Religion and State in Israel – November 24, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

November 24, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Barkat seen forming broad coalition in Jerusalem

By Etgar Lefkovits November 24, 2008

Jerusalem Mayor-elect Nir Barkat is conducting intense negotiations that are likely to lead to a near wall-to-wall coalition in the city council, which would be Zionist-based, but include haredi parties as well, and could even see his haredi former rival become his deputy.

The Kikar Safra shuffle

By Peggy Cidor November 22, 2008

Zaka founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav:

“For years, Meir Porush managed to unite all the different hassidic sects and get them together with the Lithuanian haredim. That’s how the haredim became so powerful.

Now, thanks to the Ger Hassidim, it’s all crumbling. I foresee that at the general elections in February, there will be more than one haredi party, and that means the end of our power.”

Barkat Offers Chareidim One Deputy Mayor Slot

By Yechiel Spira November 21, 2008

Barkat is willing to give Agudah a deputy post, and the chareidi education and Torani culture & public health portfolios.

To Shas he is willing to give social welfare portfolio and head of the allocations committee. 

Barkat is also working on other enticements to win over the chareidim, such as a possible assistance to the city’s director-general and possibly a chair of other committees.

Holy City, Secular Mayor

By Michele Chabin November 18, 2008

“For the first time in many years the non-ultra-Orthodox population in Jerusalem was galvanized,” said Rabbi David Rosen, director of the American Jewish Committee’s department for inter-religious affairs and a longtime resident of the city. 

“Barkat managed to coalesce them into a united bloc.”

…Pioneering feminist and Israel Prize winner Alice Shalvi, who has lived in Jerusalem for three decades, believes Barkat won because

“a large number of Jerusalemites have suffered — and I mean suffered — from the ultra-Orthodox rule over the city during the past five years and wanted to stop the neglect of public services and cultural activities. They wanted a change, a return to some normality and even the glory days of [longtime Mayor] Teddy Kollek.”

…Rabbi Rosen agrees that Barkat is beholden to the haredi and national religious rabbis who either supported him or nixed Porush, thereby easing his way.

However, he says, 

“I do think [his win] will make things easier for the non-Orthodox movements.

While I understand and acknowledge Alice’s skepticism, I still think the non-Orthodox will have an address with the mayor that was not there before,” he said.

Take a look in the mirror

By Uri Orbach Opinion November 18, 2008

Uri Orbach writes open letter to ultra-Orthodox Jerusalemites in wake of elections defeat

Dayan wants Tel Aviv rights commission

By Noah Kosharek November 21, 2008

Dayan says she envisions the commission’s representatives as coming from women’s organizations, the gay community, refugees and unrecognized streams of Judaism.

She says it must be an active body that meets regularly and an address where complaints and injustices will be dealt with. 

For national religious, the party’s over

By Nadav Shragai November 18, 2008

Two weeks ago, following months of negotiations, NRP and the parties making up the National Union, Moledet and Tekuma, announced their plan to disband and form a single political party. 

…Dr. Asher Cohen, a scholar studying Israel’s modern-Orthodox public, believes NRP has never been able to recover from the loss of votes to Shas, the ultra-Orthodox Sephardi party.

The numbers prove him right. Up until the 1981 election, NRP regularly secured 10 seats in parliament and above. After NRP split into two splinter groups – one Ashkenazi and another Sephardi – the party lost four seats.

The Sephardi splinter party, Tami, soon died, but Shas quickly arose on its ruins, and has since stood as a firm wedge between NRP and Sephardi constituents.

NRP votes self out of existence, approves merger with right

By Nadav Shragai November 20, 2008

NRP chairman MK Zevulun Orlev stressed that the new, merged party would focus on education and the state’s Jewish character. 

“The fact that religious Zionism has been pushed into a political corner has eroded the State of Israel’s Jewish character, the status of the family and the status of the settlement movement,” he said.

“More than religious Zionism needs the state, the State of Israel very much needs religious Zionism, which will give it content, a soul and values.” 

A new direction for religious Zionism

By Yair Sheleg Opinion November 20, 2008

All national-religious people, not only the politicians of the four parties trying to improve their ratings, should ask themselves about the movement’s contribution to Israel’s agenda. It does not have to be in the political arena, it could be spiritual-cultural:

That is where religious Zionism’s position of integrating Judaism with modern life could represent a significant formula for Israeli society on the whole. 

New national-religious party lets supporters choose name online

By Nadav Shragai November 24, 2008

The new national-religious party formed by the merger of the National Religious Party, Moledet and Tkuma made the most of online technology last week, as supporters logged into its Web site to select a name for the new party – “Habayit Hayehudi,” or Jewish Home. 

The party’s public council is also conducting an online dialogue with voters. On the site,, the council asked voters to suggest and choose a logo and a name for its Knesset list. 

The spirit is gone Editorial November 19, 2008

We would like to remember the NRP in its idealized form – as a bastion of modern Orthodoxy, a bridge between religious and secular, for its inclusion of women in leadership positions, for the bipartisan civic-minded legislation its MKs ushered into law, and for representing Israelis concerned with Jewish education.

It is dismaying that the dwindling constituency that was once animated by these issues is now left politically homeless.

Religious-Left Party Picks Secular Head, May Join Greens

By Hillel Fendel November 21, 2008

 “A Jewish state is not measured by how many people observe Sabbath or wear Tefillin,” Rabbi Melchior said, “but rather by a rooted concern for others – for the converts, new immigrants, and foreign workers…”

…Ami Ayalon added that he has cooperated with Rabbi Melchior on several of the latter’s legislative initiatives in the past, including pre-military academies, a religious-secular educational stream, agunot [women whose husbands have left them without a Jewish divorce], and more. 

Ultra-Orthodox make inroads to university

By Miriam Bulwar David-Hay November 23, 2008

Twelve new ultra-Orthodox students will soon be gracing the halls of Haifa’s Technion after completing the first-ever special tertiary studies preparatory course for the ultra-Orthodox, reports

The 12 were part of a class of 30 in a new project designed to prepare ultra-Orthodox young adults who had never been exposed to general education for the demands of university courses.

…One of the successful ultra-Orthodox students, who will be studying civil and environmental engineering, said he had grown up in Bnei Brak and had received almost no general education, learning only basic mathematics and never having studied physics or English.

He said he had reached a stage in his life during which he realized he could not study Torah all day and needed to do something more, when he saw a newspaper advertisement for the special course and immediately signed up for it.

Tel Aviv yeshiva tries to keep budding artists within the fold

By Lisa Urbach November 22, 2008

Bar-Ilan is the only yeshiva in Israel that offers programs in music and visual arts (drawing, painting, photography and film).

“It’s the first time a yeshiva has reached out to connect religious studies with art studies. 

Our focus is not only to make Jewish music and art, but for our talented students to graduate with a strong Jewish identity and art and music education. 

We want to open the world to these students and widen their horizons,” Perl says.

Religious families demand school funding in Herzliya

By Miriam Bulwar David-Hay November 23, 2008

Religious families in Herzliya are demanding that the city begin funding their children’s secondary-school education outside Herzliya because of a lack of state religious secondary schools in the city, reports

The parents sent a letter to mayor Yael German and to Education Minister Yuli Tamir saying that in order to obtain a religious education at secondary-school level, they are being forced to send their children privately to schools outside the city, where they are being charged fees ranging from NIS 6,000 to NIS 17,000.

J’lem festival says no to ‘women only’ screening for Orthodox film

By Matthew Wagner November 21, 2008

The Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival has rejected a film created by Orthodox women after the film director demanded screening for female audiences only in accordance with Halacha.

The festival’s management refused to acquiesce to Garbose’s demand, made at the time the film was first presented for consideration, that screening would be billed as “by women, for women.”

Barak said that the director-general of the Cinematheque, Ilan De Vries, had offered two compromises.

One was that the festival would market two screenings, one for men only and one for women only.

“Out of respect for the religious feelings involved, we were even willing to plan the screenings so that men and women would not meet each other,” said Barak.

The other option was that the film would be screened for women only outside the framework of the Jewish Film Festival.

Barak said that both options were rejected by the filmmakers.

The haredi house at war

By Matthew Wagner November 22, 2008

The Ashkenazi haredi political establishment is undergoing a major shakeup. Normally a bastion of stability and unity, haredi politics has abruptly been engulfed in a period of uncertainty and fluctuation.

…Political scientist Asher Cohen of Bar-Ilan University has pointed out that the UTJ has yet to realize its full electoral potential since the sharp rise in fertility in the haredi sector began in the 1980s.

For instance, in 1990, haredi elementary school students made up only 7.6 percent of the national average. In 2005, they represented 25%.

Part of this rise can be attributed to the growth of Shas’s educational system – Ma’ayan Hahinuch. But many are future UTJ voters. In five years these students will come of age and begin to vote.

Until now, UTJ has avoided division; in part due to the real fear that if Aguda or Degel tried to run alone, they would not pass the minimum electoral threshold for entering the Knesset.

Ironically, says Cohen, as the UTJ grows stronger on the back of natural population growth, the chances of a split increase.

Fischer: Haredim must change habits

By Zvi Lavi November 19, 2008

As for decreasing poverty rates, Fischer noted that the ultra-Orthodox community would have to take an active part in that effort, by having more of its members join the workforce. 

Today, he added, only 25% of the community contributed to the workforce.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s Kollel May Be Forced To Close November 19, 2008

Rabbi Dovid Yosef, the son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has announced that Kollel Yechaveh Da’at, which he heads, is in danger of closing.

On Sunday, he entered the Kollel, banged on a table and made an announcement to the men learning there that there was no money to pay them for the next month.

Meir Porush’s son beaten as haredi confrontations continue

By Matthew Wagner November 18, 2008

In another incident demonstrating the escalating tensions between rival camps within the haredi community, the son of United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush was beaten and knocked to the ground Monday.

Yisrael Porush confirmed that he had been attacked but added that he did not want to provide details of the incident for fear it would lead to the desecration of God’s name.

HaRav Shmuel Auerbach: We Have an Obligation to Protect Yeshiva World from Interference

By A. Cohen and Yechiel Sever November 20, 2008

“The yeshiva world is in danger. Efforts are being made to constrict bnei Torah. Every effort is being made to make them unable to learn. A yeshiva is a holy entity. Since the days of our forefathers the yeshiva has always been in existence…

Our sole obligation is to reinforce the number of `soldiers’ in the yeshivas and the kollelim and not to get caught up by various suggestions intended to diminish Torah in quality and quantity.

What about secular intolerance?

By Tali Farkash Opinion November 18, 2008

You can imagine my astonishment at the struggle launched by the haredi residents of a northern Tel Aviv neighborhood against a Tiv Taam branch which was opened near their homes.

…The residents of the small neighborhood, a haredi enclave at the heart of secular Tel Aviv, are having trouble getting the same understanding, tolerance and consideration from the city’s progressive and enlightened residents.

They are a small minority, no more than 300 households, and someone is trying to infringe on their lifestyle.

They are ultra-Orthodox people who discovered that a “piggish store” has been opened opposite their home. How can they not be angry and upset?

Bar Rafaeli and the Haredim?

By Greer Fay Cashman November 23, 2008

Not everyone falls over backwards to accommodate a celebrity. Notwithstanding her fame, the Israel Airport Authority refused to allow Bar Rafaeli to pose on the tarmac for a fashion shoot that focused on a collection of skimpy underwear.

The reason: The airport is a state-owned property, and as such should not be used for photo shoots which could be offensive to any sector of the public.

Trying to get your day in (rabbinical) court

By Rabbi Seth (Shaul) Farber November 19, 2008

The writer is the director of ITIM: The Jewish Life Information Center and the rabbi of Kehilat Netivot in Ra’anana.

Unfortunately, rather than investing in human resources, the courts have determined that the best way to help individuals is to eliminate the human side altogether. 

…Ultimately, rabbinical courts need to focus on better human relations, not simply efficiency.

Until those who populate the offices of the rabbinical courts are trained properly, even the most technologically sophisticated system is destined to heighten the disenfranchisement Israelis feel toward the rabbinate.

Chief Rabbis declare day of prayers on economic crisis November 24, 2008

Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger declared that a special day of prayer will be held on Thursday dedicated to the global financial crisis.

Days of prayer

By Michael J. Salamon November 20, 2008

The writer, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, is the founder and director of the Adult Developmental Center in Hewlett, NY.

I was confused by the recent call by several of the leaders of Israel’s largest kollels for a day of prayer for the financial well-being of Jewish philanthropists.

…And, is it not the case that God helps those who help themselves?

I just read that many haredi men are trading in the study hall for jobs. Are there prayers being offered for them to be successful as well or are they on their own once they start working outside the kollel?

Your land is my land

By Esti Ahronovitz November 21, 2008

A long moment passes before you manage to take in the sight on the yellow hill. After all, this is the Arava, not Texas.

But here he comes, John Larsen, 72, father of 16 and grandfather of 18, tall and imposing, wearing a button-down checked shirt and white pants held up by suspenders, with an old cowboy hat on his head.

…John Larsen was born and raised in Copenhagen and was educated as an Evangelist, the Christian denomination that adheres strictly to piety, morality and family values, and sees the return of the Jewish people to Israel as an important stage on the way to redemption.

Larsen worked in Denmark as a journalist. After his first wife died of cancer, he was left alone with their four children. Eventually he hired a young Frenchwoman, Giselle, to help in the house, and two years later he and Giselle were married; a daughter was born shortly afterward.

One day, Larsen informed his wife that they had to pack their bags and embark on a missionary journey.

Who should help them?

By Anshel Pfeffer November 19, 2008

Most government officials prefer not to talk about the issue on record, so as not to anger both American Jewry and the local Ethiopian constituency.

The official position of the Jewish Agency – which carried out the entire process of preparing, transporting and absorbing the Ethiopians in Israel – is that it follows the government’s policy.

Off record, views within the Agency diverge – there are those who believe that the Falashmura are not really Jewish and that bringing them simply drains scarce resources.

Others are interested in continuing the emigration since it boosts the Agency’s dwindling aliyah operation. 

Falash Mura advocates press UJC to continue funding Ethiopian aliya

By Ruth Eglash November 17, 2008

Advocates for continuing the immigration to Israel of Ethiopia’s Falash Mura community have utilized the United Jewish Communities General Assembly taking place in Jerusalem to press the group’s executives to resume sponsoring aid programs for thousands of Ethiopians still waiting to make aliya.

Religion and State in Israel

November 24, 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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