Monday, January 3, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - January 3, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

January 3, 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.

We need an answer

By Rabbi Seth Farber January 2, 2011

The writer is director of ITIM (, which maintains a hot line for converts and those seeking conversion.

After more than six years of experience, I believe strongly that the Chief Rabbinate – in its current configuration – has not demonstrated clearly that it is capable of being apolitical. In fact, the consistent postponement of decisions related to certifying conversions already performed highlights the powerlessness of the rabbinate to move this issue forward.

The problem of conversion is an unprecedented national issue, and one that requires an audacious and national solution.

If the rabbinate cannot provide an answer – and all indications are that it cannot – then someone else should. If not for the sake of those who came 20 years ago, then for the sake of those who just arrived.

Ultra-Orthodox may offer 'technical solution' for recognizing IDF conversions

By Jonathan Lis December 29, 2010

According to the Shas official, Netanyahu explained in a night telephone call to Yishai that he believes a technical solution will be found to allow Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who is in charge of conversion matters, to recognize IDF conversions.

Should such an arrangement be found, there will be no need for legislation of a conversion bill and it will not be brought for a first reading.

Shas MK backs IDF conversions

By Yoav Zitun December 29, 2010

Speaking at the Council for Peace and Security conference, MK Amsellem said that all conversions conducted by the army must be endorsed.

"These are not revolving door conversions. We witness these converters every day, and know that some of them joined the family of bereavement. To stay indifferent is to be obtuse," he said.

Crisis looming? Bibi endorses IDF conversion bill

By Roni Sofer December 28, 2010

The Knesset Committee will convene Tuesday in order to advance the bill, amid concern that the move may prompt the haredim to vote against the budget, thereby threatening Netanyahu's coalition.

Shas Minister Eli Yishai: PM promised IDF Conversion Bill would not advance December 28, 2010

Interior Minister Eli Yishai said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday promised him that the IDF Conversion Bill will not move beyond the debate on the measure being held in the Knesset's House Committee, Army Radio reported.

Chabad: "Religious Parties Sanction Fake Conversions"

By Sholom Ber Crombie Opinion December 30, 2010

The current law is meant to recognize the “quickie conversions” of the army rabbinate, without the need for Chief Rabbinate sanction.

We’re talking about a totally insane process, particularly when you consider the fact that in recent years, the IDF has undergone a complete transformation in rabbinical matters.

An Independent I.D.F. Rabbinate Can Also Conduct Conversions

By Rabbi Eliezer Melamed Opinion December 31, 2010

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed is the Dean of Yeshiva Har Bracha

In principle, the idea of allowing conversions in the army is extremely appropriate; however, the problem is the source of authority of the Chief Rabbi of the I.D.F.

The first stipulation of a rabbi’s authority is – he must be independent, his halachic decisions must be made entirely according to their own merits and not swayed by external considerations and pressures.

For the sake of Jewish Israel - Interview: Kadima leader Tzipi Livni

By David Horovitz December 31, 2010

Tzipi Livni:

I’m in the process of thinking, beyond respecting the various streams and recognizing their conversions.
I’m also in touch with Conservatives and Reform in Israel. I don’t yet have a practical platform for how this should be reflected in the constitution on the matter of marriages. Thus far we [in Kadima] have supported the civil marriage bill. It’ll come up for a vote again.
Thus far we have found solutions within the halachic framework. But the more the haredim use their monopoly and impose their worldview on the national, liberal movement, the more this will lead to a revolution.

The Moral Consequences of Ignorance

By Rabbi Donniel Hartman Opinion December 26, 2010

Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman is Shalom Hartman Institute President and the Director of the Engaging Israel Project.

The challenges of a Jewish and democratic State are not to choose between Judaism and democracy, or between our national survival and our moral principles, but to recognize that it is in our fidelity to our values and in the maintaining of our aspirations that we find both the greatest security and nobility.

"The Sages' Yellow Pages" - Masorti Movement in Israel

Haredi Schools Resist Israel’s Efforts To Impose Core Curriculum

By Nathan Jeffay December 29, 2010

A tug-of-war is taking place over the government’s attempt to impose a core curriculum in ultra-Orthodox elementary and high schools, and it’s not just about education. It cuts to the heart of a bitter conflict within Israeli society on the issue of authority.

Israel’s Education Ministry has launched a zero-tolerance policy aimed at Haredi schools that refuse to teach the ministry’s prescribed secular studies curriculum.

The Return of High School Talmud Studies: Will be Recognized as General Culture

December 13, 2010

Source: NRG

The Israeli Inter-University Committee has recently decided to recognize Oral Torah (Toshba) as a general culture subject towards entitlement to a high school matriculation certificate.

This now means that a student who studies this subject for an extended matriculation exam will have it recognized by the universities as an academic subject for university acceptance.

Top 10 Moments for Jewish Women in 2010 - #2 Anat Hoffman, leader Women of the Wall arrested

By Leah Berkenwald December 29, 2010

The world was watching as Anat Hoffman, leader of Women of the Wall, was arrested and interrogated by police, fingerprinted, and told that she may be charged with a felony for violating the rules of conduct at the Western Wall.

Haaretz images of 2010: #14 Women of the Wall

Fighting for pluralism and equality in Israel

By Phil Horn Opinion December 29, 2010

Why, in a democracy like Israel’s, should a minority at odds with the majority be able to make so many demands on society without giving much in return? Much has been said of Israel’s political system of proportional representation, which can give minority parties disproportional power.

Western Wall gets iPhone app

New iPhone app always points to Jerusalem

Hollywood gossip columnist Perez Hilton: New Years at the Kotel

Rebel MK Amsalem: Shas turning Sephardi Jews into anti-Zionists

By Chaim Levinson January 2, 2011

"How many Rabbi Ovadia [Yosef]s will there be?" he asked, in reference to the spiritual leader of the Shas party. "Just one in a generation. Everyone else can work."

Shas MK Amsalem’s refreshing presence Editorial December 29, 2010

Perhaps Amsalem is not too ahead of his time, and has rightly sensed a change in the tide of haredi public opinion. Perhaps, soon, we will be seeing more haredi politicians like Amsalem, leading a more open-minded haredi constituency. It would be a welcome, overdue change in Israeli politics.

Shas MK backs IDF conversions

By Yoav Zitun December 29, 2010

MK Amsellem stressed that his statements were not made in a vacuum. "Saying the haredi public is isolated, and doesn’t listen to what is being said about it on the street is too simplistic.

"Change comes from the bottom. The haredi public – Sephardic and Ashkenazi alike – realizes that a change must come," he explained.

'Deri warned Shas not to vote for Katsav

By Gil Hoffman and Rebecca Anna Stoil January 2, 2011

Former Shas leader Arye Deri warned the Shas faction not to vote for Moshe Katsav in the July 31, 2000 vote for president, sources close to Deri told The Jerusalem Post Sunday night, confirming a report on Channel 2.

Shas had been divided ahead of the vote between supporters of Eli Yishai, who backed Katsav, and Deri's allies, who wanted to vote for Katsav's opponent, Shimon Peres. Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef instructed his MKs at the last minute to vote for Katsav, sealing his victory.

Religious Zionism Rabbi Shlomo Aviner: Katsav is innocent

By Kobi Nahshoni January 2, 2011

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of Religious Zionism's leaders, said Thursday that the former President Moshe Katsav was innocent, and that the Tel Aviv District Court should not have convicted him of the sexual offenses detailed in the indictment.

Bring us into equation

Aliya rises second year straight nearing 20,000 mark

Treasury official under fire after attack on Russian-speaking immigrants

Press 'Like' if you're making aliyah

Immigration rises for second consecutive year

Immigration from Down Under jumps up despite good times

Aliyah from Australia and New Zealand up almost 50%

Peoplehood: The Future Agenda of the Jewish People

Israel: Where 'Aniyei Ircha Kodmim' Meets Tikkun Olam - "The poor of your city take precedence"

Rabbi leads Torah trafficking ring

Eli Senyor January 2, 2011

At the end of a long undercover investigation, a rabbi and three Arabs were arrested over the weekend over suspicions that they stole dozens of Torah scrolls.

Conference on Human Rights and Duties in the Jewish and Democratic State

Noahide Archaeologist Vendyl Jones Passes Away

By Hillel Fendel December 27, 2010

Vendyl Jones – Noahide archaeologist who discovered an immense stock of incense used in the Second Temple as well as the aromatic anointing oil – has passed away at the age of 80. He was most famous for his search for the Ark of the Covenant.

The Religious Journalists Association December 28, 2010

Religious journalists this month gathered for an inaugural meeting of the steering committee of the Religious Journalists Association.

...Recognizing the need to train religious journalists in universal journalistic values and ethics, the Lamda College in Jerusalem launched a communications course for journalists and spokespeople, which has graduated its first class. There’s just one hitch. The course caters only to men.

However another religious educational facility will soon be introducing a journalists’ course for women.

Government Urged to Bring Remaining Bnei Menashe to Israel January 2, 2011

The Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs has issued a decision calling on the Israeli government to bring the remaining 7,232 Bnei Menashe community members in northeast India to Israel.

Baruch Tegegne, Who Saved Ethiopian Jews

By Shmarya Scott Rosenberg Opinion December 29, 2010

More than any other person, Baruch Tegegne saved Ethiopian Jews. His 45 years of nearly nonstop advocacy took his health and, eventually, his life. But Tegegne, whose first name means “blessing,” will live on in his daughter, Yaffa, whom he loved so much, and in the lives and journeys of the 100,000 Ethiopian Jews who now call Israel home, largely because of him.

Pioneer of Ethiopian aliya dies at age 65

By Gil Shefler December 28, 2010

Simcha Jacobovici, who made a documentary called Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews, credited the Tagnene with a key role in the immigration of around 81,000 Ethiopian Jews, also known as Beta Israel, to the Jewish state.

Christian leaders dismayed by anti-gentile attitudes

Take to the streets, now

Nazareth surprised itself on the afternoon before Christmas.

Anglican church members grapple with fallout over brutal knife attack

Religious Zionism & A New Discourse on Sexuality

By Professor Avi Sagi and Yakir Englander December 22, 2010

In our book, “The Body and Sexuality in the New Religious Zionist Discourse,” which will be published soon (in Hebrew), we seek to monitor the new discourse developing in the early twenty-first century religious Zionist community regarding the body and sexuality through the examination of halakhic texts that appear in the dialogue between rabbis and the public.

Religion and State in Israel

January 3, 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 - January 3, 2011 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

January 3, 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.

Protect organ donation Editorial January 2, 2011

The traits that made Cohen so admired in his lifetime led him to want to donate his organs after death.

Unfortunately, a group of meddling rabbis blinded by fanaticism succeeded in preventing him from doing what he was convinced was the right thing. This betrayal must not be allowed to happen again.

Rabbis' meddling brings about the most awful results

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion December 31, 2010

The secular Cohen was a proud carrier of an organ donor card. He had even tried to get all the footballers in Israel to sign one.

His family had also automatically agreed to the donation the moment they were informed that their loved one was brain dead. But then came the rabbinical steamroller.

Leave the rabbis out of it

By Jeff Barak Opinion January 2, 2011

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

Of course, the state cannot force organ donation on people, and those who object to brain death as the determining factor should be allowed to opt out of the program.

Their objection will be stored on a database to which hospitals have access and their wishes respected.

At the same time, should a person who has opted out of the program need an organ transplant, he will be told that due to his objection to organ harvesting, he will not receive one.

Despite donor card, soccer star Avi Cohen's family keeps hospital from taking organs after lobbying by rabbis

By Yair Ettinger and Dan Even December 30, 2010

The hospital sources said that Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar personally called the family to urge them to approve the donation.

But they ultimately sided instead with the rabbis who urged them to leave Cohen intact until his heart stopped, which happened yesterday morning.

A violated will - Soccer star Avi Cohen's last wish denied

By Yossi Sarid Opinion December 30, 2010

Once again, rabbis are infringing on every aspect of our lives - even our deaths.

...Avi Cohen had a donor's card in his wallet. That was his will - to donate his organs to the mortally ill, to save those who cannot be saved with God's help alone. Now, they too will die. His will has been violated.

UTJ Litzman: More beds for mental hospitals – in gender separated wards

By Mickey Peled, Calcalist December 31, 2010

Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman is beginning to implement his policy for establishing separate wards for men and women in mental health hospitals.

Safed rabbi interrogated on incitement charges

By Kobi Nahshoni January 2, 2011

One of the rabbis who initiated a letter urging Jews not to rent homes to Arabs was interrogated by police on suspicion of incitement to racism Sunday.

Safed's chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, denied he had been involved in distributing a flier calling on religious schools not to employ Arabs after a deadly yeshiva terror attack in 2008.

Eliyahu said on Friday that he would not report to police summons.

Safed rabbi ignores police summons over alleged racism

By Jonah Mandel January 2, 2011

The Reform movement’s Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) was central in Eliahu’s being prosecuted for racial incitement in 2006, following statements against Arabs. The prosecution, however, opted to withdraw the charges in return for Eliahu retracting his remarks and committing to not repeating them.

Following the recent edicts, IRAC demanded of Neeman and the attorney-general to recharge Eliahu on the grounds of racial incitement, as the deal from 2006 determined. As that has yet to happen, IRAC has filed a High Court of Justice petition to enforce that order.

Intellectuals: Firing racist rabbis not enough

By Yair Altman January 2, 2011

Meanwhile, dozens of intellectuals, politicians and artists have urged the state to fire the municipal rabbis who had signed the racist letter.

"There is an immediate need to fire these rabbis, who are inciting and threatening to turn Judaism into racism, and see to it that they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law," the intellectuals' letter read.

Police summon Safed rabbi over 'racist' letter

By Kobi Nahshoni December 31, 2010

"I asked them if David Grossman, Yossi Sarid, and Shulamit Aloni, who protested against the settlement of Jews in Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood, had also been interrogated, but they said no," Eliyahu explained.

The No Rent Rule: What Happened to Jewish Ethics?

By Haviva Ner-David Opinion December 29, 2010

Rabbi Dr. Haviva Ner-David is a rabbi, teacher, and writer living on Kibbutz Hannaton in the Lower Galilee in Israel.

When my family and I moved north, to Lower Galilee from Jerusalem, we decided to rent out our Jerusalem home to help finance our move.

As it so happens, we are renting to other-than-Jews. Lovely people, I should add, who are taking better care of our home than we ever did. And it never crossed our mind not to sign the lease with them when they were ready to sign.

To our shock, neighbors of ours in Jerusalem were furious with us, making some of the same claims that this statement issued by those rabbis does.

Women Reform rabbis: Stop the hatred

By Kobi Nahshoni December 30, 2010

Dozens of female rabbis belonging to the Reform movement called out against a letter drafted by 27 wives of prominent rabbis calling on Jewish women not to date Arabs, work in places where Arabs are employed or volunteer for National Service with them.

Response to the Rebbetzins

By Elana Maryles Sztokman Opinion December 29, 2010

Empowerment, compassion, scholarship, balance, spirituality, independence, social awareness — these are among the values and messages that I could see wanting to urge all my friends to support. But this?

Rabbi's wife: Arabs are the enemy

In wake of anti-Arab letters, defense minister rails against 'wave of racism threatening country'

Head Reform rabbi: Israeli society is falling into a deep pit of racism

Rabbis' wives urge girls not to date or work with Arabs

Rabbis' wives: Don't date Arabs

Theater of the Absurd By Leonard Fein Opinion

Rabbis' letter softened

Rabbi Shlomo Brody on Rabbis' Land Ban letter

Top rabbi unveils parts of proposed compromise on renting to Arabs

39 Rabbis By Rabbi Marc Rosenstein

Who needs rabbis? By Rabbi Stacey Blank

Poll: Jewish public split over call not to rent to Arabs

Poll: 48% of Israeli Jews oppose rabbis' rent edict

Rabbis' Ban Of Renting To Arabs Must Be Condemned

Rabbis' wives urge Israeli women: Stay away from Arab men

Unite, Confuse and Inspire: A Response to the Rise of Racism in Israel

Condemnation of Rabbis who Called to Boycott Poriya Hospital

Artists protest against rabbis' letter

A quiet revolution

By Nati Tucker and Lior Dattel December 31, 2010

Ranan Hartman, the 41-year-old son of Rabbi David Hartman, founder of Jerusalem's Shalom Hartman Institute, is one of those who initiated a quiet revolution in the Haredi sector, particularly in the wake of the government's large cut in child allowances in 2003.

Now, thousands of ultra-Orthodox people attend institutions of higher education before going off to join the ranks of the employed.

UJT MK Gafni: Recently passed budget best ever for Haredim January 2, 2011

MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) called the biannual budget passed last week in the Knesset "the best budget ever for the haredi community," a statement released Sunday by NGO Hiddush said.

"This budget takes care of all the financial issues of the haredi community in all fields," Gafni stated.

Finance C'tee chair UJT Moshe Gafni: Netanyahu fooled me

By Rebecca Anna Stoil December 28, 2010

Despite Finance Committee chairman and UTJ MK Moshe Gafni’s fury that the IDF Conversion Bill had been advanced behind his back, the coalition was poised to pass the biennial state budget as planned on Wednesday.

What shall we spin today?

By Shahar Ilan Opinion

English translation of Op-Ed in Haaretz Online December 20, 2010

Shahar Ilan is vice-president for research and information at Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel.

Last week the government announced two revolutionary reforms regarding single and married yeshiva students.

One of these deals with the arrangement under which yeshiva students are granted exemptions from military service, and the other concerns a stipend for married yeshiva students, which secured cabinet approval yesterday.

It is not yet clear that these reforms will change anything, and if they do, whether it will be for the better or – what is more likely – for the worse.

Conference on the Haredi Community in a Changing Society November 30, 2010

On Wednesday, October 13th, 2010, IDI convened a conference on "The Haredi Community in a Changing Society."

Conducted as part of IDI's Nation State research project, headed by Israel Prize laureate Prof. Anita Shapira, the conference brought together academicians, rabbis, representatives of government ministries and social welfare organizations, leaders of programs for ultra-Orthodox soldiers in the IDF, the heads of ultra-Orthodox institutions of higher education, and people who employ members of the haredi community in the work force.

Seminar on Kollel stipend bill: 'Torah, work and the Jewish state' December 27, 2010

The seminar will be comprised of two sessions. The first session will deal with 'Torah and work in Judaism: Past and present'.

The second session will focus on 'The kollel stipends law: Society, economy, politics and law'.

15 minutes of fame

By Hannah Brown December 25, 2010

Ma’aleh, which was established 21 years ago, is unique among Israeli film schools in that it is committed to exploring Jewish life through film, and because of that, its students are primarily observant Jews and those whose Jewish identity is central to their lives.

VIDEO: “Alone”

Click here for VIDEO

Shmuel Minkov’s documentary Alone gives a rare glimpse into the lives of three divorced haredi women.

Minkov, the father of seven, was able to persuade his subjects to be interviewed about a subject that is sometimes seen as something to be ashamed of.

Haredi trendsetter makes Chanel modest

By Miri Ben-David Livi December 31, 2010

Miri Beilin does not own a television. The fashion designer and haredi stylist watches the fashion network only in her studio, and she's fine with that. "I live and breathe fashion, I know what today's trends are," she explains.

...Today she styles the elite haredi world, owns a bridal salon, and directs fashion studies for religious women at Miryam Fashion College.

Popular rabbi in north arrested for allegedly molesting minors

By Eli Ashkenazi December 31, 2010

A popular rabbi from a community in the north of Israel was arrested for allegedly molesting minors, it was revealed on Friday after a gag order on the case was lifted.

The rabbi, age 60, was arrested on Thursday after he requested to leave the country for a celebration of a famous rabbi. The rabbi's name and certain details about the case are still under a gag order.

Rabbi arrested on rape charges

By Ahiya Raved December 31, 2010

A rabbi who runs a number of schools in northern Israel has been arrested on suspicion he sexually assaulted three minors, the court cleared for publication Friday.

FILM: Narrow Bridge

Narrow Bridge is an independent narrative film produced by IzzyComm Motion Pictures. It is the first film of its kind to break the silence about the existence of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community and depict the effects of sexual abuse on survivors.

Click here for FILM (Complete version: 1 hr. 32 min)

Click here for FILM (Edited version: 30 min.)

Hat Tip:

Haredim take over secular Afula neighborhood

By Yossi Nissan January 2, 2011

Haredi website "Ladaat" reports that Vizhnitz Hassidim have secretly bought 70 apartments in Afula in recent weeks in order to take over the secular neighborhood in the Jezreel Valley town.

The sellers did not know that the buyers were haredim, as the purchases were made in stages.

Hareidi men join IDF Intelligence

By Maayana Miskin December 27, 2010

Eighty hareidi-religious men joined the ranks of IDF intelligence this week, becoming the largest group to do so in the history of the “Bina B'Yarok” (Intelligence in Green) program to bring hareidim into the corps.

VIDEO: IDF Chief of Staff Prays at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus

Including Chief Rabbis Metzger, Amar, IDF Chief Rabbi, and Rabbi of Western Wall and Holy Sites January 1, 2011

Click here for VIDEO

Don’t call it murder

By Irit Rosenblum Opinion January 2, 2011

The writer is founder and executive director of New Family Organization.

The Knesset must respect women’s judgment and the medical information they receive from doctors that help them decide. We must not be silent in the face of the false morality of the religious establishment.

Abortion is a woman’s right to control her body. It’s an important, private decision and we must respect every woman’s choice.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef on abortion: Doctors kill the living

By Kobi Nahshoni December 27, 2010

The rabbi, who is Shas' spiritual leader, recalled how he had convinced a woman not to have an abortion and promised her that her son would be healthy. "She gave birth to a sweet child, and today is his wedding," the rabbi said, adding that he had convinced other parents to do the same and they ended up having healthy children as well.

Religion and State in Israel

January 3, 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.