Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - March 5, 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 Rabbi Eric Yoffie Opinion www.jpost.com March 1, 2012
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie is the outgoing president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

...But I was stunned by the na├»ve, starry-eyed reasoning of the editors. After noting all the problems that arise from the current situation, the editorial proclaimed that “integration (of haredim) is an evolutionary process that can be nurtured, even encouraged, but that cannot be forced.”

Nonsense. It can be forced, and in some ways it must be forced.

The State of Israel forces people to do many things they do not want to do. Voluntary action is desirable, but Israel, like every democratic state, is always striking a balance between coercing and convincing. At this moment, even without a draft, there must be more of the former and less of the latter.

...The government of Israel can, and must, obligate every school in Israel to teach the core curriculum; and this will require the repeal of the Nahari law, which forces local authorities to fund haredi schools in which the core curriculum is not studied.

By Aner Shalev Opinion www.haaretz.com March 6, 2012

As part of the discussions about introducing large-scale drafting of Haredim people suddenly started saying that soldiers must be paid a fair wage. My soldier daughter received NIS 300 a month. Will a Haredi soldier settle for that?

The message is clear: If we're going to draft the Haredim, then let's draft them into a new and improved IDF, a fun IDF that issues a blanket discharge allowance, upon the completion of service, of NIS 100,000. Otherwise, what's the point?

By Rabbi Reuven Hammer Opinion www.jpost.com March 4, 2012
The writer, former president of the International Rabbinical Assembly, is a two-time winner of the National Book Award.

It has taken 25 years, but the Supreme Court has finally caught up with the rulings of the Law Committee (Vaad Halacha) of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel regarding service in the IDF.

...Now that the Court has endorsed this position, we again call upon the Knesset not to look for ways around this issue, not to introduce legislation that will somehow permit this shameful situation to continue, but to finally act responsibly and bring about this long needed change so that we will no longer have the situation in which some brothers go to war, while others sit idly by. Rather all will share the burden, as the Torah envisioned.

By Ariel Harkham www.jpost.com March 4, 2012
The writer is the co-founder of the Jewish National Initiative.

While the Supreme Court has struck down the [Tal] law, a way forward must be found to replace it. Attempting a wholesale coercion of haredi students into the army will result in nothing but a powerful rejectionist attitude and a possible dangerous backlash.

Two initiatives could serve as a path toward enfranchising the haredim in the wake of the recent decision.

...These two initiatives could be conceptualized as the Immersion Track, on the one hand, and the Proportionality Track on the other.
See also: Tal Law Reconciled

By Amos Harel www.haaretz.com March 1, 2012

In the public debate over efforts to draft yeshiva students, the Israel Defense Forces' Shahar program is frequently cited as a model for how they can be integrated into the army and prepared for eventual employment in the civilian sector.

It is true that the program, whose name is a Hebrew acronym for Shiluv Haredim ("Ultra-Orthodox integration"), has gained momentum in recent years and shown positive initial results. But it turns out that many of the program's participants aren't actually Haredim.

www.jpost.com March 5, 2012

A vast majority of Likud voters support cutting government stipends for yeshiva students that do not enlist in the IDF or perform National Service, according to a Smith Institute poll commissioned by Hiddush, the organization for religious freedom and equality.

The poll found that 68 percent of Israeli Jews support cutting stipends for those not serving, while 81% of Likud voters support such a cut.

http://hiddush.org March 5, 2012

85% of secular respondents, 87% of recent immigrants and 68% of the Jewish Israeli population as a whole are in favor of denying subsidies for those yeshiva students who do not serve.

Of all respondents, Likud voters showed the highest support for such withholding of subsidies, 81% supporting, more than the 79% of both Yisrael Beiteinu and Kadima voters. 52% of voters for right wing religious parties supported withholding subsidies.

By Sheera Frankel www.npr.org March 4, 2012

This week, the base was packed after the semi-annual conscription order was issued. Zehava Engel braved the rain to bring her nephew, who's to become a combat soldier. She couldn't help noticing the lack of ultra-Orthodox recruits.

"Everyone should be enlisting, including the ultra-Orthodox," she said. "I don't care what kind of service they do. They live in this country; they need to contribute, too."

Engel says she's furious that many in Israel are given special treatment, while she, her daughters and the rest of their family are compelled to enlist.

By Dan Williams http://uk.reuters.com March 5, 2012

A former infantry commander who fought in three Middle East wars and now the dean of Israeli defence correspondents, Daniel recently visited military headquarters in Tel Aviv. There, a urinal that uses a motion detector to clean itself was signposted: "Forbidden on the Sabbath."  

...For infantryman-turned-reporter Daniel, that's a frightening prospect. The military leaders from Israel's nationalist-religious community are excellent, he says.

"There won't be any question about them knowing how to fight the Syrian army or Hezbollah. But in Israel, the military has other roles, like evacuations." A military split between the secular and the religious "is destined to fall apart."

By Yaron London Opinion www.ynetnews.com February 28, 2012

National service would not create peace in our midst because it does not provide a sense of justice. A year of work where haredim serve eight hours a day is not equal to a military service that lasts three years or more.

General Elazar Stern’s proposal to establish purely haredi regiments is even worse.

By Mitch Ginsburg www.timesofisrael.com February 22, 2012

The now-retired Maj. Gen. Elazar Stern, has far more leeway for candor. “The state of Israel is currently incapable of forcibly drafting three ultra-Orthodox men at the same time,” he said in a recent phone conversation.

Stern’s solution is to “swallow hard” and simply exempt all ultra-Orthodox men from service. Once the threat of the army no longer hovers over their heads, he said, half of them would leave the yeshivas and join the workforce.

The wheels of integration would then finally start to spin and hopefully, in 10 years’ time, we’ll “meet them around the bend and try again.”

By Yoav Zitun www.ynetnews.com March 2, 2012

In spite of a comprehensive IDF ban on the distribution of political manifestos among the troops, it appears that the IDF rabbinate has decided to ignore the regulations – in an orderly and official manner.

At the beginning of the month, IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier-General Rafi Peretz sent out a pamphlet to hundreds of IDF rabbinate officers and non-commissioned officers including enlisted IDF rabbis and reservists. 

The pamphlet was put together recently by the head of the Military Yeshiva Academy of Bnei David-Eli, Rabbi Eli Sadan.

Three veterans of the Military Rabbinate, Lahav Foundation Chairman Lieutenant Colonel (res.) Rabbi Pini Izak, Col. (res.) Rabbi Yosef Harel and Lt. Col. (res.) Rabbi Avshalom Katzir, sent a letter to Israel’s Chief Rabbis, to the Defense Minister and to the Chief of Staff, demanding a change in the process of selecting the chief military rabbi.

By Neri Livneh www.haaretz.com March 1, 2012

The rumors about the so-called Haredization of Jerusalem are not exaggerated. The good news, on the other hand, is that there is a growing counterreaction. Because to be secular or a religious moderate in Jerusalem means constantly being aware of one’s self-definition.

That’s something you don’t have to deal with when you live in any other city − Rishon Letzion, for example − where you don’t have to fight all the time for your right to self-definition as a secular person.

...According to the figures of the Central Bureau of Statistics for 2010, of Jerusalemites over the age of 20, 19 percent were secular, 18 percent traditional and not very observant, 13 percent traditional-observant, 21 percent religious and 29 percent Haredi.

In other words, the Haredi group is the largest. However, the combination of secular and traditional residents enables the success of any activity designed to create a pluralistic public space.

By Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com March 1, 2012

As secular protesters in Tel Aviv loudly demand public transportation on Shabbat, the Hebrew University Student Union is quietly organizing transportation for students at the Mount Scopus campus who want to get to the center of the city on Friday night.

“We’re not trying to create demonstrations; we’re not going to bring the buses through [ultra-Orthodox] Mea She’arim or something. We just want to give them the service,” he added.

By Batya Kahana-Dror, http://towf.org March 2, 2012
The writer is director, Mavoi Satum

This is not a fight against the ‘exclusion of women’ in the queue at the health clinics in Betar Illit or on the streets of Bet Shemesh alone.

It is a struggle over the heart of the religious establishment. It is a battle for equality and social justice for women in this country and for the image that the State of Israel presents to the world.

This is an issue that threatens the delicate fabric of our existence here as a Jewish and democratic state.  
Our survival as a cohesive society depends on the ability of the State to integrate the values of human rights and equality for women into its character as a Jewish state.

By Batsheva Sherman-Shani Opinion www.jpost.com March 5, 2012
The writer is the director of Yad L'Isha.

Who is to blame for the plight of the agunot (chained women)?

First and foremost, those who keep them trapped; the recalcitrant husbands, the judge who allows this behavior and the general public – friends, neighbors and family of the husband, who keep silent.

By Deborah Danan www.jpost.com March 1, 2012

Here in Israel, the agreement has been translated and altered slightly to fit the Israeli milieu. Called an agreement for mutual respect, the document is authored by Dr. Rachel Levmore, Rabbi Elyashiv Knohl, Rabbi David Ben-Zazzon and can be found in five languages on the Council for Young Israel Rabbis website.

Unlike the American version, this agreement is signed by both the man and the woman before marriage and protects them equally; further requiring the couple to attend marital therapy if one demands it.

The Rackman Institute, along with various other organizations, has advocated that a prenup such as this actually be added into the rabbinate’s standard ketuba.

By Sharon Altshul http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/ February 28, 2012

Times have changed. The ketubah, the ancient Jewish marriage contract, was once a revolutionary document drawn up to protect women.

If a woman wanted out of a bad marriage, she could obtain a Jewish divorce, or get, with the help of the local rabbi.

In Europe, if a man refused to give his wife a get once ordered to do so by the local rabbinic court, the threat to turn him over to the authorities could be enough to convince him to free his wife, thus preventing her from becoming agunah (chained) and allowing her to remarry.

Today in Israel, a man can be put in jail for get refusal; yet there are still many husbands who refuse to give their wives a get.

By Dr. Rachel Levmore Opinion www.jewishpress.com February 29, 2012

Fortunately, not all Orthodox Jews are complacent in this simplistic ignoring of the agunah problem.

For example, the Yeshiva University-based Organization for the Resolution of Agunot in the United States and the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel have extended help in many forms to many agunot, working to ease the women’s pain and bring about a resolution. 

Indeed ORA has organized numerous demonstrations over the past few years, held in protest of recalcitrant husbands’ abuse of power.

http://cwjisrael.wordpress.com/ February 23, 2012

Attorney Susan Weiss, CWJ founder and Executive Director, added: 

“Though the  Supreme Court of Israel has not yet given its full stamp of approval of the damage claims brought against recalcitrant husbands, the latest decision confirms that the Court views get recalcitrance as reprehensible and worthy  of compensation. CWJ applauds the decision.”

www.jweekly.com March 1, 2012

Concerned over how women and girls are treated in Israel, a group of 18 women and one man gathered in front of the Israeli consulate in San Francisco Feb. 23 for a Rosh Chodesh prayer ceremony.

Organizers said they were inspired by Anat Hoffman, the Israeli feminist-activist who suggested that women hold Rosh Chodesh rallies at Israeli consulates in order to raise awareness about women in Israel who are discriminated against at the Western Wall.

By Tsafi Saar www.haaretz.com March 6, 2012

Canadian women did it, American women did it and even Singaporean women did it, and soon Israeli women will too: This month will see SlutWalks (Mitzad Sharmutot in Hebrew) in Tel Aviv (March 16) and Haifa (a week later), and in April there will also be one in Jerusalem.

...For the Jerusalem group, the situation is more complicated because, naturally, the issue of the ultra-Orthodox surfaced. 

Is this march a part of the fight against efforts to remove women from the public sphere (i.e. exclusion)? Unlike those who tried to link these issues, it seems that the organizers want the march to remain faithful to the worldwide SlutWalk movement and its objectives.

By Noah Klieger www.ynetnews.com March 1, 2012

IDF trips that see Israeli officers traveling to Poland death camps and Holocaust commemoration sites are vital in boosting the soldiers' Shoah knowledge and sense of pride, a newly released survey found.

Some 99% of poll respondents characterized the trips as extremely vital, while 75% said the trips greatly contributed to expanding their familiarity with the Holocaust.

By Joel Braunold Opinion www.haaretz.com March 1, 2012
Joel Braunold is a Bnei Akiva alumnus and a former staff member of OneVoice Europe who is currently studying at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

First, we must look at the definition on a societal and communal level. 

Does a “Jewish State” mean Orthodox Jews have a monopoly over status law? Does it mean that the Jewish right of return will continue to be based on the definitions of a Jew as set up by the Nuremberg laws? Where is Halakha situated in the legal system - as a source of law, a societal guide or segregated from public life?

www.ujafedny.org February 21, 2012

ZIKA, a local organization dedicated to enhancing Jewish Israeli identity, has created a baby ceremony modeled after an ancient Jewish custom of bringing newborn babies to the temple. ZIKA is supported by UJA-Federation of New York.

http://jewishagency.org/ February 27, 2012

In recent years, Houston-based Noble Energy—a leading independent energy company—discovered two of the world’s largest deep-water natural gas reserves off Israel’s coast. 

Having helped put the Jewish State on the path towards energy independence, the company now plans to help some of Israel’s most vulnerable children along the path to their own independent future. And this week it pledged a $2 million gift supporting The Jewish Agency’s Youth Futures program.

The Fictional Global Planning Table
http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/ February 29, 2012
The author was a participant at the recent Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting. He/she has requested their name be withheld.

Finally, this week back in Jerusalem, the Jewish Agency did something that to my knowledge is unprecedented for a major umbrella organization.

It held an academic lecture, roundtable discussions and many hours of thoughtful contemplation of the problem of haredi integration into Israeli and world Jewish society.

Among the presenters (some of whom spoke by video) were the haredi mayor of a haredi city (Beitar Illit), the Labor Party-appointed head of education and welfare for the Bet Shemesh municipality, an Israeli-born Reform rabbi, a haredi woman educator and college president, a former Shas MK (not Rabbi Amsalem for once) and at least two researchers who gave long talks about haredi society and demographics.

By Gil Hoffman www.jpost.com March 2, 2012

The Israeli Council of Progressive (Reform) Rabbis recently drafted an emotional letter to US President Barack Obama pleading with him to release Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.

The Pollard case was once seen as an issue that was primarily promoted by right-wing and Orthodox Jews. But lately Reform rabbis in America and now in Israel have adopted the case as a human rights issue at the top of their agenda.

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