Religion and State in Israel – January 4, 2010 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

January 4, 2010 (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.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin discusses “Rabbi Jesus” December 28, 2009

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Rabbi Shlomo Riskin explains his “Rabbi Jesus” video December 31, 2009

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Riskin retracts ‘Rabbi Jesus’ remark after online video sparks Orthodox backlash

By Raphael Ahren January 1, 2010

Defending himself from scathing criticism for a video in which he refers to Jesus as “a model rabbi,” a well-respected Anglo rabbi said this week that while his terminology was “inappropriate,” the poorly edited video mauled his message.

The current incident is the second time this year that Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the New York-born Orthodox rabbi of Efrat, had to clarify a controversial statement regarding Jewish-Christian relations.

Official Statement from Rabbi Shlomo Riskin regarding YouTube video

Har Bracha students petition High Court December 31, 2009

Although the IDF gave Har Bracha students a two-month extension to move to other hesder yeshivot, the petition claims that the request for the students to find other places to study was “causing them immediate and serious harm.”

The petitioners, including three students due to be drafted into the IDF in 10 days, further claimed that since the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee had not ratified the decision, Barak had no legal authority to make such a ruling.

Yeshiva students to Court: Give IDF status back to Har Bracha

By Chaim Levinson January 1, 2010

Students from a right-wing yeshiva in the West Bank on Friday appealed to the High Court of Justice to overrule Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s decision to oust their school from a joint program with the Israel Defense Forces.

Military rabbis: Refuse orders that go against Halacha

By Kobi Nahshoni January 3, 2010

Senior ranking retired military rabbis have called on Israel Defense Forces soldiers to refuse orders that go against Halacha.

In an unprecedented statement released Wednesday, they declare their loyalty to the stand of former Chief Military Rabbi Shlomo Goren, and call on serving rabbis to follow his example and instruct soldiers in their units to do the same.

‘Halacha is above military orders’

By Matthew Wagner January 2, 2010

“We wanted to make it clear that there are some orders that cannot be carried out, not because they are against the soldier’s conscience but because they go against Halacha,” said IDF Chief Rabbi (res.) Pini Isaac.

“For instance, if a solder is told to desecrate Shabbat he can refuse, but this must not be seen as insubordination. He is simply following IDF rules and regulations.”

Former Air Force Chief Rabbi Avshalom Katzir said that the Halachic opinion issued by the rabbis was aimed at providing support to the hesder yeshivot, which have “proven their selfless loyalty to the State of Israel.”

Rabbis vs. the Army: A new Focus for Religion and State Conflict in Israel

By Neuman Kalman Opinion December 30, 2009

“Whoever is for G-d, Follow me!”

The threat of insubordination in the case of settlement evacuations in the future goes beyond the statements or policies of any individual yeshiva.

There are rabbis of similar opinions in other hesder yeshivot as well as prominent rabbis outside of the yeshiva framework who call for insubordination, thus increasing the threat.

It is probable that the administrative measure of the Ministry of Defense – inevitable as it was in the circumstances – will change few minds.

Hesder leaders and the beginning of redemption

By Rabbi Shalom Hammer Opinion January 3, 2010

The writer teaches at Hesder Kiryat Gat and serves as a guest lecturer for the IDF Rabbinate.

The hesder yeshiva students represent the voice of ideology in the army today; they are the strongest and most resiliently committed soldiers.

There is no room to promote or appear to advance personal agendas within such a vital establishment.

Caution: Idealists ahead

By Yair Sheleg Opinion December 29, 2009

…religious Zionists are not just talking about double standards, which Israel Harel has also discussed recently in these pages.

In effect, they are making a broad cultural and ethical comparison that doesn’t just pit the politicians against the rabbis, but contrasts the norms prevalent among the “Tel Aviv elite” as a whole to those prevalent among religious Zionists.

Rabbi Melamed: No Clash between Jewish Law & Battle Orders

By Hillel Fendel December 27, 2009

Rabbi Melamed explains…that there is actually no dispute regarding the authority of the commanders in battle situations – and that the “clash” between rabbis and the army has been artificially manufactured in order to arouse hatred against the rabbis.

Bill against religious draft dodging defeated in Knesset

By Rebecca Anna Stoil December 31, 2009

The Knesset quashed a bill Wednesday submitted by MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) that attempted to reduce the number of young women who avoid mandatory IDF service by falsely claiming to be Orthodox.

Hasson’s legislation, submitted as a private member’s bill without the support of the coalition, was soundly defeated by a vote of 63-29 after Labor and Israel Beiteinu faction members maintained coalition discipline.

“[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu chose to bow to coalition considerations and to ‘kasher’ draft evasion,” complained Kadima spokesman Shmulik Dahan.

Army of half the people

By Amos Harel Opinion December 31, 2009

By 2012, the percentage of yeshiva students who receive an exemption (on the basis of the concept that “his Torah is his trade”) is expected to increase to 12 percent.

Among those who reach draft age in 2020, about half the men – that is, the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs – will not be inducted, even before we include draft evaders, and people with medical and other exemptions. With these statistics, the IDF will be an army of half the people at most.

…The army also now has launched a series of programs whose objective is to integrate the ultra-Orthodox into its ranks, ranging from the Haredi Nahal Brigade to the draft of those aged 22 and over to technical units.

Chief of Staff begins search for new IDF rabbi

By Matthew Wagner December 31, 2009

The IDF Chief-of-staff’s office has begun contacting possible candidates to replace IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Avichai Ronsky.

One of the leading candidates to replace Ronsky is Rabbi Rafi Peretz, head of the pre-military yeshiva academy in Yated.

According to Arutz 7, other candidates for the job include Rabbi Col. Shlomo Peretz, Ronsky’s deputy and head of the IDF’s kashrut department.

Another candidate being considered is Rabbi Duki Ben-Artzi, a combat pilot, who is head of the IDF’s Jewish Consciousness Department, which disseminates literature on Jewish identity, Judaism and their connection to military service

Rabbis: Abortion will delay the redemption

By Matthew Wagner December 30, 2009

Declaring that abortions “delay the redemption,” Israel’s chief rabbis have pledged to “strengthen” the work of an anti-abortion council in the rabbinate and urged state-employed rabbis to take other steps to reduce abortions.

Irit Rosenblum, head of New Family, an organization fighting to prevent religious influence in marital and birth issues, said the rabbinate’s initiative constituted blatant intervention by men in women’s decisions regarding their bodies.

“I am not shocked by this announcement,” said one women’s rights activist who has been involved in fighting the Rabbinical Courts on the issue of agunot (women denied a divorce by their husbands) for many years.

“Israel is becoming more and more fundamentalist, and this is just another step to further control women’s rights and sexuality.”

Appeal to MKs: Don’t let rabbis intervene in womb

By Kobi Nahshoni December 31, 2009

Knesset Member Orit Zuaretz (Kadima):

“It’s not abortions that are delaying the Redemption, but the chief rabbis,” Zuaretz said. “

“The chief rabbis are trying to reignite religious conflicts which have already been sufficiently settled in Israeli law,” said Rabbi Gilad Kariv of the [Israel] Religious Action Center.

Chief Rabbis wage war on abortions

By Kobi Nahshoni December 29, 2009

In a letter sent out to rabbis throughout Israel, Metzger and Amar wrote:

“The vast majority of abortions are unnecessary and forbidden by Halacha,” adding the committee was already exploring ways to reduce the number of abortions approved.

Chief Rabbis intensify fight against abortion

By Yair Ettinger December 30, 2009

Ronit Ehrenfreund-Cohen, the department head of WIZO’s Status of Women Division, condemned the rabbis’ letter Tuesday for “violating the essence and values of the society and country in which we live, which also pays their salaries.”

Anglo immigration is futile, asserts leading local economist

By Cnaan Liphshiz and Raphael Ahren January 1, 2010

Professor Dan Ben David from Tel Aviv Universitytold the crowd that Israeli society’s situation is “unsustainable” because of a “growing group which does not work, does not study and does not produce.”

…Noting that fewer than half of Israeli pupils will be secular by 2001, he said, “The topping on this crappy cake is that scholastic achievements of this secular system are among the lowest in the West.”

At the Jewish Agency event – which celebrated five years since the inauguration of the Wings program dedicated to preparing lone soldiers for civilian life – Ben David said that while “some Israelis will stay here no matter what, most of us have a price and a breaking point, and will leave.”

‘Thanks, Momo, but I’ll marry who I want’

By Raphael Ahren January 1, 2010

Lifshitz, popularly known as Momo, said he was aware many participants on his trip had intermarried parents or were dating non-Jews. “

“But I am not saying anything bad about anybody. My message is: Guys, you need to really try hard to find Jewish love. And if you find love and [your partner] is not Jewish, you have to understand that it’s your duty to raise your children Jewish.”

Lifshitz’s company, Oranim Educational Initiatives, used to be Birthright’s most popular trip provider until their falling out in July, which led Lifshitz to offer his own free trips for North Americans.

Immigration and Absorption Ministry launches Judaism project for new immigrants

By Matthew Wagner December 29, 2009

The Immigration and Absorption Ministry launched an educational project Tuesday to teach Judaism and Zionism to new immigrants and their children.

In the first stage of the project the ministry will provide NIS 7 million, while private Jewish philanthropists, including the Wolfson Foundation, will help fund the project.

In later stages the budget for the project is expected to grow to tens of millions of dollars, according to a ministry official.

Taglit-birthright celebrates 10 year anniversary

By Jamie Romm December 30, 2009

Taglit-birthright Israel’s celebration of a decade of bringing young Jews to Israel began on Tuesday as the wheels of a special El-Al flight from New York touched down at Ben-Gurion Airport.

As part of the celebration, Taglit-birthright Israel alumni from around the world will join the alumni who live in Israel for a tour in the “Decade Bus”. The tour is meant to reconstruct their initial visit to the country.

Birthright needs to transform on a larger scale

By Haviv Rettig Gur Opinion December 30, 2009

The challenge birthright poses to the Jewish world is how to transform their success into something of an altogether different scale.

When a quarter-million young Jews have visited Israel at the Jewish people’s expense, it is a tragic waste that their Jewish communities make little effort to continue their engagement.

Ten years, 260,000 Israeli and Diaspora participants, countless friendships, Jewish conversations and academic studies – and the question remains: Where’s the follow-up?

Poll: 40% of Jews live in Israel

By Tzofia Hirschfeld January 2, 2010

Most of the world’s Jews do not live in Israel, says a poll summing up the past decade. There are currently 13.3 million Jews living in 100 countries all over the world, 41% of which have made Israel their home.

A similar number, 40%, live in the US. However experts have predicted that the tables are set to turn, and that within 20 years most Jews will be living in Israel.

Immigration to Israel hits 16,244, highest jump in 10 years

By Raphael Ahren December 28, 2009

For the first time in 10 years the number of immigrants to Israel has risen this year, according to Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky and Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver.

17% rise in immigration to Israel during 2009

By Yael Branovsky December 30, 2009

Also, there were some 5,300 immigrants from English speaking countries (including North America, Britain, South Africa etc’) compared with 4,511 the previous year (an increase of 17%).

A slight increase was also recorded among immigrants from Western Europe (some 2,600 compared with 2,402), as well as from Latin America (1,230 compared with 1,078 in 2008).

Approximately 60% of the new immigrants are under the age of 35.

2009 a record year in North American aliyah January 1, 2010

“The rising interest in aliyah from North America is very encouraging for the State of Israel, and is a clear indication that aliyah is becoming more of a mainstream choice for many Jews” said co-Founder and Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh Tony Gelbart.

“We are confident that the numbers of Western Olim will continue to rise and look forward to helping make the move easier and more successful for thousands more newcomers in 2010 and beyond.”

210 new immigrants enjoy ‘instant’ aliyah

By Shari Leibler December 30, 2009

Ofer Dahan, director of the Programs Marketing Division for the Jewish Agency, praised the speed at which the new olim became Israeli citizens. They all received their identity cards within 24 hours of landing.

Dahan explained that with a “welcome from the Jewish Agency you get everything covered – a certificate, health [coverage], banking [set up], cellphones, work proposal” and housing.

American aliya – an exercise in futility

By Michael Hirsh Opinion December 31, 2009

The writer is a professional portfolio manager for both high net-worth individuals and institutions. He resides in Kochav Yair.

The great Torah sage Rashi tells us (Deuteronomy 30:3) that because of the Jews’ reluctance to come home to Israel, the messiah will be forced to “pluck” them out one-by-one.

To the well-meaning folks at Nefesh B’Nefesh and Jewish Agency, save your time, money and effort. You will have no better luck.

Gen-X Zionist

By Greg Tepper Opinion December 30, 2009

The writer is an internet editor at The Jerusalem Post.

After completing a three-year Israeli degree following a few years in the army, the ideals involved in making aliya and becoming part of something bigger, of living that dream, withdraws into some corner of the soul. Each day of life becomes routine.

Survey: Lone soldiers from abroad need assistance integrating into society

By Haviv Rettig Gur December 30, 2009

A large majority of lone soldiers from overseas don’t know how to function in the Israeli economy and need help integrating into Israeli society once they leave the army, a Jewish Agency survey of such soldiers has found.

Guma Aguiar Honored as ‘Builder of Jerusalem’ by Aish HaTorah

By Hana Levi Julian December 31, 2009

Click here for VIDEOS of Guma Aguiar

Leading Jewish philanthropist Guma Aguiar was one of four VIPs honored Wednesday by Jerusalem’s prestigious Aish HaTorah yeshiva for his role in building Israel and the nation’s capital.

Aguiar, founder and CEO of Leor Energy, sponsor of Beitar Yerushalayim and owner of Hapoel Yerushalayim, was named a “Builder of Jerusalem” at the yeshiva’s 2009 Boneh Yerushalayim Awards dinner.

Pinat Shorashim Charts New Direction January 3, 2010

Unfortunately, and with tremendous pain, we have no choice but to leave Kibbutz Gezer and find new opportunities to continue the important Zionist educational work in which we have been so successfully engaged for 18 years, “CHAI”, a lifetime.

But we are determined to continue our work. For many years our friends and leadership have encouraged us to “franchise” Pinat Shorashim and bring this creative educational concept to other locations. The Temple Congregation B’nai Jehudah in Kansas City has offered to become a pilot for this initiative.

Conservative Judaism conference to tackle intermarriage, ‘homo-lesbian’ ordinations

By Matthew Wagner December 29, 2009

Burning issues threatening to split the Conservative Movement, such as the ordination of homosexual and lesbian rabbis, the sharp drop in the number of young members and the challenge of intermarriage will be raised this week during a two-day conference in Jerusalem’s Van Leer Institute entitled “Conservative Judaism: Halacha, Culture and Sociology.”

“This will be the first time that an institution not associated with the Conservative Movement will devote a scholarly conference to Conservative Judaism,” said Professor Naftali Rothenberg, Jewish Culture and Identity Chair at Van Leer.

Forget that same old prayer book

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion December 29, 2009

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

But it is one new Siddur that is creating a stir here in Israel. The Masorti Movement has just, together with Yediot Books, published V’Ani Tefilati: Siddur Yisraeli.

One thousand radio spots are being broadcast to draw the attention of the Israeli public to the first Siddur intended for all to use – secular, observant, educated, Sephardi, Ashkenazi, or traditional.

That Yediot is distributing a prayer book for the first time shows confidence that this can be a very big seller.

‘Evangelicals deserve our support’ December 30, 2009

The Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry differed this week regarding the status of, and benefits given to, Evangelicals, Army Radio reported Wednesday.

The Foreign Ministry “wanted to recognize the Evangelicals as a sovereign group or an independent church, like other churches recognized by Israel,” said Bahid Mantzur, head of the Religious Affairs Division of the Foreign Ministry, according to the report.

“The goal was to help them receive benefits like other churches that we recognize, among them tens of clergy churches, tax and customs breaks on cars – and that also has an effect on religious people who come here from outside the country,” Mantzur explained.

Why Fewer Christians are Being Born in Israel

By Nathan Jeffay December 28, 2009

Christians have the lowest birth rate of all religious groups in Israel, official statistics reveal.

Christian women have on average two children, which is far lower than the statistic for Jewish women who have 2.9 and Muslim women who have 3.8. These statistics come from a new report by the Central Bureau of Statistics, an office of the Israeli government.

69% in favor of New Year’s Eve celebrations in Israel December 31, 2009

More than two-third of the public in Israel sees no problem whatsoever in events celebrating the civil New Year, according to a joint Ynet-Yesodot survey conducted just before the ushering in of 2010.

However, a majority of the Israeli public is opposed to official government funding of New Year’s celebrations. Nor would they support, however, denying kosher certification from establishments that host such festivities.

In the last section of the survey, respondents were asked if local rabbinical authorities should revoke the kosher certifications of establishments that host New Year’s parties. Some 61% responded that they are vehemently opposed to such a move…

By religious affiliation, haredim (78%) and religious (63%) said they support revoking kosher certification in such a case, while seculars (78%) and traditionalists (54%) said they are opposed to such a move.

Concluding the Falash Mura saga

By Eli Cohen Opinion January 2, 2010

Upon assuming the post of Jewish Agency chairman, Nathan Sharansky formulated organizational policy with regards to the Falash Mura that can be summed up as follows: The 8,700 Falash Mura who are sitting in Addis Ababa and Gondar must be brought to Israel.

Sharansky’s approach is based on a fundamental assumption that bringing the Falash Mura to Israel must constitute closure for an affair that has lingered for nearly two decades.

Religion and State in Israel

January 4, 2010 (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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