Religion and State in Israel – November 9, 2009 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

November 9, 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.

Conversion with confusion

By Nissan Shtrauchler November 8, 2009

Maksim and Alina were due to exchange their wedding vows in 10 weeks, but instead of being busy preparing for the joyful event, they have been going through a nightmare – Their marriage was not approved by the Chief Rabbinate clerks in Ashkelon, where the couple resides.

“You do not keep mitzvoth, and therefore we cannot marry you,” was the Rabbinate’s explanation.

“It hurts. A person converts out of his own free will; wants to get married in his country which he served, and then has to face such a phenomenon,” said Maksim.

“The country pays money for these conversions and recognizes them, while the rabbis abuse the power given to them,” he added.

Rabbi Shaul Farber, director of the Jewish Life Information Center (ITIM), said on Thursday that “it is not plausible that marriage registrars who are employed by the country and are getting paid by the Chief Rabbinate will make up their own mind whether to recognize documents issued by their employers.”

“Registrars who distrust the Chief Rabbinate must resign from their positions. If they don’t do it themselves, the state should do it,” Farber added.

The double lives of Jewish converts in Israel

By Rabbi Ed Rettig and Rabbi Seth Farber Opinion November 8, 2009

Rabbi Ed Rettig is acting director of the American Jewish Committee‘s Israel Office

Rabbi Seth Farber is founder and director of ITIM: the Jewish Life Information Center.

Today, together, we are issuing a call to the Diaspora Jewish community to speak up on behalf of a vulnerable group among us – converts to the Jewish people.

…As Zionists and as individuals who believe in the sanctity of Klal Yisrael, we cannot stand by while Israeli law is ignored and the delicate relationship between the Diaspora and Israeli communities challenged. This is not only an internal crisis; it affects Jewish communities everywhere.

When the “Who is a Jew” issue reared its ugly head in the 1980s, Diaspora Jewish leaders organized rabbinic missions to Israel to convince its leadership to recognize the hegemony of the local Jewish communities.

With that precedent in mind, we call upon Jews all over the world to speak up on behalf of converts. Write letters to the prime minister asking why civil authorities are not treating converts as full Jews; make conversion part of the Jewish communal agenda.

In doing the right thing for converts, we also hope to reestablish the appropriate balance between Israel and the Diaspora.

Kaifeng Jews arrive in Israel 2009

Click here for VIDEO November 4, 2009

Rabbinic Court publicizes identity of recalcitrant husband

By Matthew Wagner November 5, 2009

The Jerusalem Rabbinical Court decided on Thursday to publicize the identity of a recalcitrant husband who has refused for four years to give his wife a get (writ of divorce).

“Wanted” notices have been published on the Rabbinical Courts’ Web site. And the court system’s spokeswoman has contacted Israeli media in an attempt to track down David Shem-Tov.

“In an unprecedented move the Rabbinical Court is asking for the public’s help to track down a recalcitrant husband who has repeatedly refused to give his wife a get,” the court said in a statement.

David Shem-Tov has refused to appear in court on several occasions, according to the statement. As a result the court has tried to use various sanctions against the husband to force him to give a get.

PM sides with Conservative Movement, not Shas

By Matthew Wagner November 2, 2009

Re: ‘Reform, Conservative should build shuls with their own money’

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu notified the Conservative Movement last week that statements made by Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi against non-Orthodox streams of Judaism “do not reflect” his own positions.

“We have informed Minister Margi that his recent statements in The Jerusalem Post do not reflect the positions of the Prime Minister,” wrote Ron Dermer, senior adviser to the prime minister in a letter dated October 28.

The Prime Minister’s Office also “made it clear that decisions regarding the allocation of public funds must be fully consistent with Israel’s laws.”

Netanyahu “strongly believes that strengthening the connection between Israel and Jewish groups throughout the world is a source of our national strength,” the letter also said. “He will continue to fully protect freedom of worship for all and to work toward bringing the various streams of Judaism together.”

Bill: If most hospital patients Jewish, food must be kosher

By Amnon Meranda November 7, 2009

A bill stating that any licensed hospital with a majority of Jewish patients must serve kosher food passed its preliminary reading on Wednesday.

Twenty-four Knesset members voted in favor of the bill, with only one – Labor’s Ophir Pines-Paz –opposing.

Knesset Member Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), who initiated the bill, said it was “an inseparable part of the State of Israel’s identification card as a Jewish state.

Why do Israeli reporters ignore the Jewish Diaspora?

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion November 6, 2009

Why don’t we all grow up? We are brothers and sisters. But we live in different neighborhoods, on separate continents.

The Jews of both countries can all be proud of their incredible success stories and are all facing enormous challenges.

We should try and help each other out, without expecting much gratitude, but ultimately we all have to deal with our own troubles. American Jews are doing themselves a disservice by mistaking Israel’s problems for their own.

The new partner

By Anshel Pfeffer November 6, 2009

The entrance of the Russians may be less a threat, and more just another symptom of the prolonged decline of the current UJC federation system.

“It’s not only the oligarchs who are going their own way and advancing their private agendas,” says a former head of the Israel office of one of the large federations

Eyes to the future

By Aharon Horwitz and Ariel Beery Opinion November 8, 2009

Aharon Horwitz and Ariel Beery are co-directors of the PresenTense Group, which is focused on upgrading the Jewish people’s “operating system” for the 21st century.

If we believe the Jewish people have a role to play in this world, we must also invest in new ideas, products and services, even during the slow times.

The question, then, should not be whether to fund innovation – but rather, how to tie that innovation back into the core of our institutions, enabling our people to upgrade our operations for the future.

It is rare that this line of questioning is pursued in the boardrooms where funding decisions are made – and yet introducing it will lead to a new perspective on establishment-innovator relationships, and will enhance the value of innovation to our global community.

Natan Sharansky: Trips to Israel will stop assimilation from ‘eating’ Jewish people

By Cnaan Liphshiz November 8, 2009

“Israelis need to understand the Diaspora is not a passing phase and that immigration to Israel is now a matter of choice,” he said.

“At the same time, the Diaspora communities need to drop their patronizing attitude to Israel, which some donors believe is a poor relation kept alive thanks to their generosity.

Israel is a strong society which in many respects is much stronger than the societies of the Diaspora.”

‘Diaspora Jews must make changes’

By Ruth Eglash November 6, 2009

The organized Jewish community in the Diaspora must make critical structural changes in order to make it through the current economic crisis, Allan Finkelstein, president of the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America, told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday in an exclusive interview.

Ukrainian immigrant recognized as Jew

By Aviad Glickman November 5, 2009

The High Court ruled Wednesday after a four-year-long battle that Raisa Sakoboracov’s identity card will list the Ukrainian immigrant as “Jewish” and not “without religion,” as the Interior Ministry had designated her.

The decision, written by Justices Edmond Levy, Edna Arbel, and Hanan Meltzer, shows that Sakboracov contacted a local court in the Ukraine in 1999 in order to change her mother’s listing so that the mother would be declared a Jew.

After hearing testimonies from many witnesses and viewing archive documents, the Ukrainian court declared that Sakboracov’s mother, who came from Russia, a Jew.

Former Diaspora affairs adviser on whether Law of Return makes it too easy for criminals to make aliya

Click here for VIDEO interview

Sheetrit: Law of Return must change

By Rebecca Anna Stoil and staff November 3, 2009

MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima):

“Every Jew who wishes to make aliya should live in [Israel] as a resident for a period of five years, and become a citizen only after learning Hebrew, studying the laws of the country and pledging allegiance to it.”

MK to Ra’anana chief rabbi: Don’t stigmatize olim

By Amnon Meranda November 4, 2009

Coalition Chairman Knesset Member Zeev Elkin (Likud) harshly criticized Ra’anana’s Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz for linking between the Ushrenko family murder and the immigration of non-Jews.

“I regret Rabbi Peretz’s remarks,” said Elkin. “These are hateful statements which lead to polarization and segmentation in the Israeli society.”

Anat Hoffman, head of the Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center, said in response to the rabbi’s remarks that “once again, as before, Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz chooses collective moments of disaster in order to expose his dark ignorance.

“This time he verbally attacks people from the Soviet Union who are entitled (to make aliyah by the power of) the law of return. It’s time for Ra’anana’s residents to come to their senses and renounce their city rabbi and his racist demagogy.”

Ra’anana Chief Rabbi links Ushrenko family murder & immigration of non-Jews

By Neri Livneh Opinion November 6, 2009

Not even the Iranian threat, the spread of poverty in Israel or the growing violence are as frightening to Shas leaders as what they consider the real danger threatening the existence of the State of Israel – the Gentiles.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who has not let up in his struggle against the migrant workers and their Israeli-born children (in recent days, he surpassed himself by speaking of the threat of terrifying illnesses that the foreign workers might bring with them), has now found reinforcement for his approach.

After the police solved the murder of the Oshrenko family, Yitzhak Peretz, a former head of the Shas party and former interior minister who is currently chief rabbi of Ra’anana, took the opportunity to launch a racist attack on immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Since he doubts their Judaism, he considers them potential criminals.

Despite his shady past, alleged murderer allowed to make aliyah

By Anshel Pfeffer November 4, 2009

Though the Law of Return grants automatic citizenship to any Jew who requests it, it does include an exception that allows criminals to be kept out. However, this exception is rarely invoked.

The chaos of aliya

By Haviv Rettig Gur November 3, 2009

Before Israel decides how to screen olim, it must first decide who should screen olim.

The current system – this should come as no surprise to those familiar with Israeli bureaucracy – is messy and unclear.

Different organizations, some private, some governmental, handle different functions of the aliya process, while one organization performing one function in one country can have an entirely different function in another

The Unity Trip

By Meredith Price Levitt November 5, 2009

Israeli Consul General of Los Angeles Jacob Dayan personally invited the 18 L.A. rabbis from Orthodox, Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism to come to Israel

Dayan: “I want the Israelis to see the headlines and realize that these rabbis, who are from such different streams, can engage in dialogue.”

World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers global conference kicks off in Israel November 2, 2009

More than 250 presidents and executive directors of Jewish Community Centers and JCC networks from 30 countries representing over 1,100 JCCs will convene in Ramat Gan’s Kfar Maccabiah Hotel on Monday for the eighth World Conference of the World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers.

VIDEO Interview with Jewish Community Centers head on Diaspora-Israel ties

After report, Yemen operation is happily out in the open

By Jacob Berkman November 3, 2009

Jewish Agency officials were particularly upset over what they described as HIAS and the Jewish Federations, then known as the United Jewish Communities, working with the Satmar Chasidic sect.

The Satmar community is anti-Zionist and reportedly has been on the ground in Yemen urging the Jews there not to go to Israel.

Natan Sharansky: Trips to Israel will stop assimilation from ‘eating’ Jewish people

By Cnaan Liphshiz November 8, 2009

In terms of Israeli-Diaspora relations, Sharansky spoke of a need to transcend a mutual patronization.

“Israelis need to understand the Diaspora is not a passing phase and that immigration to Israel is now a matter of choice,” he said.

“At the same time, the Diaspora communities need to drop their patronizing attitude to Israel, which some donors believe is a poor relation kept alive thanks to their generosity. Israel is a strong society which in many respects is much stronger than the societies of the Diaspora.”

A musical tribute to the Australian philanthropist Richard Pratt

By Veronique Bruggerman November 7, 2009

Through his foundation, Richard Pratt funded 350 projects in Israel ranging from education to integration to culture to health. He died of cancer six months ago.

“Whenever you have the chance to sing a song, stand up and take it,” Pratt used to say. He was a passionate singer himself and even embarked on a stage career before returning to work for his father’s company.

Click here for VIDEO

This video was made in memory of Australian philanthropist Richard Pratt (1934-2009) who spent most of his life giving so much to help others.

The people of Israel would like to honor and thank Richard for everything he has done for them, and so all over the country, the people dance for Richard Pratt!

Arrivals: Immerse yourself

By Abigail Klein November 7, 2009

Newly discharged from the International Relations Unit of the IDF, Peninah Rost is contemplating the rest of her life here.

She arrived on a Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight two summers ago, and went to Kibbutz Tirat Zvi to prepare for the army with Garin Tzabar, a program that groups lone soldiers on kibbutzim that provide bureaucratic assistance, peer support and a home base.

Religion and State in Israel

November 9, 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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