Religion and State in Israel – July 27, 2009 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

July 27, 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.

Civil marriage bill passes first Knesset reading

By Zvi Lav July 20, 2009

The majority of Knesset members said that the proposed bill does little to truly resolve the need for civil marriage, and some expressed concern over the need to continue having the Orthodox authorities rule on who can be defined is non-denomination.

A crack in the religious monopoly

Haaretz Editorial July 22, 2009

The existing text of the Civil Marriage Bill is indeed insufficient, and the struggle must be continued to establish full civil marriages and divorces in Israel.

But this is the first crack in the religious monopoly over personal status and it will be the basis for additional reforms in the future.

That is why it is up to the secular parties to ensure that this law is passed in the Knesset, in the face of attempts to thwart it that can be expected from the ultra-Orthodox factions.

Marriage for the shunned

By Avirama Golan Opinion July 23, 2009

But make no mistake: This route, as liberal as it might appear, works within the limits of the Orthodox monopoly and even reinforces it.

…It is clear even to the legislators that the law offers recourse only to a small and limited group of “persons without a religion” – an outrageous expression in its own right – which covers, in effect, anyone who hasn’t managed, despite his pleas and the anti-Semitism that was his lot, to prove his Jewish roots.

How many people will agree to marry only a “person without a religion” like themselves, to wait until all the rabbinical courts attest in writing that they are indeed a “persons of no religion”

(here there really is an innovation: Now the rabbinate will determine not only who is a Jew but also who is a gentile);

and to wait another 18 months until the state believes them that they hadn’t married fictively – and all this so that their identity cards will be inscribed “spouse in registration of a couple under the law for registering couples of no religion.”

Civil Marriage in Israel

By Rachael Gelfman July 2009

For a large number of Israelis, religious politics and identity issues disrupt the pursuit of holy matrimony.

…Civil marriage continues to be hotly debated in Israel today, because at stake in this debate is the very nature of what it means to be both a Jewish and democratic state.

Breaking the Chains of Silence

By Mahara”t Sara Hurwitz July 23, 2009

Whatever the solution, let’s break the silence.

Our community must galvanize together and raise a voice of moral conscience to advocate for the freeing of women who are currently agunot, as well as find solutions to prevent men and women from becoming chained to hateful, loveless marriages in the future.

How can you not agree with Kolech?

By Rivkah Lubitch July 26, 2009

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinical advocate, working at The Center for Women’s Justice

The difference between Kolech and its detractors is first and foremost that Kolech puts the issues on the table and speaks about them openly, while its detractors ignore them.

…Practically speaking, the difference between Kolech and its detractors amounts to a period of 10 years.

In 10-years time, those detractors too will be there, raising these same questions that we are raising today.

They will also question women’s place in the synagogue (if they haven’t already); and they will also be asking why women are not permitted to be part of the religious leadership.

We at Kolech are merely preceding them.

New conversion bill a recipe for continued chaos

By Rabbi Seth Farber Opinion July 26, 2009

Rabbi Seth (Shaul) Farber received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University and his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University. He is the founder of ITIM: The Jewish Life Information Center and rabbi of Kehillat Netivot in Ra’anana.

The new “conversion law” – which passed a first reading in the Knesset this past week – is essentially a political tool which will in no way bring order to the chaos that characterizes conversion in Israel.

With 310,000 immigrants from the Former Soviet Union eligible for conversion, it is unpalatable that conversion has become a subject of Pyrrhic political victories.

…According to the new bill, city rabbis would be able to perform conversions, but only subject to the approval of the Moetzet Rabbanut HaRashit (the Chief Rabbinic Council in Israel).

The new conversion bill is another example of politics gone awry. The authors of the bill are already touting themselves as the heroes of the conversion process in Israel. Unfortunately, they are wrong.

New conversion legislation underway

By Kobi Nahshoni July 22 ,2009

Seeking to minimize the phenomenon of conversion annulment, the bill states that only the court that conducted or accepted a conversion would be able to revoke it.

Another clause in the bill rules that any appeal against a conversion would be brought before the Great Rabbinical Court of Appeals, with the president of the court presiding.

The JFS lesson Editorial July 21, 2009

The decision earlier this month by a British appeals court, holding that the admissions policy of the country’s largest Jewish school was illegal, underscores a schism within the Jewish world over identity, conversion and the nature of our civilization.

…The Jewish majority in the Diaspora as well as in Israel – running the gamut from neo-Orthodox to progressive, yet also embracing the affiliated secular – need to develop sensible answers, rooted in Jewish law and tradition, to the issues of identity and conversion.

In so doing they will be hammering home the point that Judaism is a thriving and evolving civilization rooted in sacred history, religious ritual, a shared past and the sense of a common destiny.

It is not synonymous with haredism.

Who Is a Convert? Editorial July 22, 2009

The biblical Ruth is lucky she isn’t converting to Judaism in 2009. If she ever wants to live in Israel, that is.

…These new protocols also defy the spirit of several recent rulings by the Israeli Supreme Court that aimed to welcome converts, not turn them away.

The court had already ordered that a previous residency requirement — that one, for a year — be eliminated, and in May told the government to fund non-Orthodox institutions training potential converts just as it supports Orthodox conversions.

Even if the conversion authorities in Israel don’t want to listen to Diaspora Jews, they ought to obey their own law.

…This is the time for Israel to act as the state of all Jews, not just those deemed acceptable by a few ultra-Orthodox rabbis.

Segregated buses: What would Rosa Parks have done?

Click here for VIDEO

Segregated buses: What would Rosa Parks have done?

By Benjamin Spier July 21, 2009

Protestors handed out mock bus tickets marked “For Women” with printed instructions to sit in the rear, during a mock demonstration held in front of the Ministry of Transportation on Tuesday to protest separate seating on predominantly haredi bus lines.

Jerusalem city councilwoman Rachel Azaria said the image of women being sent to the back of the bus resonates strongly among those familiar with American history.

“If Rosa Parks were alive today, she would push the haredi woman to dare to sit up front,” said Azaria.

A committee appointed by the Supreme Court will decide on the legality of the 40 separate seating bus lines found all over the country.

The committee was assembled almost two years ago and is slated to present its recommendations to the Transportation Ministry in mid-August.

“Women don’t want to sit in the back,” said Azaria. “They have no other choice but to sit in the back.”

Rabbi initiates women-friendly synagogue

By Kobi Nahshoni July 23, 2009

Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, head of the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva, has recently formulated an elaborate halachic document aimed at facilitating the integration of women into prayer services and the life of the congregation, while striving for the maximum level of equality allowed by the Halacha.

Sherlo calls for renovating synagogues in order to adjust them to women’s prayers, to encourage women to dance with the Torah scroll and allow orphaned women recite the kaddish prayer alongside men.

He also advocates having women conduct Torah lessons to all members of the congregation, male and female alike.

See also Hebrew article for more details.

Debating female roles in synagogues

By Rabbi Levi Brackman Opinion July 25, 2009

If there is room within the confines of Jewish law to allow greater female participation in the synagogue, women should not only be allowed to participate in that way they should be encouraged to do so.

Orthodox Women Clergy?

By Rabbi Michael J. Broyde July 23, 2009

Michael Broyde is a law professor at Emory University, Chaver of the Beth Din of America and the Founding Rabbi of the Young Israel in Atlanta.

I think that certifying people – men and women — as well-trained Orthodox clergy to teach, preach and counsel God’s Torah to the laity is also a good idea (and certainly better than the status quo, which allows essentially untrained women to function in pastoral roles).

Cafeteria Cockroaches and Synagogue-State Relations in Israel

By Shalom Goldman July 22, 2009

Only a minority of Israeli citizens, and Israeli parliamentarians, are Orthodox Jews. But because of the complex history of Synagogue–State relations in Israel, the Orthodox rabbinate controls many areas of life; with the Kashrut laws being only the most obvious.

In fact, the most contentious area is not food, but that of ‘personal status’ (laws of marriage and divorce) controlled by the Israeli Rabbinate whose functionaries are paid with taxpayer funds.

The Rabbis of other Jewish denominations—Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Jewish Renewal—are not recognized.

They have no legal authority, cannot perform weddings, officiate at funerals, or certify a restaurant as kosher.

Proposal: “I Believe in the Creator” on Israeli money

By Amnon Meranda July 27, 2009

A new bill was proposed Monday by Shas MK Nissim Zeev that stipulates that Israeli paper money will be emblazoned with the sentence: “We believe in the Creator.”

“Money and bills are the center of our life, and it is befitting that the money issued by the State of Israel will be a reminder of Jewish faith,” explained MK Zeev.

“Even those who don’t uphold the mitzvoth will be reminded in this way of the foundation of the religion of Israel.”

Zeev continued, “This declaration is a confirmation of the connection between Israel, the Torah, and the principles of the Jewish faith. It should be noted in this context that similar declarations are printed on money issued in other countries, including American bills – ‘In God we trust.'”

Can secular host TV show about Jewish tradition?

By Kobi Nahshoni July 22, 2009

Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) filed a complaint with the director general of the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) this week, regarding a television program on Jewish texts that is hosted by a secular writer and scholar.

The show in question, “Mekablim Shabbat” (welcoming the Shabbat), is hosted by Dov Elboim, a writer, journalist, scholar and lecturer in Jewish studies who grew up in an ultra-Orthodox home but later became secular.

In a letter to IBA head Motti Shklar, Porush wrote:

“There is a show on Channel 1 called ‘Parashat Hashavua,’ which is aired on Saturday evening and in which the host interprets the Torah while not wearing a kippah.

“Moreover, a viewer who wrote to me said that the host’s interpretations do not fall in line with the accepted interpretations in Judaism, and constitute a desecration of what Judaism holds sacred.”

Chick Flicks – The school where Orthodox Israeli women learn to be filmmakers

By Alexa Bryn July 22, 2009

Ma’aleh, Israel’s first Orthodox school of Television, Film and the Arts

Ma’aleh’s success in attracting female students stems from its understanding of the complex expectations and responsibilities facing young religious Israelis.

Ma’aleh’s gender breakdown was even more disproportionate 20 years ago, when “boys in Israeli yeshiva high schools weren’t encouraged to be creative,” according to Katie Green, director of the school’s International Relations and Special Projects.

“While that situation has improved, it is still hard to support a family on a filmmaker’s salary.”

Ironically, this traditional attitude has paved the way for religious women to achieve prominence in a profession not typically associated with them.

Studying at Ma’aleh gives religious women a means of commenting on their own backgrounds in a community where women’s forms of expression are more limited.

Religious woman: H&M fired me over ‘cultural gap’

By Tani Goldstein July 23, 2009

A young woman has filed an NIS 408,000 (about $105,000) lawsuit with the Tel Aviv Labor Court against the H&M company, claiming she was fired for being religious.

“One evening we went to a restaurant, and when the CEO asked me in advance which restaurant I would recommend, I said I would prefer a kosher one.

When I found out they were going to a non-kosher restaurant, I decided not to go. I could have drunk a glass of water there, but I didn’t want to embarrass the team.

“On another evening they went to a bar. There were four men and me, it was late and it’s not my way of hanging out so I decided not to go with them.”

Faith in the face of trauma

By Larry Derfner July 23, 2009

ZAKA, an English transliteration of the Hebrew acronym for “Disaster Victims Identification,” is the volunteer organization of haredi men who collect the remains of the dead for burial.

…Why do they do it? It’s a mitzva, they all say – to show respect for the dead by making it possible for them to be buried as whole as possible.

Tisha B’Av spells doldrums for travel firms

By Irit Rosenblum July 28, 2009

The nine days preceding Tisha B’Av, a day of fast commemorating the destruction of both temples, is a time of economic slowdown.

About 40% of Israelis refrain from travel, buying consumer goods, signing contracts, and indulging in entertainment and eating out.

According to Ophir Tours travel agency, overseas travel and travel plans generally tumble by 15%.

The day after Tisha B’Av is the busiest travel day of the year. This year Tisha B’Av falls on a Thursday, so this coming weekend is expected to be busy, with hotel rooms and vacation packages in Israel over the weekend booked full, the company said.

The man who saved Beitar Jerusalem

By Raphael Ahren July 24, 2009

Click here for VIDEOS on Guma Aguiar

Guma Aguiar’s parents converted to Christianity when he was two, but in recent years Aguiar became close to Orthodox Judaism and subsequently moved to Israel.

As for buying a soccer team – Arcadi Gaydamak is still the owner but Aguiar is expected eventually to take over control, the philanthropist does not think God would be upset with the prospect.

“I think he’d be happy that people are excited and running around in the streets of Jerusalem,” explains Aguiar.

“That’s what we’re supposed to do. It doesn’t say so in the Bible, and I don’t want to get into a dispute with rabbis about this. But at the end of the day, this is not about halakha. This is something I really enjoy, and so will the whole community.”

“If God likes soccer, which I don’t know, he must be a Beitar Jerusalem fan.”

Melchior candidacy puts WZO, JA on ‘collision course,’ warn officials

By Cnaan Liphshiz July 24, 2009

The expected election next month of Rabbi Michael Melchior, a dovish politician, will lead to a clash between the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, chaired by the hawkish Nathan Sharansky, asserts a WZO official.

Dispute threatens Israel support for Jewish studies in former Soviet Union

By Or Kashti July 26, 2009

A dispute between the finance and education ministries over state support for a program of Jewish and Zionism studies in the former Soviet Union is threatening to close the program. The Heftziba program teaches about 10,000 students in 45 schools.

At the moment, the program’s sole remaining funding comes from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

Charles Bronfman on Jewish pluralism

By Cnaan Liphshiz July 24, 2009

Charles Bronfman:

“…This is the only Jewish homeland, yet only Jews of one persuasion can get married here,” he says with annoyance.

Some can’t get buried in certain places. It’s crazy. This was meant to be a haven for all Jews but one group controls everything.”

Bronfman seems to stiffen a little in his chair when the conversation touches on the differences between North American Jewish pluralism & the ultra-Orthodox institutional monopoly over Israel’s rabbinate.

Young olim in Tel Aviv mix Judaism & modern urban culture

Click here for VIDEO July 27, 2009

Serving in the IDF, ‘for the sake of God and Jesus’

By Matthew Wagner July 24, 2009

Jesus supports the IDF and he wants his believers to be the best soldiers they can be.

That was the message conveyed by members of the local Messianic Jewish community via sacred texts, prayer and talks, to a group of 18-year-olds who took part this week in a premilitary program called Netsor.

“I will do my best during my service in the IDF to serve God spiritually and physically. Not for the sake of state authorities but for the sake of God and Jesus.”

Rabbis ‘Standing as a Wall’ vs. High Court, Missionary Bakery

By Avraham Zuroff July 22, 2009

Rabbi Zalman Melamed of Beit El:

“In my opinion, there is no halachic dispensation to grant kashrut [kosher certification] to the above premises, and one should stand by this even after the High Court’s decision. All rabbis must stand firm as a wall against the attempt to interfere with halachic matters.

This is a principle that one must embrace without compromise,” Rabbi Melamed continued, adding that “one must be prepared to sacrifice his life – even more so one’s entire assets – for such coercion.”

…“The High Court thinks that kashrut is merely a technical issue. But they must know that it’s impossible to interfere with the Rabbinate, and the Rabbinate didn’t invent the issue.”

Are missionaries targeting the elderly?

By Rachel Geizhals July 28, 2009

A Holocaust survivor who was suffering from dementia was deceived by those hired to help her, family members said, because they claimed they converted her to their Messianic Christian religion.

Ethiopians at the gate

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion July 25, 2009

Quietly, without fanfare or any sort of serious debate, the government is resuming Falashmura immigration from Ethiopia, a year after it was ended by the previous administration.

…Of course no one has taken the trouble to consult with the impressive group of professionals, and Jewish Agency and Foreign Ministry veterans who worked in Ethiopia for years and have a clear position on the issue.

They would have told them that there is no finite number of Falashmura who can claim a tenuous link to Jewish roots.

Last Chance for Falash Mura

By Uriel Heilman July 22, 2009

With advocates for Ethiopian immigration to Israel stepping up their pressure on the Israeli government, Israeli Interior Ministry officials are returning to Ethiopia to check the eligibility for aliyah of approximately 3,000 more Falash Mura.

Religion and State in Israel

July 27, 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.

All rights reserved.

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