Religion and State in Israel – January 4, 2010 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

January 4, 2010 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

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Editor – Joel Katz

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

Is Tiberias next for segregated buses?

By Ron Friedman January 3, 2010

Will Tiberias be the next city to offer segregated buses for the haredi population?

Rabbi Asher Idan, director of Jerusalem-based Kol HaNa’ar, a haredi organization that helps at-risk youth, contacted Veolia Transportation last week requesting the company designate a special bus line for the haredi population in Tiberias, where for modesty’s sake, men and women sit at opposite ends of the bus.

Such routes, which have been termed “Mehadrin lines,” exist in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Beit Shemesh, Safed, Ashdod and other cities with large haredi populations.

According to Idan, the haredi community wants a bus that will take its members from the lower city to Shikun Dalet (the Dalet Neighborhood), where a majority of the haredi population resides.

“The religious/haredi community in Tiberias is large and important and will surely appreciate the new initiative that already exists in Israel’s large cities,” read the letter.

Rabbi seeks sex-segregated bus line in Tiberias

By Eli Ashkenazi January 3, 2010

A prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbi has asked a Tiberias bus company to launch a line similar to the ones in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak that segregate women from men.

Rabbi Asher Idan from Jerusalem, a ruler on religious matters pertaining to modesty, contacted the company Veolia Transportation last month, saying that ultra-Orthodox Jews from Tiberias wanted a segregated line.

A veteran woman resident of Tiberias who spoke on condition of anonymity said the request was “an enraging attempt to take over the city.”

She said that despite her “advanced age” she will wear a miniskirt and sit in the front of the segregated bus “to make a statement.”

Beit Din Stories: The Never Ending Story December 16, 2009

Click here for VIDEO

“Savta Bikorta” is a fictional character created by the Center for Women’s Justice to help the public understand just what happens behind the closed doors of the Rabbinical courts.

Israeli women fight relegation to back of bus

By Gil Shefler December 28, 2009

Before issuing any ruling, the court referred the matter to Israel’s Transportation Ministry. In January, more than three years since the IRAC petition was filed, Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz is expected to issue the government’s official position.

A spokesman for Katz, Avner Ovadia, said the minister is reviewing a committee’s recommendations on the matter and has not yet reached a decision.

“We’re listening to everybody and will make our decision soon,” Ovadia said.

[Naomi Ragen] said she believes Katz “really doesn’t want to become the minister that will allow Israel to become Iran.”

“Whatever the decision is, the end result is that women will not be abused on buses,” Ragen said.

“Nobody knew about this case before we filed. If we find the abuses are continuing we’re going straight back to court. It’s a long struggle, but there’s no way to reconcile democracy and this kind of antiquated thinking.”

Israeli women told to move to the back of the bus

By Hugh Kramer December 31, 2009

Egged, the government-owned transportation company that operates the buses, does not formally have Mehadrin lines, but they don’t interfere with the codes imposed on women by their ultra-Orthodox riders either.

Women Sent to the Back of the Bus in Israel

By Sarah Menkedick Opinion January 3, 2010

Ultimately the decision comes down to — you guessed it — one man, the head of Israel’s Ministry of Transport Yisrael Katz.

Many speculate that Katz will capitulate to the right-wing parties currently in power in the government coalition, defending the need for segregated buses and the right of haredi to practice their version of Judaism.

Pluralism wars reignite, U.S. Jews join fight

By Ron Kampeas December 28, 2009

Nofrat Frenkel, whose arrest at the Western Wall a couple of weeks before helped spur the recent demonstration, delivered a message that explicitly addressed the threat of the alienation of Diaspora Jews from Israel and religion.

“The crowd gathered here today proves to the Jewish people everywhere, in Israel and in the Diaspora, that ‘offense against public sensitivity’ is not the sole province of the ultra-Orthodox,” the medical student and gay rights activist reportedly said.

“We are also the public, the public who pays taxes and serve our country, in the IDF and National Service.”

Central Conference of American Rabbis Statement on Western Wall December 30, 2009

The tightening ultra-Orthodox stranglehold on the Western Wall must come to an end. Most recently, as Women of the Wall retreated to Robinson’s Arch to read from the Torah, ultra-Orthodox protestors pelted them with potatoes and hurled epithets, calling them “Nazis.”

The ultra-Orthodox custodians of the Western Wall have shown their true colors, which should make clear to Israeli leadership, and the entire world that the Wall’s appointed guardians are prohibiting, rather than protecting, worship, study, and the performance of God’s commandments.

Ultra-Orthodox hegemony at the Western Wall must end now, with equal rights accorded to all.

Rabbinical courts assert right to annul conversions

By Kobi Nahshoni December 28, 2009

The Rabbinical Court has jurisdiction over cases questioning the validity of a conversion ruled by either a conversions court or a lower rabbinical court, the Rabbinical Courts’ Administration asserted last Wednesday, in a legal brief filed with the State.

The 100-page brief was compiled by Rabbi Attorney Shimon Yaakoby, following a petition against recent conversion annulments.

Rabbinic Court head forced to step down

By Matthew Wagner December 31, 2009

A cabinet decision this week will force the Director-General of the Rabbinical Court Administration, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, to step down in six months.

According to the determination, several state employees’ terms were limited to four-year terms with the option of one additional four-year term. Ben-Dahan, who has headed the administration of the rabbinical courts for 20 years, was one of the state officials affected by the decision along with his counterparts in the Druse and Muslim court systems.

Ben-Dahan refused to comment on the decision. However, sources close to Ben-Dahan said Shas was behind the move.

“There are people in Shas who have been trying to remove Ben-Dahan for a long time now,” said the source.

Man divorces for 11th time – new Israeli record

By Matthew Wagner December 29, 2009

A 50-year-old man from the Jerusalem area divorced for the 11th time, a new Israeli record for Jews, according to an announcement released Monday by the Rabbinical Court Administration.

The man, whose divorces were performed both in Israel and abroad in accordance with Halacha, said his custom is to divorce his wives every two years and look for a new bride immediately after.

Focusing on conversion

By Joshua Reback Opinion December 27, 2009

The writer is a student at Yeshivat HaMivtar in Efrat. He converted under the auspices of the Beit Din of Bergen County in MarCheshvan 5768.

I personally would suggest that the effort to protect the personal integrity of converts bounds our diverse Orthodox leadership to honor the efforts of those rabbis in the Conservative movement, who maintain strict observance of Halacha, perform conversion processes according to the standards codified in our legal codes and hold their converts to their oath to continuing learning and implementing Jewish practices as they grow in Judaism.

They fight for the legal standards which are increasingly under attack within their own movement, yet receive little in moral or logistical support.

Education Min. tells local council to end segregation at girls school

By Or Kashti December 28, 2009

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar yesterday instructed the Immanuel Local Council to begin taking measures against the parents of Ashkenazi students in the West Bank settlement’s Beit Yaakov girls’ school who have refused to send their daughters to school after the institution received a High Court order to end segregation between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi pupils.

Yoav Lalum of the Noar Kahalacha non-profit organization, who filed the High Court petition, said yesterday,

“We have been contacted by a number of parents begging that we not stop the struggle, and continue fighting so that all of the girls can study together.”

Discrimination and contempt

Haaretz Editorial December 28, 2009

The Education Minister must instruct the director of the Beit Yaakov school system to remove every last sign of discrimination within his institutions, and immediately.

If the school’s contemptible practices persist, the state must use all measures at its disposal to end them – from denying funding to using force to ensure equal treatment.

MK Horowitz Seeking to ‘Save’ Israel’s Schoolchildren from Tefillin & Mitzvos

By Yechiel Spira December 31, 2009

Seeking to prevent Israeli school children from being ‘brainwashed’, Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz is proposing a bill that will make it illegal for Chabad shluchim to set up a tefillin stand outside a school or any educational institution.

Brawl between Ashkenazi, Sephardic Haredim in Ashdod

By Shmulik Hadad January 3, 2010

Some 500 haredim clashed on Saturday night in a brawl that broke out in Ashdod’s Zayin quarter on the backdrop of an ongoing conflict between Ashkenazi and Sephardic haredim in the area. Four haredim were arrested and brought in by the police for investigation.

The Ashkenazim claimed that Sephardic yeshiva dropouts are wandering the streets on Shabbat in a manner unbefitting of the haredi population living in the neighborhood.

According to neighborhood residents, pamphlets were distributed in synagogue on Shabbat calling haredim to protest the phenomenon on Saturday night.

Kadima’s future

By Israel Harel Opinion January 1, 2010

What today is called a “blossoming” – a society of scholars that disassociates itself from the real life of Israel and the world – is in practice an idealization of the fear of coping with reality.

Ultimately, when the state can no longer fund this anomaly, the bubble will burst with tremendous force. And then, not even its role as political kingmaker will be able to save ultra-Orthodox society from descent into the abyss.

Five MKs distribute NIS 40m of taxpayer funds to favorite causes

By Zvi Zrahiya January 1, 2010

Five members of the Knesset Finance Committee recently decided to distribute NIS 40 million of government money to 50 causes and organizations through a secret fund whose recipients were chosen without open debate and without the knowledge of other institutions that may have wanted to apply for the funding.

…NIS 1.2 million is going toward the “loan of medical equipment for severe diseases.” Knesset sources said the funding will go to medical centers including Maayanei Hayeshua, in the mostly ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Bnei Brak and Poriya Hospital in Tiberias – thereby benefiting members of Gafni’s ultra-Orthodox constituency and residents of Fanian’s hometown of Tiberias.

Haredi housing crisis may presage wider trend

By Dror Marmor December 28, 2009

We’ve been searching intently for the weak link in the chain, for the item that threatens the soaring house of cards. Housing prices and demand for initial capital are simply no longer within reach of most young couples with whom we’ve spoken.

We conclude that we had better pay attention to the distress in the haredi housing market. We had better consider that it can be the initial detonation which can ignite, faster than we imagine, the entire Israeli housing market.

We have more and more signs that the breaking point in the Haredi community is approaching, which stands helpless more than others in the face of too many changes too fast in the past couple of years.

Stirring up trouble

By Gail Lichtman December 31, 2009

Every Shabbat since it opened on November 1, the Macaroni restaurant at 28 King George Avenue has been the target of haredi demonstrators protesting the non-kosher restaurant’s being open on Shabbat.

Small groups of haredim, numbering between two to six demonstrators, stand on the sidewalk next to the entrance to Macaroni and, according to restaurant owner Erez Gans, yell at those going into the eatery.

…Gans is receiving support from Hitorerut Yerushalayim, a movement of youth and others who support pluralism in Jerusalem.

Prof. Oz Almog of the Sociology and Israel Studies departments of the University of Haifa sees four main reasons for the recent spate of haredi demonstrations concerning Shabbat.

Gerrer Rebbe Shlita – Get Vaccinated

By Yechiel Spira December 28, 2009

The Gerrer Rebbe Shlita has called on heads of households in his family to “get vaccinated”, referring to the vaccination available to the public to protect oneself against the H1N1 virus, known more commonly as swine flu.

According to reports, the Rebbe has ordered his sons, grandsons and all members of his family to take the vaccination.

Chareidi Patrol: Vigilance or Vigilantism?

By Samuel Sokol December 31, 2009

Residents of the Sheinfeld neighborhood, a Modern Orthodox area that borders Ramat Bet Shemesh Bet, are uncomfortable with the idea of the patrol.

A local resident, who spoke with the Five Towns Jewish Times on condition of anonymity, admitted that a neighborhood watch is a good idea in principle, but expressed reservations about the people leading the group.

Two of the men listed on the broadsheet are known members of a small group of zealots, known as “kannoim,” who have terrorized the community of Bet Shemesh in recent years, engaging in stone-throwing, physical assaults and threats against those found to be in violation of the group’s value system.

Some residents have expressed their reservations regarding the new patrol, fearful that it will soon be used to enforce the moral standards of the Bet Shemesh kannoim.

Maran R’ Elyashiv Shlita: The Knesset is Not a Place for Bnei Torah

By Yechiel Spira December 31, 2009

In Maran HaGaon HaRav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv’s Tuesday night shiur, the Gadol Hador was led into a discussion by shiur participants that addressed the issue of entering the Knesset, and the fact that chareidi MKs are indeed using the Knesset forum towards invoking a better Torah lifestyle for the greater community.

Addressing a sugya dealing with avoda zara, idol worship, the Rav explained one may enter a place of apikorsus if one is going to debate the apikorsim, those lacking faith. The Rav was asked if this would apply to the Knesset, since MKs do indeed debate the non-believers and do seek to advance the Torah lifestyle in Eretz Yisrael.

Photos: Haredi exposure

By Yoav Friedman January 3, 2010

The Israeli and World Press photography exhibition currently showing at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv includes choice photographs in the “Religion and Faith” category this year as in previous years.

True to tradition, the Israeli part of the exhibition displays images from the ultra-Orthodox world in this category.

Haredim join Arabs in opposing allegiance law

By Amnon Meranda January 3, 2010

The chairman of the United Torah Judaism faction, MK Menachem Eliezer Moses, expressed his opposition Sunday to the bill which proposes changes to the oath of allegiance taken by MKs.

Moses said to Ynet, “I understand Judaism, and I also understand democracy, but I don’t understand why we need the word ‘Zionism’.”

Supersize this, Rabbi!

By Melanie Lidman January 3, 2010


Yesterday, a story featuring Rinat Gutman was on the front page of the Ynet (Hebrew) Web site. She had been interviewed about the whole Orthodox female rapper thing that she does, and they delved a little into her family background.

Turns out her Dad is a Rabbi and her Grandfather is Rabbi Joseph BaGad, a Rosh Yeshiva and colorful former MK with the right-wing Moledet and Moreshet Avot parties.

The interview discussed issues relating to the extent of the prohibition against Kol Isha (a man is prohibited from hearing a woman’s voice in song) and how her family feels about her musical career. They also featured Rinat’s newest video Agas (Pear) shot last summer in London…

Nearly 300 Israelis make pilgrimage to Rabbi Abuhatzeira’s tomb in Egypt

AP January 3, 2010

Dozens of Israelis are making an annual pilgrimage to the tomb of a 19th-century Jewish holy man in Egypt’s Nile Delta.

Cairo airport officials say some 290 Israelis arrived Sunday on their way to the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira near the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. The commemoration of the anniversary of his death will take place Saturday.

Mubarak to allow Jewish pilgrims to visit famous rabbi’s tomb

By Barak David December 30, 2009

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Tuesday acceded to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to allow hundreds of Jewish pilgrims to visit the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira near Alexandria at the end of next week.

Abuhatzeira was the grandfather of Yisrael Abuhatzeira, also known as the Baba Sali, a revered rabbi and Kabbalist whose tomb in Netivot is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Israel.

Selling tzaddikim and bike trips in the Galilee

By Eli Ashkenazi December 31, 2009

The tombs of tzaddikim (religious figures deemed “righteous”) scattered across the Upper Galilee will soon rank as the top destination for visitors from Israel and abroad seeking good health, spiritual strength, even a marriage partner.

That, at least, is the vision of developers promoting a plan to market the northern region as a center of spiritual and recreational tourism.

The sacred Jerusalem in us all

By Karin Kloosterman December 29, 2009

A new book “Where Heaven and Earth Meet” collects opinions about the history and meaning of the Temple Mount from adherents to the three faiths which hold it dear, aiming to bring them closer together.

All the essays deal with Jerusalem’s sacred esplanade, an area that makes up about one-sixth of the area of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Religion and State in Israel

January 4, 2010 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

Editor – Joel Katz

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

All rights reserved.

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