Religion and State in Israel – November 14, 2011 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

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

Where have all the women gone?

By Tamar Rotem November 14, 2011

“Jerusalem residents and veteran public relations people say that there has been a growing process of capitulation to the Haredi extremists with their patently illogical demands.”

[Publicist Uri] Pridan believes it is a social problem that goes beyond the mere restrictions of Jerusalem. He warns that if the breach is not stopped, the exclusion of women will get as far as the secular city of Tel Aviv.

By Nir Hasson November 13, 2011

“We must make sure that those who want to advertise [with] women’s images in the city can do so without fear of vandalism and defacement of billboards or buses showing women,” Mayor Barkat wrote.

Dvora Evron, a religious staff member at Oranim Academic College:

“We have come today to have our voices of concern heard for both women and Judaism,” she said. “The phenomenon of exclusion that we are witnessing is improper and presents a distorted view of Judaism.”

By Oz Rosenberg and Revital Blumenfeld November 11, 2011

Hundreds of people amassed in multiple locations across Israel on Friday to protest what they conceive as the exclusion of women from the public sphere.

Jerusalem council member Rachel Azaria, who attended the local rally, told Haaretz that “we, women and men, secular, religious, and, slowly, Haredi, are changing the rules of the game and of discourse.”

“As long as a few people are shouting, nothing will happen. But you can’t silence the public mainstream for too long,” Azaria said, adding: “Even if we used to be a small group, now we are a mass.”

By Dina Kraft November 13, 2011

Kimmy Caplan, a professor of Jewish history at Bar-Ilan University who researches haredi society, said the trend toward gender separation is partly a response to the growing number of haredi women entering the workforce.

“They are meeting all kinds of people, and some haredi leaders see this as dangerous,” Caplan said. “It has the potential, as far as some leadership sees it, to be a danger because it can bring home questions, doubts, exposure to alternative ways of life.”

He explains that “There are certain leaders who think there is a need to create a balance by having more segregation in the neighborhood to compensate for a drop of segregation by women going out to work every day.”

By Jeremy Sharon and Lahav Harkov November 8, 2011

The Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women held a stormy hearing on Monday on a policy of the independent haredi radio station Kol Berama that prevents women from working as radio broadcasters and from being interviewed on the station’s programs.

Committee chairwoman MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud): “There are rights in the State of Israel that are protected by legislation and these laws also apply to sectarian radio stations, whether they’re aimed at specific sectors or not,” she said.

The lobbying arm of the Reform movement in Israel was also involved in the campaign against Kol Berama, and argued that the station’s policy infringes on women’s employment rights and the law of equal opportunities in the work place.

By Amy Teibel AP November 8, 2011

“The stronger the ultra-Orthodox and religious community grows, the greater its attempt to impose its norms,” said Hannah Kehat, the founder of the religious women’s forum Kolech. Their norms, she said, are “segregation of women and discrimination against them.”

By Dan Even November 8, 2011

Last week, Canaan Pirsum Bitnuah, the advertising agency handling the bus ads, which feature the faces of men and women, asked ADI for permission to replace the ads on buses in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak with ones showing men only.

“The photos showed only the women’s faces; there were no exposed shoulders or anything at all provocative. But we were warned that if we didn’t change the images, the buses might be burned,” ADI spokeswoman Dvora Sherer said.

By Edmund Sanders November 12, 2011

Rabbi Shmuel Pappenheim, a spokesman and leader for an umbrella group of ultra-Orthodox factions:

“We used to be a small minority fighting for survival,” he said. “Now we are a huge minority. As the saying goes, with food comes more appetite.”

He said the segregation was not intended to discriminate or oppress women but to “protect women’s honor and dignity.”

Click here for VIDEO
Interview with Noa Sattath, Israel Religious Action Center (video via New Israel Fund)

By Peggy Cidor November 11, 2011

Last week’s monthly city council meeting ended with Mayor Nir Barkat’s decision to expel Rachel Azaria from the coalition.

Even before the end of the meeting, rumors – accompanied by twinkles in the eyes of at least two city council members – promised that the separation wouldn’t last too long.
“At most one month,” said city councillor No. 1. “If it lasts for more than two weeks, I am not myself,” said city councillor No. 2.

By Rachel Neiman November 13, 2011

downloadable songbook was made available with backing from sponsors: the Masorti movement, which is affiliated with the Conservative Judaism movement; Noam, the Masorti youth movement; the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel; Be Free Israel, a nonpartisan movement working on behalf of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; and Israel Hollaback, the local branch of a world movement that uses technology to end gender-oriented and sex-oriented street harassment.

By Kobi Nahshoni November 13, 2011

Ultra-Orthodox radio station Kol Barama will allow women to call in for one hour every Sunday morning, following the public battle against women’s exclusion from its programs.
The move was the focus of a discussion held recently at the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women.

By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Opinion November 12, 2011

What are the origins of an official religious establishment in Israel, and what is causing the negative feelings towards the Chief Rabbinate and its judiciary system?

…I understand that the present controversy between Tzohar and the Ministry of Religious Affairs is on the road to resolution. But the general and underlying problem still remains in full force.

…Let us only pray that until the proper changes in the system are put into effect, a disgruntled Israeli populace will not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

By Merav Michaeli Opinion November 14, 2011

It is doubtful the Rabbinate understands how good Tzohar is for them: Were it not for Tzohar, possibly the Rabbinate’s insensitivity would have led some of the secular population to demand marital justice, a real alternative to marriage in Israel: civil marriage, Reform marriage, Conservative marriage, marriage in accordance with the couple’s conscience and beliefs.

By Kobi Nahshoni November 10, 2011

Religious Services Minister Yakov Margi and Tzohar Chairman Rabbi David Stav reached a series of understandings on Wednesday evening, allowing the Modern Orthodox organization’s rabbis to resume their wedding project.

The details are still unclear as a final agreement has yet to be reached, but one of the options raised during the meeting was advancing a bill initiated by MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), which seeks to cancel regional marriage registrations. Margi confirmed to Ynet that he has no objections to this proposal.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Religious Action Center, added: “In recent years, Tzohar rabbis have become the fig leaf of a rotten and corrupt establishment, and therefore they have no one to complain against but themselves.

“Its time for these to direct their public courage at real change in the relations of state and religion in Israel and at conducting civil marriage, rather than performing ‘slightly nicer’ ceremonies sponsored by the rabbinical establishment.”

By Jeremy Sharon November 10, 2011

Tzohar had accused Margi and the Chief Rabbinate of dealing with their free wedding service in a discriminatory manner. 

The group claimed that Margi was enforcing regulations on its program that the ministry ignored when it came to private haredi rabbinical courts. It also alleged that the bureaucratic obstacles were imposed to safeguard the income of rabbinate-approved rabbis.

By Jeremy Sharon November 8, 2011

Tzohar also claims that the law of registering in the city of the couple’s residence is being selectively applied to Shoham to hinder the organization’s free wedding services. 

It alleges that private haredi rabbinical courts register couples outside of those courts’ jurisdiction all the time, and the Religious Services Ministry and Chief Rabbinate simply ignore this.

Tzohar Executive Vice-President Nachman Rosenberg accused the ministry of deliberately lying in this regard.

“I can say with 1,000-percent certainty that private haredi courts register couples not resident in their jurisdiction who then get married also outside of the jurisdiction of the [rabbinical] court where they registered,” Rosenberg said. “We have documented evidence of this, and it happens all the time.” November 8, 2011

The Kadima MK urged Religious Services Minister Ya’akov Margi (Shas) to “understand that in the State of Israel there exist many sects and a each one will live according to his own faith and his own worldview.”

Editorial NY Jewish Week November 8, 2011

It’s about time rabbis concerned with the fabric of Jewish life in Israel are standing up to those haredi political and religious leaders seeking to narrow rather than broaden connections to the majority of Israelis who are not religiously observant.

By Yair Ettinger November 8, 2011

Rabbi Moshe Be’eri, Tzohar’s executive director:

“Every time I pleaded before the rabbinate or the Religious Services Ministry, I felt like someone going before the czar to protect his people, the people of Israel. But this time the czar is someone with a kippa.”

Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi said he would not allow Tzohar to establish a “mini-rabbinate,” though Ultra-Orthodox rabbinical courts have been registering couples as married and providing them with marriage certificates for decades, regardless of where the members of the couple live. The state rabbinate then rubber-stamps the Haredi marriages.

By Kobi Nahshoni November 8, 2011

Since the State’s establishment, the Rabbinate has allowed several private rabbinical courts – first those affiliated with the Eda Haredit faction and later those belonging to other ultra-Orthodox communities – to register marriages on their own, viewing each one as a branch of the Rabbinate.

By Yair Ettinger November 11, 2011

More than in any other field controlled by the religious establishment, private conversion is flourishing in Israel.

Hundreds of converts, mainly those who are not eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return, are joining the Jewish people outside the state rabbinic conversion courts, even though the latter are the only ones empowered to approve official “conversion certificates.”

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin: “What is happening now in Israel is not part of the rabbinic law I know and love, neither with respect to women who are refused a divorce, nor with respect to conversions.”

By Bradley Burston Opinion November 9, 2011

Every time a bureaucrat in black – ostensibly, ostentatiously, a Rav, a rabbi, a man of greatness – can discriminate against women; every time he can deny them access to holy sites and relegate them to the backs of buses; every time he can prohibit the image of a woman’s face in public advertising; every time he can decide when and where and if, as soldiers, as students, as worshippers, they may sing or dance or speak or stand or even be present in Jewish worship, Iran wins.

By Ilan Ben Zion Opinion November 8, 2011

Judaism is a comingling of nationhood, religion, and culture.  Therein lies the problem of Israel’s definition as a “Jewish and democratic state”.  To what extent ought the Jewish religion play a role in the running and identity of the Jewish state, and who says which interpretation is authoritative? 
… An Israeli constitution needs to separate Israel from Judaism the religion and make the state indifferent to the religious identities of its citizens.

By Gideon Levy November 13, 2011

One day not long from now we will wake up to a different kind of country, the country that’s now in the making.

…Separate buses and streets for men and women. Radio and television will only broadcast men singing. At some point, women will be required to cover their heads. Then it will be the men’s turn. They will be barred from appearing clean-shaven or without a head covering. That day is not long in coming.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis November 13, 2011

A social service trip to Israel may seem like an innocuous program for a Jewish social service organization.

But at Avodah, a domestic Jewish anti-poverty group, one staff member has quit and others involved with the group have launched a protest petition amid heated argument sparked by the prospect of just such a trip.

The conflict follows the announcement of an Israel trip planned by Pursue, an alumni network jointly sponsored by Avodah, which focuses on service projects in the United States, and by American Jewish World Service, which works in underdeveloped countries.

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