Religion and State in Israel – May 9, 2011 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

May 9, 2011 (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.

My Heart is in the East: My Zionist Commitments May 2, 2011

Speech delivered by Rabbi Richard Jacobs at the Religious Action Center’s Consultation on Conscience, Washington, D.C.

Click here for full text of speech.


Working for the rights of Russian speaking immigrants to convert to Judaism without coercing them to ultra-Orthodoxy makes Israel a home for all Jews. And removing legal barriers keeping non-Orthodox communities from building their religious communities makes Israel a more authentic Jewish state.

Consider the case of Yossi Fackenheim, the son of the late Jewish philosopher and Holocaust survivor Emil Fackenheim who was converted at the age of two before an Orthodox beit din in Montreal.

At the age of 29, he was told by the Jerusalem rabbinic court that he is not Jewish because he does not strictly observe the mitzvot. If this is how people with Orthodox conversions in Israel are treated, you can imagine what happens to Reform and Conservative converts.

In Support of Rabbi Rick Jacobs May 2, 2011

Suffice it to say that Rabbi Jacobs’ dedication to Medinat Yisrael and Am Yisrael is unquestioned by this group, and by the thousands of congregants he has instilled over the years with the same deep love of Israel that he himself possesses.

His views represent a significant portion of the American pro-Israel community and are surely representative of the Movement he has been selected to lead.

Reform defends Richard Jacobs as critics attack his Israel positions

By Sue Fishkoff May 2, 2011

Rabbi Daniel Allen, executive director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, told JTA that he could not remember a similar public outcry against the appointment of a movement leader focusing on the individual’s position on Israel.

Reform rabbis supporting Rabbi Richard Jacobs

Reform Leaders Defend Jacobs In Face Of Charge He Is Not Pro-Israel

By Stewart Ain May 3, 2011

Ironically, the woman behind the ad campaign, Carol Greenwald, of suburban Maryland, said she did not sign the ad because she is not a member of a Reform congregation.

The one rabbi who signed the ad criticizing Rabbi Jacobs is Joshua Segal of Congregation Betenu in Amherst, N.H.

…Carol Greenwald did not seem swayed, saying her group now has about 100 people to sign on and that there is a “high probability there is going to be another ad.”

Reform’s Distracting War Over Politics

By Dana Evan Kaplan Opinion May 4, 2011

Dana Evan Kaplan is rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel in Albany, Ga. He is the author of “American Reform Judaism: An Introduction” (Rutgers University Press).

Rabbi Jacobs must move the focus away from a divisive debate over internal Israeli policy and get us back on track, doing what he was hired to do: revitalize the movement. And we, Reform Jews, need to stop fighting among ourselves and address the urgent challenges before us.

Alienation From Israel Hitting Liberal Seminaries

By Gary Rosenblatt, Editor and Publisher May 3, 2011

And the highly critical views among some students is causing at least several American Jewish leaders in the liberal movements to question the value of the year-in-Israel programs in their current form.

“The central objective of the program is to build a Zionist mindset,” said Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue (Reform) in Manhattan. “Otherwise it’s a wasted opportunity.”

He said if a significant number of students are disenchanted with Israel, the programs may be “deeply flawed” and should be reviewed.

A Tale of Two Brothers

Why American Jews Should Not Be Embarrassed by Israel

By David Hazony Opinion May 2, 2011

David Hazony is the author of “The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life” (Scribner, 2010).

Is a rupture inevitable? I don’t think so. But preventing one will require a serious change in both how Israelis reach out to American Jews and how American Jews relate to Israel.

Appreciating, and Learning to Talk about, Israel

By Arnold Eisen Opinion May 3, 2011

Arnold Eisen is chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

When Israeli government officials write off diaspora communities as doomed to disappear; when Israel’s rabbinic establishment denies the legitimacy of the Judaism I practice and discriminates against the Jews in Israel who affiliate and practice as I do, I feel still greater urgency to talk through our differences.

I am convinced we can be partners in putting “facts on the ground” that help fulfill the covenant and make Israel a state that palpably belongs to all of us.

Future Rabbis, Conflicted About Israel

Editorial May 4, 2011

We join him, and other voices, in calling for deeper and more open conversations between diaspora and Israeli Jews and within our own community.

Our communal goal should be to be able to critique Israeli policies without being labeled disloyal, and to plant the seeds of Clal Yisrael (Jewish peoplehood) in our young people, long before they visit and confront the reality of Israel.

For now, hearing each other is far more important than chastising each other.

Siach: A Cross-Cultural Conversation

By Alisa Rubin Kurshan May 3, 2011

Alisa Kurshan is senior vice president for strategic planning and organizational resources at UJA-Federation of New York.

Perhaps less well known to New Yorkers, a similar phenomenon in Israel has spawned a range of organizations (many of which UJA-Federation also supports, including Bina, Tevel B’Tzedek, Bema’agalei Tzedek).

Young Israelis seek to draw from Jewish sources, values, and culture to address contemporary challenges of social justice and environmental stewardship. They seek to explore their Jewish identity through hands-on social action.

Why Israel Matters

By Stuart Schoffman Opinion May 3, 2011

Stuart Schoffman, a columnist and translator, is a fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and editor of Havruta: A Journal of Jewish Conversation.

The creation of Israel as an independent state revised the image and raised the self-confidence of Jews everywhere.

As a proud Israeli, I would argue that the simultaneous phenomena of Israel as a strong sovereign nation and the unprecedented success of the American Jewish community are anything but a coincidence. Simply put: Israel matters.

Havruta 7 – Focus on Engaging Israel

By Stuart Schoffman May 4, 2011

The Summer 2011 issue of Havruta: A Journal of Jewish Conversation, to be published online and in print, will be dedicated to the Shalom Hartman Institute Engaging Israel project.

The goal of this exciting new initiative is to respond to growing feelings of disenchantment with and disinterest in Israel among an increasing number of Jews worldwide, by creating a new narrative regarding the significance of Israel for Jewish life.

Rabbis engaging with Israel vs growing disaffection with Israel

By Rabbi Neil Sandler Opinion April 23, 2011

I hope that a national group of thirty Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis will have an opportunity to address the issue directly with Israeli officials with whom we will meet in just a few weeks.

The Israeli government is bringing ten rabbis from each of the major movements to Israel, including three from Atlanta, for a pilot program entitled, “Rabbis Engaging With Israel.”

The stated purpose of the program is to take rabbis who are already engaged with Israel and make them more effective voices within their congregations and communities. But it is important for us to share our concerns with the Israeli officials with whom we will meet.

J Street and AIPAC: Unite

(Please see correction to original article)

By Rabbi Donniel Hartman Opinion May 5, 2011

It is time for us all to sit together again at one table and to recognize that we are all necessary if we are going to prevail over indifference.

We must all contract our egos and stop believing that our ideology or organization has somehow been endowed with the sole truth, the message, and the way.

NYC marks Birthright Israel Month

NYC’s Bloomberg declares May ‘Birthright Israel Month’

By Debra Kamin May 5, 2011

Taglit-Birthright is also using the special month to raise awareness of its new goal of sending 51,000 Jewish participants to Israel each year. If the organization hits its mark by 2013, it will have succeeded in providing one in every two young North American Jews with a free trip to Israel.

Birthright Israel Foundation Mega Event NYC

Click here for VIDEO


Birthright Mega Event Comes To New York

By Gary Rosenblatt May 6, 2011

Michael Steinhardt couldn’t resist a jab at the Establishment, asserting that Birthright represents a stark contrast to the rest of Jewish institutional life, which he described as “archaic and mundane.”

Young Israeli soldiers meet American Jewish peers May 5, 2011

“A principle goal of the program is to create a bridge and a deeper sense of Jewish identity between Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora — specifically Minneapolis,” explained Eilat Harel, director of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s Israel Center.

One moment for the rest of her life

By Raphael Ahren May 6, 2011

Barbara Goldstein has been to dozens of ceremonies to mark the transition from Memorial Day to Independence Day, always watching from the sidelines as honorees get called to light honorary beacons.

But on Monday, Goldstein, a Hadassah stalwart, will be one of 12 people given the honor on Mount Herzl in the massive ceremony.

Intern in Israel program gets boost from U.S. firms

By David Sheen May 6, 2011

Recruitment directors from a dozen major U.S. corporations were brought to Israel this week to convince Israeli firms to take on interns, specifically Jewish ones from abroad. Internship programs are common in the U.S., but are a rarity here.

The recruitment directors were brought to Israel by MASA…

Aliyah to The Movies: Russian and Israeli Cinema

By Olga Gershenson May 3, 2011

Olga Gershenson is Associate Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. To learn more about her work, see

In a world that is increasingly globalised, decentralised, and diasporic, traditional national boundaries are blurred. Post-Soviet immigrants, known in Israeli parlance as ‘Russians’ are a case in point.

These immigrants, who often maintain multiple passports, homes, and languages, make us re-think the meaning of homeland and exile: they are part of a traditional Jewish diaspora and of a new Russian diaspora.

This mass migration affected both Israeli and Russian cultures. One site where these changes can be clearly identified is cinema:

Is Israel the best place for Jews to live?

By Ofer Aderet May 3, 2011

Q: Where is the best place for Jews to live these days?

Moshe Kantor, president European Jewish Congress:

That’s a very good question, but maybe my answer will upset you. The thing is that Jews should live everywhere. It’s the Jews’ destiny, and this is not my opinion, but the Bible’s.

VIDEO: “Future of History” – The JTA Jewish News Archive


‘Religion should deal with Shoah too’ May 2, 2011

Tzohar Rabbi Yuval Sherlo agreed that “a way should have been found to deal with the Holocaust, but the religious world basically evaded it”.

The rabbi said he regretted the fact that nothing suitable was being conducted in the religious practice in terms of the Holocaust.

New Bnei Brak center to focus on Haredi-style Shoah commemoration

By Yair Ettinger May 2, 2011

Dr. Mali Eizenberg of the Massuah Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, who formulates curricula for female Haredi educators and has been involved in the new project, says the facility’s establishment will underscore what she calls “the Haredi narrative”: the spiritual life of Orthodox communities at the time of the Holocaust.

Haredim Represented At Yad Vashem

By Estee Yaari May 3, 2011

The writer is Foreign Media Liaison, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

Sincere dialogue between Yad Vashem and the leadership of haredi Jewry, and their representatives over the years, has resulted in productive educational activity with the Bais Yaakov and other haredi educational systems, and in genuine partnerships with Agudath Israel of America and the Belz community in Israel, to name just a few.

Austria’s Jews sue Israeli Central Archives

By Gil Shefler May 6, 2011

Last week the Jewish Community of Austria filed a lawsuit in Israel against the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem, demanding it hand over a collection of documents detailing Jewish life in Central Europe between the 17th and 20th centuries.

Neturei Karta protest Holocaust Day May 3, 2011

Several members of the anti-Zionist haredi Neturei Karta faction clashed with passersby at Jerusalem’s Shabbat Square on Monday, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Rabbis attempt to delay Lag Ba’omer over fear of Sabbath desecration

By Yair Ettinger May 6, 2011

Despite leading rabbis’ efforts to reschedule the holiday for fear of desecrating the Sabbath, nothing will prevent the traditional bonfire-lighting and the pilgrimage to Mount Meron as part of the Lag Ba’omer celebrations in two weeks’ time.

Rabbis’ dilemma: Celebrate Lag Ba’omer a day later?

By Yair Ettinger May 5, 2011

Rabbi David Stav of the Tzohar rabbinical organization said the proposal to defer the celebrations should be taken seriously.

“We have found in the history of Jewish law that when there have been concerns that religious commandments would harm the sanctity of the Sabbath, the sages canceled or postponed them.”

Passenger: El Al Passover food spoiled her business class flight

By Zohar Blumenkrantz May 6, 2011

El Al has been accused of serving business-class passengers meals from economy class on flights during Passover.

NIS 4.3 million of spilled milk for Passover

By Amiram Cohen May 3, 2011

Dairy farmers were forced to spill out 2 million liters of milk during the Passover holiday, since the dairies are not allowed to receive milk on Jewish holidays or the Sabbath.

Israel interfaith delegation travels to Istanbul

By Jonah Mandel May 4, 2011

An interdenominational delegation from Israel will meet with a prominent Muslim preacher in Istanbul on Wednesday to discuss ways to enhance understanding between the faiths.

A rabbi, a Catholic priest, a Druse kadi and a Bedouin sheikh will spend three days with Adnan Oktar, known also as Harun Yahya, a philosopher and theologian with a large following in the Muslim world.

One of the delegates, Rabbi Yeshayahu Hollander of Petah Tikva, is an associate justice on the Jerusalem Rabbinic Court for Issues of Non-Jews.

Experts question claims of crucifixion nails’ discovery

By Nir Hasson May 2, 2011

Joe Zias also says that the nails, which are 8 cm. long, could not have been used for crucifixion because they are too short.

He says that it is most likely that Jesus was in fact tied to the cross and not nailed, because in that era nails were expensive although the wood used in crosses were reused.

Gov’t to invest NIS 12m in Nazareth

By Ben Hartman May 5, 2011

The Tourism Ministry will invest NIS 12 million over the next four years in improving the tourist infrastructure in Nazareth, as part of efforts to boost the cultural and leisure offerings in the Galilee city.

Nazareth, a magnet for Christian tourists and the largest Arab city in the country, is visited by more than 40 percent of foreign tourists.

Sudanese in Israel take refuge in Christianity

By Niharika Mandhana May 7, 2011

Like Zonga, dozens of Sudanese in Israel, a majority of whom are refugees and asylum seekers, are abandoning Islam in favor of Christianity.

…Zonga now goes to a Sudanese church, a small second-floor room with rows of fold-up chairs, attended by Christians from the south of Sudan. He feels more at peace as a Christian, he says, than he ever did as a Muslim. He often sits with other Darfuri converts, many of whom speak the language of his tribe, the Fur, discussing the Bible and its teachings.

Jewish Quarter Rabbi: Stop Cooperating with Christians May 6, 2011

Rabbi Efraim Holtzberg, assistant to the Rabbi of Jerusalem’s Jewish quarter, called on the Jerusalem Municipality to end its cooperation with Christian groups, which will include a presentation of an opera by Verdi which deals with the crusades in Jerusalem.

Interview with Father David Neuhaus (Hebrew)

Click here for VIDEO

On Friday evening, April 29, 2011, Dov Elboim hosted Father David Neuhaus, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew speaking Catholics in Israel, on his talk show, “Welcoming Shabbat,” a weekly program that presents the Sabbath Torah portion in dialogue with an invited guest.

The program was dedicated to the portion of the week that includes Leviticus 19 and 20. Dov Elboim asked Father David a series of questions not only about his understanding of the theme of holiness that is at the heart of the text, but also about Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel.


The Keys to the Kingdom

By Asaf Shtull-Trauring May 6, 2011

In the Israeli context, some view the academic dispute as being part of an ongoing political debate concerned with the modern Jewish people’s historic ties to the narrow strip of land lying between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. More broadly, the controversy is part of an almost two-century-long dispute over the historical validity of broad sections of the Holy Scriptures.

…For decades the dispute over the status of biblical history and the Kingdom of David was influenced by efforts to consolidate or refute the Jews’ historical affiliation with the land on which the State of Israel and, more particularly, Jerusalem stand.

Religion and State in Israel

May 9, 2011 (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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