Monday, January 25, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - January 25, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

January 25, 2010 (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.

Ministers reject bill to redefine 'public display' of Chametz

By Jonathan Liss January 24, 2010

A special ministerial committee tasked with retaining the delicate balance between religion and state rejected [and postponed] on Sunday a controversial bill to reinterpret the law defining what a "public display" would entail with regard to the sale of foods prohibited on Passover.

Members of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party said that Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beiteinu) has threatened to bring up for discussion a controversial marriage bill favored by his party and rejected by Shas - if the Chametz Bill became a law its current wording.

Yisrael Beiteinu fights Shas on Chametz Law January 24, 2010

Following a stormy discussion in the Ministerial Sub Committee for Legislative affairs, Shas sources on Sunday told Ynet that coalition members attempted to reach a deal with them – passing the Chametz Law in return for supporting a civil marriage law.

Barak: Yeshiva rabbi must not mock or defy IDF

By Tomer Zarchin January 21, 2010

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the Israel Defense Forces yesterday submitted to the High Court of Justice their response to a petition from Har Bracha yeshiva students to overrule Barak's decision to oust their school from a joint program with the IDF.

IDF: Rabbi Melamed crossed line

By Efrat Weiss January 21, 2010

"The IDF recognizes that Israeli society is a pluralist society, and makes efforts to allow for the differences within the official boundaries to which it is committed," it adds.

"Rabbi Melamed's conduct has crossed official boundaries in a manner that forced the IDF and the defense minister to make a clear and determined decision."

Hesder Protestors Thrown out of Army, Hesder

By Hillel Fendel January 19, 2010

More punishment to the Hesder army students who protested against orders to demolish Jewish homes: One has been thrown out of Hesder, and one out of the army altogether.

State explains Har Bracha decision

By Dan Izenberg January 22, 2010

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman November 18, 2009

In his response to the petition, the state's representative, Gilad Shirman, wrote…

"The army and the Ministry of Defense have no obligation to grant this privilege to an institution headed by someone who does not accept the principle of the state's authority over the army, and the authority of the army over its soldiers, and who even refused to make it clear to his students in a unequivocal and absolute way that he opposes political demonstrations by soldiers in uniform. It would appear that continuing to grant this privilege would be the unreasonable thing to do in these circumstances."

Barak's boomerang

By Israel Harel Opinion January 22, 2010

Granted, there is no military, social or moral justification for the arrangement allowing hesder yeshiva students to serve only 16 months in the army instead of 36.

At the same time, the premilitary academies - whose graduates do full service, and in mixed units, rather than keeping to themselves, both socially and spiritually, as the hesder soldiers do - deserve the highest possible praise.

If there is any justification for changing the state's relationship with the yeshivas, it has to do with changing this flawed status quo.

Kiruv on the Frontlines

By Michael Freund January 18, 2010

The writer is founder and chairman of Shavei Israel.

Eight years ago, OU Israel developed Mashiv Haruach, a unique program that reaches thousands of young Israelis in uniform each year, drawing them closer to their heritage. The hands-on program was then jump-started in the wake of the 2006 Lebanon War, when, Rabbi Berman says, the need for such an initiative became especially acute.

Working closely with Israel’s Chief Rabbinate and the army’s Education Branch, the OU put together an intensive educational and experiential day-long excursion for soldiers to Gush Etzion, outside of Jerusalem.

'We didn't feel we belonged'

By Chaim Levinson January 18, 2010

What happens to a person who does not want to obey din Torah - that is, judgment according to Jewish law?

A resident of Efrat, Alon Levy, who refused to accept such a judgment, was told by the rabbi of that West bank town, Shlomo Riskin that he would be ostracized and would no longer be allowed to work there.

…Meanwhile, however, Levy has decided to leave Efrat.

"In the atmosphere that has been created and in view of the local rabbi's behavior, we didn't feel we belonged to the place," he told Haaretz.

Rabbi, not rabble-rouser

By Chaim Levinson January 18, 2010

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin was recently in the headlines among the national religious public after an interview in which he called Jesus, "Rabbi Jesus."

Following an outcry against him, he published a clarification in which he said that although he had used the term rabbi "to refer to Jesus poetically, he was not a rabbi in the classical sense of the term.

It was used only to explain to a Christian audience the Jewish Jesus, and in hindsight, the term was an inappropriate one to use."

Jewish prayer for Haiti

By Rafi Ostroff Opinion January 19, 2010

Rabbi Rafi Ostroff teaches at the Neve Chana Ulpana in Gush Etzion.

It is precisely religious Israelis who should be leading the formation of ties between Israel and the nations of the world, not through self-depreciation in the face of foreign cultures and other religions, but rather, in order to ensure that our ties with the world are premised on the proper basis.

And for the time being, let’s all pray for the salvation of the poor souls in Haiti.

Rabbinic Text or Call to Terror?

By Daniel Estrin January 20, 2010

“The King’s Torah (Torat Hamelech), Part One: Laws of Life and Death between Israel and the Nations,” a 230-page compendium of Halacha, or Jewish religious law, published by the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar, garnered a front-page exposé in the Israeli tabloid Ma’ariv, which called it the stuff of “Jewish terror.”

Now, the yeshiva is in the news again, with a January 18 raid on Yitzhar by more than 100 Israeli security officials who forcibly entered Od Yosef Chai and arrested 10 Jewish settlers.

'My DNA is the Jewish people'

By Peggy Cidor January 21, 2010

Rabbi Naamah Kelman, the first woman to be appointed dean of HUC Jerusalem, comes from a long line of rabbis in the Reform and Conservative communities of the US.

“The next challenge is that we live in a society with a government where the non-Orthodox have absolutely no legal rights or recognition.
We currently are in this coalition stranglehold where we do not benefit from any kind of protection, the kind most minorities get in a democracy. After all, democracy is about protecting your minorities.”

“The fact that the fight for Jerusalem is something that the Israeli press ignores is unbelievable. I would say that only when it's about beating up the ultra-Orthodox, then they pay attention; but if it's about something positive, if it's about a Jerusalem that is open and pluralistic, that goes largely ignored.”

A Hot Date with ‘Srugim’

By Rivka Oppenheim January 19, 2010

They’re discussing it on the Upper West Side. They’re watching it in Washington Heights. They’re dissecting it on Facebook and on their blogs.

And it’s a television show that hasn’t yet aired in America.

“It” is “Srugim,” the Israeli show that’s a hit in its home country. Critics there also love the show, which was named Best Drama by the Israeli Film and Television Academy last year.

Frum "Friends" storms Israeli primetime

By Nathan Jeffay January 21, 2010

A bride starts menstruating a few hours before her wedding. How will she get through her wedding day and night, given that Orthodox couples cannot have physical contact when the woman has her period?

This may sound like an exam question for rabbinical school but, believe it or not, it is the storyline from the season premiere of Israel’s hottest television programme.

When Srugim, dubbed the frum version of Friends, first hit the small screen 18 months ago, the Israeli public was expecting the normal clichéd religious characters and bad jokes.

Saucy billboards to be "buried" for carrying name of God

By Ariel Woolf January 15, 2010

Ariel Woolf is a rabbinical school teacher from Efrat.

An Israeli TV network has agreed to take down billboards advertising a saucy soap after rabbis complained about the Judaic scriptures used in the background.

The only problem - the ads are emblazoned with the name of God, meaning they'll have to be given a proper burial.

Opportunity for tolerance

Haaretz Editorial January 21, 2010

Original plan for Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem

First and foremost, the new plan must reflect Jerusalem's complex cultural, religious and political reality.

Gehry's departure from the project gives its initiators, donors and the planning authorities a chance to correct the Orwellian distortion of a Jewish organization establishing a museum of tolerance while showing a lack of tolerance toward another faith.

Bnei Menashe less welfare-dependent than most Israelis

By Cnaan Liphshiz January 19, 2010

New immigrants from northeast India are half as likely to require welfare payments than the average Israeli, according to the first socioeconomic study of this immigrant group.

The report, which was released Sunday, surveyed some 1,700 Israelis belonging to the Bnei Menashe - a group of a few thousand people from India and Myanmar (formerly Burma) who practice Judaism and trace their origins to 721 B.C. Israel

Among Friends

By Allison Hoffman January 19, 2010

In May 2007, Leib Tropper arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, to preside over a grand conclave of prospective converts to Judaism sponsored by his Eternal Jewish Family organization, which offered “Cadillac conversions” to non-Jews as part of an effort to seize control of the conversion process outside of Israel.

Not all groups happy to let Shas into WZO

By Cnaan Liphshiz January 21, 2010

The surprising announcement this week by World Zionist Organization officials that Shas will join their institution drew harsh condemnations from the Reform Movement in Israel.

One leader called the deal "a step closer to the WZO's grave." But supporters of the move called it a "historic achievement of joining forces."

"This deal reflects an ideological bankruptcy within the WZO," said Rabbi Uri Regev, a prominent local leader of progressive Judaism.

Shas becomes first ultra-Orthodox party to join WZO

By Yair Ettinger and Nir Hasson January 20, 2010

The World Zionist Organization's executive yesterday approved Shas' request to join, making it the first ultra-Orthodox party to join the world's premier Zionist organization.

To gain entry to the body founded by Theodor Herzl Shas had to amend its party bylaws to incorporate the Jerusalem Covenant, which was adopted by all the Zionist parties in 2004.

Shas accepted into the World Zionist Organization

By Matthew Wagner January 20, 2010

Asked if Shas could cooperate with non-Orthodox streams of Judaism that are also members in the WZO, Margi said that there were two different approaches to the issue.

"One theory holds that we cannot participate in Congresses with them or vote with them on different issues," he said.

"But the other school of thought holds that when Shas enters the WZO, it dilutes the influence of other movements, including Reform and Conservative. That was the approach that was adopted."

'Zionism has always been about building an exemplary society'

By Haviv Rettig Gur January 21, 2010

Interview with Dr. David Breakstone, head of the Department for Zionist Activities in the WZO.

Can the current WZO, made up of warring political factions, often defunct overseas Zionist associations and scheming local politicians usually devoted to vying for easy salaries, be a vehicle for serious educational programs?

"You're right. I'm frightened about the situation of the WZO; it isn't up to these challenges in its current structure.
But we shouldn't disband it. Instead we have to go through a radical reorganization, streamlining, re-thinking our operational composition and developing the Herzl Center as our ideological educational flagship."
But "we should continue to be part of the Jewish Agency system, and once in a while actually meet and talk about what the agenda of the Zionist movement is, and be heard."

A Primer on the World Zionist Organization: No more than an arena for dividing the spoils

By Ron Skolnik Opinion January 22, 2010

Ron Skolnik is the Executive Director of Meretz USA, a 501c3 educational nonprofit affiliated with the World Union of Meretz, whose Israeli affiliate is the Meretz-Yachad party holding six three seats in the Knesset. Originally written for Israel Horizons.

The enormous success of J Street over the past 18 months has demonstrated that there are many ostensibly unaffiliated American Jews who are thirsting to engage with Israel.

If the American Zionist Movement seeks to connect with the people it wishes to represent, from all political persuasions, it must first re-embrace democracy. It needs to endorse elections as a tool for inclusion, involvement and legitimacy.

And it needs to help purify Zionist politics of the perception that the WZO is no more than an arena for dividing the spoils.

Is it lack of ideology or funding that's hurting Zionist youth?

By Jonny Singer Opinion January 22, 2010

The connection to Israel from Diaspora movements is fading, and the way to bring it back is not through wildly giving out more money, but by helping these movements rediscover some purpose, either by returning to old values or adopting new ones.

Anything but rebellious

By Gil Hoffman and Rebecca Anna Stoil January 19, 2010

Interview with new MK Einat Wilf (Labor)

I support initiating vouchers for private suppliers like Nefesh B'Nefesh, the Jewish Agency and other providers who could specialize, for instance, in British students, French academics, etc. There could be vouchers for ulpans, real estate agents, etc.

There should partial aliya for people who continue to work abroad. In an era when the world is open and people work through the Internet, it doesn't make sense to talk of people moving to a country for the rest of their lives and that's it.

The more flexible we are, the more people we could reach who would at least contribute some of their talent.

'50% of Israelis: Aliya harmed country'

By Ron Friedman January 20, 2010

A new survey conducted for the Immigrant Absorption Ministry reveals mixed feelings among the Israeli population toward new immigrants. While 73 percent of the people surveyed said they believed immigration was vital for the state, more than half also said immigration had caused a rise in crime and youth alcoholism.

Guma Aguiar’s wife speaks out

By Allon Sinai January 18, 2010

Click here for Guma Aguiar VIDEOS

Guma Aguiar's wife, Jamie, spoke for the first time since taking out a court order last Wednesday to forcibly admit her husband to the Abarbanel Psychiatric Hospital.

"I love Guma very much and it is important for me to be with him in his time of need, and therefore I will be returning to Israel with our children in the coming days," said Jamie Aguiar, who flew to the US last Thursday.

"I left for the US after consulting with his doctors and being told that he needs a complete rest and that it would be better for me to go to the US and come back to Jerusalem with our small children, so that when Guma comes home, his loving family will be here with him and give him the warmth and love he needs."

More Questions about Israel Gap Year

By Jonathan Mark Opinion January 17, 2010

The writer is Associate Editor of The Jewish Week.

If an Israeli yeshiva is uncooperative and resists change, they can be easily pressured by being called out, and our kids directed elsewhere. I’d be curious to hear more about this from American yeshiva principals, gap year advisers, parents and students.

Is Start Up Nation Also the Big Lesson for the Jewish Nonprofit Sector?

By Gary Wexler Opinion January 20, 2010

Gary Wexler is founder and president of Los Angeles-based Passion Marketing, consulting with Jewish and general nonprofit organizations throughout the world.

But we have to remember one thing. When the Israeli entrepreneurs create an idea for a business, they begin that same week. They don’t wait around for months or years whether or not to make the move.

Will the Jewish nonprofit sector learn to apply the lessons of Start Up Nation? Or will we just kvell over the Israelis accomplishments and understand what lessons apply to us, as well?

Poll: Teen immigrants love Israel

By Yael Branovsky January 20, 2010

An overwhelming majority of teens who immigrated to Israel say the love the country and would choose to move here had they been given the choice again, a poll undertaken by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry found.

16 fellowships available for innovators January 20, 2010

World Jewish organizations are sponsoring summer fellowships for innovators to tackle some of the Jewish world's most pressing problems.

Sixteen Jewish innovators will serve in PresenTense Summer Fellowships, the organization announced Wednesday.

An ivory tower view of Israel

By Tom Segev January 21, 2010

The study was funded by the Schusterman Family Foundation

Last week, a team of researchers at Brandeis University released some unexpected findings about Israel's place in the curricula of American institutions of higher learning.

It emerges that in the past three years, there has been a dramatic growth - of 69 percent - in the number of courses that focus on Israel.

Together, the more than 300 colleges and universities surveyed in the study offer over 1,400 courses related in some way to Israel, including over 500 courses that focus specifically on the country. All told, these institutions have approximately three million students, of whom some 250,000 are Jews.

Why Many Jewish Outreach Workers Ignore Half-Jewish People

By Robin Margolis Opinion January 21, 2010

The writer is Coordinator of

Israel. Since many of us adult half-Jewish people weren't raised Jewish -- we aren't all comfy with the Jewish state and how poorly it treats our half-Jewish peers who live there.

Since Jewish communal leaders and professionals don't deal very well with dissenters in their midst on Israel who are born Jews with two Jewish parents, woe betide the half-Jewish person who is discovered to be making regular donations to -- the New Israel Fund! J Street! and other peace-loving malefactors.

Signs of peace in the Holy Land

By David Rosen Opinion December 23, 2009

Rabbi David Rosen is International Director of Inter-religious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee and interfaith adviser to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

The scene was stunning. At the Druze shrine of Nebi Shueib, against the backdrop of a gleaming snow-capped Mount Hermon, the green mountains and blue sea of the Galilee, kaffiyed Muslim imams and ulema, mustachioed Druze sheikhs, black hatted rabbis and Christian clergy in various colorful garb, mingled together in animated discussion.

Joyful Reunions as Falashmura Aliyah Resumes

By Hillel Fendel and Yoni Kempinsky January 19, 2010

Click here for VIDEO

Ethiopian Aliyah resumed Tuesday morning at 3 a.m., with the landing of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 404 with 81 new immigrants of the Falashmura community. Joyful reunions of relatives who had not seen each other for ten years were held throughout the welcoming hall.

Government restarts Falashmura aliyah

By Nir Hasson January 21, 2010

"The family is together, we are in the Holy Land, we are very happy," Abreh says. He's particularly pleased about one other thing.

"When I asked how Israel was they said it was very special, but it didn't have any trees," he says. "Now that I'm here I see it has big, strong trees, and this is good."

Israel and Catholic church negotiating status of holy sites

Reuters January 20, 2010

Israel and the Vatican are in talks to end a long-running dispute over the ownership and tax status of religious sites in the Holy Land, including a place revered as the location of Jesus' last supper.

Israel wants to keep the "status quo" on ownership, ensuring its sovereignty, while reaching a settlement over debts accrued over years of taxes owed to the state by the church.

The Vatican seeks recognition of its "historic rights" to tax exemption, and to set rules for protection of religious sites and the return of what it calls lost church property.

Out of the spotlight, Israel and Vatican negotiate holy sites January 19, 2010

Rabbi David Rosen told Haaretz the Vatican wanted its local hierarchy to be recognised under Israeli law and treated as a whole organisation, rather than treating each Catholic church as a separate nonprofit organisation as is now the case.

Israeli bureaucrats wore down the Vatican by negotiating every tax clause separately instead of granting a general concession, as the Vatican expected them to do, Rosen said.

Vatican, rabbis: Faith needed to confront technology January 20, 2010

A return to religious faith is needed to confront a "unique environmental crisis" brought on by technology, the Vatican and the Israeli Chief Rabbinate warned.

Wednesday's warning came in a statement after the ninth meeting of the Bilateral Commission of the Holy See and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, held in Rome Jan. 17-20 following Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the main Rome synagogue on Sunday.

Religion and State in Israel

January 25, 2010 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.

Religion and State in Israel - January 25, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

January 25, 2010 (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.

Hotline founded for women offended by 'kosher' buses

By Kobi Nahshon January 19, 2010

Yuval Yavne, an activist in the forum established by the organizations responsible for the hotline, says he and his colleagues "want the picture displayed in full".

"This is not just about buses in which women are forced to sit in the back, but also about sidewalks, places of prayer, and many other locations.
The removal of women from the public sphere under the guise of halachic ruling is dangerous to democracy and Israeli society as a whole," he added.

New Israel Fund encourages Haredi feminist uprising against gender segregation

By Matthew Wagner January 20, 2010

A left-leaning umbrella organization active in fighting for the rights of non-Orthodox Jewish expression and Arab equality has begun a campaign to encourage haredi women to protest against gender segregation on buses and in other public places.

"In recent years, discrimination against women has emerged predominately in public buses, where women are forced to sit in the back; at holy sites such as the Western Wall, where women are not allowed to practice religion as they wish; and on sidewalks, where they are even not allowed to walk certain pavements in Jerusalem," the New Israel Fund said in a statement on Monday.

The NIF said that its campaign includes ads and posters placed on buses that pass through haredi neighborhoods, and leaflets handed out in strategic locations where haredi women gather, such as mikvaot [ritual baths] and the women's sections of synagogues.

In addition, posters placed in haredi neighborhoods call on women to use the hotline.

The NIF plans to distribute leaflets that include gifts for the women, who will find them in synagogues all over Jerusalem.

Separate but (un)equal: Gender segregated bus lines of Jerusalem

By Julie Duggan Swansea University, Wales UK January 19, 2010

The purpose of this treatise is to examine the practice of gender segregated transport in the Ultra Orthodox communities of Jerusalem.

Our main protagonist throughout is American born Jewish author Naomi Ragen, who first came to the authors attention in February 2007.

Mehadrin Bus Lines Becoming Increasingly Controversial

By Yechiel Spira January 20, 2010

Israel Radio Reshet Bet news magazine host Keren Orbach on Tuesday morning hosted a number of guests to comment on the controversial mehadrin bus lines, the compelled separate seating on public bus lines in chareidi areas with men in the front and women seated in the rear.

Har Nof resident Zahava Fisher told Israel Radio Reshet Bet host Keren Orbach she got onto a mehadrin line, sitting towards the front because “I don’t accept this decision to seat women in the rear”.

Orbach told Israel Radio that there is a famous p’sak from Rabbi Moshe [Feinstein] zt”l that one can indeed travel on mixed public transport and those unable to endure this should remain home.

A general inspector steps up

By Peggy Cidor January 21, 2010

Jerusalem City councillor Shlomo Rosenstein has already achieved a few local victories.

The most famous - or infamous - of these is the creation of the segregated mehadrin bus lines. Rosenstein, who holds the municipal inspection portfolio, recently suggested that haredi residents should be hired to carry out inspection in the haredi neighborhoods.

Free the Kotel a 2nd time

By Yizhar Hess Opinion January 22, 2010

Attorney Yizhar Hess is the Director-General of the Masorti Movement in Israel

Do you want to know how the Orthodox establishment in Israel bolsters its status? How it succeeds in creating institutions and functions, which are seemingly for the benefit of the public but which in practice deepen the systematic exclusion of non-Orthodox trends in Judaism and the alienation of world Jewry?

The Kotel is a good example. More than 20 million shekels were given to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation in the course of one year, while the Masorti movement must provide all of its own equipment - Torah scrolls, Siddurs, and ushers - in order to enjoy a few hours a day in a certain section - I almost wrote “second-class section” - of the Western Wall.

We will continue to struggle for the Western Wall.

The Controversies at the Kotel

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel Opinion January 18, 2010

My opinion is that no formal prayer services should be allowed at the wall--not for men, not for women, not for Orthodox, not for non-Orthodox.

The Kotel should be a place for private prayer and meditation, and that's it.

If people want to have formal prayer services, they should reserve space in the enclosed areas to the left of the Kotel square; and those services should be conducted however the group that reserves the space wants.

Silver Cord Binds Jews Who Support Pluralism in Israel

By Amanda Pazornik and Pat Murphy January 18, 2010

Photo courtesy of Bill Wilson © 2010 Sentinel Photojournalist Bill Wilson is a San Francisco-based veteran photojournalist.

At Union Square, participants used colored markers and a large roll of white paper to write supportive messages to Women of the Wall members. The notes will be flown to Israel and placed in the Western Wall.

Molly Harris, 14, of Marin was one of the few teenagers who attended the morning service. She said she always likes to participate in events tied to Israel, but this one had more significance.

“Because I’m a girl, it was horrible to learn how the women are treated,” said Molly, the daughter of StandWithUs/San Francisco Voice for Israel leader Dr. Michael Harris.

“The next time I go to Israel, I want to go to the Wall and pray with a tallit on.”

Too Often We Forget About Each Other

By Anat Hoffman Opinion January 18, 2010

Photo courtesy of Bill Wilson © 2010 Sentinel Photojournalist Bill Wilson is a San Francisco-based veteran photojournalist.

Women who pray out loud at the Kotel are told that their voices offend the very stones of the Wall - no mention that in the name of protecting the feelings of these sacred stones, a living woman can be made to feel marginalized and humiliated. Too often we forget about each other, we forget we're each alive.

What the Israeli Embassy replied about Women of the Wall

By KFJ January 21, 2010

I sent the Israeli Embassy an email provided to me by NIF and the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform movement, supporting the Women of the Wall’s call for gender equality at the Kotel/Western Wall. This is their reply. Pfft.

…The State of Israel affirms its commitment to upholding its democratic and pluralistic values and to ensuring freedom of religion on a daily basis.
In this spirit, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled on April 6, 2003, that space adjacent to the Western Wall should be specifically designated for the conduct of religious services that do not conform to long-established practice at the area known as the Kotel.
In light of this ruling, the site or Robinson’s Arch, which adjoins the Western Wall and is along the same retaining wall of the Temple Mount above, was designated to host egalitarian services that encourage both men and women to wear tallit and read from the Torah.

Recording of Anat Hoffman speaking about arrest of Women of the Wall member January 21, 2010

Recording of Anat Hoffman at Pro-Zion event held with Southgate Reform Synagogue on Thursday 26th November - Anat talks about the arrest of Nofrat Frankel and the history of women of the wall as well as the work of IRAC.

AJC Raises Concerns with Israeli Government over Treatment of Women of the Wall January 23, 2010

AJC, in a letter to Israel’s Internal Security Minister, has raised concerns about the treatment of Women of the Wall members, in particular Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center, who was subjected to humiliating questioning and fingerprinting by the police.

Mazuz: Jerusalem Municipality favors Haredim

By Ronen Medzini January 18, 2010

Outgoing Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has decided to join a petition against the Jerusalem Municipality's decision to fully fund the activity of ultra-Orthodox educational institutions, while clearly discriminating against other sectors.

Attorney Einat Horowitz, head of the legal department at the Israeli Religious Action Center, said in response: "The main importance of this case is determining the red lines for authorities' conduct in matters pertaining to funding haredi networks."

The Never Ending ‘Get’ Story

Click here for VIDEO

The Center for Women's Justice is working to ensure that women are treated with dignity and equality in Israel's Rabbinic Courts, and to correct any injustices that may befall them. The stories that Savta Bikorta tells are real. She is a figment of our imagination.

Get-Refusal and the Agreement for Mutual Respect: Israel Today

By Rachel Levmore Hakira Volume 9, Winter 2010

[At present, only 2 pages of article online; full article online once the next edition is published]

…In fact, Israeli and Diaspora rabbis alike have recognized for many years the power of a prenuptial agreement, formulated in accordance with halakhah, to diminish the number of instances of get refusal.

Leaving the Fold

Click here for to watch entire Film online

LEAVING THE FOLD is a documentary film, which tells the story of five young people born and raised within the ultra-Orthodox Jewish world who no longer wish to remain on the inside.

As children they grew up in a closed society where deviation from the rules of conduct is often punishable by ostracism, intimidation or worse.

Leaving The Fold from Bunbury Films on Vimeo.

Fighting 'Arabization' or solving housing shortage?

By Matthew Wagner and Ron Friedman January 24, 2010

On Tuesday, the National Planning Council subcommittee responsible for general planning principles recommended that the National Planning Council authorize the construction of Kasif, a new haredi city in the Negev, 10 km. west of Arad.

The move was met with criticism from environmental organizations for its effect on open spaces, but also from local leaders.

…In addition to Kasif in the Negev and Harish near Hadera, which are still in preliminary stages of planning, there is another haredi-only project planned for a neighborhood of Upper Nazareth called Har Yona.

Haredim in the Negev Editorial January 21, 2010

About 80 percent of Kasif's homes will be subsidized, owing to the presumed financial hardship of most prospective dwellers. Housing subsidies are not unusual in Israel, especially in remote locales, but this again is sure to generate ill will.

All that said, Kasif - first decided upon in 2007 - is indispensable. There are an estimated 700,000 haredim in the country and a shortage of 100,000 housing units. All current plans - including the new town of Harish east of Hadera - will only offer some 30,000 units.

Israelis cannot willfully wish their haredi compatriots away, no matter how aggrieved they feel. We mustn't lose sight of genuine need and plight.

C'tee green-lights new Haredi town in Negev

By Rinat Nahum-Halevy January 21, 2010

Kassif, the ministry says, is most advantageous because of its size and the possibility of expansion, topographical environment, proximity to the national infrastructure corridor, state ownership of all of the land, lack of sensitive natural and scenic assets and access to financial and planned centers.

New Haredi city approved in the Negev

By Michal Margalit January 19, 2010

The planning document states that the land zoning and internal land use are based on the haredi lifestyle. The apartments will be fairly large, extensive land has been zoned for religious schools and religious cultural centers. Land has also been zoned for suitable employment for the haredi population.

Net population density balances the necessary apartment size for large haredi families in multistory buildings without elevators, with these families' limited financial wherewithal.

Yair Lapid under pressure to enter politics

By Gil Hoffman January 22, 2010

A year and a half after the death of Shinui leader Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, his son Yair, who followed him into journalism, is under tremendous pressure to also follow him into the political arena, sources close to Lapid said Thursday.

The Hiddush organization, which bills itself as a non-denominational partnership for religious freedom, has taken polls that showed two-thirds of the public consistently support changes that advance religious freedom and pluralism.

Hiddush CEO Rabbi Uri Regev said that a party with a civil agenda could even attract the support of modern Orthodox voters who are just as troubled as the secular by issues like retroactively canceling conversions and restricting women to the back of buses.

Poll: Most Israelis prefer not to shop on Saturday January 21, 2010

A poll conducted by Ynet and the Gesher Foundation has revealed that most of the Israeli public would prefer not to shop on Saturday. However on the issue of whether a civilian can be forced to work on Shabbat the results were split.

84% of seculars polled said they believed the opening of places of business on Saturday testified to liberalization, while 70% and 76% of religious and ultra-Orthodox respectively attributed it to the loss of religious tradition.

Shabbat war: Haredim vs. gas station shops January 20, 2010

After protests against Intel and the Karta parking lot have died down, the Eda Haredit faction now has its sights on a new target – Gas station convenience stores that open on Shabbat.

Eda Haredit activists claim that 10 such stores desecrate Shabbat by opening every weekend – some in close proximity to areas with high ultra-Orthodox concentration.

The activists discovered that seven Yellow convenience stores, two So Good stores, and one Menta store open on the day of rest, even though the chains in question also appeal to the haredi public.

All in this together

By Jonathan Rosenblum Opinion January 21, 2010

In the long run, there is no alternative but to develop new outlying communities. The ability of such communities to attract residents will depend on their accessibility to the center of the country. Without Route 6, for instance, it is doubtful that planning for a new haredi community in Harish would have proceeded so far. An expansion of the periphery would, in turn, bring down prices in the center of the country.

In no area, however, are the interests of the general and haredi populations so congruent as haredi employment. Israel's high rate of non-employment, to which haredim are a major contributor, is a major cause of our low productivity and sliding relative standard of living.

Minister of Labor: Pleasure to see Haredi women working

By Tani Goldstein January 24, 2010

What's making the minister of industry, trade and labor so happy these days? "It's such a pleasure to visit Modiin Illit, to enter the office and see 1,400 haredi women working in front of computers and another 300 answering telephones," said Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) Thursday during a speech at the annual congress of the Manufacturers Association of Israel in Airport City.

Cut child allowances, nix tax break on pension savings, OECD counsels Israel

By Meirav Arlosoroff January 22, 2010

Israel's average is also impacted negatively by the high proportion of poverty among Haredim (60%) and Arabs (50%). Both sectors are characterized by a low proportion of working adults, relatively low salaries when they do work, and high birth rates, which leads to the statistic that a third of Israeli children are categorized as poor, compared with an average of 12% for the OECD.

The OECD made a number of recommendations, some of which are revolutionary.

…Cut child allowances: For all, but mainly, for families where nobody works. Divert the money saved on allowances to paying negative income tax to poor workers, and increasing daycare support for poor workers.

Eyes Wide Open (“Einaym Pkuhot”)

Eyes Wide Open is a gay love story in the heart of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem.

Click here for Film Trailer

SuperBus Disappointed – Chareidim Don’t Want to Drive

By Yechiel Spira January 18, 2010

The management of SuperBus is not only disappointed, but perplexed, admittedly, as to why members of the chareidi community have not responded to the call to enlist chareidi drivers, at a good hourly wage, good benefit package, and enabling people to work in their home community of Modi’in Illit.

Turks enlist Haredi community to battle tourist embargo

By Nati Toker January 19, 2010

In its battle against the unofficial embargo imposed by Israeli tourists on Turkey, the Turkish government is focusing its efforts on the ultra-Orthodox community.

A delegation of Haredi journalists will be leaving for the nearby nation next week, to visit attractions and Jewish sites of interest, courtesy of the Turkish Tourism Ministry.

This Time, Jerusalem City Hall Targets Ramat Eshkol Shul

By Yechiel Spira January 21, 2010

Jerusalem City Hall officials this week slapped an eviction order on the doors of the Bnei HaYeshivos Shul in Ramat Eshkol, a major shul for the budding frum chareidi community, the weekly chareidi HaShavua reports.

The eviction order explains the city property is being used without permission, and therefore, the tenants are compelled to vacate.

Orlev Demands Action against Chareidi Mosdos Facilitators

By Yechiel Spira January 21, 2010

MK (Habayit HaYehudi) Zevulun Orlev, in his capacity as chair of the Knesset Education Committee, is calling for an urgent session of the Knesset committee after learning of the existence of facilitators, people acting as agents to mediate between parents and [institutions], taking NIS thousands to guarantee the admission of talmidim into chareidi mosdos.

Being a Chabad emissary

By Kobi Nahshoni January 19, 2010

So where is hostility towards Chabad missions greater – in Mumbai or in Ramat Aviv? It seems as though missions abroad do not undergo workshops on “operating in unsympathetic surroundings” or even on “competitors.”

In Israel, there are both. Lone Chabadniks in outright secular towns with elitist images said: “We have found that it is just a label. There are more ‘non-problems’ than problems.”

“They are simply afraid of Mea Shearim, of Intel, and of some haredi perception of ‘they’re going to close our streets on Shabbat’ – a theocracy in north Tel Aviv. They should just come to Kfar Chabad and see that there is traffic there, too, on Shabbat."

Chabad hears the siren call too: Chaim Lebovits bids for drilling license off Palmahim coast

By Avi Bar-Eli January 22, 2010

Businessman and Chabadnik Chaim Lebovits submitted a bid for the oil exploration license of the Med-Ashdod area off Israel's southern coast.

Chief Rabbi: Kosher Meat from Argentina is Fine

By Gil Ronen January 19, 2010

Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi Yonah Metzger returned to Israel this week from a kashrut inspection tour of meat factories in Argentina – the source of 80% of the beef sold in Israel.

The rabbi said at the end of the tour that the meat which carries the kashrut stamp of the Chief Rabbinate is no less kosher than Israel-produced meat bearing the most highly revered “Badatz” stamps.

Jerusalem Chief Rabbinate Elections; When?

By Yechiel Spira January 21, 2010

It appears that Wednesday’s euphoria surrounding the announced 21 Adar date for elections to elect a Sephardi and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim was a bit premature. After years of the Jewish capital remaining without chief rabbis, a date was announced, but it now appears the announcement was released from the Ministry of Religious Services prematurely, resulting in a bit of anger.

Date Set for Jerusalem Rabbinate Elections January 19, 2010

Elections for the Chief Rabbi's offices in Jerusalem are set for the 21st of Adar (Sunday, March 7). The date was announced in a letter sent by Rabbi Nissim Ben Shimon, chairman of the city's election committee, to the legal advisor of the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

The letter ignores a request by the Jerusalem legal advisor, Yossi Havilio, to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to intervene in the elections, on the claim that the elections committee does not properly represent the population of the city.

Thousands Commemorate the 'Baba Sali'

By Hana Levi Julian January 19, 2010

Ten of thousands of Jews streamed into the southern Israeli town of Netivot on Monday night and Tuesday to mark the 26th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira, known to thousands as the Baba Sali”.

Photo Essay: Baba Sali January 18, 2010

Shas Minister Atias: Ashkenazim don't go to synagogue

By Jonathan Lis January 22, 2010

Sectarian tensions once again took center stage at the Knesset yesterday, with Housing Minister Ariel Atias, of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party Shas, reportedly charging that "Ashkenazim don't go to synagogue," and MK Meir Porush, of the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism, saying that a religious person cannot be a member of the Kadima party.

MKs argue over synagogue habits

By Rebecca Anna Stoil January 20, 2010

During the heated debate Wednesday on the Shas-sponsored bill to extend tax exemptions for places of worship, coalition MKs from both haredi parties infuriated opposition members when they slung racial stereotypes and claimed that Kadima members must be atheists.

Greek patriarch seeks pardon for convicted Shas minister

By Tomer Zarchin and Yair Ettinger January 21, 2010

Convicted former minister Shlomo Benizri got a show of support recently from an unexpected source: No less a person than the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, submitted a request for Benizri's pardon to President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.

Justice Ministry officials said they were stunned by the request: It is highly unusual, they noted, for a senior church official to seek amnesty for a former cabinet minister.

Religion and State in Israel

January 25, 2010 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

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