Monday, October 24, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - October 24, 2011 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

October 24, 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.

J’lem mayor fires coalition member over court petition

By Melanie Lidman October 21, 2011

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat fired Rachel Azaria (Yerushalmim) from his coalition on Tuesday in response to the liberal councilwoman’s petition to the High Court of Justice last week to remove barriers that separated men from women in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She’arim.

Azaria, who has long been active in the fight against gender separation on buses and sidewalks in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, was also stripped of her portfolios of early childhood education and community councils.

Jerusalem City Council member fired after opposing gender segregation

By Nir Hasson October 21, 2011

Members of the Haredi community were delighted by Azaria's dismissal. A headline on a popular ultra-Orthodox website, B'hedri Haredim, declared:

"A joyous holiday in Jerusalem: Barkat fires the provocateur."

Jerusalem Official Opposes Segregation, Loses Role

By Renee Ghert-Zand October 18, 2011

“The Haredim know that it’s illegal. Really it’s just a small segment of that community that thinks that they can just keep doing what they want and that the secular and more liberal religious people will just get tired and give up,” the religiously observant Azaria said. “But I won’t give up on such an important issue.”

“I have my ideology and a backbone. I will stand up for what I believe in and what the people who sent me to City Council believe in,” she said in a resolute voice at the end of the eventful day. “I know how to play political games, but I also know what the red lines are that I will not cross.”

Jerusalem's Mayor Bending to Haredi Pressure?

By Renee Ghert-Zand October 21, 2011

Israeli blogger Hanna Beit Halachmi asks in the title of her most recent post whether Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is good for Jewish women.

For her the question is rhetorical, as she is outraged as what she perceives as the many signs that Barkat is capitulating to Haredi political pressure, especially when it comes to the elimination of women from the public sphere.

Separation Struggle

By Kamoun Ben-Shimon October 23, 2011

In the face of the demands of community extremists, who often do not hesitate to use physical violence to enforce their will, public space in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods is increasingly gender-segregated.

...Dudi Zilbershlag, a publicist for the Haredi movement, believes that the extremism is a response to trends in the secular community.

“The more permissive and modern the secular community is, the more the ultra-Orthodox community closes inward, because we are afraid and close ourselves off even more,” he tells The Report and calls on the police to intervene to protect the residents.

On the offensive

By Peggy Cidor October 21, 2011

No one in haredi circles would be likely to say that some sanity has come back to the streets of Mea She’arim thanks to the Zionist police following the arrest of the Sikarikim, but everybody here understands that this open, fierce and assertive attitude by the police has perhaps changed some of the rules of the game.

Secular group marches against Mea Shearim segregation

By Jeremy Sharon October 22, 2011

A march staged by the Free Israel secularist movement through Mea She’arim in Jerusalem Saturday night was pelted with bottles, stones and diapers by ultra-Orthodox residents of the neighborhood.

The march was held to protest the failure of the High Court of Justice to enforce its ruling outlawing male-female segregation during Succot for the second year in a row.

“Unless we address the issue, however small it may seem, and unless the High Court enforces the law, this trend will only widen,” [Director of Free Israel Mickey] Gitzin argued, adding that the importance of maintaining one law for all was another important component of their opposition to the separation barriers.

Haredim assault police officers with concrete blocks

By Omri Efraim October 23, 2011

Haredim in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim hurled concrete blocks from their balconies at police officers on Saturday. Several officers were lightly wounded and treated on the spot.

Earlier on Saturday, police arrested one man on suspicion of disorderly conduct.

One of the marchers said,

"We managed to march several steps before we were violently attacked. Stones, glass bottles and diapers were hurled at us. It was life-threatening. We were chased and we escaped at the last minute. Those were moments of genuine fear."

PHOTOS: Failed attempt for mixed-gender walk in Mea-Shaarim, Jerusalem

By Nir Alon October 22, 2011

The Free Israel Movement attempts to conduct mixed-gender walk through the dominantly ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea-Shaarim protesting gender segregation in contradiction to Supreme Court ruling.

Women noticeably absent from Jerusalem ads

By Nir Hasson October 21, 2011

"In Jerusalem, a shoe is not just a shoe," says Uri Ayalon, a Conservative rabbi who promotes religious pluralism, and who recently established an "uncensored" Facebook group that protests against the elimination of women from public spaces.

Shoe images, he says, are used to obscure the fact that in Jerusalem women are rarely pictured on public posters and billboards.

..."This becomes a process of self-censorship," explains Rabbi Ayalon.

"You decide in advance not to use a photograph of a female dancer, so that nobody sprays it. You decide not to confront anything, and that's the position adopted by the advertisement agencies.

"This is no longer creeping erosion, but rather a trend that's up and running," he adds.

Reform Movement: Remove gender barrier at Kotel entrance

By Jeremy Sharon October 18, 2011

The Reform Movement in Israel is demanding that barriers separating men and women at the main entrance to the Western Wall plaza be removed.

The group sent letters to the Jerusalem District Police Commander Nissan Shaham and the Rabbi of the Kotel Shmuel Rabinovitch demanding that the partitions at the main entrance by the Dung Gate be removed.

The letter also insists that the stewards employed by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation to enforce the separate lines be removed.

Anat Hoffman stated however that the [Western Wall Heritage Foundation] is a “haredi-dominated organization with no representation for women, alternative Jewish groups other than the Orthodox, or for the city municipality.”

“The foundation abuses its authority and dictates life choices for the rest of us,” she said.
“The Kotel belongs to all Jews, it shouldn’t be the haredi Kotel, but should be run by all of us, not just the few.”

Complaints of sex segregation near Kotel October 23, 2011

The Israel Religious Action Center has turned to Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch and Jerusalem District Commander Niso Shaham, claiming sex segregation has been taking place at the entrance to the holy site.

According to the IRAC, the Reform Movement's legal advocacy arm, this kind of separation between men and women in the public domain is illegal.

Female soldiers leave IDF event after ordered to sit in separate section

By Anshel Pfeffer October 23, 2011

About 100 female soldiers left the main celebration sponsored by the Israel Defense Forces marking the end of the Simhat Torah holiday on Thursday after they were asked to move to a separate women's section.

...Those in attendance said before the request was made for them to move, the women had been dancing at one side, separately from the men and also separated by a long table. The women soldiers were then ordered by an officer from the military rabbinate to go to a separate, closed area about 50 meters away, following complaints over the initial setup.

The IDF Spokesman's office said in response: "As is the custom at these events every year, there is an area designated for women," adding that "no IDF official was directed to verify that men and women were separated."

Meretz MK Gal-On: IDF rabbis demean women soldiers

By Jonathan Lis October 24, 2011

Gal-On said it is vital to clarify that the era when women can be kept out of the public sphere is long gone.

Barak, she wrote, must explain to IDF officers that religious soldiers will encounter women in every sphere of their future lives: They will be treated by female doctors, judged by female [judges] and perhaps even take orders from female officers.

Social justice, religious freedom and the tent protests

By Rabbi Uri Regev Opinion October 22, 2011

The writer is the head of Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel.

[Trajtenberg] rightly stressed that a major source of the frustration over social injustice stemmed from “sectors in the population that do not sufficiently partner in bearing the burden, both on account of their low participation in the workforce and on account of their avoiding national service in general and military service in particular.”

Everyone understood that this was primarily directed at the haredi sector, as did the haredi political parties, which were quick to reject the report.

...In the reports specific recommendations, the committee emphasized the importance of enforcing the core curriculum (math, sciences, English and civics) in the ultra-Orthodox educational system, limiting the period of state subsidies for studying in yeshivot, increasing funding for professional training, and drastically escalating the participation in military/civil service, among other things.

A Jew of No Religion

By Gershom Gorenberg Opinion October 19, 2011

By changing his religious registration to “none,” Kaniuk found a symbol for expressing that distaste.

Implicitly, though, he affirmed the clerical establishment’s claim to represent Judaism. The court affirmed a constitutional right to define oneself according to one’s conscience—but only according to the inadequate categories of nationality and religion.

Real freedom of conscience would require the state to stop registering religious and ethnic identity.

Actual separation of synagogue and state would mean abolishing the official rabbinate, enacting civil marriage, and ending government involvement in religious education

Who isn't a Jew?

By Shula Kopf October 23, 2011

Yoram Kaniuk says the most profound experience of his life, even more than fighting and being wounded in the War of Independence, which has informed so much of his writing, was a stint as a sailor on a refugee ship ferrying Holocaust survivors to the newly formed State of Israel.

“They came from hell. If there was a God, where was He?” he says with some bitterness.

“Over time I have become very upset about rabbinical Judaism and how it is overshadowing everything. I am against the Jewish religious establishment. Israel is a democratic state, but it can’t be both democratic and religious. It’s a contradiction in terms.”

Once a Jew, always a Jew

By Benny Ziffer Opinion October 14, 2011

I read about several hundred enthusiastic citizens who convened on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv to fill out the forms and take them to the Interior Ministry, demanding that it recognize them as religionless.

Have they indeed done so already, or are they waiting for the end of the holidays - which, naturally, they no longer celebrate, seeing as they will soon be non-Jews?

The real threat to Israel's Jewish character

By Prof. Shlomo Avineri Opinion October 24, 2011

It's clear that if the bill is approved as a Basic Law, it will not change much in Israel's reality as the Jewish nation-state.

Israel's Rabbinate must be stripped of its powers

Who needs the Rabbinate?

Haaretz Editorial October 24, 2011

From every vantage point - social, civil and economic - it would be better to transfer the rabbinate's powers to local authorities that would serve the people based on the community's needs.

Also, the Knesset must change the law and provide civil marriage to everyone, in addition to religious marriage. Israeli society has come out, albeit very politely, against religious coercion.

Are Young Rabbis Turning on Israel?

By Elliot Jager Opinion October 24, 2011

No amount of redefining what it means to be pro-Israel can paper over the predicament facing Conservative Judaism's future leaders: What is the place of the movement in Jewish life if not as an embodiment of political and theological centrism and moderation?

Jewish Agency plays matchmaker

By Gil Shefler October 17, 2011

The Jewish Agency for Israel’s main mission is strengthening Jewish identity and assisting immigration, but every so often it also inadvertently acts as matchmaker.

Last week sisters Irina and Anna Kofitova married their husbands in a joint ceremony where all four were graduates of Na’ale, the Jewish organization’s program which helps brings youths from the former Soviet Union to Israel.

Religion and State in Israel

October 24, 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 - October 24, 2011 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

October 24, 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.

A sorry kind of solidarity

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion October 21, 2011

After Over Five Years: Gilad Shalit Reunites With His Father

Photo: Israel Defense Forces Creative Commons License

But I'm deeply disappointed with the infantile "togetherness" that Israeli society and the Diaspora displayed throughout this overdrawn episode.

I don't think the "solidarity" and "togetherness" is anything to be proud of. If Israelis and Jews can only unite around such an inoffensive cause, their unity isn't worth very much.

It means the chances of building a workable majority for the difficult measures to achieve peace, rebuilding the economy, forging a just social structure and finally getting around to drafting a constitution are exceedingly slim.

Tzohar: Settlement homes in return for Shalit deal October 18, 2011

The Tzohar rabbis' organization on Monday announced its support for the prisoner exchange deal securing the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

In its statement, the organization called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to permit the construction of "hundreds of houses for the residents of Judea and Samaria – the first public which may pay the price for the release of arch-terrorists."

Former IDF Rabbi Ronsky: Israeli soldiers should kill terrorists 'in their beds' following Shalit deal

By Chaim Levinson October 17, 2011

Referring to the deal, due to take place on Tuesday, former Chief Military Rabbi Avihai Rontzki said in an interview to Arutz Sheva that IDF soldiers should no longer arrest terror suspects, instead urging them to "kill them in their beds."

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef praises Netanyahu for Schalit deal October 24, 2011

"You did well. There are always those who oppose. If there is no opposition then it means that the deal is not good," the rabbi said during a meeting with the prime minister.

'Shalit release like resurrection of the dead'

By Kobi Nahshoni October 20, 2011

Shas' spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, says the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is a sort of "preview" for the resurrection of the dead.

In a sermon delivered Tuesday night ahead of the holiday of Simchat Torah, the rabbi explained that the joy over Gilad's return to his family illustrates what the Jewish people should expect at the End of Days, when the dead will rise out of their graves and return to life.

Rabbis share 'Halachic manifesto' against Shalit deal October 16, 2011

Rabbi Dov Lior, who is the rabbi of Kiryat Arba and heads its yeshiva on Sunday published a halachic manifesto in which he explained the halachic claims against the Shalit deal, which he had previously called "a humiliation of the Israeli people," stating he does not think "anything good will come of it."

Rabbi Lior: Schalit deal endangers, humiliates Israel October 16, 2011

"There is no doubt that giving into blackmail by terrorist can endanger our brothers and citizens in the future as it happened in the past when terrorists were released and returned to their old ways..."

Scaling back yeshivas tops Knesset new session agenda

Party tensions and social protests top Knesset new session agenda

By Zvi Zrahiya October 23, 2011

Now, the Knesset is scheduled to begin its winter session in a week's time.

... 4. Scaling back yeshivas

The Trajtenberg committee recommended limiting state-funded studies at yeshivas for married men to no more than five years per student, cutting state funding for foreign yeshiva students, and forcing Haredi schools to teach the core curriculum.

Post-protest proposals

By Peggy Cidor October 19, 2011

As for employment for haredim, the [Trajtenberg] report recommends that the state subsidize academic or vocational training for two-thirds of the men.

But [Dr. Maya Choshen of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies] believes that in Jerusalem, this will have little impact as long as the city can’t offer enough jobs.

Deputy Mayor Eli Simhayoff (Shas):

“There haven’t been any new construction projects for haredim for years here, so affordable housing should be accessible to all, including young haredim who wish to remain in Jerusalem and purchase a low-cost home, and that’s exactly what Trajtenberg enables in his report.”

Dr. Dan Kaufmann, Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies:

There are two problems with the education proposals for haredim in the report, he adds, one being the relatively low level of the colleges that offer separate tracks for haredi students compared to the universities, and the second is the intense competition on the market in these particular fields.

Lack of Budget Blocks Hareidi IDF Inductions October 23, 2011

A representative of the Defense Ministry said, Sunday, that a delay in the transfer of a 140-million-shekel supplement in budgets ending this year will put a stop to the Israel Defense Forces efforts to induct members of the hareidi religious community.

'Amen' - without the men

By Tamar Rotem October 19, 2011

Rabbanit Zigedon is one of the most successful moderators of a series of evening programs for women being offered lately in ultra-Orthodox and other religious communities.

...According to Neria Ben-Shahar,

"There is no doubt that the meals are a display of feminine power, and that is the source of the fears in the community. The thing is that women do not consult with rabbis but say, 'It's a ceremony we do for ourselves. That space is ours. After all, we do not have a shared place for Torah study and religious ritual like the men.'"

Haredi against their will

By Sam Sokol October 14, 2011

Yohanan is representative of what has come to be known in religious circles as the Ortho-prax, those who are outwardly pious members of a conservative religious group while privately eschewing their faith’s belief structure and rules.

Because “the phenomenon is in essence secret” he tells me, he cannot know how many people in the community share his beliefs, but he estimates that it is quite small, no more than 0.1 percent of Israel’s haredi sector.

This is due, he contended, to the fact that many of those who “are yearning for the outside world simply become secular” with the help of such organizations as Hillel and Keren Omer, which assist those who leave haredi society to transition into the Israeli mainstream.

See also

Religious zealots attack "immodest" Jerusalem shops

By Maayan Lubell October 18, 2011

A sign at the ice cream parlour may caution men and women not to lick cones in public, but the warning didn't stop Jewish zealots vandalising the shop in Jerusalem's main ultra-Orthodox neighborhood.

Other businesses in Mea Shearim, including a book store and dress shops, have been damaged in night-time attacks by Sikrikim, a group of some 100 ultra-religious men who want one of the holy city's most tradition-bound quarters to become even more conservative.

Ultra-Orthodox community reels after passing of female leader

By Yair Ettinger October 18, 2011

The Haredi community is mourning Rabbanit Batsheva Haya Kanievsky, who passed away suddenly on Saturday from heart failure in her Bnei Brak home at the age of 79. At least 50,000 people attended her funeral Saturday night, the Magen David Adom ambulance service estimated.

Deputy Minister Litzman gets bodyguards

By Ari Galahar October 24, 2011

"The threats were made by the Sicarii, a group known to the haredi public as problematic and violent people," one of the deputy minister's associates explains.
"The group members are threatening to hurt Litzman, apparently because he represents the Ger Hasidic dynasty in the Knesset."

Activists demand ‘Kotel Hakatan’ be renovated

By Melanie Lidman October 21, 2011

In honor of the pilgrimage holiday of Succot, during which hundreds of thousands of people visited the Western Wall, activists demanded that authorities renovate a small section of the wall located in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City next to the Temple Mount.

The Kotel Hakatan (Small Wall) is believed to be the remaining structure of the Second Temple closest to the Holy of Holies.

'Torat Hamelech' revisited

By Rabbi Reuven Hammer Opinion October 21, 2011

Long after its publication, the book Torat Hamelech continues to generate tremendous controversy. The book asserts that under certain circumstances Halacha (Jewish law) permits the killing of non-Jews, including civilians and young children, who might become killers of Jews at some future time.

...Those who presume to issue halachic rulings today would do well to be guided by this ancient rabbinic insight and to remember that the Torah teaches mercy and righteousness, and not cruelty and harshness.

The journey of a Torah scroll

By Greer Fay Cashman October 19, 2011

Providing Torah scrolls for the army is one of the large-scale undertakings of The National Council of Young Israel, a mainstream Orthodox body, and the International Young Israel Movement’s Israel region.

Last month its members dedicated a restored Torah scroll at the Sirkin army base near Petah Tikva. It was the 200th scroll donated to the IDF by Young Israel, and the first of a series of Torah scrolls that were rescued from the Holocaust.

VIDEO: Sukkot palm fronds & the Egyptian embargo

Click here for embedded VIDEO

History lesson with Simchat Torah flag

By Tzofia Hirschfeld October 20, 2011

A huge Simchat Torah flag has been waved recently over the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, announcing a new exhibition displaying holiday flags which have turned into collector's items over the years, but also the changes the Israeli society has gone through.

A Succot celebration with a political twist

By Jeremy Sharon October 18, 2011

More than 10,000 people attended the first two days of the Succot celebrations at the Beit Orot Yeshiva on the Mount of Olives.

The yeshiva, funded by Jewish-American businessman Irving Moskowitz on Tuesday, staged three days of events and activities during the festival’s intermediate days, attracting more than 10,000 visitors.

PHOTOS: 70,000 attend Priestly Blessing at Kotel October 17, 2011

More than 70,000 people on Sunday attended what appeared to be the biggest Priestly Blessing ever seen at the Western Wall. The crowd recited both the Morning Prayer and the Musaf Prayer.

Click here for embedded VIDEO

See also PHOTOS and PHOTOS

Petah Tikva teacher of Ethiopian students: Israeli society is racist

By Talila Nesher October 21, 2011

For Rabbi Amiel Keinan, the request that he teach a class of children at the Kfar Ganim Amit yeshiva in Petah Tivka who had been reassigned from the city's Ner Etzion school, was like coming full circle.

All of the children at Ner Etzion other than Keinan's own son Ran were of Ethiopian background, and Ner Etzion was closed at the beginning of the current school year in an effort to integrate the students at other schools.

Bnei Menashe celebrate Sukkot October 18, 2011

The Bnei Menashe community of northeastern India is celebrating Sukkot this year thanks to the generous support of the Shavei Israel organization, which sent hundreds of sets of lulavim and etrogim from Israel to India prior to the onset of the holiday.

In their festival prayers, the Bnei Menashe turn to face Jerusalem and offer a special plea to finally be allowed to make aliyah during the coming year.

Israeli NGO: Elad group has 'veto' power over Jerusalem's City of David

By Nir Hasson October 24, 2011

The Elad association has far-reaching administrative powers in Jerusalem's City of David national park, according to an agreement, publicized here for the first time, between that organization and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

Reuniting the dispersed fragments

By Ofer Aderet October 21, 2011

Last week, two professors from the Blavatnik School of Computer Science at Tel Aviv University sat down to burrow through the tattered pages [of the Cairo Geniza].

But they weren't searching through them physically: The pages appeared on the huge screen of a state-of-the-art Macintosh computer with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

...The project was initiated by ultra-Orthodox millionaire Albert Dov Friedberg of Toronto, Canada, who wrote his doctoral thesis about Maimonides, the most notable person who prayed in Cairo's Ben Ezra Synagogue.

Shin Bet may nix El Al's Nigerian airlift

By Zohar Blumenkrantz October 23, 2011

El Al may have to forgo flying 12,000 to 15,000 Nigerian Christian pilgrims due to security problems.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef urges Netanyahu to push for Pollard's release

By Kobi Nahshoni October 24, 2011

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef late Sunday and discussed with him at length the efforts to secure the release of Jonathan Pollard and Ilan Grapel.

Religion and State in Israel

October 24, 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.