Religion and State in Israel – November 17, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

November 17, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Haaretz cartoon by Daniella London Dekel – November 13, 2008 November 13, 2008

Our City [Tel Aviv]

“Damn…I guess they’re not our cities after all”

Jerusalem voted Porush

Seculars, Jerusalem isn’t yours

By Mordechai Lavi November 12, 2008

Jerusalem resident Mordechai Lavi is an ultra-Orthodox media personality and the leading news broadcaster of Kol Chai Radio

…Secular Jerusalemites, don’t be confused (and don’t take what I’m about to say too hard.)

Jerusalem isn’t yours. It really isn’t. Jerusalem is more ultra-Orthodox than ever, and this trend will only grow stronger.

The victory is a direct result of the internal Orthodox struggle. It is indeed a miracle that we ultra-Orthodox are such great fools.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, secular voters who wanted a change. You will get change, but the opposite of what you hoped for. Jerusalem will become more Orthodox, more devout, and worse for secular residents under a secular mayor.

Nir Barkat will be a mayor at the mercy of an Orthodox coalition. The implication is that the ultra-Orthodox will receive much more from him than in their rosiest dreams under an Orthodox mayor.

U.S. Jews hear from Jerusalem’s mayor-elect

By Jacob Berkman November 17, 2008

Click here for VIDEO

Be the firefighter, not the pyromaniac

By Shahar Ilan Opinion November 13, 2008

Here are a few tips that could prove useful: 

Only the creation of a supply of apartments somewhere else will stop the Haredization of Kiryat Hayovel. A Haredi neighborhood must be built at Givat Alona, in the north of the city, so that the ultra-Orthodox will not need to buy homes in Kiryat Hayovel.

…Barkat must be reelected in five years’ time. It won’t be easy, and he must not turn the Haredim into his enemies. He’d do well to bring at least one ultra-Orthodox party into his coalition.

Haredim eyeing J’lem construction portfolio

By Yair Ettinger November 14, 2008

Newly elected Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is considering thanking the city’s ultra-Orthodox Ger community for their support in the elections by handing their representatives the municipality’s planning and construction portfolio.

Barkat met with MK Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), who represents the Ger community, at his house yesterday for a lengthy meeting.

“We don’t give details on meetings that were either held or not held with public officials,” a Barkat spokesman said.

The Ger Hasidic dynasty voted en masse in favor of the secular Barkat, causing a split with the rest of the ultra-Orthodox community who largely supported the candidacy of Meir Porush.

The opening shots of Ger’s campaign of vengeance

By Matthew Wagner November 13, 2008

The results of the 2008 municipal votes point to some interesting haredi voting trends that could have a major impact on the haredi parties in upcoming national elections.

The most radical change is the undermining of the Ger Hassidic sect’s political hegemony within Agudat Yisrael.

Haredi voting signals weakening of sector’s political establishment

By Matthew Wagner November 12, 2008

No matter what the final results, the 2008 municipal elections will go down in history as a watershed event for haredi politics that will likely have far-reaching implications on the national level.

For the first time in Israeli political history, the normally obedient haredi voters showed signs of rebellion.

In two haredi centers – Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh – there is a significant haredi contingent that has come out openly against the haredi political establishment.

For many secular Jerusalemites, Barkat’s victory represents liberation

By Nir Hasson November 13, 2008

“It’s Jerusalem’s liberation day,” said Jerusalemite Haim Levy after the election results were announced. 

Like most secular residents, Levy regards Barkat’s defeat of ultra-Orthodox candidate Meir Porush as a victory in a last battle against Haredi dominance of the capital. 

The day the Gerrers chose secular

By Tamar Rotem November 12, 2008

Was his hand shaking, his friend asked. 

“No way,” was the response. “The Rebbe said so, and so we’re happy to vote for Barkat.” 

Hearing the tale, Moshe Friedman, the head of Porush’s campaign, let out a sigh, saying, “It breaks your heart.” 

How politics tear the ultra-Orthodox apart

By Yair Ettinger November 12, 2008

No matter what the outcome of the municipal elections, the truth is already known to every ultra-Orthodox child:

This was a wild election campaign, one that devastated nearly every myth in ultra-Orthodox politics – Agudat Yisrael, the Council of Torah Sages and the idea that “the sages of Israel” are the supreme authority whose opinion is “the opinion of Torah.” 

Barkat’s plans

By Jonathan Lis November 13, 2008

Although he is capable of setting up a broad coalition without the ultra-Orthodox factions, Barkat is expected to form a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox to bolster his image as “everyone’s mayor.” 

He is expected to give the powerful planning, construction and finance portfolios, which have been held by ultra-Orthodox delegates, to secular officials. 

Election violence: Haredim riot in Jerusalem

Efrat Weiss November 11, 2008

Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews clash with police on municipal Election Day as Haredim try to prevent voters from getting through. Officer, security guard lightly injured in two separate incidents.

UTJ Satisfied with Overall Election Results

By M. Plaut and Yated Ne’eman Staff November 13, 2008

Despite some prominent disappointments — notably the loss of the mayoralty of Jerusalem — UTJ leaders were satisfied with their achievements throughout the country. 

Even in Jerusalem, the party itself garnered 25 percent more votes than in the previous election only 5 years ago.

The man who would be mayor

By Peggy Cidor November 13, 2008

Meir Porush, who was almost crowned king of Jerusalem, seen as “one of us” by haredi residents, the man who seemed so confident in his victory that he even declined to answer the hypothetical question “What will you do if you lose?” lost the city to the young hi-tech millionaire for whom his assistants and supporters showed so much disdain.

Bitter Sectarian Election Gives Jerusalem a Secular Mayor November 13, 2008

Shlomo Hasson, Hebrew University geography professor and expert on Jerusalem’s religious and political tensions, said that the secular population saw the election as a “watershed.” 

“This is a discussion about the image of Jerusalem,” he said. “It is a message from the residents that the city is not yet given over to the Haredim.”

It is widely believed that Lupolianski’s 2003 victory was more a result of secular people failing to turn out to vote than a widespread desire for a religious mayor.

In 2003, almost 90% of Haredim voted, while turnout among other Jewish adults was just 32%. This meant that the Haredi managed to elect their candidate with only around one-third of the Jewish electorate.

“The secular population learned from the previous election, asking why the Haredim should run the city when they are in a minority. 

There was a sense that the secular were abandoning the city to another group if they did not vote,” Israel Kimhi, director of Jerusalem-related projects at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, said.

Mishpacha Magazine: Barkat’s Secret Deal with NRP

By Yechiel Spira November 13, 2008

According to the weekly Mishpacha Magazine, incoming Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat made a secret deal with National Religious Party leader Zevulun Orlev, which resulted in Orlev not supporting the chareidi candidate despite calls to do so from most rabbanim affiliated with the dati leumi camp.

According to the Mishpacha report, the deal promises the city’s education portfolio to NRP, as well as control of the religious council and a deputy mayoral post. 

In addition, the report states Barkat promised to use all his influence towards the appointment of a chief rabbi of the capital who is affiliated with the dati leumi and not chareidi camp.

Soldiers’ votes shift J’lem council seat from Shas to Meretz

By Etgar Lefkovits November 13, 2008

In the city council, secular and modern Orthodox parties gained control of 19 of the 31 seats, a stunning turnaround after five years of haredi control.

The results means Barkat can control the council without having to form a coalition with any of the haredi parties, but he said Wednesday that they should be part of his coalition.

Haredi infighting helps Barkat capture J’lem

By Matthew Wagner November 13, 2008

The Ger Hassidic sect led an aggressive campaign against Jerusalem’s only religious candidate.

Ger even resorted to violence and incitement to discourage the haredi public from voting for Porush, according to Porush supporters.

“They cut all the telephone lines in our campaign headquarters one day,” said a Porush campaigner. “We did not want to publicize it because we did not want there to be a desecration of God’s name.”

A religious Zionist pro-Porush activist said that Ger Hassidim had also tried to mislead voters by announcing that voting for Porush was against rabbinic opinion.

Subdued Mea She’arim bemoans disunity

By Abe Selig November 13, 2008

A sense of gloom hung over Mea She’arim on Wednesday afternoon, as the sting of haredi Jerusalem mayoral hopeful Meir Porush’s loss to the secular Nir Barkat was still being digested.

European haredim unfazed by ‘loss’ of Jerusalem

By Haviv Rettig November 13, 2008

The Orthodox rabbinic leadership of Europe, meeting in Prague at a summit of the Conference of European Rabbis, took the haredi loss of the mayoralty of Jerusalem in stride Wednesday.

“Haredim will continue to control the city,” insisted one Israeli haredi rabbi close to the Rabbinate. “No matter that [mayor-elect Nir] Barkat won; he can’t form a coalition without us.”

Chareidi Success in Bet Shemesh Election

By Yechiel Spira November 13, 2008

Bet Shemesh has undergone a metamorphosis, having elected its first chareidi mayor, Moshe Abutbul. In addition, the United Torah Judaism representation on the city council has increased from 3 to 5 seats.

Abutbul, who received 52.3% of the vote, enjoys widespread support from rabbonim in Bet Shemesh as well as Gedolei HaDor Shlita. 

In addition, there are many unaffiliated with the chareidi way of life who decided to support his mayoral bid. The dati leumi candidate, Shalom Lerner earned 28% of the vote and outgoing Mayor Daniel Vaknin 17%.

UTJ enjoys the largest representation on the 19-seat city council, followed by Shas (3), NRP (3), Dor Echad (2), Likud (2), Mishpacha Echad (2), Labor (1), and Ad (1).

Ladies, Hop on Jerusalem’s Buses

By Tim McGirk November 13, 2008

An edict that kept women’s portraits –including rockstar Fergie‘s– off Jerusalem’s buses is now abolished.

In her race to become Israel’s next prime minister, Tzipi Livni owes a debt to a plucky little party whose name sounds like an alarm clock. “Wake Up, Jerusalemites!” it’s called.

They fielded six candidates for Tuesday’s city council elections.  Three of their candidates were women, and so is Livni. 

So when they went to Egged, the public transportation company, to arrange for ‘Wake Up, Jerusalemite’ posters to be plastered on the city buses, they were in for a nasty surprise.

Women’s faces can’t appear on the sides of Jerusalem’s buses, they were told. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an 80-year old woman or an eight-year old girl,” one company rep explained.

Court orders lifting of ban on election posters with female candidates

By Aviad Glickman November 11, 2008

The High Court of Justice on Monday accepted an appeal submitted by the Wake Up Jerusalem movement, which is running for the capital’s city council, and ruled that companies in Israel cannot refuse to advertise election posters displaying pictures of female political candidates.

Canaan Advertising Agency, which works with the Egged bus company, had refused to advertise the posters and claimed that Egged prohibited the hanging of women’s pictures on the ad spaces it leases.

Rebel With a Cause

Winter 2008 Issue

Anat Hoffman is executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, the legal and advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel.

What is IRAC doing to try to break the Orthodox monopoly on religious affairs?

IRAC confronts this monopoly on multiple levels. Legally, through our Resource Allocations Monitoring Project (RAMP), we track the amount of money allocated to Orthodox institutions and rabbis as compared to non-Orthodox organizations and then use the evidence we find of unjust and unequal government funding to prove discrimination.

This becomes the basis for our cases concerning Reform synagogue buildings, Reform representation on local Religious Councils, and recognition of Reform rabbis in Israel.

We also use litigation when Orthodox communities or institutions abuse their power, such as taking over synagogues or forcing gender segregation on some public buses.

Simultaneously, on the advocacy front, we support the passage of bills that will promote a more pluralistic and democratic Israel, such as the creation of a civil marriage option.

And our staff is constantly blocking a barrage of proposed bills that would further enshrine Orthodox party power, such as a proposed law that would have made it mandatory for all government committees to have an ultra-Orthodox representative.

I’ll be the first to admit, however, that even with all of our legal and advocacy work, it is difficult to make headway.

Attack on Litzman underlines deep splits within UTJ

By Abe Selig November 17, 2008

The attack on MK Ya’acov Litzman on Saturday night by a group of Slonimer Hassidim shows that the anger with the Gur community over Nir Barkat’s victory in the Jerusalem mayoral race has continued past Election Day.

The embattled Litzman, a representative of the Gur Hassidim within the haredi United Torah Judaism Party, was allegedly cursed, pushed and kicked before being pelted with kugel shortly after arriving at a family celebration being held at a Slonimer-owned hall in Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood.

Amid Financial Crisis, Jewish Schools Pray for Aid

By Paul Goldman November 14, 2008

Will prayer help deliver world markets? If around 2,500 Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel have anything to say about it, hope may be on the way.

Concerned about the health of the global economy, Jews in 11 major seminaries across Israel prayed Thursday night for a fast resolution to the world’s financial crisis – and for Jews who contribute to Israel’s cash-strapped yeshivas.

Day of prayer for philanthropists organized amid financial crisis November 13, 2008

Thursday will be a day of prayer and learning in all kollels in Israel, and is being called “a united effort to storm the gates of Heaven and plead for the financial health of Jewish philanthropists, so that they can continue to support Torah institutions in Israel,” according to a news release.

Neither flour nor Torah

By Sam Ser Opinion November 12, 2008

Heavenly judgment notwithstanding, poverty among haredim is almost entirely self-inflicted. Only about half of haredi men and women of working age are employed – some 30 percentage points lower than the figure for non-haredi Jews – and the jobs they do hold tend to be in lower-paying sectors.

The haredi community, therefore, is unable to independently fund its kollel system and relies heavily on donations from abroad.

Considering how impossible this equation is, the only thing that is surprising about this crisis is that it hasn’t come sooner.

For all those who have watched with concern while the haredi community’s singular devotion to Torah studies has pushed it deeper and deeper into poverty, the impending collapse of the kollel economy is good news.

Not, God forbid, that anyone should take pleasure in the distress of others, or in the thought that Torah learning may decrease.

Rather, it is good news that what has been painfully obvious to so many outsiders may finally be sinking in among stalwart proponents of the widespread kollel culture that has created this catastrophe: that the system is broken, and demands repair.


November 9, 2008

By Netty C. Gross Issue 16, November 24, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report

So Shas is hurting its electorate?

Dr. Dan Ben-David:

Correct. Its demands are not good for its poor, ultra-Orthodox constituents in the long run, because they kill the incentive to work.

Furthermore, ultra-Orthodox education is limited (since it does not include basic subjects such as mathematics and English) so their children’s chances on the job market will be weak, perpetuating the problem.

Once the Sephardi working class gave its children top educations and many rose to the top.

With Shas’s emphasis on large families and schooling that does not fall under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, it’s a different reality.

Former Shas MK sent to jail for 3 years

By Aviad Glickman November 13, 2008

According to his verdict, which was delivered some two months ago, during his term as MK Hugi forged student attendance lists in order to increase the transportation budget for Shas’ school chain.

Using this method he defrauded the Education Minister of NIS 2 million (about $470,000).

Hugi was also convicted of attempting to receive funding from government ministries for a technological college that does not exist.

Whither NRP?

By Matthew Wagner November 13, 2008

Last week, after months of negotiations, the NRP and the parties making up the National Union – Moledet and Tekuma – announced they would disband and form a single political party that has yet to be named.

…The unity deal calls for the creation of an election council composed of rabbis, university professors, businessmen, IDF officers and other non-politicians who will choose the new party’s candidates for the next elections.

Some of the rabbis who were chosen to sit on the council include Dov Lior, rabbi of Hebron-Kiryat Arba; Haim Druckman, rabbi of the Bnei Akiva yeshivot; Elyakim Levanon, rabbi of Elon Moreh; Yuval Cherlow, rabbi of Tzohar; and Yehuda Gilad, rabbi of Kibbutz Lavi.

Several women are council members as well, including Prof. Yaffa Zilbershatz, vice dean of Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Law, and Sarah Eliash, who runs an elite girls’ high school in Kedumim.

Religion and State in Israel

November 17, 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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