Religion and State in Israel – April 26, 2011 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

April 26, 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.

Activist Jews use Passover festival to protest ultra-Orthodox conversion stance

By Yair Ettinger April 26, 2011

Sam Ben-Sheetrit, chairman of the World Federation of Moroccan Jews

“We will raise a cry against the ultra-Orthodox laws pushing away all those who want to join our people. Regrettably, the ultra-Orthodox groups have taken over our lives. Not only the money, the public coffer, but everyday life. They’re simply closing doors in the face of all those who want to join our people.”

“How do you think we improved Moroccan Jewry’s image? We used the Mimouna to bring people together. We will demand of the ultra-Orthodox to stop bullying us, to get out of our life, to allow this country to work. I hope our bitter cry, and especially the government, are able to stop them.”

‘Love the convert’ featured at Mimouna festivals

By Jonah Mandel April 24, 2011

This year, the World Federation of Moroccan Jewry decided that the theme of the celebrations would be the biblical command to “love the convert” in the wake of the recent maelstrom shaking Israeli society and world Jewry over the proposed conversion bill and the shadows of doubt cast over IDF conversions, which were eventually resolved.

In addition to the opening Rehovot event, which will be attended by senior politicians and public figures, a special panel on converts and conversion will take place in Ashkelon on Tuesday as part of the official Mimouna events. Senior rabbis involved in the conversion process will participate, as well as converts, who will tell their stories.

Ra’anana rabbis slam attack on Reform synagogue

By Kobi Nahshoni April 22, 2011

A number of rabbis and public figures from the city of Raanana have signed a letter strongly condemning the desecration of a local Reform synagogue.

“This act, like other acts of violence, saddens all of us,” the letter said. “We stress that the Torah condemns any act of violence and harm to our fellowman.”

Raanana’s Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, a former interior minister and Shas chairman, signed the letter, despite being very close to the Orthodox Lithuanian leadership, which strongly opposes Reform Judaism. He added in his handwriting, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness.”

Wave of vandalism hits non-Orthodox synagogues anew

By David Sheen April 22, 2011

A Netanya Conservative and Reform house of worship has become the target of stone-throwing attacks, allegedly by ultra-Orthodox youths waging a battle to scare the congregants into leaving.

The Reform congregation in Netanya prays in the bomb shelter of the Conservative Beit Yisrael synagogue, as it does not have a building of its own.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv says that although Netanya’s city council and religious council have granted land and municipal buildings to dozens of Orthodox congregations in the city, they have consistently refused the requests of the Reform congregation.

Un-Orthodox Good News

By Neil Rubin Opinion April 22, 2011

The writer is Editor Baltimore Jewish Times

Sadly, when Israeli Orthodox leaders unite against violence aimed at Reform Jews it is news.

That is both a pathetic commentary on our times and provides a ray of light as intra-communal strife continues to cast its chilling shadow over the Jewish people. That light must be allowed to shine brightly across both sides of the Orthodox, non-Orthodox divide that increasingly defines the Jewish people.

Progressive Judaism growing in Israel, says Rabbi Gilad Kariv

By Paul Lungen April 21, 2011

According to Rabbi Gilad Kariv, “the dichotomy between the Orthodox and the secular” is changing. “The Israeli Reform movement, together with other partners, is changing this paradigm.”

Rabbi Kariv, executive director of the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism, believes Israeli society is beginning to embrace alternative ways to living a Jewish life. Secular Jews are turning to Judaism and more and indicators of Jewish life, such as attending synagogue and giving their children a Jewish education, are increasing.

Rabbi Kariv believes the prognosis for the future growth of Reform is encouraging. A survey taken three years ago showed about half the Israeli population “experienced more than once our spiritual or educational services.”

PHOTOS: Freedom Riders in Jerusalem

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Click here for “pashkevil” (Hebrew)

April 20, 2011

Suing for their freedom

By Ofri Shoval April 24, 2011

“Damages claims” are two words on the lips these days of many agunot – women whose husbands have abandoned them, disappeared or refuse to divorce them, and who, therefore, cannot obtain a religious divorce (a get) and cannot remarry. The idea that they can now sue their husbands for damages is almost revolutionary.

Susan Weiss [Center for Women’s Justice] believes that ultimately, the rabbinate will lose state protection. She likens the rabbinical courts to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the magician’s broom that obtained a life of its own and ran amuck.

A limited mazal tov Editorial April 16, 2011

The civil union Law was born of the best of intentions to meet very real and pressing needs of a burgeoning component of our population. To leave them without recourse to full marriage in this country is unconscionable (all they could manage here thus far was a common-law union arranged by an attorney). The new law is a welcome breakthrough.

But while it may have been conceived whole, it was born amputated and crippled.

VIDEO: Interview with Masorti (Conservative) Kibbutz Hannaton’s Rabbi Yoav Ende

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Click here for more info on Kibbutz Hannaton

March 2, 2011

From Holland to the Hebron hills

By Gail Lichtman April 21, 2011

In 2003, at the height of the second intifada, Bert Woudwijk, the pastor of an Evangelical church in The Netherlands, arrived in Sussiya, an Orthodox community in the South Hebron Hills area. He was leading a Christian solidarity mission. But what he encountered in Sussiya would change his name, his country, his religion and his entire way of life.

Today, Bert Woudwijk is Aryel Tsion, a 45-year-old Orthodox Jew living in Sussiya with his wife, Shlomit, and their three young children.

For Liberal Olim, Southern Comfort

By Sharon Udasin and Adam Dickter April 18, 2011

The Stramers, who have lived in Beersheva for five years, have recently become part of a new, and as far as is known unique, pluralistic Jewish community whose members share a love of the Negev and a dedication to an open, liberal form of Orthodox Judaism.

Created by former New Yorker Ravit Greenberg in November, only a month after she and her husband made aliyah, the group, which functions like an independent minyan, has grown from a handful of people to about 40 members — half native Israelis and half new immigrants.

‘Public not ready for religious IDF chief’

By Moriah Zeltser-Volshtein April 18, 2011

Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Naveh:

“Unfortunately, in the past 15 years we have become confused. It’s no longer like that. Religious Zionism is in complete decline. We have disposed of integrity and personal reason, the ability to accept the other, and we connect to ‘make for yourself a rabbi’ in its simplistic meaning.”

…”I would like to clarify that I didn’t get any role in the army for being a Mafdalnik. On the contrary, it was always harder. But our public liked to see me as belonging to them, and then suddenly felt betrayed. But I never felt as an emissary of that private public.

Misunderstanding the IDF Hesder program

By M. Lichtenstein Opinion April 22, 2011

The writer is rosh yeshiva at Yeshivat Har Etzion.

The starting point and sine qua non for an understanding of the hesder program is the recognition that it is an attempt to strike a balance between two positive values whose practical demands compete with each other.

These two ideals are Torah study and serving the nation. Both are perceived as imperative from a religious standpoint, yet total devotion to one value precludes participation in the other.

A land of opportunity, for some

By Moshe Arens Opinion April 26, 2011

The ultra-Orthodox community is attempting to deny its children the education that would enable them to enter an advanced high technology economy.

The readiness of some to enlist in the IDF in recent years, and the technical education that some of them acquire during their term of service, is the first ray of hope that, in time, the ultra-Orthodox community will also begin to contribute to the Israeli economy and exploit the opportunities that it offers.

Israel’s 10 plagues

By Yair Lapid Opinion April 19, 2011

6. Taking God’s name in vain

There’s nothing wrong with our God, the problem is all those people among us who claim that they are the only ones holding the right user manual.

Israeli ex-pats adjust to being Jewish in Canada

By Sheri Shefa April 21, 2011

Rabbi Landa, who estimated that there are about 50,000 former Israelis in the Greater Toronto Area, said that even if Israelis do go to shul, they most likely aren’t members.

“That concept doesn’t exist in Israel. In Israel, religion and state is one. The government builds the synagogues, pays the rabbis and buys prayer books every two years. So it’s very foreign to them,” he said.

…Anat Hoffman, executive director of Jerusalem’s Israel Religious Action Center, a legal advocacy arm of the Reform movement in Israel, said that some of her experiences growing up in Jerusalem actually turned her off from being more observant.

Report on RHR Beit Midrash at Hillel House, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

By Rabbi Gideon D. Sylvester April 22, 2011

The RHR Beit Midrash at the Hillel House of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been studying Jewish sources relating to each of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Each week, we have taken a different theme and explored the parallels and contrasts between Judaism’s perspective on human rights and responsibilities and those defined by the charter. It has been a fascinating journey of academic study and intense discussion.

Religious Tolerance Prize awarded to Yehoram Gaon

By Greer Fay Cashman April 19, 2011

The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies will award Yehoram Gaon the Rabbi Marc and Dr. Henia Liebhaber Prize next month for the promotion of religious tolerance and cultural pluralism.

Different sides, same questions: The relationship between American Jews & Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion April 22, 2011

Ben-Ami and Rosner both accurately portray the current state of apathy and disenchantment among young Jews in America and Israel. If that were not the case, there would be a healthy and constructive relationship between the two sides and a greater openness towards Israel taking necessary risks in its quest for peace.

More Birthright grads are marrying in, says new study

By Raphael Ahren April 22, 2011

A follow-up study of the impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel suggests that more participants are marrying within Judaism but are less concerned with the religion of their children. However, participants are still more likely to be interested in their babies being Jewish than non-participants.

See also: The Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies

May is Birthright Israel Month April 22, 2011

Some 200 events in communities and synagogues across North America during the month of May will mark Birthright Israel Month, which celebrates Taglit-Birthright Israel sending nearly 300,000 Jewish young adults on the ten day trip and raises awareness for its new goal of sending 51,000 participants annually – or one in every two young Jewish adults – beginning 2013.

Click here for VIDEO


Taglit honors Sharansky in Argentina April 24, 2011

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky was welcomed to Buenos Aires on April 1 by the Argentine team of Taglit-Birthright Israel, at a lunch held in his honor, in partnership with the World Jewish Congress, and then toured the city with a group of local Taglit-Birthright Israel alumni

Jewish song contest tryouts underway

By Itamar Eichner April 25, 2011

Diaspora Jews, prepare: Hallelujah, a global song contest in Hebrew for Jewish young adults abroad is hitting the road. Dozens of Jewish and Zionist organizations are calling on half a million Jews worldwide to apply or vote for the next “Jewish idol”.

What if…?

Response to Rabbis Gordis and Perlo and David Breakstone

By Rabbi Daniel R. Allen Opinion April 21, 2011

Rabbi Daniel R. Allen is Executive Director Association of Reform Zionists of America.

What if there were 1,000,000 now secular Jews in Israel who had come to understand the available options for Jewish observance?

What if there were 1,000,000 Israelis who did not kowtow to the foreign British born “gift” of the chief rabbinate?

What if there were 1,000,000 Israeli who agreed that there are many legitimate paths in the observance of Judaism?

What if 1,000,000 Israelis voted for a government that insisted that every child in the state learn to read and write Hebrew, serve in the IDF, celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and learn math and science?

JNF Challenged on Discrimination

By Josh Nathan-Kazis April 20, 2011

A challenge to the tax-exempt status of Jewish National Fund’s American arm introduces a new wrinkle into an ongoing debate over how the Internal Revenue Service should treat charities whose foreign operations run counter to public policy of the United States.

A coalition of anti-Zionist groups has claimed in its challenge that JNF ethnically discriminates by refusing to sell or lease its land in Israel to non-Jews.

A guiding spirit

By Mark Rebacz April 21, 2011

When a bunch of Jews get together, what do they talk about?” asks Aryeh Ben-David. “I’ve asked this question to Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews across the US and Israel, and it’s amazing – I always get the same list and almost always in the same order.”

Ben-David says the answers provided are usually food, family, Jewish geography, health, money, entertainment, etc. But one thing is always missing: God.

Visiting scholars examine Jewish identity of Jewish state

By Julie Gruenbaum Fax April 20, 2011

Eight religious and social leaders from Israel will visit Los Angeles synagogues May 6-7 to engage in conversation about the state of religious Zionism.

The Shabbaton, hosted by Religious Zionists of Los Angeles in honor of Israel’s 63rd year of independence, will have speakers in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood and in Hancock Park on topics including “Could Zionism turn out to be another false messiah?” and “Democracy and the Jewish state: Is it possible?”

Included will be several leaders from Tzohar, an organization that seeks to connect secular Israelis to the rabbinate in a positive way through lifecycle events and educational programs.

Religion and State in Israel

April 26, 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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