Sunday, May 1, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - May 2, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

May 2, 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.

VIDEO: "Stuffing us into a box" Free Marriage campaign

Click here for VIDEO April 28, 2011

‘Think of non-Jewish immigrants from FSU as close kin’

By Jonah Mandel April 27, 2011

Try to imagine non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union as close kin, who should be helped to return to the Jewish people, said head of the State Conversion Authority Rabbi Haim Druckman on Tuesday at a conference honoring converts on the day of the Mimunah celebrations that took place in Ashkelon, organized by the World Federation of Moroccan Jewry.

“If I had a cousin who came from there,” Druckman said, “who needed to convert – wouldn’t I do anything in my power to help her? They are all our cousins,” he said of the FSU immigrants.

Reform Jews: No to 'kosher' bus lines

By Kobi Nahshoni April 26, 2011

Following a High Court ruling that sex segregation must not be imposed on public transportation, the battle against "strictly kosher" bus lines is now using the weapon most identified with the ultra-Orthodox public – pashkevils.

Some 15 activists of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and the Israel Religious Action Center last week got on "kosher" buses in haredi neighborhoods, dressed in white, and handed out leaflets explaining the High Court ruling on the matter.

Click here for PHOTOS

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner: Is it permissible for a man to sit next to a woman on the bus? April 29, 2011

A: It is permissible if there is no other place, as is found in Baba Batra 57. The most important thing is not to stare at her.

VIDEO: Orthodox synagogues refuse Bar Mitzvah for autistic children; Reform synagogue welcomes them (Hebrew)

Click here for VIDEO

See also April 12, 2011

Are Some Israelis Being Passed Over?

By Lawrence Rifkin April 13, 2011

“If I were to grade Israel for religious freedom on a scale of one to 10, I’d have to give it a five,” Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), the umbrella organization for local Reform Jewry, tells The Report. “Five is very bad.”

“No one in Israel is preventing anyone from being a Reform Jew,” he says. “In that area, the score might be a nine. But everything having to do with religious freedom and freedom from religion is a major problem.”

“It’s not just the lack of freedom to marry and divorce where you want and how you want – it’s the impact on gender equality between the husband and wife that traditional religious values impose – and these values are not desirable to everyone,” he says, referring most notably to the matter of agunot, Hebrew for “chained women,” or women whose husbands will not grant them a divorce.

“Government money funds Haredi schools that overlook the core curriculum, not only regarding studies that prepare one to go out into the world, but also studies that educate toward democracy,” Kariv complains.

“This funding has been made possible by the institutionalization of matters linking religion and state. This threatens not only the country’s economic future, but its democratic values.”

Democracy in Israel cannot exist without a pluralistic Judaism

By Charlie Kalech Opinion April 20, 2011

Israel’s Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar of the Likud and the Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni of Kadima recently flew to the United States at the invitation of the Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly to attend the R.A. convention in Las Vegas.

Their appearance together is indicative of a growing trend in Israel of partners working together for the greater good. In this case: religious pluralism.

Ad: Reform Jews oppose nomination of Rabbi Richard Jacobs to head URJ

Click here for Ad

The Zionism of Rabbi Richard Jacobs – A Model for Our Times

Rabbi David Ellenson is President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). Rabbi Naamah Kelman is dean of the Jerusalem campus of HUC-JIR. Rabbi Michael Marmur, who resides in Jerusalem, is vice president for academic affairs at HUC-JIR. April 26, 2011

The current advertisement means that a handful of Reform Jews have now joined previously Right-leaning critics who in recent weeks have challenged the Zionist credentials of Rabbi Jacobs.

The claim is that Rabbi Jacobs’ involvement with groups promoting human rights and social improvement aligns him with crazed extremists. Here are five reasons why such a canard needs to be refuted with vigor.

Some Reform rabbis doubt new movement chief's devotion to Israel

The new leader of Reform Judaism: A Zionist and lover of Israel

By Shlomo Shamir April 28, 2011

Later, he spent almost 20 years he living in Jerusalem off and on; he studied at the Shalom Hartman Institute, which awarded him the title of senior rabbinic fellow. Now Jacobs has an apartment in Jerusalem, and he and his family visit Israel often.

His congregation in Scarsdale started a "sister-congregation" in Mevaseret Zion, under the leadership of Rabbi Maya Leibowitz, the first Israeli-born woman to be ordained as a Reform rabbi.

An Extremist Coup at the Union for Reform Judaism

By Carol Greenwald, PhD Opinion April 29, 2011

The Reform movement has always leaned toward the political Left, but Rabbi Jacobs’ appointment has the potential to drive Zionist Jews out of the Reform movement and to create a schism with mainstream Jewry, much as J street has set itself in opposition to AIPAC, the Jewish organization long recognized by all religious branches of the Jewish community as representing their pro-Israel views to the Congress.

Do Israeli and American Jews Need Each Other?

By Yehudah Mirsky Opinion April 29, 2011

Book Review: Shtetl, Bagel, Baseball by Shmuel Rosner

America, for its part, has much to teach Israelis about how people of vastly different persuasions can somehow live together, how religion thrives precisely when it keeps its distance from city hall, and how Jewish identity not only takes its lumps from but can also flourish in the endless experimentation of freedom.

It comes down to this: for the two Jewish centers truly to engage one another on all levels, each would have to reach out fully to the other while fully holding its own. Sadly, the likelihood ofthat happening is a bet against very long odds.

Birthright is missing the target with condensed Israel tours

Birthright Israel tours are insulting young Jews' intelligence

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion April 29, 2011

Just imagine the effect of a joint Israel-Diaspora global relief work project on its participants first of all. And then how about a worldwide year-long program of Jewish studies, with brightest academic stars taking students from the original biblical texts all the way to the great Jewish philosophers of the last century?

Taking place at 10 different locations on five continents, under the auspices of the leading universities in every country with a sizable Jewish community, freed from the shackles of religion but with the fervor of a yeshiva beit midrash.

How can Jews be 'Orthodox' without living in Israel?

By Gil Troy Opinion April 28, 2011

Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGill University and a Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

Anyone who feels commanded to live fully as a Jew should acknowledge Israel’s centrality in that mission. Moreover, Orthodoxy seems to be particularly rigid these days, with fanatic rabbis turning ritually autistic, blurring minor and major commandments, demanding blind observance to all religious dictates equally, passionately, fully. do so many rigidly pious Jews ignore the commandment to live in Israel? How do they reconcile this contradiction? And why do their rabbis, who hector them about the most minor kashrut questions, avoid this subject in sermons?

Jews, Evangelicals Search For Ways To Discuss Israel

By Debra Rubin Religion News Service April 29, 2011

American Jews and evangelicals need a formal mechanism to discuss their differences and similarities on support for Israel, leaders from both sides said Thursday (April 28) at the American Jewish Committee's Global Forum 2011.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly, spoke alongside Gary Bauer, president of American Values and a board member of Christians United for Israel, about Jewish groups' concerns over evangelical support for Israel.

'July in J'lem' program enters 5th year April 27, 2011

Yeshiva University announced recently that registration has begun for the fifth annual “July in Jerusalem Program,” a month-long Israel experience – combining Torah learning, volunteering and group touring – for college students with limited backgrounds in Jewish studies.

‘Just like in the movies’

By Ellen Schur Brown April 29, 2011

The Israeli teens are here as shlichim, ambassadors, but they’re also here to learn about American Judaism, touring Congregation Shaarey Tikvah (Conservative) and Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple (Reform) to learn about the various movements within American Judaism.

Meeting rabbis from different movements at a panel discussion was eye-opening, said the Israeli teens. Rabbi Aron Bayer of Fuchs Mizrachi School introduced the concept of Modern Orthodoxy, speaking alongside Rabbi Hal Rudin-Luria of B’nai Jeshurun Congregation (Conservative) and Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk of Fairmount Temple.

Egged Tours acquires Oranim Educational Initiatives

By Nadav Shemer April 28, 2011

Photo: Courtesy of Jewlicious

Egged Tours, a subsidiary of leading public-transportation operator Egged Cooperative, has completed its multimillion- shekel acquisition of Oranim Education Initiatives, the company has announced, in a move that will give it better access to the incoming tourism market.

In the Eye of Jerusalem’s Archaeological Storm

By Israel Finkelstein April 26, 2011

Israel Finkelstein is a professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University.

Archaeological activity in Jerusalem has been sucked into a whirlwind of conflicting political agendas, and the site commonly referred to as “the City of David” is in the eye of the storm. At issue is a place of seminal importance for the Jewish people and indeed for anyone who cherishes the heritage of Western civilization.

When dealing with archaeology in Jerusalem, one must first know the facts. Otherwise it is easy to be led astray by unfounded historical interpretations or to succumb to misinformation from those pursuing their own political agendas.

Interview: Christian Group Seeks to Convert, Move to Yesha

By David Lev April 27, 2011

Hundreds of American Christian converts to Judaism could, if a plan works out, move to Israel, serve in the IDF, and take up residence in Samaria.

It's not pie-in-the-sky, but a plan being developed by a Portland, Oregon radio host called Baruch Avramovich, claims MK Lea Shemtov.

New homes to keep Christians in J'lem?

AFP April 26, 2011

One of the chief problems is the lack of affordable housing, leading the Latin Patriarchate, which represents the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, and several Franciscan monasteries to team up to create new, affordable housing for Christians in Arab east Jerusalem.

They hope that by creating new housing options for Christian Palestinians, fewer will chose to join the hundreds who leave the Holy Land permanently every year.

Religion and State in Israel

May 2, 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 - May 2, 2011 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

May 2, 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.

The Haredim and Yom HaShoah

By Steve Lipman April 27, 2011

The Holocaust, whose memory usually serves as an honored shared point for the Jewish community, sometimes is a point of contention for haredi Jews, who say they feel excluded from mainstream histories of the period.

Dr. Meir Wikler, a psychotherapist who lives in Brooklyn’s Borough Park, has met with Yad Vashem officials for several years in an effort to sensitize them to the concerns of fervently Orthodox Jews.

Marking Yom HaShoah: Calendars and Memory, God and History

By Rabbi Daniel Greyber April 27, 2011

The Orthodox Chief Rabbinate decided in 1949 that the Shoah (the Hebrew, literally meaning "catastrophe," that is now used for the Holocaust) should be commemorated on the 10th of Tevet, a minor fast day already established in the Jewish calendar.

In 1951, the Knesset ignored the Chief Rabbinate's decision to incorporate commemoration of the Shoah into the existing calendar of traditional Jewish days of mourning.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to visit Israel & meet Rabbi Israel Meir Lau

By Itamar Eichner April 17, 2011

American basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will visit Israel in July and meet with Rabbi Israel Meir Lau to discuss a film that he is making about World War II, the rabbi said recently.

The film is based on the book "Brothers in Arms", which Abdul-Jabbar co-authored and deals with the American troops who liberated Nazi concentration camps in the end of World War II. Abdul-Jabbar's own father served on the 761st Tank Battalion, which liberated the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany.

IDF discharges thousands of Haredim

By Kobi Nahshoni April 28, 2011

Thousands of yeshiva students in recent weeks have received letters informing them that they have been exempt from military service.

The letters were sent following the ultra-Orthodox draft reform approved by the government earlier this year. A military official confirmed the details to Ynet.

The newly discharged men are yeshiva students over the age of 28, or younger yeshiva students who have at least three children.

Young couples, vote for Atias

By Nehemia Shtrasler Opinion May 1, 2011

But if Atias is reading this article, he's probably laughing hysterically. After all, he was only sent to the Knesset to benefit young ultra-Orthodox couples, and now he's being asked to show consideration for the entire public. \

After all, if he does so, he won't receive the outstanding-politician award.

PHOTO ESSAY: Next Year in Uman: A Journey to Ukraine

Click here for PHOTO ESSAY

Jerusalem forum for at-risk youth teaches coping skills

By Melanie Lidman April 28, 2011

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was joined by teachers, youth groups, youth advocates, city councilors and students for the first-ever “Forum for At-Risk Youth” on Wednesday evening, in the municipality’s first attempt to unite the city’s various educational programs to solve some of the most pressing problems faced by the city’s teens.

The ultra-orthodox is the sector with one of the highest drop-out rates, at 10.9 percent. Additionally, 8% of haredi youth are not enrolled in any kind of educational framework.

J'lem: 2 Jews accused of attacking 2 Arabs in Mea Shearim April 26, 2011

Police arrested two haredim from Mea Shearim neighborhood are suspected of casting stones towards two young Arab men who came to the religious quarter to take aluminum foil leftovers thrown in public trash cans on Monday night.

Israel unveils 'first sin-free Yiddish smartphone'

AFP April 27, 2011

An Israeli telecoms company is offering ultra-Orthodox Jewish clients a kosher smartphone with Hassidic folk music ringtones and a menu in Yiddish, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Samaria Rabbi Elyakim Levanon: Coordinate Joseph's Tomb visits April 29, 2011

Samaria Chief Rabbi Elyakim Levanon called on rabbis and religious leaders this week not to send their students to pray at Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus, without coordinating the visit with the Israel Defense Forces.

Speaking following Sunday's shooting incident at the holy site, which left one Jewish worshipper dead and several injured, the rabbi condemned religious leaders encouraging their followers to pray there.

Dozens arrested trying to reach Joseph's Tomb in Nablus

By Tovah Lazaroff and staff April 28, 2011

Dozens of right-wing activists and settler hilltop youth were arrested by security forces after they attempted to enter the Joseph's Tomb holy site in the West Bank city of Nablus late Wednesday night.

‘We'll continue to enter Joseph’s Tomb with vigor'

By Jonah Mandel April 27, 2011

Benny Machlev, director-general of the Yesod Olam Society, explained why some – primarily Breslav Hassidim like himself – put themselves at risk to be physically present, even if for short periods of time, at sites believed to be the burial sites of important Jewish figures.

“Every rabbi will tell you that the sanctity and dignity of the grave site of a righteous person must be safeguarded, and we must strengthen our control of it,” he said.

'Worshippers visit Joseph's Tomb every night'

By Raanan Ben-Zur April 24, 2011

Almost every night, Jewish worshippers sneak into Palestinian territory, where Joseph's Tomb is located, without obtaining a permit.

On Sunday morning such a "routine" visit ended with a fatal shooting that killed Ben-Yosef Livnat, a 24-year-old father-of-four and the nephew of Sports and Culture Minister Limor Livnat.

The entrance into the Tomb vicinity is usually coordinated by Chairman of the Yesod Olam association Haim Reicher, who also arranges entries to other holy sites in the West Bank.

Culture and Sports Minister Livnat: PM must enable Jews to worship at Joseph’s Tomb

By Rebecca Anna Stoil April 28, 2011

Only days after her nephew was killed trying to reach Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat called upon Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to take steps to enable more Jews to pray at the site.

Justice Minister Neeman calls to regain control of Joseph’s Tomb

By Tovah Lazaroff April 27, 2011

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman called for Israel to regain control of Joseph’s Tomb, located in the Palestinian city of Nablus, which is the site of the Biblical city of Shechem. At present the tomb is under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

Relinquishing Joseph’s Tomb was supposed to be temporary

By Rabbi Michael Freund Opinion April 27, 2011

Moreover, it is time to correct the error made nearly 11 years ago, when Israel forsook this holy place.

After the IDF withdrew, the Israeli public was assured that the step was not permanent, but merely a tactical move dictated by the situation on the ground. Just hours after the retreat, the website of Yediot Aharonot reported: “Israel pulls out of Joseph’s Tomb – ‘Temporarily.’”

A Record 15,000 Mark Joshua's Memorial Eve

By Maayana Miskin April 29, 2011

A record 15,000 people visited Joshua's Tomb on Thursday night to mark the anniversary of his passing.

The event was the first to be made an official state celebration. Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger was present, as were Minister of Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein and four Members of Knesset, Danny Danon (Likud), Uri Ariel (Ichud Leumi), Aryeh Eldad (Ichud Leumi) and Michael Ben-Ari (Ichud Leumi).

Arkia to halt Saturday leasing for El Al

By Omer Rabin April 26, 2011

The decision by Israel's charter airlines not to let El Al use their codes for Saturday and holiday flights could force El Al to decide between grounding its fleet on the Sabbath and losing substantial revenue, or flying on the Sabbath and losing haredi (ultra-orthodox) patronage.

In the wake of the loss of Sun D'Or's license, El Al has said that it will continue its policy of no Sabbath flights, partly in response to threats of haredi boycotts.

Safed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu boasts that anti-Arab edict worked

By Eli Ashkenazi April 29, 2011

Safed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu yesterday boasted that his edict calling for people not to rent apartments to non-Jews was working, while a minster praised his efforts to maintain the Jewish nature of Israel.

“The Jewish law is clear,” Eliyahu said at a conference organized by the rightist religious movement Komemiyut.
“In Safed the halakhic ruling worked, people don’t sell land or rent or sell apartments to non-Jews.”

Lands conference awards Safed rabbi who said Jews shouldn't rent to non-Jews

By Eli Ashkenazi April 28, 2011

The rabbi of Safed who encouraged citizens to refuse to rent apartments to non-Jews won an award at an annual conference dealing with issues of the Land of Israel this week.

Eliyahu reiterated his prior message at the conference held in the central town of Ramle, saying "the Jewish law is clear… Thank God that in Safed, land isn't sold to foreigners."

Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri, is there a desire to 'Judaize' Israel's mixed towns?

By Gili Cohen April 27, 2011

Shimon Lankri has been mayor of Acre since 2003. Yesterday Lankri participated in the Ramle Conference - Between Israel and the Nations...

During the conference, a panel of mayors of mixed Jewish-Arab towns - including Acre, Lod and Ramle - dealt with the question whether a "Jewish majority" was necessary in mixed towns.
Is there a desire to "Judaize" the mixed towns in this country?

West Bank Rabbi Dov Lior: Pay Bedouin to move to Libya, Saudi Arabia

By Ben Hartman April 26, 2011

Israel must offer cash and other incentives to encourage Bedouin citizens of the state to emigrate to other parts of the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and Libya, a West Bank rabbi said on Tuesday.

“We must launch incentives, even offering money to encourage their return to the countries they came from."

IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz: A lesson in connecting

By Jonatan Urich April 28, 2011

'When I talk about connecting, I'm not only talking about secular guys in the army," Chief IDF Rabbi Peretz says. "I am specifically referring to everyone – including the religious and even the more religious."

One process currently occurring is a tightening of the connection between the military rabbinate and the chief rabbinate of Israel.

"To me it is important to connect the military rabbinate with the chief rabbinate, which I see as a partner in dialogue and consultation, both because this is a natural step and because it is a very important connection for Israeli society."

J'lem prosecution closes bribery case against Haifa Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen May 1, 2011

The Jerusalem Prosecutor's Office has told Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen that it has decided to close the case that was opened against him in connection with a bribery scheme, following the rabbi's announcement that he will no longer serve in public positions.

It may be dangerous to silence Israel's rabbis

By Nathan Jeffay April 28, 2011

It seems like an internal rabbinical row, but it is actually a dispute that cuts right to the heart of what it means to be a rabbi in the Jewish state.

In recent weeks, Israel's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has come out against the practice of rabbis issuing letters outlining their positions on current affairs.

IDF soldiers celebrate Passover with Israel’s leaders April 28, 2011

Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and his family ate the traditional Passover Seder with commanders and combat soldiers of the Gideon battalion of the IDF’s infantry Golani Brigade on Monday (Apr. 18).

PHOTOS: 10,000 Matzos to IDF April 28, 2011

Rabbi Menachem Ofen and members of the Ohr Lachayal organization, gave out 110,000 shmurah matzos to IDF soldiers, in conjunction with Vaad L'maan Hachayal.

Israel's secret weapon: Chabad involvement in the IDF

Click here for VIDEO

Beersheva Chabad Inaugurates 5-Story Building April 28, 2011

Chabad of Be'er Sheva inaugurated yesterday a spacious 5-story building to serve as the center for their proliferating outreach activities.

Chametz sales up 27% over Passover

By Gil Kalian, Calcalist April 30, 2011

This Passover wasn't all matzah for many Israelis. The sales of chametz products at the non-kosher Tiv Taam supermarket chain – including bagels, bread, pita bread, crackers and frozen pastries – were up 22% compared to last year, while the sales of beer jumped by 33%.

An adjusted calculation including the beer points to a 27% rise in chametz sales compared to last year's holiday. "This is a phenomenal increase for us," says the chain's Sales Manager Amit Ze'ev.

The seder night question

By Amalia Rosenblum April 28, 2011

According to the findings of a national survey, 30 percent conduct a seder out of religious beliefs, and as such, take pains to adhere to halakha during the ceremony. Most of the other 70 percent said they hold a seder for "reasons that have to do with family, Jewish culture and tradition."

How does one explain the gap between the importance of this holiday in many secular Jewish homes and the inability to extract much significance out of it?

Gentile returns hametz he took from J'lem community

By Jonah Mandel April 28, 2011

After causing great consternation to the haredi community in Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, a seemingly penitent gentile has decided to return the hametz he had taken before Pessah.

...According to a report on the competing Kikar Hashabat website, the Muslim man told the rabbi that it was against his religion to drink alcohol, and therefore he was bringing the merchandise back.

Passover diet causes problems for Israeli animals

By Daniel Estrin April 15, 2011

No, the animals in Israel aren’t Jewish. But their owners are. So, according to the Israeli rabbis who certify kosher food, if you’re a devout Jew, you’re not only prohibited from eating grain. So that means you can’t eat food that came from an animal that ate grain. So what’s the solution? Put the animals on a Passover diet.

Click here for AUDIO

Click here for PHOTO Slideshow

Syria invites Israeli Rabbi Yeoshiau Pinto to visit Damascus

By Jonah Mandel May 1, 2011

With highly improbable timing, even as it guns down its own people while attempting to retain power, the Syrian government has invited an Israeli rabbi to visit the country where many of his forefathers are buried, and to pray at their Damascus gravesites.

Over the course of Mimouna celebrations at Moshav Gimzo, between Lod and Modi’in, last week, Jack Avital, the visiting head of the Brooklyn-based Sephardic National Alliance, told Rabbi Yeoshiau Pinto that the Syrian ambassador to the US, Imad Moustapha, had asked him to invite the rabbi to Syria.

Religion and State in Israel

May 2, 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.