Religion and State in Israel – October 24, 2011 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

October 24, 2011 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

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Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

J’lem mayor fires coalition member over court petition

By Melanie Lidman October 21, 2011

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat fired Rachel Azaria (Yerushalmim) from his coalition on Tuesday in response to the liberal councilwoman’s petition to the High Court of Justice last week to remove barriers that separated men from women in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She’arim.

Azaria, who has long been active in the fight against gender separation on buses and sidewalks in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, was also stripped of her portfolios of early childhood education and community councils.

Jerusalem City Council member fired after opposing gender segregation

By Nir Hasson October 21, 2011

Members of the Haredi community were delighted by Azaria’s dismissal. A headline on a popular ultra-Orthodox website, B’hedri Haredim, declared:

“A joyous holiday in Jerusalem: Barkat fires the provocateur.”

Jerusalem Official Opposes Segregation, Loses Role

By Renee Ghert-Zand October 18, 2011

“The Haredim know that it’s illegal. Really it’s just a small segment of that community that thinks that they can just keep doing what they want and that the secular and more liberal religious people will just get tired and give up,” the religiously observant Azaria said. “But I won’t give up on such an important issue.”

“I have my ideology and a backbone. I will stand up for what I believe in and what the people who sent me to City Council believe in,” she said in a resolute voice at the end of the eventful day. “I know how to play political games, but I also know what the red lines are that I will not cross.”

Jerusalem’s Mayor Bending to Haredi Pressure?

By Renee Ghert-Zand October 21, 2011

Israeli blogger Hanna Beit Halachmi asks in the title of her most recent post whether Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is good for Jewish women.

For her the question is rhetorical, as she is outraged as what she perceives as the many signs that Barkat is capitulating to Haredi political pressure, especially when it comes to the elimination of women from the public sphere.

Separation Struggle

By Kamoun Ben-Shimon October 23, 2011

In the face of the demands of community extremists, who often do not hesitate to use physical violence to enforce their will, public space in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods is increasingly gender-segregated.

…Dudi Zilbershlag, a publicist for the Haredi movement, believes that the extremism is a response to trends in the secular community.

“The more permissive and modern the secular community is, the more the ultra-Orthodox community closes inward, because we are afraid and close ourselves off even more,” he tells The Report and calls on the police to intervene to protect the residents.

On the offensive

By Peggy Cidor October 21, 2011

No one in haredi circles would be likely to say that some sanity has come back to the streets of Mea She’arim thanks to the Zionist police following the arrest of the Sikarikim, but everybody here understands that this open, fierce and assertive attitude by the police has perhaps changed some of the rules of the game.

Secular group marches against Mea Shearim segregation

By Jeremy Sharon October 22, 2011

A march staged by the Free Israel secularist movement through Mea She’arim in Jerusalem Saturday night was pelted with bottles, stones and diapers by ultra-Orthodox residents of the neighborhood.

The march was held to protest the failure of the High Court of Justice to enforce its ruling outlawing male-female segregation during Succot for the second year in a row.

“Unless we address the issue, however small it may seem, and unless the High Court enforces the law, this trend will only widen,” [Director of Free Israel Mickey] Gitzin argued, adding that the importance of maintaining one law for all was another important component of their opposition to the separation barriers.

Haredim assault police officers with concrete blocks

By Omri Efraim October 23, 2011

Haredim in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim hurled concrete blocks from their balconies at police officers on Saturday. Several officers were lightly wounded and treated on the spot.

Earlier on Saturday, police arrested one man on suspicion of disorderly conduct.

One of the marchers said,

“We managed to march several steps before we were violently attacked. Stones, glass bottles and diapers were hurled at us. It was life-threatening. We were chased and we escaped at the last minute. Those were moments of genuine fear.”

PHOTOS: Failed attempt for mixed-gender walk in Mea-Shaarim, Jerusalem

By Nir Alon October 22, 2011

The Free Israel Movement attempts to conduct mixed-gender walk through the dominantly ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea-Shaarim protesting gender segregation in contradiction to Supreme Court ruling.

Women noticeably absent from Jerusalem ads

By Nir Hasson October 21, 2011

“In Jerusalem, a shoe is not just a shoe,” says Uri Ayalon, a Conservative rabbi who promotes religious pluralism, and who recently established an “uncensored” Facebook group that protests against the elimination of women from public spaces.

Shoe images, he says, are used to obscure the fact that in Jerusalem women are rarely pictured on public posters and billboards.

…”This becomes a process of self-censorship,” explains Rabbi Ayalon.

“You decide in advance not to use a photograph of a female dancer, so that nobody sprays it. You decide not to confront anything, and that’s the position adopted by the advertisement agencies.

“This is no longer creeping erosion, but rather a trend that’s up and running,” he adds.

Reform Movement: Remove gender barrier at Kotel entrance

By Jeremy Sharon October 18, 2011

The Reform Movement in Israel is demanding that barriers separating men and women at the main entrance to the Western Wall plaza be removed.

The group sent letters to the Jerusalem District Police Commander Nissan Shaham and the Rabbi of the Kotel Shmuel Rabinovitch demanding that the partitions at the main entrance by the Dung Gate be removed.

The letter also insists that the stewards employed by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation to enforce the separate lines be removed.

Anat Hoffman stated however that the [Western Wall Heritage Foundation] is a “haredi-dominated organization with no representation for women, alternative Jewish groups other than the Orthodox, or for the city municipality.”

“The foundation abuses its authority and dictates life choices for the rest of us,” she said.
“The Kotel belongs to all Jews, it shouldn’t be the haredi Kotel, but should be run by all of us, not just the few.”

Complaints of sex segregation near Kotel October 23, 2011

The Israel Religious Action Center has turned to Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch and Jerusalem District Commander Niso Shaham, claiming sex segregation has been taking place at the entrance to the holy site.

According to the IRAC, the Reform Movement’s legal advocacy arm, this kind of separation between men and women in the public domain is illegal.

Female soldiers leave IDF event after ordered to sit in separate section

By Anshel Pfeffer October 23, 2011

About 100 female soldiers left the main celebration sponsored by the Israel Defense Forces marking the end of the Simhat Torah holiday on Thursday after they were asked to move to a separate women’s section.

…Those in attendance said before the request was made for them to move, the women had been dancing at one side, separately from the men and also separated by a long table. The women soldiers were then ordered by an officer from the military rabbinate to go to a separate, closed area about 50 meters away, following complaints over the initial setup.

The IDF Spokesman’s office said in response: “As is the custom at these events every year, there is an area designated for women,” adding that “no IDF official was directed to verify that men and women were separated.”

Meretz MK Gal-On: IDF rabbis demean women soldiers

By Jonathan Lis October 24, 2011

Gal-On said it is vital to clarify that the era when women can be kept out of the public sphere is long gone.

Barak, she wrote, must explain to IDF officers that religious soldiers will encounter women in every sphere of their future lives: They will be treated by female doctors, judged by female [judges] and perhaps even take orders from female officers.

Social justice, religious freedom and the tent protests

By Rabbi Uri Regev Opinion October 22, 2011

The writer is the head of Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel.

[Trajtenberg] rightly stressed that a major source of the frustration over social injustice stemmed from “sectors in the population that do not sufficiently partner in bearing the burden, both on account of their low participation in the workforce and on account of their avoiding national service in general and military service in particular.”

Everyone understood that this was primarily directed at the haredi sector, as did the haredi political parties, which were quick to reject the report.

…In the reports specific recommendations, the committee emphasized the importance of enforcing the core curriculum (math, sciences, English and civics) in the ultra-Orthodox educational system, limiting the period of state subsidies for studying in yeshivot, increasing funding for professional training, and drastically escalating the participation in military/civil service, among other things.

A Jew of No Religion

By Gershom Gorenberg Opinion October 19, 2011

By changing his religious registration to “none,” Kaniuk found a symbol for expressing that distaste.

Implicitly, though, he affirmed the clerical establishment’s claim to represent Judaism. The court affirmed a constitutional right to define oneself according to one’s conscience—but only according to the inadequate categories of nationality and religion.

Real freedom of conscience would require the state to stop registering religious and ethnic identity.

Actual separation of synagogue and state would mean abolishing the official rabbinate, enacting civil marriage, and ending government involvement in religious education

Who isn’t a Jew?

By Shula Kopf October 23, 2011

Yoram Kaniuk says the most profound experience of his life, even more than fighting and being wounded in the War of Independence, which has informed so much of his writing, was a stint as a sailor on a refugee ship ferrying Holocaust survivors to the newly formed State of Israel.

“They came from hell. If there was a God, where was He?” he says with some bitterness.

“Over time I have become very upset about rabbinical Judaism and how it is overshadowing everything. I am against the Jewish religious establishment. Israel is a democratic state, but it can’t be both democratic and religious. It’s a contradiction in terms.”

Once a Jew, always a Jew

By Benny Ziffer Opinion October 14, 2011

I read about several hundred enthusiastic citizens who convened on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv to fill out the forms and take them to the Interior Ministry, demanding that it recognize them as religionless.

Have they indeed done so already, or are they waiting for the end of the holidays – which, naturally, they no longer celebrate, seeing as they will soon be non-Jews?

The real threat to Israel’s Jewish character

By Prof. Shlomo Avineri Opinion October 24, 2011

It’s clear that if the bill is approved as a Basic Law, it will not change much in Israel’s reality as the Jewish nation-state.

Israel’s Rabbinate must be stripped of its powers

Who needs the Rabbinate?

Haaretz Editorial October 24, 2011

From every vantage point – social, civil and economic – it would be better to transfer the rabbinate’s powers to local authorities that would serve the people based on the community’s needs.

Also, the Knesset must change the law and provide civil marriage to everyone, in addition to religious marriage. Israeli society has come out, albeit very politely, against religious coercion.

Are Young Rabbis Turning on Israel?

By Elliot Jager Opinion October 24, 2011

No amount of redefining what it means to be pro-Israel can paper over the predicament facing Conservative Judaism’s future leaders: What is the place of the movement in Jewish life if not as an embodiment of political and theological centrism and moderation?

Jewish Agency plays matchmaker

By Gil Shefler October 17, 2011

The Jewish Agency for Israel’s main mission is strengthening Jewish identity and assisting immigration, but every so often it also inadvertently acts as matchmaker.

Last week sisters Irina and Anna Kofitova married their husbands in a joint ceremony where all four were graduates of Na’ale, the Jewish organization’s program which helps brings youths from the former Soviet Union to Israel.

Religion and State in Israel

October 24, 2011 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

All rights reserved.

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