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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘judaism’

Yisrael Beitenu MK Says ‘Reform Movement Is not Jewish’

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Likud-Beiteinu Knesset Member David Rotem, chairman of the Knesset Committee on Constitution, Law and Justice, said Tuesday “The Reform movement is not Jewish… they are another religion.”

The Reform Judaism in Israel movement said in an e-mail to its members, “The expression ‘another religion’ was not used by MK Rotem by accident. The Israeli Law of Return uses this exact term to exclude non-Jews from making Aliyah, and therefore according to him, Reform Jews have no place in Israel. ”

Israel Reform Movement’s Executive Director, Rabbi Gilad Kariv responded, “We were witness to this unrestrained declaration of MK Rotem about non-orthodox streams of Judaism. An assertion such as this makes it impossible for MK Rotem to continue to chair discussions on sensitive issues such as conversion, who is a Jew and other topics that are associated with Religion & State matters and the relationship between Israel and the diaspora.”

That may have won over a few Orthodox liberals, but Kariv then showed the Reform movement’s penchant for interpreting the Bible for its own principles of showing how little it knows and quoted Proverbs 3:17, which states, “Its ways are the ways of pleasantness and all her paths lead to peace.” It follows, according to him, “We must all ask ourselves, with which religious heritage MK Rotem identifies.”

Chances are that the MK would answer, “I identify with the Torah and Jewish Law as handed down by sages and Torah scholars and not with some kind of instant heritage created by those whose Judaism is defined by their own personal interests.”

Israel to Offer ‘One-Star’ and ‘Three-Star’ Kosher Ratings

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Israel is scrapping its antiquated and often corrupt kosher certification system and now will offer customers and businessmen three levels of kosher certification.

The degrees of “kasrut” will range from “basic,” enough to feel sure one is not eating anything in violation of the Torah, to mehadrin,” which is “super kosher” for those who prefer to be stringent even when it may not be necessary, and “mehadrin mehadrin,” for those who for whatever reason go to the extreme.

Each certification will carry a Star of David, with rating ratings from “one-star” to three-star.”

A significant change in the system is that owners of restaurants, falafel stands and other eateries no longer will pay the kosher inspector directly. That system made it easy for non-scrupulous businessmen to do away with those nasty interruptions whereby inspectors make sure the vegetables were tithed and the cooking oil is kosher and also made it easy for equally non-scrupulous inspectors to take the money and run to the beach for vacation, or maybe to yeshiva to learn ethics.

Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, Deputy Minister Eli Ben Dahan and Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau announced the new system at a press conference Sunday morning and promised that it will result in lower costs for businessmen,

Every business and restaurant can decide which level of kashrut it wants, and every customer can decide which level he wants,” said Bennett.

All of the kosher certificates will be computerized, and everyone will have an opportunity to check online what restaurants have which level of kashrut.

The differences in kosher ratings will be uniform throughout the country, and the hope is that this will raise the level of trust of the public and encourage them to eat only at kosher facilities.

The lower cost of maintaining a kosher restaurant also will encourage proprietors to ask for kosher authorization.

Thousands of kiosk and eateries in Israel without kosher certification might indeed be kosher today, but many businessmen have balked at paying money for supervisors who often simply do not do their job properly or who enforce stringency that are not always necessary.

Anti-Assimilation Group Begs Bibi: Break up Son’s Dating Non-Jew

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

The Lehava Organization for the Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land appealed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Sunday to break up his son Yair’s relationship with a Norwegian non-Jew.

Yair Netanyahu is dating Sandra  Leikange a fellow student, Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, The Jewish Press reported here earlier today.

Citing the Prime Minister’s late father Ben Tzion as a “Jew and a Zionist who brought up his children with Jewish values,” the organization’s leader Benzi Gopstein wrote in a letter, “It is hard to believe that someone like you would let assimilation through the front door. The repercussions of your son’s actions are far-reaching… What kind of example of this for the son of the Prime Minister of the Jewish State that invests millions of dollars to prevent assimilation in the Diaspora, when assimilation is happening in his own home?”

Gopstein asserted that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s father “would turn over in his grave at the actions of his grandson” and said that even if his non-Jewish girlfriend were to convert, it would not be out of sincerity for Judaism.

Yair Netanyahu actually would be following his father’s example. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s second wife,  Fleur Cate, who  converted to Judaism. They divorced after three years.

Yair is the son of Netanyau’s third and current wife, Sara.

The Prime Minister has made recognition by the Palestinian Authority of Israel as a Jewish state a red line for any future agreement. Presumably, if Yair’s friendship with his blonde-haired Norwegian girlfriend blossoms into marriage, she will convert, and also presumably, in an Orthodox conversion.

That would be an interesting test for rabbis. Jewish law frowns on conversion and demands that a prospective convert show his or her sincerity and ability and desire to live according to Jewish law.

Yair’s  girlfriend reportedly is from a family of Christian evangelists, and her sister lives in Israel, not as a Jew.

Second Orthodox NY High School Allowing Girls to Don Tefillin

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

A second Modern Orthodox high school in New York has announced it will permit girls to wear tefillin during prayer.

The Ramaz School in Manhattan said it will allow girls to wear tefillin during coed worship, going one step further than SAR High School, which drew a flurry of media coverage earlier this week for allowing girls to use the phylacteries during women’s prayer services.

Ramaz, one of the oldest and most prestigious Modern Orthodox day schools in the United States, sent its parents, students and board members an email Tuesday afternoon announcing that it “would be happy to allow any female student who wants to observe the mitzvah of tefillin to do so.”

The email, from head of school Paul Shaviv, noted, “Women should be taught that they do not need to wear tefillin in order to lead Jewishly-religiously meaningful lives, at least equal to men. But they have the right to make their own decisions.”

In an interview with JTA, Shaviv said “a small number of girls” have donned tefillin at the school’s prayer services in past years “without anyone making a fuss,” although none have asked to do so in the past three years.

Shaviv said the school decided for the first time on Tuesday to “formalize” its policy and “clarify our position” because journalists were calling to inquire about it.

“The parental response has been completely positive,” he said.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, longtime principal of the Upper East Side school and spiritual leader of Kehilath Jeshurun, told JTA that no female student has requested to wear tefillin recently, but that if one did “we would honor that request.”

“We’re not encouraging this; we’re accommodating this,” he added.

Tzohar Rabbis Help Lead Knesset’s First Ever Tu B’Shvat Seder

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

The Knesset held its first ever Tu B’Shvat Seder on Thursday, hosted by the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, who focused on how the holiday promotes an enhanced connection with the Land of Israel.”

The Seder, which replicates the four cups of wine of the Passover Seder and includes traditional readings associated with land and produce, was conducted jointly by Knesset Member Ruth Calderon, of Yesh Atid, and Rabbi David Stav, founder and president of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization.

Tu B’Shvat is taught in Jewish tradition to be the birthday of the trees and serves as the day in the Jewish calendar when thanks is given for food and produce.

“When I lived in Russia, the holiday would fall in the midst of bone-chilling winter, but here it’s a whole different experience and one that allows us to rejoice in our homeland,” Edelstein said while expressing hope that the Knesset Seder would become an annual tradition.

He added that even in the midst of the winter season in Israel, “ one can connect to the concept of blossoming trees.”

Rabbi Stav, whose efforts as head of Tzohar have been instrumental in promoting enhanced connections between Jewish tradition and the Israeli legislature, said that at its essence Tu B’Shvat is a holiday of belief.

“The truth is that even here in Israel, where the weather is relatively warm, we’re not yet seeing the trees blossom,” he said. “But the lesson is that we believe that the good times of produce and success are just ahead and that is a message of faith that has meaning far beyond just this holiday.”

MK Calderon said that the initiative for the Knesset Seder was built around a concept of promoting a Jewish renaissance within Israeli society. “This holiday serves to remind all of us of the beauty of the land we live in and to better recognize the importance of everything we have.”

The Seder features foods from all the Seven Species known as particular holy in Jewish tradition/

More than 200 people attended the Knesset Seder, including government ministers, Knesset Members and staff and students from around Israel.

Chief Rabbinate Backs Down, Accepts Rabbi Avi Weiss

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has reversed its stand and said it will accept letters from Rabbi Avi Weiss confirming the Judaism of those who wish to wed in the country.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Weiss’ attorney in Israel, Assaf Ben-Melech, the Chief Rabbinate affirmed its position on the liberal Orthodox rabbi from New York.

In October, the Chief Rabbinate rejected a letter from Rabbi Weiss vouching for immigrants who wanted to marry in Israel pending an investigation into his adherence to traditional Jewish law. The move sparked widespread outrage that Rabbi Weiss, a longtime synagogue leader in New York who had vouched for the Jewishness of many Israeli immigrants in the past, was suddenly having his reliability called into question.

Naftali Bennett, Israel’s religious services minister and Diaspora Affairs minister, has been meeting since November with officials from the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America and the Chief Rabbinate to resolve the issue.

He reportedly sees the issue as one of prime importance based on the potential negative impact it could have on Israel-Diaspora relations.

Weiss founded the liberal Orthodox rabbinical seminary Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and has pioneered a number of controversial innovations in the Orthodox world, most recently his decision to ordain women as clergy through a new seminary called Yeshivat Maharat.

“I appreciate that this injustice has been corrected and am deeply grateful for the overwhelming support I received from all over the world,” Weiss said in a statement. “I also urge the Chief Rabbinate to reflect on how it can help us reach out, respect and acknowledge all Jews in the Diaspora.”

Kippa Scores Goal in Big Ten Hoop Games

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Aaron Liberman of Northwestern checked in for the final minute of action against Michigan in the Wildcats’ 74-51 men’s basketball loss in Ann Arbor on Sunday and.in the process, the red-shirt freshman made history twice:

According to the Big Ten News Network, Liberman was the first player to wear a yarmulke in Big Ten Conference history.

Also, Michigan became the first NCAA Division I basketball program to host two kippa-wearing players on its court

On Dec. 27, 2000, the first night of Hanukkah, Tamir Goodman of Towson University recorded 9 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds in 34 minutes in the Tigers’ 73-71 loss  to the Wolverines.

In his first season of college ball, Liberman’s stat line reads 2 rebounds in 4 games. But the yarmulke angle has made his celebrity star shine brighter.

“Liberman was invited to speak after a home game last month about what it’s like for him to be an Orthodox Jew playing major college hoops,” Yahoo News reported. “The school handed approximately 200 purple yarmulkes with an N printed on them to people who attended.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/kippa-scores-goal-in-big-ten-hoop-games/2014/01/06/

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