Religion and State in Israel – July 11, 2011 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

July 11, 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.

All rights reserved.

Identity theft: A national epidemic

By David Breakstone Opinion July 8, 2011

The writer is vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization and a member of The Jewish Agency Executive. The opinions expressed here are his own.

…The conversion certificate Veronica received from the Masorti Movement after she emerged from the mikve with tears in her eyes is not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate, the only institution in this country with the authority to register Jewish marriages.

So the Jewish wedding they had their hearts set on would have to be performed by a Masorti rabbi.

Does this video signal end of conversion war?

By Nathan Jeffay July 7, 2011

Click here for embedded video

In the act of giving one man an ID card, Israel’s Interior Ministry has helped to significantly improve the forecast for Israel-diaspora relations.

A few days ago, and after a long campaign for citizenship that included a web video, Canadian-born Thomas Dohlan collected his Israeli identity card.

What makes this so significant is that Mr Dohlan had been suffering since his arrival in Israel in February from a new, hard-line aliyah policy that made diaspora leaders seethe.

The making of Religious Zionist extremists

By Yair Sheleg Opinion July 8, 2011

The time has come when, in the religious community itself, there should be a central moral criterion for judging words of Torah.

A person can be familiar with the casuistry of halakha more than anyone else, but if his conclusion leads to a racist position, and how much more so to halakhic instructions that permit the shedding of the blood of gentiles, his theory must be rejected out of hand.

A Halakhic state in fact

By Merav Michaeli Opinion July 8, 2011

The civil state of Israel, through its secular leaders and politicians, has, ever since the day it was founded, willingly ceded its sovereign authority over numerous matters to the religious establishment.

…In principle, the Knesset is still sovereign. This means that it could, by ordinary majority vote – a special majority is not even needed – change these laws and restore its own authority to decide on all these matters.

It could instantly change the nature of the battle over the character of the Jewish state such that it could also be democratic. All that is needed is a leader, a man or a woman with vision, who will actually do so.

A threat to the rule of law

By Don Futterman Opinion July 8, 2011

Don Futterman is program director for Israel of the Moriah Fund, a private American foundation which supports Yod Bet B’Heshvan, a founding member of the Brit Hoshech Legaresh coalition against racism and political violence in Israel.

It’s only possible to imagine Jews engaging in this kind of theorizing when we were the powerless victims of violence by our non-Jewish neighbors, often with the sanction of state or church; in other words, when we were incapable of acting on such revenge fantasies.

In our world – clearly not the same as the author’s – in which we have both power and responsibility, attempting to make such determinations would be abhorrent even as a thought experiment.

Choosing between the law and the Torah

By Jonah Mandel July 8, 2011

Bar-Ilan University law professor Yedidia Stern, who is vice president of the Israel Democracy Institute and one of the country’s foremost experts on the tensions between state and religion, firmly rejects the notion that a rabbi – or anyone, for that matter – can independently decide that he should not be subject to an investigation.

“A person cannot be exempt from the rule of law, just because he has a subjective feeling that the law is being applied in a non-egalitarian manner,” said Stern.

“Allowing every person to decide when they think they should be investigated and when not is a formula for chaos. Imagine a Muslim sheikh – a religious leader like Lior, only from a different religion – being summoned for investigation on incitement.

Would we think that he is allowed to say, I don’t want to be investigated because my sector is discriminated [against]?” The place to raise charges of discriminatory implementation of the law is in court, he added.

…“Once rabbis decide that they want to express their opinion not only from a spiritual point of view, but also from a halachic one, on issues like foreign and security policy; not only on issues like Shabbat and kashrut, but also on the borders of the land, peace and the attitude to Arabs – there will be a harsh collision.”

We must stop Israel from becoming a theocracy

Democracy vs. God

By Shaul Arieli Opinion July 6, 2011

Whose power is greater? The rule of law set by institutions with democratically elected officials, or the rule of rabbis who make decisions in accordance with the Torah?

…Should Israel be a democracy in which a minority enjoys equal rights, or an ethnocracy for Jews who believe that their right to the Land of Israel is greater than any other human right?

A torn skullcap

By Avirama Golan Opinion July 6, 2011

Why, with the exception of weak and polite protests that are usually heard in very closed circles, does this huge community let one group – destructive, dangerous and violent – lead it by the nose?

…One’s heart goes out to the religious community that is writhing in silence in light of this unbridled behavior.

But isn’t it their silence, which is backed by reverence for what this community calls “values” (unlike vacuous secular people), that gave Lior, Levanon and their friends the crucial seal of approval to lead us all toward the abyss?

Religion and state: No need for conflict

By Roni Aloni-Sadovnik Opinion July 5, 2011

Those that say that we must choose between a Jewish state or a democratic state are threatening us unnecessarily, as there is no need to choose between the two, but, rather, to combine them properly.

Liebhaber Prize for Religious Tolerance

World enough and time

A soldier for sexual equality

By Aviva Lori July 8, 2011

Interview with Prof. Alice Shalvi

“We’re very far from being a democracy,” she says. “We do not have true equality between men and women or social equality. People tell me that men and women are not the same.

Obviously, the whole issue of equality concerns differences between people. I’m talking about equality before the law, as is written in the Scroll of Independence. That does not exist and will not exist as long as there is Orthodox control over so many aspects of personal status. And that’s a scandal.”

…And there’s no democracy with a theocracy – which is the real Achilles’ heel, the soft underbelly of the country, in Shalvi’s view. And this is where her pain and frustration are especially acute.”

The Left has always persecuted Orthodox Jews

Between the skullcaps

By Gideon Levy Opinion July 7, 2011

We must not let all the religious be painted in the same color, even if the price is state allocations and allowances. This is a fateful issue, as they are on the verge of becoming a majority. It is therefore time to go backward and walk between the skullcaps once again.

Two bills to help women attain a ‘get’ pass Law c’tee

By Jonah Mandel and Ruth Eglash July 5, 2011

Two bills aimed at alleviating the woes of women whose husbands refuse them divorces passed the Knesset Law Committee on Tuesday, ahead of votes in the plenum.

The proposed law put forth by MK Othniel Schneller of Kadima, initiated by the Mavoi Satum (Dead End) NGO, determines that rabbinic courts will have to hold a hearing on a recalcitrant husband within a maximum of 45 days from when the court ordered he give his wife a get (Jewish divorce). At the hearing, the judges will debate whether to issue sanctions on the husband.

These two bills together will now make the rabbinic courts obligated to set a date for a divorce, and if that does not happen it will pave the way for imposing sanctions.

Israel must grant all citizens the right to civil marriage

Women under siege

Editorial July 6, 2011

The right to marry and to start a family is a basic civil right, as is a woman’s right to equality in all areas of life.

If Israel is still interested in being considered an open society and a progressive country, it must implement the recommendations of the UN commission, and enable all of its citizens to marry, divorce and live equally.

UN committee: Israel must allow civil marriage

By Gili Cohen July 5, 2011

There is no meaningful equality in Israel between men and women when it comes to matters relating to marriage and family relationships, according to a new UN report.

The report was compiled by a panel of experts overseeing implementation of the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The panel submitted its conclusions to Israeli authorities in February of this year.

A Gay-Friendly Israel Is Complicated for Jewish LGBT Congregations

By Ben Sales June 22, 2011

Some LGBT congregational leaders said that the conventional communal consensus on Israel is less relevant for their mostly denominationally unaffiliated congregations than it is for mainstream synagogues.

And the issue of pluralism, they stressed, is central to their own bedrock identity as gay religious communities.

Israeli military enlisting frontline rabbis

By Jeffrey Heller July 4, 2011

The Israeli military is mustering battlefield rabbis in what it calls a campaign to promote religious values in its frontline ranks.

The move, announced in the latest issue of the military’s official weekly magazine, Bamahane, drew fire on Monday from one of Israel’s most popular newspaper columnists, who cautioned against creating a “God’s Army.”

In the new program, which goes into effect in August, the battalion rabbis have been ordered to serve as examples of “educational and moral values,” the Bamahane article said.

IDF Chief of Staff Gantz: “I Thank Rabbi Haim Druckman in the Name of the IDF” July 7, 2011

An event commemorating the 35th anniversary of the Ohr Etzion hesder (lit. ‘arrangement’, the program whereby students combine Torah study with IDF service) Yeshiva at Merkaz Shapira took place on Wednesday evening.

The Rabbi of Ramat-Gan, Rabbi Ya’acov Ariel, was the keynote speaker who praised the yeshiva for its achievements.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz arrived to congratulate the thousands of graduates and students of the Ohr Etzion Yeshiva. This was the first visit for the new COS at a hesder yeshiva.

VIDEO: Siach Conversation July 7, 2011

Somewhere on a small lake in the woods of Connecticut (a.k.a Isabella Freedman) an unusual group of 120 Jews, young and old with a common goal of bettering the world through environmental action and social justice got together.

Coming from all corners of the world they embarked on a journey. Exploring their common ancestral origin, faith and homeland. Learning there is still much to bridge between themselves in this complex world on the way to repair it – Tikkun Olam.

Click here for embedded video



By Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish Opinion July 4, 2011

Can one be a Jew and a Catholic at the same time?

…Near the end of the long question and answer period after the film, I asked him about his application to become a citizen of Israel at the Ministry of the Interior.

In response, the director of the film read a recent letter received from the Ministry in which they have agreed to grant him permanent resident status in Israel for 3 years.

The letter also states that after the 3 years, he will be permitted to apply to become a citizen. This somewhat positive response, she said, is a result of the publicity surrounding the case in the Israeli press, which followed the premier screening of the film in Tel Aviv at the DocAviv film festival in May.

Getting Birthright Wrong

By Philip Getz Opinion July 6, 2011

Philip Getz is assistant editor of the Jewish Review of Books

In the next generation will a higher percentage of young Jewish Americans be committed to Jewish continuity and feel strongly connected to the state of Israel?

Part of the answer depends on whether organized Jewry can provide the resources necessary for Birthright alumni to capitalize on their enthusiasm upon their return. But the prospects, at this reading, are better than even—which is more than appeared likely a decade ago.

Study: Russian-speaking immigrants moving further right on Israeli political spectrum

By Gili Cohen July 6, 2011

The survey questioned some 600 immigrants, of whom almost one-fourth would not be defined as Jewish according to Jewish law. Al-Haj said the latter group actually had more liberal attitudes toward the country’s Arab citizens than did veteran Israelis. But they, too, were more hawkish with regard to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Funding Peoplehood: Why the Jewish Community Should Care About an Unsexy Cause

By Misha Galperin Opinion July 5, 2011

Misha Galperin is the new CEO and President of Jewish Agency International Development and the co-author of “The Case for Jewish Peoplehood: Can We Be One?” (Jewish Lights).

I believe it is time to get the major institutions and philanthropists who work on the peoplehood agenda in a room for several days of creative brainstorming on how we can make this work together.

Jewish leaders understand that Jewish giving today will have to be based less on urgency and more on the subtleties and complexities of modern Jewish life. We just haven’t figured out a collective approach.

We have no choice but to seize this historical imperative. It’s about time.

Jewish Agency rebuffs MK’s claim it discriminates against settlements

By Raphael Ahren July 8, 2011

The Jewish Agency this week refuted claims made recently by Likud MK Danny Danon that the organization discriminates against Jewish communities in the West Bank.

Two weeks ago, the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs held a session in Ariel about the immigration and absorption of newcomers to Jewish communities in the West Bank.

The million missing Israelis

By Joseph Chamie and Barry Mirkin July 5, 2011

Joseph Chamie is research director at the Center for Migration Studies, and Barry Mirkin is an independent consultant.

Moreover, not only is Israeli emigration increasing the influence of the orthodox Jewish communities, it is also boosting the need for temporary, non-Jewish foreign workers, especially in agriculture, construction, and care-giving.

The presence of more than 200,000 foreign workers — nearly half of whom are unauthorized and mainly from Asia (in particular Thailand and the Philippines, but also increasingly from Africa) — is also contributing to the changing ethnic composition of the country.

VIDEO: Kolot Executive Leadership program

Click here for embedded video

KOLOT envisions an Israeli leadership motivated by our collective history, shared values, ethics and moral teachings.

We seek to enable our leaders to reclaim their Jewish identity with a learning experience that is pluralistic, current and relevant.

Since its founding in 1997, over 1,500 Israelis have graduated from KOLOT with 500 people currently studying in our diverse variety of programming.


Simon Rockower 2010 Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism

The Simon Rockower Award is a prestigious award given for “Excellence in Jewish Journalism”. The award is sponsored by the American Jewish Press Association.

Jerusalem hoopsters play for kugel in inter-shul league

By Nir Hasson July 7, 2011

The league was set up by congregations, with the municipality’s support. Eight synagogues competed for the title.

Baka neighborhood synagogue Nitzanim ultimately won, beating out the neighboring Rambam synagogue.

A First for Emunah: Trained Rabbinical Family Counselors

By David ben Yacov July7, 2011

Midreshet Emunah, the National Religious Zionist Women’s Organization’s Jerusalem-based seminary for training family therapists joined the organizations Family Development Division in order to meet this problem head on and create a unique course for community rabbis, aimed at training rabbis and educators to become professional advisors and counselors on all issues related to family and marriage.

VIDEO: Ziggy Marley: I’m jealous of Jewish culture

By Rafi Barbiro July 10, 2011

Ziggy Marley feels very close to Israel. He’s married to Orly, an Israeli woman, and they have three children: A girl named Judah Victoria, a boy called Gideon, and a baby – Abraham Selassie.

Marley admits that, having no other choice, he celebrates all the Jewish holidays and is very jealous of our culture.

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Religion and State in Israel

July 11, 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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