Religion and State in Israel – May 7 and May 14, 2012 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Special edition on Tal Law alternative coming soon



By Natasha Mozgovaya May 9, 2012

He thanked the Rabbinical Assembly President Rabbi Gilah Dror, for “tolerating the unbearable fact that the state of Israel doesn’t recognize her as a rabbi while her son is serving as an intelligence officer.”

Speaking of a bill introduced by MK David Rotem, which, for the first time in Israeli law would give the Chief Rabbinate authority over Jewish conversion, Lapid insisted he would do anything in his power to ensure it disappears.

“Israel can’t be the only country in the Western world not to have freedom of religion,” he said. “I will support civilian marriages and do everything in my power to ensure equality to all denominations of Judaism. No one can claim ownership over the Jewish God.”



Inside the IDF, a clash over Israeli-Jewish identity

By Uri Blau May 11, 2012

Eight years have passed since the IDF issued its guidelines on Israeli-Jewish identity, titled “Yeud and Yechud” (Mission and Distinctiveness). 

The text was drawn up by order of then chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon, under the direction of Maj. Gen. Elazar Stern, former head of the Personnel Directorate, in conjunction with Benjamin Ish-Shalom, a professor of Jewish philosophy and founder and rector of Beit Morasha of Jerusalem: The Academic Center for Jewish Studies and Leadership.





By Gili Cohen May 2, 2012

The State Comptroller’s Report, published Tuesday, took the army to task for ongoing tension between the Education Corps and the Military Rabbinate, saying that there was “complete distrust” between the two bodies. The report also noted a huge increase in military exemptions for religious reasons.

The comptroller points out that while in the past the Education Corps was solely responsible for all education activity in the IDF, recently the Military Rabbinate and others have become involved in activity, causing ongoing tension between various IDF bodies.



By Kobi Nahshoni May 3, 2012

The number of haredim drafted into the IDF is low, while the rate of those who are rejected or exempt is steadily increasing, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss stated in his 2012 report, which was released on Tuesday.

The state comptroller determined that while the army was able to meet the government’s enlistment demands, it was still not doing enough to recruit haredim.

According to the report’s findings, between 2003 and 2010 the number of potential recruits who were dismissed from army service after declaring that their main occupation is studying Torah (Torato Omanuto) climbed by 60%, from 39,000 to 63,000.



By Jeremy Sharon May 1, 2012

Shahar Ilan, director of religious freedom lobbying group Hiddush:

“The state comptroller here has exposed the sad truth on the enlistment of the ultra- Orthodox in the IDF,” Ilan told the Post. “Although there are some important achievements, the rate of increase in draft evasion [through full-time yeshiva study] is much bigger.”

“The conclusion is obvious: It is not possible to continue with such a slow rate of improvement, because the demographic increase in the haredi population is growing much faster than its enlistment rate.”



By Anat Hoffman April 30, 2012

At a recent Knesset hearing I attended about women being forbidden to speak on certain radio stations, the manager of one of the stations told us his solution for a woman’s voice on air.

He said that they have a fax machine where women can send their questions or opinions and a man would be happy to read what they wanted to say on air. He saw this as an acceptable compromise.



By Allison Kaplan Sommer May 6, 2012

Charlotte Fischer, the Executive Director of SACRED (South African Centre for Religious Equality and Diversity):

“We see this as part of a much broader policy of removing women from public life that is sweeping across the Jewish world. 

It also involves a rewriting of Jewish history – where the voice of women has always been present – and the complexity of halacha. 

We see what’s happening to us in South Africa as deeply linked to what’s happening to women in Bet Shemesh, in Modi’in with the circus, and in Jerusalem with the buses.”





By Samuel Burke May 5, 2012

“Secular politicians in Israel make greater and greater concessions to the ultra-Orthodox,” Anat Hoffman said, “because they are a very obedient crowd in a democratic game – they vote in a block, in one way.”

Hoffman and other ‘Freedom Riders’ post sings to remind riders of the Supreme Court’s decision. Hoffman told Amanpour, “We went to court representing a variety of Orthodox women. We won the caseand [the sign] is hanging in every Israeli bus, right behind the driver.” 

The sign reads, “Passengers may sit in any seat of his or her choosing… harassing a passenger regarding his or her seating choice may constitute a crime.”



By Toby Tabachnick May 2, 2012

Anat Hoffman:

“I think we should blow the partition [dividing the men’s side of the Wall from the women’s side] to hell. We should do a time share, and give them [the Orthodox] a few hours in the morning, then down goes the partition, and we can all celebrate, and liberate the Wall once more.”



By Ann Rodgers May 2, 2012

“I want American Jews to feel that they have license to make their voices heard in Israel about this,” said Hoffman, a former member of the Jerusalem City Council who now directs the Israel Religious Action Center, the advocacy arm of the Reform movement in Israel.

“The fact that the keys to the holiest site for the Jewish people have been given to the smallest and most extreme faction of the Jewish world is a shame.”



There are groups that advocate for allowing Jews to pray on the Temple Mount (I am not referring to those in favor of rebuilding the Temple on the site currently occupied by the Dome of the Rock), and there are groups that advocate for greater freedom of Jewish worship at the Kotel. 

But it seems that despite the similarity of the rhetoric deployed in support of both positions, each group tends to apply these rights and freedoms selectively.



By Jonah Rank April 23, 2012

A Religious Misogynist is not only the man who throws chairs from the men’s section over to the women at the Western Wall. A Religious Misogynist is also the woman who chides another woman not to sing so loudly that a man might hear her prayer.



By Gabriella Mervis Opinion April 30, 2012

My name is Gabriella Mervis, and I am the new intern with Women of the Wall.  I first decided to connect with the organization after a horrific Yom Kippur incident during which I innocently wore my Tallis at the Kotel (admittedly, as an American, I didn’t even know it was illegal) and I got harassed by a woman claiming to work there.  

I felt humiliated, upset, and saddened by the lack of religious freedom in Israel.  Searching for an outlet to express my anguish and disappointment, I immediately knew I wanted to be involved with the work of Women Of the Wall.



By Allison Green May 3, 2012

The first Orthodox woman to come up to us simply asked what blessing we say when we put on the talis; the second woman asked if our talises keep us warm; and, so, the heckling and harassment continued.



By Tomer Zarchin May 6, 2012

A woman who has refused for 16 years to grant her husband a divorce was put behind bars last week – the first time a woman has been arrested in such a case.

The 60-year-old woman, a teacher, has appealed to the Supreme Court, whose president, Asher Grunis, will decide today whether to keep her under arrest.

…In a hearing, [the president of the Chief Rabbinical Court, Rabbi Shlomo] Amar told the woman to make an offer she would consider acceptable, but she has not made one. The case was returned to the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court, which ordered her arrest after she failed to appear at a hearing on Monday.



By Shlomo Brody May 3, 2012

The author, online editor of Tradition, teaches at Yeshivat Hakotel.

The recent controversy relates to the standards of conversion and who has the authority to determine them.

Rabbi Sherman asserted that Israeli population registries must follow the ruling of leading haredi decisors including rabbis Elyashiv and Eliezer Schach, who had declared that any conversion that did not entail full-fledged mitzva observance was meaningless.

He further contended that his court had supervisory jurisdiction over all courts in the state’s system, and that in contemporary times all declarations of fidelity to Halacha remain subject to examination based on future observance.





Rabbi Shlomo Dichovsky serves as the director-general of the nation’s rabbinical court system.

[He] added that he feels if one stops being shomer Shabbos in 2, 5, or 20 years after giyur, the beis din cannot retroactively cancel giyur since one cannot know what kavana one had when one went to mikve.

Rabbi Sherman feels the beis din can and must retroactively pasul one’s giyur. This is the core of the dispute which is obviously significantly more complicated. May 4, 2012

For the first time in five years, a large group of Bnei Menashe immigrants from northeastern India is slated to make aliya this summer.

Some 50 families, numbering upward of 250 people, are expected to come before the end of August with the approval of the Interior Ministry, to be followed by another group later in the year. The families will be settled in the Galilee in coordination with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.





By AFP May 8, 2012

Views are mixed on taking advantage of Israel’s “right of return,” ranging from enthusiasm over settling in the Jewish state to reluctance over being uprooted and having to find a new home and learn a new language.

“I think it’s fair to say that in absolutely the whole of Africa, they are unique because there are plenty of other tribes, many, many, many other tribes throughout Africa, who claim to have Israelite origins,” Parfitt said.

“But the (Lemba) are the only tribe who claim to have Israelite origins who’ve actually got any genetic proof. There is this very strong DNA evidence that they came from the eastern Mediterranean,” he said.



By Merav Michaeli May 7, 2012

… there’s no reason on earth why civil matters such as marriage, divorce, money, custody and child support should be decided by non-egalitarian religious courts that are committed not to Israeli law, but to religious law.

So in the run-up to the next election, a moment before we draft “everyone,” it’s high time to close the rabbinical courts and abolish them.











By Avraham Burg Opinion May 25, 2012

I have to admit: The status quo has not been static for a long time now. It’s dynamic and moving in one direction: toward religiosity, not necessarily religiosity of the pleasant kind.

Despite my great respect for tradition and heritage – the heritage of my father’s house – I am bound to a human sovereign to whom the rabbi must be subordinate, too. The sole source of consensual authority must be the Knesset, not the beit knesset, the synagogue.




 April 30, 2012

Several non-Jewish youths recently managed to sneak onto a trip organized by Taglit-Birthright, the program that sponsors free trips to Israel for young Jews from the Diaspora in an effort to strengthen their connection to Judaism and Zionism, Army Radio reported Monday.











Editor – Joel Katz

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

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