Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Religion and State in Israel - December 5, 2011 (Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 6, 2011

The High Court of Justice made clear Monday it would not accede to the petition filed by numerous progressive and pluralist groups asking for an injunction against the government to institute a framework for civil marriage in Israel.

The petition was submitted by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the Masorti Movement, Hiddush and several other groups.

In responding to the petition, the court made clear it was not the appropriate venue for the issue, deferring instead to the Knesset.
“We recognize the problem and we are also sympathetic to it,” said Court President Dorit Beinisch, who was presiding along with Justices Edna Arbel and Yitzhak Amit.
“But the question is, what can be done [by the court] to help here?” Beinisch insisted that only legislative action could deal with the issue, not judicial involvement.

By Joanna Paraszczuk www.jpost.com December 5, 2011

A group of nine civil rights groups, led by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and including the Masorti (Conservative) Movement, Kolech Religious Women's Forum, Hiddush and the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, asked the court to order the state to explain why it has not established civil marriage for couples for whom at least one partner is either of no religion, is not recognized as Jewish by the Rabbinate or for couples of different faiths.

By Harriet Sherwood www.guardian.co.uk December 2, 2011

Jewish women in the Britain and the US are being urged to send photographs of themselves holding signs saying "women should be seen and heard" in a campaign against efforts by the ultra-orthodox to remove female images from advertising billboards in Jerusalem.

Shira Ben-Sasson Furstenberg of the NIF, who describes herself as liberal orthodox, said: "We're experiencing a snowball effect. And we can't say that the only people being affected are Haredi, because it's not only Haredi women – and even the Haredi women don't want it."

By Ruth Marcus www.washingtonpost.com December 1, 2011
“In the past two years or five years, it’s just deteriorating,” said Shira Ben-Sasson Furstenberg of the liberal New Israel Fund, which has launched a campaign to combat the “erasure” of women from public advertising. “The Haredi are having more and more say about how our lives are in Israel.”

By Barak Ravid www.haaretz.com December 5, 2011

Clinton related that she had read a day before in The Washington Post an article by Ruth Marcus, called "In Israel, Women's Rights Come Under Siege," which detailed examples of the exclusion or boycotting of women, including incidents where IDF religious soldiers have boycotted events in which women sang, and the segregation of women on some bus routes, in contravention of Supreme Court decisions. 

By Amos Harel www.haaretz.com December 1, 2011

A Knesset committee will convene in the next few weeks to deal with the IDF's failure to implement a report calling for full equality between men and women in the military.

By Elana Sztokman Opinion http://blogs.forward.com December 5, 2011

The troubling phenomenon of excluding women from cemeteries in Israel appears to be getting worse.

...The cemetery has thus evolved into yet another front in the rabbinic crusade to create a female-free world. This is rabbis vs. women. The shock of carrying out this war with mourners indicates how obsessive certain religious men are about the issue.

They are saying that the erasure of women from public spaces is more important than all else — more important than compassion, than human dignity, than basic human decency.

By Talila Nesher www.haaretz.com December 5, 2011

Gender segregation is in effect at 65 percent of the state-run religious elementary schools in Israel, according to data obtained by Haaretz from the Education Ministry's elementary school supervision department.

According to the former head of the Religious Education Administration, Dr. Mati Dagan, the situation just a decade ago was entirely different, with fewer than 25 percent...

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 1, 2011

The office of Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar expressed its concern Wednesday with the impression given by a bill proposed by MK Uri Orbach last week.

The bill seeks to amend a law pertaining to marriage, which would legally prevent rabbis from taking money for performing weddings, except for travel expenses.

Orbach proposed the law against the background of the recent dispute between the religious- Zionist organization Tzohar and the Religious Services Ministry earlier this month.

By Elli Fischer www.jewishideasdaily.com November 28, 2011
Elli Fischer, who lives in Israel, is a writer and translator and blogs at adderabbi.blogspot.com. He has rabbinical ordination from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

For many Israelis, Tzohar is the spoonful of sugar that makes the bitter pill of dealing with the official rabbinate palatable. 

However, it seems clear that increasing numbers of them—including Orthodox Israelis—would prefer never to have to deal with it in the first place, even with Tzohar as a buffer: They would prefer, that is, to have the oppressive and despised rabbinate be removed altogether, whether because they do not share its values or its interpretations of Jewish law, or because they feel that moderns states should stay out of ecclesiastical business.

Haaretz Editorial www.haaretz.com December 1, 2011

The decision by the Israel Defense Forces senior command to freeze implementation of the Segev Report, which recommended establishing full equality among men and women in the army (as reported by Amos Harel in Haaretz on Wednesday), is another aggravating example of the IDF's continuing capitulation to the demands of religious extremist rabbis and officers.

By Amos Harel www.haaretz.com November 30, 2011

The Israel Defense Forces has effectively frozen implementation of a report that called for full equality of service between men and women.

...The IDF Rabbinate's representative on the committee, Lt. Col. Eyal Krim, refused to sign off on some of the recommendations, particularly those relating to putting women on the front lines.

Stern later appointed another panel to review this issue, and it upheld the Segev Committee's conclusions.
In practice, however, the religious establishment's opposition has prevented the report's implementation.

By Yossi Yehoshua www.ynetnews.com December 3, 2011

Ministers, Knesset members and Israel's chief rabbis were already invited to the inauguration of the first military mikveh (ritual bath), but a day before the planned ceremony, the Israel Defense Forces decided to call off the festive event at its southern Ovda base.

Army officials insisted that the decision to call off the ceremony had nothing to do with the current public dispute over the involvement of religion in military service (for instance, religious soldiers' refusal to listen to women sing).

David Hager, who arrived from the US to take part in the ceremony, told his associates he had no intention of getting into a dispute with the defense establishment and promised to donate money for the construction of a mikveh in another remote base.

By Yossi Yehoshua www.ynetnews.com November 30, 2011

The Israel Defense Forces will inaugurate the first military mikveh in history on Thursday, at the southern Air Force base in Ovda.

The ceremony will be attended by the donor who transferred some $100,000 for the ritual bath's construction, as well as senior Military Rabbinate and base officers.

According to the officials, religious women living in other bases visit ritual baths in nearby cities and communities, but the Ovda base is isolated and far from any other community with a mikveh.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com December 5, 2011

The Association of Hesder Yeshivot said on Sunday that many of its member organizations are in dire financial straits because 2011 funds the Defense Ministry allocated to it have still not been transferred.
Hesder yeshivot are Jewish seminaries whose students combine their religious studies with army service, usually over a period of five years.

According to the association, the money supplied by the Defense Ministry usually makes up approximately 30 percent of its overall budget.

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com December 2, 2011

Based in Jerusalem, the six-year-old [Shorashim center] serves as an international investigation agency, which, by doing intensive research and establishing a wide network of contacts, has helped hundreds of young people from the former Soviet Union prove their Jewishness to the satisfaction of the rabbinic courts, enabling them to get married without having to go through a conversion or marry abroad.

…Rabbi Shimon Har-Shalom estimates [of the 750,000 FSU immigrants listed as Jews] between 150,000 and 200,000 will be forced to prove their Jewishness at some point, while some 20,000 of those with "no religion" are actually Jewish and would be able to prove it.

By Lee Chottiner http://thejewishchronicle.net November 29, 2011

Resa Davids described how her granddaughter’s planned bat mitzva by the Dead Sea had to be moved because not a single hotel in the area would permit a woman to read from the Torah on their grounds.

“The threat was if they allowed this child to read Torah, they would lose their hashgacha (kosher certification),” she said. 

Asked if she equated that to blackmailing the hotel owners, she replied, “exactly.”
Submission to chief rabbinic authority ought to be voluntary, Stanley Davids argued, not imposed upon the entire country.

By David Sheen www.haaretz.com December 2, 2011

The Masorti Movement in Israel is scheduled to celebrate the completed construction of its new Jerusalem campus with a gala reception on Monday.

The new $8.5 million building, which includes a synagogue, study hall and library, was built on land purchased by the Conservative Jewry's Theological Seminary of America in the mid-1950s.

By Gil Shefler www.jpost.com December 2, 2011

A donation by Jewish-American billionaire Sheldon Adelson will allow 2,000 people to tour Israel this winter on trips organized by Taglit-Birthright, the group announced on Wednesday.

The $5 million gift doubled Adelson’s annual contribution to the program – which offers young adults in the diaspora a free trip to Israel – to $10 million in total for 2011.

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
All rights reserved.

Religion and State in Israel - December 5, 2011 (Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

By MK Rabbi Chaim Amsallem Opinon www.jpost.com November 30, 2011
The writer is a Member of Knesset and Chairman of the Am Shalem movement.

The solution to this extremism rests first and foremost with the rabbis, the great men of our generation. It is they who must make their voices heard against these prohibitions, against the new extremist rulings that seem to appear daily. 

A clear statement by the rabbis, based on their great wisdom and knowledge of Torah and Jewish law, could put a stop to this and reverse the trend.

But sadly, I do not think that this will happen.

By Samuel Sokol www.jpost.com November 30, 2011

Beyond the extensive media coverage of the violence perpetrated by a small haredi minority, the real issue for secular and national religious residents of Beit Shemesh is less the violence than what is perceived as an ultra-Orthodox takeover of what was once a diverse and ethnically mixed city.

Rabbi Dov Lipman explains that “to claim anti-religious sentiment in Beit Shemesh is false and inaccurate. The issue isn’t haredim coming here,” he says. 
“It is their sense of being in control here, which has gone through the roof since [Mayor] Moshe Abutbul came into power.”

By Revital Hovel www.haaretz.com December 1, 2011

Plans to transform the lower Galilee city of Harish into a burgeoning ultra-Orthodox community are moving ahead, even as residents warn the move could create ethnic tension.

Katzir-Harish, in the lower Galilee, now has about 1,200 families, most of whom are secular. They are fighting the plan - which has developed over the past three years - to transform Harish, which has plans for a city of 150,000 people, into a Haredi city.

By Tali Farkash www.ynetnews.com November 29, 2011

Rabbanit Adina Bar Shalom, the daughter of Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has criticized the exclusion of women from the public domain in the ultra-Orthodox sector, which she says "violates Torah."

Speaking Monday at the Women Talking Women economic conference in Tel Aviv, Bar Shalom mentioned the "kosher bus lines", defining the phenomenon as "the exclusion of women from the public domain."

By Elana Sztokman Opinion http://blogs.forward.com November 30, 2011

Adina Bar Shalom is often introduced as a rabbi’s daughter or a rabbi’s wife, but it’s really her own mind that makes her so extraordinary.

…Her increasing willingness to express nonconforming opinions on issues relating to gender, religion and politics makes her a striking role model for Haredi women and for the rest of us, as well. She is intelligent, incisive, insightful, independent-minded and unpredictable.

By Meir Wikler Opinion www.jpost.com November 28, 2011
The writer is a New York based psychotherapist, author and public speaker.

Yad Vashem just doesn’t get it. 

After my fourth visit to the New Wing at the Holocaust memorial since it opened in ’05, I am convinced that the administration simply does not understand why we Haredim are so upset with the museum. 

Despite all the negative coverage Yad Vashem has received in Haredi publications in Israel and the Diaspora, they still don’t get it.

Letters to the Editor www.jpost.com December 1, 2011

Perhaps Wikler’s focus should be on changing attitudes among haredim, and not pressuring Yad Vashem to change. 

The more the haredi community joins with the rest of the nation in mourning and education regarding the Holocaust and all national issues, the more it will have a say regarding their nature.

But to isolate themselves and even mock and vilify national institutions, and then complain about the lack of appreciation for haredim in those institutions, is simply not fair or just.

Beit Shemesh
The writer is a rabbi and director of Anglos for Am Shalem

By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com December 5, 2011

Have the "Taliban women" invented a new strict modesty rule? According to testimonies received by Ynet's local portal, Mynet, the radical group of ultra-Orthodox women dressed in cloaks has begun wearing a cloth-covered tube on their heads in order to conceal their human figure.

By Tamar Rotem www.haaretz.com December 2, 2011

Apparently, it took especially extreme cases to make it clear to the rabbis that limits must be set.

They realized for the first time that the phenomenon of women who wear either a shawl, a cape over their clothes, or a long scarf that covers their heads and faces, has also been gaining momentum among extremist circles in Jerusalem, and that it is not a purely religious matter, but a social one they must eradicate.

...So long as the phenomenon remained concentrated in areas far from the Haredi communities in places like Beit Shemesh, it was marked as a symptom of extremism on the ultra-Orthodox margins, among newly religious women, mainly of Mizrahi origin.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com November 29, 2011

After years of intentional disregard, the past few weeks have seen a change in the ultra-Orthodox community's treatment of "Taliban women" – haredi women wearing cloaks for modesty reasons.

The extreme Eda Haredit faction in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood has launched a war on the "veiled women", as they are referred to on the haredi street, and is surprisingly slamming a radical-religious phenomenon from a more moderate position.

By Ilana Curiel www.ynetnews.com December 2, 2011

In his address, Chief Rabbi Metzger lashed out at the "Taliban women" phenomenon in the ultra-Orthodox society. "Allow me to express my grief over the distortion of Jewish mind, the cloak sect, women called 'Taliban' who walk around with cloaks and different covers.

"There have been no rulings on this matter as it has not been known in history. There is no such thing as covering one's face and dressing up. This is distortion of Halacha, unless it stems from lack of knowledge or insanity."

By Jeremy Sharon and Joanna Paraszczuk www.jpost.com December 2, 2011

The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office issued an indictment on Thursday against a prominent figure in the extremist ultra-Orthodox Sikrikim (Sicarii) group.

Yosef Meir Kein, 21 – known by his adopted last name, Hazan – was charged with one count of aggravated assault, one count of aggravated assault against a police officer, and rioting.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com November 30, 2011

After 20 months of attacks and a quarter million shekels in damage, a religious bookstore in the ultra-Orthodox Mea She’arim neighborhood of Jerusalem decided on Monday to accede to the demands of extremists responsible for the violence.

Under the terms of the compromise, Ohr Hachaim/Manny’s put up a large sign requesting that all customers dress modestly. 

A mashgiach, who checks the store’s inventory to make sure there are no controversial books, will go over the books in the coming week and require that some books be removed from the shelves, though they will not be permitted to remove any English books, said Marlene Samuels, one of the store’s managers.

By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com December 4, 2011

"Or Hachaim" owners declined comment, but a source in Mea Shearim said it seemed the bookstore had raised a white flag. "It took quite a long time, but they eventually gave up after many months of battle."

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com December 2, 2011

Jerusalem police have cracked down on violent demonstrations in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She’arim over the past few days, leading to the arrest of nine people accused of disturbing the peace, many of whom are originally American.

By Amira Hass Opinion www.haaretz.com November 30, 2011

The Haredim and Hardalim, as the non-Zionist and Zionist ultra-Orthodox are respectively known, are now cashing in their promissory note from Israeli society.

By Oz Rosenberg www.haaretz.com December 5, 2011

Bus service was restored last week to Jerusalem's Mea She'arim after a hiatus of nearly two years, in which there was no public transportation within the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood.

The Egged bus cooperative had halted service due to ongoing sabotage and violence by a group of religious extremists known as the Sicarii; they threw rocks and bottles at passing buses and punctured their tires.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com December 1, 2011

Resumption of the bus service was one of the major goals of Jerusalem police commander Asst.-Ch. Nisso Shaham, who took up his post in the spring and has repeatedly stressed that Mea She’arim residents are not above the law.

Bus service was halted after extremists repeatedly attacked Egged buses in 2010.

By Chaim Levinson www.haaretz.com December 2, 2011

Some NIS 15 million has been allocated to a yeshiva in Yad Binyamin over the past five years by the Education Ministry - although its head preaches against the state, Haaretz has learned.

Rabbi Shmuel Tal, head of the Torat Haim Yeshiva, calls the state an "abomination" and says he has cut himself off from "the secular leadership."

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com December 5, 2011

The inauguration of the Sabbath in Elad has recently become the tensest hour of the week, following a disagreement between the city's Sephardic rabbi and its Ashkenazi rabbi.

The two cannot agree on the exact time for inaugurating the Sabbath. Even the leaders of the Orthodox public, Gedolei Yisrael, were involved against their will, but a solution has not been found.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com December 5, 2011

Owners and managers of businesses located in Rishon Lezion's Kanyon Hazahav ("Golden Mall") say the mall's management is urging them to keep their stores open on Shabbat, violating one of the most important values of Judaism and the social rights of hundreds of workers.

Yaakov Halperin, CEO of the Halperin Optics chain, which operates a store in Kanyon Hazahav, slammed the initiative in a conversation with Ynet.

"It's unthinkable that the mall manager is virtually forcing me to open my store on Shabbat, while implying in his letter that I could be responsible for the mall's failure.”

www.ynetnews.com December 1, 2011

According to Rabbi Eliyahu, there is an Arab attempt "to occupy the country with money" and Israel must not give in.

Asked where an Arab who wants to live in Safed or Akko should go to, he replies: "There are enough villages. Do we have to turn Arab into an Arab city? What for?"

By Ilan Lior www.haaretz.com December 1, 2011

The Givat Shmuel municipality has canceled 24 planned performances by Italy's Medrano Circus later this month, because half of them were to feature a program specially adapted for a religious audience - meaning male performers only.
MayorBrodni: "It's important to me that Givat Shmuel preserve a mix of secular and religious people, side by side," he stressed.

By Renee Ghert-Zand http://blogs.forward.com November 28, 2011

In another sign that the Holy City is also the holier-than-thou one, Jerusalem’s chief rabbinate is going to begin a kashrut certification program for clothing stores.

Rabbi Eliyahu Schlesinger claims that the shatnez problem arises from the fact that so many items are imported from countries like China, Turkey and Egypt. He added that even Israeli manufacturers are not to be trusted.

By Ari Shavit Opinion www.haaretz.com December 1, 2011

Neither the Arab states nor Israel have really separated religion from state. Neither the mosque nor the synagogue have been kept out of politics. So both the Arab identity and the Jewish identity still contain a deep religious component.

This is why when secular Arab nationalism collapses, the response is a return to Allah. When Jewish secular nationalism crumbles, the response is a return to the mighty God of Israel.

By Avirama Golan Opinion www.haaretz.com November 30, 2011

Sorek argues that religious Zionism followed the ultra-Orthodox into mechanical adaptations to Diaspora-style religious law rather than taking the route of modernism on the path to creating the Jewish state.

This utopia, which is based on the eternal Jewish resistance to all law except halakha, views halakha (brought up to date) as the sole foundation for law in the sovereign Jewish state.

By Barak Ravid www.haaretz.com November 29, 2011

Jordan expects Israel to refrain from unilaterally demolishing the Mughrabi Bridge near the Temple Mount, Jordan's King Abdullah II told President Shimon Peres in Amman on Monday.

Peres traveled to the Jordanian capital in secret, as an emissary of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss Israel's plan to demolish the unstable bridge and build a new one in its place.

Jpost.com Editorial www.jpost.com November 28, 2011

This madness must stop. An absurd situation has been created in which some irrational Muslim leaders, intoxicated by their own lies – including the spurious belief that the First and Second Temples were never situated on the Temple Mount – have intimidated Israel into inaction.

Israel must not cave in to the insanity of Muslim extremism. The Mughrabi bridge must be replaced – the sooner the better.

By Akiva Eldar Opinion www.haaretz.com November 29, 2011

As in the wave of anti-democratic legislation, the only person who can get Netanyahu to step down safely from the bridge impasse is Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

The exit pass is hidden in a letter the attorney general's office sent at the end of August to Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser. One part says that if the police or any other agency (like the Shin Bet security service) believes that the municipality is wielding its authority improperly, "we will return and consider this subject."

By Jonathan S. Tobin Opinion www.commentarymagazine.com November 28, 2011

The resentment the Temple Mount project has generated is rooted in a belief that Jews have no right to be in Jerusalem. It has nothing to do with anything Netanyahu or his government might do.

By Tzofia Hirschfeld www.ynetnews.com December 1, 2011

Settlers living on the western hill of the religious community of Har Bracha recently sent a letter to the community secretariat, protesting the housing of Evangelical Christians in their neighborhood.

The Christian volunteers are part of a large group of American volunteers affiliated with Yuval – a pro-Israel Evangelical organization.

The group includes dozens of people, and their stay in Har Bracha was made possible after the community rabbi, Eliezer Melamed, met with them and ruled that they are not missionaries.

By Miriam Kresh http://blogs.forward.com November 29, 2011

Ynet reports that Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel, Yonah Metzger, enthusiastically endorses importing the pork-flavored goose to Israel.

...Natural breeding takes longer to produce mature geese. So we won’t be seeing the pork-flavored fowl until February of 2012. And when it arrives in Israel, will the ordinary householder be able to afford it? We’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, many kosher chefs and foodies are agog with the possibilities. I eagerly await pork-flavored roast goose in red wine sauce, with rosemary-scented, caramelized apples on the side.

These images are from the photographic retrospective  It Takes a Village: From Gondar to Jerusalem – The Remarkable Journey of Ethiopia’s Jews – documenting the process of forgotten Jews taking the final steps along their journey home.

By Moshe Gilad www.haaretz.com December 5, 2011

The Ministry of Tourism last week launched a new trail that follows Jesus' wanderings in the Lower Galilee, from Mount Precipice near Nazareth to the Capernaum area on the northern bank of Lake Kinneret.

At the dedication ceremony for the Gospel Trail, held in Wadi Hamad near Migdal, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov explained that the trail is designed to expand touring possibilities for Christians, who represent over two-thirds of all incoming tourists - and to offer Israelis a new and unique attraction.

www.jpost.com November 30, 2011

According to the Ministry of Tourism, 2010 was a record year for tourism, with nearly three-and-a-half million visitors arriving in the country. 

Of those, approximately 66 percent were Christians, and of the total number of tourists, 30%, or approximately 1 million, came explicitly for the purposes of a pilgrimage or spiritual journey.

By Greer Fay Cashman www.jpost.com December 5, 2011

There is a strong possibility that Greek Patriarch Theophilos III will try to reconcile leaders and members of the Ukrainian Church that have been split for years. At issue is the jurisdiction of the Moscow patriarchate over the Ukrainian churches.

A schism exists between those who are loyal to the patriarchate in Kiev and those who continue to put their trust in the patriarchate in Moscow.

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
All rights reserved.