Religion and State in Israel – October 3, 2011 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

October 3, 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.

Ruling for Yoram Kaniuk hailed as major victory for separation of state and religion

By Tomer Zarchin October 3, 2011

Eretz Israel

Photo: David Lisbona

“The ruling shows how ridiculous and outrageous the Orthodox monopoly over religious services and population registration is in Israel,” says Yizhar Hess, executive director of the Masorti movement in Israel, which is affiliated with Conservative Judaism.

“It’s absurd,” he adds, “that the state of the Jews is pushing the best of its sons and daughters away from their religion and away from the tradition of living as free people.

Israel is the only country in the Western world in which Jews don’t have freedom of religion. Now we are paying the price for this outrageous insensitivity.”

Writer Yoram Kaniuk to be registered as ‘no religion’

By Joanna Paraszczuk October 2, 2011

Lawyer Yael Katz-Mastbaum, who represented Kaniuk in court, told The Jerusalem Poston Sunday the court’s ruling was consistent with the spirit of the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom.

The right to define oneself is a “fundamental right that should be taken for granted, without any restrictions,” Katz-Mastbaum said, adding that the ruling could now have wider implications including for civil marriage in Israel.

Israel court grants author’s request to register ‘without religion’

By Tomer Zarchin October 2, 2011

“Freedom from religion is a freedom derived from the right to human dignity, which is protected by the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom,” Judge Gideon Ginat of the Tel Aviv District Court wrote in his unusual ruling.

By law, not religion

Haaretz Editorial October 3, 2011

The decision recognizes the right of a citizen to choose not to belong to any religion.

It also embodies a more fundamental significance that leaves religiously observant Jews to deal with the age-old question of “Who is a Jew?” and promotes the debate on “What is a Jew?” – not those who the rabbis determine as one, but those for whom being a Jew is their nationality.

In the name of the grandson

By Neri Livneh Opinion October 3, 2011

My Heart Is In Israel

Photo: Zeeweez

And what would happen if hundreds of thousands, and maybe even millions, of citizens really did rush to the Interior Ministry to register as without religion?

Will we become a state without a religion instead of a Jewish state?

Hiddush’s Annual Israel Religion and State Index 2011 October 3, 2011

The Religion and State Index reveals that nearly the whole of the non-ultra-Orthodox public supports mandatory military or civil service for the ultra-Orthodox. 85% of the non-ultra-Orthodox population (79% of the total Jewish population) support reducing state funding for both yeshivas and large families in order to encourage ultra-Orthodox men to enter the workforce. This is an increase of 4% as compared to 2010 and 8% as compared to 2009.

85% of the non-ultra-Orthodox population also holds that ultra-Orthodox educational institutions should be obligated to implement core curriculum including math, sciences, English and civics.

The Israeli Democracy Index 2011

Presentation of the Israeli Democracy Index 2011

“Jewish and Democratic”

Among the Jewish population, 46.1% prefer this combined definition of the State of Israel; 29.5% emphasize the “Jewish” component and only 22% the “democratic” one.

Halakha vs. Democracy

In the event of a conflict between the two, 49.7% of the Jewish population believes that preference should be given to upholding democratic principles, while 21% prefer observing the tenets of Jewish law and 26.5% say that each issue should be judged separately.

63% of Jews in favor of Shabbat buses

By Kobi Nahshoni September 28, 2011

The survey’s findings reveal that 56% of Jews in Israel believe state and religion should be separated. Thirty-five percent support this stand “very much” and 21% support it “pretty much”. On the other hand, 28% are strongly against it and 16% are somewhat against it.

An analysis according to religious definitions reveals that 85% of haredim, 87% of religious Jews and 54% of traditional Jews oppose separating state and religion, while 80% of seculars are in favor.

Israel as a Jewish democratic state

By Ilan Bloch Opinion September 25, 2011

It is also worrying that Jewish texts are often used selectively to support liberal decisions by the Court; this opens the door for future judges who may be appointed for political reasons to use other Jewish texts to support ultra-conservative, or even fascist, judgments.

Notwithstanding the Foundations of Law Act (1980), Jewish law should be kept out of the secular court system, except perhaps in matters of civil law, which have no real bearing on the essence or character of the State of Israel (for example, torts and contracts).

PHOTOS: Clearing Western Wall cracks ahead of Jewish New Year staff September 27, 2011

The year’s 10 most influential Anglo immigrants

By David Sheen and Raphael Ahren September 28, 2011

Susan Weiss – Center for Women’s Justice

Life for Israeli agunot has gotten a little easier since New York native Susan Weiss founded the Center for Women’s Justice to help women whose husbands refuse to grant them a bill of divorce.

Joel Katz, a leading observer of religion and state issues, called her “one of the unsung heroes in the fight for women’s rights in Israel,” stressing her “tenacity in seeking − and achieving − long-term strategic change, rather than just settling for minor victories.”

Gay-religious group now official non-profit

By Jeremy Sharon September 25, 2011

“We’re aiming for social integration and social change, we’re not trying to change halacha. Many religious communities are becoming increasingly accepting of gays, albeit mainly in dati leumi [national religious] society, and the goal of Havruta is to advance this process.”

Implications of the Current Conversion Crisis

By Rabbi Alan Yuter Opinion September 23, 2011

Rabbi Alan Yuter is Rabbi of B’nai Israel, the Orthodox congregation of downtown Baltimore.

The Rabbinical Council of America must accept the conversions of all duly vetted and accepted members.

It should defend the validity of all conversions performed by its members, and not buckle under to Hareidi pressures.

Moreover, as a Zionist as well as Orthodox body, it must affirm the obligation of military service for any rabbi in Israel who earns a state rabbinic salary.

Hareidi rabbis who refuse to serve in the Israel Defense Forces should not be eligible for employment by the State of Israel.

Keep Dreaming: A Zionism with No Future

By David Breakstone Opinion September 28, 2011

“The nation demands social justice.”

They were not alone in linking the demonstrations that convulsed Israeli society these past several months to Zionist ideology.

Those leading the rallies and those participating in them were not concerned only about having a roof over their heads and putting food on their tables but also about creating a society rooted in the value of looking out for one another, a value repeatedly articulated as being rooted in Jewish sources and the Zionist vision.

This was a summer not about “me” but about “us.” For the first time in a long time, the focus was not on the individual but the on collective.

This Year, Any Rabbis Afraid to Talk About Israel to their Congregations – Should Quit

By Gil Troy Opinion September 27, 2011

Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGill University and a Shalom Hartman Research Fellow in Jerusalem.

We need a Zionist conversation, unafraid of the topic – or the label – exploring the meaning of our dual religious-national base, appreciating the opportunity Jewish sovereignty gives us to live our ideals and build what we at Hartman’s Engaging Israel project call “Values Nation,” pondering the delights and challenges of living 24/7 Judaism in our old-new land.

The Ministry of Silly Talks

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion September 28, 2011

We know the truth, though: The only reason there is an [Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs] is that Netanyahu had to appoint Edelstein to his cabinet, as a reward for political loyalty and with an eye to the next elections, to make sure that Likud would have a Russian-born minister.

There was no need for the MPDDA before Netanyahu formed his government and when a new prime minister comes along, on that very day, the MPDDA will evaporate, from obscurity to nothingness. But its spirit will live on.

Jewish philanthropist Guma Aguiar takes over Hapoel Jerusalem basketball club

By Allon Sinai September 25, 2011

Click here for Guma Aguiar VIDEOS

Just when we thought we had heard the last of Guma Aguiar, the colorful American businessman made a stunning return to Israeli sports on Sunday when he was announced as the new owner of Hapoel Jerusalem basketball club.

The 34-year-old first came to Hapoel’s rescue in August 2009 when he gave the cashstrapped club $1.5 million, a month after transferring Betar Jerusalem $4 million.

The year’s 10 most influential Anglo immigrants

By David Sheen and Raphael Ahren September 28, 2011

Alan HoffmannJewish Agency

As director general of the Jewish Agency, Alan Hoffmann, 65, is one of the key architects of the sweeping reforms the organization underwent this year.

Study shows young Conservative rabbis still connected to Israel

By Raphael Ahren September 28, 2011

Current U.S. Conservative rabbinical students are no less attached to Israel than older rabbis belonging to this movement, a leading researcher of American-Jewish attitudes toward Israel said this week.

Upcoming Panel Discussion: Jerusalem and the Jewish People

On the occasion of the publication of For the Sake of Zion I Shall Not Stand Still?

The Jewish Diaspora and the Jerusalem Issue By Gabi Sheffer and Eyal Tsur

Published by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies

Court disqualifies Simhon’s election as JNF world chairman

By Joanna Paraszczuk and Gil Hoffman October 3, 2011

The Central District Court in Petah Tikva published a ruling on Sunday disqualifying Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon from the post of chairman of the Jewish National Fund.

Dead Sea Scrolls Now Online


By Michele Chabin September 27, 2011

“We hope to make all existing knowledge in historical archives and collections available to all, including helping to put additional Dead Sea Scroll documents online.”

Virtual Dead Sea Scrolls get more than a million hits in just one week

By Nir Hasson October 3, 2011

While the museum had anticipated wide interest in the website, interest has exceeded expectations.

Between last Monday, when the website was launched, and Sunday morning, Google logged 1,042,104 visitors to the site, which not only provides an opportunity to see detailed images of the five scrolls, but also features an English translation.

Dead Sea Scrolls get the Google digital treatment


Israel Hands Ancient Site to Ideologues

By Sarah Kreimer Opinion September 26, 2011

Sarah Kreimer is associate director of Ir Amim, an Israeli organization dedicated to building an equitable, stable and sustainable Jerusalem.

Just as American Jews would balk at Evangelists running the Statue of Liberty National Park and twisting American history, so too should Israelis and Jews around the world who care about Jerusalem speak up about an arrangement that is dangerous for Jerusalem’s future, divisive for Jews, and harmful to peace.

Government set to finalize Bnei Menashe aliya

By Etgar Lefkovits September 27, 2011

The government is expected to give final approval in the next few weeks to bring to Israel more than 7,200 remaining members of an Indian community who claim descent from one of the lost tribes of Israel.

The decision to allow the last members of the Bnei Menashe to immigrate to Israel is being greeted with excitement by local Evangelical Christian groups, who view it as fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and who have pledged financial support for the move.

Bnei Menashe of Northeast India Celebrate Rosh Hashana September 28, 2011

Jewish spiritual care: Creating sound spirit

By Tzofia Hirschfeld September 27, 2011

Some five years ago, UJA-Federation of New York, the largest of its kind in the world, decided to bring the spiritual care to Israel. They initiated a conference of ten foundations that deal with various types of mental assistance for patients, and together they began creating programs that would train Jewish spiritual care providers.

Since the group was established, some 25,000 Israelis received spiritual care in various fields such as: Addiction, old age, victims of terror, and illness.


By Elli Fishcher, Shai Secunda

Number 7, Fall 2011 Review: “Hearat Shulayim” (Footnote)

Robert De Niro and his fellow judges at Cannes are not generally known for their interest in Jewish studies, but an Israeli film set in the Hebrew University’s Talmud department won the award for “Best Screenplay” at the prestigious French film festival this spring.

Jewish Studies in Decline?

By Alex Joffe Opinion October 3, 2011

In part, though, the decline of Jewish studies in Israel represents another, more complicated trend.

…The answer to that unspoken question is that although the orientation of academic Jewish studies was never either explicitly religious or explicitly nationalist, the field did usefully inform, supplement, and, in certain cases, provide a cultural substitute for those qualities as well as an intellectual meeting ground of Judaism and Zionism.

Now, with the exception of a few secular “study houses,” much of serious Jewish learning is increasingly left to the religiously and/or ideologically motivated—notable among them the ultra-Orthodox (haredim), who in principle reject the approach that sees Judaism in the context of the eras it has traversed and the cultures with which it has interacted.

The Audacity of Faith

Book Review – By Faith Alone: The Story of Rabbi Yehuda Amital

By Yehudah Mirsky

Number 7, Fall 2011

By Faith Alone: The Story of Rabbi Yehuda Amital, Elyashiv Reichner’s newly (and fluently) translated biography, is an attempt to understand an extraordinary man and his long, arduous path from a simple Jewish life in prewar Hungary to a unique and controversial place in Israeli religious and political life.

It is essential reading not only for understanding Amital’s own story and the history of Religious Zionism but also for its portrait of a religious virtuoso who combined deep faithfulness with great daring.

Adina Bar-Shalom

Click here for embedded VIDEO (Hebrew)


Israel’s secular Judaism

By Ilan Bloch Opinion September 28, 2011

An Israeli who is disconnected from his Jewish identity, or whose Jewish identity is based on shallow folkways, and is lacking any high culture, will come to see his residing in Israel, his service in the IDF and even his ethnic identity as a whole as optional. Only a renewed Judaism can act against this.

After visiting Bina – the Secular Yeshiva this summer and learning texts under its teachers’ guidance, together with a tour group of North American teenagers, I believe that it, and other similar institutions, can serve as vehicles for a secular Jewish rejuvenation in the Land of Israel.

Religion and State in Israel

October 3, 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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