web analytics
September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Aliza Lavie’

Knesset Passes Law Assigning Running State Mikvahs to Chief Rabbinate

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Following a lengthy debate and numerous objections, on Monday night the Knesset plenum passed the amended Jewish Religious Services Bill by a 41 to 35 majority. The amended law, proposed by MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) and endorsed by several MKs, will require that state-run mikvahs-ritual baths be subject solely to the directives of the Chief Rabbinate. The law will take effect within nine months of its passage in order to allow preparation for the new amendment.

The explanation attached to the bill reads, “Since the inception of the State of Israel, the mikvahs have been used for halakhic traditions and customs, and for this purpose they were allotted public funding for construction and maintenance. In the wake of petitions by entities wishing to destroy the accepted foundations of Judaism that have been in existence for thousands of years, the High Court has ruled that various sects should be permitted to use the mikvahs to their various ends.”

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) said that “this is the first time that a mikvah, which is a place of purity, has become a place of exclusion. We view this as discrimination under primary legislation.”

“Others who are hurt by this are, of course, our Jewish brothers and sisters in the Diaspora,” Lavie continued. “Once again they receive the ‘heartwarming’ message that the State of Israel doesn’t count them in. Not at the Western Wall, or in marriages, or in conversions, and now at the mikvahs, too — you have no place in the State of Israel.”

“This law is neither Jewish, nor legal, nor democratic,” Lavie added.

Meretz Chair MK Zehava Galon said the law is part of a “battle over the face and character of Israeli society.” Turning to the ultra-Orthodox MKs, Galon said, “You feel threatened? Why? Because someone is trying to undermine your monopoly over the Rabbinate, over Orthodoxy, over a pluralistic and equal life here?”

MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Camp) said, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated so many times that every Jew, wherever he may be, should consider Israel his national home. So what do they do in order that a Jew feel at home in Israel? They do not allow him to wed in a civil marriage; they do not allow him to be buried next to his loved ones if he is defined as someone who is not worthy of burial in a Jewish cemetery; they do not allow him to convert in an appropriate and respectful manner; and then they pass the Mikvah Law which deals a devastating blow to all those who underwent a Reform or Conservative conversion, which is about 20 percent of all converts.”

MK Yehuda Glick (Likud), who is an Orthodox rabbi, also expressed his objection to the legislation. “MK Gafni, why does it bother you that a Reform woman immerses in a mikvah?” Glick asked the bill’s author. “She does not stop you from immersing. Why do we need this divisiveness? You said the Jewish Agency will build mikvahs (for the non-Orthodox), but a representative of the Agency told me they do not plan to build any,” he said. Glick held a 30-second moment of silence in the plenum in protest of the legislation.

MK Gafni argued back, saying his law is not discriminatory. “All the claims made here that this constitutes a ‘selection’ are baseless,” he said, adding, “There was a violation of the status quo by the High Court of Justice; we asked that the status quo not be violated. Reform Jews in the US don’t have a single mikvah. All of a sudden they need a mikvah over here? This law aims to prevent the Reform from getting this legitimization through the back door.”

Jewish Agency of Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky has released a statement in response to the passage of the bill, saying, “This bill, which offers no solution to the non-Orthodox denominations, circumvents the rulings of the High Court of Justice. It is unfortunate that the bill passed before such a solution was ensured.”

JNi.Media

New Israeli Law Compels Couples to Undergo Counseling Before Divorce

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

As of Sunday, a new Israeli law titled the Domestic Dispute Settlement Act requires couples to make an attempt to resolve their disputes through peaceful means before they can embark on divorce proceedings. The new law is the result of a collaboration between Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), and MKs Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi), Merav Michaeli (Zionist Camp), and Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid).

Minster Shaked said in a statement about the new law: “It is our duty to protect the children, and I’m sure this is what the parents want more than anything else. In the end they remain parents even when they are no longer a couple.”

According to the new law, before a couple is allowed to start divorce proceedings, the couple must engage in up to four meetings, at the state’s expense, to try to resolve their differences through peaceful mediation in order to avoid dragging their disputes to court. The couple’s first meeting will be in a therapeutic setting, without their attorneys present. During this initial meeting the support unit will determine the character of the next three meetings — whether the couple should engage in more therapy without their lawyers, or should move ahead to mediations, with their lawyers present.

The process of having the therapeutic and/or mediation meetings before being able to file for divorce will take 45 days.

MK Michaeli believes the new law will cut down the number of divorces in Israel. “The dispute will begin, instead of with courtroom wars, with a session at the nearby support unit, where the couple will arrive for four meetings at the state’s expense, completely confidential, where they’ll receive information on ways to manage their dispute without starting world war three and without tearing up their children,” MK Michaeli said.

Some couples who are already in the midst of their divorce proceedings have told Army Radio that the new law is ineffective and only complicates things. The new law is also not a favorite of divorce lawyers, who have been enjoying a bonanza in recent years, with the rate of divorce in Israel soaring.

Some women’s advocates have argued that in cases of a violent husband who beats up his wife and engages in vindictive action against her, the 45 days of therapy will only extend the woman’s suffering.

JNi.Media

EU Counter-Anti-Semitism Czar: Our Goal to Allow Jews Fear-Free Life in Europe

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

The EU’s coordinator for combating anti-Semitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, this week told the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs about the European Union’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism. “The goal of all this activity is that Jews will be able to live in Europe without fear,” she said. “The fact that we have reached a situation whereby Jews send their children to schools behind barbed wire fences or send them to public schools without knowing whether they will be exposed to incitement there – this situation is unacceptable. The fact that we see security guards outside synagogues – and we have grown used to this – this is also unacceptable. But it doesn’t end there. There are security guards outside government buildings. The security situation is no longer limited to Jewish communities. We are convinced that it is the responsibility of society as a whole to combat anti-Semitism.”

Von Schnurbein said the general increase in anti-Semitic incidents throughout Europe and the “atmosphere of hatred,” particularly online, are very worrying. She said that since her appointment in December, the EU’s activity against anti-Semitism has included dialogue with the major Internet companies — Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft — which brought about the formation of the Code of Conduct. Under the code, the online giants pledged to fund organizations that would help them monitor the situation and train people who will report any inciting content online.

Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) thanked von Schnurbein for the Code of Conduct legislation, which he said would allow social media companies to “remove hate speech inciting to violence within 24 hours,” which is “a correct and important step, the fruits of which I hope we will see immediately.”

Neguise told the meeting, which was also attended by EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen, of a survey conducted ahead of the meeting among rabbis and Jewish community leaders in Europe. The survey, commissioned by the European Jewish Association and the Rabbinical Center of Europe, indicates that anti-Semitism is intensifying in Western European countries, but pointed out that the involvement of Muslim refugees in anti-Semitic incidents is marginal. The same survey showed that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Eastern Europe is decreasing.

“We are currently monitoring the process to see if there really is a change. We want to see a real change on the ground,” von Schnurbein said. “Today, only 13 of the 28 member states properly apply the [Code of Conduct] law . . . We are pressuring them to implement it.”

Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg of the Rabbinical Center of Europe said, “You cannot on the one hand constantly try to undermine the foundations of Judaism – be it brit milah (male circumcision ritual) or kosher shechitah (slaughtering of animals for food in accordance with Jewish law) – and on the other hand talk all the time about wanting to eradicate anti-Semitism.”

Yogev Karasenty, the Diaspora Affairs Ministry’s Director for Combating Anti-Semitism, said “It is not at all certain that the legislation trickles down to the ground level. There are Internet companies which declare a policy [of removing inciting content] but do not implement it.”

Yaakov Haguel, head of the World Zionist Organization’s Department for Countering Anti-Semitism, mentioned an EU survey conducted a few years ago which revealed that 74% of the victims of anti-Semitic attacks do not report them to the authorities. This indicates, he said, that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe is significantly higher than what the official figures show.

Addressing von Schnurbein and Faaborg-Andersen, Haguel said, “These Jews are your citizens, they are European citizens, proud citizens who want to live in Europe, who want to raise their children in Europe, who pay taxes. Before legislation and enforcement and education – what kind of atmosphere is being created for your citizens there? For us, the Jewish people, it is very concerning, but you, who represent the sovereign governments of each country, are responsible for the Jewish citizens, just as you are responsible for all the other citizens.”

NGO Monitor President Gerald M. Steinberg spoke of the “new anti-Semitism” and said the rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents and terror attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions “is directly linked to the incitement we hear about every day in Europe and the world. It is obvious that phrases such as ‘war crimes,’ ‘genocide,’ ‘violation of international law,’ ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘apartheid’ — which are said repeatedly in reference to Israel — feed this anti-Semitism.”

Ido Daniel, Program Director at Israeli Students Combating Anti-Semitism, mentioned that in 2014 the organization filed some 14,000 complaints with new media companies regarding anti-Semitic content online, and in 2015 the number of complaints to Twitter, Google, Facebook and Instagram rose to about 29,000. The trend is continuing in 2016, and the organization expects to file over 30,000 complaints by the end of the year, he told the committee.

“The social networks allow many people to disseminate inciting messages which are then translated into physical acts against Jews,” said Daniel, who noted that Jewish students from Brussels told him that they conceal their real last names on Facebook to avoid receiving hateful and insulting messages.

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) said, “History has already shown us what happens when displays of hatred and violence are not dealt with. There is terror all over the world now, and the social networks serve as a [broad platform] for this activity. This is not only Israel’s — it is the problem of entire world. Terror strikes in Brussels, Paris, Turkey and the United States. It’s a global problem.”

Rut Zach of the Foreign Ministry’s Department for Combating Antisemitism said that since von Schnurbein’s appointment “we can see concrete action against anti-Semitism in Europe,” adding that the left in Europe must take the lead on this issue. “The left is supposed to protect human rights,” she said.

Carol Nuriel, Acting Director of ADL’s Israel office, presented the findings of a poll showing that one in every three Europeans holds anti-Semitic opinions. Another survey conducted by ADL after the terror attacks at the offices of the satirical weekly French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the kosher supermarket Hypercacher and the Jewish Museum in Brussels indicated a 10-20% decrease in anti-Semitism in France, Germany and Belgium.

“The awareness of the danger of violence against Jews created a sort of solidarity with the Jewish communities, and it is very important to preserve this solidarity,” Nuriel stressed. “Another conclusion is that when elected officials act – and we all remember French Prime Minister Manuel Valls’s historic speech – there are results on the ground.”

Ambassador Faaborg-Andersen said, “We are all in agreement about the urgency of the battle against anti-Semitism, which is a despicable phenomenon. The EU is committed 100 percent to this fight.”

Chairman Neguise concluded the meeting by saying that the committee calls on the EU to act against anti-Semitism through legislation and education. He also urged the organizations combating the phenomenon to work together.

JNi.Media

Israeli Chief Rabbinate Issues Restrictions on Mikvah Attendants

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate issued restrictions on the extent to which mikvah attendants may question and interact with women visiting the ritual baths.

According to a letter sent Monday from the Chief Rabbinate to Itim, an organization that helps Israelis navigate the rabbinate’s bureaucracy, mikvah attendants may not question women visiting the baths, nor may they require women to undergo specific rituals before immersing.

Women increasingly have filed complaints about such practices at public mikvahs.

“The attendant is meant to help the immersing women fulfill the commandment of immersion according to Jewish law, and the attendant must be available for that purpose, and to offer her assistance,” the letter read. “In addition, the attendant is not permitted to coerce customs, investigations or checks on the women against their will.”

Separate letters from Israeli Chief Rabbis Yitzchak Yosef and David Lau, and from Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, endorsed the new restrictions.

Yesh Atid lawmakerAliza Lavie proposed a bill earlier this month to restrict the authority of mikvah attendants. But the letter, which responded to a query sent in August by Itim, may make the measure irrelevant.

The letter said that instructions on proper immersion according to Jewish law would be posted at every mikvah “in order to improve service for the immersing women.”

JTA

Aliza Lavie: Discovering A Legacy Of Jewish Women’s Prayers

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

           It was erev Yom Kippur 2002. Earlier that day, Aliza Lavie had read an interview in an Israeli newspaper with Hen Keinan, who lost her mother and baby daughter in a suicide attack in Petach Tikvah the previous May and had since moved to the United States.


 


Lavie, a communications and political science professor at Bar-Ilan University, could not stop thinking about Hen Keinan – even at Kol Nidre services that evening. “I stood there in the synagogue,” she wrote, “grappling with Hen’s questions and sensing that the prayer book in front of me could not provide the answers. I resolved to explore the eternal, powerful faith of Jewish women.”

 

Lavie set about searching for and finding prayers composed by Jewish women through the ages in vastly differing circumstances. The fruit of her labor was Tefillat Nashim, published in Israel in 2005 to considerable acclaim.

 

“Aliza,” said former Israeli chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, “opened the gates of prayer.”

 

One of Lavie’s goals in compiling the book was to transcend the limits of time and geography and unite women from all centuries and places in prayer. Her book includes a wide variety of prayers to commemorate life events big and small – childbirth, candle lighting, hafrashat challah, sending a son to the army, Yizkor for a child, etc.

 

For any event in life, she says, there is a prayer.

 

Tefillat Nashim has just been published in English by Spiegel & Grau under the title “A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book.” Lavie recently spoke with The Jewish Press.

 

Jewish Press: What did you hope to accomplish with the book?

 

Lavie: I found something missing in my life, as a Jewish woman, as a mother. I couldn’t find the answers to my questions – about Israel, the Jewish world, etc. I always tell my students, as I tell my kids, when you need an answer, go learn, go learn history, check the past. I was sure someone else had problems like this and did something. So I decided to go learn. I didn’t know the answer would be prayers.

 

The story with Hen also gave me a sign that I had to do something that would answer questions and speak to everybody – secular, religious, ultra-Orthodox – though I didn’t know what it would be. I couldn’t think about anything else. It was deeply in my heart.

 

            How did you get started?


 


The starting point was Italy. I spent Shabbat in Rome, in a huge synagogue near the Jewish ghetto. I was shocked when I heard a Misheberach for women – it appears on page 234 of my book – because I had never heard that before, and it made me realize there must be other prayers out there.

 

I met this professor, the son of a rabbi, and I asked him about the Misheberach. He told me, “Welcome to the Italian Jewish woman’s world.” Then I understood there was a world where women were involved in everything in community life, even in the 15th and 16th centuries. This was a sign for me. Via this prayer, I learned about Jewish women in Italy, who had tefillat nashim.

 

Once you knew there were such prayers, how did you go about finding them?

 

For days and years I was like a detective. I spent a lot of time in archives, in synagogues. It was not easy; nobody believed me that there were prayers like this – you couldn’t find it in history books.

 

I heard about a women’s prayer book in an old synagogue. I tried five times to get in, but it was closed each time. Finally, a nice lady led me to the old archives. I asked myself, “What is this about? Why am I not familiar with this? Why are women in Italy worthy of this, but not in Jerusalem?”

 

Another lady told me that 10 years ago she read something about a Jewish woman’s prayer book in German. I found it in the national library in Jerusalem and I had to get someone to translate it for me from old German.

 

Fanny Neuda, a Moravian Jew, composed those prayers in the mid-1800s and she was a great inspiration to me. I tried to understand her. I had imaginary conversations with her. Where did she get this knowledge? Who told her? Who was she?

 

Fanny Neuda realized that women around her, especially girls, were going to university for the first time, and unfortunately they didn’t know Yiddish. All the techinot were in Yiddish, and they had to be modernized. So she wrote in German for the young women; she wanted to give them prayers for every day and every moment in their lives.

 

            It was challenging to translate them into Hebrew. We tried to use the Hebrew words of that time, but we wanted young people to be able to understand and use these prayers. Her prayers are really phenomenal.

 

            How did you feel when you discovered all these prayers?

 

I felt angry. I was full of questions. Why hadn’t I had access to these prayers before? Why weren’t these publicized? Why was Fanny Neuda, one of the original women prayer-writers, not more recognized, more famous?

 

Which of the prayers did you personally find most profound?

 

The prayer of Perl of Berditchev, because I knew about her husband, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, and how he felt it was his job to protect the Jews of his country. My husband found it and gave it to me.

 

            What was the reaction in Israel to your book?


 


             It is accepted as a cultural book even more than a religious book. It’s a sociological phenomenon how people take the prayers with them, internalize them, add them to their private moments. People have told me after lectures that it makes them feel part of the Jewish people. It helps them a lot in their lives. It’s also interesting to hear about where each person keeps the book.

 

Where do you keep yours?

 

[Laughs.] Depends. One’s near my bed, and another is on the shtender close to where I light my Shabbat candles, as there are several prayers for candle lighting in the book.

 

Who is your target audience?

 

Everybody.

 

Editor’s Note: “A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book” is available at major Jewish book stores and at Amazon.com.

 

Aliza Lavie is available for speaking engagements in Boro Park, Flatbush, Williamsburg, Monsey, and Lakewood. To contact the author or schedule a speaking engagement, contact Judy Safern at Leading Thinkers Public Relations – (214) 438-3692.

Michelle Katz

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/aliza-lavie-discovering-a-legacy-of-jewish-womens-prayers/2008/12/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: