Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - October 10, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

October 10, 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.

Some 200 Israelis urge Interior Ministry to change their status to 'without religion'

By Ilan Lior www.haaretz.com October 10, 2011

Some 200 people met Sunday at an abandoned building on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard to sign declarations asking the Interior Ministry to change the status in their identity cards to "without religion."

"We are part of the revolution here," Mickey Gitzin, head of Be Free Israel, a movement advocating freedom from religion.

"The fact that hundreds of people show up at such short notice shows that they have had it with the unacceptable link between religion and the state in Israel."

Following court ruling, hundreds of Israelis to declare themselves 'without religion'

By Ilan Lior www.haaretz.com October 9, 2011

[Tel Aviv poet Oded] Carmeli said the move was symbolic, but it can be used to call for separation of religion and state.

"We are protesting the Orthodox monopoly over who is a Jew in Israel and the implications for marriage, divorce and burial," [Mickey Gitzin, head of Be Free Israel] said, adding that the act was one of last resort against the link between the authority of the state and the Orthodox establishment.

Israel must free itself from the paper-pushers of religion

Haaretz Editorial www.haaretz.com October 3, 2011

Israel must free itself of the grasp of the priests and paper-pushers of religion. The Kaniuk precedent is an important step in the direction of this objective.

A secular Jew raises a white flag

In listing himself as 'without religion,' Kaniuk exhibits lack of imagination

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion www.haaretz.com October 7, 2011

Kaniuk's act is perfectly legitimate in a democratic society; no person or government has any right to impose a religion on any individual.

On a historical level though, what he did is equivalent to raising a white flag over the Hebrew University, Habimah Theater, the Israel Museum and every other center of secular learning and culture in Israel.

Signing out of Judaism

By Rachel Canar Opinion www.jpost.com October 5, 2011

If Israel is to be a democratic Jewish state, it must embrace a Judaism that is compatible with democracy and civil society, a Judaism that allows for the values of justice and equality to all people, regardless of their race, religion, or gender. Perhaps then Israelis wouldn’t be so eager to sign out.

No religion does not mean no nationality

By Yoella Har-Shefi Opinion www.haaretz.com October 5, 2011

The conclusion that the separation of religion and state has been achieved because an Israeli citizen whose mother was Jewish has been allowed to be classified as having no religion remains a fervent wish only.

...Ginat's ruling does not establish the existence of a Jewish nationality as distinct from the Jewish religion. Neither the law, nor simple logic, admits to any such separate existence.

Losing his religion, and fighting to keep it that way

By Revital Hovel www.haaretz.com October 10, 2011

Decades before the court ruling last week ordering the Interior Ministry to register author Yoram Kaniuk as "without religion," Prof. Uzzi Ornan, the founder of the League Against Religious Coercion in Israel, succeeded in being registered on his identity card with that same status.

From the founding of the state, Arnon refused to be registered as a Jew and was defined as a "Hebrew" and "without religion."

Us and them

By Yitzhak Laor Opinion www.haaretz.com October 6, 2011

The truth is harder to digest. In the first place religion is listed for the purpose of national identification, unconnected to religion.

Because the nationality clause created "constitutional problems," the state was afraid to leave its citizens without identifying them. And that's how they gave the Chief Rabbinate the job of being the identifier: Jews, and those who aren't Jews are Muslims, or Christians or Druze.

What sort of Jewish state?

By Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple Opinion http://teachingisrael.wordpress.com October 5, 2011

Let’s examine the reality. Better than the static approach (“what are the facts?”) is the dynamic one (“what are the trends?”) Not “What is Israel today?” but “What is Israel becoming?” These are the trends as I see them:

Torah: The strength of Torah does not depend on how many people vote for the religious parties but on how much Judaism the Israeli people would opt for if they weren’t afraid of the haredim getting control of the State. Most would like to see what Jewish ideas could contribute to civil law and government.

Debating civil marriage

JPost.com Editorial www.jpost.com October 9, 2011

The Reform and Masorti movements in Israel would probably never have joined in petitioning the High Court to institute civil marriages if they had been allowed to perform their own marriages.

If civil marriage is instituted in Israel, however, it must not be done via High Court edict, but rather only after an extensive public discourse, perhaps even a referendum, is conducted and our lawmakers are given ample time to discuss the matter.

Individual liberty must be carefully weighed against the importance of maintaining the Jewishness of the State of Israel.

High Court petition urges civil marriage

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com October 4, 2011

The Forum for Free Marriage in Israel has petitioned the High Court of Justice against the Israeli government, which is preventing hundreds of thousands of "religion-less" Israelis from getting married, allegedly violating their basic human rights.

The petitioners note that the majority of the public objected to civil marriage in the past, but that public opinion has changed and now many support it – including Orthodox rabbis, like former Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron – so there should be no legal or other reasons to prevent its implementation.

The petition is signed by the Israel Religious Action Center, the Masorti Movement, the Hiddush association, Be Free Israel, Open House, Mavoi Satum, New Family, Na'amat, WIZO, Kolech and the Israel Women's Network.

Progressive groups petition to institute civil marriage

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com October 4, 2011

Among the organizations which submitted the petition are two Orthodox women’s groups, Mavoi Satum, a women’s rights group and the Orthodox Jewish feminist organization Kolech.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of the hesder yeshiva in Petah Tikva

“It’s clear that the state should allow for all of its citizens to marry and you can’t force people to marry in religious ceremony,” he said, “but that the State of Israel should recognize interfaith marriage bothers me and gives the wrong message to the Jewish world.

“We need a compromise whereby Jewish marriage is the mainstream but where there is the opportunity for those who don’t want to or can’t marry in a religious ceremony to enter into a civil partnership within which they can enjoy all the rights granted to those who marry religiously.”

Recalcitrant husband to pay NIS 680,000

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion www.ynetnews.com October 10, 2011

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

The Rishon Lezion Family Court recently awarded compensation in the amount of NIS 680,000 (about $182,850) to a woman whose husband has chained her to an unwanted marriage for years, and even today still refuses to divorce her.

Having been separated from her husband for eight years and frustrated by five futile years of litigation in the rabbinic courts, Hannah had little faith in the system and decided to turn to the Center for Women’s Justice (CWJ) for help.

Yifat Frankenberg, a CWJ attorney, filed a tort claim in family court on Hannah’s behalf, suing Hannah’s husband for compensatory damages.

The [Family] Court held that "refusal to divorce constitutes a violation of the values protected by the ‘Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom,’ which includes: freedom of choice, the right to self-fulfillment, the right to dignity and equal rights."

Election of city rabbis is fair, says Religion Ministry

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com October 10, 2011

The Religious Services Ministry rejected on Sunday claims that the process of appointing city chief rabbis is unrepresentative, open to manipulation or unequal.

In addition, [Neemanei Torah Veavodah] claims, women are essentially excluded from 75% of the seats on the election committee since they are not represented in the religious councils or among the synagogue representatives, constituting a violation of the gender equality.

...“The only true representatives of a city’s residents are the members of the municipal council,” Benmelech told The Jerusalem Post.

“But as it stands, they comprise a mere quarter of those electing the city’s rabbi. This is completely undemocratic and excludes large sections of the public, who are subject to Jewish law regarding marriage, divorce, burial, kashrut and many other issues, from the process of choosing a halachic arbiter whose decisions can influence them on a daily basis.”

Converting after being labeled a Jew

By Marcy Oster Opinion www.clevelandjewishnews.com October 6, 2011

We had two very special guests on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah.

Katia and Alex are 18-year-old Israeli soldiers who made aliyah as toddlers from the former Soviet Union. Both girls have Jewish ancestors, qualifying them to move to Israel under the Law of Return, but they are not considered Jewish according to religious law.

When they were drafted into the army, they were offered the opportunity to join an intensive course on Judaism, allowing them to convert after three months instead of more than a year for those converting through the rabbinate.

From Kaifeng to the Kotel - A Chinese rabbi in the making

By Michael Freund www.asianjewishlife.org Issue 7, 2001

It was this stirring which propelled Yaakov and six other Jewish descendants from Kaifeng to make aliyah in October 2009. They were brought to Israel by the Shavei Israel organization which I founded and chair.

Upon arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport, Yaakov could barely contain his emotion.

"I am very excited to be here in the Holy Land," he said, adding, "This is something that my ancestors dreamed about for generations, and now, thank G-d, I have finally made it."

Rabbis’ love for Israel: Is it a generational thing?

By Dan Klein www.jta.org October 4, 2011

A new study by the Conservative movement’s flagship institution presents some evidence of a generational gap among rabbis, finding that older ones tend to identify more closely with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, while younger ones also favorably view J Street, the more liberal “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbying group.

See: JTS Rabbis and Israel, Then and Now: The 2011 Survey of JTS Ordained Rabbis and Current Students

Jewish Agency, Ministry of Education Launch Israeli Teach for America

http://ejewishphilanthropy.com October 6, 2011

A new, joint, initiative of the Ministry of Education and Masa Israel Journey, the program brings 75 university graduates from North America to Israel to volunteer as English teachers in schools across the country.

In doing so, Israel is joining a handful of countries who “import” English teachers from abroad, including Japan, South Korea and France.

Summary of Panel Discussion: Jerusalem and the Jewish People


Yair Sheleg, of the Israel Democracy Institute, suggested that it is more important for Jews in the diaspora to retain a local identity than a Jewish one "or they would be here."

Thus, he said, Israel should consider a more universal approach to how it presents Jerusalem – and this should take into account other religions as well.

MK Dr. Nachman Shai, former Senior Vice President of JFNA Israel, said that his experience taught him that American Jews looked at Israel's capital as "weekend Jerusalem" (e.g., enjoying its tourism potential) vs. "weekday Jerusalem" (the nitty gritty issues that occupy its residents and leaders daily) – and the latter "did not interest them."

South Africans, feeling safer at home, putting off aliyah plans

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com October 7, 2011

Moving to Israel is no longer an urgent consideration for many South African Jews, according to an immigration professional who interviewed nearly 100 potential newcomers from the country last month.

Kline: South Africa's young are restless for immigration

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com October 7, 2011

While Telfed's Dorron Kline estimates the absolute numbers of new immigrants from South Africa this year to be between 200 and 250, he noticed an "enormous increase" in the numbers of young families who are considering the move.

The American settler you don't know

By Raphael Ahren www.haaretz.com October 7, 2011

Hirschhorn's dissertation, which she is doing at the University of Chicago, presents the first known attempt to draw up a comprehensive demographic profile of Americans within the Israeli settlement movement.

American Jews who settled in the West Bank represent "a very heterogeneous and dynamic movement," she added. "It doesn't necessarily fit into any preexisting categories.”

'Hallelujah' winners making aliyah

By Itamar Eichner www.ynetnews.com October 9, 2011

About a month ago, they took part in the 2011 Hallelujah international song contest for young Jewish adults from all around the world.

After taking the first and second places, the two young Jewish men have decided to immigrate to Israel and develop their musical skills in the Holy Land.

How to get yordim to come home

By Susan Hattis Rolef www.jpost.com October 3, 2011

The Immigrant Absorption Ministry recently embarked on a new TV campaign designed to get us to convince kith and kin who live abroad to return home to Israel.

...The TV campaign is a complete waste of taxpayer money that should be diverted elsewhere, such as to implementing the Trajtenberg proposals, and helping new immigrants feel at home.

Architects of Jerusalem's Museum of Tolerance threaten to quit as construction slated to begin

By Nir Hasson and Noam Dvir www.haaretz.com October 4, 2011

The architects who designed the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem have threatened to resign, two weeks before construction is scheduled to begin.

According to a municipal official, the architects - Bracha and Michael Chyutin – threatened to resign Monday over differences with the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which sponsored and financed the project.

Kosher Meat Still Slaughtered Inhumanely

By Josh Nathan-Kazis www.forward.com October 10, 2011

[Rabbi Menachem Genack, rabbinic administrator of the O.U.’s kosher division] maintained that kosher standards in the Latin American slaughterhouses are controlled by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and practices at the plants are ultimately outside the purview of the O.U.

Genack said that he had spoken with Yona Metzger, Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi, about the Latin American plants as recently as this past summer.

A spokesman for Metzger, Avi Blumenthal, said that Metzger opposed shackle and hoist, but he could only request change and not enforce it, as the matter is “not connected to kashrut.”

See also: Disputed Practice Persists at Iowa Plant

Brain death in Israel

http://torahmusings.com October 4, 2011

According to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, which famously ruled in favor of brain stem death criteria in 1986, most organ donations from a brain stem dead patient are contrary to Jewish law.

This surprising position and the background that led to it are explored by Naftali Moses, PhD in his recent book, Really Dead?: The Israeli Brain-Death Controversy 1967-1986.

VIDEO: Kibbutz returns to Judaism

By Liron Nagler-Cohen www.ynetnews.com October 5, 2011

For years, kibbutzim have been symbol of secularism in Israel. But in recent years, there is a return to traditional values led by second and third generations who want to stay in the kibbutz.

Click here for VIDEO

Bible manuscripts from Damascus go on rare display in Jerusalem

AP www.haaretz.com October 6, 2011

Precious Bible manuscripts originating in the Jewish community of Damascus, Syria, went on display for several hours Wednesday, offering a rare glimpse at a collection that includes books spirited to Israel in clandestine operations before the ancient community disappeared at the end of the 20th century.

Bibles rescued from Syria in secret op

By Uri Misgav www.ynetnews.com October 5, 2011

It was a James Bond-style, continent-wide operation with many participants. It began in Syria, continued in the United States and ended in Israel. And yet, not a single word has been published about it – until now.

Israel Culture Ministry offers prize for 'Zionist-oriented' art

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com October 6, 2011

A codex for a new prize to be awarded for "Zionist-oriented" art was issued Wednesday, to ensure only those whose work fulfills the correct political criteria may qualify for it.

‘Virtual’ Dead Sea Scrolls: 1.2m. online views in 10 days

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com October 6, 2011

The site reached its 1 millionth visitor in less than five days. An average of 20,000-30,000 visitors now access the site each day, a tempo Hazan believes will remain steady.

A good catch?

By Allon Sinai www.jpost.com October 7, 2011

Hapoel Jerusalem fans have gotten used to the fact that there never seems to be a dull moment at their beloved basketball club. But even they were surely rubbing their eyes in disbelief two weeks ago when it was announced that Guma Aguiar was the new owner of Hapoel.

It seemed that we had heard the last of the colorful 34-year-old American businessman when he exited Israeli sports in remarkable fashion at the start of last year after he was forcibly admitted to the Abarbanel Psychiatric Hospital following a mental breakdown

Click here for Guma Aguiar VIDEOS

Religion and State in Israel

October 10, 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.