Monday, February 8, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - February 8, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

February 8, 2010 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

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.

Court slams Katz for his approach to sex-segregated buses

By Ron Friedman February 5, 2010

The High Court of Justice on Thursday criticized Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz’s decision to allow gender-segregated buses to continue operating, saying his suggestion to hang signs asking non-religious passengers to respect the haredi community’s sensitivities while explaining that the separation isn’t mandatory, was unsatisfactory.

“Perhaps you should put up signs against use of violence instead,” quipped Justice Yoram Danziger.

Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center:

“I think the countdown started today about segregation as a religious expression in the Jewish state,” she continued.

“It’s a slippery slope. If signage makes it kosher, then next we are going to find segregated post offices, HMOs and sidewalks, all of which we already know examples of."

Separate isn’t equal Editorial February 5, 2010

Public transport – regardless of the particular route – belongs to us all. Coercing any of us to capitulate to sectarian restrictions should be a non-starter in principle.

…A free society cannot countenance what amounts to a potential injustice to women. The rights of those who are liable to be wronged must override the rights of others to cause that wrong.

Resist Segregation Editorial February 3, 2010

The need to restrain the burgeoning power of Jewish fundamentalism in Israel grows ever more urgent. The latest flashpoint is public transportation.

…We fear that this continued diminishment of women’s rights will open up a dangerous wedge in the already fraught relationship between American Jews and Israel.

…Supporters of Israel must strongly protest Katz’s acquiescence to the segregationists. The right of Haredi men and women to live and worship as they please must be protected, of course. But Israel’s public sphere must be open to all. In a 21st-century democracy, no one should be relegated to the back of the bus.

Transportation minister OKs ‘mehadrin’ buses

By Ron Friedman February 2, 2010

“The minister is trying to push a round peg through a square hole,” said Rabbi Uri Regev, director of Hiddush, a non-profit organization aimed at promoting religious freedom in Israel.

“What he’s saying is that the state won’t pass a law making the arrangement legal, but also wouldn’t do anything to stop it.”

“It’s not clear on what authority he rejected the committee’s determination that the separation involves violence and coercion against women.

How could such an arrangement be voluntary? How could verbal violence and pressure against a woman who boards the bus be prevented?” asked attorney Einat Hurvitz, who represented the plaintiffs in court.

Katz in favor of 'voluntary' bus segregation

By Kobi Nahshoni February 1, 2010

Israel Religious Action Center criticized the Minister's response to the court.

Attorney Einat Horowitz:

"The Minister's stance also ignores the need to ensure a fitting alternative to anyone who wishes to travel in bus lines without segregation, and does not address at all the significant difference in prices that makes the Mehadrin bus lines much cheaper than what is offered to the secular public."

Jerusalem city council member Rachel Azaria added, "The recommendation is purely political, and was written because Shas and Agudat Israel are strong in the government.

"A woman should not be forced to sit in the back of these lines because of the number of seats Shas has. Minister Katz has betrayed his constituents.

He is betraying the secular, traditional, religious, and even most of the haredi public – for the sake of haredi extremists. As a public representative he should remember that this is the public that is meant to vote for him when the time comes."

'Western Wall shouldn't be a synagogue'

By Gil Hoffman and Rebecca Ann Stoil February 4, 2010

The Western Wall should be a national site and not a synagogue, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said on Tuesday, in a revealing conversation in Tel Aviv about matters of religion and state with rabbis and leaders of the American and Israeli Conservative Movement.

Top American Conservative and Reform officials met this week with Meridor as well as with a number of other government ministers in separate and – according to the Reform Movement – uncoordinated meetings.

“The truth is that there is no equality between religious streams in Israel,” Meridor said. “There is no free market.

“What happened at the Western Wall bothers me. It doesn’t have to be a synagogue. It is a national site. I would change the status quo if I could, but it cannot be done with the current coalition.”

Regarding civil marriage, Meridor said it was “unacceptable” that Israeli couples who are unable or unwilling to marry in Israel via the rabbinate are forced to wed abroad.

Pushed from the Wall

By Rivka Haut Opinion February 5, 2010

Rivka Haut is co-editor with Phyllis Chesler of "Women of the Wall: Claiming Sacred Ground at Judaism's Holy Site" (Jewish Lights, 2003), and co-editor with Adena Berkowitz of "Shaarei Simcha" (Ktav, 2007).

Many Haredim view public prayer and Torah reading as male activities. Women pray to God privately, not in groups.

The phenomenon of Women of the Wall conducting their own services in the absence of men, reading Torah, singing Hallel, threatens the Haredi way of life.

Rabbi Melamed: IDF chief rabbi’s rulings not binding

By Kobi Nahshoni February 4, 2010

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, who has recently angered the Defense Minister by promoting insubordination in the army, has come out with a new statement saying the Israel Defense Forces chief rabbi does not have the power to make halachic rulings binding to soldiers.

Speaking at a convention dubbed "The obligation of obeying a command and its limits", held Tuesday at Efrat’s Shvut Israel hesder yeshiva, Melamed said military rabbis were swayed by wrongful considerations as well as army officers, and that this weakens the IDF rabbinate.

IDF: Religious Girls May Serve in Groups

By Gil Ronen February 1, 2010

The IDF is offering a new service track for young religious women in the hope of attracting more of them to serve in the military.

The track will enable them to serve in groups of six or more girls who will remain together throughout their military service. The new option was presented this week before a group of 500 religious girls who are candidates for enlistment.

IDF to Remove ‘Jesus Gun’ Codes

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu February 1, 2010

A Michigan company that supplies gun sights to Israel and other companies has agreed to provide a kit to remove the “JN8:12” code, a reference to the New Testament passage of John 8:12 that Jesus is the “light of the world.” Another type of the company’s gun sights is stamped with “2COR4:6,” a reference to part of the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians.

Former Shas Minister Aryeh Deri on Jewish identity and Heritage at the Herzliya Conference

Click here for VIDEO

February 2, 2010

Herzliya Conference panel on Jewish identity and Heritage

Former Education Minister Yuli Tamir and former Director, IDF Human Resources Directorate Elazar Stern in panel at Herzliya Conference on Teaching Jewish identity and Heritage

Click here for VIDEO

February 2, 2010

Former Shas leader: Secular Jews brought us 'Big Brother'

By Yair Ettinger February 4, 2010

Secular Judaism "brought us Haskalah and maybe 'Big Brother,' but Jewish culture that provides a new Jewish language - this it did not bring," former Shas leader Aryeh Deri said on Tuesday at the annual Herzliya Conference.

Deri lashes out at values of reality TV

By Gil Hoffman February 2, 2010

Deri said that more haredim were quietly entering the work force, the IDF and universities. He joked that the secular would one day complain that haredim were taking over academia.

In thinly veiled criticism of Shas, he said he generally opposed religious coercion in legislation. But he praised Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich’s effort to promote greater enforcement of legislation banning work on Shabbat, which he said was important to prevent the exploitation of weaker sectors.

Rav Ovadia Yosef: A Woman Can Recite Kaddish for Parents in a Minyan at Home

By Ezra Reichman February 1, 2010

Rav Ovadia Yosef has issued a trail-blazing if not original psak permitting a woman to recite Kaddish over her parents in a minyan at home. The psak is likely to arouse the chareidi rabbinical establishment against him.

The impending Haredi implosion

By Isi Leibler Opinion February 4, 2010

Ongoing external threats have diverted us from confronting the burgeoning haredi crisis which is rapidly developing into a national disaster.

…We are now rapidly reaching the point in which able-bodied Haredim unwilling or unfit to join the workforce will comprise such a large proportion of society that the state welfare system will simply become unable to support them.

The other explosive issue is Haredi exemption from army service, which has no religious justification and continues generating enormous resentment.

…Another issue is the inclination of certain haredi rabbis to more stringently interpret the applications of Jewish ritual observance. view of the explosive impending economic and political implications of the growing haredi population on the workforce and the IDF, haredim must be integrated into the mainstream and obliged to work and serve in the army or participate in national service.

Haredim return snatched body to police

By Efrat Weiss February 3, 2010

A body of a woman snatched by a group of ultra-Orthodox men on Wednesday evening has been returned to the Jerusalem Police.

…"ZAKA commander in Jerusalem Bentzi Oring arrived to handle the body, but was also beaten and pushed by those violent people, although these actions contradict the Halacha and respect of the dead," ZAKA spokesman Moti Bukjin told Ynet.

ZAKA officials said that Oring used his connections with the police and among extreme elements in the haredi sector in order to reach an arrangement with the body snatchers.

Are Haredi leaders losing their followers to the Web?

By Miriam Shaviv The Forward February 2, 2010

Are Israel's Haredi religious authorities losing control of their followers?

In December, leading Israeli rabbis launched a new push to curtail Internet use among ultra-Orthodox Jews, emphasizing that their longstanding ban on Web surfing applied to sites geared toward the Haredi community as well.

Treasury chief: Boosting Arab and Haredi employment would make Israel rich

By Lior Zeno February 3, 2010

Israel would be among the world's richest nations if Arabs and ultra-orthodox Jews could be brought into the economy, Israel's top treasury official said on Wednesday.

"If two groups of people were left out of GDP calculations, Israel would rank among the foremost developed countries," Ministry of Finance Director General Haim Shani said. "They are the Arabs and the Haredis."

See also: Internal Popular Discourse in Israeli Haredi Society

By Kimmy Caplan, Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History

Hanukkah parties, not chametz bills, will bring Jews closer to Judaism

By David Daman February 5, 2010

The writer is columnist for the ultra-Orthodox weekly Mishpacha.

It is time we let secular people know that we are taking our hands off religious legislation (except for laws with a direct bearing on the ultra-Orthodox public).

But at the same time we will explain that we don't plan to give up on them, not even on one of them. We are determined to reach them everywhere they are.

We'll bring them to lectures, seminars and symposia. We'll see to it that every Jewish child knows about Shabbat, about the why of Passover and the how of Yom Kippur.

We will assist organizations that return people to religion, helping them reach the heart of every Jew. Agreeably, with authentic explanations, with great love, and with a warm welcome.

Haredim in focus at Meseznikov’s tourism ‘kollel’

By Ron Friedman February 5, 2010

The Israel Beiteinu minister met with Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) and other deputy ministers and committee chairs from haredi parties, to hear from them their constituency’s tourism needs.

The aim of the brainstorming session was to examine the characteristics of foreign and domestic haredi tourists, identify the difficulties facing them and zero in on obstacles to maximizing the sector’s potential.

Meseznikov also announced a NIS 30 million plan to upgrade infrastructure at Mount Meron that will be presented to the cabinet in the coming weeks. The tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai on Mount Meron is the most-visited Jewish holy site after the Western Wall, with hundreds of thousands converging on it on Lag Ba’omer.

Passion and Identity Crisis in a Pious Community

By A.O. Scott February 5, 2010

“Eyes Wide Open,” the quiet and confident feature debut of the Israeli director Haim Tabakman, explores the conflict between sexual desire and religious obligation.

Set in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem, the film, written by Merav Doster, gives nearly equal weight to both sides in that struggle.

Click here for VIDEO Film Trailer with English subtitles

Raising the curtain

By David Brinn February 5, 2010

“It’s a quiet revolution in the heart of the ultra-Orthodox community of Har Nof, as well as in broader Jerusalem and beyond,” says Shira Barzily, the young, energetic outreach manager of the conservatory, as she leads me into Har Nof’s Beit Ya’acov elementary school, where the conservatory exists after regular school hours.

There, some 500 female students, ranging in age from seven through adulthood, immerse themselves in the world of classical music.

Building a Haredi Carnegie Hall

By David Brinn February 5, 2010

Fifteen years after its founding, the Ron Shulamit Music Conservatory in Har Nof has outgrown being housed in someone else’s school.

Rabbonim Shlita Question Jerusalem’s Policy to Promote Evangelistic Tourism

By Yechiel Spira February 2, 2010

Rabbonim are concerned, and voicing their protest over ongoing efforts by Jerusalem City Hall to encourage Evangelistic Christians to visit Jerusalem, setting its goal at 10 million visitors a year.

Harel Pension Fund Managers Visit HaRav Eliashiv February 4, 2010

Yossi Dotan, vice president of long-term savings at the Harel Group, and Motti Levy, vice president of Harel Gilad, received blessings from Maran HaRav Eliashiv shlita for an investment track in the Harel Gilad pension fund which has been granted halachic approval by the Eida Chareidis' Oversight Committee for Financial Investments.

Gov’t to Take Action against Emanuel Parents February 4, 2010

The government will take legal action against parents of students at the Beit Yaakov School in Emanuel, a government official told the High Court Thursday.

The students have been striking and refusing to attend class, after the court ordered that girls from Sephardic families be integrated in classes with girls from Ashkenazi families.

Top Marks to teacher colleges in religious, Arab sectors

By Or Kashti February 3, 2010

Of the 25 teacher training colleges in the country, the one which scored the highest marks was Herzog College in Gush Etzion, which readies students to teach at state-run religious Jewish schools. On average, such colleges had higher admissions rates than those geared toward non-religious schools.

Nachman Ravers

Tel Aviv followers of Rav Nachman of Breslov

Click here for VIDEO

Chabad Children Handed Over To Non-Jewish Dad as Per High Court

By Yechiel Spira February 7, 2010

Israel’s High Court of Justice has […] ordered the return of two children, members of the Chabad community, to their non-Jewish father. In this case, the Hadera Family Court and the Haifa District Court which heard the appeal felt there would be “no significant harm” to the children by sending them to France, to live with the non-Jewish biological father. The High Court did not overrule the decision of the lower courts.

Israel bans import, export of furs for all nonreligious uses

By Yonatan Liss and Amiram Cohen February 7, 2010

The Ministers legal committee decided on Sunday to ban imports and exports of furs of any kind, unless they are designated for religious or traditional use.

The bill also excluded furs for religious purposes, mainly used by the ultra-Orthodox community for the manufacturing of Shtreimels - their traditional fur hat.

Hassidim infiltrate Joseph's Tomb, break through checkpoint

By Efrat Weiss February 5, 2010

A number of Breslav Hassidim entered unauthorized into Joseph's Tomb and fled the area. They then broke through an IDF checkpoint in the area, and the soldiers fired warning shots in the area following the incident.

Rabbi Eliyahu's Condition Worsens February 7, 2010

The condition of former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu worsened considerably overnight Saturday. Sources told Arutz 7 that he was currently being aided in his breathing by a respirator and in critical condition in the emergency ward of Shaare Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem. Doctors are working to stabilize his condition.

Netanyahu risks Muslim wrath over Jerusalem holy site

By Akiva Eldar February 2, 2010

Will Netanyahu use a court decision to forgo a plan to alter the Mughrabi Gate?

The Western Wall Rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz, is a man of action: He never for a moment hid his intention of exploiting the repair of the ramp to turn the unused space below it into an extension of the women's prayer section.

He would joke that the Lord had answered his prayers by putting cracks in the ramp, which would make it possible to reduce the crowding at the Western Wall Plaza. The rabbi also used his connections in earthly Jerusalem - namely, in the office of then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Samaritans mourn their high priest

By Ben Hartman February 5, 2010

Snow flurries drifted to the ground on Mount Gerizim overlooking Nablus on Thursday, as mourners gathered to bury the spiritual leader of the Samaritans, who passed away the previous day.

High Priest Elazar ben Tsadaka ben Yitzhaq was born during a snowstorm 83 years ago, one mourner said. On Thursday, as he was being laid to rest at the holiest site in the Samaritan religion, the snow began to fall again.

Religion and State in Israel

February 8, 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.

Religion and State in Israel - February 8, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

February 8, 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.

State: Conversions' annulment illegal

By Aviad Glickman February 2, 2010

The Attorney General's Office filed its High Court rebuttal on the matter of conversion annulment Monday, stating that the rabbinical courts' decision to retroactively annul conversions should be made null and void.

The State alleges that "fundamental faults" can be found in the regional rabbinical courts' ruling, as well as in the Great Rabbinical Court's decision to deny several appeals on the conversions' annulment.

The State's brief named lack of due process as one of the main reasons the decision must be overturned.

Chief Rabbi: Judges won't deliberate nullifying conversions

By Kobi Nahshoni February 2, 2010

Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar signed over the weekend new measures stipulating that rabbinical courts will no longer deliberate misgivings regarding the validity of conversions, and instead will transfer such files to a special panel chosen by the rabbi himself, Ynet learned.

As part of his role as chief rabbi, Rabbi Amar serves as president of the Great Rabbinical Court and as the supreme rabbinical authority on the State conversion layout.

The new measures are the fruit of a joint initiative between the rabbi and the Justice Ministry in preparation for the High Court hearing on the petition against rabbinical judge Avraham Sherman's conversion nullifications.

The secret code of repealed conversions

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion February 4, 2010

Rivkah Lubitch works at the Center for Women's Justice

If you converted to Judaism and also got divorced, check the divorce documents that you received from the rabbinic courts.

If it says 'the son of our forefather Abraham'? You're not in bad shape.

If it says 'convert'? You're on your way to a repealed conversion.

Rivkah Lubitch studied the opinion paper submitted by the Rabbinic Court to the High Court of Justice and discloses how converts are being marked.

Jewish in Tel Aviv, Gentile in Ashkelon

By Nathan Jeffay February 3, 2010

In Tel Aviv, where she works, Alina Serjukov is Jewish. In Ashkelon, where she lives, she’s considered a gentile.

Alina discovered her strange predicament in the run-up to her January 14 wedding, when she and her husband attempted to register their upcoming marriage with the local rabbinate.

But the official rabbi in Ashkelon refused to accept that she is Jewish, even though a regional rabbinic court, part of a network of such courts headed by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, had written to confirm that she had a valid conversion to Judaism and should be considered Jewish.

Her husband, Maxim Serjukov, called the situation “ridiculous.”

“My wife is Jewish in every place except for in Ashkelon — in the army, in the Chief Rabbinate and in the rest of Israel, just not in Ashkelon,” he told the Forward.

Why Orthodox rabbis must stop conversions

By Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet Opinion February 4, 2010

The writer is rabbi of Mill Hill United Synagogue.

I believe it imperative for the Jewish world to desist engaging in conversions altogether for the foreseeable future (except perhaps in special circumstances such as adoptions).

…Conversion is the single biggest issue ripping at the fabric of Jewish society. If we persist in our current trend, we will self-destruct.

Even if the whole Jewish world will not accept a change in approach, at the very least I call on my Orthodox colleagues, in the absence of all conversion authorities pulling together, to consider it.

Hundreds of Rabbonim Attend Eilat Conference

By Yechiel Spira February 1, 2010

Regarding giyur [conversion], they discussed the alarming situation of goyim who possess a teudah, a state recognized certificate of conversion while never undertaking to keep Torah and mitzvos.

The rabbonim insisted such a certificate may never be recognized. They added some of these so-called giyurim openly admit they believe in Yeshu.

Monopolizing Marriage: The Rabbinate’s Control of Marriage in Israel

By: Tzivia Traube Kol Hamevaser Volume III, Issue 4 February 1, 2010

Tzivia Traube is a senior at SCW majoring in English Literature.

Kol Hamevaser is The Jewish Thought Magazine of the Yeshiva University Student Body

See saved file

It is strange to think that a democratic, westernized country in the twenty-first century lacks civil marriage and coerces the secular majority to comply with religious traditions. Although Israel is a Jewish state, it is not a religious state.

Panel defers discussion of bill to let rabbis hear civil cases

By Jonathan Lis February 3, 2010

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation decided yesterday to postpone discussion for two weeks on a controversial bill to expand the rabbinical courts' power to handle civil cases.

The postponement stemmed from disagreements among the coalition's various factions, according to sources involved in the committee's work. Specifically, ministers from both Labor and Yisrael Beiteinu said they would not support the bill.

Bar Ilan’s Rackman Center Decries Call to Expand Authority of Rabbinical Courts

By Yechiel Spira February 1, 2010

Calls by MK Moshe Gafni (Yahadut HaTorah) to expand the authority of the nation’s rabbinical courts have resulted in sharp criticism from many who oppose the move, including the Rackman Center – The Ruth and Emanuel Rackman Center for the Advancement of Women’s Status, affiliated with Bar Ilan University’s Faculty of Law.

The center’s leaders fear that such a move would lead to “further trampling the rights of women” in the rabbinical courts, and therefore, such a move must be avoided.

Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Dahan, the director-general of the nation’s rabbinical courts joined MK (Labor) Prof, Yuli Tamir on Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) Monday morning, speaking with host Razi Barkai. [See article for transcript]

Yair Lapid's next show

By Aluf Benn February 3, 2010

Lapid is marketing himself as a representative of the authentic Israeli: He respects the Bible and combat soldiers, opposes religious coercion and loves Hebrew songs.

He appeals to the nonreligious who pretend they want change but are really clinging to the Israel of old, before Shas appeared on the scene.

…Mani Mazuz's intentions are not clear, but like Lapid, he talks like a political wannabe. In an interview with Ari Shavit, the former attorney general surprised us with a call for same-sex marriages in Israel - which puts him squarely on Lapid's side, "the secular rabbi," and against the religious parties.

Foreign workers: Let them eat Matzah

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion February2, 2010

Rabbi Sacks is Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel

We have so very much in which we can take pride here in Israel. But one dark spot is our failure to actualize the message of Pesach.

As observant Jews, we in the Masorti Movement see the ethical commandments as no less important than the ritual Mitzvot.

…I call upon the political parties in the Knesset to address the so-called "Matzah law." I too would like to see Hametz removed from the stores on Pesach. But I want this done not by the enactment of still more legislation forcing observance. I want this to come through education.

City, Minus Sex, Plus Religion Equals "Srugim"

By Esther Kustanowitz February 4, 2010

Conference Shed Moonlight on Lunar Calendar

By Yoni Kempinski February 1, 2010

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem hosted an international conference January 30 through February 1, called: Living the Lunar Calendar: Time, Text and Tradition.

Leading international scholars presented three days of lectures, sessions and events, including a fully-guided tour to Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden for centuries.

Includes a VIDEO interview with Prof. Lawrence H. Schiffman, New York University.

Consider yourself at home

By Elan Miller February 5, 2010

Once a month, nearly 200 lone soldiers eat Friday night dinner at the Great Synagogue.

Schapiro is at pains to point out that, “Although we are a traditional synagogue run in accordance with Halacha, we ask no questions of the soldiers. They come, and we provide. There is no coercion, no attempt to impress any particular approach – we absolutely respect our guests.”

Religion and State in Israel: Decade in Review

By Yair Sheleg February 1, 2010

Yair Sheleg is a Senior Researcher at IDI and a regular Op-Ed contributor to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

It would be advisable to try to reach as broad an agreement as possible on as many issues as possible - a social treaty of sorts in which reciprocal concessions would be made simultaneously, enabling each side to accept more readily the possibility of compromise.

A sector that is still prepared to make concessions of this kind should not be allowed to capitulate to hardliners who object to any and all accommodations.

The willing parties must shape their own agreements and enact them in binding form, acting on the assumption that although the ideological extremes will disagree and cast aspersions, nonetheless - in their heart of hearts - many of them will be glad that someone has come along to take the chestnuts out of the fire.

A sense of space: Envisioning an Israel that enables religious difference

By Rabbi Donniel Hartman Opinion February 2, 2010

Rabbi Donniel Hartman is the President of Shalom Hartman Institute

In Israel, however, the vast majority of Jews have rejected the notion of separation of state and religion.

As a Jewish state, we have chosen that the Jewish religion should have a dominant role and place within the culture, language, and policy of the State.

When we came home to Israel we came to a place where we did not need the separation of state and religion in order to grant us legitimacy and basic rights.

…the fact that we haven’t developed a way to balance our desire that Judaism be a part of the public life and domain, and at the same time enable religious difference, is an oht kayin (the Mark of Cain - a stigma or disgrace).

That which was so essential in defining Israel as a Jewish home is now itself undermining the sense of home.

J'lem Theater may be next battleground in ‘Shabbat wars'

By Abe Selig February 3, 2010

While haredi protests over the Shabbat operation of Jerusalem’s Karta parking lot and Intel factory have ebbed, a new front in the so-called “Shabbat wars” may be opening up, and this time it appears to be coming from the capital’s secular residents.

An online petition launched last Friday calls on Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to open the Jerusalem Theater – a long-cherished municipal establishment – on the Jewish day of rest, and in five short days, it has already garnered more than 3,400 signatures.

Petition demands Jerusalem Theater stay open on Sabbath

By Nir Hasson and Yair Ettinger February 4, 2010

"The supply of culture in Jerusalem on Friday and Saturday is very limited. There is no reason that this institution is not open, movie theaters operate in Jerusalem," said Bigelman.

"The theater may be a municipal institution but Teddy Stadium is such an institution and is open on Saturdays. The theater is also not near ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods."

US Jewish leaders see Edelstein as mediator

By Hilary Leila Krieger February 4, 2010

Minister of [Diaspora Affairs] Yuli Edelstein received an earful from American Jewish leaders concerned about how Israel is treating non-Orthodox Jews during a trip this week to the US.

Israeli Diaspora Minister Promises U.S. Reform, Conservative Leaders Cabinet-Level Dialog

By Nathan Guttman February 3, 2010

According to Edelstein, the frustration of the Jewish community over rights of Conservative and Reform Jews in Israel has created a potential disconnect between the community and Israel and could dampen relations in the long run.

Yuli Edelstein on J Street, NIF, the crisis with the Diaspora

By Ron Kampeas February 4, 2010

One of the topics that arose in New York, Philadelphia and Washington was the topic of the recent events in Israel, Jewish pluralism, if you will, including Women at the Wall and the buses (the segregated buses for the fervently Orthodox) and other topics.

'U.S. Jews concerned over state of pluralism in Israel'

By Natasha Mozgovaya February 4, 2010

The Israeli minister also said that as far as he was concerted the issue didn't end with recognizing of the Reform and Conservative movements, adding that "an official recognition, some signed document, isn't going to automatically make problems like those that arose with "Women of the Wall" go away. There are issues to be dealt with beyond this or that legislation."

Moscow cancels Jewish Agency meet over presence of Putin adversary

By Anshel Pfeffer February 5, 2010

The Jewish Agency canceled a board meeting planned for St. Petersburg, Russia, later this month, after Moscow yesterday told the Israeli embassy that it would not allow it to take place.

Agency sources attributed the diplomatic row to the presence on the board of businessman Leonid Nevzlin, who is a political enemy of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Russia Nixes Jewish Agency February Meetings February 3, 2010

The Jewish Agency had planned to hold their February Board of Governors Meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia. Apparently the Russian government was not in agreement. Here’s the letter that just went out to those attending.

Jewish Agency Chairman’s Billionaires’ Conference February 3, 2010

By Eli Bardenstein Maariv [translation]

Jewish oligarchs, most of whom had refused up till now to work with the Jewish Agency, are expected to take part for the first time in a public event identifying with Israel, Zionism and aliyah.

This will take place in three weeks in St. Petersburg. The person who succeeded in bringing the oligarchs together with the divided Jewish community of Russia and the Ukraine was the Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky.

The Jewish Agency: Bold Gamble or Huge Miscalculation?

By Dan Brown February 4, 2010

This is mostly political – the global kind. It’s about philanthropist and Jewish Agency Board member Leonid Nevzlin and the fact the Russian government considers him a fugitive. It’s about Sharansky, quite properly, not being able to assure the powers that be in Russia that Khodorkovsky’s imprisonment would not be discussed in the public dialogue.

But this is also a serious management failure by the Jewish Agency. It is clear they did not obtain the necessary permissions for this meeting. Whether through bungling, chutzpah, internal politics or just plain ego they announced this historic event without all their ducks in order.

The Ideological Case against Joining the Zionist Movement

By Rabbi Natan Grossman Yated Ne’eman-Israel February 1, 2010

The widespread controversy following Shas’ decision to join the World Zionist Organization reflects the astonishment at efforts to legitimize cooperation of the chareidi community with the secular nationalist establishment.

The underlying worldview of chareidi Jews is that there can be no coming to terms with heresy. The shock with which the recent move of Shas was received points to the trepidation truly G-d-fearing Jews feel toward any undermining of the foundations of our beliefs.

Rabbonim Call Shas Move to Join WZO ‘Chilul Hashem’

By Yechiel Sever February 4, 2010

Rabbonim who head cities and congregations in Eretz Yisroel and abroad have been voicing disappointment and protest against the great chilul Hashem that has resulted from the Shas Party's decision to join the World Zionist Organization, noting the exultant response among Reform and Conservative figures to what they call Shas' "historical precedent."

Wrong Address

By M Shotland Opinion January 4, 2010

As Rabbi Gafni said, we have no intention of ceasing, even for a minute, our battle against the militant secularists.

We will never recognize the Reform as a legitimate Jewish group, no matter what. We will also protest and criticize anyone else who weakens the chareidi position, and these critical principles.

Former Young Judaea head launches rival year program

By Ruth Eglash February 2, 2010

Former Young Judaea Year Course director Keith Berman, who announced his resignation from the organization last month, has launched a new “year in Israel program” for teens Monday aimed at stirring up competition for long-term programs here and making such experiences more affordable to young Diaspora Jews.

Aardvark Israel is launched: What Does It Mean?

By Benji Lovitt February 2, 2010

Some questions: Is competition, choice, and change a good thing or are consumers now choosing between two of the same product?

If Aardvark Israel "only" brings young people to Israel but does so in potentially large numbers, does it matter or mean any less that it lacks the backing and framework of Hadassah, Young Judaea, or another established parent organization?

Is it more important to "save" Young Judaea or to develop new and alternative Israel program options? Is it one or the other? Is there a conflict of interest here?

Young Judaea head blasts predecessor for launching program day after quitting

By Raphael Ahren February 5, 2010

The incoming director of Young Judaea's Year Course expressed "outrage" over learning his predecessor launched a rival gap year program merely one day after officially leaving the organization.

Young Judaea's Israel director, Dan Krakow, said everyone at his organization was "totally taken by surprise" by Aardvark's sudden launch.

While he emphasized Young Judaea "feels in no way threatened, harmed or disturbed," he added it would have been "inappropriate" if staff had indeed created a competing program while working for Young Judaea and using its resources.

Study slams ulpan performance, reforms may be in the works

By Cnaan Liphshiz February 5, 2010

Israel's state-funded Hebrew enrichment system for new immigrants may be reformed, following the recent release of a critical report which speaks of deep dissatisfaction with the system among students.

Immigrant Absorption Ministry looks to reform ulpan system

By Ruth Eglash February 3, 2010

The Immigrant Absorption Ministry is looking to overhaul Hebrew language instruction program for new immigrants, following the publication last month of a report that shows the current system has failed most of those arriving in the country, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

South African Jews beg Netanyahu to save direct El Al route

By Gil Hoffman January 27, 2010

The leaders of the Jewish community in South Africa wrote Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a desperate letter this week, pleading with him to prevent the cancellation of El Al Israel’s Tel Aviv-Johannesburg route, the only direct flight between Israel and South Africa.

Aliyah, courtesy of Ethiopian Airlines

By Zohar Blumenkrantz February 2, 2010

Due to a spat with El Al over its prices, the Jewish Agency has taken to flying new immigrants from South Africa to Israel via Ethiopian Airlines, with a stop in Addis Ababa.

El Al has direct flights between Tel Aviv and South Africa and will continue to do so three times a week, even though it was supposed to stop as of yesterday.

Envisioning Jewish Peoplehood

By Melissa Zalkin Stollman February 2010

To make the notion of Jewish Peoplehood compelling and meaningful to the life of the congregation and its members.

To integrate a sense of Am Yisrael into the synagogue curriculum of each stage of Jewish learning in congregations, from pre-school, through religious school and into adult education.

To provide congregational leaders who are committed to the Jewish people resources for thinking about Jewish peoplehood in creative ways.

To generate models for Jewish peoplehood education that serve as an inspirational vision for congregants.

To build a cadre of trained and passionate congregational leaders committed to ensuring a common destiny for the Jewish people.

To chronicle, analyze and evaluate Jewish peoplehood research and resources in a free and accessible platform.

Jewish Agency reaches out to Israelis abroad

By Elaine Durbach February 3, 2010

The Jewish Agency for Israel has been engaged primarily in reaching out to Diaspora Jews, but now it is also seeking to connect with Israelis living abroad by way of the Internet, and the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey is joining that effort.

Lawyer for Guma Aguiar: He will not own team by next season February 2, 2010

Click here for VIDEOS of Guma Aguiar

“Following consultations and lengthy consideration by Guma Aguiar and his family, I was asked to work to stop professional and financial proceedings regarding Guma Aguiar’s future ownership of the Betar Jerusalem Football Club and Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team.

This means Guma Aguiar will not be the owner, or the sponsor, of either Betar or Hapoel Jerusalem starting next season,” Aguiar’s lawyer, Eitan Gabai, said in a press statement Tuesday evening.

Following hospitalization, Aguiar to pull out of Beitar, Hapoel Jerusalem

By Moshe Boker and Vered Cohen February 4, 2010

Click here for VIDEOS of Guma Aguiar

Yesterday's announcement by Guma Aguiar's attorney, Eitan Gabay, that the billionaire energy industrialist would be withdrawing his patronage from the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club and the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball club came as no surprise to the clubs' respective managements.

On free Jewish trips to Israel, love is in the air

By Nicole Neroulias February 2, 2010

The Williamses, now settled in Washington, D.C., represent a growing number of newlyweds who found love with fellow travelers or people they met through Taglit-Birthright Israel, a free program that has sent some 215,000 18- to 26-year-olds to Israel from around the world.

Sh’ma – A Journal of Jewish Responsibility

Click here for Digital version February 2010

See also online version (selected articles only)

Israeli schoolchildren to study Soviet Jewish immigration February 3, 2010

A course in the history of Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union has been introduced in Israeli high schools, a spokesperson for the education ministry said on February 3.

The new course coincides with the 20th anniversary of the "Great Aliyah," the name for the 1-million-strong wave of Soviet Jews who moved to Israel during the disintegration of the world's first socialist state.

The Meaning and Liberal Justifications of Israel's Law of Return

By Dan Ernst Ewha Woman’s University

Israel Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 564-603, 2010

January 31, 2010

Hebrew University International Law Research Paper No. 03-10

The Article argues for a new assessment of the significance of Israel’s Law of Return - that the Law of Return reflects not the sovereign prerogative of a state to control immigration, but the right of every Jew to settle in the Land of Israel.

Religion and State in Israel

February 8, 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.