Monday, November 15, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - November 15, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

November 15, 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.

'Chief Rabbinate acknowledges validity of IDF conversions' November 14, 2010

State authorities acknowledged that they recognize the validity of IDF-sponsored conversions to Judaism, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.

...The Itim petition requested that the High Court issue a ruling to prevent rabbis from impeding anyone who successfully passed through army conversion program to register their marriage or to ask for further proof regarding the validity of their conversion to Judaism.

Four dayanim appointed to register converts' marriages

By Dan Izenberg and Jonah Mandel November 14, 2010

The state informed the High Court of Justice on Sunday that it had appointed four dayanim from the state administered conversion courts to serve as marriage registrars with the power to register anyone who had converted to Judaism according to a ruling by the state-appointed courts.

[Rabbi Seth] Farber expressed concern that the state refused to order the marriage registrars to register the marriages. He said the state regards the state-administered conversion courts as being of extreme importance but “the declaration is not being implemented de facto since it does not force the registrars to recognize these conversions.

IDF Conversion Courts Bill

By Dan Izenberg and Jonah Mandel November 14, 2010

[The] Ministerial Committee for Legislation is due on Monday to discuss a bill initiated by Knesset Law Committee Chairman David Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu) and Robert Ilatuv (Yisrael Beitenu) officially establishing army conversion courts. According to the bill, “The conversion court’s decision to convert a soldier is decisive proof of his Jewishness.”

The Conversion Crisis Must Be Resolved Now!

By Rabbi Marc Angel Opinion November 8, 2010

It has been reported that the Chief Rabbinate in Israel is now calling for a review of the validity of conversions performed in Israel under the auspices of Israel's military rabbis--going back ten years and more! Thousands of lives are affected by this short sighted and extreme position.

The current Hareidi dominated Orthodox rabbinate in Israel is doing a vast disservice not only to converts, but to the State of Israel and the entire Jewish people everywhere.

It is well past time when the Hareidi stranglehold over conversions should be removed, and when the loving, inclusive and compassionate views of mainstream halakha once again are put in place.

The state of the State of Israel: Rabbi Shalom Hammer

By Janis Siegel November 9, 2010

“Yes, the Orthodox rabbinate has a monopoly on religious service in Israel,” said

[Rabbi Shalom] Hammer, “but at the end of the day, the fact is that they were given those auspices as representatives of the Israeli people. As far as conversions go, it’s run by the Orthodox rabbinate. As far as kashrut symbols in Israel, it’s run by the Orthodox rabbinate.

“Perhaps the Orthodox rabbinate could be a little more open understanding, and conversant with other denominations of Judaism,” he added.

“I believe that if the Orthodox rabbinate in Israel was more patient, understanding, and tolerant, people would not have any objection to the Orthodox rabbinate running things. The problem is the way that Jews handle each other. That’s what it comes down to.”

Memo to Gideon Sa'ar

By Rabbi Eric Yoffie Opinion November 8, 2010

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie is the president of the Union for Reform Judaism

While the issue of stipends for yeshiva students has received more intention, the core-curriculum question is much more important.

The number of children in the ultra-Orthodox schools is growing. If they are not taught at a young age the fundamental skills that they need to support their families and be productive citizens of the Jewish state, what happens when they are older will be of little consequence.
There will be tremendous pressure on [Education Minister] Sa’ar to come up with a “compromise” that will be a codeword for surrender.

'Gender separation in public areas is growing'

By Rebecca Anna Stoil November 9, 2010

Gender separation in public areas is a growing and dangerous phenomenon in Israel, the Movement for Progressive Judaism warned Tuesday, as they issued its fourth report on gender separation during a Knesset meeting.

...The report that was published reflected 10 years of information-gathering by the Center for Progressive Judaism, with its writers arguing that the phenomenon of women being physically separated from men in public areas has been steadily growing.

The research demonstrated, said Sattath that the goal was not simply separation, but a gradual removal of women from the public space.

Rosh Chodesh Kislev at the Kotel, with Friends November 11, 2010

Photo: Women of the Wall (Nofrat Frenkel)

On Rosh Chodesh Kislev, November 8, 2010 Women of the Wall gathered at the Kotel for the monthly women’s prayer group, commemorating the anniversary of the arrest of Nofrat Frenkel. One year ago, Nofrat Frankel was arrested for wearing a tallit at the Kotel. Thankfully, her record has been expunged since the incident.

Praying alongside Nofrat at the Kotel was a large group of women from throughout Israel and the diaspora, including a tour group from Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area led by Rabbi Jonathan Singer of Temple Beth Am of Seattle, and co-founder of Rabbis for Women of the Wall Rabbi Pamela Frydman.

A Rosh Chodesh Kislev Testimonial

By Rabbi Sue Mauer Morningstar November 11, 2010

Click here for photo gallery

I have had an experience that was hardly describable in words. The gathering of the Women of the Wall (WOW) was intense, powerful and extremely beautiful.

Women of Vision Support 'Agunah' Advocacy Efforts

By Lynn B. Edelman November 11, 2010

Laura Shaw Frank predicts enormous social problems for Israel's observant families if the agunah issue is not resolved.

"Many Jews are leaving the Orthodox movement, disgusted and angered by unjust laws and corrupt courts," she says, adding that the only real resolution to this problem is to change the laws of halachah.

"Laws should promote justice," insists Frank. "Rabbinic law must be revised to ensure that a man does not have the legal right to wreck havoc on the lives of others."

חוק ברית הזוגיות לא משרת אף אחד

Returning citizens to get similar rights as immigrants

By Raphael Ahren November 12, 2010

Returning citizens will receive benefits "similar to those of new immigrants," the Absorption Ministry announced this week. Speaking about a "revolution" in the state's policy toward returnees, Minister Sofa Landver presented a new plan Wednesday at a session of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs to attract returnees by offering perks in taxation, customs, health, education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Are Israel and Young American Jews Growing Apart: Debating the Distancing Hypothesis

Editor’s Introduction to the Distancing Hypothesis Issue

We are devoting this special issue of Contemporary Jewry to a debate and commentaries about what has come to be called the “Distancing Hypothesis,” the suggestion that American Jews increasingly are socially, culturally, ethnically, and emotionally distant from the State of Israel.

This issue of the journal came out of a panel on the subject that was held at a session sponsored by the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry, the parent body of this journal.

Jewish Agency and Joint finally strike funding accord

By Jacob Berkman November 9, 2010

The deal stipulates that the two sides will keep the 75-25 split for the remainder of 2010 with the caveat that any dollars that the federations give overseas beyond what they gave in 2009 will be split 50-50 between the two organizations. In 2011 the partners will begin a new system.

Ninety percent of the total money raised will be split according to the 75-25 rule, but the remaining 10 percent will be given away to each group according to need. The new system calls for the groups to create four of what it is calling “buckets.”

Study: Israel experience strengthens Jewish affiliation November 11, 2010

Participation in semester or year programs in Israel is directly linked to stronger Jewish affiliation and leadership – regardless of the Jewish background growing up, a study commissioned by Masa Israel Journey finds.

South Africa immigrants to start flying with El Al again, say officials

By Raphael Ahren November 12, 2010

Future immigrants from South Africa will fly to Israel on El Al again, according to officials dealing with immigration from this country. For the last 12 months, the Jewish Agency brought more than 160 Southern African immigrants on Ethiopian Airlines flights, which had elicited complaints about bad food, tiresome travel arrangements and other inconveniences from newcomers and the organization representing them.

Sharansky leads new charge for Jewish Agency

By Douglas J. Guth November 11, 2010

“There are long lines for Birthright Israel and MASA and other projects bringing Jewish kids to Israel, and the lines are getting longer,” Sharansky recently told Ha’aretz. “There is no question that Israel is playing more of a central role in the identity of American Jewry.”

For JAFI, this means giving young Jews more of what they want, including the expansion of “identity-focused programming” like Taglit-Birthright Israel trips for young adults as well as joint foreign service programs between Diaspora and Israeli Jews.

Boosting Teen Trips to Israel

By Dan Zeller November 14, 2010

These words are inspiring, but what does all this support and goodwill really mean if we talk “tachlas”? Where’s the money going to come from? And more importantly, how is it going to be divided? Well, that’s what’s being discussed right now in meetings of Lapid members which span across Israel and the US.

...Lapid has set a goal of doubling the current number of annual high school-age participants on Israel programs within seven years. The ramifications of such an achievement for Israel-Diaspora ties are immense, according to Yehezkel.

Since participants on Lapid programs are usually “adopted” by host families during their stay in Israel, “try to imagine a quarter million [Israeli] households warmly connected to a quarter million Diaspora youth who have been to Israel. The potential is enormous.”

Taking a Shyne to Judaism

By David Brinn November 12, 2010

Shyne has become an ubiquitous presence in Jerusalem in recent weeks, whether working out at the David Citadel fitness center, studying at the Or Sameach, Belz or Mirs yeshivot or visiting the Gilad Schalit tent to talk with Noam and Aviva Schalit.

“I’m just a guy getting connected,” he said. “I met the head of a yeshiva who told me I should learn, but he understood I have to be in the world – I’m a businessman and an artist, but my intellect could always use some more refining and studying Talmud is a good thing, so I set some time aside.”

New school offers music training in a religious setting

By Jonah Mandel November 14, 2010

The Mizmor (hymn) School, established as part of the Givat Washington Campus of Education, near Kvutzat Yavne, recently began the first of its three-year program with fifty-odd men and women of varying degrees of religious observance, aging 20 to 35, all of whom sought a place where they could live out their passion for music and develop professional skills, without compromising in their lifestyle.

The Jewish Renaissance in Israeli Society: The Emergence of a New Jew by Yair Sheleg September 18, 2010

Yair Sheleg's new book The Jewish Renaissance in Israeli Society: The Emergence of a New Jew [Hebrew] deals with the rise of new cultural religious trends in Israel.

The chapters give us a kaleidoscope of the turns to kabbalah, Rebbe Nachman, Piyyut, and Eastern religion in Israeli society. He documents the rise of secular study of traditional texts and the rise of hiloni prayer communities. His conclusion is that these trends are part of the rise of the new age and spirituality in Israeli culture.

Poll: Seculars more anxious than Haredim November 14, 2010

Secular Israelis are five times more likely to suffer from anxiety attacks than haredim, a poll conducted by the Center for Academic Studies has found.

Religion and State in Israel

November 15, 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 - November 15, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

November 15, 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.

Over a thousand TAU students protest kollel stipend bill

By Jonah Mandel November 11, 2010

Tel Aviv University Student Union chairman Ran Livne blamed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for succumbing to political extortion, by preferring to fund kollel students to maintain his coalition rather than “invest in the future generation of doctors, engineers, and economists of Israel.”

Netanyahu has expressed the sentiment that funding kollel students is something the state has been doing for already over 30 years. Livne equated the struggle against the bill to a struggle for the national identity of Israel, which ought to encompass equality between different sectors in the population.

Help us change yeshiva system

By Rabbi Levi Brackman Opinion November 14, 2010

But without the rank and file member of the haredi demanding it nothing will change. The Israeli government must reform how they give out the stipends to yeshiva students.

But the average person in our community must also work towards a more practical and reasonable approach to religious life, one that allows every member of the community – not just those born to be scholars – the possibility of fulfilling their purpose in the world in its entirety.

Protesters: Bibi favors yeshiva students

By Tomer Velmer November 11, 2010

Filmmaker and journalist Guy Meroz also spoke at the rally, saying,

"The government must understand that if there is no equality in education then there will be no security. Education towards ignorance and illiteracy will destroy the system we have built here."

Educ Min. Sa'ar slams kollel stipend bill, calls for Haredi dialogue

By Jonah Mandel November 10, 2010

Sa’ar reiterated on Tuesday that his ministry would cut funding from haredi schools that do not teach core curriculum subjects.

He noted that tenders had been issued to increase the number of supervisors enforcing that decree, a step which should, he said, fix the “destructive processes” shared by all past governments.

“The state is responsible for overseeing the execution of the minimum due, as defined by the state,” he said at the opening of the international Van Leer Education Conference on Teachers and Teaching Policies.

'We must promote a society that ensures shared core values'

By Jonah Mandel November 10, 2010

“I respect the difference and uniqueness of different sectors in the Israeli society,” [Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar] said of the haredim.

“There are different faiths. I have no intention or will to change that. But I won't keep my eyes shut and enable the destructive processes that all previous governments promulgated that bring Israeli society to collapse into tribes, with less and less in common.

We must act to promote a society that ensures shared values in its core, joint responsibility and solidarity.”

MK Gafni defends stipend bill in student debate

By Ronen Medzini November 10, 2010

MK Gafni claimed that even if financial support was taken away from yeshiva students, it won't necessarily make it into the pockets of secular students instead.

"Let's say you've won the battle – and another NIS 123 million (about $33 million) goes back into the treasury, then what? You think it will go to students? The father will continue to study Torah and you'll be depriving his children from food," Gafni asserted.

Finance Ministry nears compromise on yeshiva allowances

By Meirav Arlosoroff November 9, 2010

The compromise will most likely include two parts, granting students with children the same allowances and making the criteria stricter.

The idea is to find ways to encourage yeshiva students to join the workforce.

Students' bill: Stipends only for those who work

By Roni Sofer November 8, 2010

The student union's proposal was drafted by excelling students, economists, and professors over the past few days as an alternative to the bill granting yeshiva students millions in state funds.

According to the proposed bill, those who own an apartment or vehicle will not be eligible for a grant, except those owning a motor-scooter. The sum will be fixed in the annual budget law.

Haredim, Arabs should have less kids, says Steinitz adviser

By Jonah Mandel November 10, 2010

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz's senior adviser Dr. Avi Simhon said on Tuesday that public figures should call on haredim and Arabs to decrease their birth rates.

“You should tell them it's irresponsible, you are harming your children, your society,” he said in an address at the Sderot Conference for Society.
“A regular person checks how many children he supports, and his taxes are allocated to those who have eight children without the means by which to support them.”

Israel's Ultra-Orthodox Welfare Kings

By Evan R. Goldstein [WSJ subscription] November 12, 2010

In Israel, where modernity coexists uneasily with tradition, hand-wringing about the country's ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority is a national pastime.

Check before accusing

By Moshe Dann Opinion November 8, 2010

Why should Israel Broadcasting Authority receive a billion shekel subsidy per year? Why does the Ministry of Defense subsidize Army Radio?

Why should Habima Theater receive NIS 20 million a year? Or the Cameri Theater NIS 12 million? Why should actors, artists, and professors who call for boycotting Israel be subsidized, and not yeshiva families?

Shas MK: Torah Students Should Support Themselves

By Hillel Fendel November 11, 2010

MK Chaim Amsalem – still a member of the Shas party, though apparently not for long – brings letters from one of the leading Sephardic Torah sages, Rabbi Meir Mazuz, stating the need for Torah scholars to support themselves via their own labor.

MK Rabbi Amsalem:

“Since the law permits Torah students of age 23 and up to study 45 hours a week and to work some hours [without jeopardizing their army-free status], they should do so, rather than have the Torah be scorned because the scholars have to beg for meager stipends from the government.

When fraud is certified kosher

By Tamar Rotem November 14, 2010

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen harshly criticized the ultra-Orthodox rabbinical court in Bnai Brak - which is headed by Rabbi Nissim Karelitz and operates outside of the state's judicial system - ruling that this court had validated an illegal agreement, the aim of which was to defraud the Jewish Agency and the Tax Authority.

As the deliberations at the rabbinical court are not open to the public, the judge relied to a large extent on the testimony provided by the litigators themselves.

Now in US: Shufersal for Haredi market

Calcalist November 14, 2010

Over the past two years Yesh has won the favor of Israel's religious public, due among other things, to the troubles suffered by its competition Shefa Shuk which belongs to Blue Square (Ribua Kahol). The haredi population boycotted Shefa Shuk over an ongoing dispute with the Dor Alon group, protesting the group's refusal to close branches of its AM:PM supermarkets on the Sabbath.

Haredim unfit for army

By Menachem Gsheid Op-Ed November 9, 2010

For ages, it has been clear to us, the haredim, that we are not really wanted in the army en masse. They certainly don’t want to see us rising to senior positions. Our lifestyle is different and is incommensurate with the IDF atmosphere, slang, and conduct. We’re not really “one of the guys.”

This is also the reason why we have no chance of integrating into the army as individuals sent to the various units.

Military Rabbinate presents: Shabbat-adapted touch screen

By Kobi Nahshoni November 9, 2010

The Military Rabbinate unveiled a line of electronic devices enabling observant soldiers to perform various duties they are required to do on Shabbat last Tuesday. Among the new developments: Touch screens, light-bulbs, flashlights, water-coolers etc.

Bnei Brak rabbis: Don't rent to refugees

By Yoav Zitun November 8, 2010

A few months after the publication of a rabbis' petition calling to avoid renting apartments in Tel Aviv to African immigrants, rabbis in Bnei Brak issue a similar halachic ruling Monday, prohibiting residents to rent out apartments in the religious city and its surroundings to African refugees and illegal immigrants at large.

According to the halachic ruling, signed by six leading rabbis from the city's haredi sector, "This appeal is against a horrible act of lawlessness, by which apartment owners rent their property to illegal immigrants etc'. This phenomenon has grown into gigantic proportions, and nowadays the situation is intolerable," it read.

Chief rabbi: Mezuzah mandatory in yachts

By Ofer Petersburg November 12, 2010

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger issued a halachic ruling stating that mezuzot must be installed on yacht doors. The ruling was issued in response to a query by Itamar Shimoni, CEO of Atarim, which operates the Tel Aviv marina.

Shas MK: "Women today are already educated enough"

Women need support for technological careers, MKs told

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich November 11, 2010

Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev:

“There is a division of roles between men and women,” he told [a joint meeting of Knesset Committees on the Status of Women and Science and Technology]. “Women today are already educated enough.”

“Women today are already educated enough.”

Bringing the environment to Israel's ultra-Orthodox

By David Shamah November 11, 2010

While awareness of the importance of protecting and nurturing the environment is on the rise in Israel, recognition of the significance of this issue has largely bypassed the insular ultra-Orthodox communities, says Rabbi Yehuda Gannot, whose organization, Haredim L'Sviva (Haredim for the Environment), aims to educate and raise consciousness about environmental issues in this sector of the population.

Praying Hard for the Rain to Fall

By Arieh O’Sullivan November 11, 2010

Click here for VIDEO

It’s been said that everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.

Well, seven years of drought in the Holy Land has been so bad that it brought together Muslim, Christian and Jewish clerics to offer prayers for rain.

Government to approve airlift of 8,000 Ethiopian Falashmura

By Nir Hasson November 14, 2010

The cabinet is expected to approve plans today to bring another 7,846 members of the Ethiopian Falashmura community to Israel over the next four years. Activists who support the rights of the Falashmura to immigrate to Israel have promised to end all lobbying activities on their behalf if the proposal is approved.

...The proposal stipulates that 200 members of the Falashmura will be brought into Israel each month in an operation that will span four years. Subsequently, barring specific humanitarian cases and special individual requests, no additional members of the community will be allowed into Israel.

8,000 Ethiopian Falash Mura to make aliyah to Israel November 14, 2010

Immediately following the government's decision, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews founded by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, said it would give NIS 10 million to assist in the absorption of olim from Ethiopia on top of the NIS 40 million it already allocates to help newcomers to Israel.

Kabbalah gathering transcends religious boundaries

By Reuven Weiss November 11, 2010

Lovers of the Kabbalah from 54 countries – 4,500 Israelis and 2,500 visitors from other nations – gathered on Tuesday at the Trade Fairs Center in Tel Aviv for the Eighth Annual World Kabbalah Convention. The mostly non-Jewish visitors hailed from Turkey, Germany, China, South Africa, Sweden, among others.

Kabbala confab to bring the world love

By Jonah Mandel November 9, 2010

The event’s activities will be broadcast via the Internet and television, and roaming cameras will allow convention attendees to share their impressions with tens of thousands of worldwide viewers in a nonstop three-day broadcast on and on Israel’s Channel 66.

Pamela Anderson visits Western Wall

By Eran Bar-On November 8, 2010

Speaking at a press conference earlier Sunday, the former "Baywatch" star said she would try her powers of seduction while in Israel on an unlikely audience – ultra-Orthodox Jewish lawmakers.

Anderson, an honorary director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is in Israel to participate in the local version of "Dancing with the Stars."

An anti-fur bill has been put on hold in Israel over concerns by ultra-Orthodox leaders that it could impact production of the characteristic fur hats worn by some men from Hassidic sects on holidays and other festive occasions.

Pamela Anderson calls for ultra-Orthodox to go topless November 8, 2010

"I urge you to support this historic bill and speak up for the millions of animals who are bludgeoned, electrocuted, and skinned alive for their pelts each year," Anderson wrote in the letter.

She also sent the minister a video of animals being killed for their pelts.

"Surely you will agree that the ways in which animals suffer and die in the fur trade violates Jewish principles, which strictly prohibit causing unnecessary suffering to animals," she wrote.

Religion and State in Israel

November 15, 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.