Religion and State in Israel – November 10, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

November 10, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

New law on property distribution in divorce aims to ease burden of agunot

By Shelly Paz November 5, 2008

“This law is a true revolution. Not one civilized country in the world grants one of the sides in marriage rights that she or he cannot realize,” family law attorney Nurit Fish told The Jerusalem Post.

“This new law removes the sting of get refusal.

Religious leaders still divided over new agunot amendment

By Matthew Wagner November 6, 2008

Rabbis and religious MKs are split on whether or not pro-feminist legislation aimed at aiding agunot is in accordance with Orthodox Jewish values.

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar was adamantly opposed to the legislation, as were Shas and United Torah Judaism MKs. Even the more moderate National Religious Party and National Union MKs either opposed the legislation or were absent from voting.

The outstanding exception was NRP Chairman Zevulun Orlev, who was involved in drafting the amendment to the Financial Relations Law and voted in favor.

Several modern Orthodox rabbis also supported the law, including Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat and Rabbi Yuval Cherlow of the Petah Tikva Hesder Yeshiva.

…”As a rabbi, I have a deep interest in preventing the exploitation of Halacha by the financially strong side during a divorce,” said Cherlow. “The amendment achieves this goal.”

Cherlow said that he was aware of the chief rabbi’s opinion that the amendment might create the halachic problem of “get me’useh”.

“But when I weigh that danger against the benefit that this amendment offers, my conclusion is clear,” he said.

Knesset okays property distribution bill

By Amnon Meranda November 5, 2008

“This brings wonderful tidings for society in Israel and women in particular,” said MK Menachem Ben-Sasson (Kadima), chairman of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and one of the bill’s initiators.

“Today, the Knesset said ‘enough’ to extortionist methods and to the disgraceful exploitation of the weaker spouse,” Ben-Sasson declared.

“The new law will bring an end to unacceptable phenomena and ongoing injustices that have no place in a properly-run state.”

According to MK Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad), “This is a Jewish, just and moral law that takes away another tool from the hands of exploitive, get-refusing husbands.”

Chareidi MKs Unable to Defeat Property Distribution Bill

By Eliezer Rauchberger November 7, 2008

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said every effort was made to prevent the law regarding asset distribution for couples seeking a divorce from passing, but at the same time he noted that because of the upcoming primaries for the secular parties as well as the general elections campaign, it was very difficult to persuade MKs not to act in a populist manner.

A historic moment for agunot in Israel

By Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman Opinion November 5, 2008

The Knesset passed the Division of Property law in its third reading today, marking a victory for agunot, and potentially saving thousands of women in Israel.

“This is a real revolution,” says Robin Shames, Director of ICAR, one of the groups that spearheaded the campaign to pass the bill.

“It severely weakens the power of recalcitrant husbands to condition the get on their financial demands.”

The new law, which was introduced in July by MK Michael Melchior, states that the division of property can be conducted irrespective of the get process, removing finances as a leverage in the act of giving a woman her marital freedom.

“This is a huge achievement,” according to Batshever Sherman Shani, lawyer and director of ICAR’s legal committee.

“The correction of the law weakens the ability to trade economic rights for the get, and repairs and thirty year old injustice against women.”

“Thousands of women who have been economically blackmailed by their husbands in exchange for the get,” writes Bambi Sheleg in NRG, “will now be able to achieve their freedom.”

Shai slams Jerusalem for doing little to help host the GA

By Ruthie Blum Leibowitz November 7, 2008

Nachman Shai, who has spent the past year preparing for this month’s United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Jerusalem, has launched a scathing attack on the host city for doing hardly anything to help toward the event.

Next mayor must embrace Diaspora

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion November 7, 2008

But there is still one ray of hope for the beleaguered city. Israelis may have forsaken the holy city but the Jews of the world have not.

…Whatever the outcome of these miserable elections, the conclusion has to be that this cooperation must rise to a much higher, strategic level.

This is an opportunity for the mega-organizations, anxious to recast themselves and worrying about their dwindling prospects in a period of credit-crunching penny-pinching.

Birthright is cutting its budget by $35 million November 7, 2008

Birthright Israel is cutting its budget by $35 million for 2009.

Birthright, which sends Jews between the ages of 18 and 26 on free 10-day trips to Israel, had a budget of $110 million in the fiscal year that just ended, enabling the organization to send some 42,000 people to Israel.

In the coming year, Birthright will only be able to send 25,000 because the program’s budget is dropping to $75 million, the president and CEO of the Birthright Foundation, Jay Golan, told JTA.

Golan, however, said that Birthright will most likely not be affected by the financial troubles of the company of its largest private benefactor, Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands company. The casino company is on the verge of bankruptcy, according to Bloomberg News.

Adelson gave some $60 million to Birthright Israel in 2006 and 2007.

In 2008, he pledged $30 million to the organization to be paid out over the next two years. The money will pay for 6,000 trips, Golan said.

Former IDF spokesman Nachman Shai joins Kadima

By Shahar Ilan and Barak Ravid November 4, 2008

Nachman Shai, chairman of the United Jewish Communities, yesterday announced that he was joining Kadima and would run in the party’s primaries for the Knesset.

…Shai would be able to contribute to Kadima on issues pertaining to the Jewish world, Zionism and the Diaspora, Livni said.

‘Work is not an option’

By Yair Ettinger November 5, 2008

“New ways?” said the director of the large Ateret Shlomo network of kollels, Yehuda Arend.

“With us, this isn’t called a strategy, it’s called suicide. This would like, because you are needy, you take your child and throw him off the roof.

The Jewish people and the world exist because of the Torah, and it is impossible to abandon the Jewish people. Work is not an option.”

Economic pressures are forcing haredi men into the working world

By Matthew Wagner November 7, 2008

“Rabbi Haim Kanyevsky [a Bnei Brak-based spiritual leader] promised that anyone who gives generously to supporting the yeshiva world will not hurt by the financial crisis,” added Segal, who said that all the major Israeli rabbis are praying for Jewish donors.

“We discovered just how difficult the decision is for a haredi man to work. They have been taught their whole lives that Torah study is the most important thing that a man can do.

When they finally do decide to leave the yeshiva world, they often have unrealistic expectations. Everyone wants to start in a managerial position, everyone expects to receive a company car and everyone expects to rake in the cash.”

As the financial crisis continues, haredim tighten their belts

By Abe Selig November 6, 2008

Hit hard by the global economic meltdown, members of the haredi world say they’re feeling the crunch.

The High Holy Day season – from Rosh Hashana to the end of Succot – is usually a time when large donations arrive from abroad, but the recent holiday season, tainted by the nosedive on Wall Street, proved less than satisfactory.

That, combined with uncertainties over the places of Shas and United Torah Judaism in a future government, has the haredi world low on cash and worried about the future.

Opening a new chapter

By Peggy Cidor November 10, 2008

Another chapter deals with the city’s haredim. “One of the Israeli government’s duties is to see that young yeshiva students receive professional training that will allow them to step into the labor market.

This is the only way to avoid the city’s ongoing impoverishment and the best way to lower the tension between the ultra-Orthodox and the secular,” write Ya’acov Lupo and Nitzan Chen in the chapter dedicated to the city’s haredi population.

“This is a crucial moment,” add the two researchers, “for if the young generation in haredi society who decide to go to work do not find a supporting hand to facilitate a smooth entry into that world, then this society will close back into itself, and we will lose an extraordinary chance to bring change into the model of surviving only through political pressure.”

Economic Crisis Good for Chareidi Advertising

By R. Gil November 7, 2008

“A shekel spent in the chareidi sector is worth more than in the general population because it’s more focused and is aimed at a clearly defined target group,” says Shay Lachovitzer, CEO of the Afikim Group.

“When clients check the effectiveness of the shekel they notice this comparison, which stands out in greater relief during periods of tighter advertising.

If a new food product is launched, for example, in the chareidi sector advertising and sales promotion will focus on seven cities, compared to the general population, which is in hundreds of different locations.

A maximal effect can be created with a minimal budget.

First Int’l subsidiary aims credit card at ultra-orthodox

By Eran Peer November 9, 2008

First International Bank of Israel is expanding its activity in the Haredi community through subsidiary Bank Poalei Agudat Israel Ltd.

Bank Poalei Agudat Israel will issue its customers a branded credit card, PAGI Plus, which will offer discounts at businesses areas frequented by Haredim, such as Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, and Ashdod.

Bank Poalei Agudat Israel also announced that new customers will receive NIS 1,000 when they open an account at the bank. 

Bank Poalei Agudat Israel CEO Dov Goldfreind said, “PAGI Plus cardholders will be branded as wise consumers with an affinity and commitment as religiously observant.”

Lusterless city of gold

By Lior Dattel, Anat Poraz, Shuki Sadeh and Ranit Nachum-Halevi November 10, 2008

Another population shift [in Jerusalem] is the spread of ultra-Orthodox families into formerly secular areas, a process that sometimes leads to power struggles between the two groups.

In Kiryat Yovel, Beit Hakerem and Malha, for example, veteran secular residents are facing off against ultra-Orthodox newcomers over the construction of religious institutions, like ritual baths.

…Another problem facing the education system stems from the Haredization of the city.

Public secular schools are closing due to a lack of students, and more and more ultra-Orthodox schools are opening in secular neighborhoods – attracting more ultra-Orthodox families.

Slaughterhouses: ‘Kashrut costs make exporting fresh chickens uncompetitive’

By Amiram Cohen November 10, 2008

Fresh Kosher chickens slaughtered in Israel are too expensive to compete in export markets, says Yuval Oren, the chairman of the Miluot concern, which owns the Miluof slaughterhouse, the country’s largest.

Oren says Kashrut supervision costs 80 agorot per chicken, about 3.5% of the total cost. This may not seem too much, but it is enough to hurt the competitiveness of the industry, he says.

The Kosher chicken market overseas is also too small to be worthwhile, said Oren.

Charedi Couple Cancels Wedding Reservation Due To Hechsher Removal, Wins Case November 9, 2008

An Israeli judge recently ruled that the owners of a Yerushalayim wedding hall had no right to demand money from a Charedi couple that canceled their affair.

The couple had planned a wedding in the hall and were shocked when they were informed, two months before the nuptials that the Rabbanut of Yerushalayim had removed the Mehadrin Hechsher of the hall.

Akiva Returns to Kever Rachel 5769

Click here for VIDEO November 9, 2008

Akiva of returns to Kever Rachel (the gravesite of the Jewish Matriarch Rachel) in Beit Lechem (Bethlehem) just south of Jerusalem on the yartzheit (anniversary of her passing) on the 11th of Cheshvan, 5769 [2008]

See also photos from Kever Rochel on Her Yartzheit November 9, 2008

All Credits: Yehuda Boltshauser & Co. / YWN Israel

Religion and State in Israel

November 10, 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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