Religion and State in Israel – June 8, 2009 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

June 8, 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.

Haredim clash with police in Jerusalem

Israel Channel 2 TV June 6, 2009

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Haredim clash with police in Jerusalem

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By Ronen Medzini

June 6, 2009

No end in sight to Jerusalem parking lot dispute

By Etgar Lefkovits June 9, 2009

But as Barkat has learned the hard way, it appears that the agreement he reached with his haredi partners was woefully insufficient as he did not take into account the “Haredi street,” whose feelings on the issue were immediately stirred up by the anti-Zionist Eda Haredit sect.

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IBA News June 7, 2009

Barkat determined to keep parking lot open on Shabbat

By Etgar Lefkovits June 8, 2009

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat intends to keep the city hall parking lot open on Shabbat despite violent haredi protests against the move, he said Sunday.

“The parking lots must stay open on Shabbat since they provide a real solution to a real problem without desecrating Shabbat,” Barkat said in a statement released by his office.

Police Break Up Rioting Ultra-Orthodox Jews

Click here for VIDEO June 8, 2009

Barkat meets with haredi councilmen over parking lot fiasco

By Ronen Medzini June 7, 2009

One of the suggestions made at the meeting was to open an alternative parking lot, namely the Karta lot near the Old City. 

The Karta parking lot, near the Jaffa Gate, is an ideal solution to the masses visiting central Jerusalem over the course of the weekend. It has remained closed on Shabbat thus far due to haredi resistance that this would lead to the opening of stores in the shopping mall above the parking lot.

They also feared agreement on their part would be seen as capitulation. Now however, it seems as though the ultra-Orthodox representatives are in favor of the move.

The protest leaders, however, have vowed they will accept no compromise. Predominantly members of Eda Haredit – an anti-Zionist sect – those who organized the protest said that they would fight any attempt to open the Karta lot.

Haredi Jerusalemites blame their own for Sabbath opening of parking lot

By Yair Ettinger June 8, 2009

Who are the people who “lent a treacherous and criminal hand to stabbing our holy Sabbath in the back,” by allowing a municipal parking garage to be opened in Jerusalem on Saturday? 

The leaders of the ultra-Orthodox protest against the opening of the Safra Square lot are not pointing fingers at the capital’s secular mayor, Nir Barkat – rather, at his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, who belong to the United Torah Judaism faction. 

According to the newspaper Ha’eda of the ultra-Orthodox, anti-Zionist Eda Haredit, UTJ signed secret agreements with Barkat to allow the opening of the garage on the Sabbath. The claim is exaggerated, but not groundless. 

At their request, Barkat determined that only the Safra parking lot would open, that it would be operated by non-Jews and that no fees would be charged.

Court frees 6 Haredim arrested during riots in J’lem

By Yair Ettinger June 8, 2009

The six ultra-Orthodox protesters arrested during violent demonstrations Saturday over the opening of a municipal parking lot on the Jewish Sabbath were released yesterday by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. 

Barkat: No place for violent haredi demonstrations

By Ronen Medzini June 7, 2009

“I think this was just the opening move,” Zaka Chairman Moshe Meshi Zahav said Saturday.

 “It’s very comfortable for the haredi community to paint Barkat as anti-religious; the time is ripe for that. The fact that the first day of the protest garnered thousands showed that it was a success.

‘No one has a monopoly over Shabbat’ June 8, 2009

“No one has a monopoly over Shabbat,” Tzipi Livni said. 

“Kadima wants Israel to be a Jewish State with Jewish values, and Shabbat is definitely part of that. Nonetheless, any instance of violence against police is not a political issue, but rather a question of values.”

Visit Jerusalem on Shabbes

By Neri Livneh Opinion June 9, 2009

[The anti-Zionist Eda Haredit] leaders called on their faithful to take to the streets in their thousands, even though the opening of the parking lot had been coordinated with the city council’s ultra-Orthodox members, and despite attempts by the mayor to negotiate with them.

The leaders called on their people to take to the streets for a simple reason:

They need to remind the world that they’re still around. They’re not represented in City Hall or government institutions and they’re not a part of any agreement, so protest is the only way to establish themselves as a key interest group.

The demonstrations, like the shouts of “Shabbes” and “Nazis,” define them, like movement defines a wave. 

Edah Haredit – Wikipedia entry

The Edah HaChareidis, also written Edah Haredit, and popularly also known as the Badatz, is a prominent anti-Zionist Haredi communal organization in present-day Jerusalem, consisting of several Haredi groups representing most of the Yerushalmi (traditional pre-war) Jerusalem community.

Knesset panel overrules Litzman’s objections on new Barzilai emergency department

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich June 2, 2009

Construction of an urgently needed fortified and expanded emergency department at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon will begin immediately after years of delay, despite strong opposition by Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, a United Torah Judaism MK who objects to the relocation of graves found at the site. 

Litzman told the committee on Tuesday that the hospital facility should be built on the parking lot, but the committee voted down his proposal.

Litzman vetoes moving Barzilai graves

By Ronny Linder-Ganz June 3, 2009

Construction of a rocket-safe ward at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon looks farther away than ever: Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism yesterday vetoed the thought of moving ancient graves found on the site earmarked for the protected facility. 

“I will not allow graves to be moved in Israel, nor will the Chief Rabbinate allow it,” Litzman said at a meeting of the Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee. “I suggest building [the safe facility] in the parking lot.” 

Kfar Sava gets its own civil cemetery

By Dana Weiler-Polak June 9, 2009

After years of discussions, a civil cemetery was recently dedicated in Kfar Sava. The new cemetery is funded by the National Insurance Institute and will be operated by Menucha Nechona, a nongovernment organization that offers Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jewish burial ceremonies as well as civil ceremonies. 

Until now, the only option open to people in central Israel seeking a non-Orthodox Jewish funeral or burial with a nonreligious ceremony had no choice but to pay large sums to cemeteries situated in kibbutzim.

The new cemetery provides for free burial for Kfar Sava residents, in accordance with their own religious tradition and wishers.

Nonresidents will be asked to pay the NIS 11,000 per plot price set by the Ministry for Religious Services. That is less than half the NIS 24,000 charged by cemeteries on kibbutzim. 

New cemetery brings personalized, ‘alternative’ burials to Kfar Saba

By Haviv Rettig Gur June 8, 2009

“Many, many Israelis are dissatisfied with the burial services of the hevra kadisha [official state-funded burial societies] in their city,” believes Shalom Noy, chairman of the Menucha Achrona Cemetery in Kfar Saba.

Many Israelis face obstacles to being buried according to their wishes, Noy explains, such as religiously intermarried couples who cannot be buried together because of the religious divisions in official cemeteries.

Many more Israelis simply want a ceremony or burial that represents their beliefs and lifestyle, and that precludes the standard Orthodox ceremony or what some say are the often bureaucratic and unfeeling funerals conducted by official hevra kadisha groups.

“Many people want a respectable ceremony to say good-bye to their loved ones. For them, that could mean burying them in a coffin, having a ceremony in a respectable public space, or taking control over the ceremony without having to listen to rabbis or the religious establishment,” Noy says.

According to Noy, the Menucha Achrona Cemetery will offer both traditional and alternative funerals and burials. A section of the cemetery has been set aside as a Jewish-only plot that has been consecrated for the purpose by the town’s official hevra kadisha.

“We don’t have a problem with halacha,” says Noy. “If you want halacha, that’s your choice.”

Yisrael Beiteinu ministers absent from vote on civil marriage bill

By Aviad Glickman June 7, 2009

Yisrael Beiteinu’s ministers were absent from a vote on a civil marriage bill Sunday, despite having promoted the issue as one of the cornerstones of their campaign for office.

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation rejected the bill, proposed by MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima), in the absence of Yisrael Beiteinu’s ministers.

If passed, the bill would have allowed citizens of Israel to marry without obtaining a religious license. It describes in detail all of the steps required in order to obtain a civil marriage license, including the legal procedures involved.

‘Secular politicians must stop politicizing the rabbinate,’ Tzohar rabbis warn

By Haviv Rettig Gur June 6, 2009

“Secular politicians must stop using the Chief Rabbinate as a political pawn in coalition agreements,” warns Rabbi Rafael Feuerstein, cofounder and chairman of the Orthodox rabbinic organization Tzohar.

“It is the secular leadership who should have the highest interest in an apolitical rabbinate,” Feuerstein said on Thursday, blasting the makeup of the new Knesset-appointed Dayanim (rabbinical court judges) Selection Committee, which is majority-haredi.

After handing rabbinical judge appointments to the haredi political parties, Feuerstein said, “the secular leadership should not come later and complain about the conversion problem or the problem of agunot [women whose husbands refuse to grant them a divorce].”

Courts to shift Right after Knesset vote

By Gil Hoffman June 9, 2009

The Knesset also chose United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni and Kadima MK Otniel Schneller as its representatives on the selection committee of religious court judges, defeating Habayit Hayehudi MK Uri Orbach.

The selection of the haredi Gafni over the moderate Orbach was due in part to political deals made by the candidates in the race for the selection committee for the civil courts.

Rabbi Seth Farber, director of Itim, a center that helps Israelis navigate the rabbinical courts, said one vote would not make a big difference on the committee, which is dominated by the haredim.

“The vote was reflective of the political trend of the haredi parties wielding their power,” Farber said. 

“Politicians sold their votes on the rabbinical courts, not taking into account how the issues of personal status decided by these courts affect the very heart of the Jewish state.”

Chief Rabbi speaks out against Right-led incitement

By Kobi Nahshoni June 9, 2009

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger on Monday condemned right-wing activists who threatened the life of Central Command Chief Gadi Shamni.

In a conversation with Ynet Metzger said that “death threats cross the red line” and added that, “Unfortunately, past experience has taught us that incitement comes with a heavy price and that words can lead to murder.”

The chief rabbi stressed that “there is no halachic, moral or religious permission to use violence, including verbal violence.”

Conflict Intensifies in Kiryat Yovel

By Yechiel Spira June 4, 2009

The latest round of dispute surrounds sixty-four 55 square meter apartments in two buildings owned by Hebrew University. 

The small apartments were once dormitories and the buildings are now up for sale. Chareidim are interested, along with a plan to refurbish them by making each apartment one-third larger.

Chareidi Politicians Meet over Court Ruling Closing Kiryat Yovel Shul

By Yechiel Spira June 5, 2009

Chareidi elected officials met on Thursday in the Jerusalem City Hall complex to discuss the Jerusalem District Court ruling prohibiting mispalalim in Kiryat Yovel from davening in a store front which they rented for that purpose. 

They reject the court’s ruling, which they view as closing a shul due to “procedural technicalities”.

The city attorney, Yossi Havilio, explains the area was zoned as a business district and therefore, the store cannot be used as a shul.

Most seculars believe media biased against haredim

By Kobi Nahshoni June 2, 2009

Many in the religious and ultra-Orthodox society blame the media of being hostile towards them, and a new study that was recently released found that most seculars agree.

According to the study, 66% of seculars think that the media coverage of the haredi sector is unfair and unbalanced, and effectively contributes to fueling tensions between the different sectors in Israeli society.

The study also found that 74% of seculars defined their knowledge of the haredi public as “poor,” while 88% of them admitted that the secular media is their primary source of information on this society. 

Haredim take on sex abuse of children

By Ruth Eglash June 3, 2009

“We have an epidemic on our hands, and there is complete denial here that there is anything wrong,” she continues. 

“I spoke to the rabbis and other community leaders here, but they all called me a liar and said that this kind of thing does not happen here… but it does.”

Sadly, Zehava, a recent immigrant from the US, has proof of such abuse and is one of a growing number of parents from Ramat Beit Shemesh becoming increasingly frustrated with their leaders’ continual denial of the problem.

Housing Crunch Time on the West Bank

By Joshua Mitnick June 3, 2009

Since he got married three years ago, Yisrael Harkesef has been looking to move into a new apartment he purchased on the southeastern edge of this sprawling fervently Orthodox settlement.

…With a population of 40,000, residents and officials say that Modiin Illit is bursting at the seams from a shortage of new homes.

In the last four years, as the number of apartments fails to keep pace with the population growth and residents fear the end of new land reserves, the average price of a two-bedroom apartment has doubled to $180,000. 

Construction contractors say they are building new units on apartment building roofs and converting unfinished basements to meet demand.

Yishai Determined to Build in Modi’in Illit and Betar Illit

By Yechiel Spira June 1, 2009

Interior Minister and Shas leader Eli Yishai remains determined to overcome American objections and to move ahead with new housing projects in Betar Illit and Modi’in Illit.

Yishai hopes to spell out the critical housing shortage in Israel, especially in the chareidi community, and will further add that calls for building are not prompted by a desire to take over new land, but they are justifiably motivated to provide adequate housing for the growing population.

Talmud Torah Principals Back HaRav Eliashiv’s Call Not to Introduce Any Changes

By Yechiel Sever June 4, 2009

The Torah-true world is standing firmly behind instructions Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv shlita reiterated Erev Shavuos not to accede to repeated financial enticements and other incentives used to persuade principals to introduce various changes in the way things have been run in the past. 

One of the recent goals of the government officials has been to persuade the schools to alter their status from “exempt” (pottur) to “recognized but unofficial” (mukkar she’eino rishmi).

Sharansky chairmanship of Jewish Agency in danger

By Haviv Rettig Gur June 6, 2009

American funders’ wish to reform the leadership of the Jewish Agency may “de-Zionize” it by cutting its ties to the Israeli political system, a longtime member of the Jewish Agency Executive warned on Thursday.

The reform process, being pushed most strongly by the United Jewish Communities of North America, will weaken the representation of the World Zionist Organization – which brings together Israeli political parties and overseas Zionist groups and religious movements – in the leadership ranks of the Jewish Agency.

“The Americans think the problem with the Jewish Agency leadership has been [its dependence on Israeli] politics,” said Rabbi Dick Hirsch, chairman of the WZO’s Zionist General Council and a WZO representative in the Jewish Agency Executive, its supreme governing body.

Ex-U.S. ambassador to head Jewish policy institute

By Raphael Ahren June 4, 2009

Stuart Eizenstat, a lawyer and former U.S. Under Secretary of State, has been appointed to chair the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute in Jerusalem. 

The Harvard-educated Atlanta native, who served as U.S. ambassador to the European Union from 1993 to 1996, replaces Dennis Ross, who resigned in January to join the Obama administration.

Eizenstat was also President Jimmy Carter’s chief domestic policy adviser, and served as deputy treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton. 

Financial crisis leaves some Israel programs to flounder, yet others thrive

By Raphael Ahren June 5, 2009

While most Israel programs for Diaspora youth report a significant drop in applications due to the financial crisis, others were able to maintain and even increase their numbers. 

As internships in U.S. dry up, career advisers turn to Israel for opportunities

By Raphael Ahren June 5, 2009

As the U.S. job market continues to shrink, some of America’s most senior campus career advisers visited Israel last week to explore internship options for their graduates, who are struggling to secure internships back home.

The 14 advisers are directors of career centers at different campuses with sizable Jewish populations, including Brandeis, Boston University, University of Florida, New York University, George Washington and Rutgers. Their visit to Israel was the first of its kind.

They came as guests of MASA Israel Journey, a project which offers young adult non-Israelis a host of Israel programs over a semester or year. Though open to anyone, MASA offers subsidies to Jewish applicants only. 

Relocation, recession play role in WUJS growth

By Raphael Ahren June 5, 2009

One Israel program bucking the recruiting trend is WUJS, designed for college graduates, which doubled its numbers this year. Its director attributes the program’s success to moving away from the South. 

“No disrespect to Arad, but going there for six months was no longer speaking to young people,” the director Mike Mitchell told Anglo File. 

Neo-Zionism 101

By Kobi Ben-Simhon June 4, 2009

Shoval, a non-religious student of 28 from Ramat Hasharon, is the leader of a students’ movement called “Im Tirtzu [If You Will It]: The Second Zionist Revolution.”

He established the ideological infrastructure of the movement two years ago, describing it as an extra-parliamentary movement whose goal is “to buttress the values of Zionism in Israel, to ensure the future of the Jewish people and the State of Israel, and to advance Israeli society in the face of the challenges that lie ahead.”

Thousands of olim denied gun licenses for failing Hebrew tests

By Eli Shvidler June 8, 2009

Thousands of immigrants have lost their jobs as security guards after failing Hebrew tests now required in order to receive gun licenses. The Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs will meet today to discuss the matter. 

Committee chairwoman Lia Shemtov (Yisrael Beiteinu) decided to convene the committee after Haaretz revealed that the new regulations have led many immigrants to lose their gun licenses or be refused permits. 

Israel seizes Catholic Church assets

Rome (JTA) June 8, 2009

Israel’s Finance Ministry reportedly seized the assets of one or more Catholic Church institutions in Israel over tax issues.

The reports Monday in the Italian media and from a Church news agency did not name the institutions in question, but said the action had been carried out by the Finance Ministry’s chief tax collector, Yehezkel Abrahamoff. Israel is pressing for payment of disputed tax demands.

Religion and State in Israel

June 8, 2009 (Section 1) (continues in Section 2)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please 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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