Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - January 30, 2012 (Section 1)

Religion and State in Israel

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

By Jonathan Lis, Moti Bassok and Ophir Bar-Zohar www.haaretz.com January 30, 2012

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a Likud faction meeting Monday that the Tal Law, which allows ultra-Orthodox citizens to defer military service, will not be extended by the government but rather go to a vote in the Knesset.

By Jeremy Sharon and Lahav Harkov www.jpost.com January 30, 2012

Labor MK Isaac Herzog also expressed opposition to extending the law in its current form, saying it must be improved and revised.

“We need a law that will ensure that more haredim enlist in the army than is the case at the moment,” he said during a Labor faction meeting Monday.

Those advocating a repeal or dramatic reform of the law argue the increase in haredi recruitment is too slow and is not keeping up with the natural increase of the ultra-Orthodox population.

By Lahav Harkov www.ynetnews.com January 30, 2012

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that all 15 Israel Beiteinu MKs will vote against the Tal Law, at a press conference in the Knesset on Monday.

*For all the articles on the Tal Law, scroll to end of post.

www.ynetnews.com January 26, 2012

Results showed that 49% of the public believe religious soldiers should be excused from military ceremonies which include women performers, 40% said they must be forced to attend and only 4% would like the IDF to only allow men perform in ceremonies.

Ultra-Orthodox (71%), religious (75%) and traditional Jews (55%) said the soldiers should be excused, as did 40% of seculars. However, more seculars (51%) believe religious soldiers should be forced to attend events which include women performers.

By Rabbi Reuven Hammer Opinion www.jpost.com January 27, 2012
The writer, former president of the International Rabbinical Assembly

In the past, not listening to women sing may have been the practice of certain elements, but until recently it was not the practice of mainstream religious men. Even today one has only to attend the Israel Opera and other musical events to see the large number of kippa-wearing men in the audience.

By Amir Oren www.haaretz.com January 29, 2012
To: IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny GantzDear Sir:Gradually, but as a practical matter at a dizzying speed, they're stealing the army - the air force, at least - from under you. That's what I conclude from the experience of my son, who serves as a technician at an air force base in the center of the country, and also a bit from what I have seen myself.Soon your army will only function with the approval of rabbis and, most unfortunately, this is also your fault.

By Rebecca Spence www.jewishjournal.com January 25, 2012
Anat Hoffman:
“We have 13 lawsuits against drivers for not enforcing the law, and it’s very effective,” Hoffman said. “Those suits for damages are helping to unlearn what 10 years of segregated buses have taught.”
“Women are in the world, and the kids see that the women know more. So how else can the Orthodox world keep them in their place other than to say, ‘You might know more in the modern world, but in the religious world, you should know your place.’ ”

By Lois Goldrich www.jstandard.com January 27, 2012

While the charedi generally oppose Kolech, “Charedi women come to us and ask for help,” she said, noting that a growing problem is coming from what Kehat called the “charedi nationale,” who are increasingly participating in public institutions, but “don’t want to be modern.” Therefore, they seek to exclude women from the spheres they enter.

“As more charedi people become involved in social life — starting to go into the army, or the workplace, or political life — they say, ‘We’re ready to be more involved, but let us bring our manners and values.’ They demand that women go to the side. It’s a very serious fight. They’re welcome, but they must respect the status of women.”

By Uri Misgav Opinion www.haaretz.com January 24, 2012

Machon Meir, which is involved in helping Jews become more religious in the spirit of the teachings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, bans images of women from appearing in its pamphlets.

...Machon Meir, with its missionary Haredi Zionist policy, is funded for the most part by the state. The money comes not only from the Religious Affair Ministry, but from the Education Ministry as well. The face that is really blurred is not that of Ruth Fogel, but that of the State of Israel.

By Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky Opinion http://morethodoxy.org January 30, 2012

The extreme manifestation of this of course is the zealous suppression of women in the public sphere that has become mainstream Haredi religious behavior.

...What sort of mindset simply dismisses this kind of straightforward halachik thinking in favor of making women disappear?

One that stems directly from the rejection of the basic moral claim that women possess the same humanity, dignity and stature as men, and that they are not simply objects that populate a male world. And what a price has been paid for this rejection.
A disfigurement of Torah observance, and an international desecration of God’s name.

By Lenore Skenazy Opinion www.forward.com January 30, 2012

When a traditional religious group tries to make peace with the surrounding society, it is more threatening to fundamentalists than, say, a Reform Jew eating a BLT, because it is someone just like them starting to “stray.” The fundamentalists must draw a line in the sand.
So they spit and swear.

“It’s designed in some ways to get other people’s backs up,” Kaufmann said. “It’s what’s called ‘creating tension’ with the surrounding society.” 

The “us vs. them” mentality reinvigorates the fundamentalists. And, confoundingly enough, the more we react, the more resolved they become: They must be doing something right if the fallen world sees them as wrong.

By Gili Cohen www.haaretz.com January 26, 2012

A female reporter's face was intentionally blurred on a municipal advertisement intended for Rehovot's religious public.

Amitai Cohen, chairman of the Religious-National Forum and Rehovot's religious council treasurer, said his department sent the ad to the newspaper with Rahav-Meir's face displayed clearly. Cohen said the newspaper, which is intended for the ultra-Orthodox community, blurred the face without the organizers' knowledge.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com January 25, 2012

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of the most prominent Religious Zionism leaders, has justified the decision to blur a picture of Ruti Fogel, who was brutally murdered in the settlement of Itamar along with her husband and three of their children, in a weekly bulleting published by the Meir Institute.

The rabbi addressed the incident in a video response to a reader's question on the Maale website. "It's an act of respect," he said. "Although she has died, it doesn't mean she shouldn’t be respected."

By Ruth Tsuria Opinion www.religiondispatches.org January 27, 2012

Even in a diverse society, all of us, secular, liberal, and post-modern “believers,” can and should voice their opinions, even if that means that the majority, secular cultural might hurt or offend or even interfere in the practices of a minority culture. We might need to consider becoming fundamentally liberal—and maybe some of us already have.

By Rabbi Leigh Lerner Opinion http://pluralistblog.wordpress.com January 16, 2012

Segregation exists in Jerusalem. Until IRAC won its case, it existed with the assent of the government, the very government that subsidizes the bus companies. Now it is sustained by social pressure. 

Still, many Haredi women bless IRAC for opening the front of the bus to them again. Only by sitting where we please will Jerusalemites and other Israelis keep their buses integrated. Separate can never be equal.

By Debra Filcman www.brandeis.edu January 25, 2012

Requiring women to sit in the back of public buses in Israel is just one of a wide range of denigrating restrictions proposed in the name of religion, speakers told an overflow crowd at a program in Wasserman Cinemateque Monday evening. Sponsored by the Hadassah Brandeis Institute’s Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law (GCRL), the evening brought light to many inequities.

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

A historic prayer service was conducted in the Knesset on Wednesday by a leadership mission of the North American Masorti-Conservative movement, the first mixed men’s and women’s service ever held there.

The group also raised the controversial issue of rights for non-Orthodox streams of Judaism, referring to the lack of recognition the state grants to the Conservative movement’s rabbis and ceremonies.

“... the State of Israel degrades us time and again when it says that we are second-class Jews,” he continued, mentioning Conservative marriages and conversions in particular. “The discrimination against non-Orthodox movements in Israel does massive damage to the image of Israel as a state for all Jews.”

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com January 26, 2012

Surprisingly, the ultra-Orthodox parties were unfazed by the violation of the synagogue's status quo. MK Nissim Zeev (Shas) said that as far as he was concerned, it was a public prayer room everyone was entitled to use.

"Even if Muhammad asks to pray there, I'll say 'tfadal' ('go ahead' in Arabic)."

According to Zeev, if the group members had asked to hold an egalitarian quorum at the regular prayer time, it would have been considered a disturbance and provocation, but because they did it at a different time he had no problem with this "glorification of women".

"Thank God, Israel doesn't have many communities of this kind, which sow the rift among the people of Israel," he said. "But when they arrive, you can't prevent them from doing so in a public place like the Knesset.

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

“But the State of Israel degrades us time and again when it says that we are second-class Jews,” he continued, mentioning Conservative marriages and conversions in particular.

“The discrimination against non-Orthodox movements in Israel does massive damage to the image of Israel as a state for all Jews.”

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com January 27, 2012

Overall, the survey found an increase in attachment to Jewish religion and tradition from 1999 to 2009, following a decrease from 1991 to 1999, which was the decade of mass immigration from the former Soviet Union.

The study's authors cited two reasons for the rise in religiosity. One is that immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who contributed to the drop in religiosity from 1991 to 1999, have now assimilated into Israeli society.

Various studies have found that this process of assimilation has resulted in Soviet immigrants becoming more traditional. The second reason is the demographic change caused by the higher Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox birthrates.

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com January 28, 2012

Eighty-five percent of haredim and 49% of religious Jews said they would obey Halacha rather than the law or democratic values in case of a clash between the two. On the other hand, 84% of anti-religious seculars and 65% of seculars who are not anti-religious said they would favor democracy. Forty-eight percent of traditional Jews said they would "sometimes favor Halacha and sometimes favor democracy."

In total, 44% of all respondents will obey law and democracy, 20% will favor Halacha and 36% have no unequivocal opinion.

Seventy-three percent believe that those who have undergone proper conversion are Jewish, even if they don't observe mitzvot.

Forty-eight percent said that even those who have undergone non-Orthodox conversion are considered Jewish, 40% include a son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, and 33% say that anyone who feels Jewish is Jewish.

By Yoni Dayan and Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com January 26, 2012

The study also addressed the controversial issue of civil marriage, the subject of recent debate, with 51% of respondents saying they absolutely agreed, agreed or possibly agreed that the option of civil marriage – not under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate – should be established in Israel.

Regarding the status of women, the study indicated significant differences of opinion on gender roles. Sixty-seven percent of haredim believe that the husband should work and support the family while the wife stays home to take care of the children, while only 35% of the modern Orthodox feel that way.
Only 18%-20% of the secular community are of that opinion.
In addition, 73% of local Jews feel that Israeli and Diaspora Jews share a common destiny, while 61% feel that the Conservative and Reform movements should have equal status with the Orthodox.

By Merav Michaeli Opinion www.haaretz.com January 30, 2012

Yes, there has been an increase in Israelis' attachment to Judaism over the past decade, but that means the situation has more or less returned to what it was two decades before that.

This same poll was first conducted in 1991, and its results were similar to those of the latest survey.
A second one was done in 1999, after the bulk of the immigrants from the former Soviet Union had arrived in the country, but had yet to  completely assimilate; this explained the dip in Israeli Jews' attachment to religion at the time.

A decade later, those immigrants have internalized the cultural codes of Israeli society.
Throw in an enlarged Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox population that has counterbalanced the secularism the Russian-speaking immigrants brought with them, and the proportion of Israelis who subscribe to traditional Jewish beliefs remains virtually unchanged over the past 20 years.

By Yaron London Opinion www.ynetnews.com January 30, 2012

Last week, God was happy. A serious poll found that the number of believers in His existence is growing. Israelis who define themselves as “haredim,” “religious” and “traditional” currently comprise an overwhelming majority among the population.

By Gideon Levy Opinion www.haaretz.com January 29, 2012

God exists. Eighty percent of Israeli Jews can't be wrong. And it is precisely for that reason we must say: God protect us from the results of the poll...

From now on, it can no longer be claimed that the secular majority has acquiesced to the religious minority; there is no secular majority, only a negligible minority.

By Molly Livingstone www.thebigfelafel.com January 12, 2012

‘Unorthodox’, a feature documentary, tracks the lives of three teenagers from the modern Orthodox community as they spend their post-high school year studying in Israel.

The film follows the teenagers through their journey in Israel and America. The documentary tells this intimate story with personal video diaries, giving us those real life moments that are both raw and profound.

In this exclusive behind the scenes, check out our Q&A with filmmaker Anna Wexler herself and a special Vlog from Producer Shira on the Kickstarter Campaign!

“I think that Unorthodox will bring up important discussions about the year in Israel and the Modern Orthodox educational system.

On a personal level, I’d really like the film to spark conversation about attitudes towards people who seriously question, or outright reject, Orthodox Judaism.”

By Aliza Kline Opinion http://mayyimhayyimblog.com January 23, 2012
Aliza Kline is Executive Director, Mayyim Hayyim

When mikvaot are public – they must be open to everyone.  But the Rabbinate is not interested in everyone. It is not interested in creating a welcoming and inviting space that honors the women seeking to immerse.  It is interested in setting boundaries; in enforcing its increasingly narrow view of “legitimate” ritual observance.

I am working with a few groups of women and men interested in creating a new model for mikveh in Israel. One that is not under the Rabbinate, one that can create its own policies – and one that seeks to be as welcoming and inclusive as possible. Starting by not asking questions of the immersees, except perhaps, “Is there anything I can do to make your experience more meaningful?”

By Gary Rosenblatt www.thejewishweek.com January 24, 2012

The issue of who can become a Jew through conversion is controversial and critical to determining the essence of the Jewish character, and as timely as the current headlines from Jerusalem.

But as two rabbinic scholars — one Reform and one Conservative — show in assessing Orthodox rabbinic decision-making on the subject over the last two centuries, the debate is hardly new.

And in their recently published book, “Pledges of Jewish Allegiance: Conversion, Law and Policymaking in 19th and 20th Century Orthodox Responsa,” the authors emphasize that opinions have always taken into account the social context and conditions of the day as well as interpretation of Jewish law.

By Bradley Burston Opinion www.haaretz.com January 25, 2012

Simply put, we don’t understand each other, American Jews and Israelis. We dance around the fact, we shy away from truly examining it, but we are, as communities and as individuals, in many, many respects, total strangers.

www.ynetnews.com January 25, 2012

In an effort to heighten both the knowledge and sensitivity of Israel's members of Knesset about the American Jewish community, a new Israel-American Jewish Knesset Caucus was inaugurated on Wednesday.

By Gil Shefler www.jpost.com January 23, 2012

US diplomat Dennis Ross has rejoined The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) two months after stepping down from the position of US special envoy to the Middle East, the Jewish think tank announced on Monday

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

One issue that MetroWest has taken on perhaps more than any other federation is religious pluralism in Israel.

The Central federation has provided support for the Conservative synagogue in Arad. Stone acknowledged that some members of the Central community, which includes Elizabeth’s large Orthodox community, may not agree with the pluralism agenda.

However, “we’re not going to [reach] unanimity on everything,” he said. “While we haven’t been a leader like MetroWest in backing the religious streams, we haven’t backed down on our commitment to Israel being accessible to all kinds of religious expression.”

Stone and Kleinman praised the behind-the-scenes efforts of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee — which both federations support — in training and finding employment for members of the fervently Orthodox community.

www.jpost.com January 25, 2012

Diaspora youth's lack of Jewish identity is a major challenge facing Israel, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said Wednesday.

By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski www.israelnationalnews.com January 30, 2012

Taglit-Birthright Israel launched its first special “Start-Up Nation” group this month after a successful pilot program last year.

The program is named for the popularbook “Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” and included a talk by Saul Singer, one of the book’s authors, visits to various Israeli hi-tech start-ups in Herzliya and Tel Aviv, meetings with Israeli venture capitalists and a trip to IDC Herzliya to sit with students and lecturers in the university’s specialized entrepreneurship program.

*Articles on the Tal Law

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