Sunday, June 6, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - June 7, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

June 7, 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.

PM: Conversions bill won't cause a rift

By Kobi Nahshoni June 6, 2010

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, in a letter to JA trustees, warned against "an irreparable rift" with Reform Jews, and the "destructive potential" of Orthodox dominancy, and vowed to torpedo the bill.

The Conservative and Reform movements agree with the bill's core statement, which means to facilitate the conversion process, by allowing municipal rabbis to oversee it.

The concern stems from an article – introduced to appease the haredim – which stipulates that the Chief Rabbinate will have final say on the matter.

Both movements allege that the article disrupts the balance between the three Jewish denominations

PM backs dialogue on conversion bill ‘to ensure unity'

By Jonah Mandel June 5, 2010

Yizhar Hess, executive-director of the Masorti Movement in Israel said that

“We are happy the Prime Minister chose to send a calming and conciliatory message, we’ve been waiting for one.

Rotem’s proposal threatened to divide the Jewish people, and following the prime minister’s guidelines, we hope that coalition member Rotem will immediately shelve the proposed bill in its current format.

Sharansky told members of the Jewish Agency’s board in a letter from April:

“Furthermore, no official action will be taken till after the Board of Governors in June, when representatives from all streams of Judaism from the Committee for the Unity of the Jewish People, will have the opportunity to weigh and discuss these pivotal questions with the representatives of the government.”

Keep Dreaming: ‘Chief Rabbinate dismantled'

By David Breakstone Opinion June 4, 2010

"If you will it, it is no dream"

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

Jerusalem, June 4, 2018

In a historic act that millions of Jews around the world have anxiously been awaiting for years, the Knesset yesterday dissolved the heretofore sacrosanct office of the Chief Rabbinate.

Earlier in the day, the cabinet received a detailed report on the ongoing implementation of the revolutionary plan drafted nearly a decade ago to fully integrate the haredi community into the country’s military.

Leaders from across the spectrum were unanimous in their optimism that the two moves would lead to an unprecedented Jewish renaissance and sense of unity.

An open letter to Ambassador Oren

By Rabbi Andrew (Andy) Sacks Opinion June 6, 2010

The writer is Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

...I serve as the director of the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel. This is the organization of Masorti rabbis. I have been working with converts to Judaism in this capacity for some sixteen years. In all of this time I do not recall a single case of a convert to Judaism from the States, of African-American origin, who was able to make aliya through normal channels. In virtually every case there are stumbling blocks placed in the path to Israel by both the Interior Ministry and by the Ministry of Justice.

...Mr. Oren, I implore you, please help me fix this injustice.

Non-Jewish, until proven otherwise

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion May 31, 2010

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

According to the new directives, not only is the Marriage Registrar required to send every convert, or every person whose parents were married abroad, to the court for a determination of whether or not s/he’s is a Jew– he can, if he wants, send a person for an official inquiry into one's Jewishness even if his parents were married by a rabbi who is licensed Israeli Marriage Registrar.

...In effect, the entire nation of Israel is presumed to be Not-Jewish – until proven otherwise. There has never been a situation like this in Jewish history. If this isn’t the time to establish alternative rabbinic courts – when will the time come?

Ministry thwarts efforts to keep Hasidic girls separate at school

By Yair Ettinger May31, 2010

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar yesterday ordered a Bnei Brak school not to accept the Ashkenazi girls from Immanuel, whose parents have been fighting against a Supreme Court ruling that their daughters must attend classes with Sephardi girls.

The parents had attempted to send their girls to the Bnei Brak school in an attempt to bypass the court.

...Several hours after the start of the first day of school for the Immanuel girls in Bnei Brak, the order from the Ministry of Education arrived, forbidding the arrangement.

One kid in Immanuel

By Sahara Blau June 2, 2010

This article is part of a special edition of Haaretz, to mark Israel's Book Week.

The writer's book "Book of Creation" was published by Kinneret Zmora-Bitan.

We are in Immanuel on a significant day, the first day the 74 Ashkenazi girls of the Hasidic track who refused to accept the High Court of Justice ruling and study with the other Sephardi girls were to go to Bnai Brak to attend a different school.

"The separation isn't a matter of racism," he continues. "There are families that are newly observant and it can't be helped, they aren't religious enough yet and they can't study in the Hasidic track. And usually, the newly religious girls are from a family of Mizrahi origin, that's all. There isn't a race issue here but rather a religious issue."

The colors of racism

By Sami Michael June 6, 2010

This article is part of a special edition of Haaretz, to mark Israel's Book Week.

The writer's latest novel "Aida" was published in Hebrew by Kinneret Zmora-Bitan. He is the president of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

I am glad the President has not been silent and has not shut his ears to this horror. In a meeting with young people at his official residence he said if he were their age he would go out and demonstrate against this injustice.

Tel Aviv mayor: Chabad irritating residents

By Yoav Zitun May 31, 2010

Ramat Aviv poster

At first, Huldai avoided expressing his stance on the matter, but after being booed by Ramat Aviv residents who attended the meeting, he noted: "I view the behavior of the Chabad members as irritating people. They wait for children outside the schools. This is inappropriate behavior which should be condemned."

The Ramat Aviv residents are planning to boost their activity against the increasing haredi presence in their neighborhood.

Next week, they plan to hold a rally outside the Chabad House in the center of the neighborhood, hoping for the first significant protest since the battle began about two years ago.

An American perspective

By Amihai Zippor June 4, 2010

Interview with Brandeis University Prof. Jonathan Sarna

In my view, a great mistake was made when the Western Wall was given over to a religious ministry.

All kinds of Jews should be welcomed at the Wall, including those who believe that Jews should worship as families, as well as those who believe in segregating the sexes.

Those involved in alienating Jews from Jerusalem and its sacred sites are in some ways guilty of helping to create the current situation.

Police probe shul vandalism in Ra’anana

By Jonah Mandel May 24, 2010

“Ra’anana is known to be a tolerant city, and we believe-hope that these are isolated incidents that do not represent a trend,” Yizhar Hess, executive director of the Masorti Movement in Israel, said in a statement.

“That having been said, it is hard to escape the feeling that in recent months extreme elements are seeking to set a new, violent standard for religious harassment in Israel."

Breaking Stereotypes and Building Bridges

By Tinamarie Bernard June 6, 2010

One of Hannaton’s most prominent residents helping to trumpet her spiritual path is American-born Rabbi Haviva Ner-David.

She made waves a few years back when she became one of a very small handful of women ordained as an Orthodox rabbi, and the first to do so in Israel. But don’t call her Orthodox; this post-denominational rabbi is a writer, teacher and activist determined to bring egalitarianism to the Jewish faith.

She and her husband, Jacob, moved with their six children, ages 2 to 16, from a luxurious neighborhood in Jerusalem to the kibbutz in July 2009.

Emanuel bar mitzvah goes ahead in Old City, but not at Western Wall

By Yair Ettinger May 31, 2010

Though it was a private family affair, attended by some 50 family members and friends, it served as a basis for renewed accusations that the ultra-Orthodox have taken control of Jewish sites, since the bar mitzvah boy (and his cousin Noah ) read the Torah portion at an archaeological park near the southern wall of the Temple Mount, not at the Western Wall plaza itself.

...However, the family rabbi - Jack Moline, rabbi of the Conservative Agudas Achim Congregation in Northern Virginia, who officiated at the event - said he did not agree that the Emanuel family had been shunted away from the Western Wall.

‘Haredi students have seized control of Hurva synagogue'

By Abe Selig June 6, 2010

Rachel Azaria, the chairwoman of the Yerushalmim city council list:

"...they are enforcing the separation all the time. I also have no problem that it operate as a synagogue and that they learn Torah there, but that a group of 20 kollel students who are learning there is causing all of these people to be turned away is unacceptable."

“And it’s not just the Hurva,” she added, ”but slowly they are trying to change the entire Jewish Quarter to fit their needs.

So our campaign is very important, because it’s one of the places where we can make a difference. We’ve caught it in time, and the more we put pressure on them, chances are, we’ll manage to take care of it.”

An American perspective

By Amihai Zippor June 4, 2010

Interview with Brandeis University Prof. Jonathan Sarna

My own view is that separating religion from state would create a stronger community, a more religious community, and a community from which far fewer Jews would feel alienated.

Let the free market which has done so much for Israel’s economic realm be introduced into the religious realm with full appreciation for what free market principles in religion can accomplish.

PODCAST - Who Is A Jew: The Next War Over Jewish Identity in Israel

Click here for PODCAST June 8, 2010

On Thursday, April 8 The New Israel Fund, Religious Action Center Director Rabbi David Saperstein, and Israel Prize recipient and pluralism expert Alice Shalvi conducted a briefing on the next threat to religious pluralism in Israel. The audio of the call is available below.

Israel's Knesset plans to vote after Passover on legislation that would once again attempt to delegitimize Reform and Conservative conversions in Israel and redefine who is a Jew - with major impact on Jews worldwide.

Rabbi David Saperstein, named in Newsweek's 2009 list as the most influential rabbi in the U.S., represents the Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the Administration on a broad range of social justice issues.

Alice Shalvi, a pioneer of Israel's feminist movement, life-long advocate for religious tolerance, and a leader in creating a more just society in Israel, is the recipient of Israel's highest honor.

Time to split

By Peggy Cidor June 3, 2010

Hitorerut B’yerushalayim announced in a press release two months ago that it had decided to split from Yerushalmim, the party it ran [together] on the city council...

Officially, the issue that led to the split between the two parties is connected to Cinema City, a huge entertainment complex to be built at the entrance to the city. Following the mayor’s decree, the coalition voted against screening films there on Shabbat.

Posen Foundation renews funding for secular research after Madoff debacle

By Lior Dattel June 1, 2010

The Posen Foundation is recovering after being burned by Bernie Madoff, and this week will grant $315,000 in stipends to Israeli researchers in the area of nonreligious Jewish culture.

Seven researchers were chosen out of 60 who applied, and each will receive $45,000 over the next three years.

Religion and State in Israel

June 7, 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 - June 7, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

June 7, 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.

IDF plans massive Haredi recruitment

By Yaakov Katz May 31, 2010

Facing dwindling draft numbers and a shortage of 10,000 soldiers, the IDF Manpower Division has drawn up a plan to significantly increase the number of ultra-Orthodox soldiers, to more than 50 percent of the haredi boys who turn 18 in 2020.

The revolutionary plan, formulated by OC Manpower Division Maj.-Gen. Avi Zamir and approved by IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, was presented early this month to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The first stage of the plan will be to double the number of Haredim serving in the military by 2012.

The second phase of the plan calls for recruiting close to 60% of 18-year-old haredim each year from 2020. The Haredim will have the option of serving in a national service position instead of the military.

Treasury proposes exempting Haredim from IDF draft at 22

By Meirav Arlosoroff May 31, 2010

The battle over drafting Haredi men has begun again, eight years after the Tal Law exempted them from army service for as long as they study at yeshivas.

Two weeks ago, at a stormy meeting held in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz proposed changing the Tal Law to allow ultra-Orthodox men to join the workforce.

Be wise, not right: Can't draft the Haredim anyway

By Meirav Arlosoroff Opinion June 1, 2010

If Israel society would stop denying reality and admit that Haredim do not serve in the army, it could reach an agreement on a shortened national service as a condition for joining the workforce - and both the Haredim and Israeli society would be better off for it. Better off economically, not morally, that is.

What is more important? The just ethos of military service for all or the wise realization that in practice there is no chance of drafting Haredim? That is the question.

IDF Chief Rabbi Ronsky: I encouraged return to religion in army

By Kobi Nahshoni June 6, 2010

Outgoing Chief Military Rabbi Brigadier-General Avichai Ronsky believes there is "room for return to the religion in the army".

Following a particularly stormy term, during which he was criticized for his activity to instill "Jewish awareness" among the soldiers, the rabbi admits that it was the first stage in encouraging them to become newly religious.

135,616 Yeshiva and Kollel Students in Eretz Yisroel

By Yechiel Spira May 28, 2010

Some 135,600 bnei Torah are registered in a total of 2,000 yeshivas and kollelim throughout Eretz Yisroel, according to data compiled by Yated Ne'eman and published on Erev Shavuos.

The figures, which were provided by the Union of Yeshiva Managers, show that at least 135,616 are currently studying at 280 yeshivos ketanos and 1,720 yeshivos gedolos and kollelim.

Some 30,000 students are enrolled in the yeshivos ketanos in addition to 33,768 students at the yeshivos gedolos — including 8,000 students from abroad. The kollelim boast 71,848 full-time lomdei Torah.

55% of seculars prefer not to buy Eda Haredit Badatz products

By Kobi Nahshoni June 2, 2010

Asked whether they would endorse a boycott of Eda Haredit Badatz products, 37% responded they oppose any type of boycott, 23% said that given a choice they would purchase products with other kosher stamps, 21% stated they endorse a boycott, 11% said they prefer Badatz products for the level of supervision, while 8% did not have an opinion on the matter.

An analysis according to religious affiliation indicated that 30% of seculars would not purchase Eda Haredit Badatz products and 25% would prefer products with other stamps;

88% of the ultra-Orthodox public would opt for Badatz due to their high level of supervision, whereas 49% of traditionalists and 41% of the religious public oppose any type of boycott.

Rabbanut to Give Kashrus to Ship Despite Chilul Shabbos

By Yechiel Spira June 2, 2010

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel continues to grant kashrus supervision to luxury liners to permit kosher cruises despite chilul shabbos, explaining the same holds true with non-shomer shabbos hotels, seeking to justify the decision.

Chareidi Boycott Update: Electra Backs Down in Excavation Dispute

By Yechiel Spira May 28, 2010

It appears the growing boycott by the chareidi community against the Electra Company may have succeeded in persuading the company to seek a solution surrounding the excavations in Jaffa.

Bringing programming to Haredi kids

By Nitzan Sadan June 1, 2010

"We initially developed the Yiddish version as a tool for elderly people interested in studying programming, in a bid to make the studying process easier for them," Eytam CEO Meir Sela told Ynet.

"Later on, we decided to appeal to the haredi audience, which is also becoming increasingly interested in technological studies for preschoolers."

Ultra-Orthodox in Transition

By Aryeh Tepper Opinion June 3, 2010

It is painfully clear that the present situation, in which one Jewish sector lacks the tools to preserve itself economically while the rest pick up the slack, is unsustainable.

It is no less clear that both haredi and non-haredi Israelis, who have long been at daggers drawn, will need to display exceptional wisdom and resourcefulness in order to make the compromises that alone will succeed in holding together their Jewish commonwealth.

19 Haredim arrested at construction site

By Sharon Roffe-Ofir June 6, 2010

Nineteen ultra-Orthodox men were arrested Sunday while trying to prevent construction work on a hotel and mall in Nazareth.

Riots broke out when burial caves thought to contain graves up to 4,000 years old were discovered during digging on the construction site.

The construction site is located on a central Nazareth street, in front of the Church of the Annunciation. It was fenced off by the Antiquities Authority early Sunday in order to allow for archaeological work.

Israel Postal Company designs Chabad stamp

By Tzemach Brown June 2, 2010

The Israeli Postal Company has produced a special postal stamp honoring the Fifth Annual Conference of Directors of Chabad Institutions and Organizations in Israel which is to take place on June 9, 2010.

Settler rabbi Aviner's ruling on sperm donation reignites battle on right wing

By Chaim Levinson May 31, 2010

15 people demonstrated outside the home of a leading settler rabbi, Shlomo Aviner. They were protesting a recent religious ruling Aviner issued, allowing Jewish couples to use sperm donations from non-Jews for artificial insemination, even if they already have children.

...While other rabbis have permitted sperm donations from non-Jews in certain extreme circumstances, a couple who already has children is not considered eligible. Thus Aviner's ruling was ground-breaking.

Historic Sheinkin synagogue reopens

By Gil Zohar June 5, 2010

Tel Aviv hipsters rubbed shoulders on Tuesday with Georgian Jews, Lubavitcher rabbis and MKs at the rededication of the historic Geulat Yisrael Synagogue just off ├╝bercool Sheinkin Street, following a year-long renovation funded by the World Congress of Georgian Jews.

[Gavriel Mirilashvili] who earlier this year donated one million cloth kippot to the Western Wall Foundation – decided to restore the entire 620-seat synagogue at an estimated cost of $2 million.

Strengthening the Religious-Zionist Community June 6, 2010

Q & A with Rav Aviner

Question: How can we internally strengthen the Religious-Zionist community and increase its influence? Not through specific programs but by an overall philosophy.

Answer: Besides the fact that this community is becoming stronger both quantitatively and qualitatively, it also has a major impact on the other two communities between which it mediates: the non-Zionist Charedim and the Secular-Zionists.

This influence is not a direct one but a natural one of absorption. The Secular-Zionists are coming closer to Torah, and are much closer than they were before the establishment of the State – and this is based on their encounter with the Religious-Zionist community, in which it sees many sterling qualities in the area of education, family life and in our relationship to the State and the army.

Similarly, the Charedi community is coming closer to the State and the entire enterprise of the national revival, in that it unwittingly absorbs Torat Eretz Yisrael from the Religious-Zionists.

The Way We Aid - Rethinking Communal Funding of Overseas Jewish Needs May 26, 2010

The Forward asked a diverse group of Jewish thinkers and communal activists from around the world to weigh in and address the following question: How should North America’s Jewish community be thinking about its priorities and purposes in funding Jewish needs abroad?

New Century, New Priorities, By Yossi Beilin

Putting Identity First, By Jonathan S. Tobin

Collective Responsibility, By Richard Wexler

Avraham Infeld honored for fortifying Jewish identity June 4, 2010

The NADAV Foundation extended warm congratulations to Avraham Infeld, a senior scholar and advisor at the Foundation. Infeld received Hillel’s Renaissance Award at New York's Columbia University Wednesday in recognition of his extraordinary service to the Jewish People.

Reviving Tel Aviv's Valhalla

By Joanna Paraszczuk June 5, 2010

Now, thanks to an initiative by the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies, this long-forgotten building is being lovingly restored and will soon reopen its doors to the public as the Schechter Center for Jewish Culture.

As well as housing the Masorti movement’s Kehilat Sinai and Midreshet Iyun, the new Schechter Center for Jewish Culture will house a theater, a cafe, an art gallery, a Judaica shop and a kindergarten.

On a mission from God

By Stewart Weiss Opinion June 4, 2010

The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana

Last week, the good citizens of Ra’anana awoke to find their cars plastered with what appeared to be parking tickets.

However, on closer examination, the cards turned out to be yet another slick missionary campaign conducted by Jews for Jesus.

The message read, in part: “Jews, you have been condemned to death. But you can still save yourselves from this terrible punishment – all you have to do is believe in Jesus and all will be forgiven!” The card also included a coupon for a free book, They Call Him Yeshua.

Religion and State in Israel

June 7, 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.