Religion and State in Israel – March 15, 2010 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

March 15, 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.

[People with no religion] “There’s a special offer for new members”

Haaretz Cartoon by Eran Wolkowski March 10, 2010

MK David Rotem, have you forgotten the promise you made to your voters about civil marriage?

By Yair Ettinger March 12, 2010

The chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) works on matters of religion and state affecting the country.

Rotem, who is an Orthodox Jew, has been conducting negotiations for over a year with Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and with Shas over formulating the conversion and civil partnership bills – the two laws the party promised its electorate in the last campaign season, mainly for those who immigrated from the former Soviet Union.

The conversion bill has been met with criticism from both the Orthodox and the Reform streams, whereas the proposal civil partnership bill is coming under attack from those in favor of civil marriage in Israel, who say that it will not be able to solve the problems of those “with no religion.”

Knesset c’tee approves civil marriage bill for final reading

By Dan Izenberg March 9, 2010

The Knesset Law Committee on Tuesday approved for second and final readings a bill paving the way for civil marriages for Israeli couples if both members are registered in the Population Registry as not having any religion.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel issued an opinion on the bill saying it would provide a solution for only about 170 couples, or 3.8 percent of all the couples who marry each year.

“The bill does not give a suitable solution to those registered as not having a religion,” ACRI wrote. “It continues the discrimination and unfair treatment of this sector.”

Controversial civil union bill up for discussion

By Tomer Zarchin March 10, 2010

The bill would enable two such people to be recognized as a couple by signing a contract that would be notarized by a “couplehood registrar” – a new office that the bill would establish.

Meretz MK: Pared down civil marriage bill ‘political bluff’

Amnon Meranda March 9, 2010

MK Shlomo Molla from Kadima said to Rotem:

“I still don’t know how we will vote on the bill. However, we must say honestly to the public: This is a civil marriage between Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu.”

Turning into theocracy

By Yair Rotkovich Opinion March 9, 2010

Yair Rotkovich is one of the founders of the Tkasim website, the Portal of Jewish Secular Rites

What we have here is a cynical move created by the Haredi sect: The Jewish State will be absurdly asking some of its citizens – who view themselves as Jewish and who moved to Israel based on this – to deny their personal Jewish identity only in order to allow them to be recorded in the marriage registry.

Hundreds cry ‘Jerusalem is not Tehran’ in protest over gender segregation on buses

By Nir Hasson March 14, 2010

“Segregated bus lines coming your way soon!”

One of the protesters read out a letter from Kadima chief and opposition leader Tzipi Livni.

“Those who push women to the back of the bus seek to push women away from taking an equal and central place. Those who agree to see women pushed to the back allows them to be pushed back from any other position of influence in Israeli society,” Livni wrote.

“Anyone being silent when women are pushed to a marginal and invisible place lends a hand to a process that will see women pushed from leadership in academia, business, the army and politics.”

Protestors: Israel is not Tehran

By Ronen Medzini March 13, 2010

Speaking at the protest, Jerusalem City Councilor Rachel Azaria said that Jewish law provides no justification for forcing women to the back of buses.

“A man who is unable to sit next to a woman must go back home and work on his urges,” she said.

Nir Pereg, a member of the Forum for a Free Jerusalem, said that he was saddened to see the current Israeli government “blinding the public with matters of terror and security, while failing to cope with social issues and with the country’s future image.”

Click here for Photos from demonstration: 1, 2, 3, and 4

Apartheid City?

By Rabbi Dow Marmur Opinion March 14, 2010

We’ve been wondering when ordinary citizens of Israel will say to the fanatics that enough is enough.

The single demonstration has, alas, not turned the tide, but the support it got from Tzipi Livni, the Leader of the Opposition, suggests that there’re at last some stirrings. Perhaps one day even politicians in power will say No to the haredim.

Local Jews divided over treatment of women at Wall

By Justin Jacobs March 11, 2010

Women of the Wall – Anat Hoffman

“I don’t think pressure from Americans will have an impact,” said [Marne] Rochester, who made aliya in 1990.

“It may also strengthen the case that this is about American Reform Jews, not about Israelis.

When I don’t agree with the American Jewish community [view on Israel], I say they shouldn’t have a say because they live there and not here. It would be hypocritical to say that they should now, just because we agree.”

Off the wall politics

By Akiva Eldar Opinion March 12, 2010

In the coming days the State is required to deposit at the Jerusalem District Court its position concerning renovations of the Mugrabi Gate at the entrance to the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif).

[Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz] has already informed Judge Moussia Arad that he objects to her proposal to build the new bridge on one of the batteries on which the bridge that collapsed three years ago stood.

He is insisting on his request to install a suspended bridge on the Mugrabi slope in order to enlarge the women’s section and ease the crowding in the Western Wall plaza.

Nearly Half of Israeli Bar Mitzvahs Celebrated at Western Wall

By Hillel Fendel March 9, 2010

Over 40 percent of Israeli families who had the choice celebrated their sons’ Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall in 2009, the Western Wall Legacy Foundation reports. Many families from abroad did the same.

Put an end to monopoly

By Michael Graetz Opinion March 9, 2010

Rabbi Michael Graetz is one of the founders of the Masorti Movement in Israel

If Israel is to be able to claim that it is a “Jewish State” it must return to that original mentality and conception.

In practice that would mean disestablishing the “religious establishment” that is the Chief Rabbinate and its court system, and in its place create a “Religious authority” that would fairly and justly support and grant authority and State legitimacy to all streams of Judaism.

Yes, there are issues on the boundaries, but there would be almost unanimous agreement on those boundaries. Indeed, the existence of established movements with members, institutions, history etc. would be a major factor in deciding who is included and who is not.

U.S. State Dept. 2009 Human Rights Report: Israel March 11, 2010

c. Freedom of Religion

The government implemented policies including marriage, divorce, education, burial, and observance of the Sabbath based on Orthodox Jewish interpretation of religious law, and allocations of state resources favored Orthodox Jewish institutions.

According to government figures, during the year the budget for religious services and religious institutions for the Jewish population was 96 percent of total funding.

Religious education amounted to more than 1.1 billion NIS ($263 million) of the approximately 1.5 billion NIS ($405 million) of the overall budget.

Religious minorities, comprising slightly more than 20 percent of the population, received approximately 55 million NIS ($14.5 million).

See also International Religious Freedom Report 2009

‘Jews for Jesus baker not kosher’

By Dan Izenberg March 10, 2010

The High Court of Justice on Tuesday ordered the Ashdod Rabbinical Council to provide documents proving that the kashrut terms demanded of a Jews for Jesus baker were identical to those demanded of the Jewish bakers in the city.

The decision came at the end of a hearing on a contempt-of-court petition filed on behalf of Pnina Conforty, a Jews for Jesus follower whose kosher certification had been revoked in 2006 because of her religious affiliation.

“Court rulings must be obeyed,” Justice Ayala Procaccia told the state’s representative, attorney Hani Ofek, at Tuesday’s hearing.

Ofek asked the court for more time, explaining that the rabbinate and the State Attorney’s Office were conducting an “institutional dialogue” and looking for a “practical solution” to the High Court’s order.

“There is a problem here,” replied Procaccia. “The High Court handed down a ruling. I have never heard of a case in which the court handed down a clear ruling and the rabbinate is looking for a ‘practical solution.’ We specified the solution.”

Is anyone out there listening to the Supreme Court?

By Dan Izenberg Opinion March 10, 2010

During the hearings, the state and the Ashdod Rabbinate argued that because she was not Jewish, Conforty could not be fully trusted to observe the kashrut strictures and therefore must hire a “trustee,” a concept based on religious law (Halacha), from among her employees, to supervise the baking procedures throughout the day and make sure kashrut was observed.

…During the three years of hearings up until the court’s ruling last June, the state never raised this argument.

On the contrary, it maintained that because Conforty was not Jewish, her level of trustworthiness was lower and therefore she was required to have a trustee.

Marranos in Reverse? March 9, 2010

In Jewish eyes they are apostates, but a group of “Messianic Jews” living in Israel say they follow authentic Jewish lives in the footsteps of Jesus.

Spiritually akin to the Jews for Jesus movement, they differ in one salient respect: they tend not to engage in overt proselytizing. They are also much more informally organized, consisting mostly of local leaders and followers who maintain their faith through personal relationships and e-mail lists.

…in a country where identity, citizenship, and religious affiliation are intertwined with still-vivid historical memories, the presence of these Messianic Jews poses a unique challenge to the broadmindedness of Israeli society.

Haredi service now

By Shahar Ilan Opinion March 11, 2010

The author is vice president of research and information at Hiddush, an association promoting religious freedom and equality.

It is now clear to all: Yeshiva students can serve, both in the army and in civilian frameworks. But to ensure that this happens in ever-growing numbers, more programs with suitable conditions must be created.

Another Haredi battalion should be established, but most of the programs should integrate the Haredim into the rest of the army, as the Shahar programs do, while taking their special needs into account.

…At the same time, massive allocations to the ultra-Orthodox parties must stop.

Parents of combat soldiers enraged over Peres’ exemption remarks

By Yoav Zitun March 11, 2010

Statements made by President Shimon Peres Wednesday in favor of exempting yeshiva students from IDF service sparked furor among anti-draft-dodging activists. The Israeli Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden sent a harsh protest letter to the president on Thursday.

During his visit in the Ponevezh yeshiva Peres said,

“I am very proud that the State and the IDF have agreed to release the young people who are dedicating their lives to their studies.”

Click here for VIDEOS of President Peres visit (Hebrew): 1 and 2

March sees record rate in hesder students’ recruitment March 13, 2010

The annulment of the settlement between the IDF and the Har Bracha yeshiva hasn’t affected hesder students’ motivation to serve in the IDF.

Many yeshiva students joined the Givati Brigade on Monday and were assigned to a separate and integrated company.

Some 850 yeshiva students are slated to enlist in the army during the month of March, 73.5% of whom will serve as combatants in Golani, Givati and Kfir Brigades as well as in Combat Engineering, Field Intelligence and Armored Corps units.

The Hesder Yeshivot Union stated that the March 2010 enlistment round has seen a record in the number of hesder yeshivot recruits.

Religious: We are more moral March 9, 2010

An overwhelming majority of the religious sector believes that members of the national religious community uphold family values better than the general public (96%), invests more in children’s education than the general public (91%), and is more moral than the general public (74%).

The study also revealed that a vast majority of respondents prefer that religious families live in mixed secular-religious neighborhoods and towns without segregating themselves from the general public.

A vast majority of the religious public (83%) is opposed to full equality between men and women in religious functions within the family, such as making Kiddush, blessing the challah, etc.

Engaging Israel: Beyond Advocacy

By Rabbi Donniel Hartman Opinion March 9, 2010

It is time for us to recognize that the Jewish community in general and Israel in particular have failed to develop a new Jewish narrative for the Jewish people around the world on which to base their relationship with Israel.

…The Jewish community is not in need of an Israel advocacy campaign of facts and figures alone, but also of a new Jewish narrative based on Jewish ideas and values for engaging Israel in a way that will help integrate Israel into a modern Jewish identity.

Alan Hoffman: Immigration in the future will be out of ‘choice’

By Raphael Ahren March 12, 2010

The Jewish Agency’s recently publicized shift in priorities – putting Jewish identity building ahead of immigration to Israel – does not mean the agency is abandoning its traditional role, according to incoming director-general Alan Hoffmann.

While slowly revising its agenda toward a stronger focus on educational programs and initiatives connecting world Jewry with Israel, the organization’s final goal ultimately remains to promote aliyah, he asserted.

U.S. rabbi backtracks on Negev settlement pledge

By Raphael Ahren March 12, 2010

A prominent U.S. rabbi is backtracking on his widely touted commitment to establish a utopia-like community made up of Anglo immigrants and native Israelis in the planned Negev town of Carmit.

“We haven’t closed the door on Carmit but we are a definitely looking at other possibilities in the Be’er Sheva area,” the liberal Orthodox Rabbi Asher Lopatin, of Chicago, told Anglo File last week.

“We are still committed to building a new pluralistic and diverse and environmentally sound community. Everything is on the table, everything that’s in the Northern Negev.”

Peoplehood and Jewish Culture

By Bob Goldfarb Opinion March 14, 2010

Bob Goldfarb, a regular contributor to eJewishPhilanthropy, is the president of the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity in Jerusalem and Los Angeles.

As the Jewish Agency formulates its plans for the future, it also should recognize the unparalleled power of culture to make individual Jews feel a strong, personal connection to one another.

Jewish culture offers many pleasures, but it is much more than a form of entertainment. It’s the enduring expression of our lives as part the Jewish people.

Reform Judaism in Israel: The Anatomy of Weakness

By Asher Cohen and Bernard Susser

Modern Judaism – Volume 30, Number 1, February 2010, pp. 23-45

Under the striking title “Searching for a Synagogue,” a well-known Israeli journalist and television personality described his failing quest for a house of worship that would suit his purposes.

The article is worthy of attention because its conspicuous author could easily be taken as the very image of the secular Israeli sabra.

With no little bitterness, the author tells of his reservations with Orthodox synagogues-reservations that are standard for many liberal secular Israeli Jews.

He tells his readers that he occasionally frequents the central Reform synagogue in Tel Aviv (Beit Daniel) but that there too he feels alienated and out of place.

“I will probably continue going there,” he writes, “but I am not Reform and I don’t exactly know what Progressive [Reform] Judaism is.” He continues: “Reform Judaism is essentially an American movement.”

Moreover, the author finds the attempt to Israelize the American movement artificial and unappealing.

Managing Global Migration: A Strategy for Immigration Policy in Israel

By Prof. Shlomo Avineri, Liav Orgad and Prof. Amnon Rubinstein

Editor: Ruth Gavison / Translated from Hebrew

The Metzilah Center for Zionist, Jewish, Liberal and Humanist Thought

Jerusalem, 2010 [pdf]

Israel needs a policy on immigration and a policy on immigrants. This document proposes, for the first time in Israel’s history, a comprehensive outline for such a policy.

Yishai: Falash Mura aliya to be resolved within a year

By Ruth Eglash March 8, 2010

Interior Minister Eli Yishai pledged Monday to bring the aliya of the Falash Mura to its final phase within a year, and said that after Pessah ministry representatives would head to Ethiopia to check the eligibility of some 8700 descendants of Ethiopian Jews waiting to immigrate.

Ethiopian Jews Push Israel on Immigration Right

By Peter Heinlein, Addis Ababa March 9, 2010

But the Falash Mura pose an awkward question for Israel. Public opinion is said to be divided between those who favor allowing them to immigrate, either because they were Jews by ancestry, or for humanitarian reasons, and others who argue they are simply claiming to be Jewish to escape Ethiopia’s grinding poverty.

Ethiopian Jewry gets its first Haggada

By Ruth Eglash March 12, 2010

The historic saga of Ethiopian Jewry, with its unique traditions and customs, will be incorporated into the mainstream Pessah story for the first time in a new Haggada written by Ethiopian-Jewish history expert Rabbi Menachem Waldman.

Shas MK: Naked exhibition is prostitution

By Amnon Meranda March 11, 2010

Shas MK Nissim Zeev claimed the idea of “taking mass naked photos in the holy land” was crazy.

“I understand that he has an artistic task, but it’s interesting how any form of prostitution has become art. That’s the way it is lately,” Zeev said.

Israeli officials divided over mass nude photo initiative

By Merav Yudilovitch March 11, 2010

A report published by the Yedioth Ahronoth daily Monday regarding the possible arrival of American controversial photographer Spencer Tunick to Israel sparked both excitement and harsh objection in the Jewish state.

Let us pray on Mount

By Yitzchak Reuven Opinion March 12, 2010

The author, Yitzchak Reuven, is the Director of Multimedia at the international department of The Temple Institute in Jerusalem

The Temple Institute has declared this coming Tuesday, March 16, the first of the month of Nisan, to be International Temple Mount Awareness Day.

We call upon our supporters to petition the government of Israel for change, and are inviting all who feel a connection to the place of the Holy Temple to join us as we ascend the Mount.

The gathering is intended to be one of religious expression and is not political in nature. Our intentions are only peaceful.

In the likely case that we are denied our democratic right to be seen and to be heard on the Mount, we will disperse peacefully.

Religion and State in Israel

March 15, 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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