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

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Religion and State in Israel

September 1, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Use of shofar, guitar ‘unreasonable’

By Matthew Wagner, September 1, 2008

Photos courtesy of Yosef Israel Abramowitz – The Uncensored Rants of Yossi Abramowitz

The secular head of a tourism site at Robinson’s Arch, a location adjacent to the Western Wall designated for use by the Conservative Movement, has prohibited a prayer group from using a shofar and an acoustic guitar in a bar mitzva ceremony.

Moshe Michli, who manages tourism sites for the East Jerusalem Development Company (EJDC), including the archaeological site at Robinson’s Arch, told the prayer group use of a shofar and a guitar was “unreasonable,” according to Jacob Ner-David, whose son, Adin, celebrated his bar mitzva on Sunday.

“We tried to explain to him that there was a custom of starting to blow the shofar today, the first day of the month of Elul,” said Ner-David.

“But he refused to allow us to blow it because he said it was unreasonable. In the end we snuck a shofar in and blew it anyway. But they did stop us from bringing in the guitar. It was a beautiful prayer anyway.”

According to Jewish tradition, the shofar is blown every morning after prayers beginning one month before Rosh Hashana. Most congregations begin blowing the shofar on the first day of Elul. But some congregations begin one day before that, on the 30th day of Menahem-Av.

Moshe Begaon, spokesman for the EJDC, said the use of musical instruments on the site was disruptive.

“The EJDC allows groups from the Conservative Movement to use Robinson’s Arch free of charge, even though it is not obligated to do so,” he said. “Meanwhile, there are groups who pay to get into the site.

“Now we allow the Conservatives to come in and pray quietly and leave. But we cannot allow them to do things that are not part of the worship, such as playing music and dancing, when this bothers people who pay to hear about the history of the place.”

Ner-David said the shofar was an integral part of the service.

Petition: Soldiers serving in Army Radio must not work on Shabbat

By Kobi Nahshoni, August 28, 2008

Almost 60 years have passed since Army Radio (Galatz) was opened, and now a petition to the High Court of Justice is threatening the continuance of its Shabbat broadcasts.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel has demanded that the High Court prevent the station from forcing soldiers in obligatory army service, career service or reservists from working on Shabbat and on Israel’s holidays, claiming that they are not broadcasting for security reasons and are negating General Staff orders.

The petitioners recommended that the Army Radio commander choose between employing civilian IDF workers or shutting the station down.

Ultra-Orthodox split over backing MK Meir Porush for Jerusalem mayoral candidate

By Yair Ettinger, August 29, 2008

The typical Litzman message is a good reflection of the Haredi paradox in advance of the Jerusalem mayoral elections:

Porush will be the Haredi candidate for mayor on November 11, but until the elections the cool-as-a-cucumber politician will drip gallons of sweat vis-a-vis the Haredim:

Those who will try to undermine his candidacy openly and clandestinely, and those Haredi groups that will simply sit on the fence, waiting to see what happens to him in the test of his life.

Secular people have their work done by Haredim. At least in Jerusalem. That doesn’t mean that Porush will not be the next Jerusalem mayor, but if he loses – as predicted by surveys that are being published one after another in the local press – he will have someone to blame.

Yaakov Litzman won’t interfere, but he is acting like a horse trader for the Gur Hasidim, trying to squeeze the lemon called Meir Porush for the sake of his group.

Yeruham in Jerusalem

By Anshel Pfeffer, Opinion August 26, 2008

As things look right now, [MK Meir Porush’s] victory in November is almost guaranteed.

…Polls published in the local Jerusalem papers – almost all of them financed by either Barkat or Gaydamak – have no relevance. Only two unlikely scenarios, a rift in the Haredi camp or a doubling of the secular voter turnout, can deprive Porush of the 40 percent he needs to win.

…The only long-term solution for Jerusalem’s ills is legislation that would expropriate substantial portions of the municipality’s authority and transfer it to a special ministry or government department established for this purpose.

Jerusalem Affairs: Running religiously

Indeed, attaining the support of the vast majority of secular, traditional and modern Orthodox voters in a city where one-third of the Jewish voters are haredi is a sine qua non for a non-haredi candidate, since the city’s demographics automatically propel the haredi candidate into the position of front-runner.

Barkat learned this the hard way in the last elections five years ago, when a turnout of only 32 percent of non-haredi voters paved the way for Lupolianski’s victory.

Woman on Bnei Brak city council?

By Nir Arnon, September 1, 2008

Members of the Labor party branch in Bnei Brak have decided that in the upcoming municipal elections, the number two spot on their list would be a allotted to a woman; the branch has also decided to have their candidate run for mayor.

Can a woman serve on the city’s council, who is compromised of 23 men, all of whom are ultra-Orthodox? Should Labor succeed in winning two extra seats in the next local elections that very well may be the case.

Yosef Dror, who is running for chairman of Bnei Brak’s Labor party branch:

“Our aim is to change the perception of this city, and just like there are women in Jerusalem’s city council, there will be a woman on this city council.

The rabbis will have to get used to the fact that there is a secular population in Bnei Brak that needs to be heard and needs to be attended to just like the Haredi population”.

Second-class citizens?

By Peggy Cidor, August 31, 2008

Photo courtesy of Mirah Curzer

The latest episode in the saga of the lack of educational structures for haredim in the city is taking place in Kiryat Hayovel. About a week ago, the municipality placed two caravans in a public plot on Rehov Warburg to serve as kindergarten classes for haredi children.

It didn’t take long for the area’s largely secular residents to voice opposition, with the chairman of the neighborhood administration, Kobi Cohen, saying he felt “betrayed, humiliated and outraged” by the development.

According to a municipality-commissioned report drafted in 2006 by planning specialist Moshe Cohen, the process of taking over state school buildings is part of a systematic plan to entrench haredim in secular areas.

…This struggle is taking place “not only on Rehov Warburg in Kiryat Hayovel,” says Alalu, who has searched for a suitable solution to the problem for years.

“It is also happening in the Katamonim neighborhood, on Rehov Ben-Zakai, but nobody has heard about it because there the residents are humble people, who are not connected to the media.

Vandalism against Jerusalem Eruv Continues

By Yechiel Spira, August 31, 2008

“Hooliganism” is the word used by one chareidi newspaper to describe the continued vandalism against the eruv in the Kiryat Yovel and Kiryat Menachem neighborhoods of the capital.

This past Shabbos, the attack against the eruv was expanded to additional areas of the capital as well.

There appears to be a growing momentum in the battle against chareidim moving into Kiryat Yovel.

This past week, there was a protest outside Jerusalem City Hall during a council meeting, with secularists expressing their opposition to a chareidi school in Kiryat Yovel.

Once again, the eruv was torn and poles damaged, and an inspection on motzei Shabbos revealed significant damage in the two neighborhoods as well as the mehadrin eruv in other areas including Armon HaNatziv, Givat Mordechai, Givat Shaul, and Bayit Vegan.

Most of the neighborhoods still had the religious council eruv, although there were actually areas without any eruv according to reports. Rabbonim lamented the fact that the acts of vandalism led to chilul Shabbos by some in areas that were left without an eruv as a result of the actions of the secularists.

…The eruv system in Yerushalayim is quite comprehensive, and in many areas, there is redundancy, a mehadrin eruv from one rabbinical authority, a religious council eruv, perhaps an Eida Chareidis eruv, and so-forth.

School opens, minds close

By Gershom Gorenberg, Opinion August 29, 2008

At the gates of the state religious schools, in many places in Israel, two cultures meet.

One, religious and modern, turns over its sons and daughters to the other, more insular, to educate them in its stead.

The parents live with their children alongside secular families in mixed neighborhoods.

A quick glance at a list of the teachers’ phone numbers reveals that many live in settlements or in neighborhoods known as Haredi or Hardali – religiously ultra-Orthodox, politically ultra-nationalist.

48% of Jerusalem students attend Haredi schools

By Tzipi Malkov, September 1, 2008

The trend of growing numbers of ultra-Orthodox students in Jerusalem continues, with 48% of all students in the capital this year set to attend the haredi school system, according to a Jerusalem city hall press release.

Overall, 87,020 students will begin their studies at Orthodox institutions this year, in addition to roughly 13,000 who also attend haredi schools, albeit ones unrecognized by the state.

“These figures join the impressive rise in the number of students in the ultra-Orthodox education system in the past five years – roughly 11%,” the press release said.

Petah Tikva: Ethiopians get their own synagogue

By Bruria Frid, August 26, 2008

A dispute between residents of the Petah Tikva Municipality and residents of the city’s Yoseftal neighborhood regarding the location of a new synagogue for the local Ethiopian community has come to an end, and the project will be launched soon.

“The synagogue and a religious club for Ethiopian immigrants in Yoseftal, which was agreed upon in my meeting with Minister of Religious Affairs Yitzhak Cohen, is only the first stage in a broader plan for the establishment of a number of synagogues in the city for the Ethiopian community,” said Acting Mayor Uriel Boso.

Lawsuit against Religious Councils and State of Israel

By Yechiel Spira, August 30, 2008

Rabbanim serving the Ethiopian community in Eretz Yisrael explain they have been left with no alternative and as such, they are turning to the judicial system with a lawsuit against the nation’s religious councils and the state.

The rabbanim explain that they, as former Ethiopian immigrants, are discriminated against and as such, they are paid less than other rabbis, receive less benefits and are not given the rights, pension fund and other amenities as per their job description.

They explain they have attempted working with the powers that be, but after realizing they have hit a stone wall, they made the decision to turn to the Supreme Court.

The suit not only seeks to grant them rights, but in some cases, demands the return of funds, payments demanded from them “illegally” as they put it.

Religious Zionism: The future of a lost movement

By Eli Kavon, August 31, 2008

The writer, based in Florida, is an adjunct lecturer on Jewish history at Broward Community College.

Religious Zionists need to ask questions about their movement’s underlying theology and its relationship to Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora.

If the movement’s adherents do not deal with these questions, Religious Zionism will be lost, slowly slipping into irrelevance as a force in Israeli and global Jewish life.

Religious Zionism must claim its rightful place as a movement promoting a new understanding of Jewish faith and the Jewish commitment to the State of Israel and its people through aliya and education.

We must purge ourselves of the Yigal Amirs, Baruch Goldsteins and other extremists of our movement. In this New Year, perhaps, the legacy of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook will provide a model for all Jews and will inspire them in their search for peace and truth.

Rabbi accuses Peace Now of grave sin

By Kobi Nahshoni, August 29, 2008

Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, head of the orthodox-affiliated, non-profit Zomet Institute, has expressed perhaps the most strident censure possible in Judaism for Peace Now activists, who are fighting to uproot settlers from the Migron settlement.

“Such tale-bearing is known in Hebrew as ‘moser‘ (informer)… Individuals who have sunk to this lowest level of behavior were despised and shunned (in Jewish tradition).

They are considered worse than heretics or apostates,” wrote the rabbi in an article published in “Shabbat BeShabbato”, a leaflet distributed in Israeli synagogues weekly.

Reclaiming Judaism’s holiest place

By Nadav Shragai, August 27, 2008

In the ultra-Orthodox world there is absolutely no tolerance for anyone who violates the prohibition against visiting the Temple Mount.

Rabbi Moshe Tendler, who openly visited the mount, has been roundly censured. About 20 years ago the Belz Hassidic Elboim family, which founded the Movement for Establishing the Temple faced similar responses, but continues to visit the Temple Mount every week.

…a new initiative on the Temple Mount is slowly taking form, and it, too, has ultra-Orthodox backers, mainly from the group that calls itself the Sanhedrin.

Prof. Hillel Weiss proposes reinstating the custom of Hakhel on the Temple Mount, with the participation of the heads of state and the nation’s leaders.

Private Cars Allowed into Rachel’s Tomb from Monday

By Gil Ronen, August 31, 2008

Private cars will be allowed into the Rachel’s Tomb compound beginning Monday, after more than seven years in which none were allowed in.

After a month-long trial period, the authorities will assess whether or not to continue the new arrangement.

…The new arrangement was reached after efforts by the Rachel’s Tomb Heritage Fund, the Rachel Imeinu Foundation, the Holy Sites Director Yossi Shvinger, MKs Uri Ariel and Meir Porush, and officials from the Public Security Ministry, Israel Police and Border Police.

Cars will be allowed into the compound in groups no larger than 50.

A deal with God

By Lily Galili, August 26, 2008

Dana Pulver’s complex identity as a Russian-speaking, ultra-Orthodox/religious (depending on the time) immigrant makes it hard for her to find her place in Israeli society.

…Among religious Russians I didn’t find people with sufficient religious flexibility; with the secular ones I don’t have a common language. When all this is happening in two languages, the difficulty increases.”

But she is here, dreaming of a state with a Jewish identity of her own unique sort.

This state, naturally, has no connection to a state of halakha (ruled by Jewish law), but more to a kind of collection of rebellious prophets or at least to those who are versed in Jewish texts that challenge them.

Their inclusion in a broad education, an important value among immigrants from the FSU, she says, could be Russian speakers’ great contribution to the shaping of the state.

The state-religion relationship

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Religion and State in Israel

September 1, 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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