Thursday, November 8, 2012

Religion and State in Israel - November 8, 2012

Religion and State in Israel

Editor – Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.
*Special edition on Women of the Wall & Anat Hoffman's arrest coming soon

The capitalist forces of free competition that exist, say, in the US kosher supervision market, are nonexistent in Israel.

The best solution to this situation is to break the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over kashrut supervision and adopt the sort of model that exists in the US.

Instead of entrusting the Chief Rabbinate with both providing kashrut supervision and enforcing kashrut fraud laws – which creates inherent conflicts of interest – a state-run, secular consumer protection agency should be responsible for enforcing kashrut fraud laws.

Carousela restaurant owner: “We need more awareness of the issue. It’s not about getting rid of the rabbinate, but reorganizing the institution and the way it works. The politicians need to take this to the next level. The law needs to be changed.”

"I don't intend to eat in every place that advertises itself as kosher, but I think it is the right of every place to do so," Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz said in response to the war the Jerusalem Rabbinate has been waging against the capital's restaurants.

Rabbinate Rabbi Schlesinger concluded by stating “if you advertise as being kosher without a teudah from the local rabbinate, in this case Yerushalayim, you are breaking the law”.

One common complaint, [ITIM director Rabbi Shaul] Farber said, comes from women seeking to open a file for marriage registration, who are refused by the registrar on the grounds that the woman was not dressed modestly enough.

Until now, it has been impossible to bring a formal complaint against such council employees.
“We’d like to see clerks, or rabbis for that matter, who don’t treat people with basic respect, removed from office,” Farber said.

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee tried to advance a bill on Tuesday to extend the terms of Israel's chief rabbis by three months, even though the panel's legal adviser said the vote was illegal. But the attempt by the committee's chairman, MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) failed and a revote will be necessary.

The Knesset, in a recess session on Monday, approved amendments to a new law that will enable just one rabbinical judge, or dayan, to hear and rule on cases in the Supreme Rabbinical Court.

Until now, a panel of at least three dayanim was needed to hear a case. The government advanced the legislation because of a severe backlog of cases, as well as a freeze in permanent appointments to the court, known as the Beit Din Hagadol.

“I have great respect for Orthodox Judaism, yet I also believe that the State of Israel must allow expressions of all streams of Judaism,” she said at a Jerusalem conference. 

Addressing Jewish communal leaders from Israel and the Diaspora, she praised a recent decision by Israel’s attorney general that would allow Reform and Conservative rabbis to receive state funding.

“This decision was a great achievement for liberal streams of Judaism. It’s a victory for freedom of religion and for all people who want Israel to become a more tolerant and open and just society.”

The Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) has chosen a Modern Orthodox, Zionist rabbi – Moshe Klein – to be the rabbi of its medical institutions, succeeding its longtime rabbi, Yaacov Rakovski, who died last January.

The announcement last week thus put to an end speculation and concern – which was even expressed in a large advertisement in The Jerusalem Post that political and other pressures would lead to the appointment of an ultra- Orthodox rabbi, without the Zionist credentials of the Women’s Zionist Organization of America that owns the medical centers.

It shows that of the ultra-Orthodox schools whose students were tested, 44% ranked in the bottom decile, meaning the bottom 10%. Another 14% scored in the second decile (between the 10th and 20th percentiles). 

In the Haredi schools, the test was only administered at 20% of the schools, and only to pupils in the 5th grade. Moreover, they were only tested for Hebrew and math.

Under the new law, Israel’s daylight saving time will run an average of 193 days a year, compared to 182 under the former law. It should be noted that next Yom Kippur falls on September 13, 2013, meaning that the holy day will be included in next year’s daylight saving time.

MK Ronit Tirosh, who initiated the bill together with MK Nitzan Horowitz, said: "The bill is better that the current state but it's not enough. Daylight Savings Time should be extended further. There's no reason for Israelis not to enjoy another hour of daylight."

By Nehemia Shtrasler

Amsellem holds up a mirror to Shas' leaders in which they appear to be exploiting other people's misery. They are interested in leaving the ultra-Orthodox population ignorant, poor and dependent on them.

Rabbi Shai Piron, who occupies the second slot on the Yesh Atid party's Knesset list, said, Thursday evening, that he conditioned his joining the party, among other things, on his not being the only religious person on the ballot. 

Interviewed by Kol Yisrael government radio, he said he demanded that Dr. Aliza Lavie be placed in one of the ten top places. Dr. Lavie is a senior lecturer in the School of Communication at Bar-Ilan University.

A letter leaked to the press over the weekend shed new light on the seriousness with which the mainstream haredi leadership is taking the political discontent felt by certain factions in the ultra- Orthodox community.

Referring to the party's MKs, Yosef said that Shas' parliamentary and ministerial representatives “haven't yet finished the job. In the next Knesset they will continue, God willing, doing their best to make the Torah grow and to glorify it, to reinforce Jewish tradition and prevent assimilation. 

As a summary of the book’s content [Zera Yisrael], I underscored four important points regarding conversion as agreed upon by a majority of halakhic authorities:

1) The convert must accept the responsibility of mitzvoth.
2) It must be clear that the potential convert’s true intention is to be a Jew with belief in the unity of God, the prohibition of idolatry, a rejection and distancing from his or her previous faith, and accepting some of the lighter and stricter mitzvoth that the court presents.
3) It is not necessary to know at the time of the conversion that a potential convert plans to observe everything, nor does the convert need to explicitly commit to complete observance.
4) If it is evident that that the potential convert has no intention to observe mitzvoth (for example, if one lives on a secular kibbutz where one will continue to desecrate the Shabbat, eat non-Kosher food, eat hametz on Pessah, and live exactly as one did prior to the conversion), then that person cannot be converted.

By Reuven Hammer
The writer is former president of the International Rabbinical Assembly

Those who know Jewish law know that the requirements for conversion are much less stringent than those demanded by official rabbinical courts in Israel and elsewhere. 

When a court refuses to convert someone because she could not recite the Ashrei prayer by heart or would not agree to refrain from swimming in a pool alongside men, we are dealing with “fences of Primal Adam” and not with Jewish law.

1,700 members of Bnei Menashe community with possible Jewish roots already in the country; some 7,000-9,000 remain in India and Burma

Moses (Moshe) Sebagago, a 32-year-old lawyer and father of two, was the first candidate ever to apply to the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem from the Abuyudaya Jewish community of Uganda.

By Gedalyah Reback

Ronen Birvdaker, a Jewish Indian from Mumbai, was so moved by the 2008 terrorist attack in his home city that he decided to immigrate to Israel last year. On Wednesday, he completed his training to become a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces’ Golani Brigade.

Birvdaker, 25, said that after the November 2008 attack — which killed 166 people, including a Chabad emissary and his wife — he felt that as a Jew there was no place for him to live other than in Israel.

By Sharna Marcus

Taglit-Birthright has given away 300,000 10-day trips, hoping to stir an appreciation of Jewish heritage.

The impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel on its alumni six to eleven years after their trip to Israel is examined in this study. The data are derived from the third year of a longitudinal study of Jewish young adults.

The Jewish People today is mostly divided into two subpopulations: the Jews of Israel (~43%) and those of North America (~40%).

They differ not just in the content of Jewish identity but in its very structure. Jewish identity in the Diaspora consists of voluntary religious and ethnic identification and solidarity.

Alternatively, in Israel, while Jewish identity is of core importance, it is largely automatic. Its major implications have to do with language, territory, citizenship, and political membership. Reigning patterns of Jewish identity are now challenged by dissenting conceptions and emerging new forms.

In order to make effective policy, decision makers must deepen their understanding of Jewish identity in each of the two main centers and confront the challenge of forming a common language and network to bridge these two disparate conceptions of Jewish identity.

By Chemi Shalev

For most Americans living in Israel, the issue of religion and state is irrelevant. True, many American-born Israelis are at the forefront of the struggle for religious pluralism and for state recognition of Reform and Conservative movements, but many others are, quite simply, Orthodox: They don’t believe in separation of religion and state and are quite happy, naturally, to live in a country in which the Orthodox rule.

'You want the free spirit all the time', filmmaker Rama Burshetein tells Haaretz. 'At 25, my free spirit involved eating shrimp. Having sex. Now I know that the only free spirit is the connection with Hashem.’

Jerusalem's Bikur Holim Hospital handing out information leaflets to female patients from Hasidic factions. 'Hitting and torture in a haredi home could even lead to death,' medical sources warn

By David Rosenberg

"There is no guiding vision behind what the secular parties want, just a general sense that the government should ensure that no one suffers, that tycoons should be put into place and that more government is better. Despite the events of the last four years, Europe is their model.

The Haredim do have a vision, which is what makes them both so powerful and dangerous: it's that they not suffer economically and the rest of us have to muddle through. Eastern Europe of a century or more ago is their model."

On the anniversary of the Jewish matriarch Rachel’s death, devout Jews from around the world bring their prayers to her tomb.

But aside from being the certifying body, MDA is also a supplier - apparently the country's largest - of these same medical security services. Recently, the Ihud Hatzala rescue service has begun to compete for this business, and MDA apparently finds itself facing an integral conflict of interest.

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