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

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Religion and State in Israel

October 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.

VIDEO: The Sukkot Shake

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‘Secular Sukkah’ in Ramat Aviv Competes with Chabad’s

By Gil Ronen October 4, 2009

Two public ‘secular sukkahs’ are operating in the streets of Ramat Aviv during the Sukkot holiday, as part of the struggle by some residents of Tel Aviv’s posh northern neighborhood against the Chabad movement’s religious activities there.

The secular sukkahs feature activities such as singing in public – a favorite Israeli pastime – under the guidance of singer Revital Friedman;

therapeutic workshops by Noya Tzuk, who practices Reiki and self-awareness techniques (participants are requested to bring their own towels);

and a special workshop for Hoshana Raba, the seventh day of Sukkot, called “Sweet Skewers” – in which, a flyer promises, “we will learn to design a pretty and tasty skewer of sweets.”

Ramat Aviv’s secular residents set up new website

By Gil Ronen October4, 2009

Secular activists recently put up a website in which they declare that

“Ramat Aviv is a peaceful community that was established about 60 years ago and in which Israeli natives, immigrants and ‘Sabras’ – including secular, traditional and religious Jews – live in peace and quiet.”

“The character of the neighborhood is clear and agreed upon by all of us – ‘live and let live’ – and none of the residents is trying to force his ways of life on his close neighbors or on the rest of the neighborhood’s residents.

But in the past few years, several religious and hareidi-religious organizations have been operating in the neighborhood with the purpose of changing Ramat Aviv’s character and that of your lives,” the website explained.

Simchat Beit Hashoeva: A time of joy – and segregation

By Yair Ettinger October 6, 2009

Anyone who has not witnessed the segregation of Beit Hashoeva has never seen segregation in his life.

The sexes are separated not at places of worship, but also on the streets: There’s one pavement for the women, one for the men; furthermore, to cross one of the streets, the men walk along a metal bridge, while the women walk below.

Mea Shearim doesn’t care this week about pashkevils and wars as much as it does about recreating the joy at the Temple 2,000 years ago, when water was poured upon the altar. Meanwhile, the Hasids keep moving in circles under the great clock.

“Don’t look for a revolution here,” one tells me, “life is circular.”

Secular Jews flock to special holidays services

By Nathan Jeffay October 1, 2009

The special services are run by Tzohar, a modern Orthodox group that is determined to make religious life accessible to secular Israelis without the expectation that they will become observant.

“Our goal is to help secular Israelis feel less alienated when it comes to religious practice,” said Tzohar chairman Rabbi David Stav.

With its Yom Kippur programme, Praying Together, Tzohar has tapped a demand. It launched as a small venture 10 years ago, and by 2003 was attracting 18,000 people. This year the figure was 40,000.

Tzohar makes a special effort to provide services for the Jewish demographic least interested in Judaism, immigrants from the former Soviet Union. All of its services were explanatory, and one in 10 explanations were given in Russian.

Photo Essay: Sukkot in Jerusalem

A Calabrian etrog tragedy

By Matthew Wagner October 2, 2009

This year Moshe, a resident of Kfar Chabad, wanted to play by the rules. Instead of smuggling as he had done in previous years he wanted to go legit.

Moshe is an importer of the “Yanova etrog” an expensive variety of citron grown in Calabria, a region on the southwestern tip of Italy.

But according to Moshe, who used a fictitious name to protect his identity, his attempt to behave lawfully backfired.

“My entire shipment of etrogim was ruined by Agriculture Ministry officials last Thursday,” Moshe said this week.

Lulav-snatchers mutilate palm trees in Jezreel Valley JNF forests ahead of Succot

By Elan Miller October 2, 2009

KKL-JNF foresters have discovered that a number of palm trees planted along the banks of Nahal Harod, situated in the northern Jezreel Valley, have been severely mutilated.

It is believed that the palm trees were cut open so that their fronds could be used as part of the four species used during Succot.

Sleeping in Sukkah – In Jail

By David Katz September 30, 2009

For the first time ever, the Israel Prison Service will allow religious prisoners to sleep in a sukkah during the holiday.

Until now, the Israel Prison Service has permitted prisoners in the special wing for observant Jews at the Ma’asiyahu Prison to eat in a sukkah erected in the prison courtyard. The prisoners have always been more closely guarded while sitting in the sukkah than they are when confined to their cells, and no prisoner has ever been allowed to sleep in the sukkah.

Last week, the Director-General of the organization “B’Tzedek”, the lawyer Rabbi Mordechai Green, sent a letter to Brigadier General Dov Lutzky, Deputy Commander of the Israeli Prison Service, claiming that while by law, a prisoner has lost his right of freedom, he must not be denied his basic rights as a human being.

Why I will use lulav this Shabbat

By Louis Gordon Opinion October 1, 2009

Typically, bringing Sukkot holiday’s festive palm, willow, and myrtle to synagogue on the Sabbath is forbidden, but analysis of traditional texts shows this year provides unique opportunity for Jews living in Israel to use lulav on Shabbat as a special mitzvah.

Birchas Kohanim at the Kosel 5770

Recession Hits Simchat Torah Flag Sales October 6, 2009

The recession has reached the Simchat Torah flag market, an Israeli industrialist group said Tuesday. The flat economy has translated into flat sales of commercially produced flags. A total of 700,000 flags – twenty percent fewer than last year – are expected to be sold by the end of this week.

Importers said it was likely the families planning to supply their children with homemade flags, or use flags that children made in school in honor of the holiday, instead of buying flags.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef – now starring in Carlsberg beer ads

By Nati Toker October 4, 2009

Carlsberg beer usually advertises using good-looking young men and women enjoying their alcoholic beverages in a pub or other enticing settings; but to attract more ultra-Orthodox customers, the firm has adopted a rather different public figure – former chief Sephardi rabbi and Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Carlsberg and other products of the Central Bottling Company are under the kashrut supervision of the Badatz Beit Yosef organization, which is Rabbi Yosef’s own kashrut supervisory body.

There is fierce competition between the various supervisory bodies (worth millions), and each organization tries to find ways to provide added marketing value to the firms that pay them. It seems that Rabbi Yosef’s appearance in the calendar is part of this help in marketing in return for the kashrut supervision.

Carlsberg has sponsored a number of conferences and events held by Rabbi Ovadia’s family members, and company executives visited the rabbi’s house in the past few months and received his blessings.

Shabbat Elevator Ban Is Height of Controversy

By Michele Chabin October 6, 2009

Given how many Orthodox Jews in Israel and elsewhere rely on Shabbat elevators, many were shocked when four prominent Ashkenazi haredi rabbis ruled that the elevators are no longer considered kosher.

The decree is already having a major impact on the rabbis’ haredi followers (many of whom never believed in the Shabbat elevator concept to begin with), but it remains to be seen whether others, including Sephardi haredim, “black hatters” from the U.S. and Europe, and the Modern Orthodox will heed it.

Rabbi Elyashiv: Don’t use Shabbat elevators

By Kobi Nahshoni October 2, 2009

Senior haredi rabbis, led by “the generation’s decider” Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, published a religious injunction Tuesday forbidding the use of Shabbat elevators.

In a conversation with Ynet, head of the Tzomet Institute for Halacha and Technology Rabbi Yisrael Rozen attacked the haredi ruling, saying, “The elementary thing in halacha and ethics is to hear the other side.

On this issue, there is most definitely another side. The law obligates that the injunction be backed up. In the past, there also were unexplained announcements with distinguished signatures. I’m glad the majority of the public does not buy halachic rulings in this manner.”

Elevator or the Stairs? In Israel, Rabbis Weigh In

By Peter Kenyon October 2, 2009

One man who has devoted his life to studying questions of Halacha, or Jewish law and tradition, is Rabbi Yitzhak Levy Halperin, founder of the Institute for Science and Halacha. His organization provides consulting services and guidance on the installation of elevators and other systems in hotels, hospitals and other buildings.

…As ever with religious questions, however, there is ample — even vast — room for disagreement. This latest ruling, also relying on expert testimony, finds that the Shabbat elevator does violate the Sabbath.

As one observant Israeli Jew told me with a smile: Let the arguments begin.

Religious want Haifa stadium closed on Shabbat

By Lior Perry October 6, 2009

Many religious residents of Haifa’s Neve Shaanan neighborhood have turned to City Council Member Rabbi Aryeh Blitental, expressing their fear that the football activity in the local athletic stadium would be resumed on Saturdays.

Blitental turned to Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, as well as to the city’s chief rabbis and to United Torah Judaism Knesset members, demanding that the status quo which has existed for years be maintained.

Eda Haredit leader hospitalized at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital

By Ronen Medzini October 7, 2009

Rabbi Tuvia Weiss, leader of the Eda Haredit ultra-Orthodox faction, was hospitalized Wednesday at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital after feeling unwell.

Hadassah Ein Kerem is the same hospital the haredi community protested against in the “starving mother” affair. Weiss underwent a series of examinations and was released shortly afterwards.

Arad leaders oppose building new Haredi city next door

By Ranit Nahum-Halevy October 4, 2009

Plans to build a new ultra-Orthodox city next door to Arad in the Negev desert were held up again this week.

“Building an ultra-orthodox city next door to Arad could diminish the desire of potential residents to live in Arad,” Arad’s mayor argued.

Kasif is planned to go up around the Tel Arad junction. Altogether the plan is to house 50,000 people in about 10,000 apartments on 4,750 dunams of land.

A Housing Ministry survey among leaders of local authorities in the greater Be’er Sheva area found that all have reservations about a massive influx of ultra-Orthodox families into the region. The rigors of the Haredi lifestyle would strain the social fabric of the area, they argue, and would also deter other Israelis from moving to the region.

Major water fight develops between burial society, Meitav

By Noah Kosharek October 7, 2009

The water association of Petah Tikva, Meitav, is suing the hevra kadisha (Jewish burial society) operating in the Tel Aviv region, as well as Egodan, the Dan Cities Association for Sewage. Meitav claims the hevra kadisha unlawfully obtained a waiver of 74 percent and 80 percent of the sewerage charge for 2008 and 2009, respectively, for the Yarkon Cemetery.

Meitav claims that according to an examination that it conducted, the waiver should be only 9.82 percent, and that the difference between the two amounts comes to about NIS 3.5 million in sewerage charges.

Peres lauds Rabbinate for recognizing brain death

By Kobi Nahshoni October 6, 2009

President Shimon Peres on Sunday welcomed the Chief Rabbinate’s decision to recognize brain-respiratory death and its initiative to encourage organ donations in accordance with Jewish religious laws.

During the president’s traditional visit to Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar’s sukkah in Jerusalem, Peres praised his host for his part in the initiative, as reported by Ynet.

“I would like to thank you for approving organ donations among the religious public in Israel,” the president said. He embraced Rabbi Amar and added, “You have done a great mitzvah. I respect you and wish you a happy Sukkot holiday.”

The chief rabbi received compliments from Peres, despite the fact that in the Rabbinate’s meeting he had supported postponing the discussion and that the proposal was eventually promoted by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.

Big-Zol presents: Supermarket synagogue

By Israel Moshkovich October 7, 2009

Milk, eggs and evening prayers: The Big-Zol supermarket chain compound in northern Israel’s Migdal Haemek will soon feature a new attraction – an in-house synagogue.

The synagogue will include a small ark and offer shoppers the opportunity to hold afternoon and evening prayers, thus maximizing the shopping experience.

North Tel Aviv ‘Seculars’ Demand a Shul

By Yechiel Spira September 30, 2009

Residents of the Kochav HaTzafon neighborhood, numbering about 4,000 residents, have been trying without success to have the city allocate an area for the construction of a shul. Government guidelines demand a minimum standard, a shul for every 2,000 people in non-religious areas, which is the case here, Kikar reports.

VIDEO: Modesty: What religious women in Israel wear, & why

Jessica Griffin and Sara Sorcher October 4, 2009

Click here for VIDEO

Religion and State in Israel

October 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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