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July 28, 2016 / 22 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Jewish Agency’

Likely Compromise Found in Coalition Rift over Reform, Conservative Mikvahs

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) on Monday morning presented a compromise solution for the problem caused by last Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling siding with the demands of Reform and Conservative petitioners for equal access to state-run mikvahs-ritual baths. Last February, the Supreme Court ruled that local religious councils must make state-run mikvahs available for conversion ceremonies run by Israeli Reform and Conservative clergy.

Last week, the Knesset Interior Committee debated a bill proposed by Shas and UTJ, the two ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, determining that the use of public mikvahs in Israel will be conducted strictly according to halakha and under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate.

Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) for his part on Friday announced that he plans to submit the bill in order to prevent the implementation of the court’s ruling. This would be in keeping with the coalition agreement between UTJ and Likud, which says that each time the Supreme Court issues a ruling that jeopardizes issues close to the heart of the Orthodox-Jewish party, the government must submit a bill to bypass the court.

Gafni, who argued that the court’s new ruling violates the national status quo on issues of religion and state, also cited the coalition’s obligation to maintain the same status quo.

Judge Elyakim Rubinstein, an Orthodox Jew who was part of the unanimous decision in favor of the Reform and Conservative petitioners, suggested in his ruling that the religious council in question, in Be’er Sheva, illegally segregated against Israeli citizens. “From the moment the state has constructed public mikvahs and made them available to the public — including for use in conversions — it cannot practice inequality in their usage,” Elyakim wrote. Rubinstein added that “the state’s decision not to supervise dipping in the mikvah that is conducted as part of a private conversion does not justify preventing it.”

One of the other two judges on the panel was Salim Joubran, a Christian Arab. Chief Justice Miriam Naor was the third judge. It should be noted that while last week Ha’aretz complained about a decision by Judge Rubinstein favoring the Chief Rabbinate, implying he should have recused himself from deciding Orthodox Jewish issues because he wears a yarmulke (sic), the same paper did not make a similar complaint in this case.

The MK Bitan compromise will suspend the application of the Mikvah law for nine months, during which time two to four mikvahs would be built for the Reform and Conservative public. The Jewish Agency is expected to bear the costs of construction. Meanwhile, the coalition would work on a softer version of the Shas-UTJ bill, which would skirt the Supreme Court ruling but not actually bypass it. The first draft was scheduled to be presented to the Interior committee Monday morning.

According to MK Bitan, “We are not planning to pass a Supreme Court bypassing law, but instead to find solutions to the problems raised by the court’s ruling. According to the understanding, we will build between two to four mikvahs in various locations in the country for the Reform and Conservative public so they can dip there according to their method.” Bitan stressed that “we must maintain equality for everyone in spending resources.”

A Haredi party source that spoke to JNi.media on the condition of anonymity said the Bitan compromise will most likely be accepted since it does not actually compel religious councils to share existing mikvahs with the Reform and Conservative, but allocates to them new mikvahs. Nevertheless, the Haredi coalition parties are likely going to be subjected to attacks from the Haredi media, which see the very idea of allowing the two non-Orthodox movement a foot in the door as ushering disaster. Some in the Haredi media, such as Ha’peles, would like to see the Haredi parties using their critical role in Netanyahu’s small coalition to extract deeper concessions regarding the non-Orthodox mikvahs.

JNi.Media

20% Drop in Aliyah Numbers Blamed on Late Budget Allocations

Monday, June 6th, 2016

More than 30,000 people immigrated to Israel last year, but the first six months of 2016 have seen a 20% decline in the number of new immigrants, according to a report revealed during Monday’s meeting of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs. At this point it is believed that the decline is due to absorption problems related to insufficient budgets, as well as the emergence of immigration destinations that are more appealing than Israel.

“Last year’s wave of Aliyah has come to a halt due to lack of coordination, clumsiness and negligence,” Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) said during the special meeting on the preparations of local authorities and government ministries to absorb immigrants.

“A window of opportunity has opened for us, and it is our duty to take advantage of it and not have any regrets once it closes,” Neguise added. He called on the Interior Ministry to update the list of Israeli cities which are eligible for benefits for the absorption of immigrants. He suggested the list had not been updated in decades.

The Finance Ministry’s representative at the meeting said both the Finance and Interior ministries are currently holding negotiations regarding the status of immigrant cities. She said the Knesset Finance Committee, not the Finance Ministry, was to blame for the delay in the allocation of government funds to the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption. Haviv Katzav, the Ministry’s Director General, warned that numerous plans may be put on hold due to the delay in the transfer of funds.

Avi Ben-Hamo, Director General of the Netanya Municipality, said 67,000 immigrants live in the city, which has a total population of 235,000. “Our city has the highest concentration of immigrants from Ethiopia, in addition to many immigrants from France and the Commonwealth of Independent States,” he said, adding that in 2015 Netanya absorbed the third largest number of immigrants, yet it is still not categorized as an “immigrant city.”

“[Neighboring] Ramat Hasharon continues to be defined as an immigrant city despite the fact that not even one immigrant has settled there in years,” Ben-Hamo said. “In protest, our services for olim will be not be available in the next few months due to insufficient funding from the government.”

MK Mordhay Yogev (HaBayit HaYehudi) argued that this year’s drop in immigration to Israel stems solely from absorption problems. He called on the Prime Minister’s Office to make certain that medical degrees obtained abroad are recognized in Israel and that lone soldiers are cared for. Yogev also urged the government to redefine immigrant cities.

Yehuda Scharf, Director of Aliyah and Absorption at the Jewish Agency, warned that without proper government funding the situation would become worse. “Currently, French nationals who are looking to emigrate have many options, so if we do not offer them at least what other countries are offering – we’ll be facing stiff competition,” he said.

JNi.Media

NY Gov Signs Anti-Boycott Law then Joins 52nd Israel Parade in Pouring Rain [video]

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

It was dry and cozy at the Harvard Club in Manhattan, where NY Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday announced a new executive order that bans companies supporting a boycott of Israeli products from doing business with NY State agencies. Outside, on Fifth Avenue, the stubborn marching groups of the 52nd annual Celebrate Israel parade were pushing ever forward under the persistent rain.

Gov. Cuomo spoke to an audience that included many Jewish leaders and lawmakers, describing the BDS movement as an “economic attack” on Israel. “We cannot allow that to happen,” the governor said, according to the NY Times. “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you.”

Mr. Cuomo signed the executive order, and then joined the wet masses in the parade.

The BDS usual suspects, such as the movement’s Qatari founder Omar Barghouti, called Cuomo’s move part of Israel’s “legal warfare against BDS,” and complained that Israel was trying to “delegitimize the boycott.” Mostly because the boycott represents an effort to delete, not just delegitimize Israel.

The governor later tweeted: “What a great honor it was to march in the @CelebrateIsrael parade today.”

It may have rained on Sunday in Manhattan literally, but it didn’t rain on Israel’s parade figuratively, as the Broadway Cast of Fiddler on the Roof, the band SOULFARM, – the Paprim Ensemble Dancers of Israel Dance Institute, and the Maccabeats — to name but a few — did their thing down the avenue.

Marching Bands included NYC Police, Cadets, Fusion Core, Saint Brigades Drum & Bugle Corps, Connecticut Hurricanes, Bushwhackers Drum & Bugle Corps, Long Island Sunrisers Drum & Bugle Corps, Upper Schuylkill Marching Band, Raiders Drum & Bugle Corps, Excelsior Drum & Bugle Corps, and Skyliners.

The parade featured floats and vehicles from the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center, American Friends of Magen David Adom, American Technion Society, American Zionist Movement, Ariel University, Avi Chai Foundation, Bank Leumi, Bnei Akiva of the United States and Canada, Carmel, EL AL & Israel Ministry of Tourism, Gift of Life Marrow Registry, Dr. Felix Glaubach & Family, Hazon, Hebron Fund, Hillel Yeshiva, IDB Bank, IDT Corporation, Israel Bonds, State of Israel, Jfiix, Jewish Agency, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Jewish National Fund, Kars 4 Kids, Kids of Courage, Nefesh B’ Nefesh, One Israel Fund, Russian American Jewish Experience, Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc. & Iranian American Jewish Federation, Stand With Us, and UJA-Federation of NY.

Finally, this is the complete list of the marching groups:

92nd St Y/Jdate
AJC-American Jewish Committee
American Russian Jewish Community Cluster /COJECO
American Veterans of Israel Legacy
AIFL-American Israel Friendship League
ARZA
ASHAR
AZM
Barkai Yeshivah
Ben Porat Yosef
Berman Hebrew Academy – Rockville, MD
Bi-Cultural Day School
B’nai Jeshurun
Bnei Akiva of US and Canada
Boy/Girl Scouts of America
Brandeis School
Camp HASC
Carmel Academy
Center for Jewish Life
Chai Riders
Congregation Or Zarua
Cyprus Federation of America
Eagles Wings Ministries
East Midwood Hebrew Day School
Ezra Academy
Friends of Israel Scouts – Tzofim Tzabar
Friends of the IDF
Friends of Yashar LaChayal /East Brunswick Tri-Synagogue Alliance
Frisch School
Golda Och Academy
H.E.S. Hebrew Educational Society
HAFTR Lower/Middle/High School
HALB Middle School
HALB DRS
HALB SKA
HANC
Hannah Senesh Community Day School
Hazon
Heschel School
Hillel International
Hillel Yeshiva/HS
JAFI – Jewish Agency International Development
JCRC – Long Island
Jewish Educational Center
Jewish Educational Center – Bruriah
Jewish Educational Center – Mesivta,
Jewish Federation Northeastern, PA
Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, NJ
Jewish Federation of North NJ
Jewish Federation Rockland County
Jewish Foundation School
Jewish War Veterans of the USA
Joseph Kushner Academy/Rae Kushner HS
Jscreen
Kinneret Day School
LGBT Cluster
Lone Soldier Center
Lower Merion Cluster
Ma’ayanot Yeshiva HS for Girls
Magen David Yeshiva Celia Esses High School
Magen David Yeshivah  (2015 Winner)
Maimonides Academy – Los Angeles
Manhattan Day School
Manhattan Jewish Experience
Marks Jewish Community House
Marlboro Jewish Center
Monmouth County – Federation from the Heart of NJ
Moriah School
National Conference of Shomrim Societies
Northeast Queens JCC
Northshore Hebrew Academy Middle/High Schools
OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services / Camp Kaylie
OU/Yachad/ NCSY
Progressive Cluster
Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School
Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva  (2015 Winner)
RAJE
Ramaz School Middle/High Schools
Rambam Mesivta – Midreshet Shalhevet
Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey
SAR Academy/High School
SHAI
Shorefront YM-YWHA
Shulamith School for Girls – Cedarhurst
Shulamith School for Girls of Brooklyn
Skaters and Bladers in Memory of JJ Greenberg
Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County
Solomon Schechter School of Long Island
Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan
Solomon Schechter School of Queens
Solomon Schechter School of Westchester
Team Lifeline (Chai Lifeline)
Temple Beth Abraham
Temple Israel of Great Neck
Temple Sholom of West Essex
Torah Academy of Bergen County -TABC
UJ Federation of Greater Toronto
United Congregations for Israel
United Mashadi Jewish Committee of America – UMJCA
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism/USY
Volunteers for Israel
Westchester Day School  (2015 Winner)
Westchester Hebrew High School
Westchester Jewish Council
Yavneh Academy  (2015 Winner)
YB Hillel of Passaic
Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore/Congregation Brothers of Israel
Yeshiva Derech HaTorah
Yeshiva Har Torah
Yeshiva High School 0f Boca Raton
Yeshiva of Central Queens  (2015 Winner)
Yeshiva University
Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle/High School  (2015 Winner)
Yeshivat BitaHon
Yeshivat Noam
Young Judaea/Hadassah
ZOA – Zionist Organziation of America

(Source: Celebrate Israel Parade)

David Israel

Meet Israel’s New-Old Immigrant Absorption Minister

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

By Michael Bachner/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – While most eyes have been on Avigdor Liberman being appointed as Defense Minister, another new minister from the Yisrael Beiteinu party was sworn into office on Tuesday afternoon in the Knesset. Incoming Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, an Olah (immigrant) from Russia, has now returned to the office she headed between 2009 and 2015 and will be in charge of successfully integrating Israel’s many immigrants into society.

Sofa Landver, 66, was born in Leningrad in the Soviet Union (today Saint Petersburg, Russia) and moved to Israel in 1979. After serving in the Ashdod city council and in the Jewish Agency, she was elected as Knesset member for the Labor party in 1996 – the first former Soviet citizen to become a member of the Israeli parliament.

She was a Labor MK until the elections in 2003 when she lost her seat in the parliament. But in 2006 Landver made a significant political shift by leaving the left-wing Labor party and becoming a Knesset member for the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party headed by Avigdor Liberman, another immigrant from the former Soviet Union.

After the last elections in March 2015 Landver was forced to leave her office when her party did not join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. Ze’ev Elkin, also originally from the Soviet Union, replaced her for one year until Liberman rejoined Netanyahu’s government last week.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Yankee Come Home: Knesset Marks 100 Years of Jewish-American Involvement in Israel

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

The Knesset on Wednesday marks 100 years of Jewish-American involvement in the pre-state Jewish community and in the State of Israel, with a series of committee meetings and events. The special day is an initiative of MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Camp-Labor), head of the Lobby for US-Israel Relations.

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, headed by MK Tzach Hanegbi (Likud) will hold a debate on “US Jewry as a strategic asset for Israel’s security”; the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, chaired by MK Elie Elalouf (Kulanu), will discuss US Jewry’s contribution to the advancement of weaker populations in Israel; the Education, Culture and Sports Committee, headed by MK Yakov Margi (Shas), will discuss the contribution of American Jews to educational enterprises and community centers in Israel; and the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, headed by MK Avraham Neguise (Likud), will hold a debate on US Jewry’s contribution to the settlement of the Land of Israel, the absorption of immigrants and the immigration of youth to the country.

During the day, an exhibition titled “Stripes, Stars and Magen David” will be launched in the Knesset’s Chagall Hall. Initiated and curated by the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies at the University of Haifa, the exhibition celebrates the ongoing commitment of American Jewry to the welfare and prosperity of Israel. It features 100 selected photos outlining the depth and breadth of Jewish American contribution to Israel, ranging from education, medical and social services, to financial support and political lobbying.

Later, a ceremony will be held in Chagall Hall in the presence of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition leader Isaac Herzog, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, and Richard Sandler, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America.

JNi.Media

Bnei Akiva in Ethiopia Will Ease Transition to Israel for Remaining Jews [video]

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

The Israeli government decided in late 2015 to bring the remaining Jews in Ethiopia home to Israel. That project is estimated to take five years. In the interim, and cognizant of the difficult time that some olim, particularly Ethiopian Israelis, have had in making the transition to Israeli life, a new project was launched.

That project, the Ethiopian Aliyah Project 2016, has as its goal preparing the remaining 6,000 Jews in Ethiopia for Aliyah.

World Bnei Akiva, working with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government, have committed to sending two Bnei Akiva shlichim (outreach workers) to Ethiopia, at intervals of two months at a time, work with those Ethiopians preparing for Aliyah. These students will teach Hebrew, Torah and Zionist ideology to the Jews waiting in transit camps in Addis Ababa and Gondar.

A successful project will mean that the new olim will have a successful transition to and absorption within Israel. There are opportunities to provide financial support to this program.

 

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Large Majority of Israelis Support More Benefits to New Immigrants

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

A vast majority of Israelis endorse the idea of offering new immigrants more economic and employment benefits — even at the expense of native Israelis.

The surprising information was revealed in a survey conducted by the Sampling, Consultation and Research Center, whose results were revealed Sunday at the weekly government cabinet meeting.

The news comes in light of an alarming wave of anti-Semitism that has struck Europe.

A whopping majority of 83 percent of Israelis in the survey expressed their belief that the State of Israel should take actions in the labor market that would grant special privileges to new immigrants.

Fifty-three percent of the survey’s respondents suggested that Israel provide financial benefits to employers who hire new immigrants.

Thirty percent recommended even requiring public agencies and large private business to set a floor benchmark of employment positions for new immigrants, even though such a policy would come at the expense of the native Israeli labor force.

Two- thirds of Israelis are concerned for the safety of Jews in the Diaspora, according to the survey.

Thirty-nine percent of Israelis believe that European Jews should escape the growing anti-Semitism in Europe by immigrating to the Jewish homeland.

Yaakov Hagoel, Deputy Chairman of the World Zionist Organization revealed the results of the survey at Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

“In light of the concern for the safety of the Jews of Europe, we have established a committee to deal with immigration barriers and we asked to check the position of the Israeli public in this regard,” Hagoel explained.

At the same time, 46 percent of Israelis recognize that many Jews in Europe continue to live there for social and economic reasons.

“The results are surprising, even to us,” commented Hagoel. “Despite the difficult economic situation in Israel, the Jews are brothers to each other in every place in the world.”

Hagoel was expected to discuss the need to reduce and remove the many barriers that new immigrants often experience in the employment sector.

Many new immigrants arrive in Israel as educated professionals with experience and potential to contribute to Israel but encounter bureaucratic hurdles. They are very often not recognized in their professional field. Professionals such as attorneys and doctors with certifications from abroad are not automatically recognized in Israel, but must instead go through a convoluted process to re-earn certification in Israel.

Hagoel was to present the establishment of a group of World Zionist Organization staff members who will work on removing the unnecessary barriers faced by new immigrants.

“There is no day more fitting than International Holocaust Memorial Day to raise this important issue to the cabinet,” Hagoel said.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/large-majority-of-israelis-support-more-benefits-to-new-immigrants/2016/01/24/

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