Religion and State in Israel – March 28, 2011 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

March 28, 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.

Shas Religious Services Minister Margi calls for legislation against non-Orthodox movements

By Jonah Mandel March 24, 2011

As part of a bid to strengthen the Chief Rabbinate, Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi is hoping to see legislation determining that non-Orthodox movements have no place on Israel’s religious map, and move the rabbinate back to his ministry’s auspices.

Margi called “to determine by law that there are no streams in Judaism, only one that has been passed down to us from generation to generation.”

A spokesman for Margi would not elaborate on Wednesday what exactly such legislation could entail, but merely stressed the need to have “one rabbinic body that will concentrate all religious services, and that the struggles to weaken the rabbinate will be put to an end.”

Amended bill allows only Orthodox IDF chief chaplain

By Jonah Mandel March 23, 2011

The Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would make the IDF chief chaplain a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council.

Sponsored by MK Uri Ariel (National Union) and seven others, the bill would change the observer status of the IDF chief chaplain to a full-fledged member of the 17- rabbi body, which serves primarily as an advisory panel to the two chief rabbis, who head the council.

American rabbi hopes new guidelines will change Rabbinate’s stance on conversions

By Raphael Ahren March 25, 2011

A senior American rabbi on sabbatical in Israel plans to draft new conversion guidelines in a bid to keep the Chief Rabbinate from preventing Modern Orthodox converts from immigrating.

“I converted a young lady who wanted to get married in Israel,” Rabbi Tessler told Anglo File this week.

“One day I got a phone call from a Chief Rabbinate’s office in an area of Israel: ‘We don’t know who you are, we don’t see your name on the list, therefore we’re not accepting the conversion.’

I said, ‘You accepted my conversions for 28 years, what are you talking about?’ ‘Well, we don’t know you.’ I told them whom I studied with, and they said, are you sure you’re Orthodox? How do we know?'”

Rivlin: IDF conversion bill could split Jewish people

By Jonah Mandel March 23, 2011

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin slammed on Tuesday the “dangerous” military conversion bill, while calling on the rabbinate to increase and enhance its conversion efforts as a countermeasure to the massive assimilation taking place in Israel.

Chief Rabbi Amar on Conversion Bill

By Jonah Mandel March 23, 2011

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar spoke out in his address against “those sitting far, far away from the Land of Israel, who got involved and threatened Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who froze the conversion bill.”

Amar was referring to the massive pressure exerted on the premier by the non-Orthodox American movements last summer, who along with the Jewish Federations of North America succeeded in putting a halt on the legislation of Rotem’s bill which had already passed the Knesset’s Law Committee, and would make the Chief Rabbinate responsible for all conversions in Israel by law.

Who needs a Chief Rabbinate?

By Rabbi Reuven Hammer Opinion March 25, 2011

Reuven Hammer is a former president of the International Rabbinical Assembly

The Chief Rabbinate today represents no one but itself and its overblown bureaucracy. It will not be missed, and the oppression that it casts over marriage, divorce and conversion will disappear to the glory of Judaism.

Israel is the place where a true flourishing of Judaism could and should take place. If a new, nongovernmental, pluralistic rabbinate were to come into being, perhaps it would restore the image of the rabbinate and the image of Judaism to what it should be: a force for good in Israeli society.

VIDEO: Women and Israel’s Religious Councils

Rabbi Uri Regev, Hiddush interviewed on Israel Channel 1 TV English edition

Click here for VIDEO


Shushan Purim 2011

By Emily Shapiro Katz Opinion March 22, 2011

One Orthodox woman did pause and told her friend that we were “Reformim” but even this was not said in anger, just in explanation. In fact, the way she flippantly said her comment made me think to myself “she doesn’t care that we are doing ‘our thing’ here in the back of the kotel.

She knows that it in no way hurts or disturbs her experience at the kotel.” In general, the success of the reading made me think how simple it should be for us to read from the Torah at the Kotel. How different is it to read from the Torah than from the megillah?

If the Kotel can handle a women’s megillah reading, it can handle a women’s Torah service!

“They too were part of the miracle!”

By Liz Piper-Goldberg Opinion March 27, 2011

Liz Piper-Goldberg is a first-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and a former Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC).

As a Reform rabbinical student, I support egalitarian participation of women in all areas of Jewish life, from chanting Torah to leading services to heading committees and major Jewish organizations.

I also respect those for whom halacha is central to their involvement in Judaism. This concept of “af hen hayu b’oto ha’nes” is a powerful way to connect and involve women across religious denominations.

Praying and chanting with Women of the Wall continues to teach me about the ways that women can come together to advance not only our standing but also our understanding of Judaism.

S.Y. Aguna

By Raphael Ahren March 25, 2011

Mavoi Satum, a nonprofit advocating on behalf of “chained” women whose husbands refuse to divorce, or agunot, is combining its activism with fashion and literature.

During a special event Tuesday evening, Hananel Mack, a professor of Talmud and Hebrew Literature, will lecture about “Agnon, Agunot and Abandonment.”

The emergence of Turkey’s hidden Jews

By Michael Freund Opinion March 23, 2011

The writer serves as chairman of Shavei Israel

Two years ago, on a visit to Istanbul, I met with some members of the younger generation of Donmeh, including Ari. Given the current state of Turkish- Israeli relations, I cannot divulge identifying details about them, other than to say they all expressed a deep yearning to return to Judaism.

When I met them in the lobby of a small hotel, Ari in particular seemed especially nervous. He was constantly peering around the room, initially afraid of being seen with a kippa-wearing Jew from Israel.

Operation Suriname

By Hanan Cidor Opinion Spring 2011

Hanan Cidor is the former Jewish Agency for Israel shaliach to the Union for Reform Judaism and the North American Federation of Temple Youth.

I arrive at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport bound for a country so small, few people would be able to place it on the map—including me. I’m not ashamed to admit that I googled “Suriname” to see where exactly my assignment would take me.

As the Jewish Agency for Israel’s shaliach (emissary) to the Reform Movement, I was asked to determine the eligibility of 16 Jewish Surinamese, ages 18–26, who signed up to go on our Movement’s 10-day URJ Kesher Birthright Israel trip.

Palin at Kotel tunnel: Israel too apologetic

By Melanie Lidman and Gil Hoffman March 20, 2011

Former American vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin expressed support for Jews praying openly on the Temple Mount on a visit to the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday, officials who accompanied Palin said.

Palin, who was wearing a large Star of David, told Danon that she had flags of Israel “on my desk, in my home, all over the place” and that she would carry around a flag she bought in Israel.

Click here for VIDEO


(Sarah Palin at 0:27 mark)

Law professor Gavison wins Israel Prize for legal research

By Ron Friedman March 21, 2011

In selecting Prof. Ruth Gavison for the prize, the committee said her research dealt with issues at the core of Israel’s constitutional law and that her work grappled “exhaustively and courageously with forming Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Prof. Ruth Gavison wins Israel Prize for legal research

By Ofra Edelman March 21, 2011

The jury also noted that Gavison’s work “paves the ways for coexistence between secular and religious Jews, as well as between Jews and non Jews in Israel. Prof. Gavison has engaged in her research in defending human rights, and especially the rights to privacy, freedom of expression and equality, and has combined her ideas and commitment with practical work on the ground.”

Panel of Rabbinical Students at Pardes

Click here for PHOTO March 22, 2011

JAFI reforms may hurt Australian immigration to Israel, leader says

By Raphael Ahren March 25, 2011

An Australian Jewish leader says immigration to Israel from his country is likely to drop in the wake of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s recent decision to focus on Jewish identity and less so on aliyah promotion.

JAFI spokesman Haviv Gur recently confirmed that there will be no more aliyah emissaries but added that the overall number of emissaries – who will be responsible for aliyah, Jewish education, Israel programs and other areas – will increase.

‘Majority of Israelis see US Jewry as vital to security’

By Ruth Eglash March 22, 2011

The majority (73%) of the 500 adults questioned for the survey said they believed that Israelis could learn a lot from the religious pluralism practiced in the American Jewish community, even though streams of Judaism alternative to the orthodox are not officially recognized in Israel.

The poll also asked respondents if they believed it important to “teach Israeli MKs about the American Jewish community and help build bridges between Israeli leaders and American Jewry.” Eighty-two percent said that such an initiative was important.

MKs to learn about US Jewish community March 24, 2011

“This program is intended to cultivate a strong awareness and appreciation for the richness and vibrancy of American Jewish life,” explains Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation and founder of the Ruderman Fellows.


By Maya Zinshtein March 25, 2011

An investigation by Haaretz reveals that while the aim of the project was to provide direct financial aid to immigrants, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, headed by then-newly appointed Minister Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beiteinu), added the project managers at a cost of NIS 2-3 million.

Most of them are members of the Yisrael Beiteinu party or close to people who are. The extra budget enables Yisrael Beiteinu to compensate its activists at the expense of taxpayers, and also makes it easier to conduct party activities before elections.

Drinking In His Jewish Side

By Michele Chabin March 18, 2011

During his childhood in Garden City, L.I., Tyler Barnet, grandson of Herbert L. Barnet, a former president of Pepsi-Cola, knew almost nothing about the company’s adherence to the Arab boycott.

Raised Catholic, Barnet, now 26, wasn’t taught about Israel or anything else Jewish.

…Birthright, Barnet said, “has been a transformative, pivotal experience.” Prior to the trip, “I considered myself a ‘critical atheist.’ Now in Israel, I see Judaism from a philosophical perspective. Before coming here I thought it would be impossible for me to adopt religion. Now I think it’s a possibility.”

Barnet is already planning to return to Israel soon, this time with his father, who is halachically Jewish but unconnected to the Tribe.

Taxation and Representation

By Rabbi Marc Rosenstein Opinion March 22, 2011

Diaspora Jews are neither masters nor flunkies. If Israel does indeed, willy-nilly, represent them, they have a stake and they ought to have a say – but often it’s tricky to know what to say and how to say it.

Both sides need to exercise humility and self-criticism; both need to understand the complicated sets of forces operating on the other, so that the conversation between them becomes not a power struggle but a partnership.

JTS William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education to Launch Innovative Kesher Hadash Semester-in-Israel Program March 22, 2011

In January 2012, The Jewish Theological Seminary’s (JTS) William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education—America’s largest pluralistic school of Jewish education—will inaugurate Kesher Hadash (New Connection), a new and innovative Semester-in-Israel program in the field of Israel Education.

If you will pay it, it is no immigrant nightmare

By Raphael Ahren March 25, 2011

For help, he didn’t turn to the Immigrant Absorption Ministry or immigration assistance group Nefesh B’Nefesh.

Instead, the Rutsteins contacted TransHomation, a new company offering “relocation and settling-in services” for new arrivals in Israel, which had been helping them all along.
Co-founders Yael Harari and Tali Laor – both former lawyers who quit their jobs to dedicate themselves to the new venture – will find you a place to live, a car to drive, a school for your kids, set up your cable and Internet, open a bank account and do pretty much everything else for immigrants who don’t want to or can’t do these things themselves and can afford their services.

Gov’t to offer Tunisian Jews more absorption packages

By Gil Shefler March 25, 2011

Israel is planning to offer Tunisian Jews interested in emigrating following the recent uprising in the country a special absorption package, but members of the community said on Thursday that they were unaware of any significant change in their situation.

Former UN Ambassador Prof. Gabriela Shalev joins Hillel Israel March 25, 2011

Hillel – The Center for Jewish Campus Life in Israel (Hillel Israel) announced this week that Professor Gabriella Shalev, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, has agreed to become a member of its Board of Directors.

New olim seek work in public sector

By Sivan Raviv March 17, 2011

Click here for VIDEO

For new immigrants, integrating into the Israeli job market is not easy. The public sector is particularly difficult to tap into.

In a networking event organized by the Gvahim organization in Tel Aviv, immigrants seeking a career in government and politics met with current and former government officials who advised and helped them create a professional network.

British Bible student identified as bombing fatality

By Raphael Ahren and Yair Ettinger March 25, 2011

Born in a small town in Northern Scotland, Mary Jane Gardner was passionate about languages, which brought her to Jerusalem this January.

Her latest project was to help translate the Holy Scriptures into the Ife tribal language, which is spoken in Benin and Togo.

VIDEO: “Religious Wars in Arad” Protest against Messianic community

Israel Channel 1 TV


Tikkun Carmel: Environmental Responsibility from a Jewish Perspective March 22, 2011

Tikkun Carmel is an IMPJ (the Israeli Reform Movement) initiative led by the Reform congregation “Ohel Avraham”-Leo Baeck, and in partnership with the Moriah Masorti Congregation and Movement.

The two-day Tikkun Carmel Conference is a cross-communal cooperative venture between Secular, Orthodox, Reform and Masorti Israelis and is a statement of solidarity in the wake of the catastrophic Carmel Forest Fire of December 2010.

Religion and State in Israel

March 28, 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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