Religion and State in Israel – November 23, 2009 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

November 23, 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.

Haredim and Police Clash at Jerusalem Rally against Intel Plant

Israel TV Channel 2 News November 21, 2009

Click here for VIDEO

Rav Elyashiv Expected to Approve Compromise Agreement with Intel November 22, 2009

Rav Tuvia Weiss, head of the Eidoh Charedis, will oppose any agreement that allows Intel’s Jerusalem chip plant to operate on Shabbos, even if all of the workers are non-Jews, Rav Yosef Rosenfeld, chairman of the Rabbinical Council for Shabbat in Jerusalem, told Globes.

Police hold off ultra-Orthodox demonstrators at Intel plant; three arrested as rally turns violent

By Nir Hasson and Yair Ettinger November 22, 2009

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox men, overwhelmingly adherents of the radical Eda Haredit stream, violently confronted police for several hours yesterday near the Intel plant in Jerusalem. This is the second successive Saturday that ultra-Orthodox have demonstrated in protest of the plant operating on Shabbat.

Shabbes! Shabbes! Editorial November 21, 2009

Sometimes it seems as if there’s an evil mastermind out there determined to make Jewish tradition, observance and ritual seem repellent, retrograde, even ridiculous to as many unaffiliated and secular Jews as possible while making even the traditionally observant cringe with embarrassment.

What better way to heighten alienation from all things Jewish than to rebrand Judaism as the sole province of a scowling ultra-Orthodox minority – and to do so in Jerusalem before the entire world.

Eda Haredit rejects Intel compromise November 19, 2009

The proposed compromise to keep Jerusalem’s new Intel microchip factory open on Shabbat has been rejected by the head of Eda Haredit’s rabbinical court, Rabbi Tuvia Weiss, who declared Thursday that haredi protests against the chipmaker would resume this coming Saturday.

Extremist Haredim vow to renew Shabbat battle against Intel

By Yair Ettinger November 20, 2009

The agreements reached this week between Intel and the Committee of Rabbis for the Sanctity of Shabbat will not guarantee a calm Saturday around the factory on Har Hotzvim in Jerusalem.

Intel to employ only non-Jews at Jerusalem plant on Shabbat

By Yair Ettinger and Jonathan Lis November 18, 2009

According to the six clauses that make up the proposal, only conveyers producing the most sensitive components will operate on Saturday; only 60 employees will work on Saturday, in three 20-workers shifts; and all Jewish workers who were employed on Saturdays will be replaced by non-Jewish ones that day.

Intel would also recruit workers from the ultra-Orthodox community itself

Fighting for Jerusalem

By Rami Tal Opinion November 18, 2009

The question is whether the Israeli government and the overwhelming majority of Israel’s citizens are willing to allow the haredim to turn Jerusalem into a Third World capital. Thus far, regrettably, the answer appears to be positive.

Secular Jews Urged to Aid War on ‘Greed and Slavery’ on Sabbath

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu November 17, 2009

Knesset Member Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) has backed the hareidi religious “war against slavery” by companies, including Intel, that employ workers on the Sabbath.

Israel forbids work on the Sabbath without a special permit, usually for security or medical reasons, in order to prevent a wholesale violation of the Jewish law against working on the Day of Rest.

MK Yechimovich, who is a champion of workers’ rights, called on the secular community to forge a rare unity effort with those who are hareidi religious, but she admitted it probably is a lost cause.

The secular community prefers to ignore the issue and leave it for religious people even though the issue involves a violation of labor laws, which are in the interests of secular Jews, according to the Labor legislator, who also is a former television and radio journalist.

Money isn’t everything

By Rabbi Peretz Rodman Opinion November 19, 2009

Deliberations about Intel could devolve into another in a series of struggles against bullying and violence by factions of the haredi sector.

If we concentrate on that issue alone, though, we will miss an opportunity to engage in a more profound and, ultimately, more significant discourse about the character of the society in which we want to live.

End the fanatic violence

Haaretz Editorial November 17, 2009

If workers entering their workplace are subjected to violent attacks, it is self-evident that the law enforcement authorities must protect them – as well as their employers – whatever day of the week it happens to be and regardless of the motive for the attacks.

This did not happen at the Intel plant in Jerusalem’s Har Hotzvim industrial area on Saturday. Moreover, the frenzied assaults of ultra-Orthodox extremists there were not a one-time event. The city and the state must stop trying to ignore the phenomenon.

Rabbis let Haredi women work at Intel

By Elad Tene November 16, 2009

Rabbis and haredi instructors in Jerusalem gave their authorization over the weekend to a group of ultra-Orthodox women who wish to work in Intel’s hi-tech plant, Ynet has learned.

The women began working on Sunday in the midst of the‘ Shabbat war’ conducted by the haredi public against Intel’s policy of holding business on weekends and joined an existing group of Ultra-Orthodox women already employed at the company.

Intel opens plant amid attempts to start talks with Haredim

By Nir Hasson November 17, 2009

Mayor Nir Barkat, who spoke at the opening ceremony, said there had been no change in the way Intel has been working for the past 24 years in Jerusalem.

“I have worked and will continue to work for the success of the firm and its expansion, and to bring other high-tech companies to the capital,” he said.

Shabbat unrest

By Abe Selig November 21, 2009

According to Prof. Menachem Friedman, an emeritus professor of sociology at Bar-Ilan University and an expert on haredi society, the Karta parking lot violence and the situation at Intel are based in part on a newfound sense of power among the haredi community.

“It’s a feeling of strength, and it’s a feeling that they are the future of the city,” Prof. Friedman told In Jerusalem this week.

“And that’s a natural response, given their growing numbers. They see their numbers, they see that their children make up more than 50 percent of schoolchildren in Jerusalem. But this is a feeling that was not there 40 or 50 years ago. Before, they saw themselves as the minority.

Today that is changing. And, coupled with the emigration of secular and modern Orthodox Israelis from the capital, they feel that they will be in complete control at some point down the line,” he says.

Barkat voices his support for Intel

By Judy Siegel and Abe Selig November 16, 2009

The Jerusalem Post learned that the riots on Shabbat had been far worse than originally reported, and that in addition to the rocks and epithets hurled at journalists and other bystanders, haredim had broken into a synagogue on Intel’s premises, thrown prayer books to the floor and used prayer stands to bash in the doors.

Who are Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews?

By Avirama Golan Opinion November 18, 2009

Who, in fact, is Haredi, a member of the ultra-Orthodox?

…With all these differences within and among these groups, it’s impossible to define the word “Haredi,” just as it’s impossible to define “Jew” or “Arab” with all the human, religious, cultural and social variants of those definitions.

…three other very damaging factors are at work in this community: the anti-Zionists from Jerusalem, the fanatic preachers and those who encourage people to become religious, and the extreme ultra-Orthodox nationalists (for example, Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg and his son, who is active in Ramat Aviv).

‘Litzman orders Schneider Hospital to tend to brain-dead baby’ November 19, 2009

Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman (UJT) instructed the Schneider Hospital to keep alive a brain-dead baby from a haredi family, against the opinion of the hospital’s staff and by utilizing a narrow interpretation of current law on the matter, Channel 10 reported Thursday evening.

‘Hareidi Mother’ Not Guilty of Violating Release Terms November 22, 2009

Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Ravid ruled Sunday against a prosecution petition to cite the woman from the Mea Shearim neighborhood who is accused of starving her son for violation of the terms of her release from custody pending the completion of her trial.

‘Starving mom’s’ 3 children leave Israel

By Ronen Medzini November 19, 2009

Three of the so-called “starving mother’s” four children have left Israel and relocated to England, according to a statement made by the Justice Ministry Thursday.

The Ministry added that the children flew to England along with Rabbi Yoel Weiss under the directive of a leading rabbi. According to the statement, authorities were not informed of the children’s planned departure, and were now concerned that the mother may try to flee the country and join them.

Modi’in Illit Rabbis Want Internet Out of Homes

By Yechiel Spira November 19, 2009

According to a Kikar Shabbos report, rabbonim in Modi’in Illit have learned that thousands of homes in the community are connected to regular [non-kosher] internet as is the case in other chareidi municipalities as well.

The rabbonim have convened in an urgent meeting, and they plan an emergency kenos (conference) next week to address the alarming reality and to discuss what steps should be taken by the rabbonim and the beis din of the community to oust this threat the homes.

It appears the rabbonim will be permitting ‘kosher internet’ for homes requiring connectivity to earn a livelihood. Other homes will be expected to disconnect immediately and unconditionally.

Ultra-Orthodox pressure stalling mosque, church at Ben-Gurion airport

By Zohar Blumenkrantz November 22, 2009

Ultra-Orthodox political pressure has stalled the construction of a church and a mosque at Ben-Gurion International Airport for the past five years, aviation sources told Haaretz.

This came to light after several clergy members wrote to the Israel Airports Authority, requesting it allow for a church in Terminal 3.

Haaretz inquired, and learned that the plans for the new terminal included both a church and a mosque, but that they never were built.

Orthodox groups decry State Dept. report on religious freedom

By Anath Hartmann November 16, 2009

Two Orthodox organizations, National Council of Young Israel and Agudath Israel of America, rushed to defend Israel and called into question the timing of and motivation behind the criticism. And the Orthodox Union’s main representative in Washington, Nathan Diament, said the organization had conveyed its concerns to the State Department but declined to elaborate.

“It just seems somewhat strange that with real issues of international significance facing the U.S. on multiple fronts at this time, including Iran, they would choose [now] to attack Israel, their only democratic ally and friend in the region,” said Aaron Troodler, communications director for the National Council of Young Israel.

Uri Regev, a Reform rabbi who runs the newly created organization Hiddush, said the toughness in tone should not surprise Orthodox groups.

“You can’t escape the irony of Jews seeking freedom in Israel and then turning around and denying other Jews religious freedom,” said Regev, whose organization is challenging the special status in Israel of the Orthodox.

“This gives us an opportunity which I hope the Jewish community is going to take advantage of, mainly what is the core character of Israel? It is important that we recognize that Israel is not and should not be a theocracy.”

Freedom of Religion: At the Bottom of the List

By Naomi Chazan Opinion Yediot Aharonot, November 18, 2009

The writer is President of the New Israel Fund.

Over the years, however, a certain religious current assumed hegemony over religious issues in the State of Israel, even though it does not represent the majority of its citizens and is even rejected by certain parts of the Orthodox currents.

That hegemony established that there is only one way to be a Jew, marry, divorce, be buried, convert to Judaism, and give meaning to the vision of the Jewish state.

This monolithic approach, which confuses unity with uniformity, drove many groups away from Jewish heritage, and is far from reflecting the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, the world Jewry, and the wide diversity of Jewish views and expressions that exist in the 21st century.

The paradox of power

By Aluf Benn Opinion November 21, 2009

…But even in the Israeli system, the prime minister is not omnipotent.

His power is limited by affairs of state and religion, and by peace processes. He cannot decide to change the religious status quo and begin to promote civil marriage or public transportation on Shabbat. (Toward the end of his term, Barak declared a “secular revolution.” Big deal.)

Nor can the prime minister decide “Who is a Jew,” not even in the rare periods when the religious parties are not part of the coalition.

‘Lapid’ looks to take its place alongside birthright, MASA

By Haviv Rettig Gur November 23, 2009

Lapid was founded in 2008 to bring some 30 high school Israel programs under a single umbrella, allowing for better coordination, standard-setting and fund-raising.

Lapid aims to become as successful as its best-known cousin, birthright-israel, a private initiative funded jointly by Israel, philanthropists, the Jewish Agency and others.

The first step is to launch a MASA-style grant program, with organizers hoping to bring participation costs for many high school Israel programs down from the current estimate of $6,000-plus to approximately $3,000.

“We’re asking [the government] for NIS 10 million for the pilot,” Yehezkel said. “It’s a small pilot that aims to add perhaps 1,000 participants more than in previous years.”

Gov’t may fill Jewish Agency’s coffers

By Haviv Rettig Gur November 18, 2009

For the first time, the government is considering becoming a direct funder of the Jewish Agency.

According to a government source, the Finance Ministry is preparing to contribute up to $12 million toward the shortfall. While Finance Ministry officials oppose the plan, the order to make the funds available came from the Prime Minister’s Office, the source said.

The move would mark the first time the government contributed directly to the agency’s core budget. Previously, government funds went not to the agency itself, but to joint programs, such as Masa and birthright.

For first time, Jewish Agency to meet in the Diaspora

By Haviv Rettig Gur November 18, 2009

For the first time, the Jewish Agency is considering holding some of its thrice-yearly leadership meetings outside the country, to better acquaint its leaders with the world’s Jewish communities.

The Jewish Agency’s 120-member Board of Governors meets in Israel in February, June and October. The October meeting is dominated by budget planning for the next year and the June meeting with oversight of agency projects. But February’s gathering deals with the less urgent matters of agency operations.

Tradition Today: Are we really one?

By Reuven Hammer Opinion November 19, 2009

Then there is the Israel-Diaspora divide, which seems to be growing greater year by year, especially between Israel and America, the largest and most influential of the Diaspora communities.

The support for Israel, the unity that was once taken for granted, is more and more questioned as younger generations arise.

And the truth is that our two communities are very different from one another. American Jews – especially those who are not Orthodox, and that is the vast majority – do not understand the way in which religion and state are connected here and are uncomfortable with religious coercion.

Israel’s relationship with American Jews has changed

By Natasha Mozgovaya November 17, 2009

But beyond preventing assimilation and fostering connections with young people, Israel and American Jewry lack a common agenda.

…There were a great many topics on the agenda, from the Iranian threat to Facebook fund-raising to environmental initiatives. What is missing is a unifying and exciting agenda. If Israel wants to continue to be relevant to these young people – and not only because of its problems, the common fears and the free trip – it must do its part to contribute to an egalitarian relationship.

‘Roots of Israel’ Jewish studies project hopes to expand beyond ORT network

By Tali Minsberg November 17, 2009

ORT, the nation’s largest private educational network, is trying to change what and how Israelis learn about their Jewish heritage.

In 2000, with the support of the UJA-Federation of New York and the Legacy Heritage Fund, ORT established the “Roots of Israel” program to create Jewish studies courses using a unique methodology.

More than 25,000 students have participated in the project.

Guess who did not come to the party?

By Steven Schwager Opinion November 16, 2009

The writer is the executive vice president and CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

In the excitement to trump new “Jewish peoplehood,” there is the risk that we are abandoning the Jewish people.

And that leads to the greatest irony: The Jewish “babushka” living alone in a one-room walkup in Russia is helped today by the generosity of millions of Evangelical Christians through the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews – not by the charity of an oligarch who could be her grandson!

Sharansky unplugged: Jewish Agency chairman sits down with The Fundermentalist

By Jacob Berkman November 17, 2009

Fundermentalist: So is it OK if Jewish people don’t make aliyah?

Sharansky: …I know it is against the traditional view that Israel is only for aliyah.

I didn’t think like this 30 years ago when I very active in Moscow. I believed that aliyah and strengthening Jewish education in Moscow go together.

Definitely I don’t believe that today.

Israel belongs to the Jewish people. The Jewish people are not the property of Israel.

Fundermentalist: You have talked a lot publicly about merging Birthright and the Jewish Agency’s MASA program. And I am hearing that there is a lot of public talk, but no real private talks to make it actually happen. What is really happening?

Sharansky: Merging I think is a strong word. They were differently built from the beginning.

Funding for Overseas Jews in Disarray as Agencies Duel

By Nathan Guttman November 18, 2009

Threatening to shake the fragile structure of the American Jewish federations’ umbrella organization, one of the key partners for overseas funding has turned down a proposed agreement on distribution of funds, putting the system in a state of disarray.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee announced that it has rejected a decades-old understanding that gave it only a quarter of all money raised in the United States for overseas causes, while leaving the lion’s share for the Jewish Agency for Israel.

G.A.’s Savior Is the Russian Oligarch ‘Who Got Away’

By Gal Beckerman November 18, 2009

Leonid Nevzlin’s life in Israel has revolved largely around his philanthropic efforts. He set up an institute on Eastern European and Russian Judaism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has funded many projects through his charity, NADAV— named after himself and two other Yukos shareholders, Vladimir Dubov and Mikhail Brudno.

Run by his daughter, it tries to confront what Nevzlin said in his G.A. speech was the biggest threat facing the Jewish world: “A failure to articulate a single, global Jewish identity.”

In addition to donating heavily to, and leading, the renewal of Israel’s Diaspora Museum, Nevzlin is on the board of governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the board of trustees of Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal.

Peres returns home with 25 new immigrants from Latin America

By Greer Fay Cashman November 19, 2009

President Shimon Peres returned home on Wednesday from state visits to Brazil and Argentina bringing with him 25 new immigrants from Brazil, Uruguay, Peru and Argentina.

Skin-in-the-game commitments

By Sarah Kass November 22, 2009

Sarah Kass is director of strategy and evaluation at the Avi Chai Foundation. This article is based on a recent talk at the PresenTense Institute.

From its beginning, the wealth of the Jewish people has always come from its human resourcefulness rather than from its material resources. We have no ever-flowing Nile; instead, we pray for rain. We bow to a Sabbath Queen, not to a golden calf.

As we approach December 11, 2009, perhaps we can understand the loss of so many big donors as an opportunity to remember what we really value, and as an invitation to look to our people’s spiritual and creative wealth rather than merely to our big bank accounts to do God’s work.

Mendel Kaplan, 1936-2009 / Philanthropist, Jewish leader, family man

By Milton Shain Opinion November 22, 2009

Mendel, who passed away Thursday after suffering a stroke, initiated, led and funded numerous Jewish, Zionist and other projects in South Africa and throughout the Jewish world. He was honorary president of Keren Hayesod and a former chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors.

I know little about Cape Gate, the family business Mendel’s father Isaac founded 80 years ago. Tomorrow, we were meant to attend an anniversary gala celebrating eight decades. Instead we should celebrate Mendel’s life.

Philanthropist Mendel Kaplan dies, 73

By Steve Linde and Haviv Rettig Gur November 21, 2009

Kaplan served as chairman of the board of the Jewish Agency from 1987-1995, chairman of Keren Hayesod’s World Board of Trustees from 1983 to 1987, and honorary president of Keren Hayesod from 1995 until his death.

Kaplan was also chairman of the Jerusalem Foundation from 1995 to 1999, national chairman of the United Communal Fund of South Africa from 1974 to 1978, national chairman of the Israel United Appeal, South Africa from 1978 to 1987, and vice president of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.

Making the right move

By Ilana Hart November 19, 2009

When WUJS closed its doors in Arad in August of last year – after 40 years in the Negev – and uprooted to Jerusalem, program coordinators were uncertain whether the same type of success could be replicated in the center of the country.

But having made it through its pilot year, it seems that the half-year program geared toward post-college Diaspora Jews is once again standing on solid ground.

Barbara Sofer, director of public relations for Hadassah – the group that oversees WUJS and Young Judea – says that everywhere in the Jewish world budgets have been reduced and people are having to cut corners and become more efficient.

High-Tech Identity

By Raphael Ahren November 20, 2009

PresenTense and ROI, two local Anglo groups helping social entrepreneurs launch creative new projects to strengthen Jewish identity, teamed up Tuesday for a networking event and a lecture by Oramed Pharmaceuticals CEO Nadav Kidron.

About 30 young social entrepreneurs – among them prominent Anglo-Jewish bloggers David Abitbol, Dan Brown and Joel Katz – gathered in PresenTense’s Emek Refaim Street headquarters in Jerusalem to mingle and listen to Kidron, a Sabra who spoke in accent-free English about launching ventures during an economic downturn.

“Bringing together members of the ROI and PresenTense communities based in Israel is a natural way to encourage partnerships and synergies among innovative Jewish initiatives,” said Montreal native Justin Korda, director of the Center for Leadership Initiatives in Israel, ROI’s parent organization.

“Tonight’s event demonstrates how socially-minded initiatives in the Jewish world are seeking to learn the best practices from the business community.”

Six Israeli Rabbis Ordained at Academic Convocation at Reform HUC-JIR/Jerusalem November 20, 2009 new rabbis for Israel’s Progressive Movement were ordained by Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), at the Ordination and Academic Convocation at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem on Friday, November 20, 2009.

These four women and two men join the 59 alumni of the Israel Rabbinical Program, established in 1975, which, with this new cohort, will have ordained 65 Israeli rabbis to date to serve Progressive congregations, schools, and communities throughout Israel.

Artists to receive Religious Tolerance award

By Tzofia Hirshfeld November 19, 2009

This Hannukah, the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies is awarding the Marc and Henia Liebhaber Prize for the Promotion of Religious Tolerance and Cultural Pluralism to Jacky Levy and Shlomo Gronich for their important contribution to this cause.

The NIS 100,000 prize, to be divided between the two, was instituted after the Rabin assassination, and is awarded yearly to individuals.

Traditional Egalitarian

By Raphael Ahren November 20, 2009

Missing the feel of their “traditional egalitarian” congregation back home, former and current members of Los Angeles’ IKAR community earlier this month held their first monthly Kabbalat Shabbat plus potluck dinner event in Jerusalem.

Bnei IKAR, as the group is called, is planning its next event together with the Jerusalem Open House for December 4.

Israel Celebrates Ethiopian Jewish Holiday

Click here for VIDEO

By Sara Sorcher November 18, 2009

For 1500 years, Beta Israel held onto their Jewish traditions in Ethiopia, praying on the Sigd holiday to one day return to Jerusalem. This year, Israel celebrates with them.

Cultural coup

By Peggy Cidor November 19, 2009

Two recent events have convinced Avi Masfin that perhaps the Ethiopian immigrant community is experiencing better times: the first prize awarded to local theater company Hullegeb at the Acre Theater Festival and a Knesset decision recognizing the Sigd, one of the community’s most important religious festivals, as an official holiday.

A day of pride for Ethiopians

By Ben Lynfield November 19, 2009

Despite some gains, Ethiopian Jews remain the poorest segment of Israel’s Jewish population and are at times stereotyped as a social burden. The sense of not being accepted by other Israelis was accentuated in September when religious schools in Petah Tikva refused to accept Ethiopian children.

“Even if they do not accept us at work or in school, we are here,” Shlomo Mola, an MK from the Kadima party, told the gathering. “We do not need a kosher certificate from anyone.”

Survey: 90% of Ethiopian Israelis resist interracial marriage

By Ofri Ilani November 16, 2009

According to a Central Bureau of Statistics report published on, about 90 percent of Ethiopians – 93 percent of men and 85 percent of women – marry within their community.

At the end of 2008, there were 119,300 people of Ethiopian descent in Israel, including nearly 81,000 people born in Ethiopia and about 38,500 native Israelis (about 32 percent of the community) who had at least one parent who was born in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Jews celebrate return to Jerusalem in Sigd festival

By Melanie Lidman November 17, 2009

More than 3,500 people were bused in from around the country, according to the Immigrant Absorption Ministry. Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni, Ethiopian MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima), Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also attended. Unofficial estimates put the crowd at around 7,000 people.

The Shva Na performers summed up the day’s delicate balance in one sentence: “We need to not be afraid to return to our roots, but also to be part of the nation of Israel.

Religion and State in Israel

November 23, 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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