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

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Religion and State in Israel

March 16, 2009 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu sign coalition deal

By Attila Somfalvi March 16, 2009

Lieberman’s party has also been granted several of its demands on the issue of civil marriage.

The deal guarantees that legislation regulating marriage between Jews and non-Jews will be passed within two months, and that a legal solution for other individuals prevented from marrying according to Jewish law will be found within 15 months.

On the matter of conversions the agreement states that local and municipal rabbis will be able to perform conversions with the Chief Rabbinate’s approval, and also wed people who converted and set criteria for annulling conversions.

UTJ on Civil Marriage

By Matthew Wagner March 16, 2009

A special rabbinic committee was to decide Sunday night whether or not UTJ could support a law that would allow Israelis who are not Jewish, Christian or Muslim to marry.

Israel Beiteinu has demanded that marital reforms constitute part of its coalition agreement with the Likud.

Shas seeking to make home in Housing portfolio

By Mazal Mualem March 12, 2009

Three factions are fighting over the Housing portfolio, which prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has promised the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. 

Shas is resolved to appoint the party’s MK Ariel Atias – today minister of communications – as housing minister, while United Torah Judaism, the other ultra-Orthodox party, wants the ministry mainly to be in control of the Israel Lands Administration. 

…Shas, which has participated in almost all the governments since the mid-eighties, has never before demanded the Housing Ministry. 

Now it wishes to ease the housing problems of the ultra-Orthodox community, where many couples are ineligible for a home mortgage as they lack a regular, sufficient income. 

Shas also sees the ministry as a means of appealing to secular low-income families, thus potentially winning supporters from outside the ultra-Orthodox community. 

Likud looks for ways to satisfy UTJ without giving it Housing

By Yair Ettinger March 16, 2009

Likud offered the five-member UTJ faction the Social Affairs Ministry or the Health Ministry, but UTJ chairman Yaakov Litzman said his party was insisting on one of three portfolios: religious affairs, housing or deputy education for yeshivas and ultra-Orthodox education. 

Religious parties say Likud will include yeshiva funding in state budget

By Nadav Shragai March 15, 2009

The National Union leadership said an initial agreement had been reached with Likud to fund ultra-Orthodox yeshivas and hesder yeshivas (yeshivas whose students combine their studies with military service) as part of the government’s basic budgetary framework. 

…On making funding for ultra-Orthodox yeshivas and hesder yeshivas part of the basic government budget, National Union leader Yaakov Katz said on Friday: 

“During the election campaign we made it clear that this was an ultimate demand, to stop the need for horse-trading and lobbying every month for the world of Torah.” 

Katz also called the initial agreement he said had been made, “a real revolution in understanding the value of Torah studies through government funding. 

It will mean an end to the embarrassing phenomenon of yeshiva heads having to beg every year for money from the government.”

Even before cabinet is formed, Netanyahu’s team gets its act together

By Barak Ravid March 11, 2009

Netanyahu’s bureau chief is expected to be Natan Eshel, former managing director of the Orthodox daily Hatzofeh, and now deputy managing director of the daily Israel Hayom. That paper’s owner, Sheldon Adelson, is very close to Netanyahu.

NGO heads meeting with Likud over new education reforms

By Or Kashti March 13, 2009

Over the past few weeks, the heads of a nongovernmental organization have been meeting with senior Likud officials to compile a list of far-reaching reforms to state schools. 

…Another proposal refers to the “core plan,” which the Education Ministry has been unsuccessful in imposing on ultra-Orthodox schools.

The organization’s experts propose full state funding in exchange for making six subjects (math, science, English, Hebrew, heritage and civic studies) mandatory in all religious schools. 

The proposal on the ultra-Orthodox branch offers to make the six core subjects account for 70 percent of the curriculum, allowing schools scholastic autonomy in the remaining 30 percent.

Watchdog to probe unaudited Haredi schools 

By Zvi Zrahiya March 11, 2009

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has decided to investigate previously unaudited educational institutions.

The significantly enlarged auditing field will now include over 60 institutions, including the Shas-affiliated Ma’ayan schools and kindergarten networks.

Talmudic Studies Jerusalem Federation and Beit Yaakov day-care centers, associated with United Torah Judaism, have also joined the list.

The decision will allow state authorities to examine whether any improvements have been made in the religious educational networks.

Rabbi Offers Money to Solve Fiasco in Jerusalem of High Schools Rejecting Girls

By Ezra Reichman March 15, 2009

Rav Yitzchak Pindrus, who is in charge of the Chareidi Education Dept. in the Jerusalem municipality has innovated the idea of paying a high school 150,000 NIS ($35,000) grant if they agree to open a class taking in girls who are high candidates to be rejected.

He believes that a part of the problem is the lack of classrooms, since the chareidi community has grown so rapidly in the past years.

Supreme Court rejects request to try Safed’s chief rabbi

By Aviad Glickman March 16, 2009

The Supreme Court rejected the petition submitted by the Israel Religious Action Center against Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, demanding that Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu be put on trial for making anti-Arab statements.

The Supreme Court justices ruled that the court tends not to intervene in the attorney general’s decisions on such matters, especially after an arrangement was reached with the State Prosecutor’s Office, which included an official apology on the part of the rabbi.

Betzedek Joins Mehadrin Bus Lines High Court Petition

By Yechiel Sever March 12, 2009

Betzedek has joined a High Court petition filed by Kavei Mehadrin after no representative for the chareidi public was involved in the case by the courts.

The High Court is scheduled to hear a petition regarding the conditions for operating the Mehadrin bus lines. 

After reaching the conclusion that these lines are legal, the High Court ordered the Transportation Minister to appoint a committee to set regulations to guide how the bus lines are operated.

…The judges accepted Betzedek’s request to serve as “a friend of the court,” a status reserved for entities the court recognizes as experts in the matter at hand.

Rabbis urge public to shun El Al

By Kobi Nahshoni March 15, 2009

After failing to reach a deal with El Al that would see the company operating separate flights for the ultra-Orthodox sector, rabbis are now calling on their public not to fly with the Israeli company at all, and prefer foreign airlines instead.

Ahead of Passover, the high season for visits in Israel and abroad among haredim, the rabbinic committee on transportation has published a statement urging the public to fly only with airlines that offer movie-free flights, or flights with designated areas that are movie-free.

Military service: An entry ticket into Israeli society

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion March 15, 2009

Last week, the head of the IDF’s Personnel Department, Major General Avi Zamir, announced that from this year, the army would induct twice the previous number of young ultra-Orthodox men into the Netzah Yehuda battalion, which only a few years ago was on the brink of disbandment.

This along with new projects for recruiting men from the Haredi community into technical positions. 

Recent data also shows that for the first time in living memory, the number of 18 year-olds preferring yeshiva studies over army service actually went down in 2008.

In my meetings with the Netzah Yehuda soldiers over the last decade, I have never heard them speak of Zionism either – it’s all about social inclusion and mobility for them also.

They see the IDF as a way out of the poverty trap of the yeshiva world, and their best opportunity for employment afterwards. 

Here comes the future

By Diana Bletter March 12, 2009

Today, a new wave of religious-secular mechina programs has the same goals, combining study with community activism, and are open to secular Jews as well as the observant. The program’s agenda was no less than trying to spark a dialogue between religious and secular Jews, and to begin to heal the rift in the nation.

The Mechina Nachshon at Kibbutz Shoval, near Beersheba, was launched that same year with a small group of students.

…And over the past 12 years, it has served as an inspiration for 16 other mixed secular-religious mechina programs around the country, from Kiryat Shmona to Beersheba.

Chabad and the IDF March 12, 2009

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Photo – 

Thousands of IDF soldiers were visited on Purim by Chabad Shluchim and Chassidim.

Among them was Rabbi Menachem Ofen who came to the IDF’s Captain School in southern Israel with a Megillah, Shalach Manos and an illusionist. The troops danced away with Jewish music in the background.

Barak Gives Permit to Two Additional Hesder Yeshivas

By Yechiel Spira March 10, 2009

Outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak has given official status to two additional hesder yeshivas, bringing the number of hesder yeshivas nationwide to 47.

One of the new yeshivas is in Kiryat Gat. The second, which was started about four years ago, has now received official recognition. It has about 45 talmidim, some already serving in the IDF.

Paratroopers Celebrate with Chabad March 10, 2009

Last night 25 paratroopers came to Chabad of Gan Ner to celebrate Purim, before they leaving on a navigation mission. 

The Rebbe’s Shliach to Gan Ner, Rabbi Avshalom Kil, sang and danced with the soldiers, together with a group of Tmimim from Tomchei Tmimim Migdal Haemek.

The little that remains on the Temple Mount

By Nadav Shragai Opinion March 11, 2009

For years, the Jerusalem District Police “benefited” from the fact that few Jews visited the Temple Mount, sparing the police this “headache.” 

But now the situation is changing. The halakhic consensus that Jews are forbidden to ascend the mount has been broken. 

More and more rabbis are permitting Jews to visit, and more and more Jews are seeking to do so. 

Matzot prices not dropping this Passover

By Yehudit Yahav March 16, 2009

Despite the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry’s signed order to drop the price of regulated bread by some 4% due to a reduction in global wheat prices, the price of matzot, which are also made out of wheat, will not be dropping this Passover.

The matzah market in Israel is estimated at NIS 120 million ($28.7 million) per year.

KFC Israel going kosher

By Meirav Crystal March 9, 2009

Going kosher pays, as international fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken has learned, and is now taking steps towards receiving full kashrut in its Israeli branches.

Thanks to a special approval granted by the global chain, KFC Israel announced on Sunday that it would start marketing its chicken meals with a kosher soy-powder coating rather than the standard milk-power coating.

Rabbi Aviner supports importation of Breslov grave

By Kobi Nahshoni March 12, 2009

The Breslov Hasidic camp is currently promoting the importation of the bones of their founding leader, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, and one of the senior rabbis of the Religious-Zionist movement has joined the struggle.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who has previously opposed the Jewish New Year’s Eve trend of massive prostration on the Rebbe’s grave in the Ukrainian town of Breslov, has expressed his support for a petition being circulated by the Hasidic community, which calls on the government to bring the holy site to Israel.

Women barred from funerals in Yemenite community

By Tzofia Hirschfeld March 16, 2009

“It is customary here that women do not escort the dead inside the cemetery,” said Motti Avdiel, a Chevra Kadisha volunteer at the place.

“The first part of the funeral takes place at an open square located near a roofed area. During the eulogies the women are asked to stand outside, while the men stand under the roof.

“When the funeral proceeds towards the grave the women are forbidden from approaching the grave; a woman can’t escort her husband… only after the men leave, the women are allowed to approach the grave,” he explained.

Preventing women from mourning

By ‘Oranit’ (prepared by Nomi Saraga) March 12, 2009

This article first appeared in and in Kolech’s English blog.

Kolech also published a (Hebrew) review of the halachic aspect of this matter:

The pain of my loss was aggravated by the cruel restrictions made by the people of Yavne’s cemetery.

They discriminated against me because I am a woman. They chastised me for expressing my feelings and forbade me from seeing my cousin’s burial.

Besides feeling stunned and sad, I also felt guilty for not protesting aloud. The emotional Catch-22 was too much for me; I could not bear to make a difficult situation even worse by raising a commotion.

Religion and State in Israel

March 16, 2009 (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.

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