Religion and State in Israel – December 15, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

December 15, 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.

Barkat sweeps 30 of 31 city councilors – Shas joins coalition

By Etgar Lefkovits December 15, 2008

The accord with Shas will allocate the Sephardi haredi party, which has four seats on the city council, the title of vice-mayor – a non-paying position – with the promise of receiving a deputy mayor post if Barkat can convince the government to increase the number of deputy mayors from six to eight.

Shas, which will also receive responsibility for various municipal portfolios related to the haredi public, had previously demanded at least one deputy mayor in the city council.

Barkat brings haredi party UJT into fold in J’lem

By Etgar Lefkovits December 9, 2008

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has reached a coalition agreement with the haredi United Torah Judaism Party, his spokesman announced Monday, giving him a solid 26-seat majority in the 31-member council.

The agreement, considered a major political coup for the secular mayor, will allocate UTJ, which has eight council seats, one deputy mayor, with the promise of a second if Barkat can convince the government to increase the number of deputy mayors from six to seven or eight.

The haredi party, which will also be responsible for various municipal departments related to the haredi public, had previously demanded two deputy mayors, in acknowledgment of its status as the largest party on the council.

…Barkat said that negotiations were continuing to bring Shas into the coalition, adding that he hoped the Sephardic party, which has four seats on the council, would join soon.

New faces on the Jerusalem city council

By Peggy Cidor December 11, 2008

“The thing that will characterize the haredi Ashkenazi party in Barkat’s era the most will be an all-out internal war among its eight members,” explained a haredi source at Kikar Safra. 

…After a few days of hesitation, the United Torah Judaism Party finally joined the coalition, with only one deputy mayor at this stage. The tension between the party members is such that for the moment, it is not even clear who will receive the NIS 42,000 salary.

Feiglin and The Jewish Leadership website

By Amnon Meranda December 10, 2008

The Jewish Leadership Movement’s website has linked Israel’s success to its connection with “the God of Israel,” presenting religion as an essential condition for the continued existence of the State.

However, Feiglin has since taken an uncompromising stance on the separation of religion and state.

What should be the Rabbinate’s place in Israel’s leadership?

“It should be in no way involved in politics.”

Should the laws of the Torah become the laws of the State?

“I am thoroughly opposed to the idea of a Halacha state. I do want to see the laws of the State reflect its national values, however.”

Feiglin’s missing manifesto

By Yair Ettinger December 10, 2008

The Web site of the Jewish Leadership movement went down for a few hours on Tuesday and was replaced with an announcement.

“Dear friends (and rivals!),” the announcement read. “Our heartfelt congratulations on the sweeping victory, the victory of the people of Zion, the victory of the eternity of Israel. Due to the new circumstances and our new agenda, which to this day we dared not even dream about, we have to upgrade our Web site.”

The message was later replaced with a simpler one: “

The Web site is under construction. It will be up again in a few days.”

By Tuesday evening the site was up again but Feiglin’s manifesto had been removed.

Rabbis threaten to split from new party

By Kobi Nahshoni December 14, 2008

Three days before a public council is slated to determine the composition of Habayit Hayehudi’s Knesset list, rabbis and right-wing activists are threatening to split from the new religious party.

…Rabbi Yuval Sherlo expressed his doubt over the possibility to combine between the different streams of Religious Zionism based on shared issues.

“This mission may be impossible, as the disputes are extremely deep, but I believe there is a certain possibility for this to work.”

Hershkowitz Heads ‘Jewish Home’

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu December 19, 2008

Rabbi-Professor Daniel Hershkowitz was chosen Monday night to head the new Jewish Home party, a spin-off of the National Religious Party (NRP) and the religious flank of the National Union (NU) party.

He defeated Rabbi Avi Wartzman, a Be’er Sheva educator, and Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, administrative head of the rabbinic courts.

A party council will choose the list of Knesset candidates on Tuesday after having elected Hershkowitz, a Technion University mathematics professor. The party council had decided not to name any of the better-known and veteran national religious figures in order to present a new image to the public.

Hershkowitz, 55, also is rabbi of the Ahuza neighborhood in Haifa, where the Technion is located.

Haredi web-surfers interfering in new party’s list

By Kobi Nahshoni December 11, 2008

“Jewish Home” party officials fear that ultra-Orthodox surfers, who are not among the new party’s potential voters, are taking part in the internet vote.

According to estimates, the haredi voters seek to prevent the entry of “as many pluralists as possible” into the Knesset.

Values begin at home

By Shahar Ilan Opinion December 10, 2008

…it’s reasonable to assume that Shas will not secure the education portfolio, and a seasoned political operator like Yishai knows that. 

That’s why it’s worth looking into what exactly he is trying to achieve. One possibility is that he wants control of the Interior Ministry to compensate for not getting the education portfolio. 

…Shas also appears to want to renew the tradition of having a deputy education minister with full authority over ultra-Orthodox education.

…There is another danger here as well. Shas took advantage of the last Knesset term to revive some remnants of the former Religious Affairs Ministry, turning them into a mini-ministry called the Religious Services Ministry. 

It might be seeking a full revival of the ministry, which would entail giving it back responsibility for yeshivas, Torah studies and the establishment of religious institutions. 

Rabbi Aryeh Deri for President of Shas

By Yechiel Spira December 11, 2008

Last week, a number of rabbonim and askanim visited Rabbi Shalom Cohen Shlita, a member of Shas’ Council of Torah Sages, suggesting that Deri be appointed as the party’s [president], a move to orchestra his reentry into the political arena.

Rebel With a Cause Winter 2008

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

After a six-year legal battle—short by Israeli standards—we secured state funding for six non-Orthodox synagogues—the first time in Israel’s sixty-year history that the government recognized the religious needs of non-Orthodox Jews and provided them with a sacred place to pray.

What a change: in the past we haven’t even been able to get permits to establish a Reform synagogue, let alone receive assistance in actually building one.

Hopefully, this will be but the first step in securing full and equal government funding for the Reform Jewish presence in Israel.

Our country desperately needs a Jewish movement like ours that promotes humanistic, egalitarian, and democratic values—a spiritual Judaism that can not only help to heal the world, but to heal Israel.

So, you see, if we keep up the pressure year after year, eventually we will win. We’ve got to.

Reform Movement in Israel December 11, 2008

Other IMPJ education activities now underway include a long-running bat mitzvah program for girls in secular public schools, held in cooperation with local Progressive congregations; 

a program called “Mothers and Daughters,” which features study sessions and discussions on issues ranging from the maturation process to women’s empowerment; 

special lectures and mini-courses led by local rabbis; and seminars and ongoing in-service training programs for public school teachers.

Israeli girls celebrate their bat mitzvah at Or Hadash, Haifa, through a public school program implemented by the education department of the IMPJ.

The Israeli Progressive movement brings Jewish education to public schools, as demonstrated by second graders who learn about reading from the Torah on Rosh Hodesh at the Tali Reform elementary school in Jerusalem.

Death of a Giant: Thoughts on the Passing of Rabbi Emanuel Rackman

By Rabbi Michael J. Broyde December 10, 2008

Rabbi Michael J. Broyde is a law professor at Emory University, founding rabbi of the Young Israel in Atlanta, and a member (chaver) of the Beth Din of America.

…Rabbi Rackman shared with me his unrelenting awe for the return of Jewish sovereign rule over the holy land of Israel – and his hope that halacha was prepared for the challenges that living in the world we had created would surely present.

Then, in a moment I can recall so vividly the words ring verbatim in my mind, he turned to me directly and said: “Jewish law must live in the present and not in the past.”

…His book on Israel’s constitution, written in 1950, correctly predicted Israel would never be able to have a written constitution – even though its declaration of independence mandates that one be written – as the religious conflicts would prevent such a document from being ratified.

A precious light dims with Yakar founder Mickey Rosen’s death

By Raphael Ahren December 12, 2008

Tributes came in from all over the world for Rabbi Michael (Mickey) Rosen, one of the most popular and most revered Anglo rabbis in the country, who died Sunday in Jerusalem, aged 63. 

Best known for founding the Modern Orthodox Yakar communities in London and later in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Rosen was also committed to social activism and political engagement in many different areas. 

Closure of Baka’s Ulpan Etzion’s spells end of an era

By Michael Green December 14, 2008

The Jewish Agency maintains that far from signaling the end of Etzion, the program will continue on the new site with improved facilities. 

Its claims, however, are falling on deaf ears of many staff and students who believe that the move is more than physical and that the ulpan’s unique atmosphere, which has attracted thousands of young Jews from across the world, will be lost.

Students and alums fight to keep Ulpan Etzion in Baka

By Raphael Ahren December 12, 2008

Only “a miracle” could keep Ulpan Etzion in its current Jerusalem location, the upscale neighborhood of Baka, a senior Jewish Agency official told Anglo File this week. 

For decades the popular intensive Hebrew-language study program has been the first home in Israel for thousands of Western immigrants. 

Earlier this month the Jewish Agency announced that after Monday, when the current session ends, Ulpan Etzion will move to Beit Canada, a larger property in the close but less attractive area of Armon Hanatziv, or East Talpiot, to save expenses. 

Jewish Agency freezes youth aliyah program

By Danny Adino Ababa December 12, 2008

NAALE, one of the Jewish Agency’s flagship programs, which helped bring to Israel over 11,000 Jewish teenagers from across the world, is now facing the risk of being shut down due to financial difficulties and lack of donors.

$20 Million in Birthright Funds in Doubt

By Anthony Weiss December 10, 2008

Birthright Israel, the popular initiative offering young Jews free trips to Israel, may be unable to pay for thousands of such trips in the summer of 2009 due to the financial meltdown of its largest donor.

Nefesh B’Nefesh launches ‘Go North’ campaign

By Itamar Eichner December 15, 2008

New Anglo olim settling in northern Israel will receive a NIS 100,000 ($25,000) grant and a car for a two-year period, as part of Nefesh B’Nefesh’s new ‘Go North’ initiative, aimed at encouraging the immigration of English speaking Jews to Israel’s northern communities.

Israeli Ninth Graders Flock to Kfar Chabad December 19, 2008

During the past week many groups of ninth graders from schools all over the country visited 770 in Kfar Chabad.  The visit is a hands-on experience lesson about Jewish religion and communities outside Eretz Yisroel. The students come to learn about Chabad Chassidus and what makes it so unique. 

The visits began with the boys putting on t’fillin and the girls receiving a Shabbos candlestick.  The students took upon themselves to strengthen their commitment to mitzvos, in honor of the Shluchim murdered in Bombay- Rabbi Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg HY”D.

Israel Dept Store Okays Chabad Chanukah Lights

By Yechiel Spira December 12, 2008

Once again the nation’s Mashbir department store chain has granted permission to Chabad to light Chanukah menoras in its 30 branches nationwide.

…The two company leaders added that to them, Jewish tradition is important, as is their decision to close all stores on Shabbos.

Finance Ministry [may help Chabad Houses] December 15, 2008

MK Litzman [UTJ]…met with the head of the budget department in the Treasury, Ram Belinkov, and restated his urgent demand, which was also aired in the media in the past few weeks.

The conversation was a positive one, at the end of which Belinkov said that he will weigh the issue positively and see what he can do to make sure that some Chabad Houses are granted a onetime budget slot for security purposes.

An ultra-Orthodox startup’s secret to weathering crises: modest living

By Guy Grimland December 9, 2008

The man behind this model of modesty is Dr. Yoram Devary, scientist and “the first ultra-Orthodox entrepreneur.” His startup employs nine people, all Haredim.

The office space is segregated by gender, with one area earmarked for men and another area for women, as befits the mores of the ultra-Orthodox community.

Devary’s personal story is not the usual one of an Israeli “start-upist.” He found religion 27 years ago, at the age of 18, after meeting his future wife at a science workshop at the Weizmann Institute of Science. 

“She was religious and I was secular,” he relates. They lost touch for a while but then reconnected and wound up marrying. “She influenced me to become religious,” he says. 

Rabbis urge yeshiva heads to decline state funds

By Kobi Nahshoni December 10, 2008

Thousands of people attended a demonstration in Jerusalem on Tuesday against government supervision of haredi educational institutions. In the rally, which was organized by the [Eidat Haredi] anti-Zionist faction, rabbis urged education institution heads not to apply for state funds.

A banner hung over the central stage at the event read, “It’s time to say no to the heretical government’s budgets, which bring a catastrophe on haredi education.”

Rabbi Avraham Freuilich:

“It’s unacceptable to have the Education Ministry transform yeshiva students into its own students and to strictly supervise student admission, budgeting and the employment of educating rabbis.”

Child Allowance and the Future of Zionism

By Prof. Sam Lehman-Wilzig Opinion December 9, 2008

The writer is Schusterman Visiting Israeli Scholar, Brown University

…This is a very touchy issue and when it is raised lots of people cry “racism”.

But this has nothing to do with “ethnicity” or “race” — it has everything to do with retaining the underlying raison d’être for establishing the Jewish State in the first place as a haven for displaced Jews around the world and as a place that Jews can express themselves culturally in a relatively free and democratic framework.

Haredim, of course, are very Jewish but their definition of “Jewish State” is the antithesis of “democracy”; Israeli Arabs don’t even accept the concept of “Jewish State” in any form.

Chinuch Atzmai and Beis Yaakov HaTzafon

By Yechiel Spira Opinion December 9, 2008

…To my profound dismay, I have since learned that tens of American girls from Sanhedria Murchevet, the same neighborhood of Beis Yaakov HaTzafon, are not being accepted by the school.

This contradicts what Rav Horowitz explained is Chinuch Atzmai’s mission, that a Beis Yaakov is not an elitist school and must accept the neighborhood’s chareidi children.

I have also learned there are rabbis addressing the issue on their behalf as well, working to place children in schools to permit the children of American avreichim to enjoy a torah education as their Israeli counterparts do.

Betar Illit – ‘Torah & Chassidus’

By Yechiel Spira December 11, 2008

Well, there is a new slogan for the community of Betar – it is official. Previously, the large welcoming slogan under the village’s name was “Betar, the city of torah in the Judean Hills”.

 Today, the new slogan says, “Betar, the city of torah and chassidus in the Judean Hills”.

Indeed, many residents of the community are Chassidim and the mayor is a Breslov chossid, it is now official, part of the community’s image and official slogan.

The mayor explains the decision to make the official change was prompted by complaints, but the real force behind inserting the word “chassidus” was the city’s Chabad shaliach, Rav Asher Lemel Cohen.

New Accountants in Mea Shearim?

By Amit Granek Opinion December 15, 2008

“Daat” is an important step towards the better integration of the ultra-Orthodox in the Israeli modern economy and can serve to unlock the sector’s huge potential in human capital, a crucial component for socio-economic leapfrogging.

According to the College’s manager, its primary goal is to tackle unemployment that hinders women from fulfilling their role as the family’s bread winner and allowing men to study torah.

See also:

The Charedi Challenge to Israel’s Prosperity

The Charedi Challenge: Adaptive not Technical

The Charedi Challenge: Policy Recommendation

If this is love, then what is hate?

By Tamar Rotem December 15, 2008

Because of his job as a debt collector and a quarrel with his neighbors, Shalom Segal has been threatened and severely beaten. He says the harassment was approved by Bnei Brak’s Vishnitz Hasidim.

VC for the little guy

By David Shamah December 14, 2008

The Beshalva Investment Fund, run by Yosef Baumgarten… [is a] unique program, but not as unique as Baumgarten, who is an ordained rabbi and a Belzer Hassid.

As a religious person (“ultra-Orthodox,” in journalese), Baumgarten says his conscience and commitment to the Torah guide his investment strategy – both in the types of companies he will or won’t invest in, and the conservative attitude he takes when considering a company, especially for small investors.

Baumgarten says there are companies he won’t invest in. “Anything that I feel runs counter to the spirit of Judaism is a nonstarter for us,” he says, specifying companies that work in the area of television and certain Web sites.

Religion and State in Israel

December 15, 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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