Religion and State in Israel – October 6, 2008 (Section 1)

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October 6, 2008 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Deri backs out of J’lem mayoral race

By Matthew Wagner October 6, 2008

Former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri announced Monday that he would not appeal a court decision that blocks him from running for the Jerusalem mayoral elections.

“Despite the recommendations of my legal advisers I have chosen not to appeal the decision. 

I have also rejected the recommendation that I ask for clemency from the moral turpitude attached to my sentence.

“I have no intention of returning to politics via a shortcut even though I know and others are convinced that my conviction was not justified. 

I have resolved to finish off my imposed political exile to the last minute and pay my debt to society.

Deri: Court punishing my supporters by barring me from Jerusalem vote

By Yair Ettinger and Ofra Edelman October 3, 2008

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‘I will abide by rabbis’ rulings’

By Yair Ettinger and Ofra Edelman October 3, 2008

Former Shas leader Aryeh Deri cannot run for mayor of Jerusalem this year, due to his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, the Jerusalem District Court ruled yesterday. 

The former Shas chairman refrained yesterday from saying whether he would support the candidacy of Meir Porush, who was the Haredi community’s chosen candidate before Deri announced his interest in entering the race.

“I am a Haredi, who abides by the laws of the Torah,” Deri said.

“All my life, I was taught to listen to the Torah sages, and that is also how I educated an entire generation. 

I will listen to whatever the rabbis tell me regarding whether to support anyone, and whom.” 

Meir Porush scores Haredi support in Jerusalem mayoral contest

By Yair Ettinger October 2, 2008

Senior leaders from Agudath Israel and Degel Hatorah, which together make up United Torah Judaism, met Sunday night and decided to support the former’s candidate, MK Meir Porush, in the November 11 election. 

Nevertheless, there were contradictory reports after the meeting about whether it was decided that all the Haredi parties would support Porush for mayor, or only whether to support him as the head of the UTJ list for the city council. 

Ready to rejoin public life

By Avirama Golan October 3, 2008

Commentators tend to see his declaring himself as a candidate and his court petition as a trial balloon to gauge the public response to his return to politics.

Perhaps. But then why did the Haredi media report as early as a year ago that the rabbis were pressing Deri to run for mayor?

And why do all the signs point to his having explored this possibility at length?

The reason is that Jerusalem is not only a national problem.

It is also the biggest Haredi problem, and with the city already in their hands the rabbis have no intention of losing it.

On the face of it, this is a worrisome message for the city’s non-Orthodox population.

In fact, the secular public must realize that this political game has deep Haredi roots and passions going back many years. 

Deri’s return to Shas more likely with mayoral option closed

By Matthew October 5, 2008

Although Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef will have the final word, Aryeh Deri’s return to Shas is looking more likely as chances of his being able to run for Jerusalem mayor ebb, Shas sources said Sunday.

“If elections are postponed until Aryeh can legally be elected [July 2009] the pressure on Shas to bring him back will be almost unbearable,” a Shas source said. 

“On the other hand if elections are called before Aryeh can return to politics it would be difficult to imagine seeing him returning to Shas after the elections.”

Turning-Point Election for Israel’s Capital?

By Michelle Chabin September 29, 2008

The 30-something Jerusalemite said, “I don’t want a mayor who will introduce buses on Shabbat, for example. Jerusalem is the holy city and should reflect this.”

Daniel Otmazign, the owner of a hair salon, said, “Many people I know want a change. People sit in my chair. They talk, and I listen.”

The one thing Otmazign’s customers don’t want, he says, “is another haredi mayor who will neglect the non-haredi part of the city. Even my religious customers say this.”

 Treating her three young grandchildren to falafel, 67-year-old Miki Shimon, who is secular, said she trying to convince all her friends to vote in the upcoming elections.

“If, God forbid, someone haredi becomes mayor, I’m afraid my children will move away from the city. I’ll be all alone here, God forbid.  Isn’t this city religious enough?”

Many Jerusalemites don’t think so.

Yonatan Schwartz, a young yeshiva student, said he plans to vote for “the haredi candidate,” whoever that ultimately turns out to be.

“Honestly, the rest of the city’s residents have nothing to fear,” Schwartz said, trying to sound reassuring. “We haredim tend to be good, law-abiding neighbors who aren’t into drugs or violence.  

“We live according to the Torah. I can’t think of a better code of ethics than our holy Torah,” Schwartz said.

Interview with Arkadi Gaydamak

By Peggy Cidor October 5, 2008

How do you see the relationship with the haredi community?

It is important that we maintain our support for religious circles because they are maintaining our traditions.

They have kept them over the centuries for us, and I think that it is quite a difficult life they have.

They are the true representatives of the Jewish culture.

We have a duty to protect their style of life, but they cannot take care of others’ interests.

For example, how can Mr. [Meir] Porush, whom I respect, take into account the interests of the Christian community?

Mr. Barkat is a very positive man, but he cannot obtain this either.

We don’t have time to lose. I believe that only I have the charisma necessary for that task. The Israeli nation [Am Yisrael] is divided in many groups, and Jewish tradition is the only thing that unites us.

Protests get Jews for Jesus radio ad pulled in the North

By Matthew Wagner October 6, 2008

A wave of irate protest silenced a Jews for Jesus radio campaign last week on a local radio station in the North.

The slogan of the radio campaign is “Yeshu [a derogatory form of Jesus] equals Yeshua [accent on penultimate syllable] equals yeshua [accent on the last syllable].”

In three different versions of the ad, ethnically identifiable Israeli Jewish voices – one Russian, one Moroccan and one haredi Ashkenazi – express surprise at being told that Jesus is equivalent to redemption.

At the end of the ad a voice-over says, “Confused? Call for more information,” and provides a phone number.

The radio ad is part of larger campaign, directly primarily at the North, that includes full-page ads in the weekend editions of Ma’ariv and Yisrael Hayom, two Hebrew dailies.

In addition, Jews for Jesus activists sporting T-shirts and passing out literature have been active in recent days in the North, including Nahariya, Kiryat Shmona and the Haifa area.

According to members of Jews for Jesus, the municipalities of Tiberias and Karmiel each took down a large-screen Jews-for-Jesus ad located at prominent intersections.

Haifa Chief Rabbi at Vatican: Wartime Pope let Jews down

By Reuters October 6, 2008

The first Jew to address a Vatican synod on Monday told the gathering that Jews “cannot forgive and forget” that some major religious leaders during World War II did not speak out against the Holocaust. 

Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen’s words, spoken in the presence of Pope Benedict, were a clear reference to wartime Pope Pius XII, who many Jews say did not do enough to help them. 

Orthodox convert fights for recognition

By Haviv Rettig October 5, 2008

Twenty-five-year-old Jose Portuondo-Wilson is wondering what it takes to prove to the government that he is Jewish.

Eighteen months after his Orthodox conversion in Chicago, he is resorting to a High Court of Justice petition to force Interior Ministry bureaucrats to approve his aliya

…Four months after the second application, on August 21, Portuondo-Wilson received official notice that his aliya was denied by the Interior Ministry. The reason: the rabbinical court that performed his conversion was “unrecognized.”

“I don’t care whether the Israeli Rabbinate recognizes my conversion or not, but I don’t want them to have a monopoly over who can convert,” Lopatin said. 

“We should take the monopoly away from them. Like with [kashrut supervision], there are different supervisions.”

Portuondo-Wilson’s conversion, he insists, “is halachically valid, and socially recognized.”

An Interior Ministry spokesman would not comment on the specific case, but said rabbinical courts abroad were recognized only if they appeared on a list kept by the Conversion Authority in the Prime Minister’s Office.

…In the meantime, [Portuondo-Wilson] is contemplating rabbinical school. He may become the first Orthodox rabbi in history to be denied aliya, he notes with humor.

Future foreigners’ conversions in doubt

By Matthew Wagner October 3, 2008

Out of concern that Israel will be labeled a proselytizing nation, the Justice Ministry this week asked Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar to stop converting citizens of foreign countries. But Amar is proving reluctant to do so.

In a meeting on Sunday, attorney Harel Goldberg of the Consultation and Legislation Department in the Justice Ministry requested that Amar halt these conversions. 

Goldberg had sent a letter to Amar more than a month ago warning of the legal problems involved with the practice.

…If the conversion is part of the naturalization process to become Israeli, then it is less problematic from a legal perspective. 

But Amar has presided over dozens of conversions of people who came here solely to be converted, and who then returned to their countries as Jews.

Singaporean celebrity becomes Jewish

By Boaz Arad October 1, 2008

He was a huge television star, an actor, and a popular radio broadcaster, but Andrew Lim always felt as though something was missing. Then, one day, he saw the light – in Judaism.

Lim knew almost nothing about Judaism until he happened to arrive in Israel as part of a sight-seeing tour, in order to witness firsthand the sights he had read of so many times in the New Testament.

…Lim, or Eliyahu Abraham as he is now called in Hebrew, converted to Judaism in Australia together with his wife and children.

He kept his day job – a radio broadcaster – and in his free time runs his local Beit Chabad’s Torah studies. He dreams of coming to Israel once again, this time with his family, to see where it all began.

Chris’s Bris

By Leora Eren Frucht Issue 13, October 13, 2008 The Jerusalem Report

“I really will have come full circle,” he smiles, “but in the process, I will have changed my name, my religion, my nationality and my marital status.

There seems to be something inherently paradoxical about being Orthodox, which implies reverence, and being a comedian, which calls for irreverence.

Yet, Campbell manages to be both. In his private life, he allows himself little leeway in his religious observance. 

(When he flew to the U.S. on Tisha B’av, he fasted for 32 hours instead of the mandatory 25 because he was flying across several time zones.)

“Halakhic structure is for me a way of being in a relationship with God,” he explains.

Honor, haredi-style

By Matthew Wagner October 2, 2008

Which restaurants and food products are kosher and which are not? Who is allowed to get married and who is not? Who can be a rabbi and who cannot?

Last week, elections took place to choose the state-empowered body – the Chief Rabbinate Council – that is supposed to answer these questions.

The elections were an upset. The non-hassidic, Lithuanian-haredi rabbinic leadership, which gradually has been gaining more power within the Chief Rabbinate, suffered a major setback.

…The battle between Ovadia Yosef and Elyashiv will probably have little impact on the wider public. 

With or without Avraham Yosef on the council, heter mechira will continue to be implemented by the Chief Rabbinate. Jewish farmers would lose too much money if it were not.

And the Supreme Court has already ruled in favor of these farmers against the previous Chief Rabbinate Council.

Rather, the struggle between Yosef and Elyashiv is for influence and power, and ultimately, for rabbinic hegemony. Yosef, the son of a grocer, wants to “return the crown to its rightful owner.”

Slowly but surely, he is succeeding.

Jewish ‘modesty patrols’ sow fear in Israel

Associated Press October 6, 2008

In Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where the rule of law sometimes takes a back seat to the rule of God, zealots are on a campaign to stamp out behavior they consider unchaste.

Many ultra-Orthodox Jews are dismayed by the violence, but the enforcers often enjoy quiet approval from rabbis eager to protect their own reputations as guardians of the faith, community members say.

And while some welcome anything that keeps secular culture out of their cloistered world, others feel terrorized, knowing that the mere perception of impropriety could ruin their lives.

 Animal activists: Kapparot custom ‘brutal abuse of animals’

By Yoav Zeitun October 6, 2008

In their struggle to stem the slaughter of countless chickens during the Yom Kippur ritual of Kapparot (atonements), activists of Let Live (Latet Lihyot), an animal rights group, are planning to file animal abuse complaints with police against those who carry out the ritual.

The head of the movement, Attorney Reuven Ladiansky, said that “there is a better alternative in giving money to the poor, and sparing the animals. According to the laws of the State, no animal may be slaughtered outside of a slaughter house.”

A day that connects man and place

By Orna Coussin October 3, 2008

Last Yom Kippur, I checked my watch to measure the exact time: Forty-five minutes of moderate walking, no more, to get from one end of the city to the other.

…How fortunate we are in Tel Aviv: We have Yom Kippur. Last year, on Yom Kippur, carbon monoxide levels fell from 205 parts per billion, on the day prior to the holiday, to just 2 parts per billion at its height – a phenomenon unmatched anywhere in the world.

And pollution isn’t the only thing that’s reduced. So is stress and rushing around and grim purposefulness.

…But this year one may also wander the streets in a kind of protest. For Yom Kippur alone is not sufficient to atone for the sins between man and place; but one can at least get out there and make a start.

Haaretz Rosh Hashana Supplement

I am warmly disposed toward Reform and Conservative Jewry

By Shulamit Aloni September 30, 2008

Nowadays, I feel warmly disposed toward Reform and Conservative Judaism, and when I travel overseas, I attend Reform and Conservative synagogues to hear the liturgy.

Where no Hebrew child has gone

By Yoram Kaniuk September 30, 2008

Yoram Kaniuk’s latest novel, “Kesem al Yam Kinneret,” was recently published by Yedioth Ahronoth.

Black hole

By Uzi Weil September 30, 2008

Uzi Weil is an author and translator.

Weddings and anti-weddings

By Ronit Matalon September 30, 2008

Ronit Matalon’s novel “Kol Tza’adeinu” (The Sound of Our Steps) was published this year by Am Oved.

Memorial Industries, Ltd.

By Shmuel Hasfari September 30, 2008

Shmuel Hasfari is a playwright and a screenwriter.

A house of prayer, in the heart

By Omri Tegamlak Avera September 30

Omri Tegamlak Avera is the author of the book “Asterai,” published by Yedioth Ahronoth in 2008 (in Hebrew).

New course: How to blow a shofar

By Yaakov Levy October 3, 2008

A special advanced study group is being held at the Beersheba Religious Council for the first time: During the Days of Awe (between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur), synagogue representatives are learning how to blow a shofar, the horn sounded during special prayers.

Amor made it clear that “as far as the Chief Rabbinate and the Religious Council are concerned, those who don’t take part in the study group will not be authorized to blow the shofar.”

Israel’s most beautiful synagogues – part 1

Sigalit Fishbein October 5, 2008

Ynet asked 10 leading architects to select a synagogue they are particularly fond of. 

1. Cymbalista Synagogue, Tel Aviv

2. The Italian Synagogue, Jerusalem

3. Ohel Yaakov Synagogue, Zichron Yaacov

4. Givat Ram synagogue, Jerusalem

5. Megillat Or Synagogue, Caesarea

New 770 building in Lod October 5, 2008 

Photo by Berele Sheiner

A groundbreaking ceremony took place for a new replica of 770 to be built in Lod.

This building will join a dozen other such buildings all over the world and in Israel.

Mother, Grandmother Who Gave Birth to Her 19th Child Speaks Out

Click here for VIDEO

Blessings That Never Cease October 3, 2008

Sima Zelmanov, principal of the Bais Chana Chabad High School in Tzfas, and grandmother of seven, gave birth recently to her nineteenth child a week after marrying off her sixth child.

In doing so, Mrs. Zelmanov, 47, bore an uncle to her grandchildren, the oldest of whom is four. Mrs. Zelmanov is in the unique situation of having both a five-year-old daughter and this four-year-old grandson.

“They are good friends,” Mrs. Zelmanov told Mishpacha a day before the bris.

Sima, who has been married for 27 years, is the principal of the city’s Chabad high school for girls. Her eldest child, a son, is 26. Six of the couple’s children are married.

Sima and her husband are waiting for the birth of their eighth grandchild due next month.

Religion and State in Israel

October 6, 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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