Religion and State in Israel – December 8, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

December 8, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Jerusalem’s new secular Mayor Barkat brings Haredim into coalition

By Jonathan Lis December 8, 2008

Jerusalem’s new secular mayor Nir Barkat has brought an ultra-Orthodox faction [United Torah Judaism] into his coalition, two weeks after forging one without any Haredi members and one week after taking office.

Barkat’s mayoral campaign was galvanized in part by the fight against what many secular Jerusalemites branded the creeping ‘haredization,’ or ultra-Orthodox takeover, of the capital. 

On Monday, he expressed satisfaction with the addition of United Torah Judaism party members to his coalition.

Haredim plan kosher bus line to Western Wall

By Uri Gilhar December 3, 2008

The leaders of the [Eida Haredit], a prominent anti-Zionist stream of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, have called on their public to donate money for the establishment of an alternative, kosher bus service to the Western Wall.

The community is outraged by the Egged bus company’s refusal to introduce a service that institutes separation between men and women.

“We will soon begin operating an alternative service to line 2, which carries 20,000 people every day,” the rabbis stated.

‘Modesty Squad’ Faces Legal Scrutiny in Israel

By Brenda Gazzar Women’s eNews December 1, 2008

Brenda Gazzar is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.

Naomi Ragen, an Orthodox writer who joined another legal case that is related to modesty squads hopes legal battles such as Michal’s will deter others involved in such patrols.

Ragen, along with four other Israeli women, joined forces with the Reform Movement’s [Israel Religious Action Center] to file suit in January 2007 against Israel’s public bus lines and the Israeli Ministry of Transportation.

She says she was harassed on a special bus line that runs through Haredi neighborhoods and expected men to sit in the front, women in the back, in accordance with the sex-segregated customs of the Haredi community.

Ragen, who has written about modesty patrols in her novel “Sotah,” in her play “Women’s Minyan” and on her Web site, says quasi-official police forces should be disbanded and citizens should be encouraged to go to the police.

Experts urge change in haredi school system to battle poverty

By Tamar Trabelsi-Hadad December 7, 2008

Regardless of the current global financial crisis, economists and educators warn that the cycle of poverty in Israel is expected to expand even further, due to the Education Ministry’s failure to enforce core curriculum on ultra-Orthodox schools.

…Rabbi Gilad Kariv of the Israel Religious Action Center claims that the new legislation discriminates against haredi students who are deprived of the right to a basic curriculum that would provide them with the general education needed to become a part of society.

“The Education Ministry sentences tens of thousands of haredi students to a life of poverty and is perpetuating ignorance. Only a few would be able to set themselves free of the cycle of poverty.

“These students will not study citizenship education, and this, in turn, will increase the rift, alienation and conflict in Israeli society. 

When they don’t study citizenship and history, how can we expect them to sympathize with the principles of democracy?”

The challenge of our age

By Haviv Rettig Gur December 4, 2008

Can Israel’s incessant religio-political warriors learn nothing from the open American marketplace of spirituality, one which creates widespread popular religion rather than introverted camps hunkered down for battle over the state’s resources?

Can Israeli education learn nothing from the American Jewish struggle to find a Jewish identity that is compelling and attractive in its own right, without benefit of the social boundaries that hold off assimilation among Israelis and some of the Orthodox?

Amid recession, Americans eye aliya

By Allison Hoffman December 7, 2008

The Jewish Agency and the Absorption Ministry have responded with a series of employment conferences across North America, set to begin Sunday in New York, promoting tax incentives for new immigrants and returning Israelis, education grants and job opportunities.

Additional job fairs will be held in Boston, Chicago, Toronto, San Francisco, Miami, Washington and Montreal.

Home to the next generation

By Daniella Hoffman December 4, 2008

Hillel International is seen as an answer to one of the greatest threats facing Jews today: the threat, as the younger Bronfman put it, of “[Jewish] intolerance and indifference.”

Contemporary Judaism needs to focus “[on] gaining equality not only in the secular world but also among ourselves.”

This statement holds true especially in Israel, where Hillel aims to offer an alternative to what it perceives as widespread apathy by many secular Israelis – born of a lack of exposure to the significance that a connection to one’s Jewish heritage can offer.

Birthright guarantees funding through March

By Haviv Rettig December 5, 2008

“There won’t be a single cancellation [due to insufficient funds] in the winter trips,” birthright CEO Gidi Mark told The Jerusalem Post hours after the announcement was made to operators.

Cutbacks may force Ulpan Etzion to move

By Ruth Eglash December 2, 2008

Jerusalem’s historic Ulpan Etzion, which has been the starting point for thousands of young, single, academic immigrants since it was founded in 1949, could be moved from its central location to another Jewish Agency building on the outskirts of the city, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

According to the [Jewish Agency] spokesman, discussions within the Agency about whether to move Ulpan Etzion to Beit Canada took place at the Board of Governors meetings in Jerusalem two weeks ago.

US Jewry is not the center of the Jewish universe

By Rabbi David Forman Opinion December 7, 2008

With all of Israel’s many foibles – even failings – Jewish life here is vibrant, creative and pluralistic (consider the diverse political debates in the country).

While there are indeed lessons that Israeli Jews can learn from American Jews, primarily regarding respect for different streams in Judaism, there are many more that American Jews can learn from Israeli Jews – specifically in the areas for which Epstein, Shereck, et al. are so critical.

Rabbi, priest and imam pray together for rain on Kinneret

By Eli Ashkenazi December 3, 2008

Rabbi Shlomo Didi knows Lake Kinneret well. As rabbi of the Jordan Valley and a resident of Tiberias, Didi has not only married couples beside the Kinneret, he has also offered prayers for rain along its shoreline, which has receded markedly. 

On Monday Didi was again praying for rain – but this time, he was not alone. He was joined by Ian Clark, the priest of the Scottish church, and Muhammad Dahamshe, the Imam of Kafr Kana. 

Civil cemetery plans get green light

By Miriam Bulwar David-Hay December 7, 2008

After a protracted legal battle, the city of Herzliya has finally been given the go-ahead to build a civil cemetery and a public park next to Kibbutz Glil Yam, reports

Ten years after the plans were first proposed, the District Planning and Construction Committee approved the disengagement of the cemetery and park from overall plans for the Glil Yam area, enabling the city to move ahead without having to wait for the approval of kibbutz members or the Israel Lands Authority.

Disabled win synagogue access

By Miriam Bulwar David-Hay December 7, 2008

Netanya’s disabled residents are claiming victory after a local synagogue was finally made fully wheelchair-accessible in November, three years after a battle began to make the city’s synagogues accessible to the disabled, reports

Observant wheelchair-bound resident Avraham Ruash, who has led the fight to make the synagogues accessible, said he was delighted that he could at last go to synagogue to pray in a respectable fashion.

Judaism, not Jabotinsky

By Ruthie Blum Leibowitz December 4, 2008

‘I don’t like the term ‘religious,'” says Likud primary candidate and Manhigut Yehudit faction leader Moshe Feiglin. “I’m a Jew, plain and simple.”

“The watershed dividing Israeli society today is not territorial. Nor is it a question of Right vs. Left, religious vs. secular or security vs. peace. It is a question of Jewish identity. 

Do we want to connect to our Jewish identity on a national and cultural level? Do we want it to be fundamental – the national wellspring – or do we want to escape it and treat it as some kind of burden?”

Rabbis Debate: What Price Can Be Paid for Gilad Shalit?

By Gil Ronen December 7, 2008

A special international conference in Israel held by Yad Harav Herzog brought together rabbis, educators and professional representatives this past week to discuss Jewish law in our times.

The questions ranged from “what price can be paid for captive soldier Gilad Shalit?” to matters of spirituality, commercial law, hi tech, plant genetics, agricultural issues, and the use of technology on the Sabbath.

The convention brought together 60 leading lecturers including rabbis, rabbinical court judges, physicians, agronomists, economists and more. 

Three organizations organized the conference: the Chief Rabbinate, Yad Harav Herzog, and the WZO Dept. of Religious Affairs and Diaspora.

Politicians seeking blessings flock to ‘X-Ray Rabbi’

By Yanir Yagna December 5, 2008

The office of Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Ifergan, known as “the X-Ray Rabbi,” has been flooded for the past month by telephone calls and the visits of politicians seeking blessings from the man with supposedly superhuman insight. Some even go further, asking the rabbi for explicit political support.

…Sources close to Ifergan said the phone had been ringing off the hook with calls from Housing Minister Ze’ev Boim, Negev and Galilee Development Minister Jacob Edery and Environment Minister Gideon Ezra, to name a few.

Traditional circumcision raises risk of infection, study shows

By Ofri Ilani December 5, 2008

Circumcision as performed by mohels, men whose profession is performing the Jewish ritual of brit milah, leads to a high rate of urinary tract infections among babies, according to a report released recently by physicians at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva. 

Rabbi permits double dating ‘for marriage purposes’ December 3, 2008

After Rabbi Shlomo Aviner recently ruled that double dating was prohibited, another rabbi, Ramat Gan’s Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, now claims that the practice is permissible so long as the purpose of the dating is marriage.

In his reply, Rabbi Ariel wrote: “If the gatherings are done for the purpose of marriage –so be it. But if it’s just for fun – this isn’t recommended.”

Nursing bodies and souls

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich December 6, 2008

If you want to study at Israel’s first and only Orthodox college of nursing – the Nursing School of the Jerusalem College of Technology’s Machon Tal – you will need to learn not only a wide variety of medical subjects but also Jewish ethics and halacha.

JCT received rabbinical approval for establishing the school before its senate agreed on it and the Council for Higher Education gave permission to launch it.

Next summer it will receive full academic accreditation retroactively. One has to be female to be accepted…

U.S. Evangelicals fund Druze military academy

By Cnaan Liphshiz December 7, 2008

A new right-wing Evangelical organization last week pledged to help fund the military academy in Dalyat al-Carmel, following a first official visit by a Christian Zionist delegation to Israel’s only Druze city last month. 

The project, if completed, would be the first such contribution by Evangelicals to the Druze community. 

The delegation of 120 Evangelicals from Florida, New York, Texas, Britain, France, Kenya and Sierra Leone came to Dalyat al-Carmel at the initiative of Joel Bell, a self-described “bible believer” who recently founded the Worldwide Biblical Zionist movement – a local nonprofit associated with Likud.

Ceremonial Questions

By Eetta Prince-Gibson December 7, 2008 Issue 18, December 22, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report

By the thousands, on chartered buses from all corners of the country, members of the Beta Israel, the Ethiopian Jewish community, converged on Jerusalem’s Haas Promenade, overlooking the Old City, on November 27 to celebrate the Sigd, the annual holy festival. 

…In July 2008, the Knesset formally added the Sigd holiday to the list of official state holidays, although no funding has been allocated for this. 

Shin Bet admits intervening in Muslim cleric appointments to public office

By Akiva Eldar December 7, 2008

The Shin Bet security service has confirmed for the first time that it regularly intervenes in the appointment of Muslim clergymen to public office, Haaretz has learned. 

The issue surfaced after the state recently declined to appoint Sheikh Ahmed Abu Awaja to serve as Imam at Jaffa’s Jabalya mosque, even though Abu Awaja was the only certified candidate to fit the threshold requirements.

Muslims of East Jerusalem Prepare to Celebrate Holiday of Eid al-Adha December 7, 2008

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In recent days, Muslims and Druze around the world have been preparing for the holiday of Eid al-Adha, also known as the big holiday or the Festival of Sacrifice.

The holiday, a commemoration of the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God, begins on December 8th and lasts four days. visited the open markets of East Jerusalem to get a firsthand look at the extravagant preparations underway for the celebration of the holiday.

An Inside Look at Al-Qasemi College, the Leading Islamic Educational Institute in the Heart of Israel December 4, 2008

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Al-Qasemi College is an educational institute focusing on the study of Islamic law and religion located in the Israeli-Arab town of Bekka Al-Gharbiya.

Today, the college is recognized by Israel’s Higher Council of Education as an official institute of higher learning and it has now broadened its scope to incorporate studies of all kinds. visited the college to see how the Al-Qasemi’s Islamic heritage has influenced its students.

Religion and State in Israel

December 8, 2008 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

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