Monday, January 24, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - January 24, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

January 24, 2011 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

Rotem, Haredi MKs argue over IDF conversion bill

By Dan Izenberg and Jonah Mandel January 19, 2011

Committee chairman David Rotem, one of the bill’s initiators, praised Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s ruling officially recognizing the conversions of thousands of soldiers.

However, he said he was still determined to pass the legislation, which would give the IDF conversion process legal independence from the Chief Rabbinate.

Knesset absorption panel discusses IDF conversions

By Rebecca Anna Stoil January 21, 2011

Some 800 soldiers are converted annually in the framework of Nativ, an IDF course that provides instruction to non- Jewish soldiers on topics of Zionism and Jewish identity.

In the coming months, the army will convert its 5,000th soldier, although 17,000 non-Jewish soldiers have participated throughout the years. Two-thirds of the converts are women.

Shas MK Amsellem: Rabbi Yosef threatened over conversions

By Roni Sofer January 18, 2011

On Rabbi Ovadia's situation Shas MK Amsellem said: "There are threats and vituperation against him and his family."

He then told MK Rotem:

"We most certainly don't want those who undergo an IDF conversion to be considered as second rate citizens. I want to support your bill MK Rotem, and yet I can't but qualify that and add: Unless a better solution is found."

Rabbi Yosef's sons threatened following conversion ruling

By Yair Ettinger January 18, 2011

Ultra-Orthodox figures are threatening Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's sons with denunciation, saying they and their father must revoke the halakhic ruling Yosef issued on Friday approving conversions officiated by the military.

Jewish Women No Longer in the Back of the Bus January 23, 2011

Targum Shlishi is supporting Yerushalmim’s program “Inclusive Jerusalem: The Struggle Against Religious Extremism” by funding a legal defense initiative to counter haredi extremism.

This pioneering initiative, established in 2010, seeks to raise public awareness of the issue gender discrimination, generate public pressure against the new extreme practices, and use the legal system to fight the discrimination.

Freedom Riders, circa 2011

By Sharon Shenhav Opinion January 22, 2011

The writer is a women’s rights lawyer based in Jerusalem. She is the director of the International Jewish Women’s Rights Project and was the only woman to serve on the Commission to Appoint Dayanim from 2003-2009.

A nationwide campaign entitled “Freedom Riders” is planned, which will encourage women to ride buses on previously segregated routes, and to report on their experiences.

In the spirit of Rosa Parks, this grandmother (and big-mouth lawyer) intends to take a front seat on one of those buses on a weekly basis. I’ll be carrying my cellphone so that I can call the police if necessary. How about joining me?

Is voluntary seating really voluntary?

By Laura Rosbrow January 20, 2011

Author Naomi Ragen:

“I, for one, will be maintaining a vigilant watch over how this voluntary system will work in reality. If the abuse continues, we will go back to court and ask that these buses be outlawed altogether.”

Sex and the Wailing Wall

Click here for VIDEO

PODCAST: Toronto radio interview with Anat Hoffman

Click here for PODCAST

January 23, 2011

Anat Hoffman - an Israeli activist, feminist, a former Jerusalem city councilor - a rebel with a cause.

Last summer she was arrested for carrying a Torah at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site.

More than twenty years ago, she and two other women began a protest called "Women of the Wall", demanding that Jewish women be allowed to worship at the Wall with the same rights as men and not be segregated.

She was in Toronto to talk about her mission and the ever-increasing power of ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel.

PODCAST: Gender and Judaism at the Western Wall

January 20, 2011

Click here for PODCAST

Podcast begins at 22 min. 30 sec.

Rabbi Sue Morningstar is an international vice chair for Rabbis For Women of the Wall

Rabbi Sue Morningstar tells us how she is trying to change long-held attitudes about gender at the Western Wall.

Fighting for Israeli Women's Rights

By Vanessa Canner January 16, 2011

Anat Hoffman:

“If I have one message for you tonight it is, you should do a lot more than you have done and you can do a lot more than you know,” Hoffman said.

“I need troops on the ground here; I need a lot more help than I have because other than the unfortunate acronym of IRAC, our organization is the leading organization of issues of religion and state, but I do need a big stick so to speak — and that is you.”

Education Minister at Masorti Movement conference: 'No one has monopoly over Judaism'

By Kobi Nahshoni January 18, 2011

Photo: Kadima MK Tzipi Livni (Masorti Movement)

A few months earlier, Sa'ar expressed opposition to the Conversion Bill, which gives the Chief Rabbinate sole jurisdiction over Judaism conversion. He stressed on Thursday that such a law would cause a rift in the Jewish community both in Israel and worldwide.

"I opposed, I oppose and I will oppose legislation that divides the Jewish people, pulls Jews apart and pulls us away from the Jews in the Diaspora," he said during the conference.

Taking on the Rabbinate — on YouTube

By Elana Sztokman January 17, 2011

Click here for VIDEO

Vered Shavit did everything she could to avoid the Israeli rabbinate. When she got married in 2005, she flew all the way to Cyprus for a civil ceremony, then had a Reform ceremony in Israel and never registered in Israel as married.

But it didn’t matter. Despite everything, when she and the man decided this year to get divorced, she had to do it with a get, at the rabbinate.

Debating religion and state, debating distancing

By Shmuel Rosner Opinion January 18, 2011

The debate concerning the erosion of the feeling of closeness of young Jewish Americans toward Israel has been going on for several years, and it appears that it will keep researchers busy in the foreseeable as well.

One of the main reasons for this gap, according to JPPI fellow Shmuel Rosner, lies in the question of the relationship between religion and state in Israel.

Click here for full article

Joining the Jewish People: Non-Jewish Immigrants from the Former USSR, Israeli Identity and Jewish Peoplehood

By Alexander Yakobson Israel Law Review 43:1, 2010


This Article argues that regardless of formal definitions based on Orthodox religious law under which a religious conversion is the only way for a non-Jew to become Jewish, these immigrants, through their successful social and cultural integration in the Hebrew-speaking Jewish society in Israel, are joining, de facto, the Jewish people. I

t is no longer true that religious conversion is the only way to join the Jewish people.

Shas: The Height of Chutzpah

(Is Barak's new party robbing the Israeli public?)

By Nehemia Shtrasler Opinion January 19, 2011

Shas does not focus on the plight of the weak and poor. It focuses on the yeshiva students and the general Haredi population, whom it makes weak and poor.

It makes sure that they don't study the core curriculum at school, that they don't work and they don't serve in the army, but instead live on government handouts that it obtains for them. Meaning, in poverty. That isn't a welfare policy, that's teaching them to be parasites.

Shabbat with Arye Deri

By Neil Rogachevsky January 17, 2011

The press has been awash with speculation the past few weeks that Arye Deri, one-time interior minister, former head of the religious Sephardi party Shas, and one of the most simultaneously loved and hated figures in the country – and indeed the larger Jewish world – is planning to launch a new “big-tent” religious party.

Beleagured Shas MK: Rabbi Ovadia’s OK on IDF Converts Vindicates Me

By Hillel Fendel January 20, 2011

MK Rabbi Chaim Amsalem of the hareidi-Sephardic Shas party, who is widely felt to be a party renegade, says he knew he was right all along in supporting IDF conversions to Judaism.

The latest ruling by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of Shas and of most of Sephardic Jewry in Israel, states that the soldiers who converted to Judaism in the framework of the IDF Rabbinate are “kosher.” He added, though, that future conversions should be done according to more stringent rules.

PODCAST: Shas MK Haim Amsellem speaks in Beit Shemesh

Click here for PODCAST (Hebrew)

VIDEO: Ministry of Religious Affairs receives another NIS 100 million

January 17, 2011

Shahar Ilan, Hiddush, interviewed on Israel TV (Hebrew)

El Al to once again fly incoming olim

By Raphael Ahren January 21, 2011

The Jewish Agency and El Al last week signed a new cooperation agreement; 14 months after the Agency ended its decades-long contract with the airline as its official carrier for immigration flights after airfares went up.

Marcie Natan will be next Hadassah national president

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich January 18, 2011

The former national treasurer of the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Marcie Natan, was nominated on Sunday night to become its next national president, replacing Nancy Falchuk.

WIZO sets sights on improving Israel’s standing in world

By Gil Shefler January 18, 2011

Some 150 members of the Women’s International Zionist Organization, a Jewish activist group celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, gathered in Tel Aviv on Monday for its annual Meeting of Representatives.

WIZO chairwoman Tova Ben-Dov welcomed the delegates from 24 countries to the event at the Hilton Hotel and spoke about the organization’s significant contribution to Israel.

Land of opportunity

By Hila Weissberg January 21, 2011

"The worse the economic situation in European countries and North and South America got, the more attractive Israel became," explains Iris Hominer, who heads the business entrepreneurship department at the Immigrant Absorption Ministry.

"The change in taxation policy brought many people here, and you can see this numerically. New immigrants today want to know that it is economically worthwhile for them to come to Israel, and the State of Israel decided that it is not in the business of rifling through immigrants' pockets."

A 'waste' of a degree

By Hila Weissberg January 21, 2011

Gvahim was founded in 2006 as a job placement center that specializes in dealing with new immigrants.

At first the organization, which is nonprofit, worked with immigrants from France, graduates of grandes ecoles (an informal designation for the country's elite colleges and universities), and later expanded its activity to immigrants from other countries.

Around 70 percent of the immigrants who sign up with Gvahim have master's degrees, and range in age from 22 to 55.

20 Jews from Tunisia make aliyah

By Itamar Eichner January 20, 2011

The overthrow of the Tunisian government last week led 20 local Jews to make aliyah to Israel this week.

The six families, which decided to immigrate to the Jewish state following the fearful situation in Tunisia, were brought over in a complex operation involving many bodies, including the Jewish Agency, Absorption Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry and several different countries

Jewish Agency: We'll help Tunisian Jews January 18, 2011

The Jewish Agency is working to provide immediate relief to all Jews wishing to immigrate to Israel or visit the country in light of the riots in Tunisia. According to JA figures, some 1,500 Jews live in the northern African country

Stand With Us creates Zionist superhero

By Ben Hartman January 19, 2011

The character also bears a certain resemblance to Israel Man, a character created by Jewish comic book artist Eli Valley as a sort of parody of the image of the “new Israeli Jew” vs the sickly, state-less Diaspora Jew.

Valley said that “my comic lampoons the internal Zionist narrative of the realized Israeli Jew replacing the Diaspora Jew, a narrative the Jewish community teaches itself to this day. In that respect, it’s different than Captain Israel, which doesn’t focus on internal Jewish self-conception.

Michael Steinhardt: A Jewish iconclast in socks

By Gil Shefler January 19, 2011

Steinhardt is probably best known in the Jewish world as one of the earliest and most important backers of Birthright Israel...

Michael Steinhardt:

"While Birthright, I think, has come a reasonable way in improving the prospects of the non-Orthodox Diaspora, you can only expect so much from the appalling quality and deep shame of American Jewish education which is not easily overcome.”

Hebrew learning centers to be updated in bid to end immigrants' language woes

By Raphael Ahren January 21, 2011

The education and immigrant absorption ministries are planning a major overhaul of the country's Hebrew enrichment programs for new immigrants, including state-of-the-art facilities, smaller classes and better-equipped teachers at the ulpans.

Jewish continuity – visiting Israel is not enough

By Aharon Botzer Opinion January 3, 2011

The writer is CEO of Livnot U’Lehibanot

It is time we address the question: What are those components and content of an Israel experience that leads one to want to be part of a Jewish community and build his or her Jewish identity?

Until we explore this issue in depth, the goal will remain focused on numbers. We are missing an opportunity – maybe our last – to really provide the “transformative experience” needed to plant seeds that encourage further Jewish growth and discovery

Launch of New Course in Israel on Judaism, Justice and the Environment January 23, 2011

On Tu B’Shvat, Bema’aglei Tzedek, together with BINA and the Green Environment Fund (and with the help of the Heschel Center and Teva Ivri), launched the first-ever course in Israel exploring the intersection between Judaism, social justice and the environment.

VIDEO: Jewcology

Click here for VIDEO January 17, 2011

Second Falash Mura flight arrives in Israel

By staff and Gil Shefler January 18, 2011

Some 175 Ethiopians who claim Jewish ancestry reportedly arrived in Israel early Tuesday morning and reunited with their families.

Their arrival followed the aliya of another group of 175 Ethiopians who landed at Ben-Gurion Airport a day before, AFP reported quoting a Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) spokesman.

Click here for more PHOTOS

He dedicated his life to helping Ethiopian Jews make it to Israel

By Michael Posner January 20, 2011

Baruch Tegegne played only a minor direct role in those remarkable airlifts, but it's safe to say that no effort to save the long-lost remnant of Judaism would have been made were it not for him and his work.

Knesset caucus to honor Christian allies

By Gil Hoffman January 17, 2011

The Knesset Christian Allies Caucus will honor two Christian pro-Israel pioneers at its fifth annual “Night to Honor Our Christian Allies” in conjunction with the World Jewish Congress and the Tourism Ministry Tuesday night at Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel.

The caucus is comprised of eighteen Knesset members from various political parties. Established in 2004 by the late MK Yuri Shtern, it aims to forge direct lines of communication between Knesset members and Christian leaders, organizations and politicians around the world.

Thousands of Pilgrims Go Down by the Jordan Riverside for Epiphany

By Arieh O’Sullivan January 19, 2011

Thousands of Christian pilgrims from the eastern churches braved land mines and polluted water to baptize themselves in Christianity’s third holiest site on Epiphany.

Minefields circle Jesus' traditional baptism site

By Aron Heller January 19, 2011

Just months before the official opening of one of Christianity's holiest sites to visitors, the area where John the Baptist is said to have baptized Jesus remains surrounded by thousands of land mines.

See PHOTO: Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Metropolitan Theophilos takes part in a ceremony at the baptismal site known as Qasr el-Yahud on the banks of the Jordan River near the West Bank city of Jericho January 18, 2011.

Religion and State in Israel

January 24, 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.