Religion and State in Israel – December 1, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

December 1, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Haredi parties absent from Jerusalem coalition for first time in decades

By Jonathan Lis November 27, 2008

For the first time in almost 40 years, not a single ultra-Orthodox party will be represented on the Jerusalem municipal coalition. Other religious parties, including the National Religious Party – National Union, have secured a seat, but none from the Haredi sector. 

Incoming Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat will be sworn into office next week should he succeed in forming the municipal coalition before then. 

The municipal coalition consists of 17 of the city’s 31 council members, and will include five deputy chairs. 

Barkat forms Jerusalem coalition without haredim

By Etgar Lefkovits November 27, 2008

The mayor-elect’s coalition will include 18 council members from seven lists: his Jerusalem Will Succeed party; the right-wing National Religious Party-National Union; the left-wing Meretz Party; Wake Up Jerusalem, a new party of twenty- and thirty-something secular and modern Orthodox residents; Yerushalayim Beitenu, a local offshoot of Avidgor Leiberman’s Yisrael Beitenu; the one-person Likud list; and an independent list.

UTJ, which at eight seats is the largest party on the council, is demanding at least two deputy mayoral appointments, while Barkat is ready to offer only one.

Shas, with four seats, is expected to be easier to placate. It is demanding one deputy mayor and is likely to get it, but the party is said to be facing internal struggles.

MK Gafne Warns of Consequences of Continued Infighting in Agudah

By Yechiel Spira November 25, 2008

Veteran Agudath Yisrael MK Mosher Gafne, of the Degel HaTorah faction, warns of the dire consequences that will result if unity is not achieved inside the party.

Q: Of late, we have seen physical and verbal violence in our camp. What is the solution?

A: Gafne:

To my joy, we are not a part of it but I do hope that Agudah will find a solution soon. After all, we are running together and if there is a faction not voting for us, we all lose. I spoke with both [UTJ MK Meir] Porush and [UTJ MK Ya’akov] Litzman and told them the very same thing. 

The situation is absurd. The Torah world today is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. The economic crisis impacts all of us and we are busy with internal fighting. It is unbelievable.

Advertising firms censor signs for fear of vandalism

By Jonathan Lis November 27, 2008

Kadima Party chairwoman and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni discovered last week that her portrait had been expunged from dozens of Kadima’s campaign billboards in Jerusalem.

The reason for this, her advisers explained to her, was the fact that the billboard company with rights for Jerusalem, Maximedia, forbids displaying pictures of women in the city for fear of offending ultra-Orthodox sensibilities.

Livni refused to toe the municipal line, and ordered her adviser, Reuven Adler, to replace the signs at once with signs that include her picture.

Wherever placing her picture should prove impossible, Livni ordered that her signs be removed altogether. 

Ultra-Orthodox kindergarten teachers file suit against employers for exploitation

By Ruth Sinai December 1, 2008

A group of ultra-Orthodox kindergarten teachers and assistants yesterday filed a suit against their employers, two ultra-Orthodox NGOs, for employing them under exploitative terms and forcing them to sign a wage agreement that violates basic workers’ rights and laws. 

The five plaintiffs are represented by the non-profit organization Itach Women Lawyers for Social Justice, which received complaints from 15 kindergarten teachers and assistants in the Sha’arei Zion and Harbatzat Torah kindergarten networks.

Tahon Ashkenazi says the employers also took advantage of the fact that the women were afraid of going to a secular court, which the agreement forbade. Instead it said they must take any issue up with an ultra-Orthodox arbitrator. 

Chinuch Atzmai’s Beis Yaakov HaTzafon Discriminates against Americans

By Yechiel Spira November 20, 2008

Many gedolim in the United States encourage newlyweds to make the move to learn in Yerushalayim and benefit from the kedusha the city has to offer.

There are a growing number of Americans found in the capital, in areas including Ramat Eshkol, Maalot Daphne, Sanhedria and Sanhedria Murchevet.

As is the case among all parents, Americans living in Yerushalayim seek out the best education for their children.

This is not exclusive to Yerushalayim, and not to the chareidi population, but our story deals with a particular school in the chareidi community, the Beis Yaakov Tzafon, the primary school serving the neighborhoods listed above, a member of the Chinuch Atzmai educational network.

The story begins three years ago in the Sanhedria Murchevet Beis Yaakov North, headed by Principal Frieda Sokolovsky.

For reasons that compel one to ponder, the children in first and second grades of American families have been targeted by Sokolovsky, who has blatantly implemented a discriminatory policy, segregating the American students along with a number of the weaker Sephardi girls, residents of the Shmuel HaNavi neighborhood.

Jerusalem Municipality’s Legal Advisor Threatens to Stop Funding Bais Yaakov School 

By Yechiel Sever November 27, 2008

The Jerusalem Municipality’s legal advisor, Atty. Yossi Chavilio, is threatening for the first time to impose budget sanctions on the city’s chareidi education system.

In a letter given last week to the head of the Unit for Chareidi Education, Rabbi Itamar Bar Ezer, Chavilio threatens to instruct the municipal treasurer to halt funding for the Bais Yaakov School in Ramot Alef if the girls using three classrooms at a nearby government religious school do not vacate the building within 14 days.

What makes parents do it?

By Jonathan Rosenblum Opinion November 27, 2008

Why would a secular parent put his or her child in a school with intensified Jewish studies taught by haredi teachers? 

Why run the risk that their children will end up “religious”?

Poll: Religious parties trigger antagonism towards religion November 30, 2008

A large majority of Israeli public, and particularly non-religious Israelis, believe that the religious and ultra-Orthodox parties create an antagonism towards the Jewish religion, a new survey revealed Sunday.

While 77% of secular [Jews] stated that religious parties alienate the public, 62% of observant Jews, 89% of religious Jews and 93% of haredim claimed otherwise.

Gesher Institute Director Shoshi Becker:

“It’s evident that secular Israelis would prefer seeing the religious MKs as part of the general, rather than sectoral parties.”

Whose home is it anyway?

By Nadav Shragai November 25, 2008

The social face and the issue of Jewish identity that Habayit Hayehudi would like to put at the center of its agenda bring up names of a coloration different from that which has characterized the Knesset list until now.

Thus, for example, mention is being made of Dr. Aliza Lavie of Bar-Ilan University, a lecturer on communications, a researcher of Jewish women’s writings and an activist in the Kolech group of Orthodox feminists; Yehiel Tropper, one of the founders of the Maagalei Tzedek social movement; Elhanan Glatt, the chief executive of the Bnai Akiva yeshivas and Liora Minka, the chairwoman of the Emunah national religious women’s movement. 

MKs consider leaving 2-week-old Habayit Hayehudi

By Nadav Shragai November 25, 2008

Just two weeks after the establishment of the new right wing party, Habayit Hayehudi (“the Jewish Home”), a crisis is looming over the decision of its public council not to hold a primary vote to elect its list of Knesset candidates.

On The Demise of Religious Zionism

By Jerome A. Chanes November 25, 2008

Jerome A. Chanes is faculty scholar at Brandeis University’s Cohen Center, and is author of “A Dark Side of History: Antisemitism Through the Ages.”

Who killed Religious Zionism?

How did it happen that the moderate, centrist, responsible Mizrachi of the 1950s and 1960s, the Israeli political party of Zerach Warhaftig and Yosef Burg, was replaced by the Mafdal (National Religious Party — NRP) of Gush Emunim, the early radical precursor of today’s “settler movement?” 

…The ultimate irony is that, in an era in which all of American Zionism is weak, it is precisely Religious Zionism, with its faith-based commitment to Eretz Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael, which is the one movement that could revitalize Zionism.

This will not happen unless there is the will to back to its roots of Klal Yisrael and of cultural and intellectual openness in addressing the complexities of the modern world and of contemporary Jewry.

The electoral demise of religious Zionism

By Amotz Asa-El November 30, 2008

The modern Orthodox public, for its part, defected to a plethora of secular parties, and thus effectively shunned not only political modern Orthodoxy’s Greater Israel dogma, but also its fusion of synagogue and state. In fact, this is modern Orthodoxy’s sweetest success.

Modern Orthodox Israelis, apparently some one-tenth of the Jewish population, are by now so naturally present in Israel’s social and cultural fabric that they vote like everyone else.

Effectively, they are separating synagogue and state – working, studying, serving, enterprising and creating here like everyone else, and keeping all of that totally apart from their worship, which they increasingly consider a private affair, one which does not need the services of politicians, the presence of the state or the scrutiny of state-paid rabbis.

Ministry to launch program to return alienated settler youths to mainstream fold

By Ruth Sinai December 1, 2008

The Social Affairs Ministry will soon begin an experimental program for dealing with youth and adolescents alienated from national-religious mainstream society, in an effort to address the phenomenon of “hilltop youth.”

The program will incorporate a religious lifestyle, and treatment will include assessments by psychologists and social workers, support groups as well as enrichment and leisure activities.

The Social Affairs Ministry has for several years operated dormitories and other frameworks for alienated youth from secular, ultra-Orthodox and Arab backgrounds, but the new program marks the first attempt to reach out to such youths from the national-religious community.

Libido and the Lord: Conference tackles sex and the religious single

By Matthew Wagner November 29, 2008

How do modern religious singles in their late twenties and thirties reconcile a faith that preaches abstinence until marriage with a burgeoning libido that has other plans?

Over a hundred Bar-Ilan University students, hoping to get some answers, attended a religious dating conference Tuesday evening that featured a liberal Orthodox rabbi, a female educator who teaches Talmud to women, and the screenwriter of the popular TV series Srugim.

God’s little acre

By Kobi Ben-Simhon November 28, 2008

About a month ago, a yeshiva belonging to the religious-Zionist movement was established in the heart of Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood.

…An Israeli flag flies on the roof of the yeshiva, which is located at the end of Toulouse Street. Standing next to a rusting iron gate is the yeshiva’s dean and founder, Rabbi Eliyahu Mali.

…Mali’s words to his students reflect prolonged reevaluation by the religious-Zionist movement. The establishment of Torah-study groups in secular locales within the Green Line dates back to the start of settlement in the territories.

…The yeshiva is only one element in the new fabric of relations being woven between the national-religious public and the city of Jaffa.

In the past year, the Rosh Yehudi association, whose stated aim is “to deepen the Jewish identity of all sections of the population,” established a yeshiva-style group in the Jaffa Dalet neighborhood. 

Bnei Akiva: 80 years in photos November 29, 2008

Religious Zionist youth movement marks 80 years of activities, camps and social enterprises Saturday in branches across Israel.

Ynet brings a selection of pictures of group from past years sent by readers.

Criminal probe of Rabbi Wolpe ordered

By Dan Izenberg November 30, 2008

The State Attorney’s Office on Sunday ordered police to investigate the organizers of a gathering in honor of soldiers who refused orders to evict Jewish settlers from the wholesale market in Hebron and were jailed for their refusal.

During the gathering the soldiers received cash prizes.

The gathering was organized by a right-wing organization called Save the Land and the Nation (SOS) headed by Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe.

No ‘indecent women’ in Jerusalem auction

By Nissan Shtrauchler November 30, 2008

The auction was initiated by two Israeli ultra-Orthodox businessmen

Uri Rosenbach, 50, MatsArt director, stressed that 

“None of the works that will be offered at the auction portray images of exposed women, as this is forbidden according to the Halacha.”

Why haredim fall behind

By Tali Farkash Opinion November 26, 2008

The public of haredi parents has yet to internalize the fact that when choosing to minimize the scope of secular studies in schools, they must at the same time be prepared to enable their child the option of a professional career, by saving money for academic studies.

One thing is certain – the position regarding secular studies is destined to change as the circle of haredi higher education grows wider. 

Yad Vashem Broadens Holocaust Story by Reaching Out to Haredim November 26, 2008

David Skulsky, director of Ginzach Kidush Hashem, which is one of Israel’s largest Haredi Holocaust commemoration organizations, said that the change within Yad Vashem has been significant: 

“There is more openness to the Haredi perspective, and a preparedness to listen to our viewpoint.”

…Since the new museum opened, Yad Vashem has made particular efforts to woo the Haredi sector. 

There have been special courses for educators on teaching the Holocaust in Haredi areas, and gender-separate classes for members of the religious public.

There is also talk of more changes to make the Haredim more comfortable with the museum’s ideological outlook. 

New Housing Project by Satmar on Hold November 26, 2008

The project, named Kiryas Yoel, was being built on Jerusalem’s Raoul Wallenberg Street, on the plot where the city’s Edison Cinema once stood.

The cornerstone-laying event was widely covered by the media at the time, and was hailed as a major victory for Satmar Chasidim in their campaign to safeguard Jerusalem’s sanctity from secular institutions.

One year later, however, the location remains an apparently abandoned construction site, with an enormous foundation pit lying bare with no workers or equipment in sight.

New Chareidi Daily Expected Before Chanukah

By Yechiel Spira November 26, 2008

Reports of a new chareidi daily in Eretz Yisrael appear to be gaining momentum as the buzz on the street indicates it may become a reality before Chanukah.

Meir Porush is behind the effort, and the timing is by no means an accident, hoping to bring the effort to fruition in time to carry the lists of the 18th Knesset lineup, with the deadline being 28-29 Kislev.

Modi’in Illit Laying Groundwork for Kosher Power Station

By A. Cohen November 27, 2008

Intense work has been underway for months at the future site of the kosher power plant in Modi’in Illit. 

Upon completion, the entire city will be connected to a power plant free of all concerns of chilul Shabbos, making it the first city ever powered entirely by electricity in accordance with the rulings of the Chazon Ish zt”l.

MK Avraham Ravitz retiring from Knesset

By Yair Ettinger November 30, 2008

MK Avraham Ravitz, chairman of the Degel Hatorah faction within United Torah Judaism, has decided to retire at the end of the current Knesset term after 20 years in the parliament.

Ravitz, 74, informed the leaders of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community, Rabbis Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Aharon Leib Steinman, of his decision, but said he intends to continue as party head and serving the public.

Jerusalem: Demolition Orders for 2 Neveh Yaakov Shuls and Construction of Ramat Beit Hakerem Mikveh Halted

By Yechiel Sever November 27, 2008

Hundreds of mispallelim at the main botei knesses in Jerusalem’s Neveh Yaakov neighborhood were stunned upon learning that demolition orders had been issued for two major botei knesses in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile construction has been halted on a mikveh in Ramat Beit Hakerem.

IDF to leave historic Jerusalem camp next week

By Etgar Lefkovits November 25, 2008

A historic central Jerusalem military camp which was used by the IDF since the establishment of the State of Israel sixty years ago and dates back to the middle 19th century is being converted into a haredi residential complex, with the compound’s historic Ottoman buildings to be preserved as public sites.

The land on the compound, which is located on the edge of the city’s Mea Shearim neighborhood, was sold by the Defense Ministry to haredi entrepreneurs four years ago at over NIS 80 million for the construction of a 620-unit haredi residential complex…

New ‘mikve’ to offer spa-like experience

By Miriam Bulwar David-Hay November 30, 2008

Women who use a mikve (ritual bath) normally have a religious experience, but in Hod Hasharon they will soon get a sublime one, reports

The city is building a new, architect-designed mikve that aims to create the atmosphere of a stylish spa, with Japanese-style furniture and fittings and ambient lighting.

According to the report, the chic 120-square-meter mikveh was designed by an architect under halachic supervision, and is expected to cost about NIS 1 million to build, with the funding to come from the Housing Ministry.

The city has issued tenders for building contractors and expects the work to take about one year. 

A municipal spokesman said it was hoped that the new mikve would create a more pleasant experience for women using it, and would attract new users as well as those who regularly visit mikvaot.

Distraught Fathers Vent Anger at Divorce Conference November 28, 2008

Welfare Ministry’s Deputy Director, Moti Vinter said, however, that the fact that Israel has a rabbinical court system makes it different from other western countries and suggested that annulling the Tender Years Clause immediately would not be a good idea after all.

He recommended testing the idea in an experimental fashion before reaching a decision to strike the clause permanently from the law books.

The rabbis and the credit crunch

By Corrine Sauer November 27, 2008

Nobel Laureate economist Professor Robert (Yisrael) Aumann described in a recent speech his outlook on the link between economics, Judaism and the current economic downturn.

24-Hour Kabbalah Channel Launches on Israel Television November 25, 2008

Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute, the international group of Kabbalists based in Israel, announces the launching of its 24-hour Kabbalah Channel on channel 66 in Israel.

The non-stop programming schedule features current affair, lifestyle, family, education and parenting segments, along with Zohar lessons, personal stories, and live lectures.

Religion and State in Israel

December 1, 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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