Religion and State in Israel Wave

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May 14, 2012
Religion and State in Israel Wave

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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.

All rights reserved. 

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Nov 29, 2011
Religion and State in Israel Wave

Religion and State in Israel - November 28, 2011 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

November 28, 2011 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

On the battlefield of gender segregation
By Rachel Azaria Opinion November 25, 2011
Rachel Azaria is a member of the Jerusalem City Council from the Yerushalmim party.

…And so, in a battle that is the spearhead of religion and state relations today, the rules have changed, and we find ourselves in a campaign being led mainly by Orthodox women and a Conservative rabbi (Rabbi Uri Ayalon).

Moreover, the public that supports this campaign is especially diverse: secular, Orthodox, formerly Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and traditionally observant. Also – and now for the big news: Haredi women have joined the frontline of the battle.

Jerusalem dance studio is the new frontline in battle for secular liberty
By Harriet November 27, 2011

Haredi representatives asked Kolben to keep the blinds lowered, a request that he declined. The company then received two letters from the city council, which owns the building, demanding compliance.

The letters were from one councillor and a former employee, and were unofficial, according to the council. “These premises are not secured for us. We depend on the goodwill of the municipality,” Kolben said.

But last week, in conjunction with Yerushalmim, an organisation that campaigns against religious extremism in Jerusalem, Kolben raised the window blinds.

“We want to claim our right to be here on our terms and communicate with the Jerusalem street and express ourselves as we want,” he said.

Israeli secular, religious ministers hold heated debate over women’s rights
By Barak Ravid November 27, 2011

“Lately, there has been a worrisome deterioration in the status of women in the public arena.

The exclusion of women is also violence against women – women need to get on buses from the back door, posters depicting them are banned or otherwise burnt, they cannot sing before men nor mourn for their loved ones at funerals,” Minister Limor Livnat added, calling these happenings attempts to deprive women of the most basic rights in a democracy – freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and the right to dignity.”

‘Exclusion of women is form of violence’
By Susan Hattis Rolef Opinion November 27, 2011

Last week Army Radio reported that a group of students from the Chai Roi Institute, in the settlement of Eli, refused to attend a lecture by the director of the Knesset Research and Information Center (RIC) during a visit to the Knesset, because she happens to be a woman.

The Knesset refused to replace her with a man, and the students had to make due with a visit without lectures.

Defacing Women’s Images is Now Hitting Home
By Allison Kaplan Sommer Opinion November 22, 2011

In the picture, she was wearing a sleeveless top and leggings, and was doing an exercise lying on the apparatus, with one of her legs raised – a comm.

When I saw it, I gulped. I had a feeling that a picture like that could become a problem with Chabad. I asked Elior about it and she said that she had been asked if she would pose in longer sleeves and she had refused — she said she wasn’t going to cover herself up any more than she did in a regular Pilates lesson.

Then my fears were realized. The poster was anonymously torn down pretty quickly.

Don’t Judge Women Sitting at Back of Buses
By Dorothy Lipovenko Opinion November 24, 2011

That Kaufman sat in the front of the bus is commendable. But I’ll reserve my applause for women who have to ride such buses every day, whether they stick up for their principles and sit up front or just wish they could.

A battle is raging for the soul of Israeli society
By Amy Teibel AP November 28, 2011

While segregation has diminished sharply since that ruling, it was largely men in front and women in the back one recent morning on a line that runs through ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclaves in Jerusalem.

The driver said that when women dare sit up front, male passengers sometimes still try to browbeat them into moving to the back.

Why I’m canceling my organ donation card
By Tirtza Flohr November 27, 2011

If – heaven forbid – a Haredi man is in need of an organ donation, and the rabbi confirms that prayers will not be adequate and that modern medicine can be allowed to intervene, this yeshiva student will accept – in a heartbeat – the organ from a female donor.

I’ll keep my organs
www.haaretz.comNovember 28, 2011

Letter to Editor…I also assume that in any case in the near future only men will receive organ donations, and that in an era where it is preferable to face a firing squad rather than listen to women singing, many men will refuse to accept my internal organs.Anat DoronTel Aviv

Taking religion seriously
By David Breakstone Opinion November 25, 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.

…if the perception of what being Jewish means is going to be determined by an increasingly reactionary and narrow-minded fiefdom of politically motivated and power-hungry functionaries who are promoting a fundamentalist and corrupted notion of Judaism, then the vast majority of our next generation is going to want nothing to do with it.

Bill proposed to stop state rabbis accepting wedding fees
By Jeremy Sharon November 28, 2011

MK Uri Orbach’s (Habayit Hayehudi) bill, submitted last week, would make it illegal for a rabbi employed by a local religious council to accept money or any other form of remuneration when performing a wedding for someone who lives in the city where he works.

Interview with Chief Rabbi Amar: Maneuvering between the raindrops
See also cached version here.
By Yair November 25, 2011

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar:

“Beautiful work is being done with conversions; there are no unnecessary stringencies and no unnecessary leniency, and there also is beautiful work being done in both the army and in the civilian sphere. It is getting better and better, toward the positive side. And the Rabbinate is gaining even more strength.”

“I will say outright, and you have my word on this, that the Rabbinate is excellent, and the religious court judiciary is excellent, much better than what was the case many years ago. It is getting better and better, including also the way in which it relates to the public.”

Women’s groups outraged by all-male Appointments Committee for Rabbinical Judges
By Jeremy Sharon November 23, 2011

The Israel Bar Association angered a raft of liberal and women’s groups on Tuesday by failing to select a woman to serve on the Appointments Committee for Rabbinical Judges.

The committee, which is headed by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and holds the power to elect judges to the country’s 12 regional rabbinical courts, voted instead to elect attorneys Asher Axelrod and Mordechai Eisenberg.

“It is a black day for the Bar Association, that they had to sell out women for the ultra-Orthodox, and everyone will pay the price in the future,” said Robyn Shames, ICAR’s executive director.

Batya Kehane, director of women’s divorce rights organization Mavoi Satum, called the failure to appoint even one female representative to the committee “a badge of shame” for society and the legal system.

Human rights groups slam deal for all-male rabbinical judge appointments panel
By Yair Ettinger November 22, 2011

Rabbi Uri Regev, Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality:

“It implicitly strengthens the growing threat of women being removed from the public sphere due to Haredi political and economic pressure, and betrays the Bar’s responsibility and function of strengthening civil rights and gender equality.”

New rabbinical courts will lead to oppression of women
A murky deal
Haaretz Editorial November 22, 2011

Giving women representation on the committee that appoints rabbinical court judges improved the situation slightly; sometimes, women representatives even managed to thwart the appointment of a particularly hard-line judge. But now … even this achievement is being undone.

Israelis seeking alternatives to traditional wedding ceremonies
By Linda Gradstein November 21, 2011

Increasingly, Israeli couples are seeking to create weddings that are more reflective of their own lifestyles.
But because Israel has no civil marriage and the Rabbinate retains exclusive control over marriage and divorce, this puts many couples in Israel on a collision course with the Rabbinate.

“The area of marriage is one of the most bitter areas of tension between secular Israelis and the religious establishment,” said Nachman Rosenberg, the executive vice president of Tzohar, a Zionist rabbinic organization devoted to bridging gaps between secular and Orthodox Israelis.

In Israel, civil law should rule over Jewish law
Haaretz Editorial November 24, 2011

It is incumbent for the attorney general to give state law its proper due, and subjugate halakha to it.

Arab women and Haredi men must join the workforce
Who likes good news?
By Nehemia Shtrasler Opinion November 25, 2011

Ultra-Orthodox men must be encouraged to go out and work through subsidizing their professional training, giving them the opportunity to study for the matriculation exam and at an academic preparatory course, and stopping the granting of stipends to most married yeshiva students.

Modern Orthodoxy and the ‘i’ generation
By Yoni Goldstein Opinion November 25, 2011

Sadly, there is a significant history of Jewish rejection of individuality and modernity. The static oblivion of ultra-Orthodox enclaves in North America and Israel, where all aspects of modern life are summarily dismissed and the thoughts of the individual are sacrificed to the ideal of uncompromised unison, is an apt contemporary example.

Will Israel have a religious majority?
By Simon Rocker www.thejc.comNovember 24, 2011

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, for example, is one of the more notable advocates of religion keeping its distance from institutions of state, even if there is no formal separation as in the USA.

“Judaism must be depoliticised,” he wrote in a recent book Future Tense, “and put back where it belongs, in civil society, far removed from all structures of power”.

Shabbat: A Time of Rest or Unrest
By Gavi Brown Opinion November 23, 2011

A campaign to legitimize Sabbath observance holds real potential for realizing the aspirations of the contributors to the Gavison-Medan Covenant. A grassroots movement can achieve the goal of moving the legal discussion outside the court system and the Knesset.

Netanyahu delays demolition of Jerusalem bridge over Egypt, Jordan warning
By Barak Ravid and Akiva Eldar November 28, 2011

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Jerusalem municipality and the Public Security Ministry on Friday to postpone for one week the demolition of the Mughrabi Bridge, which leads from the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount, due to warnings from Egypt and Jordan of possible repercussions.
See also: Israel delays bridge razing at volatile holy site

Reform movement head Yoffie: Anti-democratic laws will distance American Jews from Israel
By Shlomo Shamir November 28, 2011

Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Eric Yoffie:

“Commitment to shared moral values and to democracy is what binds Jews to Israel. Without this commitment, ties between the two largest Jewish communities – Israel and America – will be greatly weakened.”

A Shift in the Collective
Forward Editorial November 18, 2011

The ultimate test of this new system will not only be found in how the committees and commissions are implemented, but whether the JFNA can live up to its own promise.

Surely it’s no accident that the mission statement of the new Global Planning Table — all of one sentence long — uses the word “collective” twice. It remains to be seen whether this is simply an expression of wishful thinking or the true guiding principle of this new effort.

We The People of Israel
By Yonatan Ariel November 24, 2011
Yonatan Ariel is the Executive Director of Makom, a partnership of Jewish communities around the world and the Jewish Agency.

What can Jerusalem contribute to the flourishing of Babylon? And what can Babylon contribute to the flourishing of Jerusalem? I would advocate for a three-part process to stimulate a healthy relationship for all going forward.

Birthright’s Israel: The Political Bias of the Jewish Community’s Favorite Program
By Nathan Ehrlich Opinion November 28, 2011

Towards the end of our trip I asked Avram and our volunteer American guides why no Arabs were invited to speak to us. They responded like a chorus: “this is not the point of Birthright.”

The point of Birthright, they explained, was to connect Jews with Israel. And after all, they said, time was short.

But after seeing Israel on my own, it became clear that Birthright was not just guilty of failing to provide differing perspectives on Israel’s current situation, but was bending over backwards in order to ensure that we never saw a balanced picture of Israel.

Really, our Birthright trip did not take us to Israel. Instead, they took us to “Israel,” Birthright’s fictional narrative construct.

Professor: ‘Bar-Ilan is the only Zionist university in Israel’
By Chemi November 22, 2011

“Bar-Ilan University is the only Zionist university left in Israel,” proclaimed Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of Bar-Ilan’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, at a gala dinner of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA ) held Tuesday night in New York.

Religion and State in Israel
November 28, 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.

Read More »

Nov 29, 2011
Religion and State in Israel Wave

Religion and State in Israel - November 28, 2011 (Section 2)

By ,
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

By Moran Azulay November 22, 2011

Major-General Orna Barbivai, head of the IDF Personnel Directorate, said Tuesday that “women should sing on any stage and in any every ceremony.”

By Shmuel Rosner Opinion November 18, 2011

The truth, though, is that there is no simple way to balance these competing rights. Religious soldiers can’t be made to violate their faith. 

The military can’t be made to alienate its most motivated group of soldiers. And I can’t educate my daughter to serve in a military that would excise women from the public sphere to accommodate the radical demands of the super pious.

By Yaakov Katz Opinion November 25, 2011

[OC Manpower Directorate Maj.-Gen. Orna Barbava] has said that she is inclined to rule that soldiers need to remain in certain ceremonies but that she will leave room for consideration to the unit commanders.

It is not clear if this is the right move, since without an across-the-board ruling, the issue will not be put to rest and threatens to advance the already growing rift within the IDF and within Israeli society.

By Yoav Zitun November 25, 2011

The Israel Defense Forces is stepping up its war on young women falsely claiming to be religious in order to avoid military service. In the past year, the army has doubled the number of private investigation agencies checking up on women suspected of falsely seeking exemption from service.

Officials at the IDF Personnel Directorate believe that at least 8% of the young women claiming to be religious lied to the local rabbinical court, which recommends that they be exempt from service under three conditions – the girl must declare that she doesn’t travel on Shabbat, eats kosher food and cannot serve in the army on religious grounds.

By Yoav Zitun November 22, 2011

The haredi infantry battalion Netzah Yehuda in the Kfir Brigade may undergo dramatic changes next year, which will see the duration of military service extended from two to three years, similarly to other combat positions in the IDF.

According to the Manpower Directorate, some 450 haredi combat soldiers joined the battalion in 2011, and an additional 650 haredim were recruited to other IDF positions. The Directorate estimated that the numbers will continue to grow, reaching some 2,400 new haredi recruits in 2015.

By Tzipi Malkov November 28, 2011

The Jerusalem mayoral elections will only be held in about two years, but the capital’s ultra-Orthodox factions are already looking for a candidate to compete against current Mayor Nir Barkat.

Ynet’s local portal, Mynet, has learned that United Torah Judaism is searching for a secular rather than religious candidate to run on its behalf.

According to the [Shas] faction chairman, Deputy Mayor Eli Simhayoff, “We never promised that our candidate would have a beard.”

By Jeremy Sharon November 25, 2011

Yosef Meir Hazan, a member of the Sikrikim (Sicarii) extremist ultra-Orthodox group, was arrested this week in the capital’s Geula neighborhood as part of a special operation by the Jerusalem Police.

By Jeremy Sharon November 22, 2011

The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Shmuel Veisfish, an activist in the extremist Sikrikim group, who was sentenced by the Jerusalem District Court in January this year to two years imprisonment for rioting, extortion, assault and grievous bodily harm.

By Shmarya Rosenberg November 23, 2011

This violence was and remains an outgrowth of fundamentalism that promises followers sole possession of truth and of the closed (or nearly closed) communities in which these Haredi fundamentalists live. 

Unless we provide a nonfundamentalist framework for Haredim to independently learn about the science and history that might cause them to question their absolutist beliefs, the violence will continue.

By Tomer Zarchin and Eli Ashkenazi November 22, 2011

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided Tuesday to open a criminal investigation against Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, for alleged incitement to racism.

The criminal investigation opened by Weinstein will not focus on “rabbis’ letter,” however, but rather on personal remarks made by Eliyahu.

By Aviad Glickman November 22, 2011

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein also mentioned that the rabbis would benefit from the protection the law provides in cases involving the use of quotes from the scriptures.

The AG said that in general he tries to avoid criminal proceedings when it comes to halachic rulings unless they sanction physical violence on the basis of race.

By Jeremy Sharon November 23, 2011

Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu, coexecutive director of The Abraham Fund Initiatives, also welcomed the investigation, but called the failure to address the rabbis’ letter “problematic.”

“The decision not to investigate the rabbis’ letter implies that when a racist says and does racist things, he can justify it under the guise of ‘psak halacha,’” – issuing a legal ruling – Be’eri-Sulitzeanu told The Jerusalem Post.

“Failure to investigate the letter basically says that this is kosher, and we can’t accept this stance. We hope that the decision will be reviewed, but if not, we will have to weigh whether or not to appeal to the Supreme Court.”

By Jeremy Sharon November 24, 2011

In a hearing on Wednesday at the High Court of Justice, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch instructed the Attorney-General’s Office to inform the court within 60 days whether or not it will issue an indictment against Chief Rabbi of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu for incitement to racism.

Anat Hoffman, the executive director of IRAC, said that they had used the request for a contempt-of-court order as a tool to force the A-G’s office to expedite its decision.

“We wanted to draw attention to the foot-dragging of the state in this matter, and the manner in which it has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to this issue,” she told the Post.

By Gideon Levy Opinion November 27, 2011

Recent religious controversies over issues such as women singing in public, separation of men and women on bus lines and the so-called Jewish Taliban women of the Lev Tahor ultra-Orthodox sect reflect insecurity and a lack of direction. If the religious camp had direction, it would not need such dangerous pranks.

By Meir Turgeman November 24, 2011

“We are looking into the possibility of industrial imports of goose,” the rabbi said during a culinary conference at the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, tantalizing the taste buds of every kashrut observer in Israel.

By Jeremy Sharon November 25, 2011

If the dream of tasting pork – that most forbidden of forbidden foods – has always been yours, then dream no longer. And if you thought the idea of a rabbinically approved slice of swine was less likely than a flying pig, then think again.

AP November 23, 2011

Israel’s chief rabbi is bringing home the bacon.

By Eli Ashkenazi November 24, 2011

The Tiberias Municipality has been transplanting trees along Hayarden Street in order to enable cohanim, descendants of ancient Jewish priests, to use the street. According to Jewish tradition, cohanim are not allowed to enter cemeteries. 

The municipality undertook the project because of the concern that ancient cemeteries are buried under the street. The center of the city, where Hayarden Street is located, was the Jewish burial area of the town in Talmudic times. November 27, 2011

Rabbi Yehoshua Ellis, 34, has been appointed to serve as the new emissary for the Shavei Israel organization in Katowice, Poland.

Rabbi Ellis will work to expand Shavei Israel’s activities throughout Poland, which include: … providing assistance with the aliyah, conversion and absorption process for those members of the community in Poland who choose to immigrate to Israel.

By Ruth Eglash November 28, 2011

Up to 1,000 Ethiopian-born immigrants protested Sunday opposite the Immigrant Absorption Ministry over a recent government recommendation to reduce the number of new olim arriving each month.

…an interministerial commission made a recommendation this past summer to reduce the number of new immigrants from 200 per month to 110 per month, starting from November 15 this year until March 1, 2015.

By Revital Blumenfeld November 28, 2011

Ethiopian Jews won a four-year battle Sunday to commemorate the members of their community who died in Sudan during the long and dangerous journey to Israel. But the relatives of the dead will not receive government compensation as did relatives of Soviet Prisoners of Zion.

Ziva Mekonen, executive director of the Israeli Association for Ethiopian Jews:

“A country that knew how to bring in 15,000 Jews from Ethiopia in only 36 hours should know how to bring in the people who are left in Ethiopia. And they have to bring them in quickly.” November 24, 2011

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis gathered on the Haas Promenade in the capital’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood on Thursday to celebrate Sigd, which has been observed for centuries to pray for the community’s return to Jerusalem.

By Nir Alon November 24, 2011

By Nir Hasson November 28, 2011

Soon to be published in the prestigious Dead Sea Discoveries journal, their conclusions will likely not put to rest the heated debate over the identity of the people who wrote the scrolls. 

But scholars who surmise that the ancient volumes were written by a separatist sect will find in the research support for their position.

By Nir Alon November 23, 2011

Coins dated 17/18 CE were discovered beneath the Western Wall of Temple Mount, providing scientific confirmation that the Western Wall and Robinson’s Arch construction were not completed in King Herod’s lifetime.

By Oz Rosenberg November 23, 2011

Last Friday, a group of Jewish public figures and intellectuals paid a visit to the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem with one simple goal in mind, asking for forgiveness. 

The group took the step following a report in Haaretz about two weeks ago describing the practice of some ultra-Orthodox Jewish young people of spitting when passing church clergy on the street.

By Tomer Zarchin November 23, 2011

The police commissioner recently asked for an investigation into a claim that Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III allegedly purchased recognition of his title with the assistance of former Pensioner Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan.

By Gili Izikovich November 28, 2011

Yesterday the council issued a call for public suggestions as to what the station should broadcast and how it can be geared to the religious, ultra-Orthodox, secular and traditional audiences.

By Eli Ashkenazi November 28, 2011

The cabinet Sunday decided to place the ancient tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai under the management of a special government company under the supervision of the tourism minister.

…It is believed that some NIS 3 million are contributed to the site annually, only NIS 1 million of which goes to the fund maintained by the state committee.

By Omri Efraim November 24, 2011

Some 1,500 worshippers led by Interior Minister Eli Yishai arrived at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus on Wednesday night. The visit was coordinated with the IDF and the police.

Minister Yishai said, “The visit here is important and I hope the impairments will be corrected. The answer to the Palestinian Authority is to act according to what we believe in.”

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
All rights reserved.

Read More »

Nov 21, 2011
Religion and State in Israel Wave

Religion and State in Israel - November 21, 2011 (Section 1)

By ,
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Haaretz Editorial November 18, 2011

Until civil marriage is made official, Israelis have no reason to cooperate with the religious establishment. Any of the temporary ways to sidestep that establishment are preferable – as an expression of civil autonomy and even as an act of protest. Editorial November 15, 2011

Ideally, recognized non-Orthodox streams– Reform and Conservative – should also be allowed to conduct weddings as long as they adhere to basic consensus tenets such as matrilineal descent.

Competition will push rabbis to find innovative ways to reach out. And Israelis will no longer feel coerced into celebrating a wedding in a way that feels uncomfortable.

By Rabbi Julie Schonfeld and Rabbi Gilah Dror Opinion November 20, 2011
The writers are, respectively, president and executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly.

Access for “recognized streams” that “acknowledge basic tenets” is not really “free market” Judaism – and even true “free markets” do not ensure the basic protections of human rights such as freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

So long as a predetermination is made as to “whose Judaism is Jewish enough” in order to have one’s marriage qualify for registration, a form of religious coercion that denies basic human rights will continue to alienate Israelis from their own Judaism and impoverish the development of a vibrant, indigenous modern Jewish expression in Israel.

By Judith Rotem Opinion November 17, 2011
The writer has published several novels. She has received the Prime Minister`s Prize (2002) and the Book Publishers Association`s Gold Prize for her best seller, “Craving” (2004).

That’s where it all began. Since then, as with the unrestrained spread of weeds, Haredi society and its religious-Zionist satellite public have been overrun by ever more rigorous regulations.

…I see a straight line between the decrees aimed at preserving modesty, which in many homes these days are imposed on girls from the age of 3, to the separation that exists on so-called mehadrin (strictly kosher) buses, which could be better described as medirin − exclusionist.

By Nir Hasson November 20, 2011

Large picture windows were installed in the hall facing the street during renovations a few years ago.
However, shortly thereafter, reportedly under pressure from the Jerusalem municipality and ultra-Orthodox residents who also threatened the company’s members, it was decided to keep the curtains closed.

By Haim Amsalem Opinion November 16, 2011
The author is a Knesset member, an ordained rabbi and chairman of the Am Shalem movement.

Let me begin by making a clear and loud declaration for all to hear: There is absolutely no basis in Jewish law for the separation of men and women on buses or public streets.

…But this isn’t just about buses. This is about growing extremism in the haredi world, part of which includes the demonization of women.

…If we don’t stop this trend to extremism as a political force right now, I fear to think where things will be in 15 years.

By Jeremy Sharon November 16, 2011

Rachel Azaria: “The haredi public realizes that it needs to be part of society, so we see military enlistment and participation in the workforce increasing in this community.But this threatens the extremists, who are burdening their communities with fabricated [laws] which are not halachic.

“Their goal is not to isolate women from the public sphere but to isolate the haredi community from the general community.”

By Maayan Lubell Reuters November 14, 2011

“The new fad is to distance one’s self from women as a way to measure piety. The idea that sex is dirty is not part of Judaism. We have to plug this leak before it spills over,” said Anat Hoffman, IRAC’s executive director.

“We object to the sexist use of women in ads. But it is also important to me that my two daughters grow up in a place where they are not excluded because they are women,” Uri Ayalon said.

“Segregation has been happening for a while. What’s new is that the pluralistic public has woken up and is fighting. We won’t stand it any longer,” Rachel Azaria told Reuters.

By Pierre Klochendler November 20, 2011

Former (and first) ultra-orthodox legislator (on a left-wing party list) Tzvia Greenfeld hoped the counter- campaign will reverse the pattern of exclusion. 

“We don’t want mingling of the public territory and of the private space perceived as religious. But in areas shared by all, such coerced separation should be forbidden,” the advocate of separation of State and religion cautions.

“Women will be back on the city’s walls in such a way that their display will be boring again. No one will notice us.”

By Phoebe Greenwood November 15, 2011

[The Israeli Religious Action Centre (IRAC)] receive around four calls a day from mostly orthodox Jewish women complaining of segregation in medical centres, on pavements, in post offices, graveyards and, most often, on buses. The centre estimates that daily, between 500 and 600 bus journeys in Israel are segregated.

“I feel like a fire fighter – this issue spreads and spirals like a fire,” saids the IRAC’s director Anat Hofman. “But the fact that our case load is increasing is a good thing – it means more people are sensitive to the problem and are prepared to stand up against it.”

By Allison Kaplan Sommer Opinion November 16, 2011

Ynet reports that ultra-Orthodox Radio Kol Berama, which holds a government license and excluded women from its programs, bowed to public pressure that included a heated Knesset debate, and will now allow women to call in for an hour each Sunday morning.

An hour per week of call-in time on an obscure radio station may not seem like a great victory, but after the last several months of depressing developments, any progress toward hearing and seeing women in the ultra-Orthodox sector has to be seen as an encouraging sign.

By Etta Prince-Gibson November 16, 2011

Women have the right to be both seen and heard in public space. There should be no need to make that declaration. It should be self-evident; we should be able to take it for granted. But it isn’t, and we can’t.

No longer satisfied with merely forcing women to dress according to their dictates and to mute women’s voices so that men do not succumb to their own sexuality, some men are demanding that women be neither seen nor heard on our streets.

By Netta Geist November 17, 2011

“I remember going out and suddenly seeing it: a campaign for family medicine depicting a man and two kids, and a poster for a wedding venue with just the groom,” says Rachel Azaria, former Jerusalem councillor who was fired by [Mayor] Barkat after bringing the Mea Shearim case before the High Court.

“It takes a while to notice that something is missing from Jerusalem’s public space, but once you do, you can’t believe you didn’t realise it sooner,” said Rabbi Uri Ayalon.

By Neri Livneh Opinion November 18, 2011

The solution is easy: Instead of removing women of all ages from public spaces in Israel, a public appeal could be issued asking Haredi men to stay at home or wherever they feel safe and protected from the sin lying at their doorstep in the female form.

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen November 18, 2011

Blu Greenberg:
When Haredim said they want separate buses, women said they did too. I say thank God I’m not part of that community because it would be oppressive to me, as an Orthodox Jew who likes to feel like a free person, not a second-class citizen.

On the other hand, the women seem to want this. I can say it’s oppressive but I have to allow for their freedom of choice. Then do other people say about me that I just accept these things in my community and why do I stay? Where do you draw the line? I don’t know.

By Kobi Nahshoni November 16, 2011

The Chief Rabbinate Council on Tuesday discussed the marriage registration and wedding ceremonies conducted by Tzohar rabbis.

The meeting’s participants decided to appoint a joint committee which would discuss the modern Orthodox organization’s claims, but in the meantime many of Tzohar’s rabbis will be prevented from marrying couples.

By Yair Ettinger November 16, 2011

The council also decided that any municipal chief rabbi who allows unauthorized rabbis to perform weddings in his town will face disciplinary charges.

Currently, not all Tzohar rabbis are authorized to perform weddings by the Chief Rabbinate, but Tzohar-affiliated municipal rabbis have in the past allowed them to do so.

By Rabbi Uri Regev Opinion November 15, 2011

Tzohar’s strategy in Israel was to declare its work a way to save the Jewish people from Reform, Conservative and civil marriage, implying that those who would marry outside of Orthodox tradition would be lost to the Jewish fold forever.

The incredible deviation from its message to North American Jewish leaders that there is a “coercive Chief Rabbinate” and that these marriage restrictions would “harm every Jew and Jewish community in the world” appear increasingly suspect, given Tzohar’s own vocalized disdain for liberal Jewry.

By Jeremy Sharon November 16, 2011

…[Chief Rabbi Shlomo] Amar said in response to Tzohar’s allegations: “They claim that perhaps there is some discrimination against some communities. Maybe we weren’t aware of them….”

By Susan Hattis Rolef Opinion November 20, 2011
The writer teaches at the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College and was a Knesset employee for many years.

Hopefully someday the law in Israel will be changed following growing pressure from secular Jews, who are tired of hearing that they are a threat to “the unity of the Jewish People” because they wish to be free of any religious coercion. The unity of the Jewish People can only be preserved under a pluralistic regime that ensures the human rights and personal freedom of every Jew.

By Yehuda Shlezinger November 16, 2011

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar: “Israel believes in rabbis and the Rabbinate,” he reportedly said.
Another rabbi who was at the meeting told Israel Hayom on Tuesday: “Tzohar is fighting for its life and will lose the battle. This whole thing will boomerang against them. Without the rabbinate, they are nothing, zero.”

By Yair Ettinger November 15, 2011

Most [Chief Rabbinical] Council members are municipal rabbis who object to allowing Tzohar rabbis to register couples as married even if neither member of the couple lives in the town where they are registered.

The Tzohar registration process sidelines the municipal rabbinates and has the effect of withholding part of their income.

By Jeremy Sharon November 15, 2011

MK Tzipi Hotovely announced Monday she would be introducing a bill, alongside MK Uri Orbach, to legally ensure that any rabbi with ordination from the Chief Rabbinate is able to carry out wedding ceremonies.

By J.J. Goldberg Opinion November 14, 2011

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat, the charismatic ex-New Yorker and outspokenly moderate settler leader, offers some startlingly bold criticisms of Israeli Orthodoxy in a Jerusalem Post column titled “Has the Chief Rabbinate outlived its usefulness?

His bottom line is that it hasn’t—at least, he hopes it hasn’t—but he hints that it’s teetering on the edge with its relentlessly intrusive disregard for the rights and sensibilities of non-religious Israelis.

By Yair Ettinger November 21, 2011

Pressure to support candidates acceptable to Israel’s two main ultra-Orthodox parties suggests that neither of the bar association’s two slots on the rabbinic courts’ Judicial Appointments Committee will be filled by a woman.

Thus, for the first time in 12 years, the committee would have no woman member. Women’s rights groups have warned that the makeup of the committee will contribute to extremism in the rabbinic courts.

By Sharon Shenhav Opinion November 19, 2011
The writer is a Jerusalem-based women’s rights lawyer and served as the BarAssociation’s representative to the Commission to Appoint Dayanim from 2003 to 2009.

…due to back-room deals arranged by various political factions within the association, no women will be elected to the Commission to Appoint Dayanim on November 22.

A highly qualified female lawyer with many years of experience representing women in the rabbinical courts, Bat Sheva Shani, director of Yad L’isha, is the only woman candidate.
She doesn’t have a chance!

By Yair Ettinger November 18, 2011

This is another step in the privatization of religious life in Israel: As in private Orthodox wedding ceremonies and private conversions, here too there is a group that is in effect distinguishing between religion and the religious establishment – in this case the hevra kadisha.

Here too Jews are preferring to act in the civil-secular realm, while strictly adhering to tradition and rabbinical law in all their details. The main point for them is that they have a choice as to how to do this.

By Jonathan Lis November 15, 2011

On Monday, MK Avi Dichter (Kadima) withdrew his controversial draft law that would subordinate democratic rule in Israel to the country’s role as a Jewish state. In its place he proposed a more moderate bill, which was met with harsh criticism.

By Prof. Shlomo Avineri Opinion November 21, 2011

In the new version, too, the bill is unnecessary and merely deepens tensions between Jews and Arabs, as well as among various parts of the Jewish population. And it will give Israel a bad name. There is only one remedy for this bill – to shelve it completely.

By Talila Nesher November 18, 2011

Parents of some 400 children in the state religious school system have banded together to protest what they view as the extreme bent the system has taken.

A parent from the Moriah school said: “One fine day they decided to separate the children on the bus: the boys in the front and the girls in the back. Recess is also taken in different yards.”

By Avirama Golan Opinion November 16, 2011

The national-religious public was long ago swept out to this sea and swallowed up.
The only ones who are fighting are the direct victims of the undertow, the women. While putting themselves and their families at real risk, they are attempting to stop it.

But the general public, religious and secular, is not adding its voice to theirs. Abandoning them to fight this battle alone means consciously committing mass suicide in the sea of the twisted new Judaism.

By Masua Sagiv Opinion November 17, 2011

For a while now I have been feeling that the national-religious sector is not the same sector I grew up in, and the change is not for the better.

Radicalized sectarian separatism, strictness in respect to minor issues and a methodical renunciation of values that are not “purely halachaic,” focusing all energies on settlement in the land of Israel and nothing beyond, and growing separation from secular society are to my regret the mainstream in our sector, and anyone who thinks otherwise is dubbed a leftist, Reform Jew and a bleeding heart (all grave insults in the sector, shamefully enough.)

By Elana Sztokman Opinion November 15, 2011

This interplay between Torah, religion and politics in the religious Zionist world is fascinating. It’s as if we want to be talking about Rabin, but we’re not supposed to say that that’s what we’re doing. It’s as if there is pressure to take a particular stance towards everything, but in practice people’s lives are much more complex.

By Tzofia Hirschfeld November 17, 2011

A Jerusalem synagogue recently hosted an event on fertility preservation for single religious women in a bid to present them with the existing halachic solutions, such as egg freezing, and the technological innovations for improving fertility.

The event was initiated by social worker Dina Kazhdan, and was attended by Rabbi Menachem Burstein, head of Jewish fertility organization Puah, halachic advisor Rabanit Gila Hazan, and Dr. Dror Meirow, who leads the fertility preservation program at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center.

By Gil Shefler November 17, 2011

Members of a Jewish Agency for Israel committee engaged in a heated debate at its Board of Governors meeting in Buenos Aires on Tuesday over its set of priorities and whether the organization has neglected aliya.

The chairman of the group’s Aliya and Rescue Committee, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, launched an all-out offensive following a report that said several hundred Russian-speaking Jews want to move to Israel this year but can’t because of lack of funds.

“There are 800, 900 young academically trained people in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Kiev ready to come to Israel tomorrow,” he said. “What’s the cost? Two million dollars. To me it is absurd, maybe even obscene, that a $300 million organization cannot afford to bring olim from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Israel.

By Raphael Ahren November 18, 2011

Budget cuts approved by the Jewish Agency for Israel this week may jeopardize the existence of smaller immigration assistance groups, according to aliyah professionals. Nonprofits serving native English speakers, however, say they are financially strong enough to continue operating as usual.

There are about 15 private groups helping new immigrants find their way in Israel that receive funding from JAFI.

By James Hyman Opinion November 15, 2011
James Hyman, Ph.D., is Chief Executive Officer, Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning.

Until we, as American Jews, have a viable lexicon to understand and describe our identity as more than religious alone, it will be very difficult for the very best of what Israel has to offer us today to penetrate American Jewish identity.

Until a far greater number of American Jews understand and have experiences that reinforce a broader conception of Jewish identity, Israel programming will not fit into the self understanding of American Jews and the institutions of American Jewish life.

By Raphael Ahren November 18, 2011

The Jerusalem municipality is initiating for the first time a lecture series in North America in the hopes of convincing potential immigrants to make the capital their home.

The campaign is part of a new effort to show native English speakers that the holy city is better than what thou may have heard about it. November 14, 2011

Fifty-two North American olim arrived in Israel on Thursday on a Nefesh B’Nefesh Group Aliyah Flight.
Among them was 23-year-old Genna Brand, who is the newest addition to Israel’s National Women’s Soccer Champions, ASA Tel Aviv.

By Gil Shefler November 14, 2011

BUENOS AIRES – Since the establishment of Israel the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) has held its annual meetings in the country, but for the first time in decades the Zionist group’s top brass has gathered overseas for its Board of Governors which kicks off here on Monday.

By Dan Brown November 16, 2011

In a ground breaking new initiative, the Jewish Agency is teaming up with local philanthropists to make Israel experiences more accessible to young Argentinian and other Latin American Jews.

By Lonny Moses November 16, 2011

Lonny Moses is the youth leadership coordinator of Habonim Dror North America. He graduated from American University in 2010.

More importantly, Israel—and the Jewish people—deserve better. We deserve people who have been given an opportunity to connect and grapple with the diversity of ideas, challenges and consequences of Jewish nationalism and culture over time.

Clearly there are some people, even at the GA, who understand this. Unless the rest of us come to terms with that reality and work to truly meet this need, the organized Jewish world will continue to fail its young people and itself.

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
All rights reserved.

Read More »

Nov 21, 2011
Religion and State in Israel Wave

Religion and State in Israel - November 21, 2011 (Section 2)

By ,
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

By Yair Ettinger November 17, 2011

“[The IDF] is bringing close the day in which rabbis will have to say to soldiers ‘you have to leave those events even if there’s a firing squad outside, and you’ll be shot to death,” Rabbi Levanon said.

By Yoav Zitun November 20, 2011

The IDF chief addressed the rabbi’s statements, saying: 

“In the IDF one servers a national service. Everyone together, religious and secular, women and men. Those who contribute are important, not those who don’t.”

By Kobi Nahshoni November 18, 2011

Chief Military Rabbi Rafi Peretz, on the other hand, stressed his strong objection to soldiers refusing orders when he appeared before the committee.

Nonetheless, the IDF rabbi opposes the committee’s expected decisions, as he believes that clear rules should be set for exempting soldiers from ceremonies which include the singing of women and that commanders’ discretion on the matter must be limited as much as possible.

By Jeremy Sharon November 20, 2011

Rabbi Yehuda Gilad, head of Yeshivat Maalei Gilboa and rabbi of Kibbutz Lavi, called Levanon’s comments “unfortunate” and said that the entire episode of women singing in the army was like a “conversation of the deaf.”

“On the one hand soldiers should not insist on leaving such events, but on the other they really shouldn’t be forced to stay, Gilad told The Jerusalem Post.

By Amos Harel November 18, 2011

When it comes to relations between religious and secular soldiers, it seems that indeed, this is no longer the army we used to know. As if we blinked and the army changed.

Prof. Yedidia Stern, a religious man who is a lawyer and also vice president of the Israel Democracy Institute, told Haaretz that, “what is needed is a multi-faceted policy of setting limits while allowing commanders to be flexible.

The army needs to set red lines that cannot be transgressed. Religion is imperialist by nature. It has tremendous energy, but it retreats when facing a resolute policy.

On the other hand, the carrot needs to be used along with the stick: After setting limits, the army should go the extra mile on behalf of religious soldiers, and allow prudent officers the freedom to deal with specific issues.”

By Amos Harel November 15, 2011

“All kinds of groups, with Haaretz at the forefront, are conducting what is almost an incitement [campaign against] the military rabbinate’s influence,” said the former IDF chief rabbi, Brig. Gen. (res.) Avichai Ronsky, in a radio interview.

“It creates unnecessary uproar. Religious soldiers and women get along well in the army.”

By Amos Harel Opinion November 14, 2011

The promotion of religious soldiers in combat units to the rank of officer or other intermediate levels has created a gradual cultural shift in the army.

The change has caused clashes for two reasons: the national religious community’s general tendency to hold dear to traditional values, as well as growing activity among the military’s rabbinate.

By David Lev November 17, 2011

Most IDF kitchens – on bases, in the field, and at institutions – will receive “mehadrin” kashrut certification in the coming years, the IDF Chief Rabbinate decided this week.

By David Lev November 17, 2011

The IDF expects a sharp increase in the number of religious girls who opt for full army service in the coming year.

During the draft period between April 2010 and April 2011, some 1,200 18-year-old young women who classified themselves as observant entered the ranks of the IDF.

Army officials expect that number to grow by about 25% this year, with some 1,500 girls signing up for service by the time the current draft period ends in April 2012.

By Yoav Zitun November 17, 2011

Of the women who do not enlist, 35% cited religious grounds, though the IDF believes that seven percent received false exemptions.

Yet the IDF also commended the growing number of haredim who serve in the IDF. In the current year 1,200 haredi men enlisted in the National Service program (Sherut Leumi) in addition to the 450 haredim who enlisted in the special haredi infantry regiment and 650 haredim who enlisted in various designated service programs.

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion November 18, 2011

Someone just woke up and discovered that women have been banished from advertising billboards throughout Jerusalem. Good morning!

…Israel’s political class has long ago sold Jerusalem off to the ultra-Orthodox. The deal was legal and democratic and if Israelis don’t wake up, it won’t stop in the capital.

By Jacob Kamaras/JointMedia News Service November 15, 2011

The Joint Distribution Committee’s Eisler said JDC staff works to help IDF soldiers “in all echelons” develop cultural sensitivity for Haredim. When Shahar was initially designed for men who couldn’t find their place in yeshiva system, Eisler said recruiting “was like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Now, however, Eisler is surprised to see a large number of Haredi men from “mainstream families”—not just yeshiva dropouts—taking advantage of Shahar.

By Shlomo Maital November 21, 2011

A quiet revolution is occurring among Israel’s Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) population, which numbers between 444,000 and 795,000, depending on which of four different surveys you believe and on how you define “Haredi.”

More of them are serving in the army or in civic national service (in place of army duty), studying, learning skills and finding jobs.

The numbers are not yet massive but the trend is pronounced and significant. The change is a result of both some enlightened policy measures and new recognition among Haredim that they must do more to support themselves and rely less on public funds. When as many as one Israeli Jew in every eight is Haredi, integrating them into the economy is vital.

However, despite the revolutionary change, the gaps are growing and much more remains to be done.

By Haim Bior November 16, 2011

The study found welcome changes in the last two years studied, 2007 to 2009. In the Israeli Arab community, women began to work more, while in the ultra-Orthodox community, there has been an increase among men working.

During that time, Israel went through two recessions. Toledano and Gottlieb found that during each recession, employment among nonobservant Jews aged 36 to 50 fell – and did not recover.

While employment among nonreligious Jews fell, employment in the Arab community increased by 6% from 2001 to 2009, say the researchers. Among Haredim, the increase was 2.3%.

By Roy Goldenberg November 13, 2011

It will also house entrepreneurs from Israel’s Arab and haredi (ultra-orthodox) communities, which currently have little exposure in the country’s high-tech industry.

By Barry Davis November 13, 2011

Any artist will tell you, it is always a thrill when he or she discovers a whole new world, but in the case of Gil Cohen-Magen that new, multi-faceted world was right on his doorstep all the time.

Cohen-Magen was a hard-nosed photographer with the Reuters news agency for some time before approaching his latest project, a wonderfully illuminating book entitled Hassidic Courts.

The richly appointed tome is the result of Cohen-Magen and his wife Efrat’s own efforts and was produced and published, and is being distributed, independently.

Hassidic Courts is available at independent bookstores such as Meir Ludwig, Lichtenstein & Son and Yarden in Jerusalem, and Tolaat Sefarim and Sippur Pashut in Tel Aviv. 
For more information:

By Tanya Sapty November 17, 2011

“We’re not making religious music, our ideals are just embedded into it.” Explained M’Ori after the three set show. “Torah is just the structure for expressing yourself and being the best you.”

Reuters November 21, 2011

“They (the Sikrikim) had a real ball with us,” said Guy Ammar, one of Zisalek’s owners, describing vandalism similar to attacks against other shops in the area.

“But we were not deterred. Residents here told us not to give up and business is going well now.”

By Judith Sudilovsky November 16, 2011

At the end of October, the High Court of Justice heard a petition submitted by Ir Amim, challenging the contract between El Ad, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the Minister of the Environment and the Municipality of Jerusalem for the privatization of the City of David National Park.

The terms of this contract were kept secret, Ir Amim maintains, and called for the transfer of its administration to the political organization. This, Ir Amim claims, is illegal, although the law does allow the National Parks Authority to use sub-contractors for the operation of sites.

By David M. Weinberg Opinion November 17, 2011
The writer is director of public affairs at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

The greatest crime of all – an antiquities crime of historic proportions – has been committed over recent years by the Palestinian Wakf on the Temple Mount.

In 1999, the Wakf dug out hundreds of truckloads of dirt from caverns known as Solomon’s Stables beneath the upper plaza (more than 1,600 square meters in area and 15 meters deep) without any archeological supervision or documentation.

By David J. Michaels Opinion November 19, 2011
The writer is director of intercommunal affairs for B’nai B’rith.

The following letter has been sent to over a dozen of the most senior church leaders in Jerusalem, with copies to officials at major Christian bodies abroad.

…I feel obliged to express my revulsion over new reported incidents of spitting at Christian clergy in certain areas of the Holy City. I feel especially obliged to do so as an Orthodox Jew.

By Rabbi Barry Leff Opinion November 18, 2011

It is utterly appalling that many teenage ultra-Orthodox Jews choose to express their disdain for Christianity by spitting at priests.

First, I am appalled that they disdain Christianity, a “sister religion” to Judaism, whose adherents hold our Torah to be Holy Scripture and who worship the same God we do.  

Secondly, I’m appalled that they would choose to express their disdain by being disrespectful to Christian clergy, spitting at them as they pass them in the streets.

The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, together with the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel and the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, will be hosting an annual lecture in memory of Daniel Rossing, Founder and General Director of the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, on Thursday, 27 Heshvan 5772, 24 November 2011, 5:30pm –  7:30pm
Teddy Kollek Auditorium, Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, 20 Radak Street, Jerusalem

Panel 2: Jerusalem – City of “the Between”: Christian Perspective 

Chair: Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish, Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel and Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations

Participants:  Archbishop Aristarchos Peristaris, Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem Father Dr. David Neuhaus, Vicariate for the Hebrew-Speaking Catholics, the Latin Patriarchate

By Yair Ettinger November 18, 2011

Rabbi Chananya Blumert has devoted himself to the Ethiopian community for 20 years. He speaks Amharic, has an Ethiopian wife and commands the respect of the Ethiopian kesim (priests).

However, some question whether a white Ashkenazi is really the best person to honor the traditions of the Beta Israel, and whether his appointment as their rabbi in Bat Yam is symbolic of attempts to homogenize Judaism.

By Elana Sztokman Opinion November 15, 2011

The book, “The Men’s Section”, is  about the identities of Orthodox Jewish men, based on interviews I conducted with 54 men who belong to “partnership synagogues” or “ortho-egal” synagogues, in Israel, North America and Australia.

These are synagogues, like Shira Chadasha in Jerusalem, that try to maximize women’s participation in the prayer service within bounds of halakha. Women can read Torah, lead certain parts of the service, give speeches, and sit on committees, but they do not count in a quorum (minyan), nor do they lead any part of the service that requires a quorum. 
But of course, I wasn’t interested in the women. I was interested in the men. November 20, 2011

As Israel marked the 16th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s murder this month, one of Religious Zionism’s most influential educators chose to strongly criticize the late prime minister.

In a conversation with his students at the Pre-Military Yeshiva Academy in Eli, Rabbi Eli Sadan said that Rabin “has no heritage as a leader and as a prime minister. He was the biggest political and leadership failure in the history of the State of Israel.”

By Rabbi Gideon D. Sylvester Opinion November 20, 2011

I am an Orthodox Rabbi and a proud Zionist, but I believe that if Religious Zionism is to have a compelling message for the next generation, it cannot restrict its activities to concern for the Land of Israel. If it shows no concern for “the other”, it will become morally bankrupt.

By Toby Tabachnick November 18, 2011

Ma’aleh is the only film school in the world devoted to exploring the intersection of Judaism and modern life, and the unusual films created by its students — mostly Orthodox Jews — are screened regularly at film festivals worldwide, consistently winning top awards.

“The school was started 22 years ago by a group of people who saw there must be a film school for Orthodox people,” said Neta Ariel, its director.

By Mira Sucharov Opinion November 21, 2011

Holding a belief in God, taking the notion of covenant seriously, and being committed to the enhancement and furthering of the Jewish people need not imply any particular policy stance vis-à-vis Israel’s hold on the territories, its occupation policies or its view of religion and state.

By Naama Cohen-Friedman November 17, 2011

The Petah Tikva District Court on Thursday rejected an appeal filed by Yigal Amir, murderer of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Amir petitioned the court to allow him to pray together with more than one prisoner.

By Eli Ashkenazi November 21, 2011

The High Court of Justice rejected last week a request submitted by a yeshiva that operates at the grave of Shimon Bar Yochai at Mount Meron, asking for an injunction against the state’s intention to purchase and use parts of the site for public purposes.

The yeshiva’s opposition stems from concerns that the state intends to operate the holy site, in lieu of the array of organizations that operate there today.

By Rabbi Arik Ascherman Opinion November 16, 2011
The writer is director for external relations and special projects for Rabbis for Human Rights.

In RHR’s educational programs we attempt to bring together people holding a wide variety of opinions. We make our positions clear, but make a point of also teaching Jewish sources challenging those positions.

We have no direct telephone line to God or to Absolute Truth. The Jewish people and humanity are best served by a genuine and open attempt to understand God’s will.

By Kamoun Ben-Shimon November 16, 2011

A report to the municipal fire authorities published the last week of October, as part of the department’s regular reporting on public sites, has determined that a temporary bridge, commonly referred to as the Mugrabi Bridge, is in imminent danger of collapse.

By Matti Friedman AP November 17, 2011

A Jewish group in Jerusalem is using 21st-century technology to map every tombstone in the ancient cemetery on the Mount of Olives, a sprawling, politically sensitive necropolis of 150,000 graves stretching back three millennia.

The goal is to photograph every grave, map it digitally, record every name, and make the information available online.

By Nir Hasson November 18, 2011

Whoever is familiar with the Old City of Jerusalem knows that the invisible walls surrounding each quarter are as high as those that surround the Old City. Many inhabitants of the Jewish Quarter or Muslim Quarter have never set foot in the neighboring quarter.

An academic and public discussion marking the publication of:
By Prof. Yitzhak Reiter
Published by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies
Wednesday, 4 Kislev, 30 November 2011, 5pm – 7pm

Agenda: Chair: Meir Kraus, Director General, Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies Prof. Yitzhak Reiter, Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies & Ashkelon Academic College Prof. Yehoshua Porath, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Prof. Rassem Khamaisi, University of Haifa Dr. Shmuel Berkovitch, attorney and legal expert on Jerusalem and holy sitesProf. Yehoshua Ben-Arieh, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

By Aliza Kline Opinion November 14, 2011
Aliza Kline is Founding Executive Director, Mayyim Hayyim

For the past several years on every visit to Jerusalem I have had back-to-back meetings with Reform, Conservative, modern-Orthodox and plain curious Israelis wanting to talk through their visions for an alternative to the State-run mikvaot that dot the city.

Even though the conversations have been rich and stimulating, they don’t seem to have resulted in anything concrete.
This year though, it seems like the topic is inescapable – and maybe just meant to be.

By Yanir Yagna November 15, 2011

On Monday, hundreds of people came to the home of Rabbi Yoshiahu Pinto in Ashdod to offer support after a firecracker was thrown at his home Sunday, scaring the rabbi and his family.

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
All rights reserved.

Read More »

Nov 14, 2011
Religion and State in Israel Wave

Religion and State in Israel - November 14, 2011 (Section 2)

By ,
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

By Amos Harel November 14, 2011

“The removal of women from an array of core positions, the separation of women from the public sphere, and the forcible imposition of behavioral norms suited to a small portion of the religious population upon the army as a whole – all this causes serious damage to the army’s image, and does not adhere to the IDF’s spirit and ethos.”

By Yagil Levy Opinion November 8, 2011

Is there a connection between the warning of the outgoing Judea and Samaria Division commander, Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon – who said a “radical minority, marginal in quantity but not in influence, is liable to bring about extensive escalation through what are called ‘price tag’ acts but reach the level of terrorism” – and the separation of women at the army’s Simhat Torah celebrations?

By Dina Kraft November 14, 2011

Yisrael Schulman is one of several Haredi men trained by a company called Verisense: “Now people are living a very low quality of life,” Schulman says. “I don’t think the community can survive without education and work.

“Ultimately more people will have to work, and you can feel a shift toward that. Change will come because people do want to work.”

By Gershom Gorenberg Opinion November 8, 2011

The following is adapted from Gershom Gorenberg’s new book The Unmaking of Israel.
In economic terms, the haredi revival in Israel has been disastrous. Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community is ever more dependent on the state and, through it, on other people’s labor.

Exploiting political patronage, ultra-Orthodox clerics have largely taken over the state’s religious bureaucracy, imposing extreme interpretations of Jewish law on other Jews.
By exempting the ultra-Orthodox from basic general educational requirements, the democratic state fosters a burgeoning sector of society that neither understands nor values democracy.

And to protect their own growing settlements, haredi parties are now essential partners in the pro-settlement coalitions of the right.

By Oren Majar November 11, 2011

Shahar Cohen [is] the youngest person on Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg’s 15-member committee for social and economic change…

“For instance, the section on ultra-Orthodox employment could set in motion a genuine revolution if it is implemented.

The most positive aspect of that section is that it does not take a coercive approach; that is why many pragmatic-minded members of the Haredi community were prepared to endorse the report.

They also realize that the present situation simply cannot continue. More aggressive measures would have led them to close the door in the secular public’s face.

[The report] is proposing training and education programs, and making working more attractive. How? By limiting state-funded yeshiva tuition to five years. Only 10 percent of yeshiva students – namely, only the outstanding students – would receive tuition funding after reaching the limit. The other 90 percent will thus be more motivated to go out and work.”

By Yaron London Opinon November 8, 2011

Halevy’s words prompted protests, of course. Members of Shas and United Torah Judaism accused him of resorting to grave incitement.

They are certain, or pretend to be certain, that the ultra-Orthodox improve the status of Jews before God, and that the more people study Torah, the greater the people of Israel’s security would be.

By Dr. Haim Shine Opinion November 7, 2011

The ultra-Orthodox population is the Jewish people’s insurance certificate. Israelis are not everywhere, yet in every sub-culture to which he or she is connected, he or she can be sure that their sons and their son’s sons will continue to affiliate as Jews.

…The ultra-Orthodox public is the insurance policy for the continuing existence of the Jewish people. Even when the premium goes up, one does not forego life insurance.

By Sharon Shenhav Opinion November 9, 2011
The writer, a Jerusalem-based women’s rights lawyer, is the director of the International Jewish Women’s Rights Project of the International Council of Jewish Women.

On October 31, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yonah Metzger informed Israel Radio, Reshet Bet, that he had visited a shelter for battered Orthodox women in Beit Shemesh and was horrified to hear of their suffering.

Rabbi Metzger’s concern and compassion is well deserved and to be commended. However, it comes a little late. Where has he been for the past 40 years? Has he been so out of touch that he doesn’t read newspapers or listen to radio or television?

Despite the changing daily reality of Israeli life, rabbis have continued to maintain their central role in the Jewish and Israeli experience, both as individuals and as an establishment.

What challenges do rabbis face, and what course of action do they take to meet those challenges?

These questions will be explored in a symposium in honor of the anthology Rabbis and Rabbinate: The Challenge, edited by Yedidia Z. Stern and Shuki Friedman and published by IDI and Am Oved.

This event is free and open to the general public with advance registration.
Registration: Tel. 02-629-2223 or
Rabbis and Rabbinate: The Challenge – On Ethics, Authority, and Responsibility  
Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 3:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.
The Jerusalem Center for Ethics – The Konrad Adenauer Conference Center, De Botton Auditorium, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Jerusalem

By Moshe Negbi Opinion November 10, 2011
The writer is the legal analyst of Israel Radio and a senior lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Yigal Amir is in jail but his senior partners to the murder of the prime minister are still free and happy.

Amir himself testified about those partners already on the night of the assassination when he said in his investigation: 

“Without the rabbinical ruling or the ‘din rodef’ [the right to pursue and kill someone who has supposedly sinned] that applied to [Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin, issued by a number of rabbis that I know about, I would have had difficulty murdering. A murder of that kind must have backing. If I did not have backing … I would not have acted.”

By Akiva Novick November 9, 2011

[The survey] reveals that 65% of seculars and 61% of traditional Jews identify with the Rabin memorial.

Among religious Jews, only 26% feel very affiliated with the memorial, while 39% reported feeling slightly affiliated.

By Jeremy Sharon November 9, 2011

The Reform Movement in Israel presented a report to the Knesset Lobby Against Racism on Tuesday about racial incitement by rabbinical figures.

The report claims that most complaints against rabbis accused of religious incitement are not investigated.

Out of 48 complaints filed between 2002 and 2011, the police initiated just 18 criminal investigations, the report says. The remaining complaints were either dropped prior to investigation or were left unanswered.

By Hagai Stadler Opinion November 10, 2011
Hagai Stadler, a member of the religious Zionism camp, is a Principal at the Yarden Management and Investment Group

Whether we want to or not, the murder of Yitzhak Rabin shall forever remain a terrible stain in the history of religious Zionism. 

Up until now, the camp’s leaders chose to look down and avoid a genuine inquiry into the rift, out of defensiveness and populism.

By Arie Hasit November 7, 2011
Arie Hasit is an educator at Ramah Programs in Israel and is beginning the Israeli bet midrash program at the Schechter institute. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone.

…I would like to reclaim the label of “religious,” so that in Israel, religiousness is associated not only with the strict observance of the Sabbath and Kashrut, but with good deeds, charity, and a desire to make the world a better place.

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel Opinion November 12, 2011

Some years ago, I visited a great Torah luminary in Israel. Because of his independent and original views, he was increasingly isolated from the rabbinic establishment. He commented sadly: “Have you heard of the mafia? Well, we have a rabbinic mafia here.”

By Yair Ettinger November 9, 2011

Some 100,000 people attended the Jerusalem funeral Tuesday of Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the head of the Mir Yeshiva, who died at the age of 68.

Mir, in Jerusalem’s Beit Yisrael neighborhood, is believed to be the largest yeshiva in the world, though enrollment estimates vary between 3,000 and 5,000. It has a large affiliate in New York and branches in Modi’in Ilit and Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo.

By Raphael Ahren November 11, 2011

An estimated 100,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews crowded the streets of Jerusalem Tuesday for the funeral of Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the head of the capital’s Mir Yeshiva, which is considered the Harvard of the Haredi world.

Most of the mourners probably did not know that in his early years the revered American-Israeli scholar regularly exchanged his skullcap with a baseball batting helmet.

By Eitan Kensky November 11, 2011

Finkelman argues that Haredi Jews, though they regularly borrow from secular society, are determined to maintain their separateness from it. 

To do so, they create “symbolic boundaries” between themselves and the general culture. Haredi popular literature is a lens through which we can examine those boundaries.

By Tova Dadon November 12, 2011

An explosion in a pipe in Ashdod has left hundreds of residents without water. Municipal workers who attempted to fix the malfunction met with resistance from ultra-Orthodox residents, who claimed that the work disturbs Shabbat.

By Jonathan Rosenblum Opinion November 11, 2011

If one key test of a liberal education is the ability to learn new skills, then talmudic learning could be an important component. 

True, talmudic learning will not teach one math, unless one studies the rabbis’ complex calculations of the lunar cycle; nor will it provide grounding in a specific science. But it is not irrelevant to any of these pursuits. And the combination of intellectual rigor, discipline and concentration required is unsurpassed.

By Jeremy Sharon November 14, 2011

Police on Sunday brought in Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Motzkin David Meir Druckman for questioning in connection with a letter he signed with 24 other rabbis in 2008 calling for a boycott of Arab labor.

…The rabbi did, however, answer questions put to him by the police and declared that acted according to the law and has done nothing to require an investigation of him. He was brought to the Zvulun police station in northern Israel.

By Nir Hasson November 14, 2011

Archaeologists have resumed excavating the Jerusalem site where the Museum of Tolerance is to go up, amid controversy surrounding the exhumation of skeletons in what had been a Muslim cemetery for nearly 1,000 years.

In addition to fielding objections to the museum site, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is sponsoring and financing the project, also has to contend with the recent resignation of the two architects who planned the museum.

By Revital Blumenfeld November 10, 2011

Although the cabinet decided a year ago to bring the last of the Falashmura from Ethiopia to Israel at a rate of 200 a month, an interministerial committee with responsibility for the operation has decided to reduce the rate to 110 a month.

…The committee contends that immigrant absorption centers where the Falashmura would be received are full, and ordered the pace of immigration of the Ethiopians to be reduced starting within a week.

AFP November 11, 2011

Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Fouad Twal, Chief Imam of Israel Mohammed Kiwan and the leader of the Druze community, Moufak Rate, were received together for a meeting, which is a continuation of interfaith dialogue of Assisi.
See also: 

November 2011

Rabbi Moshe Zemer z”l (of Blessed Memory) was one of the most prominent leaders of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, and one of the leading pioneers of Reform Judaism in Israel.

He established the Movement’s communities in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv and led the way to founding the Movement (IMPJ) and MaRaM (Moetzet Harabanim Hamitkadmim, The Council of Progressive Rabbis).

By Nir Hasson November 14, 2011

A Bible museum that will include a sculpture garden featuring biblical characters and exhibits showing what daily life was like in biblical times will be built in the Jerusalem area, the cabinet decided in a unanimous vote on Sunday.

November 8, 2011

Prof. Lifshitz and Prof. Shochetman are receiving the prize in the humanities for their far-reaching work in researching Jewish law.

Prof. Lifshitz, who holds the Henry J. and Fanny Harkavy Chair in Comparative Law, has done extensive research in Jewish law, harking back all the way to the time of the ancient sages.

Prof. Shochetman is the author of numerous books and research articles in the area of law generally and Jewish law in particular, in which his depth of analysis has stood out.

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
All rights reserved.

Read More »

Nov 14, 2011
Religion and State in Israel Wave

Religion and State in Israel - November 14, 2011 (Section 1)

By ,

Religion and State in Israel

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Where have all the women gone?

By Tamar Rotem November 14, 2011

“Jerusalem residents and veteran public relations people say that there has been a growing process of capitulation to the Haredi extremists with their patently illogical demands.”

[Publicist Uri] Pridan believes it is a social problem that goes beyond the mere restrictions of Jerusalem. He warns that if the breach is not stopped, the exclusion of women will get as far as the secular city of Tel Aviv.

By Nir Hasson November 13, 2011

“We must make sure that those who want to advertise [with] women’s images in the city can do so without fear of vandalism and defacement of billboards or buses showing women,” Mayor Barkat wrote.

Dvora Evron, a religious staff member at Oranim Academic College:

“We have come today to have our voices of concern heard for both women and Judaism,” she said. “The phenomenon of exclusion that we are witnessing is improper and presents a distorted view of Judaism.”

By Oz Rosenberg and Revital Blumenfeld November 11, 2011

Hundreds of people amassed in multiple locations across Israel on Friday to protest what they conceive as the exclusion of women from the public sphere.

Jerusalem council member Rachel Azaria, who attended the local rally, told Haaretz that “we, women and men, secular, religious, and, slowly, Haredi, are changing the rules of the game and of discourse.”

“As long as a few people are shouting, nothing will happen. But you can’t silence the public mainstream for too long,” Azaria said, adding: “Even if we used to be a small group, now we are a mass.”

By Dina Kraft November 13, 2011

Kimmy Caplan, a professor of Jewish history at Bar-Ilan University who researches haredi society, said the trend toward gender separation is partly a response to the growing number of haredi women entering the workforce.

“They are meeting all kinds of people, and some haredi leaders see this as dangerous,” Caplan said. “It has the potential, as far as some leadership sees it, to be a danger because it can bring home questions, doubts, exposure to alternative ways of life.”

He explains that “There are certain leaders who think there is a need to create a balance by having more segregation in the neighborhood to compensate for a drop of segregation by women going out to work every day.”

By Jeremy Sharon and Lahav Harkov November 8, 2011

The Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women held a stormy hearing on Monday on a policy of the independent haredi radio station Kol Berama that prevents women from working as radio broadcasters and from being interviewed on the station’s programs.

Committee chairwoman MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud): “There are rights in the State of Israel that are protected by legislation and these laws also apply to sectarian radio stations, whether they’re aimed at specific sectors or not,” she said.

The lobbying arm of the Reform movement in Israel was also involved in the campaign against Kol Berama, and argued that the station’s policy infringes on women’s employment rights and the law of equal opportunities in the work place.

By Amy Teibel AP November 8, 2011

“The stronger the ultra-Orthodox and religious community grows, the greater its attempt to impose its norms,” said Hannah Kehat, the founder of the religious women’s forum Kolech. Their norms, she said, are “segregation of women and discrimination against them.”

By Dan Even November 8, 2011

Last week, Canaan Pirsum Bitnuah, the advertising agency handling the bus ads, which feature the faces of men and women, asked ADI for permission to replace the ads on buses in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak with ones showing men only.

“The photos showed only the women’s faces; there were no exposed shoulders or anything at all provocative. But we were warned that if we didn’t change the images, the buses might be burned,” ADI spokeswoman Dvora Sherer said.

By Edmund Sanders November 12, 2011

Rabbi Shmuel Pappenheim, a spokesman and leader for an umbrella group of ultra-Orthodox factions:

“We used to be a small minority fighting for survival,” he said. “Now we are a huge minority. As the saying goes, with food comes more appetite.”

He said the segregation was not intended to discriminate or oppress women but to “protect women’s honor and dignity.”

Click here for VIDEO
Interview with Noa Sattath, Israel Religious Action Center (video via New Israel Fund)

By Peggy Cidor November 11, 2011

Last week’s monthly city council meeting ended with Mayor Nir Barkat’s decision to expel Rachel Azaria from the coalition.

Even before the end of the meeting, rumors – accompanied by twinkles in the eyes of at least two city council members – promised that the separation wouldn’t last too long.
“At most one month,” said city councillor No. 1. “If it lasts for more than two weeks, I am not myself,” said city councillor No. 2.

By Rachel Neiman November 13, 2011

downloadable songbook was made available with backing from sponsors: the Masorti movement, which is affiliated with the Conservative Judaism movement; Noam, the Masorti youth movement; the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel; Be Free Israel, a nonpartisan movement working on behalf of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; and Israel Hollaback, the local branch of a world movement that uses technology to end gender-oriented and sex-oriented street harassment.

By Kobi Nahshoni November 13, 2011

Ultra-Orthodox radio station Kol Barama will allow women to call in for one hour every Sunday morning, following the public battle against women’s exclusion from its programs.
The move was the focus of a discussion held recently at the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women.

By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Opinion November 12, 2011

What are the origins of an official religious establishment in Israel, and what is causing the negative feelings towards the Chief Rabbinate and its judiciary system?

…I understand that the present controversy between Tzohar and the Ministry of Religious Affairs is on the road to resolution. But the general and underlying problem still remains in full force.

…Let us only pray that until the proper changes in the system are put into effect, a disgruntled Israeli populace will not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

By Merav Michaeli Opinion November 14, 2011

It is doubtful the Rabbinate understands how good Tzohar is for them: Were it not for Tzohar, possibly the Rabbinate’s insensitivity would have led some of the secular population to demand marital justice, a real alternative to marriage in Israel: civil marriage, Reform marriage, Conservative marriage, marriage in accordance with the couple’s conscience and beliefs.

By Kobi Nahshoni November 10, 2011

Religious Services Minister Yakov Margi and Tzohar Chairman Rabbi David Stav reached a series of understandings on Wednesday evening, allowing the Modern Orthodox organization’s rabbis to resume their wedding project.

The details are still unclear as a final agreement has yet to be reached, but one of the options raised during the meeting was advancing a bill initiated by MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), which seeks to cancel regional marriage registrations. Margi confirmed to Ynet that he has no objections to this proposal.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Religious Action Center, added: “In recent years, Tzohar rabbis have become the fig leaf of a rotten and corrupt establishment, and therefore they have no one to complain against but themselves.

“Its time for these to direct their public courage at real change in the relations of state and religion in Israel and at conducting civil marriage, rather than performing ‘slightly nicer’ ceremonies sponsored by the rabbinical establishment.”

By Jeremy Sharon November 10, 2011

Tzohar had accused Margi and the Chief Rabbinate of dealing with their free wedding service in a discriminatory manner. 

The group claimed that Margi was enforcing regulations on its program that the ministry ignored when it came to private haredi rabbinical courts. It also alleged that the bureaucratic obstacles were imposed to safeguard the income of rabbinate-approved rabbis.

By Jeremy Sharon November 8, 2011

Tzohar also claims that the law of registering in the city of the couple’s residence is being selectively applied to Shoham to hinder the organization’s free wedding services. 

It alleges that private haredi rabbinical courts register couples outside of those courts’ jurisdiction all the time, and the Religious Services Ministry and Chief Rabbinate simply ignore this.

Tzohar Executive Vice-President Nachman Rosenberg accused the ministry of deliberately lying in this regard.

“I can say with 1,000-percent certainty that private haredi courts register couples not resident in their jurisdiction who then get married also outside of the jurisdiction of the [rabbinical] court where they registered,” Rosenberg said. “We have documented evidence of this, and it happens all the time.” November 8, 2011

The Kadima MK urged Religious Services Minister Ya’akov Margi (Shas) to “understand that in the State of Israel there exist many sects and a each one will live according to his own faith and his own worldview.”

Editorial NY Jewish Week November 8, 2011

It’s about time rabbis concerned with the fabric of Jewish life in Israel are standing up to those haredi political and religious leaders seeking to narrow rather than broaden connections to the majority of Israelis who are not religiously observant.

By Yair Ettinger November 8, 2011

Rabbi Moshe Be’eri, Tzohar’s executive director:

“Every time I pleaded before the rabbinate or the Religious Services Ministry, I felt like someone going before the czar to protect his people, the people of Israel. But this time the czar is someone with a kippa.”

Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi said he would not allow Tzohar to establish a “mini-rabbinate,” though Ultra-Orthodox rabbinical courts have been registering couples as married and providing them with marriage certificates for decades, regardless of where the members of the couple live. The state rabbinate then rubber-stamps the Haredi marriages.

By Kobi Nahshoni November 8, 2011

Since the State’s establishment, the Rabbinate has allowed several private rabbinical courts – first those affiliated with the Eda Haredit faction and later those belonging to other ultra-Orthodox communities – to register marriages on their own, viewing each one as a branch of the Rabbinate.

By Yair Ettinger November 11, 2011

More than in any other field controlled by the religious establishment, private conversion is flourishing in Israel.

Hundreds of converts, mainly those who are not eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return, are joining the Jewish people outside the state rabbinic conversion courts, even though the latter are the only ones empowered to approve official “conversion certificates.”

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin: “What is happening now in Israel is not part of the rabbinic law I know and love, neither with respect to women who are refused a divorce, nor with respect to conversions.”

By Bradley Burston Opinion November 9, 2011

Every time a bureaucrat in black – ostensibly, ostentatiously, a Rav, a rabbi, a man of greatness – can discriminate against women; every time he can deny them access to holy sites and relegate them to the backs of buses; every time he can prohibit the image of a woman’s face in public advertising; every time he can decide when and where and if, as soldiers, as students, as worshippers, they may sing or dance or speak or stand or even be present in Jewish worship, Iran wins.

By Ilan Ben Zion Opinion November 8, 2011

Judaism is a comingling of nationhood, religion, and culture.  Therein lies the problem of Israel’s definition as a “Jewish and democratic state”.  To what extent ought the Jewish religion play a role in the running and identity of the Jewish state, and who says which interpretation is authoritative? 
… An Israeli constitution needs to separate Israel from Judaism the religion and make the state indifferent to the religious identities of its citizens.

By Gideon Levy November 13, 2011

One day not long from now we will wake up to a different kind of country, the country that’s now in the making.

…Separate buses and streets for men and women. Radio and television will only broadcast men singing. At some point, women will be required to cover their heads. Then it will be the men’s turn. They will be barred from appearing clean-shaven or without a head covering. That day is not long in coming.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis November 13, 2011

A social service trip to Israel may seem like an innocuous program for a Jewish social service organization.

But at Avodah, a domestic Jewish anti-poverty group, one staff member has quit and others involved with the group have launched a protest petition amid heated argument sparked by the prospect of just such a trip.

The conflict follows the announcement of an Israel trip planned by Pursue, an alumni network jointly sponsored by Avodah, which focuses on service projects in the United States, and by American Jewish World Service, which works in underdeveloped countries.

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
All rights reserved.

Read More »

Nov 7, 2011
Religion and State in Israel Wave

Religion and State in Israel - November 7, 2011 (Section 2)

By ,
Religion and State in Israel
November 7, 2011 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

By Zvi Zrahiya and Nati Toker November 7, 2011

Yet another aspect of the Trajtenberg recommendations for social and economic reform is being adjusted to suit narrow sectoral interests: Having a job will be dropped as an eligibility requirement for affordable housing.

This means that most of the homes built under the affordable housing program, Mehir Lemishtaken, are likely to go to Haredi families, as happened in the past.

By Zvi Zrahiya and Nati Toker November 7, 2011

A survey found that 78% of the country’s Jewish population supports implementing every aspect of the Trajtenberg committee’s recommendations regarding integrating Haredi men into the workforce.
The survey, conducted for the nonprofit Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality, found that 90% of non-religious Jews support the reform, while 94% of Haredim oppose it.

By staff and Lahav Harkov October 31, 2011
President Shimon Peres, during a speech moments earlier, focused on the social justice movement and said that social justice is for all sectors of society. He called on haredim to join the workforce.

By Tobias Buck [need free registration to view article] November 6, 2011

“Two years ago, the battle between the ultra-orthodox and the secular population was about the sanctity of the Sabbath,” says Shahar Ilan, the vice-president of Hiddush, an Israeli pressure group for religious pluralism.

“Now the battle is about whether women still have a place in the public sphere.”

Rabbi Amsalem Backs Peres’ Call on Haredim to Join Labor Force

By Aryeh ben Hayim November 1, 2011
“Not everybody is suited to study Torah all day,” Rabbi Amsalem said. 

“The way of Torah study that combines earning a living is the true path of our forefathers and this is how we should educate the young people. Someone who is truly enamored of Torah study will engage exclusively in that study.”

By Rabbi Natan Slifkin Opinion November 2, 2011
See also: The making of post-Haredism (original extended version)
When rabbinic authority is vested in yeshiva deans who are isolated from wider society (and often “handled” by various assistants), abuses of rabbinic power are inevitable. 
And a siege mentality has developed in which any criticism of haredi society, even coming from the inside, is to be fought or silenced.
As a result, many people in haredi society – including both those born into that society and those who joined in a spirit of youthful idealism – have grown dissatisfied.

By Kobi Nahshoni November 3, 2011
Shas Minister Meshulam Nahari slammed the formerly captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit for going to the beach with his father on the first Shabbat after his return instead of going to the synagogue for prayer.
Nahari claimed that Shalit and his father should have utilized the first Saturday after he was freed from Hamas captivity to say the benediction of deliverance – a Jewish prayer of thanks traditionally said by those who survived an adversity or were released from prison.

By Oz Rosenberg November 6, 2011
About a month ago he was spit at again, but this time, it hit his clothes. Garabidian, a former football player, said: “I pushed the two young ultra-Orthodox men up against the wall and asked, ‘Why are you doing this?’ 
They were really scared and said, ‘Forgive us, we’re sorry.’ So I let them go.”

Ultra-Orthodox spitting attacks on Old City clergymen becoming daily

By Oz Rosenberg November 4, 2011
Ultra-Orthodox young men curse and spit at Christian clergymen in the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City as a matter of routine. In most cases the clergymen ignore the attacks, but sometimes they strike back.
Last week the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court quashed the indictment against an Armenian priesthood student who had punched the man who spat at him.
…Father Goosan and other Patriarchy members are trying to walk as little as possible in the Old City streets. “Once we walked from the [Armenian] church to the Jaffa Gate and on that short section four different people spat at us,” he says.

By Lawrence Grossman November 1, 2011
Lawrence Grossman is the director of publications at the American Jewish Committee.

The Hazon Ish crafted a strategy meant to provide an independent social space for Haredim within Israel, yet today it increasingly entangles them in Israeli secular life. 

When he called for army exemptions for the 400 yeshiva students in 1949, did he dream that the number would multiply to 62,500 by 2010, triggering intense resentment among their fellow citizens?  

Would he have been satisfied to see that many of the Orthodox women he tried to protect from the secular world have become deeply involved in this world to support their husbands learning Talmud full-time?

Be fruitful and multiply

By Dr. Maya Choshen October 31, 2011
A new study correlating fertility in Israel with the level of women’s religiosity, published in June of this year by Dr. Ahmad Hleihel of the Central Bureau of Statistics…
The fertility rate of Jewish women in Jerusalem (4.3) is significantly higher than that for Jewish women in Israel (3.0). 
The explanation for this lies in the higher proportion of haredi and religious women in Jerusalem compared to Israel. These women are characterized by high fertility rates – 7.5 children for haredi women and 4.3 children for religious women, compared to 2.1 children for secular women.

By Kobi Nahshoni November 7, 2011
“I didn’t say one word against the haredim as a group or individuals,” Halevy clarified in an interview to Kol Hai Radio.
He explained that haredi radicalization leads to seclusion and deepens the rift within the Jewish people…

By Jeremy Sharon November 7, 2011
But Halevy received some support from Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of the header yeshiva in Petah Tikva and a leading religious- Zionist figure.

“I partly agree with him,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “It’s very impressive that someone who was so senior within the security apparatus should point out that it will be the internal issues facing us which will determine the fate of the State of Israel. November 6, 2011
In a letter to Weinstein, Gafni wrote that Halevy’s words crossed a red line and may bring harm to a “defined” sector of the public.

By Yoav Zitun November 4, 2011
“The growing haredi radicalization poses a bigger risk than Ahmadinejad,” Halevy said, adding that “the ultra-Orthodox extremism has darkened our lives.”

Anglos for Am Shalem November 7, 2011

“The average Charedi is moderate and wants to get along with fellow Jews. It is the extremists who will rip Israel apart and destroy us through disunity and lack of interest in Judaism among the population if they get their way.
We have to be careful to make this distinction and embrace the Charedim who welcome a moderate Judaism and combat those who want it to be more extreme. This is one of the missions of Am Shalem.”

By Melanie Lidman November 6, 2011
Krois, a father of 13 (“for now,” he said) views the attacks on the haredi way of life with paranoia. He will work ceaselessly, and sometimes violently, to protect his community from the encroaching Zionist and secular institutions, he said, including demonstrating to have Mea She’arim included as part of a future Palestinian nation.
But he knows that the ultra-Orthodox won’t be able to keep modernity out forever, despite the dire warnings of the pashkevilim.

“The world is like a train,” he said, gesturing to the walls of his ad hoc museum, filled with knick knacks such as soda bottles from the 1920s.

“Everything is the same, the world is always moving forward,” he said, and no one, not even the haredim, will be able to stop it. “We just want to make sure that we’re in the last car of the train.”

By Renee Ghert-Zand November 7, 2011
First, they do not play in movie theaters, which are off limits to the Haredi sector. Instead, they are shown only to female audiences during holidays, when the films’ producers are able to rent event halls for screenings. 

Second, the films must be solely for educational purposes, and they are produced with the permission and under the strict supervision of rabbis.

Israeli MKs waver on support for Jewish identity bill
By Jonathan Lis November 7, 2011

The Knesset’s legal advisor, Eyal Yinon, informed Barakeh that because the bill is neither racist nor does it reject the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people it must be approved for the Knesset agenda.

However, last week Yinon took the rare step of calling for a broad public and parliamentary debate on the draft law, citing its broad implications for Israel’s constitutional status.

See also: 
Livni against Dichter’s ‘Jewish identity’ bill
Rivlin: I won’t disqualify ‘Jewish state’ bill

Legal, but dangerous
Haaretz Editorial November 7, 2011

The bill is making MKs in Dichter’s own faction uncomfortable, with party chairman Tzipi Livni expressing her vehement opposition to it. 

Several Likud lawmakers and government ministers are also upset by the initiative, and certainly by the bill’s wording.

The question of Israel as a Jewish democracy
By Ilan Ben Zion Opinion October 31, 2011
Ilan Ben Zion is an active blogger currently living in Be’er Sheva; he is a graduate of Tel Aviv University with a Masters in Diplomacy.

If Israel is to properly protect its citizens’ rights, it must finally reach a national consensus –however difficult and daunting it may be – on what laws are above the state and the people.

We the people must ratify a constitution that guarantees individual freedoms, minority rights, separation of religion and government, and a clear system of checks and balances.

By Yair Altman November 1, 2011
Education Ministry Director-General Dr. Shimshon Shoshani harshly criticized the establishments in a letter to their legal advisor, Attorney Itzhak Bam. 

“The students are involved in many violent acts against Palestinian residents and security forces, including during yeshiva study hours. Prominent rabbis in the yeshiva support and/or are involved in this violent activity and go as far as to incite the students to this sort of activity.”

By Chaim Levinson November 1, 2011
Dorshei Yehudcha yeshiva high school is part of the institutions of Od Hai Yosef, headed by Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg. 

Two heads of the yeshiva, Rabbis Yosef Elitzur and Yitzhak Shapira wrote the controversial book “The King’s Torah” which justifies the killing of non-Jews.

By Ilan Bloch Opinion November 5, 2011
The fundamental message of the day should not be to laud the legacy of Rabin – which in any case means many different things to many different people – but rather to destroy the legacy of his murderer Yigal Amir, to absolutely reject the notion that a government can be changed with bullets, as opposed to through ballots, and to absolutely reject the use of violence within our society.
In this way, the day can promote a unifying message to Israeli society and the Jewish people as a whole, and avoid turning what should be a national tragedy for all into a politically partisan day, which would further cement the fractures in our society.

By Michael Freund Opinion November 2, 2011

The writer is Chairman of Shavei Israel

“Before the War, it was unheard of that every child learned in yeshiva the entire day; it was only a selection of students,” Rabbi Heller said, adding that, “Today, however, there is a new ideal that has no source in Torah: everyone has to learn Gemara, and someone who learns Mishna is considered a ‘loser.’” 

“Never in history,” he noted, “was there such a phenomenon. Throughout the generations, each person learned according to his level.”

Last wave of Ethiopian aliya delayed, central funder angry

By Ruth Eglash November 2, 2011
“I am very disappointed by this new decision,” said Rabbi Yehiel Eckstein, president and founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), which has contributed more than $2.5 million to the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI)-led operation to facilitate the final phase of aliya for some 8,000 Falash Mura – Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity more than a century ago.
The new policy contradicts a decision announced exactly a year ago by the cabinet to bring the immigrants to Israel at a rate of 200 per month, ending organized aliya from Ethiopia by March 2014.

By Revital Blumenfeld November 2, 2011

A ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of Operation Solomon, in which over 14,000 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel in 36 hours, will take place tonight with the participation of Ethiopian community leaders, President Shimon Peres, Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and other government officials.

By Michael Smith, Daryna Krasnolutska and David Glovin November 2, 2011

With a generally well-educated population of 7.4 million and a modern medical system, Israel has an acute shortage of organs, in part because of religious beliefs.

Just 12 percent of Israelis are registered donors, meaning they have consented to let their organs be used for transplants after they die, according to the Israeli National Transplant Center.

That compares with 40 percent of Americans. About 730 Israelis are currently waiting for a transplant, which is 13 times more than the number of such surgeries performed legally in Israel in 2010, according to the center.


Halachic Approaches to Single Motherhood
Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Rosh Yeshiva, Orot Shaul and member of the Surrogacy Advisory Committee

Single Mother by Choice Families in the Framework of the Orthodox Community
Rabbi Benny Lau, Director, Jerusalem’s Center for Judaism and Society; the Institute for Social Justice, Beit Morash
November 1, 2011 19:30; Beit Yehudit – ICCY – International Cultural Center for Youth, 12 Emek Refaim, Jerusalem

Knesset Refuses to Declassify Temple Mount Report

By Gavriel Queenann November 1, 2011
A joint session of Knesset sub-committees discussed on Tuesday a confidential report from the State Comptroller citing serious failures by authorities to safeguard and maintain the Temple Mount.

Religion and State in Israel
November 7, 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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Nov 7, 2011
Religion and State in Israel Wave

Religion and State in Israel - November 7, 2011 (Section 1)

By ,
Religion and State in Israel
November 7, 2011 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

By Tamar Rotem November 6, 2011

In her speech at a city council meeting, Azaria spoke about segregation on “buses, streets, health clinics and supermarkets …. This doesn’t stay within the Haredi community; it seeps into our side very quickly, and it’s threatening to women.”

She says Barkat “acquiesced to the ultra-Orthodox in the name of dialogue. He is in favor of compromise, but he simply doesn’t understand the ultra-Orthodox method. There’s no way of forging compromise agreements with extremists; these people are making increasingly radical demands.”

Azaria opposes the secular concept of live and let live. As she sees it, “what happens here is that the majority needs to surrender its values to extremist groups.” She says there is no contradiction between her religious outlook and her campaign.

By Raphael Ahren November 4, 2011

Based on their interpretation of the 2001 Prevention of Stalking Law, about a dozen families, all with Anglo backgrounds, are demanding a restraining order against several extremist Haredim who protest regularly at the national-religious Orot Banot high school for girls.

The parents are also seeking to sue the extremists for damages, claiming their daughters suffer immensely from the constant harassment and require therapy.

By Chana Pinchasi November 4, 2011
Chana Pinchasi is a doctoral candidate at the department of gender studies at Bar-Ilan University.
Haredi society and its leaders must be forced to take part in an open, incisive public debate that will bring about an understanding: What is our common space? How do we want it to look? And after a great deal of anger, mark boundaries that we can accept together.
Until such a debate is initiated we must not keep silent. We must not allow these norms to spread to the heart of the city, a city that must never again have a wall dividing it.

Taking back the billboards

By Jeff Barak Opinion November 7, 2011

The writer is a former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post.

Just as women marchers at Take Back the Night rallies around the world don’t simply protest the issue of violence against women but also show that women united can resist fear and violence, a group of Jerusalem women are uniting to show that Israeli women can’t be airbrushed out of the capital’s advertising billboards.
In a guerrilla advertising campaign, six Jerusalem women have been photographed so that their pictures can be hung from balconies and windows throughout the capital with the slogan “Returning women to Jerusalem billboards.”
Over the past months, women have been steadily disappearing from street advertising in the capital, due in no small part to self-censorship on the part of secular advertisers scared of antagonizing the increasingly strident haredi community.

By Oz Rosenberg October 27, 2011
The Clalit health maintenance organization has recently issued stickers for children that completely exclude girls. The stickers, distributed in clinics in the Haredi community, are intended to be given to children as a prize for undergoing a medical treatment or examination. … Even the sticker saying “good girl” shows four smiling boys.

Shahar Ilan, Hiddush: 

“The exclusion of women from the Israeli landscape is spreading like a disease,” he added. “If the public doesn’t rise up against it and put an end to this abomination, it won’t be long before we find ourselves in a landscape without women.”

By Eliezer Yaari Opinion November 6, 2011
This time it seems that the conflict is different: it is not about a partition in Mea Shearim, it is not even about gender segregation in the army. It is about who will make the calls in our society.

By Nir Hasson November 2, 2011
“The idea is to return the city space to its natural state and turn the appearance of women into something boring, that no one notices,” one of the originators of the idea, Rabbi Uri Ayalon, a Conservative rabbi who created a Facebook page called “uncensored,” through which the women signed up to be photographed.
The women believe the problem lies with advertisers, who self-censor out of fear of the ultra-Orthodox. “Now we’ll see the skies won’t fall. I don’t say it will pass quietly, but people will breathe easier when they see pictures of women returning to billboards.”

By Renee Ghert-Zand November 3, 2011
Participants in the initiative emphasize that this is not about wanting to show skin in public. 

Scantily clothed female models disappeared from the Jerusalem streets long ago, and most residents do not have a problem with that. But they see no reason why “normal women in everyday situations” dressed in regular clothing should be eliminated from view.

By Bambi Sheleg Opinion October 31, 2011
The fight for Israel’s public sphere in general and for Jerusalem’s public sphere in particular has taken off in the past decade.
…One could expect Barkat, who was elected by a secular and Zionist-religious constituency, to consider his voters’ agenda; after all, it is thanks to them that he is currently the mayor of Israel’s capital.
It’s unimaginable that Barkat, who was elected thanks to his “secular” views, is in practice implementing the policy of radical haredim in Jerusalem in order to secure calm or anything else which the general public is unaware of

The battle of Bet Shemesh
By Harriet Sherwood October 31, 2011

[Rabbi Dov] Lipman sees the events at Orot Girls as “a microcosm of what could happen in this country. At some point they will become a majority; it’s a demographic fact. We can embrace the moderates or let the extremists run wild. We have to come down on [the extremists] hard, not let them have control.

“This is definitely a battle and we need to view it that way. It’s not just about the school, but the future of Bet Shemesh and the future of the state of Israel.”

VIDEO: Rabbi Dov Lipman interview on German TV – Beit Shemesh Girls School and ultra-Orthodox extremists


By Avirama Golan Opinion November 2, 2011
This is what should be done now: singing. Sing, girls. Face the heralds of darkness and sing. Everywhere. In the army, in the workplace, in the streets, in demonstrations, in marches, in the halls of the Rabbinate. Like Miriam, like Deborah, like the great women of yore.
Sing. Break through the sound barrier. That terrifies them. It disturbs them. They’ll cry out that your pure voices are sinful and that your unkempt hair arouses animal instincts. This wild democracy led by talented, brave women who are making a difference threatens them and their stifling order.
So break out in song, girls. How lovely is your voice. Speak in song.

By Gili Cohen and Ilan Lior November 1, 2011
The “women singer ban” phenomenon has reached Tel Aviv high schools.

By Naomi Zeveloff October 28, 2011

According to Gershom Gorenberg, author of the upcoming book “The Unmaking of Israel,” pressure for sex segregation in public spaces is part of a ramped-up religious vigilance in the Haredi world, caused in part by a lack of passed-down direct knowledge of how traditional Jews in earlier generations actually lived day to day.

Many such religious and cultural practices were obliterated during the Holocaust, he said, and in their absence, Haredi communities in Israel and beyond have adopted a “stricter is better” approach to Jewish, or halachic, law.
In fact, they are innovations, Gorenberg said. 
“What I think is remarkable about this is that it is taking place in a community which is declaredly conservative and anti-innovation,” he said.

By Nancy K. Kaufman Opinion November 3, 2011

So on November 3, 2011, we decided to accompany Anat Hoffman of IRAC and take a “freedom ride.” 

It made perfect sense for us to do this on our first day in Israel, for as Anat pointed out, “NCJW has been next to the cradle of every failed or successful feminist effort in Israel.” And here we were again, riding the buses in the front and taking action.

Saudi women, Israeli women both need social change

By Elana Maryles Sztokman Opinion October 23, 2011
But I think there are also warning signs here for Israel. The movement for greater gender segregation and female body cover that is infiltrating Israeli public life — including buses, planes, the light rail, the post office, streets, conferences, army events, municipal events and more — has sinister echoes of Saudi Arabian life.
It is a reminder that the culture of gender segregation is not about a particular religious ideology but rather about embedded ideas about gender that are given a stamp of approval by religious authorities.

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen November 2, 2011
The Haredi influence in society as a whole means they take liberties. They defy the Supreme Court decisions on separate busing. 

No political party can afford to offend the Haredim because it means they back out of a government and the government falls. That has a serious effect on women.

By Jeremy Sharon November 7, 2011
[Leading religious-Zionist Rabbi Dov Lior] also returned to the topic of religious soldiers listening to women singing in the army, and reiterated his stance that they should exempt themselves from any such events.

“Find a good excuse in order to leave before the women sing,” he told a student, adding however “you don’t have to explain to anyone why you need to suddenly leave.”

By Yair Ettinger November 4, 2011
The Katzes are part of a growing trend: couples seeking an alternative to the state’s religious courts for the purposes of marriage and divorce.
Even if it is hard to bypass the Chief Rabbinate’s authority altogether, more and more people are refraining from setting foot in its courts, opting instead for private ones. There they find the efficiency and creativity sometimes lacking in the rabbinical establishment.
Tzohar, an organization of religious Zionist rabbis, and Mavoi Satum ‏(“Dead End”‏), an advocacy group for women denied divorce, are preparing a draft bill of their own that would grant judicial powers to private batei din.
Mavoi Satum is weighing a petition to the High Court of Justice asking it to give private rabbinical courts the same rights as those of Badatz Ha’edah Haharedit and Badatz Karelitz.

By Jeremy Sharon November 2, 2011
The bill, proposed by MKs Otniel Schneller (Kadima) and Zvulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), will require the courts to initiate a hearing within 30 days if the court hadpreviously ordered the husband to give a get to his wife through a “obligatory” or “coercive” decree, and within 90 days for an order which “recommended” or “commanded” that the get be given.
Batya Kehana, director of Mavoi Satum who helped draft the bill, expressed hope that the bill will help accelerate the process for women to be granted a get.

“We hope that the bill will help shorten the period of abuse and blackmail that women who are denied a get experience, and put an end to the foot-dragging that characterizes the rabbinical courts,” she told The Jerusalem Post.

By Tova Tzimuki November 3, 2011

“The law means to transfer the responsibility of enforcing sanctions to the courts without needing to involve the denied party,” Committee Chairman David Rotem explained.

By Kobi Nahshoni November 1, 2011
The flagship project of the Tzohar organization – performing thousands of wedding ceremonies a year – is in danger of shutting down because the chief rabbinate and Ministry of Religious Services have stopped providing the movement with marriage certificates, Ynet has learned.
In recent months, Religious Services Minister Yakov Margi has instructed his office to cease issuing additional wedding certificates to the Shoham rabbinate, beyond a quantity that is sufficient for residents of the local council. Needless to say, the number is much lower than the thousands of couples that do it with Tzohar.

By Lourdes Garcia-Navarro April 7, 2010

Women’s groups say these issues underscore the inherent contradiction between religious traditionalism and contemporary civil society in Israel — which was founded as a Jewish state but also a democratic, modern one.
Susan Weiss says nowhere is this more strikingly illustrated than in the so-called race to the courthouse.

“When you get divorced, you have to decide issues of custody, you have to decide issues of marital property, you have to decide issues of visitation rights — all sorts of … matters that are ancillary to the issue of divorce,” she says.

By Tomer Zarchin and Eli Ashkenazi November 4, 2011

Rabbi Mordechai Elon, who was indicted earlier this week for sexual assault and indecent behavior against two minors, denied the charges yesterday, calling them gossip, slander and lies.

“The charges are based on gossip and slander. Any claim that I confessed to these acts is a blatant, heinous lie,” Elon said at a meeting with some 100 supporters and students in a synagogue in the northern town Migdal.

“I have been tried in a kangaroo court, put before a firing squad. This is anti-democratic, anti-Torah and inhuman.”

By staff and Joanna Paraszczuk November 3, 2011
Following Elon’s comments, the Justice Ministry spokesman said in a statement that the State Attorney’s Office had not approached Elon’s attorney or made contact with Elon in order to come to any agreement with him.

By Yair Ettinger November 4, 2011
Since February 2010, when the Elon affair was exposed with a bang, many asked whether the charisma of some rabbis, like Elon, had given them too much power over the delicate souls of their students, and whether they used their power to subdue their students’ will.

By Jeremy Sharon and Joanna Paraszczuk November 2, 2011
The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office filed an indictment on Wednesday afternoon against Rabbi Mordechai Elon, charging him with five counts of indecent assault, and indecent assault by force.
According to the indictment, which was filed in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, Elon, 51, the former head of Yeshivat Hakotel and a leading figure in the religious-Zionist world, exploited his position as a revered figure in carrying out the offenses against two minors.

By Aviad Glickman November 2, 2011

Rabbi Motti Elon: “My behavior is apparently being construed in a different way to what actually happened. I never harassed anyone, let alone committed indecent acts. The indictment is baseless to the core and I shall prove my claims in court.”

By Leon Cohen November 6, 2011
A quiet “Jewish renaissance” is happening in Israel and has been growing for the last ten to 15 years in ways that were “unexpected in form and size.”
So contended Rabbi Benjamin Segal, 67, former president of Melitz-the Centers for Jewish and Zionist Education in Israel and former chair of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement in Israel.
…Above all, “this does not mean observance. The people are accepted as who they are,” Segal said. “That allows these people to learn, and sometimes choose” among observances.
And this movement is “wildly opposed” to religious compulsion or privilege, the products of the long-time mixing of religion and state in Israel, he said.

Shabbat Shalom: Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1–17:27)
By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Opinion November 4, 2011

Jewish law provides for conversion, and no ancient halachic authority demanded total compliance with “Orthodox” law as a necessary condition.

By Rabbi Micah Peltz Opinion November 6, 2011
There is a debate about Israel education. Some advocates teach Israel in black and white.
For these educators, Israel is a country of the halutzim (pioneers) who built the land from nothing, that always justly battles its enemies, and that is the fulfillment of the centuries old dream to return to Zion.
Others, however, prefer to portray Israel in shades of grey. They respond to the black and white approach by saying that “things are not so simple.”

By Jessica Steinberg October 12, 2011
Call it circumstantial Zionism.
There’s been a recent uptick in North American aliyah — of basketball players.
More than a dozen North American players have become Israeli citizens and joined professional Israeli basketball teams and second division squads in the past few years.
It’s not exactly a trend but the result of Israeli league rules, the NBA lockout and the dreams of one particular team owner.

Religion and State in Israel
November 7, 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.

Read More »

Oct 31, 2011
Religion and State in Israel Wave

Religion and State in Israel - October 31, 2011 (Section 1)

By ,

Religion and State in Israel

October 31, 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

Activists demand reinstatement of J’lem councilwoman Azaria

By Melanie Lidman October 26, 2011

More than 2,000 people and dozens of pluralistic and feminist groups signed a petition in support of Jerusalem City Council member Rachel Azaria, who was fired from the coalition by Mayor Nir Barkat last week.

“We will not tolerate an extremist group dictating the way we will live in the capital of Israel,” the petition read, which included groups such as Hiddush For Religious Freedom and Equality, the Legal Center for Youth and Adolescents, the Masorti Movement, a branch of the Van Leer Institute, Free Israel and Kolech Forum for Religious Women, among others.

Click here for Radio interview with Rachel Azaria

If Mayor Barkat Fires Rachel Azaria He will Betray Zionist Jerusalem

By Gil Troy Opinion October 25, 2011

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

If Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat follows through on his threat to fire City Councillor Rachel Azaria from the coalition and take away her important portfolios of early childhood education and community councils, he will be declaring war on Zionist Jerusalem – the core constituents who elected him.

…Rachel Azaria embodies the open, constructive, pro-Jewish, pro-Zionist, pro-Israel, pro-Jerusalem spirit Nir Barkat himself embodies. She and her party represent the majority Jerusalem sensibility needed to make the city thrive. She is a poster child for all the aspirations of Zionist Jerusalem that Barkat stirred and promised to serve.

A premature party?

By Peggy Cidor October 28, 2011

[T]here was at least one haredi city council member who didn’t hold back on expressing his opinion.

“It is no secret that Rachel Azaria is a thorn in our side. By firing her, the mayor has shown that he respects us, and when the next election comes around, it will be a good point to remember.”

VIDEO: Israel Channel 2 Special Report – Gender-segregation spreading from ultra-Orthodox community (Hebrew)


Click here for English translation of Channel 2 report

Musical protests planned to counter taboo on female singers

By Revital Blumenfeld October 26, 2011

A wave of media reports about discrimination against women in public spaces, politics and the army has prompted a first-of-its-kind protest – a Facebook page urging women to sing out in musical protest.

“The time has come for us to stop keeping quiet,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “When we open our mouths, we don’t become sex objects or prostitutes, and we won’t agree to accept such an attitude from anyone.”

Singing Across Israel for Women’s Dignity

By Allison Kaplan Sommer October 27, 2011

She didn’t set out to create a mass protest. Originally, she said, “the idea was to take a few good friends and go somewhere with a guitar and sing in order to spread awareness, maybe do a flash mob or something along those lines.”

But the media attention and tremendous flood of support to the event she created on Facebook quickly made it clear that this would be no small-scale protest.

The gap is narrowing between IDF and ultra-Orthodox customs

Have we run out of baking soda?

By Yossi Sarid Opinion October 28, 2011

The distance between the Israel Defense Forces and Mea She’arim is getting shorter.

Although that ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem doesn’t have any draftees, its spirit hovers over the ranks. In both places there is a separation between women and men, between masculine and feminine areas, while the High Court of Justice says this is forbidden. How very nice of it to do so.

What women want

By Benny Ziffer Opinion October 28, 2011

God loves mirth – that’s a fact. Otherwise he would not have created the ultra-Orthodox, on the one hand, and gender, on the other, and ordered them to brawl with each other, in particular during the Sukkot holiday, when in fact we were supposed to rejoice more than on ordinary days.

Women Disappearing from Jerusalem Ads

By Renee Ghert-Zand October 24, 2011

“We are dealing with all kinds of exclusion of women in the public sphere in Jerusalem,” Conservative Rabbi Uri Ayalon told The Sisterhood.

Ayalon, the founder and leader of Kehilat (Congregation) Yotzer Or, is on the board of Yerushalmim (Jerusalemites), a non-profit civic organization working to build an inclusive, pluralistic city. He and others in the organization have been tracking what they call the “disappearance of women from public life” over the past couple of years.

VIDEO – Israel TV: Violent confrontations in Mea Shearim, Free Israel Movement march

Click here for embedded VIDEO

A Woman’s Place

Forward Editorial October 28, 2011

That such segregation has become increasingly entrenched in Haredi schools, synagogues and homes is, frankly, their choice.

But the examples above are not in the private sphere. Buses operating on a public route, citizens walking down a public street, government-funded public safety campaigns — all should be available equally to men and women, and reflect that reality.

It’s hard to believe we even have to make this argument in the 21st century, let alone in 21st century America and Israel.

Without the Rabbinate, I’ll thee wed

By Yair Ettinger October 28, 2011

Yehiel, now 34, and Tamar, 28, chose one path among many to wed in accordance with Jewish law without involving the Chief Rabbinate or its local offices.

Over the years there have been many secular as well as Haredi couples who have undergone so-called private weddings without a Rabbinate-approved person officiating. In recent years they have been joined by graduates of yeshivas and religious seminaries for women.

Says attorney Batia Kahana-Dror, the director of Mavoi Satum, an advocacy group for women whose husbands have refused to give them a divorce: “We are talking about a subversive phenomenon that keeps growing, on the part of people who are demanding social justice in the matter of religious services.”

Knesset to impose more restrictions on men refusing divorce

By Jeremy Sharon October 28, 2011

MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) expressed hope on Thursday that a bill designed to increase the use of punitive sanctions against husbands who refuse to give their wives a bill of divorce will help to significantly reduce the number of such cases.

The bill, proposed by Schneller, would obligate rabbinical courts to automatically set hearings within one to three months, to discuss whether or not to impose sanctions in a case in which the court already instructed the recalcitrant husband to give his wife the bill of divorce, or “get.”

[Director Batya Kehana, Mavoi Satum] added, however, that the proposed amendment falls short of the kind of measures which would eradicate the problem altogether.

Mavoi Satum initially proposed that the amendment bill would automatically impose sanctions as soon as a court instructs the husband to give a get, but representatives of the rabbinical courts rejected such a proposal.

‘Let single women immerse in mikveh’

By Kobi Nahshoni October 25, 2011

The [Israel] Religious Action Center has appealed to Religious Services Minister Yakov Margi, demanding that he order Religious Council across the country to allow all women to immerse in a mikveh (ritual bath) – regardless of their marital status.

“The mikveh is a public building operated by the Religious Council for all residents, and is not the bath attendant’s private property,” the letter said. “All women living in the area may use the mikveh, and therefore a woman cannot be banned entry due to her marital status.”

Oprah is not all wet

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks Opinion October 30, 2011

Rabbi Andrew Sacks is the Director, Masorti Rabbinical Assembly in Israel

How amazing that Oprah can spread the word of this ancient, and now renewed, ritual, but the word in Israel, at least for those who do not fit the cookie cutter demands of the Chief Rabbinate, is “Go Away!”

Tel Aviv Rabbinate changes rule that restricted city weddings

By Jeremy Sharon October 26, 2011

The Tel Aviv Rabbinate has removed a clause in its marriage licensing policy that forced resident couples to register for marriage in Tel Aviv. The decision follows pressure from the ITIM advocacy group and the Religious Services Ministry.

Concerns had been raised that the clause was intentionally compelling couples to register for marriage with the Tel Aviv Rabbinate so that it could benefit from the NIS 600 registration fees.

Resigning from Judaism

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester Opinion October 26, 2011

Rabbi Gideon Sylvester is the British United Synagogue’s rabbi in Israel and director of the Beit Midrash for Human Rights at the Hillel House of Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Religious coercion is the enemy of true religion. Forcing people to believe or practice Judaism breeds resentment and hatred.

Genuine spirituality can only come when it is intelligently presented and accompanied by the warmth and loving kindness which have always been associated with Jewish life.

MKs’ legal adviser calls for broad debate of Jewish identity bill

By Jonathan Lis October 28, 2011

In a rare move, the Knesset’s legal adviser has called for a broad public and parliamentary debate on a bill that would make Israeli democracy subservient to the state’s Jewish identity and no longer recognize Arabic as an official language.

U.S. State Department reports limitations on religious freedom despite opposition from most citizens October 10, 2011

The U.S. State Department 2010 Report on international religious freedom for the second half of the year states that Israel continues to discriminate on the basis of religion in both policy and law, against non-Jews and non-Orthodox Jewish movements.

Among other things, the report says that Israel “gives preference in the allocation of state resources for modern Orthodoxy and ultra-Orthodoxy, both their institutions and organizations.”

VIDEO: Mughrabi Gate Bridge to Temple Mount declared unsafe

Click here for embedded VIDEO


The Mughrabi Bridge must be built

By Nadav Shragai October 25, 2011

The writer is a veteran journalist who has covered Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

This article originally appeared as part of the Jerusalem Viewpoints series, published by the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

It is time to put an end to the Mughrabi Gate affair, which has been blown beyond all proportion, and to speedily replace the temporary bridge with a permanent one.

There is no need for stealth or covert action. It should be done openly and with full transparency, just as Israel has acted so far, while displaying consideration and sensitivity for the ties of various Islamic and Arab bodies to the site.

However, a clear line should be drawn, one that distinguishes between consideration, sensitivity and respect, and the conduct befitting a sovereign nation that is obligated to manage crises, but also to reach decisions and execute them, even in the highly sensitive area of the Temple Mount.

J’lem again vows to demolish temporary Mughrabi Gate bridge

By Melanie Lidman October 25, 2011

For the second time in six months, Jerusalem’s city engineer has threatened to destroy the temporary bridge connecting the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount in an effort to force the Western Wall Heritage Fund to replace the aging structure.

…Madeline Lavine, a private tour guide, vowed never to bring a group on the bridge again after she felt the bridge rocking and swaying while ascending with a large group last May.

“It should be closed down immediately, we shouldn’t be taking people up there,” she said on Tuesday. “We’re waiting for a disaster. If it’s dangerous, you close it, I don’t understand why it’s so difficult.”

See also: Temple Mount bridge to be torn down, replaced

See also: The Mughrabi Gate to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem: The Urgent Need for a Permanent Access Bridge

The Birthright Challenge

By Philip Getz Opinion Number 7, Fall 2011

Philip Getz is assistant editor of the Jewish Review of Books.

In a little over a decade, Birthright Israel (referred to in Hebrew as “Taglit,” meaning discovery) has become one of the most well known Jewish organizations, and its trips a rite of passage for members of the tribe.

Yet a widespread misconception—that Birthright’s main purpose is to encourage participants to make aliyah (move to Israel), or at least become Zionist activists—persists, even in the minds of many alumni.

…When I think back to the hikes, the discussions over dinner, and of course, the many hours on the bus, I realize that not a single Birthright staff member echoed the Prime Minister’s philo-migratory message.

Rather, they stuck closely to the organization’s mission statement: “to diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities . . . and to strengthen participants’ personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people.”

Young Rabbis Love Israel But Lean to Left of Elders

By Josh Nathan-Kazis October 26, 2011

“In terms of the deeper values, younger rabbis are just as collectively oriented as older rabbis,” [Prof. Steven M.] Cohen said. “They’re just as engaged with Israel, and just as pro-Israel, as older rabbis. Their definition of pro-Israel clearly is different than older rabbis’.”

Only 2 percent of Jewish Israelis consider emigration ‘reasonable,’ new survey shows

By Raphael Ahren October 25, 2011

Only 4 percent of citizens older than 60 are considering emigration as a viable option, compared with 31 percent in the 18 to 29 age group.

…45 percent of Jewish Israelis would marry a non-Jew if they had fallen in love.

Nearly 60 percent of female respondents said they wouldn’t enter into a relationship with a gentile, while only 52 percent of the men said so. About 70 percent said “assimilation is a danger for the Jewish people’s survival.”

How a new Israeli attache renounced his U.S. citizenship

By Eli Groner Opinion October 23, 2011

One can love two countries just as one loves two parents. Today, I voluntarily give up my citizenship, but I do not give up my values; indeed, in giving up my citizenship to help further the economic development and strength of Israel in a diplomatic role, I believe I am living those values I was educated to cherish.

During my 10 years of schooling in wonderful Upstate New York, I pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States each and every day. And today, more than ever and despite the renunciation of my citizenship, I remain committed to the Republic for which it stands.

A journey in Herzl’s footsteps

By David Breakstone Opinion October 25, 2011

The writer is vice-chairman of the World Zionist Organization.

A Zionist organization that takes itself seriously is going to grapple honestly with the realities of Jewish life in the Diaspora and the meaning of the Jewish state for the Jewish people today. That is what the recent journey in Herzl’s footsteps organized by Habonim Dror and the World Zionist Organization was all about.

Maccabi Haifa Owner Creates Home for American Jewish Athletes In Israel

By Levi Epstein October 27, 2011

“For the Jewish American players, playing professional basketball in Israel is a unique way to connect to their heritage,” says Rosen, who wants to turn Maccabi Haifa into an even more feasible option for top Jewish American players.

Additionally, the Aliyah organization, Nefesh B’Nefesh, has recently launched a sports Aliyah program that encourages Jewish athletes to move to Israel.

First ‘Jewish Federation of Israel’ to make debut at GA

By Gil Shefler October 31, 2011

Now there is Takdim, the first “Jewish Federation of Israel” founded earlier this year in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Hasharon. The group – which means precedent in Hebrew – draws its inspiration from the Jewish Federations of North America, and will make its debut at the federations’ General Assembly in Denver next week, where it hopes to learn how to replicate the network’s success at home.

B’nai B’rith announces 2011 Diaspora Reportage Award winners October 24, 2011

The B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism for 2011 in Memory of Wolf and Hilda Matsdorf for print media will be conferred at the event upon Bambi Sheleg, founder and editor-in-chief of the bi-monthly magazine Eretz Acheret (“A Different Israel”), for the November-December 2010 issue of the magazine dedicated to US Jewry.

Yehezkel Dror and Joseph Cedar Receive 2011 NADAV Jewish Peoplehood Award October 28, 2011

The 2011 NADAV Jewish Peoplehood Award has been presented to Professor Yehezkel Dror and film director Joseph Cedar. Professor Dror and Cedar received the award from businessman and philanthropist Leonid Nevzlin, Founder of the NADAV Foundation, and Irina Nevzlin Kogan, President of the Foundation.

Rabbi Richard Hirsch to be Honored for Lifetime of Social Justice Work October 29, 2011

Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch, founding director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and honorary life president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism will receive one of Reform Judaism’s highest honors at the 2011 Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Biennial convention on Thursday morning, December 15.

Religion and State in Israel

October 31, 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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Oct 31, 2011
Religion and State in Israel Wave

Religion and State in Israel - October 31, 2011 (Section 2)

By ,

Religion and State in Israel

October 31, 2011 (Section 2) (see also Section 1)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

A dangerous trend in the IDF

Haaretz Editorial October 26, 2011

Officer 259Course for Infantry Command

Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Office

The trend toward ultra-Orthodox extremism that has been gripping religious soldiers takes on a particularly fanatic cast when it applies to women.

…This is a dangerous trend that distorts the army’s character and causes revulsion among most Israelis. It behooves Chief of Staff Benny Gantz to take steps to stifle this trend before it’s too late.

The IDF, not the army of the Lord

By Anshel Pfeffer Opinion October 25, 2011

The face of the IDF is the face of changing Israeli society. It is unclear why its commanders chose to emulate rabbis who want to turn the IDF into the army of the Lord.

Female Soldiers Forced Away From Torah Dancing

By Allison Kaplan Sommer October 24, 2011

What was legitimately disturbing on Simchat Torah was that the military rabbinate was imposing the most extreme interpretation of the principle of separating of the sexes when it removed women from the location of the celebration and made them essentially invisible, also depriving them of access to the main focus of the festivities.

Neither the highest level commander nor the IDF’s chief rabbi, Rafi Peretz, who attended the celebration, intervened in the women’s favor.

Kadima MK Plesner criticizes lack of funds for Haredi recruitment

By Jeremy Sharon October 27, 2011

MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima), chairman of the Knesset group working on the implementation of the Tal Law, accused the government on Wednesday of failing to fulfill commitments made in January to provide NIS 140 million in funding for the recruitment of haredim (ultra-Orthodox) to the IDF.

The money was pledged by the government in an agreement between the Treasury and the IDF, but the funds were frozen and have not been transferred, owing to, according to the Treasury, budgetary restraints.

Hiddush to the Treasury: Transfer allocated funds to recruit ultra-Orthodox men October 24, 2011

According to Rabbi Uri Regev, “Just as there is a price to yeshiva studies, there is also a price to recruiting ultra-Orthodox Jews [to the army].

It is absurd to generously fund yeshiva studies, yet to refuse to fund programs that will promote equality with respect to the financial burdens [of society] and help the integration of the ultra-Orthodox into the economy, as well as broader society.

The price of recruiting ultra-Orthodox soldiers is an investment that has the potential for returns.”

Gilad & Beit Shemesh extremist Haredim

By Rabbi Shalom Hammer Opinion October 28, 2011

This brings to mind the silence of Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul, Chief Rabbi Shimon Biton and other haredi rabbinic authorities in the city, who have not even mentioned their disapproval regarding the extremists’ behavior.

In fairness, there are a number of rabbis and haredi groups in Beit Shemesh who have actively joined in protesting the extremists’ actions; yet the rabbis teach us that “silence is an act of admission.”

Stink Bomb Welcomes Girls Back to School

By Allison Kaplan Sommer October 25, 2011

Rabbi Dov Lipman wrote on the wall of the Facebook group for Orot Banot parents and supporters that when one of the parent volunteers monitoring the school saw the demonstrators encroaching, they summoned the police who, within minutes, approached the demonstrators who were alternating the chanting of prayers and psalms with their standard cries of “shiksas” and “sluts.”

The police ushered them away from the school to the spot where their demonstration had been restricted in earlier weeks.

The messiah of Mea She’arim

By Yair Ettinger and Oz Rosenberg October 26, 2011

Yair Nehorai is a criminal lawyer who in recent years has frequently appeared in the courts representing members of the most extreme ultra-Orthodox groups: from the separatist Eda Haredit to the fanatic Sikarikim to the Lev Tahor community – the Taliban cult centered in Beit Shemesh.

Violence between ultra-Orthodox sects rocks Jerusalem neighborhood

By Yair Ettinger October 28, 2011

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews demonstrated in the neighborhood following the attack and many prayed for Hirschman’s recovery.

Many protesters condemned the Gerrer Hasids for the attack, but the ultra-Orthodox newspapers of all the factions are ignoring the affair and some ultra-Orthodox figures have even expressed sympathy for the perpetrators rather than the victim.

Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, head of the voluntary emergency response organization Zaka, came out openly against Hirschman and his colleagues.

“They must be beaten up. The Sikrikim understand only force. They can’t employ violence all the time and then shed crocodile tears,” he said.

Driver’s license prompts mass yeshiva expulsion

By Tali Farkash October 31, 2011

The head of the prestigious Be’er Torah yeshiva has announced that he will expel 30 students from the institution after discovering that they hold driver’s licenses.

The “expulsion letters” were issued a month ago, yet the yeshiva students refuse to comply with the demand.

According to the students, the institution’s staff looked into the driver’s license issue in cooperation with the Transportation Ministry. One of the expelled students told Ynet he was furious that his personal details in a government database were compromised.

Jerusalem’s new smash hit: Maccabi Mea Shearim b-ball team

By Akiva Novick October 28, 2011

They play in black uniforms, hide their ‘peyes’ behind their ears. They don’t have a budget or a seal of approval from rabbis – but they are well-equipped when it comes to faith. Meet Jerusalem’s new smash hit: the Maccabi Mea Shearim basketball team.

Haredi women complete first-of-its kind management course

By Tzofia Hirschfeld October 28, 2011

The Temech association, led by Shmuel Bloom of Agudas Yisroel of America, was founded to help haredi women in Israel find work outside the education world.

In recent years, Temech has been preparing workplaces for haredi women, and the first management course for haredi women was completed several weeks ago – proof of the project’s success.

PHOTO Gallery: Celebrating Simchat Torah – Jerusalem October 21, 2011

Ultra Orthodox Jewish men dance and celebrate Simchat Torah at the close of the Sukkot holiday in Mea Shearim.

Public Education

By Marc J. Rosenstein Opinion October 25, 2011

For three years a group of parents in our area operated such a school – “not Orthodox, not secular, just Jewish” was their motto – and they represented a spectrum of different religious and ideological backgrounds.

They faced consistent opposition from the county and national education departments, who have been dealing with an increasing erosion of the regional public school caused by the opening of several “boutique” special-interest schools (Jewish-Arab, Waldorf, new age).

Judge quashes indictment of pugilistic priest

By Jeremy Sharon October 31, 2011

In a rare ruling, a judge in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court dismissed an indictment filed against a priest who punched a haredi yeshiva student in the face for having spat at him as he passed.

Judge Dov Pollock said in his ruling last Tuesday that the court had heard evidence of daily incidents in which Christian clergy were spat upon by members of the ultra-Orthodox community, something which, the judge added, has been occurring for a number of years and which the police has not acted to prevent.

High Court critical of Elad contract in City of David park but rules it legal

By Nir Hasson October 27, 2011

The High Court of Justice yesterday criticized the agreement by which a private association, Elad, operates the City of David national park in Jerusalem, but said the agreement was legal.

The changes in the contract will apparently include a demand that Elad guides cease giving official guided tours of the park and find a way to keep the park open on Saturdays, with Elad, whose members are mainly Orthodox Jews, transferring the collection of entrance fees to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

Elad can continue to operate City of David, court finds

By Melanie Lidman October 26, 2011

If a draft of the new contract, which makes changes such as officially allowing guides not associated with Elad to lead tours in the park, meets the courts’ approval in January, then the petition will be dismissed.

The candle has been snuffed

By David Harel October 26, 2011

What about “love thy neighbor as thyself”? Where has true Jewish solidarity gone, the principle that was once the guiding light of the religious Zionist public?

Did anyone address a public apology on Yom Kippur to the Ethiopian immigrants for the inconceivable humiliation they suffered in Petah Tikva?

Shalit’s day of release appears on Rebbe’s dollar bill

By Kobi Nahshoni October 27, 2011

Days after the return home of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, the haredi street is attributing mystical signs to his release.

Haredi media sources are connecting Shalit with the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Joseph following a series of coincidences that should be “attributed to divine intervention”.

Grave concerns

By Noam Dvir October 25, 2011

Eighty-four senior archaeologists from leading research institutions around the world have called on the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Jerusalem municipality and the Israel Antiquities Authority to put an end to construction of the Museum of Tolerance in the center of the city.

Archeologists condemn J’lem Museum of Tolerance

By Melanie Lidman October 31, 2011

“Not only are we opposed to building on such massive and revered sites in any context, but we are also concerned by the surreptitious and unscientific removal of hundreds of human burials, in violation of international and domestic laws and the ethical obligations of archeologists,” the letter stated.

Unknown disease killing Kinneret fish

By Moshe Lichtman October 24, 2011

The first stage of a mysterious disease affecting Kinneret fish begins in one of its eyes, which starts to pop out, and gets destroyed leaving an empty hole in the socket.

…If the problem is a parasite, this will cause a major kashrut problem and the Rabbinate is liable to ban fish from the Kinneret. The Water Authority believes that the disease is genetic in origin.

‘Torat Hamelech’ author: ‘Better to kill a terrorist than call the police’

By Jeremy Sharon October 25, 2011

Rabbi Yossi Elitzur of the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva in Yitzhar and co-author of the controversial work on Jewish law, Torat Hamelech, wrote in a halachic ruling on Monday that should someone encounter a terrorist, it is preferable to shoot and kill them rather than call the police or attempt to apprehend the person in question, since he may be released in a future prisoner swap.

…However, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Ateret Yerushalayim yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem and a leading religious-Zionist figure, told The Jerusalem Post that a private citizen should not take the law into their own hands in this manner.

Safed landlord kicks out Druze students October 31, 2011

Less than a day after four students from the Druze town of Buq’ata in the Golan Heights rented out an apartment in Safed, their landlord ordered them to pack their belongings and vacate the home.

The landlord told them he received threats from ultra-Orthodox neighbors demanding he “not rent out the apartment to Arabs.”

IDF soldier suspected of leaking military actions to West Bank settlers

By Chaim Levinson October 24, 2011

The soldier, a married man and father of two children, served in the Samaria Brigade’s rabbinate and has yet to be informed of the specific charges against him.

Military Police officials have also indicated that the man had been a known propagator of the “The King’s Torah,”…

Praying for a child: Infertility in religious society

By Racheli Malek-Boda October 26, 2011

Infertility is a terrible burden on any woman seeking to bring new life into this world. But when you’re religious – it may be seven times harder.

…Like any other issue, infertility in the religious sector is subject to a debate among those seeking to find a way between the restrictions of Halacha and the desire to utilize all options to the fullest, and those choosing to favor their sentiments over rabbis’ instructions.

“There are women who consult rabbis on when to start treatments and when to stop, but I think that’s that their private business and has nothing to do with Halacha, and a rabbi’s advice may even cause damage.”

Mystic Rabbi Pinto backs social justice movement

By Jeremy Sharon October 27, 2011

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, spiritual adviser to many members of Israeli high society, gave his approbation on Wednesday to the social justice movement that has gripped the country in recent months.

Going to extremes

By Ariel Zilber October 28, 2011

Yuval Alpert is the chief rabbi of the Garin Torani branch in Jaffa, an outlet of the Religious-Zionist organization that moved into the city three years ago.

Alpert brushes off suggestions that Garin, which launched a campaign aimed at “re-jew-venating” the Jewish presence there, seeks to muscle out the local non-Jewish population.

“We are only interested in culture and education,” the rabbi said. “We are not here to push out anyone. Generally, strengthening Jewish identity and the youth’s bond with the state is a problem that we need to solve not only in Jaffa, but in all of Israel.”

Bnei Akiva ‘goes public’ as part of fund-raising campaign

By Jeremy Sharon October 9, 2011

“Investors” will be able to purchase a share in the movement for $1,000 dollars in return for which they will be able to join the Bnei Akiva board of shareholders.

Saved from Munich and Michigan, a 400-year-old Torah scroll is brought back to life

By Raphael Ahren October 28, 2011

As the Jews of Eshchar celebrated Simchat Torah earlier this month, one scroll, a gargantuan meter-long affair, made it’s long awaited debut, being carefully unrolled on the bimah for ritual use for the first time in over 70 years.

Friday Film: Israel Under the Yiddish Microscope

By Rukhl Schaechter October 28, 2011

Three short Yiddish films created by students at the Ma’aleh School of Television, Film and the Arts, an Orthodox film school in Jerusalem, have recently become available for rental on the Internet, sparking interest from fans of Yiddish cinema worldwide.

Many of the Ma’aleh students’ films explore sensitive issues in the Israeli Orthodox world as well as in Israeli society at large. A number of them, including the three Yiddish films, have been screened at film festivals and received awards in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Keeping the faith

By Hannah Brown October 30, 2011

Faith and spirituality are important in the lives of many Israelis, but it’s rare to hear someone talking about it, except in terms of strict religious observance.

The multi-part series, My Faith, which runs on Saturdays at 10:40 p.m. (and which is sometime preempted by coverage of demonstrations and other news events), is the brainchild of Ori Gruder (who made the film under the pseudonym Or Yashar, which means “Straight Light” in Hebrew), an Israeli director and cinematographer.

New Jerusalem cineplex to hold Saturday screenings

By Noam Dvir and Nir Hasson October 30, 2011

The Sherover Center for Culture … is set to double the number of movie theater seats in the capital and to nearly double the number of active movie screens. And unlike most cultural and entertainment institutions in Jerusalem, the center will be open on Shabbat.

Yishai: No drama in Netanyahu-Yosef meeting

By Gil Hoffman October 26, 2011

Shas Chairman Eli Yishai denied reports in the haredi media on Monday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu discussed key future diplomatic developments with the Palestinians in his meeting late Sunday with the party’s mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Religion and State in Israel

October 31, 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.

Read More »

Oct 24, 2011
Religion and State in Israel Wave

Religion and State in Israel - October 24, 2011 (Section 1)

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Religion and State in Israel

October 24, 2011 (Section 1) (see also Section 2)

If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE

Editor – Joel Katz

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

J’lem mayor fires coalition member over court petition

By Melanie Lidman October 21, 2011

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat fired Rachel Azaria (Yerushalmim) from his coalition on Tuesday in response to the liberal councilwoman’s petition to the High Court of Justice last week to remove barriers that separated men from women in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She’arim.

Azaria, who has long been active in the fight against gender separation on buses and sidewalks in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, was also stripped of her portfolios of early childhood education and community councils.

Jerusalem City Council member fired after opposing gender segregation

By Nir Hasson October 21, 2011

Members of the Haredi community were delighted by Azaria’s dismissal. A headline on a popular ultra-Orthodox website, B’hedri Haredim, declared:

“A joyous holiday in Jerusalem: Barkat fires the provocateur.”

Jerusalem Official Opposes Segregation, Loses Role

By Renee Ghert-Zand October 18, 2011

“The Haredim know that it’s illegal. Really it’s just a small segment of that community that thinks that they can just keep doing what they want and that the secular and more liberal religious people will just get tired and give up,” the religiously observant Azaria said. “But I won’t give up on such an important issue.”

“I have my ideology and a backbone. I will stand up for what I believe in and what the people who sent me to City Council believe in,” she said in a resolute voice at the end of the eventful day. “I know how to play political games, but I also know what the red lines are that I will not cross.”

Jerusalem’s Mayor Bending to Haredi Pressure?

By Renee Ghert-Zand October 21, 2011

Israeli blogger Hanna Beit Halachmi asks in the title of her most recent post whether Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is good for Jewish women.

For her the question is rhetorical, as she is outraged as what she perceives as the many signs that Barkat is capitulating to Haredi political pressure, especially when it comes to the elimination of women from the public sphere.

Separation Struggle

By Kamoun Ben-Shimon October 23, 2011

In the face of the demands of community extremists, who often do not hesitate to use physical violence to enforce their will, public space in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods is increasingly gender-segregated.

…Dudi Zilbershlag, a publicist for the Haredi movement, believes that the extremism is a response to trends in the secular community.

“The more permissive and modern the secular community is, the more the ultra-Orthodox community closes inward, because we are afraid and close ourselves off even more,” he tells The Report and calls on the police to intervene to protect the residents.

On the offensive

By Peggy Cidor October 21, 2011

No one in haredi circles would be likely to say that some sanity has come back to the streets of Mea She’arim thanks to the Zionist police following the arrest of the Sikarikim, but everybody here understands that this open, fierce and assertive attitude by the police has perhaps changed some of the rules of the game.

Secular group marches against Mea Shearim segregation

By Jeremy Sharon October 22, 2011

A march staged by the Free Israel secularist movement through Mea She’arim in Jerusalem Saturday night was pelted with bottles, stones and diapers by ultra-Orthodox residents of the neighborhood.

The march was held to protest the failure of the High Court of Justice to enforce its ruling outlawing male-female segregation during Succot for the second year in a row.

“Unless we address the issue, however small it may seem, and unless the High Court enforces the law, this trend will only widen,” [Director of Free Israel Mickey] Gitzin argued, adding that the importance of maintaining one law for all was another important component of their opposition to the separation barriers.

Haredim assault police officers with concrete blocks

By Omri Efraim October 23, 2011

Haredim in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim hurled concrete blocks from their balconies at police officers on Saturday. Several officers were lightly wounded and treated on the spot.

Earlier on Saturday, police arrested one man on suspicion of disorderly conduct.

One of the marchers said,

“We managed to march several steps before we were violently attacked. Stones, glass bottles and diapers were hurled at us. It was life-threatening. We were chased and we escaped at the last minute. Those were moments of genuine fear.”

PHOTOS: Failed attempt for mixed-gender walk in Mea-Shaarim, Jerusalem

By Nir Alon October 22, 2011

The Free Israel Movement attempts to conduct mixed-gender walk through the dominantly ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea-Shaarim protesting gender segregation in contradiction to Supreme Court ruling.

Women noticeably absent from Jerusalem ads

By Nir Hasson October 21, 2011

“In Jerusalem, a shoe is not just a shoe,” says Uri Ayalon, a Conservative rabbi who promotes religious pluralism, and who recently established an “uncensored” Facebook group that protests against the elimination of women from public spaces.

Shoe images, he says, are used to obscure the fact that in Jerusalem women are rarely pictured on public posters and billboards.

…”This becomes a process of self-censorship,” explains Rabbi Ayalon.

“You decide in advance not to use a photograph of a female dancer, so that nobody sprays it. You decide not to confront anything, and that’s the position adopted by the advertisement agencies.

“This is no longer creeping erosion, but rather a trend that’s up and running,” he adds.

Reform Movement: Remove gender barrier at Kotel entrance

By Jeremy Sharon October 18, 2011

The Reform Movement in Israel is demanding that barriers separating men and women at the main entrance to the Western Wall plaza be removed.

The group sent letters to the Jerusalem District Police Commander Nissan Shaham and the Rabbi of the Kotel Shmuel Rabinovitch demanding that the partitions at the main entrance by the Dung Gate be removed.

The letter also insists that the stewards employed by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation to enforce the separate lines be removed.

Anat Hoffman stated however that the [Western Wall Heritage Foundation] is a “haredi-dominated organization with no representation for women, alternative Jewish groups other than the Orthodox, or for the city municipality.”

“The foundation abuses its authority and dictates life choices for the rest of us,” she said.
“The Kotel belongs to all Jews, it shouldn’t be the haredi Kotel, but should be run by all of us, not just the few.”

Complaints of sex segregation near Kotel October 23, 2011

The Israel Religious Action Center has turned to Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch and Jerusalem District Commander Niso Shaham, claiming sex segregation has been taking place at the entrance to the holy site.

According to the IRAC, the Reform Movement’s legal advocacy arm, this kind of separation between men and women in the public domain is illegal.

Female soldiers leave IDF event after ordered to sit in separate section

By Anshel Pfeffer October 23, 2011

About 100 female soldiers left the main celebration sponsored by the Israel Defense Forces marking the end of the Simhat Torah holiday on Thursday after they were asked to move to a separate women’s section.

…Those in attendance said before the request was made for them to move, the women had been dancing at one side, separately from the men and also separated by a long table. The women soldiers were then ordered by an officer from the military rabbinate to go to a separate, closed area about 50 meters away, following complaints over the initial setup.

The IDF Spokesman’s office said in response: “As is the custom at these events every year, there is an area designated for women,” adding that “no IDF official was directed to verify that men and women were separated.”

Meretz MK Gal-On: IDF rabbis demean women soldiers

By Jonathan Lis October 24, 2011

Gal-On said it is vital to clarify that the era when women can be kept out of the public sphere is long gone.

Barak, she wrote, must explain to IDF officers that religious soldiers will encounter women in every sphere of their future lives: They will be treated by female doctors, judged by female [judges] and perhaps even take orders from female officers.

Social justice, religious freedom and the tent protests

By Rabbi Uri Regev Opinion October 22, 2011

The writer is the head of Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel.

[Trajtenberg] rightly stressed that a major source of the frustration over social injustice stemmed from “sectors in the population that do not sufficiently partner in bearing the burden, both on account of their low participation in the workforce and on account of their avoiding national service in general and military service in particular.”

Everyone understood that this was primarily directed at the haredi sector, as did the haredi political parties, which were quick to reject the report.

…In the reports specific recommendations, the committee emphasized the importance of enforcing the core curriculum (math, sciences, English and civics) in the ultra-Orthodox educational system, limiting the period of state subsidies for studying in yeshivot, increasing funding for professional training, and drastically escalating the participation in military/civil service, among other things.

A Jew of No Religion

By Gershom Gorenberg Opinion October 19, 2011

By changing his religious registration to “none,” Kaniuk found a symbol for expressing that distaste.

Implicitly, though, he affirmed the clerical establishment’s claim to represent Judaism. The court affirmed a constitutional right to define oneself according to one’s conscience—but only according to the inadequate categories of nationality and religion.

Real freedom of conscience would require the state to stop registering religious and ethnic identity.

Actual separation of synagogue and state would mean abolishing the official rabbinate, enacting civil marriage, and ending government involvement in religious education

Who isn’t a Jew?

By Shula Kopf October 23, 2011

Yoram Kaniuk says the most profound experience of his life, even more than fighting and being wounded in the War of Independence, which has informed so much of his writing, was a stint as a sailor on a refugee ship ferrying Holocaust survivors to the newly formed State of Israel.

“They came from hell. If there was a God, where was He?” he says with some bitterness.

“Over time I have become very upset about rabbinical Judaism and how it is overshadowing everything. I am against the Jewish religious establishment. Israel is a democratic state, but it can’t be both democratic and religious. It’s a contradiction in terms.”

Once a Jew, always a Jew

By Benny Ziffer Opinion October 14, 2011

I read about several hundred enthusiastic citizens who convened on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv to fill out the forms and take them to the Interior Ministry, demanding that it recognize them as religionless.

Have they indeed done so already, or are they waiting for the end of the holidays – which, naturally, they no longer celebrate, seeing as they will soon be non-Jews?

The real threat to Israel’s Jewish character

By Prof. Shlomo Avineri Opinion October 24, 2011

It’s clear that if the bill is approved as a Basic Law, it will not change much in Israel’s reality as the Jewish nation-state.

Israel’s Rabbinate must be stripped of its powers

Who needs the Rabbinate?

Haaretz Editorial October 24, 2011

From every vantage point – social, civil and economic – it would be better to transfer the rabbinate’s powers to local authorities that would serve the people based on the community’s needs.

Also, the Knesset must change the law and provide civil marriage to everyone, in addition to religious marriage. Israeli society has come out, albeit very politely, against religious coercion.