Thursday, August 21, 2014

Religion and State in Israel - August 21, 2014

Religion and State in Israel

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

By Shmuel Rosner 

1. Israeli Jews are under no serious threat of assimilation for a simple reason: they have no one to marry but their own breed... 

2. That Israel doesn't have a real problem with intermarriage doesn't mean it doesn't have a problem with its attitude towards intermarriage... 

3. I must say that the responses from many Israeli political leaders to the wedding controversy were surprisingly measured and reasonable. They tended to A. denounce the ugly demonstration, B. unapologetically declare their opposition to intermarriage. … 

4. Truth must be told: It is harder for many Israelis to swallow the bitter pill of intermarriage between a Jew and a Muslim Arab than it is to accept intermarriage with a Christian Norwegian Kibbutz volunteer. … 

5. Try to remember that Israel is a curious little country. We tend to be very conservative on some things – or to have such an image (an image which this wedding controversy might strengthen). But we are also one of the most liberal countries on earth on other matters. ... 

“Mahmoud and Morel from Jaffa have decided to marry and to exercise their freedom in a democratic country." 

By Natasha Miliavskey 

Then came the final straw. The rabbis explained that if I really wanted to become a Jew, I must transfer my older daughter to an Orthodox kindergarten. I did not object. I loved the idea that she would grow up with Jewish values, but when I explained to her that next year she would have to switch to a different kindergarten rather than continue in school with her friends, she began to cry. 

… After an introductory lesson with a (female) Masorti rabbi, I immediately realized that Masorti Judaism spoke to me. I was pleased to know that my daughters could grow up within an egalitarian approach.  


MK Shimon Ohayon, a member of the coalition’s Yisrael Beitenu party led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and chair of the Knesset’s committee on the struggle against anti-Semitism, decided that the conflict with Hamas should not be an obstacle to join the club of recent public Reform-bashers.

The club includes Ohayon’s fellow party member chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee David Rotem who said in February that Reform movement was “another religion” and “not Jewish.” 


In an unusual step, an Israeli rabbinical court on Wednesday granted a divorce to a woman whose husband has been in a vegetative state since a suicide attempt in 2011. 
The court, headed by rabbinic judge Maimon Nahari, pronounced the marriage dissolved on the grounds of "mekah ta’ut" - fraud or false pretenses. 

Marriage in Israel: Special Four Part Series on Israel TV Channel 10 [Hebrew]


Commander of the Givati Brigade, Colonel Ofer Winter, addressed his religious troops Sunday, saying that they weren't allowed to leave during a special show of the IDF's military band, despite any religious leanings they may have against the fact that female soldiers would be taking part in the performance. 

There is a lot of entrenched macho in Israeli culture. The challenge is the way in which that macho intersects with religion and the (secular) business and political establishment’s support of religious radicalism for their own needs and interests.

It’s easy for men across the spectrum to throw women under the bus for the sake of coalition, business or money.

Women are fighting this reality, to raise awareness that protecting women’s rights is a basic part of democracy, and to introduce different thinking about the role of religion in Israeli society and politics.

There is no separation of religion and state in Israel, which means that religious groups have had tremendous political influence over the years.   


The Jerusalem Rabbinical Court refused to accept relevant testimony from women during a hearing on the division of property in a divorce case, a complaint to the judges’ ombudsman shows. 

The judges refused a woman’s subsequent request that they disqualify themselves from hearing her case. When she sought to appeal that decision, she was told she would have to deposit 50,000 shekels ($14,300) as a condition for having her appeal heard. That’s when she decided to file the complaint. 

The ombudsman, retired Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Rivlin, found her complaint justified, and serious enough for the judges to reconsider recusing themselves. 

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni plans to name her director-general to administer the rabbinical-court system after Rabbi Shlomo Dichovsky retired from the position on Thursday without a successor or a process for appointing one. 


Convenience stores in Tel Aviv will remain open, at least this weekend, after a municipal court yesterday denied the city’s request to close several chain stores on Saturdays in the meantime. 

Judge Aviyam Barkai scheduled the next court session on the issue for November. However, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar may issue a decision regarding the stores’ operating on weekends before then. 

Knesset Member Meir Sheetrit (Hatnuah), who lost in the runoff election for the presidency in the Knesset against Reuven Rivlin, has accused Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) of striking a political deal with the ultra-Orthodox factions to prevent a possible victory by Sheetrit.

Sheetrit claims that Sa’ar apparently told the Haredim that he would close down shops in Tel Aviv on Saturdays in return for transferring their support from Sheetrit to Rivlin in the second round of voting, in June. 


Senior Jewish Agency officials wrote to members of their board of governors on Wednesday to refute allegations that the Zionist organization was being cut out of the government’s new Diaspora outreach initiative. 

By Dan Brown 


A Haredi high-school in Jerusalem teaching both religious studies and a general education to its pupils currently has no premises at which to teach for the coming academic year. 

By Michal Berman 


Amid nationwide unrest among haredim following the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox conscript who refused to be drafted into the IDF, police are heightening security in the capital ahead of a large protest scheduled to take place in Jerusalem Wednesday afternoon. 

By Shmarya Rosenberg 

What the current war has made clear is that the burden, as it’s called in Israel, of defending the country is so disproportionate that it can no longer be tolerated. 

So what is the solution? 

I think there is one harsh but necessary step that should be taken.  
Haredim can’t simply be expelled or transferred to Poland. 
But Israel can make life for noncompliant haredim much harder than it already is. 


The place of religion in the public sphere is a controversial issue, and scholarly opinions differ, from insisting on a public sphere that reflects the religion of the majority, to those who insist on it being religion-free.

Using the method of inquiry of contextual political theory, we examine the struggle of the Women of Wall to pray collectively at the Western Wall.  


About 15 percent of Israeli adults are registered as donors, according to the Health Ministry’s National Transplant Center, compared with nearly half in the United States. 

“If someone is planning on going through a transplant, waiting to get a kidney in the country, there is a greater chance that the Messiah will come,” said Amos Canaf, founder of an Israeli advocacy group for renal patients. 


New entry in long-running Temple Mount bridge saga 
Haaretz, Nir Hasson August 15, 2014 (hard-copy edition) 
Western Wall Heritage Foundation:
"There is no permit for construction of a permanent Mughrabi Bridge. Gov't officials and the municipality are holding constant discussions to find an agreed solution to this problem, in light of the fact that the temporary bridge cannot remain as permanent structure from either a visual or a safety standpoint. At the stage, a temporary footbridge was built to enable the continuation of the work to reinforce the Mughrabi Bridge."


Thirty members of Israel’s first pre-military course specifically tailored for Christian citizens entering the Israel Defense Forces celebrated their graduation in a formal ceremony in Haifa this week, Israel Hayom reported. The group includes four women. 

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

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Religion and State in Israel - Special OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE edition - August 14, 2014

Special OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE edition - August 14, 2014 
If you are reading in email or RSS feed, please click here to read ONLINE
Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israelis not affiliated with any organization or movement.


Photo credit: Creative Commons

The commander of one of the Israeli army's infantry brigades refused an offer for a free concert for his troops that was scheduled to be performed by female pop star Sarit Hadad for fear that her presence would insult the sensibilities of religious soldiers, according to Channel 10

Col. Ofer Winter, the commander of the Givati Brigade, refused to allow the concert to go ahead, even though Hadad had offered to sing for the troops for free, according to Channel 10. 
The singer was ready to appear at a special brigade event next week, but those plans appear to be off.  

The Attorney General has demanded an explanation after the army asked female singer Sarit Hadad to perform a free concert for Givati Brigade soldiers and then retracted the offer after she accepted. 

... If Hadad was excluded because she was a woman, this would “run counter to the principle of equality to which all public authorities in Israel are bound,” Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber wrote in the request for an explanation. “It would therefore be illegal.” 

Shahar Ilan, VP of Hiddush, reflects on the unifying effect Protective Edge has had on Israeli society, with particular emphasis on the Haredi community’s new-found affinity for the IDF. 

Clearly, even in times of war, the unholy alliance between religion and politics plays a decisive and often damaging role to Israel's Jewish and democratic character.

Hiddush wholeheartedly values the need for national unity during Israel's difficult times, but we must continue to address the challenges and work towards the goal of freedom of religion in Israel. 


In a letter published on Tuesday, Interior Minister Gideon
 Sa’ar instructed the Population and Immigration Authority and the Jewish Agency to grant Israeli citizenship to the spouse of any Jew, regardless of the sexual orientation of the couple.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement to the press that Tuesday’s decision was made following several inquiries made by the Jewish Agency regarding requests for
 aliya rights by non-Jewish spouses of gay Jews. 

The ministry said the decisions was effective immediately and that one such immigration visa had already been granted.

“I do not see a distinction between Jews in heterosexual marriage and those who wed in same-sex marriages abroad in accordance with the law,”
 Sa’ar wrote in his letter to the Population and Immigration Authority. 

“Both fulfill the purpose of the Law of Return according to the principle that ‘The children will return to their land,’” he said, quoting a biblical reference to the return of Jews from the exile.

... The decision is especially remarkable because in recent months it appeared as [Interior Minister Gideon] Sa’ar was re-inventing himself as the defender of the state’s Jewish character.

Though an avowed denizen of downtown Tel-Aviv, known to even moonlight on occasion as a DJ,
 Sa’ar alienated many of that city’s secular residents when he effectively outlawed much of the commerce that takes place in the city over Shabbat. Had Sa’ar suddenly found God? After all, he was rumored to have begun keeping the Sabbath himself. 

The more likely explanation was more political than personal...

See also:  


Tel Aviv local court on Thursday ruled that 21 grocery stores caught violating Shabbat could stay open, postponing further discussion on the issue until November. 

... The 21 stores in questions had all received three fines for operating on Shabbat before the municipality ordered them in front of a judge. 
On Thursday, the court ruled that the municipality had done its duty by bringing the stores to court, but balked at the idea that they should be forced to close. 



The Education Ministry is launching a new program that aims to make the secular community, particularly those aged 25-40, more familiar with the Jewish Bible. 

The program, called “Our Story – a Daily Bible Chapter,” will include a series of activities aimed at effecting “a change of consciousness regarding the status of the Book of Books.” 




… And so I joined WoW while I was in Jerusalem. It was a truly meaningful experience for me, helping me unlock even more holiness from the Kotel.

The sound of one hundred women’s voices rising together was exceptionally powerful. The sense of sisterhood I felt among us – native Israelis, Ethiopian immigrants, American tourists, mothers and daughters praying under the same tallit, Orthodox women in long sleeves and mid-calf skirts – was incredibly strong.

Despite our religious and political differences, we all stood beside each other in solidarity, speaking to the same God, affirming each other’s right to pray in the way she feels most comfortable. 

By Rabbi Rick Jacobs 

President Rivlin addressed me as Rabbi Jacobs – we spoke in Hebrew and he called me HaRav, the same title used for respected Orthodox rabbis.

He pledged as Israel’s new president to work closely with our movement as, together, we face the many challenges before the Jewish State and the Jewish world.

I felt the warmth and genuineness of his words and pledged that he could count on the partnership of our movement. 



Special OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE edition - August 14, 2014 
Editor – Joel Katz      
Religion and State in Israelis not affiliated with any organization or movement.      
All rights reserved.