Monday, March 7, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - March 7, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

March 7, 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.

Jewish Agency offers solution to conversion problem

By Paul Lungen March 3, 2011

Natan Sharansky believes he has found an “elegant” solution to a problem that is currently vexing the Jewish world: let the Jewish Agency determine which communities, congregations and rabbinical authorities are legitimate – at least when it comes to performing conversions for the purposes of Israeli immigration laws.

A violation of sovereignty

By Shlomo Avineri Opinion March 4, 2011

Sharansky, suggested [...] that the Agency − and not Israel’s Chief Rabbinate − be the entity to which the Interior Ministry would apply to ascertain the validity of conversions in cases involving candidates for immigration.

The solution to the issue Sharansky raises is a government decision that places the matter in the hands of an Israeli governmental body − the Justice Ministry, for example − and enables a pluralistic approach to the matter.

Powers that are part of the fabric of the Jewish state must not be transferred into the hands of a body the majority of whose members are not its citizens.

Toward a state of all Jews

By Yehezkel Dror Opinion March 4, 2011

Prof. Yehezkel Dror served for more than six years as founding president of the Jewish People Policy Institute.

The Jewish Agency has to be redesigned so as to make it the “Jewish People Agency,” in which both Israeli Jews and Diaspora communities will be represented equally.

At the same time the role of Israeli political parties in determining the representation of Israel in the agency should be reduced, as should that of philanthropists in determining the representation of the Diaspora.

What, Not Who, Is a Jew?

By Daniel Gordis Opinion March 2, 2011

Daniel Gordis is senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem

Although pronouncements of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and some leading Orthodox authorities seek to convey the impression that Orthodox standards for conversion are monolithic and always have been, the truth is much more complex.

...Ours is an era of unprecedented complexity in the formation of identity. What we need now is a conversation with each other — about what Jewishness is at its very essence and about how the changing face of world Jewry should and should not be reflected in conversion policy.

We may not necessarily agree, but we will, one hopes, protect the unity, and therefore the survival, of the very people to which committed prospective converts still seek to dedicate their lives.

Who Is a Jew and What Is Jewish?

By Susan A. Glenn and Naomi B. Sokoloff Opinion March 2, 2011

The writers are editors of Boundaries of Jewish Identity (University of Washington Press, 2010)

Regardless of the formal historical, institutional, or national definitions of “who is a Jew,” the experience of identity is layered, shifting, syncretic, and constructed, and it is clear that Jewish identity can be reforged under new circumstances.

Yet, at the same time, the social practices through which individuals and communities of Jews in various parts of the world have challenged conventional understandings of the boundaries of Jewish identity have opened up profound debates on questions of cultural and even biological authenticity.

Jewishness has always exceeded clear-cut categories of racial, ethnic, and religious identity — hence, the ongoing, continually renewed, and multifaceted debates generated by the question, “Who is a Jew?”

Making Jews: Conversion and Mitzvot

By Rabbi Yehiel E. Poupko March 2, 2011

Rabbi Yehiel E. Poupko is the Judaic scholar at the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago

Responses from the 1950s and 1960s, by Israel’s late chief rabbis, Yitzhak Halevi Herzog, Isser Yehuda Unterman, and Shlomo Goren, provide insight: If a non-Jew made aliyah and thus plighted his or her fate with the fate of the Jewish people, then circumcision and immersion in the mikvah, along with a general acceptance of the yoke of mitzvot, were sufficient to effect a halakhically valid conversion.

Conversion and Conversation

By Rabbi Mark Washofsky Opinion March 2, 2011

Mark Washofsky is the Solomon B. Freehof Professor of Jewish Law and Practice at the Hebrew Union College– Jewish Institue of Religion in Cincinnati.

Does the stance of these Haredi rabbis doom any hope for a “conversation”? Not at all.

...A solution, in other words, lies in sight. Its success depends upon the willingness of the broad swath of the rabbinical community to pursue the conversation that Rabbis Gordis and Poupko advocate.

They must pursue it even against the implacable opposition of ultra-Orthodox forces for whom the term “halakhic flexibility” is an anathema. If they do, they will have earned the thanks of klal Yisrael, the entire Jewish people, in Israel and everywhere else.

Conversion without tears

By Barbara Sofer March 4, 2011

“Each month, more than 250 people turn to the ITIM hot line seeking information about conversion in Israel,” says [Rabbi Seth] Farber.

“Conversion is one of the tools the Jewish people can use to fight intermarriage and assimilation. Unfortunately, the Israeli rabbinate is under too much pressure to seriously engage this issue for the long term.”

No room for compromise

By Yair Sheleg Opinion March 1, 2011

Accepting the ultra-Orthodox worldview, which holds that observance of the religious commandments is the only criterion for conversion, is tantamount to asserting that Zionism has not changed a thing in the perception of Jewish identity.

...Therefore, anyone who views himself as a Zionist must categorically reject the ultra-Orthodox view.

Agreeing to continued ultra-Orthodox abuse of converts for the sake of keeping the peace within the governing coalition is tantamount to agreeing to change the state symbol or the national anthem out of such considerations.

Beware the Jewish Brotherhood

By Neri Livneh Opinion February 28, 2011

It's all a matter of demography, and there's no one to blame for it, but something essential has changed in the relations between ultra-Orthodox and secular Israelis around the country.

So much for Jerusalem, which we gave up on a long time ago. We also conceded Beit Shemesh, and never had hopes for Bnei Brak. But we were so preoccupied with Jerusalem and the southern towns that we forgot about the rest of the country.

Rabbis are no Zionists

By Ziv Lenchner Opinion February 28, 2011

Our rabbis need to decide where they are headed: Towards loyalty to the State, its laws and institutions, or in the exact opposite direction.

Should they continue to undermine the legitimate political and civilian entity and rebel against the government, they should at least be honest and remove the word “Zionist” from their title.

The joys of Israeliness

Haaretz Editorial March 4, 2011

Click here for VIDEO

The story of the Bialik-Rogozin School may seem unrealistic when viewed outside of the political context, but it still teaches us something about a kind of normalcy that seeps up from beneath.

Mainly, though, it teaches us about the power of Israeliness, about Hebrew language and culture, and about Israel’s ability to integrate outsiders without losing its identity, culture or Jewish heritage.

Bialik-Rogozin’s challenge to Zionism Editorial March 1, 2011

This secular version of the biblical “light unto the nations,” the film seems to be saying, is precisely the sort of thing the Jewish state is supposed to stand for.

Since Zionism's inception, there has been an inherent tension....

What were the rabbis thinking?

By Yoel Finkelman Opinion March 5, 2011

The writer is a lecturer in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Contemporary Jewry at Bar-Ilan University.

The rabbis' letter reflects three deep-seated attitudes within a significant portion of the more “right-wing” rabbinic elite.

First, these religious Zionist rabbis, like their haredi counterparts, do not trust the judicial system or the secular press.

Religious Zionists must resist the call to break with Israel

By Israel Harel Opinion March 3, 2011

This community, and particularly the students of those rabbis, should disassociate themselves from their rabbis' worldview, which is becoming increasingly closer to the ultra-Orthodox one. Israel's justice system is not the "gentiles' court," as was written in the letter.

'Disengagement rabbi' pulled from conference at behest of Gaza evacuees

By Chaim Levinson March 4, 2011

The organizers of the Jerusalem Conference to be held this month have canceled the participation of former Chief Military Rabbi Israel Weiss, following threats from Gaza evacuees, sources told Haaretz.

The incredible Rabbi Shlomo Riskin

By Isi Leibler Opinion March2, 2011

Riskin represents a moderate religious Zionist voice in the Israeli political discourse where, despite occasional naiveté, his courageous stance frequently contributes to bridge building and overcoming polarization between Jewish and non- Jewish communities.

In the Spirit of Adar

By Sarah Chandler Opinion March 6, 2011

Soon our songs of praise became a circle dance – the circle with no end and no beginning – we grasped arms and hands and belted out our carlebach niggun high and wide. Unlike so many visits over the past decade, we continued undisturbed. The rain lightened.

VIDEO: Raise Your Mask Purim - The Fountainheads

“Pluralism and Normativity in the Jewish Experience”

By Greer Fay Cashman March 1, 2011

Live broadcast

There are no free lunches, even for chief rabbis. British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who will receive the Ladislaus Laszt Ecumenical and Social Concern Award at a ceremony at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on March 9, will also have to deliver a lecture on “The Challenge of Religious Difference in a Desecularizing Age.” That’s fair enough.

After all, recipients of awards often deliver an address either before or after the ceremony. But that’s not the end of it. Later in the day, Sacks will participate in a panel discussion on “Pluralism and Normativity in the Jewish Experience.”

His fellow panelists will be Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Prof. Alice Shalvi, with Prof. Ya’acov Blidstein as moderator.

Zeev Bielski: WZO split from Jewish Agency a ‘great error’

By Raphael Ahren March 4, 2011

The Jewish Agency’s recent separation from the World Zionist Organization was a “huge mistake” and the two organizations should reunite as soon as possible, MK and former chairman of both bodies Zeev Bielski (Kadima) said this week.

Report: Elementary schools misallocate funds for Hebrew instruction of immigrants

By Raphael Ahren March 4, 2011

Nearly 60 percent of the country’s elementary schools misallocated funds which the Education Ministry provided them to provide additional hours to support immigrant students, according to a report released this week.

Be the Jew You Make: Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness in Post-Ethnic America

By Shaul Magid Opinion March 2, 2011

Shaul Magid, a Sh’ma Advisory Committee member, is professor of Religious Studies and the Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Chair in Jewish Studies in Modern Judaism at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Jews in Israel have always argued, and rightly so, that living as a majority culture enables them to rethink notions of identity and self-fashioning.

In America, the diminishing of antisemitism and the “mongrelization” of Jewish identity (Jews share this with many ethnic minorities) has created another opportunity for Jews to rethink their identity as “Jews” both fully acculturated and interconnected with the ethnic fabric of the society in which they live.

New initiative sends MKs to US – not to talk, but to listen

By Ruth Eglash March 4, 2011

Six MKs will get a crash course on the intricate structure of the organized US Jewish community next month, under a new initiative sponsored by the Boston- and Israel-based Ruderman Family Foundation and Brandeis University The Jerusalem Postlearned on Thursday.

The Zionist Imperative

By Marla Braverman Opinion Winter 5771 / 2011, no. 43

Bitter historical experience teaches that Jewish sovereignty has no substitute. Of course, this does not mean that diaspora Jews should view Israel’s policies as unimpeachable.

On the contrary, precisely because Israel fulfills such a crucial role in safeguarding the continued existence of the Jewish people, Israel’s leaders and citizens ought to take into account what their brothers and sisters abroad have to say.

Natan Sharansky Meets with HUC-JIR's Year-In-Israel Students March 5, 2011

Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet refusenik and prisoner, Israeli political leader, human rights activist, author, and Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, spoke with HUC-JIR’s Year-In-Israel students on Monday, February 28, 2011.

The evening was arranged under the auspices of ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists of America, by Rabbi Stanley Davids, former Chair of ARZA and member of the HUC-JIR Board of Overseers in Israel.

Liz Piper-Goldberg's Response to Meeting with Natan Sharansky March 5, 2011

I was moved and excited by Sharansky’s emphasis on Jewish Peoplehood during his address. He argued that the same awakening of Jewish identity that occurred in Soviet Jews has happened for the more than 300,000 Birthright Israel participants, and all the more so, for participants in long term Israel programs, such as EIE, NFTY in Israel, or HUC-JIR’s Year in Israel.

As he stated, “Israel doesn’t have any magic Zionism to give you – so what’s happening?” North American Jews who visit Israel are discovering that we have a stake in a history, a people, and a nation – a nation that is exciting and interesting, despite the problems and challenges that we also find here.

You’ve got a (soldier) friend

By Elka Looks March 4, 2011

Three Israeli reservists have launched a grassroots initiative to expose a different side of the army they serve − and they want to be your friend.

Fighting for Roots

By Nate Hersh Opinion February 27, 2011

By coming here, I expected I would be taking up my responsibility to the Jewish people, vindicating my ancestor's struggles and preserving my Jewish heritage. I was inspired to act and think and fight like the early Zionists.

But of course the reality of immigration is much different. The everyday problems of being an immigrant can at times seem suffocating. I am still decidedly non-religious, and my Hebrew is barely passable.

Rediscovered, Ancient Color Is Reclaiming Israeli Interest

By Dina Kraft February 27, 2011

Yuval Sherlow, a prominent rabbi in Israel’s modern Orthodox circles — where wearing tekhelet in ritual fringes has become increasingly popular, as it has in American ones — agreed.

“Tradition is not so interested in science,” Mr. Sherlow said. “There is a type of denial of science and new information.”

The color ‘techelet’

By Jonah Mandel March 4, 2011

Not quite azure, more of a midnight blue. That is apparently the actual color of the biblical techelet, according to Prof. Zvi Koren, who spoke this week at the Shenkar College’s International Edelstein Color Symposium.

Bat mitzvah girls study feminine power March 1, 2011

"The idea is to allow the participants to experience, along with their mothers, a significant process of feminine empowerment as reflected in Judaism," explains Oshra Koren, who is in charge of the program on behalf of Matan – The Sadie Rennert Women's Institute for Torah Studies.

Religion and State in Israel

March 7, 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 - March 7, 2011 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

March 7, 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.

Drastic fall in yeshiva students getting state support

By Jonah Mandel March 4, 2011

A recent dramatic decrease in the number of haredi men enrolled in yeshivot is getting contradictory explanations from differing parties.

As of today, there are approximately 8,500 less yeshiva and kollel students receiving state stipends than there were at the end of 2010, a 6.5 percent drop that brings the number down from 130,000 to 121,500.

These numbers were revealed by Ynet on Thursday, and confirmed by the Education Ministry. The state is expected to save approximately NIS 70 million, which it would have otherwise spent on the yeshiva students.

Number of yeshiva students plummets

By Kobi Nahshoni March 4, 2011

The main reason for the smaller number of students is that many institutions have removed students who fail to attend classes regularly from their lists for fear that the entire institution would be disqualified.

In addition, there are institutions which have ceded budgetary support due to the tougher conditions, and several others which were disqualified in the latest reviews.

Rabbi Uri Regev, director of Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality, said in response: "The fear of inspection has led to the 'deletion' of thousands of students and helped the State to save tens of millions of shekels.

VIDEO: Israel Channel 10 TV on Yeshiva student stipends (Hebrew)

Click here for VIDEO

It pays to be Haredi

By Michal Raz-Chaimovitz and Dafna Harel-Kfir February 27, 2011

Discounts on bank accounts, mobile phone rates, public transportation, psychometric exam course, and infant products are just a few of the benefits that companies offer haredim (ultra-orthodox) in Israel.

These discounts come on top of the government subsidies for day care, kindergarten, arnona (local property tax), yeshiva students, and more.

The benefits are based on companies' marketing calculations to captureharedi consumers. In effect, ordinary consumers, who pay the full price, are subsidizing the haredim. In other words, religiosity pays.

Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Simhon reaches out to Haredi community

By Nadav Shemer March 1, 2011

Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon on Tuesday toured haredi areas to investigate ways of integrating a larger percentage of the community into the labor force.

...Simhon said there was no reason why young haredim couldn’t combine a career with their religious studies, just as secular people combine their careers with other pursuits.

According to statistics from the National Council for Economics in the Prime Minister’s Office, about 37 percent of haredi men participate in the workforce, compared with 67% of the total male population, while 48% of haredi women participate, compared with 57% overall. The haredi population numbers about 700,000 people, close to 10% of Israel’s population.

Plan will pay yeshiva students NIS 15,000 salary in construction March 3, 2011

Minister of Housing and Construction Ariel Atias agreed on a new plan with senior executives of the Association of Contractors and Builders in Israel to employ haredi (ultra orthodox) yeshiva students in the construction industry, "Yediot Ahronot" reports. The yeshiva students would earn a monthly salary of NIS 15,000.

New kids on the block

By Ofer Aderet March 6, 2011

They soon learned that the small neighborhood synagogue that once "barely drew 10 old men," had turned into a yeshiva attended by dozens of loud young men that also had a kitchen and dining room.

...The yeshiva, it turned out, belonged to a right-wing religious organization called Sha'alei Torah, which has hundreds of members throughout the country.

Three months ago, Adler and Barak petitioned the administrative court to remove the yeshiva permanently.

...In response, the Ramat Hasharon municipality said that the yeshiva was established without a permit, and that it has closed its dining hall.

'God is about connecting, not separating'

By Omri Efraim March 6, 2011

Parents in Jerusalem rallied on Sunday morning against the haredi separation barrier built between secular and religious kindergartens.

The parents of children who attend Pashosh kindergarten in Kiryat Hayovel protested against the separation fence established between the secular kindergarten and the haredi kindergarten Etz Hadaat next door.

Fence separates Haredi, secular Jerusalem kids

By Ronen Medzini March 4, 2011

The Jerusalem Municipality on Friday began constructing a separation fence between two kindergartens, an ultra-Orthodox and a secular one, highlighting the complex relations between the different communities living in the capital.

VIDEO: Israel Channel 10 TV Special – Segregation continues in Emmanuel school

Shas schools to take part in state testing again

By Jonah Mandel March 2, 2011

Shas’s Ma’ayan Hinuch Torani educational network will revert to taking part in the Meitzav achievement exams after a three-year hiatus, the Education Ministry informed the High Court of Justice on Monday.

The announcement was part of the ministry’s answer to a petition filed by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) last year, which charged that the state had failed to keep its promise to increase the supervision of the haredi schools regarding not only the core curriculum – which still applies to recognized but unofficial primary and secondary schools and “exempted” schools – but also other standards, such as the minimum number of visits by school supervisors each year, the number of teaching hours, the schoolbooks in the curriculum, the levels of learning achievement, and so on.

Students in Sephardic school network to take Meitzav exams

By Tomer Velmer February 28, 2011

The director of Hiddush - For Religious Freedom and Equality – Rabbi Uri Regev said: "Including the Meitzav tests in the Shas education system is a step forward in efforts to integrate general studies into the haredi education system, which will allow the state to follow up on the quality of education in the schools in a real and meaningful way."

Knesset c'tee to gov't: Fund Chabad activities overseas

By Rebecca Anna Stoil March 3, 2011

MKs called on the government to increase funding for Chabad educational institutions worldwide, and to restore the budget for Jewish education in the Diaspora, which has been reduced by nearly 80 percent in recent decades.

Rabbi Dichovsky appointed director of Rabbinic Courts

By Jonah Mandel March 2, 2011

The Committee for Appointing Rabbinical Judges on Tuesday chose Rabbi Shlomo Dichovsky as director of the Rabbinic Courts for four years.

Dichovsky, who retired from the Supreme Rabbinic Court two years ago, is a haredi rabbinic judge who is considered relatively open-minded and progressive, a combination that enabled the haredi and national-religious members of the committee to agree on his appointment.

Spat delays selection of Rabbinical Court judges

By Yair Ettinger March 2, 2011

Wrangling between Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman prevented yesterday's planned appointment of a permanent chairman of the rabbinical court system and the selection of judges for the High Rabbinical Court.

Kadima MK Schneller calls for ways to fire unsuitable rabbis

By Jonah Mandel March 2, 2011

There should be a way to dismiss neighborhood rabbis who do not adequately serve their communities, Kadima MK Otniel Schneller said Tuesday, during a State Control Committee follow-up discussion on a recent scathing State Comptroller’s Report.

Petition: Katsav fans encourage abuse March 2, 2011

An Internet petition was launched over the weekend against a letter in support of former President Moshe Katsav, which was signed by dozens of rabbis and yeshiva heads.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner: Judge in Katsav trial a gentile, so it's a gentiles' court

By Kobi Nahshoni February 28, 2011

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of the leading religious authorities who signed a letter in support of Moshe Katsav, explained to his students at the Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva why he was so forgiving towards the former president, who was convicted of two counts of rape and sexual harassment.

The rabbi said his stance stemmed from one of the judges' religious identities, the media pressure the court was subject to and the essence of Israeli law, which he believes does not allow for real justice.

The destroyers of the State

By Avirama Golan Opinion March 2, 2011

All these have a single goal: to show a population torn between Jewish law and the rabbis, one the one hand, and the state and its laws, on the other, that Jewish law - or at least the fanatic Haredi-religious Zionist version of it - has won, and the state has collapsed.

Justice, law, the army, the Knesset and the cabinet, and of course, freedom of speech and democracy in general are all as dust at the rabbis' feet.

The era of the rabbis’ decline

By Dov Halbertal Opinion March 4, 2011

The writer is a lecturer in Hebrew law at the University of Haifa and previously headed the Chief Rabbi’s bureau.

We must act to ensure that this period in which Judaism is characterized by narrow-mindedness and isolation will be but a transient episode, not a new and threatening Jewish ethos.

Religious Israelis must rise up and exercise their moral Jewish voice, in a determined and decisive way, and exclaim: No to the rabbis!

The Forgotten Commandment

By Rabbi Donniel Hartman Opinion February 27, 2011

These rabbis, similar to political tyrants, forgot one of the commandments, a commandment which when absent makes religion in general and the leader, religious or secular, a destructive force.

It is a commandment which our tradition teaches is the only one for which there is no atonement in this world if violated. In the Jewish tradition, this commandment is called hillul hashem, the desecration of God's name.

Top rabbi demands dialogue before West Bank outposts are demolished

By Chaim Levinson March 1, 2011

A top rabbi in the Religious-Zionist movement urged the prime minister on Tuesday to open dialogue before dismantling West Bank settlements. The comment came a day after police clashed with settlers after the demolishment of a West Bank outpost earlier in the day.

Rabbi Chaim Drukman sent a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that the "land is on fire" after Monday's violent clashes.

Rabbi Yisrael Rosen: Boycott MK married to gentile

By Ari Galahar March 3, 2011

Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, head of the Zomet Institute dedicated to merging Halachic Judaism with modern life, has launched a scathing attack on a Knesset Member of the Independence faction over her marriage to a non-Jewish man.

He made his statement following reports that Wilf would be appointed chairwoman of the Knesset's Education Committee.

Halacha's Moment of Truth

By Evelyn Gordon, Hadassah Levy Winter 5771 / 2011, no. 43

Evelyn Gordon is a journalist and commentator on public affairs. Hadassah Levy is website manager for Jewish Ideas Daily.

Halacha’s successful adaptation to the needs of exile preserved the Jews for 2,000 years. But by stymieing its readaptation to the needs of revived Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, its most zealous adherents are doing it a disservice.

Not only are they preventing it from fulfilling its original mission—i.e., providing Jewish solutions to the problems of a sovereign Jewish state—but they are also undervaluing the purpose of its exilic adaptation: The preservation of the Jewish people as a people.

"Long weekend" campaign promoted by Deputy PM Shalom

Only 150 join long weekend campaign on Facebook

By Lilach Weissman February 28, 2011

Shalom's private member's bill calls for an amendment to the Work Hours Law such that the workweek will run from Monday through Friday afternoon, with the workday extended by 30 minutes.

When daylight savings time is in effect, the workday on Friday will end at 2 pm, and during winter time, it will end at 1:30 pm. Saturday and Sunday will be defined as days of rest.

VIDEO: Interview - "Long weekend" campaign promoted by Deputy PM Shalom


By Yossi Verter March 4, 2011

Last Friday morning, I received a call from a senior Prime Minister's Bureau official. He said that a special telephone called a "Shabbatphone," invented by the Zomet Institute, which develops technologies for the religiously observant, has been installed in the homes of the Sabbath-observant officials.

A special mechanism lets a person place a call without desecrating the Sabbath. When the phone rings, it's probably the prime minister, or someone on his behalf. All the religious officials talk on the Sabbath with the prime minister, and among themselves, as much as necessary, said the official.

New Pipeline Addresses Israeli Water Shortages Caused By Jewish Sabbath, Muslim Holy Day

By Michele Chabin, Religion News Service February 10, 2011

Israeli officials have installed an $11 million pipe to ease a weekly water shortage on Fridays as observant Jews prepare for the Sabbath and Muslims ritually wash themselves before weekly prayers.

Rabbi, let's talk about it

By Akiva Novick March 6, 2011

A new course launched recently trains 30 "marriage counselors" – the modest equivalent of secular sexologists – who will combine halachic aspects in their discreet counseling.

The course is being held at the Puah Institute, which for the past 20 years has been specializing in giving consultation, direction and help to couples suffering from gynecological problems and infertility.

Self-proclaimed rabbi Elior Chen sentenced to 24 years in jail

By Aviad Glickman February 28, 2011

Self-proclaimed rabbi Elior Chen, who was convicted of severely abusing children in Jerusalem, was sentenced Monday to 24 years in prison.

Rabbi Avraham Froelich, who represents the Eda Haredit, also defended the convict. "Chen is a naïve and delicate soul. The evidence proves he did nothing. This is a Dreyfus plot," he said.

Haredi 'Rabbi' Elior Chen sentenced to 24 years in prison for child abuse

By Nir Hasson February 28, 2011

Chen, who called himself a rabbi, told his disciples the abuse was necessary to "purify" the children, all members of one family.

Rabbi, how do you like my glasses?

By Ari Galahar February 28, 2011

Leaders of the Vizhnitz Hasidism have issued new instructions in regards to the purchase of eyeglasses, as part of their attempt to combat modernization.

In a special sermon to the young yeshiva students of the Hasidic dynasty, considered one of the biggest in the haredi sector, Rabbi Israel Hager, the successor of the Vizhnitz Hasidism's founder, discussed the dangers inherent in modernizations on the secular street and urged the students not to wear metal glasses and contact lenses.

Jerusalem: Police disperse Haredi protest on Highway 1 March 6, 2011

Dozens of haredim attempted to block highway 1 at the entrance to Jerusalem Sunday night using burning garbage cans.

Shas threatens to quit coalition if housing shortage not addressed

By Lilach Weissman March 6, 2011

Shas chairman Minister of Interior Eli Yishai today threatened on "Voice of Israel Radio" that the party would quit the government if it did not approve a plan for addressing the housing shortage by increasing the supply of homes.

Shas Interior Minister threatens to quit government

Shas: UTJ's Gafni holding funds from Religious Affairs Ministry March 3, 2011

Shas officials have accused the chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) of preventing funding for the Religious Affairs Ministry Israel Radio reported Thursday.

Yishai: Housing prices will cause a social catastrophe

By Raz Smolsky March 4, 2011

“There will be a social catastrophe here if we do not learn to provide land and address the horrible bureaucracy,” Interior Minister Eli Yishai told a conference on planning and construction yesterday.

Eli Yishai Prays for Rav Ovadiah Yosef's Health

By Gil Ronen March 2, 2011

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef - the spiritual leader of the Shas movement, former Sephardic Chief Rabbi and a sage highly respected by both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews has taken ill, and has asked his followers to pray for his health.

Shas chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai did just that Wednesday, at the Tomb of Shimon HaTzaddik (Simon the Just) in Jerusalem.

Time on his side

By Tal Niv Opinion March 4, 2011

Yishai is holding on.

...He knows that anyone who doesn't resign, who doesn't accept responsibility, triumphs over decency. One can only imagine what would have happened had Netanyahu decided that the coalition could do without Shas.

From Ethiopia to the courtroom

By Margaret Stoner March 6, 2011

Despite such remote isolation, the village upheld Jewish practice for 2,000 years. And though much of the Ethiopian population has become more secularized, Leah maintains a strong connection.

“Being Jewish means everything to me,” she asserts.

Israel Revokes Anglican Bishop's Residency Permit

By Judith Sudilovsky, Religion News Service March 3, 2011

Israel has declined to renew a residency permit for Anglican Bishop Suheil Dawani of Jerusalem, according to the leader of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center (ICC).

The action took place several weeks ago but the bishop's office was trying to resolve the issue without media attention, said ICC Executive Secretary Yusef Daher.

Religion and State in Israel

March 7, 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.