Thursday, April 24, 2014

Religion and State in Israel - April 17 and April 24, 2014

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

By Ayelet Libson
From the perspective of human rights, there is one requirement for reinventing the rabbinate in this way. This lofty goal can be achieved only by relinquishing the coercive power of the rabbinate.

The Chief Rabbinate’s authority should be religious and moral, rather than legal. Only by surrendering its power will the Israeli rabbinate be able to regain its rightful place as a beacon of the Jewish state.

By Susan Weiss

The Attorney-General’s office is regularly assigned the responsibility of responding to petitions brought against the rabbinate and the Religious Services Ministry by aggrieved citizens.

But it views its responsibilities as “protecting the interests of the state” which, in the case at hand, means protecting the policies of the Chief Rabbinate and its halacha. The attorney-general’s office does not see its job as protecting citizen’s rights.

Chief Rabbi David Lau is now working to torpedo the conversion bill, initiated by MK Elazar Stern (Hatnuah), up for its final votes.

Lau says he told Stern he is in favor of “expanding the circle of converts, but all under the supervision of the conversion administration and the president of the High Rabbinical Court. To give a municipal rabbi conversion power is like letting a pharmacist perform surgery because the hospital is crowded.”

By Rabbi Micah Segelman

There was an impressively large turnout for her speech on a cold, wintry Rochester evening. I anticipated listening to a gifted speaker, and I wasn’t disappointed. Anat Hoffman, of Women of the Wall, is passionate, articulate, charismatic, and funny

Unfortunately, her gifted oratory made her disparaging portrayal of Orthodox and especially Haredi Jewry all the more hurtful. I am not offended by constructive criticism – but unfortunately, her stinging rhetoric did not qualify as constructive criticism.

By Anat Hoffman

The disproportionate power the Rabbanut has in Israel, and therefore the state of religious freedom, is indeed as dire as I described.

The viability of most Haredi men to leave the Yeshiva and work or even function in mainstream Israeli society is indeed as I described, and unfortunately, racism linked to misogyny is one of the greatest threats to Israel developing a just and civil society.

Interview with Rabbi Benjamin Ish-Shalom

Q: What’s the answer?
A: An alternative complementary halachic system that we started a year ago. It offers educational programs for conversion that have the support of the largest components of Israeli society — Modern Orthodox, traditional and secular Israelis who want to see these people become an integral part of our nation.

We are now organizing Israeli organizations and movements — rabbinic and civil — and public people in Israeli society who will stand together to demand a change in the halachic policy of the rabbinic courts or demand to establish an alternative if this does not happen.

Something has to change because almost all of the students deserve to be converted based on their knowledge, motivation, sincerity and commitment.

By Anshel Pfeffer

The solution for the terrible injustice to the citizens "without religion" must be taking away the Chief Rabbinate's monopoly on marriage, not giving the rotten establishment headed by David Lau additional powers to decide who can become an Israeli.

By Yossi Beilin

We must change the Law of Return to state that a person who honestly declares himself part of the Jewish people should have his Jewishness recognized by the state.

By Sharon Shenhav

While pre-nuptial agreements can be helpful in preventing this problem, they do not solve every case and many couples do not wish to sign them.

Unwilling to be caught in this trap, an increasing number of Jewish women and their partners worldwide are changing the wedding ceremony by doing away with “kiddushin.”


It can’t be easy growing up in the shadow of one of the most admired and at the same time most reviled women in the Jewish world.

Just ask Tanya Hoffman. Or better yet, take note of the title of her upcoming film on being Anat Hoffman’s daughter: “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.”

Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel’s support for placing the running of a key archaeological park near the Western Wall under the management of the right-wing Elad association has brought him into conflict with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and the State Prosecutor’s Office.

By Phyllis Chesler

On December 1, 1988, that changed. On that day, I was among the women who prayed with a Torah at Jerusalem’s Western Wall for the first time in history. I uncovered the Torah for us – an honor that will never be surpassed in my lifetime and that wedded me to the struggle for Jewish women’s religious rights and to the study of Torah.

Early in 1989, I helped form the International Committee for Women of the Wall (WOW). This group, and its important religious and political struggles, provided me with a new Jewish feminist world in which to immerse myself.

By Dvir Kahana

The plan is to form a new mechanism in Jerusalem, which would oversee the various programs but not micromanage their content. Manned by Israelis and Diaspora representatives alike, it would apply one measurement system to gauge success and eventually oversee one digital platform for the Jewish world.

Israel needs to rethink its immigration strategy in this new world order to attract as many Jews as possible before things get worse. Such a policy requires concentrating data on economic fields in which Israel needs skilled workers as well as the economic opportunities Israel can provide to workers in these fields. Such a database could then serve as a launching point for campaigns to attract such Jews to Israel.

Birthright’s Marks said he believed that by tapping into the market of “low affiliated” young Jews, the participation numbers would continue rising. This group of potential applicants account for about 60 percent of all young Jews in North America, he said.

By Daniel Goldman

The initiative can grasp the challenge of making this a global Jewish effort, but in order to do so the conversation has to express confidence in the bottom-up approach empowering the start-up nation as it applies to new Jewish initiatives around the world.


Hiddush director Uri Regev said that criminal proceedings should also be conducted against anyone falsely declaring himself to be in attendance at yeshiva, as well as yeshiva deans who affirm fraudulent attendance records. Yeshivas themselves receive state funding according to the number of students they have.


A public invitation to Mimouna, the post-Passover feast, in Ashdod on Monday stated that it would be a male-only event. The invitation was emblazoned with the city hall logo, though representatives claimed that the municipality never agreed to sponsor the event and the invitation had been published without their approval.

Along with the municipal symbols, the invitation bore the logos of institutions identified with the Shas political party. The Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef was listed on the invite as a key participant in the event along with Shas party leader Aryeh Deri and Yehiel Lasri, the mayor of Ashdod.

It’s important for Israelis to take this story into account when they decide where to do their Passover shopping. Manufacturers of laundry detergent, dishwashers and food often address women in ads − because the men are apparently too busy hunting mammoths to participate in the shopping and cleaning chores.

That’s why it was surprising to see the billboards of the Supersol supermarket chain exposed by the
Room 404 blog, in which Passover shopping ads feature men only, apparently figures of a father and his sons.


By MK Dov Lipman

The Haredi political leadership has built its power base on the mantra of “secular Israel hates us.” They repeat this regularly from the Knesset floor and in committee hearings on a daily basis. The Haredi media provides the platform for Haredi MK’s to share this message with the broader Haredi community and the Haredi broadcasters mimic this divisive tone on an hourly basis.

And, just like that, in a flash, this message has been proven to be false. False, and terribly damaging.

This year, we are pleased to offer you a selection of texts prepared by Hiddush CEO Rabbi Uri Regev that includes a variety of both in-depth and concise explorations of the holiday's themes of freedom of religion, equality, pluralism, and the universal responsibility to uphold and pursue social justice.

By Amy Klein

It wasn’t just the absence of the traditional bitter herbs that made my first seder at my Israeli in-laws a bittersweet affair.


see also:

By inviting Christian citizens to enlist in the army, Israel is distinguishing between Arabs on the basis of religion.



By Elhanan Nir

I am making a double proposal: Equal sharing of the burden, of both the book and the sword. Every citizen will devote two years of his early life to something that departs from his private here-and-now.

Those two years will consist of a year of in-depth, dedicated Torah study in a place congenial to the individual – be it a secular yeshiva, a hesder yeshiva or a Haredi yeshiva – and then one year of army service, aimed at preparing him for war.


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

--> CLICK HERE for April 10, 2014 edition