Sunday, May 29, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - May 30, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

May 30, 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.

Salaries of new municipal rabbis to increase by 250%

By Zvi Zrahiya and Yair Ettinger May 24, 2011

The salaries of newly appointed municipal rabbis will be increased by 250 percent, while the salaries of more veteran rabbis will be held at their current level, Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi and head of salaries at the Finance Ministry, Ilan Levin, agreed.

Shahar Ilan, deputy director of the Hiddush for Religious Freedom and Equality, said that the municipal rabbis positions existed mainly for political appointments by the ultra-Orthodox parties.

"It's not clear what exactly it is that they do and get paid for," he said. "Instead of giving them grand salaries we should cancel the position altogether."

Treasury agrees to dramatic hike in city rabbis' wages

By Jonah Mandel May 23, 2011

The Treasury has agreed to a dramatic increase in the salaries of new city rabbis, a senior Finance Ministry official announced Monday during a meeting of the Knesset’s Finance Committee.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Reform Movement in Israel, said,

“The only shameful thing about the city rabbis’ wages is the agreement between the treasury and Gafni, who is exploiting his position as head of the Finance Committee for sectorial accomplishments, and continuing to take money from public funds.”

Woman sues Chevra Kadisha over funeral segregation

By Raanan Ben-Zur May 25, 2011

A resident of Netanya recently filed a suit for NIS 32,000 (roughly $9,000) against Chevra Kadisha after she was asked to stand separate from men in a funeral she attended. "This is discriminatory and is against our world view," she claimed.

Susan Ayad said that last January she attended the funeral of a close friend in a Netanya cemetery. As they gathered in the eulogy square the mourners were shocked discover that large planters dividing the floor into two parts.

"The rabbi holding the service on behalf of Chevra Kadisha asked the men to stand on one side of the partition and the women to stand on the other side," the claim stated.

The peripatetic priest

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion May 29, 2011

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinic court pleader who works at The Center for Women’s Justice

A couple married in accordance with Jewish law in England. Nine years later, they appeared before an Israeli rabbinic court embroiled in a contested divorce, in which the husband asked to divorce his wife against her will.

The husband claimed he was a Cohen – of the priestly sect – and that his wife had been a divorcee, and therefore he was not allowed to marry her in the first place. Because of this, said the husband, the court should support his claim and order his wife to accept a get.

...In a civilized and ordered world, a husband need just tell a court, "I want a divorce because our marriage has broken down and we no longer live together," and the court would require his wife to divorce.

Redefining 'pro-choice'

By Ruth Eglash May 26, 2011

“I’ve known this group for many years, and they are very pushy. Most of the volunteers are religious women, and they tell other women what to do,” says Rina Bar-Tal, chair of the Israel Women’s Network (IWN), who calls Efrat’s work a “catastrophe” and likens their methods to the vigorous proselytizing of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“This organization represents an extreme minority and not the religious public in general,” continues Bar-Tal, a member of a Health Ministry committee for women’s health issues who meets regularly with representatives from the haredi community.

Can a Jew legally cancel his Jewishness?

By Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer Opinion May 26, 2011

The writer is President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America.

The tumult around author Yoram Kaniuk and his eagerness to jettison his Jewishness, as if discarding an inaccurate adjective, stems from realities that he did not create, and begets opportunities that he would never anticipate.

...I want to be a Jew and a Zionist in the classical and messy sense, surrounded with swirling and conflicting ideas about what being Jewish in a competitive marketplace entails, about the challenges of multiple identities, prepared to wrestle with the many options of what the State of Israel can be and what it can embody for the Jewish people and for the world.

Redemption and Independence

By Marc Rosenstein Opinion May 24, 2011

The question of how to observe Yom Ha'atzma'ut is actually the symbolic manifestation of a serious dilemma: what is the Jewish state? Is it indeed a turning point in history of messianic significance? Or is it just another in an ongoing series of historical ups and downs?

Does it represent Divine intervention in history? Or is it just the product of the interaction of sociological, economic, and political factors that can be rationally understood?

Is Israel a holy state, or just a state like any other? Does its existence lay upon us religious obligations? Should the state itself bound by religion or by religion-based values?

"Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State"

27th Annual International Conference of the Association for Israel Studies

Prof. Moshe Halbertal of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and New York University Law School will deliver the keynote address "What is a Jewish Democratic State."

Halbertal, who directs the Tikvah Center for Law and Jewish Civilization at NYU, spent this year as a visiting professor at New York University and Harvard.

International Conference on Religious Law and State Affairs

Jewish Law and State Affairs

  • Chair: Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University
  • Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University, Halachic Ruling on Political Matters
  • Dr. Haim Shapira, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University, Religion and Politics in Jewish Law: From Unity to Separation and Back
  • Dr. Moshe Hellinger, Political Science, Bar-Ilan University, Civil Disobedience on Religious Grounds in Contemporary Religious-Zionist Thought

The Tager Family Jewish Law Program, established by Romie and Esther Tager, of Great Britain, advances research in Jewish law from a variety of viewpoints – among them, religious, historical, and philosophical.

From the Four Corners

By Alex Joffe Opinion May 24, 2011

Alex Joffe is a research scholar with the Institute for Jewish and Community Research.

...Such questions are especially acute in Israel, where the gatekeeper role is played by the chief rabbinate.

In the case of Ethiopian Jews, essentially cut off from the post-biblical development of rabbinic Judaism and airlifted dramatically to Israel in the 1990s, they were declared Jewish by Chief Rabbis Ovadia Yosef and Shlomo Goren—but other authorities demanded that they go through a modified conversion ritual.

This was met with vociferous protest but ultimately accepted, and their subsequent integration into Israeli society, albeit difficult, has been largely successful. (Holdouts include the ultra-Orthodox, or haredim, who may be the true "exotic Jews'" of the global community.)

Ugandan Jews and politics get native rabbi fired up

By Dan Pine May 26, 2011

By 1920 they had adopted Jewish practice, though they were not considered halachically Jewish. Thus in 2002, Conservative rabbis from the United States and Israel traveled to Uganda to oversee the official conversion or affirmation of Abayudaya, including immersion in a community mikvah.

Sizomu says his community has forged numerous ties with individuals in Israel, though it appears the Abayudaya have a ways to go in being fully accepted by the religious establishment there. But he remains hopeful.

“The Masorti [Conservative] movement is reaching out to our youth,” he said. “Through the embassy and other agencies, I would love to see my young people visit Israel and have a very close connection.”

Home, finally

By Oren Kessler May 27, 2011

[photo no connection to article]

His status meant the family was among the first Bnei Menashe to set foot on Israeli soil, with the assistance of Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail – a tireless seeker of the lost tribes who was convinced of the Bnei Menashe’s Jewishness and who raised funds to facilitate their immigration.

But it would be 10 years before the Chief Rabbinate recognized the community as Jews, and most Bnei Menashe – the Gangtes included – initially arrived on tourist visas.

...Ten years after the Gangtes’ arrival in Israel, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar recognized the Bnei Menashe as remnants of the lost Israelites. The extended family – most of whom were by then in Israel – completed a giur lehumra, a conversion process conducted as a “precautionary” measure to eliminate any uncertainty over a person’s Judaism.

Conversion, a ‘vital task’

By Greer Fay Cashman May 5, 2011

Meeting at its Jerusalem headquarters last week, the World Emunah executive, after listening to a lecture by Benny Ish Shalom, head of the Joint Conversion Institute, passed a resolution stating that it regards conversion as a national goal of top priority and called on the national government and rabbinic leadership to join forces towards the success of what it termed “a vital task.”

To set the minds of converts at ease, Ish Shalom, quoting from authoritative texts, said: “There is no cancellation of conversion, no matter what.”

The only exception he said, is if the convert deceived the Rabbinical Court and provided false and misleading information, such as claiming to be single when in fact he or she is married.

With Jewish Agency out, Zionist groups get into promoting aliyah

By Raphael Ahren May 27, 2011

The British Zionist community is the first to stage an organized effort to promote immigration without the Agency, but others are expected to follow.

As reported first by Anglo File, the WZO, which split from the Jewish Agency last year, plans to use its new independence to focus specifically on immigration promotion.

West Bank cities dropped from Jewish Agency site promoting aliya

By Ruth Eglash May 26, 2011

A community-aliya program aimed at new immigrants from English-speaking countries has sparked controversy in recent weeks as the Jewish Agency has pulled back from promoting two of the towns involved because they are beyond the pre-1967 lines, The Jerusalem Post learned on Wednesday.

[T]hree weeks ago, two of the towns, Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel – both of which are situated over the Green Line – were removed from the information on the website.

JPPI: Demographic Trends and Options in Israel and in the Diaspora May 24, 2011

After five years of intensive research and analysis, the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) is set to release its new book, “Jewish Population Policies: Demographic Trends and Options in Israel and in the Diaspora,” written by Professor Sergio DellaPergola.

The main recommendations include:

  • establishing final borders of the State of Israel;
  • facilitating cultural absorption of non-Jewish members of Jewish households into a Jewish context and promote a friendlier approach to conversion;
  • assist with the return of Israelis abroad; granting of absentee voting privileges for Israelis temporarily living abroad;
  • and reducing obstacles that interfere with the birth of a third and fourth child in Israeli families and develop conditions that may facilitate Jewish family growth in both Israel and the Diaspora.

The Struggle for Relevance: JFNA and Overseas Allocations

By Stephen G. Donshik Opinion May 24, 2011

Stephen G. Donshik, D.S.W., is a lecturer at Hebrew University’s International Leadership and Philanthropy Program.

It appears that the disparity of interests among the member Federations has made it very difficult for the system to achieve consensus.

The lack of a basic agreement among its members for the purposes of raising funds and allocating them to the overseas agencies raises serious questions about JFNA’s relevance.

Does it lack the ability to fulfill its mandate as the membership organization of the Federations (ala CJF), on the one hand, and the advocate for overseas needs and services (ala UJA), on the other hand?

Natan Sharansky meets with 53 North American olim as they leave for Israel May 24, 2011

The new Olim range in age from a six-month-old baby to the nonagenarian parents of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. It includes 11 families, 19 singles, a dog and a cat.

The Olim hail from 10 American states and Canadian provinces and are destined to settle in almost as many Israeli towns and villages, including northern kibbutzim, Nahariya, Rehovot, Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.

Promises, Promises

By Aviva Perlman Opinion May 23, 2011

Prior to coming to Israel, my mother tried made me promise her three things:

I won’t date an Israeli

I won’t move to Israel/want to make aliyah

I won’t become orthodox

...A friend of mine recently checked in to see how I was feeling over my quickly approaching departure. He said “It’s a good thing if it’s hard to leave Israel.”

I’ve never had an easy time leaving Israel but I know this time will be much more difficult.

Farewell Israel. I will miss you, but I’ll be back.

I promise.

Ten Years Later, Birthright Still Reaching Young Jews

By Jeffrey Solomon and Leonard Saxe May 24, 2011

Jeffrey Solomon is president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies; Leonard Saxe is director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University.

A pervasive narrative of contemporary Jewry in America is that Jewish young adults are “distancing” themselves from Israel.

Although pessimism is widespread, it is difficult to reconcile with the facts on the ground — in particular, the stunning success of Birthright Israel.

Only one out of three young Jews who registered for the free, 10-day visit to Israel was accommodated for the summer trips.

Evidence suggests that Jewish young adults are not only interested in Israel, but that they are more emotionally connected than any previous generation of young Jews.

Marching for Israel, with Love and Criticism

By Rabbi Jill Jacobs and Rabbi David Rosenn Opinion May 24, 2011

Rabbi Jill Jacobs is the executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America. Rabbi David Rosenn is the chief operating officer of the New Israel Fund.

For us, celebrating Israel means celebrating the existence of a homeland for the Jewish people. Celebrating Israel means celebrating this homeland as a vibrant and thriving democracy that is striving to realize the social and democratic ideals that were the foundation of the state.

Celebrating Israel means celebrating our connection to people, places and an ancient history we hold dear.

It also means celebrating the NGOs, lawyers, activists, and advocates who work every day to hold the country to the hope, outlined in the Declaration of Independence, that Israel will be a country “based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel;

The Russian Wave

By Yehudah Mirsky Opinion May 26, 2011

Nor is it clear just how much Israel wants to "absorb" them. If each wave of immigrants has brought its own difficulties, this one pushed to the forefront a perennial Israeli headache: determining "who is a Jew."

Indeed, it turned that headache into a mind-bender, not to mention a vehicle for the further consolidation of the chief rabbinate's political power.

Some Russian newcomers had two Jewish parents, some had one, some had a Jewish grandparent, and some had no Jewish ancestors at all but were married to Jews.

For the Christians among them, according to one of the journal contributors, living in Israel has paradoxically reinforced their religious identity, which in Soviet days had largely been defined only in ethnic terms.

See also: Years Together: The 'Great Aliya' and Russian Israelis in the Mirror of Social Research" Israel Affairs Special Issue for Volume 17, Issue 1

Ears that Can Hear: Israel Education for the 21st Century

By Yigal Ariha and Laura Shaw Frank Opinion May 27, 2011

Yigal Ariha has served as the Israeli shaliah and Tanakh teacher at the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community High School in Baltimore, MD.

Laura Shaw Frank, a doctoral student in Modern Jewish History at the University of Maryland, College Park, is a Jewish History and Judaic Studies teacher at Beth Tfiloh.

Our connection to Israel, although different because one of us is Israeli and will be living in Israel again in a few months and one of us is American and has chosen, at least for the time being to live in America, still leads us to one conclusion:

Israel speaks to those who have ears to listen to it.

In other words, without proper emotional infrastructure, all of our efforts to teach about Israel through history, culture, art, food, and so forth, will go in one ear and out the other.

The problem is that this infrastructure is vanishing quickly.

For the Sake of Zion: Richard G Hirsch's Historical Memoir of the Struggles of Progressive Zionism

By Rabbi Daniel R. Allen May 24, 2011

Rabbi Allen is Executive Director, ARZA

In his new memoir For the Sake of Zion: Reform Zionism--A Personal Mission, published by URJ Press and the World Union for Progressive Judaism, Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch tells of his life's work promoting progressive Zionism and helping the Reform Movement come to grips with and embrace Jewish nationalism.

Hirsch operated on multiple levels. He built the infrastructure of what is today a growing Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. He raised the funds for and advanced the cause of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, almost single-handedly convincing the leadership that it must be headquartered in Israel.

He was also one of the founders of ARZA (the Association for Reform Zionists of America), established to have a voice in the WZO/JAFI world where today it is the single largest Zionist party.

A Six-Day (Solar) War

By David Rosenblatt and Yossi I. Abramowitz Opinion May 27, 2011

David Rosenblatt and Yosef I. Abramowitz are co-founders of the Arava Power Company, with Kibbutz Ketura, and serve respectively as vice chair and president of its international board.

June 8: Rally world Jewry, on Shavuot. Nigel Savage, leader of the Jewish environmental organization Hazon, challenges the Jewish people to be the first carbon-neutral people on the planet.

Every Jewish family and community in the world can calculate its carbon footprint on the Jewish National Fund website, and offset the carbon dioxide by planting trees, underwriting solar projects for Israeli schools and investing in solar fields.

Let's not only plant a tree in Israel, but also install a solar panel. David Schwartz of Chai Planet also plans to create opportunities for world Jewish communities to underwrite pilots for emerging Israeli green technologies.

Exclusive Interview with the Ein Prat Fountainheads

By Sarah Bauder May 25, 2011

“Our goal is to produce fun and meaningful music videos that put smiles on people's faces and help them connect with their Jewishness in new ways. We also want to showcase the diverse, vibrant and highly-engaged Israeli-Jewish identity that is emerging in our generation of Israelis today,"
said Shani Lachmish, graduate of Ein Prat and one of the lead singers of the group.

Ba’al Tshuva

By Merissa Nathan Gerson Opinion May 25, 2011

I came to Israel a year ago, a mostly secular Jewess, with a thirst for Judaism.

...I was a post-denominational anti-establishment mystically leaning Jew enrolled in a strict text study program. I cried for nearly an entire month. For nearly half a year I took my tears to imply that I had defied gravity and was in the wrong place at the wrong time, like I had sold my soul.

Orthodox Jewish Feminist Challenges Traditional Patriarchy

By Kevin Douglas Grant Religion News Service May 23, 2011

Tova Hartman opens the door to her apartment with a warm smile, speaking softly and casually dressed. With her down-to-earth femininity, she doesn't exactly look like a rabble-rouser within Orthodox Judaism.

Which, perhaps, is precisely what makes her so effective.

The 53-year old psychologist and Jewish scholar has used her decidedly feminist Orthodox synagogue to mount a formidable challenge to the male bastion of religious orthodoxy.

Religion and State in Israel

May 30, 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 30, 2011 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

May 30, 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.

Controversial bill seeks to keep Chief Rabbis in office

By Jonah Mandel May 26, 2011

The Knesset approved Wednesday a preliminary reading of a bill that would change the law limiting a chief rabbi’s term to 10 years.

According to a proposal by MK Eli Aflalo (Kadima), backed by other members of his party, chief rabbis – including those currently in office – would be permitted to put forth their candidacy for another term.

The Masorti (Conservative) movement’s director-general Yizhar Hess called the bill “unworthy,” and lamented the fact that “instead of canceling the Chief Rabbinate, which is becoming more and more haredi, or at least steadily diminishing its powers so that it might cease from abusing the public, the Knesset – with the support of members of Kadima and Labor – has decided to fortify the status of the chief rabbis.”

Unwarranted and harmful opportunism

Haaretz Editorial May 26, 2011

There is a surfeit of city rabbis in Israel (in Tel Aviv alone there are 52 neighborhood rabbis), some of them earning very high salaries.

But instead of doing away with the bloated religious councils, which operate according to clear political formulas, the treasury wages chief capitulated to political pressures from the ultra-Orthodox parties and agreed to the wage hike.

This acquiescence is an example of unwarranted and harmful opportunism. Instead of raising the rabbis' wages, it would be better for the government to implement the recommendations of the Tzadok Committee from the 1970s and streamline the delivery of religious services.

A strange kind of mercy

By Uri Blau and Shai Greenberg May 27, 2011

[Lehava] is responsible for disseminating the so-called rabbis' wives letter, which called on Jewish girls not to date Arabs. It helped organize a demonstration in Bat Yam in which people held signs stating "Jewish girls for the Jewish people." And it operates an initiative providing kosher seals of approval for businesses that don't employ Arabs.

An investigation by Haaretz Magazine reveals that, although Lehava is not registered as a non-profit organization or as another type of statutory body, its leading and prominent activists are connected to an NPO called Hemla (Mercy), which receives funding from the state.

Shahar Ilan, vice-president of Hiddush - For Religious Freedom and Equality and a commentator on ultra-Orthodox issues, says the subject of relationships between Jewish women and Arabs receives extensive coverage in the Haredi press and is regarded as a serious problem by the community...

It's the easiest way to attract publicity," Ilan says. "For the Haredi newspapers, Yad L'Achim's rescue stories are the equivalent of heroism stories about elite commando units.

Is the steak in the window kosher?

By Amiram Cohen May 25, 2011

In April 1994, Shas made a deal with the Labor Party, which led the government at the time, and together the two pushed through the "Kashrut Law" in the dead of night.

...The price of the law pushed through by Shas is being paid by consumers of kosher meat, not least in the Haredi community that Shas serves.

On the grounds of their strict adherence to the laws of kashrut, Haredim tend not to buy frozen imported meat: They insist on fresh meat slaughtered locally, or imported fresh meat. But they cannot be sure that the meat they bought really is kosher. Usually the butcher himself doesn't even know.

Chief Rabbi Metzger proposes identifying jackets for kashrut supervisor

By Jonah Mandel May 23, 2011

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger is pushing for kashrut supervisors working in restaurants and food production to be clad in a special jacket identifying them as such, as a comprehensive set of standards, rules and regulations for that role is still notably absent.

Knesset to publish weekly Torah leaflet

By Jonathan Lis May 25, 2011

The Knesset will publish a weekly leaflet from tomorrow featuring commentary on the Torah portion of the week, sponsored by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin. MKs and employees of the parliament will be invited to contribute their commentaries.

An article in the inaugural issue says that majority rule in a democracy also requires respect for the individual, relating to this week's Torah portion, the first chapter of biblical book of Numbers.

Dan Landau, director general of the Knesset, notes that MKs will draw on their general knowledge and knowledge of the Bible.

Who will study with Yigal Amir?

By Aviad Glickman May 25, 2011

The Prison Service is searching for a prisoner suitable for studying with the murderer of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Amir, for an hour every two weeks, the state announced Wednesday.

...A few months ago the court permitted Amir to study or pray with other prisoners under supervision, the prosecution said in its answer to the appeal. One of the offers was to select another prisoner to study with Amir.

But the assassin has demands regarding his study partner's identity. He has requested that the latter be a yeshiva graduate and that he have an educational background similar to his own so that the two will be able to enrich each other's world.

Jerusalem City Engineer: Destroy Mughrabi Gate within two weeks

By Melanie Lidman May 24, 2011

The Jerusalem City Engineer sent a strongly worded letter to the Western Wall Heritage Fund on Sunday, stating that the temporary bridge to the Mughrabi Gate must be destroyed within two weeks, or the city will tear it down.

...The new bridge is meant to replace the temporary wooden bridge, built in 2004 when an earthquake and winter storm caused part of the original bridge to collapse, leading city engineers to deem it unsafe.

IDF intelligence gets first Haredi officers

By Hanan Greenberg May 25, 2011

Two Haredi men received their officer ranks this week after finishing a unique IDF Intelligence course especially designed for yeshiva students who wish to enlist into the army.

Ever since this special course was opened, nearly two years ago, close to 200 haredi and religious soldiers ages 22 to 27 have enlisted into the Military Intelligence Branch.

Both men had to make up for the educational gaps between religious and secular schools, learning English and Math. They completed boot camp training in an all boys' department and later were placed in a special room for the course's all male soldiers.

Expert warns religious educators of denial of sexual abuse

By Jonah Mandel May 26, 2011

The denial and complacency within the national-religious sector regarding sexual assault of minors is wrong and harmful to the victims, an expert warned a forum of educators on Wednesday – emphasizing the danger of the belief that a rabbinic figure would not molest a child.

Double double toil and trouble

By Kamoun Ben Shimon May 17, 2011

The exhibition, according to its promotional material, examined the origins and development of magic in Judaism from the First Temple period to the present day by focusing on beliefs, customs and the practical use of magic objects in daily Jewish life.

“We, secular Zionist Israeli families, were not raised on these superstitions. Or so we thought. We did not know that our grandmothers would secretly hide an amulet under the sheets of our beds to protect us,” says Pinchas-Cohen in an interview with The Report.

Portrait of the artist as a headscarf-wearing woman

By Tamar Rotem May 29, 2011

[T]he collective, whose Hebrew name, studio mi'shelakh, means "A Studio of Your Own." Its aim is to provide women artists at the start of their career, and much younger than Amrani, with the opportunity to work in a communal studio; a place that is mental as well as physical, because it obligates them to devote their time and energy to creative work.

...The studio's name was Mizrahi's idea, and as suggested by the play on Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" it points to a feminist agenda.

As head of the art track in Ulpanat Tzvia in Ma'aleh Adumim, a religious girls' high school, Mizrahi - from whose head covering not a single hair is visible - was part of the revolution in art studies within Israel's religious education system.

The Tzvia network to which the ulpana belongs is considered stricter and more insular than the state religious school system.

The Settlements: Life Between the Lines

By Jonathan Neumann June 2011

Modi'in Ilit is the largest single Israeli community in the West Bank. "Settlement" is a misnomer: with some 55,000 Israelis here, the government has granted Modi'in Ilit the status of city.

Unlike in Alon Shevut, the residents here are predominantly ultra-orthodox, or hareidi: their traditional black garb — reminiscent of eastern Europe and familiar to any visitor of the Jewish communities of London or Manchester — is an immediate giveaway.

The ultra-Orthodox presence in Yesha is a relatively new phenomenon, and they now constitute a third of the Jewish population here.

...The population of Modi'in Ilit is expected to double within the next decade. This is the "natural growth" we hear so much about: these communities can grow rapidly thanks not to immigration, but to reproduction.

Charedim accused of Shabbat hypocrisy

By Nathan Jeffay May 26, 2011

[Tzohar’s] chairman, David Stav, said it is unacceptable that Charedi rabbis protest against firms that open on Shabbat and pressure them to close, but caused "Sabbath transgression" in Meron.

"I think there is a hypocrisy where the Orthodox demand El Al and other companies to keep Shabbat but when it comes to moving a celebration to enable people to keep Shabbat, it did not happen," he said.

Harder to breathe after Lag Ba’omer

By Sharon Udasin May 23, 2011

There was a significant rise in respirable particulates in the air following Lag Ba’omer bonfires on Saturday night, measurements taken by the Environmental Protection Ministry showed. The increase began about an hour after Shabbat, as indicated by air quality measurement stations...

Click here and here for Lag Ba’omer PHOTOS

Teaching Haredi Women To Succeed in Business

By Renee Ghert-Zand May 24, 2011

Batya Kenanie Bram, a former Israeli government spokeswoman, said she was looking for a new challenge.

The working mother of three wanted to do something that she thought would have more direct social impact.

Drawing on her natural business acumen and her formal academic training — she has a master’s degree in political science and public administration — she began teaching Haredi women in Jerusalem to start and maintain small businesses.

TV VIDEO: Yaron London visits Ultra-Orthodox Modi’in Illit (Hebrew)

Click here for VIDEO

Same Netanyahu, Different Israel

By Daniel Levy May 24, 2011

The shift in Israel's socio-demographic reality over the last 15 years has great implications for the future of the country's democracy and economy -- not to mention for any thought that might be given to living in peace with Israel's neighbors.

[T]he Haredi population has grown more than threefold over only 20 years, from 3 percent of the population in 1990 to over 10 percent today.

Estimates suggest that by 2028, Haredim will represent a quarter of all children in Israel under 14 years old and roughly a third of Jewish children that age.

Dushinsky Hasidic Rebbe to followers: Burn your iPhones

By Ari Galahar May 27, 2011

The leader of the Dushinsky Hasidic dynasty is threatening to expel any community members caught with a "non-kosher" cellular phone or a computer with Internet connection, including iPhones.

The Rebbe not only called for a boycott of electronic devices which do not meet strict Orthodox rules, but also demanded that they be burned.

Introducing 'Vogue' with sleeves

By Tzofia Hirschfeld May 27, 2011

Q: Do you have a censor?

"Yes. Although we don't belong to any faction, the paper is inspected by several people I don't wish to name. We do it because we don't want to take all the responsibility.

"Besides, all of us come from the haredi sector, so we naturally have red lines. We won't write about relationships and we definitely won't discuss bedroom issues. We won't take photos of girls over the age of five. In the home design section, we'll always present a classic look.

"Since the magazine enters a haredi home, it's our responsibility to produce a newspaper which can be placed on the table openly."

A palatable event?

By Peggy Cidor March 17, 2011

After haredi opposition torpedoed a liturgical festival in synagogues and churches, the culinary festival is being deemed not kosher.

Spiritual, Organic Jewish Living in Bat Ayin

By R.C. Berman May 26, 2011

Bat Ayin, on the edge of the Judean hills, is populated by scholars, artists, writers, musicians, farmers, and doctors. Chabad representatives Rabbi Ramiel and Sylvia Maor were one of Bat Ayin’s founders, twenty years ago.

Originally conceived as a village that would sustain itself through agriculture, today's Bat Ayin householders maintain home gardens or mini-flocks like Fragin and leave the village by day to earn a living.

Residents estimate that 90 to 95 percent of Bat Ayin's community is made up of people raised in secular homes who adopted a religiously observant lifestyle as adults. Many are immigrants from English speaking countries.

“People here are spiritual. They are searching,” said Naama Berkey, a local artist, whose daughter is in Mrs. Maor's kindergarten class at the village school. “I see depth and beauty in their faces.”

Kfar Chabad Votes: One Per Household

By David Yisraeli May 25, 2011

Hundreds of residents in Kfar Chabad are flocking to the polling stations today, to cast their votes for the Vaad of the village.

Unlike in other communities, including Crown Heights, in Kfar Chabad each house is bestowed one voting voice. According to the voting laws set out by the election committee, "men who are unable to vote, may endow their wives with the right." A widow is also given that right.

Incumbents Score Big in Vaad Elections May 26, 2011

In an interview with Chabad Info following his slate's victory, Binyomin Lifshitz expressed his earnest belief that the new board will serve in unity, preparing the village for the arrival of Moshiach.

Chabad’s ‘Mitzvah Tanks’

By Elad Benari May 26, 2011

Chabad’s mobile ‘mitzvah tanks’ have become well known on Israel’s streets for their successful activities aimed at bringing the Torah and its commandments closer to people.

The tanks were visible in nearly seventy centers, including neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Yehud, Lod, Herzliya, Petah Tikva, Azor, and many other cities in central Israel.

Filipina mother of Israeli toddler to be deported, despite ministry promises

By Dana Weiler-Polak May 23, 2011

A Filipina woman is being deported even though her child has Israeli citizenship, despite declarations by Interior Minister Eli Yishai that she would be allowed to stay.

Battle over civics ends in ouster of two critics

By Or Kashti May 26, 2011

The Education Ministry recently fired the chairman of its professional advisory committee on civics, Prof. Yedidia Stern, along with another panel member, Prof. Suzie Navot.

...Stern opened his blistering letter by saying it was written "out of a feeling of deep concern for the future of civics studies." He then charged that his committee had been pressured "to change the content, essence and goals" of the curriculum.

Specifically, he said, Zameret wanted "about half the study time" to be devoted to Israeli and Zionist history - an idea the panel rejected.

New program in Israeli schools has students 'adopting' graves from War of Independence

By Or Kashti May 23, 2011

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman May 23, 2011

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar is expected to unveil a new school program in which seventh- to 12th-graders will "adopt" monuments and graves from the War of Independence in an attempt to "bring young people closer to Israel's history."

Cult of death

Haaretz Editorial May 23, 2011

The education minister would do well to quickly shelve the gravesite adoption program and devote all his energies and the resources of his ministry to more essential tasks.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin on a Jewish understanding of Christians and Christianity May 24, 2011

After collaborating and working with various Christian organizations, leaders, and scholars over the past three years, the leaders of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) in Efrat and Jerusalem have released a statement of A Jewish Understanding of Christians and Christianity. CJCUC is the first Orthodox Jewish entity to engage in dialogue with the Christian world.

CJCUC’s Founder Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin said, “This statement only represents the view of our center but should also be used as a catalyst for other orthodox Jews and Jewry worldwide to consider fostering relationships with Christian communities.

Ethiopian leaders call for affirmative action

By Ruth Eglash May 24, 2011

Twenty years after Israeli commandos accomplished the daring mission of transporting some 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in less than 36 hours during Operation Solomon, leaders of the 116,000 strong community called on the government Monday to institute a series of affirmative action laws to address discrimination against Ethiopians.

Operation Solomon 20 Years On

By Dr Shalva Weil May 23, 2011

Dr Shalva Weil is Senior Researcher at the Research Institute for Innovation in Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and President of the Society for the Study of Ethiopian Jews (SOSTEJE).

Twenty years after Operation Solomon – Israel's dramatic airlift of Jews out of Ethiopia – normalization has almost set in between the two countries.

Not only are Ethiopian Jews now being permitted to immigrate to Israel, but those who fled are also returning to Ethiopia as Israelis.

PHOTO Gallery: Operation Solomon: a Look Back in Photos May 29, 2011

Over Memorial Day weekend, 1991, 14,325 Ethiopian Jews fulfilled their dreams of making it home, as they were airlifted from Ethiopia to Israel in 36 hours of around the clock flights during a covert military operation known as Operation Solomon.

Click here for PHOTO Gallery

Temple Mount Faithful petitions for excavation report

By Ron Friedman May 26, 2011

Fearing mass-scale destruction of holy artifacts under the Temple Mount, the Temple Mount Faithful, a group that calls for the Jewish takeover of the site, petitioned the High Court on Thursday to order the full publication of the secret State Comptroller’s Report on excavation works being conducted at one of the holiest places in the world.

Religion and State in Israel

May 30, 2011 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

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