Religion and State in Israel – April 28, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

April 28, 2008 (Section 2) (continues in Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Evangelicals visit for Israel’s 60th

By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10 April 22, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

Last week, 3,000 evangelical Christian worshippers and preachers from around the United States visited Israel in a trip celebrating 60 years of independence.

The trip was led by Joel Rosenberg, the son of a Jewish man and a Christian woman, who found Jesus at a young age and became a famous preacher.

Celebrating Passover & Easter in The Holy Land

Click here for VIDEO April 23, 2008

The Jerusalem municipality has assessed that up to a million people will visit the Old City and the Western Wall over the Passover holiday in addition to the thousands of Christian pilgrims touring the holy sites.

On Tuesday a beefed up security presence guarded the crowds that thronged to the Old City.

Hundreds of Greek Orthodox pilgrims celebrating Easter marched towards the Qasr el Yahud site near Jericho on Tuesday before being baptized in the Jordan River. In order to cater for the influx of pilgrims celebrating Easter the army opened the baptism sites located next to the Jordanian border.

Holy Fire at Holy Sepulcher April 27, 2008

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Thousands of worshippers crowded Christianity’s holiest shrine in Jerusalem on Saturday to celebrate Easter Week’s holy fire ritual.

Hundreds of police were deployed in and around the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City to control an estimated 10,000 pilgrims.

Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried where the church now stands. On the day before Easter, churches mark the holy fire ritual. It’s in honor of the belief that a holy fire appears spontaneously from Jesus’ tomb as a message that he has not forgotten by his followers.

Cross-denominational prayer to hit TA beach Friday

By Matthew Wagner, April 24, 2008

In one of the first cross-denominational prayer endeavors of its kind, Conservative, Reform and independent congregations will join together Friday evening on the Tel Aviv beachfront to commemorate the splitting of the Red Sea and to pray for the speedy release of captive soldiers Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Schalit.

Beit Daniel (Reform), Beit Tefila Israelit (independent), Tiferet Shalom (Conservative) and Havurat Tel Aviv (Conservative) will put aside liturgical differences to join in prayer on the night that, according to Jewish tradition, God split the Red Sea and brought the Jewish people out of Egypt.

A history repeated

Photo by Keren Manor

Red letters in the center of the banner read “Passover Seder for the African Refugees in Israel.”

Tal Shaked, director of Bina’s Secular Yeshiva, collaborated with Esteban Gottfried, director of Beit Tefilah, to organize the evening’s content, including creating a special version of the haggada.

Bina director Eran Baruch elaborates on the link between the Exodus story and the story of the refugees attending the seder.

“Bina’s mission is to make Jewish texts and culture relevant. What’s more relevant than talking about Pessah? Celebrating with people who just a few weeks ago came out of slavery to freedom here.”

Certifying kosher social values

By Daphna Berman, Haaretz April 25, 2008 [article may not appear in online edition]

The organization behind the project, Bema’aglei Tzedek, launched the social seal [“tav chevrati”] in 2005. It has caught on fast in Jerusalem, where some 140 cafes and restaurants to date now boast the certificate on their walls.

The social seal – a kosher certificate for social values – is based on the notion that consumers can engage in acts of social justice even as they carry on their daily lives.

The Demise of Ideology

If the oleh, literally the ascender, was once admired, and the yored, literally descender, was once frowned upon, that paradigm has been turned upside down.

Attitudes towards aliya and yerida, and even the very nature of aliya and yerida, have undergone a radical transformation in the 60 years since the establishment of the state.

…In an era in which ideology has lost its hold, the labels of oleh and yored are meaningless, and lifestyle is what interests people.

It is that issue that may ultimately determine what brings Jews to – and keeps Jews in – Israel.

“You can offer tax breaks to olim and returning residents. You can market Israel. But in the grand scheme of things,” says Ben-David, “what matters is: Is this a place where you want to raise your kids? You don’t need to cajole or buy people off if you make this a great place to live.”

Revolutionizing Diaspora Ties

The writer is founding president of the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (established by the Jewish Agency) and professor emeritus of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

As an essential first step, we must abandon some of the basic assumptions that have dominated Israeli attitudes towards the Diaspora for the past 60 years and replace them with a new ideological and conceptual base.

Israel should no longer regard the Diaspora condition as temporary, pathological and dangerous. Instead, Israel must accept the Diaspora as a permanent and fully legitimate part of the Jewish people, essential for Israel’s future and the future of the Jewish people as a whole.

Can Israeli Judaism survive?

By Uri Orbach, April 22, 2008

In America, non-Orthodox Jews feel that they cannot do much to resolve the problem, and that the danger of assimilation is immediate and daily.

Here in Israel, Israelis treat Judaism as something that is taken for granted.

Yet there are certainly concerns that in less than a generation, and upon the immigration of more non-Jews, the growing separation of religion and state, and the Jewish-cultural weakening of the State, we will face a crisis reminiscent of the one faced by American Jews.

Voluntary and involuntary Judaism

By Gil Troy, April 23, 2008

…living in a sovereign Jewish state, much Israeli Judaism becomes involuntary, either compulsory or automatic.

The law forces Israeli Jews to marry and divorce via the rabbinate, but other Jewish elements are simply givens in Israel, from speaking Hebrew to observing Jewish holy days as national holidays. More fundamentally, the state’s Jewishness shapes perceptions of Judaism as a force intimately linked to state power.

By contrast, most North American Judaism is voluntary, divorced from the commandments, law, or even faith in God.

Rabbi Sherlo: Redesign synagogues, for women’s sake April 25, 2008

The public must sit down and find the way to design the synagogue in order to make women an inseparable part of the prayer, Rabbi Yuval Sherlo ruled Thursday.

Sherlo, head of the hesder yeshiva in Petach Tikva and one of Religious Zionism’s most prominent rabbis, explained that he did not believe there were any halachic rules in regards to this issue, stating that “this is obvious.”

Rabbi Melamed: Revoke citizenship of non-Jews

By Kobi Nahshoni, April 28, 2008

“There must be legislation allowing Jewish people everywhere in the world to become Israeli citizens, even if they do not live here,” asserted Rabbi Zalman Melamed on Sunday at a conference debating Torah-derived teachings as they pertain to minority issues in Israel.

“Even those with a democratic viewpoint understand that we must limit the rights of those who wish to harm the State. There are many non-Jews in Israel who are striving to undermine the country,” he said at the conference.

“These people should not be able to vote who sits in the Knesset or determine who leads the country. The law must dictate that the subversive cannot be citizens.”

Melamed is regarded as an influential authority in the Religious Zionism movement and currently serves as Beit El’s chief rabbi.

President Peres meets with Rabbis

By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz and Hillel Fendel, April 24, 2008

President Peres also discussed with Rabbi Yosef, and later with Rabbi Metzger and Rabbi Amar, three central initiatives he is undertaking related to the religious sector, the Jewish character of Israel and Jewish unity.

The first initiative Peres discussed was the problem of poverty in the haredi-religious sector and ways to make it easier for haredi-religious men and women to join the workforce.

He suggested that the issue could be addressed in ways that would take the haredi cultural norms into account.

By way of example, President Peres suggested that certain computer-intensive jobs could be carried out by way of telecommuting from the homes of working haredi women or men.

The second initiative the President mentioned to the rabbis was the active encouragement of greater unity between religious and secular citizens of Israel. He said he was launching a public campaign to that end, which would last for several weeks, leading up to and culminating with Israeli Independence Day.

Religious-Zionist parties look to unite

By Gil Hoffman, April 23, 2008

…a new grassroots effort to unify all the religious-Zionist parties led by Avraham Brun, who for 25 years served as general-director of Yeshivot Hesder Association.

Brun has created a Hebrew Web site called Reshima Achat (One List) that has sought the endorsement of rabbis, politicians and the public at large for the idea.

So far, Brun has posted endorsements from people on the Left, currently and formerly connected to Meimad, such as party founder Rabbi Yehuda Amital and former MK Rabbi Yehuda Gilad. He also has the support of Marzel and right-wing rabbis like Dov Lior of Hebron and Zalman Melamed of Beit El.

Revolutionary Ideas to Bolster Religious-Zionist Camp

By Hillel Fendel, April 25, 2008

Will the religious-Zionist Knesset camp continue to decline?

Dr. Asher Cohen of Bar Ilan University has proposed that an open primaries be held, inviting all those in the country who identify with the goals of the religious-nationalist camp to participate and choose the religious-Zionist party’s future MKs.

Rabbi Yisrael Rosenne of Gush Etzion has another idea. He heads the Zomet Institute for Torah and Science and is a regular columnist in the weekly Shabbat B’Shabato synagogue pamphlet, one of the main mouthpieces of religious-Zionism.

Disaffected, some religious Zionists turn against Israel

By Dina Kraft, JTA April 10, 2008

Religious Zionists once revered state institutions almost as if they were holy vessels, part of God’s plan for restoring Jewish hegemony in the Land of Israel and creating an Israeli state as a precursor to the messianic era.

Indeed, the prayer for the state published in 1948 by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, which for decades was repeated every Sabbath in religious Zionist synagogues, referred to the State of Israel as the beginning of the “flowering of the redemption.”

But now a few religious Zionists are turning against the state.

“God is my final authority, and we don’t recognize you,” another teenage Jewish settler reportedly shouted at a Jerusalem court earlier this year.

Convicted Shas MK to be replaced by Ethiopian Rabbi

By Hillel Fendel, April 27, 2008

Shas MK Shlomo Benizri, sentenced to 1.5 years in prison and an 80,000-shekel fine, will be replaced in the Knesset by Ethiopian Rabbi Mazor Bahaina.

Contacted by Arutz-7, Rabbi Bahaina said he immigrated to Israel at the age of 11 in 1982 (nine years before the weekend airlift of nearly 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in Operation Shlomo).

“We walked from Ethiopia to Sudan, and there we waited in camps until being brought to Israel,” he said.

Young Mazor studied in the Yeshivat HaDarom yeshiva high school in Rehovot, then in a hareidi-religious yeshiva in Bnei Brak, then in the Sephardic yeshiva Porat Yosef in Jerusalem.

Known as a Torah scholar, he ran many social-educational projects in Jerusalem and Be’er Sheva. He now serves as the rabbi of the 10,000-strong Ethiopian Jewish community in Be’er Sheva, and is a member of the Be’er Sheva Municipal Council.

Religion and State in Israel

April 28, 2008 (Section 2) (continues in Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

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