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

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Religion and State in Israel

June 2, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Reform Judaism should not enter Israeli politics

By Rabbi Michael Marmur, Opinion June 2, 2008

The writer is Dean of the Jerusalem school of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion

We Reform Jews should visit the Knesset often, but as a Movement we should not try to get a permanent address there.

Those who remind us that as long as we stay outside the political system we will remain powerless to effect change and to channel state resources are accurate – but the price to be paid for becoming yet another political party is too high.

I predict that in the coming years some of the extraordinary men and women studying for the non-Orthodox rabbinate in Israel and in other leadership development programs will become Members of the Knesset and in time government ministers.

They will do so, however, through the channel of existing political parties.

As a Movement, our challenge is to find a way of being relevant and responsible, while avoiding the usual scourges of the political life: compromise, mediocrity, and corruption.

Education Minister Urges Reform Figures to “Take Advantage” of Her Term in Office

By Yechiel Sever, Dei’ah veDibur May 29, 2008

“Yuli Tamir has failed as Education Minister in all she has done,” MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni commented in response.

“During her term the education system has not elevated itself or succeeded in any area.

Now she is trying to make use of the Reform Movement which, like her, has not succeeded in its educational institutions. At the same time she is not helping chareidi education at all.

[Her remarks at the conference] demonstrate she is totally desperate and has given up on her post. My heart goes out to her, but here too there is no cause for alarm. Be’eizer Hashem nothing will come of this either.”

UJC halts aid to Falash Mura in Ethiopia

By Ruth Eglash, June 2, 2008

The United Jewish Communities (UJC), the chief fundraising arm of American Jewry, officially halted its sponsorship of aid programs in northern Ethiopia last week, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The funds provided relief to thousands of Falash Mura hoping to make aliya under Israel’s Law of Entry.

In an internal memo recently sent to executives of the nineteen largest federations in the UJC system, UJC President and CEO Howard Rieger informed the federations that funds raised in a special campaign dubbed Operation Promise (OP), which was intended in part to help Ethiopian Jewry, have run out.

Cabinet to rethink Falashmura immigration

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz May 27, 2008

The cabinet is set to reconsider its decision to cease bringing members of the Ethiopian Falashmura community to Israel, and it may order evaluating the eligibility of another 8,700 Falashmura.

…The government has so far remained adamant about ending the Falashmura immigration, but after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was pressured, it decided to revisit the issue.

“If the government changes its decision, it will cause total chaos,” a senior Jewish Agency official said.

“If all the set frameworks are broken, it will never be possible to stop them coming, although they are not Jews and have no connection to Judaism.”

Gates to close on Falashmura Jews

By Gabi Newman, May 27, 2008

If a change in policy does not occur soon, the Falashmura aliyah from Ethiopia will be officially halted next month.

In the meantime, however, 8,700 members of the denomination wait in total lack of certainty while practicing the Jewish faith in the designated camp in the Gondar area of their home country.

Leviev refusing to open Africa Israel tower parking lot in Tel Aviv on Shabbat

By Guy Liberman, Haaretz May 27, 2008

Lev Leviev, an observant businessman, doesn’t want to bow to the dictates of Tel Aviv’s high life.

The Tel Aviv municipality and Leviev’s flagship company, Africa Israel Investments, will soon attempt to bridge their differences over the operation of a public parking lot in the Africa Israel building on the city’s Ahad Ha’am St.

“Lev Leviev is an Orthodox Jew,” states a letter sent to city hall recently by Uriel Azran, director of Africa Israel’s Income-Yielding Properties Division, “and opening the parking lot on Shabbat would contradict his worldview and Africa Israel’s policy of not operating income-yielding properties on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.”

Rabbis: Rafael can work on Iron Dome on Shabbat

By Yaakov Katz, May 27, 2008

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has received special rabbinic permission to work on Shabbat on the Iron Dome anti-Kassam missile defense system, defense officials said Monday.

The rare rabbinic approval was granted following a Defense Ministry request that Rafael speed up its work on the development of the system.

“Peoples’ lives are at stake here,” an official said. “Rafael does not usually work on Shabbat but they received permission to work as much as needed to get the system operational as soon as possible.”

The children will vote tomorrow

By Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz Opinion May 27, 2008

Instead of opposing the Education Ministry’s core curriculum, [Shas Chairman Eli Yishai] should have been the first to bring science, math, history and English at the highest possible level to Shas’ El Hamaayan system, in order to advance his community.

But Yishai does not want education or work. He wants ignorant, weak, docile supporters who are dependent on him.

Yishai is looking only at the short term, at the upcoming elections.

But he must understand that the secular donkey will not be able to carry an increasingly large Haredi community on its back forever if its members do not go out and work.

The burden will be too heavy. And one day, the crisis, and the budget cuts, will arrive, as happened in 2003.

Child welfare doesn’t benefit society

By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz Opinion June 2, 2008

Minister Eli Yishai should remember that raising the child welfare benefits from the dead is quite likely to resurrect the Shinui party or lead the anti-Haredi party to reinvent itself in another form.

He would also do well to prepare himself for another round of protests sounding the call of “Just Not Shas.”

World Congress of Russian Jewry to open branch in Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz May 27, 2008

The World Congress of Russian Jewry (WCRJ) decided at its general assembly in Jerusalem last week to open a branch in Israel, headed by former MK Gennady Riger.

Backed by the Russian government, the WCRJ seeks to maintain Russian expatriates’ ties with their former country.

The governing council of the organization’s new branch will include Knesset members from Kadima, the Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu.

The WCRJ’s head, Russian parliamentarian Boris Shpigel, told Haaretz that the group is financed by private contributions.

UK Zionist Federation chairman makes aliya

, June 1, 2008

Andrew Balcombe wears many hats: he is a successful businessman, the chairman of the UK’s Zionist Federation, and a new oleh, depending on the time zone. Last week, he and his wife, Jean, made aliya from London to Jerusalem.

In discussing the growing trend of young families making aliya from England, Balcombe described a “deteriorating” Jewish community.

Many chose Israel because of its “vibrant Jewish environment,” he said, and Israel provided a freedom for children to be Jewish and to express it proudly.

Cloistered Shame in Israel

By Tim McGirk with reporting by Aaron J. Klein, May. 28, 2008

“The Haredim are shocked by these cases,” says Noach Korman, a Haredi attorney in the rabbinical court that adjudicates family and religious law, and the director of a shelter for battered wives.

“At first they said, ‘These people are crazy, they don’t belong to us.’ But now I hear Haredi voices saying: ‘We should examine ourselves and not close our eyes to why these things are happening.’

Haredi protests stymie autopsy

By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz May 30, 2008

A Haredi man from Jerusalem was laid to rest without an autopsy yesterday, ending four days of protests by his community against the prosecution’s original decision to perform the post-mortem. David Williger’s car went up in flames on Monday after it was struck by a truck.

The prosecution wanted to conduct an autopsy to determine whether he died in the crash, or from other causes before the accident occurred, as some evidence indicated.

His family, however, objected, and community rabbis sanctioned a series of protests that eventually led to the post-mortem being shelved.

Haredi workers in Jerusalem factories up sixfold since 2000

Factories across the country employ about 20,000 haredim, out of which 11,000 are women.

According to a survey conducted by the Israel Manufacturers’ Association in the capital, the majority of haredim are employed in the hi-tech and computer programming industry.

In the majority of factories employing haredim, they make up between 2% and 10% of the total work force.

Where rabbis may tread

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz May 30, 2008

…Poor McCain, and poor Hagee. If he had been a rabbi, instead of a pastor, he could have gotten away with it.

Another rabbi, this time a living one, who has been very free with Holocaust analogies is Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who eight years ago said that Holocaust victims were “reincarnations of souls who committed sins.”

Yosef caused a minor public storm, but it quickly blew over. He is still the spiritual leader of a major coalition party, and the country’s leaders regularly ask him to support their policies.

Name changes stir up a storm

Despite the objections of dozens of residents and some councilors, Netanya’s Municipal Names Committee has voted to change the names of two streets in the city, reports

In the first controversial case, the committee overrode the protests of many residents and some councilors and decided to change the current Rehov Max Nordau to that of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

According to the report, the protesters said that while they had no intrinsic objection to the idea of a street being named after the Lubavitcher Rebbe, this should not be at the expense of a Zionist pioneer such as Max Nordau, who founded the World Zionist Organization together with Theodor Herzl.

Islamic-era skeletons ‘disappeared’ from Elad-sponsored dig

By Meron Rapoport, Haaretz June 1, 2008

Dozens of skeletons from the early Islamic period were discovered during excavations near the Temple Mount, on a site slated for construction by a right-wing Jewish organization.

Contrary to regulations, the skeletons were removed, and were not reported to the Ministry of Religious Services. The Israel Antiquities Authority termed the incident “a serious mishap.”

IAA regulations require that any graves discovered be reported immediately to the Religious Services Ministry and to Atra Kadisha, an ultra-Orthodox organization dedicated to preserving ancient Jewish grave sites.

The divided life of Adam Baruch

By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz May 28, 2008

Adam Baruch wrote countless words about that “religious background,” derived from his grandfather, Rabbi Wachtfogel, head of the Mea Shearim Yeshiva, and from Rabbi Yagel, head of the yeshiva in Pardes Hannah where Baruch attended high school.

This background was reflected in the thousands of midrashim (rabbinical exegesis) and halakhic rulings that he quoted, interpreted and explained for many years in his column Shishi (“Friday”), and in the many books of halakha that he authored: Seder Yom (Daily Routine), B’tom Lev (In Good Faith) and Hayenu (Our Lives).

But Baruch, who never dared to reveal his bare head, had more than a religious background – he had an internal religious divide.

Religion and State in Israel

June 2, 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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