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

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Religion and State in Israel

March 1, 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 the fuss over Rabbi Mordechai Elon down to his homosexuality?’

By Neri Livneh February 25, 2010

Dr. Hana Kehat began her fight against sexual harassment within Israel’s religious sector even before initiating the Takana forum, from which she has now resigned in the wake of the Rabbi Mordechai Elon affair.

Kehat is a founder and board member of Kolech – a feminist, religious Zionist movement established more than 20 years ago which aims to achieve equality for women within the religious community.

Bill goes after sexual harassment by spiritual leaders

By Amnon Meranda February 24, 2010

The Knesset plenum on Wednesday passed two similar bills in a preliminary reading stipulating that offers or treatment of a sexual nature suggested by religious or spiritual instructors to their students be considered sexual harassment. This also would apply if the recipient does not expressly decline the offer.

A Sex Scandal Splits Orthodox Zionist World between Silence and Action

By Nathan Jeffay February 24, 2010

Israel’s influential Orthodox Zionists have divided into two camps following a sexual-abuse scandal involving one of their most renowned and charismatic leaders, stoking fears for the future of rabbinic authority.

“I am telling everybody — keep silent,” the head of Jerusalem’s Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, told the Forward. He said that the affair must not be allowed to undermine the rabbis’ authority.

But in deference to the stellar stature of the rabbinic panel that exposed the allegations against Elon, Aviner also said, “I think we have to trust these and these — and respect these and these,” referring to Elon and the rabbis on the panel.

Rabbi: Elon case could benefit the religious

February 23, 2010

“This is a chance to examine ourselves and work on our shortcomings, students as well as rabbis,” the educator said.

“Everybody sins: rabbis, scholars, people with long beards and white beards who talk Torah. If Elon sinned, we all can,” he added, affirming to the Post that one of the most closeted topics within the religious sector, homosexuality, will inevitably be on the table in the wake of the allegations against Elon.

Who is a rabbi?

By Donniel Hartman Opinion February 22, 2010

There are many factors and causes which joined together to create the disturbing case of Rabbi Mordechai Elon and the events surrounding it.

Besides the questions of sexual harassment and emotional manipulation in the rabbi-follower relationship, the near hysterical “end of days” response of certain sectors of the Orthodox community, especially amongst the youth, reveals a deep problem in the way the parameters of a rabbi’s power and authority role have evolved in the Israeli Orthodox world

Too harsh treatment for Elon

By Yair Ettinger February 24, 2010

Would the treatment that the religious Zionist Takana panel meted out to Rabbi Mordechai Elon, including the publication of serious allegations, have been so rigorous had it been discovered that an important rabbi was sexually abusing female students and not males?

No More Blind Faith in Rabbis

By Channa Pinchasi Opinion February 18, 2010

Channa Pinchasi is a PhD candidate in the Department of Gender at Bar Ilan University and a Research Fellow at the Hartman Institute.

As a community, we will have to pay a heavy price: To give up some respect for the rabbis and to be more critical of them. Authority and charisma, accompanied by spiritual and religious power, create an opening for sexual abuse.

Can Israel’s religious community finally accept its homosexual members?

By Ze’ev Segal February 23, 2010

Any consideration of the actions of the Takana forum must begin with the fact that without Takana or an organization like it, indecent acts committed by spiritual leaders and rabbis would be unlikely to come to the attention of the legal authorities. That is why the public needs such an organization.

But such an organization is capable of operating alongside the law enforcement authorities rather than replacing them

Sex scandal shows risk of rabbi-worship

By Shmuel Rosner Opinion February 25, 2010

The only important – really important – effect this story might have in the coming weeks and months and years of “aftermath”; the only debate worth having with Rabbi Elon’s followers and enthusiasts, and with those less supportive of him to begin with, is the one related to rabbinical authority in the world of modern Orthodoxy.

It’s a long road to a model society

By Israel Harel Opinion February 26, 2010

Now that Takana has shaken up the national religious public and led to a profound self-examination among its members, the time is ripe to expand the rules and set appropriate norms of conduct for rabbis in additional spheres.

Slowing down the rush toward an ultra-Orthodox way of life and bringing the wagon back to the main road that religious Zionists have historically traveled are essential to cure this public of the defects that have taken hold of it, and to which it clings.

Sex allegations against rabbi roil Israel’s Orthodox community

By Edmund Sanders February 27, 2010

Moshe Meir, educator at the Shalom Hartman Institute, said the Elon case offers Israel a chance to confront negative attitudes in the Orthodox community about homosexuality.

“If indeed it appears that Rabbi Motti Elon has homosexual tendencies, this is no crime,” Meir said. His possible transgression “is the abuse of authority, not the sexual identity.”

Religious Zionism: When crisis becomes opportunity

February 26, 2010

The writer is senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

Religious Zionism is in crisis … again. Or so we are being told. In the aftermath of the tragic allegations concerning Rabbi Mordechai (Motti) Elon, religious Zionists are bemoaning yet anothercrisis in the movement.

…Important though these issues are, they are not the real crisis. The true crisis, which is wholly unrelated to Rabbi Elon, is that religious Zionism has long since had very little of importance to say to Israel at large.

Religious gays helpline flooded

By Ben Hartman February 22, 2010

A helpline for religious Jews dealing with questions about their sexual identity has received an influx of calls in the wake of allegations that prominent national-religious Rabbi Moti Elon had sexual relations with male students.

Rabbi Ron Yosef of Netanya said he founded the Web site Hod (a Hebrew acronym for “homo’im datiim” – religious homosexuals) two years ago in order to “have a real religious and social discussion on homosexuality, as well as acceptance of the other and to fight hatred.”

Ask The Rabbi: Orthodox Jewry’s stance on homosexuality

By Rabbi Shlomo Brody February 26, 2010

The author, online editor of Tradition and its blog, Text & Texture, teaches at Yeshivat Hakotel.

Especially following the acceptance by non-Orthodox movements of homosexual members and clergy, the topic of homosexuality has become a particularly sensitive and contentious issue within the Jewish community.

Report highlights religious tensions in Israel

By Ron Friedman February 23, 2010

A new report released by Hiddush, a religious freedom advocacy group, describes 2009 as “the worst year of the decade” in terms of religious freedom and equality.

Hiddush CEO Rabbi Uri Regev said “the coalition government is selling off our children’s future. The report clearly shows that the coalition parties do not hesitate to cynically trade away the civil liberties of the Israeli public in exchange for votes from ultra-Orthodox parties.

“Our research shows a huge gap between government policy and public opinion. The overwhelming majority of the public seek greater religious freedom and more equitable distribution of the economic and military burden,” said Regev.


By Marc Rosenstein Opinion February 23, 2010

In general, I think it is important to keep the “persecution” or “disenfranchisement” of liberal Jews in perspective.

On the individual level there are issues – primarily in the areas of recognition of marriage and conversion; and of course it is not uncommon for nominally neutral institutions like the army or the schools to hew to an Orthodox line when inviting holiday speakers, or performing public ceremonies (especially galling when it involves the status of women), so it does happen that liberal Jews find themselves feeling like outsiders.

On the other hand, they can live where they want, and work where they want…

J’lem police ‘waging war’ on secular protests, activists say

By Nir Hasson February 23, 2010

The Jerusalem police have declared war on secular protest in the city, secular activists claimed last week after being questioned on suspicion of damaging an eruv in Kiryat Yovel, a neighborhood that has become a flashpoint of the capital’s culture wars.

The campaign against the Kiryat Yovel eruv is now in its second year, as secular residents view it as a sign that their neighborhood is undergoing unchecked “Haredization.”

Rift has roots in eruv dispute

By Yair Ettinger February 23, 2010

Though it is far from being the most contentious issue between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem, the eruv has become a flashpoint in its own right.

Siach Festival – Experiencing Jewish Culture in Modern Israeli Society March 4-6, 2010 Mishkenot Ruth Daniel in Jaffa

At the Daniel Centers Siach Festival liberal Jewish culture comes alive through creative discussion about the different streams of Judaism today, and the three-day event will foster a better understanding of the broad spectrum of Jewish thought.

For full schedule please click here [pdf]

Beit Shemesh warned over Haredi-only classrooms

By Yaheli Moran Zelikovich February 24, 2010

The Education Ministry has sent a warning letter to Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul following his announcement of opening four classes for ultra-Orthodox students only in a secular school located in the heart of a haredi neighborhood next year.

Haredi paper slams Sa’ar for nixing some funding for schools

By Mazal Mualem February 24, 2010

Recent tension between the Shas Party and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar have resulted in vociferous attacks against the Likud minister in the ultra-Orthodox media, where he is accused of promoting an anti-Haredi policy.

…Friction between Sa’ar and Shas peaked over the weekend following two incidents sources in the ultra-Orthodox party say caused them great harm.

Sa’ar and the monkey trial

Haaretz Editorial February 24, 2010

In a series of utterances disclosed by Or Kashti and Zafrir Rinat in Haaretz, [Dr. Gavriel] Avital was exposed as an obscurantist Orthodox zealot who casts doubt on the validity of scientific research and rejects both evolution and global warming.

He dismisses Darwin’s theory because it leaves God out, and he has called environmental organizations “a fanatical religion with a great deal of evil.”

Where rebellious sons (and daughters) go

By Tamar Rotem February 25, 2010

About five years ago some of these “split” ultra-Orthodox would refer to themselves as anusim, or Marranos, after the secret Jews of Inquisition Spain – only in reverse. They fanatically guarded their secret secular custom

…Ultra-Orthodox society does not hurry to expel a rebellious son. The sky does not fall when it is discovered that a certain Hasid goes out to clubs.

And altogether, in a world outside that is controlled by social networks in which an assumed identity may open all kinds of new possibilities, and everyone who is abnormal becomes normal because there are a lot of other people like him – what’s wrong with a second, or third, skin?

Over 100 Chareidim to Enter Military Intelligence

By Yechiel Spira February 25, 2010

According to a report appearing in the weekly IDF Bamachane, the military plans to attract 500 chareidim to join the ranks of military intelligence.

In its program Bina B’Yarok, the army reports 100 chareidim are preparing to join the program in the next enlistment, all moving to the Intelligence Corps.

Jerusalem City Hall Downed 80 Eruv Poles

By Yechiel Spira February 23, 2010

As members of the Jerusalem Religious Council completed work on the eruv in the southwestern areas of Yerushalayim, workers simultaneously removed 80 “pirate poles” that were placed in a number of areas without authorization.

MKs oppose ‘abominable’ meat ordinance

By Amnon Meranda February 26, 2010

Knesset members are intensifying their objection to the proposed ordinance presented to the Knesset on Monday, which sets costumes rates, exemptions and merchandise tax.

As reported on Thursday, the ordinance includes unique items, and especially non kosher ones.

Haredi rabbis vs. the Internet, and the Internet is winning

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion February 25, 2010

Some sociologists and historians who research the Haredi world believe the Internet will ultimately break down the ghetto walls and generate a new wave of enlightenment – a 21st-century haskala that will lead many of the younger generation into the arms of the secular camp.

Even if the great majority of the community remains faithful to the ways of their fathers and mothers, the desperate attempts by the rabbis to cut them off from the Web are proof that they are no longer in thrall.

Have we gone mad?

By Rabbi Shalom Hammer Opinion February 22, 2010

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

Are we, the same intelligent Jewish people who are referred to as a light unto the nations, meant to pursue a Taliban-like existence defined by extreme behaviors as we isolate ourselves from the world around us?

Can we honestly claim that these absurd suggestions and inventions are the correct way of fulfilling God’s plan and exhibiting spirituality in the world?

Health Ministry under pressure ahead of decision on new hospital wing

By Dan Even March 1, 2010

…Over the past few months, Barzilai has asked for the construction to be re-launched, having received permission from the Chief Rabbinate to relocate the graves. Litzman, however, rejected the initiative, instructing instead that the hospital wing itself be relocated to a site currently occupied by a parking lot, far from the main medical center. Litzman’s proposal is significantly more expensive than that supported by the hospital.

Rabbi Lau, Cabinet Ministers Honor ZAKA’s 20th Year

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu February 22, 2010

Tel Aviv’s Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who also is a former Chief Rabbi of Israel, and Cabinet ministers honored ZAKA Sunday night on the 20th year since its founding. ZAKA is the Hebrew acronym for Disaster Victim Identification.

Chief Rabbis Favor Fur Ban February 23, 2010

Chief Rabbis Yonah Metzger and Shlomo Amar are in favor of banning fur imports.

An official opinion authored by the two on the matter will be presented at a discussion of the Knesset Education Committee Wednesday, which is preparing the bill for a Knesset vote.

Court of first resort

By Yair Ettinger February 24, 2010

Representatives of the Haredi establishment are baring their claws in an effort to restore to their internal court system its once-unchallenged status.

Even now, during the armistice, it is difficult to erase the image of dayanim, some of them senior figures in the Haredi world, having to enter a civil court, an institution they regard as heretical.

…there are dozens of private courts that address almost every aspect of Haredi life.

…In recent years, these private, sector-based courts have expanded their purview. New courts dealing with financial and property law have been established by both the national-Haredi and national-religious (Orthodox) streams.

Former Minister Benizri asks for pardon

By Aviad Glickman February 28, 2010

Former Shas Minister Shlomo Benizri has filed a request to President Shimon Peres asking to be pardoned from his four-year prison sentence for corruption charges.

Benizri was convicted of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, committed during his tenure as labor and welfare minister. He was charged of receiving funds from contractor Moshe Sela in exchange for providing him with information to help his business.

Porush’s legacy Editorial February 24, 2010

In today’s Israel, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a common cultural denominator that can unite the disparate parts of our society.

At a time when one in four Israeli babies is born to a haredi family, it is unclear whether these children will grow up to feel strong ties with the State of Israel and its values.

Suspected anti-Zionist Haredim destroy rabbi’s mourning notices

By Yair Ettinger February 23, 2010

Mourning notices posted around Jerusalem announcing the death of former politician and journalist Rabbi Menachem Porush were vandalized on Tuesday in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Geula and Mea Shearim.

The Porush family said they were not surprised by the act, which they suspect was carried out by an anti-Zionist sect who rejoiced over the rabbi’s passing and called him a “leader of despicable Zionism.”

Menachem Porush, veteran ultra-Orthodox leader, laid to rest

By Yair Ettinger February 24, 2010

In 1984, when Porush defied the Gerrer Rebbe and Council of Torah Sages, who demanded he give up his Knesset seat, dozens of Gerrer Hasidim stormed into the hotel, beat him up and destroyed the place. Shortly afterward he told Haaretz that the event took him back to the 1929 riots.

Thousands pay last respects to Rabbi Menachem Porush

By Greer Fay Cashman February 22, 2010

Although they do take on ministerial responsibilities, members of Agudat Israel never take on a full ministerial positions in case the government should do something which is in violation of Jewish law. As ministers they would be compromised.

As non-ministers they are not part of the government’s decision-making process and therefore their consciences remain clear.

Thousands attend Rabbi Porush’s funeral

By Kobi Nahshoni February 22, 2010

Head of the Porat Yosef Yeshiva Rabbi Moshe Tzadka said, “The deceased was a pioneer in all things related to the scripture – in fighting for Shabbat and against girls’ recruitment.”

The rabbi added, “He certainly would fight vehemently against the unclean accessories that contaminate the youth.”

Rabbi Porush passes away at 93

By Ronen Medzini February 22, 2010

Rabbi Menachem Porush came from a veteran Jerusalemite family, and was among the leaders of the 80s and 90s campaign to close down Bar Ilan road on Saturdays. In 1999 he was one of the organizers of the mass demonstration against the High Court.

VIDEO: Computer Smashing Ceremony at Yeshiva Machane Yisroel

Click here for VIDEO

Health Ministry to Send Vaccines to Chareidi Areas

By Yechiel Spira February 25, 2010

With the continued spread of mumps in chareidi areas, primarily in Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak, the Ministry of Health has decided to take measures, to send vaccines to mosdos making such a request.

This will permit talmidim to receive vaccines against mumps without even having to visit a clinic or HMO. The ministry this week sent teams to a number of yeshivas, where talmidim were vaccinated.

Rabbis: Forex is like violating Sabbath

By Sarit Menahem February 28, 2010

Leaders of the extremist ultra-Orthodox Eda Haredit strongly denounced the practice of home foreign currency trading, saying they take the matter as seriously as violations of the Sabbath.

Religion and State in Israel

March 1, 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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