Monday, July 11, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - July 11, 2011 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

July 11, 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.

All rights reserved.

All sides get it wrong in Israel's religious wars

By Rabbi Eric Yoffie Opinion July 5, 2011

The writer is President, Union for Reform Judaism

These incidents are indicative of the deep mistrust and even hatred that exist between religious and secular elements of Israeli society. Such attitudes are to be found nowhere else in the Jewish world, and that is not surprising.

The reason for this hostility is that Israel has a coercive, monopolistic religious establishment—and in every case in human history, without a single exception, such establishments undermine rather than advance religious life.

The time has come to dismantle Israel’s religious establishment, and by so doing to diminish hatred, increase understanding, and strengthen Torah in the Jewish state.

Rabbi Hartman's heartfelt answer to the heartless rabbis

By Gil Troy Opinion July 5, 2011

I would prefer to see Israelis debating Rabbi Hartman’s grand ideas than those of the hateful little rabbis. I would prefer to see Israel, Zionism, and Judaism judged by Hartman’s pluralism and openness than by the provincial Yeshiva hooligans swarming the Supreme Court.

While I am sure his publisher and the Shalom Hartman Institute he founded – where I have a research fellowship – have a publicity plan, maybe someone knows an overzealous police captain who wants to ban the book, and help it sell?

Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira's new book: Employing Arabs bad for Israel

By Jonah Mandel and staff July 4, 2011

Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira who wrote the controversial Torat Hamelech said a new book he is planning to release will claim, based on Halacha, that employment of Arabs is dangerous to Israel, Army Radio reported Monday.

Ashkenazi-Haredi girls school improves on discrimination

By Jonah Mandel July 8, 2011

Nearly two months after a scathing State- Comptroller’s report on the topic, principals of the secondary Ashkenazi-haredi schools for girls and the Beit Yaakov network sent a letter to the Education Ministry detailing the ways they were preventing racial discrimination in accepting candidates to their institutions.

...In very apropos timing, a pamphlet was distributed on Wednesday calling on the haredi public to donate to the private school that was founded last year, after the court agreed that Emmanuel might have a school for the hassidic track which didn’t easily accept Sephardi girls and was the casus belli for the court petition – but it would receive no public funding.

New Jewish group wants to restore polygamy

By Jonah Mandel July 11, 2011

A new organization is trying to reinstate polygamy into mainstream Orthodox Judaism, despite it being against the contemporary norm of Jewish law, and prohibited by the state.

The idea is the brainchild of Habayit Hayehudi Hashalem (The Complete Jewish Household).

The man behind the ad, Rabbi Yehezkel Sopher, saw no legal problem in his initiative.

“This is not about secular people who abide by the rules of the state, rather religious people. Whoever wants to take another wife – the Torah does not object to it,” Sopher told The Jerusalem Post. “We work according to the Shulhan Aruch, there are rules here.”

Secular activists: Police ignoring Haredi attacks on Jerusalem Sabbath traffic

By Nir Hasson and Yair Ettinger July 10, 2011

Police are turning a blind eye to ultra-orthodox efforts to block traffic on a central Jerusalem street every Saturday, with hundreds of religious men often resorting to violence in a bid to prevent cars from desecrating Shabbat, secular activists reported on Sunday.

The ultra-orthodox activists have attempted to close off the street using dumpsters, and have been known to attack private cars trying to drive down the usually bustling road.

Reporters change an insular Jewish world

By Matti Friedman AP July 6, 2011

In the insular world of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, the fact that the news is being reported is itself important news.

...The ultra-Orthodox are experiencing an unprecedented proliferation of Internet sites, radio stations, call-in news lines and newspapers increasingly independent of rabbinic control and willing to touch topics that might seem entirely mundane to an outsider but which, in the confines of this religious community, have long been taboo.

Keeping Young Women Hidden — at the Expense of Their Bodies

By Elana Maryles Sztokman Opinion July 7, 2011

Despite my earlier post, it now appears that Rabbi Yizhak Silberstein did support the idea that a girl whose mother refused to buy her “religious clothes” should cut her legs in order to force the mother’s hand.

An apparent recording of the rabbi’s discussion of this topic surfaced on the Internet today, in which he says that girl deserves the “highest praise” for sanctifying God’s name with her absolute dedication to Torah.

Did a Rabbi Permit Self-Mutilation To Promote 'Modesty'?

By Elana Maryles Sztokman Opinion July 5, 2011

[see follow-up post]

If the story is true — and it admittedly sounds like the kind of story you can’t make up — then this is a shame.

I would have liked to use this column as an opportunity to talk about body image among Orthodox women and girls, about how the issue of self-mutilation needs to be addressed and about how far Orthodox culture is from understanding the impact of body control on girls’ inner lives. But instead, this story has made me wonder about the knee-jerk hatred of religion in the media.

Chief Rabbinate ‘against’ shackle-and-hoist method

By Jonah Mandel July 8, 2011

The Chief Rabbinate says it’s doing its upmost to bring an end to the shackle-and-hoist method applied to cattle slaughtered in South American abattoirs for meat exported to Israel.

Last year, media reports quoted Avi Blumenthal, a top aide to Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger, as setting the end of 2011 as a deadline for the slaughterhouses to stop attaching chains to the legs of fully conscious cattle in order to hoist them into position for ritual slaughter.

A Vote Against the Chief Rabbinate July 6, 2011

The Knesset has rejected the Law amendment proposal of MK Ya’acov Katz (Ketzaleh) that was meant to empower only the chief rabbinate to administer Kashrut certificates.

Up to now, the High Court could compel a rabbi to certify as kosher even an establishment run by a Jew who converted to another religion. Despite the personal request of the chief rabbis, the proposal was rejected 36-4.

Secret deal between religious parties could fill empty seats on rabbinical court

By Yair Ettinger July 7, 2011

The Rabbinical Court Judges Appointment Committee is scheduled to meet today to select four new judges for the Rabbinical High Court. The panel, chaired by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, is to make its choice based on an agreement among the religious political parties.

...The candidate considered most likely to be named to the Ashkenazi Haredi slot is Rabbi Nahum Prawer, although women's groups have fought the choice.

...Their opposition is based mainly on Prawer's use of an ancient ruling that allowing men to set economic terms before granting their wives a divorce.

CNN VIDEO: Cell phones go ‘kosher’

Click here for embedded video

How many children is enough?

By Tamar Rotem July 8, 2011

A study conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics on fertility among Jewish and Muslim women, covering the years 1979-2009, noted interesting trends in Haredi society - among them, a drop from an average 7.6 births per woman some six to seven years ago to 6.5 births three years ago. It also showed that the peak age in terms of fertility is 30.

Sociologist Tamar Elor:
“...The power of poverty has hit the Haredi community hard. In the present generation it is difficult to justify being poor in the name of religious piety."

Western Wall rabbi targeted with threats & harassment

By Ari Galahar July 6, 2011

Who is trying to hurt Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch? The Western Wall rabbi received a personal bodyguard several weeks ago after getting telephone threats and being harassed on a regular basis for the past few months.

In the past month, unknown assailants threw stones at the rabbi's car. Luckily, he wasn't hurt. In a separate incident, the car's tires were slashed.

The Sunday imperative Editorial July 7, 2011

Transforming Sunday into a second day off would also alleviate religious tensions. Shabbat is now the only full day that Israelis do not work.

For the more traditional-minded who adhere to the strictures of Jewish law, there is no day that can be set aside for leisurely activities – such as traveling, shopping, going to sports events – that are enjoyable but which would entail the desecration of Shabbat.

...Turning Sunday into a second day off would make it easier to invest Shabbat with the meaning envisioned by the Torah, the prophets and Jewish tradition, so befitting a Jewish state.

Netanyahu to decide fate of 5-day work week in Fall

By Gil Hoffman July 4, 2011

Finance Minister Steinitz said it was more right for Israelis to have Fridays off, because of the Jewish identity of Israel and the Muslim sabbath. His associates said he would also consider having the work week end a couple hours earlier on Thursdays.

When Steinitz asked Shalom sarcastically why he didn't promote a shorter work week when he was finance minister, Shalom said the government was toppled before he could.

Shalom's associates said Steinitz did not understand the proposal properly. Coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin, who has proposed giving Sundays off in a private member's bill, said giving off Fridays would not solve the problem of religious consumers being left out of the weekend marketplace at a time when the Sabbath-observing population is growing.

A two-day weekend in Israel?

The writer is a former Jerusalem Post editorial page editor, and is now contributing editor to Jewish Ideas Daily, where this article was first published.

By Elliot Jager Opinion July 11, 2011

While some in the national religious sector have long favored the Sunday option, others are more wary.

They like the idea of having a day off to do some of the same things their secular friends do, but worry that they will not have enough time, after working a shortened Friday, to prepare for Shabbat or travel to distant family before sundown. Others are dubious that having Sundays off will actually reduce desecration of the Sabbath.

And the more insular ultra-Orthodox are vehemently opposed to Sundays on the grounds that it is a Christian rest day.

Do computers confirm - or deny - the Torah’s divinity?

By David Shamah July 4, 2011

Together with several other professors, Koppel’s system analyzes word use in a document to determine information about an “unknown author,” figuring out his/her gender, demographics, personality, cultural background, etc.

The texts are analyzed by a computer using specially designed algorithms, which the team says has a very high level of accuracy.

In a landmark paper on the subject, Koppel, along with fellow researchers Shlomo Argamon, Jonathan Schler and James W. Pennebaker, wrote that “authorship profiling can help police identify characteristics of the perpetrator of a crime when there are too few (or too many) specific suspects to consider,” or help corporate officials analyze blogs and postings on websites to sharpen their message.

Turning Joseph into a Jewish fanatic

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion July 8, 2011

Of course, no serious archaeologist or historian believes the sheikh's grave in Nablus is really the final resting place of one of the most fascinating characters of the bible. But when did serious academic research ever count for anything in these matters?

For various mystical reasons, Joseph, son of Jacob, has come to symbolize for certain factions of Orthodoxy, the epitome of Jewish fanaticism (they see that as a good thing).

...Joseph could have been a unifying figure, a symbol of forgiveness to brothers, a bridge between Jews and the outside world, encompassing tradition and modernity. Instead, we have once again surrendered to the most racist, parochial and violent minority of the Jewish people.

Chief Rabbi Says Religious Must "Settle" Israel's Cities Too

By Gil Ronen July 7, 2011

The Chief Sephardic Rabbi, Rav Shlomo Amar, said Wednesday that in its idealistic rush to settle Judea and Samaria, the religious population had not "settled' Israel’s cities until the Torah Nucleus Groups were created and began to fill the gap.

Drop-outs can repair the rifts

By Miriam Shaviv Opinion July 8, 2011

Hadatlashim - a slang Hebrew acronym that stands for hadati'im leshe'avar, or "the formerly religious" -- by Poriya Gal Gatz, charts the inner lives of Israelis who have abandoned tradition, and examines what they have in common.

...So while I mourn every Jew who abandons religion, it is heartening to see a group that can potentially cross bridges; that has genuine sympathies with, and ties to, both groups. Israel desperately needs to mend its religious rift. With time, this disaster for the Orthodox camp may yet turn out to be a blessing for the nation.

IDF to allow organized visits to Joseph's Tomb once every three weeks

By Chaim Levinson July 8, 2011

The Israel Defense Forces is set to increase the frequency of organized visits to Joseph's Tomb in Nablus to once every three weeks.

The army has been reviewing its procedures since the killing of worshipper Ben-Yosef Livnat near the site by Palestinian police in April. Livnat was taking part in an unorganized visit.

1,300 Jewish worshippers visit Joseph's Tomb to mark death of biblical figure

By Anshel Pfeffer

[A] veteran police officer in the Samara and Judea District who was present at the tomb said he wasn't sure security forces would be able to keep up the pace.

"It is not certain that we can provide all these forces from now on every time people want to go to pray at the tomb," he said.

4 arrested for desecration of 20 tombs on Mt. of Olives

By Melanie Lidman July 8, 2011

Three Arab boys from A-Tur in east Jerusalem neighborhood were arrested on Thursday for allegedly destroying at least 20 tombstones on the Mount of Olives over the past few months.

The damage was done in the cemetery’s American section.

Deri and Shas deserve each other

By Rabbi Haim Amsalem Opinion July 5, 2011

The writer is founder and chairman of the Am Shalem political movement.

My answer to all those interested in the possibility of collaboration between me and Arye Deri is that a partnership between me and the person who bequeathed to Shas the extremist ideology that goes against the joint sharing of the national burden (with all citizens serving in the IDF or performing national/civil service), who is against the integration of Torah and livelihood, and is also against solving the painful problem of conversions in Israel – all out of a paralyzing fear of extremist elements – cannot take place. There is simply no common ground.

'Shabbat phones' for Netanyahu aides

By Itamar Eichner July 8, 2011

A newly-purchased device will enable Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to his religious advisers during Shabbat.

Netanyahu's bureau employs the highest number of religious workers since Israel's establishments and most of his aides are observing Jews.

Glenn Beck and Knesset Member to ascend Temple Mount next week

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu July 6, 2011

Glenn Beck and Knesset Member Danny Danon plan to ascend the Temple Mount next week. Beck also will speak with a Knesset committee that Danon heads.

Will the Temple Mount Excavations Report Go Public? July 6, 2011

The Knesset State Control Committee will decide on whether or not to publicize the confidential details of the state comptroller’s report on the temple mount Muslim WAKF excavations.

Religion and State in Israel

July 11, 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.