Religion and State in Israel – December 14, 2009 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

December 14, 2009 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

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Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Barak severs ties with Hesder Yeshiva

By Yaakov Katz December 13, 2009

Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided Sunday night to sever all ties with the Har Bracha hesder yeshiva after its head, Rabbi Elazar Melamed, refused to denounce the refusal of evacuation orders by IDF soldiers.

Barak orders IDF to cut ties with far-right yeshiva

By Chaim Levinson and Anshel Pfeffer December 13, 2009

According to an official statement released by Barak’s bureau, the defense minister resolved “to remove the yeshiva from its arrangement within a reasonable period of time so as to enable the students of Har Bracha to choose and matriculate into a different yeshiva hesder.”

Barak decides to remove hesder yeshiva from IDF

By Hanan Greenberg December 13, 2009

Sources close to the rabbi said that only one soldier from the Har Bracha yeshiva participated in the protest sign incidents. They also noted that the rabbi expressed his opposition to political protest in the army a month and a half ago in his weekly column in the “Besheva” newspaper.

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed Meets Deputy Defense Minister

By Gil Ronen December 11, 2009

The Head of Har Bracha Yeshiva, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, met Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai Thursday evening at the ‘Beit HaChayal’ soldiers’ hostel in Jerusalem.

Melamed has yet to answer Barak’s call

By Matthew Wagner December 10, 2009

Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai gave Rabbi Eliezer Melamed until Sunday to express his unequivocal opposition to political demonstrations in the IDF.

Melamed said that he would have to consult with senior rabbis.

If the rabbi does not acquiesce, Vilnai said that he would recommend to Defense Minister Ehud Barak to remove Melamed’s Har Bracha Yeshiva from the hesder yeshiva.

Barak calls in hesder yeshiva head for hearing

By Matthew Wagner December 9, 2009

Rabbi Melamed was singled out for comments that he wrote in a book entitled Revivim, a compilation of columns that he wrote for the settler weekly B’Sheva.

In his writings Melamed sharply criticizes IDF officers for introducing personal career considerations into their decision making and accuses them of lacking true loyalty to the Jewish state. He also voices support for insubordination in cases where the IDF is used to evacuate Jewish settlements.

One chain of command

Haaretz Editorial December 10, 2009

The government must not give in to those who do not accept its authority, particularly if certain rabbis threaten that their students will not enlist in the army. The more the state ignores the incitement in the hesder yeshivas, the more it allows it to grow.

This growth is not “spiritual,” as the rabbis label it. By virtue of the rabbi’s position and the special arrangement between the army and the yeshiva, this growth effectively means a division of authority. The inciting rabbi is not “expressing his opinion.”

He is telling his students to do the opposite of what their commanders instruct them to do. This division is a surefire recipe for the breakup of the army and a sign of anarchy.

Barak summons rabbi who told soldiers to refuse orders

By Anshel Pfeffer December 10, 2009

At the hearing Melamed will be asked to explain why Barak should not adopt the recommendation of Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to remove Har Bracha from the hesder program.

The yeshiva is caught up in a crisis between the defense establishment and the hesder program after Melamed encouraged his soldier-students to refuse orders if asked to participate in the evacuation of West Bank settlements and outposts as part of their military service.

‘Disobedient rabbi’ gets ultimatum

By Hanan Greenberg December 10, 2009

Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai:

“We can’t have a situation where IDF soldiers think they have an additional source of authority to look up to in addition to their military commander,” he told the rabbi.

Should Rabbi Melamed refuse to make a clear declaration, his yeshiva’s special arrangement with the army may be revoked.

Barak to meet Hesder yeshiva heads

By Matthew Wagner and staff December 8, 2009

Dr. Aviad Hakohen, dean of Sha’arei Mishpat Legal College, voiced support for the right of yeshiva heads to free expression.

“The right to freedom of speech cannot be [taken] from rabbis and their students,” said Hakohen in a press release.

“The IDF’s scare tactics against the hesder yeshivot and its threats to break off ties are unacceptable.”

Settler rabbis to tell Barak: Don’t oust extremist yeshivas

By Anshel Pfeffer and Yair Ettinger December 9, 2009

The five yeshiva heads who will meet Barak today – members of the executive council of the Association of Hesder Yeshivas – plan to stress that Elon Moreh and Har Bracha are a tiny minority of Israel’s 62 hesder yeshivas.

Nevertheless, they will say, they oppose any effort to dictate what a rabbi may say to his students.

Rise in army service exemptions on religious grounds

By Hanan Greenberg December 8, 2009

Concerns are being raised within the defense system of an apparent rise in the rate of ultra-Orthodox youths who do not enlist in the army on the grounds of “Torah is His profession.”

The Israel Defense Forces updated the forecast for non-recruit rates ahead of a debate in the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. The data indicated that the rate of non-enlistment on the grounds of “Torah is His profession” is on the rise and is slated to reach 12.8% within the next two years.

The data indicated that the rate of non-enlistment on the grounds of “Torah is His profession” is on the rise and is slated to reach 12.8% within the next two years.

UTJ rejects gov’t compromise on female draft-dodger law

By Matthew Wagner December 8, 2009

United Torah Judaism rejected Monday an attempt at compromise on the issue of the induction of religious women into the IDF.

MK Menachem Eliezer Moses (UTJ):

“According to the new bill if there is a dispute between the Chief Rabbinate representative and the Defense Ministry representative, the Defense Ministry wins. That strips the rabbi of all powers whatsoever.

It creates an absurd situation in which a defense official has more authority to determine a woman’s religiosity than a rabbi.”

MK demands info on Civilian Service volunteer placements

By Rebecca Anna Stoil December 9, 2009

Top officials in the Civilian Service program are unable to provide information on the activities of dozens of participating former yeshiva students, Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner complained this week, casting doubt on the destination of millions of shekels of taxpayers’ funds.

Plesner’s revelation came during a heated meeting Tuesday of the subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee tasked with examining the success of the Tal Law.

The organizations on Plesner’s list ranged from well-known groups such as Chabad and Yad Sarah to smaller groups including one called the Moving House of God.

‘National service is yet another channel funneling money to Haredim’

By Jonathan Lis December 11, 2009

Most of the ultra-Orthodox Israelis who chose to volunteer for national service in lieu of obligatory military service carried out their duties at yeshivas and other religious organizations instead of other civil arenas, data presented to the Knesset reveals.

This data indicates that ultra-Orthodox individuals who take this path don’t actually take part in secular civil service, which goes against the intention of the law that allows them to forgo military service in favor of civil service.

The Tal Law was meant to direct religious youth toward service with Israel’s fire department, police or hospitals.

Under the clause that encourages “volunteerism for welfare purposes” Haredi youths opt to volunteer at Haredi yeshivas, and receive payment for their service from the state.

Book Reviews: Kosher courage

By Matthew Wagner December 13, 2009

Military historian Martin van Creveld argues in his book The Culture of War that Jews are “men without chests.” In a chapter in his book with the same title van Creveld blames Israel’s failure in the Second Lebanon War on a lack of Jewish military culture.

In his book A Double-Edged Sword: Military Activism in the Thought of Religious Zionism, Eli Holzer investigates the theological and philosophical roots of religious Zionism’s military activism as elucidated in the writings of leading religious Zionist thinkers.

In Israel and Its Army: From Cohesion to Confusion, a macro view of the IDF from its conception to the present day, Stuart Cohen, a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, deals, among other issues, with the integration of religious soldiers in the IDF.

Rabbi Amar slams High Court’s intervention in kashrut affairs

By Kobi Nahshoni December 13, 2009

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar addressed Knesset members Wednesday asking them to draft a bill which would prevent the High Court of Justice’s interference in matters pertaining to kashrut, which are under the Chief Rabbinate’s authority.

This, following a court ruling which forced rabbis to issue kosher certificates against their judgment.

Israelis Begin a Serious Domestic Cake Fight

By Benjamin Joffe-Walt December 10, 2009

Rabbi Hank Skirball, the chairperson of Hiddush, an organization promoting religious freedom in Israel, said Israel’s rabbinate was intentionally creating a cause célèbre out of the case of the cake shop.

“They are flexing their muscles in areas which have nothing to do with food,” he told The Media Line.

“When someone looks at a kosher certificate they want to know if the food itself is kosher, they are not interested in whether the owner of the establishment is a belly dancer or believes the Messiah has already come.”

Rabbinical court orders woman take polygraph test

By Kobi Nahshoni December 10, 2009

The Haifa Regional Rabbinical Court has ordered a woman to take a lie-detector test over her ties with other men and drug abuse after the religious judges believed that her husband, who claims she is cheating on him and using drugs, may be telling the truth.

According to the judges, if the suspicions against the woman prove to be true, she will be deemed unfit to raise her children. The use of a polygraph test is not unprecedented, but quite rare in the rabbinical courts.

Religious-Zionist Youth Stream to Hassidism

By Hillel Fendel December 8, 2009

Many colorful knitted yarmulkes stood out brightly at the various recent “Chabad New Year” celebrations – and the head of the Ramat Gan yeshiva explains why.

Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira heads Yeshivat Ramat Gan, a leading Tel Aviv-area religious-Zionist yeshiva in which prayer, study, joy, devotion and introspection vie for the students’ and rabbis’ concentration.

Rabbis, Yasuf elders meet at junction

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By Yaakov Katz and staff December 13, 2009

Dozens of rabbis who had planned to visit the Palestinian village of Yasuf – where a mosque was vandalized on Friday – met with the village elders at the Tapuah junction on Sunday afternoon after being held up for several hours by the IDF.

Rabbis visit Yasuf mosque: We came to expel darkness

By Kobi Nahshoni December13, 2009

Dozens of rabbis and activists from the Religious Zionist camp will visit Sunday the West Bank Palestinian village of Yasuf to protest against the torching of the village’s main mosque and to send a message of reconciliation to the Muslim population, Ynet has learned.

US rabbi wants to bring pluralism and tolerance from Chicago to the Negev

By Jacob Kanter December 10, 2009

Rabbi Asher Lopatin, along with Daniel and Rosie Mattio, soon founded the Chicago Israel Philanthropic Fund (CIPF), “to really market this to North Americans as a pluralistic and diverse community.”

“God willing there will be dozens of synagogues that will sprout up in Carmit,” Lopatin said. “

Carmit’s school will be based on Meytarim, an education network that uses Jewish law and tradition as a starting point, but permits pluralistic expression of students’ Judaism.

Student exchange aims to strengthen US teens’ ties with Israel

By Matthew Wagner December 8, 2009

Fish-Rosenberg said that sending Israeli girls to America was an important element of the program, a way of opening them up to a “global Jewish world.”

“I believe it is important for Israeli girls, as the future leaders of the Jewish people, to learn about American Jewish culture,” said Fish-Rosenberg. “We want to foster ties between the two largest centers of Jewish life.”

New Rules for L.A./Tel Aviv Student Trips

By Michele Chabin December 8, 2009

Israel’s Ministry of Education’s decision this week to change the way student exchange programs are operated and possibly funded could have a significant impact on the exchange programs that exist between Jewish day schools in Los Angeles and Tel Aviv, among others.

Russians Now Big Players in American Jewish Philanthropy

By Gal Beckerman December 9, 2009

The other new players in the American Jewish world are NADAV and its main benefactor, Nevzlin. Though most of Nevzlin’s activities have been confined to Israel until recently — specifically his work on resuscitating Tel Aviv’s Jewish Diaspora Museum with a $6 million gift — he sponsored part of, and served as international chairman of the General Assembly in December, giving a high-profile and well-received speech introducing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Instead of ‘shlichim’ Editorial December 9, 2009

All this intensifies the question of whether it makes strategic and financial sense for communities and/or organizations to continue supporting these shlichim. Can the $40,000-$130,000 needed by a community to bankroll a shaliach be better directed?

Already communities such as Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, West Palm Beach and Denver have opted not to hire an Israeli emissary in their community. But what is the alternative?

Jewish US Boxing Champ in Israel: G-d Gave me the Ability to Box

By Yoni Kempinski December 9, 2009

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Prize-winning Jewish American boxer Dmitriy Salita arrived in Israel for his first visit in the country Monday night.

27 year-old Salita is also known as “The Star of David” because of the Israeli flag he waves at tournaments and the star of David that appears on his sports uniform.

Dmitriy is an Orthodox Jew born in Odessa, Ukraine, and currently living in Brooklyn, New York. He is in Israel as a guest of the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization.

Dmitriy speaks about the combination between his religious-observant life as a Jew and the competitive-physical field of boxing. The Jewish boxer explains that boxing was Jewish field of sport since the 1920’s and that his dream is to box in Israel.

After title loss, Orthodox boxer punches into Israel for first visit

By Cnaan Liphshiz December 11, 2009

“Israel is a good place for reflection,” professional Jewish boxer Dmitriy Salita told reporters on Wednesday in Jerusalem, after they asked the Orthodox Brooklynite about his future plans following his dramatic loss last Saturday night in a world championship fight.

Within 24 hours of beginning their visit as guests of Nefesh B’Nefesh, the Salitas faced a barrage of questions on whether they planned to immigrate to Israel.

This prospect, Dmitriy and his wife Alona said, is not something they are considering now.

“I very much hope Dmitriy will join us and make aliyah in the near future and join the Jewish People,” said Erez Halfon, vice chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, which has brought 23,000 Jews to Israel from North America and the U.K since its foundation in 2002.

Rift grows between El Al, Jewish Agency over olim flight charges

By Zohar Blumenkrantz December 13, 2009

The recent rift between the Jewish Agency and El Al was caused partly by the national airline’s decision to stop accepting the agency’s flight vouchers for new immigrants and start charging new arrivals instead, Haaretz has learned.

Tel Aviv Mayor Recognizes Reform Mechina for Community Service December 10, 2009

Ron Huldai, mayor of Tel Aviv, helped mark the city’s centennial by recognizing several individuals and groups for excellence in volunteering, among them the Mechina, the pre-draft program of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. The ceremony took place in Tel Aviv on December 2.

The Mechina is a gap year initiative that helps prepare young people for the challenges of army life through academic, spiritual and ethical enrichment, as well as involvement in social and community projects.

Jerusalem ulpans for new immigrants under threat of closure due to funding crunch

By Abe Selig December 11, 2009

Two Jerusalem ulpans used primarily by new immigrants are in danger of having their doors shut come January 1, if a funding dispute between the municipality and the Education Ministry is not sorted out beforehand.

The unholy battle for Ethiopia’s remaining Jews

By Gili Gurel December 13, 2009

In his book “Zionism Upended” (discussed in the article “They’ll say I’m a racist” by Nir Hasson and Anshel Pfeffer in Haaretz English Edition, October 29, 2009), former Jewish Agency emissary Ori Konforti accuses NACOEJ of creating a false representation of devoutness and poverty in order to increase the flow of donations, and also of deceiving the Falashmura themselves, who believe that affiliation with NACOEJ will bring them to Israel.

NACOEJ and the other organizations involved in bringing the Falashmura to Israel have denied these accusations, but some of them are again cropping up among organizations in Ethiopia.

The Promised Land

By Vered Lee December 11, 2009

“The whole story of the lack of absorption of Ethiopian immigrants starts with the attitude of the religious establishment. To this day, the Orthodox rabbinate does not recognize Ethiopian Jewry.

The Israeli public doesn’t know, but there are three [kinds of] rabbis in Israel: Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Ethiopian.

Every Israeli-born Ethiopian who wants to get married, say, cannot go to the religious council where he lives, like any other citizen. Instead he has to come from wherever he lives to the Ethiopian rabbi.

We’re fourth-class Jews. And at the same time, they canceled the standing of the Kessim (Ethiopian high priests). So if you decide that I’m not a Jew, then at least give standing to the Kessim so they can marry me. And if I am a Jew, then why can I obtain religious services only from an Ethiopian rabbi?”

Inquiry threatened if Falash Mura aliya not sped up

By Ruth Eglash December 9, 2009

A parliamentary inquiry will be launched if those involved in facilitating aliya from Ethiopia do not restart processing, within the next two months, the applications of thousands of Falash Mura still waiting to immigrate, Knesset State Control Committee chairman Yoel Hasson threatened Tuesday.

“This aliya has taken far too long,” Hasson admonished representatives of the Jewish Agency and the interior, finance and foreign ministries, during a joint session with the Aliya, Immigration and Diaspora Committee.

MK: ‘Falash Mura must be brought to Israel’

By Ruth Eglash December 8, 2009

The Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel must immediately restart the stalled immigration process from Ethiopia and the organized Jewish community in the US must provide the funding for it, said Kadima MK Shlomo Molla, who headed a delegation of three MKs to Ethiopia last week and will present his findings to a special session of the Knesset on Tuesday.

Jewish lobby wages war on Christmas trees

By Ari Galhar December 8, 2009

The “Lobby for Jewish values” this week began operating against restaurants and hotels that plan to put up Christmas trees and other Christian symbols ahead of Christmas and the civil New Year.

According to the lobby’s Chairman, Ofer Cohen, they have received backing by the rabbis, “and we are even considering publishing the names of the businesses that put up Christian symbols ahead of the Christian holiday and call for a boycott against them.”

Israel to Vatican: We won’t return room of Last Supper

By Roni Sofer December 9, 2009

Israel has already made it clear that it will remain firm in its stance to maintain ownership of the room in which the Last Supper is believed to be held, which is on Mount Zion next to King David’s tomb.

However, the delegation plans on showing significant flexibility on the issue of taxes and property fees that the Church has refused to pay for decades and to waive Israel’s right to nationalize Church properties. In addition, the State will agree to grant members of the Vatican legal status with Social Security and the courts in Israel.

Holy See-Israel: still no agreement, but work moving forward

By Arieh Cohen December 11, 2009

There was not much surprise in the Church in Israel that the Thursday 10 December Plenary meeting, in the Vatican, of the Bilateral Permanent Working Group between the Holy See and the State of Israel did not end with an announcement that the Agreement on fiscal and Church property matters, under negotiations for ten years, has not yet been achieved.

Israel’s talks with Vatican fail

By Roni Sofer December 10, 2009

Israel’s efforts to reach understandings and achieve reconciliation with the Vatican have failed for the time being.

The talks between Israeli officials and the Vatican have hit a dead-end, Ynet learned Thursday.

The failure mostly stems from disagreement in respect to the Vatican’s demand for sovereignty at the Last Supper Room on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion. The Vatican also upheld its objection to the confiscation of Church land across Israel for public purposes.

Aish HaTorah Temple model to open this Hanukkah

By Tzofia Hirschfeld December 11, 2009

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This Hanukkah the Aish HaTorah Jewish studies center in Jerusalem will inaugurate the largest model of the Second Temple to be built to date.

The model, which was built on a scale of 1:60, and weighs 1.2 tons, is made of the original materials, namely, real gold, marble and stone, and was placed on the third floor of the center’s building, facing the Western Wall.

Religion and State in Israel

December 14, 2009 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

All rights reserved.

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