Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - April 1, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

April 1, 2010 (Section 2) (see also Section 1 and Passover edition)

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman March 26, 2010

(PM Netanyahu returns to Israel from trip to U.S.)

Netanyahu aide likely to overturn ruling to move Ashkelon hospital

By Barak Ravid, Tomer Zarchin and Yanir Yagna March 29, 2010

The director general of the Prime Minister's Office, Eyal Gabai, is expected to recommend to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reverse the previous cabinet decision on moving the new emergency room at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

Instead, Gabai will recommend to Netanyahu to move the graves at the site that prevented building the emergency room, which is to be reinforced against rocket attacks, at its original site.

TA: Dozens protest Ashkelon ER relocation

By Vered Luvitch March 26, 2010

Some 200 people held a rally on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard on Friday afternoon, in protest of the cabinet's decision to accept Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman's demand and relocate the emergency room at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon due to the discovery of ancient graves.

Litzman’s failure Editorial March 25, 2010

The good news to emerge from the Barzilai Medical Center emergency room imbroglio is that public outrage in this country cannot be completely overlooked – that it can still impose second thoughts on perverse government decisions.

The bad news is that our fundamentally flawed coalition system facilitates the infliction of flagrantly unreasonable decisions in the first place.

Burying Judaism alive

By Yair Lapid Opinion March 23, 2010

Now choose life, Rabbi Litzman. Choose the living over the dead; choose the blessings of the Lord above over the bizarre curses of the ephemeral “Atra Kadisha” organization headed by Rabbi Shmidel; choose the lives of our children over the graves of our forefathers (or whoever it is that is buried there; nobody is able to provide a clear answer about that.)

Watchdog: Barzilai move may be linked to Litzman's Ashdod hospital connection

By Dan Even March 26, 2010

The State Control Committee yesterday called on the cabinet to revoke its decision to relocate the planned bomb-proof emergency room at Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center because of ancient graves found on the site.

Knesset c’tee to PM: Add doctors to Barzilai task force

By Judy Siegel March 25, 2010

The Knesset State Control Committee on Wednesday urgently called on Prime Minister (and official health minister) Binyamin Netanyahu to dismantle the task force his office appointed to recommend ways to resolve the dispute over where to build a reinforced emergency department in Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center.

Possible solution to Barzilai dispute March 23, 2010

A proposal brought forward by the ultra-orthodox organization "Atra Kadisha" may resolve the dispute over the location of a new emergency wing for the Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.

Knesset session on Barzilai canceled

By Gil Hoffman March 23, 2010

Kadima and Meretz decided on Tuesday to cancel a special session of the Knesset that had been planned for Wednesday to debate Sunday's cabinet decision to move a proposed new emergency room planned for Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center due to graves found on the site.

'Relocation of ER will kill patients'

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman March 22, 2010

"But, Rabbi Litzman, what should we do with helicopter on Shabbat?"

[Emergency] [Barzilai Hospital]

By Meital Yasur Beit-Or March 24, 2010

Dr. Eitan Hai-Am, who recently resigned from his post as Health Ministry director-general over the cabinet's controversial decision to relocate the emergency room at Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center because of ancient graves found on the site, said the task force appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to review the issue is not professional enough.

Opposition, groups seek to reverse decision on Barzilai ER

By Dan Even March 25, 2010

Public outcry is expected to swell today over the cabinet decision to relocate the emergency room at Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center because of ancient graves found on the site.

The opposition called for a special Knesset session to discuss the decision.

For keeper of Israel's crypts, Barzilai is part of long struggle

By Yair Ettinger March 25, 2010

Rabbi David Shmidel, 76, has been at the forefront of the Haredi fight against construction at ancient grave sites since the 1950s.

He is well known to archaeologists and contractors who have faced off against him for years, beginning with the struggle over Maimonides' Tomb in Tiberias in 1956.

The struggle continued with the Ganei Hamat Hotel in Tiberias and Area G of the City of David in Jerusalem in the 1980s, and issues over the construction of Route 6 a few years ago.

Limor Livnat, are you a part of a Chelm coalition?

By Yossi Verter March 24, 2010

Interview with Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat (Likud)

Q: Don't you find it infuriating that an anti-Zionist organization like the Atra Kadisha should determine the fates of hundreds of thousands of residents of the south?

A: I have great respect for the same Jewish values and for those who take care to safeguard Jewish graves, and not just Jewish graves, but graves in general, and the dignity of those to whom the graves are important.

Every grave must be respected, but an attempt must also be made to find solutions and they, the Atra Kadisha people, have shown flexibility in dozens of cases in the past. Why are they being so rigid this time? I can't answer that.

Netanyahu orders reevaluation of decision to move Barzilai ER

By Dan Even March 24, 2010

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed officials to reevaluate Sunday's controversial cabinet decision to relocate the planned construction of a bomb-proof emergency room for the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon due to ultra-Orthodox objections after ancient burial grounds were discovered under the original site.

Panel to ‘reconsider’ Barzilai decision

By Gil Hoffman March 23, 2010

In a move seen as caving in to public pressure, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday instructed his director-general, Eyal Gabai, to head a task force that would reevaluate Sunday’s cabinet decision to relocate the proposed reinforced emergency room for Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center.

Bar-Ilan professor: No halachic ban on moving remains

By Ben Hartman March 22, 2010

There is no halachic reason to change the site for the fortified emergency room at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center due to the presence of ancient bones there, even if they are Jewish, an expert on Jewish law at Bar-Ilan University told The Jerusalem Poston Sunday.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Woolf, a senior lecturer in the university’s Talmud department and director of the school’s institute for the study of post-Talmudic Jewish law, Halacha includes procedures for transporting human remains and does not contain an absolute prohibition on such transport.

PM reconsidering Barzilai ER location

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich March 22, 2010

Following a torrent of criticism over the decision to change the location of the planned reinforced emergency department for Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu instructed Prime Minister's Office Director-General Eyal Gabai to head a team that will examine the various options for construction of the emergency department, so that "no lives will be endangered."

Officials: Political deal-making behind ER relocation

By Ilana Curiel March 22, 2010

Officials in Jerusalem on Monday claimed that a political deal between Yisrael Beitenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman and Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party was behind cabinet's controversial approval of the costly relocation of Barzilai Medical Center's new fortified emergency room building to a more remote spot so as not to disturb ancient graves found on the site.

Former Haredi MK slams 'secular blood libel'

By Kobi Nahshoni March 23, 2010

The haredi community is outraged over media coverage of the Barzilai Medical Center emergency room's relocation due to the discovery of ancient graves, a former Knesset member told Ynet Monday.

Journalist Yisrael Eichler charged that the secular media used the opportunity to weave a blood libel against the haredim.

"On the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway, everyone makes that turn near Shaar Hagai just because of some sheikh that is supposedly buried there," he said.
"There are also hundreds of sites where millions were spent so that bucks and deer could continue to run free in nature."

The Four Questions about Israel’s Future

By Uri Dromi Opinion March 24, 2010

…This change in government will also allow us to begin to address the third challenge, that of loosening the Haredi grip on Israeli society. Ultra-Orthodox Jews, by and large, don’t serve in the army, and their schools often condemn their children to lives of poverty.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the Haredi sector tries to impose its way of life on others.

This situation is unsustainable, both for Israeli society and for the Haredi community. It has persisted because the ultra-Orthodox parties have held the balance of power between the left and the right, which have long been divided when it comes to the peace process.

If the center-right and center-left — Likud, Kadima and Labor — can come together, they will be able to restore a proper balance to the state’s relations with the Haredi sector.

By Doron Rosenblum Opinion March 25, 2010

"To help you be Israel's masbirim [information purveyors], we have concentrated for you the biggest myths you are likely to encounter, and, contrariwise, the true facts - so that you will be able in real time to present them to your interlocutors and foment a change in their opinions. Together we will change the picture!"

  • Myth: Israel attaches greater importance to the bones of dead people from ancient times than to living people.
  • Myth: Israel is actually a theocracy.
  • Myth: Israel customarily ignores official guests who arrive after the start of Shabbat or after midnight, and does not hold ceremonies of welcome or farewell for them at the airport.
  • Myth: Israel is a primitive country steeped in mystical hokum and magical thinking. In Israel the economic and political bigwigs subordinate themselves to a celebrity rabbi known as "The Roentgen," or the "X-Ray Rabbi."

Fund Will Invest Only in 'Kosher' Companies March 28, 2010

The Ayalon Investment House, managed by Levi Rahmani, has started a new investment fund that promises to invest only in stocks issued by companies that adhere to Halacha, Jewish law.

A symbol of discontent?

By Peggy Cidor March 25, 2010

About three years ago, Russian Christian oligarch Andrei Bykov gave a statue of King David playing a harp as a gift to the Holy City.

Bykov asked that his statue be displayed at the entrance to the site of the legendary king’s tomb, on Mount Zion, which is also the site of Cenacle, believed to be the location of the Last Supper.

A statue in Jerusalem is no simple matter, and then-mayor Uri Lupolianski wisely sought out the best kosher stamp of approval, to ensure it would not be considered a graven image. The municipality spokesman then released a statement saying that Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv himself had approved. Today, Yehoshua Pollak, who was deputy mayor at the time, says that Elyashiv’s approval was likely unwritten.

Undermining liberty

By Israel Harel Opinion March 26, 2010

The majority in Israel allows the ultra-Orthodox to issue decrees in the most basic matters of identity because of their political power. This majority is doing itself a grave moral injustice, especially to ultra-Orthodox society. The majority can wean the ultra-Orthodox from their absolute dependence on the state, thus turning them, albeit against their will, into a productive community.

If the majority does so, then by force of reality, like the ultra-Orthodox in America, in addition to scholars who study the Torah there will be ultra-Orthodox scientists, doctors, engineers and psychologists. They will be productive, rather than dependent. Thus, one may assume, their appetite to impose on the majority's lifestyle that it objects to will diminish.

Death threats telephoned to Shefa Shuk chain executives

By Nati Toker March 26, 2010

(Poster not related to article)

The fight between ultra-Orthodox groups and the Shefa Shuk supermarket chain - which caters to that population - is threatening to become violent: Senior Shefa Shuk executives, who themselves are ultra-Orthodox, have been receiving threats over the telephone over the past few weeks, including death threats.

Neighborhoods with large ultra-Orthodox populations have been flooded in recent weeks by a poster campaign to convince the Haredi public to boycott Shefa Shuk.

'Someone like that should never marry'

By Tamar Rotem March 26, 2010

Esther-Malki Starik, 26, grew up in the Toldot Aharon Hasidic sect, one of the most insular Haredi communities.

She was first married at 18 and divorced a year later (she does not wish to elaborate on the circumstances); she was married to Anshin for three years.

Young Haredi women in her sect rarely speak to the press, but Starik is determined to expose the injustice done to her: the fact that her husband's mental instability was concealed from her for years.

She and her family cannot understand how, in a society in which "clarifications" are made about every prospective bride and groom, the fact that Nachman Anshin had been violent in the past was hidden, as the court ruling notes.

Moses, redacted

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion March 26, 2010

Today's Haredi rabbis believe they are the direct spiritual descendants of Moses and the scholars of the Talmud, but their refusal to see the suffering of individuals and adapt halakha accordingly, their insistence that "innovation is forbidden by the Torah," is much more reminiscent of Karaism, as they blindly cling to ancient texts.

Over the last two weeks, one ultra-Orthodox leader, the centenarian Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, has ordered his emissaries in the Knesset to block any new legislation designed to make the conversion process more friendly for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are not recognized by the Rabbinate as Jews.

He also wants to force the government to change the plans to build a much needed bomb-proof emergency ward at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

In both cases, Elyashiv threatened a coalition crisis to uphold the most hidebound version of halakha, despite the fact that many Orthodox, even Haredi, rabbis believe that there is room for flexibility.

Would Moses have wanted his name on this version of the Torah?

Guide to Israel’s gender-separated beaches

Tidhar to Build Chabad Project in Beit Shemesh

Source: March 25, 2010

Currently, negotiations are under way with Israel’s largest construction companies for a new Chabad neighborhood in Beit Shemesh.

Around 1500 housing units will be built, of which 400 will be allotted to a Chabad neighborhood, Chabad Beramah, with the approval and guidance of Agudas Chassidei Chabad.

Image improvements?

By Peggy Cidor March 26, 2010

…last week a new player joined the team at the mayor’s office: Ya’acov Izak, whose task will be to find a way to publish the mayor’s activities in the haredi press.

According to sources close to the Mayor’s Office, the idea is that once haredi residents read about the mayor’s efforts to improve their conditions and their quality of life in their own newspapers, they might refrain from demonstrating almost every weekend, a legal activity that is causing substantial damage to the city’s image.

Animal rights campaigners push for ban on wearing fur in Israel

By James Hider March 29, 2010

Israel could become the first country to ban the wearing of animal fur; a move campaigners hope will encourage other countries to follow suit.

However, ultra-Orthodox MPs are blocking the final steps in the process because many of their constituents traditionally wear sable hats known as shtreimels, which they argue are part of their cultural identity.

Maran R’ Chaim Kanievsky: Those Who Fly El Al Are Protected By a Double Siyata D’shmaya March 23, 2010

EL AL President Eleyzer Shkedy recently met with HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita at his home in Bnei Brak to consult with the Rav on a wide range of issues.

During the meeting, HaRav Kanievsky praised EL AL and made the following statement,

“Without a doubt, all Jews, especially those who are Shomerei Torah and Mitzvos, should prefer EL AL over all other airlines."

Do bacteria require kosher permit?

By Kobi Nahshoni March 26, 2010

A new book published ahead of the Passover holiday does not reveal the [Coca Cola’s] secret formula worth millions, but its authors – who are experts in the field of kashrut – definitely reveal a number of dark secrets about the food industry.

…Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg, deputy director of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, notes that the book is unique as it is appeals to the entire public and not just to the small community of people involved and specializing in kashrut issues.

108 Orphans Celebrate Bar Mitzvah at Western Wall

By Malkah Fleisher March 23, 2010

Minister of Religious Services Yaakov Margi (Shas) took part Monday in welcoming 108 orphaned boys from all over Israel into the performance of Torah commandments.

The event was organized as in previous years by the Colel Chabad, with help from the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.

Rabbi Druckman: The Almighty, not Obama, Has World in His Hands

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu March 23, 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama thinks he guides the world, but the truth is that the Almighty is behind the wheel, Bnei Akiva Yeshivot chairman Rabbi Chaim Druckman said Monday night.

Jaffa religious housing project wins case

By Haviv Rettig Gur March 24, 2010

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a request from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel to delay construction on a residential project in Jaffa believed by some residents to be part of a private effort to “Judaize” the area.

A rabbi not afraid to deviate

By Yair Ettinger March 29, 2010

You might have to go all the way to Manhattan, or at least take a quick trip to Ashdod at the right time, to find an important rabbi with a hat and beard who openly deviates from the official Haredi line.

One such rabbi is Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto.

"We are against mixing religion and politics. Lies and flattery married to each other: That's politics. We will never have anything to do with politics - for eternity," said Rabbi Pinto - and much more.

'Miracle' rabbi's non-profit plundered charity donations

By Chaim Levinson March 28, 2010

Managers of Rabbi Nir Ben-Artzi's charity Talmi Geulat Am Yisrael are suspected of having plundered its donations, listing them as "loans" and then "repaying" them to themselves.

The registrar of association's initial findings were so grave the non-profit's license was immediately suspended.

…A multitude of such "loans" and "returns" had brought the non-profit to bankruptcy. It now has debts of over NIS 2 million.

The Be'er Sheva District Court appointed a receiver for the NGO, who is today dividing its assets among its creditors. Weitzman, Shukrun and Katurza, meanwhile, have set up a new non-profit.

Religion and State in Israel

April 1, 2010 (Section 2) (see also Section 1 and Passover edition)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.