Religion and State in Israel – August 3, 2009 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

August 3, 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.

Convert’s marriage retroactively nixed

By Matthew Wagner July 31, 2009

A newly married convert to Judaism whose marriage was not recognized by a local rabbi has been advised by the Religious Affairs Ministry to travel over 100 kilometers and pay an additional NIS 600 to sort out the issue.

Rabbi Shaul Farber, head of ITIM, said it was unacceptable that a rabbi who received a state salary was unwilling to recognize a conversion conducted by state institutions.

“I don’t think the rabbi should be forced to approve of a conversion which he thinks is not legitimate. That’s his prerogative,” Farber said.

“But he should not be receiving a salary from the state if he does not want to listen to the state.”

Op-Ed: Proposed civil marriage bill in Israel misses mark

By Gilad Kariv August 2, 2009

Rabbi Gilad Kariv is the executive director of the Israeli Reform movement.

The promoters of Israel’s new bill for civil marriage for those without religion are hurrying to present it as a significant and historical legal breakthrough, but actually it’s nothing other than political trickery.

…According to the proposal, the couples who will benefit from the law also will have to request permission from the Chief Rabbinate to affirm that they indeed are not Jewish. As if we haven’t heard enough horrific stories of new immigrants having to jump through hoops to prove they are Jewish, this proposal will create another set of hurdles.

Olim without an official religious status now will have to prove they are not Jewish. It will be the first time that Israeli legislation will give rabbinic courts power over Israel’s non-Jewish citizens.

This law will be the tombstone on the grave of the government’s obligation to solve the problem of non-Orthodox marriage in Israel.

It creates a dangerous illusion of progress at a time when we should be speaking about more creative ways to solve this urgent issue.

Every person should have the right to marry as they choose and in a way that fits with their conscience.

Advocates for secular marriage use Tu Be’Av to highlight their struggle

By Ruth Eglash August 4, 2009

Tarosyan, 34, who emigrated from Moscow in 1995, does not have sufficient proof that he is Jewish.

He is one of more than 300,000 Israelis, mostly immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (FSU), who cannot get married here because the Orthodox Rabbinate has the final say in such matters, allowing only those considered halachically Jewish to marry other Jews.

However, thanks to the efforts of non-profit New Israel Fund and the secular Jewish organization Havaya, which represents several other movements fighting the Orthodox Jewish monopoly on marriage, Samosvatov and Tarosyan will officially tie the knot on Tuesday evening in a public ceremony in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square.

Diti Degani-Peleg, director of Havaya:

“We also help couples who want a Jewish experience but feel that the orthodox ceremony is not for them,” added Degani-Peleg.

“We need a different law that will allow any Israeli to marry any other Israeli,” she said.

Get took five desperate years, now I’ll be shunned

By Leon Symons July 30, 2009

“There will be peace in the Middle East before I get a [Orthodox] get,” said Ms Saleh, who obtained a civil divorce two years ago.

“I have obtained a non-Orthodox get out of sheer frustration and desperation after five years of waiting. But I must stress that I am still an Orthodox woman. I have always lived an Orthodox life, and it gives me strength.

Ms Saleh is one of a number of women from Britain and Israel featured in the programme. Another is British-born and Israeli-based Susan Zinkin, who has been waiting 47 years for her get, and a second woman, also called Susan, who did not wait for her get before starting a new relationship and having a baby.

The programme also features the Israeli government department which deals with errant husbands, including an interview with Rabbi Osher Ehrentreu, son of Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, former head of the London Beth Din.

Divorce: Jewish Style July 30, 2009

With rare access to the Orthodox Jewish community, both here in the UK and also in Israel, this film explores the controversial world of Jewish divorce to find out why these apparently outmoded laws still hold sway.

How chained women can be freed

By Bernard Jackson July 30, 2009

Over the past five years, my team at Manchester University has been working towards a “roadmap” that could resolve the 2,000-year-old problems endured by Orthodox Jewish women whose husbands refuse to grant them a get — a religious divorce.

The plight of “chained wives” — in Hebrew, agunot — causes much suffering to a very substantial number of Jewish women across the world.

…In earlier decades, it was natural to look to Israel for such a lead. Today, it would be opportune for diaspora rabbinic leaders to cast off any self-imposed reticence.

Out of consensus

By Carl Hoffman Opinion July 25, 2009

New Family is a nonprofit organization established in 1998 to advance the legal rights of all forms of “alternative” and “nontraditional” families.

Interview with founder and directer attorney Irit Rosenblum:

Right now we’re moving more and more directly to common-law marriages. As a matter of fact, we’re coming back to 2,000 years ago, when family issues were private. This is happening both among the secular and the haredi groups.

Why do I say this? Because both groups are, in their own way, doing what they want – dealing with family issues privately, and ignoring the services of the state. We, the Jewish people, created the idea of the private contract between partners. I don’t know why here it has become the state’s property and the state’s power to interfere.

The [only] kind of family the system understands is a man and a woman, Jewish, married according to Halacha and registered in a rabbinical court. If so much as a single part of this formula is different, you’re out of consensus. Out of consensus means that you lose civil and human rights.

How do you say pluralism in Hebrew?

By Rabbi Michael Marmur Opinion July 30, 2009

Michael Marmur is the Vice-President for Academic Affairs of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion and is based in Jerusalem.

One Orthodox rabbi present at our conference noted that there can hardly be a more pressing question on Israel’s social agenda than that of pluralism.

After all, the essence of the question is whether we will be able to live together in this country – Jews of different stripes…

Fifteen years ago there was hardly a way of talking about pluralism in this country. There are still many pockets of society in which this word is either dirty or invisible. But slowly, inexorably, under the radar and far from the headlines, a new voice is emerging.

Diplomats Don’t Eat Treyf, and Other Issues

By Lisa Goldman Opinion July 29, 2009

It was during a midnight repast of shrimp couscous at a gay bar in Tel Aviv that I discovered Israel’s Foreign Ministry does not reimburse diplomatic staff for non-kosher, work-related meals in Israel.

But that was just the beginning of my problems.

A spokesman for the ministry informed me of the non-reimbursement policy as we were enjoying our meal, served by a gay Arab waiter wearing a muscle shirt.

Women reservists given the runaround because of religious soldiers

By Gil Ronen July 31, 2009

Photo: no connection to article

Ten female combat soldiers packed their bags and moved to another outpost. It was then that they found out the true reason for their relocation, one of them said.

“One of the commanders in the second outpost explained to us that we are not wanted in this outpost as well, because there are yeshiva-boy soldiers serving there who refuse to have girls serve in the outpost.”

“We reached the Metzokei Deragot outpost,” a female soldier said, “and we couldn’t believe it… it turned out that we couldn’t stay because there were religious soldiers there as well.

They even entered the clubhouse where we were waiting so that they could tell us that we are a problem for the IDF.”

Only after Maariv-NRG intervened, the women soldiers said, did the commanders decide to transfer the religious soldiers out of the third outpost, and let the female soldiers stay there.

Haredim will account for 25% of IDF exemptions within decade

By Mazal Mualem and Anshel Pfeffer July 31, 2009

The ultra-Orthodox will make up one-quarter of people who are exempted from the Israel Defense Forces draft within a decade, an IDF human-resources report released Wednesday found.

At the start of the 1990s, it said, just 5 percent of military-age youth not inducted to the army went to study at yeshivas. Today that figure is up to 13 percent.

Ongoing conflict between the IDF Education Corps and IDF Rabbinate

By Anshel Pfeffer July 30, 2009

With regard to the ongoing conflict between the Education Corps and the IDF Rabbinate, Shermeister said that “responsibility for education and Jewish identity is officially conferred on the Education Corps, and that’s how it has to be.”

He extended an olive branch to the rabbinate in saying “it has great educational capacities and we must not fail to use them.”

IDF Cuts Budget for Rabbinate Activities

By Yechiel Spira July 29, 2009

The intensity of the long-waging battle between the IDF’s Education Branch and the Chief Rabbinate will most likely not diminish in the near future, but it appears in at least one area, the secular-leaning Education Branch has scored a victory, as the military has cut the Rabbinate’s budget in a number of areas.

“Mehadrin” Bus Lines July 28, 2009

Q: What is Ha-Rav’s opinion about “Mehadrin” bus lines where men and women sit in different sections?

A: It is a personal choice. “Mehadrin” buses where men and women are separate is obviously more modest. This is particularly true since sometimes women on the bus are not dressed modestly. Also buses are sometimes crowded; people are standing on one another, pushing against one another, etc.

…Therefore, if there is the option of a separate bus, it is preferable. If it is not possible, however, it is permissible to ride on a regular bus just as it is permissible to walk in the street and one must exert effort not to look at immodest things.

Heated Debate on sex-segregated bus lines on “Rusty Mike” radio station

By Elana Sztokman August 2, 2009

Listen to the July 23 schmooze on gender-segregated (mehadrin) buses here.

For many Americans in Israel, “Women to the back of the bus” echoes of Rosa Parks and the racially segregated American south.

For others, Jerusalem’s “holiness” requires special considerations.

Still for others, the violence that women face when they get onto the bus — tired, hard-working women, who just want to sit down and are often harassed by haredi men — is its own, new brand of an Israeli social ill that needs to be seriously redressed.

Bat Yam looking to hire ‘Shabbat goy’

By Naama Friedman July 31, 2009

A group of senior rabbis in the central city of Bat Yam, including the city’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi, Rabbi Shaul Yosef Weingerten, recently convened to discuss an increasing demand from the local religious public to hire a “Shabbat goy.”

In their meeting, the rabbis focused on the question of funding such a person, and – no less important, in which cases should a “Shabbat got” be asked to help.

Bid: Psychometric exam tailored for Haredim

By Kobi Nahshoni July 29 ,2009

Education Committee Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) announced a new initiative to be discussed by the committee which will require the Council for Higher Education to adjust the Psychometric Entrance Test to the haredi community.

MK Orlev joined Shai Cohen, director of the Hakima school in supporting the bid and told Ynet:

“The psychometric test is culture-dependant. Its questions reflect the Israeli culture’s mainstream, thereby discriminating new immigrants, Arabs, as well as Haredim.”

Jerusalem seculars accuse Mayor of selling out to Haredim

By Nir Hasson July 30, 2009

Secular residents of the Jerusalem neighborhood Kiryat Yovel harshly criticized Mayor Nir Barkat yesterday for “selling them out” in allowing ultra-Orthodox groups to open a synagogue in an abandoned building there. They said Barkat was trying to ingratiate himself with his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners.

The secular residents lost a key battle over the character of their community, this time over the conversion of an abandoned kiosk into an ultra-Orthodox synagogue

Secular representatives said that allowing the operation of a synagogue could lead to permits to open Haredi educational institutions, encouraging more ultra-Orthodox families to move in.

Members of the ultra-Orthodox community agree that the neighborhood’s “Haredization” is virtually inevitable, given the city’s lack of housing.

Poll: 57% of seculars prefer secular judge July 28, 2009

The poll found that 53% of respondents would prefer to stand before a secular judge, while 18% prefer a religious judge. Some 25% of respondents said it did not make a difference to them. Less than 1% responded that they would prefer an Arab judge.

An analysis of the results shows that the secular public has the most parochial outlook of all the Israeli sectors, preferring by a 71% majority to stand before a judge of a similar religious outlook as themselves.

Sixty-eight percent of the religious public prefers a religious judge, and 48% of the haredim prefer an ultra-Orthodox judge.

Judaism poll points to ‘lost generation’

By Sarah Sechan July 29, 2009

The survey revealed that 80% of secular Israelis and 59% of Israelis overall define their level of Judaic knowledge and Jewish heritage as mediocre or lower.

The percentage claiming a low level of knowledge was relatively high among adults over age 55 (21%), among Jews of Ashkenazi descent (22%), and among those with above-average incomes (20%).

Among the secular public, children’s level of Judaic knowledge and Jewish sources was perceived as equal as or slightly higher than that of their parents, while people without children over the age of 12 perceived their parents’ Judaic knowledge as much higher than their own.

Among secular Israelis who define their level of knowledge as low, only 25% want to expand their Judaic knowledge.

But nearly half (43%) of all secular Israelis want to increase their knowledge of Judaism and Jewish sources, with many citing such options as a secular beit midrash (Torah study center) (15%) or Jewish academic institutions (14%).

In addition, 70% of the “traditional” religious public wants to expand their knowledge, while the vast majority of haredim want to expand theirs as well.

Damage control

By Noam Dvir July 30, 2009

The High Court eventually rejected the environmentalists’ claims, while ugly, curved retaining walls that do not match the landscaping treatment of the other parts of the road, were built around the graves. “

The government spent NIS 70 million for the ultra-Orthodox. There was no political force willing to confront them,” Levon said.

When ritual becomes obsession

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich August 2, 2009

Ritual complements ethics in Jewish law, but Orthodoxy and ultra-Orthodoxy seem in recent years to have put greater stress on ritual and on praising those who observe it pedantically.

Thus it may be difficult to distinguish a simply devout person who is meticulous in his observances from one who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

While experts say OCD is not more common among observant Jews than in any other group, when the observant do suffer from OCD, the symptoms usually relate to ritual observance, causing them to carry out practices compulsively in prayer, ritual hand washing, milk/meat separation, family purity or personal hygiene.

The Torah is for all

By Berel Wein Opinion July 25, 2009

Feeling threatened and constantly on the defensive, much of religious society has wrapped the Torah about itself, unwilling and unable to share it intelligently with others.

Walling out the outside world to the best of its ability, this grouping allows its societal norms not to be seen as that but rather as Halacha from Moses on Sinai. This only serves to further the frictions and deepen the differences between Jews.

Thinking that one’s societal norms are those that are best for everyone smacks of arrogance and weakness at one and the same time.

Israel faces grave outlook for burial space

By Ari Rabinovitch August 3, 2009

A government-appointed committee is looking to the past for a solution for the future — proposing, in its words, “high-density burials”.

Back in Biblical times, it was common for the dead to be laid to rest on top of each other in underground crypts.

The Rabbinate liked the idea, as long as strict religious guidelines were followed.

“This system was used in the days of the Sanhedrin and the Jewish authority. We are just renewing something that existed in the past,” said Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.

Trip organizer opts out of Birthright, citing ideological constraints

By Cnaan Liphshiz July 31 ,2009

A rift involving the directors of Israel’s leading program for Diaspora Jews has caused one of the project’s main figures to quit this month. Instead of working with Birthright Israel, travel organizer Shlomo Lifshitz will join Masa.

“I was told I could no longer tell participants to make aliyah or marry Jewish partners,” said Lifshitz.

A major friction point, according to Lifshitz, was his “honeymoon plan” offering a free nuptial trip to newlyweds who had met on their Oranim Birthright trips. He says he received a written letter from Taglit’s Israel office telling him he was required to stop.

Poll: Many FSU olim unsure whether their future lies in Israel

By Lily Galili August 4, 2009

Only 28 percent of immigrants from the former Soviet Union between the ages of 31 and 40 are certain they want to raise their children here, compared to 80 percent of native Israelis in that age group.

Is there a doctor in the country?

By Raphael Ahren July 31, 2009

A year and a half after Nefesh B’Nefesh announced a new program to attract Western physicians to Israel by offering grants of up to $60,000, immigrant doctors still argue about the program’s merits.

238 olim from US land in Israel

By Yael Branovsky August 4, 2009

The second flight this summer organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization that encourages and coordinates the aliyah of Jews from around the world, and the Jewish Agency carried 238 new olim from North America.

Some 55 of the immigrants are young people scheduled to enlist in the IDF in the coming months.

The organization said that more than 430 young adults will immigrate to Israel this year from the United States with the express purpose of enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces.

Uganda’s Abayudaya bring a Jewish response to the famine

By Haviv Rettig Gur August 2, 2009

The Abayudaya embraced Judaism during British colonial rule in the 1920s, surviving the country’s political turmoil, persecution by the Idi Amin dictatorship and pressure to convert to Christianity and Islam.

Some 1,100 members of the Abayudaya (“people of Judah”) live in Uganda, many of them having undergone Conservative conversion. Some are preparing for Orthodox conversion and hope to make aliya.

Religion and State in Israel

August 3, 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.

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