Religion and State in Israel – December 21, 2009 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

December 21, 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.

Haredim dub women Western Wall worshippers ‘Nazis’ December 18, 2009

Photo: Women of the Wall Nofrat Frenkel (left), Anat Hoffman (rt.)

Confrontation broke out in the Western Wall on Friday, as Haredi worshippers protested an attempt by members of a women’s organization to conduct a massive prayer session at the holy site by calling out “not-Jews” and “Nazis,” Army Radio reported on Friday.

About 200 members of the “Women of the Wall” organization arrived at the Western Wall in order to take part in the monthly Rosh Hodesh prayer, and to protest the arrest of their fellow member at the site.

Police officers separated the two sides after Haredi worshipers approached the women’s group members and yelled out “not Jewish, send them to church,” and “Nazis, blasphemy.”

150 members of ‘Women of the Wall’ pray at Kotel December 18, 2009

Women of Wall chairperson Anat Hoffman explained that the goal of the prayer session was not to provoke but rather to quietly protest the law that pervades in the holy places that, according to Hoffman, discriminates against female worshipers.

Women of the Wall: Keeping the faith for 21 years

By Judith Rosenbaum Opinion December 17, 2009

What became Women of the Wall was born on December 1, 1988. A multi-denominational group of about 70 women — in Israel for the first International Jewish Women’s Conference — held a women’s prayer service at the Wall, bringing a Torah scroll with them to the women’s section of the plaza.

Western Wall Rabbi: Heavens Are Crying December 18, 2009

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich of the Western Wall:

“What value is there to prayer when it hurts the feelings of many and is done in an environment of argument and disagreement?”

He added, “It’s not for nothing that the rain raged at that time, because the heavens are crying over women who try to harm the Western Wall and the feelings of those [other women] who pray there,” and said they should seek what is common and unifying.

Don’t give up the fight

By Mya Guarieri December 18, 2009

As the march passed the Rabbinical Court of Tel Aviv, members of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) – an NGO that supports religious pluralism – stopped and proudly thrust their blue and white placards, adorned with a Star of David, into the air. “There is more than one way to be Jewish,” the sign said.

Address from Reform and Progressive Leadership in Israel December 17, 2009

Dear friends,

…The day after the arrest at the Western Wall, six new rabbis were ordained – graduates of the Israeli Rabbinical Program at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. The six new rabbis join dozens of new rabbis ordained in recent years.

…The most moving moment came when the new rabbis wrapped themselves in a tallit and stood by the open Holy Ark, ready to receive their blessing of ordination.

The sight of four new women rabbis, together with two male colleagues, wrapped in a tallit is perhaps the best answer we can give to the arrest of a member of the Women of the Wall.

These six new rabbis will wrap hundreds of young Jewish boys and girls in a tallit over the next few years as they run Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies…

Happy Hanukkah!

Rabbi Gilad Kariv

Executive Director, Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism

Evil in modern Israel

By Rabbi Michael Marmur Opinion December 20, 2009

The writer is the Vice-President for Academic Affairs of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion and is based in Jerusalem.

I stayed at home this morning. There were three reasons why I didn’t join my wife as she made her way to the Women of the Wall services for the new month.

…For the benefit of the men who participated in today’s display of verbal acuity, my wife is not now nor has she ever been a Nazi. She is just someone with a different vision. She wants Israel to live in health and security as an open, democratic and pluralistic society.

She wants your religious sensibilities preserved and promoted, and she wants the same thing for others too. I can see how this might be mistaken for a murderous totalitarian worldview, but if you concentrate hard, the subtle differences may shine through.

Bielski steps in to repair Jewish Agency/Nefesh B’Nefesh rift

By Raphael Ahren December 18, 2009

Former Jewish Agency chairman Zeev Bielski has asked the Knesset’s immigration committee to arbitrate in the reignited quarrel between the quasi-governmental organization and Nefesh B’Nefesh, a private immigration assistance group.

Sharansky meets El Al head to resolve price dispute stalling aliyah

By Zohar Blumenkrantz December 17, 2009

The top management of El Al met with Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky yesterday in an effort to resolve a price dispute that has been stalling immigration.

The dispute began when El Al announced it was raising the prices on the tickets offered to the Jewish Agency by 5 percent. The agency refused, and no agreement for 2010 has been signed.

El Al, Jewish Agency seek to end spat

By Haviv Rettig Gur December 18, 2009

Senior officials at the Jewish Agency and Israel’s largest airline, El Al, are looking to renew cooperation after an acrimonious financial dispute has seen the severing of all ties between the organizations.

El Al believes the Jewish Agency pays too little for flights, and has begun to demand in recent weeks that the agency agree to higher prices for the thousands of flights it generates each year.

Sharansky emphasizes Jewish identity

By Ruth Eglash December 16, 2009

Less than six months after being appointed head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, former Soviet dissident, Israeli politician and philosopher Natan Sharansky is putting his years of Zionist thinking and ideology into practice as he attempts to fight some of the stereotypes associated with the quasi-governmental organization.

‘Nefesh delegitimizing non-US aliya’

By Haviv Rettig Gur December 16, 2009

The years of acrimony between the Jewish Agency and the private aliya group Nefesh B’Nefesh reached a climax this week with the leak of an e-mail in which Jewish Agency director-general Moshe Vigdor suggested ways to improve the agency’s image at Nefesh B’Nefesh’s expense.

What American aliya?

By Haviv Rettig Gur Opinion December 16, 2009

…But in another sense, both organizations are wrong. And that’s because aliya as a phenomenon, as a movement, as a national project, has come to an end.

…The Jewish people’s two largest aliya organizations have fought each other for years, finally reaching a détente two years ago in the form of government recognition and funding for Nefesh and an Agency-Nefesh agreement regarding North American aliya. But friction remains, political maneuvering and pettiness remains.

And that’s a shame. Because for all intents and purposes, North American aliya is currently at zero.

Undermining an Israel-Diaspora Partnership

By Mitchel Malkus Opinion December 16, 2009

Rabbi Mitchel Malkus is head of school of the Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles.

It is a shame that a program that connects Israeli and American Jews in such a strong way, and that has planted the seeds of a meaningful relationship between our two communities over the past 12 years, will be a casualty of an uninformed bureaucracy. Our people, and our youth, deserve better.

Yeshiva U high HS students earn Israeli culture immersion experience December 17, 2009

Yeshiva University announced this week that 20 outstanding tenth graders from the Yeshiva University high schools – 10 from the Yeshiva University High School for Boys/Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy (YUHSB) and 10 from the Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls (YUHSG) – will be participating in a unique six-week student exchange program with Israeli high schools.

Fund gives millions of dollars to keep Russian-speaking Jews Jewish

By Haviv Rettig Gur December 19, 2009

The only long-term social investment fund focused on Russian-speaking Jewry celebrated its second birthday in Tel Aviv last week, and highlighted the profound challenges to identity faced by the far-flung Russian Jewish communities.

Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), founded by four Russian Jewish billionaire businessmen, has set itself the goal of connecting Jews to “Jewish values, culture, and ethics.” But not necessarily to religion.

How to bring US aliya Editorial December 20, 2009

To bring American Jews, Israel must become open to American dreams.

A country where religion is more often a political fault line than a force for good could stand to gain from asking American Jews to live their American religious story here.

A country that awaits a constitution and struggles with improving the lot of even its most loyal minorities could stand to learn from liberal-minded American Jews about their very Jewish commitment to social justice and good governance.

If we want to bring American olim, we, as a nation, have to give them a reason to come.

$12m Mandel Gift Completes Israel Museum’s $100m Capital Campaign December 20, 2009

Of the Mandel Foundations’ $12 million gift, $7 million will support the reconstruction and expansion of the Jewish Art and Life Wing, which traces the diaspora of sacred and secular Jewish cultures worldwide, from the Middle Ages to the present.

The First International Conference on the Purposes and Practices of Israel Education Conference December 20-22, 2009

Adding harmony to the mix

By Barry Davis December 17, 2009

Earlier this week the annual Liebhaber Prize for Religious Tolerance and Cultural Openness in Israel was awarded by the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem to radio personality and performer Jacky Levy and veteran multidisciplinary musician Shlomo Gronich “for their contribution toward religious tolerance.

The ceremony was held at the Conservative Judaism movement-affiliated institute, which is located near the Israel Museum and serves as one of the movement’s main rabbinical seminaries.

Religious conference calls for interfaith tolerance

By Boaz Fyler December 20, 2009

On the backdrop of the recent mosque torching in the West Bank village of Yasuf, rabbis, priests, and Muslim clerics participated last week in an international conference dealing with the promotion of ideas for peace among all three monotheistic religions.

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger arrived at the convention after a visit to the village of Yasuf, where he condemned the attack on the mosque.

Recycling Hanukka

By Emily Hochberg December 17, 2009

The event was run by Eco Lights, a subdivision of Sviva Israel, a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental literacy education, which is using social media as a means to inspire real world action during Hanukka.

Eco Lights is the brainchild of Tamar Wisemon, wife of Carmi Wisemon, an environmental activist who started Sviva Israel in the hopes of educating Jewish youths, families, educators, and leaders on environmental awareness. Tamar, a former journalist and technical writer, used her tech prowess to aid her husband in his work from a web standpoint.

Visual Midrash

By Laura Gelfond Feldinger December 20, 2009

Since moving here with her husband, biblical scholar Dr. Jacob Milgrom, in 1994, Dr. Jo Milgrom has become the country’s primary lecturer in art as midrash at the Schechter Institute.

And now, compiling her archive of images of ancient and contemporary artists, and working together with biblical scholar Dr. Joel Duman, she helped launch last week “Virtual Midrash,” the first on-line fine and folk-art index of the Bible and its commentaries, under the auspices of the TALI Education Fund.

Taking the reins in hand

By Nati Toker December 17, 2009

Leaders of Israel’s religious community tend to take pride in the fact that their young people are supposedly more principled and live according to higher ethical standards than their secular peers.

However, recent research shows that addiction to drugs and alcohol is widespread even in the national-religious and ultra-Orthodox communities.

“There are drugs in Bnei Brak,” the almost exclusively ultra-Orthodox city near Tel Aviv, acknowledges Shemarayahu Chen, a member of the Chabad community, who serves as the principal of the school that operates at Retorno.

With hearts on their screen

By Karni Eldad December 18, 2009

At the Ma’aleh School of Television, Film and the Arts in Jerusalem, now celebrating its 20th year, a variety of Pandora’s boxes have been steadily opening one by one.

The films made by the students – most of who come from religious backgrounds – explore the “hot topics” in the country’s religious-national community, including subjects that have not been openly discussed before

Dankner lights a candle with the X-ray

TheMarker December 20, 2009 [hardcopy edition]

Israel Discount Bank chairman Nochi Dankner and his wife Orly paid a visit to Sderot last week to light Hanukkah candles with Rabbi Yaakov Ifergan. Ifergan, advisor to the rich and famous, is known as the “X-ray rabbi”.

Study finds younger students do not revere Bible studies

By Or Kashti December 15, 2009

Elementary school students may like their Bible studies, but only a minority say they believe their classmates do, according to new research on the roots of the problematic attitude of students to Bible studies.

The head of the Bible department at Levinsky Teachers College in Tel Aviv, Dr. Haya Ben-Ayun, who conducted the study, says students’ responses to the study indicate they “answered according to what they believed they were expected to, but the truth is different.”

Sharansky: Speed up aliya from Ethiopia

By Ruth Eglash December 17, 2009

The government needs to speed up the aliya process of Ethiopian Jews, but it must also be vigilant about accepting only those who fit the already existing immigration criteria, Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) Executive Director Natan Sharansky told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.

A fitting tribute

By Seth J. Frantzman and Kasaey Damoza December 17, 2009

On Mount Herzl stands a relatively recently erected monument: a memorial to the Ethiopian Jews who died on their journey to reach the Holy Land.

The Memorial to Ethiopian Jews Who Perished on the Way to the Land of Zion-Jerusalem pays tribute to the more than 4,000 Ethiopian Jews who died during the journey from Ethiopia to Israel.

Soldiers get NIS 6.2 million in ‘Hanukka Gelt’

By Ruth Eglash December 19, 2009

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews will donate NIS 6.2 million to thousands of lone soldiers and soldiers in need as part of its Hanukka Gelt initiative, the group announced on Thursday.

The project will provide 10,000 soldiers with “Fellowship Cards” to buy clothing in H&O stores around the country. Combat soldiers will receive NIS 1,000 and the rest will receive NIS 400 each. Distribution of the cards, which will be valid until May, began this week.

JNF funds Christmas tree distribution in J’lem

By Abe Selig December 16, 2009

In an effort to spread some holiday cheer, the Jerusalem Municipality on Wednesday announced that it would be distributing free Christmas trees to the capital’s Christian residents in front of the Old City’s Jaffa Gate on the morning of Christmas Eve.

Rabbis versus Christmas: Religious rivalry in Jerusalem benefits no one

By Morten Berthelsen December 17, 2009

On the streets of Jerusalem, the religious war on Christmas is on. Last week, the “Lobby for Jewish Values” started handing out fliers condemning the holiday and inciting the public to boycott restaurants and hotels that sell or put up Christmas trees and other “foolish” Christian symbols.

Backed by rabbis, and with the self-righteous air of the American Christian right, lobby chairman Ofer Cohen told the Israeli media that he had considered publishing a list of businesses bold enough to put up Christmas decorations, call for a boycott against them, and – with a little help from Jerusalem Rabbinate – revoke the kashrut certificates of said hotels and restaurants.

Church leaders call for Holy Land pilgrimage

By Jamie Romm December 20, 2009

Christian church leaders from around the world came together at the Grand Court Hotel in Jerusalem on Thursday to call on people of faith around the world to make a pilgrimage to Israel.

During his speech Ben-Hur repeatedly pointed at a sign on the wall, bearing the slogan of the ministry’s initiative: “A call to all people of faith. Visit the Holy Land Now.”

Christmas shopping lures locals

By Ron Friedman December 14, 2009

While many Jews who live in Christian countries might happily live without the mayhem that surrounds them during the Christmas shopping season, more and more Israelis are seeking to get into the mix and take advantage of the seasonal sales.

Holiday of holidays

By Leora Goldberg December 20, 2009

For the past 16 years thousands of visitors have been attending the annual December weekend festival in Haifa. The festival, which falls on the cross-road of (Jewish) Hanukkah, (Muslim) Id El Adha and (Christian) Christmas, celebrates the coexistence and good friendship between Arabs and Jews.

Subterranean volcano

By Nir Hasson December 17, 2009

In the next few weeks, between making decisions about the deal for captive soldier Gilad Shalit, the settlement freeze and renewal of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have to make another fateful decision: Is the cellar beneath Abed Hirbawi’s East Jerusalem shop holy ground?

The decision will supposedly put an end to a strange, 13-year-old affair. Hirbawi and his landlord, Abdullah Buderi, claim the basement belongs to their shop, and that Coptic monks have invaded it. The Coptic Church says it was Muslims who invaded the cellar, which used to be a sanctuary belonging to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City.

Religion and State in Israel

December 21, 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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