Thursday, August 28, 2014

Religion and State in Israel - August 28, 2014

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


A state rabbinic court in Jerusalem has issued an order prohibiting a woman from bringing her children to meet her female romantic partner. 

Israel’s Center for Women’s Justice filed a petition this week with the country’s Supreme Court on the woman’s behalf challenging the rabbinic court’s order. 

The clerk of a rabbinic court attempted to make a “halitza” ceremony — a ritual by which a widow is released from the religious obligation to marry the brother of her dead husband — a public event. By pulling some strings, the widow said, she avoided turning her halitzah into “a circus.” 

The Jerusalem Regional Rabbinical Court forced a woman to speak privately with her abusive husband after the judges were allegedly swayed by fixers, or macherim, a complaint filed against the judges by the woman revealed. 

See also:  

By Rabbi Uri Regev 

Biblical and rabbinical tradition have plenty of different attitudes and descriptions that are partly inspired from the main line of Jewish heritage, that is inspired by the prophet Aaron who was a “peace lover and peace chaser”.

Other traditions express completely different attitudes, as the prophet Pinchas and Nehemia. Those who aspire for a halachic state, which would implement the laws of the Bible such as stoning those who violate Shabbat, are a danger to Judaism in the modern era and a threat to democracy. 


A group of Ugandan Jews invited to study at the Conservative yeshiva in Jerusalem has been forced to cancel its plans because of questions raised by the government about the legitimacy of non-Orthodox conversions performed abroad. 

More than 100 rabbis from the national religious sector, including some of the most senior figures from the conservative wing of the community, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the weekend, calling on him to oppose proposed changes to the conversion system under consideration by the government. 


Jay Ruderman of the Ruderman Family Foundation: 
“Philanthropists are not naive and I don’t believe will be interested in investing large sums in this initiative without the confidence that it has a good chance in succeeding,” Ruderman told the Post. 

“Philanthropists are looking for impact, not involvement in an initiative plagued by political infighting. I think the political maneuvering between JAFI and the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs spells doom for this initiative. News of the political dispute surrounding the initiative will drive away any philanthropists who were seriously considering investing in it.” 

“I don’t know why any serious philanthropic investor would choose to invest in an initiative built by people who don’t trust each other,” he added. 

By Dvir Kahana 

In recent months, many different organizations have turned to us requesting that the ministry use the new government funds to help scale up their existing programs. To all, we have said no. Not because their programs were not worthy but rather because the Initiative is not about creating another fund. It is about creating a new plan of strategic proportions.  

Sharansky expressed dismay at what he said was Kahana’s assertion that the ministry is responsible for dialogue with Diaspora Jewry, to the exclusion of the Jewish Agency. He said Kahana had told Diaspora leaders that “he doesn’t permit us to have this dialogue without his control. I just dismissed his words.” 

Sharansky said the agency decided to proceed as planned with the campus pilot project “on the basis of the prime minister’s public declarations to the effect that he wanted to have us move forward.” 

Sharansky stressed that the Jewish Agency’s role of dialogue with world Jewry is both historic and essential. 

By Stephen G. Donshik 

The government does not seem to be aware that the Jewish philanthropic system will not support the Initiative if it is seen as a government program. Neither will it attract donors when they perceive tensions between JAFI, one of the overseas partners, and the Israeli government.

Unfortunately, the failure of Israeli politicians and bureaucrats to fully appreciate the complicated voluntary [philanthropic] system in the Diaspora will only alienate current donors and fail to attract new ones.   


Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar rebuffed charges from former presidential candidate MK Meir Sheetrit on Wednesday that his efforts to close stores operating illegally in Tel Aviv on Shabbat were related to the haredi parties’ support for President Reuven Rivlin. 

By Nehemia Shtrasler 

Who does Sa’ar think he is? A new religious “philosopher,” who will change Tel Aviv from the city that never stops into sleepy, religious Bnei Brak? He should move there and leave us in peace.


Some history teachers balked this week at a proposed Education Ministry lesson plan that encourages students to be “Jewish fighters” like the biblical Joshua. 

The lesson, which was recently sent to history teachers across the country, quotes Simcha Goldin’s entire eulogy for his son Hadar, an Israeli soldier killed during the fighting in Gaza earlier this month. Describing his son as “a Jewish fighter” like Joshua, Simcha Goldin said: “Do as he did. Take the Torah with you day and night and be Jewish fighters.” 

By Shmarya Rosenberg  

… Will the end of government funding for noncompliant haredi schools be a disaster financially for the haredi community? 

Yes, of course it will. 

But that looming disaster (haredi rabbis had many months warning) is a disaster created wholly by haredi rabbis, and if they insist that Mendel and Shloimie not learn math or chemistry or history or civics or the "evil" computers, then they'll have to find legal ways to make up the millions of dollars in funding their schools will lose. 

No government should be paying for an education that is so totally deficient, it is essentially child abuse.


Dr. Haim Zicherman, a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute’s Religion and State Project, called the situation a civil rebellion that needed to be resolved

“There is a large group of people which is intentionally breaking the law in a systematic way,” said Zicherman. 

He said however that the IDF needed to help resolve the problem by allowing those who have previously refused to present themselves at IDF offices to subsequently do so without being arrested, as is currently the case. 

MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) has continued his campaign of pressure against the national-religious combined yeshiva and IDF service program and called on Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to call-up Hesder yeshiva students instead of reserve soldiers. 

Q: The religious sector, on the other hand, seems to have a whole cluster of expectations from military service 

A: Absolutely. Their agenda is much wider. They aspire not only to influence the army, but to have impact on the nature of the state through the army. They are on a mission, and the mission has not yet been accomplished. 

By Nadav Ben Zur 

Women of the Wall might invoke the popular argument that it is better to change the organization from within than to object to it entirely. This is completely misguided. The Chief Rabbinate is not a typical policymaking body. It is a fundamentally discriminatory organization that is established on the basis of a primitive text, and acts to preserve its discriminatory values.

The demand therefore to become part of it is indicative of the hypocrisy of Women of the Wall: it does not call for equality for all; it simply wants to have a share in conducting bigotry. 

By Talia Weisberg  


The Jerusalem municipal council has given the green light on Wednesday for the construction of a yeshiva in a predominantly Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. 

According to the blueprints, the Ohr Somayach yeshiva will occupy a nine-story building at the heart of the neighborhood. 


A complaint made against a prominent state-employed rabbi for participating in an advertising campaign for the Yad L’achim anti-assimilation and anti-missionary organization has been upheld by the Ministry for Religious Services. 


Middle-class ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel like name brands, own their own homes and travel abroad, according to a TGI survey conducted on behalf of TheMarker. 

While the community as a whole has high levels of poverty, a significant and growing proportion is middle class by Israeli standards, the market-research firm’s poll concluded. 

One sign of this is the increasing number of large food manufacturers over the past several years that apply to receive the more stringent Mehadrin kashrut certification, in order to better serve their ultra-Orthodox customers. 

TGI also found that Haredim are increasingly using both the Internet and credit cards, although presumably not for the purposes of entertainment. 

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