Religion and State in Israel – December 13, 2010 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

December 13, 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.

Rotem threatens to bring IDF conversion bill to Knesset

By Rebecca Anna Stoil and Jonah Mandel December 13, 2010

After the cabinet delayed a decision on a bill to confirm the status of conversions carried out by the IDF, Israel Beiteinu struck back on Sunday evening, threatening to put the coalition-splitting measure up for vote on the Knesset floor.

If action is not taken to ensure the status of IDF conversions by Wednesday morning, the bill that has pitted Israel Beiteinu against Shas will be placed before the Knesset.

Converting conversions Editorial December 12, 2010

The State of Israel should promote conversions among non-Jewish Israelis who are interested as a means of fighting intermarriage.

But it should do so by authorizing a diverse group of recognized and responsible rabbinical organizations – Orthodox, Conservative and Reform – to perform conversions. These organizations would also be empowered to register converts for marriage.

…the only logical solution is to reduce the state’s direct involvement in the inherently religious question of “who is a Jew?” or “who is a rabbi?” by privatizing the conversion process and opening it up to a wider range of rabbinical organizations.

Cabinet fails to vote on IDF conversions

By Attila Somfalvi December 12, 2010

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided Sunday not to hold a government vote on the military conversions bill.

Netanyahu discussed the matter with Shas Ministers Eli Yishai and Ariel Atias for two hours, and the three agreed that Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar would make a decision on the matter.

MK Margi defends Shas position on military conversions December 12, 2010

Shas MK Ya’acov Margi responded to Israel Beiteinu MK David Rotem’s criticism to Shas’s opposition to a bill proposed by Israel Beiteinu to recognize the autonomous and legitimate state of military conversions, effectively detaching them from the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate.

Deal could head off coalition crisis over conversions

By Mazal Mualem December 12, 2010

A compromise is in the works that would head off the crisis over the bill mandating state recognition for conversions performed during military service.

Under the arrangement, Shas would not oppose putting the bill to a preliminary vote in the Knesset on Wednesday.

Israel Beiteinu, Shas lock horns over IDF conversion bill

By Rebecca Anna Stoil and Jonah Mandel December 12, 2010

With two key coalition parties going head-to-head in Sunday’s government meeting over IDF conversions, Israel Beiteinu threatened that government acquiescence in Shas’s opposition to an Israel Beiteinu-sponsored bill would constitute a violation of their coalition agreement.

MK Rotem: Shas trying to divide military, civil converts December 12, 2010

MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) announced his opposition to the creation of two separated conversion tracks to Judaism in Israel on Sunday during an interview on Army Radio.

“Two types of conversion is not good from a legal standpoint,” Rotem said during the interview. “Now they [Shas] are creating a division between civil conversions and army conversions.”

Shas: PM to ‘bury’ IDF conversion law

By Attila Somfalvi December 12, 2010

Knesset Member David Rotem of Yisrael Beiteinu said Shas’ ministers were “trying to distort reality by claiming that the bill harms the status quo, but it’s clear to all that the real damage to the status quo was caused when Rabbi Amar failed to voice a firm stand against the conversions’ validity and did not speak out against those who questioned them. In the past, and more than once, Amar was the one who praised and glorified this conversion process.”

Israel Beiteinu demands gov’t back IDF conversion bill

By Rebecca Anna Stoil and Jonah Mandel December 8, 2010

According to reports, Amar is seeking to convene a new council from within the Chief Rabbinate to help reach a decision on the halachic standing of the IDF conversions, after a previous committee to that effect dissolved at the end of October.

Rabbi Yosef: Yishai’s critics jealous

By Kobi Nahshoni December 12, 2010

Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said last week that the harsh criticism thrown in his direction following the Carmel fire disaster was due to his Sephardic origins.

On Saturday night, Shas’ spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef came out in his support, attacking Yishai’s critics and claiming that they were operating out of foreign and irrelevant considerations.

If God sent the fire, he owes us firemen

By Geoffrey Paul Opinion December 9, 2010

Geoffrey Paul is a former editor of the Jewish Chronicle

What should not be beyond the Interior Ministry is to devise compulsory service as firefighters for a proportion of those yeshivah students the government would otherwise be asked
to bankroll.

Immediately, a potential force of thousands becomes available and, with Shas backing “their boys”, the funds should also be there for the kind of firefighting equipment that will give Israel a better chance should another potentially murderous fire break out. Surely there is something in the halachah which would allow this to receive the rabbi’s blessing.

We’re all (not) to blame

By Yossi Verter December 10, 2010

Aryeh Deri, interviewed on Channel 10, condemned the attacks on Yishai, saying the problems with the fire services didn’t start today, and he proposed training yeshiva students to serve as firemen.

A typically brilliant move on his part: On the one hand, he portrays himself as a sympathetic patron working for the benefit of the Shas electorate, but in the same breath, he nods in the direction of the secular public with his proposal that yeshiva boys be integrated into the labor market.

Yishai should be ashamed

By Amnon Lorch Opinion December 7, 2010

Amnon Lorch is a partner in the law firm of Yigal Arnon and Co.

The political link between religion and state is among the reasons that brought this grave disaster upon us; a disaster produced by politicians who care about sectarian rather than national affairs.

These people are by definition not allowed to exercise judgment as they operate in line with the orders of rabbis who did not engage in core studies, thereby connecting the 21st Century Israel to Jewish tradition in line with their own interpretations.

Former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri: Train yeshiva students as firefighters

By Akiva Novick December 7, 2010

As the flames in the north died down, former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri came up with a surprising proposal to counter the storm surrounding the yeshiva student law: Recruit yeshiva students into the firefighting services by way of national service.

“They will bring blessings,” Deri said during an interview with Channel 10. “Just as there are organizations like ZAKA, there could also be an ultra-Orthodox organization of firefighters.

Yishai: I’m being lynched because I am ultra-Orthodox, right-wing and Mizrahi

By Yair Ettinger December 6, 2010

What’s the reason for the “lynch atmosphere”?

“Someone wrote in an article online today saying the answer might lie in a minister who is Sephardi-Mizrahi, right-wing and Haredi. It’s a combination everyone likes to attack, it doesn’t matter whether it is justified or not. If it weren’t Eli Yishai, a cabinet minister who acted this way would be a star, he would be praised for warning in time.”

Shas Minister Yishai refused fire truck donations from Christian group

By Gil Shefler and Gil Hoffman December 6, 2010

Israeli firefighters could have received a shipment of brand new fire trucks that would have helped quell the fires that raged over the weekend on Mount Carmel, killing 41 people and turning tens of thousands of dunams into an ashen wasteland.

Instead, a charity group charged Sunday, Interior Minister Eli Yishai refused to accept donations from pro- Israel Christians and thus denied the underfunded Fire and Rescue Service much-needed equipment.

Be a scholar, not a prophet

By Morey Schwartz Opinion December 6, 2010

The writer is the author of Where’s My Miracle, Exploring Jewish Traditions for Dealing with Tragedy.

Why is it that when faced with catastrophe many Torah scholars set aside their knowledge and study of halakhah, which I would assume fills up the majority of their study time, and resort to feigning some sort of pseudo-prophetic knowledge based on Talmudic or midrashic homiletics (often cited completely out of context!)?

Ovadia Yosef: Fires Only Happen Where Shabbat is Desecrated

By Dan Brown Opinion December 9, 2010

And where are our Jewish leaders – the same ones who spoke forcefully and often about the proposed changes to the conversion law this summer?

Don’t they realize the damage to both individuals facing devastating loss and the Jewish people being created by statements such as this?

Don’t they realize the influence Ovadia Yosef carries among a not insignificant portion of the Israeli public? Don’t they realize the power Shas has to tip almost any piece of legislation?

Through the eyes of Israel’s secular white male

By Merav Michaeli Opinion December 7, 2010

Eli Yishai complains that he is being “lynched” for being “Mizrahi” (of Middle Eastern descent) and “Haredi” (ultra-Orthodox). He is right, but he cannot wash his hands of his part in this.

[Shas] achieved sweeping success in its first goal – bringing the masses back to religious observance and vastly expanding the religious education system, from nursery schools to yeshivas.

But the condition for this success is seclusion and separatism, segregation from Israeli society, avoiding military service, shunning a general education and staying out of the labor market. In other words, increasing ignorance, poverty and social gaps.

Shas Eli Yishai ranks lowest on ministerial performance poll

By Gil Hoffman December 7, 2010

Israelis view Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz as the best-performing ministers in the government, according to a poll for The Jerusalem Post.

They considered Interior Minister Eli Yishai the worst-performing minister, the poll shows, even before acute criticism was directed at him as the minister in charge of the firefighters who struggled to extinguish the conflagration in the Carmel.

Carmel Fire Victim: Rabbi Uriel Malka

By Hillel Fendel December 6, 2010

Prison Rabbi Uriel Malka, father of five from Karnei Shomron, was one of the 36 prison cadets to be consumed by the Carmel fire.

Rabbi Malka grew up in the city of Yavneh, studied in the Karnei Shomron hesder yeshiva, and became an IDF rabbi. He spent two years teaching in Winnipeg and Denver, building ties to many dozens of students who contributed photos, videos and memories to the special Uriel Malka memorial website in both Hebrew and English.

Does God Cause Natural Disasters?

By Rabbi Brad Hirschfield Opinion December 8, 2010

So what’s the problem with Rabbi Ovadia, or any other religious leader who makes such proclamations about the relationship between global events and divine justice?

It’s not that they are necessarily wrong, though I believe with all my heart that they are. The problem with them is their arrogance and their insensitivity.

Chief of Staff: Yeshiva students significant force in IDF

By Hanan Greenberg December 12, 2010

Chief of Staff Lt. – Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi responded to criticism of the IDF hesder yeshivas program, saying “yeshiva students come to the IDF armed with faith and a strong desire to contribute.”

IDF chief: Hesder yeshivas important to Israel’s defense

By Anshel Pfeffer December 12, 2010

“This is one of the most beautiful expressions of Zionism, of Judaism, of the unity of the nation,” Ashkenazi said.

Paratroops OC’s views over hesder spark dismissal calls

By Yaakov Katz and Jonah Mandel December 13, 2010

Calls are mounting for disciplinary action to be taken against Paratroopers Brigade commander Col. Aharon Haliva, who reportedly said that he hates the hesder yeshiva military track, under which soldiers do only 16 months of active military service.

Several yeshivas are reportedly considering canceling their students’ planned enlistment in the Paratroopers Brigade after Haliva, who previously served as commander of the IDF’s Officer Training School, known as Bahad 1, told a group of soldiers that he cannot stand the hesder program.

The Surreal Treatment of the Women of the Wall in Israel: Where is the Outrage?

By Dr. Moses L. Pava, Yeshiva University Opinion December 7, 2010

Photo: Women of the Wall

These kinds of prayer groups, while controversial among the right wing of Orthodoxy have become relatively commonplace in Modern Orthodox circles.

In fact, in my own hometown of Springfield, MA, best known as the birthplace of basketball and almost never mentioned for its avant-garde and cutting-edge behavior, a women’s prayer group is scheduled for this coming Shabbat, at our own Modern Orthodox synagogue.

But religious women prayer groups that are ho-hum and business as usual in Orthodox circles in Springfield, MA provoke intense, visceral, and primitive reactions among the fervently religious in Jerusalem.

Women of the Wall: Rosh Chodesh Tevet December 8, 2010

A noteworthy escalation took place today when security guards stopped Women of the Wall board member Danielle Bernstein at the entrance to the Western Wall plaza upon discovering a volume of the Talmud, Tractate Ta’anit, in her bag.

Rabbi of the Western Wall: “We are brothers, are we not?”

By Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz Opinion December 8, 2010

The foolish attempt to present an “alternative historical narrative” for Israel’s sacred sites harms not only the credibility of the speakers and the honor of history, but also – and perhaps mostly – the real efforts being made at reconciliation between the two sons of Abraham.

PA journalists support author of Western Wall report

By Khaled Abu Toameh December 8, 2010

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the West Bank on Monday expressed its solidarity with Al-Mutawakel Taha, the senior Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information official who recently published a “study” denying Jews’ rights to the Western Wall.

The five-page document, which first appeared on the official website of the ministry, has been strongly condemned by Israel and the US.

Leading rabbi pounds Schechter for ‘non-kosher’ response to labor dispute

By Raphael Ahren December 10, 2010

A prominent American Conservative rabbi sharply condemned one of the movement’s flagship institutions in Israel over the way it has been conducting a labor dispute.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs accuses the Jerusalem-based Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies of breaking Jewish law and acting against the spirit of the Conservative movement in trying to keep some 30 faculty members from striking.

Peace group denied permission to operate Chabad-like stand at Ben-Gurion airport

By Zohar Blumenkrantz December 8, 2010

Heller said that on his frequent trips abroad he has noticed the presence of the Chabad stand, where passersby are asked to put on phylacteries.

Heller said he has nothing against Chabad, which does good work around the world. “But I cannot understand why a specific religious group has its own stand in an open area in an international air terminal,” he said. “This is a phenomenon I have not experienced anywhere else in the world.”

Meet, pray, love … eventually

By Jonathan Lis December 9, 2010

In a city like Jerusalem, it’s not easy to be a religious male who stays single past his early 20s. His parents fret; matchmakers lose their patience; and worshippers in synagogues give him pointed looks. Katamon and Nahlaot, two neighborhoods filled with Orthodox singles, constitute the “big swamp” and the “little swamp.”

National-religious group to counterbid for Jerusalem project

By Avi Shauly December 9, 2010

“Globes” disclosure of the Palestinian identity of the expected buyer of Digal Investment and Holdings Ltd. (TASE: DIGL), through a debt settlement, has aroused a storm Israeli national-religious groups. Bemuna Ltd., owned by Israel Zeira, which develops neighborhoods for this community around the country, plans to submit an offer to purchase Digal’s flagship residential project, Nof Zion, in eastern Jerusalem.

New exhibit tells story of Bnei Menashe December 12, 2010

In recognition of the Bnei Menashe’s successful absorption in Israel, the Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, will unveil a new exhibition depicting the story of this unique community.

The exhibition will be launched on Wednesday at the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption in Jerusalem. A ceremony will be held in the presence of Minister Landver; Shavei Israel founder and Chairman Michael Freund; Kiryat Arab Municipality head Malachi Levinger and Bnei Menashe community Leaders.

Hundreds march for “freedom of religion” in Jaffa

By Yoav Zitun December 10, 2010

Hundreds of Muslim and Christian residents of Jaffa took to the streets Friday in protest against a complaint filed by residents of a luxury apartment complex, who say the noise emitted by mosques and the nearby St. George’s Cathedral is too loud.

Jaffa: Neighborly noise dispute turns nasty

By Yoav Zitun December 9, 2010

Over the last few weeks, the heads of mosques were summoned to the ‘Green Police’ offices of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. There it was claimed that the muezzin’s calls to prayer, which can be heard from the Siksik mosque and the Jebalya mosque in the Ajami neighborhood, disturb the other residents in the area and make too much noise.

St. George Church on Louis Pasteur Street also came under scrutiny.

Night of Poetry and Music in Tel Aviv December 8, 2010

On December 22, Hillel Israel will sponsor “Erev Piyut,” a night of poetry and music featuring some of Israel’s most renowned rock stars. It is a celebration of Israel’s modern cultural achievements balanced with the traditions and heritage of the Jewish faith.

The Andelusit orchestra will accompany such artists as Kobi Oz, Din Din Aviv, David D’or, Etti Ankri and Eran Zur. The event will be held at Tel Aviv’s prestigious Heichal Hatarbut Hall.

PHOTO Essay: The secret world of Christian Jerusalem

By Gali Tibbon — Special to GlobalPost November 24, 2010

Click here for PHOTO Essay (Click “Full Screen” logo)

It’s a secret world through a labyrinth of chapels and altars, a kaleidoscope of colors and textures, a unique fusion of people and cultures.

Tucked away, deep in the maze of winding, narrow streets in Jerusalem’s Old City, stands the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, one of the most famous religious sites in the world.

Religion and State in Israel

December 13, 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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