Religion and State in Israel – February 7, 2011 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

February 7, 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.

Love the convert

By Tamar Rotem February 4, 2011

Some day, many years from now, Alina Roise and Maxim Sardikov will perhaps look back at their petition to the High Court of Justice against the Chief Rabbinate and marriage registrars in four cities as a turning point.

But when they agreed a few months ago to join a petition by ITIM – The Jewish Life Information Center (which provides advice in conversion and other religious matters ) against four municipal rabbis who refuse to allow converts to marry, and against the Chief Rabbinate, which chose not to take any action against the rabbis, the couple was motivated to act simply because of a sense of injustice.

Meretz MK demands Streisand’s cousin be allowed to make aliyah

By Nir Hasson February 6, 2011

The Interior Ministry and Jewish Agency must reconsider their decision not to allow Dale Streisand, a cousin of American singer Barbra Streisand, to immigrate to Israel, MK Ilan Ghilon (Meretz ) demanded over the weekend.

Nicky Maor, director of the immigrant assistance center for the Reform Jewish movement in Israel, said aliyah applications are being dealt with more rigorously out of concern that the Law of Return is being exploited by missionaries, particularly from the United States.

She mentioned that this is not the first time Internet has been used in these more -rigorous background checks.

State nixes aliyah for Streisand cousin over ‘Christian link’

By Nir Hasson February 3, 2011

The Interior Ministry and the Jewish Agency rejected a request from singer Barbra Streisand’s cousin to come and live in Israel.

Dale Streisand, 57, was reportedly refused new immigrant status on the grounds that his Facebook profile indicated he had been involved in Christian missionary activity in the past.

…He said he is a Jew and has a right to live in Israel.

Streisand also told Haaretz that he is a newly Orthodox Jew, is studying Torah and that he wants to live in Israel and raise his children here.

An Unusual Alliance: Reform Movement Saves a Seat for Orthodox Women on Israeli Buses

By Rachel Canar Opinion February 4, 2011

Many Orthodox Jews are discreetly celebrating the most recent victory for pluralism in Israel. No longer can there be forced or even suggested gender segregation on Israeli public buses.

Ironically, who are they calling to thank? The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel.

The first group to petition against the Mehadrin (Kosher) bus lines, IRAC brought the case to the Supreme Court in early 2007, representing five women who were abused on these buses.

The Black Bus

By Symi Rom-Rymer February 4, 2011

Anat Zuria has made her career exploring the stories of religious women on the margins of their world. Her latest work, The Black Bus, a selection at the recent New York Jewish Film Festival, is no exception.

…In interviews, Zuria has said that she made this movie to give Haredi women a voice. To tell the stories that are overshadowed by the men who traditionally speak for them.

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VIDEO: Women of the Wall Rosh Chodesh Adar I 2011

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Saving Orthodox Judaism in Israel

By Rabbi Eric Yoffie Opinion February 3, 2011

When Yaakov Epstein became Chief Rabbi of Haifa in 2052, neither the press nor the public took special notice.

True, he was the first Reform rabbi elected to the highest rabbinical position in a major metropolis, but he had already served as Chief Rabbi of Netanya. In fact, six Conservative and four Reform rabbis were then serving as Chief Rabbis of medium-sized Israeli cities.

By then, the “Rebellion of 2022” had been largely forgotten.

Our state of diminished freedom

Time to Step Up for Democracy

By Dr. Arye Carmon, Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern Opinion February 2, 2011

Dr. Arye Carmon is president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a think tank based in Jerusalem. Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern are IDI’s vice presidents of research.

The haredi rabbinate has radicalized its positions on issues of religion and state. One example is its attitudes toward the national judicial system; important rabbis have ruled that anyone who turns to state courts “has no portion in the world to come.”

The rabbinate has also hardened its control over conversions, attempting to disqualify retroactively the conversions of thousands within the army or other frameworks.

…The Zionist center – religious and secular alike – must take responsibility for the Jewish character of the state, and not leave this task in the hands of radicals.

There’s no such thing as a Jewish democracy

By Ezra Resnick Opinion February 4, 2011

Photo: Ben McLeod

What Israel most desperately needs is complete separation between religion and the state.

The government must not be allowed to pass any law privileging one religion over another, or privileging religion over non-religion.

Tax money should not be used to support religious institutions. The government must not be in the business of determining a person’s religion or adjudicating religious questions. Such actions are inherently discriminatory, and they are the source of many of our never-ending political problems.

AJC Statement on Religious Pluralism in Israel January 31, 2011

We are concerned that the office of the Chief Rabbinate has become politicized and appears directed toward enforcing political positions endorsed by ultra-Orthodox political parties within the context of Israeli coalition politics.

In recent months otherwise well-intentioned efforts to facilitate conversion to Judaism have been linked for political reasons with efforts to expand the power of the Chief Rabbinate to determine who qualifies as a convert.

Its monopoly on issues affecting the actual status of Jews not only within Israel but also of those seeking to immigrate to Israel damages both the unity of the Jewish people internationally and risks the alienation of American Jewry from the Jewish state.

VIDEO: God in Government

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The State of Israel began with a ‘religious status quo’ agreement balancing the demands of secular Zionists with Orthodox religious requirements.

Fifty years later, a changing demographic and widening gap between Orthodox and secular Israelis have led to a national identity crisis and public protests over attempts to redefine the character of the State.

Adam Ferziger on non-Jews in Conservative synagogues

Interview by Shmuel Rosner February 2, 2011

Dr. Adam S. Ferziger is senior lecturer, Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Fellow, and vice chairman of the Graduate Program in Contemporary Jewry at Bar-Ilan University.

Unlike in the Diaspora, Israel’s concern with intermarriage is not due to fear of assimilation into a majority non-Jewish society.

Rather, it is primarily an issue of societal unity. The emergence of a significant minority of what my colleague Professor Asher Cohen refers to as “Non-Jewish Jews” within Israel, may lead – if it has not already done so – to increased hesitation among Religious-Zionists regarding participation of their children in activities (such as army and university education) that engender social interaction with secular Jews whose lineage is less clear.

California rabbis bring show of unity

By Gil Shefler January 31, 2011

The diversity of Jewish religious practice was on display when an eclectic group of 37 male and female rabbis visiting from Northern California shuffled into the Bina Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture seminary in grimy south Tel Aviv last Thursday.

Some were affiliated with Chabad Hassidut and sported bushy beards and tallit fringes sticking out from their shirts. Others were Reform and Conservative rabbis wearing little or no visible Jewish garb, and at least one female rabbi was wearing a kippa.

Seeds of Subversion

Book review: Not in the Heavens: The Tradition of Jewish Secular Thought

By Allan Arkush Jewish Review of Books Number 4 Winter 2011

Biale also focuses on David Ben-Gurion, who, “like Spinoza,” saw the Bible as “primarily a nationalist book,” one “that gave a political identity to the ancient nation of Israel, an identity that transcended mere religion.”

He shows how Israel’s first prime minister fostered “a kind of ‘bibliomania,'” and thereby “played a major role in the elevation of the Bible to the status of national myth” in the new State of Israel.

…Since the 1990s, increasing numbers of young Israelis, he tells us, have been engaging in the study of traditional texts in secular houses of study.

Although this is “a relatively small phenomenon,” it is evidence that not everyone is ready to cede the Bible and the rest of Jewish tradition to the rabbis.

Nefesh B’Nefesh sends out pink slips, cuts salaries

By Raphael Ahren February 3, 2011

Nefesh B’Nefesh, a nonprofit that helps North American and British Jews immigrate to Israel, fired 18 percent of its staff last week, or about 15 employees, Haaretz has learned.

But a spokeswoman insisted services to new and potential immigrants would be untouched by the cuts.

World Council of Israelis Abroad gets down to business

By Rhonda Spivak January 31, 2011

The World Council of Israelis Abroad held it’s first-ever conference in Toronto this month, under the theme “Building Bridges to World Jewry and the State of Israel.”

The three-day meeting was sponsored by the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and the Mishelanu Organization for Israelis Abroad.

The changing winds of Israeli philanthropy

By Ruth Eglash January 31, 2011

Does this mean that Israeli organizations such as the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund, which traditionally served a conduit for international donors, no longer have a place?

As an Israeli I really value these organizations and I want them to remain strong, but I really think they need to reevaluate their roles in the Jewish world and in Israeli life. Perhaps they could become a platform for other areas of involvement that are more specific?

I do, however, think it’s important for them to remain strong and for all of us to be united, maybe even creating a round table for world Jewry to change its ideas and work together to build a common vision for the next generation of Jews and Israel.

Jewish philanthropists help people with disabilities

By Ruth Eglash February 1, 2011

A new initiative aimed at uniting philanthropic efforts to improve the treatment of people with disabilities in theJewish community and to raise awareness of their needs was announced Friday by the Jewish Funders Network (JFN), an international umbrella organization for Jewish philanthropy.

Birthright Rejects J Street Trip: Cohen’s Comments

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Birthright rejects J Street effort to co-sponsor trip

J Street U Responds to Birthright’s Decision to Cancel Trip

Statement from Taglit-Birthright Israel: Clarification regarding JStreet

University tuition hike in Britain undercuts gap year programs in Israel

By Raphael Ahren February 4, 2011

The British government’s recent decision to increase university tuition is causing a dramatic drop in Israel gap year program participants from this country, organizers of such programs lamented this week.

Birthright Israel launches campaign to ‘Take Back Zionism’

By Riva Gold February 4, 2011

This winter, the Birthright Israel Alumni community is launching an international “Take Back Zionism” campaign to inspire young Jews to redefine the word “Zionism” in light of their own ideals.

Giving Israel’s image a good rap

By Raphael Ahren February 4, 2011

Israeli politicians have recruited rap star Shyne to improve Israel’s image, though some have criticized the initiative, saying that the 34-year-old who became an Orthodox Jew while serving time in prison for a shooting incident is not a suitable advocate for the country.

An official dealing with Israel-Diaspora relations speaking anonymously told Anglo File said he couldn’t believe why high-ranking politicians would want to affiliate themselves with Shyne.

“I just can’t understand how Ayalon and Edelstein have their picture taken with a gangsta rapper who sat in jail for trying to shoot people.”

Havruta: A Journal of Jewish Conversation Number 6 / Winter 2011

Ikkarim: Searching for the Core of Judaism

The voice of a woman

By Viva Hammer Opinion February 4, 2011

The writer is a Washington lawyer and a research associate at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Brandeis University.

Shira Hadasha is a medley, wading in a civilization deluged with history, rising to gasp the air of a radical present. It invites women to leyn and honors them with aliyot but permits only men to lead services.

I conferred with an American rabbi regarding my plan to read Torah. The Mishna discusses women receiving aliyot; how could he condemn the practice?

Seasons greetings

By Rabbi Marc Rosenstein Opinion January 31, 2011

We have gone to a lot of trouble over the past century to create a place that, finally, would be “just Jewish,” where our culture would be the culture of the land, where we wouldn’t have to wonder if our kids should be singing Christmas carols.

And here we are, wearing (or not) Santa Claus hats in the Jewish state, trying to work out just what should be our relationship to the other cultures around us.

Christian leader pivotal to Herzl’s work recognized

By Jonny Paul February 2, 2011

The contribution of a Christian chaplain to Theodor Herzl’s work and to the Zionist cause was commemorated in London this week with a tombstone dedication at his unmarked grave.

Rev. William Henry Hechler was pivotal to Herzl’s diplomatic successes, allying himself with the emerging Zionist movement and providing Herzl with key introductions to German royal society.

Religion and State in Israel

February 7, 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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