Religion and State in Israel – February 22, 2010 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

February 22, 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.

Katz ordered to explain gender-separation decision

By Dan Izenberg February 18, 2010

The High Court of Justice on Thursday instructed Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) to explain why he did not accept the recommendations of a committee of experts to examine the issue of separate seating for men and women in public buses.

“The committee’s position was based on a broad foundation and was reasoned and detailed,” wrote Rubinstein, the head of the panel. “The minister’s position, I fear, is not sufficiently reasoned either legally or factually.”

Supreme Court against ‘Mehadrin’ Buses

By Hillel Fendel February 18, 2010

“Travel in Safety – Travel with Egged”

The judges noted that the word “mehadrin,” referring to going beyond that which is required by the letter of the law, “might apply to Chanukah candles, kosher laws or an etrog, but apparently does not necessarily mean that whoever is mehader in the laws of modesty and inter-gender mingling is also mehader in the laws of respect to others.”

High Court Criticizes Transportation Minister Over Gender Segregated Bus Lines February 18, 2010

A rabbinical opinion has been placed on posters throughout Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim quarter by NIF grantee Ne’emanei Torah Ve’Avodah, an Orthodox organization that promotes democratic values. The rabbinical ruling concludes that the bus lines are “not kosher, desecrate God and are an insult to the modesty of women.”

At the same time, the newly established hotline by NIF grantee Kolech – Religious Women’s Forum continues to collect evidence from women who have been abused and humiliated on gender segregated bus lines.

Final Supreme Court Hearing on Segregated Buses

By Anat Hoffman Opinion February 15, 2010

The signs do not address the real issue – whether segregation is legal. And if it is legal, where else will it be allowed? We already know of streets, post offices, HMOs, and other public meeting spaces where segregation is enforced. If you allow it on buses, soon it will be everywhere.

It’s not too late. The Supreme Court Justices can rule that segregation is illegal and outlaw it.

Black Bus (“Soreret”) February 14, 2010

Interview with Director Anat Yuta Zuria

The Black Bus depicts a world in which the unwritten ultra-orthodox law forbids looking at women. The film’s subversiveness lies at its attempts to visually describe this violent invisibility imposed on women.

The film’s cinematographer, Roni Katznelson, created a dark, stylized, minimalist visual world through the employment of a restrained cinematographic approach.

The Black Bus tells the unknown story of women in Israel’s isolated ultra-Orthodox society. The story of these women is told from a unique perspective – that of two rebellious young women who have fled from the prohibitions forced upon them by that society. Through their writing and photography, both try to document denied images and situations.

Sex segregation reaches Jerusalem Municipality

By Tzipi Malchov February 19, 2010

Workers of the Jerusalem Municipality were surprised this week to receive a letter informing them that the City Council informing them that the City Council was organizing a tour of the Underground Prisoners Museum – for women only.

The office of Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism) said in response, “There is a demand for a separate tour for haredi women, and the municipality must honor their request, even at the Underground Prisoners Museum.”

A municipality official:

“As part of the plan, there will be a tour called ‘Fighting for Equality’, which will be dedicated to the undergrounds’ struggle for the State’s establishment and the women’s part in it.”

New ‘personal mehitzas’ marketed for haredim on planes

By Adir Glick February 19, 2010

Haredi airline passengers are being advised to hang a new type of mehitza – a halachic barrier to separate the sexes – around the top of their airplane seats, to shield their eyes from immodest neighbors and in-flight movies.

The Rabbinical Council for Public Transportation, which is also representing the haredi community on the issue of gender-segregated “mehadrin” buses, is now placing advertisements in haredi newspapers encouraging the community to purchase the traveler mehitzas.

Short Story: A social experiment on a Jerusalem bus

By Elana Meyersdorf Opinion February 5, 2010

These Haredim had no concept of Americans or Rosa Parks, but being Jewish, I was stubborn.

‘Hey you!” someone shouted at me. “Hey you! Women in the back!”

I pretended not to understand the Hebrew.

“Hey you! Women in the back!”

Let’s work to end uncouth behavior all around

By Rabbi Avi Shafran Opinion February 18, 2010

Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs of Agudath Israel of America

Separate-seating buses, which are limited to certain lines, simply accommodate the wishes of some male haredim that they not be distracted by the opposite sex, and some female haredim’s wish to have a dedicated “women’s space.”

An openly segregated policy

By Sefi Rachlevsky Opinion February 21, 2010

A reasonable state cannot support and allow segregation. Religious and ultra-Orthodox schools based on gender segregation must not be sponsored and approved by the state.

Women of the Wall: Worshippers called us Nazis

By Kobi Nahshoni February 15, 2010

Dozens of haredim clashed Monday morning with around 200 worshippers from the Women of the Wall group at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The director of the [Israel] Reform Movement, Rabbi Gilad Kariv:

“The battle over the manner of prayer at the Western Wall is part of a vast struggle for the image of the Israeli public as a society of equality.”

Yizhar Hess, director of the Conservative Movement:

“We were excited to see teens from the Conservative Movement’s youth group take part in the important battle to release the Western Wall from the grip of the Haredim.”

Esther’s sisters at the Wall

By Bonna Devora Haberman Opinion February 15, 2010

Dr. Bonna Devora Haberman, a founder of Women of the Wall, is an academic and social entrepreneur initiating a national movement for the betterment of Israeli society

So what is the relevance of this ancient story to Women of the Wall?

…In Israel, during the past 21 years, ultra-Orthodox religious groups have tried many methods to constrain women’s religious expression at the Western Wall – by intimidation, curses, spitting, violence, tear gas, and attempts to criminalize prayer shawl-wearing and Torah-reading with penalties of up to seven years imprisonment.

Like in Shushan, the administration and court accede.

Praying With the Women of the Wall: A Teen Girl’s Account

By Avigayil Sztokman Opinion February 16, 2010

Avigayil Sztokman is a student in the 11th grade at the Yachad School in Modi’in, Israel.

The Wailing Wall. It’s considered a very spiritual place where you’re supposed to pray/wail (as the name implies) to God. It’s supposed to be a very moving experience — I mean, people come from all over the globe to see the Wall’s wonders.

But after praying there with Women of the Wall, I now have a whole new side to this “experience” (not to mention a whole new side to the term “wail.”)

Before I went on Monday morning for Rosh Chodesh Adar, I had a vague sense of what might happen. I heard about people tossing words and other things at the group. But I’m not sure I really understood what that might feel like.

Take Back the Kotel Part II: Open Up Robinson’s Arch

By Rabbi Asher Lopatin Opinion February 16, 2010

So on this one I say, don’t blame the chareidim! We don’t need that frum, restricted, non-inclusive wall. We already have a Wall, a genuine, dramatic Western Wall, where we can have everyone daven the way they want to. Let’s use it and let others use it.

Open Up Robinson’s Arch! Let Us Pray! Let Us Wear Our Tallitot! Let Us Read Our Torah! Let Us All, Men and Women, Sing Hallel Out Loud!

Seeds in the Wind

By David Suissa Opinion February 16, 2010

David Suissa is the founder of OLAM magazine and

At the end of her session, Anat Hoffman said something that perfectly connected to the Limmud experience of ideas traveling.

Someone asked her what we in America can do to help her cause. Instead of asking us for money or giving us a Web site address, she responded by giving us a definition.

“A diaspore is a seed that travels in the wind and plants itself,” she told us. “You have seeds in the Diaspora that we need in Israel, like religious pluralism. Bring these seeds to us.”

Jews, we have a problem

By Rachel Levmore Opinion February 21, 2010

The writer is a rabbinical court advocate; coordinator of the Get-Refusal Prevention Project of the Council of Young Israel Rabbis and Jewish Agency; a doctoral candidate in Talmud at Bar-Ilan University and author of Min’ee Einayich Medim’a on prenuptial agreements for the prevention of get-refusal.

Today it has taken the form of what can be called the height of hutzpa – a simple, shameless refusal to grant a get. This can be done without the recalcitrant husband leaving the neighborhood or his religious and social community. And people of good conscience are still grappling with this problem.

Either way you look at it, International “Aguna Day” or “International Aguna” Day, it highlights an international problem that is continually growing beyond all proportion.

Whether one regards Thursday February 25 as a day of reflection and an across-the-globe call to action on the aguna problem, or as a day which marks the growing phenomenon of international agunot, we Jews must admit we have a problem.

ICAR – The International Coalition for Agunah Rights

Texts for Study Groups – International Agunah Day

The Fast of Esther – Halakhic Solutions to Get Recalcitrance [pdf]

Sharansky: Jerusalem Bridges Time and Space

By Hillel Fendel February 16, 2010

He concluded his talk with a call to ensure that the Wall does not become the exclusive property “only of people like us who go to Orthodox synagogues.

It must belong to all Jews. I see what a terrible loss it is when we can’t have the welcoming ceremonies for new immigrants at the Wall because mixed seating is not allowed – not only adjacent to the Wall, but even in the plaza further back.”

Religious Freedom – Don’t Take it for Granted

By Bill Lipsey Opinion February 17, 2010

[cross-post from the Wexner Heritage Foundation monthly newsletter, shared with permission of the author]

“We are Zionists, and longtime supporters of the governments of Israel and of Israel’s policies. But things have gone too far.

It cannot be that our rabbis are not recognized here, that our conversions are not respected here, that the non-Orthodox streams in Israel and especially the Masorti movement, receives degrading and discriminatory treatment.”

Rabbi rules against women’s prayer quorum

By Kobi Nahshoni February 16, 2010

Women’s prayer quorum during the Purim holiday have become in recent years a widespread phenomenon in many religious communities in Israel, but a new Jewish ruling considers them illegal and forbidden.

Chief Ramat Gan Rabbi Yaakov Ariel stated that “to begin with, forming a women’s prayer quorum is against the Halacha,” and accused the participating women of withdrawing from society on the basis of “social and feminist considerations”.

Head start: Nylon kippot replace cardboard at the Kotel

By Mark Rebacz February 19, 2010

Visitors no longer have to hold cardboard kippot on their heads when visiting the Kotel: The Western Wall Heritage Foundation has received a donation of 1 million nylon yarmulkes.

According to a statement Wednesday from the office of the rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, the distinct and sometimes awkward cardboard head coverings that have been offered to male visitors to the site for 40 years have been replaced.

Hesder rabbi: IDF insubordination teaches children anarchy

By Tovah Lazaroff February 18, 2010

Rallying soldiers to disobey orders teaches children that the law is meaningless, hesder yeshiva Rabbi Yuval Cherlow warned on Tuesday night.

“We are bringing up our children to be anarchists, in the worst sense of the word, to break the law and to live in opposition to the state,” said Cherlow, head of the Petah Tikva Hesder Yeshiva and a veteran supporter of the settlement movement.

He spoke in Efrat at a panel debate on the growing call by right-wing activists for soldiers to refuse orders to destroy Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria.

IDF Chief Rabbi Ronsky’s dismissal

By Yoel Meltzer Opinion February 21, 2010

In the eyes of Barak, Rabbi Ronsky was apparently not the usual “yes man” rabbi content with dealing with smaller religious issues; rather, he was trying to instill a real Jewish spirit into the Israeli army.

…Thus, the unprecedented step of not extending Rabbi Ronsky’s term was taken and Rabbi Rafi Peretz was recently made the new IDF chief rabbi.

IDF manpower chief raps letter by top army rabbi

By Yaakov Katz February 15, 2010

The IDF’s OC Manpower Maj -Gen. Avi Zamir condemned on Monday a letter from a senior officer in the Military Rabbinate that advised army rabbis to refrain from answering questions from soldiers on settlement outpost-related mutiny.

Marital secrets in the IDF

By Amir Oren February 18, 2010

An IDF rabbi recently brought up the issue of halakhic problems regarding husbands in elite units keeping secrets from their wives.

Statistical data from the IDF officers’ course that ended this week show that a quarter of all the new second lieutenants in field units are religiously observant. The army preparatory institutes are producing more combat soldiers and commanders than in the past for the special units, notably Sayeret Matkal.

Government to discuss bill to ease restrictions on egg donation

By Dan Even and Jonathan Lis February 21, 2010

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman agreed to support the legislation after it won the backing of prominent rabbinical authorities. The rabbis, in turn, agreed to support the bill after it was amended to allow the donor’s religion to be stated.

Another clause was added, requiring an individual born from an egg donated by a non-Jewish woman to undergo a conversion process later in life in order to be considered Jewish.

The Separation between Holy and Mundane

By Dikla Kadosh February 16, 2010

“Nira Pereg: Sabbath 2008” and “Kept Alive”

The spiritual and the secular are distinct realms that often collide, intersect, overlap and infringe upon one another. Nowhere is that phenomenon more visibly and more frequently at play than in the Jewish homeland.

See also: Photo Gallery

Muslims planned Mamilla project in ’45

By Abe Selig February 17, 2010

The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Tuesday accused opponents of its plans to build a museum near a historic Muslim cemetery in central Jerusalem of “sheer hypocrisy” after the center obtained information showing that the Supreme Muslim Council of British Mandate Palestine had planned to build a large commercial center directly on top of the cemetery in 1945.

U.S. prosecutors probing Israeli rabbi over fraud

By Yanir Yagna and Natasha Mozgovaya February 18, 2010

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office is investigating accusations that a popular Kabbalist in Be’er Sheva has defrauded American Jews by reportedly taking hundreds of thousands of dollars for promises that he would use kabbala to help people who wanted blessings, amulets or promises to cure the terminally ill.

The complaints relate to visits by Rabbi Elazar Abuhatzeira to Borough Park, New York, and Englewood, New Jersey. Abuhatzeira is the grandson of Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira, known as the Baba Sali, whom his followers consider a sage who was able to work miracles through his prayers.

Is Facebook kosher?

By Sharon Wrobel February 17, 2010

Haredi women are turning to the Internet to build their businesses, which is raising questions about the “kosher” use of social-media tools.

“For Torah-observant women this is creating a dilemma, raising the question over usage that is consistent with religious life,” she said at the Kishor Social Media Conference in Jerusalem, organized by the Kishor Women’s Professional Networking Group and the Jerusalem Development Authority.

Jerusalem Soon to Have Baba Sali Street February 18, 2010

The Jerusalem Municipality will soon name a street in the city for Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira, the Baba Sali, who passed away in 1984.

iPhone prayers to be sounded in Jerusalem

By Tzofia Hirschfeld February 20, 2010

The tourist website launched an iPhone application this week which enables people from around the world and of any religion to record a 45 second prayer which would be sounded on loudspeaker opposite Jerusalem’s walls at a time and day of the person’s choice.

Arrest Made in Kiryat Yovel Eruv Sabotage Attack

By Yechiel Spira February 19, 2010

The suspect, 25-year-old engineering student Ilan Englis was apprehended, seen as he was tearing the eruv in the neighborhood where secularist are championing their battle to prevent their neighborhood from becoming chareidi. Englis was also present last week during an anti-chareidi rally at Mt. Herzl.

Cave of Patriarchs included in national heritage plan

By Hagai Einav February 21, 2010

In its weekly meeting, the cabinet on Sunday approved a comprehensive plan to preserver heritage sites across the country.

Following pressure from a number of ministers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added two sites to the plan: Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

Sharansky puts Jewish identity ahead of aliyah on Jewish Agency agenda

By Cnaan Liphshiz February 19, 2010

The Jewish Agency’s main priority is no longer to bring more Jews to Israel, but to help preserve Jewish identity worldwide, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky announced on Wednesday in a speech before American Jews visiting Israel.

Peres: Identity more important than Israeli citizenship

By Greer Fay Cashman February 20, 2010

President Shimon Peres expressed hope on Friday that rabbis worldwide will find a viable solution to the problems of conversion, so that all streams of Judaism can continue to relate to their Jewish heritage.

“The problem is not for Jews to have an Israeli passport, but for Jews to have a Jewish identity. We have to come together spiritually and morally,” the president told a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem.

Russian-speakers discuss Jewish Peoplehood February 19, 2010

“For many Russian-speakers, Israel forms the focal point of their Jewish identity and we, through our Russian-Israeli emissaries, are able to act as a bridge between Israel and local Jewish cultural identity so that these young adults feel they are part of a larger community.”

Aguiar intends to continue involvement with Betar, Hapoel

By Jeremy Last February 18, 2010

Click here for Guma Aguiar VIDEOS

Betar Jerusalem sponsor Guma Aguiar is adamant he will continue to be involved with the Israeli soccer club as well as Hapoel Jerusalem basketball club in the near future.

“At the time I was hospitalized. I was being treated for high blood pressure and other things,” Aguiar said. “In the next six months, I am going to have a lot of fun. I am in the driver’s seat. I’m the one with the cash.”

Aguiar was unable to elaborate on his experiences during five weeks in hospital, saying simply,

“It was a great experience. I’m glad I went through it.”

Magen David Adom and Its U.S. Arm Feud over Their Future

By Nathan Guttman February 17, 2010

Suspicion and mistrust between the U.S. fund-raising organization and its Israeli beneficiary are threatening to end their lucrative partnership.

Within AFMDA itself, feuding senior officials are making charges of misconduct. Six senior officials have been forced out of or resigned from the American group since last spring.

The Future of Conservative Jewry

Interview with Arnold M. Eisen February 14, 2010

Conservative Judaism’s Potential for Israel

“Conservative Judaism has a great deal of unfulfilled potential on these issues concerning Israel. This results from the way we approach Jewish tradition. On the one hand, we maintain it; on the other, we are open to flexibility and change.

To use this potential, we would have to find ways to overcome the Israeli government’s favoritism for the Orthodox.

“Even more important is that it would require substantial funds that the movement does not have. The Masorti movement has about seventy congregations in Israel. Most are serviced by part-time rabbis because the congregations lack financial resources.

For that reason as well, some of the congregations may not last very long. It’s not a matter of ideology or organization – just of money.”

Religion and State in Israel

February 22, 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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