Sunday, May 22, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - May 23, 2011 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

May 23, 2011 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

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Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

'Haredi girls' schools 'fertile ground for discrimination''

By Jonah Mandel May 17, 2011

The State Comptroller’s Report aimed scathing criticism at the Education Ministry for its actions, or lack thereof, in determining procedures for accepting girls to haredi state-funded schools and overseeing existent practice.

The absence of clear and transparent guidelines can, and does, lead to racial discrimination in that educational system, the report determined, and called on the ministry to make “real changes” in how it supervises those institutions.

No school for 180 Sephardic Haredi girls

By Kobi Nahshoni May 17, 2011

Ynet has learned that nearly 200 haredi girls in Jerusalem have yet to be admitted into educational institutions in the city, although registration has already ended.

The students, most of them of Sephardic descent, make up 7% of the city's ultra-Orthodox female students and are slated to begin studying in a seminary (high school for girls) next year.

Attorney Yoav Lalum of Noar Kahalacha said in response to the figures that "the Jerusalem Municipality is washing its hands of the situation year after year.

The problems repeat themselves every year because there are some elements in the municipality who deny the existence of quotas but do all they can to help the seminaries maintain a quota of up to 30% Sephardic students."

Cabinet backtracks on anti-discrimination resolution following Haredi pressure

By Yair Ettinger May 19, 2011

The cabinet backtracked several weeks ago from issuing a resolution against ethnic discrimination in Haredi schools, after United Torah Judaism threatened to pull out of the coalition if it was approved.

Copies of the draft resolution were distributed to every minister, and after a copy reached Knesset Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni, he worked forcefully to scuttle it, threatening to pull his party out of the government coalition if it was passed - without discussing it with Education Ministry and Haredi education officials.

Gafni argued that the resolution violated the Budget Law, which grants total autonomy to the recognized Haredi education systems, Hinuch Atzma'i and Shas' Maayan Hahinuch Hatorani.

Shas proposes bills to fight ethnic discrimination in educ. institutions May 17, 2011

MK Avraham Michaeli of Shas presented on Monday two bills that would fight ethnic discrimination in educational institutions.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef favors appointment of women to religious councils

By Yair Ettinger May 18, 2011

Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef supports integrating women into religious councils, according to Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi (Shas). Margi declared he "will act to improve representation of women in the makeup of religious councils appointed in the future."

The report by the non-profit organization Hiddush - for Religious Freedom and Equality was submitted to the minister in March.

...But according to the Hiddush report, the proportion of women on religious councils has increased at a snail's pace over the years; in February there were only 22 women among the 450 members of religious councils - or 5 percent. No religious council is chaired by a woman.

Hiddush Study: Women make up only 5% of religious councils May 16, 2011

Rabbi Regev [Hiddush] said that despite the fact that even prominent spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef supports the appointment of women to religious councils, discrimination still often limits women from actually gaining positions on religious boards.

Margi responded that interpretation of Jewish law recommends the appointment of women without necessitating it. He added that appointments would be based on an individual basis and according to personal skills.

Woman replaced with dwarf in bank ad

By Meirav Crystal May 16, 2011

Bank Hapoalim has removed actress Alma Zack from its billboard advertising in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak and other haredi areas and replaced her with an image of the "Dan Haschan" dwarf, blogger Ido Kenan has revealed.

It's a known fact that companies cover exposed body parts in ads presented in haredi areas, but the phenomenon of "deleting" women is relatively new. Ultra-Orthodox newspapers even avoid mentioning the first names of senior female politicians.

Israel’s National Library Acquires Largest Known Collection of Israeli Pashkvillim

By Sandy Eller May 17, 2011

In the ultimate irony, [Yoelish] Kraus has donated his collection of pashkvillim to the Israel Antiques Authority, headed by Shuki Dorfman, both of whom were roundly criticized in many of the pashkvillim.

In recent years, Kraus managed to acquire every sign that came out and many Meah Shearim residents would come to view the pashkevillim. Kraus’ collection, which is valued at $120,000, dates back over 80 years and contains thousands of posters and other singular items, providing a rare glimpse into Israeli life.

Lag B'Omer: A Lost opportunity

By Rabbi Shaul Farber Opinion May 22, 2011

Rabbi Shaul Farber is the founder of ITIM: The Jewish Life Information Center and rabbi of Kehillat Netivot in Ra'anana.

The rabbinate should have stated that they were encouraging local communities to cease the practice of bonfires altogether, not only because Shabbat is important, but because our future on the planet is important.

...The chief rabbis ought to boycott the Meron festivities. Instead, they should use Lag B'omer to visit a solar power plant, or now use electricity at all (like Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai). Maybe then, we'll have a better appreciation of the message of Lag B'Omer.

PHOTOS: Lag BaOmer at Mt Meron - All Night Dance Party

By Nir Alon May 22, 2011

Photo gallery: Lag Ba'Omer bonfires light up the night

By Jonah Mandel May 21, 2011

Photos: Lag B'Omer on Mt. Meron

By Harel Stanton May 22, 2011

Harel Stanton is an international photographer and lecturer.

Some 200-300,000 people gather every year on Mount Meron in northern Israel to celebrate the biggest Jewish festival in Israel in honor of the Lag B'Omer holiday.

The first visitors immediately after Passover with containers and equipment, while others begin flocking to the area several days before the holiday.

Mount Meron alight as thousands flock to Lag Ba'omer celebrations

By Eli Ashkenazi May 22, 2011

Following tradition, members of the Boyan Hasidic dynasty were expected to light the main bonfire on Bar Yochai's grave.

Because the holiday fell on Shabbat this year, observant Jews could only begin their trip to Mount Meron after sundown. That was also the reason for postponing the bonfire-lighting until midnight, in order to give people coming from farther away time to get there.

Tens of thousands arrive at Mt. Meron as Israelis celebrate Lag Ba'omer

Education Ministry tells schools to avoid desecrating Shabbat with Lag Ba'omer celebrations

By Yair Ettinger May 17, 2011

Education Ministry director general Shimshon Shoshani last week instructed schools to refrain from holding Lag Ba'omer bonfires that would desecrate the upcoming Sabbath and offend traditional and religious students.

Shoshani did not instruct schools on when they should hold the bonfires but his instruction implies that they could be held either after the end of the Sabbath or on Sunday, which is a school holiday - the way the rabbis also recommended.

Education Ministry okays Lag Ba’Omer leave, but no Shabbat bonfires

By Jonah Mandel May 17, 2011

The Education Ministry has decided to not put off the one-day vacation scheduled for Sunday, destined to let the pupils sleep off their smoky Lag Ba’Omer nocturnal activities, despite requests from rabbis.

As a spokesman for the ministry explained, the request came at the last moment, and furthermore – there is a mathematics matriculation exam on Monday. Shifting the day off to Monday would necessitate a change in the scheduling of all the matriculations, he said.

This Lag Ba'omer, let the city burn some wood for you

By Gili Cohen and Ilan Lior May 19, 2011

Tel Aviv Municipality is offering a creative idea: Lag Ba'omer package deals.

The packages - offered by the agricultural experience project of Tel Aviv-Jaffa's Economic Development Authority - include site preparation for the bonfire, a supply of firewood, mats to sit on and dough for baking pita, as well as tea, roast potatoes and marshmallows, all accompanied by a guide to keep children busy and an assistant to stoke the fire. The price for this tranquility is NIS 2,500.

How bonfires became a burning issue in Israel

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester Opinion May 19, 2011

Gideon Sylvester is rabbi of Tribe Israel

It may seem strange to tamper with the Jewish calendar, but there is strong precedent for such modifications and for adapting festival practices to preserve Shabbat observance.

Blowing of the shofar is one of the highlights of the Jewish year and although it is mandated by the Torah, the rabbis forbade it whenever Rosh Hashanah coincided with Shabbat.

Hillula: Poetry for Lag B'Omer

By Jake Marmer May 19, 2011

Matthue Roth, whose performance poetry was recently featured on The Arty Semite, is here again with a poetic narration of the Hillula.

This poem first appeared in Mima’amakim as well as on My Jewish Learning, where Roth is an editor.

Bar Yohai (Ai Yai Yai)

That night we ran

from bar Yohai’s grave to

deep in the valley of Meron

It felt like the prophet was pushing us,

not gravity

as we soared past dancing Hasidim and

old ladies giving out cookies and

fortunes and

boxes of yeshiva boys

seeing the sun

for the first time in


Inside the tomb I

snuck in early

not wanting to wait for nightfall

Poem continues here

Kfar Chabad: Ginornous Parade and Kinnus May 22, 2011

Thousands of the Rebbe's young soldiers and their parents united in Kfar Chabad for a fantastic Lag B'Omer celebration...

Click here for PHOTOS

Yerushalayim Mayor Visits Ohel May 16, 2011

Yerushalayim Mayor Nir Barkat visited the Ohel this afternoon. The Mayor, who is in New York for a visit, made it a point to drop in and daven at the Ohel.

Click here for PHOTOS

Right-wing rabbis urge PM to 'show courage' in US

By Kobi Nahshoni May 20, 2011

Six senior right-wing rabbis sent a letter of support to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, ahead of his upcoming meeting with US President Barack Obama and Congress address.

The letter's authors include Kiryat Arba Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Nahum Eliezer Rabinovich, head of the Ma'ale Adumim hesder yeshiva, and Samaria's Chief Rabbi Elyakim Levanon.

Top educators: Schools must join the fight against racism

By Or Kashti May 19, 2011

The organizers of a major educational conference issued a position paper demanding that the Education Ministry adopt reforms aimed at heading off racism and xenophobia in the classroom by focusing on civics lessons.

...The paper's authors cited the recent calls from rabbis to refrain from renting apartments to Arab college students in Safed and public opinion polls showing greater youth support for curbing minority rights as proof of a worrying trend.

New Hareidi-Religious List Seeks Israel Bar Association Change

By Aryeh Ben Hayim May 17, 2011

The Israel Bar Association elections will be held on June 21 and there will be a new player in the game: a joint religious-haredi list called Tov Lalishka. The name literally means "Good for the [Israel] Bar [Association]."

The fact that a new list with a religious orientation is appearing reflects both the recent politics of the Bar Association, and the demographic and occupational reality that an ever increasing number of ultra-Orthodox men and women are pursuing a career in the legal profession and can now enroll in law schools that cater to their religious lifestyle.

DeScribing a plan to save the world

By David Brinn May 15, 2011

The 28-year-old musician was born into a Chabad Australian family in Melbourne.

...However, by his early teens, the child prodigy had begun questioning his commitment to Judaism, and his parents packed him off to study at a Jerusalem area yeshiva.

“I started to ask questions and I didn’t get the right answers. That year in yeshiva was the worst of my life. I turned away from Judaism and I quickly became a street kid.

'Waqf Temple Mount excavation damaged archaeological relics'

By Nir Hasson May 17, 2011

In his annual report, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss found many shortcomings in the supervision of works carried out by the Waqf Muslim religious trust at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, saying that as a result, important archaeological artifacts had been damaged.

Miniature miracles

By Ronit Vered May 20, 2011

Photographing a woman's face, they explain pleasantly to the photographer, is forbidden for reasons of modesty. About a month ago Libfroind was filmed for a lifestyle program on television's Channel 2 with her face exposed, and tongues in the community began to wag.

...Efrat Libfroind is one of the most famous chefs in the Haredi community. The catering company she started 12 years ago, Hashlemut Shebata'am (lit., "the perfection of taste" ), provides meals and desserts for glittering events in the community and outside of it, in Israel and abroad.

Libfroind was born to a well-known and wealthy Haredi family - former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau is her uncle - and, unusually, spent her childhood in Kikar Hamedina in Tel Aviv...

'Religious macho'

By Yair Ettinger May 20, 2011

Berland is an extreme mystic who aspires to be a tzaddik, a righteous person, in the image of Rabbi Nachman. His Shuvu Banim community of Bratslavers numbers more than 700 families.

...Last November, the rabbi rebelled and fled from the "jail" in which he had been held for years, far from his flock, surrounded by mediators who supervised his movements and controlled him. Possibly they also got their hands on the donations that flowed into the yeshiva, to the tune of millions of shekels a year.

Japan thanks ZAKA for rescue efforts May 22, 2011

Japanese Ambassador to Israel Haruhisa Takeuchi recently hosted ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav and other members of the ZAKA delegation to thank them for their professional assistance during their recent two-week recovery mission to Japan.

Religion and State in Israel

May 23, 2011 (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.