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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home’

Brave New Nation: 30 New Rabbinical Courts to Process Conversions

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

If you’re a student of American history, you may recall a time early in the FDR presidency, when the largely Republican appointed Supreme Court would knock down much of the Democratic president’s new legislation on constitutional grounds. Eventually, FDR announced that he would double the number of justices, appointing a kind of associate justice to every sitting member of the high court, thus completely diluting their power. The threat worked and the court became much more reasonable in dealing with the newcomer’s legislative agenda – ushering in the New Deal.

Mk Elazar Stern of the Tzipi Livni movement, who is an observant Jew, may have succeeded in doing something similar to the stranglehold that Israel’s Chief Rabbinate has had on conversions, not only in Israel, but in America as well. as you may know, the Rabbinical Council of America has had the resilience of a wet shopping bag in standing up to Israel’s Rabbinate in deciding which American rabbis are approved to conduct conversions and which aren’t.

But as MK Stern has told Israel radio tonight, his new conversion bill will enable the creation of some 30 new 3-judge conversion courts throughout Israel, adding about 90 new rabbinical judges to the existing conversion system. That’s a feat that even old FDR would have admired.

According to Stern’s pending bill, which already appears to enjoy the initial, albeit tacit, support of Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home, “a city’s rabbi is permitted to establish a conversion court within his municipal authority, as needed. The confirmation by the city rabbi that a person has been accepted into the Jewish ethnic group and has had a religious conversion will constitute an official certification with no need for any additional confirmation.”

In the current coalition government, Jewish Home has a veto power over state and religion legislation. Some in the party support the Stern Bill, some are not sure. The faction has asked Stern for two weeks, during which they’ll deliberate the issue with the two chief rabbis who are livid, apparently. They really don’t like the Stern bill. They’re Haredim, they were elected against the wishes of Jewish Home leader and Minister of Religious services Bennett, so of course they hate it. But some of the Zionist Haredim, such as Rabbi Yaakov Ariel and Rabbi Dov Lior, also oppose the bill.

Rabbi Ariel told the website Srugim that he is against the bill because he likes things the way they are today, when there’s only one source of approval or disapproval for conversions in Israel. He fears a situation whereby some courts will get a reputation for being too easy on candidates for conversion, and then he and his colleagues would be forced to research every single conversion that comes before them for, say, the purpose of marrying another Jewish person.

Yes, having just one court is so much easier on rabbis.

At this point it looks like Jewish Home will not use its veto power to kill the Stern legislation, but they might ask for a few improvements. Control of the standards of conversion seems to be a major issue for the Haredim. Deputy Minister of Religious Services Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, Jewish Home, made an effort to calm everyone involved, promising to work together with the President of the Supreme Rabbinical Court, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, an expert on conversions, on a version of the bill that the two chief rabbis would approve.

The chief rabbis are no fools, they understand that MK Stern represents a very large majority of Israelis who wish to see the monopoly over everything Jewish wrested from the hands of the chief Rabbinate. This is why Chief Sephardi Rabbi, Rav Yitzhak Yosef (same name, different rabbi) has already expressed his trust in Ben Dahan’s ability to reach the kind of language for the new law that would “maintain the unity and wholeness of the people of Israel.”

That’s code for giving the chief rabbinate back some control over the conversion process.

The Reform Movement, nebech, has expressed its reserved support for the new bill. They approve, of course, of anything that would give the chief rabbinate a bloody nose. On the other hand, none of the proceedings mentioned above comes even close to recognizing Reform and Conservative conversions inside Israel. So they hate it.

Jewish Home MK: It’s Time to Separate from Yair Lapid

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Yonatan “Yoni” Chetboun, elected to the Jewish Home 11th spot last January, on Tuesday told Galey Israel Radio that it’s time to dismantle the pact that ushered both Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid parties into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government.

The interview is an open announcement of an idea that has been in discussion within Jewish Home for some time now.

An open and serious clash between the two parties, whose two leaders entered the coalition as brothers in arms, united against Netanyahu, has erupted over something called the Jewish Identity Administration, a new program devised by Bennett’s Ministry of Religious services.

The purpose of the new program was to enhance high school students’ love for the Jewish country, nation and history, through “creating live and meaningful encounters between our youth and the treasure trove of Jewish knowledge as well as the historic legacy of the nation of Israel.”

What the program was designed to do is hand out money to organizations that then would go and execute those ideas.

Except that Finance Minister Yair Lapid announced that Jewish tradition and the treasure trove of knowledge should include more than just Orthodox ideas. He wanted to see Conservative and Reform being represented as well.

In other words, take the Bennett et al idea and turn it on its head, because, frankly, much of what the initial purpose of the program entailed would have been fighting against the dangerous influence of non-halachic movements on the Jewish body politic.

In his radio interview, MK Chetboun described Lapid as pushing his own values against that of his National Religious partners. He reminded listeners that Lapid had also lumped Hesder yeshivas, whose students serve in the army in droves, together with Haredi yeshivas, and sucked the oxygen out of all of them. It took an irate intervention of Naftali Bennett to restore the budgets of the Hesderniks.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry, headed by Rabbi Shai Piron, a Lapid MK, is working on a program to “expand” recognition of non-Orthodox Jewish denominations. Call it a one-two punch.

Chetboun is openly calling for separation from Yesh Atid, even if this would be at the expense of the Jewish Home coalition membership. “Our pact with Yesh Atid positions us in an unhealthy place,” he argued, adding that the party is not commanded to stay in government at all cost, especially not at the cost of abandoning its values, such as the fact that it’s an Orthodox party.

Of course, Yair Lapid is probably the one politician who did the most to bring Bennett and his Knesset list into the government—for purely political and manipulative reasons, but, nevertheless, without him they would have been out and the Haredim in.

The crucial question is whether or not the bridges have been burned to a crisp between Naftali Bennett and the two Haredi parties, Shas and UTJ. Together, they represent a formidable block of 30 MKs – only one less than Likud Beiteinu’s 31. The problem is that a few of the Haredi MKs are anti-Zionist, and some of them have a greater empathy for, say Beduins in the Negev, than for Israeli Jews living in Judea and Samaria.

Still, the Chetboun interview today means that there’s a groundswell within the Jewish Home to sever the ties with Lapid and his minions, and it may not necessarily meet with disapproval on Naftali Bennett’s part.

The Galey Israel Radio interview. Sorry – nothing but Hebrew from this point on…

Shas Balking on Support for Bennett’s Candidate for Chief Rabbi

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Despite reports in the media—most notably by Arutz 7, whose owner, Rabbi Zalman Melamed, has a pony in the race—about a deal that’s been supposedly forged between Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home and Shas (See: New Chief Rabbi Appointment Pitting Bennett Against Lapid).

The deal that’s being touted by Jewish Home includes extending by another ten-year term the tenure of Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, in exchange for a legislative change of the maximum age for the position. That would pave the way for Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, who is over age 70, to become Chief Rabbi.

But a senior Shas official told Kikar HaShabbat that “Rav Ovadia Yosef will not support such a deal with Jewish Home,” in light of that the party’s conduct in the last elections.

“Rav Ovadia Yosef will not give a hand to any deal with the Jewish Home, the party that caused the most damage to Haredi parties,” said the Shas official. We will not support it, even if [our refusal] would endanger the selection of the Haredi Sephardi rabbi.”

Another source in Shas declared that “Rav Ovadia is willing to lose both chief rabbis if getting them means a partnership with the ones who stuck a knife in our back and went with Yair Lapid.”

Meanwhile, Rabbi David Stav published a tortured letter in Srugim, a National Religious website, saying that should Rabbi Ariel become a candidate, he, Rabbi Stav, would remove his own candidacy. Rabbi Stav also bemoaned the personal campaign against him, launched by supporters of Rabbi Ariel.

The struggle between Rabbi Ariel and Rabbi Stav is also creating a conflict within the Jewish Home faction, between the more right wing faction, represented by Rabbi Chaim Drukman, dean of the Or Etzion yeshiva and head of the Bnei Akiva yeshivot, who support Rabbi Ariel, and the Bennett circle, including MK Ayelet Shaked and Minister Uri Orbach, who support Rabbi Stav.

Naftali Bennett is, among other government jobs, Minister of Religious services. But his deputy minister there, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, is the de-facto minister. Both men will be the final decision makers, at least on paper, regarding the appointments.

But without the support of Shas, chances are limited for Rabbi Ariel’s appointment, which will require changing the law which at this point says one must be younger than 70 when taking the mantle of Chief Rabbi. While Likud-beitenu might be persuaded to support such “personalized legislation,” in exchange for another deal, making former Foreign Minister David Levi Israel’s next president (which Liberman is pushing—Levi’s daughter is an Israel Beitenu MK).

The main reason the age-changing personalized legislation is bound to die in the water has to do with the fact that Yair Lapid’s lieutenant, Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron, supports Rabbi Stav, as do most of the faction members, and—most importantly—Lapid’s entire agenda abhors special deals that include personalized legislation and similar political tricks. And so, Yesh Atid will vote against the proposed legislation, should it come up, and their 19 votes together with the opposition votes will prevent the move.

A source close to Jewish Home told The Jewish Press that Naftali Bennett is waiting this one out, offering tacit support for Rabbi Ariel’s candidacy simply because he wouldn’t dare stand up to Rabbi Drukman and the Melamed faction inside his party. In the end, Bennett is hoping that the Rabbi Ariel proposal will collapse under its own weight, clearing the way for the appointment of the one man most secular and religious Israelis (who care) are hoping for – rabbi David Stav, the National Religious antidote to Haredi alienation.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/shas-balking-on-support-for-bennetts-candidate-for-chief-rabbi/2013/04/23/

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