility Won't Work on Shabbos After All

By Yechiel Sever November 5, 2009

According to a report in Yated Ne'eman last Wednesday, Intel had plans in place to open its Jerusalem facility on Shabbos, which would not only have caused dozens of workers to violate Shabbos, but may well have brought other Har Hotzvim companies to follow suit, despite the industrial park's proximity to several chareidi neighborhoods.

…the Intel Israel CEO announced last Thursday that the company would not open its doors in Jerusalem on Shabbos.

Synagogue Dedicated at IDF Officers' School November 5, 2009

The IDF Officers' School, Bahad 1, dedicated a new synagogue this week at an investment of NIS 5 million. The seats at the synagogue have a unique feature: special contraptions for holding one's weapon while praying.

The synagogue is an architecturally impressive concrete structure reminiscent of the burning bush in which G-d appeared before Moses. There are 208 seats in the men's section and 60 seats in the women's section.

The glance they don’t deserve

By Yair Lapid Opinion November 3, 2009

An anonymous rightist donor announced last week that he will hand over NIS 22,000 (roughly $6,000) as a reward for the two Shimshon Battalion soldiers who held up signs against the evacuation of a West Bank outpost during their pledge-of-allegiance ceremony at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.

…right now there is a small sideways glance, a cautious one, which every secular platoon commander is currently directing at any religious soldiers arriving in his unit. Can they be trusted? The glance says. Can I be certain that they will obey my orders?

Will they embarrass me during the pledge-of-allegiance ceremony? The commander will be thinking.

Will they not put an end to my military career at the next charged incident? Are we truly part of the same army, or are they also serving under the command of some rabbi unfamiliar to me? Are they truly my soldiers, or are they only my soldiers as long as some conditions are met?

A peek into Western Wall Tunnel area excavations

By Ronen Medzini November 8, 2009

The digs begin on al-Waad Street in the Old City's Muslim Quarter and connect to the Western Wall tunnels under the ground.

The works began more than four years ago, and have since caused angry responses in the Muslim world, which is finding it difficult to receive a clear picture of the dig, due to the discrete manner in which it is are being led by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.

The tour's participants included the Foundation's executive director Mordechai (Sullie) Eliav, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, Jerusalem Council Members Meir Margalit (Meretz) and Rabbi Yossi Deutsch (United Torah Judaism), and representatives of left-wing organizations.

Ethiopian community celebrates Sig'd at Beit Hanassi

By Greer Fay Cashman November 2, 2009

For decades, all roads for Israel's Ethiopian community have led to Jerusalem on the festival of Sig'd, marked 50 days after Yom Kippur. Until this year, their destination was the Haas Promenade, where they congregated to chant prayers led by Kessim, the community's spiritual leaders.

As of this year, Sig'd has become a legislated state holiday, which was marked on Monday at the President's Residence…

Ethiopian Jewish Festival of Sig’d Goes Mainstream

By Nathan Jeffay November 2, 2009

For the first time today, President Shimon Peres played host to leaders of the community in honor of the festival. This follows the passing of a law in August 2008 declaring the day a national religious holiday, which means that people have the right to a day off work (unpaid) if they want it, and requiring a state ceremony to mark the day.

Almost 250 people were invited to the event today — community leaders, youth, and Ethiopian figures involved in public life. There was music from a band of the scouts and a passionate speech from Peres in which he called Israelis of all backgrounds, not just Ethiopians, to get involved in celebrations for the festival.

Perhaps more significant in the long-run than the President’s reception, as a result of the law children of all backgrounds will learn about the holiday as part of the compulsory government-set curriculum.

Arab and Jewish medics bridge the divide saying 'let's save some lives'

By Ben Lynfield November 7, 2009

At the same time that Israeli police and Palestinian youths were battling each other at the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem last week, a life was being saved nearby by a new emergency rescue project that brings together ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arabs.

As the clashes were going on at the site, known to Moslems as al-Haram al-Sharif, two Arab medics from the new east Jerusalem branch of the ultra- orthodox Jewish Ihud Hatzolah rescue service were arriving at the scene of a heart attack of a 45-year-old Arab woman in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood.

Missionary Event for Teenagers in Ashdod

By Hillel Fendel November 4, 2009

A missionary seminar was held for teenagers in Ashdod ten days ago, teaching them how to “witness” to their friends…

“If you want to change the world for Jesus, this meeting is for you,” states the invitation to the seminar…

At the seminar itself, close to 200 teenagers received instruction on how to approach and persuade youngsters their age to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. The event was held on Thursday, Oct. 22, and included various musical performances. It was organized by the local Beth Hillel congregation.

Religion and State in Israel

November 9, 2009 (Section 2) (see also 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.