Monday, December 6, 2010

Religion and State in Israel - December 6, 2010 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

December 6, 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.

Carmel wildfire punishment from God?

By Kobi Nahshoni December 5, 2010

Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef implied on Saturday night that the fire raging on Mount Carmel in northern Israel was a punishment from God for religious offenses committed by the area's residents.

During his weekly sermon, the rabbi read a section from the Babylonian Talmud, which states that "the fire only exists in a place where Shabbat is desecrated."

Haredi press: Yishai critics like anti-Semites

By Kobi Nahshoni December 5, 2010

"The anti-Semites worldwide always looked for the guilty Jew for every trouble they experienced, and the Judaism-haters in the State of Israel are looking for the guilty haredi," an editorial published by haredi newspaper Yated Ne'eman claimed on Sunday, following the criticism pointed at Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) over the poor state of Israel's Fire and Rescue Services.

Fire victim buried in non-Jewish plot

By Shmulik Hadad December 5, 2010

Tania Lansky, 23, from Ashkelon was laid to rest on Sunday at the city's military cemetery.

Tania was on board the trapped bus that caught fire on Thursday while making its way to Damon Prison in order to help evacuate prisoners. She died along with 41 of her friends.

However, even in her death Tania had to struggle – The rabbinate refused to bury her in the cemetery's main plot, because her mom is not Jewish

Shas Interior Minister Eli Yishai must take responsibility for Carmel fire

By Yossi Verter Opinion December 5, 2010

Interior Minister Eli Yishai is one of the cabinet's most combative members. He knows how to fight for what is dear to him: one pro-Haredi law after another, more religious coercion, more allocations for yeshiva students, more stringent conversion procedures and minimum fuss over women who shirk army service.

...When it came to the needs of Israel's fire and rescues service, he was hardly going to precipitate a government crisis - he issued no threats, nor did he race over to the home of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to pressure him into issuing a ruling of religious law.

Chief Rabbi Metzger: Give charity for success of rescue forces

By Jonah Mandel December 5, 2010

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger has called on the public to give charity and read Psalms for the success of the rescue forces fighting the fire in the Carmel.

“This is a day of mourning for all of the People of Israel, “Metzger said in a statement.

Shas Interior Minister Yishai: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is 'in tears' about Carmel fire

By Jonah Mandel and staff December 5, 2010

Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Sunday defended remarks made Saturday by Shas Spirtual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. "The rabbi preaches morals to all of us in order to gain strength, to do good deeds, and to repent."

Yishai added, that whoever hears the rabbi understands that "he is in tears and speaks with pain" about the tragedy in the Carmel.

Masorti Movement: Shas blackmailing gov’t over conversions

By Jonah Mandel December 2, 2010

According to reports, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef expressed extreme discontent over the possibility that the IDF conversions would be detached from the Chief Rabbinate.

Speaking on Israel Radio, Nahari said that such legislation would change the status quo on religious issues, and therefore breach the coalition agreement.

Rotem countered by telling the radio station that the breach to the status quo was created when certain elements decided to cast doubt on the validity of the military conversions, and that his legislation was meant to stop this from happening again.

Shas urges Netanyahu to squash IDF-sponsored conversion bill

By Yair Ettinger December 2, 2010

Tzohar, a group of modern Orthodox rabbis, said it supported the conversion bill because the Chief Rabbinate had not done enough against rabbis and rabbinic judges who did not recognize conversions and had "caused converts to suffer."

Prof. Yedidia Stern, vice president of research of the Israel Democracy Institute, called the threat to stop conversions "a strategic opportunity to change the state's rules of conduct and place the entire conversion process in the hands of the state conversion system."

Why won't the ultra-Orthodox accept IDF conversions?

By Yair Ettinger December 2, 2010

Interview with former IDF Chief Rabbi Yisrael Weiss

Q: You serve now as a judge of the civilian religious court headed by Rabbi Haim Druckman. Are you approving conversions today that tomorrow, it may reasonably be assumed, will be disqualified by the chief rabbinate? Isn't this cheating the convert?

Rabbi Yisrael Weiss:

Our conversions will not be disqualified. There are solutions. If there is an ultra-Orthodox rabbi who does not recognize our converts, there are alternatives. There are four rabbinical judges who are authorized to register marriages. In the end everyone who wants to register will be able to. No one will stop take away their right to register at the rabbinate, if and when they want to marry.

Shas urges PM to oppose IDF conversion bill

By Kobi Nahshoni December 1, 2010

[Shas Minister Meshulam Nahari] explained that it was unacceptable to remove the authority of conversions from the chief rabbi.

"The next thing will be a decision that the army can marry couples and issue kosher certificates independently. We are one people and there is no reason for this," he said, adding that conversion applicants rejected by the Rabbinate could begin to use the IDF as a bypass.

'Rabbi Yosef strongly opposes IDF conversions bill'

By Jonah Mandel December 1, 2010

The Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel said in a Wednesday announcement that “Shas is extorting the government, at the expense of the IDF converts. The objections of Amar and Shas show once again how they are driven by narrow political considerations rather than Halacha.”

Chief Rabbi: Torpedo IDF Conversions Law

By Kobi Nahshoni November 30, 2010

Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to torpedo a bill stating that Israel will automatically approve conversions carried out by the Israel Defense Forces without necessitating the chief rabbi's signature, which was approved on Sunday by the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs.

Conversion Bill ‘Something We Can’t Win’

By Stewart Ain November 30, 2010

Interview: Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein

Q: Do you foresee a resolution to the stalemate between diaspora Jews who oppose a proposed Israel conversion bill — which would for the first time give the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate sole authority over conversions in Israel — and those in Israel who support it?

A: Obviously there has to be a compromise. [...] The issue was to be resolved by the end of December, but I don’t see a solution. I hope that as long there is none, no one will start with unilateral steps.

...What I try to explain to my Israeli colleagues and to [MK David] Rotem is that this is something we can’t win.

Who Is A Jew and Who Decides

By Rabbi Brad Hirschfield Opinion November 29, 2010

The writer is President of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership

Instead of addressing the bigger challenges of state-sponsored religion, most Jews simply want to make sure that their kind of Judaism is protected under a system which entangles synagogue and state in ways to which they would object, were it happening anywhere other than in Israel.

Watching the seemingly endless cycle of "who is a Jew" debates is like watching people fight to receive a portion of food which will only make them sick when they eat it. Very sad.

Tzohar Rabbi Yaakov Arieli: Violent husbands should be ostracized

By Kobi Nahshoni December 3, 2010

On the same day that the Jerusalem District Court convicted self-proclaimed rabbi Elior Chen for a long list of abuse charges, Ramat Gan Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel published a ruling asserting that a man who abuses his wife should be barred from participating in a prayer or any other Jewish activity.

Israel's Divorce Ruling Leaves Matter Unsettled

By Michele Chabin November 30, 2010

An Israeli women's rights organization is deciding whether to ask the High Court here to reconsider its ruling on a divorce practice it says allows men to blackmail estranged wives seeking to remarry.

"The court did not completely ban the practice of paying off recalcitrant husbands," said Susan Weiss, director of the Jerusalem-based Center for Women's Justice.

VIDEO: TV interview with Attorney Irit Rosenblum (New Family) on 'Civil Marriage' law

Click here for VIDEO (Hebrew)

November 29, 2010

Science and Religion: Fighting for Physics in the Holy Land

By Noah Efron Opinion December 4, 2010

Noah Efron is member of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa City Council, fellow of Shaharit, a think tank for new Israeli Politics, and teaches history and sociology of science at Bar Ilan University.

[T]he battles over school curricula in Israel concern practice. No ultra-orthodox leader has attacked scientific ideas, nor have any even suggested that science is not valuable. None have said that science courses teach heresies.

Their point is not that they refuse to teach sciences because they are not true; their point is that they should not be forced to teach sciences, even though they are true.

MKs mull bill to recognize, fund pluralistic Jewish studies

By Jonah Mandel December 1, 2010

The topic of women in the Jewish scholarly world is especially relevant to Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), who, along with five other secular and religious MKs, is sponsoring a bill to make the state recognize and fund pluralistic institutions for Torah study.

Secular yeshiva in J’lem launched at ‘learning party’

By Jonah Mandel November 30, 2010

Talpiyot’s Ha’uman 17 club was the setting for the capital’s first “learning party” on Sunday night, when the Secular Yeshiva in Jerusalem nonprofit group held two scholastic sessions and one ensuing dance party deejayed by none other than rock star Berry Sakharof.

Experiments in Judaism

By Yair Ettinger November 30, 2010

The yeshiva does not yet exist, but is due to open next September. Its goal is to enable Israel Defense Forces veterans to study both secular and holy scriptures.

The evening opened with a class conducted by one of the yeshiva's sponsors, Ariel Levinson, who drew a line connecting Hanukkah, Zionist thinker Ahad Ha'am and secularist Hebrew writer Micha Berdichevsky.

Israel Absorption Ministry denies funding bias toward Russian immigrants

By Raphael Ahren December 3, 2010

Professionals who work with Western immigrants are charging that the Absorption Ministry has begun giving preferential treatment to Russian speakers through extra funding and special programs.

While acknowledging his ministry pays "special attention" to some groups of Russian-speaking newcomers, ministry Director General Dmitry Apartsev says the Absorption Ministry is not biased toward immigrants from the Former Soviet Union at the expense of other immigrants.

Author seeks to understand Israel in debut novel

AP December 4, 2010

Sarah Glidden's first graphic novel — "How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less" — is not just her debut, but a travelogue with a decidedly personal bent that invokes a deft blend of history, skepticism and, ultimately, acceptance.

South African Zionist Federation (Telfed) launches database to record accomplishments of over 20,000 immigrants

By Raphael Ahren December 3, 2010

Two new projects are seeking to highlight the contributions of southern African immigrants in Israel, one a massive online database with aspirations to count every oleh and the other a book that provides an in-depth look at the South African immigrant experience.

Returning citizens conference calls Israeli minds home November 27, 2010

A special conference to encourage Israeli academics living and working in the prestige universities in the US to return to their homeland was held Wednesday night in Boston.

The delegation is planning to visit other North American and European cities including New York, Toronto, Atlanta, Huston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and London.

New learning website pays homage to a teacher's teacher: Avraham Infeld

By Raphael Ahren December 3, 2010

A new educational website honoring and discussing the teachings of veteran Jewish educator Avraham Infeld was launched Tuesday in Jerusalem.

Named "The five-legged table," after one of Avraham Infeld's key lectures, the site features clips of Infeld teaching and invites educators around the world to discuss the issues raised.

Merchavim Receives U.S. Gov’t Grants December 1, 2010

The U.S. Department of State has awarded two grants, totaling $770,000, to Merchavim, The Institute for the Advancement of Shared Citizenship in Israel, an NGO that works to help all of Israel’s 7.6 million citizens become more comfortable with the diversity that characterizes Israeli society.

Bnei Menashe celebrate Hanukkah December 5, 2010

The 7,200 members of the Bnei Menashe community of northeastern India ushered in the first night of Hanukkah on Wednesday with joy and ceremony, as they continue to nourish the hope of making aliyah in the near future.

Masorti Movement Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs wins Shalem Foundation Excellence Prize November 30, 2010

Masorti's Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs has been recognized by one of Israel’s foremost national social service organizations working to support and highlight the needs of individuals with disabilities. The Masorti program – unique in Israel – has won the coveted 2010 Shalem Foundation Excellence Prize, awarded each year to a project, program or staff benefiting this population.

With Jewish groups skittish about settlement, Ariel looks to evangelical Christians for salvation

By Tamar Morad December 3, 2010

Jews make up the overwhelming majority of Ariel's population, but many of the large settlement's landmarks might not exist were it not for American evangelicals opening up their wallets.

The new $2 million National Youth Leadership Development Park that opened last spring was funded by a group of U.S. evangelical Christians. It is one of the biggest projects in a city increasingly buoyed by money from evangelical groups.

Learning about religion and state in Israel

By Rachel Barton December 1, 2010

At the Religion and State seminar held in Jerusalem on November 18, Career Israel participants were met with a series of stimulating and thought-provoking speakers which left everyone pondering questions of Jewish identity and what it means to have a Jewish state.

The final speaker of the day, Anat Hoffman, brought the seminar back to the opposite end of the spectrum with an equally engaging and controversial stance.

Hoffman is a founding member of Women of the Wall, an activist group which fights for equal religious rights for women, and is the Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center, an organization which promotes Jewish pluralism, tolerance, and equality.

Israel Democracy Institute poll

By Greer Fay Cashman December 1, 2010

51.5% of the Jewish sample agrees that only immigrants who are Jews as defined by the rabbinate should be entitled to receive automatic citizenship; only 34.5% of immigrants from the former USSR agree.

Forty-one percent of secular Jews and 88% of haredim agree, while traditional Jews and modern Orthodox Jews fall in the middle at 63% and 79%, respectively.

Ecology activism and Jewish world November 30, 2010

What happens when you mix young innovative Jews with ecology?! This transformational web portal, which was launched Monday, promotes and advances Jewish environmental awareness and action to the international Jewish community.

The Right to be Israeli: Race in Israel

By Karen Paul-Stern December 4, 2010

Karen Paul-Stern is the Washington regional director of the New Israel Fund, as well as a development and fundraising consultant to progressive nonprofit organizations.

A new generation of Ethiopian children is already reaching adulthood in Israel. They did not grow up in refugee camps in the desert; they are modern and engaged, and they want to live their lives well and proudly in the country that claimed it wanted them.

They are forcing Israel to face questions of immigration that it has never before encountered. Who should be allowed to immigrate?

Who is Israeli? And what is a country’s responsibility to a population that was brought to its shores because of a decades-old contract with its conscience, but for whom the questions of absorption and assimilation involve intractable questions of identity and skin color?

Religion and State in Israel

December 6, 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 - December 6, 2010 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

December 6, 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.

Haaretz cartoon by Amos Biderman - November 29, 2010

Infiltrator detention center

Shas Minister Eli Yishai: "When can I send you the first inmate?"

[newspapaper: Yom L'Yom - Amalek!] (Shas MK Chaim Amsallem)

MK Amsellem's daring

By Yair Sheleg Opinion December 5, 2010

[Shas MK Chaim] Amsellem is not only defying Yishai and Rabbi Yosef, he is challenging the entire framework by which the Sephardi Torah world is subordinate to the Ashkenazi rabbinate - subordination that Shas' formation was supposed to end.

...Amsellem also puts into focus the question of the essential difference between the worlds of Sephardi and Ashkenazi religious sages.

...In a spirit of respect for what Amsellem is doing, it can be said that his hanging onto the altar does not suit his daring stand. He should nobly quit a club that does not want him and vie in the next Knesset elections for a place he deserves.

Yishai: Amsalem is no Amalek, 'Yom Leyom' will correct

By Jonah Mandel November 29, 2010

Interior Minister Eli Yishai stressed on Monday morning that maverick Shas MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem is no Amalek, the biblical nemesis to the Jewish people Amsalem was compared to in the recent edition of Shas newspaper Yom Leyom.

“No Jew should be called Amalek; such sayings are not acceptable,” Yishai told Israel Radio, adding that at his request, the newspaper would make a correction.

Shas MK Haim Amsalem: A bĂȘte noire and a hero

By Jeff Barak Opinion November 29, 2010

The writer is a former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post.

[MK Chaim] Amsalem's criticism of Shas is not just an internal party matter; the direction Shas takes influences the wider society. Three decades ago, before the establishment of Shas, 21 percent of haredi men did not work.

Since then, that number has jumped to a staggering 65 percent. Such a figure is economically unsustainable, not just for the haredi community, but for the country as a whole.

Neither can the country afford to continue kowtowing to the narrowest of narrow haredi perspectives on other matters affecting the nation’s social fabric.

A New Low For Shas

The Jewish Week Editorial November 30, 2010

Rabbi Amsalem has set forth his views in a thoughtful and dignified manner, based on the goal of unifying his country. Let those who disagree with his positions assert theirs rather than stoop to ad hominem attacks. And let the people decide.

The first Hebrew Amalekite

By Yossi Sarid Opinion December 3, 2010

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman June 25, 2010

Chaim Amsalem, Eli Yishai, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: "Get Out"

With all due respect, [Chaim Amsallem] is not the first Hebrew Amalekite in our generation. He was preceded by someone else, and that "someone else" is me.

Not only Amalek, but Amalek and Haman in the same breath, at the same appearance of Ovadia Yosef among the Yazidi: "Cursed be Amalek, cursed be Haman, cursed be Yossi Sarid," went his speech, accompanied by wishes for a strange, unusual death; another prayer that was not immediately answered.

Rabbi Ovadia's son blames renegade MK for drought

By Yair Ettinger November 29, 2010

One of the sons of Shas' spiritual leader accused renegade MK Chaim Amsellem of causing Israel's drought due to his "worldly" views.

"The Rambam [Maimonides] shows us how to bring rain, and the Rambam writes that faith is not only to correct a person's wrong acts, but also wrong views, the thoughts that lead him to be carried away by false views," said Rabbi Avraham Yosef, the chief rabbi of Holon, in an interview on the ultra-Orthodox radio station, Kol Hai.

Sacked Shas MK vows to run new party

By Anshel Pfeffer December 2, 2010

Rabbi Chaim Amsellem, the Knesset member banished last week by his party Shas for his "heretical" views, is now threatening to form a new party for "traditional" Sephardi voters.

...Rabbi Amsellem publicly refused to follow party chairman Eli Yishai's instructions and desist from interviews. By this stage, the Council ruling, which amounts to a virtual excommunication, was a certainty.

But Rabbi Amsellem announced he was forming a new party. "I am a new Charedi who speaks to the entire nation," he said.

Shas and the Geek

By Benny Ziffer Opinion December 3, 2010

Since God-fearing folk are not allowed to become addicted to television, certainly not to frivolous programs such as "Big Brother" or the abominable "Beauty and the Geek," the Yosef rabbinical dynasty has come up with pretty good alternatives for this audience.

Electoral disaster

By Yossi Verter December 3, 2010

At the meeting, an argument broke out between Likud ministers Limor Livnat and Gilad Erdan, and Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi of Shas.

"You should be ashamed of what you are doing to MK [Chaim] Amsellem," Livni charged Margi angrily.

"We are nostalgic for the Olmert government," mourned Margi.

"Maybe you will leave the coalition," said Erdan.

Hesder Yeshiva: Has it outlived its usefulness?

By Rabbi Eric Yoffie Opinion November 29, 2010

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

There were reasons for the hesder program to come into being in its current form, but they no longer apply. I suggest that the time has come to eliminate it. Such a step would be good for Israel and Israel’s army and would bring honor to Torah and its students everywhere.

Hanukah: Hesder Soldiers Facilitate Miracles

By Rabbi Shalom Hammer Opinion December 2, 2010

What Yoffe does not understand is that the one place where there is co-existence and a sense of harmony in Israeli society today is in the army...

This respect is mutual as there are many Yeshivot Hesder today which encourage their students to serve in mixed units together with secular soldiers, actively promoting tolerance while simultaneously sanctifying the name of Hashem by way of their exemplary behavior and wholehearted commitment to Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael.

Woman detained for 'draft-dodging' despite national service

By Rebecca Anna Stoil November 29, 2010

Fanny Yitzhak may have completed her national service, but for the past two months, as far as the IDF was concerned, she was nothing but another draft-dodger.

...Yitzhak, a religiously observant girl from a religious family, had decided as a high school student that "the framework of national service was more appropriate for me, because I'm religious and... the environment would be better."

No time for nonsense

By Yair Ettinger December 3, 2010

Haredim in America are too busy working to follow developments among their brethren in Israel.

Solomon, the owner of a kosher grocery store on 13th Avenue in Borough Park:

"Only if you don't work, like in Israel, is there time for nonsense, for demonstrations, for burning garbage cans, for talk about government allowances. Here there is no time for nonsense - people get up in the morning for work."

World Wide Web

By Yair Ettinger December 3, 2010

Report from the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries in New York

But doesn't Chabad also have a hidden agenda? Isn't the movement engaged in Jewish proselytizing, as the Chabad activists in the Tel Aviv neighborhood of Ramat Aviv are suspected of doing? Emissaries I spoke with in Crown Heights, all of whom are active in the United States, were amazed at the question.

"We have no hidden agenda, and therein lies the strength of Chabad, especially in the United States," said one emissary.

"Possibly Israelis are more suspicious, but we have no conspiracy beyond helping every Jew everywhere, unconditionally. We aspire to bring every Jew a degree closer to the Torah and to the Holy One than he is today, and that includes people who are defined as religious. There is no conspiracy to steal anyone's children away from him."

Getting to the heart of Chabad

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion December 3, 2010

The movement has been less active in Israeli politics in more recent years; the vocal rabbis active on the far-right are minor figures within Chabad, but their influence in many Jewish communities around the world continues to grow.

If the leadership decides to harness that energy toward achieving a political or ideological goal, it will have a major impact.

Ultra-Orthodox Yeshivas and Secular Universities

By Dennis Prager Opinion December 1, 2010

Few Jews, inside or outside of Israel, would oppose continuing this policy for a handful of scholars. But for hundreds of thousands of able-bodied Jews to demand to be supported — and protected — by other Jews (and, for that matter, the non-Jewish citizens of Israel as well) is entirely different.

Rabbonim Urge Public to Block 'Chareidi News Lines'

By Yated Ne'eman staff November 25, 2010

Gedolei Yisroel, including Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv shlita, are promoting a "tikkun godol" in response to one of the stumbling blocks of our day and age: home phone lines with access to numbers that have a corrupting impact and have claimed many victims.

Theocratic Democracy - The Social Construction of Religious and Secular Extremism November 29, 2010

Nachman Ben-Yehuda is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and a former Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Book Review:

Ben-Yehuda shows how the political structure that accommodates the strong theocratic and secular pressures Israel faces is effectively a theocratic democracy.

Characterized by chronic negotiations, tensions, and accommodations, it is by nature an unstable structure. However, in his fascinating and lively account, Nachman Ben-Yehuda demonstrates how it allows citizens with different worldviews to live under one umbrella of a nation-state without tearing the social fabric apart.

Give me children or give me death

By Sarit Rosenblum December 2, 2010

M., 25, is about to die. The young haredi woman, who resides in an isolated community in Jerusalem, has been refusing to undergo an urgent hysterectomy to remove a tumor that has spread in her uterus because it will mean losing her ability to give birth.

...An ethics committee including legal councils, doctors, social workers and the Chief Rabbi of Clalit HMO Menachem Rosenberg reviewed M's medical file and decided to approach the rabbi of the community where M. resides, despite her and her family's refusal to do during her hospitalization.

Recently, Rabbi Rosenberg met with the aforementioned rabbi, who requested a second opinion from a doctor affiliated with another hospital.

UTJ threatens government over housing support

By Lilach Weisman Globes December 6, 2010

Even as the coalition crisis over stipends for yeshiva students remains unresolved, a new crisis is brewing over United Torah Judaism’s threat not to support the budget unless housing benefits which primarily aid haredi families are included.

The Housing Ministry is simultaneously promoting the construction of 20,000- 30,000 housing units in haredi towns and neighborhoods in the periphery.

The prices of these apartments will be less than NIS 500,000, so that the government will finance between a quarter and a third of the cost.

Satmar couple are held over daughter 'kidnap'

By Anshel Pfeffer December 2, 2010

A man and woman from the Satmar community in Stamford Hill were arrested last week at Ben Gurion Airport on suspicion that they were trying to take their 21-year-old daughter out of the country against her will. The pair were charged on Sunday at Tel Aviv District Court with attempted kidnap.

A Kosher Street for Cohanim in Tiberias

By Miriam Woelke December 1, 2010

Tiberias, the town at the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) is now building an entire street leading from Hayarden Street (at the Central Bus Station) a few meters around the corner to the grave of the Rambam (Maimonides, 1135 - 1204).

PA removes controversial Kotel report from website

By Khaled Abu Toameh, Jordana Horn and Hilary Krei December 1, 2010

The “study” was prepared by Al-Mutawakel Taha, a senior official with the Ministry of Information in Ramallah and a renowned poet and writer with close ties to the PA leadership.

Taha’s paper claimed that the Western Wall, or Al-Buraq Wall as it is known to Muslims, is Wakf trust property owned by an Algerian-Moroccan Muslim family.

Western Wall Rabbi Rabinovitch praises US condemnation of PA Kotel study December 1, 2010

Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch on Wednesday praised the comments made by the US in response to the Palestinian Authority denial of a Jewish connection to the Western Wall.

Thousands Gather at Kotel to Pray for Rain

Click here for VIDEO

Secular Tel Aviv's very own 'messiah'

AFP November 29, 2010

Calling himself only "The Messiah of Tel Aviv", this 31-year-old Russian-born immigrant has become a fixture in a neighborhood more accustomed to beggars and bohemians before he announced he was a prophet, bringing dark warnings of the approaching apocalypse.

When Workplace Sexual Harassment Charges Are Ignored

By Elana Maryles Sztokman December 3, 2010

A new investigative report in the Hebrew-language version of Yediot Ahronot provides an account of what it says is Bar-Ilan University’s attempt to hide recent charges of sexual harassment.

...This story, which continues to unfold, reflects a growing awareness in the religious community about the problem of sexual abuse, and an increasing refusal to stay silent. Bar-Ilan University, which is the only expressly religious university in Israel, is the latest organization to confront this issue.

Ultra-Orthodox town of Bnei Brak moves to evict migrant workers

By Ilan Lior November 30, 2010

Illegal immigrants living in the Pardes Katz neighborhood of Bnei Brak say they have been ordered to leave town immediately.

Religion and State in Israel

December 6, 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.