Religion and State in Israel – February 8, 2010 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

February 8, 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.

Court slams Katz for his approach to sex-segregated buses

By Ron Friedman February 5, 2010

The High Court of Justice on Thursday criticized Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz’s decision to allow gender-segregated buses to continue operating, saying his suggestion to hang signs asking non-religious passengers to respect the haredi community’s sensitivities while explaining that the separation isn’t mandatory, was unsatisfactory.

“Perhaps you should put up signs against use of violence instead,” quipped Justice Yoram Danziger.

Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center:

“I think the countdown started today about segregation as a religious expression in the Jewish state,” she continued.

“It’s a slippery slope. If signage makes it kosher, then next we are going to find segregated post offices, HMOs and sidewalks, all of which we already know examples of.”

Separate isn’t equal Editorial February 5, 2010

Public transport – regardless of the particular route – belongs to us all. Coercing any of us to capitulate to sectarian restrictions should be a non-starter in principle.

…A free society cannot countenance what amounts to a potential injustice to women. The rights of those who are liable to be wronged must override the rights of others to cause that wrong.

Resist Segregation Editorial February 3, 2010

The need to restrain the burgeoning power of Jewish fundamentalism in Israel grows ever more urgent. The latest flashpoint is public transportation.

…We fear that this continued diminishment of women’s rights will open up a dangerous wedge in the already fraught relationship between American Jews and Israel.

…Supporters of Israel must strongly protest Katz’s acquiescence to the segregationists. The right of Haredi men and women to live and worship as they please must be protected, of course. But Israel’s public sphere must be open to all. In a 21st-century democracy, no one should be relegated to the back of the bus.

Transportation minister OKs ‘mehadrin’ buses

By Ron Friedman February 2, 2010

“The minister is trying to push a round peg through a square hole,” said Rabbi Uri Regev, director of Hiddush, a non-profit organization aimed at promoting religious freedom in Israel.

“What he’s saying is that the state won’t pass a law making the arrangement legal, but also wouldn’t do anything to stop it.”

“It’s not clear on what authority he rejected the committee’s determination that the separation involves violence and coercion against women.

How could such an arrangement be voluntary? How could verbal violence and pressure against a woman who boards the bus be prevented?” asked attorney Einat Hurvitz, who represented the plaintiffs in court.

Katz in favor of ‘voluntary’ bus segregation

By Kobi Nahshoni February 1, 2010

Israel Religious Action Center criticized the Minister’s response to the court.

Attorney Einat Horowitz:

“The Minister’s stance also ignores the need to ensure a fitting alternative to anyone who wishes to travel in bus lines without segregation, and does not address at all the significant difference in prices that makes the Mehadrin bus lines much cheaper than what is offered to the secular public.”

Jerusalem city council member Rachel Azaria added, “The recommendation is purely political, and was written because Shas and Agudat Israel are strong in the government.

“A woman should not be forced to sit in the back of these lines because of the number of seats Shas has. Minister Katz has betrayed his constituents.

He is betraying the secular, traditional, religious, and even most of the haredi public – for the sake of haredi extremists. As a public representative he should remember that this is the public that is meant to vote for him when the time comes.”

‘Western Wall shouldn’t be a synagogue’

By Gil Hoffman and Rebecca Ann Stoil February 4, 2010

The Western Wall should be a national site and not a synagogue, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said on Tuesday, in a revealing conversation in Tel Aviv about matters of religion and state with rabbis and leaders of the American and Israeli Conservative Movement.

Top American Conservative and Reform officials met this week with Meridor as well as with a number of other government ministers in separate and – according to the Reform Movement – uncoordinated meetings.

“The truth is that there is no equality between religious streams in Israel,” Meridor said. “There is no free market.

“What happened at the Western Wall bothers me. It doesn’t have to be a synagogue. It is a national site. I would change the status quo if I could, but it cannot be done with the current coalition.”

Regarding civil marriage, Meridor said it was “unacceptable” that Israeli couples who are unable or unwilling to marry in Israel via the rabbinate are forced to wed abroad.

Pushed from the Wall

By Rivka Haut Opinion February 5, 2010

Rivka Haut is co-editor with Phyllis Chesler of “Women of the Wall: Claiming Sacred Ground at Judaism’s Holy Site” (Jewish Lights, 2003), and co-editor with Adena Berkowitz of “Shaarei Simcha” (Ktav, 2007).

Many Haredim view public prayer and Torah reading as male activities. Women pray to God privately, not in groups.

The phenomenon of Women of the Wall conducting their own services in the absence of men, reading Torah, singing Hallel, threatens the Haredi way of life.

Rabbi Melamed: IDF chief rabbi’s rulings not binding

By Kobi Nahshoni February 4, 2010

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, who has recently angered the Defense Minister by promoting insubordination in the army, has come out with a new statement saying the Israel Defense Forces chief rabbi does not have the power to make halachic rulings binding to soldiers.

Speaking at a convention dubbed “The obligation of obeying a command and its limits”, held Tuesday at Efrat’s Shvut Israel hesder yeshiva, Melamed said military rabbis were swayed by wrongful considerations as well as army officers, and that this weakens the IDF rabbinate.

IDF: Religious Girls May Serve in Groups

By Gil Ronen February 1, 2010

The IDF is offering a new service track for young religious women in the hope of attracting more of them to serve in the military.

The track will enable them to serve in groups of six or more girls who will remain together throughout their military service. The new option was presented this week before a group of 500 religious girls who are candidates for enlistment.

IDF to Remove ‘Jesus Gun’ Codes

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu February 1, 2010

A Michigan company that supplies gun sights to Israel and other companies has agreed to provide a kit to remove the “JN8:12” code, a reference to the New Testament passage of John 8:12 that Jesus is the “light of the world.” Another type of the company’s gun sights is stamped with “2COR4:6,” a reference to part of the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians.

Former Shas Minister Aryeh Deri on Jewish identity and Heritage at the Herzliya Conference

Click here for VIDEO

February 2, 2010

Herzliya Conference panel on Jewish identity and Heritage

Former Education Minister Yuli Tamir and former Director, IDF Human Resources Directorate Elazar Stern in panel at Herzliya Conference on Teaching Jewish identity and Heritage

Click here for VIDEO

February 2, 2010

Former Shas leader: Secular Jews brought us ‘Big Brother’

By Yair Ettinger February 4, 2010

Secular Judaism “brought us Haskalah and maybe ‘Big Brother,’ but Jewish culture that provides a new Jewish language – this it did not bring,” former Shas leader Aryeh Deri said on Tuesday at the annual Herzliya Conference.

Deri lashes out at values of reality TV

By Gil Hoffman February 2, 2010

Deri said that more haredim were quietly entering the work force, the IDF and universities. He joked that the secular would one day complain that haredim were taking over academia.

In thinly veiled criticism of Shas, he said he generally opposed religious coercion in legislation. But he praised Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich’s effort to promote greater enforcement of legislation banning work on Shabbat, which he said was important to prevent the exploitation of weaker sectors.

Rav Ovadia Yosef: A Woman Can Recite Kaddish for Parents in a Minyan at Home

By Ezra Reichman February 1, 2010

Rav Ovadia Yosef has issued a trail-blazing if not original psak permitting a woman to recite Kaddish over her parents in a minyan at home. The psak is likely to arouse the chareidi rabbinical establishment against him.

The impending Haredi implosion

By Isi Leibler Opinion February 4, 2010

Ongoing external threats have diverted us from confronting the burgeoning haredi crisis which is rapidly developing into a national disaster.

…We are now rapidly reaching the point in which able-bodied Haredim unwilling or unfit to join the workforce will comprise such a large proportion of society that the state welfare system will simply become unable to support them.

The other explosive issue is Haredi exemption from army service, which has no religious justification and continues generating enormous resentment.

…Another issue is the inclination of certain haredi rabbis to more stringently interpret the applications of Jewish ritual observance. view of the explosive impending economic and political implications of the growing haredi population on the workforce and the IDF, haredim must be integrated into the mainstream and obliged to work and serve in the army or participate in national service.

Haredim return snatched body to police

By Efrat Weiss February 3, 2010

A body of a woman snatched by a group of ultra-Orthodox men on Wednesday evening has been returned to the Jerusalem Police.

…”ZAKA commander in Jerusalem Bentzi Oring arrived to handle the body, but was also beaten and pushed by those violent people, although these actions contradict the Halacha and respect of the dead,” ZAKA spokesman Moti Bukjin told Ynet.

ZAKA officials said that Oring used his connections with the police and among extreme elements in the haredi sector in order to reach an arrangement with the body snatchers.

Are Haredi leaders losing their followers to the Web?

By Miriam Shaviv The Forward February 2, 2010

Are Israel’s Haredi religious authorities losing control of their followers?

In December, leading Israeli rabbis launched a new push to curtail Internet use among ultra-Orthodox Jews, emphasizing that their longstanding ban on Web surfing applied to sites geared toward the Haredi community as well.

Treasury chief: Boosting Arab and Haredi employment would make Israel rich

By Lior Zeno February 3, 2010

Israel would be among the world’s richest nations if Arabs and ultra-orthodox Jews could be brought into the economy, Israel’s top treasury official said on Wednesday.

“If two groups of people were left out of GDP calculations, Israel would rank among the foremost developed countries,” Ministry of Finance Director General Haim Shani said. “They are the Arabs and the Haredis.”

See also: Internal Popular Discourse in Israeli Haredi Society

By Kimmy Caplan, Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History

Hanukkah parties, not chametz bills, will bring Jews closer to Judaism

By David Daman February 5, 2010

The writer is columnist for the ultra-Orthodox weekly Mishpacha.

It is time we let secular people know that we are taking our hands off religious legislation (except for laws with a direct bearing on the ultra-Orthodox public).

But at the same time we will explain that we don’t plan to give up on them, not even on one of them. We are determined to reach them everywhere they are.

We’ll bring them to lectures, seminars and symposia. We’ll see to it that every Jewish child knows about Shabbat, about the why of Passover and the how of Yom Kippur.

We will assist organizations that return people to religion, helping them reach the heart of every Jew. Agreeably, with authentic explanations, with great love, and with a warm welcome.

Haredim in focus at Meseznikov’s tourism ‘kollel’

By Ron Friedman February 5, 2010

The Israel Beiteinu minister met with Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) and other deputy ministers and committee chairs from haredi parties, to hear from them their constituency’s tourism needs.

The aim of the brainstorming session was to examine the characteristics of foreign and domestic haredi tourists, identify the difficulties facing them and zero in on obstacles to maximizing the sector’s potential.

Meseznikov also announced a NIS 30 million plan to upgrade infrastructure at Mount Meron that will be presented to the cabinet in the coming weeks. The tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai on Mount Meron is the most-visited Jewish holy site after the Western Wall, with hundreds of thousands converging on it on Lag Ba’omer.

Passion and Identity Crisis in a Pious Community

By A.O. Scott February 5, 2010

“Eyes Wide Open,” the quiet and confident feature debut of the Israeli director Haim Tabakman, explores the conflict between sexual desire and religious obligation.

Set in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem, the film, written by Merav Doster, gives nearly equal weight to both sides in that struggle.

Click here for VIDEO Film Trailer with English subtitles

Raising the curtain

By David Brinn February 5, 2010

“It’s a quiet revolution in the heart of the ultra-Orthodox community of Har Nof, as well as in broader Jerusalem and beyond,” says Shira Barzily, the young, energetic outreach manager of the conservatory, as she leads me into Har Nof’s Beit Ya’acov elementary school, where the conservatory exists after regular school hours.

There, some 500 female students, ranging in age from seven through adulthood, immerse themselves in the world of classical music.

Building a Haredi Carnegie Hall

By David Brinn February 5, 2010

Fifteen years after its founding, the Ron Shulamit Music Conservatory in Har Nof has outgrown being housed in someone else’s school.

Rabbonim Shlita Question Jerusalem’s Policy to Promote Evangelistic Tourism

By Yechiel Spira February 2, 2010

Rabbonim are concerned, and voicing their protest over ongoing efforts by Jerusalem City Hall to encourage Evangelistic Christians to visit Jerusalem, setting its goal at 10 million visitors a year.

Harel Pension Fund Managers Visit HaRav Eliashiv February 4, 2010

Yossi Dotan, vice president of long-term savings at the Harel Group, and Motti Levy, vice president of Harel Gilad, received blessings from Maran HaRav Eliashiv shlita for an investment track in the Harel Gilad pension fund which has been granted halachic approval by the Eida Chareidis’ Oversight Committee for Financial Investments.

Gov’t to Take Action against Emanuel Parents February 4, 2010

The government will take legal action against parents of students at the Beit Yaakov School in Emanuel, a government official told the High Court Thursday.

The students have been striking and refusing to attend class, after the court ordered that girls from Sephardic families be integrated in classes with girls from Ashkenazi families.

Top Marks to teacher colleges in religious, Arab sectors

By Or Kashti February 3, 2010

Of the 25 teacher training colleges in the country, the one which scored the highest marks was Herzog College in Gush Etzion, which readies students to teach at state-run religious Jewish schools. On average, such colleges had higher admissions rates than those geared toward non-religious schools.

Nachman Ravers

Tel Aviv followers of Rav Nachman of Breslov

Click here for VIDEO

Chabad Children Handed Over To Non-Jewish Dad as Per High Court

By Yechiel Spira February 7, 2010

Israel’s High Court of Justice has […] ordered the return of two children, members of the Chabad community, to their non-Jewish father. In this case, the Hadera Family Court and the Haifa District Court which heard the appeal felt there would be “no significant harm” to the children by sending them to France, to live with the non-Jewish biological father. The High Court did not overrule the decision of the lower courts.

Israel bans import, export of furs for all nonreligious uses

By Yonatan Liss and Amiram Cohen February 7, 2010

The Ministers legal committee decided on Sunday to ban imports and exports of furs of any kind, unless they are designated for religious or traditional use.

The bill also excluded furs for religious purposes, mainly used by the ultra-Orthodox community for the manufacturing of Shtreimels – their traditional fur hat.

Hassidim infiltrate Joseph’s Tomb, break through checkpoint

By Efrat Weiss February 5, 2010

A number of Breslav Hassidim entered unauthorized into Joseph’s Tomb and fled the area. They then broke through an IDF checkpoint in the area, and the soldiers fired warning shots in the area following the incident.

Rabbi Eliyahu’s Condition Worsens February 7, 2010

The condition of former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu worsened considerably overnight Saturday. Sources told Arutz 7 that he was currently being aided in his breathing by a respirator and in critical condition in the emergency ward of Shaare Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem. Doctors are working to stabilize his condition.

Netanyahu risks Muslim wrath over Jerusalem holy site

By Akiva Eldar February 2, 2010

Will Netanyahu use a court decision to forgo a plan to alter the Mughrabi Gate?

The Western Wall Rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz, is a man of action: He never for a moment hid his intention of exploiting the repair of the ramp to turn the unused space below it into an extension of the women’s prayer section.

He would joke that the Lord had answered his prayers by putting cracks in the ramp, which would make it possible to reduce the crowding at the Western Wall Plaza. The rabbi also used his connections in earthly Jerusalem – namely, in the office of then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Samaritans mourn their high priest

By Ben Hartman February 5, 2010

Snow flurries drifted to the ground on Mount Gerizim overlooking Nablus on Thursday, as mourners gathered to bury the spiritual leader of the Samaritans, who passed away the previous day.

High Priest Elazar ben Tsadaka ben Yitzhaq was born during a snowstorm 83 years ago, one mourner said. On Thursday, as he was being laid to rest at the holiest site in the Samaritan religion, the snow began to fall again.

Religion and State in Israel

February 8, 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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