Religion and State in Israel – March 23, 2009 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

March 23, 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.

Resolving a chief marital squabble

By Matthew Wagner March 20, 2009

It looks like for the first time in Israel’s history, Jews not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate as halachically Jewish will be allowed to tie the knot.

The agreement obligates the new government to pass legislation immediately upon formation which would permit two Israelis who are not halachically Jewish to enter a civil union (brit zugiyut).

The Chief Rabbinate will be responsible for determining who is eligible to fit into this category. But a (non-Jewish) lawyer, not a rabbi, will perform the civil union.

Activists for the dismantling of Orthodoxy’s monopoly over religious issues were disappointed.

For instance, Rabbi Andy Sacks, director of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly here, called the agreement “a lost opportunity” to reform conversions and create civil marriages.

“Ridiculously, Israel Beiteinu announced a huge ‘achievement’ which in reality is lacking in substance, and which ultimately does not advance those who really need a solution,” he said.

UTJ halts coalition talks with Likud on conversion rules

By Yair Ettinger March 24, 2009

The ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party halted coalition negotiations with Likud yesterday, claiming that the Likud’s coalition deal with Yisrael Beiteinu violates its monopoly over conversions. 

UTJ sources threatened to remain in the opposition if Likud insisted on including certain clauses regarding conversion in its coalition deal with UTJ. 

The leader of the ultra-Orthodox Lithuanian community, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, yesterday ordered Degel Hatorah, UTJ’s Lithuanian faction, not to accept clauses regarding conversion reforms and civil marriage. 

Rabbi Elyashiv allows civil marriage for non-Jews

By Kobi Nahshoni March 19, 2009

Over a month after the general elections, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the spiritual leader of the Lithuanian stream of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, ruled on the hot topic of the coalition negotiations – civil marriage.

According to Rabbi Elyashiv, the Halacha allows instituting civil marriage in Israel for non-Jews only. Therefore, any couple wishing to wed through civil marriage will have to prove to a rabbinical court that both partners are not Jewish, this in order to prevent “legally sanctioned” assimilation.

The rabbi stressed that civil marriage between Jews, or a mixed couples, was out of the question.

Yisrael Beiteinu compromises on civil marriage

By Mazal Mualem and Yair Ettinger March 18, 2009

Instead of promising enactment of a civil marriage law, the agreement merely states that within 60 days of the government’s establishment, the prime minister will appoint a task force comprised of representatives of every coalition party to discuss ways to solve the problem of some 300,000 people who cannot marry via the official rabbinate.

The panel will submit its conclusions within 15 months. In addition, the government will pass legislation allowing non-Jews to marry each other in a civil ceremony. 

Likud, Shas strike coalition deal

By Attila Somfalvi March 23, 2009

The agreement with Shas further stated that “the status quo regarding issues of religion and state will be maintained” and that the next government will “work towards honoring Shabbat and the Jewish holidays, as well as prohibit any discrimination against religious employees.”

As part of the agreement, Likud guaranteed Shas that the next government would uphold the status of the yeshiva students and “examine the claims of an increase in illegal missionary activity in Israel.”

Shas was also assured that the status of the rabbinical courts would be preserved.

As for education, the coalition agreement states that the haredi education system will remain independent

Proposed split of education portfolio draws fire

By Or Kashti March 20, 2009

Outgoing Education Minister Yuli Tamir yesterday called the proposal to divide the ministry, by appointing an official with ministerial authority for the ultra-Orthodox school network, “profoundly wrong and separatist.”

Shas, Likud reach coalition compromise on education

By Mazal Mualem March 23, 2009

One Shas MK will be appointed as a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, to administer the ultra-Orthodox education system from that post. The leading candidate for the appointment remains MK Meshulam Nahari.

UTJ says Shas should hold off on entering coalition

By Matthew Wagner March 23, 2009

For the first time the yeshiva budget will be anchored in legislation. Haredi politicians have wondered if anchoring the budget in legislation served their political interests.

By making the yeshiva budget an integral part of the education budget and not an ad hoc deal that has to be renegotiated every year, the haredi politicians may be shooting themselves in the foot by making themselves superfluous.

Shas to get Haredi-only education portfolio in coalition deal

By Or Kashti and Mazal Mualem March 23, 2009

Yossi Sarid, a former education minister and former Meretz chairman, termed the reputed deal “a fire sale of Israel’s state education.” 

Sarid argued that it is “impossible” to have “two education ministers and two education ministries. The day this happens, the state will have essentially conceded its authority over the Haredi systems.” 

Destroying education, crushing society

Haaretz Editorial March 22, 2009

No Likud education minister, not even Netanyahu himself, could stop the avalanche that will follow the appointment of a Shas minister for ultra-Orthodox education. 

The money-loaded ultra-Orthodox education system will turn state education (and religious state education) into a dangling appendage and ultimately destroy it.

Shas to receive four portfolios in coalition deal with Likud

By Mazal Mualem March 23, 2009

Party chief Eli Yishai will become interior minister and deputy prime minister, MK Ariel Atias will become minister of housing, Yitzhak Cohen will receive the new government’s religion portfolio and Meshulam Nahari will become a minister-without-portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Office. 

Likud agrees to broad rabbinic court authority

By Yair Ettinger and Mazal Mualem March 20, 2009

Shas and Likud have agreed to advance legislation that would broaden rabbinic court authority to include civil issues, despite a High Court ruling denying them such jurisdiction. 

A public storm erupted in February 2008, when Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog advanced a similar proposal. Former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner said at the time that she was “scared to death” of the agreements Shas made with Kadima. 

She said at a meeting of religious women’s organizations that giving rabbinic judges authority to rule in civil matters would create “a parallel legal system.” 

Netanyahu agrees to raise child allowances

By Zvi Zrahiya March 23, 2009

Child allowances for the second to fourth children in a family will rise in a number of stages. As part of the coalition negotiations, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed with the ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, to an increase of NIS 1.5 billion over a three-year period. 

Other budgetary agreements with the ultra-Orthodox parties include a few hundred million shekels more for the parties’ educational institutions as well as increased stipends for yeshiva students. 

Bayit HaYehudi Finds a Solution to End Internal Crisis

By Yechiel Spira March 22, 2009

Bayit HaYehudi Party (Jewish Home) officials have reached a solution to end the conflict surrounding the party leader’s refusal to step down as MK if appointed as a cabinet minister.

The MKs wish to implement the Norwegian Law when party leader Rabbi Dr. Daniel Hershkowitz becomes a minister, permitting Nissan Slomianski to enter Knesset, but Slomianski will leave and Hershkowitz will receive his Knesset slot back if Hershkowitz ceases to serve as a minister in the future.

‘Haredim to continue running buses segregating men, women’ March 22, 2009

Ultra-Orthodox groups announced on Sunday they would continue to run a bus route segregating men and women in Jerusalem, Israel Radio reported. 

The announcement came despite efforts by the Transportation Ministry to prevent the operation of the publicly-funded bus route that runs from the capital’s Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) neighborhoods to the Western Wall. 

Transportation Ministry, haredim in row over segregated bus

By Etgar Lefkovits March 23, 2009

The organization running the buses, the Rabbinic Committee for Transportation Affairs, began operating the route on Thursday, group spokesman Shimon Stern said.

He denied the buses are illegal, noting that the new line has obtained private sponsorship and passengers are not being charged for the ride.

Jerusalem: Haredim launch segregated bus line

By Kobi Nahshoni March 22, 2009

Binyamin Mark of the “Holy Land Mehadrin Committee” said that this time a different company, “which is not deterred by idle threats” has been contracted, and that the plan now was to “go all the way” and launch several other lines soon.

Haredi Jews Urged To Avoid El Al

By Nathan Jeffay March 20, 2009

Orthodox Jews are being urged shun El Al, Israel’s national air carrier, over its in-flight entertainment — a push that is widely viewed as a gambit in a larger struggle with the airline.

The Rabbinical Transportation Committee, an influential body representing a cross-section of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, community, has published a guide telling people how to fly “kosher” around the world — a kind of Michelin Guide for observant travelers.

El Al’s generous provision of in-flight movies — a welcome amenity for most passengers — drew fire from the rabbinic inspectors. They accuse El Al of placing religious passengers under the influence of secular culture and “immodest” images.

Body parts exhibit has rabbi up in arms

Click here for VIDEO

By David Brinn March 20, 2009

Haifa Chief Rabbi She’ar-Yashuv Cohen is not quite saying “over my dead body,” but he is calling on the public to boycott an upcoming science exhibit that provides an inside look at the human body by using real body parts.

“Even if the bodies aren’t Jewish, there’s kavod adam [human dignity] which we’re obliged to follow. We can’t discriminate because they’re not Jewish – it’s against the spirit of Judaism,” he told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Interior Ministry Targets Chareidi Schools

By Yechiel Spira March 19, 2009

The Interior Ministry has instructed local government not to pay utility costs for chareidi schools, including Chinuch Atzmai and Shas-affiliated Mayan Hachinuch, in addition to halting garbage collection services.

They do not represent us

By Yakov Horowitz Opinion March 18, 2009

The writer is the dean of a yeshiva in the New York area and has authored books on parenting and Torah thoughts. He recently received the 2008 Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education.

We must clearly and unequivocally condemn the violence each time it happens in the strongest language.

Halachic rulings ought to be issued that those who commit violence against innocent people are rodfim (individuals who present a real and present danger to others), and one is obligated by our Torah to defend the victim and report the criminals to the police.

I am posting this column on my Web site and I respectfully call upon haredim worldwide to post a comment at the bottom with your name and the city where you live supporting the sentiments expressed here.

If enough Torah-observant individuals stand up, distance ourselves from these criminals and demand action from our elected officials, we might affect changes which will restore honor to God’s name and end these acts of terror that plague us.

Belzer Chassidim and Litvish Rabbonim Launch Wedding Plans March 20, 2009

After working on the plan for close to a year, Belzer askanim have announced that they are launching their “Chassaneh Plan” which is calculated to save each family up to $9,000 in wedding expenses for their child.

First-Ever Halacha-Compliant Approval for Investment Firm March 22, 2009

The Aida Hachareidis’s Supervisory Committee for Investments and Finance gave its seal of approval to the Hadas Malchus Investment Firm, the first-ever “kosher certificate” awarded by a Beis Din to an investment house.

Ultra-Orthodox buy real estate in groups, as financial crisis hits home

By Raz Smolsky March 23, 2009

As the economic crisis hits home, the popularity of purchasing groups has grown, including in the ultra-Orthodox community. There, gigantic groups numbering 150 members or more congregate in a matter of weeks, and not always with some real estate entrepreneur in the center of the action. 

“The Haredim are more organized, they know each other. A rabbi leads the project and gives it his approval, which makes it easier to win the trust of buyers. It’s very easy to persuade a Haredi to buy an apartment together with a purchasing group.” 

Haredim launch battle against human body exhibit

By Kobi Nahshoni March 22, 2009

“Body Worlds”, a travelling exhibition of preserved human bodies and body parts will be arriving at MadaTech, the Israel National Museum of Science in Haifa next month, unless a planned wave of public protest manages to have the show cancelled.

The controversial exhibition will be on display at the museum for three months. Two petitions against the exhibit are already making their way to the High Court of Justice, and ultra-Orthodox leaders in the country vowed to stage mass rallies against it.

About a year ago, the Israeli organizers approached Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and asked that he formulate an opinion regarding the exhibit, based on Jewish law. Metzger unequivocally ruled that “such an exhibit has no place in the Holy Land, and I therefore recommend that you don’t get involved in this.”

Eida Chareidis Appeals to Stores – Don’t Sell Chametz on Pesach

By Yechiel Spira March 23, 2009

The Jerusalem-based Eida Chareidis has begun sending letters to store owners.

Rabbi Yosef Rosenfeld, who is affiliated with the Eida as well as the overall Shabbos effort in Yerushalayim, explained that the effort is done in a cordial fashion in the hope of persuading store owners to comply. He did state however that there would be a response to those “who chas v’sholom refuse to comply”.

Restrictions threaten Bratslav Pesach in Uman

By Zohar Blumenkrantz March 23, 2009

The Bratslav Hasidic community’s traditional Pesach pilgrimage to the tomb of Rabbi Nachman in Uman, Ukraine is scheduled to begin today, but restrictions imposed by the Ukrainian embassy in Israel could lead to the trip’s being canceled entirely. 

New GPS device makes schlepping around Eretz Yisroel easy

By Mel Bezalel March 23, 2009

The machers at iGO, a subsidiary of Nav N Go, have designed the new [Jewish GPS] for the Orthodox market in Israel. Now Yiddish-speakers in areas such as Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Modi’in Illit and Ashdod can use the product to locate more than 10,000 unique Jewish interest points – including the addresses and telephone numbers of thousands of synagogues, mikves and kosher restaurants.

Carmiel rabbi enraged by erotic show

By Galit Perry March 20, 2009

“Forbidden Territory”, a performance by the Moscow Theater dancers, which is scheduled to take place Monday in Carmiel’s cultural center has led to angry responses.

The city’s Sephardic rabbi, Eliyahu Malka, slammed the show. “This is a shame and disgrace to the city of Carmiel. I strongly protest it,” he said.

Rabbi Malka said that he was weighing his options against the show and that Mayor Adi Eldar had promised him in the past, verbally and in writing, that such a performance would not be displayed in Carmiel.

Rabbi Tendler Ascends Temple Mount

By Hana Levi Julian March 20, 2009

Click here for VIDEO

A new 17-minute video has been released an ascent to the Temple Mount led by Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler, son-in-law of the famed late Torah sage, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein.

Rabbi Tendler, who leads the Community Synagogue of Monsey and is a professor of Jewish Medical Ethics and biology at New York’s Yeshiva College, led a small group of Jews up to the Temple Mount together with Temple Institute Director Yehudah Glick on January 19, 2009. 

The small gathering, which ascended the Mount after first making the appropriate preparations as prescribed in Jewish law, recited special prayers during their visit to the site. 

The video shows Rabbi Tendler walking around the mount and speaking words of Torah throughout.

Religion and State in Israel

March 23, 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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