Religion and State in Israel – April 6, 2009 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

April 6, 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.

Passover stripper returns to non-kosher store

By Avi Cohen April 6, 2009

Photo – 

A 28-year-old man, who was arrested last year for stripping in a Bat Yam Tiv Ta’am supermarket branch in protest of the chain’s sale of leavened food during Passover, struck again on Sunday, this time in Tel Aviv.

After the previous incident, Yerushalmi told Ynet that he could not be prosecuted for an indecent act in public, because according to the court’s interpretation of the leavened food law, a supermarket is not considered a public place. 

He even wrote on his stomach [in Hebrew] “This isn’t public???”

Barcodes the latest weapon in the fight to keep Passover kosher

By Yair Ettinger and Adi Dovrat April 2, 2009

The Chief Rabbinate is introducing barcodes this Passover as its latest weapon in the fight to ensure grocery stores meet kosher-for-Pesach standards. 

Stores will be required to place the special barcodes on all chametz products (leavened foods), or risk losing kosher certification granted especially for the Passover holiday period, the Rabbinate announced Wednesday. 

…Kashrut Department chief Rabbi Yaakov Sabag sent a letter to the managers of the supermarket chains on Wednesday, telling them that they have 48 hours to notify the Rabbinate whether or not they will be using the barcode system.

Although Sabag did not threaten to strip the chains of their kosher certification, he did write that the Chief Rabbinate will be obligated to inform the public about the possibility of chametz products being sold if a chain chooses not to join the program. 

Rabbinate first: Pessah barcode blockers April 2, 2009

“Selling hametz can’t become a farce [on Pessah],” Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger told Army Radio.

If buyers are not told that they may be buying hametz, the businesses will have their certifications revoked for the duration of the holiday.

Pesach Kitniyot Rebels Roil Rabbis As Some Ashkenazim Follow New, Permissive Ruling

By Nathan Jeffay April 1, 2009

“Why should we uphold a meaningless restriction when the Torah permits us to eat kitniyot?

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim of Jerusalem asked rhetorically in an interview with the Forward. 

Bar-Hayim made history two years ago by formally lifting the ban on kitniyot in the Holy Land. His authority is invoked among the growing ranks of new kitniyot-eaters like Cohen.

According to some experts on changes in religious law, we are witnessing the beginning of the end for the ban on kitniyot in Israel. 

“In another generation, people in Israel won’t even know what you are talking about,” said Rabbi Donniel Hartman, co-director of the Jerusalem-based Shalom Hartman Institute.

“The attitude in the last few decades has changed and become stricter to the point of absurdity,” said kitniyot expert Daniel Sperber, a professor of Talmud at Bar Ilan University. 

Recent additions to the kitniyot list, he said, include cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil and even hemp.

If cows could ask even one question

By Eli Ashkenazi April 1, 2009

Passover came early for the cows among us this year, as milk-producing beasts across Israel found themselves subjected to a special diet weeks ahead of the holiday, to ensure that even long-life milk served during the course of the festival is certified as kosher by the Chief Rabbinate.

Yaakov Becher, the chairman of the Israel Cattle Breeders Association, said yesterday that initial preparations began two months ago, with the removal of straw from dairies and the installation of special filters in milking systems.

Communal Seder makes a return in kibbutzim

By Eli Ashkenazi April 6, 2009

After a break lasting several years, partly caused by rapid privatization, some kibbutzim have decided to renew the tradition of joint Seder meals. 

One such kibbutz is Amiad, in the Upper Galilee. Not only is it summoning its members back to the shared dining table, the secular kibbutz is also making sure the premises are kosher, by arranging a special visit by kashrut inspectors just before the holiday.

Minister of Information and Diaspora – the emptiest job of all

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion April 3, 2009

Dear Yuli,

Congratulations on your new ministerial appointment.

What a pity you’ve been given the emptiest brief of all in Netanyahu’s mammoth cabinet. Yes, even emptier than the job given to your colleague Michael Eitan, who has been put in charge of “improving services for citizens, computerization and the Internet.” At least Eitan won’t have any competitors…

Netanyahu to ask Sharansky to be Jewish Agency chairman

By Gil Hoffman April 6, 2009

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will soon ask former minister and dissident Natan Sharansky to serve as chairman of the Jewish Agency, sources close to the two men confirmed on Sunday.

A source familiar with the effort to draft the former MK said that Netanyahu had been pressuring Sharansky to take the job and told him it could be a springboard to the presidency.

Netanyahu has reportedly even pressured Sharansky’s current boss, international businessman Sheldon Adelson, to allow Sharansky to leave the institute that bears Adelson’s name. But Adelson has insisted that he stay.

In Search of Meaning

By Netty C. Gross Issue 26, April 13, 2009 of The Jerusalem Report

…But today, 80 years later, troubling questions have arisen over the Jewish Agency for Israel‘s (JAFI) continued existence:

How much of JAFI’s $340 million annual operational budget – which comes from the United Jewish Communities, the umbrella group representing 155 Jewish Federations and 400 communities across North America, and private donations – is wasted on redundant self-perpetuation of the jobs of its roughly 400 full-time employees?

And how much goes to realizing the organization’s twin goals of building the State of Israel, mainly by bringing immigrants, and fostering the link between the state and the Jewish people in the Diaspora, principally through education? 

Cheap flight deals for returning expats

By Yael Branovsky March 31, 2009

Expatriates choosing to return to Israel this Independence Day will receive significant discounts on their tickets, if they purchase them on El Al Airlines.

Absorption Ministry Director-General Erez Halfon:

“I estimate that, pursuant to the great efforts and resources that the ministry is investing in Israeli citizens (abroad), many more families wanting to raise their children in Israel will return,” he said.

Israeli Nonprofits, Shaken by Madoff Scandal, Regroup

By Isabel Kershner April 4, 2009

The aftershocks are still being felt here, but it appears that the scheme created losses in Israel amounting to at least hundreds of millions of dollars.

…While most of the nonprofits’ revenues come from the government and from services they provide, about 20 percent of their overall budgets come from philanthropy, and about half of that from abroad, an estimated $1.5 billion a year.

UJC budget plan may squeeze charities

By Allison Hoffman April 5, 2009

Facing a deepening US recession, the umbrella organization of Jewish communities throughout North America is considering a budget proposal that would bolster domestic operations at the expense of programs in Israel and throughout the world.

Giving the Diaspora a say

By Alan Baker Opinion April 1, 2009

The writer was legal adviser of the Foreign Ministry and ambassador to Canada. Recently retired from government, he presently heads the international department in the law firm of Moshe, Gicelter & Co.

Clearly, the challenge here is the extent to which the government should take into consideration concerns and interests of Diaspora Jewry on negotiating issues considered to be central to Judaism and the Jewish world, and how this could be done in the most mutually beneficial and rewarding manner?

…With a view to provide an answer to the calls by Diaspora Jewry for greater influence and standing in regard to negotiating issues central to the Jewish people, this writer proposes the appointment of a special ambassador to the Jewish communities of the world – a senior-ranking government official, intimately familiar both with the negotiating issues and with Diaspora Jewry, with wide diplomatic experience and without any particular political identity. 

Benedict XVI’s Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Nazareth still waiting on funds for pope’s visit

By Yoav Stern April 6, 2009

Nazareth has yet to receive a single shekel allocated by the government for infrastructure work ahead of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit next month. 

The government’s failure to hand over the funds – an estimated NIS 20 million to go toward structures including an amphitheater holding 7,500 stone seats and a new road – is delaying the publication of tenders for the infrastructure work, which is obstructing preparations for the mass the pope is slated to conduct in the northern Israeli Arab city. 

‘Jesus Trail’ in Galilee to be completed by Pope’s visit

By Irit Rosenblum April 6, 2009

The Jesus Trail, a Galilee path that supposedly traces the route of Jesus, will be completed in time for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI next month, its planners said. 

The 65-kilometer trail was inspired by pilgrimage trails including the Camino de Compostela in Spain. It is designed to let pilgrims and tourists experience biblical stories as Jesus did – by foot.

43-percent surge in Christian pilgrims

By Etgar Lefkovits April 3, 2009

Christian tourism to Israel has increased by 17 percent since Pope John Paul II visited nine years ago, the Tourism Ministry said on Thursday.

Nearly 1.8 million of the 3 million tourists who came to Israel last year were Christians, the ministry said. In 2000, 1.5 million Christians came.

The number of Christian visitors from Eastern Europe and Africa was up dramatically in 2008 compared to 2000, while the figures for Western Europe and Asia fell.

Meanwhile, there was a 40% increase in Christians from the United States visiting Israel last year compared to the year 2000, while there were fewer visitors from Latin America, including a 64% drop from Argentina and 37% decrease from Mexico.

Christian pilgrims mark Palm Sunday in Jerusalem

AP April 5, 2009

Hundreds of Christians holding green fronds marked Palm Sunday in Jerusalem, celebrating Jesus’ triumphant entry into the holy city two millennia ago.

Catholic pilgrims, clergymen and local Christians attended Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally held to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

Archaeologists inspect Western Wall stone by stone in conservation effort

AP April 5, 2009

Israeli archaeologists are inspecting the Western Wall stone by stone in a new conservation effort at the Jewish holy site. 

Israeli Antiquities Authority archaeologist Jon Seligman says the work aims to make sure stones don’t collapse on those praying below.

Hareidi Mayor Takes Over in Rehovot

By Hillel Fendel March 31, 2009

Yet another city in Israel has a hareidi-religious mayor, following a court decision to force Rehovot Mayor Shuki Forer to step down from office and make way for his successor.

The successor will be Deputy Mayor Rachamim Maloul, a Knesset Member from 1999-2003 on behalf of the Sephardic-hareidi Shas party. Maloul, a longtime resident and city council member of Rehovot, served on the municipal council on behalf of the Likud. 

Halachic ruling forbids strawberries

By Kobi Nahshoni April 2, 2009

Strawberries sold in Israel are infested with tiny insects that cannot be removed with water or pesticide, and are therefore forbidden according to halacha, The Torah and Land Institute has announced after a series of laboratory tests.

Beware of the Phony Mehadrin Kashrus Agencies

By Ezra Reichman, Ma’ariv March 31, 2009

A large number of seemingly “mehadrin” kashrus agencies in Israel are phony businesses set up to enrich the perpetrators.

…How could Balker set up his own “Badatz”? 

State laws stipulate that a food outlet cannot be certified kosher unless it is first certified by the Chief Rabbinate kashrus division. 

However, many organizations prefer, and the law permits, taking on additional stringent mehadrin kashrus certification. 

Until a few years ago, only a handful of mehadrin kashrus agencies took advantage of this possibility.

Lod Resident Apprehended for Issuing Phony Kashrus Certificates

By L.S. Wasserman April 2, 2009

A Lod resident who sold phony kashrus certificates marked, “This business is under the supervision of Beis Din Tzedek Bnei Yisroel, headed by HaRav HaGodol Menashe Belker,” who was caught and convicted of issuing phony kashrus certificates in the past, was arrested this week for the third time after again producing fake certificates.

Where did religious Zionism go?

By Israel Harel Opinion April 3, 2009

Many people are asking, what happened to religious Zionism?

…national-religious youth are making their mark – qualitatively, quantitatively and actively – on nearly every significant deed in the country, leading a movement of optimism and of personal example for society as a whole, despite malicious mudslinging.

Ethiopian youths ousted from center in favor of newly religious

By Or Kashti March 31, 2009

The Kiryat Gat municipality will close the only youth center in the city serving Ethiopian adolescents in the afternoons, and intends to convert its home into a center for Torah study for the newly religious. 

…Religion classes are scheduled to be held three times a week, during the same hours that the center has been operating its youth programs, and Awaka says a request has been made that “girls not be in the area, so that there is no contact, as they do not dress sufficiently modestly.” 

The center’s director added that “the order was that either we let the religious activities enter, or we get out. Serving the newly religious is not part of our operating plan. We have nothing against religion, but this decision comes at the expense of the needs of our youth.” 

Van Leer Jerusalem Institute Researching Prayer Groups and Prayer Communities in Israel April 2009

A new research group has formed as of January 2009 whose aim is to research the phenomenon of prayer groups and prayer communities in Israel.

In recent years, dozens of groups have been established, which regularly hold prayer services and activities on the Sabbath, Jewish festivals, and various occasions connected to the cycle of Jewish life.

These groups are not associated with any established synagogue or denominations and many of those who participate in these events do not view themselves as belonging to a religious congregation.

In the past year, about forty of these groups have added themselves to the Israel Registry for Non-profit Associations.

Don’t scream ‘Oh my God,’ but sex is a mitzva

By Matthew Wagner April 3, 2009

We discussed foreplay techniques, positions, even the proper use of lubricants. For a man with a long beard and a paternal countenance, Kfar Etzion Chief Rabbi Elyashiv Knohl was surprisingly frank in his talk about sex.

However, it is not prurience, but a desire to help fellow Jews better serve God, that has motivated Knohl to plumb the depths of human sexuality.

After all, as he explains in A Guide to Marital Relations from a Torah Perspective – a slim booklet recently translated into English – having conjugal relations is a mitzva.

Religion and State in Israel

April 6, 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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