Religion and State in Israel – April 12, 2010 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

April 12, 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.

Netanyahu to decide over Ashkelon hospital ER relocation

By Barak Ravid and Dan Even April 11, 2010

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman March 26, 2010

(PM Netanyahu returns to Israel from trip to U.S.)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was authorized Sunday to be the final decision maker over the relocation of the emergency room at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center, after several weeks of debate regarding the controversial affair.

Following a last minute move to add the request to the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu, who is also the official health minister, received the cabinet’s approval to make the final decision, thus excluding Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) from the decision making process.

PM granted authority on Barzilai April 11, 2010

“I asked the director-general of my office to investigate the matter and report the findings. Based on this, I ask that the government grant me the authority to make a decision to replace the decision made previously,” Netanyahu said.

Ministers authorize PM to decide on ER relocation

By Roni Sofer April 11, 2010

The prime minister is likely to take the recommendation of Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Eyal Gabay and build the emergency room in the designated spot, despite ancient tombs located in the area.

PM opposes plan to move Ashkelon ER because of graves

By Barak Ravid and Dan Even April 8, 2010

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman yesterday that he opposes relocating the new, reinforced emergency room planned for Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center despite the ancient graves discovered at the site.

ER affair: PM refuses to ‘put lives at risk’

By Ronen Medzini April 6, 2010

[Sources in United Torah Judaism] said that at present the party does not intend to give an ultimatum regarding the faction’s continued participation in the coalition, but Litzman’s continuation as deputy health minister was in doubt.

“He’s not the minister, but the deputy, so in any case it’s not him who decides,” they said. “The final decision is the hands of the rabbis.”

Haredi Web sites slam Litzman over Barzilai

By Jonah Mandel April 8, 2010

Haredi online media outlets lambasted Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman Wednesday for the public outcry resulting from the delay in construction of a rocket-proof emergency room.

…Meanwhile, haredi online media outlets are expressing discontent over what is being described as an unnecessary battle that caused immense damage to the ultra-orthodox sector.

Tzohar rabbis to PM: Remove Barzilai graves

By Kobi Nahshoni April 2, 2010

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman March 23, 2009

The Tzohar rabbis’ organization on Monday appealed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a demand that he order the evacuation of the graves located near the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon and the renewal of construction of the fortified emergency room at the site.

In a document to the prime minister and other bodies involved in the affair, the rabbis ruled that the graves in question fall under the halachic ruling that “a grave that damages or interferes with the rights of the public can be removed”, and that they should therefore be relocated in a dignified manner.

‘Barzilai graves block fortified delivery room in Sheba’

By Meital Yasur – Beit Or April 6, 2010

Sheba Medical Center Director Zeev Rotstein warned on Tuesday that plans to construct a fortified delivery room at the hospital may be called off, due to the decision to allot NIS 135 million ($36.5 million) to the relocation of the Barzilai Medical Center emergency room in Ashkelon after ancient graves were found at the site.

Peres meets rabbis Yosef, Amar, says Barzilai “media sensation” regrettable

By Greer Fay Cashman April 4, 2010

At his meeting with Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Peres expressed outrage at the imbroglio that had evolved with regards to the construction of an fortified emergency wing at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, especially in view of the fact that both Amar and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger had given a joint halachic ruling that the area, which is in dispute because it may contain Jewish graves, could be built on in order to save lives.

Old bones that never lie

By Ran Shapira Opinion April 8, 2010

Dror Barshad of the Antiquities Authority:

“The attorney general ruled, years ago, that human bones are not defined as antiquities. A sarcophagus is considered an antiquity per se, as is a coffin. The bones themselves cannot be defined as such, however.

If human bones are found in an excavation, we transfer them, without conducting any research, to the Religious Services Ministry. It decides how to bury the bones. We are able to say, according to our criteria, whether they belonged to Jews or not.”

Even when the Antiquities Authority determines that burial sites are not Jewish, the Atra Kadisha people do not always accept its opinion.

Such is the case of the emergency room at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, which has been in the headlines recently.

Demonstrations and political pressure from the ultra-Orthodox at such sites interfere not only with excavation work, but also necessitate changes in building plans.

Elyashiv slams ruling against Emanuel religious school

By Kobi Nahshoni April 9, 2010

The leader of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community, Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv called for protest measures against the Supreme Court following its ruling in the matter of ethnic separation in the Beit Yaakov religious school in Emanuel.

Meanwhile, the Kol Haharedi news hotline reported that the Slonimer rebbe ordered his followers who live in Emanuel not to abide by the court ruling, despite the threat of imprisonment.

Elyashiv slams court’s ‘insufferable decree’ on school

By Jonah Mandel April 11, 2010

Friday’s Hamevaser newspaper called the court’s intervention in the school’s workings “dangerous,” and quoted unnamed senior rabbis as saying that they’d be willing to be go to jail along with the parents of Ashkenazi students, should the latter be imprisoned for contempt of court.

Haredi school network fined for discriminating against Sephardim

By Or Kashti April 8, 2010

The ultra-Orthodox network that runs the Beit Yaakov girls school in the West Bank settlement of Immanuel must pay NIS 5,000 for every day it continues to violate an August court order requiring it to eliminate any vestige of ethnic discrimination at the school, the High Court of Justice ruled Wednesday.

The court has scheduled a hearing with the parents of the 74 girls, who will be asked to explain why they should not be viewed as accessories to the violation of the earlier order.

They will also be asked whether furniture and equipment from the Beit Yaakov School is being used at the unauthorized institution and whether teachers from Beit Yaakov are being employed, either directly or indirectly, at the new school.

Religious school accused of contempt of court

By Aviad Glickman April 8, 2010

Some of the school’s teachers are also required to attend the hearing. Each will have to “declare the exact number of hours she is present at the school, and clarify whether she meets with or gives any lessons to students who have stopped coming to the school after the verdict was delivered, and if so – under which framework, where and when.”

‘Kosher’ bus line operating in Tel Aviv

By Tomer Peleg April 1, 2010

A bus line that separates between men and women has begun operating in Tel Aviv, odd news for many who consider it Israel’s capital of liberality and equality.

Connex line 322, a licensed bus line, travels from Tel Aviv through Bnei Brak and terminates its route in Ashdod. Women sit in the back and men sit in the front.

Councilmember Meital Lahavi:

“In the end though this is a battle that should take place in the Knesset. I hope that finally the separation lines will be prohibited by law.”

Haredim riot over “mixed bus” in Mea Shearim

By Abe Selig March 31, 2010

Declaring they would no longer allow “mixed buses” into their neighborhood, a group of haredi men began rioting in Mea Shearim on Wednesday, after an Egged bus that was not “Mehadrin”, or separated by gender, made its way into the Jerusalem enclave.

Egged Halts Bus Service to Meah Shearim

By Yechiel Spira April 1, 2010

According to Egged’s Nir Landau, the manager of Egged Yerushalayim, the violent protests taking place in Meah Shearim have compelled the bus company to halt service to Meah Shearim.

NGO: Civil marriage debate irrelevant

By Ruth Eglash April 6, 2010

As Israel Beiteinu and other proponents of civil or non-Orthodox marriages continue to grapple with religious leaders and politicians, in an attempt to change the status quo, a grassroots revolution is rendering the debate irrelevant, according to Irit Rosenblum, executive director of the New Family Organization.

Her group champions the rights of Israelis to establish marriages or unions outside of the traditional system.

“There is no urgent reason to legislate civil marriages any more,” Rosenblum told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Sunday.

“There have been so many legal changes to the status of common law marriages and other types of unions that it is simply no longer needed.”

Getting Married in Israel without Going Insane

By Abbey Greenberg Onn Opinion April 6, 2010

Most brides worry about looking perfect in their dress, getting the invitations out on time and making sure that her mother-in-law loves her.

My worries as a bride-to-be had less to do with invitations (they went out two weeks prior to the event) than with actually being allowed to marry my beloved.

As an American Jew in Israel without Israeli citizenship, before dresses and cakes, I first needed to prove my Judaism.

A different sort of orthodoxy

By Ksenia Svetlova April 2, 2010

“I think that there are at least 70,000 to 100,000 Russian Orthodox living in Israel today. Perhaps the real figures are even higher, but in any case this is quite a large section of Israeli society,” he says.

According to Usenkov, a Jewish oleh from Moscow who embraced Christianity while still in Russia, there are also many immigrants, especially from mixed Jewish-Russian families, who turned to Christianity after their relocation.

Rabbi: Make foreign workers accept Laws of Noah

By Ari Galahar April 6, 2010

A new initiative in ultra-Orthodox neighborhood suggests that foreign workers seeking to work for haredi families will be forced to stop practicing idolatry and accept the Seven Laws of Noah.

The person behind the new initiative is Rabbi Asher Idan, who has published “a warning to the public in haredi neighborhoods

Holocaust remembrance barbeque

By Shmulik Grossman April 12, 2010

Rabbi and attorney Uri Regev, head of Hiddush:

“Holocaust Day is not an event that stands alone, it’s part of a general perspective. Like Remembrance Day and Independence Day, Holocaust Day was determined by the Knesset whose laws they don’t recognize, so it has no meaning for them.

5 Haredi youths suspected of uprooting terror attack memorial

By Liel Kyzer April 3, 2010

Five ultra-Orthodox youths were arrested Saturday for allegedly uprooting a memorial for victims of a suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus.

The memorial, on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, honors victims who died on the number 18 bus line in a 1996 attack.

Police said that one of the suspects tried to flee, but was caught after a short chase.

Mom of Neturei Karta Suspect in Vandalism against Terror Memorial Isn’t Remorseful

By Yechiel Spira April 11, 2010

Mrs. Tzvia Turbolo, the mother of Alexander, one of the suspects arrested last week for destroying a Jerusalem memorial to victims of an 18 bus suicide bombing attack does not see a reason to apologize. She actually defends the act.

She explained that a memorial statue is simply “idolatry” Kikar Shabbos reports.

‘Haredim who defaced memorial not religious’

By Shmulik Grossman April 4, 2010

Their lawyer, Attorney Yair Nehorai, said the act was condemned by the Eda Haredit faction.

“All the people I have spoken to in Eda Haredit, and I am talking about the community leaders, are strongly against such acts.”

He added that the suspects denied their involvement in the incident. “The people I spoke to,” he said, “would like to stress that such an act is wrong, it hurts families and its non-religious.”

Mea Shearim gets modern bookstore

By Nissan Shtrauchler April 5, 2010

Whoever thought that books were going out of style should visit the bookstore Or Hachaim Center in the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood, Mea Shearim.

Most of the books come with a recommendation or authorization from the spiritual council for reviewing books.

In the entrance to the store, there are computer stations and every book has a barcode, something new in the haredi sector. The design is also something unprecedented in the ultra-Orthodox world.

…In the past, Mea Shearim’s residents picketed against such stores being opened in the neighborhood. Many of the residents belong to anti-Zionist sects known for their zealotry.

Dander Up In Israel over Proposed Fur Ban

Click here for AUDIO story

By Lourdes Garcia-Navarro April 7, 2010

A bill to make Israel fur-free is being debated in the Knesset, pitting animal-rights campaigners against the lobbyists for the global fur industry and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, which says the fur ban is an affront to its religious identity.

The proposed ban provides a religious exemption to those who wear the shtreimel.

But ultra-Orthodox members of the Knesset such Chaim Amsellem still oppose the measure. He says 90 percent of the fur that comes into Israel is for religious purposes.

Religion is no excuse for wearing fur

By Seth Freedman April 5, 2010

Since the shtreimel market accounts for 90% of the Israeli fur trade, MK Chaim Amsellem asserts “there’s no logic in legislating a bill that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to”.

He believes that a ban on fur would be the opening salvo in a wider war on religious practices such as shechita, the traditional Jewish method of slaughtering animals for meat which has been the subject of intense criticism around the world in recent years.

Holy Spit: Why Do Ultra-Orthodox Jews Spit at Christians?

By Shalom Goldman April 7, 2010

A very embarrassing and persistent problem has arisen in some of the sacred sites in Jerusalem where Christians and Jews cross each other’s paths.

Teenagers from a small sector of the city’s many Ultra-Orthodox (“Haredi”) Ashkenazi Jewish communities have taken to spitting at clerics wearing prominent crosses and dressed in traditional garb.

Assaults have been recorded at the Jaffa and Damascus Gates of the walled Old City, an area with many historic churches and monasteries, including the Polish Church of St. Elizabeth.

Synagogue goers fend off female paramedic

By Ronen Medzini April 9, 2010

Magen David Adom paramedic Ruti Levy was rushed Friday along with two other unit members to a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood after a man fainted in the site.

However, upon arrival she was prevented from entering the room and aiding the patient when ultra-Orthodox worshippers shoved her out claiming “a woman is prohibited from entering.”

“I’m not a young girl, I wore a long-sleeved garment which was modest,” she said and noted “I didn’t take offence, but I got irritated and angry. I wanted to save a person and they didn’t allow me.”

Ultra-Orthodox men bristling over shortage of beard-friendly gas masks

By Anshel Pfeffer, Yanir Yagna and Yair Ettinger April 12, 2010

With the defense establishment running a shortage of special gas masks coveted by the bearded Haredi public, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party is demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exercise his influence in order to speed up the supply of the kits.

Israel is suffering from a shortage of the Bardas, a mask that covers the entire head and is meant for older people who are ill and for men with beards.

As a result, most Haredi men do not have any protection due to the traditional mask’s incompatibility with beards. The masks are meant to protect from biological or chemical attacks.

From prayer fringes to shopping binges

TheMarker April 2, 2010

Welcome to Itzkowitz. Almost every Orthodox Jew in the world knows of it. Itzkowitz is what most call what may be the busiest synagogue in the world. It was founded before the State of Israel by Zvi Itzkowitz smack in the center of the religious city of Bnei Brak, at the intersection of Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shach (formerly Herzl) streets.

Day in and day out, thousands of worshippers pass through the place, which is known as a “minyan factory.”

Religious fencer wins medal on Shabbat April 6, 2010

Fencing champion Yuval Freilich, who made headlines when he forced the Fencing Association to avoid holding fencing matches on Shabbat, marked his greatest achievement on Saturday, ranking third in the World Championships in Fencing, held on the one day he previously refused to compete on.

See also: High Court: Fencing nationals open to religious

‘Jewish heritage, tradition essential to our culture’

By Jonah Mandel April 7, 2010

Does being religious enhance literary skills?

The Education Ministry on Tuesday released the breakdown of the latest results of matriculation exams (bagrut) in literature, for the school year 2007/2008, and seven of the 10 high schools with the best averages, including the top five, were religious institutions.

Egged removes 3rd Temple poster

By Ron Friedman April 6, 2010

A Pessah advertising campaign calling for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem has been removed from Egged buses in the capital following complaints and threats of vandalism.

The Our Land of Israel group, which ordered the campaign, said it would sue Egged and Cnaan Advertising, the company that handles Egged’s advertising services, for breach of contract.

‘Third Temple’ bus ads removed

By Shmulik Grossman April 6, 2010

Kobi Cnaan, the signpost franchiser’s director, said the signs were removed following many threats received by the company over the past week.

“Had we noticed the content of the advertisement, it’s possible that we would not have put it up in the first place. We preferred not to be part of a provocation to begin with, but we will consider filing a complaint with the police due to the many threats.”

The Ethiopian Way

By Aryeh Tepper April 1, 2010

In 2005, thirty-five-year old Sharon Shalom was appointed rabbi of a synagogue in the working-class town of Kiryat Gat.

The synagogue was founded by Holocaust survivors; Shalom was born in Ethiopia, and moved to Israel at the age of nine.

Charged with breathing new life into a declining community, he succeeded by filling the empty pews with . . . Moroccan Jews.

New pact aims to boost Vatican ties

By Gil Hoffman April 9, 2010

The Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus signed a partnership agreement with pro-Israel Italian parliament members at Rome’s Fleming Hotel on Wednesday night, in a move that is expected to improve ties between Israel and Italy and eventually also with the Vatican.

A group of Italian parliamentarians met at the Senate in Rome on Wednesday with Israeli caucus chairman MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu), Labor MK Orit Noked and former tourism minister Benny Elon, who chairs the International Israeli Allied Caucuses. Israeli Ambassador Gideon Meir addressed the crowd in Italian at the event.

The many faces of Christian Zionism

By Larry Derfner April 1, 2010

In a new book, Emory professor Shalom Goldman explores American Christians and their ‘Zeal for Zion’

The history of Christianity’s encounter with Zionism is older and far more nuanced and pluralistic than commonly understood, and this encounter has, by and large, been a sympathetic one, Goldman says during an interview in Jerusalem.

Israel gets first disabled-accessible shul

By Eti Dor April 7, 2010

Good news for people with special needs: Israel’s first disabled-accessible synagogue was inaugurated in the northern city of Kiryat Bialik last week.

The synagogue, located in the town’s Givat Harakafot neighborhood, was inaugurated on Thursday in the presence of Minister of Religious Affairs Ya’akov Margi, Kiryat Bialik Mayor Eli Dukorsky and the city’s Rabbi Yosef Yashar.

Religion and State in Israel

April 12, 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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