Monday, April 12, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - April 12, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

April 12, 2010 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Why is this Pessah no different from last year’s Pessah?

By Dan Izenberg April 1, 2010

Haaretz cartoon by Amos Biderman April 16, 2008

In case no one noticed, pizzerias, restaurants and grocery stores in Jerusalem that wish to, are displaying bread, buns, pitas and other hametz products made from flour just as they have until now, despite a vow by Shas to put an end to the practice.

The crisis over the display of hametz in stores and restaurants erupted two years ago following a ruling by Jerusalem Local Affairs Court Judge Tamar Ben-Asher Tsaban, who canceled fines issued by the municipality against four businesses that displayed the forbidden products during Pessah.

Law banning sale of chametz widely flouted

By Nir Hasson, Yuval Azoulay and Fadi Eyadat April 2, 2010

Despite the ongoing political clashes around the chametz (leavened bread) ban and its interpretations, this year as every year, the ban was only symbolically enforced.

From Jerusalem - which had once seen stormy pickets outside restaurants that dared sell products deemed not kosher for Passover - to secular Tel Aviv and proudly interreligious Haifa, there's no difficulty finding chametz in all its varieties.

Local authorities freely admit that municipal inspectors, charged with enforcing the ban, only use their powers in a handful of cases every year.

Post-Pesach warning: Don't buy chametz from seculars

By Kobi Nahshoni April 7, 2010

The sale of leavened food by a secular person has no halachic validity, and therefore one must not buy chametz after the holiday of Passover in businesses which are not owned by religious people, Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv rules.

According to the haredi authority, when it comes to a person who does not observe mitzvot, "there is no real intention in the sale, and he sees it as a 'religious act' only."

Haredim try breaking into restaurant selling chametz

By Ronen Medzini April 4, 2010

Some 70 ultra-Orthodox men demonstrated Sunday outside a Jerusalem hamburger chain, Iwo Burger, in protest against the sale of chametz during the Passover holiday. They also tried to break into the restaurant.

The protesters managed to block entry to employees and tear down signs before they were evacuated by police. They did not resist evacuation.

Thousands take part in Priestly Blessing at Western Wall

Click here for VIDEO

By Kobi Nahshoni April 1, 2010

Close to ten thousand worshippers participated in Thursday's Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall which is held during the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot.

Lone soldiers join Peres for Seder

By Raphael Ahren April 2, 2010

While U.S. President Barack Obama's seder in the White House was front page news, seder night at the President's Residence in Jerusalem was a rather modest affair with a total of 12 attendees. President Shimon Peres celebrated with his daughter Zvia, some of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren - and two lone Israel Defense Force combat soldiers from New Jersey.

Rightists arrested over Pesach sacrifice

By Shmulik Grossman March 29, 2010

Right-wing activists Yehuda Glick and Noam Federman were arrested Sunday on suspicion of planning to sacrifice young goats near the Temple Mount.

Glick was detained near Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City and was taken in for questioning by the police.

The young goat found in his possession was handed over to the Wildlife Supervision Department in the Agriculture Ministry.

Israelis Spend Over NIS 4 Billion for Passover Needs April 6, 2010

Israeli households spent over NIS 4.2 billion over Passover, five percent more than last year, and 15% more than during corresponding non-holiday shopping periods, the Central Bureau of Statistics said.

Included in the figure was money spent by families who bought products and services for the holiday, the CBS said.

Chametz in Ben-Gurion International Airport Duty Free Shops April 8, 2010

The Chicago Rabbinical Council has verified that the only store in Ben Gurion Airport that has properly sold his chametz as well as not selling any chametz over Pesach is the James Richardson Store at Gate D7.

Regarding other stores, there is an issue of chametz that remained in Jewish possession over Pesach, and therefore in violation of the rabbinical ban permitting such a situation. Such foods are prohibited forever.

Op-Ed: Israel-Diaspora relations: a new equation

By Julie Schonfeld Opinion March 22, 2010

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld is executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative rabbis

The vast majority of world Jewry cannot relate to the Judaism of the ultra-Orthodox minority. During this eventful week, Conservative and Reform leaders, along with the Jewish Federations of North America, called out the Israeli government on the coercive power that coalition arithmetic has granted to the Orthodox.

We proclaimed that it so harms Israel-Diaspora relations as to name it for what it is: a security threat. We set aside our other agendas and spent our week on this issue. We treated it with the level of seriousness and focused attention that we, as stalwart lovers of Israel, treat any threat to her security.

Diaspora Jewry derived a new axiom this week: ISRAEL’S FUTURE = SECURITY + RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.

Israeli conversions in legal challenge

By Anshel Pfeffer April 1, 2010

Israel's Supreme Court will have to decide whether local rabbis can refuse to marry converts, in what may turn out to be a landmark case.

The latest challenge the rabbis are posing to the converts is an attempt to sabotage the only successful conversion programme still operating in Israel, run by the IDF.

"There is a conflict here because the Rabbinate which is controlled by ultra-Orthodox rabbis is seeing the IDF conversion route as a direct challenge," says Dr Aviad HaCohen, the lawyer who served the petition on Sunday.

"While the government is investing huge resources to promote conversion, it is also financing the courts and local rabbis who are trying to block this.

The way they are treating converts conflicts both the democratic and the Jewish ideals which are the state's basis and we hope that the Supreme Court will rule that this is also illegal."

Chief Sephardic rabbi slams Haredi parties

By Kobi Nahshoni April 4, 2010

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar criticized the haredi parties in the Knesset Wednesday and claimed that they were displaying "weakness on ideological matters" while "focusing too much on budgets".

The rabbi explained his involvement in the conversion and marriage bills.

"The fact that we have so-and-so non-Jews who are not allowed to marry puts pressure on us to ease conversions, and not only ease, but also allow Reform authorities to convert," he said.

"So I said we could amend two things: We can amend the conversion laws and we can give goyim the right to marry between themselves and then the pressure will drop. Really, when you check, you realize that most of them marry each other."

Why We Need a Reversion of Conversion

By Rabbi Hyim Shafner Opinion April 3, 2010

Rabbi Hyim Shafner is the Rabbi of Bais Abraham Congregation in St. Louis, Missouri

Myself and several other rabbis met with Rabbi Chaim Amsalem, a member of Knesset from the Shas party.

Rabbi Amsalem showed us the 2 volume magnum opus he has just published entitled “Zera Yisrael,” “seed of Israel” which refers to someone who is not technically Jewish by birth but has some connection to the Jewish people, a Jewish father or grandparent, or perhaps lives in the Jewish country fighting its wars and casting their lot with its people.

Such people are not halachically Jewish but are not like other non-Jews either, they occupy an intermediate space in Jewish law referred to as zera yisrael, much as the person in my story above or the myriads of Jews I see on a daily basis in America who due to an entire generation assimilating have a Jewish father or grandfather and a non Jewish mother.

Anti-draft-dodger activists take campaign to the streets

By Dan Izenberg April 2, 2010

The Israeli Forum for the Promotion of an Equal Share of the Burden is due on Friday to hold a two-hour vigil in Ramat Gan to protest the fact that 35 percent of conscription-age men and woman do not perform military or any other kind of national service.

“There is a Compulsory Security Service Law in Israel and this country is governed by the rule of law,” Miri Bar-On, the founder of the forum, told The Jerusalem Post. “Therefore, it cannot be that the law will only apply to 65% of the population.”

According to Bar-On, the law has proved to be a failure and should be annulled. She quoted senior officers in the IDF Manpower Branch as warning that in another 10 years, 25% of all 18-year-old Jewish Israeli men will study in a yeshiva rather than serve in the army. Today, the figure has already reached 13%.

Anti-draft dodgers rally in Haredi stronghold

By Yoav Zitun April 2, 2010

Forum Chairwoman Miri Baron explained that the group's objective is to increase awareness among the general and haredi public of this controversial subject.

"It's always good to have dialogue, even on street level, so that they know some people are opposed to the situation continuing as it is, and are unwilling to accept that there is a law stipulating mandatory service that does not apply to haredim," she said.

Student-Soldier Refuses Barak's Hesder Ultimatum

By Hillel Fendel April 8, 2010

Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s fight against the Hesder yeshiva in Har Bracha has been ratcheted up another notch: A student-soldier thrown out of the Hesder arrangement has begun a work-to-rule strike, and refuses to serve in the new track assigned to him.

He faces possible jail time for refusing to cooperate with what he views as a heavy handed IDF approach to force soldiers to expel Jews.

Ask the Rabbi: Women Warriors

By Rabbi Shlomo Brody April 9, 2010

The author, on-line editor of Tradition and its blog, Text & Texture, teaches at Yeshivat Hakotel.

photo: IDF Spokesperson

The inclusion of women in the army roiled the state in its early years, and continues to remain controversial within the religious community.

The IDF estimates that close to 30 percent of religious girls join the army, even as the vast majority of the religious Zionist rabbinate opposes female enlistment, as highlighted by recent remarks by outgoing OC Chaplaincy Corps Avi Ronsky.

VIDEO: Is Modern Orthodoxy an Endangered Species? April 6, 2010

Click here for VIDEO

Does Modern Orthodoxy Have a Future?

It is undeniable that Modern Orthodoxy has changed since the early days of Torah Va'Avodah. But is it developing in a planned, desirable way? Do we need to intervene and change course? Is it fair to intercede or should we allow natural evolution to run its course?

Speakers: Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber, Rebbetzin Chana Henkin, Rabbi Dr. Shaul Farber

Rabbi Lau’s Religion Problem

By Haim Watzman Opinion April 1, 2010

But the real question is whether Rabbi Lau and his colleagues in the religiously moderate Tzohar organization will take concerted action not just to decry but to actively oppose the unthinking Judaism they decry.

That would require new organizational and political frameworks—the abandonment of the official state rabbinate, which has been taken over by the ultra-Orthodox and fundamentalists, and of the political parties that now claim to represent the Zionist religious community.

Why Do Men's Voices Lend Credibility to Jewish Women's Issues?

By Elana Sztokman Opinion April 2, 2010

As a woman, I sometimes feel like I’m in a catch-22. I want to bring attention to issues concerning women, but I also want men to pay attention.

When women are doing all the talking, we run the risk of marginalizing ourselves, of turning our ideas into “women’s stuff.”

By inviting men to speak about women’s issues, we may gain credibility and breadth, but we contribute to the problem by having men speak on our behalf, muting our voices once again.

I found myself in this frustrating predicament the other day. I was speaking on a panel at a conference organized by Rabbi Marc Angel’s Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah.

Family Affair / The Khuris

By Avner Avrahami and Reli Avrahami April 9, 2010

Ran's occupations:

Yeshiva student, sixth year at Orot Shaul hesder yeshiva (combining religious studies with military service) in Petah Tikva and a sociology student at the Open University ("He made the president's list" - Adi). After completing his undergraduate degree next year, he wants to go on to a Ph.D. in the field and maybe also become an ordained rabbi.


He dealt with all the religious issues of soldiers of all faiths ("I had Armenians, too"). Discharged after a year and returned to the yeshiva in Petah Tikva.

Sharing the burden:

"The hesder track is actually five years, and the hesder students make a great contribution in the military and public realms."

Orthodox Women Rabbis: Why We Need Rabba---not Maharat--Sara Hurwitz

By Haviva Ner-David Opinion April 7, 2010

I also received Orthodox smicha, and I have had to overcome stage fright and low self esteem to gather up the courage to call myself “Rabbi”–a title I worked many years to earn.

Living in Israel, where the idea of women rabbis is much less accepted than in the U.S., it would be much easier for me not to call myself “Rabbi.”

I face this issue constantly when I have to fill out the “profession” box on school questionnaires, hospital forms, government applications, etc.

And I will admit that sometimes I do not write “rabbi,” instead listing all of the many things I do as a rabbi: “teacher, counselor, spiritual guide, mikveh director, ritual consultant, organizational director, writer, etc.” I, too, do not always want to make waves. But we must, if we want to change the world.

Women of the Wall challenge Israeli laws

By Meghan McCarty April 1, 2010

Women of the Wall

Click here for VIDEO

“The weather was not a deterrence to our prayers. It was raining chairs this morning,” joked WOW Chairperson Anat Hoffman.

On Tuesday morning police surrounded the group, but their presence was more a protective measure than a threat. Officers instructed the women to wear their tallis hidden inside their jacket. After the chair throwing, the police detained two men and a line of female police officers was ordered to stand in front of the group.

Hoffman said the monopolization of the Kotel by one form of Judaism at the expense of all others was still a major concern, but she sees Women of the Wall gradually chipping away at that hegemony.

“Am I still riding at the back of the bus? Yes,” said Hoffman. “But I can do things in the back of the bus that I wasn’t allowed to do before and someday we’ll be able to ride any place on the bus we wish.”

Women of the Wall organization pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem

AP April 2, 2010

Since its founding in 1989, Women of the Wall has fought a legal battle asserting a right to conduct organized prayer at the Western Wall.

Holding Leaders Accountable for Kotel Violence against Women

By Micah Kelber Opinion April 8, 2010

Women and men should let the Prime Minister know that he cannot look the other way when women are threatened with violence like this.

He needs to lean on his ministers to deal with this once and for all — or find other people who can solve this problem.

With all the rhetoric about Israel needing to protect herself, we should insist that Israel start by protecting women at its holiest place.

No God? No problem

By Elana Estrin April 9, 2010

When 31-year-old Tzemah Yoreh opens his prayer book, he recites the following passage: “I will pour out my heart. But to whom?... Why? Why, oh why do you not exist, my God?”

You can’t find those words in any synagogue’s siddur – at least not yet. Yoreh prays from Liturgical Experiments: A Siddur for the Skeptical, the tentatively titled atheist siddur he composed himself.

“I’m happy that someone is searching for spirituality, for a religious experience. That’s good,” says Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of the hesder yeshiva of Petah Tikva.

“But it’s too far from Judaism because it’s trying to isolate the prayer from believing in God and basic halachic principles. I think it’s too far to be identified as a Jewish alternative siddur.”

Why do so many Diaspora Jews want to join the IDF?

By Anshel Pfeffer April 2, 2010

Officers in the IDF's Personnel Directorate are already talking openly of tapping into the global Jewish potential as a possible solution for the shortfall in enlistment due to lower birthrates and the growing proportion in the population of Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox, who do not serve in the army.

JNF's strange place in the sun

By Amiram Barkat March 28, 2010

At the beginning of January this year, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) carried out one of the strangest deals in its 110-year history.

The JNF, since 1901 the land buying arm of the World Zionist Organization, entered a new and attractive area solar energy.

Lone soldiers' parents visit Israel April 3, 2010

A group of 30 parents from around the world visited Israel recently for a week-long visit with their children serving in the Israel Defense Forces as part of the Jewish Agency’s Keshet program, which brings parents of lone soldiers to visit their children in Israel.

Immigration to Israel from North America up by 20% in 2010

By Cnaan Liphshiz April 4, 2010

Immigration to Israel from North America during the first quarter increased by more than 20 percent from a year earlier, according to data compiled by Nefesh B'Nefesh and the Jewish Agency, pointing to a busy year.

Freedom and identity

By David Brinn April 4, 2010

Interview with Natan Sharansky

It’s one of the challenges and part of the new strategic plan of the Jewish Agency to develop courses for Israeli schools in the Jewish Diaspora. It’s a very high priority, and we currently have very good partners in the Education Ministry, with Minister Gideon Sa’ar and director-general Shimshon Shoshani.

We’re also discussing the next steps, after programs like Masa and Birthright, in bringing together mutual groups of Israeli and Diaspora Jews, who through common experience will strengthen their mutual identity.

Jewish Peoplehood as Outcome

By Alisa Rubin Kurshan Opinion April 7, 2010

Alisa Rubin Kurshan is vice president for strategic planning and organizational resources at UJA-Federation of New York

Israelis today are seeking new ways to express their deep spiritual and communal yearnings as evidenced by the many new forms of religious expressions that are exploding in Israel — from the “secular yeshivot” that are attracting hundreds of Israelis, to the emerging spiritual communities throughout the country that are writing their own prayer books, to the burgeoning field of Jewish spiritual care and much more.

Israelis on the “secular” side of Israeli society are searching for meaningful connections to many Jewish traditions.

Galilee Diary: Definitions IV

By Rabbi Marc Rosenstein April 1, 2010

[T]here are a couple of different conversations one can have here as a Reform Jew, and I've had them both.

With a committed Orthodox Jew, one has to argue against the ideological position that God gave all the mitzvot at Mt. Sinai, that there is a chain of authority descending from Moses to the local rabbi, and that denying that chain and usurping that authority is a violation of God's will and a danger to the Jewish people: An argument about basic beliefs.

With a masorti Jew, the argument takes place on a different plane. "This is how we've all always done it, this is what Judaism is, this is who we are, this is what makes us Jewish and keeps us a people - how is it conceivable that you would reject/undermine/undo/re-form these traditional norms:" A conversation about identity - or perhaps not really a conversation at all.

Definitions V

By Rabbi Marc Rosenstein April 7, 2010

While in recent years some have found their way to the liberal movements, the vast majority who decide to "become religious" understand their only authentic option to be Orthodoxy (much as we don't like it, the Hebrew word "dati," meaning religious, is universally understood to mean Orthodox, and when we protest that that is not accurate, we get impatient looks).

There are plenty of Orthodox rabbis actively engaged in missionizing among the non-religious population - through local study groups, through revival meetings, through youth activities and social services.

However, it seems obvious that most of those who become involved are not being tricked - they are finding something they've been looking for.

2009 Religious Freedom Report: The Worst Year of the Decade

By Shahar Ilan, Vice President of Research and Information

A major escalation in Haredi religion-based violence, attempts at religious coercion and efforts to enforce gender segregation were among the trends that characterized 2009.

The Haredim also received more government funding (in excess of NIS 1 billion a year). In a positive development, 2009 is the first year in which nearly 1,000 yeshiva students joined the Israeli army and a similar amount began national service.

Israel's Democracy: Past, Present, Future

Ruth Gavison, Haim Cohn Professor of Human Rights, Faculty of Law at Hebrew University in Jerusalem

"Can Israel Be a Jewish and Democratic State?"

Ruth Gavison, Haim Cohn Professor of Human Rights, Faculty of Law at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, will speak on "Can Israel Be a Jewish and Democratic State?"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 4:15 PM - 6:30 PM UCLA School of Law, Room 1420 405 Hilgard Ave. Los Angeles

The Simpsons - The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed"

Religion and State in Israel

April 12, 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.