Monday, February 22, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - February 22, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

February 22, 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.

Police say inquiry into indecent-acts charges against Elon will develop into full investigation

By Tomer Zarchin and Yair Ettinger February 21, 2010

Police sources told Haaretz they believe their inquiry into indecent acts allegedly committed by Rabbi Mordechai Elon will grow into an official investigation within the next week or so.

They said Elon himself, his associates and the members of the Takana rabbinical forum that revealed the allegations against him last week may be questioned.

Sharansky: Elon backed by former Chief Rabbi

By Kobi Nahshoni February 21, 2010

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, a close friend of the rabbi suspected of sexually abusing his students, told Ynet on Sunday that Elon was being backed by Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, considered the most senior Religious Zionism leader.

Weinstein calls for state inquiry into abuse allegations against Rabbi Elon

By Yair Ettinger, Jonathan Lis and Tomer Zarchin February 21, 2010

The attorney general yesterday instructed police to examine the sexual abuse allegations raised earlier this week against the prominent religious-Zionist Rabbi Mordechai Elon.

Police to probe Rabbi Elon allegations

By Ben Hartman February 18, 2010

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein ordered police Thursday to launch an investigation into the sexual abuse allegations made against Rabbi Mordechai Elon.

The decision followed a meeting between Weinstein and the head of the police investigative branch, Cmdr. Yoav Segelovich. State Attorney Moshe Lador also attended the meeting.

Rabbi Moti Elon and the Takanah Forum

By Hillel Fendel February 18, 2010

The [Takana] forum explained in a written report issued on Wednesday:

“We acted out of great awareness of three factors: Primarily to help the victims and prevent future cases of this nature; our obligation towards Rabbi Elon, as towards anyone who is the subject of such complaints; and the important status of Rabbi Elon in both the religious-Zionist public and Israeli society in general, his wide-ranging Torah teaching, and the many acts of kindness and charity that he did during his life."

Rabbi Elon accused of 'long-term' sexual relationship with student

By Yair Ettinger February 18, 2010

Takana, the group that published allegations against Rabbi Mordechai Elon of sexually exploiting his students, said it did so because of "a long-term relationship that was clearly of a sexual nature."

Elon Wednesday began to form a defense team to deal with the allegations and the possibility of criminal proceedings resulting from them.

Takana forum member says got death threat

By Kobi Nahshoni February 17, 2010

Talking to his students at the Har Etzion Yeshiva on Wednesday, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein said, "I got a letter filled with threats from an associate of Rabbi Elon, who said he would hurt me in any way he could."

Hundreds flock to show support for embattled rabbi

By Nir Hasson, Yair Ettinger, Eli Ashkenazi and Chaim Levinson February 17, 2010

Hundreds of supporters gathered at the home of Rabbi Mordechai Elon yesterday morning to show their support for the embattled rabbi, who had been accused the day before of inappropriate sexual behavior by a forum of senior religious figures.

The crowd that assembled at Elon's home in the small community of Migdal, by Lake Kinneret, included former students and friends. Haim Cohen made the trip from Katzrin in the Golan Heights.

The Kennedys of the religious Zionist camp

By Chaim Levinson February 17, 2010

The Elon family, a member of the religious Zionist elite, is entrenched in the world of law, politics and halakha.

Menachem Elon studied at the Hebron Yeshiva, one of the most prestigious ultra-Orthodox yeshivas, and then studied law. His career was characterized by a combination of halakha and law, and he came to be known as an expert in Jewish law.

Each of Justice Elon's four sons excelled in his field.

Mazuz told police in 2006: No charges against Rabbi Elon

By Tomer Zarchin February 18, 2010

Police were informed about alleged misconduct by Rabbi Mordechai Elon as early as October 2006, a letter sent yesterday from Raz Nizri, senior aide to the Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, to Takana rabbinical forum director Rabbi Yehudit Shilat revealed.

New harassment claims against Rabbi Elon

By Kobi Nahshoni February 16, 2010

Since the case of Rabbi Mordechai (Motti) Elon was published, Ynet has learned that other young people and parents have turned to the Takana forum claiming that they too were victims of Elon's sexual harassment.

Takana Statement [Hebrew]

Rabbi accused of inappropriate sexual behavior

By Yair Ettinger February 17, 2010

A senior forum of rabbis shook up religious Zionist circles yesterday by accusing Rabbi Mordechai Elon of inappropriate sexual behavior. One of the rabbis in the forum said it published the statement "to protect people over whom Rabbi Elon has authority."

'It is far worse than sexual harassment'

By Ben Hartman February 17, 2010

Rabbi Mordechai Elon had sexual relations with male students in the past, a rabbinical forum that works to prevent sexual abuse in the national-religious sector said in a statement on Wednesday.

Rabbis: Motti Elon is danger to public

By Ben Hartman February 16, 2010

Rabbi Mordechai (Motti) Elon on Tuesday insisted he would keep silent in the face of allegations of inappropriate behavior made against him by a rabbinical forum that works to prevent sexual harassment in the national-religious sector.

Rabbi accused of sexual harassment

By Kobi Nahshoni February 16, 2010

Rabbi Mordechai (Motti) Elon, a senior religious-Zionist figure, is suspected of sexual harassment and was duly suspended from all educational and rabbinical services four years ago, rabbis from the movement said in a statement Monday.

Show of support in Migdal: We believe in Rabbi Elon

By Sharon Roffe-Ofir February 16, 2010

The rabbi entered the house of study on Tuesday afternoon and was received with warm welcomes and hugs from his supporters all around.

Rabbi Elon, surrounded by his students, will give an open lesson to the media representatives later Tuesday. He will not answer journalists' questions, but is slated to present his students with his interpretation of the suspicions raised against him by the Takana forum rabbis.

Alongside him are his family members, including Rabbi Benny Elon and Rabbi Emunah Elon.


Why didn't the former Attorney General investigate?

By Aluf Benn February 19, 2010 Opinion

For [Rabbi Elon], a special track was used: investigation by a secret, volunteer forum with no legal authority, called Takana, which in October 2006 reported the suspicions against Elon to the previous attorney general, Menachem Mazuz.

And what did Mazuz do? He did not ask to meet with the complainants, nor did he order the police to investigate.

Instead, he concluded, in his bureaucratic style, that "there is no way to handle these specific complaints on the criminal level." Or in plain English, there's no case.

'Trust, but check,' our sages tell us

By Stewart Weiss Opinion February 17, 2010

Even before a verdict is announced, there are several lessons we should be learning from this whole sordid affair.

First, let us realize that nothing is impossible. No person, regardless of his or her title or training, is impervious or immune to temptation. This is particularly true regarding sexual conduct.

…Secondly, our first and foremost concern must always be for the victim.

…Finally, incidents such as these must cause each and every one of us to examine our own behavior. Are we careful to maintain high standards of moral behavior, disciplining ourselves to avoid doing anything which crosses the line between friendship and over-familiarity?

Homophobia reigns supreme

By Yael Mishali Opinion February 17, 2010

So let's examine ourselves honestly. What are you more shocked about? The preoccupation with "Rabbi Motti's" sexual tendencies, or the hints by members of the Takana forum whereby he sexually abused student?

So here is a news flash: Fortunately, there are many more homosexual rabbis who live in secret and in denial than there are rabbis who sexually abuse their students or others.

Beware the charismatic rabbi

By Miriam Shaviv Opinion February 19, 2010

The best comment on the Rav Elon sex scandal comes from Adderabbi, who tries to put it all into context by quoting a passage on charismatic teachers from an absolutely brilliant new book on Jewish education -- written, ahem, by my father, Paul Shaviv, principal of Tannenbaum CHAT in Toronto, the largest Jewish high school, grade-for-grade, in North America (and the largest private day school in Canada).

Pursue justice - within the community

By Yair Sheleg Opinion February 19, 2010

As is customary in these parts, the Rabbi Mordechai Elon affair very quickly became the Takana affair. The public debate has shifted - as Elon's supporters wished - from shock at Elon's alleged sexual misconduct to a discussion of the legitimacy of Takana, an umbrella group of religious Zionist organizations aimed at combating sexual harassment by religious figures.

Two main contentions have been raised against Takana, which examined the allegations against Elon and recently revealed them to the public

The crucial role Rabbi Elon played in my life

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion February 18, 2010

It is almost impossible to put in words what Rabbi Mordechai (Moti) Elon meant to me and still means for thousands of youngsters and grown-ups who learned from him and took his advice at every step of their personal lives.

But there is also a dark side to charisma and admiration, especially when they suffocate the natural rebellion of youth and individualism. This problem isn't only in yeshivas.

Rabbis are human too

By Hanoch Daum Opinion February 21, 2010

The pain and sense of crisis are great. Yet within all of this, we must not forget the real crisis: The distress of those who were hurt; the students who came to Rabbi Elon for a consultation session and found themselves in a blatantly sexual relationship. We must think about those children.

We must pray for them. Regrettably, it appears that this is not about just one or two students. There are more.

Analysis: The Elon affair

By Ben Hartman Opinion February 18, 2010

That students were willing to come forward in the first place may encourage other possible victims of prominent teachers and community leaders to do the same.

The action being taken in the face of these allegations demonstrates that the State of Israel and its laws take precedence over the image of any one man, and that the religious Zionist community isn’t one in which victims of wrongdoing are silenced or intimidated to protect the reputations of its icons.

Sexual assault punished differently among religious, secular Jews

By Gideon Levy Opinion February 21, 2010

Religious Zionism presents: a show of arrogance. For about three years, they kept their dirty laundry at home, but now they have been so kind as to display it for everyone to see.

The fact that in the State of Israel there is an alternative law enforcement system such as the Takana forum, which investigates and metes out punishment only to religious Zionists, is intolerable.

The fact that this system is run by the heads of a movement that in vain regulates to itself what is morally, ethically and culturally permissible is another sign of its arrogance.

State of Judea is here

By Avraham Burg Opinion February 18, 2010

For many years now, layer upon layer, we are being exposed to the religious Zionist state. “Our” children go to “our” schools, are educated in “our” youth groups, join “our” units in the army, attend “our” universities, and marry “our” daughters.

They live in the settlements, in “our” neighborhoods. And as it turns out now, some of them are also being tried by “our” legal system.

The rabbis were wrong to try and protect Rav Elon

By Miriam Shaviv Opinon February 18, 2010

Their main aim, right from the beginning, should have been to bring about a proper investigation, by encouraging the boys to make official complaints and by pushing the AG - who, possibly, has his own case to answer.

He should not have left this to the rabbis; in fact, I would really like to know whether a factor in his decision not to pursue an investigation against Rav Elon was the knowledge that this highly sensitive case had already been 'taken in hand' by Takana.

Confronting 'Religious Celebrities' About Sex Abuse

By Elana Sztokman Opinion February 19, 2010

The story of Motti Elon is at once shocking and expected. Shocking because of his squeaky-clean public image, but expected because his alleged misdeeds make for a familiar story: Powerful religious leader, vulnerable youth, sexual assault – been there, done that.

…So many of the attackers are famous, with worldwide reputations, sparkling smiles and enchanting charisma, that these qualities seem to be part of the profile. As if, the more famous the man is, the more I distrust him; the more celebrity status he has, the more likely I am to assume that he’s hiding his dark side.

Gay with perfect faith

By Nissan Strauchler February 16, 2010

Though Jewish law prohibits sexual relations between men as fundamentally wrong, dozens of prominent rabbis have now decided that the halachic prohibition does not involve negative treatment towards gay members of the religious community, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday.

Twenty important rabbis in the Religious Zionist camp signed a document of principles calling for a change in the approach to the community's gay members. Another 80 rabbis adopted the document.

The turnaround that has occurred in recent years in the religious public's view of homosexuality within the religious community is due largely to two Orthodox organizations for religious gays: Hod and Havruta.

Rabbi says parents of lesbian should 'sit shiva'

By Kobi Nahshoni February 17, 2010

Rabbi Menachem Froman of the community of Tekoa sparked uproar during a television program when he told a young religious lesbian woman who claimed that her parents do not welcome her and her partner on Shabbat, "I'm willing to talk with your parents. Give me the address, I'll talk and tell them 'parents, come and sit shiva for her, cry (for her)'."

Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau, who is considered one of the leading moderate figures in religious Zionism, slammed Froman for his statements during the television program and said

"This does not come from the Torah, it's not a halachic stance, it's Rabbi Froman's personal viewpoint. It's an extreme position which completely strays from the halachic way. It's a halachic deviation."

TRAILER: Gay According to Halacha

Click here for VIDEO

Israel Educational TV Channel 23 Documentary Series “Vacuum” by Gal Gabai

גאווה כהלכה (Gay According to Halacha) [Hebrew]

Full Documentary: Gay According to Halacha

Click here for VIDEO

Israel Educational TV Channel 23 Documentary Series “Vacuum” by Gal Gabai

גאווה כהלכה (Gay According to Halacha) [Hebrew] Click Series #4

The High Price of Religious Defection

By Ulrike Putz February 18, 2010


The community of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel is half a million strong and growing. They live in a parallel universe cut off from the modern world in tight-knit communities where everything revolves around religion. Only a few dare to abandon this life -- and the price for doing so is high.

See also Photo Gallery

Israel's future relies on integrating Arabs, Haredim

By Aluf Benn February 17, 2010

The answer to the question of where this country is headed is hidden in table 8.11 of Israel's annual Statistical Abstract, which shows "Projections of Students in Primary Education" for the coming five years.

These are the figures: In the current school year, 47.5 percent of first-graders are either Arabs or Haredim (ultra-Orthodox).

The growth rate of the Haredi school system is 39 times greater than that of the state secular schools, and that of the Arab school system is 13 times greater.

These are not demographic forecasts, which can turn out to be false; these are children who have already been born and are awaiting their turn in the education system. This is reality.

Judaism and the ultra-Orthodox parties

By Shahar Ilan Opinon February 16, 2010

The words Judaism and Zionism must be returned to secular discourse at all points of the political spectrum.

The secular parties must reiterate how their solutions serve to ensure the continued progress of the Zionist enterprise and the Jewish character of the state.

Thus, for example, there can be no doubt that the less religious legislation there is in Israel, the stronger the status of Judaism will grow.

Thus, for example, if less funds are budgeted for Haredi education, the prospects for Zionism and the Jewish state to survive are greater.

Study: Haredim don't heed their leaders

TheMarker February 18, 2010

There's surprising news for businesses seeking the custom of ultra-Orthodox Jews: Haredim are in no hurry to comply with the dictates of their leaders.

According to data collected from the 340,000 people representing the potential cellphone market in the Haredi community, only 96,000 bought kosher cellphones. Around 225,000 people were non-kosher, and many cellphone users owned two devices - one for show and the other to actually talk with.

Yoel Cohen, head of the communications department at Ariel College, said the issue was further proof of the difficulties facing Haredi leaders who want to enforce their will on the community.

Israel's home-grown danger

By Joseph Nasr February 15, 2010

Threats to Israel typically come in the form of rockets. But economists also see a profound risk to the state that is entirely within its control: its education system.

About half of Israel's pupils either attend Arab schools that are under-funded, or ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminaries where "secular" subjects such as English, science and mathematics take a back seat to biblical studies, or are completely ignored.

Scientists irate after top education official questions evolution

By Or Kashti and Zafrir Rinat February 21, 2010

The Education Ministry's chief scientist sparked a furor among environmental activists and scholars Saturday with remarks questioning the reliability of evolution and global warming theory.

Prior to his appointment, Avital said in a video interview with Machon Meir, a religious-Zionist Jewish studies institute, "Another scientific field that is problematic is biology, or life and environmental sciences.

When your doctrine is based on Darwin's theory of evolution and its implications, you are standing on unreliable foundations - that is, there is no God, there was only something primeval, and then there are certain random developments which led to the apex of all creation, the human being.

Shabbos Protests Continue Against Stores in Jerusalem Gas Stations

By Yechiel Spira February 21, 2010

The Vaad L’maan Shabbos continued protest actions this week against the convenience stores which remain open on shabbos, operating in gas stations and elsewhere in the capital.

Street segregation photos February 14, 2010

The new innovation of the Haredi sector - "segregated" sidewalks.

Official to Litzman: Take back bias charge

By Zvi Zrahiya February 18, 2010

Two groups are contending for the Ashdod hospital tender: Assouta Hospital, which is owned by Health Maintenance Organization Kupat Holim Maccabi, and a group comprised of Africa Israel (60%) and the non-profit organization Refua V'Yeshua (40%), which is operated by the Gur Hasidic sect, for which Litzman acts as representative in the Knesset.

The Gur sect is also involved in establishing an emergency medical center in Ashdod, which Litzman is seeking to include in the tender.

Bnei Brak mayor: 'Pedophile capital' remarks baseless

By Yoav Zeitun February 17, 2010

Bnei Brak Mayor Rabbi Yaacov Asher on Tuesday slammed National Council for the Child chairman Dr. Yitzhak Kadman after the latter said that the ultra-Orthodox city is known as Israel's pedophile capital.

Discrimination against Chareidim in Kfar Vradim

By Yechiel Spira February 15, 2010

In the recent court ruling compelling a chareidi non-profit organization to pay a NIS 5,000 fine for operating an illegal daycare center in a private home, there were also efforts to compel the Kfar Vradim Local Municipality to openly list its criteria for allocating land and permitting the construction of a mikve.

In an earlier report, YWN-Israel cited that the municipality leader, Sivan Yechieli, denied any discrimination regarding the construction of a mikve, stating that to date, no formal request has been received

See also:

Kfar Vradim and Problems for Chareidi Community

Hard Times for Chareidim in Kfar Vradim

Hire Chareidim – It Works Says 93% of Secularist Bosses

By Yechiel Spira February 15, 2010

The Miftach organization which seeks to develop employment for the chareidi sector, a quasi governmental agency working with the government and JOINT (JDC-Israel) reports a study indicates 93% of non-frum employers who hired chareidim state they would recommend their colleagues do the same.

Rav Froehlich Speaks Out on Meron Violence

By Yechiel Spira February 16, 2010

Rav Avraham Froehlich, a member of the Vaad of Five dealing with the renovations at Kever Rashbi in Meron agreed to be interviewed by HaKol BaKol. Following are excerpts of the interview.

Coming soon: Ice cream chain for Haredi public

By Ofer Petersburg February 20, 2010

A first ice cream chain for the ultra-Orthodox public is about to open in Israel. The chain will be called "Zisalek" (from "sweetness" in Yiddish).

The entrepreneurs plan to open 25 branches this year in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Beit Shemesh, Safed, Ashdod, Haifa and Beitar. The ice cream will be glatt kosher with a permit of the haredi community's court of justice.

In order to prevent boys and girls from sitting together at the ice cream parlor, as they do in the secular public, the stores will only offer takeaway services.

Sin and punishment 2.0

By Nati Toker February 21, 2010

The publication of Rabbi Elon's alleged acts via the Internet is another step in the Internet's adoption by all segments of society. In the religious Jewish community, no more is its use being confined to disseminating Judaism. It is becoming a means to disseminate warnings, and administer punishment, too.

Braces not allowed in ritual bath

By Ari Galahar February 15, 2010

A new halachic ruling was made recently by the leader of the Lithuanian faction, Rabbi Yosef Elyashiv that effectively forbids adult women from seeking orthodontic treatment to straighten their teeth. According to the ruling, braces on one's teeth are considered a "partition" and therefore disqualify dipping in the ritual bath, also known as a mikveh.

Elections for City Rabbis

By Yechiel Spira February 14, 2010

After years without chief rabbis in the capital, the personal interest groups seem to dominate the playing field and what is actually best for the city has taken a backseat to each community’s agenda.

Dati Leumi officials are threatening to take their case to the High Court of Justice if the election committee membership is not altered to reflect what they believe is an accurate portrayal of the city’s population, a non-chareidi majority.

New Rabbinate website

Jerusalem Rabbinate – Dial 4664 for Verification

By Yechiel Spira February 15, 2010

The Jerusalem Rabbinate has implemented a new service, cellular telephone text messaging verification of a kosher certificate.

Israeli Rabbinate Declares Non-Orthodox Jews ‘Kosher — and Delicious’

By Rob Kutner February 15, 2010

Israeli Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Moshe Metzger issued the ruling yesterday. The Sephardic chief rabbi agreed with the declaration of Jewish edibility, adding only: “preferably stewed with dried fruits, over couscous.”

The decision has brought controversy to Orthodox authorities, who are divided as to whether their brethren can be eaten during Tisha B’Av and the Three Weeks, but the ruling eases the burden on kosher meat manufacturers, still struggling to keep up with demand after the Agriprocessors closure.

[Chag Purim Sameach!]

Religion and State in Israel

February 22, 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.