Monday, March 1, 2010

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

Religion and State in Israel

March 1, 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.

'Is the fuss over Rabbi Mordechai Elon down to his homosexuality?'

By Neri Livneh February 25, 2010

Dr. Hana Kehat began her fight against sexual harassment within Israel's religious sector even before initiating the Takana forum, from which she has now resigned in the wake of the Rabbi Mordechai Elon affair.

Kehat is a founder and board member of Kolech - a feminist, religious Zionist movement established more than 20 years ago which aims to achieve equality for women within the religious community.

Bill goes after sexual harassment by spiritual leaders

By Amnon Meranda February 24, 2010

The Knesset plenum on Wednesday passed two similar bills in a preliminary reading stipulating that offers or treatment of a sexual nature suggested by religious or spiritual instructors to their students be considered sexual harassment. This also would apply if the recipient does not expressly decline the offer.

A Sex Scandal Splits Orthodox Zionist World between Silence and Action

By Nathan Jeffay February 24, 2010

Israel’s influential Orthodox Zionists have divided into two camps following a sexual-abuse scandal involving one of their most renowned and charismatic leaders, stoking fears for the future of rabbinic authority.

“I am telling everybody — keep silent,” the head of Jerusalem’s Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, told the Forward. He said that the affair must not be allowed to undermine the rabbis’ authority.

But in deference to the stellar stature of the rabbinic panel that exposed the allegations against Elon, Aviner also said, “I think we have to trust these and these — and respect these and these,” referring to Elon and the rabbis on the panel.

Rabbi: Elon case could benefit the religious

February 23, 2010

“This is a chance to examine ourselves and work on our shortcomings, students as well as rabbis,” the educator said.

“Everybody sins: rabbis, scholars, people with long beards and white beards who talk Torah. If Elon sinned, we all can,” he added, affirming to the Post that one of the most closeted topics within the religious sector, homosexuality, will inevitably be on the table in the wake of the allegations against Elon.

Who is a rabbi?

By Donniel Hartman Opinion February 22, 2010

There are many factors and causes which joined together to create the disturbing case of Rabbi Mordechai Elon and the events surrounding it.

Besides the questions of sexual harassment and emotional manipulation in the rabbi-follower relationship, the near hysterical "end of days" response of certain sectors of the Orthodox community, especially amongst the youth, reveals a deep problem in the way the parameters of a rabbi's power and authority role have evolved in the Israeli Orthodox world

Too harsh treatment for Elon

By Yair Ettinger February 24, 2010

Would the treatment that the religious Zionist Takana panel meted out to Rabbi Mordechai Elon, including the publication of serious allegations, have been so rigorous had it been discovered that an important rabbi was sexually abusing female students and not males?

No More Blind Faith in Rabbis

By Channa Pinchasi Opinion February 18, 2010

Channa Pinchasi is a PhD candidate in the Department of Gender at Bar Ilan University and a Research Fellow at the Hartman Institute.

As a community, we will have to pay a heavy price: To give up some respect for the rabbis and to be more critical of them. Authority and charisma, accompanied by spiritual and religious power, create an opening for sexual abuse.

Can Israel's religious community finally accept its homosexual members?

By Ze'ev Segal February 23, 2010

Any consideration of the actions of the Takana forum must begin with the fact that without Takana or an organization like it, indecent acts committed by spiritual leaders and rabbis would be unlikely to come to the attention of the legal authorities. That is why the public needs such an organization.

But such an organization is capable of operating alongside the law enforcement authorities rather than replacing them

Sex scandal shows risk of rabbi-worship

By Shmuel Rosner Opinion February 25, 2010

The only important - really important - effect this story might have in the coming weeks and months and years of "aftermath"; the only debate worth having with Rabbi Elon's followers and enthusiasts, and with those less supportive of him to begin with, is the one related to rabbinical authority in the world of modern Orthodoxy.

It's a long road to a model society

By Israel Harel Opinion February 26, 2010

Now that Takana has shaken up the national religious public and led to a profound self-examination among its members, the time is ripe to expand the rules and set appropriate norms of conduct for rabbis in additional spheres.

Slowing down the rush toward an ultra-Orthodox way of life and bringing the wagon back to the main road that religious Zionists have historically traveled are essential to cure this public of the defects that have taken hold of it, and to which it clings.

Sex allegations against rabbi roil Israel's Orthodox community

By Edmund Sanders February 27, 2010

Moshe Meir, educator at the Shalom Hartman Institute, said the Elon case offers Israel a chance to confront negative attitudes in the Orthodox community about homosexuality.

"If indeed it appears that Rabbi Motti Elon has homosexual tendencies, this is no crime," Meir said. His possible transgression "is the abuse of authority, not the sexual identity."

Religious Zionism: When crisis becomes opportunity

February 26, 2010

The writer is senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

Religious Zionism is in crisis … again. Or so we are being told. In the aftermath of the tragic allegations concerning Rabbi Mordechai (Motti) Elon, religious Zionists are bemoaning yet anothercrisis in the movement.

…Important though these issues are, they are not the real crisis. The true crisis, which is wholly unrelated to Rabbi Elon, is that religious Zionism has long since had very little of importance to say to Israel at large.

Religious gays helpline flooded

By Ben Hartman February 22, 2010

A helpline for religious Jews dealing with questions about their sexual identity has received an influx of calls in the wake of allegations that prominent national-religious Rabbi Moti Elon had sexual relations with male students.

Rabbi Ron Yosef of Netanya said he founded the Web site Hod (a Hebrew acronym for “homo’im datiim” – religious homosexuals) two years ago in order to “have a real religious and social discussion on homosexuality, as well as acceptance of the other and to fight hatred.”

Ask The Rabbi: Orthodox Jewry’s stance on homosexuality

By Rabbi Shlomo Brody February 26, 2010

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

Especially following the acceptance by non-Orthodox movements of homosexual members and clergy, the topic of homosexuality has become a particularly sensitive and contentious issue within the Jewish community.

Report highlights religious tensions in Israel

By Ron Friedman February 23, 2010

A new report released by Hiddush, a religious freedom advocacy group, describes 2009 as “the worst year of the decade” in terms of religious freedom and equality.

Hiddush CEO Rabbi Uri Regev said “the coalition government is selling off our children’s future. The report clearly shows that the coalition parties do not hesitate to cynically trade away the civil liberties of the Israeli public in exchange for votes from ultra-Orthodox parties.

“Our research shows a huge gap between government policy and public opinion. The overwhelming majority of the public seek greater religious freedom and more equitable distribution of the economic and military burden,” said Regev.


By Marc Rosenstein Opinion February 23, 2010

In general, I think it is important to keep the "persecution" or "disenfranchisement" of liberal Jews in perspective.

On the individual level there are issues - primarily in the areas of recognition of marriage and conversion; and of course it is not uncommon for nominally neutral institutions like the army or the schools to hew to an Orthodox line when inviting holiday speakers, or performing public ceremonies (especially galling when it involves the status of women), so it does happen that liberal Jews find themselves feeling like outsiders.

On the other hand, they can live where they want, and work where they want…

J'lem police 'waging war' on secular protests, activists say

By Nir Hasson February 23, 2010

The Jerusalem police have declared war on secular protest in the city, secular activists claimed last week after being questioned on suspicion of damaging an eruv in Kiryat Yovel, a neighborhood that has become a flashpoint of the capital's culture wars.

The campaign against the Kiryat Yovel eruv is now in its second year, as secular residents view it as a sign that their neighborhood is undergoing unchecked "Haredization."

Rift has roots in eruv dispute

By Yair Ettinger February 23, 2010

Though it is far from being the most contentious issue between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem, the eruv has become a flashpoint in its own right.

Siach Festival - Experiencing Jewish Culture in Modern Israeli Society March 4-6, 2010 Mishkenot Ruth Daniel in Jaffa

At the Daniel Centers Siach Festival liberal Jewish culture comes alive through creative discussion about the different streams of Judaism today, and the three-day event will foster a better understanding of the broad spectrum of Jewish thought.

For full schedule please click here [pdf]

Beit Shemesh warned over Haredi-only classrooms

By Yaheli Moran Zelikovich February 24, 2010

The Education Ministry has sent a warning letter to Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul following his announcement of opening four classes for ultra-Orthodox students only in a secular school located in the heart of a haredi neighborhood next year.

Haredi paper slams Sa'ar for nixing some funding for schools

By Mazal Mualem February 24, 2010

Recent tension between the Shas Party and Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar have resulted in vociferous attacks against the Likud minister in the ultra-Orthodox media, where he is accused of promoting an anti-Haredi policy.

…Friction between Sa'ar and Shas peaked over the weekend following two incidents sources in the ultra-Orthodox party say caused them great harm.

Sa'ar and the monkey trial

Haaretz Editorial February 24, 2010

In a series of utterances disclosed by Or Kashti and Zafrir Rinat in Haaretz, [Dr. Gavriel] Avital was exposed as an obscurantist Orthodox zealot who casts doubt on the validity of scientific research and rejects both evolution and global warming.

He dismisses Darwin's theory because it leaves God out, and he has called environmental organizations "a fanatical religion with a great deal of evil."

Where rebellious sons (and daughters) go

By Tamar Rotem February 25, 2010

About five years ago some of these "split" ultra-Orthodox would refer to themselves as anusim, or Marranos, after the secret Jews of Inquisition Spain - only in reverse. They fanatically guarded their secret secular custom

…Ultra-Orthodox society does not hurry to expel a rebellious son. The sky does not fall when it is discovered that a certain Hasid goes out to clubs.

And altogether, in a world outside that is controlled by social networks in which an assumed identity may open all kinds of new possibilities, and everyone who is abnormal becomes normal because there are a lot of other people like him - what's wrong with a second, or third, skin?

Over 100 Chareidim to Enter Military Intelligence

By Yechiel Spira February 25, 2010

According to a report appearing in the weekly IDF Bamachane, the military plans to attract 500 chareidim to join the ranks of military intelligence.

In its program Bina B’Yarok, the army reports 100 chareidim are preparing to join the program in the next enlistment, all moving to the Intelligence Corps.

Jerusalem City Hall Downed 80 Eruv Poles

By Yechiel Spira February 23, 2010

As members of the Jerusalem Religious Council completed work on the eruv in the southwestern areas of Yerushalayim, workers simultaneously removed 80 “pirate poles” that were placed in a number of areas without authorization.

MKs oppose 'abominable' meat ordinance

By Amnon Meranda February 26, 2010

Knesset members are intensifying their objection to the proposed ordinance presented to the Knesset on Monday, which sets costumes rates, exemptions and merchandise tax.

As reported on Thursday, the ordinance includes unique items, and especially non kosher ones.

Haredi rabbis vs. the Internet, and the Internet is winning

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion February 25, 2010

Some sociologists and historians who research the Haredi world believe the Internet will ultimately break down the ghetto walls and generate a new wave of enlightenment - a 21st-century haskala that will lead many of the younger generation into the arms of the secular camp.

Even if the great majority of the community remains faithful to the ways of their fathers and mothers, the desperate attempts by the rabbis to cut them off from the Web are proof that they are no longer in thrall.

Have we gone mad?

By Rabbi Shalom Hammer Opinion February 22, 2010

The writer teaches at Hesder Kiryat Gat and serves as a guest lecturer for the IDF Rabbinate.

Are we, the same intelligent Jewish people who are referred to as a light unto the nations, meant to pursue a Taliban-like existence defined by extreme behaviors as we isolate ourselves from the world around us?

Can we honestly claim that these absurd suggestions and inventions are the correct way of fulfilling God's plan and exhibiting spirituality in the world?

Health Ministry under pressure ahead of decision on new hospital wing

By Dan Even March 1, 2010

…Over the past few months, Barzilai has asked for the construction to be re-launched, having received permission from the Chief Rabbinate to relocate the graves. Litzman, however, rejected the initiative, instructing instead that the hospital wing itself be relocated to a site currently occupied by a parking lot, far from the main medical center. Litzman's proposal is significantly more expensive than that supported by the hospital.

Rabbi Lau, Cabinet Ministers Honor ZAKA’s 20th Year

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu February 22, 2010

Tel Aviv’s Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who also is a former Chief Rabbi of Israel, and Cabinet ministers honored ZAKA Sunday night on the 20th year since its founding. ZAKA is the Hebrew acronym for Disaster Victim Identification.

Chief Rabbis Favor Fur Ban February 23, 2010

Chief Rabbis Yonah Metzger and Shlomo Amar are in favor of banning fur imports.

An official opinion authored by the two on the matter will be presented at a discussion of the Knesset Education Committee Wednesday, which is preparing the bill for a Knesset vote.

Court of first resort

By Yair Ettinger February 24, 2010

Representatives of the Haredi establishment are baring their claws in an effort to restore to their internal court system its once-unchallenged status.

Even now, during the armistice, it is difficult to erase the image of dayanim, some of them senior figures in the Haredi world, having to enter a civil court, an institution they regard as heretical.

…there are dozens of private courts that address almost every aspect of Haredi life.

…In recent years, these private, sector-based courts have expanded their purview. New courts dealing with financial and property law have been established by both the national-Haredi and national-religious (Orthodox) streams.

Former Minister Benizri asks for pardon

By Aviad Glickman February 28, 2010

Former Shas Minister Shlomo Benizri has filed a request to President Shimon Peres asking to be pardoned from his four-year prison sentence for corruption charges.

Benizri was convicted of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, committed during his tenure as labor and welfare minister. He was charged of receiving funds from contractor Moshe Sela in exchange for providing him with information to help his business.

Porush’s legacy Editorial February 24, 2010

In today’s Israel, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a common cultural denominator that can unite the disparate parts of our society.

At a time when one in four Israeli babies is born to a haredi family, it is unclear whether these children will grow up to feel strong ties with the State of Israel and its values.

Suspected anti-Zionist Haredim destroy rabbi's mourning notices

By Yair Ettinger February 23, 2010

Mourning notices posted around Jerusalem announcing the death of former politician and journalist Rabbi Menachem Porush were vandalized on Tuesday in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Geula and Mea Shearim.

The Porush family said they were not surprised by the act, which they suspect was carried out by an anti-Zionist sect who rejoiced over the rabbi's passing and called him a "leader of despicable Zionism."

Menachem Porush, veteran ultra-Orthodox leader, laid to rest

By Yair Ettinger February 24, 2010

In 1984, when Porush defied the Gerrer Rebbe and Council of Torah Sages, who demanded he give up his Knesset seat, dozens of Gerrer Hasidim stormed into the hotel, beat him up and destroyed the place. Shortly afterward he told Haaretz that the event took him back to the 1929 riots.

Thousands pay last respects to Rabbi Menachem Porush

By Greer Fay Cashman February 22, 2010

Although they do take on ministerial responsibilities, members of Agudat Israel never take on a full ministerial positions in case the government should do something which is in violation of Jewish law. As ministers they would be compromised.

As non-ministers they are not part of the government's decision-making process and therefore their consciences remain clear.

Thousands attend Rabbi Porush's funeral

By Kobi Nahshoni February 22, 2010

Head of the Porat Yosef Yeshiva Rabbi Moshe Tzadka said, "The deceased was a pioneer in all things related to the scripture – in fighting for Shabbat and against girls' recruitment."

The rabbi added, "He certainly would fight vehemently against the unclean accessories that contaminate the youth."

Rabbi Porush passes away at 93

By Ronen Medzini February 22, 2010

Rabbi Menachem Porush came from a veteran Jerusalemite family, and was among the leaders of the 80s and 90s campaign to close down Bar Ilan road on Saturdays. In 1999 he was one of the organizers of the mass demonstration against the High Court.

VIDEO: Computer Smashing Ceremony at Yeshiva Machane Yisroel

Click here for VIDEO

Health Ministry to Send Vaccines to Chareidi Areas

By Yechiel Spira February 25, 2010

With the continued spread of mumps in chareidi areas, primarily in Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak, the Ministry of Health has decided to take measures, to send vaccines to mosdos making such a request.

This will permit talmidim to receive vaccines against mumps without even having to visit a clinic or HMO. The ministry this week sent teams to a number of yeshivas, where talmidim were vaccinated.

Rabbis: Forex is like violating Sabbath

By Sarit Menahem February 28, 2010

Leaders of the extremist ultra-Orthodox Eda Haredit strongly denounced the practice of home foreign currency trading, saying they take the matter as seriously as violations of the Sabbath.

Religion and State in Israel

March 1, 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 - March 1, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

March 1, 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

Pre-nup agreements growing in popularity, survey shows

By Ruth Eglash February 23, 2010

Prenuptial agreements are increasing in popularity, with many viewing them as the best way to avoid a refusal to grant a divorce, a new survey by the International Coalition of Agunah Rights (ICAR).

Published ahead of International Agunah Day on Thursday, the Dahaf-commissioned poll found that 71 percent of the public favors a legally binding agreement prior to marriage, believing it would prevent either partner from becoming a siruv get‚ (a person refused a writ of divorce under Jewish law) or an agunah (a "chained" woman whose husband is unable to grant her a divorce).

'International Agunah' Day

By Rachel Levmore Opinion February 25, 2010

The writer is a rabbinical court advocate; coordinator of the Get-Refusal Prevention

Either way you look at it, International "Aguna Day" or "International Aguna" Day, it highlights an international problem that is continually growing beyond all proportion.

Whether one regards Thursday, February 25 as a day of reflection and an across-the-globe call to action on the aguna problem, or as a day which marks the growing phenomenon of international agunot, we Jews must admit - we have a problem.

Blessing for Agunot

By Yael Levine February 22, 2010

The "Mi she-Berakh for Agunot and Mesorvot Get" which I composed is scheduled to be recited this coming Shabbat in shuls throughout the Jewish world.

The International Aguna Day is marked on Ta'anit Esther, the thirteenth of Adar. This year, the thirteenth of Adar falls on the coming Shabbat, Shabbat Parashat Tetzaveh and Shabbat Zakhor, and the fast itself is held this coming Thursday, February 25.

Agunot - Ta'anit Esther February 24, 2010

In contemporary Israel, where marriage and divorce are in the hands of the chief rabbinate, the often extreme stringency of the ultra-Orthodox has engendered new waves of protest and criticism, but also innovative measures to deal with the problem. These include prenuptial agreements proposed by moderate rabbis working with women scholars of the law. A resolution of the agunah problem, once and for all, may be the ultimate test of halakhah's ability to find, or recover, its moral voice.

Hunting a Halakhic squeeze for hardheaded men January 30, 2010

Professor Brachyahu Lifshitz is disappointed. Lifshitz, a lecturer in law at Hebrew University, specializing in Hebrew law, was invited … to a session of the Knesset Committee on the Advancement of Women to present his proposal for a solution to the problem of women who have been refused divorces by their husbands

…his proposal effectively grants the Knesset a key role in solving the problem, through a revolutionary law…

Queen Esther’s Agunah Story

By Elana Sztokman Opinion February 23, 2010

…what distinguishes our culture is that ours is the only language in the world that has the word “agunah.

An agunah is a woman indefinitely stuck in an unwanted marriage, in which the husband is gone but she is still considered married.

It is the word for a woman’s perpetual state of limbo, in which she is chained to a man who has complete freedom to move, marry, produce offspring and live a normal life.

The cruelty reflected in a society that enables even one agunah to exist — and accepts this situation as a reality to such an extent that it gives her a name — should bring us all enormous shame.

Signing in Love

International Coalition for Agunah Rights

Click here for VIDEO [Hebrew]

“Women Unchained” – How Can We Protect Our Daughters?

Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) Conference program

The Making of a New Agunah Documentary Narrated by Mayim Bialik

Darryle Gillman and Beverly Siegel

After laboring to move heaven and earth to get her daughter a get, Darryle Gillman resolved to go public to help other woman avoid a similar fate. She enlisted writer/director Beverly Siegel who teamed up with editor Leta Lenik and they produced “Women Unchained,” a soon-to-be-released documentary chronicling six women’s experiences and featuring internationally known experts.

Exposing the impact on children -- and on parents who pay for their chained daughter’s freedom -- “Women Unchained” takes an irreverent look at the process by which some women must "negotiate" their way out of a Jewish marriage.

Speaking in a Language Rabbis Understand: Preventing Agunah

Rachel Levmore

Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) Conference program

Persuading an insular and resistant community such as the rabbinate, to make use of innovative ideas in general is a challenge, all the more so when it comes to solving the aguna problem. A method which has been effective in disseminating the concept of prenuptial agreements for the prevention of get-refusal amongst the highly resistant group of Israeli rabbis, has been "speaking to them in their own language".

Halakhic Justice for the Agunah: A 40 Year Retrospective

Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) Conference program

Blu Greenberg

Despite 40 years of efforts and a flurry of interest in recent years, the burning problem of suffering agunot in our community remains to haunt our collective conscience. Scholars, ancient and modern, clash over possible solutions, and we will try to assess these conflicting positions. A variety of communal and organizational efforts have been built up in our times, and these too will be critically evaluated in our session. Is it time for an agenda that will not keep us waiting another 40 years?

The RCA Prenup: $10,000 and Counting?

Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) Conference program

Susan Aranoff

In this session, the legal/halakhic and procedural issues underlying several real, precedent-setting cases with the RCA Beit Din will be discussed. In one case, a former agunah whose spouse had signed a pre-nup agreement was awarded $10,000 in a din torah. In another, an annulment was obtained. Why did these cases have successful outcomes?

Civil marriage bill torpedoed by Kadima, Israel Beiteinu

By Rebecca Anna Stoil February 24, 2010

Kadima’s attempt to put pressure on coalition member Israel Beiteinu proved costly for both sides on Wednesday, with Israel Beiteinu forced to defend itself against charges of neglecting campaign promises whileKadima once again displayed a lack of party discipline.

Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit’s bill to permit civil marriage in cases in which couples could not be married by the Chief Rabbinate fell by a landslide 58-22 in its preliminary reading, with a third ofKadima MKs absent from the roll-call vote.

Tzohar to Hold 60 Megillah Readings Around Israel

By Hana Levi Julian February 23, 2010

The Tzohar organization will hold Megillah readings and Purim celebrations in 60 locations around Israel this year in its efforts to bridge the gap between religious and secular Jews. More than 1,000 religious Zionist rabbis and educators volunteer their services with the organization.

“Our goal is to help secular Israelis feel less alienated when it comes to religious practice and show them that there are many ways to embrace religion and become spiritually involved with one's Judaism,” explained Rabbi David Stav, Chairman of Tzohar.
“Many [secular] Israelis have a very strong Jewish identity and love Jewish tradition.”

Female-only megila readings growing in popularity

By Jonah Mandel February 28, 2010

The phenomenon of women-only readings of the Scroll of Esther is increasingly growing within observant communities, with the halachic rationale and ruling being that since women were part of the Purim miracle, they are obliged to hear the megila.

And in Judaism, an obligated individual, a woman in this case, can exempt others through the act.

Bnei Brak launches 'no smoking on Purim' campaign

By Yoav Zeitun February 23, 2010

The campaign, which goes by the title "Israel's great scholars against smoking," is meant to prevent young haredim from starting to smoke in the spirit of the holiday's gaieties, a turning point behavior that could turn from a one-time event into a fixed and addictive habit.

The campaign is being run by the municipal education department. Hundreds of notices, pamphlets, and fliers will be distributed as part of the effort.

Rabbi Eliyahu: No dressing as women for Purim

By Kobi Nahshoni February 25, 2010

Safed's leading rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, has issued a halachic ruling that men are forbidden to dress as women, since the injunction "neither shall a man put on a woman's garment' (Deuteronomy 22:5) is valid also during the Purim holiday.

…the rabbi noted that some authorities exclude children under the age of 13 from this injunction or permit the wearing of one women's garment, but said that those who follow the ruling strictly will be blessed.

Chacham Ovadia Shlita: Two Days of Purim in Lod

By Yechiel Spira February 25, 2010

According to the p’sak halacha released by Rishon L’Tzion HaGaon Chacham Ovadia Yosef Shlita, residents of Lod must observe two days of Purim, reading the megilla with a bracha on 14 Adar and once again on the 15th, Shushan Purim without a bracha.

Rabbi Yosef: Drunkenness is abominable

By Kobi Nahshoni February 28, 2010

Shas' spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia, Yosef saaid Saturday evening that "drunkenness is an abominable and nefarious act" and that in Purim one must drink very little wine, only as a symbolic act to remember Ahasuerus' feast – without getting intoxicated.

Why the status quo in the Kotel "is not acceptable"

By Shmuel Rosen February 27, 2010

Interview with Rabbi Steven Wernick

Rabbi Steven Wernick is the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism's executive vice president and chief executive officer.

We have never given up the principle of full pluralism and equality in Israeli society. We go to the courts to have our rights upheld and to gain access to the Western Wall today. But the larger issues of religious pluralism of Israel being a Jewish state for all the Jews remains.

Furthermore, sadly, there is a long tradition in Israel of many ultra-Orthodox religious leaders disregarding court rulings until the courts rule against them repeatedly.

…The status quo is not acceptable. It doesn't accommodate all Jews. Remember, the Kotel is not a synagogue, so the ultra-Orthodox, who represent themselves as the highest common denominator but in fact are only one group among many, should not be allowed to impose laws there that accommodate only them.

Oren: Dispute at Wall will require ‘compromise’ February 23, 2010

"I will only assure you that I think there are good solutions for the problems at the Kotel," Oren said in response to a question on the subject.
"They are at the top of my agenda. And that at the end of the day, it will require compromise on everyone's behalf."

Women of the Wall’s Rivka Haut February 18, 2010

Women of the Wall (WOW) has rejected any alternative space. For the past 21 years, other sites have been offered, they have all been rejected.

WOW has made one major concession, limiting their request (demand) to safely conduct halakhic prayer services at the kotel to one hour a month, at seven AM each Rosh Chodesh.

The ezrat nashim at the Kotel is the appropriate place for the non minyan women’s only service. It is there that WOW chooses to pray.

That is the site where jewish women from all over the world gather to pray. That is the site that a woman’s prayer group is most needed and belongs.

Fighting for the right to pray

By Joel Magalnick February 23, 2010

“[The Kotel] can’t be an ultra-Orthodox synagogue. Judaism should not be dictated by one faction only,” [Anat Hoffman] said.

Hoffman said she doubts that prosecutors will pursue a case against her of “performing a religious act that offends the feeling of others,” which could result in a $3,000 fine or six-month prison term.

“I think it’s insanity if they decide to pursue it, but hopefully it’s going to make things happen here,” Hoffman said. “That’s my hope.”

Women of the Wall founder laments lack of freedom in Israel

By Amanda Pazornik February 25, 2010

Anat Hoffman: “You’ll be given another wall. It’s a nice place, but it’s separate. Is that something people would go for?”

“Who are these people?” she said. “Is it that the Wall is dear to them? Is it the intimidation of women that’s getting them riled up? Is it that access to the sacred in Israel is barred? What is it about Women of the Wall that hit a nerve?”

PHOTO Gallery: Western Wall

Mystery Torah Scroll Abandoned at the Kosel February 26, 2010

Visitors at the Kosel Maarovi this week were in for a surprise: Offering no explanation, a man arrived, left a sefer Torah and quickly left the scene.

According to Maariv, Rav Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rov of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites, discovered the sefer Torah was worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Women of the Wall, 2010: Prayer, Pluralism, Prejudice, Police and Politics

Jackie Koch Ellenson, Blu Greenberg, and Rivka Haut; Moderator: Gary Rosenblatt

The panel will deal with the the halakhic and spiritual issues of women in prayer at the Kotel, the agreement between WOW and the courts, the reaction of the haredi community to the presence of women's tefila at the kotel, and possible resolutions to the current political situation.

[Purim] Government may ratify plan for Western Wall sponsorship

By Avi Nalaf February 28, 2010

Most people go to the Western Wall to pray, but now some will also head there to pay.

The cabinet is set to approve a plan that would allow for sponsorship messages to be beamed onto the Western Wall, sources in the Prime Minister's Office told Haaretz Saturday.

If the law is passed by the Knesset, any company will be able to project the image, logo or slogan of its choice on the ancient stones, for a price.

I'm Not a Feminist, But I Play One on TV: Media & Gender in Srugim

Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance Conference March 13, 2010

Shayna Weiss

Srugim is an Israeli television show that focuses on the lives of religious Zionist singles living in Jerusalem, but the main focus of Srugim is the most universal of subjects: love and dating.

What can we learn about religious Zionist attitudes towards sex and dating by watching a fictional television show?

How are observant Jews challenging the status quo via new media production? Is there a "religious" way to create television?

No Sex in the City: On Srugim

By Yair Rosenberg

Issue Number 1, Spring 2010

Yair Rosenberg is a junior at Harvard College and an Arts and Culture editor at The Harvard Crimson.

The remarkable success of Srugim across religious and ideological lines shows that this approach resonates with viewers of all stripes.

In a world where shows like Sex and the City tend to glamorize the shallowest elements of human experience, Srugim and its characters manage to strive for meaning and not merely entertainment.

Letter from Ketura: Where the Local is Global

By Yosef Israel Abramowitz Opinion February/March 2010 Vol. 91 No. 4

After our three-year sojourn as a family in the Arava Desert, I am hoping that at least one of my children will end up joining Kibbutz Ketura so that I can have burial rights there alongside my heroes, friends and fellow Young Judaeans.

…Our goal was to live simply, calmly and with increased family time, in a Jewish community, restoring a better balance to our hectic lives. Susan and I were to each write books; hers about theology and adoption and mine about the future of the Jewish people.

We had no idea how radical the move to Ketura would be.

Tolerance Museum Dispute Continues Despite Document

By Michele Chabin February 23, 2010

A 1940s newspaper article detailing plans by Muslim officials to construct a commercial center atop the Mamilla Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem, near the controversial site upon which the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance is slated to be built, bolsters the center’s assertions that Muslims at the time no longer considered the cemetery a sacred heritage site.

Interview with Benjamin Pogrund, Jerusalem's Yakar

By Raphael Ahren February 26, 2010

Benjamin Pogrund, former deputy editor of the Johannesburg-based Rand Daily Mail

Early on, for example, he invited rabbis from all four Jewish religious streams to debate Israeli conversion laws.

"Today I would be too nervous to ask [a Haredi rabbi to debate a Reform rabbi]," he said.
"That's probably wrong, because there are some Haredim [open for debate] and society needs this discussion desperately.
Perhaps we should have pursued harder over the years; this was probably a failure on my part. Never mind the distance between Jews and Arabs, the [schism] inside the Jewish community is extremely worrying."

Shas Breaks Old Taboo, Joins Zionists

By Nathan Jeffay February 24, 2010

Israel’s largest ultra-Orthodox political party is eliciting outrage from those to its right and a mix of anxiety and applause from those to its left after breaking a 113-year-old taboo and joining the Zionist establishment.

Shas is a “Trojan horse,” Rabbi Uri Regev, a member of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors, told the Forward.

“I see Shas entering not as a triumph of pluralism, but an example of the cynical manipulation of democratic processes — not in order to strengthen Zionist activities and organizations but to abuse them,” said Regev, a leading Israeli Reform rabbi and CEO of Hiddush, an organization that pushes for religious pluralism in Israel.

…He said he fears that it will “push out” non-Orthodox voices from the Zionist movement, and believes that its antagonism toward the Reform and Conservative movements undermines its ability to work within the organization.

In the year 2030, a report by JPPPI

By Jacob Berkman February 24, 2010

The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute in Jerusalem today released its paper “2030: Alternative Futures for the Jewish People.” I am now trying to read through the 120 page document, which explores four alternate realities that could befall the Jewish people in 20 years, ranging from real good to catastrophic.

Alternative Futures for the Jewish People February 25, 2010

The Alternative Futures project identifies main trends and key drivers shaping the possible alternative futures of the Jewish People.

Birthright foundation announces matching grants program

By Jacob Berkman February 25, 2010

The Birthright Israel Foundation on Thursday announced a new matching grant program for 2010.

The program will give a dollar-for-dollar match on any increase in donations to the foundation based on 2008 gifts. That means if a donor gave $100 in 2008, and gives $120 in 2010, the $20 increase would be matched by the foundation.

Jewish Agency Names New Director General February 28, 2010

Alan Hoffmann, currently the Director General, Education Department – Jewish Agency for Israel, has been named Director General of the Jewish Agency.

Alan succeeds Moshe Vigdor who is leaving to accept the same position with the Council for Higher Education and the Education Ministry’s council on planning and budget.

JNF sues board member for £700k costs

By Simon Rocker February 25, 2010

JNF UK could be heading for a new High Court case later this year after suing a former board member for nearly £700,000.

The charity claims that Maurice Sherling (known as Charlie), owes the money to cover the JNF's legal fees in its past dispute with its Israeli associate Keren Kayemet LeIsrael (KKL).

N.Y. Jews accuse Be'er Sheva Kabbalist of massive fraud

By Natasha Mozgovaya February 26, 2010

Ellowich's story recalls the pattern of behavior by Abuhatzeira that Haaretz detailed in a series of articles in 1997: He tries to impress people, persuades them to write a check in exchange for a blessing, obtains more money and threatens a curse if necessary.

Jerusalem Municipality resumes cooperation with International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

By Peggy Cidor February 26, 2010

With Nir Barkat’s election as mayor, there were hopes that the ban on the IFCJ would be lifted. That dream is about to come true.

On Wednesday, at a special meeting at City Hall, Barkat and Eckstein announced the resumption of cooperation between the IFCJ and the municipality. According to the agreement, the first sum to be donated this year is NIS 13.5 million, which will be allocated to what has been called a joint fight against poverty by the municipality and the IFCJ. Most of the funds will go to help support the Ethiopian community.

See also:

Jerusalem and IFCJ Join Together to Fight Poverty

IFCJ donates over $3M for urgent need funds

An unholy alliance

By David Newman Opinion February 22, 2010

It is not often, to say the least, that I agree with the political views espoused by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of the rabbis of Beit El in the West Bank and, more significantly, the head of the Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem.

…Aviner came out in a strong attack of the unholy alliance which has developed in recent years by some groups on the radical Right of Israeli politics and the Christian Fundamentalist and Evangelical movements in North America.

Missionaries Use Purim to Woo Soldiers

By Gil Ronen February 23, 2010

Missionaries in the Ashkelon area used the Purim tradition of handing out baskets of foodstuffs and sweets to try and spread their beliefs to Jewish soldiers.

Civil rights group wants AG to disband Yad L'achim organization February 23, 2010

The Jerusalem Institute of Justice has turned to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein in a request to disband the Yad L'achim organization and declare it a terrorist organization.

Religion and State in Israel

March 1, 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.