Religion and State in Israel – July 4, 2011 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

July 4, 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.

Special edition on arrests of Rabbis Dov Lior and Yaakov Yosef coming soon

20 rabbis finish training course for Conversion Authority

By Jonah Mandel July 1, 2011

A possible harbinger of a new Orthodox conversion body in Israel emerged on Thursday evening, at an event marking the end of a training course for rabbis to specialize in Jewish conversion law.

Twenty neighborhood rabbis and heads of yeshivot marked the completion of a year of intensive studies under the Harry O. Triguboff Israel Institute for Conversion Policy at Beit Morasha in the capital, designed to provide them with the tools to work as voluntary rabbis in the State Conversion Authority.

New Knesset caucus aims to ease way toward conversion

By Jonah Mandel June 30, 2011

The Conversion Caucus, launched at the Knesset on Wednesday, will help allocate public funds to conversion institutes, work on appointing rabbinic judges, and promote relevant legislation.

Nachman Shai (Kadima) rejected the notion of opening the market to non-Orthodox conversions as a means of encouraging the public to undergo the procedure.

“We are trying to make our efforts practical and feasible. When we start dealing with the Reform and Conservative conversions, we’re lost,” he said.

Jewish Identity (Un)defined at the 2011 Israeli Presidential Conference

By Chaviva Galatz June 28, 2011

Responding to concerns about assimilation, Dr. Dov Maimon of the Jewish People Policy Institute surprised the audience by suggesting the creation of civilizational conversion to Judaism.

“If people cannot belong to the Jewish religious people, but want to be a part of Jewish civilization, then we need this,” he said.

“The old model doesn’t fit the new challenges, so we have to find a new model that fits the new model of the Jewish people: A transnational, cultural community with a nation base.”

Divorce recalcitrant gets unlimited jail term

By Kobi Nahshoni June 29, 2011

In an unprecedented ruling, the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court has sentenced a divorce recalcitrant to an unlimited prison term – until he agrees to give his wife a “get”.

The man had already served a 10-year prison sentence, and yet was adamant not to grant his wife a divorce.

The law, “Forcing obedience,” authorizes all religious courts to enforce their rulings through a fine or unlimited prison term. The man was sent back to jail until he agrees to give his “chained” wife a divorce.

The Place of Orthodoxy in the State of Israel July 1, 2011

Susan Weiss, a Jerusalem attorney, is Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Justice. She has won landmark cases advancing the rights of women in Israel. This article appears in issue 10 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.

As the head of the Center for Women’s Justice, I encounter on a daily basis the intractable entanglement—the “Gordian knot”—of State and (Orthodox) religion in Israel.

This union of religion and state supports a gendered society, infringes on the basic rights of women, challenges the democratic values of the State, and threatens to undermine Israel’s integrity as the political expression of the Jewish nation.

Using some of the cases that have come my way at CWJ, I will illustrate the above and argue that the place of “Orthodoxy” in Israel should not be within the coercive sphere of the “state,” but within the voluntary sphere of “civil society,” alongside other expressions of Jewishness.

…Forcing all of us into one narrow, square hole for the sake of supposed unity and uniformity, is not working. Instead, it is alienating the great majority of us Jews from both the state and the religion.
Haval, what a shame. We Israelis and Jews of all denominations, including the ultra-Orthodox, deserve a more hopeful, pluralistic, and tolerant reality.

Tzipi Livni, is Netanyahu afraid of rabbis?

By Merav Michaeli June 30, 2011

Tzipi Livni:

There is a significant question here: While Netanyahu and all of us talk about the State of Israel as the national home for the Jewish people, there is an argument about what a democratic Jewish state is.

This is not a theological disagreement or an argument in political science class. Is the source of law the law or the Torah? Is the interpreter a rabbi or a court?

The real battle for Israel

By Yigal Walt Opinion June 28, 2011

It is still too early to tell where Israel is headed, but a secular-religious clash – the kind we had not yet seen in this country – may gradually become inevitable.

If Monday’s events in Jerusalem are any indication, we may indeed be in for a very hot summer. May God grant us the wisdom to change course before it’s too late.

Let buses run on Shabbat

By Nitzan Horowitz Opinion June 27, 2011

Haredi Knesset members were overjoyed and slammed what they referred to as “desecration of the Shabbat,” yet they too know that the country doesn’t come to a halt on Saturdays.

Hospitals continue to operate as do the police, IDF, Magen David Adom ambulance service and fire brigades.

Our airport remains open, the electricity and water systems work regularly, and the same is true for television and radio, hotels, and a variety of other bodies and factories that provide diverse services.

No compensation if flight is canceled to avoid violating Shabbat, MKs decide

By Zohar Blumenkrantz June 30, 2011

Passengers whose flights are canceled in order not to violate the Sabbath will not be entitled to compensation, the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee decided yesterday.

The committee approved an article stating that airlines that are forced to cancel flights so as not to make passengers violate the Jewish Sabbath need not pay the passengers any financial compensation.

This provision would particularly affect El Al passengers, as El Al does not fly on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.

For example, if an El Al plane had a technical problem and the flight was canceled because the plane was unable to fly before Shabbat, passengers would get no compensation.

Do Israelis need long weekends?

By William Kolbrener Opinion June 24, 2011

An American-style Sunday, without violating the holiness of Jewish time and the Sabbath, might provide an opportunity for national reflection on what an inclusive and Israeli public space may look like in the twenty-first century.

Jewish Agency: We’re Aiming Higher with New Aliyah Plan

By David Lev July 3, 2011

Jewish Agency spokesperson Haviv Rettig Gur:

“If you fix the bureaucracy you get maybe a few hundred more olim, but if you help provide a vision – and a practical way to connect to that vision – you have a greater chance of succeeding with a far larger number of people.”

Jewish Agency denies connection to NY New Israel Fund event July 1, 2011

Jewish Agency spokesman Haviv Rettig Gur said that neither the agency nor its American arm MAKOM had been involved in the event, which Rabbi David Rosenn, chief operating officer at the New Israel Fund, described as a “highly successful program that engages young people in a serious discussion of the complexities of Israeli society.”

“MAKOM and the Jewish Agency had nothing to do with this event, not in funding or in planning.

“At the same time, we have nothing against the event and reject the assertion that we could have been ‘hoodwinked’ by political parties,” Rettig Gur said.

Israel & Diaspora: A communal “tank” or communal “tent”? We need to decide

By Robbie Gringas Opinion June 29, 2011

The writer is the artist-in-residence with MAKOM, the place for compelling Israel education, based at the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Makom is arguing for a communal “tent” rather than a communal “tank.”

In a tank we can be safe, we can fight back against our enemies, but life there is pretty cramped and miserable. A tent, meanwhile, gives us room to talk freely among ourselves, have fun occasionally.

Perhaps equally significant, it can empower us to engage more confidently with those outside the tent.

The sides of this tent can be open for dialogue.

Jewish Agency’s new strategic plan causes concerns

By Elad Benari July 1, 2011

The Council of Immigrant Associations:

“We are very concerned and upset that the strategic plan ignores the Jewish communities in Europe, South America, South Africa and France, which is the world’s second largest Jewish community,” wrote Avi Zana, Director of the AMI French Immigrants Fund, an organization affiliated with the Council of Immigrant Associations.

The Council stated that Jews in France, South Africa, South America, England etc. each have their own unique characteristics which should be considered separately as part of the strategic plan to strengthen them and encourage them to make aliyah to Israel.

VIDEO: Partnership2Gether – The Jewish Agency Peoplehood Platform

June 29, 2011


Israel refuses citizenship for gay man married to Jewish immigrant

By Ilan Lior June 28, 2011

The Interior Ministry is refusing citizenship and new immigrant status to a homosexual married to a Jewish new immigrant, despite the law’s stipulation that the child, grandchild and partner of a Jew are entitled to Jewish immigrant rights.

Attorney Dan Yakir, of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, believes the High Court will grant Alvarez citizenship if asked to rule on the issue.

“It’s a question the courts haven’t dealt with yet,” he says, “whether ‘partner’ in the Law of Return also applies to a same-sex partner.

In view of the court rulings that have equalized the rights of same-sex couples and in view of the constitutional right for equality, it is obvious that the Law of Return must be interpreted as applying to same-sex couples, and that means an immigrant’s partner must be given citizenship.”

Towards a renewed Zionist education

By Daniel Gordis Opinion June 26, 2011

In his book, Defending Identity, Sharansky showed how national, ethnic or religious identities are the most powerful motivators of significant human lives.

He and his colleagues are therefore now wisely putting identity, not simple aliya, at the core of the agency’s work. They understand that without renewed Jewish identity, Jews from the free world will have no reason even to consider making a life in Israel.

We would do well to take a page from JAFI’s courageous self-transformation.

The demagoguery of ridicule

By Alex Sinclair Opinion June 27, 2011

The writer is the Director of Programs in Israel Education for the Jewish Theological Seminary. “Kesher Hadash,” the new semester-in- Israel program for students at JTS’s Davidson School of Education, is rooted in the rationale explored in this article. He lives in Modi’in.

Israeli Jews need to be exposed to the remarkable, inspiring experience of American Judaism as an open, pluralist way of life, which can speak to different people in different ways; to the vibrancy of American Jewish vehicles for personal spiritual meaning; and to a religious community that has succeeded in having Jewish messages inspire and infuse hundreds of thousands of non-Jews. Israeli Judaism is the poorer for the lack of such exposure.

The Court Jews of the 21st Century

By Gil Troy Opinion June 28, 2011

Ignoring such complexities, these posturing progressives are the New Galut Jews, the court-Jews of twenty-first century elite society, purchasing acceptance from others by mocking their own.

While the nineteenth-century German poet Heinrich Heine saw conversion as the admission ticket to European culture, some American Jewish extremists now use anti-Zionism as their admission ticket to hip, progressive circles.

Yossi Beilin “aims to set record straight” on Birthright

June 30, 2011

In his latest book, “Birthright: The True Story”, Yossi Beilin seeks to reveal the unexpected struggles he encountered from Jewish establishments– both in Israel and the wider Jewish community–in finding support for these free trips.

Written to expose the inner culture and politics of the existing Jewish establishments, Beilin describes the challenges he had to overcome to make the program a reality: from confronting harsh opposition, to gaining financial support from donors and eventually convincing the wider Jewish community of the necessity of such a program.

“False knowledge has been spread about the creation of Birthright, or been left out completely,” Beilin said. “I wanted to provide the truth behind this project.”

Birthright “Taglit Excel” students ring in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s opening bell

By David Sheen July 1, 2011

On Wednesday, 20 Jewish university students from the U.S., in the country on a special 10-week Birthright trip called Taglit Excel, rang the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s opening bell.

VIDEOS: Taglit Excel: Interning Israel July 1, 2011

Three Taglit Birthright alumni return to Israel as interns for Israeli companies. Haaretz, in association with Taglit Excel, will follow the three over the course of 10 weeks, as they discover what it means to work – and live – in Israel.

Birthright Excel is a selective 10-week summer fellowship program that gives 20 Jewish college students from around the world an opportunity to pursue their interest in business and/or technology, by interning at a prominent Israeli company in an array of industries, including finance, consulting, hi-tech and social media.

Reform leader says Liberalism, Zionism not incompatible

By Gil Shefler June 28, 2011

[Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch] talked about his new memoir “For the Sake of Zion: Reform Zionism – a Personal Mission” which was officially launched earlier in the day.

“My previous books have dealt partially with social action in the religious arena,” Hirsch said. “This one deals almost exclusively with the Zionist movement and it describes my orientation to some of the major problems.

I felt the Reform movement would become an insignificant sect in Jewish life if it were not involved in the greatest drama of the Jewish people which is the establishment and strengthening of the state of Israel.”

Engaging Israel: Beyond the Crisis Narrative

By Stuart Schoffman June 20, 2011

The sensitive question of Israel-Diaspora relations long precedes the creation of the Jewish state.

…This invidious distinction between Jews who dwell in Eretz Israel and those who don’t is also implied in the everyday word “aliyah,” which suggests that one “ascends” to a higher plateau of Jewish existence when one moves to Israel. North American Jews, by and large, don’t buy it.

Click here for Havruta Digital Edition

Deri slams Yishai over posters ‘harming’ Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s image

By Gil Hoffman July 1, 2011

Shas chairman Eli Yishai and his number two, Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Atias, allowed Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s image to be harmed by not coming out against posters seen as disrespectful to the rabbi, former Shas leader Arye Deri said on Thursday.

The posters, which were plastered throughout haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, looked like they were promoting the return of Deri to the helm of Shas without Yosef’s blessing.

They bore the slogan “The majority decides, not the rabbi,” using words that sound similar in Hebrew.

Shas, Deri trade barbs over signs

By Gil Hoffman June 26, 2011

Shas activists loyal to former Shas leader Arye Deri and current chairman Eli Yishai sparred over the weekend over who put up what appeared to be signs promoting Deri’s return to the helm of the Sephardi party.

Religion and State in Israel

July 4, 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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