Religion and State in Israel – February 25, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

February 25, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Learning the ‘Language’ of Reform Zionists

By Doug Chandler, The Jewish Week February 20, 2008

One participant called it an “eye-opener” — a two-day conference aimed at introducing aliyah shlichim, or emissaries, to Reform Judaism and how the movement views immigration to Israel.

But on that score — the priority that Reform Jews place on Israel and aliyah — the event presented a decidedly mixed picture.

For the emissaries, the conference represented an opportunity to learn about “the language of Reform Zionism,” said Yoram Black, director of JAFI’s North American delegation.

Like most Israelis, he added, the majority of emissaries know little or nothing about Reform Judaism and, therefore, how to promote aliyah among Reform Jews.

Veterans: From America to Kibbutz Gezer – Rabbi Miri Gold and David Leichman

Miri Gold became the third female Reform rabbi in Israel. This accomplishment had its roots in her determination to continue what Rabbi Levi Kelman had started.

From learning how to lead services and give bar and bat mitzva lessons, she made the logical leap and enrolled in rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem in 1994.

The kibbutz gave its blessing. “We agreed that I could be a better breadwinner for the kibbutz as a rabbi,” she says.

Since her 1999 ordination, she has been overseeing religious life at the kibbutz – everything from securing paper goods for its recent Tu Bishvat seder to visiting the sick and teaching classes.

The Gezer synagogue became Kehilat Birkat Shalom, a regional Reform congregation.

For Gold, the hardest obstacle has been political. “Israel is not the democracy it’s supposed to be,” she says. “There clearly isn’t separation of church and state.”

Religious kibbutz movement strives to stem the crisis in its yeshivas

By Yair Sheleg, Haaretz February 25, 2008

The two yeshivas established by the religious kibbutz movement – one on Kibbutz Ein Tzurim in the south and the other on Kibbutz Ma’aleh Gilboa in the north – have been a source of pride for the movement and a symbol of its educational philosophy

But after 22 years, Yeshivat Ein Tzurim, which has only a few students left, is due to officially shut its doors at the end of the year – though it does have vague hopes of reopening a year later).

And while the Ma’aleh Gilboa yeshiva, founded 15 years ago, has no registration crisis (its most recent first-year class had 50 students), up to 40 percent of its students drop out of the demanding program every year.

Thus officials are girding for the possibility that the Ein Tzurim crisis will spread northward.

The last secular holdout

By Tamar Rotem, Haaretz February 20, 2008

It took about a decade for the small north-Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamivtar to change its skin. Now, after most of its well-to-do secular households have been replaced with ultra-Orthodox families, the metamorphosis seems almost complete.

Unlike so many Jerusalem secular families in their situation, the Bar-Ons and their four children did not move to the coast, to the greater Tel Aviv area, although they had considered the possibility.

Instead they moved to Beit Hakerem – the neighborhood on Jerusalem’s western side that so many secular residents have come to regard as the city’s “last secular island,” as Bar-On calls it.

She and other people living there say Beit Hakerem is the only thing keeping them in the capital, which is becoming increasingly ultra-Orthodox each year.

Donors seek unpolitical Jewish Agency

Discussions taking place in the Jewish Agency look set to dramatically change the Zionist movement.

Among the most distressed over these developments are the Reform and Conservative movements, who, as it is, have just single-digit representation among the 120-member Board of Governors.

With their Jewish Agency representation, the American streams work to provide funding to their sister movements in Israel, the Progressive and Masorti movements.

These funds, which amount to around $1.8m. annually to each movement out of a Jewish Agency budget of about $377m., are meant to offset the lack of government funds for non-Orthodox institutions in Israel.

“The movements are very worried,” said one Jewish Agency Board of Governors member. “They can defend that funding only as long as they have a seat at the table.”

PM aims to remake Israel-Diaspora ties

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has established an unprecedented high-level government task force charged with fundamentally altering the Israel-Diaspora relationship.

The new task force heralds a revolutionary change, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said, in that it will seek ways in which Israel can begin to invest in the Diaspora, rather than remaining merely the recipient of Diaspora aid.

Prime Minister’s Office considering new initiatives to strengthen bonds between Israel, Diaspora Jewry

By Itamar Eichner, February 23, 2008

Professor Shenhar also proposed establishing an International Jewish University in Israel that can attract Jewish students from across the globe.

Building a shared Jewish culture Editorial February 21, 2008

The new initiative will only succeed if it is the beginning of a generation-long project that engages American Jews in building a shared transnational Jewish culture.

What is required on both sides is a massive investment in education about each other at all levels …and massive support for creating the artifacts of culture – literature, painting, sculpture, cinema.

Both communities must engage in prolific translation of each other’s literature, comedy, scientific research and the like, far beyond the fractional and half-hearted translation that takes place today dictated only by market forces.

If we do not develop this shared culture, the centrifugal forces at work in the Jewish world will drive us farther apart.

WZO council: Israel’s Arab citizens must be loyal, condemn terror

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz February 19, 2008

The document he drafted states: “The Jewish character of the State of Israel shall not contradict it’s being a democratic state for all its citizens.”

The document, which offers a format for discussion and has yet to be finalized, raises 13 points for discussion regarding relations between the state and its Arab public.

It says Israel is the state of the Jewish people and it must demand complete loyalty from Arab citizens.

South African community here readies for immigration surge

By Daphna Berman, Haaretz February 22, 2008

Jewish Agency emissary in Johannesburg, Ofer Dahan, has conservatively predicted at least 300 immigrants from South Africa in 2008, compared to 178 last year and 157 the year before that. But, he believes the numbers could become spike even more.

Most new olim in Jerusalem from western countries

By Yael Branovsky, February 25, 2008

Some 68% of the new immigrants who arrived in Jerusalem in the last four years came from western countries, data presented by the Immigration Absorption Ministry revealed Sunday evening.

According to the ministry’s statistics, most of these new olim define themselves as religious. Some 25% of the immigrants from France define themselves as haredim, 65% as religious and about 10% as observant or secular.

Among those who emigrated from North America, 17% define themselves as haredim, 72% as religious, and 11% as secular.

AMPM Stores Continue to Desecrate Shabbos in Central Region

By Yechiel Sever, Dei’ah veDibur February 21, 2008

Vaadas HaRabbonim LeKedushas HaShabbos met last week and decided to launch an open protest against the Alon Group, which heads chains like Dor Gaz, Blue Square, Shefa Shuk and more, in light of announcements by the executive board that it plans to open dozens of additional AMPM stores in Gush Dan and other parts of the country.

Since being purchased by David Weissman, chairman of the Alon Group, AMPM has opened new stores in Tel Aviv, Bat Yam, near Be’er Yaakov and elsewhere that operate 24 hours a day, including Shabbos and Jewish holidays.

A delegation of rabbonim and activists from Tel Aviv appeared before Vaadas HaRabbonim, warning them that AMPM stores continue to open, including one on Rechov Echad Ha’am near the Belz shul.

The delegation said that according to the mainstream press, local food markets banded together and announced that if the Alon Group is allowed to open on Shabbos, they would have no choice other than to open their doors as well.

Israel’s Biggest Concern Is Overlooked

By Gary Rosenblatt, The Jewish Week Editorial Opinion February 20, 2008

Moshe Kaveh, president of Bar-Ilan, bemoaned the level of Jewish ignorance among Israeli youth and pointed out the critical gap filled by Bar-Ilan, the only Israeli university that requires students to take courses in Jewish-related studies, in a society increasingly split between religious and secular Jews.

Sixty-five percent of Bar-Ilan students are secular, but Kaveh asserted that advancing Judaism and democracy would continue to be a primary goal of the school.

Religious MKs vs. Education Minister

By Hillel Fendel, February 18, 2008

Director of the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva organization Elchanan Glatt announced that Education Minister Yuli Tamir has established a new committee to find new ways of utilizing the funds of the budgetary clause entitled “strengthening Jewish Studies.”

Without this clause, the number of hours that could be devoted to Talmud, Mishna, Bible and Jewish philosophy would be the same as in a normal public high school.

Tamir’s purpose in establishing a committee to allocate the Jewish Studies funds differently, Glatt said, “is to enable these funds to be given not only to yeshivot, but to public secular schools as well.

Jerusalem Municipality Authorizes Funding for Chareidi Schools

By Yechiel Sever, Dei’ah veDibur February 21, 2008

The City of Jerusalem has authorized the transfer of millions of shekels in budget funding for exempt and recognized-but- unofficial institutions in the chareidi education system earmarked for major renovations, equipment purchases, educational programs and safety activities.

The new support criteria were drawn up following a court decision in a case against the City of Petach Tikva.

Following the ruling the Justice Ministry instructed local authorities to stop supporting exempt and recognized-but- unofficial institutions, which are not classified as full municipal institutions.

The recent move solved the problem by funding them as non-municipal institutions.

Coming soon: Halachic Electricity

By Levi Ashkenazi, (Hebrew) February 20, 2008

A bill will be presented shortly that will introduce electricity without desecrating the Shabbat.

According to the bill, 60 turbines will be made automated and 150 non-Jewish workers introduced.

Demand to close Shabbat traffic in Jerusalem’s Romema neighborhood

By Y. Bender, (Hebrew) February 18, 2008

Downhill at Har Nof

By Guy Leshem, Haaretz February 19, 2008

The neighborhood of Har Nof lies on Jerusalem’s western boundaries. It has about 20,000 residents and is considered a stunning success, attracting the middle and upper classes, mostly from among the observant and ultra-Orthodox communities.

Three years ago, Jerusalem’s Planning and Building Committee was presented with a plan that managed to create an uproar even among the Haredi residents of Har Nof – a group not known for keen awareness of its surroundings.

A twist on the ‘Who’s a Jew’ question

The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana

The moment we lay eyes on someone, before we get to know them at all, we are already drawing a box around them and sticking on all kinds of isolating labels: Ashkenazi, Sephardi, leftist, rightist, secular, observant or Orthodox.

And not just Orthodox: We subdivide them into haredi, dati, dati-leumi, dosi or hardal. We have neatly judged, packaged and labeled a stranger before we know the first thing about him.

Instead of judging others too quickly, we should be more open-minded and less clothes-minded.

Marriage can wait

By Yael, February 19, 2008

The writer requested that her full name not be revealed

Wake up before it’s too late. Don’t get married because everyone is like that.

Don’t trust two months of dating, it isn’t enough. Can you get to know yourself in such a short period?

Take a breath for another year or two before you get married.

I know this is not customary, but Jewish law certainly doesn’t want me to be so miserable. The Halacha is not against me.

Group works with Israeli youth to promote Jewish social justice

By Dina Kraft, JTA February 24, 2008

[Ahava Katzin, 17] is part of a network of youth volunteers organized by Bema’aglei Tzedek, a group that seeks to bring a sense of Jewish values to social issues in Israel.

The organization brings together both secular and religious. Among their volunteer activists are students from religiously and politically conservative yeshivas to the furthest left-leaning youth movements.

Encyclopedia sheds lights on achievements of Jewish women

Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia

Edited by Prof. Paula Hyman from Yale University and Prof. Dalia Ofer from Hebrew University.

A recently-released encyclopedia, the work of Moshe Shalvi and his wife, Israel Prize winner Prof. Alice Shalvi, tries to correct this injustice by giving Jewish women the attention they have been denied.

Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia is a wide-ranging information bank on noteworthy Jewish women and their relatives throughout history.

Ramat Gan chief rabbi slams ‘radical feminist’ egalitarian minyanim

Ramat Gan Chief Rabbi Ya’acov Ariel said Tuesday that it is prohibited according to Jewish law to take part in an “egalitarian” or “partnership” minyan that permits women to read from the Torah or lead the congregation in prayer.

Ariel was reacting to the publication of The Guide for the Halachic Minyan by Michal and Elitzur Bar-Asher. The guide is a compilation of halachic sources on how to integrate women into prayer while at the same time purportedly adhering to all Orthodox strictures.

ZOA opens first Jerusalem office

The ZOA also wants to give some 200,000 US citizens living in Israel a feeling of involvement. Too many of them feel disenfranchised, said Daube, who hopes to enlist them in ZOA activities.

ZOA does not yet have a permanent address in Jerusalem. For the time being, it operates out of Daube’s apartment in the city’s Katamon neighborhood.

Asked why it took so long for ZOA, established in 1897 as one of the pioneer Zionist organizations in America, to open an office in Israel, Klein answered, “We didn’t have the money.”

Religion and State in Israel

February 25, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

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