Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - March 19, 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 Revital Blumenfeld www.haaretz.com March 18, 2012

"They are partial Jews while I am a complete Jew," Yehoshua said, referring to American Jewry. "In no way are we the same thing - we are total and they are partial; we are Israeli and also Jewish.”
Yehoshua added that living outside Israel "is a very deep failure of the Jewish people."

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com March 16, 2012

The questions were exacting, but Anna Heiman, 29, expertly fired back her answers. Finally, the rabbinic court judges asked her and her Israeli partner, Ronen Osher, to leave the room. The rabbis discussed the matter at length and resolved to accept Heiman as a Jew.

But this was no ordinary conversion: It took place in a private rabbinic court in the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut.

[T]he Religious Services Ministry … is threatening sanctions against Rosen's two partners: Rabbi Gideon Perl, the rabbi of Alon Shvut, and Rabbi Uri Samet, the rabbi of Kibbutz Migdal Oz.

By Ruth Stein Opinion www.timesofisrael.com March 18, 2012
The author of this article asked to use a pseudonym for fear that revealing her true identity would negatively affect her conversion process.

I find myself at the center of a tug-of-war between Israel’s religious and secular identity. In America, these personal struggles are left to the individual to figure out. In Israel, the system attempts to make a choice for you.

By Amanda Borschel-Dan www.timesofisrael.com March 13, 2012

Ariel Beery: “Somebody will call into question the membership of my daughter to the Jewish People?”

“The second we realized it will not be the choice of our daughter to marry here, that the only community in the world where she can’t marry in the Jewish tradition is here in Israel, that she can’t even aspire to be a religious judge, deciding on religious issues. And not because she’s not considered Jewish; because she’s a woman. If there was a law that a woman couldn’t be a surveyor, would we accept that? You start realizing, like, Holy crap! That’s ridiculous!”

By Amanda Borschel-Dan www.timesofisrael.com March 8, 2012

Ed Rettig: “The individual is the legitimator of religious practice” in the US. He chooses to be “saved”; he chooses when and how to pray.

Conversely, the foundations of Israel are about the collective, the Jewish People, versus the individual. There is a state religion, not a separation of church and state. In Israel there is “an identity by fate. Much like a relationship with a parent. ‘I am the child of my parents. I would die for my parents, go to war, etc.’ The relationship is lifelong. With American Jewry, it is more like a relationship with a spouse: a choice, like marriage.
“The assumptions of Jewish identity are so different.”

See also interviews with Jay Ruderman and Gidi Mark.

By Arnie Eisen http://blog.jtsa.edu March 7, 2012

The main take-away? Neat divides between “religious” and “secular” are woefully off the mark. I think the categories should be dropped entirely in Israel (as among Diaspora Jews).

They tell us little that is important—and turn our view away both from commonalities that should not be missed and from divisions that are all too real and will not be healed any time soon.

Israelis are bound by a “covenant of fate” that links them powerfully to the Jewish people and the Jewish past. Questions of faith are not easily avoided.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com March 19, 2012

The Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Sunday approved two so-called “Tzohar bills” designed to enable the association of national-religious rabbis – who are considered somewhat more liberal than other Orthodox rabbis – to more easily perform wedding ceremonies.

The bills, one initiated by MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) and the other by MK Faina Kirshenbaum (Israel Beiteinu), would allow couples to register for marriage in the city or municipal jurisdiction of their choice, regardless of where they reside, something which at present is technically prohibited by law.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com March 14, 2012

Women’s rights advocates made several proposals to have at least one woman appointed to the Selection Committee for Rabbinical Judges on Tuesday, during a tempestuous hearing of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women.

Batsheva Sherman-Shani, director of the Yad L’Isha organization, proposed during the hearing that either one of the two male Knesset members on the committee be replaced and switched for a female member, or that the prime minister select a female minister to fill one of the two places on the committee reserved for cabinet ministers.

By Nehemia Shtrasler Opinion www.haaretz.com March 20, 2012

[W]hat [Netanyahu] really did was give the subsidized apartments to Shas' ultra-Orthodox constituents.
...Not working is an anti-Jewish custom that was invented only in Israel. It does not exist in Brooklyn or Paris, because Jews always saw labor as a moral duty - see Maimonides. But Yishai and Atias are making a mockery of Maimonides as well.

By Moti Bassok www.haaretz.com March 14, 2012

The criteria, which do not mention employment as a requirement but do give weight to the number of children a couple has, have been widely slammed as catering to the ultra-Orthodox community at the expense of the general public.

By Talila Nesher www.haaretz.com March 20, 2012

Hundreds of parents in Tel Aviv are seeking municipal authorization to open a school for secular and religious students in September that would be the first such school in the city.

If the parents get their way, the school will become the first secular-religious school that falls fully under the state jurisdiction rather than being at least partly run by a non-profit group. The Knesset recently approved regulations for religiously mixed education that could pave the way for that to take place.

By Lahav Harkov www.jpost.com March 15, 2012

When the Tal Law was canceled last month, hesder yeshivas – the religious- Zionist institutions that combine Torah study and IDF service – were an accidental victim, set to become illegal on August 1, unless they are anchored in new legislation.

UTJ MK Gafni told The Jerusalem Post hesder yeshivas must, and should, remain in the same legislative category as haredi yeshivas because they are both institutions for Torah study.

Anyway, he added with a grin, the Tal Law was canceled because of inequality, and hesder students are part of that inequality because they spend less than half of the time their secular peers spend serving in the IDF.

By Lahav Harkov www.jpost.com March 11, 2012

The future of hesder yeshivas remains unclear, as the Ministerial Committee for Legislation postponed by two months on Sunday a vote on a bill meant to save the program.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com March 15, 2012

Rabbi Haim Druckman, Israel Prize laureate and head of Yeshivat Or Etzion, spoke at the IDF induction center on Monday to students enrolled in the hesder yeshiva program, who will begin their military service this week.

By Yoav Zitun www.ynetnews.com March 20, 2012

Yaakov Yosef, the eldest son of Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was recently uninvited from a day of Torah studies meant for soldiers in the Kfir brigade. The ban marks the IDF's recent stream of decisions to leave the decision of approving lectures given by religious leaders to the Military Rabbinate.

By Ilan Lior www.haaretz.com March 15, 2012

A Ra'anana resident is demanding NIS 18,000 from the Religious Services Ministry - the amount he had to pay the civil cemetery in Kfar Sava to bury his wife because he is not a Kfar Sava resident.

Tzvika Ginsberg, 72, who filed the suit in Kfar Sava Small Claims Court, said the religious establishment has not been sufficiently dedicated in building civil cemeteries for those who prefer to be buried without a religious ceremony.

By Rabbi Haviva Ner-David http://mayyimhayyimblog.com March 7, 2012
Rabbi Haviva Ner David is a teacher, writer, and activist.

At the newly-revived religiously and socially progressive Kibbutz Hannaton in Lower Galilee, a tradition has  evolved to hold a women’s circle at our mikveh for each woman a few weeks before she is due to give birth.  

Thankfully, we have located on our kibbutz a unique mikveh in the Israeli scene: Shmaya: A Spiritual and Educational Mikveh in Galilee, where anyone can come to immerse for whatever purpose—with or without guidance, in private or with accompaniment .

By Rivka Haut Susan Aranoff http://womenofthewall.org.il March 7, 2012

The foolish King of the Purim story feared that if Vashti’s defiance were known, every husband’s power to be master of his household, his wife, would be weakened. So he issued a decree that every man should be “sorer” in his house.  We laugh at that. Yet our rabbis have enshrined that edict by allowing every Jewish husband to be “sorer b’veito” to have power over his wife.

By Avital Chizhik www.tabletmag.com March 14, 2012

It plagued me last summer in Israel. My first day in Jerusalem, I stepped out of the Western Wall plaza, half-dizzy from elation, and was immediately approached by an old, pious-looking woman. 

She was shaking her finger, screeching, “Erva!” and pointing to my hair, which was partially covered with a scarf. “Nakedness! How dare you not dress as a daughter of Israel, in the holiest of places? Where is the respect? How dare you not respect your husband, and the holiness of this place?”

There were other moments. Like being shoved into the back of a bus leaving from the Kotel on Saturday night. Women to the back! Young men (boys! children!) hooted and sneered into megaphones by the bus stop that there ought to be a separation of seating. And at first, I accepted it, without thought—of course, this is where a woman belongs.

By Jacob Kamaras,  JointMedia News Service www.jewishagency.org March 13, 2012

“Now, of course, if you plan to connect young Jews with their heritage, with their communities, and with the state of Israel, you have to be where young Jews are, mainly the campuses and the universities. So, in the last two years we more than tripled our program of [placing JAFI Israel Fellows to Hillel] on campuses. 

When I came to the Jewish Agency we were working on 15 campuses, today we are working on 50. And our aim in the years to come is to work on 100 campuses.”

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

Religion and State in Israel - March 19, 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 Melanie Lidman www.jpost.com March 15, 2012

A well-known Jerusalem restaurant in Rehavia has found itself in the middle of the latest storm involving discrimination against women, after the organization providing the restaurant’s kosher certification threatened to withhold it unless the restaurant stops employing female waitresses on Thursday nights.

City Councillor Rachel Azaria, a prominent activist for women’s rights in Jerusalem, said the request from the Badatz set a dangerous precedent and that other restaurants could soon find themselves facing similar requests.

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com March 14, 2012

According to the owner, Haim Safrin, zealots, "who are jealous of the place's success," pressured the kashrut supervisors of the strict Agudat Israel high religious court, known as the Badatz, to stop waitresses from working on Thursday nights.

Safrin, who says he has many non-religious and non-Jewish patrons, says the Badatz's instruction is not the end of the matter and he wants to find a compromise. "At most, we can move shifts," he said.

By Dr. Michael Marmur http://elearning.huc.edu March 8, 2012

In honor of International Women’s Day and Purim, a group of about 200 people congregated in Ben Yehuda to hear women read the Megilla (it’s the day before Purim in Jerusalem).

The Megillah was read by a group of women including Rabbi Ada Zavidov of Har El Congregation, Rabbi Ma’ayan Turner, and Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean of HUC-JIR in Jerusalem, among other Jerusalem women. Men attending were asked to come dressed as women, and some of us obliged.

By Roni Shub Opinion www.haaretz.com March 19, 2012

In recent times, those good-hearted people who are prepared to risk their lives in order to save the Haredi women from themselves, are growing in number.

They explain to them, slowly, that it is most desirable for them to be insulted by their being erased from billboard advertisements, express surprise that they are determined to agree to dictates from spiritual leaders, and are amazed that the poor creatures refuse to admit their wretchedness.

By Tomer Velmer www.ynetnews.com March 19, 2012

For the first time the Education Ministry is set to recognize haredi seminary final exams as Bagrut matriculation exams in every way. 

This means that any young woman who graduates from the independent education system’s haredi seminaries to become integrated in higher education institutions.

The decision is set to come into effect retroactively for any woman who has taken the exams in the last decade.

By Ben Hartman www.jpost.com March 14, 2012

Recognition of an alternative test taken by haredi women as a bagrut matriculation exam will help them enter the workforce and Israeli institutes of higher education, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) said on Thursday.

Shahar Ilan, the vice president of research and information for Hiddush:
“We’re in favor of finding a matriculation exam that respects their beliefs,” he said, but added that the Szold exam was formed in order to prevent haredi women from receiving the education and work preparation they need, and the decision made by the Education Ministry will now put an official stamp of approval on that system.

By Robbie Gringras http://makomisrael.org March 15, 2012

When Makom was faced with the challenge of creating and running a 5-hour symposium on “Haredim and the Jewish Collective” for the Global Jewish Forum of the Jewish Agency, we wanted to avoid throwing oil on the already blazing fire.

We also wanted to bring all the participants into a deeper more honest and informed understanding of the situation.

For example, all the above facts are most certainly the presenting edge of the issue, but they risk offering a snap-shot as a trend, a two-dimensional picture as the deep reality. How might we help everyone reach, as Yonatan Ariel puts it, “a higher level of confusion”?

Add to that a mostly non-Haredi audience carrying a little bit of natural prejudice, a smidgen of hurt pride, and a genuine concern that Israel may not end up looking anything like a Western paradise, and we knew to expect a loaded atmosphere for the latest Global Jewish Forum.

By Tzipi Malchov www.ynetnews.com March 15, 2012

The haredim are pushing forward an initiative to establish a market that will serve as an alternative to the Machne Yehuda Market in Jerusalem. The reason – events held at Machne Yehuda include women's singing. A suitable location was found a few days ago, a 10 dunam area between Sanhedria and Mount Hotzvim.

The initiative to establish the alternative market was launched a few months ago. The haredim declared war on the market over the Balabasta Festival, an event that includes live performances between the market stalls. The haredim's main claim was that the festivals include women's singing and are a source of "immorality that harms our children's education."

The faithful employees [May require free registration]
By Tobias Buck www.ft.com March 14, 2012

The call-centre belongs to Cal, one of Israel’s largest credit card companies. What makes it unusual is that it only employs members of the country’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community.

… Mr Efrat says that opening the facility in Modiin Illit in 2007 was a “risk” that few companies at the time were willing to take. Many of the rules that govern Haredi life are hard to follow in the workplace, not least the demand for a strict separation between the sexes.

By Yair Ettinger www.haaretz.com March 15, 2012

Tens of thousands of people attended the funeral on Wednesday of the long-time leader of the Vizhnitz Hasidim, whose death is likely to set off a split in Israel's second-largest Hasidic sect.

By Shay Fogelman www.haaretz.com March 16, 2012
The main inspiration for Helbrans’ doctrine as presented in “Path of Salvation” is drawn from the book that is a keystone for all the most extreme Hasidic sects – “Vayoel Moshe” by the previous Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum.

...Helbrans, like the Satmar Rebbe, has chosen an interpretation that is vehemently opposed to the existence of the State of Israel.
Lev Tahor Hasidim strive to avoid any contact with the State of Israel and its authorities.

By Rene H. Levy www.timesofisrael.com March 18, 2012

The experience of the last few months suggests that the new generation of Israeli and Diaspora Jews requires more emphasis and focus on the notion of Jewish peoplehood. Jewish peoplehood is unique because it is based on the concept of arevut, or mutual responsibility, which transcends individual allegiances to specific groups, whatever the label.

By Talila Nesher www.haaretz.com March 14, 2012

A class in "Marital Communications" was held Tuesday in Bar-Ilan University's Midrasha, an advanced Torah study program for women. The course has an unusual prerequisite: It is meant only for women who have been married for at least one year.

"Bar-Ilan seems to be confused," said the executive director of the Masorti (Conservative) movement in Israel, Yizhar Hess. "They forget that a university class isn't a Bnei Akiva [religious youth movement] activity, and that academia isn't an ulpana [religious high school].

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com March 17, 2012

Two students at a West Bank yeshiva have accused a counselor of sexual abuse. The counselor is also suspected of possibly carrying out similar acts against students at a separate institution where he also taught.

www.ynetnews.com March 13, 2012

The committee in charge of approving domain names which might be offensive, has voted this week to okay a new domain: "Yahweh.co.il." The decision was first reported by Tomer Persico on his blog "Minim."

Committee members Michael Birnhack and retired judge Boaz Okon agreed there was no reason to prohibit the possibly offensive domain name, whereas Committee Chairman Hank Nussbacher and author Yochi Brandes objected.

By Liron Naglar-Cohen www.ynetnews.com March 15, 2012
Odeleya Berlin, daughter of famous traditional clarinet klezmer musician Moussa Berlin, has recorded her own record – "Shvil Shel Or" (Path of Light).

But Berlin is no ordinary musician. She is a religious woman and therefore only performs in front of other women, as the halacha instructs. But at the same time, her album is intended to be played on all Israeli radio stations, as she wishes to reach maximal exposure, free of gender segregation.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com March 20, 2012

Friends and associates of Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, who was murdered with two of his children on Monday morning as well as 8-year old Miriam Monsonego, spoke of his warm, friendly and generous character and praised him for his commitment to his students and their education.

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich www.jpost.com March 15, 2012

A 24-year-old Jerusalem inventor and biomedical engineering student will soon market the first tracking device that informs would-be elevator users in their rooms or apartments when it will reach their floor.

By Nathan Jeffay www.forward.com March 4, 2012

It was a new campaign by Be Free Israel, a not-for-profit organization that promotes pluralism, that prompted the council to bring the issue to a vote. 

“There’s a very big discourse about the ‘status quo,’ but the status quo changes almost every day,” said the organization’s director, Mickey Gitzin.
Buoyed by the response in Tel Aviv, the group is now rolling out its campaign nationally.

By Talila Nesher www.haaretz.com March 19, 2012

The Council for Higher Education in Israel has ordered Bar-Ilan University to stop registering students for its graduate Talmud program, saying the university did not seek the necessary approval before opening the new program.

By Revital Blumenfeld www.haaretz.com March 14, 2012

A Chabad rabbi who was serving the tiny ancient Jewish community in Cochin, India, and his wife were expelled to Israel yesterday for allegedly engaging in illegal activities.

http://t-j.org.il March 14, 2012

In recent months there has been a campaign by a number of Israeli right-wing groups and individuals, including Knesset members, to force the issue of Jewish access to the Temple Mount.

By Ed Rettig Opinion http://blogs.timesofisrael.com March 12, 2012

First, as Weil points out, the determination of the Jewishness of Ethiopians by two chief rabbis is still not fully accepted by ultra-Orthodox rabbis, some of whom place obstacles in the path of their marriages.

Second, while service in the IDF is an effective vehicle for integration, most Ethiopian women decline to serve, citing their religious Orthodoxy. As a result, they forgo an important opportunity to gain skills and education.

By Shirly Sasson Ezer www.ynetnews.com March 13, 2012

Five foundations representing Christian communities in Israel have petitioned the High Court of Justice to implement equal treatment under the tax law for all religious houses of worship in the country.

The petition, lead by the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, a civil rights group, was filed in response to an March 2010 amendment made to the capital’s municipal tax laws, fully exempting synagogues from property taxes.

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com March 18, 2012

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lavished praise on the Evangelical Christian movement, and on a mission of approximately 800 members of Pastor John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) organization, in Jerusalem on Sunday night.

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com March 19, 2012

American Evangelical pastor John Hagee - who heads the largest pro-Israel lobby group in the United States - half jokingly compared Benjamin Netanyahu to the Messiah on Sunday night, as he waited for the delayed prime minister to arrive at a Jerusalem hotel to address the crowd.

By Nir Hasson www.haaretz.com March 14, 2012

A Jerusalem Court acquitted an antiquities collector on most counts of forgery on Wednesday, eleven years after the case was first opened.

Oded Golan, along with four others, was originally indicted for selling forged antiquities, including the Jehoash inscription, a shoebox-sized tablet inscribed with Biblical-style Hebrew instructions on caring for the Jewish Temple, and an ossuary, or ancient burial box bearing the inscription, "James, brother of Jesus."

By Jeremy Sharon www.jpost.com March 20, 2012

The Justice Ministry announced on Monday that it has renewed a deal with the Bahai World Center in Israel exempting it from indirect taxes for another five-year term.

The government will transfer funds equivalent to any indirect outlays incurred by the World Bahai Center or any of its associated non-profit organizations for activities it carries out in operating and developing the sites.

By Tomer Zarchin www.haaretz.com March 20, 2012

In an unprecedented move, a court has ordered the Israel Prison Service to provide a Muslim inmate with festive meals on Muslim religious holidays.

The Prison Service told the court that the decision will have wide-ranging implications for all non-Jewish inmates incarcerated in Israel.

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