Religion and State in Israel – November 8, 2010 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

November 8, 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.

Israelis with no defined religion get civil marriage option next week

By Jonathan Lis, Dana Weiler-Polak and Yair Ettinger November 4, 2010

Haaretz Cartoon by Eran Wolkowski March 10, 2010

[People with no religion] “There’s a special offer for new members”

The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee of the Knesset approved registration fees yesterday for new type of civil marriage that will be available to a limited number of Israelis when a new civil union law (“brit zugiut” in Hebrew ) comes into effect next week.

The new law allows registration of couples in which neither individual is Jewish according to Jewish religious law, halakha, and the two are deemed to have no other religion.

The director of the Masorti movement, Yizhar Hess, which represents the Conservative Jewish movement in Israel, welcomed the new law as the first step in the establishment of civil marriage in the country, paving the way for broader provisions enabling Israelis to marry under auspices other than the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate.

Civil Marriage possible by weekend

By Kobi Nahshoni November 3, 2010

The legal advisor to the rabbinic courts, Rabbi Attorney Shimon Yaakobi, told Ynet that the courts would fight to make sure only non-Jews make use of the new law. He explained the system by which they would do so, which involves checking the applicants’ names in the census registration to make sure neither is listed as Jewish.

Civil unions law to be implemented next week

By Michal Toiba November 3, 2010

Opponents of the measure have expressed concern that it would increase the power of the Chief Rabbinate, by extending it the right to weigh in on whether or not an Israeli citizen listed as “without religion” was actually religionless.

The bill would only permit citizens without religion to marry other citizens without religion, a tiny percentage of those seeking to marry without the oversight of the Chief Rabbinate.

‘Third way’ to Jewish marriage Editorial November 5, 2010

Religious services should be “privatized.” Orthodox and recognized non-Orthodox streams that accept central Jewish concepts such as matrilineal descent – which includes the Israeli Reform Movement – should be allowed to provide services in a competitive atmosphere of “free market Judaism.”

Just because the Chief Rabbinate is not doing its job does not mean Israel should give up on encouraging Jewish marriage. There is a third way.

Israel To Allow Civil Marriages

By Michele Chabin Religion News Service November 4, 2010

Opponents to the current bill say it will stigmatize couples who opt for civil marriage. “I think it’s a terrible precedent,” said Rabbi Uri Regev, director of Hiddush, an organization that promotes religious freedom and equality.

“At best this measure may assist a couple hundred couples a year and by listing their civil status in their ID cards, everyone from the shopkeeper to the secretary in their child’s school will know their business,” Regev said.

The Israeli Rabbinate and the conversion crisis

By Rabbi Seth Farber Opinion November 1, 2010

Last Thursday, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate appointed a committee to investigate the validity of more than 4500 conversions performed in the IDF over the last decade. In addition, this committee has been authorized to clarify the status of more than 20,000 additional converts who have converted since the founding of the conversion authority in Israel.

…While the Israeli Chief Rabbis office has the formal capacity to project confidence, their actions of the last weeks have highlighted their ambivalence.

Only time will tell how much damage their indecision has cause, and if it is irreparable. We can only hope for better times where rabbis have the determination to fight fundamentalism and promote a greater future for Israel.

Bill to shift conversion responsibility to IDF rabbi

By Jonah Mandel October 28, 2010

A day after the committee meant to advise Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar on the quality of conversions in the army unofficially shut down, Habayit Hayehudi submitted a bill on Wednesday endowing the IDF chief rabbi with the authority to be the final signatory for military conversions.

Israeli Jews at odds with liberal Judaism in U.S.

AP October 31, 2010

Seth Farber, an Orthodox rabbi and director of a group that helps Israelis navigate the rabbinical bureaucracy, said the threshold for proving one’s Judaism has risen alongside the rise in ultra-Orthodox power.

“The biggest danger is that the Israeli body politic will allow the Jewish people to be disenfranchised by giving the ultra-Orthodox all the keys to Jewish identity,” he said.

The majority of Israelis appear at odds with their religious authorities.

According to a recent survey conducted for Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, 63% of Israelis believe those converted by non-Orthodox rabbis should be regarded as Jews. The Shiluv pollster questioned a random selection of 507 Israelis and gave a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

The game of the name

By Eytan Avriel and Tali Heruti-Sover November 5, 2010

Ariane de Rothschild was already in high finance when she met her future husband, Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. She steers the family’s philanthropic activities, believes business should be fun and when asked about her decision not to convert to Judaism she says, ‘To be a Jew is what you do, not what you pretend to be.’

The baroness is not Jewish. She declares frankly that she does not believe in God, and makes no apologies for never considering conversion despite having joined the most famous Jewish family in the world.

“If every conversion were fully accepted by all streams of Judaism, I might consider it, but as long as that is not the case I find it sheer hypocrisy.

Many people convert because it is more convenient for them to be Jewish, not because they believe in it. Whenever the question of Jewishness comes up I say that to be a Jew is what you do, not what you pretend to be.”

Family values

By Eytan Avriel and Tali Heruti-Sover November 5, 2010

At the age of 47, Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has put the 4-billion-euro family fortune in the hands of his wife, Baroness Ariane de Rothschild. ‘I think women today are better suited for business than men,’ he says. In an extensive, and rare, interview to Haaretz-The Marker, Baron de Rothschild talks about his brand of Judaism, his distaste for trading gold and his love of speed.

“And while we are on the subject of religion, let me tell you that the Jewish people made a very serious mistake by turning conversion into such a difficult process. Mathematically, if it goes on like this, the Jewish religion is liable to disappear.

If someone wants to convert, let him convert. Don’t make the procedure so complicated that people despair. If you want to become a Muslim it is very simple; if you want to become a Jew it is almost impossible.

My mother was converted by a rabbi in Paris but the Orthodox establishment does not recognize her conversion, so that technically I am not a Jew. If so, why do you ask for money from a goy? I think the religious establishment will have to change a great many things in this area, because it’s a matter of survival.”

Renewing the old

By Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz November 3, 2010

The writer is rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites.

This plan is the fruit of many people’s labor: architects, the Antiquities Authority, experts on preservation, tourism and, of course, members of the Jerusalem Municipality, the regional committee and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation…

The plan attempts to find a balance between the logistical needs of this most-toured site in the country, and its archeological and historical significance, constraints of the location and concern for the sensitivities of the area.

400 world rabbis ask police to protect Women of the Wall

By Melanie Lidman November 5, 2010

More than 400 rabbis from around the world have signed a letter asking Jerusalem police to protect women at the Western Wall who want to pray and read the Torah together, one year after nursing student Nofrat Frenkel was arrested for taking out a Torah in the women’s section of the Western Wall Plaza.

“Israelis have given up on the Wall,” said Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of Women of the Wall and the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, who was also arrested at a Women of the Wall event six months ago.

“They feel uncomfortable there… People have made them feel as if they’re not coming home, but trampling on someone else’s place. There are territorial behaviors, saying, ‘Wear something different,’ ‘Move from here,’ ‘Move from there.’”

Attuned to ‘Sacred Rights’ of women in Israel

By Carlo Wolff November 5, 2010

Fran Gordon Immerman wants Jewish women in Israel to enjoy the same rights as Jewish women in the United States. The mission is challenging, but Immerman is confident she can help effect such change.

Her vehicle? Music.

Immerman is creator and producer of “Sacred Rights, Sacred Song.”

Mirror, mirror on the Wall: Striving for pluralism at home and at the Kotel

By Rabbi Jarah Greenfield Opinion November 5, 2010

Just as haredi Judaism provides a path of authentic religious expression to those who follow it, so too do many other forms of Jewish belief and practice give deep Jewish meaning to thousands upon thousands of people all over the world.

As Jews, we look toward Jerusalem with our prayers and aspirations together. And as we look eastward, so must we work toward the day when all Jews have the right to pray authentically at the Kotel without effacing our principles or practices of Judaism because we are truly recognized as legitimate, respected, and equal members of the Jewish people.

VIDEO: Women of the Wall

Rosh Chodesh Av

“Anat Hoffman leads the Women of the Wall prayer group away from the Kotel carrying a Torah scroll. At the end of the video, she is arrested and one of the members of WOW is knocked down.”

Liberal Judaism in Israel

By Rachael Gelfman Schultz November 3, 2010

Change in the Israeli government’s treatment of the non-Orthodox movements is slow, but it is happening. The question remains, however, whether legal barriers are the only impediments to the liberal movements’ growth and success. Professor Daniel Elazar, founder of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, argues that public attitude, not government policy, is the main obstacle to the liberal movements’ success in Israel.

…The liberal movements are slowly growing and gaining more support in Israeli society, but only time will tell whether they are able to overcome public attitudes and government policy in order to reach a large proportion of Israelis in the future.

Divide and rule

By Tamar Rotem November 5, 2010

Gender segregation has always existed in the Haredi community. For years, however, it was restricted to specific areas…

These days, however, the walls seem higher and the demand for gender segregation insatiable. When considered together with near-daily decrees concerning modesty, conduct and attire, such as in the current battle being waged against T-shirts, this trend suggests that Haredi extremists are becoming increasingly dominant.

Rav Moshe Feinstein on ‘Sitting next to women on buses’

Translation by Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn November 2, 2010

Nevertheless concerning other women even if they are married and nida and non-Jews – everyone agrees that there is no prohibition to come into contact with them since it is not done in a sexual arousing manner (derech chiba).

Therefore there is no reason to be concerned about contact with women. Consequently there is no need to refrain from traveling on subways and buses to go to work when they are very crowded and it is not possible to avoid contact with women…

The Yeshiva World Coffee Room – Rav Moshe Feinstein: Sitting next to women on buses

VIDEO: Rabbi David Hartman – Prominent Jerusalem rabbi warns of religion’s limits November 1, 2010

A vital approach

By Peggy Cidor November 5, 2010

From chaplaincy in Western armies (especially Britain and the US) through New Age theories, and now, connected to the Jewish renaissance witnessed in Israel, death is no longer merely a tumultuous or inevitable situation but rather a spiritual experience for the one who is dying, as well as for the family.

…The current course, which began in September, is the sixth course and has six students. The program is codirected by Kroizer and Dr. Noa Bar-Shalom.

Today, various forms of training courses in spiritual support are given at Shaare Zedek, the only in-house course of this kind given at a hospital, as well as courses at Hebrew Union College, the Schechter Institute and, recently, Herzog Hospital.

Beit Tefilah Israeli – A Journey to New Forms of Israeli Prayer November 5, 2010

Over the last 6 years, Beit Tefilah Israeli (BTI) has successfully created a community built around a new model of a synagogue.

Services in BTI combine live music, modern Israeli poetry, literature and personal prayers with the traditional prayer book, striving to renew and revitalize the notion of prayer and to form a new indigenous Israeli liturgical language, rooted in the Israeli contemporary culture.

The More We Change, the More We Stay the Same

By Dr. Misha Galperin Opinion November 1, 2010

Our mission of aliyah will fade fast if we cannot create stronger bonds to Israel, be better advocates for Israel on campus and in the halls of world government, and help maximize ties to the Jewish people generally.

We need a different approach to aliyah because aliyah from around the world today is more a matter of choice than of rescue in most parts of the world. It is an extension of a proud and strong Jewish identity. If we cannot strengthen Jewish identity around the world, that choice becomes less compelling.

Study: Longer experiences in Israel linked to sharply increased Jewish engagement, leadership, and marrying Jews November 1, 2010

“The data from this study show that we are on the right track with our strategic plan,” said Dr. Misha Galperin, president and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development.

“We are convinced—and the data from this reports affirm—that a continuum of Israel experiences for young adults correlates directly to them feeling, thinking and doing more things Jewish and Israel with each step they take along the Israel experience spiral.”

The Jewish Agency’s Strategic Plan: Now For the Hard Part

By Seth A. Cohen Opinion November 2, 2010

Seth A. Cohen, Esq. is an Atlanta-based attorney, activist and author on topics of Jewish communal life and innovation.

The Jewish Agency’s new plan is a reminder of an old fact: nothing worth achieving is easy. The coming weeks and months will be a clear reminder that making a shift of historic proportions requires an effort that is equally historic.

During its great history, the Jewish Agency has helped bring more faces to Israel and now it is endeavoring to change the collective face of the nation and people of Israel. But first it must change itself – and with that, the hard part begins.

U.S. Jews not turning their backs on Israel, says Jewish Agency’s Sharansky

Israel playing increasingly central role among U.S. Jewry, says Sharansky

By Raphael Ahren November 4, 2010

“There are long lines for Birthright Israel and Masa and other projects bringing Jewish kids to Israel, and the lines are getting longer,” he added.

How one U.S. Jew stopped worrying, began drawing, and started loving Israel

By Nirit Anderman November 5, 2010

Three years ago, Glidden – the flesh-and-blood version of her, of course – did indeed join a group of American Jews on a 10-day Birthright trip to Israel. A young Jewish woman from Brooklyn, Glidden was looking at the time for a subject for a comic strip.

PHOTO Gallery: Ethiopian community in Israel celebrates holiday of Sigd in Jerusalem

Click here for PHOTO gallery November 5, 2010

Members of the Jewish Ethiopian community in Israel celebrated Thursday the traditional Sigd festival in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem church torching sparks condemnation

By Jonah Mandel November 1, 2010

As speculation over the motives behind an arson attack against a church in the capital’s downtown over the weekend grows, the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem warned on Sunday against labeling it a “price tag” attack by extremist Jewish settlers.

Jerusalem Catholic church claims discrimination

By Ronen Medzini November 2, 2010

French Catholic church Maison D’Abraham in east Jerusalem is accusing the Israel Police of failing to investigate robbery and harassment complaints filed by the church recently.

Religion and State in Israel

November 8, 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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