Monday, May 24, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - May 24, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

May 24, 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.

Religious rifts continue to plague Israel May 24, 2010

Anat Hoffman, founding member of “Women of the Wall”, has had enough – just last week a friend of hers was rushed to hospital after being hit with chair while she was praying.

Rabbi Uri Regev has set up an organization to challenge the growing power of the ultra Orthodox parties who sit in the Israeli government.

He says while most Israelis still favor freedom, equality and pluralism – it’s only a small majority.

“That percentage is going to change if we wait much longer – at this point if we assert the interests of the state, the public, democracy and Israel’s own founding vision we can still reverse that tide.”

Noa Raz, Beaten for Wearing Tefillin, Speaks to The Sisterhood

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen May 17, 2010

Noa Raz was raised a Masorti Jew in the Israeli town Rishon LeTzion. She said that she’s hoping that Jews in the U.S. will feel moved to get more involved with Israel as a result of the Haredi man’s attack on her.

“There are a lot of voices in America that talk about leaving Israel behind. We still live here and fight for our right to pray as we want, and to love whoever we want to love,” Raz said.

“That’s something we need your help with, so please don’t leave us alone. The best thing that the Jewish diaspora can do is to keep supporting Israel, the Conservative movement and the Reform movement, all the hard work we do to try to create a better society here.”

Woman assaulted for tefillin imprint

By Dan Verbin May 22, 2010

A Jewish woman was assaulted in Beersheba after an ultra-Orthodox man spotted imprint lines from a tefillin on her arms.

According to a release from the Israel Religious Action Center, Noa Raz was accosted last week by the man in Beersheba’s bus station while waiting to board a bus that she takes to her job in Tel Aviv.

Anat Hoffman:

"Too often these acts of violence are tolerated. The fact that this man thought it acceptable to attack a woman for performing a religious act in private is an example of the escalation of violence targeted against women and against religious pluralists in Israel."

Women sent to the back of the bus in Jerusalem

By Anne Barker May 19, 2010

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On an increasing number of buses women are expected to sit at the back - and those who refuse might be spat on, sworn at or even assaulted.

It's a sign of the growing influence of Orthodox Judaism.

Middle East correspondent Anne Barker caught a bus in Jerusalem to see for herself.

Rabbi from Gezer Region visits park, synagogue

By Rick Hellman May 21, 2010

Rabbi Gold also discussed the status of her long-running legal effort to be recognized — and paid — as an official rabbi for the Gezer Region. Her case is now before the Israeli Supreme Court.

“I’ve been to the Supreme Court three times,” Rabbi Gold explained. Her appeal at having been denied recognition by the regional, Orthodox-controlled religious council went directly to the Supreme Court.

...“The court is being more affirmative about saying in a democracy, there must be a place for more than one way of expressing Judaism; that the non-Orthodox streams are legitimate.”

The patience of Job

Kansas City Jewish Chronicle Editorial Opinion May 21, 2010

Rabbi Miri Gold has exhibited the patience of Job in her quest for recognition from the state of Israel and, if not recognition, then accommodation by its Orthodox religious establishment.

Vandals hit Reform and Masorti synagogues in Ra'anana

By Noah Kosharek May 24, 2010

Two non-Orthodox synagogues in Ra'anana have been vandalized in the space of one week.

On Thursday vandals threw bricks at the Ra'anana Masorti Congregation, breaking two of the Conservative synagogue's windows, and the week before, vandals broke six windows in the Reform synagogue Kehilat Ra'anan, according to police reports filed by members of both congregations.

Our Judaism Editorial May 17, 2010

Just as the desert does not belong to anyone, so, too, the Torah is not the personal property of anyone – not the Chief Rabbinate, not the Eda Haredit, not any other group.

More and more Israelis are realizing that while some adherents to “Judaism” choose to express their loyalty in distorted ways – including by preferring the dead to the living – there are other aspects of Judaism that are positive, relevant and meaningful.

Battle heat up over prayers in Jerusalem

By Anne Barker May 17, 2010

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Anat Hoffman:

"There should be room in that place for every Jew, regardless of their practice. What we're doing is according to halacha, according to Jewish Law. It's just changing the custom a little bit."

Are you religious or secular?

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel Opinion May 15, 2010

Instead of imposing two categories on the Jewish public, students of Jewish life should be trying to elicit the vast diversity within the Jewish community.

They should be sensitive to the fact that a large majority of Israeli Jews have a religious dimension to their lives that is important to them.

Instead of blithely writing people into the category of "secular/hiloni", they should try to evaluate the nature of the Jewish religious, spiritual life of the people.

Moreover, they should seek to understand that even religious Jews have "secular" qualities e.g. integrate modern secular values into their lives.

Livni organizes Jewish identity mega-conference

By Gil Hoffman May 23, 2010

At a time of deepening tension on matters of religion and state, who can bring top Israeli ultra-Orthodox, religious Zionist and Reform rabbis together at one conference, under one roof, in Jerusalem?

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, apparently.

On panels moderated by professors from the capital’s Shalom Hartman Institute, the rabbis will discuss conversion, civil marriage, education, haredi-secular relations, and the Jewish character of the state.

Kadima activists slam Livni's conduct on Haredim

By Yuval Karni May 23, 2010

The activists protested Livni's attitude towards the haredim as well.

"The members feel that Kadima should position itself in the center and right of the political map, and one of its main missions is to serve as a bridge between different parts of the people.

This bridge will allow to head together towards painful compromises – not just on political issues, but also on issues of society, religion and state."

Report reveals stagnation in country’s conversion mechanisms

By Jonah Mandel May 18, 2010

Of an estimated 313,000 potential converts in Israel in 2009, a mere 5,507 completed the conversion process, according to a report issued by ITIM, a non-profit organization “dedicated to making Jewish life accessible to all.”

Citing data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, the report revealed that about 60 percent of the converts were of Ethiopian origin, and 29% were from FSU states.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Reform Movement in Israel:

“The endless chain of decisions on conversion reached by Israel’s governments is useless in face of the ongoing helplessness in dealing with the crisis,” Kariv said.

“A committee of inquiry should focus on the government’s powerlessness, and point to the possible solutions to promote this important and fateful Zionist mission.”

See also: Conversion report issued by ITIM (Hebrew)

The cost of politics-as-usual to Am Yisrael

By Natan Sharansky Opinion May 17, 2010

The writer is chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

With the original proposal, we have an opportunity to improve the conversion status quo. With the amended version, we risk undoing whatever unity of purpose currently exists in the conversion system, and undermining the existing symbiotic relationship between our varied Jewish communities.

As chairman of the Jewish Agency, I strongly support the original Rotem proposal – and strongly oppose the onerous proposed amendments.

S. African beauty queen's conversion mirrors Ruth's story

By Ruth Eglash May 18, 2010

The Shavuot story of Ruth might retell the journey of the most famous convert to Judaism, but South African-born Ilana Skolnik, who became a Jew more than 20 years ago and has lived in Israel ever since, has no less of an amazing story.

Keep Dreaming: Jessica doesn't live here anymore

By David Breakstone Opinion May 21, 2010

The writer is a member of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency Executives.

Jessica is real. Her story appeared in Yediot Aharonot on April 30, in a piece by Smadar Shir. The other characters in this commentary are not.

But the dilemmas they evoke are, and so are the hundreds of thousands here, and the millions more around the world who are becoming increasingly disenfranchised from the Jewish state as it leans increasingly toward a definition of “Jewish” that would exclude them.

We have enough problems today with those who would delegitimize Israel altogether. We cannot afford to delegitimize those who would passionately support us. Better that we begin conversing with them instead.

Shavuot and The Book of Ruth

Rebecca Caspi May 17, 2010

Rebecca Caspi is Director General, Israel Office/Senior Vice President, Israel and Overseas - The Jewish Federations of North America

It is our strong belief that this bill would not only fail to achieve his forecast result, but would dangerously alter the Law of Return by consolidating conversion power in the hands of the Chief Rabbinate in ways that would be disastrous to the unity of the Jewish people.

By voicing our belief in an inclusive, diverse Israel, we hope to promote greater unity and a stronger bond between Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities.

Converts pay homage to Ruth at her Hebron tomb

By Tovah Lazaroff May 18, 2010

On Monday, ahead of Shavuot, the two men came to Hebron to sit for a moment by the tomb of Ruth of Moab, a biblical convert to Judaism whose story of devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and through her to the Jewish people and their faith, is central to the ancient harvest festival.

Under Israel's Divorce Laws, Men Get The Final Word

By Lourdes Garcia-Navarro April 7, 2010

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According to Jewish law, a man has to agree to grant the divorce of his own free will before the legal separation can proceed. Rights groups say the system unfairly discriminates against women.

"If he's incapacitated, if he's abusive, if he committed adultery, it really doesn't matter," says Susan Weiss, who runs the Center for Women's Justice in Israel. "If he doesn't say yes, you're stuck."

Ramit Elon Receives her 'Get' May 18, 2010

Ramit, a mother of three, a poet and an artist, received a get today in the Haifa Rabbinical Court. This came after a bitter five year struggle in which Ramit insisted she deserved her freedom without having to make concessions or compromises.

A pregnant agunah May 18, 2010

A 'mesorevet get', who has been living apart from her husband for seven years, arrived at the Beit Din Hagadol, in her eighth month of pregnancy.

Israel 2010: 42% of Jews are secular May 18, 2010

The Central Bureau of Statistics report published Sunday reveals that 8% of Israel's Jewish population defines itself as haredi, 12% as religious, 13% as traditional-religious, 25% as traditional and 42% as secular, on a descending scale of religiosity.

After the debates regarding the percentage of haredim who are employed, the CBS report shows that most haredi men (52%) work. Among Jews of working age (25-54), some 93% of secular men participate in the labor force, 91% of those defining themselves as traditional, 94% of the religious, and 52% of the Haredim.

A Shavuot white night, in the style of the White City

By Yair Ettinger May 18, 2010

The "Torah" has always been a fluid matter that even our sages liked to take out of context. Until a few years ago the "Torah" was seen by some teachers as "text" (and yet the study session leaders have always taken a conservative approach to the famous Talmudic text "Achnai's Oven," without which no Shavuot night-study session is complete).

Today the definitions are even more fluid, and "Torah" could be a performance, a play, a movie or even a coffee corner. Everything is "Torah," including the panels in the tikkun offered by Alma College, focusing on texts about sex and sexuality.

Israeli Gay Orthodox Rabbi Seeks Recognition

By Yermi Brenner May 20, 2010

Rabbi Ron Yosef defines himself as an orthodox Jew, which means he believes in a strict interpretation of the laws and ethics that are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.

When he was in his early twenties Yosef started becoming aware of his sexual identity.

JFNA, JAFI, JDC agree to continue cooperating May 20, 2010

The Jewish Federations of North America and its two overseas partners have agreed to continue working together to try to raise more money for overseas needs and to find a better way to split what they raise.

Absorption Ministry closes popular program for settling immigrants in cities

By Raphael Ahren May 21, 2010

The Absorption Ministry will close its popular Communal Aliyah program at the end of the year and replace it with a drastically scaled-down version.

Apartsev said North Americans were excluded from "Promoting Aliyah 2010" because they receive "significant services" from NBN, which for the first time this year received NIS 30 million from the government.

An Ethiopian Shulchan Aruch

By Stewart Ain April 7, 2010

I understand you are writing a new Shulchan Aruch or code of Jewish law to reconcile Jewish practice that was followed in Ethiopia with that which is followed in the rest of the traditional Jewish community.

I’m writing it with professor Daniel Sperber of Bar-Ilan University.

Interview with Danny Ayalon

By Rabbi Shraga Simmons May 17, 2010

Israel has a lot of Christian Zionist friends and we should harness all that goodwill.

Actually, my wife is from a Christian Zionist background. As a child, her parents would take her to synagogue on the High Holidays to show her “their roots.”

In the late 1970s, she was studying hotel management and tourism, and as part of her training could select one place in the world to get hands-on experience. Most of the students chose places like Hawaii, Paris and Tokyo. But she chose Israel.

To become married to me, she was willing to leave her family and her religion, and convert. Now years later, she is serving as a sort of an ambassador of her own, meeting with Christian groups and explaining to them exactly why it is important to support the State of Israel.

Religion and State in Israel

May 24, 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.