Religion and State in Israel – December 29, 2008 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

December 29, 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.

Shas launches women’s headquarters 

By Ronen Medzini December 25, 2008

The women’s headquarters of Shas, located in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood, differs from regular election headquarters.

…The headquarters are run by none other than the chairman’s wife, Mrs. Tzipi Yishai. Yishai doesn’t usually talk to the media, but was available for a unique interview.

“Our activities differ from those of the men,” she told Ynet. “We believe in the power of a women’s prayer. 

In the special days we organize things together; all the women supporting Shas work and pray together.”

“Without praying and without believing it won’t work, and this is our faith,” says Miriam, head of operations at the women’s headquarters. 

One way to convince the new voters is by granting each one with a personal blessing from Rabbi Ovadia Yosef himself.

The Feiglin revolution

By Ron Pressler December 26, 2008

Moshe Feiglin was born in 1962 in Haifa, and grew up in Rehovot. He attended a state-religious school, while his father remained secular and his mother retained her Lubavitch affiliation.

…For high school, he went to the Rabbi Haim Druckman’s Or Etzion yeshiva, but when he finished he didn’t want to continue on to a hesder yeshiva (combining religious study and army service), but rather opted to do regular army service.

….Manhigut Yehudit drew thousands of supporters. Some were people from the traditional religious right who agreed with its hard line, a minority were secular, and some were religious people who believed that the “keepers of the Jewish flame,” in their own eyes, ought to be leading the nation, and be not shunted into sectarian parties with a limited appeal.

Many of the latter were immigrants from the United States or the former Soviet Union. Many were newly religious, highly educated (Feiglin takes pride in the fact that his driver in the previous campaign was an atomic engineer) and hailed from the upper middle class. 

And all were united in one thing: scorn for the establishment, including the rabbinic establishment.

UTJ decides to run again as unified party

By Matthew Wagner December 29, 2008

Just ahead of the midnight deadline on Sunday, Degel Hatorah and Agudat Yisrael decided to run together again as United Torah Judaism in February’s election.

It was also decided that MK Ya’acov Litzman would continue as chairman of UTJ.

A new name, Rabbi Dov Landau, a Ger Hassidic Yeshiva head and senior kosher supervisor, had been mentioned as a candidate to lead Agudat Yisrael if it opted not to run with Degel, or to lead UTJ if Litzman did not run.

UTJ candidates for Knesset are: Litzman (Agudah), followed by MK Moshe Gafni (Degel), MK Meir Porush (Agudah), MK Uri Maklev (Degel), Menahem Eliezer Moses (Agudah), a Viznitz Hassid, Israeli Eichler (Agudah), a Belz Hassid, and Menahem Carmel (Degel).

If the UTJ does not receive six seats, Eichler will rotate with Porush.

UTJ Ticket Won’t Be Split, Faction Officials Say December 28, 2008

Mere hours before the deadline for submission of Knesset rosters Sunday at midnight, the Degel HaTorah and Agudas Yisroel parties that make up United Torah Judaism announced that the UTJ ticket will not be split in the upcoming elections.

…The composition of the Knesset list will be 50-50, with Agudas Yisroel representatives in places 1,3,5,6, and 9, and Degel HaTorah representatives in 2,4,7,8, and 10.

In addition, MK Meir Porush reportedly signed a document in which he agrees to retire from the Knesset and give his seat to a Degel HaTorah representative should the United Torah Judaism party win fewer than 7 seats.

At Habayit Hayehudi, ideology is one thing – and politics is quite another

By Nadav Shragai December 25, 2008

When Maj. Gen. (res.) Ya’akov Amidror agreed to chair the public council that would put together the list of Knesset candidates for the new party Habayit Hayehudi (“The Jewish Home”), he had no idea how hard the task would be.

“Orthodox politicians have egos, too,” he says.

“Combine that with the ideological dimension, which in the Orthodox community is a way of life and not just something you spout off, and you’ll get an explanation for what happened,” he says, referring to cracks and rancor in the party, founded just a month ago. 

“A split will only increase the ruination, and will set religious Zionism back years,” Amidror warns.

Orbach to head Habayit Hayehudi campaign

By Nadav Shragai December 26, 2008

Former journalist Uri Orbach will be the campaign manager of Habayit Hayehudi, senior party officials recently decided.

The religious Zionist party hopes that Orbach’s media experience will be useful in promoting its agenda.

Orbach, who is fifth on the party’s roster, has over 20 years of experience as a journalist and radio presenter. He is also a published author.

Voice of religious Zionism to stop the presses after 71 years

By Nadav Shragai December 25, 2008

The new political party that was built to be the home of the national religious public is still standing, but the newspaper that has been the voice of religious Zionism for the past 71 years, Hatzofeh, will print its last edition Friday.

Hatzofeh, founded in August 1937 by Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan, first represented the Mizrahi movement, and later the National Religious Party.

Five years ago it was purchased by Shlomo Ben-Zvi and Ron Lauder, and about two years ago it merged with the daily Makor Rishon. 

New Rift Opens Up in Beit Shemesh

By Joshua Mitnick December 23, 2008

About 10 years ago, the city developed a new neighborhood called Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet to attract haredi residents who were being priced out of the Jerusalem neighborhoods they had grown up in.

But Beit Shemesh Bet attracted Chasidic residents linked to the Neturei Karta and Satmar groups, two movements used to living in their cloistered Jerusalem community of Mea Shearim and known for their disdain for the Israeli state and their strict religious practices.

Friction with the nationalist Modern Orthodox community in Beit Shemesh was probably inevitable. 

…Lerner, the former deputy mayor, said ultra-Orthodox residents are trying to assert their independence from Beit Shemesh. He said that some haredi residents have expressed frustration with the extremist’s behavior, but that the Neturei Karta and the Satmar communities have never lived outside of Mea Shearim and aren’t used to the constant intermingling.

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis target another retail food chain

By Kobi Nahshoni December 27, 2008

After the boycott they declared on supermarket chain Shefa Shuk several months ago dealt a devastating financial blow to the company, the ultra-Orthodox Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat has now turned its attention to Shufersal.

The large retail chain is currently in negotiations to buy 20% of book store chain Steimatzky, which operates several branches on Shabbat…

Byzantine bones stall protective work at Barzilai

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich December 25, 2008

Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center has the funds to build an underground emergency room and surgical theater, but the project is being held back because of the opposition of haredi activists to the excavation and relocation of Byzantine era bones discovered on the hospital’s campus.

Dr. Ron Lobel, the hospital’s deputy director-general, says that Barzilai has the $40 million needed to carry out the project, which would protect the facility from rocket attacks, but since January has been unable to recommence work after a preliminary dig because of protests by haredi activists.

The Atra Kadisha organization, a haredi group dedicated to preserving Jewish grave sites, has in the past managed to suspend work at several construction sites.

Lobel says that pleas for help have been sent to the prime minister, other ministers, the chief rabbis and prominent haredi rabbis for months, but to no avail. 

“Approval to start construction must be granted immediately,” he said.

Bones found at rabbi’s tomb on Mount Meron ignite uproar

By Eli Ashkenazi December 25, 2008

Two pits, apparently tombs, uncovered during restoration work at the site, have raised a furor among the ultra-Orthodox.

The storm was fed by rumors that the bones of Bar Yohai himself had been uncovered, and that a truck-driver who had agreed to remove the earth of the desecrated tombs had flipped his truck. 

The decision to renovate was made by a committee consisting of four representatives of ultra-Orthodox groups, who have been managing the sacred site for several years.

The committee is now headed by a representative of the state, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, the rabbi in charge of Israel’s Jewish holy places.

Yeshiva students expelled for getting a driver’s license

By Uri Gilhar December 23, 2008

Four students were expelled from the Tiferet Israel yeshiva in Jerusalem last week after it became known that they had obtained driver’s licenses in violation of the yeshiva’s rules.

The decision triggered a heated debate among the ultra-Orthodox public surrounding the question of the legitimacy of owning a license.

…Most ultra-Orthodox rabbis oppose the notion of a haredi person getting a license.

“It’s inappropriate for a person who defines himself learned in the Torah to have a driver’s license,” a prominent rabbi told the yeshiva director when the latter came to consult him on the issue.

Rav Amnon Yitzchak vs. B’Chedrei Chedorim Internet Forum December 29, 2008

The rav billed “the greatest of all machzirim b’tshuva” has opened a file in Rav Nissim Karelitz’s beis din against the owners of the B’Chedrei Chedorim chareidi web site for disseminating slander and lies against him in their Forum.

He demands that they remove all mention of him, reveal the names of the writers, and pay one million shekels in compensation.

B’Chedrei Chedorim spokesman: “An attempt to intimidate our surfers and shut their mouths.”

Israeli farmers perform rain ritual December 22, 2008

Israeli farmers re-created a ritual described by a 16th century Jewish scholar in the hopes of bringing rain.

The farmers from the Upper Galilee, led by Rabbi Eliyahu Biton, on Sunday encircled the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai located on Mount Meron while shaking the Four Species that are traditionally used on Sukkot, the daily Ha’aretz reported.

Yosef Karo, a 16th century religious scholar, composed the special prayer for rain. According to Karo’s book “Maggid Mesharim,” much rain fell after Karo and his students completed the ritual.

Rabbi Elyashiv, Rebbes Support Rabbi Lau as Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim December 28, 2008

Rabbi Elyashiv’s home was the location of a recent discussion among various Rabbanim as to who would be the most fitting candidate to fill the position of Yerushalayim’s Chief Rabbi.

…Shas is supporting Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Grossman, who is very active in Kiruv Rechokim. They feel he will be inclined work closely with the Sefardic Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim.

New Motorcycle Unit Will Serve Medics on Shabbos Too

By Yechiel Sever December 25, 2008

The first medics’ motorcycle unit in Israel, which was launched by United Hatzalah a few weeks ago, will serve medics in responding to emergency calls on Shabbos as well.

The motorcycles, which were shown to the rabbinical heads of United Hatzalah, provide a halachic solution for certain parts of the country where medics encounter a halachic problem upon returning home following a response to an emergency.

Mikvaot join green trend December 25, 2008

With winter coming later each year and Israel facing a severe water crisis, the Ministry of Religious Services has launched a new initiative aimed at saving water.

The ministry is encouraging mikvah operators across the country to install special filters that would enable mikvaot to recycle water and reduce the frequency of replacing water at the ritual baths.

Peres to establish Jewish youth forum

By Haviv Rettig Gur December 26, 2008

President Shimon Peres is looking to establish a forum within Beit Hanassi that will bring together young leaders from throughout the Jewish world to grapple with the questions facing the Jewish people as a whole, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

…Key to the new framework would be the “integration” of existing groups that deal with the connection to the Diaspora, including the IDF and the Mandel Leadership Institute.

Can American Orthodoxy Afford to Have its Best and Brightest (Not) Make Aliya? December 23, 2008

From the Orthodox Forum publication “Religious Zionism Post Disengagement: Future Directions”

Edited by Chaim Waxman; Robert S. Hirt, Series Editor

The Orthodox Forum Series is a project of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, an affiliate of Yeshiva University

Click here for article (pdf file)

US court: Ex-Agriprocessors manager to remain jailed

By Allison Hoffman December 25, 2008

“The prosecutors’ purpose is clearly to single out Jews because they allegedly have foreign ties as de facto dual citizens, and the effect of what it proposes will be to single out Jews – because of their belief in Jewish flight risk, these prosecutors will always ask, ‘Is the defendant a Jew?'” his lawyers wrote.

Scoles chastised Rubashkin’s attorney Baruch Weiss for focusing on the question of Rubashkin’s “de facto citizenship” after having argued in earlier hearings that his client would not bother fleeing to Israel because he would simply be extradited back to the US.

“That [the] defendant’s connections to Israel include rights to de facto Israeli citizenship has nothing, per se, to do with [the] defendant’s race or religion,” prosecutors wrote. 

“That [the] defendant’s right to foreign citizenship is based upon [the] defendant’s cultural heritage is solely a matter of foreign law.”

Jewish Agency: Na’aleh will not be cut

By Haviv Rettig Gur December 22, 2008

Amid concerns that Jewish Agency cutbacks were threatening the continued operation of Na’aleh, an agency spokesman promised the unique youth aliya program would survive, one way or another.

On Tuesday, an emergency meeting of the Knesset Absorption and Immigration Committee will discuss the possibility that “the Jewish Agency’s decision to withdraw from the program threatened its very existence,” according to a statement by the Na’aleh Alumni Association.

Gov’t must step in and save Na’aleh youth aliya, MKs insist

By Haviv Rettig Gur December 23, 2008

Thirteen MKs called on the government to rescue the Na’aleh aliya program in an emergency session of the Knesset’s Immigration and Absorption Committee on Tuesday.

Rabbinical duo leads drive to revive Conservative kibbutz

By Raphael Ahren December 26, 2008

Until they met a few years ago in rabbinical school, Yoav Ende and Yonatan Sadoff had led quite different lives.

Now, after having been ordained earlier this month by the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem, they are planning to spend their next stage of life together on a sparsely populated kibbutz twelve kilometers north of Nazareth, near the Arab town of Shfaram.

The freshly ordained rabbis are leading a group of pioneers to Kibbutz Hanaton, founded in 1984 as the kibbutz of the Conservative movement.

…The young team’s vision includes a symbiosis of study center and living Judaism on kibbutz. Besides teaching and preaching, the rabbis will also officiate at weddings and oversee conversions, although – or because – Conservative rabbis are not officially recognized in Israel.

Religion and State in Israel

December 29, 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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