Religion and State in Israel – October 15, 2009 (Section 1)

By ,

Religion and State in Israel

October 15, 2009 (Section 1) (see also 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.

Knesset MKs mull final draft of civil union bill

By Dan Izenberg October 14, 2009

Despite strong criticism from opposition MKs and human rights and other civil society organizations, Knesset Law Committee chairman David Rotem barreled ahead on Tuesday with his plans to promulgate a bill calling for civil unions as quickly as possible.

According to the bill, the government will appoint a registrar for civil unions. On condition that neither partner belongs to a religious community recognized by the state, they may reach an agreement and bring it for confirmation to the registrar.

Before the union is confirmed, the registrar will publish the details of the request and each religious court will have the opportunity to examine whether either member of the couple belongs to its community. If there is a dispute over the matter, the religious court will make the final decision.

Once the union is registered, the couple will have the same rights as married couple except for two matters. They will not be allowed to adopt a child or to use the services of a surrogate mother for 18 months after their union is confirmed, and they will not enjoy the status granted members of a married couple according the Citizenship Law, the Entry to Israel Law and the Law of Return.

The most controversial element in the proposal is the fact that it applies only in cases where both members of the couple are registered as having no religion. Thus, couples in which both partners are Jewish or belong to any of the other recognized religious communities in Israel cannot join in civil union, and the same applies to “mixed couples.”

An important first step

By Elana Sztokman Opinion October 15, 2009

Elana Sztokman blogs at

Anyone who has encountered the real suffering brought on by this system cannot help but be in favor of civil marriage in Israel.

I suppose I should qualify that: Anyone who has encountered this system and has a beating heart cannot help but be moved. Although I’m not entirely sure that all religious court judges and haredi MKs fit into that category.

…As Joel Katz of Religion and State in Israel says,

“‘Before the union is confirmed, the registrar will publish the details of the request and each religious court will have the opportunity to examine whether either member of the couple belongs to its community. If there is a dispute over the matter, the religious court will make the final decision’…

So, does this mean the Rabbinical Courts are now (also) determining ‘Who is NOT a Jew’?”

Opposition to Civil Unions bill

By Dan Izenberg October 14, 2009

Human rights groups and other social action organizations submitted an opinion to the committee before Tuesday’s hearing.

The organizations…wrote that the bill would affect only 170 couples, constituting 3.8 percent of all the couples who marry abroad each year.

They also warned that it would strengthen the Orthodox establishment by giving it a say in determining who is eligible to enter a civil union.

The proposed arrangement was discriminatory since it did not grant civil union couples the same rights as married couples, they said.

“The time has come to correct the injustice of decades whereby Israeli citizens and residents are deprived of their basic right to marry whoever they choose in the way they choose,” the organizations wrote. “We call on you to oppose the bill and not let it through the committee.”

Click here for a Civil Marriage Poll – Mavoi Satum

I support civil marriage in Israel:

· For all citizens of Israel

· Only for those who don’t have any religion

· For those without religion and for those who are not supposed to get married, such as a Cohen and a divorcee, etc.

· Not for anyone

Taking on the tormentors

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion October 14, 2009

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinical court advocate, and works at the Center for Women’s Justice

The halitzah ritual, as it is practiced in rabbinic court today, demonstrates the callousness of some of the rabbinic judges, officials and the system as a whole to the emotional well being of women and men who have been touched by death and tragedy.

Creative rabbinic minds have existed for many generations, but today no rabbinic leader seems to have the courage to take up the gauntlet to make sure that solutions such as the ones used in Algeria over 50 years ago are actually employed in a systemic way.

We need to start a campaign that will fight to change the ketubah so that it addresses the problem of halitzah. The change will not come from the rabbis, it will only occur as a result of a struggle undertaken by a concerned public.

Why was Ovadia Yosef recruited for a beer ad campaign?

By Zafrir Rinat October 13, 2009

“The rabbinical edict” [banner]

“Probably, the most righteous beer in the world”

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman October 13, 2009

In advance of hearings before the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee regarding amendments to the deposit law on beverage containers, the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (Adam, Teva, v’Din) is contending that purported ties between the Shas party and the drink manufacturers constitute a conflict of interest which precludes representatives from the party from participating in the hearings on the bill.

The environmental NGO approached committee chairman Ofir Akunis (Likud) and Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) last week with a request to bar Shas MKs from participating in Economic Affairs Committee hearings on the bill due to be held tomorrow.

The Minister who littered

By Nehemia Shtrasler October 9, 2009

A strange angle in this story is the Shas party’s objection to expanding the deposit requirement. They argue that the deposit would increase beverage prices and therefore be a burden on families with many children that buy large bottles. They are ignoring that it would be possible to recycle these bottles and get the deposit back.

And anyway, since when is it a good idea to encourage consumption of sweetened and expensive beverages by families that are barely able to make ends meet? It is neither healthy nor economical. It would be better to encourage the drinking of water.

Shas reveals plans for higher education Knesset caucus

By Jonathan Lis and Ofri Ilani October 14, 2009

Shas has announced that it will be establishing a caucus in the Knesset in support of higher education in Israel – even though many of Shas’ members have themselves forgone academic degrees in favor of continued Torah study.

Chairman of the Shas Knesset faction, MK Avraham Michaeli, who is an attorney and a graduate of Bar-Ilan University, said he believes Shas’ work for higher education does not clash with the fact that its members devote themselves to Torah studies.

“Those who can devote all their time to Torah studies – there’s nothing greater. Our assistance is for the entire public and for the Haredi public that cannot devote all its time to Torah study and wants to study academic subjects. This is a top-priority social step,” Michaeli said.

Yishai: Deporting foreign children preserves Israel’s Jewish identity

By Yair Ettinger October 14, 2009

Interior Minister and Shas Party chairman Eli Yishai said allowing these children to stay in Israel “is liable to damage the state’s Jewish identity, constitute a demographic threat and increase the danger of assimilation.”

Bnei Menashe celebrate Sukkot October 8, 2009

The Bnei Menashe community of northeastern India was able to celebrate Sukkot this year thanks to the generous support of the Shavei Israel organization, which sent numerous sets of lulavim and etrogim from Israel to India prior to the onset of the holiday.

…In recent years, Shavei Israel has brought some 1,500 Bnei Menashe back home to Zion, including 450 in the past three years who settled in the Upper Galilee. Another 7,000 still remain in India, waiting for the day when they too will be able to return to Israel and the Jewish people.

Introducing the ‘Zionist Stimulus Package’

By Michael Freund Opinion October 14, 2009

The writer is Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel

If we want to boost the aliya figures, then let’s open the door for thousands of “lost Jews” around the world who are seeking to return to Israel and the Jewish people.

They include the 7,000 Bnei Menashe of northeastern India, descendants of a lost tribe of Israel; the 15,000 Subbotnik Jews of Russia, whose ancestors converted to Judaism two centuries ago; and the remaining 8,000 Falash Mura in Ethiopia.

Right there you have 30,000 people who want to come here now. That is twice the number of immigrants that we will otherwise get this year.

Oy Vey, it’s those ‘Ultras’ again

By Dovid Eliezrie Opinion October 14, 2009

The writer is the president of the Rabbinical Council of Orange County

The Haredi world has many challenges, primarily ones of too much success.

A wide variety of factors have contributed to the haredi world’s rapid growth: the extraordinary freedom and opportunity in modem Israel and the West; a remarkable educational system that has created a renaissance of Jewish learning; low numbers of attrition from the religious lifestyle, a high birthrate and growing numbers of Jews finding their way back to observance after a century of assimilation.

There is much change going on at the grassroots level.

…Yet there are also challenges. The debate continues between those arguing for greater insularity and others saying there is a common destiny for all Jews in Israel.

Hiddush will fail unless it drastically changes its tactics…If philanthropists aligned with Regev really care about the engagement of the observant with the broader society and their economic advancement, they should drop the culture wars.

They will never get cooperation from the Orthodox if their strategy is to attack their beliefs.

Judaism in the Year 2040

By Robin Margolis Opinion October 8, 2009

The writer is coordinator of the Half-Jewish Network

  • What Happened To Israel In The Year 2040?

In the year 2009, one-third of all Israeli kindergarten children were Haredi/Hasidic ultra-Orthodox.

The Haredi/Hasidim of Israel continued to have more children than other Israelis, subsidized by the Israeli government child payments. The other fast-growing group was the Israeli Arabs.

In the year 2009, thousands of half-Jewish Israeli citizens, mostly the children of intermarried Russian Jews, were caught in a web of negative social policies and laws directed against them. Few voices were raised in Israel to defend them.

In the year 2040, the Haredi/Hasidim are poised to take over the Israeli government — they are at least one-third to one-half of Israel’s population.

Their primary election promise, announced as far back as 2009, is to create a sort of “Halachic Republic of Israel,” like the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In the year 2040, their election promises also include a commitment to exclude all members of interfaith families from the Law of Return, except those who have voluminous documentary proof of a Jewish mother or maternal Jewish grandmother.

Gafni delays vote on budget cut for yeshivas

By Zvi Zrahiya October 12, 2009

The chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) is delaying the vote on the cabinet’s decision of 10 days ago to cut NIS 2 billion from the 2009 budget – including a NIS 314 million reduction in the budget for yeshivas.

Knesset sources assume a solution will ultimately be found to cancel the yeshiva cut or at least a way to reduce it and Gafni will be able to support the proposal.

Jews and Arabs unite against Charedi town

By Ben Lynfield October 8, 2009

Arab Israelis and Jewish kibbutz members are both trying to stop the building of the first Charedi city in northern Israel. But the kibbutzniks are wary of being seen as working too closely with Arabs, fearing Jewish public opinion.

Ten different ultra-Orthodox denominations are each to be allocated 3,000 housing units.

Another Landlord Worry: Is the Elevator Kosher?

By Paul Vitello October 9, 2009

Most Jews would take the word of their own rabbi over any rabbinical ruling issued 6,000 miles away, he said.

For Mr. Jacob, the question seemed to require a more definitive answer.

“What I am told,” he said on Friday, “is that the decision was retracted.”


“Or it may be about to be retracted,” he said. “It was a really confusing opinion.”

Haredi town to get ‘modest’ National Insurance office

By Reut Harpaz-Eini October 12, 2009

The National Insurance Institute (NII) has approved a request to set up an office in the central ultra-Orthodox city of Elad.

The town’s residents have been finding it difficult to visit the local office in the nearby city of Petah Tikva as there is no separation between men and women and because of the female workers’ “immodest clothes”.

New in Jerusalem: Agency for legalizing Haredi kindergartens

By Ari Galahar October 15, 2009

A new company opened by the son-in-law of former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky aims to legalize unauthorized kindergartens operating in private apartments in the capital and allow them to continue their activities.

According to the official, there are nearly 180 municipal kindergartens in Jerusalem operating without approval.

Vizhnitz rabbi warns followers: We won’t teach children who have Internet at home

By Yair Ettinger October 13, 2009

Ultra-Orthodox Web sites continue to spring up on the Internet and surveys have found that increasing numbers of ultra-Orthodox Israelis are installing home Internet connections despite rabbinical opposition in the Haredi sector.

Two annual sermons by leading Haredi rabbis on Saturday were dedicated to the subject of the Internet.

Ultra-Orthodox Women Go to Work in Israel

By Daniel Estrin October 10, 2009

In the U.S., people continue to lose their jobs in the ongoing economic recession. But for many ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, being unemployed is actually a choice, allowing men the time to dedicate themselves to religious studies.

Traditionally, these men and their families were supported by religious institutions funded by private donors. But the recession has made those funds dry up. And now the community has been forced to shift away from a culture of poverty — with women leading the way.

‘Starving mother’, kids ruled out of Mea Shearim

By Aviad Glickman October 13, 2009

Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Ravid ruled Tuesday that the mother from Mea Shearim suspected of starving her toddler son will remain under house arrest and will not be separated from her children. Judge Ravid, however, ruled that she and her children must remain outside of the Jerusalem haredi neighborhood and that they will be under 24-hour surveillance.

30 Palestinians join ultra-Orthodox rescue service in Jerusalem

By Yair Ettinger October 15, 2009

The 30 Arab volunteers yesterday received their graduation certificates and new vests with the organization’s logo, at a festive ceremony.

United Hatzalah responds to medical emergencies around the country. Most of the organization’s 1,500 volunteers are Haredim but their ranks now also include two Arab physicians from the Old City and paramedics from the Old City, Beit Safafa, Jabal Mukkaber, Ras al-Amud, Silwan and other East Jerusalem neighborhoods.

ZAKA gets first Muslim recruits

By Yuval Azoulay October 15, 2009

A group of 10 Negev Bedouin recently completed training to become Zaka volunteers…

Rabbi suspected of multi-million shekel fraud

By Avi Cohen October 13, 2009

Rabbi Yosef Schneider, founder of the Israeli Center for Inventors and a renowned figure in the ultra-Orthodox community, was arrested on suspicion of fraud Tuesday.

The Israeli Center for Inventors aimed to provide fledgling inventors with step-by-step assistance on the way to realizing their ideas, but according to police suspicions, Schneider pocketed the fees paid to the center and failed to deliver the goods.

No Small Family Gatherings for 99-Year-Old Rabbi

By Lourdes Garcia-Navarro October 13, 2009

In Israel, ultra-orthodox families tend to be really large, but this one may be a record: A 99-year-old rabbi has an estimated 1,500 living descendents. His great-great-grandson just had a child, marking six generations of a single family.

Click here for AUDIO report

Rabbi Elyashiv hospitalized in J’lem with symptoms of pneumonia

By Matthew Wagner October 14, 2009

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was hospitalized Wednesday night at Sha’arei Hesed Hospital in Jerusalem with symptoms of pneumonia.

Update: Rabbi Elyashiv to Remain Hospitalized

Rabbi Lau Becomes New President of Encyclopedia Talmudit

By Yair Alpert October 14, 2009

At a moving ceremony, Yad HaRav Herzog, publisher of Encyclopedia Talmudit, chose former chief rabbi of Israel and chief rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, to serve as its president.

Religion and State in Israel

October 15, 2009 (Section 1) (see also 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.

No comments yet.

Your Thoughts