Religion and State in Israel – June 8, 2009 (Section 2)

By ,

Religion and State in Israel

June 8, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

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.

High Court debates Tal Law

By Aviad Glickman June 7, 2009

Israel’s High Court of Justice met Sunday in a session to discuss the controversial Tal Law – which exempts young haredi men from military service on religious grounds. 

In a full forum, headed by Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, the nine judges considered a petition to overturn the law, submitted to the court by a coalition of reservists, wounded veterans, parents of soldiers in compulsory service and others.

During the session, Justice Ayala Procaccia said that, in dealing with this and other laws related to the haredi community, the state is inconsistent in its approach to Haredi education.

“The whole basis of the Tal Law is the promotion of education, but recently a law was passed in opposition to a previous court ruling, which allows the state to finance yeshivot without requiring them to conform to basic state curriculum,” she said. 

“How does the state’s intent of educating the haredi public to serve in the IDF fit in, if the state simultaneously allows students in this community to be exempt also from learning basic subjects?” she asked.

Chief justice blasts state over lack of progress on Tal Law

By Tomer Zarchin June 8, 2009

“This is not a revolution, it’s slow evolution,” the High Court president, Justice Dorit Beinisch, said yesterday when the expanded bench of nine justices heard the figures. 

“The state’s main efforts seem to revolve around the attempt to have more yeshiva students do civilian service for one year, than to do real army service,” Beinisch also said. 

Court hears petition against Haredi IDF exemption

By Dan Izenberg June 8, 2009

Justice Ayala Procaccia asked Licht to explain why, if the haredi leadership had come to understand this, it had forced through a law permitting them not to learn the secular “core curriculum” in the yeshivot ketanot, which are attended by high-school age boys. 

These core studies teach students skills that are meant to help them find a place in the modern world.

“On what basis do you expect the Tal Law to succeed and a process of change to take place in the haredi community, when we see that no such change is going to take place in the haredi educational system?” asked Procaccia. “Such changes don’t happen by themselves.”

Eliad Shraga, who represented the Movement for Quality Government, said the number of haredim currently in the army or public service was a drop in the bucket.

He said that as opposed to these figures, there were roughly 56,000 haredim of military conscription age who were studying in yeshivot and renewed their deferments each year.

This figure, he added, did not include tens of thousands of young haredim who had not served in the army and were still of draftable age but had married and had enough children to no longer be draftable. 

These students had to be taken into account when comparing the number of haredim serving in the army or in public service with those who do not serve at all.

The IDF rabbinate breaks faith

By Gershom Gorenberg Opinion June 7, 2009

The IDF Rabbinate has a legitimate task: serving soldiers with religious needs. It should offer spiritual support and help soldiers meet their religious obligations as they fulfill their military duties. 

Its job is not to promote a religiously hard-line and politically ultra-nationalist version of Judaism. 

If the rabbinate can’t fulfill its real purpose, the IDF should disband it and create a chaplaincy corps that can do the job.

Stern Fights Draft Dodging, Hareidi-Religious IDF Exemption

By Maayana Miskin June 1, 2009

Retired IDF Major-General Elazar Stern spoke at an event rallying for the end of the Tal Law, which allows full-time yeshiva students to postpone their IDF service. Prior to his retirement earlier this week, Stern served as head of IDF manpower.

The issues of hareidi-religious IDF exemptions, and of draft dodging in other Israeli Jewish communities, threaten more than just IDF manpower, Stern said. Israeli society is “rotting from within,” he said.

Tal Law opponents who hosted the event said that over one-third of Jewish Israelis do not serve in the IDF. 

That number will grow as the hareidi-religious population grows, and as draft dodging becomes more socially acceptable in other segments of society, opponents warned.

Committee sees overwhelming public support for separated bus line ahead of recommendation

By Yair Ettinger June 2, 2009

The Transportation Ministry committee dealing with special bus lines for the ultra-Orthodox population, the so-called Kosher lines, has wrapped itself in total secrecy in advance of submitting its recommendations to the High Court of Justice in a few weeks. 

Most of these comments against the Kosher lines were anonymous, but this week a relatively unknown yeshiva head from Bnei Brak, Rabbi Yosef Haim Nakash, raised a storm when he published a signed article on the well-known ultra-Orthodox Internet site Bechadrei Chadarim.

Nakash came out strongly against those not only demanding separation of the sexes on buses but even on the street. 

“When did such a prohibition emerge that a married couple is not allowed to sit next to each other,” he asked. 

“The public is not willing! At least a large part [of the public] is interested in being with their family, as has been customary for generations… At this rate, in a few years, or even months, we will not be able to leave the house together,” wrote Nakash. 

His words caused quite a stir as they are seen as contradicting the words of the more famous ultra-Orthodox rabbis who are leading the battle for expanding the separate bus lines. 

Haredi women push for segregated lines

By Kobi Nahshoni June 3, 2009

A group of ultra-orthodox women has recently launched a campaign supporting gender separation on public buses, in response to claims that segregation was being forced on haredi women by rabbis.

The lobby’s founder, Rebetzen Yocheved Grossman of Mea Shearim, explained to Ynet that the initiative enjoyed the support of the wives of senior rabbis from all the haredi circles.

…Grossman argued that it was the Egged bus company’s interest to try and fulfill its customers’ wishes.

“Why should I have to get squeezed between two men and rub against them while the Halacha forbids this?”

An unwanted hand on the halachic scale

By Jonathan Rosenblum Opinion June 8, 2009

Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman’s recent proposal to employ retired IDF rabbis on special conversion courts falls into that category (as do the earlier transfer of the Conversion Authority from the Chief Rabbinate to the Prime Minister’s Office and the creation of a special conversion track within the IDF, with specific numerical targets). 

The impetus for Ne’eman’s proposal is not to expedite the process, but the desire to lower the standards for conversion. 

Thus he deliberately chose those rabbis most socialized to view themselves as halachic problem-solvers for the state and who are not generally drawn from the upper echelons of rabbinic scholarship.

Such attempts to subject the halachic process to the dictates of the secular state serve neither the interests of religion nor the State.

Arrivals: Daniel Kipgen: From Inphal, India to Kiryat Arba

By Jerrin K. Zumberg June 7, 2009

Photo not connected to Daniel Kipgen

When Daniel Kipgen was 15, he and his family began practicing Judaism in the remote hills of India’s northeastern Manipur state.

As Bnei Menashe, Kipgen and his family are among the hundreds of Indians in the past decade who have fulfilled the dream of living in Israel.

Kipgen went through a conversion process in India that wasn’t that “serious,” he says, but began the steps he would later take to become “Jewish” once arriving here.

Secular Jews may be minority in Israeli schools by 2030

By Ofri Ilani June 3, 2009

Secular Jews are expected to become a minority in Israeli schools and among the draft-age population within 20 years, according to a recent study published in the current issue of U.S. magazine Foreign Policy. 

The study, which is based on figures from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, predicts that by 2030 Arabs and ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Jews together will compose close to 60 percent of Israel’s elementary school population and about 40 percent of eligible voters. 

Prof. Sergio Della Pergola of Hebrew University, an expert in contemporary Jewish demography, said he was familiar with the figures cited in the Foreign Policy article but was not convinced that the article’s predictions would prove accurate. 

It remains unclear whether ultra-Orthodox fertility trends will remain steady in the coming years, he said, since much depends on state funding for child allowances.

Meshing into the mainstream

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion June 7, 2009

A study published this week on the Foreign Policy Web site predicting that by 2030, secular Jewish Israelis would be a minority within the school system and the recruitment age-group, plays to the fears of an Israel that is swiftly descending into an abyss of religious sectarianism and fundamentalism. 

…What the Foreign Policy study does underline is the fact that Israeli society now faces a new and daunting challenge:

Over the next two decades, it will have to find a way to accommodate two groups that have not chosen in the past to be part of the Israeli mainstream – indeed, in many ways they were excluded. Neither group automatically accepts the Zionist narrative, but they are here to stay. 

Spirituality Amid Dogma? Some Approaches to Educating for Religious Belief within in a State Religious School in Israel

By Elana Maryles Sztokman June 2009

Review of Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 75, Issue 2 April 2009, pages 150 – 172 

This article, the result of three years of ethnographic research at the state religious Levy Junior High School for Girls (all names and identifying details have been altered to protect the informants) in Israel from 1999 to 2002, examines theological, philosophical, and political aspects of religious Zionist education and the tensions between indoctrination and resistance. 

It explores the shifting religious identities of religious adolescent youth in Israel within the context of a state religious educational institution.

Mehadrin Food Still Problematic in the Israel Air Force

By Yechiel Spira June 4, 2009

For several dozen chareidim who are members of the IAF, obtaining mehadrin food is still problematic at times. The soldiers are members of a chareidi unit, “Shachar K’Chol”, a unit operating under the auspices of the IDF Rabbinate.

After they enlisted the services of an, an agreement was reached by which the IDF is compelled to provide mehadrin food for Shomer Shabbos soldiers requesting it.

IDF Developing Sabbath-Friendly Keyboard, Computer Screen

By Gil Ronen June 5, 2009

The IDF Rabbinate is hard at work on the development of a special touch screen that would make it possible to use vital computer systems without violating Sabbath, reports IDF magazine BaMachaneh (In the Camp).

Another project, currently in its pilot phase, involves special Sabbath keyboards. 

The IDF is also examining the possibility of changing the incandescent bulbs in the IDF’s communications equipment with LEDs (light emitting diodes), since turning on an incandescent light involves the actual lighting of a fire, which is explicitly forbidden by the Torah. 

Rabbinate crews are also planning to install special electrical switches that will enable opening of electrical gates on Sabbaths in IDF bases that use them.

IDF Soldiers Stationed in Hebron Find a Home with Chabad

By Zalman Nelson June 1, 2009

When they’re not monitoring Hebron’s network of anti-terrorist security cameras and gathering intelligence, female soldiers of the (IDF) stationed here love to hang out with Batsheva Cohen.

The dynamic Chabad representative bakes challah with the soldiers, explores questions of Jewish identity, and infuses their tour of duty here with a joyfully Jewish experience.

…“We’re always looking for opportunities to engage with the local soldiers, to reach out to them,” said Cohen who hosted the entire battalion, commander included, of the base closest to the center, on a recent Shabbat.  

“They army is always looking for ways to save money. I told the commander, why not send the cook home for Shabbat and come to us.”

That Shabbat, 68 soldiers joined 20 other visitors to Hebron around the table at the Chabad center. Batsheva’s husband, Danny, leads the Shabbat dinner with lively conversation, a much needed inspiration for the soldiers.

Paratroopers Celebrate a Bar Mitzvah in the Cave of Machpelah

Source: June 8, 2009

During Chabad House activities in Hebron, the staff met Andrei, a soldier originally from Molodova, who never put on tefillin or was called up to the Torah.

A special bar mitzvah ceremony was held at the Cave of Machpelah for Andrei with his division, and everyone celebrated his call-up to the Torah with dancing and joy. 

My Story: Aliza’s haredi wedding

By Sara Smith Opinion June 8, 2009

I don’t need the grilled hot dog, the thin slices of roast beef. I don’t seek the so-called equality in shul of female aliyot or mixed seating.

I can hold my own in a Talmud class, and am quite content to exchange whispered tidbits with the girls in the women’s section. I don’t, however, like being relegated to society’s back of the bus.

Flipping out in Israel is overrated

By Michael Orbach June 5, 2009

The year in Israel may not be as pivotal to religious development as was previously thought, according to a new study published by the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and University-School Partnership, an Azrieli affiliate.

The study, coauthored by Dr. David Pelcovitz, the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Psychology and Jewish Education at Azrieli, and Rabbi Steven Eisenberg, the Mordecai Zeitz Doctoral Fellow at Azrieli, found that while students increased in religiosity over their year in Israel, the changes were relatively minor. 

The “brainwashing” staple of the year in Israel, the Pelcovitz-Eisenberg study indicates, may simply be a myth.

Good Old-Fashioned Discipline – British Teens Get a Taste of Orthodox Life on Reality TV

By Nathan Jeffay June 3, 2009

It was clear that something unusual was going on in the Orthodox-only village of Nof Ayalon, in central Israel, when residents spotted a bikini-clad teenager strutting her stuff.

Nof Ayalon, near Modi’in and not far from the Green Line, very much bears the imprint of its founders. It was set up in the mid-1990s by the nearby Yeshivat Sh’alvim, and ever since it has been a bastion of punctilious observance and modest dress.

Until, that is, the middle of May, when a British teenage girl with a penchant for provocative outfits arrived as part of a reality TV show. Also taking part in the program was a teenage boy who is a self-styled Goth and body-piercing enthusiast.

Both youngsters are non-Jewish high school dropouts from Hampshire, England, and the idea of the program they were taking part in was to see whether a week living with an Orthodox family could transform them from madcaps to menches.

Observant Magen David Adom personnel to answer Shabbat calls by clenching their teeth

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich June 7, 2009

Magen David Adom staffers and volunteers who are religiously observant have been advised to use their teeth to respond to emergency calls using their new Mirs communications devices on Shabbat and festivals.

The cell phones will be placed in a special holder that keeps the folded devices open at all times, with a thin metallic arm sticking out that they can pull with their teeth to communicate with MDA stations.

According to Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Halperin, head of Jerusalem’s Scientific and Technological Institute for Halacha, such a mechanism for using the phone to save lives on holy days is permissible according to Jewish law.

All-women religious band Tofa’ah still rockin’

By Josh Lichtenstein June 8, 2009

This year the all-women religious rock band Tofa’ah is celebrating 28 years of playing music. When the band was founded in 1981, the idea of an all women, Jewish rock-and-roll/blues/jazz band that only performed for women was unheard of. 

The band inspired religious women by offering an acceptable outlet to explore Jewish identity and the arts.

To listen to Tofa’ah and watch concert clips, check out:

Experimental program to recycle wastewater tries to get God, Mother Earth on the same page

By Zafrir Rinat June 3, 2009

An experimental program to purify and recycle wastewater from mikvehs (ritual baths) will soon be launched in Jerusalem. 

For fear of health hazards, the Health Ministry had until now always vetoed efforts to recycle gray water in urban areas, though it did approve a few experimental programs at isolated country clubs. 

However, it has authorized the project proposed by Shomera, an environmental organization active in religious circles, and the Water Authority.

“From our perspective, this is not just a project to recycle water; it is also an opportunity to make a connection between Judaism and preserving the environment,” said Miriam Garmaise of Shomera. 

Israeli adults outdo European peers in taking care of aged parents, particularly the religious

By Ofri Ilani June 5, 2009

Adults who grew up in religious families feel a stronger obligation to help their aged parents than those from secular homes, according to a new study. 

…The researchers also found a correlation between the extent of religious observance of the respondents and the sense of obligation to their parents. 

“Among those who said they were not at all religious there was a relatively high rate of those who did not help their parents. On the other hand, among the very religious, the likelihood was high that they helped,” Lowenstein said.

Religion and State in Israel

June 8, 2009 (Section 2) (continued from Section 1)

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.

All rights reserved.

No comments yet.

Your Thoughts