Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - February 13, 2012 (Section 1)

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

By Gloria Deutsch www.jpost.com February 10, 2012

For Danielle Gossman-Vitory, the hardest part of aliya was proving she was Jewish enough to become an immigrant and, even more, Jewish enough to get married in Israel.

Her parents had married in a Reform synagogue and had no valid ketuba(marriage certificate). She was asked to produce her grandparents’ marriage certificate instead but this had gone missing and no one knew where it was. Someone suggested a photo of her grandmother’s grave in a Jewish cemetery, but this proved to be not enough.

By Yehuda Shlezinger www.israelhayom.com February 5, 2012

In preparation for the happy day, Yehosha discovered that to register for marriage he would have to prove he is a Jew. Taking a cue from his immigrant friends’ bitter experiences with the rabbinical bureaucracy in Israel, he began searching for proof of his Judaism. What he found exceeded his expectations: a 100-year-old document classifying his great-grandmother as a member of the “Jewish race.”

Rabbi Shaul Farber, the chairman of the non-profit organization ITIM Resources and Advocacy for Jewish Life, said that Bloomberg’s story points to a serious problem in the marriage system in Israel: 

“We at ITIM see cases like Yehosha’s every day. Sometimes we find creative solutions, like looking in various archives. But sometimes there is no solution.”

By Rabbi John Rosove Opinion www.jewishjournal.com February 10, 2012

Jessica’s fiancĂ© and his family wanted her to convert to Judaism with an Orthodox rabbi because her mother had converted to Judaism with a Conservative Rabbi.

They worried that Jessica’s future children would not be considered Jewish by the Israeli Orthodox rabbinate and could never marry here.

Jessica refused to undergo conversion, saying; “This so upset me that these rabbis would define my identity for me.”

By Sara Miller www.jewishjournal.com February 3, 2012

“The [Israeli] government spends at least $450 million annually for Orthodox education, congregations, support of ultra-Orthodox adult ‘students’ and gives under $50,000 to Masorti,” [Barbara Berci] said.

“Those of us who buy bonds or give to Israeli groups and causes, and I do, may be unwittingly supporting pro-Orthodox policies with their funding. Maybe we should set as a standard for each gift whether it supports democratic and pluralistic values.”

By Henry Benjamin www.jwire.com.au February 13, 2012

Daniel Gordis: Israel’s conversion is only a specific example of a much wider problem…and that is Israel’s Chief Rabbinate. It is one of the greatest problems facing religious Judaism.

In the Unites States, there is no Chief Rabbinate and people with religious ideas have to compete in the public square for the loyalty and the allegiance of the communities with which they want to work. The Chief Rabbinate in Israel has no obligation to try to be relevant to anyone’s lives…or to understand where people are coming from.

Their power comes from the State as a result of which they have become completely disengaged from the important issues facing Israeli society and conversion is just one of those issues. 

It is not a very Zionistic Rabbinate either. So conversion is obviously an important issue but it is not critical. I think the Chief Rabbinate changing it dramatically is very important for the future of the Jewish State.

By Ariel Beery Opinion http://blogs.timesofisrael.com January 30, 2012

This is why the continued existence of the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel is an existential threat to the unity of the Jewish People. 

Yes, work must be done in the Knesset to reform the system of government, but the connection between the Jewish State and the Jewish People is not up to the State alone. It is an issue for all Jews, around the world.

By Natan Sharansky Opinion www.thejewishweek.com February 7, 2012

Who is a Jew, and who gets to decide? Why are increasing numbers of local municipal rabbis, all appointed and subsidized by the state, raising obstacles to conversions approved by other Orthodox rabbis? Why is the whole process of conversion being made into a machine for exclusion? 

How have so many other issues having to do with the use and abuse of public space in Israel been allowed to fall under the veto power of the ultra-Orthodox parties?

By Lahav Harkov www.jpost.com February 7, 2012

Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) is the Knesset member who works hardest to separate religion and state, according to a studyby the Open Knesset website and the Reform Movement’s Center for Religion and State released on Monday.

By Yair Sheleg Opinion www.haaretz.com February 7, 2012

This situation derives from the perception of religious identity mainly in a negative context, as a collection of prohibitions and restrictions aimed at differentiating the Jew from his surroundings - first of all from his non-Jewish surroundings, and also from his non-religious surroundings.

By Liel Leibovitz Opinion www.tabletmag.com February 7, 2012

In denying Zionism its religious essence, the Israeli left is proving to be inept not only at understanding the past but also at planning for the future. Increasingly, it is governed by a humanist ethos that sees the occupation and the horrific acts committed to preserve it as an affront to universalist values.

But there is a very strong argument to be made that the occupation is also an absolute violation of Judaism’s core tenets, and it’s an argument that those 70 percent of Israelis who believe in chosenness should hear. The problem is that there’s no one to make it; for the Israeli left, religion is anathema.

By Israel Harel Opinion www.haaretz.com February 9, 2012

...those the "Israelis" term "the Jews" feel that "normal" normalcy, at least at the present time, is impossible, and is also not the top national priority.

We are here in order to live in a Jewish and Zionist state, in which - and only in which - the Jewish people can, despite all the internal disputes, fulfill its national and universal aspirations.

By Harvey Hames Opinion www.forward.com February 10, 2012
Harvey Hames is a professor of history at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the author of “I (do not) Believe: Israel and Judaism — Past, Present, Future” (published in Hebrew by Ktav, 2011).

This Guttman-Avi Chai survey proves that Rabbinic Judaism is gaining ground over democracy and democratic values. 

The implications of this for the future of Israel are not to be underestimated. Belief in God is one thing; however, the general acceptance of an intimate link between belief and observance in a state that prides itself first and foremost on being democratic is a recipe for disaster.

By Elliot Jager Opinion www.jpost.com February 12, 2012

The survey found that Israelis are not fond of the country’s “either-or” school system, which forces them to categorize their children as either “Orthodox” or “secular” from kindergarten. 

Many want the option of sending their children to schools with more curricular integration. So, the good news is that the demand for pluralistic, traditional public education is real. Too bad, then, that such curricula receive precious little government backing.

By Aryeh Tepper www.jewishideasdaily.com February 3, 2012

"Traditionalism in Israeli society corresponds, in many ways, to the principles of the popular religion which Spinoza introduces."  

In other words, the laid-back faith of traditional Israelis is just what Spinoza was hoping for. Most Israeli Jews, re-politicized by Zionism, have gradually developed an attitude towards religious tradition that doesn't undermine the state's authority and in many cases even serves the state's purposes. 

The peculiar mix of religious and national symbols often seen in Israel's public sphere testifies to just how thoroughly the state has tamed religious tradition for most Israelis.

By Shani McManus www.sun-sentinel.com February 8, 2012

Yaron Shavit, chairman of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism:
Israel, being a very committed Democratic Jewish state can be influenced through democratic processes and therefore I call on the American Reform Jews to make their contribution to influence Israel and its society by strengthening the Reform Israelis and enabling the Israel Reform Movement to grow and influence more and more Israelis, thereby helping all of us be more proud on Israel, its actions, and how it is seen by the world.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com February 8, 2012

A two-hour discussion was conducted on Tuesday in the Knesset between activists and politicians seeking to abolish the “Tal Law.”

The session, called “An Army of Half the People?” was initiated by MK Avi Dichter, former public security minister, and the Forum for Equality in the Burden of Military Service.

Itai Ben-Horin, an attorney from the Forum, spoke out strongly against extending the Tal Law, calling it a “failure,” and citing figures that he said demonstrated a 100 percent increase in the number of ultra-Orthodox men receiving an exemption from the army between 2002 and 2011.

http://hiddush.org February 2, 2012

Hiddush President, Adv. Rabbi Uri Regev, said in response that “There is no other topic that enjoys such broad public consensus as the need to stop allowing the mass of yeshiva students from fulfilling their civic duties.”

Regev reminded Knesset members that: “Any extension of the Tal Law does a huge disservice to the proud concept of the Peoples’ Army. The public will not tolerate continued discrimination in favor of the ultra-Orthodox; any extension will see great consequences in the next election."

http://hiddush.org February 2, 2012

One in two: 50% of all eligible recruits enlist (including men, women, Jews and Arabs, ultra-Orthodox and non-ultra-Orthodox) - 50% do not enlist.

One in three: 67% (two-thirds) of Jewish Israelis enlist (including women and men, ultra-Orthodox and non-ultra-Orthodox) - 33% do not enlist.

One in four: 75% of Israeli Jewish men enlist and 25% do not.

One in six: 16% (one-sixth of those eligible for enlistment) are ultra-Orthodox men who receive draft deferments at age 18.

One in eight: 13% (one-eighth of all eligible, or more than half of the 25% noted above) are men who are ultra-Orthodox who received draft deferments until age 21.

By Yair Lootstein Opinion www.cjnews.com February 16, 2012

Nothing infuriates average Israelis more than the exemption most haredi men get from military service.
While other high school graduates spend several years in the IDF, often endangering themselves for Israel’s security, most similarly aged haredi young people continue their lives uninterrupted.

By Moran Azulay www.ynetnews.com February 8, 2012

The Knesset speaker added that the Tal Law was Israel's constitutional test, saying: "Those who claim that the matter of haredi enlistment to the IDF can be solved through coercion are throwing sand in the public's eyes."

www.israelnationalnews.com February 7, 2012

Journalist-turned-politician Yair Lapid issued a warning, Monday evening, about extension of the Tal Law, which provides exemption from military service for draft-are yeshiva students, as an incentive for them to enter the work force.

Lapid wrote on his Facebook page, "Warning. They are going to deceive you! By the 31st of July, they will call this by another name and take their time, but behind our backs, as always, they will extend the Tal Law again."

By Elad Benari www.israelnationalnews.com February 9, 2012

Hareidi-religious soldiers who serve in the Israeli Navy complained on Wednesday that, contrary to instructions and promises by the IDF that they will have a military service in which no there will be no involvement of female soldiers, they were forced to attend a lecture given by a female soldier.

By Moran Azulay www.ynetnews.com February 9, 2012

A joint Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and Constitution, Law and Justice Committee team approved on Tuesday amendments to the bill seeking to impose tougher measure against women who falsely use religion as an excuse to avoid military service.

Letter to the military chief of staff and chief rabbi on women´s singing (Attorney Ricky Shapiro)

...one must accept a resolution calling for women's singing in IDF's ceremonies in which both female and male soldiers are present.

This will found the IDF as a place where men and women, from all sections of society serve together, while respecting the freedoms of religion and upholding the right to equality of all male and female soldiers.

You need to acknowledge that your organization has erred greatly with this ruling, and must reverse it immediately.

You need to remember that you are the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel, and your organization needs to be more attentive to the concerns of those affected by your decisions.

By Ranit Nahum-Halevy www.haaretz.com February 7, 2012

Although local authorities are desperate for government aid to fund new public buildings, they are instead receiving millions of shekels from the Housing and Construction Ministry to build religious institutions.

In some cases the local councils received funding for religious institutions, such as mikvehs (ritual baths), without even asking for it. Yet it isn't even the Housing Ministry's job to provide funding for them.

www.jewishideas.org February 1, 2012
Aviva Harbater is an Orthodox Jewish activist who lives in Jerusalem. For more information on KayamaMoms, please visit their website http://www.kayamamoms.org

Together with some friends, I’ve established an organization called KayamaMoms. I’m religious, 40 years old and unmarried and I would like to have children. Like me, there are thousands of women in Israel and the rest of the world who have dreamed their entire lives about having a family but unfortunately have not yet found the right partner.

I won’t hide from you that today’s topic is very personal...

Therefore, we at KayamaMoms, are creating a supportive and sustainable community that empowers women who have already decided to take this bold step and will provide advice and guidance to women who are thinking about becoming single moms.  

By Ronit Orbaum Opinion www.kolech.com

One Shabbat in Jerusalem I met a single religious girl in an advanced stage of pregnancy, who gave a shiur in which she surveyed and explained the halakhic problems and solutions related to becoming pregnant as a single woman.

The meeting with her made a tremendous impression on me, and already before the age of 30 I told myself that if I reached the (advanced) age of 36-37 and am still single – I would do as she did.

By Akiva Novick www.ynetnews.com February 7, 2012

Students attending national religious schools are to begin studying a new subject next year – sex education, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

The new course, titled "Home, education and family," will deal with contraception, premarital relationships, modesty and the status of women. It is also to deal with "family purity," or the Jewish law that addresses married couples' conduct during menstruation.

By Elana Maryles Sztokman and L. Ariella Zeller Winter 2011-2012 http://www.lilith.org/

"The public vacuum is starting to be filled by anti-abortion groups backed by religious ideologues.
The goal of Efrat according to its own statements is to rescue babies from abortion to make up for the Holocaust and to increase the Jewish birthright in Israel."

By Kobi Nahshoni www.ynetnews.com February 12, 2012

Rabbis, therapists and religious homosexuals have welcomed conclusions published by the Israeli Psychological Association on "conversion therapy", defining the document as "good news".

Rabbi Ron Yosef of the Hod organization (an acronym for religious gays in Hebrew) told Ynet that he had asked the Psychological Association himself to discuss conversion therapy, adding that he was pleased with the conclusions and calling on therapists to implement them.

By Gary Rosenblatt Opinion www.thejewishweek.com February 8, 2012

In my conversations with a number of rabbis and others I respect in the community I found a willful ignorance on their part in discussing Rav Bina. 

They either didn’t want to believe the many stories over the years of young men who say they were emotionally scarred from the experience or suggested that everyone should know by now that Netiv Aryeh was a kind of Talmudic boot camp where “tough love” is doled out for the good of the students.

By Adi Dovrat-Meseritz www.haaretz.com February 7, 2012

The Ramat Aviv Mall may let two new restaurants open on Shabbat, said a senior source from the mall. The mall denies it. The restaurants, branches of the Brasserie and Turquoise, will be allowed to open on Saturdays if they choose to do so, said the source.

By Robert Wiener www.njjewishnews.com February 8, 2012

“They don’t want to live a life of poverty,” Amsalem said of haredi youth. “They want to find a way to support their families. They don’t want to live in a world of extremes. They want to find a way for things to be a little more tolerant in their communities, and slowly but surely people are starting to get that message, even in the haredi community.”

By Joseph Offenbacher www.jewishpress.com February 8, 2012

Amsalem maintains that his calls for increasing the employment rates within the haredi population, enforcing compulsory national service, passing legislation that would encourage the establishment of haredi schools that would teach secular studies, and calling for the modernization of the rabbinic gentry are views that are espoused both throughout Israeli society and by most within the haredi community.

By Leslie Dannin Rosenthal www.ujcnj.org February 8, 2012

On the topics of racism and sexism, Rabbi Amsalem was equally refreshing. He stands firmly against separate buses and sidewalks and the eradication of images of women and even little girls from everyday life. 

He simply finds no basis in centuries of Jewish law for the extremist views that have resulted in the demonization of women. 

Rabbi Amsalem also stands against discrimination against Ethiopian Israelis. One of the laws he would propose in the Knesset is that any organization that is even suspected of racism or sexism would lose state funding.

By Richard Greenberg http://washingtonjewishweek.com February 1, 2012

[Rabbi Dov Lipman] told the listeners that he came into possession of the rock about seven years ago, shortly after he and his young family had made aliyah, settling in the city of Beit Shemesh, about 30 miles from Jerusalem.

Gesturing with it in his hand, the 40-year-old speaker explained that he was nearly beaned by the rock (part of a multi-object barrage) as he innocently stood on the street outside his newfound home.

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