Religion and State in Israel – September 29, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

September 29, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Israel’s Haredi press shuns images of Livni Reuters September 24, 2008

Citing concerns for feminine modesty, the ultra-Orthodox refuse to publish images of women in their newspapers – a core source of information as the reclusive community generally shuns the television, Internet and most radio stations.

At meetings with religious legislators on forming political partnership, Livni dons demure skirts and wrist-length jackets, not the pant-suits she usually favors.

A senior editor at Hamodia, an ultra-Orthodox daily, said there was no plan to reconsider the ban on publishing women’s pictures.

“We have always done things according to the Torah,” said the editor, who declined to be named. 

“This is the way it was since the beginning of the world, and the way it shall remain.”

Poll: How do Israelis mark Rosh Hashana? September 29, 2008

A survey conducted by Ynet’s Judaism channel and the Gesher educational organization shows that 69% of Israelis plan to pray in Orthodox congregations, while only 22% will choose the Reform or Conservative alternative.

In the first part of the survey, respondents were asked whether they plan to pray during the holiday and where they plan to do it. 

Thirty-two percent replied that they would pray in an Orthodox synagogue, 10% prefer Reform or Conservative places of worship and 4% choose quorums held in local community centers.

Fifty-four percent said they would not take part in the Rosh Hashana prayers at all. In total, 69% of the worshippers plan to pray in Orthodox congregations and 22% in Reform or Conservative synagogues.

An analysis of the religious affiliations reveals that they all prefer the Orthodox synagogues. However, 75% of seculars won’t pray, as well as 29% of the traditional respondents and even 3% of the religious ones.

Two percent of the religious respondents said they prefer the Reform and Conservative synagogues.

Another analysis reveals that with age the number of worshippers drops. In the 18-20 age group 59% pray, in the 21-40 age group 48% pray, among the 41-50 age group 44% pray, and among the older age group only 41% pray.

Another figure shows that most men (52%) tend to pray while most women (60%) plan to stay home.

Deferring to the ultra-Orthodox September 2008

Deferring to the ultra-Orthodox has emerged as 2008’s hottest trend for Israeli right-wing politicians. 

As has frequently been the case in the U.S., it seems that Israeli conservatives can’t do enough to jockey for the religious fundamentalist vote. 

And just as in the U.S., the consequences for civil liberties and democracy are staggering.  

As a result of the hardening intransigence of the ultra-Orthodox, the gap between them and the rest of Israeli society is widening and dangerously threatening Israel’s social cohesion.  

Two recent events exemplify the issue – the opening ceremony of Jerusalem’s Chords Bridge and the annulment of thousands of religious conversions. 

Government Provides Building to Fourth Israeli Reform Congregation September 25, 2008

Congregation Sulam Ya’akov, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism affiliate in Zichron Ya’akov, recently took delivery of a state-supplied building for use as a synagogue and community center.

It was the fourth of four pre-fabricated structures the state has provided to the movement – congregations in Modi’in, Kiryat Tivon and Tzur Hadassah already took delivery.

Gideon Gerzon, president of Sulam Ya’akov, said its members are “honored” to be among the first IMPJ congregations to receive a state-supplied, pre-fabricated structure.

“Though we still face many challenges, this New Year will mark a new chapter in our congregation’s development. Sulam Ya’akov,” he added, “is Hebrew for Jacob’s ladder, and this uplifting step brings us closer to our dream of a home of our own.”

14,000 Bratslav Hasidim expected to travel to Uman for New Year holidays

By Zohar Blumenkrantz September 24, 2008

The first planeload of approximately 14,000 Bratslav Hasidim expected to make the traditional Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nachman near Uman, Ukraine, took off yesterday from Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Approximately 100 flights in four-day shifts are scheduled to fly the followers of Rabbi Nachman to Kiev and back. 

In addition to Arkia, three other Israeli companies, El Al, Sun D’Or and Israir will be flying to Kiev, as will the Ukrainian company Aerosvit. 

The Israel Airports Authority has set aside a special area in the Ben-Gurion departure terminal for the Bratslav groups. 

Airport yanks ads to appease Bratslavs

Zohar Blumenkrantz September 25, 2008

‘Tis the season for the Bratslav Hasidim to make their traditional Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nachman, near Uman, Ukraine, in honor of which Ben-Gurion International Airport has taken down ads that might offend.

Some 14,000 Bratslav Hasidim are expected to make the journey this year, starting yesterday, and the ad pushing women’s lingerie has disappeared from the Shahakim Lounge area.

The duty-free shops are also toning down the images touting their wares.

The Airports Authority is helping to facilitate the annual journey of the Bratslav with designated check-in counters, and security is opening for business to inspect passengers four hours before the flight.

Rabbonim Meet over Mehadrin Bus Line Concerns

By Yechiel Spira September 24, 2008

Rabbonim from Yerushalayim met with Maran Rav Elyashiv Shlita to express their concerns regarding the possible cessation of mehadrin bus service in the capital once the light rail service begins.

Rav Elyashiv told them to work and use all channels to avoid such an occurrence, the daily Yated Neeman reports.

The meeting follows information received by the Rabbinical Transportation Committee signaling plans to halt the mehadrin lines after the train service begins.

The rabbis feel that officials involved in the light rail plan forgot about the spiritual and physical concerns of the chareidi community.

In addition, the train will pass through frum and non-frum areas, making separate seating an impossibility they fear, adding the stops in downtown Yerushalayim will only be on Jaffe Street, in the heart of the entertainment area, which is unacceptable to the chareidi community.

The rabbonim, who met in the Rav’s home, expressed their hope that the transportation minister will not actualize plans to eliminate the mehadrin bus service in Yerushalayim.

Jerusalem’s Mehadrin Bus Lines Threatened by Light Rail System

By Yechiel Sever September 25, 2008

The Rabbinical Transportation Committee is calling on all parties involved in the matter to ensure that the Mehadrin bus lines arranged for the chareidi sector are not cancelled when the light-rail systems starts to operate in Jerusalem.

Community in crisis

By Peggy Cidor, September 28, 2008

Three weeks ago, a special gathering of rabbis issued an urgent call to the principals of haredi educational institutions, asking them to do their best in light of the “new situation,” and to avoid at all costs a cut in the monthly allowance for married yeshiva students.

According to estimates by forum attendees, $1 billion in donations was raised for 2008, which, when factoring in the dollar’s devaluation, represents a drop of more than 30 percent of expected income compared to last year.

“If a miracle doesn’t happen and there is no change in the situation, we will see many kollelim closing down and many avrechim will find themselves out of frameworks as of next year,” Avi Rosen, editor-in-chief of the Haredi Press Line, wrote last week in his editorial.

…”But make no mistake,” [Rabbi S.] continues, “we will not allow a major reduction in our quality of life. 

The yeshiva will always be at the center, no matter what. 

That is the reason why our rabbis urge us to continue to pay the married yeshiva students the monthly allowances, no matter what.”

Yerushalyim Badatz Asks Owners to Regulate Sale of Iced Drinks September 23, 2008

The Badatz Edah HaCharedis has sent letters to store owners in the Geulah neighborhood of Yerushalayim, asking them to regulate their sale of iced coffee and slush drinks.

The machines that sell the cold drinks, known colloquially as “Barad”, are a common sight at most stores in the area. During the summer, vendors run a brisk business selling them to overheated shoppers. 

The Badatz requested that the drinks not be sold between the hours of 1 and 3 o’clock on Friday afternoons and Erev Yom Tov. 

They explained that the crush of men mixing with women in Geulah at those hours might be mitigated somewhat if people weren’t loitering on sidewalks, drinking their cold drinks and talking with each other. 

Rav Kanievsky Shlita Gives a Bracha to Rami Levy for his Shmiras Shabbos

By Yechiel Spira September 22, 2008

Rami Levy, a controlling owner in the Rami Levy supermarket chain, recently met with HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita, receiving a bracha from the gadol hador for his stores maintaining a shomer Shabbos policy in all locations.

The Rav Shlita gave him a bracha for continued success while he adheres to keeping Shabbos.

Is the IDF Weeding Out Chabadniks from the IDF Rabbinate?

By Yechiel Spira, September 22, 2008

It is believed that the chief rabbi and/or his aides are working in earnest to prevent the rise of the Chabad rabbonim to the higher ranks within the military rabbinate.

Truth be said, there is no proof according to the Chabad Online report, but nevertheless, there is an alarming apparent pattern of Chabad-affiliated members of the IDF Rabbinate being held up from promotion and being dismissed from the military.

…According to the report, it is unclear who if anyone is behind the reality that many Chabadniks are suffering, with some compelled to end their service while others are not being promoted.

New Hesder Yeshiva to Open in Fully Arab Neighborhood September 24, 2008

The founding of a Hesder Yeshiva in the heart of the Arab Ajami neighborhood will be officially inaugurated on Tuesday with the arrival of a Sefer Torah.

Ajami, which is adjacent to the Givat Aliya neighborhood, is almost entirely populated by Muslims.

Mehadrin Eruv being Extended to Kever Rachel which will be Open on Rosh Hashana

By Yechiel Spira, September 26, 2008

The job is not an easy one but rabbonim affiliated with Yerushalayim’s mehadrin eruv are working to include Kever Rachel in time for the Yomim Tovim.

The project is a complex one, spanning several kilometers, calling for infrastructure, poles, and running the eruv line. Part of the work is being conducted in an area under PA (Palestinian Authority) control, with workers being protected by security forces.

The request for extending the Jerusalem eruv came from the IDF Chief Rabbinate, seeking to eliminate unnecessary chilul Shabbos by soldiers who at times are compelled to carry equipment from the Jerusalem border to Kever Rachel on Shabbos.

Rashbi Site Committee Pushes Ahead With Renovation Plans

By Yechiel Sever September 25, 2008

The Committee of Five, which now manages R’ Shimon Bar Yochai’s gravesite in Meron at the behest of gedolei Yisroel shlita with members representing various segments of the religious sector, is continuing its efforts to facilitate prayer and accommodate the needs of site visitors throughout the year.

The committee is in the process of bringing in a new member, Rabbi Ben Tzion Cooperstock, chairman of the Rashbi Hiluloh organization, alongside two other representatives of the Ashkenazi Hekdesh Committee, Rabbi Mordechai Yitzchok Lichtenstein and Rabbi Mattisyohu Sharam, who serve as members of the Committee of Five’s Development Committee.

Religious Pluralism and Tolerance in Israel September 2008

The ultra-Orthodox establishment that controls Israel’s civil sphere continues to exclude other streams of Judaism on issues ranging from marriage to conversion.

Non-Orthodox Jews comprise 70 percent of Israel’s population, yet a tiny percentage of the budget for Jewish culture and education is allocated to Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and other streams of Jewish learning.

As a result, many non-Orthodox Israelis feel disconnected from Orthodox Judaism and develop a profound resentment of religious coercion, leading some to reject their Jewish identity in favor of a solely national affiliation.

Moreover, religious extremism too often joins forces with extreme nationalism, to the detriment of democracy and to the pursuit of peace.

A new year, a new age

By Ariel Beery, Opinion September 26, 2008

Ariel Beery is the founder and co-director of the PresenTense Group, which equips social ventures and communities for the information age.

The Jewish People are not currently aligned for the “prosumer” culture of the Digital Age, wherein the consumer helps the producer improve the product.

Our society was designed for a time when the authorities in our homes, communal institutions and synagogues managed our access to the outside world, and the knowledge made available to us was vetted for accuracy by experts and deliberated upon by rabbis who couldn’t have anticipated the present circumstances.

Those same authorities and experts cannot exert the same control any more. And so, from a world in which citizens had information and choices “pushed” at them, they now have to be convinced to “pull” those choices, if we want to ensure the propagation of our values.

To do that, we need to address those intended consumers as co-producers, partners in the building of our common future. 

Jewish learning conference to be held for FSU immigrants

By Etgar Lefkovits, September 24, 2008

A two-day conference on Jewish culture and learning for Israelis from the former Soviet Union opens in Ashkelon on Thursday, in an attempt to strengthen their Jewish identity.

The first-ever Limmud FSU event is based on the 28-year-old Jewish cultural and study event that originated in England and is now being offered in 35 cities around the world, organizers said.

The 27-hour half-million dollar conference, which is being primarily funded by US Jewish federations and philanthropists, aims to offer new and veteran immigrants an intense dose of Jewish culture in a pluralistic setting.

Mr. J-Blog from J-town

By Ben Jacobson September 28, 2008

Despite, or perhaps because of, Jewlicious’s lack of a cohesive editorial policy, those interested in tapping into the Jewlicious community run the gamut. 

Ultra-orthodox yeshiva Aish Hatorah, aliya organization Nefesh B’Nefesh and progressive charity The New Israel Fund are part of a rare roster that’s approached Jewlicious for advertising or partnerships.

“The Left says we’re right, and the Right says we’re left. Well, they’re wrong and they’re right,” CK (David Abitbol) shrugs. “So we’re clearly doing something right.

Religion and Web Technology – Shalom Hartman Institute

By Richard MacManus September 23, 2008

Check out what the Shalom Hartman Institute from Jerusalem in Israel is doing on the Web.

Alan Abbey, the Website Manager of Shalom Hartman Institute, told us about his site

With Alan Abbey leading Hartman’s web efforts, the Institute has a passionate web advocate. You really can’t ask for more in any organization! Well done Alan and keep up the great work.

Goodwill ambassador

By Barbara Sofer September 26, 2008

Michal Elboim, who was able to bridge the chasms between religious and secular, Israel and Diaspora, continues to be a goodwill ambassador even after her death.

US report: Rise in violence against Messianic Jews and Christians

By Matthew Wagner September 24, 2008

US Department of State – International Religious Freedom Report 2008

Violence against Christian evangelical and Messianic Jewish communities in Israel increased significantly during the period between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008, according to the US State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.

The report, released last week, put blame for the “tensions” on “certain Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities.”

But except in one case, the report, which noted numerous incidents of discrimination or violence against Christian or Messianic Jewish communities or individuals, failed to prove that the perpetrators were Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox.

US report: Interior Ministry refuses to process Messianic Jews

By Matthew Wagner September 24, 2008

US Department of State – International Religious Freedom Report 2008

The State Department mentioned claims by the JIJ that the Interior Ministry refused to process immigration applications from persons entitled to citizenship under the Law of Return if it was determined such persons held Christian or Messianic Jewish religious beliefs.

…Cohen, one of the 12 Messianic Jews who petitioned the Supreme Court and won, said that the Interior Ministry has so far ignored the ruling. He preferred to use only a last name out of concern that a high profile might hurt chances of receiving citizenship.

“None of us have received citizenship so far,” said Cohen. 

“We were told two months ago that in one month’s time we would receive our citizenship. But so far nothing has happened.”

Vatican invites Israeli rabbi to speak September 25, 2008

The Vatican for the first time invited a rabbi to speak at its World Synod of Bishops.

The Oct. 6 address by Shear-Yashuv Cohen, the chief rabbi of Haifa and the co-chair of the Israeli-Vatican Dialogue Commission, marks the first time that such an invitation was extended to a non-Christian. Cohen will lead a one-day discussion of the Scriptures.

The three-week synod ends Oct. 26.

Cohen told the Catholic News Service that the invitation “brings with it a message of love, coexistence and peace for generations.”

“We see in [the] invitation a kind of declaration that [the Church] intends to continue with the policy and doctrine established by Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, and we appreciate very deeply this declaration.”

Messianic Jews promote Ethiopian aliya

By Ruth Eglash, September 28, 2008

What makes Operation Tikva different than other Jewish aid programs in Ethiopia, however, is that neither the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency for Israel, nor any other recognized aliya organizationis involved in it.

In fact, The Jerusalem Post has learned it is a program run by Messianic Jewish missionaries, and very few people in Israel even know about it.

Run by the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA), Operation Tikva is contravening the Israeli government’s attempts over the last year to wind down official aliya operations in Ethiopia, and the project is being viewed in Jerusalem with alarm.

“These people are clearly not Jewish and they are working in areas where none of the people are Jews either; everything they are telling these people are lies,” 

said Rabbi Menachem Waldman, a member of the Public Council for Ethiopian Jews, which has successfully persuaded the Israeli government to continue checking the eligibility for immigration of a further 3,000 Falash Mura (Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity more than a century ago) from the same region of Ethiopia.

“This organization [the MJAA] and the people that it is working with in Ethiopia are in no way associated with the Falash Mura community currently waiting in Gondar for Israeli government approval to immigrate,” said Waldman, adding that missionary activity in the area is not a new phenomenon.

State watchdog: Decision to limit Falashmura aliyah was ‘reasonable’

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 24, 2008

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has said that the government acted properly when it decided to limit the number of Falashmura (descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity) entering Israel, and stop bringing members of the community here. 

At the same time, Lindenstrauss proposed to the government that, for humanitarian reasons, it should examine the eligibility for immigration of some 3,200 additional Falashmura who have yet to be scrutinized. 

Religion and State in Israel

September 29, 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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