Religion and State in Israel – May 30, 2011 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

May 30, 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.

Controversial bill seeks to keep Chief Rabbis in office

By Jonah Mandel May 26, 2011

The Knesset approved Wednesday a preliminary reading of a bill that would change the law limiting a chief rabbi’s term to 10 years.

According to a proposal by MK Eli Aflalo (Kadima), backed by other members of his party, chief rabbis – including those currently in office – would be permitted to put forth their candidacy for another term.

The Masorti (Conservative) movement’s director-general Yizhar Hess called the bill “unworthy,” and lamented the fact that “instead of canceling the Chief Rabbinate, which is becoming more and more haredi, or at least steadily diminishing its powers so that it might cease from abusing the public, the Knesset – with the support of members of Kadima and Labor – has decided to fortify the status of the chief rabbis.”

Unwarranted and harmful opportunism

Haaretz Editorial May 26, 2011

There is a surfeit of city rabbis in Israel (in Tel Aviv alone there are 52 neighborhood rabbis), some of them earning very high salaries.

But instead of doing away with the bloated religious councils, which operate according to clear political formulas, the treasury wages chief capitulated to political pressures from the ultra-Orthodox parties and agreed to the wage hike.

This acquiescence is an example of unwarranted and harmful opportunism. Instead of raising the rabbis’ wages, it would be better for the government to implement the recommendations of the Tzadok Committee from the 1970s and streamline the delivery of religious services.

A strange kind of mercy

By Uri Blau and Shai Greenberg May 27, 2011

[Lehava] is responsible for disseminating the so-called rabbis’ wives letter, which called on Jewish girls not to date Arabs. It helped organize a demonstration in Bat Yam in which people held signs stating “Jewish girls for the Jewish people.” And it operates an initiative providing kosher seals of approval for businesses that don’t employ Arabs.

An investigation by Haaretz Magazine reveals that, although Lehava is not registered as a non-profit organization or as another type of statutory body, its leading and prominent activists are connected to an NPO called Hemla (Mercy), which receives funding from the state.

Shahar Ilan, vice-president of Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality and a commentator on ultra-Orthodox issues, says the subject of relationships between Jewish women and Arabs receives extensive coverage in the Haredi press and is regarded as a serious problem by the community…

It’s the easiest way to attract publicity,” Ilan says. “For the Haredi newspapers, Yad L’Achim’s rescue stories are the equivalent of heroism stories about elite commando units.

Is the steak in the window kosher?

By Amiram Cohen May 25, 2011

In April 1994, Shas made a deal with the Labor Party, which led the government at the time, and together the two pushed through the “Kashrut Law” in the dead of night.

…The price of the law pushed through by Shas is being paid by consumers of kosher meat, not least in the Haredi community that Shas serves.

On the grounds of their strict adherence to the laws of kashrut, Haredim tend not to buy frozen imported meat: They insist on fresh meat slaughtered locally, or imported fresh meat. But they cannot be sure that the meat they bought really is kosher. Usually the butcher himself doesn’t even know.

Chief Rabbi Metzger proposes identifying jackets for kashrut supervisor

By Jonah Mandel May 23, 2011

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger is pushing for kashrut supervisors working in restaurants and food production to be clad in a special jacket identifying them as such, as a comprehensive set of standards, rules and regulations for that role is still notably absent.

Knesset to publish weekly Torah leaflet

By Jonathan Lis May 25, 2011

The Knesset will publish a weekly leaflet from tomorrow featuring commentary on the Torah portion of the week, sponsored by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin. MKs and employees of the parliament will be invited to contribute their commentaries.

An article in the inaugural issue says that majority rule in a democracy also requires respect for the individual, relating to this week’s Torah portion, the first chapter of biblical book of Numbers.

Dan Landau, director general of the Knesset, notes that MKs will draw on their general knowledge and knowledge of the Bible.

Who will study with Yigal Amir?

By Aviad Glickman May 25, 2011

The Prison Service is searching for a prisoner suitable for studying with the murderer of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Amir, for an hour every two weeks, the state announced Wednesday.

…A few months ago the court permitted Amir to study or pray with other prisoners under supervision, the prosecution said in its answer to the appeal. One of the offers was to select another prisoner to study with Amir.

But the assassin has demands regarding his study partner’s identity. He has requested that the latter be a yeshiva graduate and that he have an educational background similar to his own so that the two will be able to enrich each other’s world.

Jerusalem City Engineer: Destroy Mughrabi Gate within two weeks

By Melanie Lidman May 24, 2011

The Jerusalem City Engineer sent a strongly worded letter to the Western Wall Heritage Fund on Sunday, stating that the temporary bridge to the Mughrabi Gate must be destroyed within two weeks, or the city will tear it down.

…The new bridge is meant to replace the temporary wooden bridge, built in 2004 when an earthquake and winter storm caused part of the original bridge to collapse, leading city engineers to deem it unsafe.

IDF intelligence gets first Haredi officers

By Hanan Greenberg May 25, 2011

Two Haredi men received their officer ranks this week after finishing a unique IDF Intelligence course especially designed for yeshiva students who wish to enlist into the army.

Ever since this special course was opened, nearly two years ago, close to 200 haredi and religious soldiers ages 22 to 27 have enlisted into the Military Intelligence Branch.

Both men had to make up for the educational gaps between religious and secular schools, learning English and Math. They completed boot camp training in an all boys’ department and later were placed in a special room for the course’s all male soldiers.

Expert warns religious educators of denial of sexual abuse

By Jonah Mandel May 26, 2011

The denial and complacency within the national-religious sector regarding sexual assault of minors is wrong and harmful to the victims, an expert warned a forum of educators on Wednesday – emphasizing the danger of the belief that a rabbinic figure would not molest a child.

Double double toil and trouble

By Kamoun Ben Shimon May 17, 2011

The exhibition, according to its promotional material, examined the origins and development of magic in Judaism from the First Temple period to the present day by focusing on beliefs, customs and the practical use of magic objects in daily Jewish life.

“We, secular Zionist Israeli families, were not raised on these superstitions. Or so we thought. We did not know that our grandmothers would secretly hide an amulet under the sheets of our beds to protect us,” says Pinchas-Cohen in an interview with The Report.

Portrait of the artist as a headscarf-wearing woman

By Tamar Rotem May 29, 2011

[T]he collective, whose Hebrew name, studio mi’shelakh, means “A Studio of Your Own.” Its aim is to provide women artists at the start of their career, and much younger than Amrani, with the opportunity to work in a communal studio; a place that is mental as well as physical, because it obligates them to devote their time and energy to creative work.

…The studio’s name was Mizrahi’s idea, and as suggested by the play on Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” it points to a feminist agenda.

As head of the art track in Ulpanat Tzvia in Ma’aleh Adumim, a religious girls’ high school, Mizrahi – from whose head covering not a single hair is visible – was part of the revolution in art studies within Israel’s religious education system.

The Tzvia network to which the ulpana belongs is considered stricter and more insular than the state religious school system.

The Settlements: Life Between the Lines

By Jonathan Neumann June 2011

Modi’in Ilit is the largest single Israeli community in the West Bank. “Settlement” is a misnomer: with some 55,000 Israelis here, the government has granted Modi’in Ilit the status of city.

Unlike in Alon Shevut, the residents here are predominantly ultra-orthodox, or hareidi: their traditional black garb — reminiscent of eastern Europe and familiar to any visitor of the Jewish communities of London or Manchester — is an immediate giveaway.

The ultra-Orthodox presence in Yesha is a relatively new phenomenon, and they now constitute a third of the Jewish population here.

…The population of Modi’in Ilit is expected to double within the next decade. This is the “natural growth” we hear so much about: these communities can grow rapidly thanks not to immigration, but to reproduction.

Charedim accused of Shabbat hypocrisy

By Nathan Jeffay May 26, 2011

[Tzohar’s] chairman, David Stav, said it is unacceptable that Charedi rabbis protest against firms that open on Shabbat and pressure them to close, but caused “Sabbath transgression” in Meron.

“I think there is a hypocrisy where the Orthodox demand El Al and other companies to keep Shabbat but when it comes to moving a celebration to enable people to keep Shabbat, it did not happen,” he said.

Harder to breathe after Lag Ba’omer

By Sharon Udasin May 23, 2011

There was a significant rise in respirable particulates in the air following Lag Ba’omer bonfires on Saturday night, measurements taken by the Environmental Protection Ministry showed. The increase began about an hour after Shabbat, as indicated by air quality measurement stations…

Click here and here for Lag Ba’omer PHOTOS

Teaching Haredi Women To Succeed in Business

By Renee Ghert-Zand May 24, 2011

Batya Kenanie Bram, a former Israeli government spokeswoman, said she was looking for a new challenge.

The working mother of three wanted to do something that she thought would have more direct social impact.

Drawing on her natural business acumen and her formal academic training — she has a master’s degree in political science and public administration — she began teaching Haredi women in Jerusalem to start and maintain small businesses.

TV VIDEO: Yaron London visits Ultra-Orthodox Modi’in Illit (Hebrew)

Click here for VIDEO

Same Netanyahu, Different Israel

By Daniel Levy May 24, 2011

The shift in Israel’s socio-demographic reality over the last 15 years has great implications for the future of the country’s democracy and economy — not to mention for any thought that might be given to living in peace with Israel’s neighbors.

[T]he Haredi population has grown more than threefold over only 20 years, from 3 percent of the population in 1990 to over 10 percent today.

Estimates suggest that by 2028, Haredim will represent a quarter of all children in Israel under 14 years old and roughly a third of Jewish children that age.

Dushinsky Hasidic Rebbe to followers: Burn your iPhones

By Ari Galahar May 27, 2011

The leader of the Dushinsky Hasidic dynasty is threatening to expel any community members caught with a “non-kosher” cellular phone or a computer with Internet connection, including iPhones.

The Rebbe not only called for a boycott of electronic devices which do not meet strict Orthodox rules, but also demanded that they be burned.

Introducing ‘Vogue’ with sleeves

By Tzofia Hirschfeld May 27, 2011

Q: Do you have a censor?

“Yes. Although we don’t belong to any faction, the paper is inspected by several people I don’t wish to name. We do it because we don’t want to take all the responsibility.

“Besides, all of us come from the haredi sector, so we naturally have red lines. We won’t write about relationships and we definitely won’t discuss bedroom issues. We won’t take photos of girls over the age of five. In the home design section, we’ll always present a classic look.

“Since the magazine enters a haredi home, it’s our responsibility to produce a newspaper which can be placed on the table openly.”

A palatable event?

By Peggy Cidor March 17, 2011

After haredi opposition torpedoed a liturgical festival in synagogues and churches, the culinary festival is being deemed not kosher.

Spiritual, Organic Jewish Living in Bat Ayin

By R.C. Berman May 26, 2011

Bat Ayin, on the edge of the Judean hills, is populated by scholars, artists, writers, musicians, farmers, and doctors. Chabad representatives Rabbi Ramiel and Sylvia Maor were one of Bat Ayin’s founders, twenty years ago.

Originally conceived as a village that would sustain itself through agriculture, today’s Bat Ayin householders maintain home gardens or mini-flocks like Fragin and leave the village by day to earn a living.

Residents estimate that 90 to 95 percent of Bat Ayin’s community is made up of people raised in secular homes who adopted a religiously observant lifestyle as adults. Many are immigrants from English speaking countries.

“People here are spiritual. They are searching,” said Naama Berkey, a local artist, whose daughter is in Mrs. Maor’s kindergarten class at the village school. “I see depth and beauty in their faces.”

Kfar Chabad Votes: One Per Household

By David Yisraeli May 25, 2011

Hundreds of residents in Kfar Chabad are flocking to the polling stations today, to cast their votes for the Vaad of the village.

Unlike in other communities, including Crown Heights, in Kfar Chabad each house is bestowed one voting voice. According to the voting laws set out by the election committee, “men who are unable to vote, may endow their wives with the right.” A widow is also given that right.

Incumbents Score Big in Vaad Elections May 26, 2011

In an interview with Chabad Info following his slate’s victory, Binyomin Lifshitz expressed his earnest belief that the new board will serve in unity, preparing the village for the arrival of Moshiach.

Chabad’s ‘Mitzvah Tanks’

By Elad Benari May 26, 2011

Chabad’s mobile ‘mitzvah tanks’ have become well known on Israel’s streets for their successful activities aimed at bringing the Torah and its commandments closer to people.

The tanks were visible in nearly seventy centers, including neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Yehud, Lod, Herzliya, Petah Tikva, Azor, and many other cities in central Israel.

Filipina mother of Israeli toddler to be deported, despite ministry promises

By Dana Weiler-Polak May 23, 2011

A Filipina woman is being deported even though her child has Israeli citizenship, despite declarations by Interior Minister Eli Yishai that she would be allowed to stay.

Battle over civics ends in ouster of two critics

By Or Kashti May 26, 2011

The Education Ministry recently fired the chairman of its professional advisory committee on civics, Prof. Yedidia Stern, along with another panel member, Prof. Suzie Navot.

…Stern opened his blistering letter by saying it was written “out of a feeling of deep concern for the future of civics studies.” He then charged that his committee had been pressured “to change the content, essence and goals” of the curriculum.

Specifically, he said, Zameret wanted “about half the study time” to be devoted to Israeli and Zionist history – an idea the panel rejected.

New program in Israeli schools has students ‘adopting’ graves from War of Independence

By Or Kashti May 23, 2011

Haaretz Cartoon by Amos Biderman May 23, 2011

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar is expected to unveil a new school program in which seventh- to 12th-graders will “adopt” monuments and graves from the War of Independence in an attempt to “bring young people closer to Israel’s history.”

Cult of death

Haaretz Editorial May 23, 2011

The education minister would do well to quickly shelve the gravesite adoption program and devote all his energies and the resources of his ministry to more essential tasks.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin on a Jewish understanding of Christians and Christianity May 24, 2011

After collaborating and working with various Christian organizations, leaders, and scholars over the past three years, the leaders of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) in Efrat and Jerusalem have released a statement of A Jewish Understanding of Christians and Christianity. CJCUC is the first Orthodox Jewish entity to engage in dialogue with the Christian world.

CJCUC’s Founder Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin said, “This statement only represents the view of our center but should also be used as a catalyst for other orthodox Jews and Jewry worldwide to consider fostering relationships with Christian communities.

Ethiopian leaders call for affirmative action

By Ruth Eglash May 24, 2011

Twenty years after Israeli commandos accomplished the daring mission of transporting some 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in less than 36 hours during Operation Solomon, leaders of the 116,000 strong community called on the government Monday to institute a series of affirmative action laws to address discrimination against Ethiopians.

Operation Solomon 20 Years On

By Dr Shalva Weil May 23, 2011

Dr Shalva Weil is Senior Researcher at the Research Institute for Innovation in Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and President of the Society for the Study of Ethiopian Jews (SOSTEJE).

Twenty years after Operation Solomon – Israel’s dramatic airlift of Jews out of Ethiopia – normalization has almost set in between the two countries.

Not only are Ethiopian Jews now being permitted to immigrate to Israel, but those who fled are also returning to Ethiopia as Israelis.

PHOTO Gallery: Operation Solomon: a Look Back in Photos May 29, 2011

Over Memorial Day weekend, 1991, 14,325 Ethiopian Jews fulfilled their dreams of making it home, as they were airlifted from Ethiopia to Israel in 36 hours of around the clock flights during a covert military operation known as Operation Solomon.

Click here for PHOTO Gallery

Temple Mount Faithful petitions for excavation report

By Ron Friedman May 26, 2011

Fearing mass-scale destruction of holy artifacts under the Temple Mount, the Temple Mount Faithful, a group that calls for the Jewish takeover of the site, petitioned the High Court on Thursday to order the full publication of the secret State Comptroller’s Report on excavation works being conducted at one of the holiest places in the world.

Religion and State in Israel

May 30, 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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