Religion and State in Israel – June 27, 2011 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

June 27, 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.

In shift, ‘refusenik’ Orthodox converts granted ID cards

By Raphael Ahren June 24, 2011

At least four of the 19 Orthodox converts whom the Interior Ministry had previously denied citizenship this week received their Israeli identity cards, mere days after the ministry announced a change in its policy regarding whom to consult about the validity of Orthodox conversions.

Thomas Dohlan, 24, an Orthodox convert from Canada whose battles with the Interior Ministry over the past few months had been highly publicized, was one of the four to receive an identity card this week.

Yesterday [Rabbi Seth Farber, head of Itim] submitted a request for a two-month delay in the court case to see if all the other cases are resolved, he added.

“We’re hopeful that in two months we’ll be able to withdraw our case completely. We’re now meeting with our clients, one by one, and have them go to the Interior Ministry to see if their cases are resolved.”

In Israel, A Solution To Conversion Woes?

By Stewart Ain June 21, 2011

Rabbi Farber said he is happy with the new agreement except for the inclusion of what he called an “exit clause” that permits the Chief Rabbinate to intervene should a case arise in which there is doubt about the authenticity of the conversion.

“The agreement does not say who raises such doubts, only that the Interior Ministry has to go to the Chief Rabbinate,” he said.

“I’ve been assured the Chief Rabbinate will not use this [clause]. Since they acknowledge the Chief Rabbinate has no jurisdiction over this issue, why is it even involved at all?”

Canadian Orthodox convert’s immigration case close to resolution

By Paul Lungen June 23, 2011

Contacted at his home in Kiryat Tivon, about 30 kilometres east of Haifa, Dohlan said he’s hopeful his immigration problems will be cleared up soon.

He had moved to Israel with his wife, Ortal, and four young children expecting to be immediately accepted as a Jewish oleh.

“I was shocked,” he said, when he learned the Ministry of the Interior would not accept his conversion. “I didn’t understand it because I had all the paperwork, letters, everything.”

Justice Minister Neeman: We can’t just let anyone convert to Judaism

By Jonah Mandel June 23, 2011

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman:

“Conversion has legal ramifications, unlike the US where it doesn’t. You can’t let anyone who wants to convert to do so, since that enables them to enter the country and receive citizenship, or change the status of an alien to legal.

You must reach clear, legal norms. The body that torpedoed the issue was the Chief Rabbinate, who decided to not accept the committee’s findings. Today they are penitent,” he said wryly.

The Conversion Debate Gets Fiery in Jerusalem

By J.J. Goldberg June 23, 2011

Professor Dov Maimon (modern Orthodox think-tanker) … proposed the introduction of a new form of conversion that he called “civilizational conversion,” in which one would seek membership in the religious community of the Jewish people, but without necessarily committing oneself to observe the Orthodox commandments, as Orthodox conversion now requires.

This sort of reframed the discussion. He had few details — it’s apparently still an idea in infancy — but we’re going to hear more about it in months to come, you betcha.

Shas Interior Minister Yishai joins conversion forum, perhaps without realizing

By Jonah Mandel June 24, 2011

Sharansky then said that “the fact that Yishai came, and agreed to sit at the table with us, is a great achievement.”

This rings especially true since the current round-table on conversion – formed and led by Sharansky and Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser in the wake of the maelstrom around Rotem’s conversion bill last summer – has no haredi representative, from neither Shas nor United Torah Judaism, though a representative from Yishai’s Interior Ministry is said to be a staunch delegate of the minister’s weltanschauung.

Israeli Justice Minister: Assimilation of Diaspora Jews fulfills Hitler’s vision

By Yair Ettinger June 26, 2011

Speaking at a panel on conversion at the President’s Conference in Jerusalem, the justice minister rejected recent criticism from American rabbis over Israel’s conversion policy.

“The problem in exile isn’t conversion, it’s assimilation,” Neeman said. “How many [new] Jews join the Diaspora Jewry by converting, and how many [Jews] assimilate?

Let’s face the truth. What Hitler – may his name and memory be forgotten – didn’t manage to do is happening in the Diaspora with its horrific assimilation.”

Shas Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s divisive meddling Editorial June 22, 2011

Yishai, who has never attempted to conceal his contempt for non-Orthodox forms of Judaism, would like to reinstate the status of “Jew” on Israeli identity cards – but only for those whom he and other Orthodox Jews consider to be “Jews.”

If Yishai has his way, Reform and Conservative converts to Judaism will not be recognized as Jewish on new ID cards.

Not only is this move an affront to millions of Reform and Conservative Jews in the Diaspora, it is also in violation of the spirit of a High Court ruling dating back a decade.

…Yishai’s meddling can only arouse unnecessary tension between Israel and the Diaspora.

Knesset Speaker Rivlin: Proud of ‘Jewish’ title on ID

By Moran Azulay June 21, 2011

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Tuesday that Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s decision to reinstate the nationality clause in Israeli identity cards, removed nine years ago, could cause questions over the definition of Jewish identity to resurface.

‘Who Is a Jew?’ Again?! Editorial June 22, 2011

…Now Yishai wants to bring [the nationality section] back, turning an ID card that is essentially a secular document into a state-sanctioned statement of an individual’s religious status.

In doing so, Yishai is not only defying the law of his own land, but also delegitimizing the vast majority of Diaspora Jews who don’t ascribe to his stringent, unforgiving way of being Jewish.

WZO to gov’t: Don’t reinstate religion clause on Israeli ID

By Gil Shefler June 26, 2011

The World Zionist Organization on Friday urged the government not to reinstate a clause that formerly appeared in Israeli identification cards specifying the holder’s religion.

Gathering in Jerusalem for its annual meeting, the Zionist organization’s governing committee easily passed the resolution against the opposition of delegates from the Likud and Shas parties criticizing the government’s recent decision.

“We believe such an act will sow discord among the Jewish people and we oppose the proposed change,” said delegates from the Masorti (Conservative) Movement, who voted in favor of the motion.

A Jew can’t be identified by an ID card stamp

Haaretz Editorial June 23, 2011

It would be best, then, if [Yishai] immediately returned the issue back to the shelf from which it was pulled.

An individual’s identity does not require political approval. His beliefs are his own private business, and his sense of national belonging is determined by his own identification, not by the order of the interior minister.

Rabbi Israel Rosen: ID Cards Don’t Affect Halachic Jewishness

By INN staff June 23, 2011

Rabbi Israel Rosen, the founder and head of the Tzomet organization, on Wednesday welcomed Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s decision to return the nationality descriptor ‘Jewish’ to Israeli ID cards, saying ‘nationality’ alone has no meaning when making halachic determinations of ‘Jewishness.’

Shas’s Eli Yishai wants nationality info returned to Israeli identity cards

By Gili Cohen June 22, 2011

The Movement for Progressive Judaism says the move therefore acts against the interests of many converted Reform and Conservative Jews.

“This would trample not only the rights of our converts but also a very clear ruling by the Supreme Court,” said the movement’s chairman, Rabbi Gilad Kariv.

“I strongly hope the prime minister, who last year showed such determination to prevent a rift in the Jewish people around the conversion law, will take swift action to prevent a foolish and unnecessary controversy before we are forced to appeal to the High Court.”

Shas Interior Minister Yishai working to have ID cards state one’s religion

By Jonah Mandel June 20, 2011

Masorti (Conservative) Movement CEO Yizhar Hess called the decision “cynical and malicious.”

“Instead of embracing the converts, Yishai is humiliating them. Most of the Jewish peopleare Reform and Conservative, but a fundamentalist haredi minority is making Israel look bad, just when it needs the Jewish people more than ever,” Hess said.

Shas Interior Minister plans to return ‘nationality’ clause to ID cards

By Gili Cohen and Yair Ettinger June 20, 2011

Interior ministry spokesman Roi Lahmanovich told Haaretz that “there are Holocaust survivors who want the nationality clause, and those who lost their IDs and ask why they can’t leave in the word ‘Jewish’.”

Shas Interior Minister Yishai reinstates nationality in ID cards

By Kobi Nahshoni June 21, 2011

Roee Lachmanovitch, Yisha’s media consultant, added that “if anyone in the Reform Movement feels offended by the decision, they are welcome to turn to the High Court.”

Israelis can now marry abroad and never have to leave the country

By Yair Ettinger June 24, 2011

The High Court of Justice has expanded the limited availability of civil marriage in Israel in a precedent-setting decision.

The court this week directed the Interior Ministry to recognize the marriages of 14 couples who were married by proxy.

They registered in the Central American republic of El Salvador, where the law does not require the parties to the marriage to appear before the government official who conducts the ceremony.

The founder of Hiddush, which battles for religious pluralism, Reform Rabbi Uri Regev, called the ruling historic.

“It is perhaps ridiculous that Israeli citizens have to get married by correspondence in El Salvador, but the reality depriving hundreds of thousands of Israelis of the right to marry is ridiculous.”

Israel’s gay community applauds NY same-sex marriage law

Gay community in Israel: For us it’ll be a long wait

By Ilan Lior June 26, 2011

“The situation in Israel is problematic not only with regard to same-sex couples, but also couples in general who cannot get married here because there is no civil marriage in Israel.

In New York or in any other state, there is a basis for civil marriage,” [MK Nitzan] Horowitz (Meretz) said, adding: “Citizens cannot fulfill a basic right in their own country, and that is a much bigger problem than the gay community.”

Knesset says no to Shabbat buses

By Shahar Hazelkorn June 23, 2011

The Knesset on Wednesday rejected a bill calling for public transportation on Shabbat following a heated discussion. Thirty-six lawmakers voted against the proposal, submitted by Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), and only seven supported it.

But in spite of the ban on public transportation on Shabbat, it turns out that local initiatives have managed to change the status quo.

On Tuesday, the Holon Municipality announced its plan to operate a special bus to Tel Aviv in order to help young party goers. The new line will leave for Tel Aviv on Friday nights every 30 minutes, from 11 pm to 1 am, and will return to Holon from 1 to 4 am.

Tel Aviv buses ‘go religious’

By Yoav Zitun June 26, 2011

The new transportation reform in central Israel, to go into effect July 1, will mean that buses that up until now were allowed to travel shortly before the Shabbat ends will no longer be able to do so.

The change, which was not mentioned in the Transportation Ministry announcements ahead of the change, will mean that at least four major routes will only resume their operations shortly after the Shabbat ends instead of a few hours before.

Caring enough to engage

By Jeremy Ben-Ami Opinion June 24, 2011

Jeremy Ben-Ami is the president and founder of J Street

Unfortunately, the focus on loyalty and on the right to criticize and dissent has created an atmosphere of fear, and this in turn has made too many of our community leaders reluctant to place these critical issues squarely before the communities they lead.

Two groups leave U.S. to Israel: One to immigrate, the other to break Gaza blockade

By Natasha Mozgovaya June 21, 2011

Naturally, the U.S. Jews planning to make aliyah to Israel in the next few weeks, and who attended an event at the Israeli Embassy, had their own concerns.

Among them were a dozen or so young people who will join the IDF. Miriam Duffy, 18, from Silver Spring, Maryland, said two of her brothers previously served in the IDF.

Rabbi Joel Tessler, whose daughter is also making aliyah, said he had to write four letters to prove she is Jewish. “Paperwork is required by everyone, including for a Rabbi’s daughter,” he laughs.

First annual ‘Hilleluyah’ celebrates Jewish renewal

By Mackenzie Green June 21, 2011

Professionals and students from across Israel, and around the world, gathered in Tel Aviv on Monday night for the first annual “Hilleluyah,” to celebrate the work of Hillel Israel, the Israeli division of the world’s largest Jewish campus organization.

Hillel Milo was presented with the first-ever Hillel Israel award for his contributions to the Jewish-Israeli community – most notably for the 1977 establishment of Kolot, a pluralist beit midrash for Jewish studies, and Zehut Le’Chaim, in 2003.

Talking seriously about aliya

Cross-posted at

By Haviv Rettig Gur Opinion June 26, 2011

The writer is director of communications for the Jewish Agency and the former Jewish World correspondent for The Jerusalem Post.

At the Jewish Agency, we are not seeking the bureaucratic efficiencies that will bring another 200 olim.

We are seeking a transformation of Jewish life, an engine that can reverse the trend of young American Jewish “distancing” from Israel and Jewish life, and transform aliya from a marginal phenomenon to a central pillar of the western Jewish experience.

Aliya is a fig tree, not Coca-Cola

By David Breakstone Opinion June 24, 2011

The writer is deputy chairman of the World Zionist Organization and a member of the Jewish Agency Executive.

…the Jewish Agency has changed both its focus and its modus operandi. We are investing more in developing a spiral of Israel experiences that will encourage participants to make repeat visits of ever-increasing length.

We are devising innovative programs for those in between visits to nurture the seeds of devotion that germinate in each. We are creating frameworks for social activism involving Jews from abroad and their idealistic counterparts here so that together they might change the world and shape the Jewish state in a manner that gives expression to their values and vision.

In short, we are educating, not selling, with the expectation that the array of experiences we are offering will lead people to make Israel their home on their own.

The collapse of Zionist leadership

By Isi Leibler Opinion June 23, 2011

Today, we desperately need a global Jewish pro-Israel caucus which could emerge from a reformed JAFI.

…The principal objective of a reformed JAFI must be the reconstruction of an unashamedly pro-Israel Jewish leadership in Diaspora communities, including within the American federations, Hillel and rabbinical bodies.

It should endeavor to ensure that only those willing to publicly support the right of Israel to defend itself will be elected to communal leadership roles.

A Zionist despite himself

By Alexander Yakobson Opinion June 26, 2011

It is good to know that even those who have a strong urge to taunt Zionism, understand from time to time that if they wish to remain here, they need a Zionist state so they will have somewhere to live and something to provoke.

Jewish Agency’s stalwart spokesman Jankelowitz retiring after 33 years

By Raphael Ahren June 24, 2011

Michael Jankelowitz, one of the Jewish Agency’s “best spokesmen ever,” according to chairman Natan Sharansky, is leaving the organization, after 33 years working there in different positions, most recently as spokesman to the foreign press.

Birthright Israel is pro-fun and profound

By Gil Troy Opinion June 19, 2011

I am repeatedly amazed at how effective Birthright is at stirring up thoughts, feelings, conversations, for so many participants – although it remains a first step. Here, Schaefer is absolutely right.

We must work harder on pre-and post-programming, so Birthright is not a vacation from real life but an effective Jewish jumpstart.

10 days, 10 months

By Brian Schaefer Opinion June 16, 2011

To see Israel as it is can be disillusioning. The struggle is to keep looking.

Which is exactly what Birthright seems to be afraid of. Programs such as this, rather than widening the eyes of their participants, put on blinders and send them back home knowing Israel through Goldstar and humous.

The Israel that students see on Birthright is still the Israel of the past – but with much better shopping. They are carefully, and unfortunately, kept out of the Israel of today.

Drawing the line

By Dafna Maor June 24, 2011

James Tisch, the new chairman of the board of governors of the Jewish Agency, and one of the wealthiest and most influential businessmen in the United States.

The Tisch family is profoundly involved in philanthropic activity – in education, Jewish causes, medicine and other areas … In Israel, too, the family funded the construction of the new Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem in 1993, and it is named for them.

…The proceeds from the gala event in Tisch’s honor next week will be donated to Jewish Agency programs for children at risk in Israel. Those invitees include businessmen and representatives of Israeli business firms who have agreed to donate $5,000 to $25,000 to the project.

Much-hyped ‘Deri Law’ unlikely to be revived

By Lahav Harkov June 24, 2011

Although most Knesset members would be likely to back the bill, there is little chance it will pass, due to a clause in the current coalition agreement allowing any faction in the coalition to veto a change to a Basic Law. The Deri Law would require amendments to both Basic Law: The Knesset and Basic Law: The Government.

“There isn’t much we can do other than bring it to a vote and put pressure” on the parties in the coalition, Levine said. “There is no justification for a veto. It’s unclear to me how anyone can defend such a stance.”

How to thwart Deri Editorial June 26, 2011

Deri should not be barred artificially from his favorite pastime of pulling strings behind the scenes.

For all we know, his fickle followers may have altered their predilections. They deserve the benefit of our doubt.

It is time for the voters, again, to judge Aryeh Deri.

We would like to believe they will make the only moral choice.

MKs pushing bill to keep Deri out of politics

By Tzvika Brot June 23, 2011

MKs Tzipi Hotovely and Yariv Levin (Likud), Marina Solodkin (Kadima) and Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) have banded together in a bill saying that any man convicted of an offence carrying moral turpitude and who served one year or more in jail – as Deri has – would be banned from national politics for life.

Aryeh Deri, the comeback kid ~ Afraid of Ovadia, threat to Yishai

By Yair Ettinger June 23, 2011

Deri, and not Yishai, had an opportunity to mingle with international guests, public figures and intellectuals, senior representatives of the world Jewry, while Yishai was criticized at the [Israeli Presidential] Conference by Jewish leaders from around the world for pushing to restore the inclusion of nationality on identity cards.

Former Shas leader Aryeh Deri announces intent to return to politics June 22, 2011

“In Israel, it is not possible to contribute without political power, so I decided to create a new movement,” Deri said without elaborating what kind of movement he intended to create.

Former Shas leader Aryeh Deri making a comeback

By Elior Levy June 22, 2011

…the former minister said he felt politics was his calling.

“I’m not coming from a place of vengeance or ambition,” Deri said. “In every poll out there I get seven or eight Knesset seats, despite jail and all the other things that happened to me.”

Former Shas leader Aryeh Deri announces his return to politics in next election

By Gil Hoffman June 22, 2011

Shas officials also said Deri should stop speaking to Yosef via the press.

A Shas official compared Deri to a man who kept praying to win the lottery at the Western Wall until a heavenly voice sounded, “Nudnik, buy a ticket already.”

Interview: Shas MK Rabbi Chaim Amsalem

By Charley J. Levine April 2011

Q. You shook up the Shas Party when you called on those who are not destined to be great Torah scholars, and who have families to support, to work and not live on ‘shameful’ government allotments.

Why has your message inspired an outpouring of grass-roots support?

A. It hurts me to see 10,000 people who embrace…a lifestyle based on the good intention to learn Torah [but who] at the end of the day will not reach such a high place in Torah learning and they will live in poverty.

They think they do a great thing…but…the reality is that perhaps they are not doing a great thing.

Religion and State in Israel

June 27, 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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