Monday, January 11, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - January 11, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

January 11, 2010 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

VIDEO: Interview with Anat Hoffman, Women of the Wall January 6, 2010

Women of Wall chairwoman questioned over prayer service

By Kobi Nahshoni January 7, 2010

Anat Hoffman:

"An officer sat there who asked me if I initiated the minyan, how many women came, whether they wore tallitot and donned kippot, and whether we held the Torah scrolls and held a procession to Robinson's Arch. This is, after all, what have been doing every first of the month for 21 years already."

"He took me into the next room, dipped my hand in ink, and took my fingerprints. Not a happy day," said Hoffman.

"When he asked me if I have anything to add, I said: 'I am sorry for you, for me, and for Israel, where this issue is investigated.'"


By Rahel Jaskow Opinion January 7, 2010

Anat Hoffman: "I was asked the following questions:

  • Do you know what the Supreme Court decision was?
  • What did the police officer demand from Women of the Wall during their prayer services on Rosh Hodesh Kislev (November 18) and Rosh Hodesh Tevet (December 18)?
  • Are you a member of the organizing body of these prayer services?
  • How many women attended?
  • Did men shout at you?
  • What did they shout?
  • Were women wearing tallitot?
  • What is a tallit?
  • Did the women wear kippot?
  • Did you hold a Torah scroll?
  • Did you hold a Torah scroll with intent to read it?
  • Did you hold a procession in the direction of Robinson's Arch?
  • Did you say on Army Radio that the aim of your group is to hold a quiet protest against the discrimination against women at the Western Wall?
  • For what reason do you think there is discrimination against women at the Western Wall?
  • Do you personally wear a tallit and a kippah?
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?"

Women of the Wall Leader Interrogated by Police

By Jane Eisner January 6, 2010

“It’s a sad moment,” said Hoffman.

She has gone to the police station in Jerusalem many times to lodge complaints against people who she says have attacked and occasionally physically hurt members of her group; none of those people have ever been arrested, she said. But this is the first time that she has been subject to interrogation herself. A skillful advocate, she said that the questioning did not bother her, but the fingerprinting did.

“There is something very violating about it,” she said.

The Wall is Wailing

By Rabbi Avi Shafran January 8, 2010

Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.

Women of the Wall

Those who are unhappy with the Israeli Supreme Court’s 2003 decision have the right to their unhappiness, and even to seek to have the court revisit the issue.

But if they choose instead to intentionally flout the law, they should honestly acknowledge that they are courting prosecution through civil disobedience – not seek to portray themselves as innocent victims wondering what they might possibly have done wrong.

Maybe in 2010, Zionism Means Enduring Prison

By Mya Guarnieri January 9, 2010

When Hoffman arrived at the police station, she was told that she is a suspect in a felony case for her activities at the Kotel. She was informed that everything she said during questioning could be used against her in a court of law.

At that point, "I was still in a good mood, actually," Hoffman tells The Huffington Post. "But it was the fingerprinting that got to me--that stain got to me. It was a violation, I felt humiliated."

Liberating the Wall

The Forward Editorial January 6, 2010

These outrages cannot be ignored by American Jews and must be viewed for what they are: another chapter in the ongoing struggle to determine whether Judaism’s most sacred site will belong only to a distinct, intolerant minority or whether it can truly welcome all the Jewish people.

…The awe-inspiring, radiant entrance to the Wall has been turned into the foyer of a Haredi synagogue.

Woman sprays tear gas at Orthodox man in bus segregation fracas

By Yaakov Lappin January 7, 2010

A woman who boarded a bus designated for religious passengers sprayed tear gas at an Orthodox man who demanded she move to the rear section last week in Ashdod.

The incident began on Friday, when an 18-year-old Orthodox man noticed the woman, 60, sitting at the front of the bus on a route on which men and women are segregated for purposes of religious modesty.

The man objected to the woman's seating location, and asked her to move to the back, police said, but she refused to budge.

The exchange quickly escalated into a confrontation, police said.

See also original Ashdod Hebrew article

Religious MKs join Chief Rabbinate in fight against Supreme Court

By Matthew Wagner January 8, 2010

In a battle pitting religion against state which seeks to redefine the balance of power between the sacred and the profane, religious legislators have joined rabbis to fight the Supreme Court.

Religious forces in the Knesset and outside of it are seeking to pass legislation that would give the Chief Rabbinate total control over the issuing of kosher supervision certificates.

Kadima, Likud MKs support Chametz Law

By Amnon Meranda January 7, 2010

The amended 'Chametz Law' is slated to be passed by the Knesset before the upcoming Passover holiday.

No less than 24 members of Knesset, some of them from the opposition, have joined the Shas initiative to amend the law such that displaying chametz, or leavened food, in any business will be prohibited during the holiday.

About one third of the Kadima faction supports the move.

Computer Software Addresses Chametz Pesach Sales

By Yechiel Spira January 7, 2010

The operators of the supermarkets agree that the barcodes of chametz items will be entered into the new Pesach software, which will block the checkout of any of those items during Pesach.

As such, if one sticks one’s hand behind a curtain and takes out a chametz item, the checkout will not be able to process it since the barcode will be rendered non-operational.

Jerusalem 'Chief Rabbi electing process tainted'

By Matthew Wagner January 6, 2010

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat warned in a letter to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz on Tuesday that he will petition the High Court of Justice against an election process likely to lead to the appointment of two haredi chief rabbis of Jerusalem.

"It is essential that a chief rabbi of Jerusalem come from a mainstream Judaism in a city where 70 percent of the Jewish population is not haredi," Barkat said in the letter to Mazuz.

"It is, therefore, important that one of the two chief rabbis elected belong to the religious Zionist stream of Judaism."

Rabbis Met in Bnei Brak – Reject New Justice Ministry Restrictions

By Yechiel Spira January 5, 2010

Rav Nachum Eisenstein, an organizer of the Monday afternoon kinos addressing new Justice Ministry demands from civil service rabbis spoke with Kol Chai Radio, explaining the position of the rabbonim.

The Justice Ministry and the courts are attempting to instruct the rabbonim as how to run the office, how to register giyurim, make decisions pertaining to kashrus. They are not knowledgeable to make decisions in halachic areas, but nevertheless want to make the decisions in place of the rabbonim.

If left with no alternative, it could result in a total separation between the rabbonim and the state.

Chief Rabbinate Opposes Justice Ministry Directive for Monthly Reports

By Yechiel Spira January 4, 2010

Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger Shlita has expressed the Chief Rabbinate’s opposition to a Justice Ministry ruling compelling state-appointed rabbis in periphery areas to submit a monthly report of their activities.

The rabbis in cities around the country are certain the new regulation is a first step and they will soon be compelled to do the same. They explain their objections are a matter of principle, since they are not “civil service clerks’ and they should not be treated as such.

Reform Loses Bid to Block New Synagogues in Netanya

By Hillel Fendel January 6, 2010

A nine-month Reform movement bid to ban new synagogue construction in the city has been blocked. Tel Aviv District Court Judge Sarah Gadot rejected an appeal by two Reform Judaism groups to stop any new synagogue construction in the city.

Shoham residents fight Shas minister's plan to establish 'superfluous' religious council

By Yuval Azoulay January 8, 2010

Shoham is fighting an order by Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi to set up a religious council in the town, even though secular and religious residents alike are content with the religious services already being provided.

In Shoham, religious services have been provided for years by the town's religious services department rather than an independent religious council.

Residents say they are proud of what they term the town's exemplary religious-secular coexistence and are uninterested in any changes that might disrupt it.

Israeli cities fight bid to fund religious councils in poor towns

By Noah Kosharek and Fadi Eyadat January 7, 2010

Mayors of wealthier cities voiced outrage yesterday at the Knesset Finance Committee decision Tuesday to force them to fund religious councils in poorer towns from their budgets.

The move is part of a Shas-sponsored bill from the previous Knesset, known as the differential budgeting law.

The decision also obliges municipalities to increase their share in the budgets of their local religious councils.

"The Shas people are using the law to reach for the money of residents of large cities and give it to their men," said Holon mayor Moti Sasson.

Large cities may foot bigger part of religious council bills

By Jonathan Lis January 6, 2010

The Knesset Finance Committee yesterday approved a change in criteria under which local authorities fund religious councils.

Larger, financially stronger local authorities will now pay a larger share of their religious council budgets and smaller local authorities in less well off locations will be required to pay a reduced portion of the costs at religious councils.

The new provisions will mean that NIS 27 million will be transferred from the budgets of large local authorities to fund religious councils in smaller and financially weaker locations.

Plunder under a religious cloak

Haaretz Editorial January 7, 2010

In 2003, the government decided on a comprehensive reform of the local religious councils, basing itself on the 1992 Tzadok Committee's recommendations, and a devastating 1996 State Comptroller report.

These reports detailed how the religious councils, instead of providing religious services to the population as a whole, had deteriorated into a playground for the religious parties and a source of cushy jobs for their hacks.

They found that corruption was rife in these councils. These unwieldy and wasteful independent councils were meant to become departments of the local authorities supplying religious services to all faiths and communities, similar to the departments of education welfare and health.

Haaretz cartoon by Amos Biderman January 10, 2010

Shas party scraps bill that would add dozens of deputy mayors to salary rolls

By Jonathan Lis January 10, 2010

Shas yesterday scrapped the so-called "jobs law" bill, which would have added dozens of deputy mayors in cities and towns of over 200,000 residents.

The bill would have secured jobs for dozens of political activists at an annual cost of about NIS 1 million per new deputy mayor.

Unsustainable Haredi system needs systemic change

By Rabbi Levi Brackman Opinion January 10, 2010

Rabbinic leadership is needed on the highest level to change a system that is forcing many in their communities to take desperate steps just to cover their families’ basic needs.

…The stigma associated with working in a profession or trade needs to be similarly dispelled within the haredi community.

This type of action will have an immensely positive effect on the staggering levels of poverty within that community.

Let’s hope that there is the foresight to take such action because the current system is completely unsustainable in the long term.

Haredi Web geeks fight rabbis' crackdown on internet

By Yair Ettinger January 5, 2010

Under a blitz attack by ultra-Orthodox rabbis, the people behind the country's ultra-Orthodox Web sites are attempting to return fire.

Guy Cohen is the CEO of Global Networks, the Internet media company whose Web portals include the ultra-Orthodox Behadrei Haredim.

He is threatening a million-shekel lawsuit against Rabbi Moshe Karp of Modi'in Ilit, the behind-the-scenes leader of the three-week-old campaign against the sites.

Gedolei Torah Publicize Internet Guidelines

By Yechiel Sever January 7, 2010

Maranan verabonon decided unequivocally that no hechsher or oversight can be granted to "chareidi" websites, and that no one may collaborate with them in any way.

"The above prohibition means under no circumstances can a hechsher or oversight be granted to ‘chareidi’ Internet sites that publish general and community news or forums..."

Fear and loathing in North Tel Aviv

By Noah Kosharek January 6, 2010

The fight against Chabad in Kochav Hatsafon began about two years ago, when the Kochav Hatsafon Tel Aviv Community Synagogue Association tried to establish a synagogue in the neighborhood.

Behind this association are Chabad figures who, according to the old neighborhood committee, mostly do not even live in Kochav Hatsafon. The committee refused to allocate a plot for a synagogue.

Rabbi Elyashiv: Don't sell kidney to fund wedding

By Kobi Nahshoni January 4, 2010

A halachic query directed at Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv illustrated the dire situation of ultra-Orthodox parents in a financial bind faced with meeting their children's wedding costs.

Shas Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: Shabbat desecrators worse than beasts

By Kobi Nahshoni January 10, 2010

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef verbally accosted those who desecrate the Sabbath during his weekly Saturday evening sermon.

He claimed that those who do not keep Shabbat are "foolish people" who are "worse than beasts."

Not a Zero-Sum Game

By Jonathan Rosenblum Opinion January 6, 2010

Chareidi employment is another area in which there is an intersection between the interests of the broader Israeli society and the Torah community. (The two interests are not necessarily identical, just overlapping.)

The ability of Israel to compete economically in the world is primarily dependent on brainpower. And the Torah world represents Israel’s greatest untapped source of that brainpower.

Egged Significantly Cuts Service to Meah Shearim Due To Vandalism

By Yechiel Spira January 4, 2010

According to a Kikar report, Egged during the past two weeks has significantly curtailed bus service to Jerusalem’s Meah Shearim neighborhood, apparently in response to vandalism attacks.

The murder could have been prevented

By Avirama Golan Opinion January 6, 2010

Not only the murder itself could have been prevented, but also all the terrible suffering that preceded it, of which the murder is the climax.

These were not prevented because of those same social norms, and the rabbis who let things degenerate are wholly responsible.

This time the ultra-Orthodox community's official and unofficial spokesmen will not be able to exonerate their leaders by fobbing us off with the familiar excuse of "just another drug addict turned newly observant - you send us all your nut cases."

This murder occurred in the innermost circle of the veteran Breslov Hassidic sect.

Supreme Court halts tender for construction of 2,176 homes for Haredim in Beit Shemesh

By Guy Liberman January 6, 2010 (hardcopy)

Supreme Court Judge Isaac Amit ordered the Housing Ministry not to unseal bids for purchase of land for construction of 2,176 residential units in Beit Shemesh.

The decision was handed down on an appeal y nine members of the Beit Shemesh city council, who are seeking to redefine the terms of the tender, on the grounds that it was biased in favor of the ultra-Religious Haredi community, contravening the council’s decision to auction off the land in an equitable manner to all sectors of the towns’ populace.

Amit has ordered the Housing Ministry to respond to the allegation within 14 days. The Housing Ministry denies the allegations.

Mother seeks divorce from 'abusive rabbi'

By Kobi Nahshoni January 7, 2010

The Jerusalem Rabbinical Court discussed Thursday for the first time a divorce claim filed against abusive "rabbi" Elior Chen by the mother of the children he abused, according to an indictment filed against him last year.

Ger Tzedek Takes Chassidic Music Scene by Storm January 6, 2010

Israel’s new sensation in Chassidic music is not from Jerusalem or Bnei Brak. Until a few years ago he was an African-American Christian from Ohio.

Will Boycott of Shefa Shuk Return?

By Yechiel Spira January 6, 2010

According to a report appearing in The Marker, a new branch of AM:PM in Nachlat Binyamin will be operating on shabbos.

The AM:PM stores are owned by Dudi Weissman, who also owns Shefa Shuk supermarkets, signaling a possible renewed cheirim of the supermarkets.

Haredi entertainer suspected of molesting kid

By Ronen Medzini January 8, 2010

Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox community was surprised by the arrest of Haredi entertainer David Bruckner on suspicion of sexually harassing a 12-year-old boy.

Jerusalem Municipality Removes Dozens of Eruv Posts

By Yechiel Spira January 7, 2010

Neighborhood rabbis and the Religious Council in Jerusalem are protesting deliberate actions by the municipality to furtively take down dozens of eruv posts in the southern part of the city.

Rabbis change views on who's the 'mother' of IVF children

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich January 7, 2010

Many of the country's most influential rabbinical arbiters have gradually changed their minds from considering the woman who undergoes in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor eggs the baby's halachic mother, to regarding the donor - even if she is not Jewish - as the real mother.

Protecting Diaspora synagogues with Jewish technology

By Matthew Wagner January 5, 2010

On Monday, Rabbi Israel Rosen from the Tzomet Institute presented to dozens of Diaspora rabbis kosher solutions; a wide range of security gadgets that could be used on Shabbat to protect synagogues and Jewish community centers.

In Israel, there are a combination of factors, explained Rosen that made Tzomet's solutions more popular. First, there is less reliance on non-Jews.

Second, there is more awareness of security issues. And finally, there are more religious Zionist rabbis in prominent positions who are open to the use of state-of-the-art technologies to prevent Shabbat desecration.

Rabbis from Around the World Convene in Jerusalem

By Yoni Kempinski January 5, 2010

The annual International Conference of Rabbis is taking place this week. The conference, organized by the Department for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora of the World Zionist Organization, brought approximately 150 representatives from Israel and the Diaspora to Jerusalem.

One and the same

By Yael Mishali Opinion January 7, 2010

Both secularism and ultra-Orthodoxy are temporary extremities within the Jewish people, and most of this joint sector will ultimately be absorbed into traditional sane Judaism, which adapts itself to the time and place. Based on all relevant polls, this is the largest and most significant sector in the State of Israel.

Shas to join World Zionist Organization? January 10, 2010

The ultra-Orthodox Shas party is considering joining the World Zionist Organization.

Israel's Prostitution Bill, and the MKs Blaming the Exploited

By Elana Sztokman January 5, 2010

A man goes to a prostitute, and then blames her for making him sin. No, this is not the beginning of a joke.

Rather, it’s the argument currently being made by Knesset members from the (all male) Shas party in a current round of deliberations about the legality of prostitution.

“The women are the guilty ones in the prostitution industry, and men are just the victims, because women tempt them,” according to Shas Knesset member Nissim Zeev, speaking at the hearing of the Committee on the Trafficking of Women last week.

Major Jewish Philanthropist Explores Chabad’s Russian Roots

Guma Aguiar Prays in Rostov

After returning from a visit to the burial sites of the founders of Chabad in the Ukraine, Guma Aguiar announced that he will dress in Chabad clothes each Shabbat and begin to learn Chassidic texts.

Click here for more Guma Aguiar VIDEOS

Religion and State in Israel

January 11, 2010 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.