Religion and State in Israel – April 7, 2008 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

April 7, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Religious politicians are furious after a Jerusalem court permits the sale of hametz during Passover

By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10 April 3, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

Ravitz appeals to amend Hametz Law

By April 7, 2008

Following last week’s court decision to allow stores and restaurants to sell hametz (leavened products) on Pessah, MK Avraham Ravitz (UTJ) on Monday submitted an appeal to amend Hametz Law.

According to the proposal, the word “public” would be removed from the law, leading to a comprehensive prohibition against selling hametz on Passover.

In the written appeal Ravitz submitted to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, he asked that the Knesset convene during its recess to approve the amendment, so that it can be done before Passover commences.

Ruling: Stores allowed to sell bread on Passover

By Aviram Zino, April 3, 2008

In her verdict, the judge ruled that, by law, a store or restaurant is not deemed a ‘public place’ because, unlike an open market, it is a closed off arena that cannot be seen by passersby.

Furthermore, noted Bar Asher, “the law deals mainly with the prohibition on displaying leavened goods during Passover, rather than eating or possessing such products. In other words, its intent is to prevent the display of leavened goods in public during the holiday rather than their sale.”

Judge okays sale of leavened products during Passover

By Ofra Edelman, Haaretz April 4. 2008

Judge Tamar Bar-Asher Zaban ruled Wednesday that groceries, pizzerias and restaurants are permitted to sell chametz (leavened products, not eaten during Pesach) because they are not “public” places in which chametz is prohibited for sale by law.

Thanks to Lupolianski

By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz Opinion April 4, 2008

This year we can expect chametz displays in stores and restaurants throughout Israel as never before.

And it’s all thanks to Uri Lupolianski’s municipal government.

Whoever said a Haredi mayor was bad for secular Israelis?

The sin of hubris

By Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz Opinion April 8, 2008

…to see the chametz, [a] passersby must enter the business, but they don’t have to if they don’t want to. This is like someone eating chametz at home – it certainly does not bother anyone else. Everyone has a right to follow his own religious practices, but in exactly the same way we need to protect the right of others not to keep the same practices.

Shas minister: We must get rid of court like chametz

By Ofra Edelman, Haaretz April 4, 2008

Minister of Religious Services Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) announced yesterday that he plans to appeal a Jerusalem court decision allowing grocery stores, restaurants and pizzerias to sell chametz (leavened bread) on Passover.

“The court must rule on what it knows, and not halakha (Jewish religious law).

Jerusalem Municipal Affairs Court OKs Sale of Hametz on Passover

By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz, April 3, 2008

Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said of Judge Tsabar’s ruling, “To our sorrow, the court has ‘passed over’ Jewish law.” The rabbi explained that the proscription of hametz on Passover “is not open to legal interpretation.”

Yishai: Chametz sale is ‘stain on Jewish identity’

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz April 7, 2008

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni blamed the tensions caused by this for detracting from the larger aim, which she said was “preserving Jewish identity as something that concerns all of us, with no connection to the Haredi sector’s interests.”

Livni: Hametz ruling harms identity of Israel

By Gil Hoffman, April 7, 2008

“Unfortunately, since the religious parties took a monopoly on Jewish issues in a way that expresses only their religious aspects it has created anger and tension that has damaged the Jewish identity of the country.”

Shas appeals to Friedmann to intervene in battle against court’s hametz decision

By Gil Hoffman, April 7, 2008

Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit:

“I think it’s a mistake to interfere with legislation, and it’s impossible to enforce such a law anyway,” Sheetrit told The Jerusalem Post.

“Most Israelis don’t eat hametz anyway, and the rest will be able to get it no matter what the government does.”


From chametz to Baruch Goldstein

By Yair Sheleg, Haaretz Opinion April 6, 2008

Judge Tamar Bar-Asher Zaban’s distinction between public and private space with regard to the sale of chametz during Passover may sound reasonable in a legal sense, but the main issue here is not the legal one but rather the public one:

Is it appropriate for Israel’s lawbook to include a law prohibiting the sale of chametz on Pesach?

My very unliberal response to that question is: Yes.

Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv: We can’t force religious norms

By Neta Sela, April 3, 2008 (Hebrew)

Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Israel Religious Action Center: “The attempt to shape the Jewish character of the State of Israel through legislation that forces religious norms on individuals who are not observant is destined to fail.

Because of my concern for the place of Judaism within our public life, one would hope that this verdict leads to the removal of this inappropriate law…”

70% of Israeli Jews Ban Bread on Passover

By April 7, 2008

People with higher incomes tend to be less interested in observing the commandment not to eat leavened bread during Passover, when Jews celebrate their freedom from bondage in Egypt.

The survey also showed that university graduates were less observant, with only 57 percent saying they would not eat bread during Passover.

Poll –

By Yehudit Yahav, April 7, 2008

Some 69% of Jewish Israelis will not eat leavened goods this coming Passover, a new poll conducted by Market Watch for Mazot Aviv food company recently revealed.

According to the survey, only 18% of Israelis eat both leavened goods and matzahs during the holiday. Six percent said they eat bread and other leavened goods throughout Pesach and 5% stated they only plan to eat matzahs on Passover eve.

Click here for VIDEO

Ultra-Orthodox target supermarket chain open on Sabbath

By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10 April 6, 2008

The battle that pits Israel’s ultra-Orthodox population against secular businesses has resumed.

This time, the battleground is AM:PM, a supermarket chain that is open 24 hours a day – including the Sabbath.

Because of AM:PM’s business hours, the Rabbinical Committee for the Sanctity of the Sabbath has called on Israel’s ultra-Orthodox to avoid businesses owned by David Weissman, who owns both AM:PM and Shefa Shuk, the Haredi supermarket chain.

Chain Closes Stores on Sabbath as Hareidi Boycott Looms

Several stores belonging to the AM:PM chain of convenience stores were closed last Saturday, leading to speculation that the chain may be folding in the face of hareidi-religious pressure.

The chain is owned by Dor-Alon, which also operates Shefa-Shuk, a chain that caters to the hareidi market.

Dor-Alon told Ynet that five out of the chain’s 15 branches were closed on Sabbath. Three of these are closed regularly and two decided to close also, due to “economic considerations.”

The tension between the hareidim and Dor-Alon’s owner, Dudi Weisman, began one month ago when Weisman was summoned to a meeting with Tel Aviv’s Chief Rabbi Meir Lau, who asked him to stop operating the AM:PM branch opposite the Belz Yeshiva on Sheinkin Street in Tel Aviv on the Sabbath. Weisman refused, and the hareidim responded with a boycott on Shefa Shuk.

A meeting of leading rabbis is scheduled for this evening, and the closing of several branches is seen as a signal by Weisman that he is willing to compromise.

Rabbis threaten to boycott Dor Alon

By Adi Dovrat, Haaretz April 3, 2008

Two leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis called on the religious Jewish community to boycott stores that fail to observe the Sabbath. The rabbis in question are the Admor of Gur and Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.

This is not the first time the two rabbis have taken part in the ultra-Orthodox community’s battles against the desecration of the Sabbath.

The most recent, widely publicized battle was in late 2006, when the two rabbis signed an agreement ordering the religious community not to fly with El Al because it operated on the Sabbath after the company assisted passengers stuck overseas because of a strike at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Shefa Shuk manager quits as rabbis intensify pressure

By Ilanit Hayut, March 31, 2008

Shefa Shuk chain manager Uri Kaminsky has resigned, as the dispute between the Alon Israel Oil Company Ltd. and rabbis from haredi sects widens

Ultra-Orthodox boycott hits Shefa Shuk hard in March

By Adi Dovrat and Nati Tuker, Haaretz April 6, 2008

The ultra-Orthodox boycott of the David Weissman Alon group is starting to take its toll:

Sales at the Shefa Shuk supermarket chain dropped 42% in March. Some of the fall has to do with the dates of the Passover holiday shopping period, which came earlier last year; but the boycott protesting the opening of Alon’s AM:PM markets on the Sabbath is showing clearly.

However, it seems there are some successes for Weissman, as a number of important Bnei Brak rabbis have refused to sign the letter calling for the boycott.

The sin of hubris

By Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz Opinion April 8, 2008

The non-religious public must fight back and do their Passover shopping at Shefa Shuk. Prices are reasonable there, too.

Just as the public staged a shopping campaign in Sderot to help the city, it is only right that it do so again now, in its own interest. If we do not stop religious coercion today, it will control us tomorrow.

Mitzvah, not murder

By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz April 4, 2008

Why did the sheep have to be decapitated?

The experiment was one of the local medical establishment’s desperate attempts to persuade two ultra- Orthodox rabbinical authorities, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, to recognize brain death as the moment of death, to pave the way for ultra-Orthodox Jews to donate organs for transplants.

Revised transplant ruling

By Michael Feldstein, Haaretz Letters to the Editor April 7, 2008

Rabbi Auerbach, with the help of Dr. Rabbi Avraham Steinberg, published an article in ASSIA – A Journal of Jewish Medical Ethics and Halacha, confirming that he accepted brain-stem death as halakhic death.

In an attempt to mislead the public, Yated Ne’eman dishonestly chose not to publish the later modified version of the rabbis’ ruling.

Michal Feldstein

Board Member, Halachic Organ Donor Society

Click here for VIDEO on Sheep Experiment

Encourage organ donation

Haaretz Editorial April 3, 2008

The proof of the brain and respiratory death law, which takes effect in 14 months, will be in the number of rabbis who endorse the ruling, which states that death can be declared when the brain stem dies.

The law will allow organ donation in individual cases. The question is whether the rabbis will speak out clearly and declare organ donation to be a religious and human duty.

Rabbinic court blocks civil court intervention in aguna cases

By Matthew Wagner, April 2, 2008

The supreme rabbinic court ruled that it was unlawful for a woman in the middle of divorce proceedings in a rabbinic court to appeal to a civil court to speed up the divorce’s conclusion.

In the decision, Rabbi Hagai Izirer, Rabbi Menahem Hashai and Rabbi Zion Algrably ruled that if the civil court intervened, the writ of divorce (get) that the husband issued as a result would be null and void.

The rabbis, quoting Talmudic and other early rabbinic literature, said that civil courts were considered “a gentile entity,” even if the judges were Jewish, and were therefore disqualified from coercing the husband in any way to give a get.

Attorney Susan Weiss, Center for Women’s Justice:

“If a man intentionally abuses his religious right to withhold a get from his wife, he causes her a civil wrong. He is intentionally inflicting emotional distress. He is infringing on his wife’s life, liberties, rights and freedoms. That’s why wives have the right to sue recalcitrant husbands for damages.”

Knesset c’tee passes bill blocking Metzger from rabbinic court

By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz April 1, 2008

The Knesset Internal Affairs Committee yesterday approved for second and third readings Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann’s bill to prevent the appointment of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger as president of the supreme rabbinic appellate court. Metzger has been the subject of bribery investigations in recent years.

The intention is to pass the legislation in plenum votes before the Knesset shuts down for winter recess tomorrow.

Under current law, chief rabbis serve for 10 years – five years chairing the Chief Rabbinic Council, and five years presiding over the appeals court. Metzger was supposed to replace Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar as court president on Sunday.

Judge Rules Paschal Sacrifice Practice “Proper,” Appeal Filed

Following are excerpts from the ruling of Judge Hagit Mac-Kalmanovich, handed down in the case of Tnoo Lachayot Lichyot (animal rights group) vs. the Temple Movements’ intention to ritually slaughter a lamb as part of a daylong symposium concerning the Passover offering.

“The law in the state of Israel sees ritual slaughter (shechitah) of an animal by an experienced ritual slaughterer (shochet) in accordance with Jewish law is not an act of abusing an animal…”

“In light of the fact that the ritual slaughter (shechitah) [of the lamb] is to be performed by an experienced ritual slaughterer (shochet) I see no reason to accept the plaintiff’s claim that what is being discussed is an experiment using live animals.”

“The defendants’ desire to hold the event (symposium) as part of the [historic process marking the] return of the nation of Israel to the land of Israel, and their goal, in the words of Rabbi Ysrael Ariel [founder of the Temple Institute] to build the Holy Temple and the perform there the [relevant] commandments, including the commandment to prerform the Passover offering.”

“The desire to study and increase knowledge of the laws concerning Passover and the Passover offering is most certainly legitimate and admirable. Including in this educational effort the study of practical aspects [of the Passover offering] does not make the study undesirable.

To be sure, the vast majority of the public will choose not to participate in the viewing of the ritual slaughter of the lamb, or in the planned symposium, but that does not render the event illegitimate for all those who do [wish] to participate. As known, freedom of religion and freedom of worship are basic rights [guaranteed by] the state of Israel.”

“[It is worth noting] as well, that the ritual slaughter of animals for the sake of observing a [religious] festival or ritual practice is an accepted act in the state of Israel. Suffice it to note that the slaughter of lambs as part of the Moslem observance of the Chag haKorban, and the Samaritan practice of slaughtering a Passover offering are likewise deemed acceptable by law. As none of these practices are forbidden, I do not see fit to forbid the particular event being discussed here.”

28 Adar II, 5768 (April 4, 2008)
Judge Hagit Mac-Kalmanovich

Mock Passover Sacrifice Slammed by Pro-Animal Group

By Gil Ronen, April 2, 2008

Animal rights group “תנו לחיות לחיות“(Let the Animals Live) is threatening to take legal action to prevent the Jewish Temple movement from carrying out an educational demonstration of the Pesach (Passover) sacrifice next week.

The group’s chairman, Attorney Reuven Ladiansky, sent a letter to Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski and to Temple Institute Director Yehuda Glick, urging them to cancel the planned event or face legal action. The group sees the planned sacrifice as an act of illegal cruelty to an animal.

According to the chairman, the “demonstration sacrifice” would violate the Israeli law which makes it illegal to torture animals or to kill them in a cruel way.

Any use of animals for educational purposes requires prior approval by the Council for Experiments on Animals.

“Carrying out a ‘general rehearsal’ in which a live animal is sacrificed for demonstrational purposes only, while a substitute – like a model of a sheep – can be used, is unjustified and unnecessary,” he claimed.

Response of the Temple Institute

…As you know, the prohibition against “tzar l’ba’alai chaim” cruelty to animals is a Torah based principle. Torah strictly forbids both causing physical pain and/or psychological or emotional anguish to animals.

Anyone who transgresses this prohibition is in violation of the trust and responsibility placed in him by G-d.

The Holy Temple and the Approach of Passover Symposim

Messianic Jews stir controversy in Jerusalem

By Danny Adino-Ababa, April 8, 2008

The request was submitted by Netivyah, an organization of Messianic Jews…

Joseph Shulam, Netivyah chairman and one of the Jewish Messianic community’s leaders in Israel:

“We have never concealed out faith. Throughout the years we have operated in the neighborhood, everybody knew what we were doing.

We don’t preach or convert Jews to Christianity. All we do is help Jews by opening soup kitchens, giving alms, nothing more.”

Court permits mother to cremate daughter’s body

By Ahiya Raved, April 7, 2008

The Haifa District Court on Monday permitted a family from Zichron Yaacov to cremate the body of their 14-year old daughter, who committed suicide during the weekend.

The issue came to the court’s attention due to an appeal from ZAKA Rescue Services and Chevra Kadisha, who demanded to prohibit the cremation. The court’s decision has raised objections from the religious community.

Judge Ginat determined that the court had no right to interfere in the issue, as the family of the deceased supported the mother’s cause, but delayed the cremation in order to allow ZAKA time to appeal to the Supreme Court.

In Israel, make it pay to study Judaism

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks

Rabbi Andrew Sacks is the director of the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel and director of the Masorti Bureau of Religious Affairs.

So how do we get the masses to take an interest in becoming Jewish?

Israel should create an incentive system. Pay to convert? Not exactly.

Such an approach would be immoral and illegal. But let us consider payment, or tax credits, for those who take the basic Judaism courses that can serve as preparation for conversion.

The easiest demographic problem we’ve ever had

[a response to In Israel, make it pay to study Judaism]

Altneuland Advocating a secure & just Israel…April 4, 2008

My opinion is that, rather than get even further enmeshed in religious issues, the state needs to take a step back. Israel needs to walk the talk and really become the Jewish AND democratic state it claims to be.

The way to do this is to stop backing the claim of Orthodoxy to be the only authentic Judaism. All the major Jewish denominations (including and especially Masorti/Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist) should enjoy equal status, and all should be allowed to perform conversions recognized by the state.

Conversion – or genocide?

By Lily Galili, Haaretz April 8, 2008

Meet Rabbi Naftali Schreiber, an activist from Rabbis Against Conversion. He is a fairly familiar figure among the Russian-speaking public; to veteran Israelis, he is a foreigner.

Schreiber, 30, immigrated to Israel 16 years ago and studied at Chabad yeshivas here. He no longer is a Chabad member, nor is he employed by the rabbinic establishment. A lot of his time is devoted to missionary activity – saving souls from conversion.

The IDF’s first ‘glatt kosher’ commandos

By Yaakov Katz, April 6, 2008

They are trained by the IDF’s best instructors and are expert marksmen, scouts and urban warfare fighters.

In contrast to their counterparts in the elite units belonging to the Golani or Paratrooper Brigades, these soldiers sport large black velvet yarmulkes and sidelocks, making up the first glatt kosher Sayeret – elite reconnaissance squad – in IDF history.

The IDF is pleased with the performance of Netzah Yehuda and recently announced plans to try and enlist enough haredi soldiers to be able to establish a second battalion in a similar framework – two years of military service as a combat soldiers and one year completing matriculation exams and preparing for university.

Rabbi Zvi Klebanow, director of the Nahal Haredi Organization, said that the elite fighters “are a pride for Israel by demonstrating their ability to maintain a haredi lifestyle while at the same time serving their country.”

A minimum degree of fairness

By Nehemia Shtrassler, Haaretz Opinion April 3, 2008

The Israel Defense Forces recently announced it is worried by the high number of ultra-Orthodox who are evading the draft.

Ten years ago only 4.5 percent of the annual crop of conscripts were released from their obligation on the grounds that the Torah is their profession.

Now that figure has risen to 11 percent; in 2020, the numbers will climb to an estimated 25 percent.

This is particularly annoying because these young ultra-Orthodox men receive “yeshiva payments” from the state that exceed the salary of a conscript.

Of course, there are also secular and Arab citizens who are evading the draft.

New Israeli Advertising Campaign Encourages Military Service

By Nathan Jeffay, The Forward April 03, 2008

The Defense Ministry figures released last fall show that Haredi refusal, while growing rapidly as a share of the draft-age cohort, accounts for less than half of the males who do not serve.

Advertising executive Rami Yehoshua’s campaign is targeting that second group that has long been overlooked: the growing numbers of Israelis who simply choose to ignore their draft.

Betzedek Starts Legal Claims Against Bus Companies

By Yechiel Sever, Dei’ah veDibur April 3, 2008

Legal suits against transportation companies that fail to meet their obligations to passengers are now underway.

Recently Betzedek has received hundreds of written complaints regarding public transportation, including precise details and recommendations to improve bus service.

The Betzedek public complaints center was set up two months ago and the many complaints received since then have been reviewed by lawyers conversant in transportation law.

According to the attorneys’ recommendation, a portion of the complaints will be compiled for a class-action suit or a common suit. Other individual complaints will be directed to small-claims court.

Click here for VIDEO on Mehadrin Bus issue

Bank of Israel: More haredim go back to work

By JJ Levine, April 7, 2008

As the community grows, the exposure to secular living standards also increases, especially via the computer and Internet, and people are not content to live a bare standard of existence, Pinchas said. But that standard of living needs to be financed, and the stipends and subsidies that traditionally served as the financial backbone of the community can hardly provide for basic needs.

The men who left the yeshiva world in his native Bnei Brak, Pinchas said, were once looked down upon, but now it is accepted that a haredi Jew can avidly keep the mitzvot while maintaining a secular profession.

Haredim are worried about their children

By Raz Smalsky, Haaretz April 2008

“In Haredi families, the decision to purchase an apartment preoccupies the parents from the moment the children are born, and there is a constant effort to find sources of funding…”

The gamach (a free loan fund) is a common source of funding whose advantage lies in the fact that the loan is interest-free

“In the Haredi sector there is a gamach for every purpose: diapers, pacifiers, weddings and apartments.

The main problem is that the owner of the gamach can demand immediate payment of the loan, and then begins the phenomenon of using several gamachs – taking from the second in order to cover the first.

There are people who have loans in 20 gamachim for sums of $70,000. They run around all day long trying to raise money to cover the loans,” explains Sharett.

Settling for less-than-pure principles

By Matthew Wagner, April 4, 2008

Haredim who opposed the Zionist enterprise from the outset as a dangerous antagonizing of the gentiles of the world are now spearheading the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, arguably the most controversial endeavor ever undertaken by the modern Jewish nation.

…the change in the haredi approach to settlement activity is primarily a product of circumstances and convenience.

As dependence on cheap housing beyond the Green Line has grown, the purist haredi apprehension about inciting the gentiles has been replaced by various rationalizations.

Settlements are their religion

By Uzi Benziman, Haaretz Opinion April 2, 2008

This is a crazy reality:

The force currently pushing forward the demand to beef up Jewish settlements in the territories belongs to a segment of the population that is not prepared to bear the burden involved in this, and whose basic attitude toward the state is one of alienation and differentiation.

How long will the general public stand for this?

Unsettling times

By Michael Green, April 7, 2008

Last month [the] government announceme[d] that a new 700-home neighborhood would be built to the west of the main settlement of Givat Ze’ev…

Givat Ze’ev residents are also worried about the new development, albeit for entirely different reasons.

Agan Ha’ayalot, designed as a neighborhood for haredim from outside the Givat Ze’ev bloc, will not serve the housing needs of current residents, who are experiencing rocketing property prices. It also threatens to upset the present sense of balance between the community’s religious and secular residents.

While the recent media furor over Agan Ha’ayalot has largely fallen on deaf ears in Givat Ze’ev, some fear that a new haredi neighborhood could unsettle the equilibrium among Givat Ze’ev’s diverse populous.

The new development is geographically separate from the main town of Givat Ze’ev, over three km. along a winding road, and will effectively become a new satellite settlement that will significantly expand the western border of the overall settlement bloc.

Haredim riot to try to stop in-flight movie

By Zohar Blumenkrantz, Haaretz April 7, 2008

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish passengers yesterday rioted during a Kiev-bound El Al flight, trying to prevent the screening of an in-flight movie, according to eye-witnesses.

The passengers, who allegedly started to shout and forcibly prevented the screens from opening, claimed they had been promised that no in-flight movies would be shown.

“It was a scary sight,” a passenger said. El Al’s flights to the Ukrainian capital mostly serve religious Jews en route to the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, located in the town of Uman.

Yeshiva students enroll in investment consultancy course

By David Regev, April 6, 2008

Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor launches project aimed at incorporating ultra-Orthodox into workforce. ‘Not everyone is suited for the yeshiva way of life,’ student says.

Religion and State in Israel

April 7, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

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