Religion and State in Israel – November 16, 2009 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

November 16, 2009 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

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.

State may pay Israelis forced by religious restrictions to wed abroad

By Jonathan Lis November 15, 2009

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will deliberate today over a bill requiring the state to return expenses of couples forced to wed abroad due to religious restrictions against them marrying in Israel.

The bill, initiated by MK Nitzan Horowitz (New Movement-Meretz) and other Meretz and Kadima MKs, stipulates that the government would return expenses to any couple in which at least one member is a citizen and resident of Israel, but who are prohibited for reasons of religion or conscience from marrying in the country.

Who are Diaspora Jews to tell us Israelis who is Jewish?

By Haviv Rettig Gur Opinion November 9, 2009

American Orthodox rabbis, the Interior Ministry feels, can’t be trusted to decide who is in and who is out of the Jewish people.

It is the feeling of a handful of ignorant bureaucrats – ignorant of Judaism and Jewish identity, and ignorant of Israeli law – that decides the day.

Why? Because the Diaspora is silent and respectful. Instead of demanding respect for their support and love, the Diaspora assumes Israelis are either their betters or their “ethnic” cousins. Either way, you can’t demand too much.

So Ilana falls through the cracks.

“The agunah problem crosses the political divide”

By Elana Sztokman Opinon November 13, 2009

“The issue of agunot and mesoravot get crosses coalition and party boundaries,” Elkin continued, “and the Knesset needs to do more in the way of legislation about this issue.”

The Tort of Get Refusal: Why Tort and Why Not?

By Susan Weiss Opinion November 10, 2009

Susan Weiss, an attorney, serves as Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Justice, based in Jerusalem.

The problem of the agunah—the woman whose husband refuses to give her a Jewish divorce—challenges the viability of Orthodoxy in a modern world that stands, if I may be given some poetic license, on the three pillars of equality, human rights, and the autonomy of the individual.

How can it be that a Jewish woman in the twenty-first century is still dependent on the whims of her husband for her marital freedom?

…The only reason to stop bringing these lawsuits would be if Orthodox rabbis finally acknowledge that the problem of Jewish women and divorce must be solved. They must take the power to give a get, or not, out of the hands of the husband.

The problem of the “forced divorce” must be understood as a euphemism for giving unfettered and unilateral dominance to men over their wives.

The rabbis must change the Jewish marriage ceremony at its core,or allow for marriage to be entered into on conditions that guarantee proper divorce rights for women. Until that happens, women must keep filing tort cases.

Rabbi Yosef condemns Women of the Wall

By Kobi Nahshoni November 9, 2009

Some 20 years after they first wrapped themselves in prayer shawls at Judaism’s holiest site, the Women of the Wall (WOW) were the subject of much criticism during the Sephardic chief rabbi’s weekly Saturday evening sermon.

“There are stupid women who come to the Western Wall, put on a tallit, and pray.”

According to Rabbi Yosef, “These are deviants who serve equality, not Heaven. They must be condemned and warned of.

The Masorti Movement Chairman Yizhar Hess said in response, “It is a shame that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a talmid-chacham and Torah great, allows himself to disrespect the women’s revolution that is taking over the Jewish street in Israel and the world. Torah scholars, be careful of your words.”

1 in 3 thinks changing Law of Return to stop crooks is racist

By Ruth Eglash November 13, 2009

More than a third of the Israeli public believes that any talk about changing the Law of Return in light of the Oshrenko family murders – as the suspects in the horrific crime made aliya from the former Soviet Union – is blatantly racist, according to a study published this week at the Kinneret College, Jordan Valley campus.

Thirty-six percent of those questioned for the research … said that proposed changes to the law were an attempt to limit aliya from Russian-speaking countries.

Jewish murder suspects prove Israel’s Law of Return is obsolete

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion November 13, 2009

The eight murders allegedly carried out by Damian Karlik and Yaakov (Jack) Teitel are the final proof, if any were still needed, that Israel’s citizenship laws are dangerously obsolete.

…There is a solution: former interior minister Meir Sheetrit’s proposal that newcomers be granted residency for five years, during which time they can prove that they have a true connection to the country and that they can serve as productive citizens, as well as undergo serious background checks.

This should not deter those who are willing to make sacrifices in order to become Israelis. As for the rest, that’s their problem. Many western countries have similar citizenship laws.

This will not prevent Jews fleeing persecution from finding a safe haven here, but it will help to weed out those who are simply here on the make, or on the run

Making the Law of Return Work for All Jews

By Rabbi Asher Lopatin Opinion November 9, 2009

I say the only way for the Law of Return to work the way it is supposed to – to protect every “Jew” in the world from potential persecution and to allow any “Jew” in the world to return to the Land of the Jews is if yes, Israel accepts anyone who converts to Judaism in any way, and anyone who declares that they are Jewish.

…the Law of Return should apply to anyone who claims they are Jewish and who is willing to have “Yehudi” stamped on their Te’udat Zehut – their Israeli identity card. Yes, we may get millions from around the world, from Africa and Asia and South America declaring they are Jewish – Oy gevalt! More self identifying Jews in Israel!! That is exactly what we want.

…Just as the system works today, the Jewish and religious community in Israel will have to sort out “Who is a Jew?” from a Halachic point of view.

Jewish Peoplehood Hub launched November 13, 2009

The NADAV Fund, in partnership with UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Agency for Israel, launched the Jewish Peoplehood Hub (JPH) at the 2009 General Assembly of UJC/Jewish Federations of North America on Tuesday.

The Jewish Peoplehood Hub (JPH) will serve as a center for discourse, knowledge dissemination and program development on the subject of Jewish Peoplehood. It will operate as a global think tank and project lab for enhancing commitment to this issue among world Jewry. The JPH will focus on influencers – educators, younger lay and professional leaders and academics – in order to magnify its impact.

How to serve the Jews

By Haviv Rettig Gur November 9, 2009

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“Any Jew—of any denomination—will always have a right to come home to the Jewish state,” he said. “Religious pluralism and tolerance will always guide my policy.”

Sharansky mediates between Jewish Agency, Birthright

By Natasha Mozgovaya November 11, 2009

Following years of tension between the Jewish Agency and the Birthright Israel-Taglit program JA Chairman Natan Sharansky has brought the groups to reconcile.

The reconciliation took place at the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Monday, on the eve of the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities.

Holding Jews together Editorial November 10, 2009

In a sense, peoplehood leapfrogs the tiresome “Who is a Jew” issue and poses a different set of questions, starting with: What, if anything, holds 21st century Jews together? Is being Jewish a matter of synagogue attendance or theological faith? Is it nationalism, ethnicity, culture?

Bringing the story of Jewish life back to life

By Anath Hartmann November 11, 2009

In its new incarnation, the museum’s aim will shift, as well. It will go from “a living testament to the Jewish dispersion following the Holocaust,” according to the Beit Hatefutsoth Web site, to “the ongoing story of the Jewish people,” said Orit Shaham Gover, chief curator of the Beit Hatefutsoth permanent exhibit.

Birthright-Taglit breakaway launches its first Israel trip for Diaspora youth

By Nir Hasson November 15, 2009

An organization that publicly split from Birthright Israel-Taglit a few months ago plans to bring its first 120 participants from abroad next month.

Prior to the split, the group, Oranim, was Birthright’s largest subcontractor, having brought some 50,000 young Diaspora Jews here for visits.

Oranim’s director, Shlomo (Momo) Lifshitz, said he split from Birthright over its demand that he stop urging trip participants to immigrate to Israel and marry other Jews.

Both these suggestions irritated the American donors, including major Jewish federations, he said.

“I shook hands with every one of those 50,000 youngsters and told them ‘Welcome home,'” he said. “That became my trademark, and Taglit didn’t like it,” said Lifshitz.

U.S. Jews turn to Israel to escape bleak job market

Reuters November 15, 2009

As the unemployment rate in the US climbed to a 26-year high of 10.2 percent last month, growing numbers of young and adult American Jews were arriving in Israel to inexpensively “wait out” the economic lull.

In an attempt to lure Diaspora Jews to make Israel their permanent home, the Israeli government and Jewish organizations offer a multitude of scholarships and travel grants, allowing many to spend up to six months in Israel almost for free

Jewish Agency threatens to end its contract with El Al on olim flights

By Cnaan Liphshiz November 13, 2009

The Jewish Agency may this month cease using El Al for its immigrant flights if Israel’s largest carrier raises its prices, Agency officials said this week. An El Al official defended the hike as necessary, accusing the Agency of “unacceptable and chronic payment failures.”

General strike expected in religious schools

By Kobi Nahshoni November 10, 2009

The Religious Education Forum announced Monday that all educational institutions belonging to Religious Zionism– including yeshivot, religious girls’ high schools and hesder yeshivot – would launch a general strike next Sunday, in protest of a NIS 86 million (about $23 million) budget cut.

Religious-Zionist Schools Won’t Strike

By Hillel Fendel November 11, 2009

The strike scheduled for Sunday in the religious-Zionist school system has been called off, after an agreement to cut “only” 11 million shekels ($2.9 million) instead of 86 million shekels $22.7 million).

IDF Chief Rabbi: Troops who show mercy to enemy will be ‘damned’

By Anshel Pfeffer November 15, 2009

The Israel Defense Forces’ chief rabbi told students in a pre-army yeshiva program last week that soldiers who “show mercy” toward the enemy in wartime will be “damned.”

Brig. Gen. Avichai Rontzki also told the yeshiva students that religious individuals made better combat troops.

Synagogues to Go Green?

By Hillel Fendel November 12, 2009

The growing environmental problem caused by the burgeoning quantity of Sabbath Torah sheets and pamphlets may soon find its solution – if the publishers agree to a newly proposed “Green Now” initiative.

…not every written Torah thought needs to be placed in genizah. Only if there is a complete verse, or one of the Names of G-d, written on a paper must it be placed in genizah, Rabbi Ariel explained.

Can kosher food be treif?

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion November 12, 2009

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

The Conservative Movement in the US is launching Magen Tzedek. Magen Tzedek is an ethical seal signifying that kosher food has been prepared with the highest degree of integrity.

Products carrying this seal will reflect the highest standard on a variety of important issues: employee wages and benefits, health and safety, animal welfare, corporate transparency and environmental impact.

I believe that we must create dietary regimen guided by ethical considerations. Our rabbis must lead the way.

Here in Israel, “eco-kashrut” and ethical standards are NOT an issue in determining whether a product receives Hashgacha.

It is high time this changed.

A personal letter to the modern-Orthodox reader

By Yonatan Gher Opinion November 8, 2009

The writer is executive director of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance

My request to you is that you remember this as well. I will happily engage in a discussion about the meaning of Leviticus 18:22 (“You shall not lie with a man as with a woman”), but I expect you to make it clear in that conversation that the value of human life, especially as sanctified in the commandment “thou shalt not murder,” remains the highest Jewish value.

On my part, I will continue to speak against collective finger-pointing against you, and will continue to fight side by side with you for your rights, with the same conviction as I fight for mine.

Sacred Night in a Secular Place

By Gershom Gorenberg November 9, 2009

A new tradition is taking root in Jerusalem as Jews seeking free religious expression flock to the promenades overlooking the Old City for holidays and Shabbat.

in a quiet, spontaneous, grass-roots process, it has also become a place of worship—an alternative sacred space, nondenominational, informal, multicultural.

It fulfills that function not just on Tisha B’Av, but also Shavuot, Hoshana Rabba (the seventh day of Sukkot) and other occasions. In a city of religious turf wars and jealous religious establishments, the tayelet is an undeclared shrine to unestablished religion.

Living out of the box

By Aryeh Dean Cohen November 15, 2009

The white gloves fly, delivering a hard blow to his opponent’s head. Spinning at breakneck speed, the lithe figure in flame-decorated trunks kicks hard, thrusting a foot into the bigger man’s shoulder blade.

But in 12 hours, Uriel Ben-Hamo, reigning Israeli kick-boxing champion, will be in a completely different setting: Jerusalem’s Magid Mesharim Yeshiva, studying with his hevruta partner, Shai.

Click here for VIDEO

Meet the mentor

By Aryeh Dean Cohen November 12, 2009

Do you think he will be able to continue to combine two lifestyles?

Well, I think he showed it the first time he went abroad, when we went as the Israeli team, that he stays the same Uriel: humble, he says his prayers, he’s kosher, he leads his Jewish life.

And it’s not the first one – we had some Jewish champions in the States, especially in boxing: Dimitry Salita, Yuri Foreman.

They are famous boxers and are able to combine the two lifestyles. Let’s say a lot of sportsmen are students at university as well, but if you find your four hours a day to train, the rest of the day you can study.

Basketball Star Tells of Return to Judaism

By Hillel Fendel November 9, 2009

Doron Sheffer, 37, one of Israel’s greatest basketball players, shared his story of return to religious observance with a group of Jewish educators.

Speaking in Jerusalem on Sunday night, Sheffer recounted his years as a star, the frustrations of losing, the joy of winning, his cancer, divorce, remarriage – and his long search for “meaning” that has brought him to observant Judaism.

He spoke at the offices of Maayanei HaYeshuah (lit., Waters of Salvation), a pro-active Jewish outreach organization featuring street stands, classes and Sabbath programs.

From Pisgat Ze’ev to pisgat Africa

By Batsheva Pomerantz November 12, 2009

Not many families have lit Shabbat candles and made kiddush at an altitude of 3,000 meters midway up Mount Kilimanjaro, known as “the Roof of Africa.” But the Drucker family, a modern-Orthodox family from Pisgat Ze’ev, did just that.

The film, which integrates drama and majestic vistas, won a prize at the Religion Today Film Festival held in Trento, Italy, in October.

Knesset Takes Tiny Step toward Jewish Law

By Gil Ronen November 11, 2009

The Knesset will soon be hiring a researcher of Jewish Law, as part of the legislative body’s Center for Research and Information. The researcher will be part of the legal team which carries out comparative legal research. These researchers assist Knesset Members in gathering legal and other information in the preparation and debate of legislation.

Talmud for the masses

By Matthew Wagner November 12, 2009

In 1965 when Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz embarked on his monumental task to make the Babylonian Talmud accessible to everyone he was sharply criticized by conservative elements within Judaism.

It was pure audacity for a 28-year-old Israeli who had grown up in a secular home in Jerusalem to think that he could change the way Jews had been learning Talmud for centuries, Steinsaltz’s detractors said.

…But nearly 45 years later, as the 73-year-old Steinsaltz prepares to finish his colossal work at the end of next year, rabbis, scholars and teachers of the Talmud recognize that Steinsaltz has made an incredible contribution to Jewish learning.

Israel’s Freedom-Of-Religion Fighter

By Stewart Ain November 10, 2009

Rabbi Uri Regev is President and CEO of a Hiddush – For Freedom of Religion and Equality.

We have a poll that shows that 83 percent of Israelis say they support freedom of religion and conscience, and that over 60 percent support equal state funding for all Jewish denominations.

We found that 84 percent oppose military service exemptions for yeshiva students, and that 92 percent of secular Jews support abolishing the Orthodox monopoly on marriage. … It is the politicization of religion that is at the root of this, and that is not the desire of Israelis.

Religion and State in Israel

November 16, 2009 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

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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