Religion and State in Israel – December 13, 2010 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

December 13, 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.

Special comprehensive coverage on Rabbis Letter

Let the rabbis go Editorial December 9, 2010

City rabbis’ public declaration against Arab Israelis illustrates the difficulty of balancing Israel’s Jewish and democratic dimensions. To protect religious freedom as well as Israeli democracy, city rabbis should stop receiving a salary from the state’s coffers.

If rabbis wish to express their opinions, let them do so as individuals, not as representatives of the State of Israel.

Report: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef refused to sign no-rent letter

By Jonah Mandel December 12, 2010

A group of Right-wing activists recently approached head of Shas’ Council of Torah Sages Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in an attempt to convince him to add his signature to the letter against renting or selling land in Israel to non-Jews, Channel 2 reported Sunday night.

Likud MK Benny Begin: Measures needed against no-rent rabbis

By Jonah Mandel December 12, 2010

“From a moral-public point of view, the city rabbis should not be able to continue to proceed carrying on their public responsibilities, if they do not retract their letter, as some have already done,” Begin pointed out.

A disturbing desecration of Jewish values

By Rabbi David Rosen Opinion December 12, 2010

The writer is the Jerusalem-based international director of interreligious affairs of the American Jewish Committee.

Rabbi Eliahu and his colleagues represent not only a halachic regression and a capitulation to scaremongering, but they are guilty of nothing less than chilul hashem, a desecration of the Divine Name, and an embarrassment to our Jewish heritage.

Rabbis Against Religious Discrimination December 11, 2010

To our rabbinic colleagues in Israel,

We, rabbis serving in congregations and communities across the world, are turning to you for your assistance and leadership at a time of crisis. The recent halakhic ruling from community rabbis in Israel that forbids leasing apartments to non-Jews has caused great shock and pain to our communities.

Public invited to inform on those renting to Arabs

By Yair Altman December 12, 2010

The Lehava organization issued a notice Sunday evening, inviting the public to call a voicemail service and record the names of Jewish Israelis renting apartments to Arabs.

Rabbis summoned over anti-Arab ruling

By Yair Altman December 12, 2010

Three prominent Judea and Samaria rabbis have been questioned by the Jerusalem District Police on suspicion of calling on their followers not to hire minorities.

According to the police, the three were summoned about two weeks ago as part of an investigation against a leaflet issued by some 20 rabbis after the terror attack at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

We Must Help Save Israel from Itself

Rabbi Gary S. Creditor Opinion December 10, 2010

For many reasons, we, the Jews of Klal Yisrael, the totality of the Jewish people must condemn, denounce and repudiate this letter, action and ideology. It does not represent us or our Judaism.

It violates the democratic charter of the State of Israel. It undermines the rule of law. It is racist. It propagates a distorted vision of Jews verses the world and the purpose of a Jewish state.

Keeping Israel Jewish and pure – and democractic if there’s time

By Zvi Bar’el Opinion December 12, 2010

This is not a face-off between the state and criminals who understand the risks of violating the law.

This is a face-off over the monopoly on ethics, between the state and those it has granted authority to determine the boundaries of ethics. The war of a state which has comprehended too late that religion has no boundaries.

Hanukkah: No miracle flames this time

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion December 6, 2010

Rabbi Andrew Sacks is the Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement‘s Rabbinical Assembly in Israel

As I see it we have two options. We can actually prepare for the next emergency (the option I would select) or we can check our Mezzuzot (which while I would suggest this be done I do not for a moment think this will keep tragedy at bay).

And shame on those rabbis who denied a dignified burial to one of the victims owing to doubts about her Jewish identity. The Judaism I know demands respect for all people.

Democracy and Religion Clash in Israel…Again

By Niv Elis and Sophie Taylor Opinion December 9, 2010

While the negative repercussions have by no means been halted, it is comforting to know that Israel is using the weapons of democracy–laws, public dialogue, and the force of liberal ideas–against its anti-democratic voices. Indeed, these are the most powerful weapons a democracy has.

Racism, Zionism or Halacha?

By Jonah Mandel December 10, 2010

The fact that more than 250 prominent rabbis could sign the letter is only due to the legal system’s inaction in Eliahu’s case, Einat Horowitz, an attorney for IRAC, said on Thursday.

“They have a deep fear of dealing with the rabbinic and religious establishment, and that fear is the downfall of us all,” she said of the legal establishment headed by Weinstein and Neeman.

Former MK presses charges against ‘racist’ rabbis December 10, 2010

Former Labor MK Nadia Hilu pressed charges against the rabbis who signed a petition saying Jews shouldn’t sell or rent homes to gentiles, Israel Radio reported.

Hilu, a Christian Arab, said that “the letter is a criminal offence, inciting violence and violating democracy.” She reportedly filed an official complaint with the police.

Joint Ban by 300 Israeli Rabbis on Renting Homes to Arabs Draws Several Press Releases in Protest

By J.J. Goldberg Opinion December 10, 2010

Of course, the prime minister could take a stand and demand action. That is, if he cared. So far there’s no evidence that he does. One might hope that the minister of justice would speak out, but the minister, Yaakov Ne’eman, is on the record as advocating that rabbinic law be given greater standing within Israeli law.

It’s also hard to see the government, especially a government of the right and religious parties, going toe to toe with the country’s spiritual leadership on what the holy men view as a fundamentally religious obligation, a matter over which a secular government should have no authority.

Where to draw the line?

By Nati Tucker Opinion December 10, 2010

So why are the second-tier local rabbis more willing to sign a letter with an extremist political view: Jews in, Arabs out?

The reason is simple: The ties between religion and the state are the strongest for them – both ideologically and financially. Neighborhood and city rabbis receive their salaries from the government, and the leaders of the religious Zionist movement totally identify with the state and its values – as opposed to the Haredim.

Halakhic Guidance for New Realities

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel Opinion December 11, 2010

The rabbis–in their concern for strengthening the Jewish population in Israel (especially in the North)–ignore the democratic principles upon which Israel was founded; foster discriminatory policies against non-Jewish Israeli citizens; shame Israel in the eyes of the democratic world; justify anti-Jewish policies in territories and countries under non-Jewish control.

These rabbis demonstrate a pre-modern mindset that does not factor in the real needs and responsibilities of a sovereign democratic Jewish State.

Renting Apartments to Gentiles

By Rabbi Gil Student December 9, 2010

This is part of the struggle to create a halakhic model for the modern State of Israel. How do we adapt halakhah to the reality in which we find ourselves today?

Gentiles living in a Jewish society is a new development and the application of halakhah to this new situation is debated.

Leading rabbi denounces colleagues’ edict against renting homes to non-Jews

By Yair Ettinger and Tomer Zarchin December 10, 2010

Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Elyashiv, who has criticized the letter in private conversations over the past few days, said yesterday: “I’ve said for some time that there are rabbis who must have their pens taken away from them.”

Amid uproar, two rabbis pull their names from letter forbidding rental of homes to Arabs

By Yair Ettinger December 9, 2010

Rabbi Simcha HaCohen Kook and Rabbi Yaakov Edelstein said they decided to remove their names from the letter because they did not agree with its content.

What No Rabbi in the World Outside Israel Would Ever Say

(Or What Israel Can Learn from World Jewry)

By Rabbi Donniel Hartman Opinion December 9, 2010

Why is this happening again? Why are rabbis in Israel continually susceptible to these types of moral, ideological lapses, which never seem to plague their colleagues, Orthodox and liberal alike, who live around the world?

Attorney General to check if rabbis’ statements were legal

By Jonah Mandel December 9, 2010

With a view toward possible prosecutions, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has instructed his office to examine whether “criminal and disciplinary aspects allegedly exist” in the letter signed by nearly 50 municipal rabbis that prohibits renting or selling a house or plot of land to a non-Jew in Israel.

Fire the Rabbis

By Liel Leibovitz Opinion December 9, 2010

If Netanyahu is sincere in his condemnations, he should instruct his attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, to take immediate actions against the rabbis and make sure they no longer enjoy the prestige and the public funding that comes with their posts. Anything short of such direct action is shameful.

Yad Vashem: Forbidding rental to Arabs is a blow to Jewish values

By Nir Hasson December 9, 2010

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial on Thursday decried a religious ruling signed by dozens of prominent Israeli rabbis forbidding Jews from renting homes to gentiles, deeming it a “severe blow to the values of our lives as Jews and human beings in a democratic state.”

Racism at the expense of Israeli citizens

Haaretz Editorial December 9, 2010

Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi must now bring disciplinary measures against the instigating rabbis as the first step in their dismissal.

Only firing them from public office will deter other rabbis from such callous racism. It’s highly doubtful that the minister, who belongs to the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, will do so; the attorney general must therefore instruct him to act in this spirit.

Knesset Speaker: Racist rabbi’s letter shames the Jewish people

By Merav Michaeli December 9, 2010

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin:

My view is unequivocal: The attorney general must determine if this is considered incitement; and the interpretation that something is permissible according to Jewish law does not stand in the way of putting people on trial for incitement.

Public figures ask attorney general to take action against ‘racist’ rabbis

By Tomer Zarchin and Yair Ettinger December 9, 2010

A group of public figures, intellectuals and academics asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein Tuesday to take action against the rabbis who signed a religious ruling calling for people not to rent homes to non-Jews.

Israel’s legal establishment silent amid uproar over ‘racist’ rabbis

By Yair Ettinger and Tomer Zarchin December 9, 2010

Neither Justice Minister Ya’akov Ne’eman nor Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has responded to a petition calling for legal action, and while aides have indicated that the matter will be dealt with, their stance on the matter remains unclear.

Peres criticizes petition banning sale of land to non-Jews

By Greer Fay Cashman December 8, 2010

President Shimon Peres on Wednesday issued a sharp rebuke against those rabbis who published an edict forbidding the rental or sale of housing to Arabs.

In a strongly worded statement Peres said that the rabbis are generating a moral crisis that runs counter to the essence of a Jewish and democratic state, and are thereby doing great harm to the State of Israel.

Peres: Rabbis’ ban ‘an ethical crisis’

By Roni Sofer December 8, 2010

Minister Avishay Braverman called on Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to launch a criminal investigation against the rabbis, saying that “as a minister and a proud Jew – any refusal to rent apartments is wrong. I am ashamed.”

Leading Haredi rabbi refuses to endorse letter forbidding the rental of homes to Arabs

By Yair Ettinger December 8, 2010

Although the authors of the rabbinical edict forbidding the sale or rental of homes to non-Jews managed to collect the signatures of 39 leading rabbis around the country, they failed to enlist a leading Haredi rabbi, chair of the Degel Hatorah Council of Sages, Aaron Leib Steinman.

Hundreds protest against rabbis’ letter

By Ronen Medzini December 8, 2010

The national outcry against the rabbis’ letter urging citizens not to sell or rent apartments to non-Jews continues: Around 150 people protested on Wednesday in front of the Jerusalem Great Synagogue.

The protestors carried signs reading, “Rabbis’ letter – public blasphemy”. Violent arguments between protesters and a few far-right activists occurred at the scene.

Top Israel Rabbis: Don’t Sell Property To Non-Jews

By Amy Teibel December 7, 2010

Rabbi David Rosen, the interfaith adviser to Israel’s chief rabbinate, described the rabbis’ action as “disturbing” but said he did not think that the majority of the country’s rabbis would agree and called it a product of the lingering conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

“The rabbinate as a whole isn’t xenophobic or hostile to Arabs,” Rosen said. “As long as the conflict goes on here, it’s logical to assume that the attitudes of all sides will harden, which is deeply regrettable.”

Op-Ed: Fight the fire of racism

By Yael Gvirtz Opinion December 8, 2010

Indeed, we were presented with Judaism that withdraws into itself, ignorant and intoxicated with power. The kind of Judaism that is wholly blind to the wisdom of the Talmud and of Maimonides.

This fire is still burning: Racism is spreading

By Rabbi Michael Marmur Opinion December 7, 2010

The writer is vice president for academic affairs of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

The questions then become: How do you understand the essence of Judaism, and how long are you prepared to stay silent as the soul of Judaism is kidnapped?

The declaration by these rabbis is shameful, harmful and wrong. Its argumentation may be sound, but its core is putrid. It demonstrates a breathtaking lack of understanding for the basic currency of life in a liberal democracy.

MKs, rights activists protest rabbinic prohibition

By Lahav Harkov December 7, 2010

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said on Tuesday that Netanyahu should “firmly denounce” these rabbis, and Justice Minister Ya’acov Neeman should order an investigation.

Rabbis’ ‘racist ruling’ slammed

By Kobi Nahshoni December 8, 2010

Rabbi Yehuda Gilad, who heads the Ma’aleh Gilboa yeshiva, characterized the ruling as a “grave twisting of the Torah, in a manner that contradicts basic moral and human values.”

39 municipal rabbis issue ruling against renting homes to non-Jews; PM, ministers up in arms

By Jack Khoury and Yair Ettinger December 8, 2010

The president of Tzohar, Rabbi Ya’akov Ariel, yesterday issued a response to the rabbis’ letter, which interprets certain biblical injunctions as prohibiting the sale of land to non-Jews.

PM blasts rabbis’ calls not to sell apartments to non-Jews

By Herb Keinon and Lahav Arkov December 7, 2010

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu roundly condemned on Tuesday the call by dozens of rabbis not to rent apartments to non-Jews, saying that the Torah teaches to “love the stranger.”

Top rabbis move to forbid renting homes to Arabs, say ‘racism originated in the Torah’

By Chaim Levinson December 7, 2010

“Racism originated in the Torah,” said Rabbi Yosef Scheinen, who heads the Ashdod Yeshiva. “The land of Israel is designated for the people of Israel. This is what the Holy One Blessed Be He intended and that is what the [sage] Rashi interpreted.”

He added that he did not see the move as racist so much as segregationist.

40 rabbis: Jews shouldn’t rent, sell homes to gentiles December 7, 2010

One of the best-known National-Religious rabbis, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, signed the letter, as did Yosef’s son, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef. Haredi leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Rabbi Avigdor Neventzal of Jerusalem’s Old City also signed the letter.

50 municipal rabbis: Don’t rent flats to Arabs

By Kobi Nahshoni December 7, 2010

Most rabbis are public servants working in municipalities and cities across Israel including Eilat, Ashdod, Herzliya, Jerusalem, Kfar Saba, Naharia, and Holon.

End: Special comprehensive coverage on Rabbis Letter

J’lem chief rabbi criteria to change after Barkat petition

By Jonah Mandel December 9, 2010

The committee for selecting Jerusalem’s chief rabbis will have to change the criteria it was using, following a High Court of Justice hearing on Wednesday during which the justices accepted the claims of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat that the current selection process is faulty.

…According to the petition, the selection of the committee’s members violated the rules of proper conduct, and aimed to promote the selection of haredi rabbis.

Israel Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar Visits Yeshiva U.

By Maayana Miskin December 12, 2010

Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, recently paid a visit to Yeshiva University in the United States.

He gave a Torah lecture to students at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and met with several rabbis and teachers at the school.

Laloum to Yishai: Act against segregation in Haredi schools

By Jonah Mandel December 6, 2010

The driving force behind the Emmanuel school High Court of Justice petition is threatening Shas chair Interior Minister Eli Yishai with another legal intervention if he does not keep his word and take concrete actions to put an end to racial discrimination at haredi schools.

In a letter last week, Yoav Laloum reminded Yishai of his recent commitment to form a rabbinical committee that would oversee and regulate the acceptance of girls to high schools, one of the resolutions following the Emmanuel affair.

Orthodox Jews Donating Organs to General Public

Click here for VIDEO

See also:

‘Chain of living donors’ proposed to cut wait for organ recipients

By Dan Even December 10, 2010

Work is underway on a major initiative to increase organ transplants in Israel. This response follows the May 2008 law that formally outlawed organ trafficking and virtually closed the door on funding of transplants abroad by the health maintenance organizations.

Fiddling while the candles burn

By Tamar Rotem December 6, 2010

According to Menachem Friedman, professor emeritus of sociology at Bar-Ilan University and an expert on ultra-Orthodox society, Hanukkah is a time when lighthearted behavior is permitted.

No work may be done while the candles are lit, but the time must still be filled with content. Many of the admors amuse themselves by engaging in the holiday customs: playing with the traditional spinning top, or dreidel; doling out Hanukkah gelt to the Hasidim; and, perhaps, playing the violin.

Tapping into Haredi ad market

By Meirav Crystal December 8, 2010

The ultra-Orthodox market is a unique commercial micro-cosmos that has been growing right under our noses.

But who are the publicists and consumers of this special sector, a sector that is very hard to advertise for since its people buy out of necessity and not out of pleasure.

Desires of the Flesh and Spirit

By Steven Philp December 6, 2010

Click here for VIDEO Trailer

Following a handful of screenings in the United States and Canada, the critically acclaimed Israeli film Eyes Wide Open was released on DVD for North American consumers this past month.

The debut of director Haim Tabakman is a nuanced examination of the conflict between the desires of the flesh and the spirit; it finds its particular power in the recognition that these two spheres are often closer than we care to acknowledge.

Written by Merav Doster, the film is set in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem where the daily rhythm is defined by the obligations of work, family, and fulfilling mitzvot.

Soulmate Wanted

By Yehudah Mirsky Opinion December 8, 2010

Slowly but surely, the divide between Ashkenazim and Sephardim in Israeli society is ebbing.

But in one sector it continues to stand fast. This is the community of the ultra-Orthodox, or Haredim, obsessed with issues of purity and boundaries—to the point of not only separating from other Israelis, religious and non-religious alike, but, on the part of Ashkenazi Haredim, enforcing strict internal divisions between themselves and their ethnically suspect and allegedly less rigorous Sephardi brethren.

Israeli Chabad emissary nabbed in Madrid with 4kg of cocaine

By Eli Ashkenazi December 7, 2010

A Chabad emissary from Safed was arrested in the Madrid airport late last week after being found in possession of four kilograms of cocaine.

57, a father of six who works for the global charity organization Kollel Chabad, was returning to Israel from Costa Rica, where he was fund-raising for a soup kitchen operated by Kollel Chabad in Safed.

Religion and State in Israel

December 13, 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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