Religion and State in Israel – September 1, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

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

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Nefesh B’Nefesh takes over North American aliyah operations

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 1, 2008

Photo courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh

The Jewish Agency has ceded its immigration operations in North America to the private organization Nefesh B’Nefesh. The agency will continue to be in charge of vetting prospective immigrants.

Both sides expressed satisfaction with the deal.

It fits in with the new vision for the agency, as set out two months ago by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as the body responsible for nurturing Jewish identity and the connection between Israel and the Diaspora.

It will also allow the agency to divert $3 million a year from North American operations.

North American aliya officially ceded to Nefesh B’Nefesh

By Haviv Rettig, September 1, 2008

According to officials in the Jewish Agency, the shift will include largely dismantling the network of 12 aliya shlichim (emissaries) in North America, “redeploying” a few of them and focusing on Internet-based marketing and communications methods utilized by Nefesh B’Nefesh for aliya promotion

NBN will only accept olim who have visited Israel before deciding to immigrate to the country, those who are not fleeing financial or other sorts of “crises,” and those whose personal situation – “on a case by case basis,” according to an organization official – make a successful absorption more likely.

In the new agreement, those who are eligible for aliya but are not accepted by Nefesh B’Nefesh will register with the Jewish Agency but still be brought to Israel on NBN-organized flights.

Toward self-realization, and contribution

By Barbara Sofer, August 30, 2008

Indeed, the organization is an endless font of practical information: your rights as immigrants, where to go for Hebrew classes, how to arrange health insurance and register the kids for school, how to release your shipment from customs. It also provides financial aid.

But the greatest innovation is the warm welcome and encouragement; there’s nothing ambivalent about its belief in aliya as the ultimate tool for self-realization and for building the State of Israel.

MK Erdan: Israel needs a ‘mental shift’ to bring olim, connect to Diaspora

By Haviv Rettig, August 29, 2008

Likud MK Gilad Erdan, co-chair with Kadima MK Yoel Hasson of the Knesset Caucus for Western Aliya:

“Israel’s religious parties only take care of their own, and the media constantly shows [the Orthodox sector] as getting more than its share of the pie, so our young people are antagonistic toward anything that smells like Judaism.

Between that and the lack of Jewish studies in the education system, today a child growing up in a Jewish community in America knows more [about Judaism] than those being raised in the education system in Israel. This terrifies me. Without Judaism there won’t be a state of Israel.”

A traditional Jew, Erdan clarifies that “I’m not for adopting the Reform model, but [Israel should look at] the existence of other systems that allow people to connect to Judaism and study the beautiful sides of Jewish tradition.

This is a good thing. I can’t rule out that we should be studying the American educational model.”

Rabbis for Human Rights – the 20th anniversary

By Rabbi David Forman, Opinion August 29, 2008

In a country where Judaism is often associated with intolerant and uncompromising beliefs and actions, Rabbis for Human Rights teaches an alternative understanding of the Jewish tradition, one that emphasizes Judaism’s humanistic and universal side.

The indifference of much of the country’s religious leadership and religiously identified citizenry to breaches of human rights was a cause of great concern to RHR’s organizers, and the raison d’être for its creation.

…Rabbis for Human Rights is the rabbinic voice of conscience in Israel – the only organization in the Jewish state concerned specifically with relating the Jewish religious tradition to matters of human rights.

Record yeshiva enrollment predicted to cost economy NIS 5 billion

By Shahar Ilan, August 29, 2008

Some 63,000 young men are expected to begin studying this week in kollels – yeshivas, or Talmudic academies for married men, the Education Ministry announced Wednesday.

The cost of funding this year’s studies is estimated at NIS 5 billion.

The figure represents an all-time high in kollel registration, an increase of 4,500 from last year and 67 percent from 10 years ago.

The rate paid by the Education Ministry for every student is roughly NIS 720 per month, or NIS 8,640 annually.

Though funding tight, married yeshiva students study on

By Yair Ettinger, August 29, 2008

In recent months an acute financial crisis has struck the married students’ yeshivas.

Only a small part of the crisis, which is being widely covered by the ultra-Orthodox media, has been caused by the government’s 25 percent planned cutbacks in the yeshivas’ budgets.

…The monthly stipends in the married students’ yeshivas range from NIS 1,000 to NIS 4,500, depending on each yeshiva’s connections overseas.

The state contributes some NIS 700 toward each monthly stipend.

Jerusalem council member: Seculars only have child and dog

By Ronen Medzini, August 30, 2008

City councilman Rabbi Avraham Feiner of United Torah Judaism (UTJ) called towards Pepe Alallo, chairman of the local Meretz faction:

“We, thank God, have 10-12 children. Where are these children supposed to study if not in their kindergartens? And you, what do you have? One child and a dog?”

Alallo responded by saying,

“This dog pays more taxes than you do! Pays more property taxes than you!”

Pro-Shabbos Boycott Moving to Gas Companies

By Yechiel Spira, August 30, 2008

The pro-Shabbos Shefa Shuk boycott appears will be expanding, moving to target gas companies, beginning with Dor Gas, a subsidiary of Dor Energy.

Organizers of the protest predict the company may lose as many as 1,500 customers.

According to, 1,500 households have already signaled is the boycott is launched; they will leave and move to another firm.

Askanim are aware that dealing with gas companies is difficult for the end user and towards finding a solution, efforts are underway to form group which would negotiate with a gas company on behalf of hundreds of families, thereby obtaining a better price and eliminating some of the hardship involved in changing gas companies.

Such an effort is already in the works with 500 families united in Ashdod and other 1,000 joining nationwide.

Rabbis to ask Vázquez to help solve problem of ‘treyf’ gassy cows

By Matthew Wagner, August 26, 2008

Kosher beef may not be high up on the list of priorities set by Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez during his visit to Israel.

But a determined group of rabbis hopes to bring Vázquez’s attention to their concerns regarding a veterinarian practice that they say makes thousands of Uruguayan cows treyf (inedible according to halachic standards).

Since Israel imports approximately 30 percent of its beef from Uruguay, the rabbis have been working to solve the problem or move operations elsewhere.

Jerusalem Kosher News – Policy statement, clarification and update

By Yechiel Spira, Jerusalem Kosher News August 25, 2008

Everyone will do as he/she sees fit, and the postings are not intended to serve as recommendation or condemnation of any restaurant, but the words “unauthorized”, “illegal”, and other such terms are used, as per the definition of the nation’s formal authority, the Chief Rabbinate.

Everyone has the option of accepting or rejecting the Rabbinate’s definition of kashrus, opting for more liberal or increasingly stringent observance.

…in conclusion, I hope that this continued effort, and the increase in consumer awareness, will result in a national kashrus standard so words like “mehadrin”, “mehadrin min ha’mehadrin”, “chumra”, “glatt” and other kashrus ‘buzzwords’ will signal a minimum standard as per the criteria established by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

Luntz Street Mehadrin Survey – Part I – Ben-Tzion HaGadol

By Yechiel Spira, Jerusalem Kosher News August 26, 2008

Report on the six Jerusalem Rabbinate Mehadrin eateries located on Luntz Street, in the ‘Triangle’ area of the capital, between Jaffe Street and the Ben-Yehuda Pedestrian Mall.

A forum for those interested in the realities concerning kosher & eating out in Israel, with a focus on Jerusalem.

The list will address the alarming realities of the poor standard of kashrut in eateries in Jerusalem & provide a forum for an intelligent exchange of information on the topic.

Luntz Street Mehadrin Survey – Part II – ‘Rimon’ Meat & Dairy

By Yechiel Spira, Jerusalem Kosher News August 28, 2008

…Rav Bachor explains that some of the cooks are former immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, and he will not employ them until he receives the required Interior Ministry documentation assuring him they are Jewish.

He stressed this is not a policy of discrimination, but just his way of ensuring the man handling the food and lighting stoves is indeed a Jew.

Rabbis: New life-support tech ‘murder’

By Matthew Wagner, August 31, 2008

A technology soon to be introduced in local hospitals that automatically turns off life-support systems at the request of terminally ill patients has been denounced by a prominent group of rabbis as a desecration of God’s name.

The technology is “tantamount to murder,” according to the rabbis, who are aligned with the Ashkenazi haredi community’s most respected living halachic authority, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.

…Conspicuously absent from the conference, which took place in Jerusalem’s Bayit Vagan neighborhood, were rabbis and religious doctors who support the use of the timer ventilator and had backed the Terminally Ill Patient Law.

Dr. Rabbi Mordechai Halperin, who was a member of the Steinberg Multi-Disciplinary Health Ministry committee that helped prepare the legislation, said many prominent rabbis supported the use of such ventilators. The committee was headed by Prof. Avraham Steinberg, a neurologist and halachic expert.

Police believe they’ve exposed Haredi modesty patrol

By Yair Ettinger, September 1, 2008

That is how the headquarters of the Committee for Preserving Our Camp’s Purity works.

The Jerusalem-based committee is in charge of modesty issues among the ultra-Orthodox public. This is where questions about what is permitted and what is prohibited stream in; this is where pashkevils [posters] are produced against businesses that sell “unclean appliances” like MP4s, or anything else that could “cause many casualties” among the Haredi public.

This is also the address for complaints or informing against those who have strayed from the path: deviants, traitors and pedophiles.

…The police believe they have discovered the “modesty patrols” that terrorize the ultra-Orthodox public, and have even investigated the committee’s head, Rabbi Yitzhak Meir Shpernovitz

Mishmeres Hatznius’ Claims Victory with the Prison Release of Its Members August 27, 2008

Joy erupted throughout Ohel Sarah as news Shmuel Veisfish’s release to his home spread Wednesday.

…Shmuel Veisfish had been arrest ten days ago on suspicion of being behind the acts of violence against the Space and Greentech stores fronting Shabbos Square.

…At the meeting between Av Beis Din Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss [Gave’d] head of the Edah Hachareidis and police representative held last weekend, the release of the arrestees was agreed upon in exchange for the restoration of calm and the stoppage of protests and garbage-can burnings. In return, police did not request an incarceration extension for Veisfish, and he was freed.

Haredi [modesty patrol] methods exposed

By Yifat Reuven, August 31, 2008

Former members describe a “military-like organization”.

“I was pretty much into it”, says Chess, who was active in the organization for four years. “We would meet in a regular meeting place and get our assignments. Every Thursday we would be on alert.

“I bought a club, so that I would have an easier time breaking bones. Some used irons. The job only get carried out after hard evidence was gathered. We would collect the evidence, and there was a hotline as well.”

…”A lot of our guys would fly abroad and get donations for our cause and come back [with] a lot of dollars.”

Jerusalem: Ultra-Orthodox riot in protest of [modesty patrol] arrest

By Neta Sela, August 26, 2008

Ultra-Orthodox Jews rioted in Jerusalem on Monday in protest of the recent arrest of Shmuel Weisfish, a member of the haredi community’s [modesty patrol] who was allegedly involved in the torching of a store selling MP4 players in violation of a ruling of the Orthodox Court of Justice.

…Haredim hold demonstrations every evening opposite a store selling MP4 players at Shabbat Square, and also arrive unexpectedly at haredi neighborhoods, where they torch garbage cans, block streets and flee the scene before police arrive.

…The source further claimed that the extremists’ actions are undermining the Orthodox rabbis’ authority.

Ultra-Orthodox criminals

By Tali Farkash, Opinion August 26, 2008

The elimination of this criminal organization – yes, this is precisely what the [modesty patrol] is – depends only on the determination of the Orthodox community to reject the zealots and hand them over to the Israel Police, as one of Jerusalem’s most prominent rabbis openly requested.

Women locked inside Breslov synagogue

By Pnina Geffen, August 28, 2008

Guests that have recently stayed in cabins in Safed owned by the city’s Hasidic Breslov community were surprised to discover that a new list of guidelines was being imposed: Women had to dress according to Meah Shearim standards (meaning long sleeves, long skirt, stockings, and a head cover for married women).

But apparently this was not enough for the community to meet its own modesty requirements, and recently a new rule was implemented, requiring different exit times from the synagogue following Shabbat prayers.

…The decision to separate between women and men exiting the synagogue stems from Safed’s structure, known for its narrow alleyways and streets. The synagogue opens onto one such street, forcing the people coming out after services to crowd together, and forcing the men to restrict the women’s exit.

Religion and State in Israel

September 1, 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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