Religion and State in Israel – September 30, 2009 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

September 30, 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.

Jerusalem backs giving rabbi posts to non-Haredim

By Yair Ettinger October 1, 2009

The struggle for the seats of the Jerusalem’s municipal rabbis has long been fought within religious circles – most often between religious Zionists and the ultra-Orthodox.

But yesterday, the Jerusalem municipality announced in a letter to the Supreme Court that traditional and secular Jews should also have a say in the matter.

According to the municipality, two-thirds of the city’s Jewish populations are “Zionists,” or non-ultra-Orthodox Jews, and this fact has to be considered when choosing municipal rabbis.

Minister to reconvene meeting over J’lem chief rabbi’s post

By Matthew Wagner September 29, 2009

Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi caved in last week to critics and called to redo a step in the process of choosing the next chief rabbis of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem citizens concerned that Margi was attempting to rig the voting process have petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding more transparency.

Religious Zionists petition court over bias in selection of J’lem chief rabbis

By Yair Ettinger September 25, 2009

Attempts by Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi (Shas) to push through the election of Jerusalem’s chief rabbis received a blow yesterday when religious Zionist groups petitioned the High Court against him.

The petition, submitted by the Neemani Torah V’Avoda movement and Jerusalem City Council member Rachel Azaria, states that the ministry has made a “grab” that shows preference for the appointment of ultra-Orthodox representatives to the body that elects the rabbis.

Leading rabbis issue halachic ruling against Shabbat elevators

By Matthew Wagner and Elan Miller October 1, 2009

Elevators operating in Shabbat mode should not be used, according to a recent halachic decision issued by the heavyweights of the haredi rabbinical world.

“Regarding elevators on Shabbat, it is my opinion as well that one should not use them on Shabbat, whether one goes up or down,” read a statement dated last Friday, signed by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the nonagenarian spiritual leader considered the most important living halachic authority in Ashkenazi haredi circles.

Rabbi Israel Rosen, who heads the Tzomet Institute, which also finds halachic solutions to technological problems that arise on Shabbat, called the declaration against Shabbat-mode elevators “outrageous.”

“The people behind the publication of that notice are stirring up trouble and causing unnecessary angst to innocent people who rely on Shabbat-mode elevators,” said Rosen, a religious Zionist rabbi.

Rosen, whose solutions are not always accepted in more haredi circles, suggested that Elyashiv was not even behind the decision, but that there were extreme elements vying for Elyashiv’s backing of public policy agendas.

“Apparently the people behind this are from Bnei Brak, where there are no tall buildings. Therefore, no special effort has to be made to find a solution to the use of elevators on Shabbat,” he said.

Haredim balk at new ban on Shabbat elevators

By Yair Ettinger September 30, 2009

In halachic terms, Tuesday’s announcement, which appeared as a tiny notice in the religious newspaper Yated Ne’eman, has snowballed into a strong disagreement that threatens to destroy a rare halachic consensus, not to mention the routines of hundreds of thousands of observant Jews around the world.

Rabbinate accepts bill equating brain death with the end of life

By Yair Ettinger and Dan Even September 24, 2009

Rabbinical figures around the world were astonished by the Chief Rabbinate Council’s decision Tuesday, which stated that a Knesset bill equating brain death with the end of life “is in line with halakha.”

The bill would allow organs to be taken from a deceased person before his heart has stopped beating – an essential condition for removing vital organs such as the heart, lungs and liver for transplant.

The council’s decision represents the first time the state’s official rabbinical body has expressed unanimous approval for such a sensitive law, slated to be enacted in the near future.

Haredi parties seek to block yeshiva budget cut

By Zvi Zrahiya, Moti Bassok and Ronny Linder-Ganz October 1, 2009

Religious parties in the coalition are objecting to the government’s proposal to cut ministerial budgets and promised funding for coalition partners, in order to shift money to defense and health.

Ultra-Orthodox sources said yesterday that Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni, of United Torah Judaism, and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who chairs Shas, would not support cutting yeshiva budgets, and may offer their own amendments to the proposal.

Netanyahu to pull Yeshiva funding to pay for flu shots, military

By Meirav Arlosoroff September 30, 2009

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will need all of his leadership prowess to muster the needed support for an NIS 2 billion budget cut which, if approved, will slash deeply into the supplement funding promised to the Haredi parties under the coalition agreement.

As the bill stands, the move will trim NIS 300 million off of additional funding promised for yeshivas, and an additional NIS 100 million promised to Shas, United Torah Judaism and Habayit Hayehudi.

Netanyahu’s government coalition agreements made many budget-related promises to woo coalition members, including an additional NIS 750 million to finance yeshivas.

The new proposal aims to erase NIS 750 million from various programs, or 20% of the funding negotiated under the various coalition agreements. T

he bill means that the ultra-Orthodox parties stand to lose a substantial portion of the funding they were able to wrangle through government coalition negotiations.

Although the Finance Ministry’s bill proposes to cut just half of the promised budgeting immediately and the balance in 2011, the fact is not likely to sweeten the bitter pill that the ultra-Orthodox parties will be asked to swallow.

Ending Daylight Saving Time: Surrender or compromise?

By Amnon Meranda September 27, 2009

Former Interior Minister Avraham Poraz:

“It is an unnecessary and unjustifiable capitulation. It is abuse of the public. Their claim is that it is difficult to fast during daylight savings time. If they would set the start of prayers for one hour later, it would have precisely the same result,” said Poraz.

Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz):

“The opposition of ultra-Orthodox officials to daylight savings is unfounded and entirely arbitrary, and harms the public, including the haredim themselves.

He added that he believes daylight savings should be in place in Israel throughout the year and that clocks must be moved forward an additional hour in the summer months.

“As the entire world takes maximum advantage of the sunlight, here, in our sun-filled country, the free majority capitulates to an extremist minority. As such, tomorrow at 6:00 pm, darkness will fall on all of us,” claimed Horowitz.

MK David Azoulay (Shas):

“The law is essentially the result of a compromise between the religious and the non-religious public…”

The world’s shortest summer

By Nehemia Shtrasler Opinion September 27, 2009

The Haredi and religious wheeler-dealers have driven the public here crazy for years, saying that it is impossible to fast when daylight savings time is in effect.

It’s too hard and it’s even inhumane, they’ve said, and therefore it is incumbent on the state to take action and switch out of daylight savings time prior to the onset of the fast.

…This year, the absurdity does not reach its highest heights, but in the future there will be a situation where Yom Kippur begins earlier, in the first third of September, such that standard time will be moved two months earlier than other countries.

Plans for new Haredi city in Negev angers environmentalists

By Ron Friedman September 29, 2009

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel is spearheading a campaign to prevent the planned construction of Kasif, a new city for the haredi community, in the Negev, near Arad.

In April, the government approved a decision calling to build a new city that would help draw people to the Negev and find a solution for the housing challenges facing the haredi community.

A team of experts from the Housing and Construction Ministry recommended building a new, separate city that could house 50,000 residents and would be planned with institutions and services needed by haredim.

Dialogue group seeks to foster Haredi-secular coexistence

By Yair Ettinger September 27, 2009

Like many other organizations, Havruta is aimed at forwarding the cause of coexistence, but it’s the first aiming to link ultra-Orthodox and religious non-observant Jews.

Another feature distinguishing Havruta from similar groups is that all of its activity is carried out one-on-one: Man to man, woman to a woman, and almost exclusively over the phone.

Israeli Military Recruiting Kollel Students for Technical Jobs

By Samuel Sokol September 24, 2009

Facing dwindling enlistment and wanting to utilize a largely untapped manpower pool, various branches of the Israeli Defense Forces have begun looking at ways to enlist chareidi-religious soldiers.

Inspired by the success of the Nahal Haredi infantry program, Major General Eliezer Shkedi, former commander of the Israeli Air Force, founded a special pilot project dubbed Blue Dawn in 2007 to recruit kollel students.

Trained as aircraft mechanics and technical personnel, all inductees are required to be at least 22 years of age and are promised benefits similar to that of the Nahal Haredi.

Beitar Battles the Net September 26, 2009

Click here for VIDEO (Hebrew)


At a meeting of local Rabbis last week, a decision was made in the religious town of Beitar Ilit to compel all residents to agree to no longer being connected to uncensored Internet.

“Every Torah and educational institution and school principal will make sure that the students learning in their schools comes from a home that doesn’t have any uncensored Internet.”

The Rabbis added that anyone who has to use the Internet for work purposes should only be connected through a kosher network such as Rimon, which blocks access to any inappropriate sites.

The new campaign to promote kosher Internet in Beitar Ilit, is called Chasima Tova (“chasima”=block in Hebrew).

Jerusalem protestor sued for cost of burned trash container

By Nir Hasson September 24, 2009

The Jerusalem Municipality yesterday filed a civil suit against a city resident, seeking compensation for a trash container he had set on fire.

The man, an ultra-Orthodox resident from Neveh Yaakov who was protesting the arrest of the Jerusalem mother accused of starving her child, was caught in the act on June 28 by a policeman.

He has already been brought up on criminal charges, the only protester to be indicted for that act. The city is suing him for the cost of the container – NIS 1,324.

Protesters caused an estimated NIS 1 million in damage to trash containers, cars and street lights.

Report: Only 37% of haredi men work

By David Regev September 30, 2009

Only 37% of haredi men work, as opposed to some 80% of their secular counterparts, according to statistics presented to Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer while touring centers for women’s employment in the ultra-Orthodox town of Modiin Ilit.

Among working women, there is also a significant gap. Some 49% of haredi women are gainfully employed, while 70% of secular women work.

The average gross monthly salary of haredi women is NIS 3,690 (about $980), about 40% lower than haredi men’s gross monthly salary, which stands at an average NIS 6,123 (about $1,625).

‘Starving mom’ trial postponed

‘Abusive mom’ unlikely to be separated from kids

Lulav growers: Egyptian imports are pushing down prices

By Eli Ashkenazi September 30, 2009

A top-quality lulav from Kibbutz Tirat Zvi, made of palm fronds picked in the broiling Israeli summer, will cost as much as $100 in chilly New York this week, as people prepare for the Sukkot holiday, which starts Friday.

Lulavs are ritual objects used only on Sukkot, and Moshe Zakai, who works on Tirat Zvi’s date palm plantations, is proud of the overseas demand for his products.

But in Israel, these same lulavs will probably fetch at most NIS 70 – due to what local farmers consider unfair competition from Egypt.

Israelis look to Gaza for cheaper lulavim

By Matthew Wagner September 30, 2009

Religion is often blamed as an obstacle to peace between Muslims and Jews. However, the demand for lulavim (palm fronds) ahead of Succot may now foster trade with the Gaza Strip.

Gazans will be permitted to export lulavim to Israel after Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi received special permission to do so from Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Palm branches for succah roofs stolen from forests September 30, 2009

JNF forest rangers have discovered dozens of palm and date trees illegally stripped of their branches along the banks of the Nahal Harod.

Palm branches are in high demand in Israel because of their use as roofing for succahs.

Preparing for Sukkos in Modi’in Illit

The empty streets of Israel on Yom Kippur

The Body Politic Electric

By Michael Weiss September 25, 2009

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for Israel to unplug for Yom Kippur.

Rabbi Elyashiv: No Crocs on Yom Kippur

By Ari Galahar September 25, 2009

Rabbi Elyashiv of the Lithuanian stream of ultra-Orthodoxy has ruled that it is best not to wear Crocs shoes on Yom Kippur even though they are not made out of leather and, therefore, would seemingly be permissible for the holiday.

His reasoning behind the ruling is that they are too comfortable, and thus don’t provide the level of suffering one should feel on the holiday.

The halachic ruling came in response to a question posed to the rabbi by a young yeshiva student asking whether it is permissible to wear on Yom Kippur shoes one would normally wear throughout the year.

In response, the rabbi ruled it is best to avoid wearing Crocs on the holiday. “It is permissible legalistically, but it is inadvisable,” said Rabbi Elyashiv.

Kaparos in the Streets of Yerushalayim – 2009

Slichot Prayers at Kotel

Slichot Prayers at Kotel

Rabbinical Court: Shofar Blower Can’t Be Removed September 29, 2009

The Safed Rabbinical Court ruled that the Ashkenazi HaAri Synagogue cannot remove the High Holidays’ shofar blower from his position because he has been filling the post for ten years and should be considered tenured.

The shofar blower had filed charges against the synagogue’s manager (gabbai), who had removed him from his position.

Yom Kippur: A Growing Vacation Opportunity

By Irit Rosenblum September 29, 2009

Not all Israelis will be spending the fast in synagogues: The number going abroad for a Yom Kippur vacation has been rising steadily over the years.

About 20,000 people are expected to travel for the fast day tomorrow. Most are keeping to sites near home in the Mediterranean such as Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, though many are going to European cities such as Barcelona, London, Amsterdam, Rome and Paris.

The numbers are up about 15% this year over last, said a major travel Internet site. Israelis are also taking vacations locally, as many are combining the weekend with the holiday for a four- or five-day vacation.

Only matter of time until seculars drive on Kippur

By Tali Farkash Opinion September 29, 2009

No doubt, and remember where you heard it first, the secular culture war will be felt by us on upcoming Yom Kippur holidays – without a haredi touch of hand.

The tolerance of the free minority is bursting. Until when will they be coerced into foregoing the barbecue on the roof during their day off because the neighbor will crinkle her nose?

Until when will they be forced not to take advantage of the quiet intersections in order to go visit their parents in Givatayim?

After all, the Tel Aviv kids on rollerblades and bikes won’t shout at them “Yom Kippur!” – what are they? Dosim (a derogatory term for religious people)?

Rabbi Daniel Landes, director of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, describes the physicality of repentance.

Rabbi Einat Ramon, a lecturer at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, asks, “Can one atone for an ideology?”

Rabbi Ronald Kronish, director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel, writes in the royal we about collective sin.

Felix Posen, a proponent of Cultural Judaism, writes that to interest the majority in Yom Kippur, it needs repackaging and reformulation.

Framing the message

By Lior Alperovitch September 27, 2009

“The lives of Haredi Jews revolve around reading. From age three to their golden years, Haredim constantly read and study.

Whereas the reading material is usually difficult and complex, comics are an entertaining, easy vehicle for conveying educational material and messages compatible with ultra-Orthodoxy’s outlook.”

Like their children, Haredi adults, who spend much time studying Torah, need a literary respite from their studies. They find it in suspense stories in the weekend supplements of their community’s newspapers. Readers of both sexes love the weekly installment format.

“Ultra-Orthodox homes have no television sets,” notes Rabbi Moshe Grylak, Mishpacha’s editor-in-chief. “Since there are no telenovelas or weekly TV series, reading is the favorite pastime, and the weekly installments fit the bill.”

Ateret Cohanim marketing Old City homes for 22 Jewish families

By Nir Hasson September 27, 2009

An organization committed to populating East Jerusalem with Jewish residents has said that it has six properties in the Old City to sell to 22 Jewish families, which would bring the number of Jews living in the Arab quarters of the walled city to 1,000.

New brochure touts hot Jerusalem real estate – in the capital’s Arab neighborhoods

By Abe Selig September 30, 2009

A brochure recently released by the Ateret Cohanim organization and obtained this week by The Jerusalem Post features a number of high-value properties the group has apparently put up for sale inside the Christian and Muslim quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City, along with the east Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan, Ras el-Amud and Sheikh Jarrah.

Religion and State in Israel

September 30, 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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