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

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Religion and State in Israel

August 2, 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.

An alternative Tu Be’av wedding

By Jonah Mandel July 26, 2010

Early Sunday evening, as the minor Jewish holiday of love, Tu Be’av, set in, a young couple conducted a very public nuptial ceremony in front of the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, designed in part to demonstrate against the current situation in Israel, where the only way for Jews to wed by law is through the Chief Rabbinate.

“We are Jewish enough to serve in the army, pay taxes and fulfill our civil obligations, but we are not Jewish enough to get married here,” said Granin, who made aliya from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s.

Israeli Pluralistic Jewish Public Wedding Protests Denial of Right to Marry July 29, 2010

The fifth blessing was recited by Jay Shofet, Director of SHATIL’s Pluralism Project.

After the ceremony he explained,

“For more than a decade NIF and SHATIL have been working for religious pluralism so that all Jews can behave according to their conscience and can convert, be married and buried as they choose.”

Shofet observed that some 25 percent of Israelis now boycott legally recognized Orthodox ceremonies when arranging their weddings, including more and more people who would have the right to marry in an Orthodox ceremony.

In an effort to end the current monopoly, NIF funds the Forum for Freedom of Choice in Marriage, a coalition of 16 organizations which strives for religious freedom in Israel.

Click here for PHOTOS

Zionist leader Sokolow’s niece ‘not Jewish enough’ to marry here

By Raphael Ahren July 30, 2010

Rubin, who was raised in a Conservative household, produced letters from four Conservative rabbis and one Chabad rabbi attesting to her Jewishness. But the Herzliya Rabbinate said the letters were not enough and asked her to bring ketubot, or religious wedding contracts, as well as birth or death certificates of her mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother.

“It was made very clear that without ketubot and without birth certificates from four generations, I would need to go to the Beit Din [local rabbinical court],” Rubin told Anglo File this week.

“I told him, time and time again, that my grandparents are Shoah survivors [and thus their ketubot no longer exist] and I was told that wasn’t his problem.”

The Law of Return at 60: Revisiting (and Revising) a Zionist Pillar

By Yair Sheleg Opinion July 28, 2010

Yair Sheleg is a senior researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute.

The Law of Return and the corresponding citizenship law need to be reformed to meet Israel’s current needs.

First, the right of non-Jewish relatives to immigrate should be limited so that they can only move to Israel if they are accompanied by their Jewish family member.

This would prevent the law from being abused by anyone (and his or her family) who happens to have had a Jewish grandfather, but may have no current connections to the Jewish people.

Finally, Israel needs to develop a more secular definition of Jewish identity. Any person who is acknowledged as a Jew by a recognized Jewish community — whether it is Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or secular — should be eligible to immigrate under the Law of Return.

This would shift the definition of Jewishness away from religion and toward a more national identity.

Gay group suing religious website for libel

By Ofra Edelman July 29, 2010

A gay rights group is suing a local website for NIS 100,000 for publishing an article calling for the indictment of the leaders of a “deviant” center for gay youth rather than of the gunman who killed two people in a shooting at the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association last summer.

The article was full of “defamatory and homophobic expressions,” the National Association of LGBT in Israel said in the lawsuit.

A heartfelt Orthodox effort to grapple with homosexuality Editorial July 30, 2010

A wide divide separates [Shas chairman Eli] Yishai, [Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yitzhak] Pindrus and other reactionary representatives of Orthodoxy from signatories of the “statement of principles” such as Israeli rabbis Benny Lau and Yuval Cherlow and American rabbis Haskel Lookstein and Avi Weiss.

Conspicuous in their absence are those “mainstream” rabbinic organizations – Tzohar in Israel and the Rabbinic Council of America – that have chosen not to back the statement of principles, though individual members of both organizations have signed on.

US rabbis: Accept homosexuals

By Kobi Nahshoni July 28, 2010

Dozens of Orthodox rabbis have signed a statement of principles saying that religious communities must accept those of its members who are “active homosexuals” and their biological or adopted children, and that they must not be encouraged to undergo “change therapies” or marry someone of the opposite sex.

Founder and director of ITIM, Rabbi Seth Farber, also signed the statement. He told Ynet Wednesday that the panel had dealt with a “phenomenon that has challenged many Halacha thinkers, instead of turning a blind eye or pretending it doesn’t exist”.

Rabbis calls for respect for gays

By Jonah Mandel July 30, 2010

Signatories from Israel include Efrat’s Rabbi Shlomo Riskin; Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of Petah Tikvah’s Hesder Yeshiva; Rabbi David Bigman, head of Yeshivat Hakibbutz Hadati; and Rabbi Seth Farber of the NGO ITIM.

For signatory Rabbi Benny Lau, head of the Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem, the statement of principles is perhaps no less important to the religious parents and siblings of people with homosexual orientations than to the individuals themselves.

Responses flood in to rabbis’ tract on gays

By Yair Ettinger July 30, 2010

The initiative for the document came from Orthodox rabbis in the United States, but several Israeli rabbis joined in.

They include Efrat’s Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Yuval Cherlow of the Tzohar movement, David Bigman and Benny Lau. “This document will help numerous people,” Lau said. “But this is no revolution.” He said awareness of the gay issue has been rising for the past decade.

LGBT activist Yonatan Gher, will marching on the Knesset advance gay rights?

By Liel Kyzer July 27, 2010

Gher: We have invested a lot of energy to reach a point where the Haredi community recognizes the difference between the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem events.

Q: Does the JOH have any direct interaction with the ultra-Orthodox community?

Gher: We prefer not to give a detailed answer to this question, so as not to compromise those who are in contact with us. But yes, we have direct connections with representatives of the religious communities.

Q: What is it like being a homosexual in an increasingly Orthodox city?

Donkeys to protest Gay Pride Parade?

By Ronen Medzini July 29, 2010

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Itzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism) has asked police to enable him to hold a donkey parade at the same time as the Gay Pride Parade scheduled for Thursday and in protest against that event.

PODCAST: Jewish Women Fight For Equality At Jerusalem Western Wall

Click here for PODCAST

Click here for TRANSCRIPT

By Rebecca Roberts July 30, 2010

Jewish Women Fight For Equality At Jerusalem Western Wall – Interview with Anat Hoffman

By Rebecca Roberts July 30, 2010

NPR: And when you visited on July 12th, did you intend to get arrested?

Anat Hoffman:

I intended to challenge the powers that be on an issue that was not yet clear. We were carrying the scroll to the wall for the last 21 years, except we always carry it in a duffel bag.

In the last eight months, the chief of police has decided, without any explanation, to confiscate the Torah scroll from us as we enter in the morning and stash it in the back of his car. We found that not very respectful of the book and of the whole location.

Rabbi clashes with Israeli embassy in Washington over Western Wall arrest

By Natasha Mozgovaya July 29, 2010

Click here for VIDEO: Rabbi Herzfeld Protests Anat Hoffman’s Arrest

The Israeli embassy in Washington was enraged on Thursday after receiving a letter from modern Orthodox rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, who had organized a protest last week following the arrest of feminist activist Anat Hoffman.

Rabbi Herzfeld told Haaretz that his intention was to make the responsible side feel uncomfortable.

“The Israeli government did not criticize it at all. Michael Oren didn’t say anything about it. So if we keep silent, at a certain point we become associated with this policy,” he said. “Women and men in our synagogue – it affects all of us and it is starting to embarrass us.”

Women go to the Wall for equality

By Dow Marmur Opinion July 26, 2010

Anat Hoffman insists that the remnant of an outer wall that once surrounded the ancient Temple in Jerusalem isn’t an Orthodox synagogue that would entitle its male worshippers to relegate women to the back, or exclude them altogether, preventing them from even touching Torah Scrolls.

She argues that the Wall is a national monument that must be accessible to all. To give one group sole rights to the exclusion of all others goes against Israeli democracy.

Secular woman tells of attacks on ‘segregated’ buses

By Dan Izenberg July 28, 2010

(Segregated Bus Lines protest poster)

The High Court of Justice on Tuesday heard the conflicting requests of the petitioners and the state in the petition protesting the gender-separated bus lines operated by the Egged and Dan bus cooperatives and said it would hand down its ruling soon.

…Attorney Ricky Shapira- Rosenberg, representing several religious women’s organizations, argued that the committee recommendations were unacceptable because there could not be such a thing as a voluntary arrangement, especially since the list of segregated buses was determined in the first place by the rabbis of the community.

“The fact is that the entire haredi community, men, women and children, have already been told to behave according to the ideas of their rabbis,” she told the court.

Hearing on Haredi gender-separated buses continues

By Dan Izenberg July 27, 2010

In the response to the court, the state presented some of the data from the first stage finding. It told the court, for example, that on 14 occasions, it had sent supervisors incognito to see what happened when they sat on the “wrong” side of the bus.

The state’s representative, attorney Ada Wiss, said that in no instance had there been any violence. On two occasions, passengers argued with the supervisor, in one case quietly and in the other more vociferously.

Protest against segregated bus lines outside Supreme Court

By Aviad Glickman July 27, 2010

Some 20 people are demonstrating outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem in protest of the Mehadrin bus lines maintaining separation between men and women.

The protest is being held while the court discusses a petition on the matter.

Jerusalem Mayor Barkat: ‘Suspend J’lem rabbis selection process’

By Jonah Mandel July 28, 2010

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Tuesday filed a petition to the High Court of Justice against Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi (Shas) and the committee selecting the capital’s rabbis, demanding clear and egalitarian criteria in the committee’s work.

Barkat also asked the court to issue an intermediary order halting any further progress in the selection process until the contested issues are resolved.

Justice Minister failed to disclose ties to appointees

By Tomer Zarchin July 28, 2010

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman appointed two close associates to state positions this month, but failed to disclose his ties with them when he proposed the appointments.

One, Rabbi Ratzon Arussi, was named chairman of the search committee tasked with finding a new director of the Rabbinical Courts Administration. The other, retired judge Yaacov Shimoni, is a member of that committee.

Court Discusses Petition Against New Chief Rabbi July 28, 2010

Supreme Court justices discussed Wednesday a petition by the parents of victims of the Kabbel disaster against the appointment of Brigadier General Rabbi Rafi Peretz to the position of IDF Chief Rabbi. The parents claim he abandoned their injured sons in the tragedy.

Women want female rabbinical courts head

By Jonah Mandel July 28, 2010

Women’s and social advocacy groups filed a petition to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday against Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, demanding that he clarify why a woman wouldn’t be able to vie for the position of director of the rabbinical courts.

Alternatively, the petition in the name of The Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at the Bar-Ilan University, Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), Kolech Forum and other groups, calls on the minister to determine that the law’s wording, which currently does not enable a woman to apply for the job, is not constitutional and against women’s rights.

Israel by Israelis, Part III: Perils & Possibilities Fall 2010

Q: Reform Judaism still does not currently enjoy the same rights and privileges as Orthodox Judaism in Israel. What is the best approach to achieving Jewish religious pluralism?

Rabbi Rich Kirschen, director of the Anita Saltz International Education Center, World Union for Progressive Judaism, Jerusalem:

This problem and its solution hinge on demographics. I am not expecting hundreds of thousands of Reform Jews to move here tomorrow, but such an infusion would greatly improve our status in Israel. Approximately 650,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews live in Israel today.

They comprise 20% of the country and now hold 17 seats in the Knesset. If Reform Jews had close to half that number, we could either create our own party or join and influence another party to support religious pluralism and freedom.

Religious pluralism will not be handed to us on a silver platter; we have to build facts on the ground, beginning with more Reform schools, camps, synagogues, and rabbis.

Israeli Musician Kobi Oz talks to Makom about “Psalms for the Perplexed”

Click here for VIDEO

Kobi Oz and Psalms for the Perplexed from Makom on Vimeo.

Oxymoron or Opportunity? Innovation in the Orthodox Community

By Evonne Marzouk Opinion August 2, 2010

Evonne Marzouk is director of Canfei Nesharim: Sustainable Living inspired by Torah

In the Orthodox community, the words “change” and “innovation” are not very popular. They imply a departure from the tradition, a need for something different from the rich tradition that has been handed down to us from the past.

And yet, the Orthodox community does change. Sometimes it changes gradually over many generations, as with the increase in women’s education through the Bais Yaakov movement over the last century. Other times, it changes abruptly, in reaction to current events.

In fact, whatever one has to say about whether the Orthodox community “changes,” at minimum we can agree that the Orthodox community reacts. And that reaction can be for good or bad, depending on your point of view, and depending on what inputs were in place when the reaction occurred.

Tel Aviv’s secular yeshiva: Not your typical classroom

By Anna Bennett July 29, 2010

As soon as you step foot through the door, it is clear that this is not your stereotypical yeshiva: there are no kippot, no black hats, and no prayer shawls. Welcome to the single secular seminary in Tel Aviv.

Established in 1996, BINA Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture was the first of its kind.

Founded by scholars from the kibbutz movement in the wake of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, the yeshiva was created for two main reasons: to help close the gap between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews in Israel, and to try to resolve the problems secular scholars had with traditional Judaism.

First nonstop aliyah flight from LA arriving today

By Raphael Ahren July 27, 2010

The first nonstop aliyah group flight from Los Angeles is scheduled to land at Ben-Gurion International Airport this afternoon.

It will be bringing 62 new immigrants, mostly from California.

1000 New Immigrants Arriving in Israel this Week from all over the World Organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel July 27, 2010

Jewish Agency for Israel resumes Israeli ID card ceremony at Western Wall for new immigrants; 104 new immigrants, part of a group of 1,000 from all over the world, arrive from the UK.

French Jews say au revoir to Paris; prepare for Aliya

By Gil Shefler July 28, 2010

Later in the day, the Szpigielmans will board a chartered jumbo jet bringing around 400 olim to Israel. The flight is part of a summer airlift that will bring the number of French Jews who moved to Israel this year to 2,200, a 20 percent hike from 2009, the Jewish Agency said.

Young Jewish innovators brainstorm to fix the world

By Jenny Hazan July 27, 2010

Young Jewish business and social entrepreneurs, activists and innovators from 27 different countries met in Ramat Gan on July 4 to 8 to brainstorm on how best to improve the Jewish world and the world at large.

Participants at the Fifth Annual ROI (Return On Investment) Global Summit for Young Jewish Innovators included 20- and 30-something Jewish communal leaders from countries in ROI’s global network. About half of them are alumni of Israel-oriented programs such as Taglit-Birthright Israel, Hillel or Masa.

New rules let immigrants hit the books before joining IDF

By Cnaan Liphshiz July 30, 2010

In a move designed to address new immigrants’ concerns about serving in the Israeli army, the government has decided to allow newcomers to delay their mandatory service for three years if they are using that time for academic pursuits, Anglo File has learned.

Nefesh B’Nefesh pushing to exempt more oleh doctors from army

By Raphael Ahren July 30, 2010

Nefesh B’Nefesh recently stepped up its campaign for the government to lower the cutoff age for immigrant physicians being drafted into the army, in hopes the move will help spur more doctors to move to Israel.

Currently, all male doctors moving to Israel before they turn 38 are conscripted into the Israel Defense Forces and are obligated to serve for at least 18 months. NBN, which assists immigrants from North America and Britain, wants to see the age dropped to 32.

Toward creating an Ethiopian Israeli Peace Corps

By Howard Lenhoff Opinion July 7, 2010 (posted online July 25, 2010)

Howard Lenhoff was president of American Association for Ethiopian Jews from 1978 to 1982 and is the author of “Black Jews, Jews, and Other Heroes.”

As an activist on behalf of Israel and Ethiopian Jews since 1974, I propose that Israel build a sizable cadre of Ethiopian Jewish Israelis and train them for Peace Corps-type service in poverty-stricken African nations to help them develop schools, farms, irrigation systems, and paramedical and communication facilities.

Israel threatens to cut off water supply to Church of the Holy Sepulchre

By Arieh Cohen July 30, 2010

The Churches of Jerusalem are perplexed and concerned by the municipal authorities threat to cut off water supplies to the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.

The curious fact is that the payment requests are directed to a nonexistent entity, “the church of the Holy Sepulchre.” An administration that does not exist, since the ancient basilica is governed by a special, internationally recognized, legal regime, known as the “Status quo”.

Feeble, choked River Jordan struggles for salvation

By Douglas Hamilton July 29, 2010

Christian pilgrims alarmed by claims that baptism in the River Jordan could make them sick are being urgently reassured by Israeli officials that the water poses no health risk.

Religion and State in Israel

August 2, 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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