Religion and State in Israel – September 20, 2010 (Section 1)

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September 20, 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.

Sephardic Chief Rabbi says IDF converts can marry

By Jonathan Lis September 17, 2010

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said yesterday the Israel Defense Forces conversion program was valid and soldier converts could marry as Jews in Israel.

Opposition head Tzipi Livni (Kadima) said during a visit Wednesday to the Nativ Institute, where IDF conversion studies take place, “a marriage registrar who is not prepared to recognize the conversion of soldiers who converted in the army should be dismissed.”

C’tee gives state deadline to clarify IDF conversion stance

By Jonah Mandel September 14, 2010

The Knesset’s State Control Committee is demanding of all bodies involved in conversion in Israel to convene and issue a clear statement on the legal status of conversions conducted by the IDF, which have recently been called into question.

Rabbi Seth Farber, head of ITIM, said after the hearing that while there indeed “may be a technical legal lacuna in conversions being done in the army, the way to resolve that is not to bring it up in a court hearing. The damage is already done,” he said of the impact on the past and potential converts.

Prosecution denies questioning legitimacy of IDF conversions

By Jonathan Lis September 14, 2010

The State Prosecutor’s Office yesterday denied having doubted the legal legitimacy of conversions to Judaism conducted by Israel Defense Forces rabbis.

Conversions by Israeli Military Called Into Question by Israeli State Attorney

By Nathan Jeffay September 15, 2010

Making matters more complicated, in this saga, [Chief Rabbi] Amar wears three hats here.

As well as serving as chief rabbi, Amar is one of the religious leaders who helped to establish Nativ. He is also the top religious figure in the Conversion Authority, the body that signs off on military conversions. That means that if he does not come out in the authority’s defense, he is de facto raising questions about conversions under his own supervision.

‘No one can challenge my Jewishness’

By Jordana Horn September 14, 2010

‘The Jerusalem Post’ speaks to three American converts about how they see the issue of “Who is a Jew?”

“Anything that makes the Orthodox rabbinate more powerful in Israel is not a good thing,” Dial said. “I think Israel’s future is going to have to be more based in pluralism. If the Jewish people are going to be together across the continents and together in support of the State of Israel, Israelis need to be a little more open-minded.

An Interview with Tzohar Rabbi Yuval Cherlow

By Sarit Bendavid September 15, 2010

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow is a Rosh Yeshivah at Yeshivat Hesder Petah Tikvah. He is also a member of the Governmental Ethical Committees and the Presidential Press Council of Israel.

  • Q: Do you think the Law of Return guaranteeing any Jew the right to become a citizen of Israel should be based on the halakhic definition of a Jew (matrilineal descent), based on the current requirement of having one Jewish grandparent, or based on some other criterion?
  • Q: What are your thoughts on the recent bill proposed by Knesset member David Rotem that would give the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate control over all conversions in Israel?
  • Q: Do you think that marriage in Israel should be under the auspices of the Rabbinate or under civil law? What are the main issues present in that debate?

Stop all Conversions!

Click here for Radio Interview (Hebrew) September 14, 2010

Rabbi Moshe Klein, former deputy head Chief Rabbinate conversion program, calls for a cessation of all conversions.

Rabbi Seth Farber (ITIM) calls on all rabbis who receive state salaries to either accept state conversions or resign.

An Interview with YU’s Rabbi Hershel Schachter on Conversion Issue

By Jonathan Ziring September 15, 2010

Rabbi Hershel Schachter is a Rosh Yeshivah in MYP/RIETS, occupies YU’s Nathan and Vivian Fink Distinguished Professorial Chair in Talmud, and is the Rosh Kollel in RIETS’ Marcos and Adina Katz Kollel.

  • Q: Is there more room for pushing to convert people who have a Jewish father, despite the fact that this does not count for Jewish identity in the formal and halakhic sense?
  • Q: What is your opinion about the retroactive cancellation of conversion (bittul gerut), such as was done in Israel after a woman practiced as a Jew for 15 years? Is retroactive cancellation of conversions halakhically problematic?
  • Q: What do you believe Israel’s Law of Return should be based on? Should it be based on halakhic Jewishness, having some degree of Jewish blood, feeling connected o the Jewish nation or some combination of these options?

Ethiopian bride’s fight for Jewish marriage

By Tova Dadon September 15, 2010

An Ethiopian woman fought for four years to be recognized as a Jew refusing rabbis’ demands to undergo conversion procedures and was even forced to postpone her wedding.

Last week, the Great Rabbinical court in Jerusalem declared she will be able to bathe in a mikveh prior to her wedding and ruled there will be no record of her undergoing a procedure to return to Judaism.

Solution to illegitimacy problem

By Rivkah Lubitch Opinion September 19, 2010

Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinic court pleader who works at The Center for Women’s Justice

Everyone wants to permit mamzerim to marry. No one likes the idea that there are people who are “banished” and cannot enter into the community.

But the rabbis prefer to deal with each case on its merits and not to create overall halachic solutions to the problem, because an overall solution would be a rebellion against one of the foundation stones of the Torah.

IDF to draft 30 percent of yeshiva students by 2015

By Amos Harel September 17, 2010

    The IDF and the National Economic Council have reached agreement on the future conscription of the ultra-Orthodox into the army.

    The plan likely to be brought before the Supreme Court will set a goal of conscripting 30 percent of ultra-Orthodox men in 2015, and 30 percent more will be assigned to alternative, civilian service, which combines work and national service.

    The court plans on commencing deliberations the validity of the Tal Law, which regulates Haredi conscription, in January.

    Study: About one-third of IDF officers are religious

    By Amos Harel September 15, 2010

    Around one-third of Israel Defense Forces infantry officers are religious, with the proportion jumping from only 2.5 percent in 1990 to 31.4 percent in 2007, a new study shows.

    The research was published in the military journal Ma’arachot.

    According to the extracts from B.’s research published in last week’s issue of Ma’arachot, only 26 percent of those who graduated infantry officer courses in 2008 were religious. But throughout the last decade, the proportion of religious officers graduating from such courses has ranged from 22.5 percent to 31.4 percent.

    Draft-dodgers removed from Uman-bound planes

    By Yoav Zitun September 15, 2010

    During the Jewish New Year, police removed some 160 passengers from planes bound for Uman, Ynet learned Wednesday.

    Ninety-one of the passengers who were taken off the planes are wanted for questioning by Military Police for allegedly dodging army service.

    Yishai stops time

    Haaretz Editorial September 19, 2010

    Interior Minister Eli Yishai seems to be set on leaving a legacy as a lawmaker who led his electorate, and Israeli society itself, in taking a decisive step backward. Even before the uproar over his inane bid to suspend daylight saving time has died down, Yishai has already marked a new target.

    This is no theocracy

    By Jeff Barak Opinion September 19, 2010

    The writer is a former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post

    Interior Minister Eli Yishai seems determined to antagonize these secular Israelis and drive them away from tradition.

    His recent decision to disable the ministry’s online payment service so that people will no longer be able to make payments to the ministry over the Internet on Shabbat or Jewish festivals is the height of high-handedness.

    Internet holy day blackout imposed in Israel

    By Amy Teibel, AP September 16, 2010

    Government offices have historically been closed to the public on Sabbath, noted Roi Lachmanovich, spokesman for the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, which controls the Interior Ministry. Now that the computer is the public face of the state, “public service won’t be available on the Internet,” he said.

    “It shouldn’t operate on the Sabbath, like no state office operates on the Sabbath,” added Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism Party.

    Meretz MK wants Ministry websites active on Shabbat, holidays

    By Jonathan Lis September 17, 2010

    Meretz leader MK Haim Oron has drafted a bill stipulating that all the ministries’ Internet sites be accessible on weekends and holidays.

    Health Ministry joins state bodies blocking online payments on Shabbat

    By Dana Weiler-Polak September 16, 2010

    The website that enables online payments to the Health Ministry will be blocked to the public on Shabbat and holidays, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman announced Wednesday

    “If such a service exists, it must be closed on Shabbat and holidays,” his office said in a statement.

    Shas minister shuts down online payments on Shabbat, holidays

    By Dana Weiler-Polak September 14, 2010

    Rabbi Uri Regev, director of Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality, said that if the website operates automatically, with no need for ministry personnel to be working during those hours, “I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be available to the public throughout the week.”

    Yishai to block online services on Shabbat

    By Nitzan Sadan September 14, 2010

    Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) intends to block all of his ministry’s online payment services offered via the portal on Shabbat and religious holidays.

    The portal was set up as part of the “accessible government” project to enable Israeli citizens to access a range of ministry services via the internet, thereby reducing the burden of regional centers and improving citizens’ convenience.

    At 90, Ovadia Yosef can still raise hackles, and politicians’ hopes

    By Yair Ettinger September 17, 2010

    Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s close followers say that as time goes by, his halakhic project, intended to restore Sephardi rabbi Yosef Karo’s title as the halakhic leader of all Sephardi Jews, has taken an increasingly important role in his life.

    Yosef wants his books to be in every library next to Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah and Karo’s Shulhan Aruch, his confidants say. He thinks history will forget everything but his rabbinic writings.

    Rabbi Ovadia Yosef atones to Mubarak after declaring Palestinians should die

    By Yair Ettinger September 16, 2010

    Three weeks after making hostile statements about the Palestinians, Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is sending out a conciliatory message and is returning to his old positions in support of the peace process.

    Eli Yishai’s request for forgiveness

    By Nehemia Shtrasler Opinion September 17, 2010

    From this we can understand that the interior minister, Eli Yishai, will have an enormous task. He will have to ask forgiveness from seven and a half million citizens of Israel because of the injustice and damage he caused them this year. And it is not certain that they will agree to forgive him.

    High Court approves private school for Haredi girls involved in segregation row

    By Yair Ettinger September 15, 2010

    The High Court of Justice yesterday approved the Education Ministry’s decision to permit a new private school for ultra-Orthodox girls to open in the West Bank settlement involved in a segregation row last year.

    The ruling will allow the settlement of Immanuel to erect a new “Hasidic” school in addition to the existing Beit Yaakov religious girls seminary.

    J’lem okays subsidies that favor Haredi schools

    By Ronen Medzini September 16, 2010

    New criteria schools must meet in order to receive funding were authorized by the Jerusalem Municipality on Wednesday, three weeks after they were initially drafted.

    The Jerusalem Municipality’s legal counsel, Attorney Yossi Havilio, addressed these criteria in an opinion he wrote. He stated that they are liable “to result in a situation in which few haredi education networks, the rest of the unofficial recognized education institutions – both in the Jewish and certainly in the Arab sectors – will not be able to meet these conditions.”

    Ra’anana parents net school deal after prolonged struggle

    By Raphael Ahren September 17, 2010

    Ra’anana parents whose children are getting a Jewish-pluralistic education celebrated a big victory earlier this month, when the mayor signed a deal to give them a building of their own. On September 2, Mayor Nahum Hofree and the TALI Ra’anana parents association agreed to terms for Ra’anana’s first TALI school, ending a 14-year search for a permanent facility by the association.

    Judge rejects plan to enlarge Western Wall women’s section

    By Nir Hasson September 13, 2010

    The Jerusalem District Court’s president last week rejected a plan to expand the women’s section of the Western Wall. The enlargement was planned as part of efforts to rebuild the ramp leading to the Mugrabi Gate, a centuries-old passageway between the Western Wall Plaza and the Temple Mount.

    Echoes of a Shofar, 80 years later Opinion September 16, 2010

    Click here for VIDEO

    Why do the Israeli government and Rabbi Rabinowitz, Head Rabbi of Holy Sites including the Kotel, enforce the exactly same religious oppression at the Kotel in 2010 as the British Mandate did in 1930?

    Watch the video [above] and think of the many images of Anat Hoffman and Nofrat Frankel’s 2010 arrests at the Kotel for carrying a Torah and wearing a Tallit. Think of the hundreds of women that come to the Kotel to pray Hallel on Rosh Chodesh and are yelled at and cursed, or have chairs thrown at them- all for praying aloud.

    The Curious Case of Jewish Democracy

    By Prof. Amnon Rubinstein Opinion

    Summer 5770 / 2010, no. 41

    Amnon Rubinstein is professor of law at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya and an Israel Prize laureate.

    Although the objections to Israel’s twofold identity are many and varied, they do nevertheless have one thing in common: They all presuppose that the state is Jewish in the religious sense of the word.

    As I will seek to demonstrate, however, if we were to define Israel’s Jewishness as essentially national or cultural rather than religious—thus returning to Herzl’s original Zionist vision—we would discover that many (if not all) of these objections are rendered null and void, and that, in the final analysis, a Jewish state is not at all at odds with the liberal-democratic ideal.

    Israel: Tourist Destination or Homeland

    By Rabbi Rhoda Silverman Opinion September 13, 2010

    Sermon Erev Rosh Hashanah 5771

    We must demand of her what we expect in our own country namely a fully democratic state that recognizes the validity of Progressive Judaism and the plurality of Jewish life. Religious pluralism has marked Jewish life since its inception and has enriched Judaism leading to the growth of a wealth of literature, differing point of views, and cultural expressions.

    Analysis of the Israeli High Court: Jewish Apostates and the Law of Return

    By Dani Lent Opinion September 15, 2010

    Kol Hamevaser: The Jewish Thought Magazine of the Yeshiva U. Student Body

    This legal case requires the evaluation of a variety of religious, cultural and national considerations. Should one who left the fold of Judaism be welcomed back with open arms the minute he or she reconsiders? Are there irrevocable consequences for one’s prior decisions to leave the faith?

    How does the Jewish ideal of teshuvah come into effect? On a related note, how much weight should the secular Israeli court have in halakhic determinations of who is Jewish enough to qualify for automatic Israeli citizenship?

    And The Word Shall Go Forth From Tel Aviv

    By Rabbi Joshua Hammerman Opinion September 15, 2010

    Rabbi Joshua Hammerman is spiritual leader of Temple Beth-El in Stamford, Conn.

    Non-Orthodox forms of Jewish expression are thriving in Israel and places like Beit Tefilah Israeli are not going to fade away. It reminds us that throughout Jewish history, great religious innovation could take place only at a safe distance from the watchful eyes of the Jerusalem elites. Places like Yavne, Tiberias and Safed gave rise to the Judaism we know today, while Jerusalem corroded and crumbled under the weight of its own ossified hubris.

    As we stand facing east over the coming days, toward all of Israel, recall that Torah is being renewed, with new eyes, in Tel Aviv.

    Religion and State in Israel

    September 20, 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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