Religion and State in Israel – December 22, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

December 22, 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.

The Shas version of Obama’s ‘yes we can’

By Alex Sinclair Opinion December 15, 2008

There can be no clearer illustration of the gap between American and Israeli political culture than the slogan “Yes We Can.”

…There will be no place in those policies for anyone who is not part of Shas’ “we”. 

There is no place for my Judaism in Shas’ “we”. There is no place for my worldview. 

There is no place for non-Orthodox Judaism, whether Israeli or Diaspora-based.

Most Jewish people outside of Israel are not part of Shas’ “we”. Shas’ policies in the past have been daggers in the back of American Jews who have supported Israel and care for its people – all of its people.

While American Conservative and Reform rabbis rally their communities around support for Israel, Shas insults their converts and ignores their teachings. 

While American Jewish leaders talk of peoplehood and unity, Shas makes it clear that they are not part of its “we”. 

Court blasts Holon rabbi for firing man for not backing Shas

By Tomer Zarchin December 17, 2008

The Tel Aviv Labor Court yesterday blasted Holon’s chief rabbi, Avraham Yosef, for having fired an employee solely because he supported a party other than Shas in Holon’s municipal elections, and ordered the worker’s immediate reinstatement. 

…In a ruling handed down yesterday, deputy court president Lea Glicksman Kocavi agreed that neither Yosef nor the Holon Religious Council had offered any convincing explanation for Hayon’s dismissal, and other evidence supported the conclusion that his firing indeed stemmed from his political activity on behalf of Aguda.

Inter alia, she noted that Yosef himself had told the court that Hayon’s campaigning “was a blatant expression of contempt for my father’s personage, and therefore, I could no longer have faith [in him].”

A little learning

By Tamar Rotem December 21, 2008

The conflict and the search for meaning that shaped Adina Bar-Shalom’s life and character are vividly reflected in a documentary by Yohai Hakak and Ron Ofer, “Haredot” (English title: “The Rabbi’s Daughter and the Midwife”). 

It was screened this week at the Jerusalem Cinematheque’s annual Jewish Film Festival. 

[Bar-Shalom’s father is Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual mentor of the Shas Party]

Her whole life story seems to have been arranged to culminate in poetic justice. She, who was not allowed to study, opened the gates of education to Haredi women and men.

The college, which has now been operating in Jerusalem for eight years, has 700 Haredi students, 500 of them women. There is total gender separation.

Philanthropists and foundations such as the Avi Chai Foundation and the Friendship Fund assist with scholarships. 

Three classes of social workers have graduated already. The other fields open to women at the school are computers, communications disorders and medical laboratory sciences.

Recently Bar-Shalom overcame a major obstacle; in cooperation with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev she introduced studies in the field the Haredim feared above all others: clinical psychology for women students.

Dispelling an ‘optical illusion’

By Yair Sheleg Opinion December 22, 2008

This event reflects two significant processes in two significant processes in religious Zionism.

On one hand, it underlines the “optical illusion” that a move toward extremism characterizes the entire public in question.

At least with respect to religious observance, it is completely clear that the silent majority is far from adopting an increasingly ultra-Orthodox approach.

…the second significant process that religious Zionism is undergoing:

The liberals have also launched an offensive of their own. They, too, have begun to establish schools that have seceded from the standard religious educational network.

Religious-Zionist HaTzofeh Newspaper to Close

By Hillel Fendel December 16, 2008

HaTzofeh, Israel’s 3rd-oldest newspaper and the long-time mouthpiece of the religious Mizrachi movement, is closing down. Its Dec. 26th issue will be its last.

Of the paper’s remaining 15 employees, 12 have been laid off outright, including the editor and senior correspondents, and three others have been transferred to Makor Rishon, another newspaper owned by the same management.

HaTzofeh owner Hirsh Media Ltd., established by Ronald Lauder and Shlomo Ben-Tzvi, was termed less than a year ago a “rapidly developing Israeli media conglomerate.”

It still owns Makor Rishon and the Nekudah monthly Judea and Samaria magazine, but its Techelet TV station on Judaism, bi-weekly BusinessWeek Israel magazine, daily freebie Yisraeli newspaper, and now HaTzofeh have all been forced to close for financial reasons.

Why Moshe Feiglin matters

By Amotz Asa-El December 18, 2008

According to [Feiglin’s] Hebrew Web site, he believes in loyalty to the Torah, itself an inclination alien to the Likud’s original inspiration, Vladimir Jabotinsky.

Moreover, even within the narrow confines of Orthodoxy, Feiglin addresses what he calls the emuni public as his hard-core constituency, which is code language for a theology that believes in the Jewish state’s divinity, and yearns for the day when it is led either by rabbis or people agreeable to them.

Green Movement, Meimad run together

By Ehud Zion Waldoks December 18, 2008

Meimad and the new Green Movement Party announced Wednesday night that they will run on a joint list for the 18th Knesset. Meimad chairman MK Michael Melchior and Green Movement head Eran Ben-Yemini will lead the candidates list.

Agudat Israel splits from Degel HaTorah

By Ronen Medzini December 18, 2008

The Knesset’s House committee approved Thursday morning the split between the Hasidic Agudat Israel group and the Lithuanian Degel HaTorah group that make up the United Torah Judaism party.

The two groups have a long history of [splitting] and uniting. The main source of the current conflict revolves around the sixth spot on the united roster that traditionally goes to an Agudat Israel representative.

Calls to the Gerrer Rebbe to Replace MK Litzman

By Yechiel Spira December 21, 2008

According to a Chadrei Charedim report, two prominent Gerrer askanim, who are close to the Rebbe Shlita, have already met with the Rebbe, asking that MK Litzman be replaced before the general elections for the 18th Knesset as a result of his actions, which they blame for the loss in the capital mayoral race.

Jerusalem’s Rabbinate Race Long from Over

By Yechiel Spira December 17, 2008

The pressure is on for Jerusalem’s new mayor, Nir Barkat, who is now expected to make good on campaign and coalition promises regarding the appointment of a new chief rabbi of the capital.

Cash crunch hits FSU Jewish learning programs

By Haviv Rettig Gur December 21, 2008

Jewish education programs in the former Soviet Union are in danger of collapse as Israel government funding dries up and the global economic crisis threatens its main donors.

The most at-risk institution is the Heftsiba project, an Israeli government-funded program in 45 schools that provides funds, curricula and teachers from Israel for Jewish and Zionist education.

Another program feeling the pressure of massive Jewish Agency budget cuts is Na’aleh, which brings some 1,200 young FSU Jews to Israel each year, a majority of whom end up making aliya.

Financial woes could force cuts in Birthright Israel trips

By Anthony Weiss December 16, 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.

A $20-million pledge to the group from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is now in question. Two sources close to the organization say that, as a result, Birthright is planning its summer trips on the assumption that that pledge will not materialize. 

Taglit is for Israelis, too

By Theodore Sasson, David Mittelberg and Leonard Saxe December 17, 2008

Theodore Sasson teaches at Middlebury College and Brandeis University, David Mittelberg at Oranim Academic College of Education and Leonard Saxe at Brandeis University.

During the past year, more than 40,000 Diaspora young adults spent 10 days or more in Israel on Taglit-birthright israel educational trips. 

Perhaps more than any other single effort, Taglit is changing how Diaspora Jews relate to Israel and their Jewish identities. 

But even more unexpected, the program’s impact on Israelis who participate seems to be nearly as profound.

Click here for the full report “Encountering the Other – Finding Oneself: A Study of the Taglit-Birthright Israel Mifgash” Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University

Israel focuses on yordim

By Matthew Wagner December 22, 2008

Aliya in 2008 dropped by some 20 percent, but the number of returning expats increased by almost 100%, according to figures released by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry over the weekend.

Nearly 8,800 Israeli expats returned home, a jump of 94% from 2007’s 4,535.

Of some 14,000 expats who returned to Israel between 2004 and 2007, 30% were academics, scientists, researchers, engineers or technicians, 40% had academic degrees and 54% were between the ages of 20 and 44.

European Council of Jewish Communities to open offices in Israel

By Shalhevet Zohar December 22, 2008

The non-governmental non-profit European Council of Jewish Communities (ECJC) organization announced on Sunday night it will soon be opening offices in Israel.

The ECJC is a non governmental non-profit organization which has existed for 40 years and is active in dozens of Jewish communities in 40 countries across Europe, working to connect millions of young Jews to their Jewish identity and to the Jewish lifestyle, through educational, economic and cultural projects.

HUC-JIR in Jerusalem Graduates First Ever Class of ‘Chaplains’ December 18, 2008

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion graduated its first class of mezorim (pastoral care givers, or chaplains), who will work in hospitals, hospices, rehabilitation centers and community educational settings – a role that is relatively new in Israeli society.

The mezorim program operates as part of HUC-JIR’s Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling and is directed by Dr. Michael Muszkat-Barkan, director of the Jerusalem campus’ Department of Education and Professional Development.

‘Source of Inspiration’

By Steve Lipman December 10, 2008

Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR president:

“Richard Scheuer’s mission to advance liberal Judaism in a pluralistic, Jewish State of Israel — a mission grounded in his passion for biblical history and archaeological research and publication — shaped his vision for the expansion of our Jerusalem campus, the growth of our Israeli rabbinical and education programs, and the launching of the Tali school system for pluralistic education in Israel.”

Not all US olim are extremists

By Rabbi David Forman Opinion December 20, 2008

There are thankfully other American Jews, who are respectful of Jewish religious values and came to Israel to build a society that is not chauvinistically inclined, but rather a reflection of the best of the social ideology of the prophets who spoke of justice and equality.

Rabbi Levi Lauer founded ATZUM…Rabbi Bruce Cohen initiated Interns for Peace (IFP)…Rabbi Ronald Kronish established the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI)…Rabbi Arik Ascherman heads Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR)…Rabbi Robert Samuels served as the headmaster of the Leo Baeck High School in Haifa…

Israel must expose to the world media those American Jewish immigrants who have enhanced the democratic nature of the Jewish state, with respect for all peoples. 

It is these American Jewish immigrants, and many more like them, who reflect genuine Jewish moral values.

Both Jews and Evangelicals are Israel’s strategic partners

By Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews December 2008

Click here for VIDEO interviews: Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Founder Yechiel Eckstein sees both Jews and Evangelicals as Israel’s strategic partners.

“I will not work with groups that target Jews for conversion,” says Eckstein, believing that Christian support for Israel is based on values.

Rabbi Eckstein relays his journey that led him from a possible career in the rabbinate to founding this Christian/Jewish organization.

Liberal Israelis don’t like Evangelical support because they tend to take a right-wing position when it comes to the land, per Eckstein.

Holy See-Israeli negotiations get underway, ahead of possible Papal visit to the Holy Land

By Arieh Cohen December 17, 2008

HAT TIP to Prof. Howard M. Friedman

Two days of negotiations begin today between the Holy See and the State of Israel, on the tax status and properties of the Catholic Church in the Jewish state.

The negotiating sessions, in a round that began on the 11th March 1999, is being held against the background of persistent rumours of a possible pilgrimage to the Holy Land in May next year of pope Benedict XVI, and therefore of a papal visit to Israel, something for which the Israeli government has been pressing very hard.

There are many who hope that the prospect of a papal visit will serve as a powerful catalyst in the negotiations.

Franciscan custos calls for protection of Holy Land’s religious sites December 19, 2008

Religious sites in the Holy Land must be protected from commercial development, said the head of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

Speaking at a conference on holy sites and the ownership of religious property in Jerusalem Dec. 18, Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa said that while church property would not be infringed upon by several planned Israeli projects, such as a pedestrian boardwalk around the Sea of Galilee and hotels on Mount Tabor, the projects could damage “the holiness of the site.”

Small Places, Large Issues

By Scott Copeland November 26, 2008

Our contemporary ambivalences regarding the Western Wall are not new.

Since the advent of modernity, the internal Jewish debate over the significance of the Western Wall encapsulates the simple fact that, as Gershom Scholem was fond of pointing out, that there is no Judaism – there are Judaisms. “Judaism cannot be defined according to its essence, since it has no essence.”

The contested space of the Western Wall between Jews may not be only a source of dismay and hurt; the contest itself may be a potent symbol of the ongoing internal debate about who the Jews want to be.

Only through the continuation of that vigorous debate, even over the meanings of our most basic symbols, with all of the pain entailed will Jewish creativity and meaning be forged by a struggling, living community.

Government mulling proposal to repair Muslim holy sites

By Yoav Stern December 18, 2008

For the first time since Israel declared its independence in 1948, the government is considering renovating sites holy to Muslims that have lain abandoned and neglected for 60 years.

For the past few months, a ministerial committee on the Arab community in Israel has been debating the issue, considered by many to be of tremendous importance and sensitivity. 

Court: Ramban’s Cave Belongs to the Muslim Waqf

By Yechiel Spira December 21, 2008

The Vice President of the Jerusalem District Court, Justice Carmi Musak handed down a verdict that the Ramban’s Cave near Kever Shimon HaTzaddik in Yerushalayim belongs to the Muslim Waqf Authority and he prohibits Jews from entering to the site.

Shalom, and welcome to al-Quds

By Ksenia Svetlova December 21, 2008

The statistics for 2008 are not available yet, but there is a high probability that this year will be a record year in tourism from Muslim countries of South-East Asia.

Boaz Yuval, a certified tour guide who often accompanies groups from Indonesia and Malaysia, says that most of the visitors are Christians, but there are some Muslim groups from Indonesia, in addition to Muslim pilgrims from India.

There are 15 million to 18 million devoted Christians in Indonesia and almost 2.5 million Christians in Malaysia.

Religion and State in Israel

December 22, 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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