Thursday, August 28, 2014

Religion and State in Israel - August 28, 2014

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


A state rabbinic court in Jerusalem has issued an order prohibiting a woman from bringing her children to meet her female romantic partner. 

Israel’s Center for Women’s Justice filed a petition this week with the country’s Supreme Court on the woman’s behalf challenging the rabbinic court’s order. 

The clerk of a rabbinic court attempted to make a “halitza” ceremony — a ritual by which a widow is released from the religious obligation to marry the brother of her dead husband — a public event. By pulling some strings, the widow said, she avoided turning her halitzah into “a circus.” 

The Jerusalem Regional Rabbinical Court forced a woman to speak privately with her abusive husband after the judges were allegedly swayed by fixers, or macherim, a complaint filed against the judges by the woman revealed. 

See also:  

By Rabbi Uri Regev 

Biblical and rabbinical tradition have plenty of different attitudes and descriptions that are partly inspired from the main line of Jewish heritage, that is inspired by the prophet Aaron who was a “peace lover and peace chaser”.

Other traditions express completely different attitudes, as the prophet Pinchas and Nehemia. Those who aspire for a halachic state, which would implement the laws of the Bible such as stoning those who violate Shabbat, are a danger to Judaism in the modern era and a threat to democracy. 


A group of Ugandan Jews invited to study at the Conservative yeshiva in Jerusalem has been forced to cancel its plans because of questions raised by the government about the legitimacy of non-Orthodox conversions performed abroad. 

More than 100 rabbis from the national religious sector, including some of the most senior figures from the conservative wing of the community, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the weekend, calling on him to oppose proposed changes to the conversion system under consideration by the government. 


Jay Ruderman of the Ruderman Family Foundation: 
“Philanthropists are not naive and I don’t believe will be interested in investing large sums in this initiative without the confidence that it has a good chance in succeeding,” Ruderman told the Post. 

“Philanthropists are looking for impact, not involvement in an initiative plagued by political infighting. I think the political maneuvering between JAFI and the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs spells doom for this initiative. News of the political dispute surrounding the initiative will drive away any philanthropists who were seriously considering investing in it.” 

“I don’t know why any serious philanthropic investor would choose to invest in an initiative built by people who don’t trust each other,” he added. 

By Dvir Kahana 

In recent months, many different organizations have turned to us requesting that the ministry use the new government funds to help scale up their existing programs. To all, we have said no. Not because their programs were not worthy but rather because the Initiative is not about creating another fund. It is about creating a new plan of strategic proportions.  

Sharansky expressed dismay at what he said was Kahana’s assertion that the ministry is responsible for dialogue with Diaspora Jewry, to the exclusion of the Jewish Agency. He said Kahana had told Diaspora leaders that “he doesn’t permit us to have this dialogue without his control. I just dismissed his words.” 

Sharansky said the agency decided to proceed as planned with the campus pilot project “on the basis of the prime minister’s public declarations to the effect that he wanted to have us move forward.” 

Sharansky stressed that the Jewish Agency’s role of dialogue with world Jewry is both historic and essential. 

By Stephen G. Donshik 

The government does not seem to be aware that the Jewish philanthropic system will not support the Initiative if it is seen as a government program. Neither will it attract donors when they perceive tensions between JAFI, one of the overseas partners, and the Israeli government.

Unfortunately, the failure of Israeli politicians and bureaucrats to fully appreciate the complicated voluntary [philanthropic] system in the Diaspora will only alienate current donors and fail to attract new ones.   


Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar rebuffed charges from former presidential candidate MK Meir Sheetrit on Wednesday that his efforts to close stores operating illegally in Tel Aviv on Shabbat were related to the haredi parties’ support for President Reuven Rivlin. 

By Nehemia Shtrasler 

Who does Sa’ar think he is? A new religious “philosopher,” who will change Tel Aviv from the city that never stops into sleepy, religious Bnei Brak? He should move there and leave us in peace.


Some history teachers balked this week at a proposed Education Ministry lesson plan that encourages students to be “Jewish fighters” like the biblical Joshua. 

The lesson, which was recently sent to history teachers across the country, quotes Simcha Goldin’s entire eulogy for his son Hadar, an Israeli soldier killed during the fighting in Gaza earlier this month. Describing his son as “a Jewish fighter” like Joshua, Simcha Goldin said: “Do as he did. Take the Torah with you day and night and be Jewish fighters.” 

By Shmarya Rosenberg  

… Will the end of government funding for noncompliant haredi schools be a disaster financially for the haredi community? 

Yes, of course it will. 

But that looming disaster (haredi rabbis had many months warning) is a disaster created wholly by haredi rabbis, and if they insist that Mendel and Shloimie not learn math or chemistry or history or civics or the "evil" computers, then they'll have to find legal ways to make up the millions of dollars in funding their schools will lose. 

No government should be paying for an education that is so totally deficient, it is essentially child abuse.


Dr. Haim Zicherman, a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute’s Religion and State Project, called the situation a civil rebellion that needed to be resolved

“There is a large group of people which is intentionally breaking the law in a systematic way,” said Zicherman. 

He said however that the IDF needed to help resolve the problem by allowing those who have previously refused to present themselves at IDF offices to subsequently do so without being arrested, as is currently the case. 

MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) has continued his campaign of pressure against the national-religious combined yeshiva and IDF service program and called on Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to call-up Hesder yeshiva students instead of reserve soldiers. 

Q: The religious sector, on the other hand, seems to have a whole cluster of expectations from military service 

A: Absolutely. Their agenda is much wider. They aspire not only to influence the army, but to have impact on the nature of the state through the army. They are on a mission, and the mission has not yet been accomplished. 

By Nadav Ben Zur 

Women of the Wall might invoke the popular argument that it is better to change the organization from within than to object to it entirely. This is completely misguided. The Chief Rabbinate is not a typical policymaking body. It is a fundamentally discriminatory organization that is established on the basis of a primitive text, and acts to preserve its discriminatory values.

The demand therefore to become part of it is indicative of the hypocrisy of Women of the Wall: it does not call for equality for all; it simply wants to have a share in conducting bigotry. 

By Talia Weisberg  


The Jerusalem municipal council has given the green light on Wednesday for the construction of a yeshiva in a predominantly Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. 

According to the blueprints, the Ohr Somayach yeshiva will occupy a nine-story building at the heart of the neighborhood. 


A complaint made against a prominent state-employed rabbi for participating in an advertising campaign for the Yad L’achim anti-assimilation and anti-missionary organization has been upheld by the Ministry for Religious Services. 


Middle-class ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel like name brands, own their own homes and travel abroad, according to a TGI survey conducted on behalf of TheMarker. 

While the community as a whole has high levels of poverty, a significant and growing proportion is middle class by Israeli standards, the market-research firm’s poll concluded. 

One sign of this is the increasing number of large food manufacturers over the past several years that apply to receive the more stringent Mehadrin kashrut certification, in order to better serve their ultra-Orthodox customers. 

TGI also found that Haredim are increasingly using both the Internet and credit cards, although presumably not for the purposes of entertainment. 

Editor – Joel Katz        
Religion and State in Israelis not affiliated with any organization or movement.        
All right reserved.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Religion and State in Israel - August 21, 2014

Religion and State in Israel

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

By Shmuel Rosner 

1. Israeli Jews are under no serious threat of assimilation for a simple reason: they have no one to marry but their own breed... 

2. That Israel doesn't have a real problem with intermarriage doesn't mean it doesn't have a problem with its attitude towards intermarriage... 

3. I must say that the responses from many Israeli political leaders to the wedding controversy were surprisingly measured and reasonable. They tended to A. denounce the ugly demonstration, B. unapologetically declare their opposition to intermarriage. … 

4. Truth must be told: It is harder for many Israelis to swallow the bitter pill of intermarriage between a Jew and a Muslim Arab than it is to accept intermarriage with a Christian Norwegian Kibbutz volunteer. … 

5. Try to remember that Israel is a curious little country. We tend to be very conservative on some things – or to have such an image (an image which this wedding controversy might strengthen). But we are also one of the most liberal countries on earth on other matters. ... 

“Mahmoud and Morel from Jaffa have decided to marry and to exercise their freedom in a democratic country." 

By Natasha Miliavskey 

Then came the final straw. The rabbis explained that if I really wanted to become a Jew, I must transfer my older daughter to an Orthodox kindergarten. I did not object. I loved the idea that she would grow up with Jewish values, but when I explained to her that next year she would have to switch to a different kindergarten rather than continue in school with her friends, she began to cry. 

… After an introductory lesson with a (female) Masorti rabbi, I immediately realized that Masorti Judaism spoke to me. I was pleased to know that my daughters could grow up within an egalitarian approach.  


MK Shimon Ohayon, a member of the coalition’s Yisrael Beitenu party led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and chair of the Knesset’s committee on the struggle against anti-Semitism, decided that the conflict with Hamas should not be an obstacle to join the club of recent public Reform-bashers.

The club includes Ohayon’s fellow party member chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee David Rotem who said in February that Reform movement was “another religion” and “not Jewish.” 


In an unusual step, an Israeli rabbinical court on Wednesday granted a divorce to a woman whose husband has been in a vegetative state since a suicide attempt in 2011. 
The court, headed by rabbinic judge Maimon Nahari, pronounced the marriage dissolved on the grounds of "mekah ta’ut" - fraud or false pretenses. 

Marriage in Israel: Special Four Part Series on Israel TV Channel 10 [Hebrew]


Commander of the Givati Brigade, Colonel Ofer Winter, addressed his religious troops Sunday, saying that they weren't allowed to leave during a special show of the IDF's military band, despite any religious leanings they may have against the fact that female soldiers would be taking part in the performance. 

There is a lot of entrenched macho in Israeli culture. The challenge is the way in which that macho intersects with religion and the (secular) business and political establishment’s support of religious radicalism for their own needs and interests.

It’s easy for men across the spectrum to throw women under the bus for the sake of coalition, business or money.

Women are fighting this reality, to raise awareness that protecting women’s rights is a basic part of democracy, and to introduce different thinking about the role of religion in Israeli society and politics.

There is no separation of religion and state in Israel, which means that religious groups have had tremendous political influence over the years.   


The Jerusalem Rabbinical Court refused to accept relevant testimony from women during a hearing on the division of property in a divorce case, a complaint to the judges’ ombudsman shows. 

The judges refused a woman’s subsequent request that they disqualify themselves from hearing her case. When she sought to appeal that decision, she was told she would have to deposit 50,000 shekels ($14,300) as a condition for having her appeal heard. That’s when she decided to file the complaint. 

The ombudsman, retired Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Rivlin, found her complaint justified, and serious enough for the judges to reconsider recusing themselves. 

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni plans to name her director-general to administer the rabbinical-court system after Rabbi Shlomo Dichovsky retired from the position on Thursday without a successor or a process for appointing one. 


Convenience stores in Tel Aviv will remain open, at least this weekend, after a municipal court yesterday denied the city’s request to close several chain stores on Saturdays in the meantime. 

Judge Aviyam Barkai scheduled the next court session on the issue for November. However, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar may issue a decision regarding the stores’ operating on weekends before then. 

Knesset Member Meir Sheetrit (Hatnuah), who lost in the runoff election for the presidency in the Knesset against Reuven Rivlin, has accused Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) of striking a political deal with the ultra-Orthodox factions to prevent a possible victory by Sheetrit.

Sheetrit claims that Sa’ar apparently told the Haredim that he would close down shops in Tel Aviv on Saturdays in return for transferring their support from Sheetrit to Rivlin in the second round of voting, in June. 


Senior Jewish Agency officials wrote to members of their board of governors on Wednesday to refute allegations that the Zionist organization was being cut out of the government’s new Diaspora outreach initiative. 

By Dan Brown 


A Haredi high-school in Jerusalem teaching both religious studies and a general education to its pupils currently has no premises at which to teach for the coming academic year. 

By Michal Berman 


Amid nationwide unrest among haredim following the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox conscript who refused to be drafted into the IDF, police are heightening security in the capital ahead of a large protest scheduled to take place in Jerusalem Wednesday afternoon. 

By Shmarya Rosenberg 

What the current war has made clear is that the burden, as it’s called in Israel, of defending the country is so disproportionate that it can no longer be tolerated. 

So what is the solution? 

I think there is one harsh but necessary step that should be taken.  
Haredim can’t simply be expelled or transferred to Poland. 
But Israel can make life for noncompliant haredim much harder than it already is. 


The place of religion in the public sphere is a controversial issue, and scholarly opinions differ, from insisting on a public sphere that reflects the religion of the majority, to those who insist on it being religion-free.

Using the method of inquiry of contextual political theory, we examine the struggle of the Women of Wall to pray collectively at the Western Wall.  


About 15 percent of Israeli adults are registered as donors, according to the Health Ministry’s National Transplant Center, compared with nearly half in the United States. 

“If someone is planning on going through a transplant, waiting to get a kidney in the country, there is a greater chance that the Messiah will come,” said Amos Canaf, founder of an Israeli advocacy group for renal patients. 


New entry in long-running Temple Mount bridge saga 
Haaretz, Nir Hasson August 15, 2014 (hard-copy edition) 
Western Wall Heritage Foundation:
"There is no permit for construction of a permanent Mughrabi Bridge. Gov't officials and the municipality are holding constant discussions to find an agreed solution to this problem, in light of the fact that the temporary bridge cannot remain as permanent structure from either a visual or a safety standpoint. At the stage, a temporary footbridge was built to enable the continuation of the work to reinforce the Mughrabi Bridge."


Thirty members of Israel’s first pre-military course specifically tailored for Christian citizens entering the Israel Defense Forces celebrated their graduation in a formal ceremony in Haifa this week, Israel Hayom reported. The group includes four women. 

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