Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - January 30, 2012 (Section 2)

Religion and State in Israel

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

By Donniel Hartman Opinion www.hartman.org.il January 30, 2012

Israeli society needs to begin a new conversation, not merely with the haredim, but first and foremost with itself. 

This conversation must entail a confronting of the reality of Israel as a multicultural Jewish society, not to speak of Israel as a multi-national society. 

We must learn to think and talk about the rights of minorities and the spaces they may be allowed within which to pursue their distinct cultural, religious, and national identities.

...The fundamental rights of women, minorities, and non-Orthodox Jews, as well as a commitment to democracy and Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people must become constitutional values which no particular ideology or group is allowed to trample or ignore. 

To be a part of modern Israel means not only to accept the benefit of its economic and military resources but to accept its core principles.

By Nehemia Shtrasler Opinion www.haaretz.com January 24, 2012

Well, how long will this go on? When are we going to stop giving in to the Haredim? What can we do about it?

...the ones to blame for this situation are exactly those concerned citizens - those secular, middle-class people who carry the economy on their backs, work hard, serve in the army, have moderate opinions and believe in democracy and equal rights.

They're the ones to blame. Because ultimately, after all the talking, complaining and demonstrating, only one day counts - election day.

By Naomi Ragen Opinion www.jpost.com January 27, 2012

Attempts by modern-day extremists to turn back the clock to the last century, not to mention the Middle Ages, are not as widely popular among the haredi community as populist writings in major Israeli dailies, haredi and secular alike, would have us believe.

In fact, if recent haredi writings are to be believed, under the surface of a smooth, united front, there bubbles a cauldron of diverse opinions reflecting outright opposition to extremist and reactionary behavior that has apparently left many members of the haredi community upset, embarrassed and ready to rebel.

I’d even argue that a tipping point of sorts has been reached.

By Daniel Santacruz www.jstandard.com January 27, 2012

An example of the control extremists want to exert on the city, Lipman said, is the skeleton of a mall at the corner of two busy intersections in Beit Shemesh that has sat idle for five years.

The building, built by a private developer, was to house stores and government offices, including a post office.

Extremist charedi, however, vandalized it and prevented it from opening, arguing that it would encourage the mingling of men and women. The city failed to stand up to the extremists, Lipman said.

By Rabbi Jonathan Duker Opinion www.scribd.com January 29, 2012

Their approach to this issue reveals another large gap between their perceptions and ours. In the kannoi world view, only they are the true Jews, everyone else falls into the category of the “eirev rav” (mixed multitude). 

This is the true history of the Jewish people. In every generation there is small group of “real” Jews, all else are the “eirev rav”.

And it is not the job of the Jews to teach Torah to the mixed multitude, rather it is their job to shout the truth regardless of if anyone will listen. Screaming in protest is not something they do as means to an end. Rather it is the essence of their religion.

By Rabbi Dov Lipman Opinion www.jpost.com January 27, 2012
The writer is an educator, author and community activist in Beit Shemesh and the director of the English Speakers Division of the Am Shalem movement. www.rabbilipman.com

So it is time for some introspection in the mainstream haredi leadership.

Why didn’t it join the moderate haredim, the religious Zionists and the secular to condemn the violence?
Why didn’t its representatives come to the school even once to witness the venom coming from these violent men and the fear on the children’s faces, to educate themselves regarding the severity of the situation?
Why didn’t the haredi newspapers cover the truly scared mothers and emotionally scarred children of Orot?
Why did they twist the words of the news reports and the rally into “anti-haredi”?
Why are they so quick to speak harshly about this made-up campaign, lying to rile up the haredi street?

By Samuel Sokol Opinion http://5tjt.com January 26, 2012

Many in the Orthodox community have tried to assuage their feelings of guilt by telling themselves—and anyone else who is willing to listen—that the Sicarii do not belong to their community and that the majority of chareidim deplore such activities.

While the second statement is most certainly true, the first is just as assuredly a pernicious falsehood.

...Like it or not, they are a part of us: the worst part. While we might deplore their behavior, we too are responsible for it. Our culpability, however, is not due to an act of commission but rather of omission: our failure to act against this cancer in our midst.

By Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer Opinion http://www.hartman.org.il/ January 26, 2012

Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer of the Engaging Israel Project at the Shalom Hartman Institute describes how ultra-Orthodox have gained a presence in the Israeli public square and calls on other groups to "push back" against this by providing a compelling democratic and pluralistic vision of Judaism in Israel.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 26, 2012

An ultra-Orthodox man arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of involvement in a violent attack against a woman in Bet Shemesh had his remand extended for three days in a hearing at the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday afternoon.

www.jpost.com January 25, 2012

Police arrested two additional suspects overnight Tuesday for involvement in an attack by ultra-Orthodox men on a woman hanging up posters for the Mifal Hapayis national lottery in Beit Shemesh on Tuesday.

By Oz Rosenberg www.haaretz.com January 26, 2012

Three of four men who were held overnight as suspects in the assault of a woman in Beit Shemesh Tuesday were released on Wednesday after the court determined that the evidence against them was weak.

By Yoav Malka www.ynetnews.com January 25, 2012

Beit Shemesh resident Natalie Mashiah, 27, who was attacked by dozens of extremist haredi men while trying to put up posters of Mifal Hapyis (Israel's national lottery) in a synagogue recalled the moments of horror.
"I didn't even have time to pull down the hand brake, and they already surrounded me. They shattered all the windshields and threw stones at me. I begged them to stop, I promised to leave, but they wouldn't let me go."

By Oz Rosenberg www.haaretz.com January 25, 2012

A crowd of ultra-Orthodox men jumped on 27-year-old Natali Mashiah's car in the Haredi Ramat Beit Shemet Bet neighborhood, she said.

Members of the crowd smashed her car windows and punctured her four tires before spilling bleach on the inside of her car, said the Beit Shemesh resident, adding that she believed the men were going to set her on fire.

As she fled the car, she said she was hit on the head by a rock thrown from very close range.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 25, 2012

Mayor Moshe Abutbul said, “I again condemn violence of any kind carried out by extremist elements from both sides, and call on the police to enforce the law with severity and with zero tolerance for those breaking the law and disturbing public order.”

Rabbi Dov Lipman, head of the Committee to Save Beit Shemesh that lobbies against ultra-Orthodox extremism in the city, said Abutbol’s comments are “part of the problem.”

“When a woman is attacked in this way, condemnation must be unconditional,” he said.

By Yair Altman www.ynetnews.com January 24, 2012

While searching for a place post her posters, which did not include images of women, several haredi men surrounded her car, punctured the vehicle's tires, stole her car keys and hurled stones at the vehicle. One of the stones hit the woman's head.

By Gil Hoffman www.njjewishnews.com January 25, 2012

MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem: “Extremism must be fought without compromise,” he said. “Most Israelis and Jews don’t want to create Kabul here. It’s a shame for all of Israel.”

Amsalem has also come out strongly against segregation on buses in which the mostly haredi clientele request that women sit in the back. He believes there is no place for discrimination against women in any public area.

www.nytimes.com January 26, 2012
To the Editor:Jewish law is a world constructed by men, for men and primarily about men. The core of the problem is that women are not equal partners and participants in formulating Jewish law.Putting the onus on men perpetuates the very inequality of the legal system. A more self-critical analysis is required of those in the Orthodox Jewish community who, like Rabbi Linzer, wish to live in a world in which women are equal.RACHEL BIALEBerkeley, Calif., Jan. 21, 2012The writer is the author of “Women and Jewish Law.”

By Aner Shalev www.haaretz.com January 29, 2012

The state's subsidizing of the ultra-Orthodox exacts a huge cost from us, an issue that has been widely discussed.

It is a loss that grows with the ever-increasing Haredi population, and pushes Israel closer to the abyss.
What is less known, but no less important, is that the Haredi population also pays a heavy price for the reverse discrimination it receives from the authorities.

A comparison of the socioeconomic status of ultra-Orthodox groups in Israel and New York is illuminating in this regard, and fascinating conclusions may be drawn.
Haredi groups are not offered special subsidies or easier conditions there, and yet the ultra-Orthodox population is flourishing.

While most Haredim in Israel - despite, or perhaps because of, the benefits heaped upon them - suffer poverty and many other hardships.

By Roni Brizon www.ynetnews.com January 25, 2012
Roni Brizon is a former Shinui Knesset member

Start fighting, seculars, at once. Otherwise, you are certain to lose your country. Start fighting because the only alternative is a foreign passport, a plane ticket, and the hope that you will recognize the right moment to leave.

By Hila Weisberg http://english.themarker.com January 27, 2012

The Trajtenberg committee's recommendations for increasing employment are set to be brought to the cabinet for approval Sunday, with one glaring omission - all the proposals for increasing employment among the ultra-Orthodox were dropped.

The team headed by Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, charged with drafting far-reaching proposals for economic and social change, had called for increasing employment among the ultra-Orthodox by introducing new incentives and training programs.

www.economist.com January 21, 2012

If tomorrow’s haredim are as workshy as today’s, the start-up nation is doomed. But trends that can’t continue, won’t, says Glenn Yago of the Milken Institute, a global think-tank. The haredim are highly literate and perfectly capable of working. Some day, they will have to.

Dr. Dan Kaufman, Asaf Malchi , Bezalel Cohen www.jiis.org 2008

Many changes have taken place in the Ultra-Orthodox population in recent years as a result of the development of new options for academic and professional training for this sector.

By Ofer Petersburg www.ynetnews.com January 26, 2012

Large Hasidic movements – such as Ger, Vizhnitz, Satmar, Sanz and Belz – recently issued special rules aimed at cutting wedding costs. 

The Sanz movement, for example, released a book of rules presenting the maximum prices the bride and groom's families should pay for each wedding clause in order to save tens of thousands of shekels.

By Rabbi Levi Brackman Opinion www.ynetnews.com January 30, 2012
Rabbi Levi Brackman is co-founder and executive director of Youth Directions.

Unfortunately, until the community’s economic model becomes self sustaining, saving $20,000 on a wedding will not fundamentally make a difference to the strained finances of so many in the haredi communities.

This wedding expense guideline is but a small band-aid that is trying to hide a gaping wound that has the potential to mortally wound the entire community. It’s maybe a good start, but it does not go far enough to make a real difference.

By Ari Galahar www.ynetnews.com January 26, 2012

The Israel Fire and Rescue Services' ultra-Orthodox unit in the Judea and Samaria District received unusual reinforcement recently – a dog who can take orders in Yiddish.

"In order to make the dog more accessible to the haredi sector, we trained him to act differently than fellow dogs."

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com January 29, 2012

Senior Sephardic religious leaders, including Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef, have published a harsh letter against the Internet, stating that every person must save his relatives and others from the "spiritual dangers" of the Web.

According to the rabbis, this is a superior religious duty – from the Torah.

www.israelhayom.com January 24, 2012

An Egged bus passenger filed a complaint with the company this week after her driver refused to stop at her station because of its proximity to a haredi neighborhood as the Sabbath was about to begin, Army Radio reported.

Egged confirmed that it issued an order barring tis drivers from entering religious neighborhoods if Shabbat was about to begin. 

However, following the Army Radio report, the bus company apparently asked permission from the Transportation Ministry to leave Tel Aviv earlier on Fridays to prevent, in Egged's words, "putting the buses at risk" of arriving at religious neighborhoods near the start of Shabbat.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 30, 2012

Chief Rabbis in Kiryat Ata, Ashdod, Beit Dagan, Or Akiva, Alfei Menashe and Or Yehuda will get salary hikes of 54-143 percent depending on the size of the cities in which they serve, if the Ministerial Committee for Socioeconomic Affairs passes the proposal.

The rabbis from these specific municipalities are receiving the increase because they were appointed after the government decided in 2005 to reduce the salaries of municipal chief rabbis due to economic considerations.

By Moti Bassok and Lior Dattel http://english.themarker.com January 30, 2012

The proposed salary hike is progressive, giving more money to those earning less and vice versa. 

Rabbis in communities with a population of 10,000 or less, who currently earn gross salaries of NIS 7,200 a month, would see their wages rise 143% in March, to NIS 17,500 a month before taxes.

www.jpost.com January 29, 2012

Calling the raise "scandalous," Regev asserted in a statement that the increase is an example of cronyism among haredi parties that will come at the expense of tax paying citizens.

By Jonathan Lis www.haaretz.com January 30, 2012

At least two women will be on a 10-member committee to appoint rabbinical judges, if the Knesset passes a bill the coalition plans to support.

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said she welcomed Sunday's decision by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation to have the government back her bill, which stipulates that the panel that selects rabbinic judges must include at least two women.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 30, 2012

Women’s rights groups welcomed the step but said that even if the measure is signed into law it is no guarantee that it will change the face of the rabbinical courts, which have jurisdiction over divorce proceedings.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 16, 2012

A bill presented by MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) on Sunday proposing to scrap all local religious councils was given support on Monday from somewhat surprising quarters.

Rabbi Shimon Biton, chairman of the Petah Tikva Religious Council, said in a radio interview with 103 FM that he “agreed with every word of Sheetrit’s bill,” and supported his idea to transfer the provision of their services to local municipalities.

http://hiddush.org January 26, 2012

24 years after the Shakdiel verdict concluded that discrimination of woman from religious councils is illegal, only 23 women currently hold a position on the councils.

There are 450 members of the 66 religious councils altogether. Women constitute only 5% of their membership, one of every twenty members.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com January 27, 2012

The six-year-old Shorashim organization traffics not in priceless antiques, but in proving Jewish identities to the Rabbinate, Israel’s religious governing body.

“We did so much to bring [Soviet Jews] here, and now look how we’re treating them, like second-class citizens,” said Shalom Norman, the director of the Harry Triguboff Fund. Norman was also involved in negotiations to bring Jews to Israel in the 1980s and ’90s.

By Nadav Shemer and Lahav Harkov www.jpost.com January 30, 2012

The Israel Land Administration’s managing council approved Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias’ affordable housing program Monday, despite heavy criticism from within the government over the exclusion of workforce participation from the eligibility criteria.

Rabbi Uri Regev, director of religious freedom advocacy group Hiddush, said the program promoted “social injustice, rather than social justice,” and accused Netanyahu and Steinitz of being motivated by politics and of currying favor with the ultra-orthodox parties.

Giving preference to married couples constitutes “a humiliation and disregard for the needs of the vast majority of the public, who risk their lives serving in the army, but who get married much later than haredi couples.”

Haaretz Editorial www.haaretz.com January 26, 2012

Since [Shas Housing Minister] Atias assumed his post he has concerned himself mainly with the Haredim.

During the past three years, they are the ones who got most of the subsidized apartments, under the "mehir lamishtaken" plan, which awards contracts to developers who commit to the lowest price to the homebuyer.

www.ynetnews.com January 25, 2012

"The housing minister's decision is an insult to those who went out to the streets (to protest)," Livni said, adding that the measure makes the benefit only accessible to the haredi sector.

By Moti Bassok and Zvi Zrahiya http://english.themarker.com January 29, 2012

Atias presented the new criteria on Wednesday. The announcement drew fire because the criteria ignored the Trajtenberg committee's proposal to give preference to people who performed army service and couples where both parents work.

Instead, they included measures that were likely to favor the ultra-Orthodox, who are the main constituency of Atias' Shas party.

By Ophir Bar-Zohar and Ranit Nahum-Halevy www.haaretz.com January 26, 2012

Rabbi Uri Regev of Hiddush - Freedom of Religion for Israel, said: "The criteria the housing minister is trying to dictate to the Israel Lands Administration Council under his aegis show that he was and is first and foremost the minister of the yeshiva students, not the minister of housing of the State of Israel.

It is to be hoped that the voice of reason and social justice will be heard above all, and that the council will reject the attempt to blur the distinction between those who need public help because they cannot work, and those who chose not to work but rather to live off the work of taxpayers and the public coffers."

"This is a sharp deviation from the committee's recommendations," Trajtenberg said, referring to the committee he had headed that drafted recommendations for social and economic reform. 

His comments, made at a rabbinical conference at the Ariel Institute, were reported by Radio Kol Hai.

http://hiddush.org January 26, 2012
Partnering organizations: Hiddush – For Freedom of Religion and Equality, Be Free Israel, Israel Religious Action Center, HaForum Ha'Hiloni (The Secular Forum), Ha'Forum L'Shivyon B'Netel (The Forum for Equal Sharing in the Civic Burden), Ne'emnei Torah v'Avodah.

We, the citizens of Israel, from across the political spectrum, call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reject the criteria for affordable housing assistance as proposed by the Shas Minister of Housing, Ariel Atias.

By Elisha Porat Opinion www.haaretz.com January 27, 2012

My friend, the late Nehemiah Ginzburg, a member of Kibbutz Givat Haim Ihud, was an admirer of Hartman.

He also admired the Orthodox philosopher and teacher Yeshayahu Leibowitz. He begged me to become even closer to Hartman and to listen carefully to his teaching. And that's what I did. I joined his select group of students, an elite hevruta, a Jewish study group, that met at his home on Friday mornings.

By Yedidya Gorsetman and Gary Rosenblatt Opinion www.thejewishweek.com January 24, 2012
Yedidya Gorsetman is a senior at Yeshiva University where he is a features editor of The Commentator, the official student newspaper.
Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisher of The Jewish Week. Ben Sales, former editor of New Voices, contributed to this report.

For those in the Modern Orthodox community who send their sons to yeshivas in Israel for a year or two of post-high school study, it’s long been an open secret that Rav Aharon Bina, rosh hayeshiva of Netiv Aryeh in the Old City of Jerusalem, has a unique — many say bizarre — pedagogical style.
Supporters call it “tough love”; critics call it abuse.

By Yechiel Spira www.jerusalemkoshernews.com January 29, 2012

I do not recall a Chief Rabbinate alert causing a storm on the magnitude as the one mentioning Haagen Dazs® ice cream, but there is always a first.

By Tom Segev www.haaretz.com January 27, 2012

An article in the quarterly Cathedra: Journal for Holy Land Studies, published by Yad Ben-Zvi by Dr. Giora Goodman, a lecturer in history at Kinneret College.

[I]t appears the government did take very seriously the protests of the Vatican, which fought for the rights of monasteries and convents to raise pigs - among them the Convent of Saint Vincent de Paul in the Ein Karem neighborhood of Jerusalem.

The mother superior, Marguerite Bernes, was a Righteous Gentile who cared for brain-damaged children. She said she was prepared to be die defending the pigs, whose meat was necessary to nourish her wards.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 29, 2012

One hundred thirty national-religious rabbis sent a letter to Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch on Thursday calling on her to cancel the court’s decision to destroy homes in the Migron outpost.

Among the signatories were senior national-religious figures including Rabbi Haim Druckman, head of the Bnei Akiva youth movement and dean of Ohr Etzion yeshiva, Tzohar chairman Rabbi David Stav, Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and Ramat Gan Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel.

By Dr. Amnon Ramon, Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies http://allaboutjerusalem.com January 6, 2012

In summation, despite the small demographic presence of Jerusalem’s Christian communities and the fragile and tenuous standing of Christian bodies, which operate in the city under the shadow of Jews and Muslims who are struggling for control, the Christian dimension is of the utmost importance in strengthening Jerusalem’s universal standing. Both hawkish sides – Israelis and Palestinians – have a clear interest in preserving the status of the Christian element (in all its denominations).

By Eli Ashkenazi www.haaretz.com January 30, 2012

In September Stepman-Shmueli organized a meeting of about 100 descendants of Subbotniks from the Russian village of Solodniki.

According to Yoav Regev, author of the Hebrew book "Subbotniks in the Galilee," the expression is "a popular nickname for the Russian converts who immigrated to the Land of Israel out of a profound religious feeling, and with the enthusiastic support of the Hovevei Zion ('Lovers of Zion' ) they took root on the Israeli frontier."

Tens of thousands are streaming to the town of Netivot to participate in ceremonies marking 28 years since the death of the Baba Sali, Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira. 

The annual memorial ceremony, called the "hilula," is held the fourth day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, at his tomb.  His burial place has become a shrine for many.

By Aviad Glickman www.ynetnews.com January 30, 2012

The Prison Service's Parole Board decided Monday to reduce one third of former Minister Shlomo Benizri's sentence for good behavior and support of fellow inmates in the religious wing. Benizri was sentenced to four years in prison for accepting bribes from contractor Moshe Sela. He is due to be released in April.

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