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)

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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.