Religion and State in Israel – January 17, 2011 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

January 17, 2011 (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.

State approves all conversions

By Kobi Nahshoni January 16, 2011

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar has adopted Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s halachic ruling which legitimizes all conversions performed by the Israel Defense Forces in recent years, Ynet has learned.

Rabbi Yosef issues ruling validating IDF conversions

By Yair Ettinger January 16, 2011

Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi welcomed Yosef’s ruling, saying: “Doubts have been dispelled not only for the present, but for generations to come.”

Peres welcomes Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s decision January 17, 2011

Peres said he welcomed the recent decision by Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to recognize conversions in the Israel Defense Forces. Peres said the decision “strengthens the people of Israel and preserves its unity.”

Peres said Yosef’s decision “makes it possible to accept into the Jewish people young people who came to live in Israel to preserve their Jewish identity and to serve in the army to protect the nation’s security.”

Chief Rabbis Ovadia Yosef, Shlomo Amar approve IDF conversions

By Jonah Mandel January 14, 2011

Rabbi Seth Farber, the head of ITIM, an organization which advocates and advises on the Jewish life cycle, praised Yosef’s decision, which “proves the validity of our petition to the High Court of Justice demanding sweeping approval of all the conversions.

In the light of Yosef’s ruling, we expect the marriage registrars to be forced to register all converts for marriage, and the rabbis who refuse to conform to resign from their positions in the Chief Rabbinate.”

Time to apologize

By Yair Ettinger Opinion January 16, 2011

Shas leadership should consider sending a delegation to the home of MK Chaim Amsellem, who is leaving the party, and beg his forgiveness. Amsellem began his revolt against Shas because of his moderate halakhic views in favor of state- and IDF-sponsored conversions. In various forums, Amsellem had noted that he was simply reiterating views Yosef had espoused years ago.

Shas spiritual leader approves disputed IDF conversions

By Yair Ettinger January 14, 2011

“If the conversions are kosher – they should announce they are kosher and stop talking bullshit. It is misuse of power and I am going to put an end to it,” MK David Rotem said.

Rabbis clash over IDF conversions

By Yair Ettinger January 17, 2011

Ultra-Orthodox political activists are collecting the signatures of leading Ashkenazi Haredi rabbis, led by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, to condemn a recent religious ruling stating that conversions to Judaism performed by Israel Defense Forces rabbis are valid.

In the wake of Friday’s ruling by influential Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the Chief Rabbinate has begun approving 4,500 military conversions.

Yated metes out cautious criticism at Yosef, Amar

By Jonah Mandel January 16, 2011

Haredi-Lithuanian mouthpiece Yated Ne’eman on Sunday expressed “shock, as well as pained and utter protest over the desecration of approving thousands of military ‘conversions,’” in its inevitable reaction to the Friday decision of President of the Shas Council of Torah Sages Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who declared the disputed past IDF conversions kosher.

Ashkenazi Haredi journal: Rabbi Yosef’s approval of IDF conversions ‘a desecration’

By Yair Ettinger January 16, 2011

The Lithuanian Haredi journal called Yosef a ‘rabbi,’ and not ‘Maran’ – master teacher – or ‘Harav HaGaon’ – genius rabbi – as it generally refers to Haredi rabbis, even those of other lesser status.

Shas: Yisrael Beiteinu ‘spitting venom’

By Kobi Nahshoni January 14, 2011

Shas slammed Yisrael’s Beiteinu’s decision to continue the legislation process.

“This party is desperate for headlines and is seeking to crush the people of Israel and the IDF for a political gain,” the haredi party said in a statement.

“The IDF conversions are valid, and yet the party continues to spit venom and hatred, promote factionalism and attempt to destroy Judaism.”

Rabbi Yosef legitimizes IDF conversions

By Kobi Nahshoni January 14, 2011

Rabbi Yosef drafted the ruling himself and asked Rabbi Amar to hand it over to IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier-General Rafi Peretz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As the person responsible for Israel’s conversion system, Rabbi Amar is expected to use this ruling for an official approval of IDF conversions in the Chief Rabbinate. Together with Shas, he will demand that the prime minister “bury” Yisrael Beiteinu’s military conversion bill after coming up with a solution for the crisis himself.

Chief Rabbi Amar: PM pledged to squash IDF conversion bill

By Kobi Nahshoni January 13, 2011

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged in writing that he would defeat Yisrael Beiteinu’s IDF conversion bill should Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar agree to authorize the conversions himself, sources in the rabbi’s office said Thursday evening.

Rotem’s law c’tee to debate military conversion bill

By Jonah Manel January 13, 2011

Knesset Law Committee Chairman David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) announced on Thursday that his committee would hold a discussion on his military conversion bill this Tuesday, at the end of which the committee might bring it for a vote.

The bill, sponsored by Rotem and fellow Israel Beiteinu MK Robert Ilatov, would grant conversions conducted in the IDF independent status from the Chief Rabbinate.

Proponent of conversion law: Chief Rabbinate’s opposition proves need for reform

By Yair Ettinger January 13, 2011

“Members of the conversion council under Rabbi [Shlomo] Amar will not reject the conversions, but they will also not approve them,” said MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), chairman of the Knesset Law and Justice Committee.

“They will put in place other terms and demands and in the end they will decide that there are class A conversions, and Class B and Class C,” he added.

Rabbinical panel likely to reject IDF conversions, despite signs of compromise

Conversion bills likely to increase Netanyahu-Lieberman tensions

By Yair Ettinger January 11, 2011

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to freeze legislation on two bills on conversion proposed by Yisrael Beiteinu, at the behest of Jewish community leaders in Israel and abroad, which is likely to increase already existing tensions between the prime minister and the Yisrael Beiteinu chairman, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Conversion Bill: Still the subject of concern January 10, 2011

Conversion Bill: Agreement for the continuation of the freeze

Bnei Brak rabbi accused of arranging illicit conversions

By Jonah Mandel January 13, 2011

The battle of anonymous mudslinging between Lithuanian haredi elements and champions of Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar in the wake of the latest conversion controversy rose a notch on Wednesday, with pashkevilim(street notices) plastered in Bnei Brak charging a local, senior rabbi of converting a woman “for the intent of marriage, which is prohibited according to the Torah’s law.”

What can we do about the rabbinate in Rishon Letzion?

By Rabbi Shaul Farber Opinion January 14, 2011

In recent months, Rishon’s chief rabbi has stated clearly and publicly that he will not recognize conversions performed in the IDF. But now, he’s gone a step further. In recent weeks, I’ve been approached by a number of individuals who were born Jewish, and brought documentation from the Israeli rabbinical courts to Rishon certifying their Jewishness.

Learning Judaism from Giffords Editorial January 10, 2011

As it should, Israel’s Law of Return accommodates this complex Jewish reality by granting automatic citizenship to people like Giffords, her husband and her offspring.

Critics of the Law of Return might complain that it has extended citizenship to more than 300,000 former Soviet Union immigrants who are not halachically Jewish.

Sitting At The Front Of The Bus

By Michele Chabin January 11, 2011

The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) is about to launch a year-long Rosa Parks-inspired Freedom Rider program whose foreign and local female volunteers will attempt to sit in the front section of so-called “kosher” buses, which until now have been reserved for men.

“We’re planning to have 1,000 riders this year and we’re inviting tourists to come and join us,” Hoffman said enthusiastically, despite a bout with laryngitis. “They’ll be able to report just how voluntary the seating will be. We’re confident we’ll be able to show that it isn’t voluntary, that women can’t always sit where they want to.”

BBC PODCAST: Ultra-Orthodox in Israel January 14, 2011

Chapter 3 from the programme Woman’s Hour

Mark Weiss who works for Israel Radio, joins Jenni to discuss the growing influence of the ultra orthodox Jewish community and its impact on the lives of Israeli women.

Includes interview with Naomi Ragen, Israel Religious Action Center Attorney Orly Erez-Likhovski on gender-segregation on buses and public space; Women of the Wall.

Ain’t gonna sit in the back of the bus

By Esther Hecht Opinion January 12, 2011

It took four years to get a ruling, but now we have it. I’ve read all 12,185 words of it in Hebrew and I’m pleased that the honorable justices have declared, loud and clear, that enforced separation by sex on buses or in any other place of business is a violation of the Basic Law: Human Liberty and Dignity.

And yet, this ruling is not the last word.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai asked to ban first sex-segregated concert at Mann Auditorium

By Ilan Lior January 12, 2011

Ultra-Orthodox singer Yaniv Ben Mashiach is planning to give the first sex-segregated concert in the 53-year history of Tel Aviv’s Mann Auditorium, making the hall the latest site of clashes between Haredi customs and secular sensibilities.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was asked this week to ban sex segregation at next month’s concert, and any other performances, in municipal venues.

‘Whose wall is it anyway?’

Activist challenges ultra-Orthodox control over holy sites

By Peter Goodspeed January 15, 2011

Anat Hoffman:

“At the Wall, the question is whose Wall is it anyway? Is it really the holiest place for all the Jewish people? If it is the holiest place for all the Jewish people, you can’t silence half the population.”

“You can’t criminalize what I am doing because what I am doing is what the Jewish world is doing,” she added.

“I am not the only woman wearing a tallith [prayer shawl] and holding a Torah scroll and praying out loud. I am one of many, many millions of women who are doing that. But in Israel, I am now facing criminal charges.”

To Pray Without Fear

By Cantor Nancy Abramson Opinion January 13, 2011

When the police officer “protecting” us came over and asked me to sing more quietly, I just smiled and aimed my voice to bounce off the stones of the Kotel. I do admit that it was comforting that the next line of the psalm was “The Lord is with me, I shall not fear; what can mortals do to me?”

Director seeks equality for all Jewish women

By Steve Heisler January 16, 2011

“A young girl will wear a prayer shawl, read from the Torah and pray at the lead of an adoring and happy community,” AnatHoffman said. “Israel must be the Disneyland of good Jewish experiences, not a looming supermarket with only one shelf promoting a single product.”

Jerusalem opens Muslim Quarter Jewish site to prayer, upsetting status quo

By Akiva Eldar January 14, 2011

The Jerusalem Development Authority recently removed scaffolding in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, disrupting the sensitive status quo in the area around the Western Wall. The authority, controlled by the Jerusalem municipality and by several ministries, removed scaffolding from under an arch supporting Palestinian homes in the Little Western Wall plaza (also known as the Little Kotel plaza).

Rabbis claim new powers in divorces of couples married in civil unions

By Yair Ettinger January 14, 2011

According to Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, head of Bar-Ilan University’s Rackman Center for the Advancement of Women’s Status, the rabbinical court judges “are bringing tens of thousands of couples who chose not to marry through the Chief Rabbinate under their control.”

Batya Kahana-Dror, who heads Mavoi Satum, a group that assists women who are denied religious divorces, responded to the rulings by calling for an overhaul of Israel’s marriage and divorce laws. “Once again, we see that civil marriage is not immune to the rabbinical courts,” she said.

The Heart of Israel’s Reform Judaism

By Nathan Jeffay January 12, 2011

The congregation that grew from that ad is Kol HaNeshama, Israel’s largest Reform synagogue and possibly one of the most influential in the world. The congregation marks its 25th anniversary January 15, with an evening of celebration for members and some of its many admirers from overseas.

Kol HaNeshama’s early days were difficult. The congregation was ejected from its first home, a Labor Party building, because of Orthodox pressure. At its second Simchat Torah celebration, a local municipal rabbi, Eliyahu Abergil, arrived with followers who protested noisily, telling congregants to “go back to America,” and then tried to remove the Torah scrolls.

Capital’s Kol HaNeshama Reform shul celebrates 25 years

By Melanie Lidman January 14, 2011

Twenty-four years ago, members of the Kol HaNeshama Reform Congregation of Jerusalem crowded into a small building that belonged to the Labor Party and joyously danced with the Torahs during Simhat Torah.

During the hakafot (the seven circuits around the shul), three haredi men led by their rabbi tried to force their way into the circle, straining to tear the Torahs away from the women and men dancing together.

Major funding boost for Birthright from Israeli gov’t ups ante for philanthropists

By Ben Harris January 10, 2011

About a decade old, Birthright Israel was envisioned as a more or less equal partnership between the Israeli government, the Jewish federation system and private philanthropists, with each providing about a third of the budget.

But the federation share of funding has remained low. In 2010, federations provided only about $6 million of Birthright’s $76 million budget, according to Birthright officials. That has increased pressure on the Israeli government and donors to make up the difference.

Government allots $100M to Birthright January 12, 2011

The Israeli government funding will grow annually, starting with approximately $26 million in 2011, $34 million in 2012 and $40 million in 2013.

To match this commitment, the Israeli government expects a corresponding increase in funding for Birthright Israel from its other partners and donors in Jewish communities abroad.

Major Boost For Birthright Funding; Tipping Point In Sight

By Gary Rosenblatt January 14, 2011

Aronson said the foundation’s commitment to increase its funding by $12 million this year, from $49.3 million in 2010, “stretches our goals dramatically, but I’m optimistic.”

Year after debut, Jewish Peoplehood Hub shuts down

By Raphael Ahren January 14, 2011

Officials would not comment on the reason for the think tank’s sudden demise, but Dan Brown, who runs the influential eJewish Philanthropy blog, said sources told him the Nadav Foundation, headed by Russian-Israeli businessman and philanthropist Leonid Nevzlin, pulled out because the Hub no longer fit into its philanthropic strategy.

“One of their largest projects now is rebuilding Tel Aviv’s Beit Hatfutsot Diaspora Museum,” he said. “Neither the Federation in New York nor the Jewish Agency wanted to make up for the $200,000 shortfall, and as far as I know nobody else wanted to come on board.”

Haaretz correction: The decision to close the Hub was made by all three partners (Nadav Foundation, UJA Federation of New York and Jewish Agency), according to Irina Nevzlin Kogan, president of the Nadav Foundation.

Students help save memories of lost Diaspora communities

By Gil Shefler January 13, 2011

Since 2002 [Journey into Jewish Heritage] the program, run by the capital’s Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History, has sent groups of Israeli and Diaspora students on two- and three-week trips to document once thriving communities that have gone into decay.

Next winter’s “Journey into Jewish Heritage” may be last

By Gil Shefler January 13, 2011

“From the start we’ve been funded by Avi Chai,” Hana Holland, the program’s project director, said on Tuesday. “We’ve tried to phase in new donors such as the Claims Conference and the Jewish Colonization Association but unless we find someone to pay for 50 to 60 percent of our operations we’ll have to close.”

MK: Sack official discouraging doctors’ immigration to Israel

By Raphael Ahren January 14, 2011

MK Yoel Hasson recently demanded the Health Ministry fire a senior official accused of standing in the way of immigrant doctors and physicians wanting to come to Israel by creating impossible bureaucracy and having a condescending attitude.

An unlikely champion of Western aliyah

By Raphael Ahren January 14, 2011

[Kadima MK Yoel] Hasson says his interest in Israel-Diaspora relations and aliyah promotion started growing in 2006 after he was elected president of the 35th Zionist Congress. He also cofounded the Lobby for the Encouragement of Aliyah from the West, which he today co-chairs with MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen.

From The Sidelines To The Front Lines

By Rabbi Joshua Hammerman Opinion January 14, 2011

Israelis too seem to have decided that, with regard to the chief rabbinate, enough is enough. There has been a convergence on the issue of conversion, though in Israel the prime concern has been acceptance of Israel Defense Forces conversions.

Public sentiment appears to be shifting toward a decentralization of religious authority. Even a small step toward a de-clawed Chief Rabbinate would mark a sea change in the Jewish state’s relationship with Jews around the world.

My trip to Jerusalem

Kutiman January 10, 2011

NGOs: Religious educators must fight human trafficking

By Ruth Eglash January 12, 2011

According to Rabbi Levi Lauer, CREATE – Conference of Religious Educators Against Trafficking and Exploitation, which took place Tuesday and Wednesday to mark International Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11, is just the beginning steps that will hopefully push the religious community to address what he calls the “flourishing” sex trade and other forms of modern-day slavery and exploitation in Israel.

Whirling Along The Borders Of Israeli Life

By Janice Ross January 14, 2011

The men of Ka’et (a Hebrew acronym that means “timely”) are not professional dancers. In their 20s and 30s, some have families; all have day jobs — one is a rabbi at a yeshiva, another works with runaways from ultra-Orthodox homes.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin meets with Pope Benedict XVI January 13, 2011

Attending the Papal General Audience yesterday, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin had the opportunity afterward to greet Pope Benedict XVI and brief him on the work The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) is doing in Israel.

The monk in the window

By Nir Hasson January 14, 2011

It’s been nearly six years since Irenaios, the Greek patriarch of Jerusalem, was deposed for selling church properties to Jews, and virtually disappeared from sight. Yet he never accepted that ruling and today, living under a kind of house arrest, he continues to claim that he was framed.

New tours enable pilgrims to walk in footsteps of Mary

ByRon Friedman January 12, 2011

Tourism Ministry launches new pilgrimage itinerary promoting Christian tourism to Israel during ceremony at Jerusalem’s Eden-Tamir Music Center.

Travelers flock to site of Jesus’ baptism January 16, 2011

Travelers, Christian pilgrims and religious leaders from around the world will visit the Qasr al-Yahud holy site in the Jordan River, considered the third most important holy site for Christians, to celebrate the annual Feast of the Epiphany, on Tuesday, January 18.

New Testament heroine gets a nod as Tel Aviv renames neighborhoods

By Ilan Lior January 17, 2011

The most interesting choice was the one for the area around the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine and the adjacent Russian Orthodox church in the southern part of the city. It is to be called Tabitha, named after a New Testament woman known for her charity whom, according to the story, Peter raised from the dead.

‘Religion Is Not A Barrier’

By Sharon Udasin January 14, 2011

To an enraptured audience in a small Emek Refaim library last Thursday, S.A. Ibrahim shared his most strategic tactic of maneuvering through the more than three million pilgrims who attend the annual haj to Mecca.

The Historic Basin – Problems and Possible Solutions 2010

The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies

Editor: Amnon Ramon 2010

Religion and State in Israel

January 17, 2011 (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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