Religion and State in Israel – March 3, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

March 3, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Test for the left

By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz March 2, 2008

In recent years Shas has been very careful not to make excessive demands regarding religious coercion. Now it appears to have shed all restraint.

Presumably, only the announcement of Meretz’s safety net would be enough to rein in Shas and halt the liquidation sale on secular rights – especially if it is accompanied by a declaration that Meretz’s asking price will be passage of a civil-union law.

Is Shas taking over?

By Attila Somfalvi, March 1, 2008

The criticism was mostly directed as Shas’ people, headed by Communication Minister Ariel Atias, yet the address for complaints is elsewhere.

Knesset members of all factions and of all types voted in favor of this bill without flinching. Members of Kadima, Labor, and Likud, who stress their enlightenment and our freedom at every opportunity, buried their principles on the altar of political flattery to the ultra-Orthodox.

Shas – coming or going?

By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz February 29, 2008

For years Eli Yishai led a policy that might be described as “Let’s not annoy the secular too much.” In the background hovered the trauma of the “Just Not Shas in ’99” demonstrations.

Now there seems to be a new Yishai, who threatens to resign from the government every other day and is reminiscent of Aryeh Deri in his heyday, or bad old days (depending on how you look at it).

Haaretz cartoon by Daniela – Feb. 12, 2008

Breaking the language barrier

By Tamar Rotem, Haaretz March 2, 2008

While Haredi functionaries are outraged by the Education Ministry’s demand that their schools adopt its compulsory core curriculum, more and more young couples with a connection to the work force are searching for an indirect way to help their children close the educational gap vis-a-vis their non-Haredi counterparts.

English is considered the most important nonreligious subject.

Despite the growing demand, English classes are still a clandestine affair in the Haredi community.

It might be because the study of English is associated with the strict prohibition against the study of foreign languages (except for Yiddish), imposed on Jerusalem’s Ashkenazi community 150 years ago.

The Haredi ambivalence toward the study of foreign languages is strongest in Jerusalem.

High-tech in the service of the rabbis

By Avirama Golan, Haaretz March 3, 2008

What a brilliant idea:

The rabbis, who have consistently rejected initiatives to enable men to combine study and work, have found in high-tech a new channel to rehabilitate the collapsing society of Torah learners, via an old and familiar method: the oppression of women.

The men will once again sit in the kollel (a yeshiva for married men), the women will once again work, and instead of technological education providing them with a key for change, it will deepen their exploitation.

Without any difficulty, the rabbis concocted a circular deal with the employers and the government that is giving them twice as much as what the government cut.

WIZO poll: Majority of haredim favor women working March 2, 2008

Over half of haredim, both men and women, support career pursuits for women, according to a survey commissioned by the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO), but women’s rights in Israel still have a long way to go.

The survey, conducted by Hagal Institute and polling 501 respondents, found that 54% of haredim were in favor of women working, while the remaining 46% felt women should not work outside the home.

In contrast, 79% of the general population supported women working outside the home.

Can the synagogue help bridge Diaspora-Israel gap?

By Dina Kraft, JTA February 26, 2008

The seminar on Israel was sponsored by the Makom Institute, whose mission is to provide content and training to reimagine Israel’s place in Jewish life.

Makom is co-sponsored by The Jewish Agency for Israel and North American Jewish community federations.

Rabbi David Lazar, the rabbi of a Conservative synagogue in Ramat Aviv, Kehillat Tiferet Shalom, introduced participants to songs like “Yarda Ha’Shabbat,” which describes Shabbat descending over the Galilee, and “Ana B’Koach,” a kabbalistic poem that recently was set to music that became a hit on Israeli radio.

Another workshop examined the role of the Prayer for the State of Israel and how experimenting with different versions might help congregations think about their connection with the Jewish state.

Leading the session was Israeli Reform Rabbi Ofer Sabath Beit Halachmi, who wrote a new version of the prayer.

A tour of dreams and reality

Click here for VIDEO

By Daphna Berman, Haaretz February 28, 2008

“Israel is a real place, and it’s both important and possible to have a real relationship with it,” Paula Weiman-Kelman, who directed the film, said of the message behind “Eyes Wide Open.”

“Israel is a miracle and a dream, but at the same time, it’s a real place with real people and real problems.”

There’s no point in denigrating American Jewry

By Rabbi Reuven Hammer, February 28, 2008

The writer is a Jerusalem author and lecturer, is a former president of the International Rabbinical Assembly and the head of the Rabbinical Court of the Masorti Movement.

Whereas Israeli religious life is stifled by an archaic Chief Rabbinate (which our current government seems bent upon strengthening for reasons only politicians can fathom) American religious life is flourishing in an atmosphere of freedom.

The great religious revival we had hoped would come from the combination of Zionism and religion seems to have withered away in the corrosive atmosphere of politics, religion and coercive legislation.

Israeli Jewry has to strengthen its foundation in Judaism and its appreciation of the teachings of the Jewish religion and the concept of Jewish peoplehood.

Patronizing American Judaism instead of appreciating its strengths and even learning from then is not the way.

Face it: diaspora Jewry is dying

By Calev Ben-David, The Jewish Chronicle February 22, 2008

…for most of the past six decades, the Israeli-diaspora relationship has been conducted along the “Jerusalem and Babylon” model that was constructed at Israel’s inception.

The fact is though that current conditions no longer support such a paradigm.

Why Islamic law is Official in Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 15, 2008

Dr Aviad Hacohen, a constitutional law expert from Hebrew University and the head of the Mosiaca centre on state and religion, believes Israel’s system “has two main shortcomings.

“The first is that it creates a twin-track system of religious and civil law that are not always compatible.”

“The second shortcoming is that the system isn’t good for everyone. It can’t deal with mixed marriages, or those who are not recognised as belonging to a religion.”

Egalitarian minyanim? Not authentic. Not Orthodox

The writer is director of Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim, a seminary in Jerusalem for English-speaking women and lives in Alon Shevut in Gush Etzion.

Shira Hadasha is not a halachic congregation. Similarly, the guide published by Michal and Elitzur Bar-Asher, while largely drawing on genuine halachic sources, is also not a work of Halacha.

Jews who would like to worship God but feel the Halacha does not obligate them have many non-halachic frameworks available to them.

If the participants in “partnership minyanim” are interested in creating another non-halachic framework – one that perhaps bears a closer similarity to genuine halachic minyanim – then they should describe themselves as such.

If they do, however, wish to be halachic, then they must bring their suggestions before a recognized posek, and be willing to accept his rulings as binding.

Jewish Year Abroad

By Ben Harris, Wall Street Journal February 29, 2008

Flipping Out? Myth or Fact: The Impact of the “Year in Israel”

By Shalom Z. Berger, Daniel Jacobson and Chaim I. Waxman

“I suspect on some level [the Israel year] moves the community to a more separatist position,” said Rabbi Yosef Blau, the director of religious guidance at Yeshiva University, who supports Israel study but considers it a double-edged sword.

“In Israel, the line between the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox is quite sharp, and that gets reflected back.”

Samuel Heilman, a sociologist of American Jewry and the author of “Sliding to the Right” fingers the Israel year as a chief reason for Modern Orthodoxy’s supposed shift toward traditionalism.

Rabbi Shalom Berger, one of the book’s three authors, found that prior to landing in Israel, less than 20% of students rank high on a scale of ritual practice.

After the year of study, the number surges to nearly 70%. Rabbi Berger also found that students are more committed to lifelong Torah study and show stronger ties to Israel after they return.

‘Religious Zionism sucked into abyss of haredi lifestyle’

By Kobi Nahshoni, February 27, 2008

In a recently published book, Rabbi Yigal Ariel, chief rabbi of Moshav Nov in the Golan Heights, condemned harshly the Religious Zionist movement for its recent tendency to become excessively haredi in character.

“Sadly, we (religious Zionists) are gleefully making rapid strides towards the haredi world,” said the rabbi. “Today we hear Religious Zionists speaking out against science, against the academic world, and even against basic rule of law.”

Study: 51% of Israelis secular

By Kobi Nahshoni, March 3, 2008

The IDI’s Guttman Institute released new survey data revealing very different figures, and indicating that Israel’s secular Jews constitute roughly half of the country’s population. The discrepancy between the two studies, researchers maintained, was due in large part to a misinterpretation of earlier survey data.

A message on the IDI’s website stated that “The 2008 Israel Democracy Index uncovered the following breakdown of Israel’s population: 51% of Israelis are secular, 30% traditional, 10% Orthodox, and 9% haredi. We are sorry for any misunderstanding stemming from earlier data which might have conveyed the wrong impression.”

The Guttman institute also maintained that its newly released data is virtually identical to survey data obtained from the Central Bureau of Statistics, which indicated that 44% of Israelis are secular, 25% are traditional but not religious, 14% are traditional and religious, 10% are Orthodox and 7% are haredi.

Many organizations, most notably the [Israel] Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, had contacted the IDI following the initial publication of its survey data and maintained that the results obtained are inaccurate and based on inconclusive evidence at best.

El Al Complying with Demands Set by Rabbonim

Dei’ah veDibur February 28, 2008

Vaadas HaRabbonim Lemaan Kedushas HaShabbos in Eretz Yisroel issued an official notice confirming that El Al is complying with the conditions set by the rabbonim as far as keeping the sanctity of Shabbos.

On the other hand three other Israeli airlines, Arkia, Israir and Sun D’Or, continue to desecrate Shabbos openly, says the Vaad.

The Vaadas HaRabbonim is urging travelers not to patronize these companies, noting that if passengers avoid these airlines, “tovo aleihem bircas tov.” Sun D’Or is affiliated with El Al.

Walls of Shabbos Almost Completely Breached at All Large Shopping Malls

By Eliezer Rauchberger, Dei’ah veDibur February 28, 2008

The Knesset State Control Committee asked State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on Tuesday to conduct an inquiry and to issue an opinion regarding the lack of enforcement of labor laws and business licensing laws by Israeli authorities, which has allowed businesses to open on Shabbos in blatant violation of the law.

The committee meeting was convened following requests by the Forum of Grocery Store Owners in Tel Aviv and a request by Ramat Gan Deputy Mayor Yossi Ehrenberg regarding the Ayalon Shopping Mall. During the committee meeting, it was acknowledged that the State of Israel legislates laws to ensure Shabbos observance but that the law is openly violated and authorities make almost no effort to halt it.

Ehrenberg said the Ayalon Shopping Mall compels shop owners to open on Shabbos, threatening them with fines if they fail to abide by the scheduled hours, which include Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am to 1:00 am.

Prohibited Landscaping Carried Out at Municipal Sites

By Yechiel Sever, Dei’ah veDibur February 28, 2008

Rabbonim and poskim are issuing warnings over Shmittah breaches in projects carried out at various municipal sites and are calling on public representatives in each of these places to make every effort to preserve the sanctity of Eretz Yisroel.

Alongside Highway 6, trees are being planted in violation of halochoh. When the landscaping project began, activists notified the Chief Rabbinate about the problem, but nothing has been done to prevent this act of desecration.

Rabbonim also protested a JNF tree-planting project in the Jerusalem area that involves serious Torah prohibitions. At the beginning of this week Har Nof residents were astonished to see JNF tractors plowing olive groves on the slopes between Rechov Hamelamed and Har Hamenuchos.

Last week Moriah (a company owned by the city of Jerusalem) workers were spotted planting trees at the entrance to Highway 9 in Jerusalem, but following extensive efforts, Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky managed to put a stop to the work.

Rabbis to battle smoking in haredi public

By Neta Sela, February 28, 2008

In a campaign that will be launched Thursday, rabbis will issue halachic rulings banning smoking. The rulings will be posted on bulletin boards and buses, and published in the community’s pamphlets.

The decision to launch the campaign ahead of Purim was based on the fact that during the holiday it is usually considered legitimate for children to smoke cigarettes.

Religion and State in Israel

March 3, 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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