Sunday, June 26, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - June 27, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

June 27, 2011 (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.

In shift, 'refusenik' Orthodox converts granted ID cards

By Raphael Ahren June 24, 2011

At least four of the 19 Orthodox converts whom the Interior Ministry had previously denied citizenship this week received their Israeli identity cards, mere days after the ministry announced a change in its policy regarding whom to consult about the validity of Orthodox conversions.

Thomas Dohlan, 24, an Orthodox convert from Canada whose battles with the Interior Ministry over the past few months had been highly publicized, was one of the four to receive an identity card this week.

Yesterday [Rabbi Seth Farber, head of Itim] submitted a request for a two-month delay in the court case to see if all the other cases are resolved, he added.

"We're hopeful that in two months we'll be able to withdraw our case completely. We're now meeting with our clients, one by one, and have them go to the Interior Ministry to see if their cases are resolved."

In Israel, A Solution To Conversion Woes?

By Stewart Ain June 21, 2011

Rabbi Farber said he is happy with the new agreement except for the inclusion of what he called an “exit clause” that permits the Chief Rabbinate to intervene should a case arise in which there is doubt about the authenticity of the conversion.

“The agreement does not say who raises such doubts, only that the Interior Ministry has to go to the Chief Rabbinate,” he said.

“I’ve been assured the Chief Rabbinate will not use this [clause]. Since they acknowledge the Chief Rabbinate has no jurisdiction over this issue, why is it even involved at all?”

Canadian Orthodox convert’s immigration case close to resolution

By Paul Lungen June 23, 2011

Contacted at his home in Kiryat Tivon, about 30 kilometres east of Haifa, Dohlan said he’s hopeful his immigration problems will be cleared up soon.

He had moved to Israel with his wife, Ortal, and four young children expecting to be immediately accepted as a Jewish oleh.

“I was shocked,” he said, when he learned the Ministry of the Interior would not accept his conversion. “I didn’t understand it because I had all the paperwork, letters, everything.”

Justice Minister Neeman: We can't just let anyone convert to Judaism

By Jonah Mandel June 23, 2011

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman:

“Conversion has legal ramifications, unlike the US where it doesn't. You can't let anyone who wants to convert to do so, since that enables them to enter the country and receive citizenship, or change the status of an alien to legal.

You must reach clear, legal norms. The body that torpedoed the issue was the Chief Rabbinate, who decided to not accept the committee's findings. Today they are penitent,” he said wryly.

The Conversion Debate Gets Fiery in Jerusalem

By J.J. Goldberg June 23, 2011

Professor Dov Maimon (modern Orthodox think-tanker) ... proposed the introduction of a new form of conversion that he called “civilizational conversion,” in which one would seek membership in the religious community of the Jewish people, but without necessarily committing oneself to observe the Orthodox commandments, as Orthodox conversion now requires.

This sort of reframed the discussion. He had few details — it’s apparently still an idea in infancy — but we’re going to hear more about it in months to come, you betcha.

Shas Interior Minister Yishai joins conversion forum, perhaps without realizing

By Jonah Mandel June 24, 2011

Sharansky then said that “the fact that Yishai came, and agreed to sit at the table with us, is a great achievement.”

This rings especially true since the current round-table on conversion – formed and led by Sharansky and Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser in the wake of the maelstrom around Rotem’s conversion bill last summer – has no haredi representative, from neither Shas nor United Torah Judaism, though a representative from Yishai’s Interior Ministry is said to be a staunch delegate of the minister’s weltanschauung.

Israeli Justice Minister: Assimilation of Diaspora Jews fulfills Hitler's vision

By Yair Ettinger June 26, 2011

Speaking at a panel on conversion at the President's Conference in Jerusalem, the justice minister rejected recent criticism from American rabbis over Israel's conversion policy.

"The problem in exile isn't conversion, it's assimilation," Neeman said. "How many [new] Jews join the Diaspora Jewry by converting, and how many [Jews] assimilate?
Let's face the truth. What Hitler - may his name and memory be forgotten - didn't manage to do is happening in the Diaspora with its horrific assimilation."

Shas Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s divisive meddling Editorial June 22, 2011

Yishai, who has never attempted to conceal his contempt for non-Orthodox forms of Judaism, would like to reinstate the status of “Jew” on Israeli identity cards – but only for those whom he and other Orthodox Jews consider to be “Jews.”

If Yishai has his way, Reform and Conservative converts to Judaism will not be recognized as Jewish on new ID cards.

Not only is this move an affront to millions of Reform and Conservative Jews in the Diaspora, it is also in violation of the spirit of a High Court ruling dating back a decade.

...Yishai’s meddling can only arouse unnecessary tension between Israel and the Diaspora.

Knesset Speaker Rivlin: Proud of 'Jewish' title on ID

By Moran Azulay June 21, 2011

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Tuesday that Interior Minister Eli Yishai's decision to reinstate the nationality clause in Israeli identity cards, removed nine years ago, could cause questions over the definition of Jewish identity to resurface.

‘Who Is a Jew?’ Again?! Editorial June 22, 2011

...Now Yishai wants to bring [the nationality section] back, turning an ID card that is essentially a secular document into a state-sanctioned statement of an individual’s religious status.

In doing so, Yishai is not only defying the law of his own land, but also delegitimizing the vast majority of Diaspora Jews who don’t ascribe to his stringent, unforgiving way of being Jewish.

WZO to gov’t: Don’t reinstate religion clause on Israeli ID

By Gil Shefler June 26, 2011

The World Zionist Organization on Friday urged the government not to reinstate a clause that formerly appeared in Israeli identification cards specifying the holder’s religion.

Gathering in Jerusalem for its annual meeting, the Zionist organization’s governing committee easily passed the resolution against the opposition of delegates from the Likud and Shas parties criticizing the government’s recent decision.

“We believe such an act will sow discord among the Jewish people and we oppose the proposed change,” said delegates from the Masorti (Conservative) Movement, who voted in favor of the motion.

A Jew can't be identified by an ID card stamp

Haaretz Editorial June 23, 2011

It would be best, then, if [Yishai] immediately returned the issue back to the shelf from which it was pulled.

An individual's identity does not require political approval. His beliefs are his own private business, and his sense of national belonging is determined by his own identification, not by the order of the interior minister.

Rabbi Israel Rosen: ID Cards Don't Affect Halachic Jewishness

By INN staff June 23, 2011

Rabbi Israel Rosen, the founder and head of the Tzomet organization, on Wednesday welcomed Interior Minister Eli Yishai's decision to return the nationality descriptor 'Jewish' to Israeli ID cards, saying 'nationality' alone has no meaning when making halachic determinations of 'Jewishness.'

Shas's Eli Yishai wants nationality info returned to Israeli identity cards

By Gili Cohen June 22, 2011

The Movement for Progressive Judaism says the move therefore acts against the interests of many converted Reform and Conservative Jews.

"This would trample not only the rights of our converts but also a very clear ruling by the Supreme Court," said the movement's chairman, Rabbi Gilad Kariv.

"I strongly hope the prime minister, who last year showed such determination to prevent a rift in the Jewish people around the conversion law, will take swift action to prevent a foolish and unnecessary controversy before we are forced to appeal to the High Court."

Shas Interior Minister Yishai working to have ID cards state one's religion

By Jonah Mandel June 20, 2011

Masorti (Conservative) Movement CEO Yizhar Hess called the decision “cynical and malicious.”

“Instead of embracing the converts, Yishai is humiliating them. Most of the Jewish peopleare Reform and Conservative, but a fundamentalist haredi minority is making Israel look bad, just when it needs the Jewish people more than ever,” Hess said.

Shas Interior Minister plans to return 'nationality' clause to ID cards

By Gili Cohen and Yair Ettinger June 20, 2011

Interior ministry spokesman Roi Lahmanovich told Haaretz that "there are Holocaust survivors who want the nationality clause, and those who lost their IDs and ask why they can't leave in the word 'Jewish'."

Shas Interior Minister Yishai reinstates nationality in ID cards

By Kobi Nahshoni June 21, 2011

Roee Lachmanovitch, Yisha's media consultant, added that "if anyone in the Reform Movement feels offended by the decision, they are welcome to turn to the High Court."

Israelis can now marry abroad and never have to leave the country

By Yair Ettinger June 24, 2011

The High Court of Justice has expanded the limited availability of civil marriage in Israel in a precedent-setting decision.

The court this week directed the Interior Ministry to recognize the marriages of 14 couples who were married by proxy.

They registered in the Central American republic of El Salvador, where the law does not require the parties to the marriage to appear before the government official who conducts the ceremony.

The founder of Hiddush, which battles for religious pluralism, Reform Rabbi Uri Regev, called the ruling historic.

"It is perhaps ridiculous that Israeli citizens have to get married by correspondence in El Salvador, but the reality depriving hundreds of thousands of Israelis of the right to marry is ridiculous."

Israel's gay community applauds NY same-sex marriage law

Gay community in Israel: For us it'll be a long wait

By Ilan Lior June 26, 2011

"The situation in Israel is problematic not only with regard to same-sex couples, but also couples in general who cannot get married here because there is no civil marriage in Israel.

In New York or in any other state, there is a basis for civil marriage," [MK Nitzan] Horowitz (Meretz) said, adding: "Citizens cannot fulfill a basic right in their own country, and that is a much bigger problem than the gay community."

Knesset says no to Shabbat buses

By Shahar Hazelkorn June 23, 2011

The Knesset on Wednesday rejected a bill calling for public transportation on Shabbat following a heated discussion. Thirty-six lawmakers voted against the proposal, submitted by Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), and only seven supported it.

But in spite of the ban on public transportation on Shabbat, it turns out that local initiatives have managed to change the status quo.

On Tuesday, the Holon Municipality announced its plan to operate a special bus to Tel Aviv in order to help young party goers. The new line will leave for Tel Aviv on Friday nights every 30 minutes, from 11 pm to 1 am, and will return to Holon from 1 to 4 am.

Tel Aviv buses 'go religious'

By Yoav Zitun June 26, 2011

The new transportation reform in central Israel, to go into effect July 1, will mean that buses that up until now were allowed to travel shortly before the Shabbat ends will no longer be able to do so.

The change, which was not mentioned in the Transportation Ministry announcements ahead of the change, will mean that at least four major routes will only resume their operations shortly after the Shabbat ends instead of a few hours before.

Caring enough to engage

By Jeremy Ben-Ami Opinion June 24, 2011

Jeremy Ben-Ami is the president and founder of J Street

Unfortunately, the focus on loyalty and on the right to criticize and dissent has created an atmosphere of fear, and this in turn has made too many of our community leaders reluctant to place these critical issues squarely before the communities they lead.

Two groups leave U.S. to Israel: One to immigrate, the other to break Gaza blockade

By Natasha Mozgovaya June 21, 2011

Naturally, the U.S. Jews planning to make aliyah to Israel in the next few weeks, and who attended an event at the Israeli Embassy, had their own concerns.

Among them were a dozen or so young people who will join the IDF. Miriam Duffy, 18, from Silver Spring, Maryland, said two of her brothers previously served in the IDF.

Rabbi Joel Tessler, whose daughter is also making aliyah, said he had to write four letters to prove she is Jewish. "Paperwork is required by everyone, including for a Rabbi's daughter," he laughs.

First annual ‘Hilleluyah’ celebrates Jewish renewal

By Mackenzie Green June 21, 2011

Professionals and students from across Israel, and around the world, gathered in Tel Aviv on Monday night for the first annual “Hilleluyah,” to celebrate the work of Hillel Israel, the Israeli division of the world’s largest Jewish campus organization.

Hillel Milo was presented with the first-ever Hillel Israel award for his contributions to the Jewish-Israeli community – most notably for the 1977 establishment of Kolot, a pluralist beit midrash for Jewish studies, and Zehut Le’Chaim, in 2003.

Talking seriously about aliya

Cross-posted at

By Haviv Rettig Gur Opinion June 26, 2011

The writer is director of communications for the Jewish Agency and the former Jewish World correspondent for The Jerusalem Post.

At the Jewish Agency, we are not seeking the bureaucratic efficiencies that will bring another 200 olim.

We are seeking a transformation of Jewish life, an engine that can reverse the trend of young American Jewish “distancing” from Israel and Jewish life, and transform aliya from a marginal phenomenon to a central pillar of the western Jewish experience.

Aliya is a fig tree, not Coca-Cola

By David Breakstone Opinion June 24, 2011

The writer is deputy chairman of the World Zionist Organization and a member of the Jewish Agency Executive.

...the Jewish Agency has changed both its focus and its modus operandi. We are investing more in developing a spiral of Israel experiences that will encourage participants to make repeat visits of ever-increasing length.

We are devising innovative programs for those in between visits to nurture the seeds of devotion that germinate in each. We are creating frameworks for social activism involving Jews from abroad and their idealistic counterparts here so that together they might change the world and shape the Jewish state in a manner that gives expression to their values and vision.

In short, we are educating, not selling, with the expectation that the array of experiences we are offering will lead people to make Israel their home on their own.

The collapse of Zionist leadership

By Isi Leibler Opinion June 23, 2011

Today, we desperately need a global Jewish pro-Israel caucus which could emerge from a reformed JAFI.

...The principal objective of a reformed JAFI must be the reconstruction of an unashamedly pro-Israel Jewish leadership in Diaspora communities, including within the American federations, Hillel and rabbinical bodies.

It should endeavor to ensure that only those willing to publicly support the right of Israel to defend itself will be elected to communal leadership roles.

A Zionist despite himself

By Alexander Yakobson Opinion June 26, 2011

It is good to know that even those who have a strong urge to taunt Zionism, understand from time to time that if they wish to remain here, they need a Zionist state so they will have somewhere to live and something to provoke.

Jewish Agency’s stalwart spokesman Jankelowitz retiring after 33 years

By Raphael Ahren June 24, 2011

Michael Jankelowitz, one of the Jewish Agency's "best spokesmen ever," according to chairman Natan Sharansky, is leaving the organization, after 33 years working there in different positions, most recently as spokesman to the foreign press.

Birthright Israel is pro-fun and profound

By Gil Troy Opinion June 19, 2011

I am repeatedly amazed at how effective Birthright is at stirring up thoughts, feelings, conversations, for so many participants – although it remains a first step. Here, Schaefer is absolutely right.

We must work harder on pre-and post-programming, so Birthright is not a vacation from real life but an effective Jewish jumpstart.

10 days, 10 months

By Brian Schaefer Opinion June 16, 2011

To see Israel as it is can be disillusioning. The struggle is to keep looking.

Which is exactly what Birthright seems to be afraid of. Programs such as this, rather than widening the eyes of their participants, put on blinders and send them back home knowing Israel through Goldstar and humous.

The Israel that students see on Birthright is still the Israel of the past – but with much better shopping. They are carefully, and unfortunately, kept out of the Israel of today.

Drawing the line

By Dafna Maor June 24, 2011

James Tisch, the new chairman of the board of governors of the Jewish Agency, and one of the wealthiest and most influential businessmen in the United States.

The Tisch family is profoundly involved in philanthropic activity - in education, Jewish causes, medicine and other areas … In Israel, too, the family funded the construction of the new Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem in 1993, and it is named for them.

...The proceeds from the gala event in Tisch's honor next week will be donated to Jewish Agency programs for children at risk in Israel. Those invitees include businessmen and representatives of Israeli business firms who have agreed to donate $5,000 to $25,000 to the project.

Much-hyped ‘Deri Law' unlikely to be revived

By Lahav Harkov June 24, 2011

Although most Knesset members would be likely to back the bill, there is little chance it will pass, due to a clause in the current coalition agreement allowing any faction in the coalition to veto a change to a Basic Law. The Deri Law would require amendments to both Basic Law: The Knesset and Basic Law: The Government.

“There isn’t much we can do other than bring it to a vote and put pressure” on the parties in the coalition, Levine said. “There is no justification for a veto. It’s unclear to me how anyone can defend such a stance.”

How to thwart Deri Editorial June 26, 2011

Deri should not be barred artificially from his favorite pastime of pulling strings behind the scenes.

For all we know, his fickle followers may have altered their predilections. They deserve the benefit of our doubt.

It is time for the voters, again, to judge Aryeh Deri.

We would like to believe they will make the only moral choice.

MKs pushing bill to keep Deri out of politics

By Tzvika Brot June 23, 2011

MKs Tzipi Hotovely and Yariv Levin (Likud), Marina Solodkin (Kadima) and Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) have banded together in a bill saying that any man convicted of an offence carrying moral turpitude and who served one year or more in jail – as Deri has – would be banned from national politics for life.

Aryeh Deri, the comeback kid ~ Afraid of Ovadia, threat to Yishai

By Yair Ettinger June 23, 2011

Deri, and not Yishai, had an opportunity to mingle with international guests, public figures and intellectuals, senior representatives of the world Jewry, while Yishai was criticized at the [Israeli Presidential] Conference by Jewish leaders from around the world for pushing to restore the inclusion of nationality on identity cards.

Former Shas leader Aryeh Deri announces intent to return to politics June 22, 2011

"In Israel, it is not possible to contribute without political power, so I decided to create a new movement," Deri said without elaborating what kind of movement he intended to create.

Former Shas leader Aryeh Deri making a comeback

By Elior Levy June 22, 2011

...the former minister said he felt politics was his calling.

"I'm not coming from a place of vengeance or ambition," Deri said. "In every poll out there I get seven or eight Knesset seats, despite jail and all the other things that happened to me."

Former Shas leader Aryeh Deri announces his return to politics in next election

By Gil Hoffman June 22, 2011

Shas officials also said Deri should stop speaking to Yosef via the press.

A Shas official compared Deri to a man who kept praying to win the lottery at the Western Wall until a heavenly voice sounded, “Nudnik, buy a ticket already.”

Interview: Shas MK Rabbi Chaim Amsalem

By Charley J. Levine April 2011

Q. You shook up the Shas Party when you called on those who are not destined to be great Torah scholars, and who have families to support, to work and not live on ‘shameful’ government allotments.

Why has your message inspired an outpouring of grass-roots support?

A. It hurts me to see 10,000 people who embrace…a lifestyle based on the good intention to learn Torah [but who] at the end of the day will not reach such a high place in Torah learning and they will live in poverty.
They think they do a great thing...but…the reality is that perhaps they are not doing a great thing.

Religion and State in Israel

June 27, 2011 (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 - June 27, 2011 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

June 27, 2011 (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.

IDF Chief of Staff Gantz puts Yizkor debate into general's hands

By Amos Harel June 24, 2011

Haaretz cartoon by Amos Biderman - June 26, 2011

At the cabinet meeting on Sunday, the ministers discussed the cottage cheese issue, until PM Netanyahu said "Look at how many problems there were in the media market, and Minister *Kahlon solved them all. All of you should be Kahlons, too - find solutions!"

[*Minister of Communications/Minister of Welfare and Social Services Moshe Kahlon (Likud)]

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz yesterday appointed Maj. Gen. (res. ) Yishai Be'er head of a team charged with examining the Yizkor prayer said at military memorial ceremonies for Israel's fallen soldiers.

Be'er retired from the IDF more than a year ago. A law professor, he graduated from the Jerusalem high school yeshiva Netiv Meir and is dean of the law faculty at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

Chief of Staff appoints team to decide on wording of commemoration prayer

By Amos Harel June 22, 2011

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz announced last night that he was setting up a team that would reexamine the wording for the yizkor prayer for the fallen in Israel's wars.

...Due to the sensitivity of the issue and the tensions between religious and secular, there is uncertainty at the army whether the IDF should intervene directly in the debate.

Elazar Stern: As a religious IDF officer, which version of Yizkor do you prefer?

By Anshel Pfeffer June 21, 2011

Interview with Maj. Gen. (res.) Elazar Stern

Every time religiosity comes from a place of force, we get burned in the end. I certainly wouldn't fight over this.

Take Tisha B'Av for example. The memorial day for the destruction of the Temple has a religious protocol only, and in practice it doesn't interest secular people. There's a danger that this can happen with us too, perhaps not today, but please God, in the future when there is peace. We know how the Americans treat their Memorial Day. There it's basically a day for shopping.

We want to mobilize the entire nation in the effort to remember the IDF's fallen soldiers and not leave it in the small domain of the religious.

They won't join the army

By Sefi Rachlevsky Opinion June 21, 2011

"May God remember his sons and daughters" is a hair-raising messianic formula. Making it the obligatory wording of the official Yizkor memorial prayer is a true revolution, one that alters the IDF's very essence: It has now become the Israel Divine Offense Forces.

A Yizkor for whom?

By Udi Lebel Opinion June 21, 2011

The writer teaches political science at the Ariel University Center of Samaria.

Unfortunately, in an era when most of the fighters come from another place in society - from a close connection to Jewish tradition, from settlements and yeshivas - the version of Yizkor has been adapted, unpleasant as it is to say, to those for whom the prayer might be said.

Thousands tell IDF to return to original memorial prayer

By Jonah Mandel June 21, 2011

The argument over the wording of the IDF’s memorial prayer has gone up a notch, with over 40,000 people signing an online petition by Monday night calling on Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz to revert to the original version that gives no mention to God.

Click here for Petition (Hebrew) יזכור עם ישראל

Conflict irresolution

By Michael Handelzalts June 24, 2011

It was to be expected that, over the years, mirroring developments in the daily life of the Jewish state and its army, the powers-that-be would introduce more religious content in texts intended to be stately and ceremonial, even if they're secular. This was inherent in the nature of the "Jewish and democratic state" and its language, Hebrew.

C'tee head: Plan to cut IDF service must be implemented/ yeshiva students and religious girls

By Amos Harel June 22, 2011

Ben Bassat would also cancel special programs such as those for yeshiva students, and avoid using soldiers for civilian duties.

...Ben-Bassat says that five years ago only 58 percent of men completed their three-year mandatory service. This percentage has since decreased due to men's exemptions for religious reasons.

Jerusalem mayor's choice of woman deputy could mean clash with Orthodox/Haredi coalition

By Nir Hasson June 22, 2011

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is facing a crisis with his Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) coalition partners because he wants to appoint a female deputy mayor from the secular camp.

At the heart of the storm is Rachel Azaria, a representative of the Wake Up Jerusalem movement, which comprises both secular and religious activists.

To make the situation even more absurd, she herself is a religious, Sabbath-observant Jew. But sources in the municipality said this fact has actually exacerbated Haredi anger.

'Haredi draft OK, if seculars study Torah'

By Tani Goldstein June 21, 2011

Knesset Member Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said Sunday that he is in favor of drafting haredim into the Israel Defense Forces, as long as each student leaving his yeshiva will be replaced by a young secular studying Torah from morning to night.

According to Gafni, the State must recognize haredi education as education for all intents and purposes, and force employers to hire people based on their Torah education.

Naama Shafir Wins the Modesty Battle

By Ashley Baylen June 20, 2011

Shafir believed that her future in professional basketball might be impossible, as she refused to compromise her religious beliefs under any circumstances.

Luckily, FIBA has now permitted Shafir to play if her uniform had “skin-toned elastic sleeves.”

At Tournament, Naama Shafir Wears Observance on Her Sleeves

By Allison Kaplan Sommer June 20, 2011

In her career as a U.S. college player, it hasn’t bothered officials that Shafir wears a T-shirt underneath her sleeveless jersey, covering her shoulders in order to maintain her personal level of modesty.

But playing as a member of the Israeli national team, she was told that international basketball regulations require uniforms to be uniform.

Israeli bus company advocates segregated seats despite court ruling

By Yair Ettinger June 21, 2011

The Egged bus company has allegedly violated a Supreme Court ruling which forbids segregation on public transportation buses on the basis of gender.

In an announcement with the company logo, published in early June in a local Haredi magazine, the arrangements for gender segregation on Egged buses in the city were detailed.

For its part, Egged says that the company logo used in the announcement was copied illegally and that the content of the ad does not reflect its policy.

Where nothing is sacred

By Yair Ettinger June 21, 2011

From attacks with metal clubs to setting fire to a home, another red line has been crossed in the war between rival ultra-Orthodox groups in Jerusalem's Warsaw Homes (Batei Warsaw ) neighborhood.

Eida Haredit zealots hired a lawyer and are preparing to appeal this month to the Israeli courts, which they do not officially recognize, in an attempt to overcome their rivals, members of the community of Gur Hasidim.

Rabbis from the Eida Haredit permitted representatives of the residents to seek the assistance of the Zionist state in an indication of just how desperate this violent battle has become - a battle in which nothing is sacred anymore.

Birth rates sag among religious Jews and Muslims, new official study finds

By Yair Ettinger June 23, 2011

The number of births among ultra-Orthodox women has dropped by 15 percent - from a 7.6 average per woman to 6.5 in the past decade...

The plunge may be associated with the drastic slash in child allowances in 2003. But economic and ideological changes in the ultra-Orthodox world could also have affected the birth rate.

For example, the ultra-Orthodox community has grown considerably and members are now more likely to join the labor force. In addition, growing numbers of women are working, which could lead to lower birth rates.

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv recovering from operation

By Yair Ettinger June 21, 2011

Lithuanian-Orthodox religious leader Yosef Shalom Elyashiv is expected to be released from the hospital this week after undergoing catheterization in a major artery at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center on Sunday night. The medical team.

While thousands pray in Israel, Cleveland Clinic doctor operates on influential rabbi

By Teresa Chin, The Plain Dealer June 22, 2011

Cleveland Clinic surgeon Dr. Daniel Clair, chairman of the Clinic's Department of Vascular Surgery, flew nearly 6,000 miles to operate on the rabbi, who is the highest profile leader of the Lithuanian stream of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism.

Yeshivas getting a good deal on cottage cheese

By Adi Dovrat-Meseritz and Nati Tucker June 24, 2011

Tnuva has offered a number of large institutions, mostly in the ultra-Orthodox world, a really good deal on cottage cheese - as long as they buy large quantities.

It seems that the recent consumer boycott aimed against the high price of cottage cheese has left Tnuva stuck with an oversupply of the white cheese.

Police keep J'lem street open despite Haredi protest

By John Backtane June 27, 2011

Haredi riots aimed at preventing civilian traffic on Rehov Hanevi’im reached a new height on Saturday afternoon, when over a hundred men of various sects tried to scare secular residents into steering clear of the Jerusalem thoroughfare, shouting “Shabbes,” pelting cars with stones and spitting on passersby.

Chief Rabbi Metzger says kaddish for Pollard's father

By Jonah Mandel June 21, 2011

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger will be saying kaddish for Jonathan Pollard's father, a religious duty the imprisoned agent cannot fulfill since that prayer needs a quorum of Jewish men, the rabbi announced on Tuesday.

See also Metzger says kaddish for Pollard

Here comes another Lost Tribe

By Michael Freund June 22, 2011

The writer serves as chairman of Shavei Israel

The resolution will permit all the remaining Bnei Menashe in India to make aliya, and will finally bring an end to their years of waiting and uncertainty.

Both the foreign minister and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver said they were behind the measure.

This means we are just one month away from an historic turning point, one that will restore 7,232 precious souls to the Jewish people.

Gospel choir in tow, a soul sister carries Reb Shlomo's tunes home

By Raphael Ahren June 24, 2011

Fans of famed composer and singer Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach may wonder why his daughter Neshama is touring Israel backed up by a Baptist choir, but the singer says she is in a way following in her father's footsteps.

Holy hip-hop!

By David Brinn June 20, 2011

Don’t be surprised if the next Matisyahu album has a decidedly Israeli bent to it.

The American hassidic reggae rocker recently spent time here recording songs with such eclectic collaborators as the klezmer meets-techno stew of Balkan Beat Box, the African Jewish roots music of Yemen Blues and street hip hop of Shyne, the infamous US rapper who’s relocated to Israel.

Cultural Exchange: Shyne goes from New York to jail to a new life in Israel

By Batsheva Sobelman June 26, 2011

This past year he's become a regular if somewhat unusual sight in Jerusalem's synagogues and predominantly white Hassidic study halls, mixing striped religious robes, side locks and a black hat with Ray Ban shades, flashy watches and activist T-shirts.

Dating website eyes formerly religious

By Itamar Merilos June 25, 2011

A new dating website targeting the formerly religious and "religious-light" sectors has recently been launched.

The currently available religious dating websites are not sufficient, Micha declares.

…Most of the dating websites do not offer the possibility of describing oneself as formerly religious or religious-light and this prevents such people from meeting suitable partners."

Politics get mixed up with archaeology in dispute over Solomon's Silwan wall

By Nir Hasson June 24, 2011

An archaeological site dedicated in Jerusalem this week consists of a section of an ancient wall built by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C.E., says the archaeologist who dug up the wall. Other archaeologists, however, disagree with the date and implications and object to what they call the political use of archaeology.

Ophel City Wall site inaugurated June 24, 2011

The Ophel City Wall site – a complex of buildings uncovered along the route of the fortifications from the First Temple period (tenth-sixth centuries BCE), and the display of the earliest written document ever uncovered in Jerusalem – was inaugurated in a festive ceremony Tuesday.

Black Hebrews celebrate Shavuot festival in Dimona

Reuters June 20, 2011

Members of the African Hebrew Israelite community, popularly known as "the Black Hebrews" celebrated the Shavuot Harvest on Sunday in the sleepy southern town of Dimona.

Milking shoppers: Kashrut rules turn moo juice into white gold June 22, 2011

Industry sources say that traditionally the cost of production is higher at an Israeli dairy than at dairies elsewhere in the world. They blame Israeli kashrut, which raises the cost of the technological systems and means that the Israeli dairy operates only five and a half days a week.


By Rebecca Steinfeld June 20, 2011

Rebecca Steinfeld is a doctoral candidate in politics at Oxford, where she is writing her dissertation, War of the Wombs: The History and Politics of Fertility Policies in Israel, 1948-2010.

...there has been significant pressure on Israeli Jewish women to increase their fertility to ensure a Jewish majority through internal population growth, to render their wombs a national womb, or rechem leumi.

...Overall though, cultural and religious values have combined with political and demographic concerns to create an atmosphere in which having children is considered not only a basic individual right, but also a national duty.

War of the Wombs: The History and Politics of Fertility Policies in Israel

Click here for PODCAST

'Torn' between two worlds

By Hannah Brown June 22, 2011

Can a priest be Jewish? That’s one of the many questions raised by the new documentary, Torn, which will be screened tonight at the Jerusalem Cinematheque at 7:30.

The film, which was directed by Ronit Kertsner, tells the compelling and moving story of Jakub Weksler, a Polish-Catholic priest who has moved to Israel and wants to make aliya.

Click here for embedded VIDEO

Jewish graves vandalized at Mount of Olives June 22, 2011

More than a dozen graves at the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem were vandalized, the latest in a series of attacks on one of Judaism's oldest cemeteries.

On June 14, some 14 graves were damaged by Arab youths wielding sledgehammers, according to private security guards stationed at the iconic cemetery located in eastern Jerusalem. At least five of the damaged gravesites are those of Americans buried in the cemetery, according to Rabbi Moshe Bezalel Buzokovsky of the Chevra Kadisha.

Underground Crusader city revealed beneath streets of Acre

AP June 22, 2011

Off the track beaten by most Holy Land tourists lies one of the richest archaeological sites in a country full of them: the walled port of Acre, where the busy alleys of an Ottoman-era town cover a uniquely intact Crusader city now being rediscovered.

High Court rules Be'er Sheva mosque to be used as Islamic museum

By Jack Khoury June 23, 2011

The High Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that a large mosque in Be'er Sheva would be used for an Islamic museum, rejecting the city's request that it be turned into a general museum.

Religion and State in Israel

June 27, 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.