Religion and State in Israel – February 16, 2009 Israel Elections (Section 1)

By ,

Religion and State in Israel

February 16, 2009 Israel Elections (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

Conversion controversy threatens to thwart Likud coalition cobbling

By Yair Ettinger February 16, 2009

Last year’s High Rabbinical Court decision to invalidate thousands of conversions conducted in Israel could become a major issue in coalition talks.

Members of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party asked Likud yesterday to clarify its position on the matter after Yisrael Beiteinu requested recognition of conversions and accelerated activity in the special conversion courts, which the ultra-Orthodox do not recognize.

UTJ has said its coalition talks with Likud are contingent on the party’s rejection of Yisrael Beiteinu’s requests.

A new Jewish state

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion February 15, 2009

What Lieberman envisages is a state-rabbinate relationship very similar to the one existing between Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church.

One in which the clergy is given respect as the guardians of the nation’s heritage, but expected to understand that they are there to serve the state, not the other way around. 

If Lieberman will be a major player in the coalition that emerges from this week’s chaotic election results, it can certainly be expected that he will push through legislation liberalizing marriage laws and a comprehensive reform of conversion procedures, and with that a significant erosion of the powers of the rabbinate, but his vision is far from that of liberal Judaism.

Can Neeman bridge the ideological gulf between Lieberman and Shas?

By Matthew Wagner February 12, 2009

Disputes between Shas and Israel Beiteinu over state-religion issues seemed to be a main factor in the decision by Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu to appoint Prof. Yaakov Neeman as his lead coalition negotiator.

…Shas and Israel Beiteinu are split on the issue of civil unions in lieu of marriage. 

Israel Beiteinu is pushing to break the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over marriages, which are presently conducted in strict accordance with Halacha.

Shas claims that any change to the religious status quo would be strictly forbidden and tantamount to apostasy. It has vowed to fight any attempts to alter this status quo.

But Israel Beiteinu is resolved to end the present situation in which tens of thousands of citizens are unable to marry here. 

The party also argues that there are leading religious Zionist rabbis who support the concept of civil unions in principle.

Israel Beiteinu is also interested in reforming the state-controlled conversion process to make it easier for non-Jews to convert to Judaism. 

Shas, in contrast, is strictly opposed to any leniency in the conversion process.

Progressive Jews worry over coalition

By Allison Hoffman February 13, 2009

Reform and Conservative Jews in the US are watching nervously from the sidelines as Likud negotiates between partnering with Kadima in a national unity government or building a narrow coalition with Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu and Shas.

A deal on the Right could erase modest gains made in recent years by the more liberal branches of Jewry – and would come just as disputes over the power of the Chief Rabbinate are coming to a head amid calls from the Conservative rabbinical association for the rabbinate’s dissolution.

Naomi Paiss, communications director for the New Israel Fund:

“The exclusion of non-Orthodox Jews is a slap in the face to the American Jewish public that does support Israel,” Paiss added. 

“You don’t have to be in the position of making aliya to resent that our community, which supports Israel in so many ways, is viewed as suspect by the self-appointed guardians of Judaism in Israel.”

Yet others said the focus should be on forcing change within religious bodies, rather than through the backdoor of politics.

“I would hope that Lieberman’s approach does not divert people from understanding the real challenge, and that is to break the monopoly of the chief rabbinate,” said Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

Shas, UTJ join forces for coalition negotiations

By Matthew Wagner February 13, 2009

Shas and United Torah Judaism are planning to work together in government coalition negotiations, Shas chairman Eli Yishai announced Thursday.

Yishai added that the two parties would cooperate to protect common interests such as budgets for haredi educational institutions and maintaining the religious status quo on issues such as marriages and conversions.

…Both parties are concerned that the religious status quo will be upset in a coalition in which Avigdor Lieberman’s party is dominant.

Israel Beiteinu is pushing to bust the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over marriages in Israel by promoting legislation that would recognize a form of civil marriage called “partnership unions.”

Shas and UTJ have warned that the move would result in intermarriage between Israeli citizens who are not Jewish according to Orthodox standards.

Shas and National Union Strike a Deal

By Yechiel Spira February 13, 2009

Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), who heads the Ichud HaLeumi [National Union] list, on Thursday reached an agreement with Shas leader Eli Yishai which details how the two parties address certain issues.

It was decided that matters o Torah and Halacha will be decided by Shas while matters pertaining to Eretz Yisrael will be deferred to Ichud HaLeumi. 

Lieberman gets a cool welcome from Western Wall worshippers

By Nadav Shragai February 11, 2009

Wearing a skullcap and a contemplative look on his face, Lieberman chose to spend a few seconds at the Western Wall – 12 hours before the opening of the ballot boxes. 

One of the women recommended that they say a few prayers so that Lieberman will fail in the election.

An older yeshiva student complained that Lieberman’s presence there was disrespectful. “He came here to be photographed,” he said. 

Ultra-Orthodox men called him “a hater of Judaism,” language used recently by Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. 

Only one elderly Haredi man spoke in Lieberman’s favor. 

“His daughter has become religious,” he said. “He loves Israel and will help us all. May God bless him.”

Why we have failed to change the system

By Menahem Ben-Sasson Opinion February 13, 2009

The writer was chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee in the outgoing Knesset

The heads of the Shas party…supported the move from the outset, for the most part.

Then, on the eve of the vote, they changed their position on increasing the percentage of the vote needed for a party to enter the Knesset because of pressure from the small ultra-Orthodox parties.

These parties later hinted that if they did not win the required percentage they would join up with Shas, along with their rabbinical establishments, threatening Shas’ rabbinical establishment. 

Religious Zionism lost

By Yehudah Glick Opinion February 12, 2009

The author is the director of The Temple Institute.

We lost these elections and we lost big.

We, the religious and Torah-observant public in Israel, lost.

We, the national religious public, lost. 

We the religious Zionists, lost. 

We lost because we were not smart enough to unite. The parties attacked one another; and the man on the street is really not interested in who or what is responsible for the divide, Uri Ariel, Yaakov Amidror or the politics of Zevulun Orlev.

We lost because we were perceived as irrelevant. Habayit Hayehudi did not manage to generate the customary public search for a traditional Zionist home; and the National Union did not manage to present itself as an alternative to the large group of lovers of the Land of Israel, who do not pray in the synagogues of Ofra and Beit El. 

And Chabad’s winner is… National Union

By Cnaan Liphshiz February 13, 2009

Unlike most Israelis, Jews in Brooklyn, New York, had been spared weeks of exposure to posters of Israeli parties and politicians. 

That is, until Sunday, when a small group of former Israelis put up dozens of election flyers for the Zionist, far-right National Union party all over the Chabad bastion of Crown Heights. 

…Asked whether the Chabad support worries him, National Union’s Detroit-born Uri Bank – who is number five on the list – admitted that it did concern him. However, he stressed that National Union has no anti-Zionists in its ranks. 

“There has been positive movement within Chabad in terms of the attitude to Israel and I hope this partnership will help move them in this direction,” he added.

Religion and State in Israel

February 16, 2009 Israel Elections (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

Click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

No comments yet.

Your Thoughts