Sunday, February 14, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - February 15, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

February 15, 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.

Rabbi blames inaccessible system for fall in conversions

By Mark Rebacz February 11, 2010

Rabbi Seth Farber, director of nonprofit organization ITIM:

“Many potential converts don’t even consider the process, just because of its bureaucratic challenges and potential to be annulled or not recognized at some later date,” he explained.

“These people go to school with our children, serve in the army and share the same religious holidays [with] us,” he says. “They must not be scrutinized under a microscope, and choices they make after conversion should have no bearing on the conversion itself.”

VIDEO: 20 Year Anniversary of Aliyah from Former Soviet Union

For background on this story, see Jewish in Tel Aviv, Gentile in Ashkelon

By Tamar Ish Shalom Israel TV Keshet Channel 2 February 3, 2010

Click here for VIDEO on Conversion issue (Hebrew)

Maxim and Alina Serjukov had to register their intention to marry in the village of Beer Tuvia after the top rabbi in their hometown of Ashkelon rejected her conversion.

Science, Religion and God

By Charlotte Gordon February 11, 2010

Book Review: “Maimonides, Spinoza, and Us: Toward an Intellectually Vibrant Judaism” Jewish Lights. Rabbi Marc D. Angel, PhD

The Israeli Chief Rabbinate refuses to acknowledge conversions performed by Reform and Conservative rabbis, as well as those Orthodox rabbis who are not “Orthodox” enough.

According to Angel, many “Torah true” Jews support this stringent view of conversion because they believe the Jewish soul is intrinsically different from the non-Jewish soul. Pitting himself against this kind of xenophobic thinking, Angel urges readers toward greater inclusivity and openness.

An offensive conversion 'solution'

By Miriam Shaviv Opinion February 11, 2010

But the truth is that, in every single instance, the confusion and discord is sown by one party: Charedi rabbis who are imposing ever stricter standards for conversion, standards that are unprecedented historically, halachically dubious and which increasingly tend to exclude any convert who is not willing to take on a strictly Orthodox lifestyle.

For them to break a perfectly good system and then come complaining that it “doesn’t work”, and needs to be abandoned, is simply chutzpah.

Beth Din rejects rabbi’s call for end to conversion

By Simon Rocker February 11, 2010

The London Beth Din has rejected a call from a senior rabbi for a worldwide halt to conversions.

Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of Mill Hill Synagogue, chairman of the US Rabbinical Council, proposed the suspension in a JC article last week because of continuing controversy over converts in Israel.

First ex-Marrano Israeli rabbi returns to Spain as emissary

By Mark Rebacz February 8, 2010

For the first time since the expulsion of Spain’s Jews in 1492, a descendant of Marrano Jewry who immigrated to Israel and received rabbinic ordination will return to Spain to serve as a rabbi.

Rabbi Nissan Ben-Avraham, a resident of Shiloh and father of 12, has been appointed a new emissary to the Marrano (or Bnei Anusim) community of Spain.

Born in Palma in 1957 to a religious Catholic family, his given name at birth was Nicolau Aguilo.

According to Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, in recent years there has been an awakening among the descendants of the Bnei Anusim to discover more about their identity.

Yisrael Beiteinu: No citizenship revisions, no civil marriages

By Mazal Mualem February 10, 2010

Even though Avigdor Lieberman said yesterday that he was satisfied with Yisrael Beiteinu's achievements a year after the elections, several important clauses in the party's coalition agreement have not been fulfilled, and they are unlikely to be met in the future.

Another major issue is legislation allowing Jews to marry non-Jews within Israel. Under the coalition agreement, a solution would be found within 15 months of the government's establishment.

Like the Citizenship Law, this too was a major pre-election promise to the party's base of hundreds of thousands of Russian immigrants. A major obstacle to implementing this is Shas.

Hijab in the Rabbinic Court

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion February 9, 2010

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinic pleader who works at the Center for Women's Justice

It’s a mistake is to think that whoever comes within the four walls of the Rabbinic Court must dress in accordance with the demands of the judge, or even of the Court.

…So long as the Court is under the aegis of the state – a rabbinic judge can’t refrain from hearing the pleadings of a married attorney until she places a piece of cloth on her head.

But of course it is clear who is making the rules here and who is quietly taking orders. There is no doubt that women would wear anything they are told to wear – even a hijab – in order to receive the services that they need from the rabbinical court.

Major Fines for Violating ‘Day of Rest’ Laws in Israel

By Yechiel Spira February 10, 2010

The Tel Aviv District Labor Court fined Big Mama HaNatziv LTD of Tel Aviv of violating worker’s rights by having employees work on Shabbos, without paying them overtime since they were working on their legal day of rest.

Open on Shabbat

By Michele Chabin February 6, 2010

Michele Chabin is the Israel correspondent for The Jewish Week.

"If someone wants to be religious, they can't tell us what to do. It's not that we're anti-religious. But our feeling is, 'You come when you want to and we'll accommodate you.'"

That's the attitude of many kibbutzniks, storeowners, and restaurateurs around the country who operate their businesses on Shabbat.

Although numbers are hard to come by, such enterprises--from plant nurseries and furniture factories to movie theaters and falafel stands--are believed to be in the thousands if not tens of thousands.

Although most municipalities have strict regulations regarding Shabbat closures, including the requirement that anyone employed on Shabbat be a non-Jew, enforcement is erratic.

Likud mayors complain to Netanyahu about Shas control of municipal budgets

By Mazal Mualem February 10, 2010

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was assailed by mayors and deputy mayors from his own Likud Party on Monday over what they termed Shas' takeover of municipal funds for the benefit of its own institutions.

The anger was principally directed at the so-called "Nahari Law," which requires municipalities to give the same funding to "recognized but unofficial" schools that they do to state schools.

The two main "recognized but unofficial" school systems are affiliated with ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism.

State Threatens Ashkenazi Parents with Criminal Charges

By Yechiel Spira February 9, 2010

The state is warning the parents of 74 Ashkenazi girls, students in a Beis Yaakov in the Shomron community of Emanuel, that if they do not return their girls to the school they will face criminal charges, trials and possibly a jail time.

While Deri slept, something new happened

By Carlo Strenger Opinion February 12, 2010

Aryeh Deri continues the myth initiated by the Chazon Ish that secular Judaism is an "empty cart," that it has produced nothing that can compare to the thousands of years of the religious Jewish heritage.

It is time for Deri - and many others who think like him - to wake up: 200 years may not sound much to them, but the world has changed dramatically in these centuries.

Secular Jews have emerged as a major cultural force, and, among others, have built the country that the Haredim are now trying to teach how to be Jewish.

The rabbi and the role of Big Brother

By Niva Lanir Opinion February 9, 2010

The truth is, we are completely fed up with hearing that Deri's bookshelf is full and the bookshelf of the new Judaism - which Deri invented with his mere words - is empty.

We are sick of hearing that his cart is full and ours is empty. Agnon, Alterman, Goldberg, Yizhar, Gouri, Oz, Grossman, Shabtai, Pinkas and many others wrote new Hebrew and even renewed it, although Deri has never set eyes on their works, apparently.

Shas rabbi: Ahmadinejad can go to hell

By Kobi Nahshoni February 14, 2010

Shas' spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, slammed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his weekly sermon Saturday evening, referring to the Iranian president as "Haman of our generation" and saying that he "can go to hell".

Proposal: Chief Rabbis Can Continue for a Second Term

By Yechiel Spira February 11, 2010

It appears that some officials in the Chief Rabbinate of Israel are testing the waters, speaking with lawmakers to elicit their response to the idea of permitting the chief rabbis of Israel to serve a second term. To date, this was not the case.

Officials are holding discreet meetings with chareidi, dati leumi and non-frum MKs, seeking to probe the possibility of moving ahead with such a proposal.

If such a move is approved, it would permit one or both of the current chief rabbis to continue in his post for an additional term of 5 or 10 years. At present, the chief rabbis serve one ten-year term.

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Election on Hold Again

By Yechiel Spira February 12, 2010

It appears that Jerusalem City Hall has decided to accept the position of the legal advisor of the Ministry of Religious Services and delay the election for new chief rabbis in Yerushalayim.

Elderly Join with Mayor Barkat against the Chareidim

By Yechiel Spira February 14, 2010

Israel’s Histadrut HaGimla’im Union representing the nation’s elderly has announced it stands firmly at the side of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat against the chareidi community in the upcoming elections for the chief rabbis of the capital.

Correctional facility

By Coby Ben-Simhon February 12, 2010

Interview with Attorney Gilad Barnea

As part of the Jerusalem Now campaign, Barnea succeeded in waging another legal battle of principle.

"In the campaign, Shas activists distributed bottles of 'oil charm' with the blessing of [the venerable Kabbalist] Rabbi Kadourie. We decided to fight that.

We complained to the chairman of the central elections committee that the bottles of oil were illegal, because they were a forbidden gift that sought to influence voters by means of 'amulets or whispers.'

Battle of the Israel Programs

By Michele Chabin February 9, 2010

In interviews with the Israeli media and in heated exchanges on the Internet, Berman’s detractors assert that his actions were unethical and possibly illegal.

Dan Krakow, director of Young Judaea in Israel, said Berman “incorporated the company, built the Web site and recruited staff, among other things, prior to leaving his employ with us.”

Hadassah’s legal counsel “is pursuing the matter,” Nancy Falchuk, national president of Hadassah, said through a spokesperson.

On Being Michael Steinhardt

By Gary Rosenblatt February 9, 2010

The writer is Editor and Publisher of The Jewish Week

A self-professed atheist, Michael Steinhardt might be offended — or else amused — to be described as a modern-day prophet.

According to Steinhardt, rather than fully support the effort — a documented success in creating life-changing, positive Jewish experiences for many of the 225,000 young participants — most Jewish groups are busy with their usual agendas, which he says are at best ineffectual.

To him, it is unconscionable that 35,000 young people who registered for the free 10-day trips Birthright sponsors last year were left on the waiting list because not enough money had been raised to allow them to participate.

Only 4% of FZY’s year program participants marry out

By Ruth Eglash February 11, 2010

Spending a year in Israel with the British Jewish youth movement the Federation of Zionist Youth significantly reduces assimilation and highly strengthens commitment to the State of Israel, according to a first-of-its-kind study to be published next month for the organization’s 100th anniversary celebrations.

Not democratic, not Zionist

By Shlomo Avineri Opinion February 11, 2010

The idea of granting the right to vote in Knesset elections to Israeli citizens residing abroad is undemocratic and anti-Zionist.

That is why it does not matter who will benefit from it politically: We should object to the move in principle.

Who should vote? Editorial February 10, 2010

The Zionist enterprise is about the ingathering of the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland – not a virtual ingathering in the Diaspora.

There can be no ballot-box influencing of that enterprise without responsibility. The vote, in short, should be reserved for those who live with the consequences.

Memo to Israel’s Leaders: Reinvent the Jewish Agency

By Yoav Shoham Opinion February 2, 2010

Yoav Shoham is a professor of computer science at Stanford University and co-founder of The Jewish Peoplehood Project Index.

…If JAFI is not reinvented it will become increasingly marginalized.

5. A vision of the new JAFI:

a. The old contract between world Jewry and Israel has all but expired. For many, 1948 and 1967 are at best a dim memory. Israel’s military, economic, demographic and political situation has changed dramatically in the past 60 years so as to completely change the equation. Needed is a new contract;

VIDEO: 20 Year Anniversary of Aliyah from the Former Soviet Union

By Tamar Ish Shalom Israel TV Keshet Channel 2 February 2, 2010

Aliyah stories (Hebrew)

Suspected Jewish terrorist admits to anti-missionary activities

By Yuval Azoulay February 10, 2010

Suspected Jewish terrorist Yaakov (Jack) Teitel told his interrogators he was an active member of anti-missionary group Yad L’Achim for five years, Haaretz has learned.

The Bnei Brak-based ultra-Orthodox group has gained notoriety in recent years for its actions against Messianic Jews, whom it perceives as a "sect" seeking to convert Jews to Christianity. The organization also prides itself on "rescuing" Jewish women from relationships with Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.

Conservative synagogue in Arad set alight

By Ben Hartman February 10, 2010

Unknown assailants torched a building housing a Conservative synagogue in Arad on Monday night, a year after a failed attempt to burn the shul.

No one was hurt in the fire, which scorched the outside of the building but was extinguished before it damaged the synagogue within.

The Shira Hadasha synagogue is one of 60 Conservative shuls in Israel, and the only non-Orthodox synagogue in Arad.

ITIM Bar/Bat Mitzvah program in Public Schools (Hebrew)

Israel’s Kosher Market Approaches $11 Billion February 8, 2010

With nearly 70% of Israelis (including non-Jews) preferring kosher products, sales of kosher certified products are approaching $11 billion.

A new report by the Foreign Agriculture Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, notes that Israelis also prefer imported kosher foods, which in 2009 was valued at $1.8 billion out of $14.4 billion in overall food sales.

Finding Jerusalem's lost souls

By Nir Hasson February 8, 2010

Finding the grave was made possible thanks to an innovative project mapping and restoring the cemetery on the Mount of Olives undertaken by the association. So far they have located 20,000 graves.

According to estimates, there are some 120,000 Jews buried in the giant cemetery. The oldest graves date back to the First Temple era but new graves are added every week.

Hesder Yeshiva Students to Home Front Command February 10, 2010

The Home Front Command, together with the Hesder Yeshivas in Israel, has agreed that Hesder Yeshiva students will be called up during times of emergency to the Home Front.

Religion and State in Israel

February 15, 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.