Religion and State in Israel – October 26, 2009 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

October 26, 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.

Rabbis: Privatize marriage registration

By Matthew Wagner October 22, 2009

A group of religious Zionist rabbis are calling to privatize the marriage registration process to stop what they call the Chief Rabbinate’s inefficient, unfriendly and overly stringent bureaucracy from turning off secular Israelis to religion.

Tzohar wants to break the monopoly of local rabbis over marriage registration and open it up to competition.

Tzohar’s Rabbi Stav said he feared that unless Orthodox rabbis began to provide secular Israelis with better, more efficient religious services in a friendlier environment, pressure would build to amend legislation to enable civil marriages.

Religious Zionist Tzohar Rabbis want to Register Marriages, Too October 21, 2009

Rabbi David Stav of Tzohar:

“Today, formally, it is the local rabbinates that are authorized to register marriages, in the marriage departments.

However, you never actually see hareidi-religious Jews going there to register for marriage, because the hareidi Jews can register for marriage at the various Badatz courts, which have deals with local rabbinates that allow them to register marriages and later pass on the paperwork to the rabbinate.”

Civil Unions in Israel – but not for you

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion October 15, 2009

The writer is Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly in Israel

Law committee chair David Rotem proposed a law which he, himself, admitted was badly flawed.

He proposed that only those without any religious identity at all would be allowed to join in a civil union, and only to one another. Estimates are that this would benefit, at best, a hundred couples a year- but most likely far fewer.

Even worse, this new law would allow the Interior Ministry and the Orthodox Rabbinical Courts to determine who is not Jewish. Let me remind the readers of this blog that there are hundreds of people who have been stymied in their efforts to make aliya by the Interior Ministry’s delays in determining religion.

…There are those who see this very limited law as a crack that will open up the doors to others in the future. I see that as wishful thinking. My view is that this is little more than a bone thrown to the Yisrael Beiteinu party so it can claim to its Russian supporters to have moved the issue of civil unions ahead.

The time has come for real legislation allowing alternative in marriage for all citizens of Israel.

Violence is not Grounds for Divorce!

By Batya Kahana-Dror Opinion October 15, 2009

Batya Kahana-Dror is an attorney at Mavoi Satum.

It is up to the national religious community to publicly break away from the apologetic, defensive, conservative Orthodoxy of today, a break that would mean establishing a new Israeli Orthodox stream that would, among other things, establish its own religious courts.

Modern Orthodoxy must propose and build this alternative in an organized, systematic way. It must propose an alternative that includes broad halakhic thinking, which, while based on halakha, recognizes the greater good and modern-day needs.

It must propose an alternative that incorporates the knowledge acquired through the twenty-first century, including civil rights, changes in women’s status, and public consensus, and seek to find solutions (including recognizing civil marriage) for the entire public.

When Divorce is a Reason to Celebrate

By Elana Sztokman Opinion October 22, 2009

The writer blogs at

The divorce system in Israel is in dire need of reform. The religious judges are not held accountable to any body other than their own people, they don’t report to anyone and don’t answer to anyone, and a callous disregard for women’s lives remains entrenched.

…We need to promote systemic reform, a real alternative to the Beit Din system.

Mavoi Satum is leading a campaign, supported by the New Israel Fund, to create an arbitration body that will ultimately function as a viable alternative to the rabbinical courts. There must be another way.

In Mideast, marriage too can be a battlefield

By The Associated Press, Menelaos Hadjicostis (Associated Press Writer) October 14, 2009

Nicosia, Cyprus (AP) — The two couples had never met each other, and probably never would. They had come from opposite sides of a border between longtime enemies.

But Elie Wakim and Nada Ghamloush from Lebanon, and Dimitri Stafeev and Olga Zaytseva from Israel, had a problem in common: Belonging to different religions, neither couple could get married in their home country, and had to fly to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus to tie the knot.

Why the Rabbinate isn’t Israel

By Haviv Rettig Gur Opinion October 22, 2009

I don’t like this system. I think the “state church” of Israel has utterly politicized Israeli spirituality and collectivized Israeli religious identity.

Without getting into the real suffering the haredi-controlled rabbinate is causing to agunot and would-be converts, the greatest tragedy is that the politicization of religiosity has had the effect of making Israel a spiritual wasteland.

I yearn for the day – and I teach in a high school program and premilitary academy to bring it closer – when Israelis look to American Jews to discover how to construct authentic personal spiritual journeys.

Civil union bill ‘Indecent proposal’

By Rabbi Uri Regev Opinion October 2009

The bill presumes to provide a “solution” for the marriage of some 300,000 immigrants who belong to families of Jews but are not themselves Jewish according to halakha.

This is a baseless presumption. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the annual number of marriages between two people without any religious affiliation is a mere 200 or so. It stands to reason that many of these would prefer real nuptials abroad to “pseudo marriage” in Israel.

We are therefore left to wonder what exactly is hiding behind this bill: Is it an Israbluff, an attempt to present the initiative as a breakthrough and solution for the many when it really offers dubious and small comfort for the few?

Rabbi Druckman Supports Easing IDF Soldiers’ Conversions

By Gil Ronen October 25, 2009

Rabbi Chaim Druckman, Head of Conversions in the Prime Minister’s Office and Head of Bnei Akiva Yeshivas, expressed support for the position of MK Rabbi Chaim Amsalem (Shas) on easing conversion of immigrants who have Jewish parentage and served in the IDF.

Jewish law requires that a person be born of a Jewish mother in order to be considered Jewish. Otherwise, the person requires formal conversion in order to become a Jew.

However, non-Jews who have Jewish parentage are considered “Zera Yisrael” – “seed of Israel” – and Rabbis can choose to make their conversion an easier process.

The Magenta Elephant in the Room: When Interfaith People Visit Israel

By Robin Margolis Opinion

The writer is October 20, 2009

Interfaith couples and adult children and grandchildren of intermarriage are not stupid. Many of them lack Jewish knowledge and are unfamiliar with Israeli society, but they are rapidly acquiring this knowledge.

Shouldn’t we prepare them for what they will discover about Israel, instead of sending them on “silver bullet” tours?

Won’t their feelings for Israel be more likely to remain compassionate and helpful if they are told the truth, than if they are deceived?

Chinese descendants of ancient Jewish community make Aliyah

By Itamar Eichner October 22, 2009

The group‘s trip to Israel was arranged by Shavei Israel organization, which has been in contact with the Israeli government over the past two years, and recently received authorization from the Ministry of Interior to give the seven a one-year entrance permit, during which they will study Hebrew and go through the conversion process.

Kaifeng Jews make it into country with Interior Min. deal

By Cnaan Liphshiz October 23, 2009

Scholars such as Wang Yisha, the late curator of Kaifeng municipal museum who wrote a book about the community, say there are still hundreds and perhaps a thousand people in Kaifeng who cling to their identity as descendants of the city’s Jewish community.

Free-market Yiddishkeit

By Matthew Wagner October 18, 2009

Unlike rabbis representing the chief rabbinate, who receive their salaries from the state, Rabbi Mauricio Balter is supported by his community and by donors abroad. He also receives support from the Culture Department in Kiryat Bialik’s municipality.

However, unlike rabbis from the Chief Rabbinate, who are all Orthodox, Balter belongs to the Conservative (Masorti) Movement.

He is one of a handful of Reform and Conservative rabbis who are building communities and providing an alternative to the Orthodox monopoly over religious services.

Without a functioning chief rabbi and boasting a predominantly secular population, Kiryat Bialik has become a testing ground for the success of non-Orthodox Judaism in a country that officially recognizes and funds only Orthodoxy and its representatives.

“I believe in free competition, and I am opposed to monopolies of any kind that stifle this competition,” says Balter.

“The state should not be funding religious services, and the Orthodox should not be allowed to monopolize them, either. People should be allowed to go to the rabbi of their choice from one of the recognized streams of Judaism.”

Jews urged to visit Temple Mount despite prohibitions

By Kobi Nahshoni October 25, 2009

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, who will be participating in Sunday’s conference, listed a number of well-known halachic adjudicators who allow, and even obligate, entry into the Temple Mount.

“This is a weighty halachic issue,” said Rabbi Cherlow to Ynet, “and I don’t understand how you be opposed to it.”

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner is opposed to allowing Jews onto the Temple Mount.

“There are definitely honorable and good things about those enthusiastic about the Temple Mount. However, the very essence of this phenomenon is, in my opinion, an utterly damaging mistake.”

Western Wall Rabbi: Arabs will not dictate to us when to go up to the Temple Mount

By Matthew Wagner October 16, 2009

Jewish law, not the Arab world, determines when Jews can go up to the Temple Mount and when they cannot, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz said Wednesday in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

“One thing is clear,” said Rabinovitz after explaining that according to Jewish law it is forbidden to go up to the Temple Mount, “Arabs will not dictate to us when to go up to the Temple Mount.”

MK: Legislate regulation on kashrut system

By Kobi Nahshoni October 20, 2009

Committee chairman Knesset Member Otniel Schneller (Kadima) opened the meeting by saying that he would work towards mending the impairments the report points to by legislating laws to regularize the Jewish dietary laws system, sorting the kosher inspectors’ work, cancelling the conflict of interests between inspectors and places of business under inspection, amplifying enforcement of the prohibition of the kosher fraud law and addressing the problem of rabbis engaging in other lines of unauthorized business in the kosher field.

Do More Hashgahot Make Food More Kasher?

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel Opinion October 15, 2009

The situation borders on the ludicrous when we see products or institutions that boast joint hashgahot by mainstream Orthodox groups and anti-Zionist rabbinic groups such as Satmar, Debrecin, or the Edah Hareidit in Israel.

How ludicrous is it that each time we buy such products, we are putting money into the hands of people who openly oppose the State of Israel.

Several years ago, I saw an ad for a hotel in Jerusalem boasting that it had the hashgaha of the OU and the Badatz of the Edah Hareidit!

How low can modern Orthodoxy sink when it joins hands with those who hate the Jewish State!

EasyJet to offer kosher food on London-Tel Aviv service

By Danny Sadeh October 17, 2009

Last week, EasyJet presented its special kosher menu for the Tel Aviv-London service…The kosher meal will be provided by Hermolis, a local Jewish company based in North West London.

Fundamental differences

By Akin Ajayi October 23, 2009

Ra’anana is a city with a significant immigrant population, olim from North and South America, Europe and South Africa – and of differing religious persuasions, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or none – rubbing shoulders with veterans.

While many residents would argue that the city is a model for diversity, tensions in maintaining an appropriate balance between the needs of the secular and observant populations do sometimes simmer, occasionally erupting noisily.

Shulamit Aloni on Religion and State

By Shulamit Aloni Opinion October 23, 2009

Here we live under religious coercion, there is no civil marriage, and the law forces us to be subject to the Orthodox rabbinate while other streams of Judaism are treated with contempt.

Now they wish to tie us to “the values and symbols” of the Judaism that emanates from the study halls of Shas and the ultra-Orthodox.

Meretz MKs Push Circumcision Bill October 22, 2009

Three Meretz MKs filed a bill to establish a committee to determine criteria for certification for ritual circumcisers (mohelim).

According to the bill, the committee that would define the Circumcision Law would be jointly made up of officials from the Ministry of Health and the Chief Rabbinate. Violators of the law could face up to three years in prison.

Chabad Opposition over Knesset Ban against Underage Drinking

By Benjamin Slobodkin October 20, 2009

Chabad argues that at underage drinking rarely leads to intoxication at its functions. In recent years Chabad educational institutions introduced a prohibition against young people drinking more than a revi’is (less than 3.5 ounces) at farbrengens.

Chabad Spokesman Mendi Brod said the proposed legislation should be changed. “I suggest an exception be made to permit drinking alcohol in limited quantities, in educational or religious frameworks and under the supervision of a responsible adult.”

See original article (Hebrew)

No Haredim at President Conference

Click here for VIDEO

David Landau, Israeli correspondent for The Economist and former Editor-in-Chief of Haaretz regarding the session “Should the Jewish World be Re-Organized?” at the Israel Presidential Conference.

Israel TV Channel 10 Documentary on Hasidic sect ‘Toldot Aharon’

Guarding the ‘Starving Mother’

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Integrate Haredim via academia

Haaretz Editorial October 20, 2009

To ensure a fairer distribution of the social and economic burden, the state should revoke the ultra-Orthodox community’s privileges and compel their education systems to teach core studies. But when the secular majority and its representatives in the Knesset and cabinet recoil from confronting the Haredi community, preferring instead to buy its political support, other channels are needed to integrate the Haredim into the work force.

Former Haredi MK Shlomo Lorincz dies at 91

By Matthew Wagner October 20, 2009

Lorincz was a staunch fighter for child allowances that benefitted large haredi families, which helped enable fathers to devote themselves to Torah study instead of working.

He also supported complete exemption from military service for haredi men who studied in yeshiva full-time.

Rav Yitzchak Grossman at Madison Square Garden Half-time

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Survey: 53% of Hareidi-Religious Want Degrees October 15, 2009

A full 53 percent of the hareidi-religious public say they are interested in pursuing an academic degree, according to a new survey conducted by the Psychometric Agency for the Religious Public.

Respondents said they were interested in pursuing degrees in the field of medicine, economics, law and others as long as the academic setting was appropriate and could fully meet their needs.

Supreme Court: ‘Starving mom’ to remain with children

‘Starving mother’ appeals her banishment from Mea Shearim

Kids of ‘Taliban mom’ beg court’s mercy

No hole in the sheet

By Tali Farkash Opinion October 15, 2009

Last Shabbat, the story of Sarah Einfeld broke through to the “free” world. A woman with whom I have a once-sided love-hate relationship.

…Contrary to the manner in which many who have left the community tend to describe “the inside” to those on “the outside,” there are also many excellent reasons for people to be haredi out of choice. Behind the walls and the partitions, there is another kind of life.

Haredi urges: Give a year of your lives to save ailing rabbi

By Yair Ettinger October 21, 2009

An ultra-Orthodox supporter of former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, who has been hospitalized in a serious condition for more than a month, has urged the Haredi public to “donate” a year of their lives to spur the rabbi’s recovery.

Number of ultra-Orthodox university students swings up

By Ofri Ilani October 20, 2009

As colleges and universities open their doors today, around 2,000 ultra-Orthodox men and women will be among those beginning bachelor’s degree programs, at the three institutions designated specifically for them. In addition, this year a program in Jerusalem will be opened to Haredi women for the very first time – psychology.

There are currently two colleges operating in Israel intended solely for ultra-Orthodox men and women: Bnei Brak Haredi College and the Haredi College of Jerusalem, the latter founded by Adina Bar-Shalom, the daughter of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. In addition, some 350 Haredi women study at a Safed branch of the Jerusalem College of Technology.

Bar Refaeli highway billboard roils rabbis

By Nati Toker and Adi Dovrat-Meseritz October 22, 2009

A billboard on the Ayalon highway for the Fox clothing company, featuring model Bar Refaeli, has raised the ire of the ultra-Orthodox.

Rabbi Mordechai Bloi, chairman of the Haredi group Guardians of Sanctity and Education, says the community is considering boycotting Fox.

Prior to the billboard, Fox’s provocative ad campaigns featuring Refaeli had been limited to TV and Internet, to which members of the community are not exposed.

Fox has a big Haredi clientele and a large store in the religious community of Bnei Brak, and stands to lose from a boycott.

Jerusalem ‘modesty squad’ branching out

By Ari Galahar October 22, 2009

Jerusalem’s “[modesty] squad” is branching out and has recently begun operating in the capital’s Beit Israel neighborhood.

According to local residents, several of the neighborhood’s inhabitants have been violently attacked by members of the “modesty guard”.

The Beit Israel neighborhood has been changing its nature in recent years, from a traditional Sephardic neighborhood to a neighborhood similar to the haredi Mea Shearim.

Eda Haredit ‘officer’ suspected of assault

By Efrat Weiss October 25, 2009

The Jerusalem Police on Sunday arrested Yoel Kraus, the “operations officer” of the Eda Haredit, a staunchly anti-Zionist haredi communal organization, for allegedly assaulting a woman in the Meah Shearim neighborhood after she refused to cross the street at his command.

According to initial investigation, Kraus spotted the woman walking on one of the neighborhood’s streets and instructed her to cross over to another street.

When she refused, he allegedly assaulted her, spraying her with mace. The woman did not require medical attention and called the police.

Three Rebbes Fly on Same El Al Flight

By Yair Alpert October 24, 2009

The trips are being taken by the respective rebbes to garner support for their institutions and mosdos.

They will meet with their supporters in various kehillos to apprise them of the dire financial situation affecting the mosdos in Eretz Yisroel.

Gur and Neturei Karta Take Part in Civil Defense Drill

By Benjamin Slobodkin October 25, 2009

During last week’s major civil defense drill Charedi kehillos were mobilized to take part in a massive blood drive.

This was the first time it included the Charedi community, including Chassidim from Gur and Neturei Karta taking part in the Central Command exercise.

Religion and State in Israel

October 26, 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.

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