Monday, November 16, 2009

Religion and State in Israel - November 16, 2009 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

November 16, 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.

Haredi Protest against Intel in Jerusalem

Click here for VIDEO

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox protest against Intel's Shabbat opening

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman November 15, 2009

"The ultra-Orthodox move to Hi-Tech" (Carta Parking Lot -->Intel)

By Nir Hasson and Yair Ettinger November 15, 2009

Between 1,500 and 2,000 ultra-Orthodox, according to police estimates, gathered yesterday outside the Jerusalem plant of computer chip manufacturer Intel to protest the factory's opening on Saturdays.

Intel's security guards used pepper spray against protesters who attempted to break into the company's offices.

Some 200 protesters threw stones at journalists, pushed and cursed them. No journalists were injured.

Haredim protest against Intel in J'lem

By Abe Selig November 15, 2009

Demonstrators assailed Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism) upon his arrival, complaining that he had failed to prevent the desecration of the holy day.

Jerusalem mayor 'supports Intel's activities'

By Ronen Medzini November 15, 2009

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat:

"I am a staunch supporter of the status quo and co-existence in the capital.
Intel has been operating in Jerusalem for the past 24 years under the same format," said the mayor, "I will continue working for the company's success and expansion, and towards bringing additional high-tech companies to the capital."

Intel places barbed wire fence ahead of haredi protest

By Ronen Medzini November 12, 2009

Jerusalem city councilman Ofer Berkovitch (Awakening in Jerusalem) claims that in order to develop business in Jerusalem, the factory must be allowed to open on the weekends.

"If the private sector wants to work on Shabbat, they must be allowed to do so. Jerusalem, as a city that has proclaimed the advancement of economy and employment, has to fulfill these needs in order to allow flourishing and encourage the establishment of more companies in the city," said Berkovitch.

"Awakening (in Jerusalem) movement believes that the needs of the large religious public in Jerusalem must be respected, however in this case, the location of the factory allows out-of- town commute, and is not near a haredi neighborhood.

"We must continue to adhere to the notion that each person should live according to their own wishes," he added.

Haredim demonstrate against Intel

By Matthew Wagner November 15, 2009

Intel has had a factory in Jerusalem since 1985. About a year and a half ago, the existing factory was dismantled and revamped. This Sunday, there will be an official launching ceremony, to be attended by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Fassberg.

Computer chips produced in Intel's Kiryat Gat factory are brought to the capital for the last stage of production, including cutting and packaging.

Sources in Intel told The Jerusalem Post that stopping the production process could cause severe damage to productivity and endanger the business feasibility of Intel's operations in both Jerusalem and Kiryat Gat.

Intel Israel employs approximately 6,500 people, in addition to thousands of contractors and service-providers indirectly employed by the hi-tech mammoth.

Intel Demonstration: Troublemakers Are the At-Risk Youths

By Yechiel Spira November 15, 2009

It appears the at-risk youths, the delinquents if you may, were there, seeking action, stirring up the scene, as they frequently do.

The head of the Vaad L’maan Shabbos, Rabbi Yitzchak Goldknopfstressed that the fringe element responsible for the violence is not acting in accordance to the instructions of rabbonim and their actions are not welcome.

'Intel protest reveals haredi hypocrisy'

By Abe Selig November 15, 2009

An NGO promoting religious freedom and equality in Israel published findings that 76 percent of Jewish Israelis - and 93% of secular Israelis - believe haredi rabbis are spearheading religion-inspired conflicts in an effort to advance partisan haredi interests, and only 24% believe the recent orthodox riots in the capital are inspired by love of Israel and the wellbeing of society.

In the Hiddush survey conducted in September, 500 adult Israeli Jews were polled. No margin of error was cited.

According to the survey, 53% said they believe police are being too soft on haredi rioters, whereas only 11% thought police were using excessive force.

Presented with the statement "Some believe religious battles led by haredi rabbis are essential for the preservation of Judaism, while others think these battles serve only one stream of Judaism and the haredi rabbis' own interests," 74% agreed with the second half of the statement, saying that Judaism unites Israelis but haredi rabbis bring about a splintering of society

Protests an outlet for Haredim who don’t work, join army, or go to college

By Hanoch Daum Opinion November 15, 2009

These young haredim are not really committed to the Shabbat.

Had they been truly devoted to it, they would not be holding protests that prompt hundreds of police officers to desecrate the Shabbat. They would also not be assaulting reporters and media personnel with such crude violence.

Finance Min.: Arabs, Haredim to blame for their poor economic state

By Haim Bior November 11, 2009

The Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities themselves are partly responsible for the high unemployment among their members, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told a conference on employment discrimination on Tuesday.

Steinitz said his ministry is currently discussing ways to encourage both communities to increase their work force participation rate, which is currently significantly lower than the Israeli norm. Partly as a result, these communities are also two of Israel's poorest.

Steinitz urges Haredim to join workforce

By Tani Goldstein November 11, 2009

"I can cherish the fact that Israel is a global center of Torah studies… but I also think it is extremely important that a larger part of the haredi society integrates in work and creation.

"I recently visited New York and met the leaders of a haredi community. One of them told me, 'We, the haredim in New York, are not like the haredim in Israel. We support ourselves.' Hearing that brought up a lot of emotions in me.

"I, and senior Treasury officials, are holding these days a series of discussions and talks with the outstanding rabbis of this generation and are trying, through full cooperation with them, to encourage haredim to join the workforce."

According to data presented during the conference, the haredi population's participation in the workforce (as employers and job seekers) is among the lowest in the world, due to the phenomenon called "Torah is their profession" – ultra-Orthodox men studying Judaism all their life and not working.

According to data compiled by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, 80% of haredi men practice "Torah is their profession"

It doesn't pay for Haredi men to work

By Meirav Arlosoroff Opinion November 13, 2009

The unhappy reality is that the Haredi aspiration to live a life of bare subsistence, coupled with Israel's subsidies of ultra-Orthodox society, mean that many Haredi families can eke out an existence without working. Put otherwise, it doesn't pay for them to work.

…Does Israel in its generosity actually disincentivize Haredim to work? Yes. The figures show that the allowances coupled with discounts enable Haredi families to eke out a living without work.

Employers reluctant to hire Ethiopians, haredim and Arabs, study shows

By Ron Friedman November 10, 2009

According to the study, which surveyed dozens of employers and potential employees in professions like banking, advertising, media, accounting, the public sector and law, most Israeli employers reported that they were hesitant to hire Ethiopians, haredim or Arabs, even if they met the academic qualifications for the job.

The findings showed that 83 per cent of employers preferred not to hire Arabs, 58% said no to haredim and 53% rejected Ethiopians.

The study also found that these populations had a tough time seeking advancement in the workplace, with 86% of employers tending not to promote haredim, 79% Arabs and 70% Ethiopians.

MK Gafni: Haredim want to work, but state doesn't want them to

By Yair Ettinger November 13, 2009

Knesset Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) lashed out yesterday at Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz's assertion Tuesday that ultra-Orthodox communities are themselves partly responsible for the high unemployment in their ranks.

"Haredi men want to work, Haredi women want to work," he said. "The government doesn't want to integrate them into the work force. This is an ideological battle."

Gafni said the primary obstacles to ultra-Orthodox integration into the work force come from the government, not from private employers choosing not to hire Haredim.

A vital national challenge

Haaretz Editorial November 12, 2009

People who stay home or study Torah instead of being gainfully employed and who maintain themselves and their families using welfare payments instead of earning a living are a millstone around the Israeli economy's neck.

They prevent it from reaching its true growth potential, and the problem will only get worse. Around half our first graders today are from the Arab or ultra-Orthodox communities, and the proportion of these communities in the population is expected to rise further.

Yeshiva Budget Cuts Avoided - Major Victory for Gafne

By Yechiel Spira November 10, 2009

MK (Yahadut HaTorah) R’ Moshe Gafne, who chairs the Knesset Finance Committee, is hailing a major victory, the elimination of a planned budget cuts for yeshivas as part of the government’s across-the-board spending cuts - a move required to increase defense spending and pay for swine flu vaccinations.

Health funds cut charges to match Haredi fees

By Shay Niv November 9, 2009

Only a week after "Globes" published its investigation, which showed that the health funds charged full price for nighttime or weekend visits to after-hours clinics in secular communities, while giving huge discounts for visits in Haredi, the health funds have decided on a one-price-for-all policy.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman: Death When One’s Heart Stops, Not Before

By Yechiel Spira November 9, 2009

Deputy Health Minister R’ Yitzchak Litzman has come out in no uncertain terms opposed to linking death to brain activity. Litzman stated gedolei torah have not changed their determination and death must be determined only by the cessation of one’s heartbeat.

Litzman’s statement is unwelcome in the medical community, since when one’s heart stops working, the time available to harvest organs is extremely limited according to medical experts.

Litzman’s position caused a stir at a recent medical community gathering discussing transplants, adding if the brain death determination is contrary to the hashkafa of the patient, the plug may not be pulled and nothing may be done to curtail his life. Death must be determined by the cessation of the patient’s heartbeat.

Rabbis' dismay as transplant rules change

By Anshel Pfeffer November 12, 2009

Over two decades of patient negotiations, doctors in Israel managed to win a large number of rabbis over to their position.

However, an official rabbinical recognition of brain death as the point at which a transplant can be carried out was denied, since the doctors refused to have rabbis included in the process of pronouncing death before a transplant operation.

Still, many rabbis have privately endorsed transplants and encouraged religious Israelis to carry donor cards.

Last year, the Knesset passed the Organ Transplant Law, which necessitates a ruling by two senior doctors who are not involved in transplants on the death of a potential donor.

Following the legislation, the council of the Chief Rabbinate voted three months ago that brain death did indeed constitute the moment of death.

Leading Muslim clergy endorse lower brain death criterion for organ donation

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich November 10, 2009

Leading Muslim clergy from northern Israel have come out strongly in support of the recent law recognizing lower brain death as the criterion for removing donor organs for transplant.

The move follows the revelation on Sunday of a letter written by Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Ya'acov Litzman, in which he states his personal opposition to the brain death criterion.

School entrance locked 'for modesty reasons'

By Ruth Margolin November 10, 2009

Teachers and students of the Rabin High School in the southern city of Kiryat Gat are being forced to enter the building through a side gate "for modesty reasons".

According to the Israel Teachers Union, a security guard stationed at the school's main entrance has been instructed by the municipality to lock the gate and inform visitors that they must enter the institution from its side gate.

Female teachers say they were told the main entrance is not safe, but they believe the real reason is pressures exerted by ultra-Orthodox elements.

Rabbi Elyashiv to authorize Shabbat elevators

By Kobi Nahshoni November 15, 2009

The Haredi grand adjudicator Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv is expected to issue a modified halachic ruling on the issue of Shabbat elevators that will allow their use for the elderly, the sick and pregnant women.

This comes only a month and a half after the rabbi ruled that the Sabbath-designated elevators were not to be used for ascending or descending, saying it was a violation of religious laws pertaining to the holy day.

The Lithuanian leader changed his position after one of the Belz hassidic rabbis asked that an additional discussion be held on the topic during which Rabbi Elyashiv was convinced that allowances could be made for the aforementioned groups.

Too hot a topic

By Yair Ettinger November 15, 2009

Many veteran residents believe this tender will complete the process of turning Beit Shemesh into a Haredi town

Motti Cohen, an opposition city councilman:

"The government has to decide which way Beit Shemesh is going to go and whether it will turn into a second Bnei Brak."

For the Haredim, there is no question about whether or not the new neighborhood should be ultra-Orthodox, and headlines in the Haredi press do not address the opposition's arguments or the threat of a court case.

Pitching in

By Peggy Cidor November 12, 2009

The Toldot Aharon Hassidim have launched an appeal to finance (the) legal bills (of the mother who allegedly starved her son).

The goal is to raise at least NIS 100,000, and every family that belongs to the sect - which is not very wealthy to put it mildly - has been asked to contribute at least NIS 100, or better yet $100, to help "a member of our community in distress" as was written on the pashkevilim (billboards) in Mea She'arim.

25% of Elite chocolate sold in Haredi sector

By Shoshana Chen November 13, 2009

For the first time this winter, the Strauss-Elite food products manufacturer plans to introduce a new chocolate product both in the general and ultra-Orthodox markets.

The haredi market is responsible for about 25% of the company's chocolate sales, and 52% of the company's annual chocolate sales take place in the winter season.

Sects, allies and videotape

By Peggy Cidor November 12, 2009

In the framework of the struggle against "haredization" in Kiryat Hayovel, the neighborhood action committee has organized movie nights in the community center auditorium on Friday evenings.

As a result, the religious Zionist community, which so far has been a partner in the struggle, decided to protest and has threatened to withdraw its support.

Its city council representative, Deputy Mayor David Hadari, claims that the use of the auditorium is a breach of the religious status quo.

To date, Mayor Nir Barkat has refuted the argument, declaring that "screening films in a neighborhood auditorium for the residents of this neighborhood could not under any circumstances be considered a breach of the status quo." For the moment.

Going up

By Peggy Cidor November 12, 2009

For those who are afraid that the Har Hamenuhot Cemetery is running out of room, fear no more. For Sephardim at least, modernity has offered a bold and quite efficient solution.

The local Sephardi Hevra Kadisha recently launched a new section, which will hold up to 2,700 graves (instead of the originally planned 700).

And this new section is very unusual: It is the first to offer burial plots on five levels, each one accessible via a special elevator.

The area will also include sophisticated lighting for those who want to visit their loved ones' graves after sunset. Not that the decision was easy to make. After years of halachic debates, a ruling by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, with the support of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, allowed the cemetery to be used in such a way.

Hassidic Stories through both Spiritual and Academic Approaches

By Yoni Kempinski November 15, 2009

The Literature class of the Michlala-Jerusalem College held a special day of sessions and discussion regarding the Hassidic fables and stories. Teachers and Rabbis spoke about the uniqueness of the Hassidic stories, read several and discussed the messages they convey.

Click here for VIDEO

Kosher comics prove hit with Israel's haredi Jews

AFB November 11, 2009

A far cry from the thrills of Spiderman and the sexy glam of Lois Lane, chaste and religious comics have become a hit among ultra-Orthodox Jews determined not to pollute their children's minds.

For the reclusive haredi society that shuns television, internet and video viewed as a source of moral corruption, the no-sex, no-violence comics offer benign entertainment and a fun way of teaching tradition to their children.

Book advocating killing gentiles who endanger Jews is hard to come by

By Matthew Wagner November 11, 2009

At Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, the flagship educational institution of Orthodox Zionism, there was a small sign in the entrance advertising the sale of Torat Hamelech: Dinei Nefashot Bein Yisrael Le'Amim (The King's Torah: Laws of Life and Death between Jews and the Nations) at a price of NIS 30.

Those interested in buying the book were asked to place money in a small cup and take one.

But the books were gone.

Israeli Rabbi's Guide to Killing Causes Firestorm November 13, 2009

Rabbi David Hartman, founder of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and a philosopher of contemporary Judaism, said that the rabbis of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva were not taking into account the consequences of their teachings.

"Has the Jewish tradition ever created a distinction based on race, gender, etc? Of course, there is no doubt that there are serious Jewish sources that do not look at the non-Jew with full equality," he told The Media Line. "But they have lots of sources they could use, and which sources you choose to read and don't read is important."

Jews raise millions to be ready for coming of the Messiah

By Jason Koutsoukis November 14, 2009

Yehuda Glick is a 44-year-old American-born Jew who spends most of every day preparing for the arrival of the Messiah in Jerusalem.

Since he became the executive director of the Temple Institute, Mr. Glick's main task has been to supervise the manufacture of the utensils the high priests will need when the day arrives.

…''That is why we have engaged two architects,'' Mr. Glick said. ''It will be a modern building, with car parks and elevators, but it will look very much like the Second Temple.''

The Temple Institute museum contains a large-scale model of what the Third Temple will look like, with its main building set to reach a height of 60 metres.

Religion and State in Israel

November 16, 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 16, 2009 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

November 16, 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.

State may pay Israelis forced by religious restrictions to wed abroad

By Jonathan Lis November 15, 2009

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will deliberate today over a bill requiring the state to return expenses of couples forced to wed abroad due to religious restrictions against them marrying in Israel.

The bill, initiated by MK Nitzan Horowitz (New Movement-Meretz) and other Meretz and Kadima MKs, stipulates that the government would return expenses to any couple in which at least one member is a citizen and resident of Israel, but who are prohibited for reasons of religion or conscience from marrying in the country.

Who are Diaspora Jews to tell us Israelis who is Jewish?

By Haviv Rettig Gur Opinion November 9, 2009

American Orthodox rabbis, the Interior Ministry feels, can’t be trusted to decide who is in and who is out of the Jewish people.

It is the feeling of a handful of ignorant bureaucrats – ignorant of Judaism and Jewish identity, and ignorant of Israeli law – that decides the day.

Why? Because the Diaspora is silent and respectful. Instead of demanding respect for their support and love, the Diaspora assumes Israelis are either their betters or their “ethnic” cousins. Either way, you can’t demand too much.

So Ilana falls through the cracks.

“The agunah problem crosses the political divide”

By Elana Sztokman Opinon November 13, 2009

“The issue of agunot and mesoravot get crosses coalition and party boundaries,” Elkin continued, “and the Knesset needs to do more in the way of legislation about this issue.”

The Tort of Get Refusal: Why Tort and Why Not?

By Susan Weiss Opinion November 10, 2009

Susan Weiss, an attorney, serves as Executive Director of the Center for Women's Justice, based in Jerusalem.

The problem of the agunah—the woman whose husband refuses to give her a Jewish divorce—challenges the viability of Orthodoxy in a modern world that stands, if I may be given some poetic license, on the three pillars of equality, human rights, and the autonomy of the individual.

How can it be that a Jewish woman in the twenty-first century is still dependent on the whims of her husband for her marital freedom?

…The only reason to stop bringing these lawsuits would be if Orthodox rabbis finally acknowledge that the problem of Jewish women and divorce must be solved. They must take the power to give a get, or not, out of the hands of the husband.

The problem of the “forced divorce” must be understood as a euphemism for giving unfettered and unilateral dominance to men over their wives.

The rabbis must change the Jewish marriage ceremony at its core,or allow for marriage to be entered into on conditions that guarantee proper divorce rights for women. Until that happens, women must keep filing tort cases.

Rabbi Yosef condemns Women of the Wall

By Kobi Nahshoni November 9, 2009

Some 20 years after they first wrapped themselves in prayer shawls at Judaism's holiest site, the Women of the Wall (WOW) were the subject of much criticism during the Sephardic chief rabbi's weekly Saturday evening sermon.

"There are stupid women who come to the Western Wall, put on a tallit, and pray."

According to Rabbi Yosef, "These are deviants who serve equality, not Heaven. They must be condemned and warned of.

The Masorti Movement Chairman Yizhar Hess said in response, "It is a shame that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a talmid-chacham and Torah great, allows himself to disrespect the women's revolution that is taking over the Jewish street in Israel and the world. Torah scholars, be careful of your words."

1 in 3 thinks changing Law of Return to stop crooks is racist

By Ruth Eglash November 13, 2009

More than a third of the Israeli public believes that any talk about changing the Law of Return in light of the Oshrenko family murders - as the suspects in the horrific crime made aliya from the former Soviet Union - is blatantly racist, according to a study published this week at the Kinneret College, Jordan Valley campus.

Thirty-six percent of those questioned for the research … said that proposed changes to the law were an attempt to limit aliya from Russian-speaking countries.

Jewish murder suspects prove Israel's Law of Return is obsolete

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion November 13, 2009

The eight murders allegedly carried out by Damian Karlik and Yaakov (Jack) Teitel are the final proof, if any were still needed, that Israel's citizenship laws are dangerously obsolete.

…There is a solution: former interior minister Meir Sheetrit's proposal that newcomers be granted residency for five years, during which time they can prove that they have a true connection to the country and that they can serve as productive citizens, as well as undergo serious background checks.

This should not deter those who are willing to make sacrifices in order to become Israelis. As for the rest, that's their problem. Many western countries have similar citizenship laws.

This will not prevent Jews fleeing persecution from finding a safe haven here, but it will help to weed out those who are simply here on the make, or on the run

Making the Law of Return Work for All Jews

By Rabbi Asher Lopatin Opinion November 9, 2009

I say the only way for the Law of Return to work the way it is supposed to – to protect every “Jew” in the world from potential persecution and to allow any “Jew” in the world to return to the Land of the Jews is if yes, Israel accepts anyone who converts to Judaism in any way, and anyone who declares that they are Jewish.

…the Law of Return should apply to anyone who claims they are Jewish and who is willing to have “Yehudi” stamped on their Te’udat Zehut – their Israeli identity card. Yes, we may get millions from around the world, from Africa and Asia and South America declaring they are Jewish – Oy gevalt! More self identifying Jews in Israel!! That is exactly what we want.

…Just as the system works today, the Jewish and religious community in Israel will have to sort out “Who is a Jew?” from a Halachic point of view.

Jewish Peoplehood Hub launched November 13, 2009

The NADAV Fund, in partnership with UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Agency for Israel, launched the Jewish Peoplehood Hub (JPH) at the 2009 General Assembly of UJC/Jewish Federations of North America on Tuesday.

The Jewish Peoplehood Hub (JPH) will serve as a center for discourse, knowledge dissemination and program development on the subject of Jewish Peoplehood. It will operate as a global think tank and project lab for enhancing commitment to this issue among world Jewry. The JPH will focus on influencers – educators, younger lay and professional leaders and academics – in order to magnify its impact.

How to serve the Jews

By Haviv Rettig Gur November 9, 2009

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“Any Jew—of any denomination—will always have a right to come home to the Jewish state,” he said. “Religious pluralism and tolerance will always guide my policy.”

Sharansky mediates between Jewish Agency, Birthright

By Natasha Mozgovaya November 11, 2009

Following years of tension between the Jewish Agency and the Birthright Israel-Taglit program JA Chairman Natan Sharansky has brought the groups to reconcile.

The reconciliation took place at the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Monday, on the eve of the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities.

Holding Jews together Editorial November 10, 2009

In a sense, peoplehood leapfrogs the tiresome "Who is a Jew" issue and poses a different set of questions, starting with: What, if anything, holds 21st century Jews together? Is being Jewish a matter of synagogue attendance or theological faith? Is it nationalism, ethnicity, culture?

Bringing the story of Jewish life back to life

By Anath Hartmann November 11, 2009

In its new incarnation, the museum’s aim will shift, as well. It will go from “a living testament to the Jewish dispersion following the Holocaust,” according to the Beit Hatefutsoth Web site, to “the ongoing story of the Jewish people,” said Orit Shaham Gover, chief curator of the Beit Hatefutsoth permanent exhibit.

Birthright-Taglit breakaway launches its first Israel trip for Diaspora youth

By Nir Hasson November 15, 2009

An organization that publicly split from Birthright Israel-Taglit a few months ago plans to bring its first 120 participants from abroad next month.

Prior to the split, the group, Oranim, was Birthright's largest subcontractor, having brought some 50,000 young Diaspora Jews here for visits.

Oranim's director, Shlomo (Momo) Lifshitz, said he split from Birthright over its demand that he stop urging trip participants to immigrate to Israel and marry other Jews.

Both these suggestions irritated the American donors, including major Jewish federations, he said.

"I shook hands with every one of those 50,000 youngsters and told them 'Welcome home,'" he said. "That became my trademark, and Taglit didn't like it," said Lifshitz.

U.S. Jews turn to Israel to escape bleak job market

Reuters November 15, 2009

As the unemployment rate in the US climbed to a 26-year high of 10.2 percent last month, growing numbers of young and adult American Jews were arriving in Israel to inexpensively "wait out" the economic lull.

In an attempt to lure Diaspora Jews to make Israel their permanent home, the Israeli government and Jewish organizations offer a multitude of scholarships and travel grants, allowing many to spend up to six months in Israel almost for free

Jewish Agency threatens to end its contract with El Al on olim flights

By Cnaan Liphshiz November 13, 2009

The Jewish Agency may this month cease using El Al for its immigrant flights if Israel's largest carrier raises its prices, Agency officials said this week. An El Al official defended the hike as necessary, accusing the Agency of "unacceptable and chronic payment failures."

General strike expected in religious schools

By Kobi Nahshoni November 10, 2009

The Religious Education Forum announced Monday that all educational institutions belonging to Religious Zionism– including yeshivot, religious girls' high schools and hesder yeshivot – would launch a general strike next Sunday, in protest of a NIS 86 million (about $23 million) budget cut.

Religious-Zionist Schools Won't Strike

By Hillel Fendel November 11, 2009

The strike scheduled for Sunday in the religious-Zionist school system has been called off, after an agreement to cut “only” 11 million shekels ($2.9 million) instead of 86 million shekels $22.7 million).

IDF Chief Rabbi: Troops who show mercy to enemy will be 'damned'

By Anshel Pfeffer November 15, 2009

The Israel Defense Forces' chief rabbi told students in a pre-army yeshiva program last week that soldiers who "show mercy" toward the enemy in wartime will be "damned."

Brig. Gen. Avichai Rontzki also told the yeshiva students that religious individuals made better combat troops.

Synagogues to Go Green?

By Hillel Fendel November 12, 2009

The growing environmental problem caused by the burgeoning quantity of Sabbath Torah sheets and pamphlets may soon find its solution – if the publishers agree to a newly proposed “Green Now” initiative.

…not every written Torah thought needs to be placed in genizah. Only if there is a complete verse, or one of the Names of G-d, written on a paper must it be placed in genizah, Rabbi Ariel explained.

Can kosher food be treif?

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion November 12, 2009

The writer is Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel

The Conservative Movement in the US is launching Magen Tzedek. Magen Tzedek is an ethical seal signifying that kosher food has been prepared with the highest degree of integrity.

Products carrying this seal will reflect the highest standard on a variety of important issues: employee wages and benefits, health and safety, animal welfare, corporate transparency and environmental impact.

I believe that we must create dietary regimen guided by ethical considerations. Our rabbis must lead the way.

Here in Israel, "eco-kashrut" and ethical standards are NOT an issue in determining whether a product receives Hashgacha.

It is high time this changed.

A personal letter to the modern-Orthodox reader

By Yonatan Gher Opinion November 8, 2009

The writer is executive director of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance

My request to you is that you remember this as well. I will happily engage in a discussion about the meaning of Leviticus 18:22 ("You shall not lie with a man as with a woman"), but I expect you to make it clear in that conversation that the value of human life, especially as sanctified in the commandment "thou shalt not murder," remains the highest Jewish value.

On my part, I will continue to speak against collective finger-pointing against you, and will continue to fight side by side with you for your rights, with the same conviction as I fight for mine.

Sacred Night in a Secular Place

By Gershom Gorenberg November 9, 2009

A new tradition is taking root in Jerusalem as Jews seeking free religious expression flock to the promenades overlooking the Old City for holidays and Shabbat.

in a quiet, spontaneous, grass-roots process, it has also become a place of worship—an alternative sacred space, nondenominational, informal, multicultural.

It fulfills that function not just on Tisha B’Av, but also Shavuot, Hoshana Rabba (the seventh day of Sukkot) and other occasions. In a city of religious turf wars and jealous religious establishments, the tayelet is an undeclared shrine to unestablished religion.

Living out of the box

By Aryeh Dean Cohen November 15, 2009

The white gloves fly, delivering a hard blow to his opponent's head. Spinning at breakneck speed, the lithe figure in flame-decorated trunks kicks hard, thrusting a foot into the bigger man's shoulder blade.

But in 12 hours, Uriel Ben-Hamo, reigning Israeli kick-boxing champion, will be in a completely different setting: Jerusalem's Magid Mesharim Yeshiva, studying with his hevruta partner, Shai.

Click here for VIDEO

Meet the mentor

By Aryeh Dean Cohen November 12, 2009

Do you think he will be able to continue to combine two lifestyles?

Well, I think he showed it the first time he went abroad, when we went as the Israeli team, that he stays the same Uriel: humble, he says his prayers, he's kosher, he leads his Jewish life.

And it's not the first one - we had some Jewish champions in the States, especially in boxing: Dimitry Salita, Yuri Foreman.

They are famous boxers and are able to combine the two lifestyles. Let's say a lot of sportsmen are students at university as well, but if you find your four hours a day to train, the rest of the day you can study.

Basketball Star Tells of Return to Judaism

By Hillel Fendel November 9, 2009

Doron Sheffer, 37, one of Israel’s greatest basketball players, shared his story of return to religious observance with a group of Jewish educators.

Speaking in Jerusalem on Sunday night, Sheffer recounted his years as a star, the frustrations of losing, the joy of winning, his cancer, divorce, remarriage – and his long search for “meaning” that has brought him to observant Judaism.

He spoke at the offices of Maayanei HaYeshuah (lit., Waters of Salvation), a pro-active Jewish outreach organization featuring street stands, classes and Sabbath programs.

From Pisgat Ze'ev to pisgat Africa

By Batsheva Pomerantz November 12, 2009

Not many families have lit Shabbat candles and made kiddush at an altitude of 3,000 meters midway up Mount Kilimanjaro, known as "the Roof of Africa." But the Drucker family, a modern-Orthodox family from Pisgat Ze'ev, did just that.

The film, which integrates drama and majestic vistas, won a prize at the Religion Today Film Festival held in Trento, Italy, in October.

Knesset Takes Tiny Step toward Jewish Law

By Gil Ronen November 11, 2009

The Knesset will soon be hiring a researcher of Jewish Law, as part of the legislative body's Center for Research and Information. The researcher will be part of the legal team which carries out comparative legal research. These researchers assist Knesset Members in gathering legal and other information in the preparation and debate of legislation.

Talmud for the masses

By Matthew Wagner November 12, 2009

In 1965 when Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz embarked on his monumental task to make the Babylonian Talmud accessible to everyone he was sharply criticized by conservative elements within Judaism.

It was pure audacity for a 28-year-old Israeli who had grown up in a secular home in Jerusalem to think that he could change the way Jews had been learning Talmud for centuries, Steinsaltz's detractors said.

…But nearly 45 years later, as the 73-year-old Steinsaltz prepares to finish his colossal work at the end of next year, rabbis, scholars and teachers of the Talmud recognize that Steinsaltz has made an incredible contribution to Jewish learning.

Israel’s Freedom-Of-Religion Fighter

By Stewart Ain November 10, 2009

Rabbi Uri Regev is President and CEO of a Hiddush – For Freedom of Religion and Equality.

We have a poll that shows that 83 percent of Israelis say they support freedom of religion and conscience, and that over 60 percent support equal state funding for all Jewish denominations.

We found that 84 percent oppose military service exemptions for yeshiva students, and that 92 percent of secular Jews support abolishing the Orthodox monopoly on marriage. ... It is the politicization of religion that is at the root of this, and that is not the desire of Israelis.

Religion and State in Israel

November 16, 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.