Religion and State in Israel – March 30, 2009 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

March 30, 2009 (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.

‘Pope’s visit won’t stop us from praying at Western Wall’

By Ari Galahar March 29, 2009

Responding to reports that Pope Benedict’s planned stay in east Jerusalem and his scheduled visits to the Old City and the Western Wall are expected to lead to the closing of major routes in the city, Rabbi Rabinovitch said:

“It’s inconceivable that the pope’s visit would hurt worshippers at the Western Wall, some of whom have been praying there daily.”

…The regular worshipers at the Wall stressed that they had no objection to the pope’s visit, as long as it did not interrupt with their daily prayers there.

Israel to spend NIS 6 million on Benedict XVI’s visit to Nazareth

By Irit Rosenblum March 30, 2009

Israel announced yesterday that it plans to invest NIS 5.7 million in a religious ceremony led by Pope Benedict XVI during his visit this May. 

The pope will conduct a large mass on Mount Precipice…The ceremony is expected to draw 35,000 worshippers. 

Pope Benedict XVI and the Jews

By Rabbi David Rosen Opinion March 30, 2009

The writer, former chief rabbi of Ireland, heads the American Jewish Committee’s Department of Interreligious Affairs and is also the chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.

Not everyone in the Church has appreciated the central role that Israel plays in contemporary as well as historic Jewish identity. 

Pope Benedict XVI does, and he fully realizes that the relationship between the Vatican and the State of Israel is inextricably bound up with the relationship between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church.

Israeli Gedolim Caution against Going to Hotels for Pesach March 25, 2009

Gedolim in Bnei Brak have come out against going to hotels for Pesach. A proclamation signed by Rav Y. B. Wozner, Rav Yehuda Silman, Rav Shimon Baadani, Rav Menachem M. Shafran and other rabbonim, states:

Trying to enrich themselves at the expense of the chareidi public, businesses are churning out propaganda, a plethora of articles and brainwashing to turn the holy days of Pesach into a “routine vacation” at various hotels in the Dead Sea and Tiverya.

…The proclamation also mentions that newspapers and advertising agencies conceal the fact that every hotel room has television and films.

They also cover up the fact that singers perform in the evening, whose negative ramifications are well known from the past. 

Hotels also have other harmful influences which are detrimental to adults and children alike, and which contravene accepted standards of tznius and kedusha.

Jerusalem businesses warned not to sell bread on Passover

By Kobi Nahshoni March 24, 2009

The ultra-Orthodox community’s Court of Justice and the Committee for Sanctity of Shabbat in Jerusalem recently sent warning letters to 80 businesses in the capital planning to sell leavened food during the Passover holiday, Ynet has learned.

The business owners were warned that “the punishment for the blasphemy expected to hit the holy city is extremely severe, and you will be the only ones responsible for this.”

More restaurants to remain non-kosher this Pesach

By Sarit Sardas-Trotino March 29, 2009

The recession and the high cost involved in the process of making a kitchen kosher for Pesach are expected to lead to a drop of 20% in the number of restaurants that plan to offer kosher-for-Passover dishes to their customers this upcoming holiday.

Of the 7,300 restaurants in Israel, about 1,300 have a kashrut certificate and another 300 are defined kosher, though they operate without kashrut certification.

Farmers Prepare Cows for Passover March 25, 2009

Israeli farmers have begun to prepare cows for the Passover holiday, set to begin in just two weeks. During the holiday, Jews do not eat any leavened products, nor do they feed leavened products to their animals.

Farmers begin to introduce the cows to a non-leavened diet in stages. The Passover diet includes legumes, corn, and sesame seeds. In addition, milk produced for the holiday undergoes extra filtration to make sure it doesn’t contain any leavened bits.

Mekorot to Use Underground Water to Supply Bnei Brak and Jerusalem Corridor during Pesach

By Yechiel Sever March 26, 2009

In response to a letter from MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, Mekorot CEO Ido Rosilio announced that the Jerusalem Corridor and Bnei Brak would be supplied with well water, while Haifa would be supplied with well water and reservoir water.

Rabbi Gafni’s letter, sent several weeks ago, described the problem involved in using water supplied by the National Carrier during Pesach due to very real concerns that this water contains chometz since it is kept exposed. 

He asked that tap water be switched to well water sources starting three days before Pesach begins.

Over 20,000 Children to Visit Kfar Chabad Matzah Factory

By Yechiel Spira March 30, 2009

Tzeirei Chabad’s annual matzah fair at Kfar Chabad is underway and over 20,000 children are expected to visit before yomtov, most coming from the nation’s public schools, religious and secular.

Ah, so that’s why we suffer

By Raphael Ahren March 27, 2009

Review of “Schechter Haggadah: Art, History and Commentary,” which the Conservative movement’s Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem published earlier this year.

Dr. Joshua Kulp is a Talmud instructor at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

While Kulp – who belongs to an Orthodox egalitarian congregation in Modi’in – is firmly rooted in the Conservative movement, he insists the “Schechter Haggadah,” which follows last year’s “Lovell Haggadah,” is not an ideological work and contains nothing opposed to Orthodox ideology. 

Indeed, the book received a positive review on the Orthodox site “Traditions Seforim Blog.” Rabbi Elli Fisher called the Haggadah “remarkable” and wrote on the site that the “commentary is at its best when engaging in source criticism of the Haggadah and its antecedents.”

Clip of U.S. rabbi on Temple Mount reignites debate

By Raphael Ahren March 27, 2009

A YouTube video released one week ago depicting a prominent American rabbi visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem has sparked a new round of controversy about whether it is permitted for Jews to enter Judaism’s holiest site, which is believed to have been the location of the Holy Temple. 

The film shows Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler, a senior figure at New York’s Yeshiva University, leading a group of English speakers to the Temple Mount, explaining the religious and political context of his custom to visit the site every time he comes to Israel.

Tendler, who is the son-in-law of the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein – one of the most respected halachic authorities of the last century – has ascended the Temple Mount for years, in order to perform the commandment of “Mora Mikdash,” showing reverence to God at the place of the Temple. 

Everything But The Girl: Inside Haredi Cinema

By Christian Niedan March 30, 2009

Say, when did you first learn about sex? How about profanity? What about the very existence of women on this planet? What tipped you off to them?

Well, if you grew up watching feature films produced for the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, then you wouldn’t find any of those subjects addressed on-screen — because none of them make the final cut.

Rabbi Calls to Pass Laws to Help Women Work Part-Time March 30, 2009

A leading national-religious rabbi, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, has called upon the new Knesset Members to initiate legislation that will help women to find part-time employment.

Laws like this, he wrote, will make it easier for mothers to work outside the home and supplement the family’s earnings while maintaining their traditional home-related roles.

Religious population of Petah Tivka opposed to openly gay performer

By Einav Yosef-Zada March 26, 2009

Members of the religious sector in Petah Tivka are trying to quash a municipality decision to hire avowed homosexual singer Ivri Lider to perform on the city’s central stage during Independence Day performances, as part of a team with the singer Rita.

Sources in the municipality who represent the religious sector, most of them members of Mayor Yitzhak (Itzik) Ohayon’s coalition, said that they oppose such a performance. They also claimed to have had no idea that Lider was slated as an option for the main event of the festivities.

Jerusalem art comes out

By Barry Davis March 27, 2009

Last Tuesday the “Out of the Sacred Closet – Beauty, Belief and Identity” exhibition opened at the Hadassah Art Gallery. The exhibition comprises 14 works by homosexual and lesbian artists, all of whom come from a religious background.

“My father is a rabbi and I have three brothers who are rabbis, and they have all been very supportive of me,” says Rose, who has two paintings in the exhibition. 

Western Wall Cleansed Before Passover of Prayer Notes March 30, 2009

The ancient crevices of the Western Wall, filled with prayer notes tearfully tucked inside by tens of thousands of worshippers during the course of the year, underwent their twice-yearly cleaning-out on Sunday, under the watchful eye of the Rabbi of the Holy Sites, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich.

The notes are removed without the use of metal bars or utensils – which stand for warfare and the taking of life (see Exodus 20,22) – but rather with wooden rods. Following their removal, the notes are taken to the nearby ancient Mt. of Olives cemetery for burial.

Kosher-style yoga

By Raphael Ahren March 27, 2009

Aware that many observant Jews prefer to stay away from a Hindu-based practice that might smell like idol worship, California native Aviva Schmidt last week opened what she says is Israel’s “first kosher power yoga studio.” 

Both secular and religious yoga aficionados attend her classes – which are, of course, gender-separated – but “the Orthodox Jews wouldn’t come if the classes included Eastern spirituality,” she said.

“We spoke to three different rabbis and they all gave us their blessing.

Religious council recovery plan approved

By Miriam Bulwar David-Hay March 29, 2009

The Herzliya city council has approved a recovery plan for the city’s troubled religious council that will give it NIS 2.4 million this year to cover its accumulated deficit, in addition to an annual budget of almost NIS 6 million, reports

In return, the religious council has promised to abide by the conditions of the recovery plan, which include not hiring new employees and not making extra salary payments without the approval of the Ministry for Religious Services.

Visitors to Yemen Report That Jews Are Reluctant To Be Rescued

By Anthony Weiss March 25, 2009

In recent weeks, Jewish organizations have insisted that Yemen’s tiny Jewish population is in grave danger and that a secret evacuation is necessary to bring the people to safety.

But a new report written by on-the-ground observers suggests that one of the primary barriers to the Jews’ departure is the resistance of the Jews themselves.

The Politics of Rescue Editorial March 25, 2009

Rescue is a Jewish imperative. But this imperative should be pursued for the right reasons and in the right way. This operation may well fall short in important respects.

Pity the poor new Diaspora Affairs minister

By Haviv Rettig Gur March 27, 2009

The Diaspora Affairs Ministry is left with a minor role coordinating the activities of government bureaucrats and politicians who don’t want or need coordination. And lacking a forum or political post charged with handling questions of Diaspora policy, Israel finds itself without any consistent, comprehensive policy.

Visit Israel too often? You may be forced to make aliya

By Ruth Eglash March 24, 2009

Jewish tourists, who spend more than 180 days in Israel, even without violating the terms of their tourist visas, are being increasingly harassed by border patrol officials, detained at the crossings and, in some cases, deported to their port of origin or forced to make aliya against their will, according to a Tel Aviv law firm.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabene Hadad:

“Someone who visits Israel excessively will be asked [by the Border Police] to explain what their business is in Israel,” she said.

“If they own an apartment and spend long periods of time here, then they might need to change their status,” she said. 

“If they are a student, then they need a student visa, and if they are working here, they need to have a work visa.”

Make Birthright create an appetite for Jewish life

By Rabbi Daniel Landes Opinion March 30, 2009

The writer is the director of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. He blogs at

But as important as Birthright Israel NEXT is, the real need is to create an appetite for Jewish life while they are here doing Birthright.

Creating the appetite is a challenge, but it ain’t rocket science – the best of Jewish camps, Hillels, Chabad and Israeli-based institutions have been doing it for a long time.

It’s a combination of bringing them into events of deep meaning and direct participation (rather than as tourists watching others’ experiences), and the passionate, charismatic and, above all, authentic people they encounter.

Arrivals: Shlomo Gangte: From Manipur, India, to Beit El

By David Stromberg March 30, 2009

Shlomo Gangte was born into a northeastern Indian people called Kuki-Chin-Mizo (depending on the region), some members of which claim to be one of the lost tribes of Israel, named collectively Bnei Menashe by Rabbi Eliahu Avichail.

The family spent three days in Kiryat Arba, two months in Gush Katif and eight months in Shavei Shomron, mostly as tourists studying in ulpan.

“In the next year, I started studying at the Midrash Sephardi Yeshiva in [Jerusalem’s] Old City.”

After five years of study, Shlomo is now a shohet, mohel, kashrut supervisor and rabbi, ordained by the Chief Rabbinate on October 22.

Kazakh minister invites chief rabbis to inter-religious conference with Iran

By Etgar Lefkovits March 27, 2009

A senior Kazakh minister has invited Israel’s chief rabbis to participate in an inter-religious conference in Kazakhstan this summer with Christian and Muslim leaders from around the world, including from Iran.

The invitation to participate in the third conference of “World Leaders of Traditional Religions,” which will take place in July, was presented to Israel’s two chief rabbis by the Chairman of Kazakhstan’s parliamentary Committee on International Relations Defense and Security, Kuanysh Sultanov, during a four-day visit to Israel.

Divorced Muslim woman finally gets her day in court

By Miriam Bulwar David-Hay March 29, 2009

The Haifa Court for Family Matters has ordered an elderly Muslim man to pay his ex-wife NIS 250,000 in compensation after he divorced her after 44 years of marriage, reports

The couple, who are now both in their 70s, were divorced seven years ago through the local Muslim religious tribunal, which does not require a woman’s agreement to a divorce and does not oblige men to pay any compensation.

Religion and State in Israel

March 30, 2009 (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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