Religion and State in Israel – March 17, 2008 (Section 2)

By ,

Religion and State in Israel

March 17, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Shlichah Brings a New Message to Reform Jews in the United States

Michelle Mostovy-Eisenberg, March 6, 2008

Liran Avisar Gazit explained that while the past 60 years have been spent trying to build the Jewish state in terms of infrastructure — homes, roads and government agencies — Zionism now means connecting Israel with American Jewry.

And her new job is to convince Reform Jews in particular to make aliyah and help diversify Israeli society.

“After 60 years,” she insisted, “we have to change the face of Israel.”

This, she stated, is what Zionism is all about today.

While Orthodoxy and secularism once provided Israeli citizens with the principle forms of Jewish identity open to them, Conservative Judaism and the Reform movement have sought a growing presence in the country over the past several decades.

In case of the latter, this is apparent in the growth of Reform kibbutzim and in the city of Modi’in, the ancient home of the Maccabees, whose mayor has welcomed Reform Jews there.

Merge Reform and Conservative Judaism

By David Forman, March 17, 2008

The Israel Conservative movement would benefit more from an affiliation with Israel’s Reform movement than vice versa.

Jerusalem’s prestigious Van Leer Institute dedicated a conference to “Contemporary Reform Judaism,” the first serious academic symposium in Israel on a non-Orthodox religious stream of Judaism, which demonstrates that the Reform movement’s profile is substantially more visible than the Conservative movement’s.

The Conservatives hitch a ride on the Reform’s Israel Religious Action Center, whose organizational activism makes it the chief proponent for equal rights for non-Orthodox religious branches of Judaism.

And while the Reform movement’s Israeli rabbinic program has grown, the Conservative movement’s has shrunk, with many Conservative rabbis employed by Reform institutions.

Ultimately then, a merger of the two movements would be advantageous, especially since the most liberal count of Israelis who consider themselves Reform or Conservative does not exceed a few thousand.

Why fight over essentially the same constituents by opening competing synagogues in the same cities and towns? Why have two educational campuses?

Many Israelis are facing crises of faith and are seeking answers to questions regarding the efficacy of a Jewish state that should reflect the best of Jewish moral values.

The two movements should pool their religious, educational and financial resources so that they might make an impact upon Israeli society, which is in need of alternative spiritual nourishment to Orthodoxy’s rigidity and paternalism – an alternative that is creative, progressive, inclusive and responsive to the dramatic events that continually confront our country.

Exorcising the Haredi Golem

By Altneuland – Advocating a secure & just Israel…

…I was wondering whether it would make sense to form a “single issue” Israeli NGO, focused completely on addressing the issues around the separation of church and state in Israel, and in particular those where principles of equality are compromised.

Do we need another NGO?

Bodies such as IRAC are doing a wonderful job of exposing and attempting to counter these abuses. IRAC has a much broader agenda, however, and its association with Reform Judaism may limit its appeal in some quarters.

I believe that a broad based, single issue NGO outside the political system may succeed where other organisations have failed.

Israeli Court Refers Case of Jailed Teen to Sanhedrin Court March 15, 2008

In what was deemed an unprecedented move, an 18 year-old Jewish girl was sent to a rabbinical court in an attempt to convince her to cooperate with the secular Israeli judiciary in a criminal case.

The hearing on March 14 was marked by uncertainty over legal procedure.

Attorneys did not understand what role was given to the rabbinical court in a criminal case and whether the rabbis were granted any authority over the civil court judge who approved the procedure. Rabbinical courts are authorized to hear cases that concern marriage and divorce.

On March 14, Netanya Magistrates Court Judge Samdar Kolander Abramovitch issued a decision that allowed prison authorities to bring Tzvia, manacled in handcuffs and leg irons, to appear before the Rabbinical Court for Matters of the People and the State, in what was deemed an attempt to have rabbis influence Tzvia to cooperate with civil authorities.

Instead, the rabbis held a hearing on her case and issued a decision advocating her immediate release.

See also: Girls See Three Weeks in Prison as an Experience in Faith

By Hillel Fendel,

“We are in the Land of Israel. The Nation of Israel must be judged by Torah law. But instead of our true and just Torah, we have courts that judge according to Turkish and British law.”

“When the Nation of Israel first arrived in the Land, we were commanded in the Torah to appoint a king. This is part of the process again, to build a regime that will run according to G-d’s law.”

Jewish Labor Hotline Set Up

By Ezra HaLevi, March 16, 2008

For several years, a revival of the concept of Avoda Ivrit – Jewish labor – has been taking place in the Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria regions – particularly in hilltop communities.

Though a web site listing Jewish labor businesses was closed down by the supreme court after a law-suit from an Arab advocacy group funded by the New Israel Fund, a new hotline and email account has been set up to provide Avoda Ivrit solutions.

The hotline allows consumers to receive a list of businesses in a particular field that only use Jewish workers. People are also encouraged to submit the names of such businesses to the hotline.

The hotline, for everything from gardeners, heavy equipment operators, painters, cement mixers and handymen to catering and restaurants…

An Avoda Ivrit blog also exists to promote Jewish labor.

Haredim launch boycott of supermarket chain

By Neta Sela, March 13, 2008

In recent years the ultra-Orthodox community has been intensifying its use of financial pressure in order to lead to the closing of businesses on Saturday.

The scope of the consumer ban is of an extremely large scale, which could harm the commercial activity of 35 AM-PM stores, 45 branches of the Shefa Shuk supermarket (some of which specifically target the haredi audience) and dozens more businesses under the brands of Blue Square, Mega, Mega Ba’ir and the petrol company Dor Alon.

Rabbis call for Blue Square boycott

By Ilanit Hayut, March 12, 2008

The committee of ultra-orthodox rabbis has made an announcement in the haredi press calling on the haredi public not to engage in business with the Alon Group, and supermarket chains Blue Square Israel and Shefa Shuk, because the AM:PM minimarket chain stays open for business on Sabbath. The Alon Group owns or controls all three chains.

In announcements published in “Yated Neeman” and “Hamodia” the committee of rabbis said “Attempts to reach agreement with the group owners to stop the public desecration of the Sabbath by AM:PM have failed.

The group has announced the opening of dozens more branches in cities on the holy Sabbath, and have already started doing so, and there are those who are following in their example, which will lead to the Sabbath being desecrated everywhere.”

The announcement called on readers “not to have any business contacts with the aforementioned companies, including the use of gift vouchers and Kimcha Depascha (Passover charity) coupons for individuals and institutions.”

First Shmittah Park Set Up in Jerusalem

By Yechiel Sever, Dei’ah veDibur March 13, 2008

The Jerusalem Municipality, in cooperation with Reishit Yerushalayim, recently dedicated Eretz Yisroel’s first Shmittah park.

Jerusalem Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky has been working to advance the project and allocated funding to set up a facility designed to teach students experientially.

Rabbi Uri Maklev, deputy mayor and chareidi education commissioner, spearheaded a project to bring a Shmittah study program presented by educator Rabbi Moshe Yarkoni to every primary school in the city.

Knesset members launch caucus to aid immigration from the West

By Daphna Berman, Haaaretz March 12, 2008

About a dozen MKs, representing most of the Knesset factions, are expected to be active in the caucus, officials said.

Yesterday’s launch brought together ministry representatives, as well as officials from the Jewish Agency, Nefesh B’Nefesh, and AMI, the French aliyah organization. Immigrant groups like the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) and Telfed, the South African Zionist Federation, were also present.

Knesset Lobby for Aliyah from the West Launched

By Ezra HaLevi, March 12, 2008

“There are more than eight million Jews in Western nations that we hope will make Aliyah to Israel,” Erdan said, opening the discussion.

“This hope does not differ inside or outside the coalition – whether on the right or the left. But there are obstacles and specific issues that we as Knesset Members hear about from individual olim and Aliyah organizations alike.

The purpose of this lobby is to identify where new legislation is needed to rectify those obstacles.”

Former Israeli Ambassador to the US Danny Ayalon, now the Chairman of the Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah organization said that Israel was founded on two principles, both necessitating establishing facts on the ground:

“The vision is to recognize and differentiate between Aliyah from the West and past waves of Aliyah.

What we have here is the recognition that the Zionist spirit is not passé. Jewish communities in America, Canada and UK are showing that if you thought that Jews only make Aliyah when they are in crisis – you are incorrect. Here are Jews from the fleshpots choosing to move to Israel.”

A second exodus?

Ofer Dahan, from Kfar Vradim in Western Galilee, has been the director of the Johannesburg-based Israel Center:

“There is a massive and revitalized aliya to Israel and emigration to other countries, including Australia and the UK,” he states.

Gov’t to sharply cut taxes for olim

, March 14, 2008

As part of the initiative to entice people to come back to Israel, a new government plan, developed jointly by the Immigrant Absorption and Finance ministries, seeks to dramatically lower taxes for olim and returnees.

ITIM – The Jewish Life Information Center [recently] testified before the State ombudsman on issues of conversions and burial, and has been invited by the Cabinet Secretary to convene a forum of Non-Governmental Agencies to facilitate the reorganization of the Conversion Authority.

To read about ITIM’s Supreme Court case from the Jerusalem Report, click here.

Religion for the Secular – The new Israeli rabbinate

Tzohar and ITIM: The Jewish Life Information Center

By Adam S. Ferziger

The writer serves as Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Fellow in Jewish Studies at Bar-Ilan University, where he is a lecturer and associate director in the Graduate Program in Contemporary Jewry and Senior Fellow at the Rappaport Center for Assimilation Research.

This article introduces two national religious-oriented (dati-le’umi) organizations that have emerged within Israeli society since the 1990s. Neither has openly called for the dismantling of the state rabbinate.

Nevertheless, they challenge central aspects of its hegemony over religious life.

Both are independent initiatives whose main mandate is to provide the average non-observant Israeli with an alternative address for religious guidance and services.

Beyond engendering a re-conceptualization of the nature of the rabbinate in Israel, the article suggests that these new frameworks offer a window into broader realignments that began to emerge at the turn of the twenty-first century both in regard to the relationship of the secular population to religion and within Israeli national religious Orthodoxy.

Shas: Let Falashmura Ethiopians keep coming

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz March 12, 2008

Shas is demanding a reversal of the cabinet resolution from over a year ago that is supposed to end immigration from Ethiopia of Falashmura in June.

The party is proposing that all members of the community who meet the criteria set previously by Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar be allowed to immigrate.

The Falashmura claim Jewish ancestry, though their members converted to Christianity over the generations.

Only about 800 members of the community who have been approved for immigration remain in camps in the city of Gondar.

All of them are scheduled to arrive by June, at which point the Jewish Agency plans to end its operations in Ethiopia.

Falashmura bombard Lindenstrauss with complaints as he visits Gondar

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz March 16, 2008

Falashmura seeking to immigrate to Israel from Ethiopia’s Gondar region submitted numerous complaints about their treatment to State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, who visited the area last week at the request of the Knesset State Control Committee.

Some Falashmura said they have waited more than 10 years to receive an answer to their application.

There has generally been only one consular official to handle thousands of applicants, they added, and the Interior Ministry has refused to consider the applications of some 8,500 people who, they claim, meet the government’s criteria.

They also said the Israeli compound suffers from shortages of food and basic medical equipment, resulting in infant deaths.

Nevertheless, they challenge central aspects of its hegemony over religious life.

Both are independent initiatives whose main mandate is to provide the average non-observant Israeli with an alternative address for religious guidance and services.

Beyond engendering a re-conceptualization of the nature of the rabbinate in Israel, the article suggests that these new frameworks offer a window into broader realignments that began to emerge at the turn of the twenty-first century both in regard to the relationship of the secular population to religion and within Israeli national religious Orthodoxy.

That’s entertainment

By Tamar Rotem, Haaretz March 17, 2008

The advertisements – which were plastered around every ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem – had prepared the ground for the main event by the Yad L’Achim organization in the city, and filled with anticipation the ultra-Orthodox women who packed the wedding-hall venue for “the story of a Jewish mother who was rescued with her two little children from an Arab village that will move you to tears,” as the advertisement promised.

Although one can object to its vitriolic messages, Yad L’Achim’s welfare project, in the form of shelters for battered women and women whose lives are threatened, should not be scorned.

The women whom the organization rehabilitates are explicitly victims of Arab husbands or partners, as though there were no ultra-Orthodox or even Jewish abusers in the world.

Modi’in Illit Declared a City

By A. Cohen, Dei’ah veDibur March 13, 2008

Modi’in Illit, considered the third largest Torah center in the country, was officially designated a city after Interior Minister Meir Shetreet approved a recommendation by Central Command Head Gen. Gadi Shamni to make the local council into a municipality.

Rabbi Yaakov Guterman, until recently head of the local council and now mayor, noted Modi’in Illit had already been functioning as a city before the change.

“The city’s merit lies in the talmidei chachomim and the Torah and Chassidus institutions that grace it,” he said.

The great rub-out

By Varda Epstein, March 12, 2008

The writer is a haredi feminist, freelance author and volunteer at where she ‘mans’ the support desk for the Jewishgen General Discussion Group.

My letter to the editor of February 22, about the rubbed-out photos of women on has been the focus of some debate in my hometown of Efrat

To recap, my letter stated that women do not need to see photos of other women to attain greatness.

Those in my community who agreed with this position understood that my intention was not to encourage the wholesale censorship of women’s photos from all media. Rather, I find that this practice is of little consequence to a woman’s sense of self.

In truth, I am certain that my daughters would not take offense at a display of photos doctored in such a manner.

They understand what these altered photos represent: a communal effort for spiritual attainment. My girls would understand that someone is trying to empower them.

See also: Hillary news is fit to print in haredi paper, but not her photo by Jacob Berkman, JTA February 12, 2008

See also: b

Pilgrims to Mecca won’t lose stipends

Haaretz March 14, 2008

Muslim recipients of supplementary income will be able to leave Israel for 23 days to observe the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) commandment without losing their stipends, Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog said this week.

Until now pilgrims who failed to report to the Employment Service for two weeks or longer lost their allowances.

Pilgrims from Israel must travel thousands of kilometers via Jordan to Saudi Arabia and back.

Religion and State in Israel

March 17, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

No comments yet.

Your Thoughts