Religion and State in Israel – April 26, 2010 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

April 26, 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.

Rabbinate torn between state, halacha

By Jonah Mandel April 26, 2010

The High Court of Justice is due to decide on Monday whether to give the Chief Rabbinate more time to respond to a petition against city rabbis who have seemingly rejected official conversions, or whether to simply rule on the petition.

The Chief Rabbinate, which was supposed to respond to the petition on Sunday, has asked for a postponement.

It was apparently unable to formulate a response, as it is torn between its capacity as the State of Israel’s official body in charge of religious matters, and the actions of its more zealous representatives, who are not accepting the validity of some conversions approved by that same body’s official organs.

Dry bones and live Jews

By Rabbi Seth Farber Opinion April 15, 2010

If the Prime Minister’s office would take control of these issues, and simply tell the UTJ that their opinion will not be decisive in determining who is a Jew and who can convert, then these travesties would stop once and for all.

But, just like the hospital decision, the decision to take control of conversion won’t be made by the prime minister alone. Netanyahu took a bold step only after the public made clear that they wouldn’t tolerate the Ultra-Orthodox position. Once the outcry became so loud, the interests of the public outweighed the special interests of the UTJ.

The public needs to get more involved in making conversion more accessible to Israelis. Anything less will not move things forward.

If the public spoke so forcefully about 3,000-year-old bones, shouldn’t it speak out louder about 300,000 individuals unable to convert?

Equality April 25, 2010

Yediot Aharonot believes that:

“Equality must be one of the minimalistic rules underpinning the State of Israel. It must be clear that separate buses and sidewalks contravene the rules of the game. No coalition agreement can permit such things.”

On mountains and canopies

By Haviva Ner-David April 23, 2010

The writer is the founding director of Reut: The Center for Modern Jewish Marriage and Shmaya: A Ritual and Educational Mikve at Kibbutz Hanaton. She is the author of Life on the Fringes: A Feminist Journey Towards Traditional Rabbinic Ordination

I, however, recommend to couples that they marry in the ceremony of their choice and not register as married with the state.

Most couples do not realize that even if they do not marry through the rabbinate, once they are registered as married, the only way they can divorce is through the rabbinic courts.

That is why I suggest that they refrain from registering as married and thus avoid putting themselves into (and thus legitimating) the system altogether.

Making the Tal Law work Editorial April 25, 2010

For the first time in Israel’s history, there are more than 100,000 men who devote their days to the study of the Talmud, Halacha, Jewish philosophy and various homiletic rabbinic literature.

About 70,000 married men receive annual state-funded stipends of NIS 10,000, and 33,000 unmarried young men receive about NIS 5,700 a year. The total annual yeshiva budget is about NIS 1 billion.

Time to wake up

By Yizhar Hess April 22, 2010

The writer is executive director of the Masorti Movement in Israel.

Without being aware of it, this has become the reality of our lives. We have let the haredim take over everything that has to do with Judaism in the public sphere.

…The Zionist vision of the Jewish state, a vision that was able to combine nationalism and humanism, is slipping away from us like sand through our fingers. It is no longer Herzl who is turning over in his grave, it’s Menahem Begin. Israel is changing. Like a stone tossed in the air, which imagines that it decides the path of its trajectory, we still believe that everything is under control. But it isn’t. Our hearing has become dulled, but the music is deafening.

Q&A with MK Einat Wilf

By Danielle Berrin April 20, 2010

JJ: You’ve even suggested that your philosophy of peoplehood is on par with rabbinic Judaism and Zionism.

EW: I think it provides an answer to the new world. And Judaism, at the end of the day, always survived by adapting.

JJ: Even if you have to fight a powerful religious establishment?

EW: They’re very powerful, but one of the reasons is that we somehow accepted their narrative that they’re the good Jews, the better Jews, and we are somehow the deficient Jews, and we have to be in a constant state of apology. I absolutely don’t accept that.

JJ: You’ve said that you support the idea of Diaspora deliberation on Israeli policy.

EW: I think there should be a parliament of the Jewish people that serves as a consultative body to the Jewish people and that the government of Israel has structures in place that can hear those views and recommendations.

Pluralism in Holon

By Jessica Steinberg April 25, 2010

Called Hitchadshut, for renewal, it has created a citywide model for education of Jewish identity. It’s taking place in schools, high schools, community centers and youth centers, and focuses on programs will help educate those who know little about their Jewish identity. They have discussion groups on social justice, Kabbalat Shabbat evenings, Tikkun Shavuot study nights, bible story training for kindergarten teachers and a Chanukah parade.

Some thoughts on Yom Ha’atzmaut

By Rabbi Jay Kelman Opinion April 24, 2010

The “secular” leaders who founded the State (whatever role the religious played it is more than obvious that without the secular settlers there would be no State of Israel today) are virtues of religiosity by comparison.

The government supports Torah education to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Day schools, high school, yeshivot of all persuasions are funded by the government enabling millions to learn Torah.

The collapse of religious Zionism

By Shahar Ilan Opinion April 21, 2010

The writer is vice president of research and information for Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality.

Sooner or later, we will have to get used to thinking of religious Zionists as two distinct communities, or even more. And sooner or later, even supporters of Habayit Hayehudi will have to take sides.

They will either have to join the community that is alienated from the Zionist enterprise, or join the effort to save Zionism from the threats to its democratic character and economic future. And it is vital that this happen before it is too late.

In the frontline of bereavement

By Kobi Nahshoni April 19, 2010

We usually see them in official state and military ceremonies, but their job continues long after the cameras turn off. Military cantors accompany bereaved families in their most intimate moments, at times as the sole representatives of the Israel Defense Forces.

According to the IDF’s Personnel Directorate, a military cantor is an active duty soldier or career non-commissioned officer who serves in burial and memorial functions. However, there is a lot more to the role than is implied in the job description.

Chabad soldier awarded for achievement

By Tzemach Brown April 23, 2010

Photo: (not related to article)

Rabbi Yossi Farbers commanders noted his relentless efforts to get his male comrades to put on Tefillin and the female soldiers to light Shabbos candles.

Rabbi Farber does a lot of activity in the district, with special classed with various lecturers, surprise birthday parties for co-soldiers and other activities with support from the Yeshiva and Chabad House in Nazareth Illit.

Mamilla Cemetery: The price of tolerance

By Omar Kasrawi and Sommer Saadi April 21, 2010

The controversy surrounding Mamilla cemetery is not unique in Israel. Protests have been held against many construction plans because of concerns that gravesites will be desecrated.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups have especially taken up this cause, like in the recent case of the Barzalai Medical Center in Ashkelon, where groups have protested the construction of an emergency ward on top of a Jewish cemetery.

Sometimes building plans are halted and diverted and sometimes they go ahead despite the protests, like in the case of Ashkelon. In a recent decision, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reversed plans to have the ward relocated, citing security and economic concerns.

Interior Ministry official: We have 60 employees watching Muslim clergymen

By Akiva Eldar April 21, 2010

The Interior Ministry employs 60 people whose job is to keep an eye on Muslim clergymen, according to testimony given in the Tel Aviv Labor Court last week.

Yaakov Salameh, who heads the ministry’s department of religious communities, told the court that his inspectors receive reports from people in “the field” about the family life and ethical behavior of imams serving in local mosques.

Why women should be able to pray in peace

By Sylvia Rothschild Opinion April 22, 2010

Sylvia Rothschild is a rabbi of Wimbledon (Reform) Synagogue

photo: Women of the Wall

The Women of the Wall have deliberately chosen not to go outside the parameters of halachah: there is no feminist point being made, no Reform agenda being followed.

Nothing they do is prohibited by halachah, though as time has gone on their activities have gone from being perfectly legal under Israeli law, to become the object of increasingly prohibitive rulings under the secular system.

…Attempts to exclude Jews from the Kotel area, besides having no halachic basis, goes against the Declaration of Independence which guarantees “freedom of religion”.

Beggars kicked out of Western Wall

By Ari Galahar April 21, 2010

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation and Israel Police have decided to make the fight against beggars more efficient and distributed pictures of all the people forbidden entry to the site after asking for donations.

In recent years, the beggar phenomenon at the Western Wall has reached massive proportions, with dozens of panhandlers roaming the site every day. In a bid to combat the growing trend, any beggar caught asking for handouts is forbidden entry to the site for a full month.

Health Ministry to reexamine problematic brain-death law

By Dan Even April 26, 2010

The Health Ministry intends to expand the number of medical examinations that are likely to determine with greater certainty whether a patient is brain dead. The move comes in response to the latest findings, which show a decrease of 40 percent in the ability of hospitals to declare an individual brain dead since a June 2009 law went into effect.

The wording of the legislation – formulated as a compromise between the Chief Rabbinate and the Israeli Medical Association – stipulates the conditions necessary in order to classify an ailing patient as brain dead.

Ramat Beit Shemesh residents jostle over control of mikva

By Ruth Eglash April 25, 2010

Friction between two religious communities in Ramat Beit Shemesh has surfaced once again, this time over who should take responsibility for the mikve (ritual bath) in a neighborhood that is equally inhabited by both haredi and national religious communities, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The tension is focusing on a mikve that opened roughly two years ago on Nahal Dolev and was divided in two last summer by the city’s Religious Council so each community could follow its own interpretation of Jewish law.

City councilman Shlomo Lerner, head of the National Religious Party in Beit Shemesh…believes the mikve issue is symptomatic of renewed friction that has started to build up between the haredi and national religious communities.

“It is one small but very, very important part of the picture,” Lerner told the Post.

The Mikva Saga Continues…

By Rabbi Dov Lipman (Guest writer) Opinion April 23, 2010

Tensions are very high regarding the Mikvaot in Ramat Bet Shemesh with fears that this is only the beginning of a takeover of all Mikvaot in the city by Chareidi rabbonim. The timeline of the events is as follows:

Interview with Rabbi Asher (Richard) Hirsch April 17, 2010

What is your vision of the Reform movement in Israel in 10 years?

I prefer to think in terms of 40 years. It may not seem feasible now, but I believe that by the middle of this century, Israel will have one great, established and accepted liberal religious movement. It will comprise what once was the Progressive movement, what was once the Masorti (Conservative) movement and perhaps even some components of what today is the modern Orthodox movement.

The pluralism which characterizes Jewish life around the world cannot forever be stopped at the Mediterranean shore of Israel.

See also interviews with Danielle Sheldon, Yaron Shavit, Rabbi Dalia Tibon, and Yochai Maytal.

Richard Hirsch Becomes First Reform Rabbi Honored at Israeli Independence Day Ceremony April 19, 2010

Rabbi Richard Hirsch, first director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and longtime head of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), the international arm of the Reform Movement, today became the first Reform rabbi to receive the honor of lighting a torch during Israel’s Independence Day ceremony.

No sexiness, we’re Holy City cheerleaders

AFB April 20, 2010

Click here for VIDEO

A dozen dancing girls hit the hardwood floors of a Jerusalem basketball court on a recent spring night with an unusual goal — show nothing sexy.

These are the Hapoel Jerusalem cheerleaders, and their defiantly flat performances are the result of a long-running saga that has spawned an unlikely alliance of Orthodox Jews and feminists taking on professional sports.

Critics want them off the court and the league will not cave in. The result is a sexless, covered-up performance.

Photo Essay: Boombamela Festival Welcomes Torah Outreach

By Ben Bresky April 15, 2010

When Guy Arnon and his wife Galia started producing the Boombamela festival, he didn’t expect it to result in a bar mitzvah, especially not his own. The husband and wife team have been coming to Nitzanim beach for the past seven years for one of Israeli’s best known and longest running beach festivals.

Like Galia and Guy, they have also been coming to Boombamela for seven years, but as volunteers. Together with a seemingly random group of volunteers from Moshav Mevo Modiin, [the Shlomo Carlebach Moshav], Breslov Chasidim, Rabbi Kook aficionados and whomever else comes to volunteer, Kfar Tefillah makes sure that kosher-for-Passover food is readily available.

World Bible Quiz winner: Or Ashual

By Jonah Mandel April 21, 2010

Or Ashual, a 17-year-old student at the Kfar Saba Amana girls’ school, became the 2010 winner of the World Bible Quiz competition on Tuesday, which took place on Israel’s 62nd Independence Day at the Jerusalem Center for the Performing Arts.

Both [runner-up Elad] Nachshon and Avner Netanyahu are in the secular education system. Netanyahu’s maternal uncle, Hagi Ben-Artzi – who, like his two brothers, Amatzia and Matanya, is a past winner of the National Bible Quiz and a product of secular schools – pointed out to The Jerusalem Post the magnitude of the achievement, saying that it marked a return of Bible studies to a central place among the nonreligious population after some three decades of religious domination in the contest.

Netanyahu’s son stumbles over father’s question, takes third place in International Bible Contest

By Liel Kyzer April 21, 2010

The finals of the annual International Bible Contest yesterday aroused unusual excitement in the Prime Minister’s Office this year, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 15-year-old son, Avner, made it into the finals.

In the end, Netanyahu’s son placed third after failing to correctly answer the final question – traditionally posed by the prime minister himself.

Noting that Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, termed the Bible “the foundation of our existence,” Netanyahu said he was pleased to see that it is “again becoming the Book of Books of all the people of Israel.”

Day of Religious Tolerance – April 26, 2010

  • Is it possible for different denominations in Israel to work together?
  • Religious gays and lesbians share their struggles with G-d, family and community.

School for religious musicians opened

By Elad Rubinstein April 23, 2010

The first music school of its kind will open its doors during the next school year and will focus entirely on Jewish music.

Dozens of applicants have already applied and auditions have recently been heard by the faculty of the new school – jazz musician Daniel Zamir, Rabbi Mordechai Vardi, and musician Itzik Weiss.

The school is already planning high-level musical productions. One of the ideas already being thrown around is creating a rock opera based on the life story of Rabbi Nachman from Breslev.

Religion and State in Israel

April 26, 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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