Monday, March 22, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - March 22, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

March 22, 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.

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman March 22, 2010

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

[Emergency] [Barzilai Hospital]

Decision to move rocket-resistant Ashkelon ER may be illegal

By Dan Even and Mazal Mualem March 22, 2010

By a single vote, the cabinet approved Sunday the demand of Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) to move the planned bomb-proof emergency room of Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, after ancient burial grounds were discovered in the original site.

…Lieberman's support for Litzman seemed to go opposite the secular line his Yisrael Beiteinu party has followed during its election campaign as well as the coalition agreement between the party and Likud on the setting up of a bomb-proof emergency room at Barzilai Medical Center.

Health Ministry D-G resigns

By Judy Siegel March 21, 2010

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss will look into complaints he received last week regarding Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman’s initiative – approved formally by the cabinet on Sunday – to relocate Barzilai Medical Center’s planned reinforced emergency room to a more distant site because the original site contains ancient graves reportedly belonging to pagans or Christians.

To protest Sunday’s decision, which will boost costs of the project by some NIS 135 million, cause years of delays due to new planning needs and lead to the much-needed structure being relatively far from the main hospital building, Health Ministry Director-General Dr. Eitan Hai-Am resigned on the spot.

The Reform Movement in Israel issued a strong statement against the cabinet vote. Rabbi Gilad Kariv said that Litzman had “unfairly used Judaism to promote fanaticism and darkness” and “fooled the entire public,” causing the legitimate needs of residents of southern Israel to be ignored.

Cabinet okays relocation of Ashkelon emergency room

By Roni Sofer March 21, 2010

After a long struggle and widespread opposition, Litzman wins the battle for Barzilai. Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman's construction plans for a relocated, fortified emergency room at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon were approved.

The plan, whose price tag is notably higher than originally planned and will take longer to carry out, was passed by a slim majority of 11 to 10 and will include the relocation of the fortified emergency room in order to avoid relocating ancient graves found on the site.

Unenlightened in Ashkelon

Haaretz Editorial March 22, 2010

Without even a flicker of shame, the cabinet made a decision yesterday that could not have been made in an enlightened country: A new wing of the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon will be built on a different site from the one planned due to suspicions that ancient tombs rest under the original location.

An extremely unreasonable decision

By Ze'ev Segal March 22, 2010

Yesterday's cabinet decision, adopted by a small margin, favoring construction of a rocket-proof wing at Barzilai Medical Center at a cost of tens of millions of shekels appears to be illegal due to a failure to follow proper procedure. The cabinet called the resolution a "contingency decision" that would only come into force if ancient Jewish graves are found on the site.

Elyashiv: Don't budge Barzilai bones Editorial March 18, 2010

Plans to build a rocket- and missile-proof new emergency room at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center were dealt a blow on Thursday when Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the top rabbinic authority for the Lithuanian haredi community, told Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman not to be complicit in moving graves to make room for the structure.

Contested graves at hospital may not be Jewish March 16, 2010

The ancient gravesite in Ashkelon that has provoked ongoing tensions between the Haredi community and the Health Ministry, may not be a Jewish burial place at all, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

its experts now say the graves may have belonged to pagan worshipers, and they have asked for another week in which to conduct further excavations.


By Yossi Sarid Opinion March 22, 2010

While the decision itself is a scary one, what it symbolizes is horrifying: In the eyes of the Israeli government, the dead take precedent over the living. Judging by its policy, this is a necrophilic government. Say the word "grave" and it will tell you its preferences. If the Haredi parties prostrate themselves on this gravesite, then the wisdom of their ministers is wholly undetectable to the naked eye, as is their accountability.

Ashkelon Mayor Vaknin: Asra Kadisha to Blame

By Yechiel Spira March 14, 2010

Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin blames Asra Kadisha for sabotaging the agreement permitting construction of Ashkelon Hospital’s fortified wing at the original planned site despite the discovery of bones at that location, ancient kevarim [graves].

Vaknin points out the chief rabbis of Israel and the Chief Rabbinate Council has endorsed the construction which involves moving the ancient graves found at the location, blaming Atra Kadisha for bullying the administration into backing down, resulting in the current situation. An angry mayor insists that if Deputy Health Minister Litzman did not delay the project, the frame of the new fortified hospital wing could be in place but this is not the case.

Knesset passes civil union bill

By Rebecca Anna Stoil March 16, 2010

Opponents of the measure expressed concern that it would increase the power of the Chief Rabbinate, by extending it the right to weigh in on whether or not an Israeli citizen listed as “without religion” was actually religionless.

The bill would only permits citizens without religion to marry other citizens without religion, a tiny percentage of those seeking to marry without the oversight of the Chief Rabbinate.

Furthermore, opponents complained, the civil union bill would create a status of people with fewer rights even than couples recognized as married by common law, and would create a problematic situation overseas, as other countries do not recognize any parallel status to “civil union.”

Knesset approves 'thin' civil marriage bill

By Amnon Meranda March 16, 2010

A minimized version of the civil marriage bill passed its second and third Knesset readings on Monday, with a majority of 56 Knesset members voting in favor of regulating the nuptials of "non-denomination" Israelis.

Four MKs voted against the bill. United Torah Judaism and Shas Knesset members were absent from the vote.

The new law allows non-Jewish Israelis, or citizens defined by the State as lacking religious denomination, to marry via the soon-to-be-formed marriage registrar bureau.

Escape to Prague

By Rabbi Dow Marmur Opinon March 20, 2010

What Israel needs is, of course, civil marriage where every couple that wants to get married can be registered and then choose whatever kind of wedding they want. For that to happen, however, Israel also needs a revolution of its current electoral system that deprives from the stranglehold of the Orthodox parties. It's currently not on the horizon.

Police to advise closing sex crimes case against Moti Elon

By Tomer Zarchin and Yair Ettinger March 22, 2010

The police are expected to announce that there is no basis for a criminal investigation against Mordechai (Moti) Elon, a prominent religious Zionist rabbi who last month was accused of committing sex-related crimes.

Police said a preliminary probe indicates that while Elon did engage in sexual activity with young men, he did not violate any laws because they were of legal age and gave their consent.

Channel 2: Police set to close Elon sexual misconduct case March 21, 2010

As the Rabbi Mordechai (Motti) Elon sexual misconduct investigation draws to its conclusion, police say it appears there will be no need to launch a criminal case against the prominent national religious rabbi, Channel 2 reported.

Rav Elon, homosexuality, and the exclusion of women

By Elana Sztokman Opinion March 10, 2010

The kinds of sins that Elon is accused of should not be so easily excused. This isn’t about some personal flaw, a lack of self control in which he pretty much only hurts himself. This is about hurting another human being, a child no less. There are potential victims here, and Elon is not one of them.


Bus Segregation Inspires 'Stop in Time' Protest Movement

By Allison Kaplan Sommer Opinion March 17, 2010

"Segregated Bus Lines Coming To You Soon"

Upsetting as it may be to those who hold women’s right to pray openly at the Western Wall compound openly — not to mention the acts of violence against them — it has consistently been difficult to rally Israeli women behind the cause, or engage the sustained interest of the media.


My theory: Israel has a tradition of ceding control of religious sites to the more extremely religious elements of the community.

The ultra-Orthodox hegemony on the Western Wall is an extension of the reality that many Israelis may not like, but which they are used to.

But public buses are not religious sites. And the right of a woman to ride any public bus without being shunted to the back is a cause that more Israelis are willing to fight for than the right to pray at the Wall in an egalitarian fashion.

Can Israel deny Muslim prisoners bread on Pessah?

By Dan Izenberg March 19, 2010

Given that bread is the staff of life, is the State of Israel obliged to distribute it to non-Jewish prisoners during Pessah?

Madab Raik and his lawyers, Gilad Barnea and Vered Birger, think it is. The Israel Prisons Service (IPS) thinks it isn’t. When the Tel Aviv District Court sided with the prison authorities, the Muslim prisoner appealed his petition to the Supreme Court.

Interior Minister Calls for Enforcement of Chametz Law

By Yechiel Spira March 16, 2010

As Pesach approaches, Interior Minister (Shas) Eli Yishai has instructed all local governments to ensure the law prohibiting the sale of chametz on the yomtov is enforced in all cities and municipalities.

Knesset approves taxation on non-kosher meat

By Amnon Meranda March 17, 2010

The Knesset on Wednesday voted into force an ordinance, first revealed by Ynet in February, which sets tax rates on non-kosher types of meat that are already forbidden from being imported to Israel.

Following a heated debate, twenty five MKs voted in favor, while 16 opposed the ordinance, which was initiated by MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) and includes meats from horses, donkeys, whales, dolphins, seals, and walruses and more.

Who’s counting agunot?

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion March 16, 2010

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinic pleader who works at the Center for Women's Justice

On Agunah Day, commemorated on the Fast of Esther, we took note of the plight of Agunot and the efforts made on their behalf to find halakhic solutions, I decided to take a closer look at the data and numbers published by the Rabbinic Courts Administration summarizing their achievements of 2009.

Imprisoned cult leader Chen refusing to grant wife divorce

By Yair Ettinger March 16, 2010

The leader of a Jerusalem cult facing charges of child abuse, Elior Chen, told a rabbinical court yesterday that he is refusing to grant a get, or Jewish divorce, to the mother of his alleged victims. The woman claims that the marriage was illegitimate.

Radical way to boost organ donation

AP March 17, 2010

Israel is launching a potentially trailblazing experiment in organ donation: Sign a donor card, and you and your family move up in line for a transplant if one is needed.

The new law is the first of its kind in the world, and international medical authorities are eager to see if it boosts organ supply. But it has also raised resistance from within Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority.

State shutters pirate Haredi school over segregation

By Or Kashti March 16, 2010

The Education Ministry yesterday ordered a pirate ultra-Orthodox school in the West Bank settlement of Immanuel closed. The High Court, last August, ordered the state-sanctioned Beit Ya'akov school to stop segregating classes for Ashkenazi and Sephardi girls.

…Though the existence of the pirate school in Immanuel had been public knowledge for weeks, the ministry only managed to dispatch an inspector last week, who verified indeed there was instruction going on.

Ministry officials are examining the possibility of cutting funds to Beit Ya'akov commensurate with the number of Ashkenazi students who left.

Ashkenazim-only school 'illegal'

By Anshel Pfeffer March 18, 2010

In towns such as Emanuel, where the local councils which are responsible for implementing the education laws are controlled by Charedi politicians, they have refused to work with the Education Ministry, claiming that the schools are independent, despite the fact that they receive 60 per cent of their funding from the state.

The ministry is now exploring ways in which it can penalise the schools and reduce their funding.

Peres finds his religion

By Yossi Sarid Opinion March 19, 2010

It was only a few years ago that Peres was incensed by them. When he used to wander, Samson-like, between the Labor Party's club at Tzura and the party's office at Eshtaol on Shabbat, he would preach against the ultra-Orthodox for delaying the coming of the messiah - it was only because of them that there was no peace for us and the entire people of Israel.

However, recently they at last supported his candidacy for the presidency, the wrinkles were ironed out, and redemption came to Zion. For Peres, nothing is personal.

Haredi lobby pressures gov't into scrapping animal fur ban

By Cnaan Liphshiz March 19, 2010

The Knesset this week moved to scrap a bill that would ban fur, amid pressure from leading Canadian furriers who lobbied here with local ultra-Orthodox leaders against the precedent-setting legislation, Haaretz has learned.

The decision to shelve the proposed legislation came at the end of a discussion by the coalition's coordinating body, presided over by MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi). He said he "personally supports" the bill, but cannot promote it because of opposition by MK Menachem Eliezer Moses (United Torah Judaism), a coalition member.

Israel fur ban dropped

By Jessica Elgot March 19, 2010

MK Zevulun Orlev, who chaired a coalition committee discussion on the bill, said pressure from the Charedi community, from MK Menachem Eliezer Moses and from the Shas Party had led to the bill being temporarily shelved.

Mr Orlev said: “I have no interest in offending the Charedi public”.

The invisible hand

By Yair Ettinger March 18, 2010

Rabbi Elyashiv has no official position, but from his humble home in Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood, he also decides for Israeli citizens and world Jewry - who is a Jew, who will convert, who will get married and how he or she can divorce, what will happen to the economy during the shmita (agricultural sabbatical year) and what will be the fate of organ donations.

He of course decides who will fill senior positions, such as the mayoralty of Jerusalem and the role of chief rabbi, while for the ultra-Orthodox he simply decides everything: from individual halakhic questions - which are presented to him when he receives the public or as an "on the spot" ruling, and which are occasionally recorded in his students' booklets - to public questions concerning elections, the coalition and demonstrations, and just about anything else.

Dahan: Only Hareidim Want to Live in Harish

By Maayana Miskin March 19, 2010

Former Shas minister Nissim Dahan is head of the Katzir-Harish regional council.

Dahan predicted that many more hareidi-religious cities will be created over the next generation.

“If our democracy remains as it is, then going by the growth rate in the hareidi-religious community, compared to the lack of growth in other sectors, and taking into account the growing trend of aliyah [immigration to Israel] in the hareidi community – there is no doubt that in another 30 years, there will be many more cities like [Harish].”

Plan for Hareidi Vocational HS Presented March 21, 2010

Rabbi David Grossman of Migdal Ha'emek, an important leader of the Hareidi community, along with industrial magnate Stef Wertheimer, on Sunday presented to Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer a plan to establish a vocational high school for Hareidi students. The school would teach trades such as metalworking, car repair, and electrical work.

Rioting Taking Place at Batei Warsaw – Yerushalayim

Click here for VIDEO March 18, 2010

Rioting is taking place at this time in the Batei Warsaw in Yerushalayim.

The violence began early Thursday afternoon. The loudspeakers called on people to come and take part and within a short time, several hundred people were on hand, some taking part in the violence and other observing.

The scene is literally one of chaos and vandalism, random destruction of property.

Maran R’ Chaim Kanievsky: ‘It’s Reached Epidemic Proportions – A Fast Should be Declared’

By Yechiel Spira March 18, 2010

Rav Chaim Shlita used the opportunity to discuss the trend with young chasanim [grooms] requesting an apartment before wedding arrangements are even finalized, the weekly BaKehilla reports.

The Rav explained that he receives telephone calls from mothers of young girls, explaining they want an apartment and as a result, there cannot be a shidduch since they simply cannot accommodate.

Young Haredi woman dies mysteriously in abandoned Jerusalem house

By Liel Kyzer March 21, 2010

So what was the cause of her death?

The answer will probably never be known. The body of Tsipora Atlan, whose short life ended on February 3, lay in a house on Rabeinu Gershon Street in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She'arim.

Members of the Haredi community aimed to prevent an autopsy, a procedure the ultra-Orthodox object to, for fear it would violate the honor of the dead. Only after long negotiations between the Eda Haredit community and the police was the body returned and buried the next morning - without an autopsy.

Most Chareidim are Satisfied with their Living Conditions

By Yechiel Spira March 18, 2010

According to the results of a survey conducted in 2008 by the Central Bureau of Statistics, 79% of chareidim are satisfied with their living conditions despite most being short on space.

Hasidic sect would forbid novel about forbidden love

By Asaf Carmel March 16, 2010

This is the story of a boiler installer from Haifa who dedicated five years of his life to researching the extremist Toldot Aharon Hasidic sect, and ended up writing a romance novel.

The novel revolves around a story of the forbidden love between a young ultra-Orthodox woman and a secular man. Since the book has been published, its author, Menashe Darash, has known no peace. Ultra-Orthodox extremists, who were Darash's friends until not long ago, have decided to prevent the book from being released.

Charish Homes to Be Offered for Sale Soon

By Yechiel Spira March 19, 2010

The first 5,600 housing units in the new chareidi community of Charish are expected to be announced for sale in the coming days, event before Pesach.

Housing Minister (Shas) Ariel Atias made the announcement this week as he toured the site of the new community, accompanied by senior ministry officials.

Rabbis: Cellular internet must be filtered

By Kobi Nahshoni March 21, 2010

Rabbis and educators in the Religious Zionism movement are calling upon the public not to connect to the internet without a content filter, now even on mobile devices like cellular modems or mobile phones.

An agreement was recently reached with Cellcom and Rimon Internet that will allow their internet customers to filter online content through a service offered recently.

ReDedication of the Churva Synagogue Old City Jerusalem

Click here for VIDEO

In the Holy Land, a Rebuilding for the Generations

By Benjamin Balint March 10, 2010

In this city so crowded with religious symbols, where houses of worship vie with one another to render the religious past visible, no synagogue bears more symbolic weight than the one called the Hurva, in the heart of the Jewish Quarter.

Hachnosas Sefer Torah Marking Churva Dedication

Click here for VIDEO

Click here for Hurva Synagogue photos: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

McDonald's Fined for Employing Jew on Sabbath

By Gil Ronen March 18, 2010

The Tel Aviv Labor Court under Judge Hagit Sagi convicted Aloniel Ltd, which owns the Israel franchise of fast food chain McDonald's, of illegally employing a youth during Sabbath, the weekly day of rest.

McDonald's was fined NIS 30,000 and will be made to pay another NIS 52,000 if it repeats its offense in the next three years.

Shabbos Protest in Kfar Saba on Monday Night

By Yechiel Spira March 15, 2010

It appears that Kfar Saba is joining other cities as a venue for anti-chilul shabbos protests, with one scheduled for today, Monday night. The organizers have targeted the chilul shabbos surrounding soccer matches held in the city as the reason for the event.

Deputy Minister Porush Sends Harsh Letter Regarding Chilul Shabbos

By Yechiel Spira March 18, 2010

Deputy Minister (Yahadut HaTorah) R’ Meir Porush sent a harshly worded letter to Foreign Minister (Yisrael Beitenu) Avigdor Lieberman regarding the chilul shabbos last week by Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Dr. Michael Oren.

R’ Porush Angered at UN Leader’s Arrival on Shabbos

By Yechiel Spira March 21, 2010

Deputy Minister (Yahadut HaTorah) R’ Meir Porush sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman condemning the arrival on shabbos of UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, explaining the arrival of the senior official undoubtedly required much chilul shabbos on the part of security personnel.

State: Passover Sacrifice Would Provoke Muslims

By Maayana Miskin March 21, 2010

State attorneys asked Sunday for the Supreme Court to forbid Jews to bring sacrifices on the Temple Mount. The appeal to the court was a response to a petition from the Temple Mount Institute, which requested permission to bring a sacrifice on the Temple Mount prior to Passover.

Temple Institute wants to Offer Biblical Passover Sacrifice

By Maayana Miskin March 18, 2010

The Temple Mount Institute has filed suit in its fight for the right to sacrifice a sheep on the Temple Mount prior to Passover, as commanded in the Torah.

…In previous years, the court has ruled that the right to freedom of worship is outweighed by the consideration of public safety, and has forbidden the Paschal sacrifice.

Religion and State in Israel

March 22, 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.