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Posts Tagged ‘Chief Rabbinate’

Proposed Law Aims at Tighter Kosher Food Enforcement

Monday, December 30th, 2013

The Knesset will discuss and vote on a  new bill to give official kosher food inspectors powers to make sure that restaurants and other public places that are certified as kosher live up to their commitment.

The Israeli media immediately labeled the supervisors the “Kashrus Police,” implying some kind of Saudi or Iranian religious goon squad.

No one in Israel is forced to operate kosher facility, but those who do so must pay for visits by a “mashgiach” of the Chief Rabbinate, who makes sure that vegetables have been tithed, that daily and meat utensils are not mixed up and that only kosher ingredients are used.

However, the inspectors are not able to enter any place with the approval of the owner. They also are not allowed to take samples of food without the owner’s permission.

Chief Rabbi David Lau explained that the proposed new measures to let the supervisors enter the facilities are meant to make sure that people eating kosher are in fact eating kosher. The Chief Rabbinate’s Kashrut Fraud Prevention Unit will have uniforms and badges, if the bill becomes law.

That was enough to give the headline writers a field say. Yediot Acharonot’s English Ynet website wrote, “Israel set to get ‘kashrut police,” and the Times of Israel headlined, “New ‘kashrut police’ planned by Religious Affairs Ministry.”

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rabbi-eliyahu-ignores-a-gs-ruling-him-out-as-chief-rabbi/2013/07/16/

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