Religion and State in Israel – August 9, 2010 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

August 9, 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.

Conversions in Israel: The Chief Rabbi’s View August 6, 2010

Letter to the Editor, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar

…Since the establishment of the State of Israel, conversions to Judaism have been governed by the Chief Rabbinate. As you noted in your article, this status quo has been challenged by a petition to Israel’s Supreme Court, backed by members of the Reform and Conservative movements. Yet fewer than 1 percent of the Jews living in Israel are members of these movements.

The bill provision you discuss seeks no changes; it seeks only to retain the situation as it has existed for 62 years. If these non-Israeli movements believe in democratic principles, why have they intervened in a matter that affects only Israelis and does not affect American Jews at all?

Parasha Re’eh: Conversion, not division

By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Opinion August 6, 2010

The writer is the founder and chancellor of Ohr Torah Stone Colleges and Graduate Programs, and chief rabbi of Efrat.

The Conservative and Reform leadership in America objected vociferously to the “Rotem Bill” because it would place within the corpus of Israeli law the fact that conversions within the State of Israel are to be conducted under the aegis of the Chief Rabbinate.

Here, however, nothing has changed; the chief rabbinate has been the de-facto imprimatur for conversions since the founding of the state. This was done to ensure the ability of every Jew to marry any other Jew within the State of Israel.

When Chelsea Clinton met David Rotem

By Amotz Asa-El Opinion August 6, 2010

The way America’s Reform and Conservative movements see it, the battle over conversion in Israel is between Orthodoxy and non-Orthodoxy. Well it isn’t.

Rather, it’s between ultra-Orthodoxy and modern Orthodoxy, and to join this battle, American Jewry must set aside its longer-term agendas and help Israel’s modern-Orthodoxy win this battle.

No Progress Yet in Attempt To Mend Rift Over Conversion Bill

By Gal Beckerman August 4, 2010

Rabbi Steve Wernick, executive vice president and CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism:

“Whatever comes out of these negotiations by its very nature is designed to be something that is acceptable to all sides,” Wernick said, “and that is my preference.

I don’t expect the Haredi to be less Haredi. I don’t expect them to accept me. But I don’t want them to be able to define for the whole what is Jewish identity and who gets to be considered a Jew.”

Rabbi Schonfeld on how Rotem’s Conversion Bill contradicts Judaism and Zionism

By Shmuel Rosner August 5, 2010

In fact, the issue underlying “who is a Jew” is really better described as “What Is A Jew?” Is a Jew the personification of the worldview embodied by the page of Talmud where divergent views, even those that don’t prevail, are respected and preserved?

…If the question of “What Is A Jew” is defined as the personification not of the idea embodied by the Talmud, but of an extremely narrow definition of Jewish practice and life, heretofore not accepted by normative Judaism, then the “crisis” shall continue at the fever pitch it now, sadly, but appropriately, deserves.

On Rotem Conversion Bill, Focus Should Be On Israel

By Gary Rosenblatt Opinion August 4, 2010

The writer is Editor and Publisher of The Jewish Week

I’m having second — and third — thoughts about the wisdom of rejecting outright the controversial conversion bill in Israel.

Before you get too worked up about that statement, please hear me out.

…It’s not that I’ve changed my mind as much as shifted my perspective. I’ve come to better appreciate that the primary issue here is not about us, it’s not about diaspora Jewry.

Rather, it’s about the up to 400,000 Russian immigrants and their children who are Israeli citizens but not Jewish, according to Jewish law.

And while the diaspora objection, passionate as it is, essentially is emotional and theoretical (more on that later), the impulse and motivation driving the conversion bill is pragmatic. And immediate.

Adventures in Pluralism, Part 1: The Other Israeli Conversion Crisis

By Seth Chalmer Opinion August 2, 2010

Personally, I share Daniel J. Elazar’s enthusiasm for the Neeman Committee’s solution, and the wish that such a system could be established for the entire Jewish world. I also believe, however, that the chances of such a system being established, inside or outside Israel, are virtually nil.

…The Neeman Committee model of cooperation, then, asks two significant positions on the Jewish denominational spectrum – one of which dominates the Israeli religious establishment, and the other of which dominates the American religious establishment – simply to abandon their core principles.

Beneath the Rotem Bill on Conversion

By Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis Opinion August 4, 2010

It’s not just politics. It’s not just religious gerrymandering or denominational tactics. Why is so much Jewish energy being spent on the Rotem conversion bill in the Knesset? Why does so much of the Jewish agenda — in Israel and in the Diaspora — center around the convert?

The two strains within one tradition I identify as “Ezra and Ruth” schools of thought and predilection. Both biblical attitudes are evident in the contemporary Jewish debate over the legal and moral posture of Judaism toward the ‘ger’.

Israel’s Conversion Row in Context July 27, 2010

In recent years, Israeli High Court rulings have granted increasing legitimacy to non-Orthodox streams of Judaism and their conversions in Israel.

Leaders of non-Orthodox streams of Judaism fear the bill threatens to reverse that process by enshrining in law the sole authority of the Chief Rabbinate over conversions.

Reform and Conservative communities feel that the special status of Orthodox Judaism in Israel is divisive and that their streams of Judaism are being delegitimized. They want to see Israel more open to a diverse range of Jewish practices and beliefs.

The ultra-Orthodox parties argue that they are preserving the unity of the Jewish people, by establishing a single authority that determines Jewish religious status in Israel.

Women Take On the Orthodox

By Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler August 2, 2010

“Today they say women cannot hold the Torah,” says Anat Hoffman, “Tomorrow it will be, women cannot look at the Torah. Then it will be, women cannot be at the Wall at all. Before you know it, all Jerusalem will be segregated. That’s where we’re headed.”

Women holding Torahs to send photos to Israeli leaders August 4, 2010

Women of the Wall has launched a global campaign to support their right to pray with Torah scrolls at the Western Wall.

The Jerusalem-based group wants 10,000 Jewish women around the world to send photos of themselves holding Torah scrolls to key Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.

The campaign is to show that Jewish women are free to hold Torah scrolls everywhere except at the Wall, Judaism’s most holy site.

Parasha Re-eh: Wailing at the Wall

By Larry Kaufman Opinion August 5, 2010

[T]he Women of the Wall, have focused on the Temple Wall to capitalize on the attention it commands, and to force people to see what they don’t want to hear.

Re-eh, See, elements in the Jewish enterprise have not accepted women as full players, entitled to fill the same roles as men, wear the same worship garments, read from the same Torah scroll, and do it all where they can be seen.

Nashei HaKotel have co-opted the Wall because one picture is worth a thousand words, and this picture makes their struggle visible rather than abstract, dramatizing the idea that all are equal in the Divine presence. This is a fight about the women, not about the Wall.

Rabbi Schonfeld on the Kotel

By Shmuel Rosner Opinion August 5, 2010

The question in my mind is why a national historical site should be administered as an Orthodox synagogue?

…The Jewish Agency has had to stop using the Kotel as a site for presenting the teudat zehut to new immigrants. The army choir can no longer appear at the Kotel on Yom HaZikaron because of the voices of women soldiers.

The number of army induction ceremonies has also been reduced because Rabbi Rabinovich finds civil ceremonies to be out of place since he views the Kotel primarily as an Orthodox synagogue. This unilateral, unauthorized appropriation of a central Zionist symbol must not be tolerated and deprives all of world Jewry of the strength the Kotel offers us.

Where in the world can carrying a Torah lead to arrest? For many young people, this challenges their ability to feel at home in the country that is supposed to be their homeland.

Shas getting payoff for its school system, says NGO

By Jonah Mandel August 6, 2010

A clause in the economic arrangements bill for 2011- 2012 reinstating the allocation of millions of shekels to large educational campuses is being tabbed by a pro-religious- freedom group as a payoff to Shas’s haredi electorate.

According to the Hiddush Organization for Equality and Freedom, the NIS 30 million recently approved by the government to be distributed by the Interior Ministry to educational campuses over three years is primarily intended for large haredi and religious institutions.

Such a clause would have to be approved by the Knesset.

Shas gains additional NIS 30 million in yeshiva funding

By Lilach Weissman August 5, 2010

Sources inform ”Globes” that the Netanyahu government has decided to renew the budget for “education campuses”, which are mainly designated for especially large institutions for haredi (ultra-orthodox) and religious groups.

The decision overturns the elimination of this item achieved by the Shinui party when it was a member of the government.

Shas schools ran up NIS 11m deficit in 2008

By Zvi Zrahiya August 4, 2010

The Shas party’s educational system, Ma’ayan Hahinuch Hatorani, ran up a NIS 10.8 a million deficit in 2008.

Israel Has More Than 240 Chabad Non-Profits

Source: August 5, 2010

[Guidestar Israel] reveals that there are 195 non-profits that contain the word “Chabad” in their official name. Around 40 more non-profits use the word “Lubavitch.” And this does not include various Chabad non-profits that do not use either word in their names.

Most of the non-profits that run the 270 Chabad Houses in Israel are run under the auspices of the Chabad Youth Organization.

Specially designated buildings for haredim in Tel Aviv?

By Ofer Petersburg August 8, 2010

A group of haredi entrepreneurs is working on a plan to build apartment buildings in Tel Aviv as an affordable housing option for young ultra-Orthodox families, the haredi Mishpacha weekly reported.

According to the plan, these structures will be demolished and replaced by new buildings adjusted for ultra-Orthodox needs with the aim of turning them into cheap housing projects of a minimal construction standard.

Haredi press praises kids’ deportation

By Kobi Nahshoni August 3, 2010

Many members of the ultra-Orthodox community praised a government decision made Sunday on the deportation of hundreds of foreign workers’ children.

United Torah Judaism’s three magazines published articles on the issue Monday, some of them relating to new conversion laws and hatred of haredim.


“The Zionist movement has been pursued by a rolling stone for some time, and now it has been buried without a coffin,” it adds. “Even the most delusional Zionists never dreamt of a state in which Sudanese, Russian, Thai, Ukrainian, Eritrean, and Romanian people get citizenship.”

Haredi newspaper editorial: ‘Chelsea’s marriage a spiritual Shoah’

By Kobi Nahshoni August 4, 2010

The haredi Lithuanian newspaper Yated Ne’eman has chosen to devote his editorial piece to a subject wholly ignored by all its competitors – Chelsea Clinton’s wedding – dubbing the marriage a “spiritual Holocaust.’

…The editorial also claimed that the groom and his family belong to the Reform movement – “One that views the annihilation of the Jewish people in uprooting its unique identity and heritage as its main objective.”

August offers much strictly kosher fun for Haredim

By Yair Ettinger August 5, 2010

Vacationing Haredim enjoy hotels without TVs and gender-separated kayaking on the Jordan River; some rabbis, however, are unhappy that yeshiva students are getting a summer break.

Israel: A not very secular shift

By Tobias Buck (free registration) August 4, 2010

Prof Ben-David warns that the proportion of Israelis who contribute most to the state in financial, economic and military terms is shrinking.

“These are the guys who defend Israel. These are the guys who pay taxes. These are the guys who are doctors and engineers. Who is going to do it in 30 years?”

…Analysts agree that the shifting demographics require a bold policy response, and most argue that change is needed sooner rather than later.

As Prof Ben-David says:

“There is a point of no return, and when we cross it we will not be able to change things democratically – and maybe not at all.”

Haredi modesty patrol catches violators on camera

By Ari Galahar August 6, 2010

The next hot item in the haredi fight against immodesty is debuting this summer – professional photographers hired by the Committee for Preserving Sanctity and Education to catch yeshiva students on film at “immodest” concerts.

A victim in every home

By Tamar Rotem August 6, 2010

Six years after the abuse apparently ended, residents of a Haredi moshav have finally begun to testify about the alleged sexual attacks of two male residents on the community’s children. Those who complain are being shunned.

Suspected child molester in south can now go out during day, evening

By Tamar Rotem August 6, 2010

Prosecutors have submitted to the Be’er Sheva District Court an amendment to the indictment against one of the men suspected of sexual abuse in the ultra-Orthodox community of Moshav Komemiyut.

The Southern District Prosecutor’s Office has thus agreed to ease the conditions of the suspect’s house arrest, allowing him outside for most of the day and evening.

Gender identity sought between pages of Gemara

By Danny Adino Ababa August 4, 2010

G. was born to a religious family. For years, just like everyone else, he went to synagogue, attended a religious youth group, and studied in a religious school. However, deep inside him, the feeling that he is really a woman, and not a man, nagged at him.

Religion and State in Israel

August 9, 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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