Monday, June 20, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - June 20, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

June 20, 2011 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

Jewish Agency to decide on Orthodox conversions for aliya

By Jonah Mandel June 15, 2011

“In the vast majority of conversions in which the rabbis are [known figures], the Jewish Agency’s recommendation will be relayed to the Israeli consul abroad... and if the convert meets the other conditions for granting the status... the aliya permit will be supplied,” Ben-Ami wrote.

“In isolated cases in which there arises a doubt regarding the identity of the converting rabbi and his status, the request will be transferred for consultation with the chief rabbi, who will provide a recommendation based on whether he acknowledges the conversion or not,” Ben-Ami wrote.

If the chief rabbi will not recognize the conversion, the letter continues, “the Jewish Agency will then be requested to provide clarifications regarding the community and its institutions.” This will take place “before the Population Authority, which has authority on this issue, makes its decision.”

State to automatically recognize overseas conversions

By Kobi Nahshoni June 16, 2011

ITIM Institute director Rabbi Shaul Farber welcomed the decision, but added: "The fact that there are no clear criteria for what is a community recognized by Israel, and no clear authority deciding when overseas conversions are questionable, allows the Chief Rabbinate to reject some of the Orthodox communities.

"We insist that any lawful conversion performed by a legitimate Orthodox court shall be automatically recognized without consultation with the Chief Rabbinate which has no jurisdiction in the matter."

Rabbi Seth Farber on Orthodox conversions for aliya

By Jonah Mandel June 15, 2011

Rabbi Seth Farber noted, however, the clause in the document determining that in case of doubt, the rabbinate will be consulted.

“This last clause worries me a bit,” he said. “It remains unclear who raises the doubt, and what role the chief rabbi plays.”

But Farber added that: “It is my understanding that the Chief Rabbinate would prefer not to be consulted in these areas, because it puts them in the predicament regarding the legitimacy of Orthodox communities around the world, in an area they realize they have no legal jurisdiction.”

Natan Sharansky's Statement on Agreement With Israel's Ministry of Interior Regarding Conversion June 16, 2011

"While there are only a handful of cases per year affected by this most recent understanding, the decision, which reflects a profound concern for the unity of the Jewish people on the part of all parties, has opened the door for important dialogue on further issues concerning identity."

Jewish Agency to approve Orthodox converts’ eligibility to immigrate to Israel

By Mairav Zonszein Opinion June 19, 2011

This new step has done nothing for freedom of religion and the status of one’s Jewishness once in Israel, which is still monopolized by the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate in Israel.

But I’m glad North American Jews can be a bit calmer about their connection to Israel – let’s see how many more band-aids can be put on before people start realizing that nothing will really change till the root of the problem – the lack of separation between religion and state in Israel – is addressed.

Who Is A Jew?

By Rabbi Gil Student Opinion June 16, 2011

Why should social and political problems be solved with a halakhic answer?

The proper resolutions lie in the social and political realm. Israeli society needs to acknowledge the correct identity of gentiles with Jewish ancestry and non-halakhic converts and create a proud role for such people. And the Israeli government must create space for them.

Certainly, the rabbinate must shed its entrenched bureaucracy and embrace properly motivated converts but the true solution to this dilemma lies not with Jewish law but with Israeli society and government.

Halakhah is not a weapon to be wielded against every inconvenient problem. Doing so trivializes religion in the eyes of the non-observant and divides the religious community itself. We need to recognize the complex problems of Jewish identity as they are and widen our toolboxes to properly handle them.

Rainbow Flags Aflutter, Orthodox Groups Enter a Float in Gay Pride Parade

By Nathan Jeffay June 15, 2011

Amid a sea of rainbow flags and equal-rights banners at Tel Aviv’s 18th annual Gay Pride parade, an unexpected soundtrack filled the air: Hasidic music.

Despite the suspicions of some marchers, it wasn’t an act of protest by Orthodox groups. Rather, the music was coming from a float designed by a group of Orthodox gay and lesbian Israelis.

The first-of-its-kind float, which made its debut at the June 10 parade, boasted the corporate sponsorship of Google, and carried members of the Bat Kol alliance of Orthodox lesbians; Havruta, an organization of Orthodox gay men, and Pride Minyan, a prayer group for Tel Aviv’s Orthodox gay and lesbian community.

These organizations promote the acceptance of Orthodox homosexuals — without taking a position on how their members should deal with the fact that gay sex is prohibited by almost all interpretations of Orthodox law.

Gay, observant - and sponsored by Google June 16, 2011

While Orthodox gay and lesbian groups have acquired large followings in the past five years - 150 people regularly attend Havura events, and Bat Kol has 400 members - he believes that many people still do not know about them or fear making contact.

"People sitting at home feeling alienated from their communities see us on TV, and it's an important way of letting them know that we're here for them," he said.

For the other marchers, "it's a way of saying that you can be gay and still have a relationship with Judaism, even with Orthodoxy".

Gay Orthodox Jews See Growing Acceptance In Israel

By Michele Chabin June 13, 2011

"Many religious people who realize they're gay feel rejected by the society they grew up in and decide to become secular," explained Talya Lev, a spokeswoman for Bat Kol, an Israeli-based Orthodox lesbian organization.

"Yet there is a growing number of gay religious people for whom religion is an integral part of who they are, and they won't give it up."

Rabbinic Court defeats Public 2-0

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion June 19, 2011

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

I wonder: How did the rabbinic judges manage to convince us all of a new law – that it is possible to undo a conversion?

How did they get the general public to cooperate with them and to hold our breath every time a convert walks into the four wall of a rabbinic court hoping to get out of there a Jew?

Two points for the court, 0 points for the people and the Halacha.

Israeli couples wed at mass civil ceremony in Cyprus

AP June 19, 2011

"I think it's more exciting, more special," Michael Lantsman said. The 32-year-old soundman said he and his 28-year-old bride Rose chose to get hitched in a civil ceremony because they are not religious and they wanted to avoid the "bureaucracy" involved with a religious wedding in Israel.

154 couples tie knot in Cyprus in attempt to break record June 18, 2011

One-hundred fifty-four Israeli and Russian couples were married in a mass-wedding ceremony in Lanarca, Cyprus on Saturday, according to a Cyprus Mail report. The Israeli organizers and newly-wed couples hoped to get into the Guinness Book of World Records category for mass-marriages.

Israelis try to set new mass wedding record

AFP June 18, 2011

It is estimated that 1,000 civil marriages involving Israelis take place in Cyprus each year, with many couples coming to the island because they are unable to have a religious ceremony back home.

Larnaca – Israelis' marriage capital?

By Itamar Eichner June 16, 2011

The southern Cypriot port city of Larnaca is about to host as many as 170 Israeli couples, who will take part in an unusual mass wedding on Friday.

On Friday they will be invited to sign the wedding certificates in a ceremony attended by the Larnaca mayor, which will be followed by a huge wedding party into the night on the deck of the cruise ship they arrived on.

Law School 101

By Ellyse Borghi June 13, 2011

In a course on family law we were not advised to sue recalcitrant husbands for damages when they refuse to give a get.

We were simply told to file for divorce as quickly as possible in the family law courts and hope for the best. If that doesn’t work and you are representing the woman, you can use your right to spousal maintenance as leverage for the Get. If that still doesn't work, you can use your custody of the kids to limit visitation rights of your spouse as leverage to receive your Get.

VIDEO: Interview with Irit Rosenblum, New Family June 13, 2011 New Family Israel

Click here for embedded VIDEO

Will Rabbinical Court get female director?

By Kobi Nahshoni June 17, 2011

The High Court of Justice on Monday held a hearing on a petition filed by the [Israel Religious Action Center], the Rackman Center for the advancement of the status of women and other women's groups against Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman.

The petitioners demanded to cancel the appointment procedure for the director of the Rabbinical Court, and allow women to contend for the role.

During the hearing, Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy expressed his support for the appointment of a woman to head of the Rabbinical Court.

Israeli investigated on his Jewish status after Haaretz interview

Disclosure to Haaretz may cost Israeli his Jewish nationality

By Nir Hasson June 16, 2011

An Israeli citizen may have his classification as "Jewish" withdrawn by the Interior Ministry in the wake of a newspaper interview he gave. In an interview for the Family Affair section of Haaretz Magazine, in May, Itai Bar, a resident of Kibbutz Shoval in the south of the country, disclosed he wasn't Jewish.

Israeli Women Get Politicised On Separation of Religion and State

By Natalie Wood June 18, 2011

Israel’s best-known feminist educator has called for women to join any political party to fight the monopoly of the Orthodox rabbinate on matters of personal status.

Professor Alice Shalvi, giving the opening address at Friday’s National Masorti Women’s Day Conference in Jerusalem, said:

“… because in Israel religion and politics are not separated as they are – and should be – in a true democracy, we must also be involved politically. The best way to do this is not just by voting in elections, but by joining a political party.
No matter what your views on, for example, the Israel-Palestine conflict or the economy, we – YOU – can influence the party’s stance on the separation of religion and state.”

My Daughter’s Period Party

By Rabbi Dr. Haviva Ner-David Opinion June 14, 2011

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

We now live in the Lower Galilee, where the population is more stratified between religious and secular, and is also more conservative in terms of spiritual and religious experimentation.

When my oldest daughter got her period for the first time, we were living in Jerusalem, and although I admit that only one other of her friends (whose mother is also a rabbi, like me, and a Jewish Renewal Rabbi at that!) had a period party after her (and her party was only with adult women, not the girl’s friends), I felt more comfortable inviting Michal’s friends to her party than I did inviting Meira’s friends to hers.

A.B. Yehoshua to speak at Jewish conference June 16, 2011

Renowned Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua will be speaking in the public portion of the Shalom Hartman Institute's International Philosophy Conference next week.

The lecture, which will be in English and is open to the public, will be held on Tuesday, June 21st, 2011, at 8 pm. In his lecture, Yehoshua will address the topics of Jewish Peoplehood and anti-Semitism.

Shavuot Tikkun Encompasses the Entire Spectrum of Israel Society June 16, 2011

In honor of the Jewish holiday now marked by serious study and learning, thousands of Israelis participated in 35 NIF-funded Shavuot study sessions last week.

The sessions, many of them sponsored by groups not previously associated with NIF, reflected the complex composition of Israeli society and the daunting range of moral issues confronting the country.

Click here for embedded VIDEO

Sharansky says Jewish Agency reforms will spur higher aliyah numbers over long run

By Raphael Ahren June 17, 2011

Despite charges to the contrary, Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky says reforms to the body are designed to bring "hundreds of thousands" of new immigrants from Western countries to Israel, mainly by supporting programs bringing young Jews to the country on short- and long-term programs.

Jewish Agency staffers to get workdays back

By Raphael Ahren June 17, 2011

The planned two-week furlough Jewish agency management and the organization's workers committee agreed on earlier this month to avoid the firings of 50 staffers in light of budgetary constraints was shortened to one week, and will not entail previously agreed upon pay cuts for 500-odd employees, Anglo File learned this week.

Survey: Olim immigrating after age 18 more bleak about economic prospects

Survey: Older newcomers more bleak about economic prospects

By David Sheen June 17, 2011

A recently conducted survey of young immigrants, the first of its kind, has revealed that less than half who move to Israel after age 18 are confident about their economic prospects here, and that immigrants who serve in the IDF feel more Israeli and less stigmatized by the label 'immigrant.'

Sabra-born Israelis becoming less supportive of aliya

By Ruth Eglash June 14, 2011

Young native Israelis are growing less supportive of continued immigration, and see the arrival of thousands of Jews each year as a burden on the state, a study published by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry on Tuesday reveals.

35% of new immigrants want to serve in combat units

By Yael Branovsky June 14, 2011

With regards to the IDF draft, 35% of immigrants expressed a desire to serve in combat units, 25% of them are debating whether to go into the army, and 25% of the soldiers, who are new immigrants themselves, have friends that are not serving in the army.

Although the definitive majority of the immigrants feel Israeli, 90% of the soldiers feel more Israeli and more connected than high school students.

Better late than never: Making aliyah at 70

By Itamar Eichner June 13, 2011

Rogg says that since that day [in 1971], not a day has gone by that he hasn't thought of making aliyah, but unfortunately it was never made possible.

In 1981 he met his wife Tzipora, a UN employee in New York and the two were married. He immigrated to New York where she has been working at the UN headquarters for the past 27 years.

Now, with only a "slight" delay, the two have decided to make aliyah. They will be arriving in Israel on August 16 on a special Nefesh B'Nefesh olim flight.

VIDEO: ROI Summit Brings Jewish Thinkers Together June 15, 2011

Click here for embedded VIDEO

The Schustermans: Making Change in the World Possible

By Dr. Andre Oboler Opinion June 19, 2011

Dr. Andre Oboler was an ROI Participant in 2008, 2010 and 2011. He is Director of the Community Internet Engagement Project at the Zionist Federation of Australia and an expert in Online Public Diplomacy, Combating Online Antisemitism, and engaging Jewish Community organisations with new Technology.

The more I reflect on the summit, the more I feel ROI is moving beyond community and it is becoming a closely knit family, despite its size.

The other idea was a Jewish / Israel Global Peace Crops. Lynn explained the difficulty in getting enough cooperation from enough stake holders to really make this happen, and then announced she would work to overcome those difficulties and try to make this project a reality. From the ROI Community, this is a moment not only of “yes we can”, but of “yes we will”.

Start-Up Summit

By Abigail Pickus June 20, 2011

The Summit – which is the pinnacle of the ROI Community, established by philanthropist Lynn Schusterman in 2005 – also served as a key incubator for a host of brand new start- ups that seem likely to transform the global Jewish world and beyond.

VIDEO: Thru Jerusalem

Presented at ROI Summit

“special tnx to the local musicians who create the sound of Jerusalem. In This piece I didn't browse YouTube, I actually wandered around Jerusalem , met with musicians and filmed them.”

Click here for embedded video

ROI summit on future of Jewish people concludes in J’lem

By Gil Shefler June 17, 2011

“Israelis sometimes don’t understand why they have to come to a conference on Judaism,” she said.

“Many are still held captive by the old paradigm of Israeli egocentricism, the old notions based on the rejection of the Diaspora, but the reality has changed. Peoplehood has become more important and conferences like these are more appealing to them.”

ROI Youth Magnet for Global Change

By Felice Friedson June 16, 2011

Jewish communal leaders have been agonizing over the younger generation’s perceived loss of interest in the Jewish state, an issue that is part-and-parcel of the transition Korda spoke about.

One reality permeating the ROI Summit was that the new generation does not necessarily reject its parents’ bonding with the modern state, but young Jews do insist on being allowed the ability to process the relevant facts and form independent, informed conclusions.

Landres quotes his organization’s research which, he says, demonstrates “a desire on the part of the younger generation to learn; to engage; to see the complexity of Israel from start to finish; to put everything in context and then be treated as adults who are capable of making up their own minds about what their relationship with Israel is going to look like.”

Teach Us to Build and Re-build Together

By Lynn Schusterman June 14, 2011

I believe that what we need now is strong leadership that will ensure Israel remains true to its goals and aspirations – to be a Jewish homeland for all of the Jewish people.

I believe that what we need now is the resolve to create a fully inclusive Jewish community that embraces every Jew seeking to lead an actively Jewish life as made in God’s image. I believe that what we need now is a Jewish Spring.

PresenTense Global Institute Welcomes its 5th, Most Diverse, Cohort June 14, 2011

Sixteen Fellows from six countries will be gathering in Jerusalem for the PresenTense Global Summer Institute’s fifth summer fellowship program.

The Global Summer Institute trains social entrepreneurs in the latest technology and business practices to launch ventures that upgrade the operating system of the Jewish people and benefit the world at large.

Life After Zionist Summer Camp

By Allison Benedikt Opinion June 14, 2011

Allison Benedikt is the film editor of the Village Voice.

My sister lives a full and happy life in Tel Aviv. She has two awesome kids who will both serve in the Israeli Army one day. I love them all very much.

All of us kids have had an impact on my mother—as has Jeffrey Goldberg. Mom turns out to be open-minded. She thinks she never got the full story either, and is now tortured over Israel, a torture that seems to occupy 80% of her brain. She is basically alone among her friends, most of them reflexively "pro"-Israel, one-issue voters who try to make her feel stupid when she is not.

My father is still a hawk. I don't care as much as either of them, but I do still care—and not just because it's a Major World Issue, and not just because my sister lives there.

John and I have two kids of our own and are raising them as Jews. Most of my Jewish friends are disgusted with Israel. It seems my trajectory is not at all unique. My best memories from childhood are from camp, and I will never, ever send my kids there.

New poll: Dialogue desirable even with Diaspora critics

By Gil Shefler June 20, 2011

According to a survey commissioned by B’nai B’rith, 71 percent of the Israeli-Jewish respondents said Israel should always be ready to meet and maintain contact with Jewish organizations – including those that question its decisions – while only 20 percent opposed.

Why Allison Benedikt is right

By Kung Fu Jew Opinion June 17, 2011

Allison Benedikt did us all a courageous favor by willingly weathering the inevitable accusations of stupidity, shallowness, disloyalty and self-hatred that comes with being conflicted about Israel.

I salute her and hope so many others will also tell their elders to shut up, sit down and listen for once. Their control of the Jewish community is waning and they can listen now, or they can listen when we’re in charge.

Refocusing the Conversation

By Jonah Geffen, Rabbinical Student and Kelly Cohen, Jewish Educator Opinion June 20, 2011

We believe this discourse to be fundamentally flawed. We note with dismay that this conversation about Diaspora Jews and our relationship to Israel has left out Israel, its choices and actions.

The dilemma of a Diaspora Jew at an Israeli peace rally

By Mira Sucharov Opinion June 19, 2011

...But something about my long and tortured love affair with Israel tells me that there must be some quasi-citizenship category that describes Diaspora Jews, a category that suggests a tangled and complex web of legitimate discourse when it comes to Israel.

Sarah Gliddens’ How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less

By Joseph Finlay June 14, 2011

Her journey takes her through the contemporary political landscape she came to explore and into a more complex landscape of culture, history and powerful emotions.

At every stage, her identity and her preconceptions are challenged by the confluence of these different forces and the book’s appeal lies in the honesty with which she confronts these.

Young Judaea to Become Independent Organization June 16, 2011

Young Judaea will launch as an independent organization under an initiative announced today by Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, which has supported the program for more than 70 years.

Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball coach David Blatt: 'Here I became more Jewish and more Zionist'

By Niv Raskin June 17, 2011

"My mother wanted me to continue studying law and not go to Israel," he said.

"I still came, and I was treated so warmly. I had an adoptive family, the Levys, who hosted me like only Israelis can. I felt so good about it. A year later I came with the U.S. national team for the Maccabiah, knowing I would join one of the Israeli teams. Because of sports and because of the people I felt connected to Israel."

Schechter management says solution to strike imminent

By Ruth Eglash June 17, 2011

“We have reached an understanding on most issues and I believe it will all be resolved in the next few days,” VP of development tells 'Post'.

Management at the Jerusalem-based Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies said Wednesday that a solution to end a five week strike by members of the college’s faculty should be reached in the coming days.

Strike at Schechter Institute drags on after mediation efforts break

By Asaf Shtull-Trauring June 13, 2011

A strike by 70 lecturers and the administrative staff of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and three affiliated organizations has now dragged on for more than five weeks, resulting in a halt to classes for nearly 400 master's students and pitting management against the institute's academic council.

Is Israel bright enough to become a renewable Light unto the Nations?

By Gil Troy June 14, 2011

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

Arava Power Inc. is also a values clarification exercise gone wild, the ultimate Good Corporate Citizen, Zionist style, developing Israel’s neglected periphery, incorporating landscape art which will integrate Ben-Gurion’s profile into the solar field – using recycled materials and hosting educational tours of course – while donating the profits from their solar field’s four Biblical “peyot” (corners) to Jewish Heart for Africa, the Bedouin NGO Bustan, the Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center for disabled children, and the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, “mixing the universal with the particular,” Yossi notes.

Turning on our Future Rabbis: Israel and Rabbinic Education

By Rabbi Daniel L. Lehmann June 15, 2011

The writer is President, Hebrew College

Daniel Gordis, in his recent essay, “Are Young Rabbis Turning on Israel?” published in Commentary, identifies a number of important challenges facing rabbinical education and Jewish communal life in North America.

However, the broad brush strokes he uses to paint a picture of our rabbinical students’ attitudes toward Israel and the teaching of thoughtful, committed faculty do not portray with adequate sophistication or nuance the complexity of our educational endeavor.

Battle over JNF leadership going back to court

By Gil Hoffman June 20, 2011

Labor secretary-general Hilik Bar sent a letter to Reform Movement leader Richard Jacobs signed by Labor MKs warning that if Artzenu does not stop trying to unseat Stenzler, the party would stop supporting the Reform Movement’s agenda in the Knesset.

Religion and State in Israel

June 20, 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.