Religion and State in Israel – August 8, 2011 (Section 2)

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Religion and State in Israel

August 8, 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.

Young woman recounts her escape from Israeli cult

By Tamar Rotem August 5, 2011

Click here for embedded VIDEO (Hebrew)


In mid-May, a young woman called the Israel Center for Cult Victims, asking that her identity be kept secret. “I live in a Jerusalem collective,” she told center director Rachel Lichtenstein. “I’m not certain, but I think it’s a cult.”

That call led to the exposure of the Jerusalem cult whose ringleader, D., was indicted yesterday along with two other members.

Three members of ultra-Orthodox cult indicted on charges of abusing women and children August 3, 2011

The indictment described the ways in which the cult leader, an ultra-Orthodox man from the Bratslav sect whose name has not yet been released, maintained his home’s environment based on his “powerful and charismatic personality, as well as the spiritual qualities attributed to him”.

Cult leader allegedly imposed punishments on women

By Joanna Paraszczuk August 5, 2011

The first defendant, an Israeli citizen and Jerusalem resident, set himself up as a member of a hassidic sect and the spiritual descendant of a renowned leader of that sect, who had been chosen to spread the teachings of the group’s doctrine.

To fulfill that role, the defendant lived as the “husband” of several women, with whom he had several children. The defendant treated the women as servants, living with them as a “family” in several apartments in Jerusalem and Tiberias.

Police disclose alleged abusive cult busted in Jerusalem, Tiberias August 3, 2011

According to the investigation findings, over the past two years, the level of physical and psychological abuse committed by the leader of the alleged cult accelerated.

He is also said to have sent the women and children around the country to collect money to finance his lifestyle.

Nine Breslav members of alleged cult being held

By Melanie Lidman August 2, 2011

The cult has been in existence for more than 10 years, but it was only over the past two that the violence increased in frequency and severity.

Cult expert Gabi Zohar, what causes a person to become the leader of such a group?

By Merav Michaeli August 4, 2011

Dr. Gabi Zohar is a clinical social worker at the center, an expert on cults and author of a book on the subject, “Happiness Knows No Bounds.”

There’s no doubt that in the short history of modern cults, let’s say over the last 40 years, we see that those who lead cults are religious professionals – priests, rabbis or pseudo-rabbis, mystics and marginal types.

There is no doubt that a person who declares himself to be the messiah – I call this a messianic disorder – also has some kind of psychotic disorder.

Israel Police busts ultra-Orthodox cult suspected of abusing women and children August 2, 2011

During that raid, police arrested an ultra-Orthodox man from the Bratslav sect suspected of leading the cult; the suspect is unofficially married to six women, most of them divorced with children.

Neighbor shocked at polygamous Breslover’s arrest

By Jonah Mandel August 3, 2011

The arrest of the male members of the cult, whose members – suspected of severely abusing the women and children – dedicated their lives to spreading their take on Breslov Hassidut, came as a surprise to at least one acquaintance of the prime suspect.

Abusive cult discovered in Jerusalem

By Yair Altman August 2, 2011

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger issued the following statement: “I was gripped by terror and chills to hear about this horrid affair. The Torah condemns such people and Judaism shrinks from such loathsome behavior.

“I entreat chief rabbis to be wakeful and wary of such cases within their communities,” he said.

Security boosted at Shas rabbi’s home

By Kobi Nahshoni August 2, 2011

Shas ministers’ security guards have been ordered to boost their presence outside the home of the party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, following the murder of Rabbi Elazar Abuhatzeira in Beersheba on Thursday night.

Worshippers arriving to pray at the synagogue in the rabbi’s house on Sunday morning were forced to undergo stricter security checks.

Survey: One in five yeshiva students works illegally

By Yair Ettinger and Chaim Levinson August 3, 2011

More than 20 percent of ultra-Orthodox men who received exemptions from army service because they are registered as full-time yeshiva students are working illegally, and take home an average of NIS 3,300 a month including their yeshiva stipend, indicates a recent report.

Of the respondents who said they were employed, they said they worked an average of 28 hours a week and earned an average of NIS 29 per hour. Meanwhile, they received the NIS 850-a-month stipend for kollel students, and thus brought home about NIS 3,300 a month.

Haredim and the labor force

Fewer workers who work more – with a lower standard of living Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel

The Rosshandler Bulletin Series – Taub Center Bulletin | Volume 3, Number 3 | May 2011

Click here for full report

The employment situation among haredi men is considerably different than for the other population groups.

Not only are their rates of employment very low, the Kimhi study shows those who work do so for considerably fewer hours per week than the other groups, seven percent less than Arab Israelis and 14 percent below non-haredi Jews in 1998.

In addition, the drop in haredi hours of work per week, of five hours – a 12 percent fall – was sharpest among all groups. As a result, even among those relatively few haredi men who are employed, they worked fewer hours a week in the past than the other groups, and they reduced their weekly work load by far more over the past decade.

Hence, not only has there been a widening gap in employment rates between haredim and other men, this relative deterioration in employment is also evident in a large and increasing gap in hours worked.

As a result of the diverging work norms among haredim and others, it is not surprising that an increasing share of haredi families are falling below the poverty line.

Luxury flats for Haredim planned in Jerusalem

By Shay Pauzner, Calcalist July 27, 2011

According to the approved municipal zoning plan, the land is designated for a luxury flat project for the ultra-Orthodox community, including some 285 housing units and a 7,500-square-meter (1,850-square-foot) commercial area.

The development plan includes five apartment buildings situated around a unique 1-acre park. The flats will range from two to four bedroom units to garden flats and penthouses. All units will be built according to the highest building standards and the project will include underground parking for each flat and storage rooms.

Zehava Balata’s story: Can Meretz deal with Jewish life?

By Rabbi Shaul Farber Opinion June 24, 2011

Rabbi Shaul Farber is the founder of ITIM: The Jewish Life Information Center and rabbi of Kehillat Netivot in Ra’anana.

During the past year, Zehava participated in a unique program sponsored by the ITIM: Jewish Life Information Center (full disclosure – I run ITIM) and the Ministry of Education, which enables Israeli sixth graders in the context of their school day to learn about Jewish heritage and particularly explore traditional dimensions of their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

…Zehava’s story is inspiring. (you can see Zahava’s picture here) This is why I was shocked to read that following her Knesset appearance, the Meretz faction in Kfar Saba decried the Jewish Heritage curriculum and suggested that there is no room for Jewish studies in the public schools.

Notes from the underground

By Tamar Rotem August 5, 2011

In one of the capital’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, in several huge middle-class apartment complexes, a kind of underground city of illegal apartments has materialized in the buildings’ spacious parking lots and storerooms.

A week ago rows of doors to such apartments could be seen on the third and fourth levels of underground parking garages.

…Tenants of these improvised dwellings, which average 25 square meters, estimate that there are dozens in each complex.

In most cases, the owners live upstairs, in spacious apartments with nice balconies, and it is they who took the initiative to create the subterranean flats: With a small investment they turn their storerooms and parking spaces into apartments. The construction is illegal, of course, but it can yield a nice rent.

Government committee decides to keep God out of IDF memorial prayer

By Amos Harel August 3, 2011

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger issued the following statement: “I was gripped by terror and chills to hear about this horrid affair. The Torah condemns such people and Judaism shrinks from such loathsome behavior.

“I entreat chief rabbis to be wakeful and wary of such cases within their communities,” he said.

‘Yizkor’ committee: Prayer to remain unchanged

By Aviel Magnezi August 4, 2011

Over 64,000 people signed a petition against the proposed change, a move which led to urgent deliberations in the Knesset’s Education Committee and the Foreign Affairs and Defense sub-Committee.

Redefining secular-religious relations in the IDF

By Susan Hattis Rolef July 29, 2011

The debate is not about the secular force in the IDF wanting to exclude religious men from service, but primarily about how to prevent the inevitable increase in the number of religious personnel from threatening the status and role of women in the IDF, and from taking advantage of the army for purposes of religious indoctrination via the Chaplaincy Corps.

…The Education Corps is the body in the IDF responsible for all education issues, and the decision regarding what information and values are propagated in the name of the IDF must be based on as broad a consensus as possible – by no means a simple task.

New combat unit created for Haredi conscripts

By Anshel Pfeffer August 2, 2011

The Artillery Corps of the Israel Defense Forces is to begin drafting ultra-Orthodox soldiers for the first time this fall.

In November around 60 Haredi men are expected to enlist in the corps. They will serve in a separate unit, with special terms of service that were negotiated between the Defense Ministry and yeshiva heads who allowed their students to be drafted.

Dangerous: the rabbi as idol

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion August 5, 2011

Many successful and ostensibly secular businessmen and politicians also seek out rabbis, their wealth and position assuring them an exclusive private audience.

The cult surrounding charismatic miracle workers has been the main draw for thousands of baalei teshuva, so-called penitents seeking to escape the rat race and subsume doubts and frustrations in reassuring belief.

Asher Dahan was one such devotee, until he found that his chosen one, Baba Elazar, did not provide the answers he needed.

Rabbi Abuhatzeira murder worries advice-giving rabbis

By Yair Ettinger August 4, 2011

A series of Haaretz reports back in 1997 revealed how [Rabbi Elazar Abuhatzeira] would demand that those who sought his advice give him large sums of money. And they did – partly for fear that he would either curse them or ostracize them if they didn’t.

The reports, by Yossi Bar-Moha, also revealed that the rabbi had NIS 320 million in his personal bank account, as well as the way the authorities had bent the planning and building laws for him – for instance, letting him build a tunnel under the street where he lived so he could go from home to study house without seeing daylight.

Those articles prompted a police investigation, and police recommended that he be indicted for fraud. However, the prosecution overruled them. At the same time, the tax authorities reached a deal with Abuhatzeira under which he paid them NIS 20 million to avoid being prosecuted for tax evasion.

Mysteries surround death of Rabbi Elazar Abuhatzira

By Anshel Pfeffer August 4, 2011

His entourage is believed to be one of the richest in Israel, due to large donations from thousands of believers, and Baba Elazar fought a long battle with the tax authorities, which claimed he had made at least £60 million over the years.

The rabbi’s representatives said that all the money went on the yeshivah’s upkeep or was given to charity and that Baba Elazar himself used none of it.

PM calls Abuhatzeira widow to express ‘pain, sorrow’

By Herb Keinon August 2, 2011

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday phoned Devora Abuhatzeira, the widow of slain Rabbi Elazar Abuhatzeira, to express his “deep sorrow” at the murder of her husband.

Deri’s dreams

By Avirama Golan August 5, 2011

As strange as it seems, it shouldn’t be hard for him to attract the secular public.

…Thus, Deri’s real problem will be with his own ultra-Orthodox. To attract them to a non-sectoral social party, he will have to alter certain normative perceptions related to political culture in Haredi society: He will have to lessen its dependency on rabbinical authority, and convince members that it is possible to make certain alliances with secular Jews and Arabs.

…if Deri eventually decides that it’s more expedient to split Shas and head what he hopes will be its larger faction, the movement’s Council of Torah Sages will likely decide to allow him to do so.

Yishai and Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias will then be left with the hard-core support of the yeshiva world, while Deri will try to restore the glory of the traditionalist religious public, which has since slid over to Likud and Kadima.

Jerusalem hospital censors immodest clips

By Ari Galahar August 7, 2011

A new plastic surgery clinic opened by the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem several months ago has created a unique problem for the hospital’s religious visitors: The simulation clips presented in the waiting room are immodest.

The most problematic video is the one about breast enlargement surgery. According to Yael Inbar, the manager of the new clinic, the clips were purchased from the United States, but “after we got them we began editing them to remove offensive segments.

The Rebbe’s Anniversary and Legacy

By Daniel Estrin August 5, 2011

Last month marked the 17th anniversary of the death of a very influential rabbi. Called simply “The Rebbe,” Menachem Mendel Schneerson was the last leader of the orthodox Jewish Hassidic movement known as Chabad.

Click here for PHOTO/AUDIO ESSAY: The Rebbe’s Anniversary

Click here for AUDIO: The Rebbe’s Anniversary

IDF instructs Breslov Hasidim to coordinate visits to Joseph’s Tomb

By Kobi Nahshoni July 31, 2011

Central Command Chief Major-General Avi Mizrahi met with Rabbi Eliezer Berland of the Breslov Hasidic movement on Sunday, requesting he instruct his students to visit Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus only after coordinating the trip with the IDF.

‘Christian Birthright’ takes college students to Knesset

By Gil Hoffman August 4, 2011

Nettles came on the Israel Experience College Scholarship Program, a rigorous, three-week study tour of Israel, which takes top Christian students from universities in the US, and other countries, and educates them about Israel.

Billed as the “Christian Birthright,” it encourages the students to gain a strong identification with the Jewish roots of their faith; comprehend the history of Christian anti-Semitism and the Holocaust; learn about Zionism; and more fully grasp the Middle East conflict.

Muslims, Jews, Christians join in interfaith Ramadan dinner

By Jonah Mandel August 5, 2011

Zahalka’s address was the opener to the discussion organized by the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel at the Mishkenot Sha’ananim center in Jerusalem, hosted by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Representing Judaism and Christianity on the panel were Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman of Kehillat Kol HaNeshama and Rev. Canon Hosam Naoum of the Anglican St. George’s Cathedral, who spoke about the significance of fasting in these religions, and noted the cross-fertilization of such interreligious encounters and debates.

Religion and State in Israel

August 8, 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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