Religion and State in Israel – April 28, 2008 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

April 28, 2008 (Section 1) (continued from Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Man strips in protest of bread sale during Passover

By Avi Cohen, April 22, 2008

Arieh Yerushalmi said that he entered the Tiv Taam store in Bat Yam’s industrial zone at 2:20 pm.

He noticed a group of minors and waited for them to leave. After they left, he said, he called the police and reported that there was a nude person in the store.

He then walked over to the bread counter and took all his clothes off, apart from a sock covering his private parts.

[Yerushalmi] explained that he could not be prosecuted for an indecent act in public, because according to the court’s interpretation of the leavened food law, a supermarket is not considered a public place. He even wrote on his stomach, “This isn’t public???

In his investigation, [Yerushalmi] claimed that he was a yeshiva student studying in different yeshivot in Bat Yam.

Protesting the Sale of Hametz during Passover Week April 24, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

A large group of haredi demonstrators protest about Jerusalem eateries selling hametz during the week of Passover.

Hametz law sparks protests in Jerusalem

By Neta Sela, April 22, 2008

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Israelis demonstrated on Tuesday in Jerusalem’s Sabbath Square, in protest against the court’s ruling in favor of the sale of leavened bread during Passover.

Facing them were only ten secular Jews, most of them from Tel Aviv, demonstrating in favor of the ruling. The seculars waved banners with anti-haredi slogans, and three of the demonstrators were detained by the police and later released.

One of the secular demonstrators admitted that those wishing to buy leavened bread on Passover could do so with ease, and explained that the issue was a principle.

“It’s time religion was put in its place and everyone will be allowed to do as they please,” he said. “The country and its institutions must be free of religion.”

Good news for pluralism

Haaretz Editorial April 23, 2008

The change, as we have said, is not great, but it brings a pleasant message for secular people, many of whom believe that they have already lost the battle against religious coercion.

It turns out that this very coercion, with the sense of power among the ultra-Orthodox and national-religious politicians that has accompanied it in recent years, has achieved exactly the opposite of what it intended. And while the debate surrounding the minor ruling from Jerusalem continues to rage, reality has come and emptied it of content, along with the Chametz Law itself.

The path of separating religion and the state is still long, and in the Israel of 2008 there are still many signs of religiosity that accompany Israelis nearly everywhere. Still, this Pesach marks an important and positive step.

Chametz law? Much ado over nothing

By Yehuda Ben Meir, Haaretz April 24, 2008

The writer is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

To see how far the politicians pretending to represent Religious Zionism have strayed from its original ideology, we need only look at the religious politicians’ furor about nothing over Magistrate Court’s Judge Tamar Bar-Asher-Zaban’s ruling on the interpretation of the Chametz Law.

[The chametz law’s] precise and limited wording: “A business owner will not put a chametz product on public display.” There is no ban on selling chametz or serving it, only on “displaying” it “in public.”

It is a great pity that Knesset members pretending to represent Religious Zionism are following the ultra-Orthodox extremism.

Matza brawl

By Matthew Wagner, April 26, 2008

Lawmakers ruled that it was inappropriate to openly display hametz, even though there is no halachic prohibition against seeing the stuff, only owning it or deriving benefit from it. (The opinions are split on whether it is permissible to enjoy the smell of hametz on Pessah.)

There is a fundamental argument between haredim and religious Zionists over the legitimacy of using legislation to enforce religious observance in inherently personal matters, such as selling hametz on Pessah.

Generally speaking, haredi rabbis are much more inclined to use legislation as a means of enforcing halacha. In contrast, religious Zionists tend to support laws that are not solely halachic in nature but also have a nationalist element, such as the hametz law.

The Zionists’ bread and butter

By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz April 24, 2008

When Trade Minister Eli Yishai of Shas or MK Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism promise to pass a law that will bypass the ruling of Judge Tamar Bar-Asher Zaban, it is almost self-explanatory.

But in extremist circles, to whom the Eda caters, there is a longstanding debate regarding the boundaries of protest against what is done outside the borders of the ultra-Orthodox community.

Since the anti-Zionist view has it that even under Zionist rule, the Exile continues, what difference does it make to an ultra-Orthodox person what the Zionists do?

The members of the Satmar Hasidic sect, for example, claim that a true extremist will ignore what is happening in the secular neighborhoods of the city.

On the other hand, the demonstration earlier this week is part of a trend toward stepped-up efforts by the ultra-Orthodox, including those anti-Zionist circles that are not represented in the Knesset, to fight against the symbols of the Jewish state.

Court applies Law of Return to Messianic Jews because of fathers

By Dan Izenberg, April 23, 2008

Messianic Jews are entitled to Israeli citizenship according to the Law of Return if their father is Jewish, according to a precedent-setting ruling handed down last week by the High Court of Justice.

Fifteen years ago, the court rejected a petition by Messianic Jews who demanded to be recognized as Jews so as to automatically receive Israeli citizenship according to the Law of Return. In that landmark case, the court ruled that Messianic Jews had converted, and therefore were no longer Jewish.

Since then, the state has refused to grant all requests for citizenship according to the Law of Return by Messianic Jews.

Two years ago, however, a number of new immigrants to Israel belonging to the Messianic Jewish community petitioned the High Court after the Interior Ministry refused to grant them new immigrant status and citizenship according to the Law of Return.

These petitioners, represented by attorneys Yehuda Raveh and Calev Myers, argued that they were eligible for new immigrant status and citizenship because they were the offsprings of fathers who were Jewish, not because they themselves were Jewish according to the definition of “Who is a Jew” in the Law of Return.

‘One day they told me I’m no longer Jewish’

By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz April 25, 2008

About a year and a half ago, Svetlana Zakolodkin and her daughter Anastasia were summoned to the Interior Ministry’s Population Registrar and told that as far as the state was concerned, they were no longer Jewish.

Clerk Mila Moskowitz confiscated their identity cards and said they would not be getting new ones unless they signed a request to change their status to non-Jewish, they said. She gave them new cards, in which the religion and nationality boxes were left empty.

Their lawyer, Attorney Nicole Maor from the [Israel Religious Action Center], says that a signature obtained under pressure cannot be considered consent.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad commented, “In general, a request to change the listed religion and nationality is made after it has been proved unequivocally that the initial registration was based on false documents.”

Haddad said the ministry does not alter these details without the family members’ consent and signature. She dismissed the claims that the change was forced.

An Uneasy Status Quo

By Netta C. Gross, The Jerusalem Report April 28, 2008

Last year, assisted by Jerusalem matrimonial lawyer Susan Weiss, founder of the Center for Justice for Women, a non-profit women’s rights advocacy group in Jerusalem, Avraham sued the Justice Ministry, which bears legal responsibility for the state’s religious courts, and her ex-husband for 1 million shekels (approximately $286,000) in damages for the wasted years and alleged judicial missteps. No trial date has been set yet.

Weiss, founder of the Center, argues that turning a Jewish husband’s religious right to withhold a divorce into a civil wrong that can harm his wife makes get-refusal a “perfect tort”- a wrongful act that causes injury, for which the law must award monetary damages. Some 25 such cases have been filed since 2000.

[Israel’s] early leaders promised the religious parties to anchor some dominant cultural/religious Jewish issues in law.

These assurances morphed into what became known as the “status quo” – an accommodation based on four principles: exclusive religious court jurisdiction on personal status; public and official observance of the Sabbath; kosher food in government institutions; and autonomy for religious schools.

As the first defense minister, Ben-Gurion also issued a small number of military deferments to ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, in order to revitalize Jewish centers of learning wiped out after the European Holocaust.

Israel recognizes overseas adoption by gay couple, grants child citizenship

By Tomer Zarchin, Haaretz April 25, 2008

The landmark case involves a Cambodia-born boy, now eight years old, who was adopted in 2000 in the United States by two men who hold American and Israeli citizenship.

Following his adoption, the boy received American citizenship and was also converted to Judaism.

The parents returned to Israel shortly after the adoption, but their applications to the Interior Ministry to recognize the adoption and grant their child citizenship were unsuccessful.

Since 2001, the child has lived in Israel on a temporary residence visa that is extended annually.

Rabbi calls for ‘rehabilitation of gays’

Rabbi Arussi chief rabbi of Kiryat Ono, near Tel Aviv wrote:

“We need to know how to deal with homosexuality, which is the sin of our time, and woe to us for having come to this. We need to know how to deal with those sons of Israel born as homosexuals, in order to ease their pain, and to show them that there are other ways to find true happiness.”

‘Standing at attention for Remembrance Day siren worthless’

By Nitsan Yanko, April 24, 2008

Just before Israel marks its Holocaust Remembrance Day and memorial day for the fallen IDF soldiers, Religious Council head’ of Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel, Rabbi Hanania Tsfar, is speaking against the customary ceremonies.

Standing at attention while the siren is sounded “is worthless,” writes Tsfar in a letter sent to the head of the local Yad Labanim commemoration organization. By his standards, it is better to recite Psalms and Kaddish during that time.

Tsfar also asked Yad Labanim not to lay wreaths on gravesites and memorials, since it is considered “gentile practice.”

Employers cheating a third of workers of Shabbat overtime

By Haim Bior, Haaretz April 22, 2008

About 327,000 workers, 15% of all salaried employees in Israel, work on their day of rest, according to a study conducted by the Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry’s Research and Economics Administration.

The ministry and the Histadrut labor federation say that 30% of these workers are not paid the higher wage to which they are entitled for such work.

Nearly 60% of all salary earners who work on their day of rest say they are allowed no alternative day off, as required by law. A small minority, 9%, reported that they received alternative days of rest, but not regularly.

El Al entering low-cost commercial flights market

By Zohar Blumenkrantz, Haaretz April 22, 2008

El Al subsidiary Sun D’Or, has filed a formal application to the civil aviation authorities to become a commercial airline.

Sun D’Or would also fly on Saturdays and holidays, when El Al does not operate. Saturday flights are especially important for the New York route, although the line’s current fleet does not have craft with the capacity for such long-distance flights.

Transatlantic flights would require the company to lease wide-body planes from El Al, a move that could generate strong opposition from that airline’s Orthodox Jewish clientele.

On Israel’s Only Jewish-Run Pig Farm, It’s The Swine That Bring Home the Bacon

By Jeffrey Yoskowitz, The Forward April 24, 2008

Click here for Jeffrey Yoskowitz’s blog The Wet Sprocket

“Spending this year mucking about in Israel and making sometimes poignant, often irrelevant observations…with a bizarre fixation on pigs.”

Toward the end of January, I moved onto Kibbutz Lahav in an effort to understand the phenomenon of pigs in Israel.

While there are a number of similar farms in Israel, Kibbutz Lahav is unique because, as its slogan suggests, it is “the meat from the Kibbutz.”

All the other pig breeders operate in a zone in the North dominated by Christian Arabs, the only place where raising pork is legal, according to a 1962 law. Kibbutz Lahav, a Jewish-run farm, proudly operates outside the legal zone.

One day after work, when changing out of my coveralls and knee-high boots, a new immigrant from Brazil, Yehoshua, was discussing his former religiosity with Marcos when he mentioned in passing that he still didn’t eat pork.

“Me neither,” I interrupted their conversation, excited to discover I wasn’t alone. “I keep kosher.”

A Torah expert faults the rabbis

By Yair Sheleg, Haaretz April 23, 2008

“Jewish halakhic decisions,” says Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber, “tended throughout most of the generations to be user-friendly.

This argument is not new, of course. For many years it was voiced by Conservative and Reform Jews, women’s organizations and ordinary liberal religious Jews.

The innovation lies in the speaker, his background and the knowledge that he brings to his argument.

An Israel Prize laureate for his Talmudic research, Sperber is president of the Institute of Advanced Torah Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

A renowned scholar of Jewish law and the Talmud, he also is the rabbi of a congregation the neighborhood where he lives in Jerusalem, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

Temple rebuilt

By Ofer Petersburg, April 22, 2008

A grandiose museum featuring an elaborated massive replica of the Temple is currently being erected opposite the Western Wall.

The three-storey museum, whose construction is valued at nearly $20 million will be erected in the Aish HaTorah Yeshiva complex. The museum will feature a journey through Jewish history, from the days of Abraham to the present, emphasizing the message and significance of the Jewish people’s presence in the Land of Israel and their degree of accomplishment in world improvement.

In addition to the great lavish interior, the museum’s crowning glory is no doubt the massive amphitheater, whose cost is being sponsored by veteran Hollywood star Kirk Douglas, and his no less famous son, Michael.

The amphitheater will feature a three-dimensional film depicting the history of the Jewish nation over a huge glass screen through which one can see the Western Wall. The museum will also include a learning center with a VIP wing to host movie stars, politicians and other celebrities from Israel and abroad.

It can happen in the best of families

By Avi Novis-Deutsch, Haaretz April 25, 2008

The writer is rabbi of Mayanot Congregation in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood, is a volunteer at the national religious hotline for abused men and youth (02-532-8000).

Until not long ago, most of us had hardly heard about cases of familial violence within ultra-Orthodox society, so the recent media reports have come as something of a shock.

It may be hard to imagine such things happening in any family, let alone among those whose lives are led in such close observance of Jewish law. It would be a mistake, however, to lump all the recent cases in the same category.

There is, in fact, little to link violence that appears to be motivated by a religious authority, and sexual violence and incest that are committed by ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Hi-tech Torah learning

By JJ Levine, April 27, 2008

Rabbi Chaim Brovender, who founded local institutions Yeshivat Hamivtar and Midreshet Lindenbaum, is the head and founder of Web Yeshiva.

The Web Yeshiva broadcasts shiurim at all hours of the day, with the goal of fitting into busy schedules – and a wide range of time zones.

The staff includes both male and female teachers from respected yeshivot and seminaries. The co-ed nature of the Web Yeshiva (with the exception of certain classes on sensitive topics) makes it stand out in the Orthodox world.

Battling over hearts and minds with Hasidic songs and live performances

By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz April 22, 2008

This was yet another round, and certainly not the last, in one of the most bitterest cultural wars in the ultra-Orthodox community in years.

Contrary to the struggles being waged by the ultra-Orthodox public against external factors such as the Shefa Shuk supermarket chain (for violating the Sabbath), he said, “Here it’s a struggle that relates to the youth, and the rabbis have no control over the youth.

The rabbis don’t give the youth any kind of prize – it is forbidden to go to the movies or to performances. So what is left? To read [the ultra-Orthodox writer] Haim Walder? They have to get a bit of freedom. It is the holiday between terms now.”

Cover story

By Lea Golda Holterman, Haaretz April 25, 2008

Introduction by Avirama Golan

This is not a fashion show. Not that there’s no fashion in Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) neighborhoods. There is. Most definitely. Elite fashion that often comes with a very high price tag.

But the women that photographer Lea Golda Holterman met wanted to show her something else, something dear to their hearts and to their lifestyle, something that transcends fashion, fabrics and outfits.

For individual Cover Stories, click here:

Miri Schneerson ; Rivka Zilberschlag ; Rivka David ; Orly Spitzer ; Zilberschlag ; Shari Mondrovitz

Haredi VC fund invests in aviation sensor start-up

By Shahar Zadok and Yaniv Magal, April 24, 2008

Bashalva was launched two months ago to specialize in investment in the haredi (ultra-orthodox) community. It has raised $5 million, and is managed by Yosef Boimgarten. The company’s offices are located in Kiryat Belz in Jerusalem.

Bashalva will invest NIS 1.1 million in Verifuel Ltd., a new start-up founded by Aviv Tzidon, at a company value of NIS 7 million.

Religion and State in Israel

April 28, 2008 (Section 1) (continued from Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

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