Sunday, October 24, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - October 25, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

October 25, 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.

MK Rotem to propose bill dissolving Chief Rabbinate October 22, 2010

Head of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) has said that he will propose a law that would dissolve the Chief Rabbinate Council and allow the creation of a new one, as well as officially recognize conversions by IDF rabbis in an announcement on Friday.

According to the new proposal, military rabbis will also be empowered to marry those who joined the Jewish people in the military-sponsored conversion process.

Rabbinate sets up advisory committee on IDF conversions

By Yair Ettinger October 22, 2010

The Chief Rabbinate has steered clear from making a decision on the validity of thousands of conversions carried out in an IDF-sponsored program, setting up a committee to look into all conversions in Israel.

Yizhar Hess, director of the Conservative movement, said "the hostile takeover by the ultra-Orthodox on the Chief Rabbinate suggests that the historical function of the Chief Rabbinate has come to an end."

Chief Rabbinate to probe IDF, civilian conversion

By Jonah Mandel October 21, 2010

MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu), whose efforts to pass a law aimed at making the orthodox conversion process more accessible failed last Knesset session, was furious at the council's decision.

“The very existence of a Rabbinical Council hearing on the topic is a scandal, that proves there are rabbis who do not understand the importance of conversion. The IDF conversions are in full accordance with Halacha, and have been going on for years.

The fact that there are factors pressuring rabbis raises the notion that it would be a good idea to disperse the Chief Rabbinical Council,” Rotem said, adding that he would promote legislation to that end.

Head of ITIM Rabbi Seth Farber expressed his disappointment over the decision, and his expectation of “the Chief Rabbinical Council to act in a statesmanlike manner, and not to succumb to pressure applied by go-getters, who misinform the senior haredi rabbis.”

“All of the IDF conversions are conducted with full acceptance of mitzvot, and adhere to all of the necessary halachic criteria,” Farber said.

A fundamental solution to the ‘conversion crisis’ or a practical one?

By Shmuel Rosner Opinion October 21, 2010

Shmuel Rosner is a fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute and a Jerusalem Post blogger.

The first question that must be raised in every discussion related to conversion is whether to take a fundamental or practical approach.

...The practical reflects a priority of fundamentals, and therefore does not ensure a solution. The question whether to choose local, limited solutions – whose success is also not assured – over an attempt to resolve at least some of the fundamental problems is still open.

Gov't to block aliya of granddaughter of Holocaust victim

By Ruth Eglash October 20, 2010

An aliya application from a Swiss woman whose grandmother was murdered by Nazis is expected to be denied in the coming days.

Officials at the Interior Ministry have indicated that proof she provided documenting her grandmother’s Jewishness is questionable, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Monique Martinek found out only two years ago that her grandmother – her father’s mother – had been murdered for being a Jew; before then, she and her family had no idea of their Jewish roots or the fate of the grandmother during World War II.

Disgraceful rejection of a latter-day Ruth Editorial October 21, 2010

This selfless, evocative declaration of allegiance sufficed for welcoming Ruth into the fold of ancient Israel. But were Ruth’s story transported to our day, Israel’s Ministry of the Interior would disdainfully reject her application under the Law of Return.

This is precisely what is befalling a latter-day Ruth who altruistically left comfortable and peaceful Switzerland to live a likely less comfortable life in not-always- peaceful Israel.

'Haredim are ignoring Tal Law’s public service option'

By Dan Izenberg October 20, 2010

During the discussion, Leah Uziel, of the State Comptroller’s Office, informed the committee that a large number of haredi volunteers were working in education, even though the law specifically excluded that field from the types of public service activities they could fulfill.

She also found that a portion of those signed up for the civic service in the welfare field, invited wards to their homes for Shabbat and then recorded that they had worked for 24 or 36 straight hours. The quota for a week’s work is 40 hours.

Gov't to review proposal to ease haredi draft exemptions

By Jonah Mandel October 19, 2010

The government will rethink its July decision to make it much easier for haredi men to obtain exemptions from military service, following High Court petitions submitted by Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality, and the Movement for Quality Government.

Rabbi supports Yair Naveh as next deputy chief of staff

By Kobi Nahshoni October 19, 2010

After the extreme Right called on teens not to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces if Major-General (res.) Yair Naveh becomes Deputy Chief of Staff, the designated deputy received support from an unexpected source – Beit El's Rabbi Zalman Melamed, who sent Naveh his good wishes on the appointment.

New IDF Program Gives Equal Time to Army, Torah

By Maayana Miskin October 20, 2010

Seventy-five new IDF recruits are the first to take part in a special program, Shiluvim that allows soldiers to split their time equally between active military duty and Torah study. Last week, they began preparing for their active service.

The new program, whose name translates roughly to “integration,” makes it possible for young religious-Zionist soldiers to serve in a religious framework for two full years. They will learn Torah for two years, instead of the more than three years required by the hesder program.

VIDEO: IDF Receives Torah Scroll from US Jewish Youth

By Elad Benari October 21, 2010

Click here for VIDEO

On Wednesday, the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) and the International Young Israel Movement – Israel Region (IYIM) donate a Sefer Torah to the IDF for the 187th time.

This was done as part of a project which has been running for the past 12 years and was initiated by NCYI Executive Vice President Rabbi Pesach Lerner and Rabbi Yedidya Atlas of the IDF Rabbinate.

The unique project allows for IDF soldiers in bases throughout Israel to fulfill their spiritual needs, while connecting them with synagogues in the United States.

IDF Plays Matchmaker to Hareidi Soldiers

By Maayana Miskin October 22, 2010

As part of an initiative to help hareidi-religious soldiers integrate their religious practices with their IDF service, the army is working with a group of rabbis to provide a professional matchmaker for soldiers in the Netzach Yehuda battalion – a primarily hareidi-religious battalion that has been given the nickname “Nachal Hareidi.”

Israel a model (of sorts) on gays in the military

By Michele Chabin October 23, 2010

Israel, like the United States, is a largely secular society with deep religious roots. And Israel, like the United States, is home to vocal religious conservatives who frown on homosexuality.

But Israel, unlike the United States, has allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for 17 years. In fact, they are required to.

Food for thought at Shabbat meal

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion October 24, 2010

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

Recently I was the guest of an Orthodox Jewish community that makes a point of being open and accepting to homosexuals and lesbians.

In spite of the fact that the issue is familiar to me on a theoretical level, the encounter during one Shabbat with so many religious people with various sexual orientations, and with families that operate in such different ways from what I am accustomed to, gives me a lot of food for thought.

Local rabbis help launch group supporting Women of the Wall

By Amanda Pazornik October 21, 2010

An online campaign to support women who want to pray aloud at the Western Wall has its epicenter in the Bay Area.

Rabbis Menachem Creditor of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, and Pamela Frydman Baugh, who served at Or Shalom Jewish Community in San Francisco, are the international co-chairs of Rabbis for Women of the Wall, a group that launched this week with the sending of a letter.

Private Eyes Help Plight of 'Chained Wives'

By Dina Kraft JTA October 21, 2010

Ariella Dadon still marvels at being free.

For more than 21/2 years, she was married to a man she describes as unfaithful, physically violent and emotionally abusive. For four years, she struggled to get a divorce. But the rabbinical court ruled repeatedly that she needed to bring in "proof" of her husband's infidelities.

Probe into Ashkelon brutality case opened

By Yaakov Lappin and Ron Friedman October 24, 2010

Ashkelon police confirmed Thursday that it was conducting a mutual investigation into the complaint by Trina Woodcox against Oz Unit immigration inspectors, who she claimed beat her and her family members during a wrongful arrest in her home in Ashkelon Tuesday evening, and the inspectors’ claim that they were the ones attacked.

...Meanwhile the family’s lawyer, Nicole Maor, who acts as legal counsel for the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement, filed a complaint with the police internal affairs unit, requesting that an investigation be conducted immediately into the actions of the Ashkelon police force.

Interior Ministry's Oz police unit accused of beating U.S. immigrants

By Bradley Burston October 21, 2010

The Interior Ministry's controversial Oz immigration police unit has been accused of beating and verbally abusing members of an African-American family from Kansas City whose members converted to Judaism several years ago, and are living in Ashkelon pending a decision on their citizenship request.

...Wilcox wrote Kansas City Reform Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff, who had converted the family to Judaism, "My heart is breaking right now.

"We have so much love for Israel. But it seems like Israel does not love us back."

US converts accuse immigration inspectors of assault

By Ron Friedman October 21, 2010

The Masorti Movement has written a letter to Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch, demanding that they investigate the event and bring to justice the “violent officers.”

“The family decided to immigrate to Israel and is active in the Netsach Israel congregation in Ashkelon. Their dream is to live a full Jewish life here in Israel,” the letter stated. “However, their skin color is not white, but black."

No Knesset majority for applying loyalty oath to all citizens

By Jonathan Lis October 20, 2010

The revised version is likely to be particularly problematic for Shas, which, like UTJ, is an ultra-Orthodox party. UTJ MK Moshe Gafni told Haaretz on Monday that he opposes the bill, in part because of the religious objection to Jews swearing any kind of oath. That reason would presumably apply to Shas as well.

PM backtracks: Loyalty oath will also apply to new Jewish citizens

By Jack Khoury, Yair Ettinger, Chaim Levinson and Jonathan Lis October 19, 2010

[B]ecause applying the oath to non-Jews requires amending the Citizenship Law, while applying it to Jews requires amending the Law of Return, the proposals will be legislated on different tracks and apparently even go to different Knesset committees.

Thus it is theoretically possible that one could pass while the other failed.

Gafni said the ultra-Orthodox object in principle to loyalty oaths, and he therefore opposed the bill even when it applied only to non-Jews.

Hareidi Opposition to Requiring Loyalty Oath from Jews

By Gil Ronen October 19, 2010

According to Makor Rishon, Netanyahu will find it hard to overcome the objections of the hareidi religious parties in his coalition, which are not interested in requiring hareidi Olim to pledge allegiance to a “Jewish and democratic” Israel.

Generally speaking, many, if not most, hareidi religious streams do not see themselves as Zionist and have a problem with the establishment of a Jewish state that does not follow Torah Law. The concept of democracy is also not necessarily popular in some religious streams, where it is seen as a western concept foreign to Judaism.

Loyalty oath isn't racist, but it will destroy Israel

By Yehuda Ben Meir Opinion October 19, 2010

The amendment to the citizenship law upon which the government has decided is not a racist law; there is not an iota of racism in it.

...None of this, however, detracts from the stupidity in the government's decision.

Jewish Agency set to vote next week to radically restructure organization

By Raphael Ahren October 22, 2010

After months of debates and vague statements about the Jewish Agency's future, the 80-year-old organization's leaders will vote this Monday on implementing its new strategic plan, which many officials expect to constitute a wide-ranging overhaul, including the dismantling of its aliyah department.

Securing the Jewish Future: Next Steps October 22, 2010

Based on the unique added value of our core expertise, we will focus all our efforts on the following two global strategic drivers, both of which are highly effective in strengthening Jewish identity and a sense of connection.

A fully-integrated range of continually-expanding and deepening Israel experiences to enrich Jewish life and create aliya opportunities;

A range of identity-building social activism opportunities for all young Jews to help vulnerable populations and bridge social gaps in Israeli society.

The key to partnership? Sharansky

By Jacob Berkman October 20, 2010

So how exactly did Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency for Israel -- two organizations with a long-running rocky relationship -- manage to make common cause and work together (as I reported last week)?

Fundermentalist’s take: In our conversation, it became clear that Gelbart believes the two organizations could not have coalesced without Sharansky at the Jewish Agency’s helm.

Meaning and belonging in Israel and the Diaspora today

By Yehuda Mirsky Opinion October 21, 2010

The challenge of managing and deepening relationships between Israel and world Jewry has been with us for decades. Today far-reaching changes are being rung on these familiar questions.

For Diaspora Jews, Israel is one possible element of their Jewishness; for Israeli Jews, Jewishness is one possible element of their Israeliness.
What has changed?

Numbers up for Nefesh B'Nefesh's 'Go North' program

By Tamar Morad October 22, 2010

The number of families from North America settling in the Galilee through an immigrant assistance program will be approximately 300 by the end of 2010, nearly double the number of immigrants in 2009, the year the program began.

What is the Jewish Agency? Here’s a Lexicon from A to Z.

By David Breakstone Opinion October 24, 2010

David Breakstone is a member of the Jewish Agency Executive and vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization.

This week, its international Board of Governors convenes in Jerusalem to confront changing realities that require JAFI to refocus if it is to continue serving as a global Jewish partnership of purpose, ensuring the future of our people with a strong and vibrant Israel at its center.

Big words, but I would like to believe not too big for who we are. Which is what? Often asked, I’ve decided to lay it all out in a lexicon from A to Z.

Knesset Diaspora panel becomes focus of political dispute

By Gil Hoffman October 24, 2010

Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) took revenge against Labor rebel MK Daniel Ben-Simon on Saturday night, announcing that he would prevent the latter from taking over the chairmanship of the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee.

Aliyah job fairs held across North America October 22, 2010

In an effort to make North American Jews more aware of the wide range of opportunities that the strong Israeli job market has to offer new immigrants to Israel, Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency for Israel are conducting career-focused Aliyah Fairs in four major cities across North America.

Reaching out

By Ruth Eglash October 19, 2010

As soon as he walks through the doors of Jerusalem soup kitchen Carmei Ha’ir, Rabbi Yehiel Eckstein is greeted with the reverence due a king.

...“I believe that Evangelical Christians can be strategic partners for the Jewish people and in securing the State of Israel. There are millions of Christians out there and if we reach out to them, they will stand with us and fight against anti-Semitism.”

Love without borders

By David Suissa Opinion October 13, 2010

David Suissa is the founder of OLAM magazine and

What is it about Evangelical Christians and their support for Israel that really gets to me? I understand what makes some Jews — especially liberal Jews — nervous about this group: their conservative values (on issues such as abortion and separation of church and state); an uncompromising stance on the Middle East peace process; the theological slant to their support for Israel; and a propensity among some of them to proselytize to Jews.

Spiritual leaders discuss holy places and debate violence

By Jonah Mandel October 21, 2010

The second Annual Interfaith Ethics and Tolerance symposium took place in Jerusalem on Tuesday, and local religious leaders benignly grappled with the loaded topic of the meaning holy sites bear for the various creeds.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva... chaired the conference in his capacity as academic adviser to the Jerusalem Center for Ethics.

Religion and State in Israel

October 25, 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 25, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

October 25, 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.

PM orders special committee to study yeshiva students' funding,7340,L-3973976,00.html

By Roni Sofer October 24, 2010

The committee will include representatives from the Treasury, Justice and Education ministries, the National Economics Board, National Insurance institute and the Attorney General's Office.

Yishai: Kollel, university students both deserve benefit

By Gil Hoffman October 24, 2010

The bill in question would also is designed to benefit also apply to non-haredi, unemployed university students with at least three kids who also do not own their own vehicle.

'We yeshiva students barely study'

By Akiva Novick October 24, 2010

The man who telephoned us was a student in an ultra-Orthodox "kollel" (an institute offering an advanced Judaic studies program for married men), who claims to be "120% haredi."

"It's insane that there is no gradual reduction in the stipends. In Lakewood Yeshiva (in New Jersey), for example. It's like that. It's customary that the shver provides for the young couple for three years after the wedding, and then if the yeshiva student is serious he studies a bit more, and if not – he goes out to work.

Only in this country the benefits are for life. It's a huge failure on the part of secular politicians. I don't blame Gafni. He sees a secular politician who doesn't understand and extorts stipends. But this is not a normal situation – the stipends should not be for your entire life."

Vote on unpopular yeshiva bill delayed after exposé

By Zvi Zrahiya October 24, 2010

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected to delay its vote Sunday on the preliminary reading of a bill allocating income allowances to full-time yeshiva students by two to three weeks, after Haaretz and TheMarker exposed the proposal on Friday.

75% of Jewish Israelis favor cutting yeshiva funding

By Zvi Zrahiya October 24, 2010

The Smith Institute survey, which was conducted for Hiddush, found that people who want to reduce government payments to yeshivas and to large families include 92% of those who consider themselves secular, 96 percent of immigrants, 82 percent of people who consider themselves traditional and 54 percent of religious people.

The total percentage − 75 percent − is up from 68 percent reported after the last survey, conducted six months ago.

How the gov't plans to legalize banned stipends for Haredim

By Jonathan Lis October 24, 2010

Opponents argued that providing yeshiva students with meager allowances encourages them to remain outside the workforce and perpetuates poverty within the ultra-Orthodox community.

Social Affairs Minister Yitzhak Herzog (Labor) said on Saturday that the bill sabotages attempts to incorporate the ultra-Orthodox sector in the job market.

Backward legislation

Haaretz Editorial October 24, 2010

The proposed bill by United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni, due to be debated this morning in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, is bad news for anyone who values equality and the rule of law.

...It's hard to exaggerate the damage they inflict on members of their own public, who have recently shown the desire to correct the distortion and let young people change their situation, acquire a profession and join the workforce.

Vote on yeshiva student bill postponed

By Roni Sofer October 23, 2010

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar said,

"The need to incorporate the haredi sector in all aspects of society, including the job market, is a top interest, and I believe we can reach agreements on all sides by considering the sector's unique needs."

Handouts, not work, for Haredim

By Zvi Zrahiya October 22, 2010

And the timing of Gafni's bill is certainly anything but a coincidence. That's also the reason the Ministerial Committee on Legislation will vote on Sunday - two days before the budget law is brought for its first Knesset vote.

Gafni's committee is responsible for preparing the budget for its second and third readings in the Knesset.

C'tee to review bill reinstating yeshiva student stipends

By Lahav Harkov October 22, 2010

In the explanatory section of the bill, the MKs wrote:

"The voice of Torah was not silenced even in the darkest periods in Jewish history, and much of the public sees Torah learning in kollels as promoting the essence of the Jewish people's existence and the guarantee of their eternal continuity."

The way to fight poverty

Editorial October 19, 2010

Sixty-five percent of ultra-Orthodox men don't work - a rate nearly three times what it was three decades ago (21 percent). The culture of joblessness is becoming more firmly entrenched in the community, the size of which continues to grow apace.

...the government must subsidize child day care, transportation to and from work and create a negative income tax. Core subjects must be taught in ultra-Orthodox schools, since without them it is almost impossible to enter the workforce.

Anti-abuse forum in disarray over Rabbi Eilon affair

By Yair Ettinger October 21, 2010

Takana, the organization that made public accusations of sexual abuse by Rabbi Mordechai Elon, is in turmoil after it decided to give detailed statements by alleged victims to Yedioth Ahronoth.

Rabbi Benjamin Lau, a prominent figure in the national-religious movement, criticized Takana in a recent document, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz.

"Something went wrong. Someone within this forum forgot his role and his station, and decided to sling mud and filth under the rubric of 'the public's right to know,'" Lau wrote.

End Israel's Private Tribunals for Sex Abuse Cases

By Elana Maryles Sztokman Opinion October 22, 2010

So despite the troubling slide into voyeurism that all this evokes, I decided to write this because there are several major lessons here for the religious community.

One is that the insularity that led to the formation of Takana is a destructive force for the community.

...Second, the most important consideration in dealing with sexual violence must always be the victims. Takana, because so many of its members are friends and colleagues with Elon, has been incapable of separating itself from sympathy with the accused.

...Third, when it comes to issues of sexual violence, the religious community should not be secretive and fearful, with private self-appointed tribunals. The issue should be dealt with openly and courageously.

Rabbi accused of sexual abuse: Man's strength is in his silence

By Yair Ettinger October 20, 2010

Rabbi Mordechai (Moti) Elon responded Wednesday to testimonies of sexual abuse claims against him that had been made public by Takana, a forum that fights sexual abuse in the Orthodox community, saying "man's greatest strength is to remain silent."

Students denounce sex-crime allegations against Rabbi Elon

Ben Hartman October 22, 2010

Hundreds of former students of prominent national religious Rabbi Mordechai “Moti” Elon have signed a petition this week defending their former teacher against claims that he sexually abused students in the past.

Ex-students' petition backs Rabbi Elon

By Kobi Nahshoni October 20, 2010

Three hundred former students have already signed the petition, and its initiators say they will have a thousand signatures by Wednesday afternoon.

Among the signatories are most of the rabbis who teach at Horev yeshiva, headed by Elon, and where the abuse allegedly took place.

One of those responsible for the petition is a central figure in religious-Zionism, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.

Ultra-Orthodox party lawmakers hold emergency meeting over state supervision of religious schools

By Yair Ettinger October 19, 2010

The religious United Torah Judaism faction, backed by its entire senior spiritual leadership, held an "emergency conference" in Bnei Brak Sunday where Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar was lambasted for seeking to tighten supervision over the ultra-Orthodox education system.

Sa'ar recently stated at an Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry conference that he intends to increase the network of supervisors over the ultra-Orthodox education system, in order to keep renegade schools from receiving the full allotment of state money.

Shas MK Amsalem urges UTJ to confront racism in schools

By Jonah Mandel October 24, 2010

Shas MK Haim Amsalem is urging the members of United Torah Judaism to take action against the alleged racial discrimination of Sephardi girls prevalent in haredi Ashkenazi schools.

On Tuesday the Knesset’s Education Committee will hold a session to discuss the problems of children who have not been accepted to haredi educational institutions.

Denied state funding, private school slams 'double standard'

By Or Kashti October 20, 2010

The Education Ministry has rejected the request of the Havruta private school to receive accreditation as a recognized educational institution, a step that would have made it eligible for considerable state subsidies.

School chairman and co-founder Dror Aloni:

"I understand that the general public doesn't want to fund private schools, but such a decision needs to be consistent. It's unacceptable that a religious seminary should receive funding while we're held to a different standard."

Haredi university program marks 5 year anniversary

By Jonah Mandel October 18, 2010

“The state must take initiatives like this and make them into a national program, to accommodate the allowances for kollel students to enable them to learn a trade, which is the most efficient way to counter poverty,” Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog (Labor) told the participants at the capital’s Bible Lands Museum.

Don’t lie: Science is relevant to Judaism

By Rabbi Levi Brackman Opinion October 22, 2010

Sadly, much of the contemporary religious leadership seems content with having recreated the shtetl in all its detail. And anyone in the community who does not conform completely is subject to social repercussions and sanctions.

The religious and rabbinic leadership seem oblivious to the fact that whilst this was good strategy in the shtetl it cannot work in the twenty first century where alternative opportunities are easily available.

This is in addition to the tragic fact that a Judaism which is seen as completely out of touch with reality and full of unreasonable social norms loses its relevance and becomes unattractive to most people.

500 Haredim protest opening of J'lem parking lot October 18, 2010

Some dozen members of the group, located in downtown Jerusalem's Rehov Shivtei Israel, tried to block the entrance of cars into the Carta parking lot near Jaffa Gate, but failed to so when police distanced them from the area.

Israel: Knocking down walls to put up a parking lot

By Matt Beynon Rees October 11, 2010

The city’s planning committee is considering a proposal to build an underground parking lot for the Old City by breaching the 16th-century walls of Suleiman the Magnificent and digging into the rock beneath the ancient Jewish Quarter.

...City officials intend to close the existing surface parking lot. They’ll use the space to build new housing for the largely ultra-Orthodox Israelis who inhabit the Jewish Quarter.

Haredi, get thee to a Rami Levy

By Rina Rozenberg October 22, 2010

It's common knowledge: The supermarket chains that target the ultra-Orthodox have the lowest prices. But sometimes, it seems, common knowledge is flat-out wrong.

...Rami Levy, owner of the Rami Levy chain, said only that his chain's prices are lowest because that is what he is committed to: He checks the prices at the Haredi chains and makes his lower.

Sikrik leader arrested, released to house arrest

By Jonah Mandel October 21, 2010

A leader of the violent Sikrikim group, Israel Heshin, 26, was arrested overnight Tuesday on suspicion of assault in an operation involving undercover police forces.

MK Ya’acov Katz (National Union), who was attacked some five weeks ago at a Mea She’arim synagogue by members of the group, expressed “great joy” over Heshin’s arrest on Wednesday.

Dairies go to war over Haredi consumers

By Amiram Cohen October 24, 2010

Israel's dairies have launched an aggressive fight over ultra-Orthodox consumers, and are offering farmers a premium if they uphold higher kashrut standards.

...As part of the agreement, kibbutz members will not milk cows on Shabbat or Jewish holidays; on those days, non-Jews such as Arabs and Thai workers will milk the cows.

J'lem nonprofits win tender for affordable homes

By Ranit Nahum-Halevy October 24, 2010

This is not their first attempt to get a project off the ground, however. The two groups had attempted to put together a purchasing group of apartment buyers a year ago, when Hebrew University put two buildings in neighboring Kiryat Hayovel up for sale.

Their goal had been to enable young couples to buy the apartments, and to block ultra-Orthodox organizations from taking the buildings, further increasing the Haredi influx in the neighborhood.

Six ultra-Orthodox organizations also were looking to buy the buildings, and the competition would have been fierce, but ultimately the university shelved the tender.

Justice rebuffs rabbi who sought to exclude judges from minyans

By Tomer Zarchin October 24, 2010

Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein responded harshly on Thursday to statements by the city rabbi of Holon, who has said that judges should be excluded from Jewish prayer services. Rabbi Avraham Yosef is the son of Shas party spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews, Arab students clash in Safed

By Ahiya Raved October 23, 2010

Police forces in the northern city of Safed launched an investigation Saturday into a confrontation between ultra-Orthodox and Arab college students. No injuries were reported, but property was damaged.

Public outcry ensues after rabbis tell Jews not to rent to Arabs

By Jack Khoury and Eli Ashkenazi October 21, 2010

Several Knesset members and nonprofit organizations on Wednesday demanded a criminal investigation of Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and 17 other rabbis, after Haaretz reported that they had called on Jews not to rent or sell apartments to non-Jews.

The Reform Movement's Israel Religious Action Center and the Abraham Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting coexistence between Israeli Jews and Arabs, also demanded that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein open a criminal investigation against Eliyahu.

Probe urged into Safed rabbi for alleged racism

By Jonah Mandel October 24, 2010

“These sentiments are prohibited by law, and worse tenfold when they are expressed by a public figure in an official capacity – as Rabbi Eliyahu is,” the IRAC wrote to Attorney General Weinstein.

Safed Rabbis urge Jews to refrain from renting apartments to Arabs

By Eli Ashkenazi October 20, 2010

There are currently 1,350 Arab students (out of a total student body of 2,200) matriculating at the Academic College in Safed. The increased demand for rented apartments prompted the rabbis to issue their call.

Police: Netivot official 'attempted to lure rabbi with woman

By Yaakov Lappin October 24, 2010

A woman equipped with recording equipment was paid to attempt to lure Rabbi Yaakov Ifergan of Netivot, also known as the "x-ray," into carrying out immodest acts, as part of an attempt to damage his reputation by Netivot Municipal Comptroller Shimon Alon, police said on Sunday following the completion of a National Fraud Unit investigation.

ADL slams Shas spiritual leader for saying non-Jews 'were born to serve Jews'

By Natasha Mozgovaya and Haaretz Service October 20, 2010

The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday condemned comments about non-Jews made this past weekend by Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

On Tuesday, the ADL said that Yosef's comments contributed "to an atmosphere of hatred and a global trend of intolerance."

MK Orbach: Rabbinate Tests Need Improvement October 19, 2010

MK Uri Orbach (Bayit Yehudi) said Tuesday that he intends to make a priority (the) institution of an organized and proper procedure for qualification test given by the Chief Rabbinate.

VIDEO: 14-year old candidate for the Rabbinate (Hebrew)

זה הנערראיון וידאו מיוחד עם 'העילוי מנתניה' שרוצה 'סמיכה' לרבנות October 13, 2010

שריפי from bhol on Vimeo.

Strange bedfellows

By Peggy Cidor October 22, 2010

An old plan to build the new Magistrate Court’s near the [Museum of Tolerance] has been put back on the table by the Treasury.

...Believe it or not, two of the Meretz members on the city council – former deputy mayor Pepe Alalu and Meir Margalit – managed to gain as allies two prominent members of the haredi party – Yossi Deitsch (United Torah Judaism) and Shmuel Yitzhaki (Shas). And not too long after that, they corralled almost all the members of the two parties, who are all members of the coalition.

Ramat Gan mayor determined to build synagogue on park land

By Noah Kosharek October 24, 2010

A plan to replace a cherished neighborhood park on one of Israel's busiest streets with a synagogue were rejected Saturday by a subcommittee of the Tel Aviv District Planning and Building Committee.

More than a single problem

By Elan Miller October 22, 2010

Exasperated by the seemingly endless negativity, Rachel Tova Rott decided to take action.

She designed a simple flyer to be posted around Jerusalem. The flyers call for people not to make dating harder and remember that singles are more than just their marital status.

Rott says that more than 250 flyers have been posted around Jerusalem in areas such as the German Colony, Nahlaot and Har Nof, where there are large English-speaking communities.

Thousands mark Rachel’s yahrtzeit at Bethlehem tomb

By Jonah Mandel October 19, 2010

Thousands of people began arriving at Rachel’s Tomb in northern Bethlehem at sundown on Monday, to mark the anniversary of the matriarch’s death, 11 Heshvan.

Rabbi Yosef Shvinger, director of the National Center for Holy Sites, said he expected around 60,000 people to arrive for prayers, mostly women.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the head of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages, visited the site overnight Sunday, accompanied by Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites Shmuel Rabinovitch as well as Shas’s chairman Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias.

VIDEO & PHOTO Gallery: Tens of Thousands at Rachel's Tomb October 20, 2010

Tuesday was the 11th day of Cheshvan, the Yartzheit (anniversary of death) of the biblical matriarch Rachel, whose tomb is located on the road from Bethlehem to Efrata where she died, rather than in Hevron where the other three matriarchs are buried with their husbands.

Samaritans mark holiday of Tabernacles

Click here for PHOTO Gallery October 23, 2010

The Samaritans, members of an ancient sect closely associated to Judaism, marked the holiday of the Tabernacles, or Sukkot, on Friday.

Followers of the religion held an annual pilgrimage ceremony on Mount Gerizim, the sect's holiest site, near Nablus.

Religion and State in Israel

October 25, 2010 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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