Religion and State in Israel – September 12, 2011 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

September 12, 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.

Throwing blows in Beit Shemesh

By Yair Ettinger September 8, 2011

Click here for embedded VIDEO


Moshe Friedman, one of the organizers of the protests against the schoolgirls, told Haaretz that he was confident the school would be removed.

“They won’t be here,” he said.

“According to Jewish law, it doesn’t matter that they are girls. The laws of modesty are an obligation from the age of 3. Their goal is to ruin the neighborhood; we won’t agree to tolerate it.

They are backed by the government, but from our point of view this is a long-term battle. Even if it takes years, we’ll win in the end. Neither the government nor these girls will be here.”

…”I hope that this is the beginning of the end of [Mayor] Abutboul’s coalition,” said Shalom Lerner, a leader of the opposition from the Mafdal Party.

“What is happening today is a watershed in terms of the public’s will to act in Beit Shemesh and its understanding that it can’t rely on anyone.”

Police at Beit Shemesh school after Haredi disturbance

By Melanie Lidman and Ben Hartman September 8, 2011

Police were called Thursday afternoon to the new national religious girls school in Beit Shemesh that has been the site of fierce protests by haredim since its opening on September 1.

Mayor Abutbul – say no to extremism

By Jonathan Rosenblum Opinion September 9, 2011

Ultra Orthodox

I don’t expect the “zealots” to be convinced by anything I write. They don’t listen to Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv; why would they listen to me?

But I do expect the haredi mayor of Beit Shemesh to take a strong stand that violence will not be allowed to establish facts on the grounds and that all the city’s residents will be treated fairly and equally.

Doing so will constitute a powerful statement that the haredi public understands the requirement of mutual respect and tolerance in a diverse society, and allow us to maintain the moral upper hand when we demand fair treatment in places like Tzoran.

Beit Shemesh: Haredi-Religious war escalates

By Kobi Nahshoni September 6, 2011

Ads posted in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in the city revealed the names, addresses and pictures of the haredi battle’s leaders, implying that they are all pedophiles who enjoy watching the minor students and meddling in their affairs.

One of the ads stated, “X (the man’s name) likes to watch religious virgin girls. How do we know? Because every day he goes out to watch them leave the Orot school. Look at his face – he must like them more than the others.”

Cadets dismissed over woman’s song

By Kobi Nahshoni September 9, 2011

Officer Course for Infantry Command

Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Office

Four of the nine religious cadets who walked out of a military event as a female soldier began singing solo will be dismissed from their officers’ course, an IDF committee has decided.

The remaining five soldiers will continue the course after managing to convince the committee that the move had not been preplanned.

Religious IDF cadets axed from officers course

By Jeremy Sharon September 8, 2011

Rabbi Haim Druckman, chairman of Bnei Akiva Yeshivot and head of Ohr Etzion Yeshiva, condemned the decision, saying that the event had nothing at all to do with military matters and that it was outrageous to remove the cadets from the course for this reason.

Religious IDF cadets walk out as female soldier sings

By Akiva Novick September 7, 2011

“It was spontaneous. We know it’s forbidden, but we left quietly without coordinating it,” one of them told Yedioth Ahronoth on Tuesday.

But Regiment Commander Uzi Klieger tried to stop them from leaving, threatening to punish anyone who walked out.

Orthodox IDF Men Boycott Women Singing

By Nathan Jeffay Opinion September 7, 2011

It’s a perplexing issue, with strong arguments on both sides. On the one hand, armies run on discipline, and the soldiers disobeyed their commander. And walking out when women sing can be seen as offensive to women.

On the other hand, for much of the Orthodox community, not hearing women’s singing voices is taken as seriously as the prohibition against eating non-kosher food. Of course, some rabbis are more lenient, but it hardly fits the idea of freedom of conscience to have the army telling soldiers which rabbi to follow.

Ben-Gurion Expressed Regret for Army Exemptions for Yeshiva Students September 5, 2011

Israel 60 years old

In the early 1960s, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, wrote a letter suggesting regret for the agreement allowing a small number of ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students exemptions from mandatory military service.

Hiddush has published this letter on facebook, documenting the 1963 correspondence between Ben Gurion and Levi Eshkol, then prime minister, expressing disappointment for the 1949 agreement.

Journalist and author Shlomo Nakdimon approached the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute in Sde Boker with the document, affirming that the letter in question is in fact original.

Click here to see the letter in its entirety (Hebrew)

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin conversion spin dizzies

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion September 7, 2011

Rabbi Andrew Sacks is the Director of the Masorti Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly in Israel.

Sfat (Safed)

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin: “Traditional Jewish law considers one to be Jewish only if he has either been born to a Jewish mother or has converted to Judaism before a religious court of three Orthodox rabbis.”

Rabbi Andrew Sacks: “I am still dumbfounded that you continue to hold by your statement that “Traditional Jewish law” requires Orthodox rabbis for conversion to be valid.”

For reference, see:

Conversion takes couple from Belgium to Israel

By Marcy Oster September 6, 2011

A couple from Belgium took the long way home to Judaism and Israel.

Chaim (Hans) and Tzipora (Fredrika) Maatjens-Bosmans were living in Belgium when they became attracted to Judaism.

With no rabbi in their city, they began walking across the border to Maastricht, Holland, every Shabbat to worship in an Orthodox synagogue.

More than three years ago the couple, who have four children, adopted an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle, including keeping kosher, observing Shabbat and immersing in the mikvah.

Rabbis they contacted in Europe could not convert the couple, so they turned to the Israeli organization ITIM-The Jewish Life Information Center, to help them convert in Israel.

Italian Marranos hold historic seminar September 8, 2011

Dozens of Marranos (referred to in Hebrew as “Bnei Anousim”) and other people of Jewish descent from across southern Italy and Sicily gathered in the Sicilian city of Syracuse on Tuesday and Wednesday for a special seminar aimed at facilitating their return to their roots.

The seminar – the first of its kind – was organized by the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organization in conjunction with the Union of Italian Jewish Committees (UCEI), the Jewish community of Naples and the Sicilian Sephardic Center.

See also:

PHOTO Essay: Israel’s Waiting Room

By Debbi Cooper August 25, 2011

Click here for PHOTO Essay

Falash Mura arrive in Israel

Photo: Jewish Agency for Israel

As of July, about [Falash Mura] 8,000 remained in the cities. In November 2010, the Israeli government had decided to bring them to Israel within four years.

Photographer Debbi Cooper traveled to Ethiopia for a last look at a group on the final stages of their journey home.

The Jew With Two “Beards”

By Steven Philp September 6, 2011

To their neighbors they look like every other Orthodox Jewish couple, a man and woman married for five years with two children in tow.

Even the fact that their marriage is a product of convenience rather than love is not unusual, yet the particular reason for their union is unique: the man is gay, and the woman is lesbian.

See also: Israeli Rabbi Pairs Gays to Lesbians

Labor Party candidates spar on religion and state

Herzog tops Labor fundraising battle

By Gil Hoffman September 9, 2011

MK Isaac Herzog

Photo: Isaac Herzog via Jewish Agency for Israel

The candidate willing to go farthest on religion and state issues was Mitzna, who supports civil marriage, gay marriage and requiring haredim to serve in the IDF or national service. He complained about the haredi takeovers of secular neighborhoods and referred to efforts against haredim as a “war.”

“We don’t have to fear speaking out against haredim, because they won’t vote for us anyhow,” Mitzna said.

Amir Peretz and Isaac Herzog were more careful. Peretz said he believes haredi schools that don’t teach the core curriculum should still be funded.

Herzog said programs encouraging haredim to enter the work force and the IDF should continue by “evolution.”

He spoke fondly about his experience with the Conservative movement, including attending Camp Ramah in the Poconos.

“It is unjust that Reform and Conservative rabbis in Israel can’t perform weddings,” he said.

Israel as a crucible

By Sasha Ben-Ari September 6, 2011

One prime example of turning the tide is Project Rimon, an initiative of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Genesis Philanthropy Group, which for the past three years has been gathering campers together in locations around the world and provided a common ground for Russian speaking Jewish youth who are united by this unique cultural challenge.

Participants in the Israel program include Russian speaking teens from former Soviet countries, new immigrants who have come to Israel over the last few years as well as Israeli born children of the great Russian aliyah in the early 1990s. These children often consider themselves more Israeli than of Russian origin.

What Not To Say About Israel This Year

By Dr. Michael Marmur Opinion September 6, 2011

The writer is Vice President for Academic Affairs at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

It happens every year about this time. Colleagues gearing up for their High Holyday sermons turn to me and other Israeli colleagues in the hope that we might give them some ideas.

After all, a number of our Rabbinical colleagues still leave one slot open for the stirring Israel sermon, and it seems that in recent years congregants emerge from an encounter with the Israel shaken, not stirred.

‘Torah archaeology’ sheds light on ancient Talmudic dispute

By Yair Ettinger September 9, 2011

In the heart of ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem two weeks ago, an unwritten taboo was shattered in broad daylight: The first Haredi conference on “Torah archaeology” – having been boldly advertised in the Haredi daily Hamodia, and approved by several leading rabbis – drew a packed audience.

More than just bricks in a wall: What the entire Kotel looked like

By Nadav Shragai September 2, 2011

The City of David, Jerusalem

These past few months have witnessed the completion of a historic work undertaken in the City of David: the uncovering of the lowest point of the Western Wall’s foundational structure.

The discovery, which has been hidden deep underground for thousands of years, was made possible by the uncovering of a Herodian-era drainage canal by archaeologists. Now the Western Wall’s entire architectonic picture is nearly complete, and it will be unveiled publicly in the next few weeks.

Mysteries of the Menorah

By Meir Soloveichik

Posted by on September 8, 2011

Original article here October 2008

In 2004, the two chief rabbis of Israel, Shlomo Amar and Yonah Metzger, traveled to the Vatican for a historic meeting with Pope John Paul II.

An ambitious interfaith agenda had been planned for the encounter, but Rabbi Amar had more on his mind than religious dialogue. “I could not resist,” he told Israeli radio.

“I asked them about the Temple vessels and the menorah.”

In so doing, Rabbi Amar reflected a belief common among many Jews: that the solid-gold candelabrum taken by the Roman ravagers of ancient Jerusalem remains in the city that was once the heart of the empire.

Chief Rabbinate initiative: Charity box for Gilad Shalit

By Ari Galahar September 7, 2011

The Chief Rabbinate will be placing charity boxes in synagogues across Israel to help raise funds for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

The idea was proposed by Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who ruled that the donations collected through the charity boxes would be used by the Shalit family members for their struggle to have their loved one returned from Hamas captivity.

Not so kosher

By Peggy Cidor September 10, 2011

Not wanting to be a rubber stamp for something that might be questionable, Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, accompanied by several rabbis from the Chief Rabbinate’s office, paid a few surprise visits to kosher eateries in the city’s main artery last week and found several disturbing aspects, one of which has long been a common problem.

…It was found that many supervisors put in a brief appearance if, at all, and one restaurant proprietor told the group of rabbis that he could just as easily serve non-kosher meat and no one would know the difference because the supervisor was not there to check the meat delivery.

Hundreds to get naked in Dead Sea for Spencer Tunick photo

By Roni Levin September 9, 2011

On the evening of September 16, an undisclosed number of buses will take an undisclosed number of people to the Dead Sea, where they will prepare for a mass nude photo shoot by artist Spencer Tunick the following morning.

Right wing MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) even called it “Sodom and Gomorrah” and an offense to public decency.

Former Center Stage director sets up new theater company in the capital

By David Sheen September 9, 2011

Center Stage also created a safe space for Orthodox Jews to collaborate on theater projects with secular Israelis.

“It was a portal for religious people who love acting, and don’t necessarily want to act in a single-sex cast to have that experience,” says Anna Cohen, 25, a native New Yorker now living in the neighborhood of Katamon, who, with her husband Ilan, co-starred in a 2010 run of Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park,” which Poch directed.

Is Secular Judaism Responsible for the Fracturing of Israeli Jewish Society? (Answer: Not Exactly)

By Avi Woolf Opinion August 11, 2011

“On the Matter of Secularism”, a new book by Gideon Katz, a faculty member of the Ben-Gurion Institute for the Study of Zionism, by Yad Ben Zvi, deals with the connection of secularism to religious tradition.

In the book, Katz discusses the model of secularism which developed among Spiritual Zionist thinkers and shows how it took root in the thought of Israeli intellectuals. The author’s primary argument is that this model of secularism is a source of cultural fractures and problems in Israeli society.

Religion and State in Israel

September 12, 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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