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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Chief Rabbinate’

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.”

Livni, Bennett Back Bill to Pretend Jews Need Only One Chief Rabbi

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Jewish Home chairman and Minister for Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett unveiled the outline Monday morning of their new bill to eliminate the system of a two-headed Chief Rabbinate and replace it with “one rabbi for one people.”

Modern Israel always has had two chief rabbis, one for the Ashkenazi community and one for the Sephardi community. Each community has vastly different traditions and different rulings on Jewish laws. Within each community there are several sub-cultures. There are “Yechi” Ashkenazi Jews. There are many different Chassidic sects, and there are “Litvak,” Misnagim,” Lubavitch-Chabad, Ger, Neturei Karta, Vishnitz and a host of others.

In Israel, there is no lack of different synagogues representing the origin of their worshippers’ families. There are Iraqi, Iranian (Parsi), Egyptian and Yemenite synagogues, to mention a few.

Livni, who is secular, and Bennett, who is modern Orthodox, each believe that one chief rabbi is enough for everyone,

Their bill would clear the way for a single chief rabbi in 10 years, when the next election will take place. Three months ago, Haredi Rabbi David Lau defeated national religious Rabbi David Stav to head the Ashkenazi rabbinate. Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef was elected Chief Sephardi Rabbi.

Both of the new chief rabbis are sons of two of the most popular men ever to serve as chief rabbi – Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who was highly controversial among those outside of Sephardi circles. Each man is a legend, and the thought of a single chief rabbi would have been unthinkable under their charismatic leadership.

Livni and Bennett insist they are not retrying to blur the lines of tradition. A single rabbi undoubtedly would save money, but finance is not part of their agenda.

“There is one prime minister, one president, one supreme court and one IDF Chief of Staff,” Livni said. The time has come that there should be one rabbi for one people, The time has some that Israel has one chief rabbi to unite all segments of Israeli society, [The time has come for] a rabbinate that will serve all religious sectors instead of a county that retains the separation of communities. It is possible to respect tradition in the house without separating religious authority,” she said.

Bennett chimed in, “This [bill] is an important step that symbolizes unity. The appointment of one rabbi is one of those subjects that raises the question, ‘Why wasn’t it done sooner?’ Today, when an Ashkenazi and Sephardi marry, there not two rabbis. Today, there is one army, and there are no separate positions for Ashkenazim or Sephardim.”

The idea sound so nice. All of the People of Israel will unite together, holding hands, dancing the hora and embracing each other with whole-hearted acceptance as a person and not as a “Sephardi” or “Ashkenazi.” Peace and love all wrapped up in a stewing pot of melted Jews.

Judaism has survived and blossomed since the 12 Tribes of Yaakov (Jacob) because of their unity as Jews and differences of character, personality and customs.

“One rabbi for one people” would discourage diversity. Obviously, a single chief rabbi would be an expert in different customs and would not issue a ruling that would violate a community’s customs. Sephardim would not be told to give up “kitniyot” for Passover and Ashkenazim would not start rising before dawn to recite Selichot prayers during the entire Hebrew month of Elul before Rosh HaShanah.

Regardless of whatever merits there may be to the bill, and despite probable enthusiasm from Israel’s leading secular media, the bill will have tough going.

Overcoming centuries of tradition in one Knesset session is a bit too much for Livni, the darling of dwindling leftist-center secular Israelis who did not vote for Yair Lapid and a villain to national religious Jews, including Bennett except for the one-rabbi bill. Bennett is riding a wave of secular support for his Jewish Home party, the inheritor of the old Mafdal crowd.

If the bill gets to the Knesset floor, it will provide lots of colorful copy for journalists. Shas will go berserk, and the United Torah Judaism party of Haredi Ashkenazi Jews will be able to sue Bennett for Livni for causing them a collective heart attack, God forbid.

Committee Sends Conversion Reform Bill to the Knesset

Monday, November 4th, 2013

See also: Brave New Nation: 30 New Rabbinical Courts to Process Conversions.

A bill that would allow local rabbis to oversee conversions will be introduced to the parliament after passing a Knesset committee.

Under the measure advanced Sunday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, a city rabbi could convene a beit din, or rabbinical court, for conversions under his jurisdiction.

Conversions are handled in Israel by the Chief Rabbinate. The country now has four conversion courts; the bill would provide for about 30 more, each comprised of three rabbis.

The chief rabbis of Israel oppose the bill, saying it is not stringent enough on some areas of conversion, Haaretz reported. The bill “puts the halachic [Jewish legal] validity of conversions in Israel at risk,” the chief rabbis said in a statement, the newspaper reported.

Elazar Stern, a Modern Orthodox lawmaker from the Tzipi Livni Movement party, submitted the bill and said he plans to involve non-Orthodox denominations in adjusting the legislation.

The bill may undergo some changes before it reaches the Knesset for a preliminary reading, according to reports.

Bennett and Jewish Home Soar in Polls, Challenge Likud for Lead

Friday, July 26th, 2013

The Jewish Home party, headed by Trade, Industry and Labor Minister Naftali Bennett, would win only three Knesset seats less than the leading Likud-Beiteinu party If elections were held today according to a new Knesset Channel poll.

Likud would win 22 seats, followed by Jewish Home with 19, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party 16, Labor 15, Meretz 12 and the other parties less than five each.

The poll’s results are missing some data because the total number of the seats allocated to the parties is 15 less than the 120 in the Knesset. Even if 10 are added for the Arab parties, another five are missing.

One questionable statistic is the four seats allocated to Shas, three less than in the previous poll. Shas perennially wins approximately 10 mandates in the polls and usually comes up with one or two more in the elections. In the current Knesset, Shas has 11 seats.

The popularity of Bennett is unquestioned. He eagerly backed national religious Rabbi David Stav for Chief Rabbi and was dealt a severe loss with the solid victory of Haredi Rabbi David Lau.

Bennett lost the battle, but he picked up lots of Brownie points among the public, most of which is fed up with the Haredi domination of the Rabbinate.

The poll also showed that Lapid is holding his own with 16 seats, three less than his party now holds in the Knesset but one more than in the previous toll. Lapid has won support for his campaign for the universal draft, an issue that apparently is more important to the middle class than higher taxes that Lapid has imposed.

The popularity of Labor, headed by Shelley Yachimovich, dropped sharply from the 22 seats it won in the previous poll. It has 15 Knesset Members, the same number it would retain according to this week’s poll.

Meretz’s growing support , with 12 seats compared with the six it now holds, reflects frustration with Yachimovich, who has been far from spectacular.

If elections were held today, Kadima, headed by Shaul Mofaz, would be erased from the political map, which is no surprise.

Tzipi Livni’s Tnuva party would win only three seats, half of the number she now holds, and that also is not much of a surprise. She has no agenda other than opposing Netanyahu and supporting  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Rabbi Arusi Quits Race for Chief Rabbi One Hour before Balloting

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Rabbi Ratzon Arusi withdrew his candidacy for Chief Sephardi Rabbi, one hour before balloting began Wednesday afternoon. His withdrawal leaves three candidates in the race.

On Tuesday, Be’er Sheva Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri and Jerusalem Rabbinical Court head Rabbi Eliyahu Abergel quit the race. The remaining candidates are Hazon Ovadia yeshiva Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, son of former Chief Rabbi and Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef; High Rabbinical Court Judge Zion Boaron; and Tzfat Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.

Supporters of Rabbi Arusi, Chief Rabbi of the metropolitan Tel Aviv city of Kiryat Ono,  are likely to vote for Rabbi Boaron.

Rabbi Eliyahu Ignores A-G’s Ruling Him Out as Chief Rabbi

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Attorney General Weinstein told Tzfat Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu that the courts probably would not allow him to be Chief Sephardi Rabbi have not dissuaded him from continuing his campaign for the post.

Weinstein wrote the rabbi that his controversial statements, such as, “Must I explain why I am against mixed marriages?, “a number of serial killers have turned out to be homosexuals” and remarks that people in Tzfat should not rent or sell apartments to Arabs would likely not pass the courts if he were to be elected as Chief Rabbi.

The electing body is to vote in approximately three weeks.

Weinstein said the rabbi is an “unsuitable candidate” but did not rule he is not allowed to run.

Rabbi Eliyahu responded harshly through a spokesman, who wrote, “The Attorney General chose erev Tisha B’Av to remove his biased mask to suppress democracy. It seems the same attorney general who justified his grave acts of Knesset Members against Israeli soldiers and has given support to the  head of the Islamic Movement also has court martialed Rabbi Eliyahu and has made himself the prosecutor to and hanging judge.

“Weinstein understood that a majority of the electing body is ready to choose Rabbi Eliyahu as Chief Rabbi and  has decided to break the rules with an unprecedented step, without authority and without a hearing or verifying allegations.

Freedom of Religion on Temple Mount – Except for Jews (Video)

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Police at the Temple Mount last week escorted a group of Jews to enter a gate to ascend to the holy site but then closed it to them when an Arab mob of only 50 Muslims gathered and threatened them with hate slogans.

The police promised the Jews they could enter in another hour, but when the time came, the police escorted them away from the site and allowed only Muslims to enter.

The success by the Arabs to force the police to keep Jews off the Temple Mount is another Arab victory in what has become an increasingly evident battle by Muslims to keep Jews from having any claim to the holy site and by Jews to prove the opposite.

The police usually take the easiest way out when it comes to sensitive political wars in the name of religion, or perhaps this one is a religious war in the name of politics.

Security forces for years have honored Haredi demands and kept the Women of the Wall movement from praying with prayer shawls and tefillin at the Western Wall – until Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky stepped into the fray and supported the women’s efforts.

The police suddenly changed sides and instead of arresting the women, they protected them and arrested Haredim who tried to interfere with the women’s prayer.

When it comes to Arabs and Jews on the Temple Mount, it is clear which side the police take.

If possession is nine-tenths of the law, the Muslims have won hands down.

Complicating the Jewish struggle to overcome Palestinian Authority claims that the Jewish Holy Temples never even existed is the prohibition of the Chief Rabbinate against Jews ascending the Temple Mount, because of issues of Jewish law concerning ritual purity.

An increasing number of Zionist rabbis permit entering certain areas of the Temple Mount, and the Temple Mount Institute actively promotes Jewish visits.

The government always has preferred to “keep the peace,” but the more the Arab world insists that the Temple Mount has not Jewish history, the more many Jews say that if they do not stake out a claim by their presence, the de facto absence of Jews will turn the Temple Mount into a  permanent “Muslim only” site.

Now what would happen if, instead of religious Jews trying to ascend the mount, the Women of the Wall would concentrate their activities there instead of testing the Haredim at the Western Wall?

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Rabbi David Stav: I’m Torn Up by the Divisive Atmosphere

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Rabbi David Stav, who on Saturday night was attacked viciously by Rav Ovadia Yosef, who said Rabbi Stav was a wicked man, on Sunday night responded to the attack via his Facebook page, saying he is “torn up by the divisive atmosphere.”

Rabbi Stav’s complete message was:

I want to personally thank the thousands of emails, texts and phone calls I received today from rabbis, community leaders and many of you, to strengthen me and my family in light of the personal attacks against me. I do not take this hug for granted, and I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart.

I’m torn by the divisive atmosphere that has been craeted around the Chief Rabbinate election, but when I chose to go on that path, I did not seek to promote myself, rather I was thinking of the path of the Torah and the mission of returning to the Chief Rabbinate the path of Rav Abraham Isaac Kook zt”l.

These are not easy times for me and my family, so I thank you for the strength and the support. I will continue to do everything in order to connect the nation of Israel with its heritage and its Torah, and to ensure bringing together the hearts of religious, secular, Haredi Ashkenazim, Sephardim and the entire house of Israel.

Rav Ovadia Yosef attacked Rabbi Stav’s nomination for Israel’s Chief Rabbi and said: “He has no piety at all, he has no fear of Heaven. They say he is learned—what is it worth? Doeg the Edomite was a great Torah sage in King Saul’s time, and yet our sages said he had no part in the world to come.”

“His friends, from his own party,” Rav Ovadia continued, “testified to me that this man is dangerous to Judaism, dangerous to the Rabbinate, dangerous to the Torah. And I should keep silent? Therefore I had to do, and did, and everything I did was for the sake of Heaven.”

On May 25, a conference of Religious Zionist rabbis that was held at the home of Rabbi Chaim Druckman, demanded that Rabbi Stav withdraw his candidacy to allow the selection of Rabbi Yaakov Ariel—although the latter is too old for the job, and his election would have required special Knesset legislation.

During the campaign between the two rabbis, Rabbi Stav’s PR team was accused of threatened to discredit Rabbi Druckman if he acted against Rabbi Stav’s candidacy. Rabbi Stav denied the charge.

Rabbi Stav is considerably more liberal in his views than any of Israel’s chief rabbis, with the exception of the Rabbi Shlomo Goren, who ran into much the same opposition as Rabbi Stav is experiencing today. According to online sources, Rabbi Stav is less demanding than some on conversions, has a broad cultural background—as opposed to the prevalent Haredi cultural “bunker”—and employs a benign approach to many halachic issues—hence Rav Ovadia’s cursing rampage.

Rabbi Stav’s organization, Tzohar, has done a lot to repair the damage caused by a chief rabbinate that has been alienating Israelis, both secular and religious, in crucial areas, such as marriages and divorces.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rabbi-david-stav-im-torn-up-by-the-divisive-atmosphere/2013/06/17/

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