Religion and State in Israel – June 30, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

June 30, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Controversial Deliberations over ‘Killed In Action’ Ruling

By Avi Tuchmayer, June 25, 2008

Click here for VIDEO interview with former IDF Chief Rabbi

Former IDF Chief Rabbi Yisrael Weiss explains the decision-making process of determining if the captives are alive or dead.

The rabbis’ role in determining death

By Matthew Wagner, June 29, 2008

OC Chaplaincy Corps Rabbi Avichai Ronsky is responsible for deciding whether or not Goldwasser should be declared “a deceased soldier whose place of burial is unknown.”

Rabbi Yisrael Weiss, former OC Chaplaincy Corps, who in 2001 declared deceased three soldiers a year after they were kidnapped from an IDF base on the Golan Heights, said that various types of evidence were acceptable according to Jewish law.

The rabbi who freed 1,000 agunot

By Yair Ettinger, June 26, 2008

In his vast halakhic treatise, Yabia Omer, Rabbi Yosef devoted long chapters to the matter of agunot, and to the halakhic principles whereby some 1,000 married women could remarry on the basis of various, partial testimonies that their husbands died.

Chief IDF Chaplain Brigadier General Avi Ronsky will not declare Goldwasser and Regev killed in action without first consulting with the supreme halakhic authority, certainly when it comes to matters relating to agunot.

What would the sages say about the agreement?

By Matthew Wagner, June 30, 2008

Perhaps the state has a special responsibility to its citizens which is more encompassing than a loosely organized, rootless community in the Diaspora?

Rabbi Shaul Israeli, who headed the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, thought so. He ruled that the relationship between the state and IDF soldiers was like the relationship between a husband and wife.

In Jewish law the husband can pay any sum of money to free his wife. No one can restrict him, even if a danger exists that enemies will exploit this.

Why did Haredim force girls to cover up at a Jerusalem ceremony?

By Yair Ettinger, June 27, 2008


From the standpoint of Jerusalem’s non-Haredi residents, the business of the ski caps and cloaks – girls forced to cover up before dancing at the ceremony Wednesday to inaugurate the Chords Bridge – is yet another stage in the city’s ongoing fall into the hands of ultra-Orthodox extremists.

But as far as the Haredim are concerned, this affair was merely the opening salvo in the mayoral campaign.

This is an internal confrontation between those seeking to become the Haredi candidate in the November elections, led by Mayor Uri Lupolianski (Degel Hatorah), and his deputy, Yehoshua Pollack.

‘Modesty police’ patrols bridge ceremony

By Neta Sela, June 26, 2008


Yaniv Hoffman, the company’s manager, slammed the decision:

“The parents and the girls were stunned and we’re completely thrown. This company has been performing in every official city event for the past 20 years and this is the first time anything like this has happened. These are 13 to 16-year-old dancers. This is art, it’s not like they’re go-go dancers.”

Jerusalem is losing it

By Uri Orbach, Opinion June 26, 2008

Perhaps it would be worthwhile for the ultra-Orthodox to also learn the art of turning a blind eye: There is no need to see everything or create a scandal over every minor issue.

This city is still shared by all of us, and I believe the ceremony was not held at the Western Wall, but rather, on a bridge used by a train.

Thousands attend J’lem pride parade

The parade has been the source of repeated debate, with many religious city councilors and a significant number of largely traditional residents considering such an event inappropriate for a “holy” city.

In years past, opposition to the parade has even united the major religious leaders in Jerusalem, producing a rare interfaith accord among Jews, Christians and Muslims.

In contrast, Jerusalem’s tiny Conservative and Reform movements have voiced their support for the event.

Gay parade takes place in Jerusalem and IBA

Click here for VIDEO [click FULL screen to view video]

Thousands attend Jerusalem Pride

By Ronen Medzini, June 26, 2008

Jonathan Ger Liebovich, Director of Jerusalem’s Open House removed a black candle from his pocket and explained:

“This candle is from the Pulsa Denura (Kabbalistic death curse) ceremony that was held against us last year. This candle will remind us that we are living in a Jewish and democratic country and we, too, are part of the democracy and part of the religion.”

Little friction surrounds J’lem Pride parade

By Jonathan Lis, June 27, 2008

“The Haredim understood this year that the fight [against the parade] is like shooting themselves in the foot,” said Sa’ar Netanel, a Meretz party member of Jerusalem’s city council.

Netanel, who also represents the city’s gay and lesbian community, said the community has been having “bad years” since Mayor Uri Lupolianski took office.

Arab pupil exempted from Torah lessons

By Noga Martin, June 26, 2008

The administration of Tel Aviv’s Balfour Elementary School has agreed to exempt an Arab pupil from Torah study at her parents’ request, Yediot Tel Aviv has reported.

“We are anti-religion,” the girl’s mother explained. “[Our] children don’t need to hear about a religion that’s not even theirs in school… We sent our children to this school because it’s in central Tel Aviv and it’s convenient for us.”

Furthermore, according to the mother, the school had cut back on Arabic language lessons and added more lesson time for Torah study. “I don’t mind that they teach them grammar, Hebrew, and geography – my kids even celebrate the Jewish holidays. We don’t mind that, but not Torah.”

Generally, Arab pupils in state schools are required to study the same subjects for the same number of hours as the school’s Jewish pupils, including Torah.

Kindergarten teachers discover how hard it is to square off with Agudat Yisrael

By Tamar Rotem, June 30, 2008

The kindergarten network affiliated with Agudat Yisrael has not paid the salaries of four kindergarten teachers and in this way has violated the decision of the regional labor tribunal.

Meanwhile the president of the National Labor Court, Judge Steve Adler, attempted to mediate between the warring sides but to no avail.

An attempt by Adler to get the teachers to join the association of Agudat Yisrael teachers met with refusal, with the teachers saying the body was not democratic and did not hold elections.

The association then promised to hold elections but said that according to Jewish law, women teachers could not participate. Meanwhile the elections, which were due to be held in January, have not been held.

Who will defend ultra-Orthodox women’s labor rights?

By Tamar Rotem, June 25, 2008

Judith Klein is a humble, shy woman and a pioneer of workers’ rights in the ultra-Orthodox community. Klein has created the first women’s workers union in her sector – and in the process incurred the wrath of many of her peers.

…An attempt by the President of the National Labor Court, Judge Stephen Adler, to broker an agreement between the kindergarten teachers and the existing Agudat Yisrael teachers union failed.

Members of the Agudat Yisrael union told Adler that they plan to hold the organization’s first election in years before January, but that in accordance with Jewish law, women cannot vote.

…Haredi papers remain mute on the issue, as a women’s organization is considered too rebellious to be given a voice.

Last week the silence was broken when a radio station aired a taped conversation between Klein and a management official.

In the recording, the man shouted at Klein that her actions were “not Jewish” and were “depraved.” After all, how dare she form an organization protecting women’s rights and ask for court protection?

MP4s are devil’s device, says Ultra-Orthodox Court

By Neta Sela, June 30, 2008

Ynet has learned that the Orthodox Righteous Court of Law had, indeed, held a session on MP4 devices.

The court ruled that the devices must be banned and issued a warning to all vendors not to stock them, saying those who do “will be subject to a court hearing,” and giving vendors three week to comply with its ruling.

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