Monday, October 4, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - October 4, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

October 4, 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.

Most Israelis approve of Reform, Conservative conversions

By Ron Friedman September 28, 2010

A majority of the survey participants (68%) responded positively when asked whether Jews living abroad who had married non-Jews should be considered part of the Jewish people. However the proportion of people who answered “yes” changed according to the level of religious affiliation.

Among secular respondents, the number stood at 78%, but it shrank to 57% for people who identified as traditional, and dropped down to 45% among those who described themselves as religious.

The same pattern emerged on the question of non-Orthodox conversions. When asked whether people who converted to Judaism outside of the Orthodox system should be considered part of the Jewish people, 82% of secular Jews, 42% of traditional Jews and 12% of religious Jews answered “yes.”

Poll: Israelis view non-Orthodox converts as Jews

AP September 27, 2010

The survey, conducted for Israel's Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, found that 63 percent of respondents believed those converted by non-Orthodox rabbis should be regarded as Jews. Some 30 percent believed they should not.

The poll also found that 68 percent of Israelis said Diaspora Jews who intermarried should be regarded as Jewish, while 21 percent said they should not.

Opening the gates

By Rabbi Reuven Hammer Opinion October 1, 2010

The writer is the head of the Rabbinical Court of the Masorti Movement

There is nothing better for business than competition. There would be nothing better for Judaism than the free market of ideas and competition among the streams. There is room for all. Let the playing field be made level. Deprive the Chief Rabbinate of its monopoly and see what would happen.

'Jewish philanthropy must adapt to changes'

By Gil Shefler October 3, 2010

Jeffrey Solomon’s experience puts him in a good position to try and look into the future. Asked what he believed would top the agenda at this year’s General Assembly, he said he was filled with a sense of déjà vu.

“The conversion bill [pending in the Knesset] was last on the GA agenda in 1989, so 21 years later I think that clearly will be the most major issue,” he said.

Support Religious Pluralism in Israel - Rabbi Harold Kravitz's Rosh HaShanah Sermon, 5771

By Rabbi Harold J. Kravitz Opinion October 1, 2010

The writer is Rabbi of Adath Jeshurun Congregation, Minnetonka, MN

So I ask how many of us could prove to an Orthodox rabbi in Israel that we are Jews?

...Let me be clear, I would not presume to suggest that Orthodox rabbis do not have the right to determine who they believe fulfills their requirements for conversion, or the right to decide for themselves “who is a Jew.”

They absolutely have that right. The outrage is when a Chief Rabbinate is empowered to act on behalf of the State in making those decisions.

Local women put focus on campaign for equality at Western Wall

By Amanda Pazornik September 30, 2010

“The question is, what kind of Jewish values are at work here?” said Sara Yakira Heckelman, the guest speaker at San Francisco Congregation B’nai Emunah’s Sept. 26 photo session.

“What we’re not seeing is tolerance, pluralism and openness to Judaism as it’s evolved all over the world.”

A High Holiday Sermon

By Rabbi Amy B. Bigman Opinion September 29, 2010

The writer is rabbi at Congregation Shaarey Zekek, East Lansing, Michigan

How can it be that in the modern State of Israel women are not allowed to carry a Torah? How can it be that I, as a Reform rabbi, am not recognized as a rabbi in the Jewish homeland?!

..In Medinat Yisrael, the modern State of Israel, founded by Jews from around the world – a country which we hold near and dear to our hearts – in Israel today Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative Jews are treated as second-class citizens. Our rabbis are not recognized and our synagogues are not funded by the government as are the Orthodox congregations.

...My friends, this really is not a feminist issue – this is about religious pluralism in Israel. It is about our “flavor” of Judaism being recognized as legitimate. It is about the rights of non-Orthodox Jews. It is about who we are and what we stand for.

Western Wall is for everyone — so give women equal access Editorial September 30, 2010

The Kotel, or the Western Wall, in Jerusalem’s Old City, is Judaism’s holiest site. It belongs to the Jewish people. All of them, male and female.

That is why we support Women of the Wall, a movement seeking to permit women to wear prayer shawls, pray and read from the Torah out loud at the Kotel.

Lawsuit: Rabbi sexually abuses student; affair hushed by college

By Merav Batito October 1, 2010

The psychiatrist who Shlomit (not her real name) visited in the summer of 2007 was shocked to find the 24-year-old ultra-Orthodox woman, who was escorted by her father and one of her teachers, in an extremely fragile mental state.

According to the psychiatrist, the young woman was sexually abused by a senior rabbi at the Jerusalem College for Women, located at the Bayit VeGan neighborhood.

...As part of the settlement, the sides did not admit to the claims, but were willing to pay Shlomit a compensation of NIS 20,000 (about $5,400) each. In addition, the rabbi was ordered to retire from his position in the college as soon as possible. In return, the college and rabbi were given full immunity on matters related to the affair.

Paying Off Recalcitrant Husbands

By Elana Maryles Sztokman Opinion September 27, 2010

This is a process in which the woman says, “I want a divorce,” the man says, “I’ll give it to you for a price,” and the rabbis say, “We’ll pay some, and the woman will pay the rest.”

The money comes from a not-for-profit fund controlled by the Beit Din that is called, outrageously enough, The Aguna Fund. Just thinking about our rabbinical justice system in action gives me a migraine.

VIDEO: The Israeli bus battle of the sexes

Click here for VIDEO July 21, 2009

Religious gays addressed in shul leaflet

By Kobi Nahshoni September 27, 2010

Religious homosexuals are continuing their struggle for recognition within the Religious Zionist movement. On Yom Kippur, the organization Havruta began distributing a Torah-study leaflet entitled "Bireish Galay" that highlights the distress of mitzvoth-observing Jews torn between their homosexual identity and their religious beliefs.

Reward & punishment, turned upside down

By Nehemia Shtrasler Opinion October 1, 2010

Not long ago, the Bank of Israel proposed encouraging the ultra-Orthodox to go out to work by giving a grant to any employer who would hire them.

Once again, we have an example of upside-down reward and punishment - the grant gives an advantage to the Haredi person but simultaneously hurts the secular or religious person vying for that same position.

Revolution in the Israeli army

By Anshel Pfeffer September 28, 2010

For the last three years, more and more units have launched training programmes specifically tailored to young Charedi men in their mid-twenties, complete with time off for prayers and study, a separate military environment with only male officers, meals prepared under a stricter kashrut supervision than that of the IDF Rabbinate and a schedule that allows them to spend time at home with their families.

The conscription gap

By Asher Meir Opinion October 1, 2010

[G]iving an exemption for Haredim will likely result in thousands of young men either seeking a way to change the definition of Haredi to encompass them or actively identifying themselves with existing standards of Haredi belonging

Suppose a respected Haredi rabbi, with all the proper status, decides in perfect good faith to open a yeshiva for novices to Haredi society.

Who will be authorized to decide if the young men who join this school are spiritual seekers or merely draft-dodgers?

Eating pork in Israel

By Lisa Mullins September 29, 2010

Click here for PODCAST

Podcast Interview with Dr. Eli Landau

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Yoskowitz

He is the author of a pork cookbook. It’s called The White Book, which was recently published in Israel. It’s the first such book in the country.

Dr. Landau says that, despite religious prohibitions on eating pork, and what he calls a negative energy surrounding it, more Israelis are consuming “other white meat.”

In Israel, a Pork Cookbook Challenges a Taboo

By Jeffrey Yoskowitz September 28, 2010

The author blogs at JeffYosko

Click here for VIDEO

According to the book’s distributor, Keter Books, 2,000 copies were printed and 1,100 to 1,200 have been sold. Ami Ashkenazi, the company’s marketing and sales manager, said a best-selling cookbook in Israel sells about 6,000 copies, but for such a niche topic, 2,000 to 3,000 copies sold would be considered a success.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, the head of the Orthodox Hesder Yeshiva in Petach Tikva, said, “I’m very disappointed by this book.”

He added, “I’m very sorry and it hurts me.” But fighting pork consumption is not at the top of his list of priorities for “improving Jewish identity in our society,” Rabbi Cherlow said.

Seeing sea food in Rehovot

By David Brinn September 29, 2010

Browsing around, we came upon a Tiv Ta’am supermarket. Even though there are a reported 32 stores in the country, there aren’t any in Jerusalem and its environs, so we decided to go in and look around.

...The sheer weirdness of seeing those items in an Israeli supermarket had our eyes bugging out. After 25 years of entering kosher-only supers, it was genuinely an eye-opener.

Birthright Israel Registration Demand Continues to Increase September 28, 2010

Demand among young Jewish adults in the Diaspora to participate in Taglit-Birthright Israel’s trips to Israel rose by 12%, according to the latest registration figures from North American applicants.

During its latest registration period in September, Taglit-Birthright Israel received 23,623 eligible applications for 9,576 places on its winter trips, which will take place between December and March 2011. Registration closed after just seven days. This compares to 21,093 applicants at the same time last winter when registration closed after 10 days.

Three ways by which Jews connect to the Jewish People

By Dr. Ezra Kopelowitz Opinion September 27, 2010

Many of the categories of Jewish life which were born in the late 19thand early 20th centuries are shifting and changing, leaving us unsure of the manner in which Jews around the world continue to connect to the Jewish People.

What are the nature of current commitments and the identification of Jews with the Jewish People? By what means and in which modes do Jews continue to connect to one another?

This short article offers a three part framework for making sense of possible modes of Jewish belonging.

Modern-day Moses

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion October 1, 2010

Judaism is much too anarchic to have a pope. Jews are too independent to have any form of unified leadership. And any Jew with real leadership skills or aspirations would prefer to run a city, a big business or an entire country to just the Jews within it.

Our problem is not a lack of Jewish leaders, but rather our expectation to have any.

Immigrant umbrella group casts doubts on Jewish Agency plan to focus on identity

By Raphael Ahren October 1, 2010

The Council of Immigrant Associations in Israel remains opposed to key aspects of the Jewish Agency's new strategic plan to focus on fostering Jewish identity, which was unanimously adopted in June.

Even a series of conversations with the agency's senior leadership did not alleviate the umbrella organization's fears the new plan - the details of which will be worked out at the Agency's board of governors meeting in Jerusalem later this month will sideline its traditional focus on aliyah.

Only in Israel are we a light unto the nations

By Moshe Orman Opinion October 1, 2010

Moshe Orman was born in Baltimore, made aliyah in 2009 and today studies at Yeshivat Machon Meir in Jerusalem.

In my opinion, it is most logical to attend university in the place where one plans on living. Students will learn the language, make important contacts and create many different networks.

This is the reason why it is ideal for these students who have come to Israel on a one-year-program to continue their university studies in Israel.

A place to call one’s own

By Deborah Rubin Fields October 3, 2010

After 27 years, they finally have some peace. The Israeli Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, in cooperation with the World Zionist Organization and the Israeli Defense Ministry, recently unveiled a memorial to over 4,000 Ethiopian Jews who died attempting to reach Israel.

Located on Mt. Herzl, this stirring monument gives official recognition to the community’s largely unknown suffering.

Religion and State in Israel

October 4, 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 - October 4, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

October 4, 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.

Dozens march in J'lem to protest gender segregation

By Jonah Mandel September 29, 2010

About 50 men and women accompanied by large police forces marched from central Jerusalem towards Mea She'arim on Wednesday to protest gender segregation in the haredi neighborhood.

Rona Ovorano, one of the protest's organizers:

“We came here to protest against the deterioration in the status of women in Jerusalem,” she said. “Things are getting worse for women every day, there is separation on buses, pictures of women are removed from advertisements. Women being barred from streets and sidewalks being separated was a red line we had to protest against.”

Court rules against segregating men and women on streets

By Tomer Zarchin and Chaim Levinson September 29, 2010

Barriers separating men and women on the main street of the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea She'arim were removed Tuesday after the High Court of Justice ruled that the barriers were unacceptable.

"Any division of the public space in Israel is illegal, and the police - located just two streets away from Mea She'arim - can't treat a certain area as 'extraterritorial,'" Jerusalem city council member Rachel Azaria, one of several people who had filed a petition against the barriers, said before the hearing.

A small victory

By Ze'ev Segal Legal Analysis September 29, 2010

Professor Ze'ev Segal is the senior legal commentator for Haaretz newspaper, and a member of its editorial board.

Yesterday's ruling could never have been issued had the activists not petitioned the court against the police's initial refusal to let them demonstrate inside Mea She'arim.

With the petition in hand, however, the court was able to press the state to allow the demonstration, with certain restrictions, in order to avert a ruling that might go against it. And the state acquiesced.

High Court: No sidewalk gender separation

By Kobi Nahshoni September 28, 2010

The two petitioners related their own experience when they tried to pass the road in a mixed group. "The women were asked to go to a narrow sidewalk, which hardly had space to pass," they said. "The men were given the center, with the entire width of the road."

When they refused, they said, they were physically and verbally assaulted until they left. At the time, they said, police were present but did nothing.

High Court to discuss barriers set up to keep women out of Mea She’arim

By Yair Ettinger September 28, 2010

The petition also noted that the neighborhood has long hosted events that attract large crowds, but “until very recently, no one dared close the streets, place private guards at the entrances and sort pedestrians according to gender: women to the narrow sidewalks, well hidden by heavy cloth fences, and men in the middle of the street.

Meah Shearim Ignores Mixed Men-Women Protest

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu September 29, 2010

Neighborhood leaders, ignoring the court as well, went one step further and ruled that a fence be erected on the sidewalks to separate men and women during a celebration that is part of the seven-day Sukkot holiday.

MK wants Neturei Karta classified as terrorists

By Ari Galahar October 3, 2010

Members of the Neturei Karta sect attacked Knesset Member Yaakov Katz (National Union) last week when he arrived at a Mea Shearim synagogue in Jerusalem.

The MK responded with slurs and is now planning to submit a bill which would classify Neturei Karta as terrorists.

Head of the class

By Peggy Cidor October 1, 2010

Adina Bar-Shalom, the eldest daughter of former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef, is well known to the Israeli public.

...But in her eyes, her most important achievement is the Jerusalem Haredi College, which caters not only to haredi women but to haredi men as well. The latter attend classes on separate floors, observing strict gender separation.

Peres visits Chief Rabbis’ succot, receives blessings

By Greer Fay Cashman September 29, 2010

President Shimon Peres was the recipient of numerous blessings on Tuesday morning when he called on Shas spiritual mentor and former Sephardi chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, current Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who received him in their respective succot.

Peres also raised the issue of the Conversion Law with Amar and asked him to use his good offices to find a speedy solution that would not only resolve the problem in Israel, but also be acceptable to the Jews of the United States.

A Succot harvest with a charitable twist

By Ruth Eglash September 28, 2010

Thousands of English-speaking immigrants and tourists turn up for Leket Israel’s event to pick produce for the needy.

Organized by Leket Israel, the national food bank formerly known as Table-to- Table, the event is held every year on Succot to help gather fruit and vegetables grown on some 700 dunams of farmland owned by veteran immigrant Sandy Colb.

Bnei Akiva builds hundreds of sukkot worldwide September 27, 2010

Hundreds of World Bnei Akiva emissaries in 30 countries around the world have been very busy in the past few days: Immediately after the Yom Kippur fast ended, they began preparing for the Sukkot holiday.

Over the tractor din

By Barbara Sofer October 1, 2010

Yom Kippur on kibbutzim ain’t what it used to be – thanks to Shlomo Ra’anan, who dispatches friendly families and singles to hold prayer services, even if a tiny cadre requests them.

VIDEO: Beit Rav Kook – Hakafot

via Dror Nevo

Click here for VIDEO

After France, Israel considers 'banning the burqa'

By David Sheen October 2, 2010

A member of the current Knesset is proposing a law that would prohibit the wearing of any garment that obscures the face and prevents identification, in any government office, at any entertainment venue, and on any means of public transportation.

According to the legislator proposing the law, Kadima MK Marina Solodkin, its primary purpose is to liberate women from irrational religious restrictions. The bill mainly targets devout Muslims.

Hundreds in north may undergo circumcision corrections

By Kobi Nahshoni October 3, 2010

Israel's Chief Rabbinate suspects that a mohel (ritual circumciser) from the north performed hundreds of circumcisions in recent years that did not comply with Jewish Law.

Some of the children circumcised by the rabbi have already undergone surgery to correct the brit, thus rendering it kosher. There is significant concern that others will be forced to undergo a similar procedure.

Coercive imposition of Western culture

By Yitzhak Levy Opinion October 3, 2010

Rabbi Levy is a former education minister.

A grave phenomenon is occurring with regard to the core curriculum issue. Academics, public figures and the courts are involved. They are trying to impose Western culture on Jewish culture, without publishing any serious research that would prove their claims concerning the essentiality of the core curriculum.

The country's "Western elite" has decided that in order to earn a living and compete in the labor market, 10- to 18-year-olds should study mathematics and English. Many believe this to be a self-evident truth. However, it can be shown to be untrue on several grounds.

Chabad-run center hosting IDF troops for Shabbat denies religious coercion

By Anshel Pfeffer September 28, 2010

Every weekend, the Israel Defense Forces Education Corps sends dozens of soldiers and officers to take part in a Shabbat dinner at Ascent, a Chabad-run center in Safed that has come under fire from critics accusing it of religious coercion.

While the army initially suspended the collaboration to examine the complaints, the partnership was recently renewed.

Let the spirits take you

By Ben Hartman October 1, 2010

In spite of the rising prices and the security shortcomings, [ZAKA medic Shimon Grossman] is not convinced the bones will be moved, or that next year the pilgrimage won’t be even larger.

“Israel has come up with plans to move the bones, but the Ukrainians won’t agree. They make more money in that week than they do all year.” He said he didn’t believe that the 30,000-strong pilgrimage had reached its critical mass, saying whatever happens and however big it gets, “God will protect us.”

The kids are alright

By Ben Hartman September 29, 2010

I learned that as much as the pilgrimage constitutes a sacred annual rite for a rapidly growing hassidic sect, it is also a pan-Judaic gathering the likes of which I’ve never seen in Israel or anywhere else.

With all the reports of drunkenness, violence and midnight liaisons with Ukrainian prostitutes, the overwhelming picture I saw was of a gathering of tribes that didn’t consider the litany of ethnic, liturgical, linguistic and geographical distinctions that divide Jews, especially in Israel.

Ukraine holds two over suspected anti-Semitic murder

By Yair Ettinger September 27, 2010

An Israeli Breslov Hassid was stabbed to death and his brother was beaten late Saturday night in the Ukrainian city of Uman. Shmuel Toubul, 20, and his older brother Rafael were in Ukraine to assist Jews making the pilgrimage to the grave of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.

Rabbis hit out at Christian funding for Holocaust centre

By Nathan Jeffay September 28, 2010

Leading Israeli rabbis are furious that a new residential facility for Holocaust survivors is being funded by evangelical Christians.

Open Eye, a newly-formed alliance of rabbis which seeks to draw attention to what is calls the "missionary enemy in Israel", has decried Christian involvement in catering for Holocaust survivors as "worrying".

The alliance, which attracted 500 people to its inaugural conference in Jerusalem last week, represents influential religious leaders including Beit El Chief Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Beer Sheba Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri, and Rehovot Chief Rabbi Simcha Hakohen Kook.

The Israeli-American Religious-Industrial Complex

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Opinion September 27, 2010

Welcome to the Israeli-American religious-industrial complex where a year abroad for many American youth means enrolling in a program that costs their parents upwards of twenty thousand dollars and is supposed to enhance their religious commitment, but in reality, is just a year-long opportunity to drink and behave like hooligans.

In lieu of gifts, NY bar mitzva boy sponsors ambucycle

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich September 28, 2010

Instead of collecting cellular phones or other gadgets as bar mitzva presents, Gabe Low of New York asked his guests to donate or raise money to purchase a lifesaving ambucycle for United Hatzalah in Israel.

Celestial celebrity

By Jonah Mandel October 1, 2010

[Rabbi Yeoshiau Pinto, founder and head of the Shuva Israel institutions] seems to possess the religious charisma and wisdom to draw thousands in Israel and the Diaspora to seek his guidance and follow his teachings, as well as the lineage and schooling that provide firm rabbinical foundations, and a religious worldview that sees the good and holy in every Jew regardless of his lifestyle, before anything else.

Religion and State in Israel

October 4, 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.