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August 31, 2015 / 16 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Orthodox Judaism’

Chief Rabbinate Bows to Pressure to Extend Rabbi Riskin’s Term

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

The attempt by the Chief Rabbinate to oust Rabbi Shlomo Riskin as Chief Rabbi or Efrat is doomed, and the rabbis will extend his term after meeting on Monday, the Hareidi Kikar Shabbat website reported.

If the rabbis could have their way, they would vote against Riskin, but they fear a media and public backlash, according to the report.

The issue arose several weeks ago when it was reported that rabbis in the Chief Rabbinate do not like Rabbi Riskin’s views on conversion and his liberal attitude towards women.

He has reached the age of 75 and needs permission from the Rabbinate to continue serving.

An argument broke out in the Rabbinate between the majority of rabbis and the legal department, which said that a rabbi’s medical condition is the only grounds they can use to refuse to extend his term.

After the attempt to oust Rabbi Riskin was exposed, Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) Naftali Bennett said:

I do not accept the attempt to demote a public servant because of his opinions and then say it is because of his age. Rabbi Risking helped established Efrat, and he has merits that do not allow his being used as a political target.

He is allowed to have a different opinion, and shutting the door to other opinions is prohibited.

The attitude of the Chief Rabbinate can be discerned from a recording of comments by Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, who was quoted earlier this month by Kikar Shabbat as saying:

We say in daily prayers every morning, ‘God has not made me a woman,’ not like someone from Efrat who comes up with all kinds of new ideas makes news and wages wars.

 
The phrase “”make news and wage battles” is a reference to another prayer in the morning prayers, in which  it is recited that God “brings about new developments and is the Master of wars.”

A senior official in the Chief Rabbinate told Kikar Shabbat:

We estimate that his term will be extended. The rabbis in the council have an interest that Rabbi Riskin will commit himself to be subject to the Chief Rabbinate. There is a strong doubt that he will agreed to do so, but the rabbis will try.”

Legally, they cannot vote to oust Rabbis Riskin without medical proof that he is not fit for office.

Rabbi Riskin’s views on conversion and women do not fit in with the Hareidi Orthodox model.

The Chief Rabbinate, still a bastion of Hareidi power, has lost the trust of Israelis who once respected it, especially when Hareidi Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau was in office. The charismatic rabbi never let his opinions get in the way of reaching out to all Israelis with understanding, something that is totally lacking in the Chief Rabbinate today.

Their refusal to accept any other opinion in the Orthodox world only makes them more vulnerable to a collapse of their authority under the weight of pressure from the Reform community.

 

Below is a video of Rabbi Riskin’s explanation on this week’s Torah reading of Balak:

‘No Intention’ to Dismiss Efrat’s Rabbi Riskin, Says Israel Chief Rabbi Lau

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Israelis from the bottom to the top – storekeepers to government ministers and agency heads – have come out to protect Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s tenure.

Israel Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau told journalists on Wednesday there was “no intention to dismiss Rabbi Riskin. While dealing with this issue we have been hearing statements attributed to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel that are inappropriate and inaccurate.

“It troubles me to see that this matter regarding Rabbi Riskin continues to be blown so far out of proportion,” Rabbi Lau told Israel’s Channel 10 News.

The story began two weeks ago, when the issue of tenure for local rabbis was raised at a meeting of the Chief Rabbinical Council. At that time, there was a request to extend the term of office for Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. The rabbi is one of the founders of the city in which he serves and lives, located in Gush Etzion, just 10 minutes away from Jerusalem.

Normally the process is pro forma, but apparently there were some on the Council who had reservations about extending Riskin’s tenure due to his views on conversion and a few other issues.

Those issues were reportedly raised at the meeting.

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern, who joined the Council several months ago, was one of those who supported the extension of Riskin’s term. He asked the Council to postpone any decision on the matter, and it was decided to first invite the Efrat rabbi for a discussion prior to any final move.

News of what went on in the meeting was leaked to the media, however, and a brouhaha resulted.

Education Minister Naftali Minister, Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky and numerous others all spoke out to defend Rabbi Riskin. All had pointed questions for a Chief Rabbinate that would dismiss a community’s chief rabbi who had helped build a city and was still seen as a hugely popular spiritual leader.

The public power struggle began to deteriorate instead into an issue of who gets to make decisions on Jewish issues in the State of Israel and at which levels of government.

Ultimately, said Lau, “the Rabbinical Council reviews extension of a local rabbi’s tenure in a meeting with that individual along with his relevant documents. An exception is made when the extension of his term comes in the month prior to mandatory retirement – and thus the debate over Rabbi Riskin’s term extension was postponed so as to invite him to meet with the Council to discuss the matter.

“This has been the standard procedure in the past, and it will remain so in the future,” he added. The legal authority to extend the statutory tenure of local chief rabbis rests with Israel’s Chief Rabbinical Council, Lau pointed out. “It is not a ‘rubber stamp’ process, nor does the Council automatically confirm the extension of a rabbi’s term in office, unless it first properly examines his application,” he noted. “We repeat: pressure and threats will not force us to make shortcuts or deviate from what is a necessary process.”

Rabbi Riskin’s office responded to JewishPress.com saying, “We hope the matter will indeed be resolved. Our only objective is bringing Am Yisrael closer to Torah and Mitzvot. Rabbi Riskin is dedicated to continue serving the residents of Efrat.”

Rabbi Binyomin Klein, Member of Secretariat to Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt’l, 79, Passes Away

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

Rabbi Binyomin Klein, 79, long-time aide and member of the secretariat of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, zt’l passed away on Friday morning in Brooklyn, New York. He will be remembered as the “Rebbe’s Ambassador” to Israeli officials.

Rabbi Klein also served on the boards of several major governing bodies of Chabad, including Machneh Israel, the social service arm of Chabad-Lubavitch.

Rabbi Klein was the liaison for Israeli diplomats, political, military and other leaders from Israel who came to see the Rebbe. During the 1977 visit of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the Rebbe introduced Rabbi Klein to the Prime Minister as “my general.”

Rabbi Klein was born in 1935 to Menachem and Rochel Klein. His mother died in childbirth and he was raised by his father, who headed the Jerusalem Chevra Kadisha, the Jewish burial society. As a teen he studied in the Chabad Torat Emet school in Jerusalem. In 1956 he traveled to New York to study in the court of the Rebbe.

After his marriage to Laya Schusterman, the couple moved to Australia where Rabbi Klein was among the founders of Yeshiva Gedolah of Melbourne, Australia and New Zealand. In 1963, the Kleins returned to the United States where Rabbi Klein joined the Secretariat of Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Rabbi Klein spoke little about his work in the Rebbe’s office. He was beloved by so many who interfaced with him as they corresponded with the Rebbe. He was also the person with whom many others spoke as they brought their precious tzetlach, their notes and letters to the office in “770” to be handed sometimes immediately to the Rebbe as he sat in his office just a few feet away.

Upon occasion, Rabbi Klein would tell a visitor to wait for a response, rather than the more common written or telephoned reply that often came later — hours or even days later. Despite his high position, One of the Rebbe’s main secretaries, he never forgot a face; he was also unfailingly courteous, gentle and kind.

Rabbi Klein kept long hours, often returning home at 2 a.m. Yet his home was famous for its hospitality, open always to guests and visitors. It was a second home to countless young women who came to Crown Heights as they began to learn about Judaism and return to their roots. It was here that they found a welcome place for meals, a listening ear, some good advice.

The funeral passed by Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway late Friday afternoon before Rabbi Klein’s body was brought to the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens.

Rabbi Klein was laid to rest near the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt’l and that of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, z’tl, in the Chabad-Lubavitch section of the cemetery.

Baruch HaDayan HaEmes. May his memory be for a blessing.

Rabbi Riskin on Tension with the Chief Rabbinate, and Rabbi Feuer on the Priestly Blessing

Friday, May 29th, 2015

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi and co-founder of the Judean settlement of Efrat, rubs Israel’s Chief Rabbinate the wrong way. His liberal stance on conversion, women’s involvement in religious rites and other issues is now causing the rabbinate to threaten not to renew his contract, as he has turned 75. A slew of rabbis and public officials have come out in support of his continued tenure. Riskin joins Yishai to discuss his relations with the Chief Rabbinate and his positions on Jewish law.

Then, in this week’s Torah portion in the Book of Numbers, “Naso,” God gives direction to the Jewish priests on how to bless the Jewish people: “May God light His face unto you.” But does God really have a face? In preparation for Shabbat, Rabbi Mike Feuer joins Yishai to discuss the Priestly blessing, the Nazarite and the seemingly repetitive offerings of the tribe leaders.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Jewish Agency’s Natan Sharansky Speaks Up for Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

A groundswell of support for Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is growing around the country, with the latest outcry coming from Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky.

Forces in the Israeli Chief Rabbinate are reportedly attempting to pressure Riskin into an early retirement from his long-time position. The rabbi is one of the founders of the Judean city of Efrat, which was built in Gush Etzion in the early 1980s, about ten minutes’ drive south of Jerusalem. Riskin is deeply popular with the city’s residents.

“The Jewish People, and particularly the people of Efrat, deserve the continued service of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, a Jewish leader and Israeli patriot,” Sharansky said in a statement released Wednesday.

“Rabbi Riskin’s contributions to Aliyah, to building the State and Land of Israel, to connecting the Jews of the Diaspora to their homeland, and to connecting all Jews to the Torah, are of historic proportions.

“In view of these outstanding and unparalleled achievements, there should be no questions about his qualifications for his continued service,” Sharansky said.

The agency leader is known throughout the Jewish world for his history of maintaining his intention to move to Israel, despite major government persecutions by the Soviet Union.

Once freed from prison, Sharansky immediately made good on his public claim and moved to the Jewish State.

Report: Rabbinate May Be Plotting to Dump Rabbi Riskin of Efrat

Monday, May 25th, 2015

The Chief Rabbinate met in Jerusalem on Monday to discuss whether to extend the term of Efrat’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, but it postponed a decision until he appears personally for another hearing.

An extension of Rabbi Riskin’s term requires a special meeting because he is now 75 years old, but the Kipa website reported, “Senior officials in the Rabbinate plan to hold a discussion on his term of office and not automatically renew it in order to block his re-appointment because of his opinions. If there will be another discussion of the entire Rabbinate, a majority will vote against Rabbi Riskin.”

Rabbi Riskin supports establishing more religious courts to oversee conversions, a move that is stiffly opposed by the Hareidi establishment. He also has been active in promoting women’s rights in the Orthodox world, another move that the Hareidi establishment considers near blasphemy.

Rabbi Riskin’s office told The Jewish Press that it was not aware of the report by Kipa, but previous rabbis over the age of 70 have been asked to retire, regardless of their opinions. The spokesman for the Rabbinate told The Jewish Press that there have been cases where the term of a rabbi over the age of 70 has been extended, depending on his health.

Nevertheless, Monday’s discussion raises several questions to which the spokesman for the Chief Rabbinate said, “I don’t know.”

He said that Rabbis Riskin will be asked to appear personally, probably in the next several weeks, to answer questions about his health.

If that is the case, why didn’t the Chief Rabbinate ask for his medical records?

I don’t know.

Why didn’t the Rabbinate invite Rabbi Riskin today?

I don’t know.

Will Rabbi Riskin’s views on conversion be discussed in the upcoming hearing?

I don’t know.

However, the spokesman did confirm that the issue of conversion was not discussed today.

A decision to retire Rabbi Riskin, the founding rabbi of Lincoln Square Synagogue on the Upper West Side of New York City, without any other basis than opposition to his views could spur a legal battle in the Supreme Court. The Religious Affairs Ministry is now under the control of the Shas party, which may influence the Rabbinate’s decision in favor of ousting Rabbi Riskin.

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri is close to Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, son of the late Rav Ovadia Yosef who founded the Shas party and was its spiritual leader until his death less than two years ago.

Hopefully, this report by The Jewish Press.com will arouse public opinion, influence the Rabbinate, and pave the way for the distinguished rabbis to extend Rabbi Riskin’s term.

Read: TZOHAR’s statement on the upcoming hearing.

Rivlin Tells Bnei Akiva, ‘We Must Not Let This Happen Again’

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

President Reuven Rivlin expressed deep concern Thursday over an attack on a Bnei Akiva building containing a synagogue in northern Israel after learning about the desecration from an Arutz 7 reporter who called asking for a comment.

Vandals torched a Bnei Akiva synagogue in the northern Israeli city of Nazereth Illit this week, just before the start of the Shavuot holiday that marks the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai.

Siddurim and other holy books were torn apart, burned and desecrated in other ways. Elsewhere in the Bnei Akiva building, Israeli flags were defiled, cabinets were upended, paint was splattered all over the place and flourescent lights were smashed.

Bnei Akiva has long been a source of pride in the community; the religious Zionist movement has maintained a branch in Nazareth Illit for 40 years. Five years ago, a hesder yeshiva for Torah scholars entering army service was added to the program there as well.

According to spokesperson Naomi Toledano, President Reuven Rivlin has expressed his shock over the attack to Bnei Akiva Secretary-General Danny Hirshberg.

Rivlin expressed support for a plan by Bnei Akiva to hold a meeting between the young members of the branch and neighborhood Arabs immediately following the upcoming Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which begins at the close of the Sabbath, on Saturday night.

“Only dialogue will lead to closeness and understanding,” Rivlin said. “We must not let harsh and shocking incidents like this one happen again.”

He praised plans by the branch to hold its traditional all-night Torah study session for the Shavuot holiday despite the attack.

Although it is not yet clear who perpetrated the damage and desecration, there have been numerous incidents of harassment of the Bnei Akiva youths by local Arabs in the past.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rivlin-tells-bnei-akiva-we-must-not-let-this-happen-again/2015/05/21/

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