Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - December 5, 2011 (Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 6, 2011

The High Court of Justice made clear Monday it would not accede to the petition filed by numerous progressive and pluralist groups asking for an injunction against the government to institute a framework for civil marriage in Israel.

The petition was submitted by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the Masorti Movement, Hiddush and several other groups.

In responding to the petition, the court made clear it was not the appropriate venue for the issue, deferring instead to the Knesset.
“We recognize the problem and we are also sympathetic to it,” said Court President Dorit Beinisch, who was presiding along with Justices Edna Arbel and Yitzhak Amit.
“But the question is, what can be done [by the court] to help here?” Beinisch insisted that only legislative action could deal with the issue, not judicial involvement.

By Joanna Paraszczuk www.jpost.com December 5, 2011

A group of nine civil rights groups, led by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and including the Masorti (Conservative) Movement, Kolech Religious Women's Forum, Hiddush and the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, asked the court to order the state to explain why it has not established civil marriage for couples for whom at least one partner is either of no religion, is not recognized as Jewish by the Rabbinate or for couples of different faiths.

By Harriet Sherwood www.guardian.co.uk December 2, 2011

Jewish women in the Britain and the US are being urged to send photographs of themselves holding signs saying "women should be seen and heard" in a campaign against efforts by the ultra-orthodox to remove female images from advertising billboards in Jerusalem.

Shira Ben-Sasson Furstenberg of the NIF, who describes herself as liberal orthodox, said: "We're experiencing a snowball effect. And we can't say that the only people being affected are Haredi, because it's not only Haredi women – and even the Haredi women don't want it."

By Ruth Marcus www.washingtonpost.com December 1, 2011
“In the past two years or five years, it’s just deteriorating,” said Shira Ben-Sasson Furstenberg of the liberal New Israel Fund, which has launched a campaign to combat the “erasure” of women from public advertising. “The Haredi are having more and more say about how our lives are in Israel.”

By Barak Ravid www.haaretz.com December 5, 2011

Clinton related that she had read a day before in The Washington Post an article by Ruth Marcus, called "In Israel, Women's Rights Come Under Siege," which detailed examples of the exclusion or boycotting of women, including incidents where IDF religious soldiers have boycotted events in which women sang, and the segregation of women on some bus routes, in contravention of Supreme Court decisions. 

By Amos Harel www.haaretz.com December 1, 2011

A Knesset committee will convene in the next few weeks to deal with the IDF's failure to implement a report calling for full equality between men and women in the military.

By Elana Sztokman Opinion http://blogs.forward.com December 5, 2011

The troubling phenomenon of excluding women from cemeteries in Israel appears to be getting worse.

...The cemetery has thus evolved into yet another front in the rabbinic crusade to create a female-free world. This is rabbis vs. women. The shock of carrying out this war with mourners indicates how obsessive certain religious men are about the issue.

They are saying that the erasure of women from public spaces is more important than all else — more important than compassion, than human dignity, than basic human decency.

By Talila Nesher www.haaretz.com December 5, 2011

Gender segregation is in effect at 65 percent of the state-run religious elementary schools in Israel, according to data obtained by Haaretz from the Education Ministry's elementary school supervision department.

According to the former head of the Religious Education Administration, Dr. Mati Dagan, the situation just a decade ago was entirely different, with fewer than 25 percent...

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 1, 2011

The office of Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar expressed its concern Wednesday with the impression given by a bill proposed by MK Uri Orbach last week.

The bill seeks to amend a law pertaining to marriage, which would legally prevent rabbis from taking money for performing weddings, except for travel expenses.

Orbach proposed the law against the background of the recent dispute between the religious- Zionist organization Tzohar and the Religious Services Ministry earlier this month.

By Elli Fischer www.jewishideasdaily.com November 28, 2011
Elli Fischer, who lives in Israel, is a writer and translator and blogs at adderabbi.blogspot.com. He has rabbinical ordination from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

For many Israelis, Tzohar is the spoonful of sugar that makes the bitter pill of dealing with the official rabbinate palatable. 

However, it seems clear that increasing numbers of them—including Orthodox Israelis—would prefer never to have to deal with it in the first place, even with Tzohar as a buffer: They would prefer, that is, to have the oppressive and despised rabbinate be removed altogether, whether because they do not share its values or its interpretations of Jewish law, or because they feel that moderns states should stay out of ecclesiastical business.

Haaretz Editorial www.haaretz.com December 1, 2011

The decision by the Israel Defense Forces senior command to freeze implementation of the Segev Report, which recommended establishing full equality among men and women in the army (as reported by Amos Harel in Haaretz on Wednesday), is another aggravating example of the IDF's continuing capitulation to the demands of religious extremist rabbis and officers.

By Amos Harel www.haaretz.com November 30, 2011

The Israel Defense Forces has effectively frozen implementation of a report that called for full equality of service between men and women.

...The IDF Rabbinate's representative on the committee, Lt. Col. Eyal Krim, refused to sign off on some of the recommendations, particularly those relating to putting women on the front lines.

Stern later appointed another panel to review this issue, and it upheld the Segev Committee's conclusions.
In practice, however, the religious establishment's opposition has prevented the report's implementation.

By Yossi Yehoshua www.ynetnews.com December 3, 2011

Ministers, Knesset members and Israel's chief rabbis were already invited to the inauguration of the first military mikveh (ritual bath), but a day before the planned ceremony, the Israel Defense Forces decided to call off the festive event at its southern Ovda base.

Army officials insisted that the decision to call off the ceremony had nothing to do with the current public dispute over the involvement of religion in military service (for instance, religious soldiers' refusal to listen to women sing).

David Hager, who arrived from the US to take part in the ceremony, told his associates he had no intention of getting into a dispute with the defense establishment and promised to donate money for the construction of a mikveh in another remote base.

By Yossi Yehoshua www.ynetnews.com November 30, 2011

The Israel Defense Forces will inaugurate the first military mikveh in history on Thursday, at the southern Air Force base in Ovda.

The ceremony will be attended by the donor who transferred some $100,000 for the ritual bath's construction, as well as senior Military Rabbinate and base officers.

According to the officials, religious women living in other bases visit ritual baths in nearby cities and communities, but the Ovda base is isolated and far from any other community with a mikveh.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 5, 2011

The Association of Hesder Yeshivot said on Sunday that many of its member organizations are in dire financial straits because 2011 funds the Defense Ministry allocated to it have still not been transferred.
Hesder yeshivot are Jewish seminaries whose students combine their religious studies with army service, usually over a period of five years.

According to the association, the money supplied by the Defense Ministry usually makes up approximately 30 percent of its overall budget.

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com December 2, 2011

Based in Jerusalem, the six-year-old [Shorashim center] serves as an international investigation agency, which, by doing intensive research and establishing a wide network of contacts, has helped hundreds of young people from the former Soviet Union prove their Jewishness to the satisfaction of the rabbinic courts, enabling them to get married without having to go through a conversion or marry abroad.

…Rabbi Shimon Har-Shalom estimates [of the 750,000 FSU immigrants listed as Jews] between 150,000 and 200,000 will be forced to prove their Jewishness at some point, while some 20,000 of those with "no religion" are actually Jewish and would be able to prove it.

By Lee Chottiner http://thejewishchronicle.net November 29, 2011

Resa Davids described how her granddaughter’s planned bat mitzva by the Dead Sea had to be moved because not a single hotel in the area would permit a woman to read from the Torah on their grounds.

“The threat was if they allowed this child to read Torah, they would lose their hashgacha (kosher certification),” she said. 

Asked if she equated that to blackmailing the hotel owners, she replied, “exactly.”
Submission to chief rabbinic authority ought to be voluntary, Stanley Davids argued, not imposed upon the entire country.

By David Sheen www.haaretz.com December 2, 2011

The Masorti Movement in Israel is scheduled to celebrate the completed construction of its new Jerusalem campus with a gala reception on Monday.

The new $8.5 million building, which includes a synagogue, study hall and library, was built on land purchased by the Conservative Jewry's Theological Seminary of America in the mid-1950s.

By Gil Shefler www.jpost.com December 2, 2011

A donation by Jewish-American billionaire Sheldon Adelson will allow 2,000 people to tour Israel this winter on trips organized by Taglit-Birthright, the group announced on Wednesday.

The $5 million gift doubled Adelson’s annual contribution to the program – which offers young adults in the diaspora a free trip to Israel – to $10 million in total for 2011.

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
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