“I will tell every single person, including those who are not studying in yeshiva, not to cooperate with the IDF at all,” he said.
Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman said that much rachamei Shomayim will be necessary to escape the government’s plotting.
“Everyone knows that all sorts of edicts have been made,” he said. “Those who hate religion want to make more edicts against Klal Yisroel and especially against lomdei Torah. For this, we need much rachamei Shomayim to merit that the Torah doesn’t leave the mouths of our children and grandchildren. To deserve this, we must strengthen ourselves even more in Torah learning.”
WEINSTEIN TOLD TO MIND HIS OWN BUSINESS
Politicians were angry at Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein for sending a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, demanding that the Knesset complete legislation of the yeshiva draft law as soon as possible despite the summer recess.
Last week, Israel’s High Court temporarily accepted the Defense Minister’s argument that forcibly drafting the 608 chareidim due to enlist on August 18th would contradict the government’s intent to defer all yeshiva bochurim from the draft for the next few years. Now, Weinstein warned that if the law is not passed soon it will be difficult to defend Ya’alon’s position when the High Court reviews the issue in a couple of weeks.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein retorted that the committee’s schedule was none of the Attorney General’s business.
“Once the government submits a bill to the Knesset, it is not the Attorney General’s or even the prime minister’s or other ministers’ job to set the legislative schedule,” he wrote to Weinstein. “That is the job of the chairman of the relevant committee and the Knesset speaker, who sets the Knesset’s agenda and decides when bills are brought to a vote. Discussing a bill in the Knesset committees and the plenum is not just a formal ‘transit station’ that it has to pass between government decisions and the Supreme Court. The job of the Knesset and its committees is to examine bills the government submits, hold a public discussion and listen to the people involved in the matter, including those the government did not hear, and use its judgment.”
Gafni responded even stronger, saying that Weinstein’s demand to hurry the bill through was similar to that of a dictatorship. He explained that according to the checks and balances of Israeli democracy, laws are made not by the ruling coalition or high court, by the by the Knesset committees appointed to work through their details and ramifications.
“It is not the job of the attorney general to threaten the Knesset to work intensively on a law so he should have something to report to the High Court,” Gafni said. “Rather, the Knesset’s job is to examine every jot and detail of a government bill and not serve as a rubber stamp for the government’s work.”
Committee chairman Ayelet Shaked of Habayit Hayehudi said the committee was working as hard as it could to finish preparing the bill for its second and third readings.
“Still,” she said, “this cannot come at the expense of the proper legislative process, which is in the government’s interest in an issue the courts called one of the most sensitive in Israeli society.”
FIRST CHAREIDI ARMY ACADEMY OPENS ITS DOORS
On Rosh Chodesh Ellul, twenty young chareidim entered the dilapidated front gate at the Harerei Tzion Pre-Military Yeshiva Academy for Chareidi Youth situated in a deserted army camp in the searing Jordan Valley. Here they will be educated and prepared for three years of service in the chareidi Netzach Yehuda brigade. Founded by Rav Yechiel Peretz of the Golan Heights who has dealt many years with lost youths of chareidi background, the academy claims it will provide them with spiritual values, tefillah, Torah study, character building, and leadership skills. MKs Eli Yishai and Yaakov Margi of Shas attended the opening ceremony.
“In order to prevent spiritual erosion and stop them from leaving the path they grew up in, we intend to provide a nurturing environment during IDF service and afterwards…,” the college promises. “After their release, we hope to see the bochurim returning to Torah frameworks and integrating into society with yiras Shomayim and love of Torah.”
SOLDEIR JAILED FOR WEARING TALLIS KOTON
Contrary to the army’s insistence that it will uphold chareidi soldiers’ religious rights, a soldier from Kiryat Malachi who joined the IDF about a month ago was jailed for ten days for refusing to remove the woolen tallis koton he wears in accordance with minhag Chabad. His friends said that this happened after a commander insisted it was against army rules to wear three layers of clothing during a 2000 meter sprint and ordered the soldier to remove his tallis koton or undershirt. The soldier refused, saying he would stick to his religious principles even if this meant going to jail, and was duly imprisoned in the Napach prison of the Golan Heights.
“This shameful incident shows the army’s problematical attitude to the principles and values of chareidi soldiers,” his friends said. “It is a chutzpah that through the crime of the basic request to observe the mitzvah of tzitzis, a chareidi soldier is thrown into an IDF jail in the year 2013.”
“A thorough investigation indicates the details of the story are incorrect,” an army spokesman responded. “To protect privacy of the individual, we will not go into the details of the subject of this soldier.”
WOMEN OF THE WALL KEPT OUT THE KOSEL PLAZA — AGAIN
This past Rosh Chodesh, police had much to contend with: Women of the Wall, their chareidi opponents, thousands of Muslims celebrating the last days of Ramadan, as well as right-wing activists trying to break into Har Habayis with a sefer Torah. Similar to last month, the Women of the Wall were crowded out of the Kosel plaza by seminary girls who arrived in advance. Police relegated the provocative women worshippers to a section of the upper plaza that is outside the ezras noshim. The leader of WoW, Anat Hoffman consoled her followers saying that, “It is better than last month, since at least we can see the Kosel from where we’re standing.”
Initially, the police turned to the Rav of the Kosel, Rav Shmuel Rabinowitz, and chareidi representatives of the Yerushalayim municipality, saying they would have enough trouble dealing with the hundreds-of-thousands of Muslims visiting Har Habayis during Ramadan. Could the chareidim cancel their anti-WoW protest this month? A similar request was issued to the Women of Wall, specifically that they refrain from wearing tefillin.
“The chareidim responded favorably to the police’s request, but the Women of the Wall refused to comply,” it was reported. “As a result, chareidi women will also arrive and the police are prepared to prevent clashes.”
About 300 WoW arrived. They had difficulty praying above the raucous of whistle blasts and loudspeakers broadcasting the official Rosh Chodesh tefillah at the Kosel. Although police confiscated some of the whistles and pushed a many people away from the WoW group, this was the first time in many months that there were no arrests. Some Women of the Wall stood vigil outside the Kosel plaza with a Torah scroll due to an ordinance prohibiting entrance into the Kosel plaza with private sifrei Torah.
Anat Hoffman complained of this last indignity, “We will not forget that the Torah is exiled from the Western Wall, due to the discriminatory misuse of power by Rabbi Rabinowitz. Israel is the only democracy in the world that by law prohibits women from reading Torah. Unfortunately, the only people who felt at home today at the Kosel were the chareidi worshippers and the police and [Rav] Rabinowitz collaborated towards this end.”
Over ten WoW members blew shofros, not to inspire anyone to teshuvah, but, as the organization publicized, to symbolize “Women of the Wall’s perseverance and determination to see justice for women at the Western Wall, in Israel and around the World.”
Although Israel’s courts have legalized the WoW activities at the Kosel, Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni have yet to draft new regulations governing prayer at the site. Rav Rabinowitz appealed to Netanyahu, Livni, and Bennett to find a solution.
“I write these words to you on a morning that is difficult for me and the entire Jewish people,” he wrote. “This morning, Rosh Chodesh Ellul, the month of mercy and Selichos, the Kosel plaza was filled with the noise of hate and controversy. Present there were the Women of the Wall who continue their war on the backs of those worshipping there, violent groups from the chareidi sector shocking the place with insults and whistles, and the Temple Mount Faithful trying to break the delicate status quo by bringing a sefer Torah up to Har Habayis.
“It is difficult to describe in words the enormous gulf between the humility required of us on this holy day and the harsh scenes prevalent this morning at the Kosel, the holiest site of the Jewish people. When Jews fight one another at the Kosel, there is no greater chillul Hashem. I plead with you to do all you can to find an arrangement that will return quite and brotherhood to the Kosel.”
THE SMALL KOSEL
A meeting of the Committee for Internal Affairs and Protection of the Environment discussed a recent survey of the “Kosel Koton,” a part of the Kosel which is located among Arab houses north of the main Kosel plaza. The survey claimed to find that the area is often neglected, full of refuse, and often unfit to serve as a mokom tefillah.
At the meeting, Rav Shmuel Rabinowitz said that the Kosel Koton is as an integral part of the Kosel and holy for every intent and purpose, but that it is not under the authority of the Western Wall Heritage Organization.
“If the Prime Minister’s Office gives us responsibility over the Kosel Koton we will do this happily,” he said.
He added that in addition to the problems mentioned, worshippers there are also endangered by falling stones due to lack of conservation and reinforcement of the ancient stones.
But other participants at the meeting claimed that the Kosel Koton is under the aegis of the Western Wall Heritage organization and that it is Rav Rabinowitz’s job to use the Kosel’s 85 million shekel budget to address its deficiencies. As for removing the place’s garbage, Yisroel Eichler of UTJ quipped, “I hear that the police do not allow Jews to daven on the Har Habayis out of fear of bloodshed. Are they also afraid of bloodshed when it comes to clearing garbage from the Kosel Koton?”
The committee decided that the Prime Minister’s Office should investigate who is responsible for the Kosel Koton and arrange necessary funding to renovate and clean the area.
FIRST STATE-CHAREIDI SCHOOL OPENS IN YERUSHALAYIM
Lapid’s plan to completely starve chareidi schools of funds was overturned by the argument that the state is obligated to provide education to every child in Israel. To break through the impasse, the Education Ministry decided to create its own state-chareidi network in the hope that this will eclipse the existing system.
The first such school just opened in the Neveh Yaakov neighborhood of Yerushalayim. Named Talmud Torah Beit Rabanto grant it a veneer of venerability, it will lay special emphasis on general studies.
Meanwhile, the ministry is continuing its efforts to snake more chareidim into its system.
During negotiations with the chareidi administrator of ten chareidi institutions, the ministry unveiled a contract showing that the terms of such a takeover would be draconian. Its main terms include the following:
The school’s students will need to learn the entire Libah syllabus of secular subjects. The ministry will select the schools’ directors and teachers and change them as it pleases. Conflicts will be settled not by rabbonim and batei din, but by the education ministry. Lawyers examining the contract said that the schools would become completely dominated by the education ministry and local authorities and that their present directors would become irrelevant.
During a tour of Shas schools, MK Aryeh Deri said the only way to fight back is to build upwards.
“Nowadays especially, when we are being persecuted, we will continue more forcefully than ever to develop the Maayan Hatorah network and open new talmudei Torah everywhere. This will be the true answer to all those who try to hurt Torah learners.”
But Chinuch Atzmai chairman, Rav Avrohom Yosef Leizerson, said his organization was in crises.
“I have been involved in chareidi chinuch for 34 years and have no rest [due to the present situation]” he said. “People agonize about the yeshiva draft, but the chinuch problems and what Peron wants to do to us is no less severe. I sat with one of the gedolei Yisroel and said, ‘If bochurei yeshiva have to go to jail, they’ll go with their gemaros and return to yeshiva after two weeks. But look at the young ones of our flock. People want to hurt their young souls, to imbue them with ambitions that will turn them from the right path. What will happen when they reach draft age? They’ll run of their own volition and there’ll be no problem drafting bnei yeshivos.”
“I don’t want to minimize the struggle over the yeshiva draft, but if there are no kids there’ll be no goats,” he said. “The developing situation is catastrophic, yet for some reason all I hear is silence.”
SECULAR SCHOOL CHILDREN A MINORITY BY 2019
Despite the efforts of Lapid and his ilk, Israel’s population is becoming more religious. According to the Central Bureau for Statistics, over half Israel’s Jewish elementary school students will be studying in religious schools in 2019. Only around 49% will still be in regular nonreligious state schools. 19% of school children will study at state-religious schools and 32% in chareidi institutions. Even last year, only 52% of Jewish elementary school students were in secular schools; 38% were in religious schools and chadorim.
Throwing Arabs into the equation puts the secular schools on an even lower footing. By 2019, only 40.7% of students will be studying in Israel’s secular state schools. 26.2% will be in Arab schools, 18.8% in chareidi schools, and 14.3 in state religious schools.
FREE SEGREGATED SCHOOLS FOR RELIGIOUS ZIONIST CHILDREN
For the first time, Israel’s Education Ministry will fund separate boys’ and girls’ classes in state religious elementary schools. Until now, parents and local councils paid thousands of shekels to maintain the privilege. The ministry acknowledges that “the reality is that today, most classes in religious schools are already separate. That’s the reality of life, and we have to accept it.”
The new trend is due to the increasing power and prevalence of chardalim (dati le’umi Jews who lean towards chareidi observance) in the religious Zionist camp. 65% of state religious elementary schools already have segregation. About 200 schools have complete segregation, 50 partial segregation, while approximately 140 schools have all classes mixed. Ten years ago, less than a quarter of religious Zionist schools were segregated.
Not everyone likes the new situation. Shmuel Shattah, executive director of the religious Zionist organization Ne’emanei Torah Va’avodah, said it was “gross discrimination in favor of the segregated schools, which will now receive more money and staff positions. The mixed schools will have 38 students per classroom, while the segregated schools will have many fewer, maybe about half. The result is that even schools that aren’t currently interested in separating boys and girls will now opt for classes that are smaller — and segregated. If parents want such separation, they should fund it from their own pockets.”
Few people known that the secular Tomshin High School in Rishon L’Tzion has a chareidi class with 35 students aged 16-18.
“We daven Shacharis, boruch Hashem, and also learn gemara, halachah, mussar, and mishnah,” said student Ofir Ratzbi. “But we integrate this with secular subjects.”
Rav Yitzchok ben Shoham, director of the school’s Torah department, said that some of the students don’t have the zitsfleish for all the courses. This is because the Education Ministry opened the class three years ago for yeshiva dropouts in order to enable them to matriculate in a religious environment. The frum students are kept separate from the general student body and teachers, mostly non-religious, are asked to come in modest garb.
BIGGEST CHAREIDI COLLEGE ENFORCES TZNIUS
Meanwhile, the chareidi Ono Academic College, whose students recently prevented Education Minister Shai Piron from attending a graduation ceremony, tightened its tzeni’us enforcement.
“We would like to announce that starting Monday, Sivan 24, 5773 (June 3, 2013), the chareidi scholarship will be revoked without any prior notification, for [female] students who come to the college (including during the period of exams) not according to the dress code of the Ono Academic College, the Jerusalem Chareidi Campus,” the college said. “In addition, disciplinary action will be taken according to the college’s regulations. To attend in inappropriate clothing that does not meet the modesty regulations during the exam period means the forfeiture of the right to be tested.”
Students who do not want to abide by the dress code are advised to study at the main, non-chareidi Ono campus. The privately funded Ono College serves half the chareidi students in Israel and has produced about 2,000 graduates to date.
YESH ATID TO PRODUCE APE-MEN
As the Education Ministry attempts to force chareidim to increase their secular studies, it is simultaneously planning to strike off history and literature from its matriculation exams. Netanyahu is expected to strongly oppose the change. During his election campaign, Lapid, not known for his academic brilliance, vowed to cancel most matriculation exams including those of history and Tanach. His mantra was, “Our children need matriculation exams in English, mathematics and reading comprehension – that’s it.”
Yesh Atid claimed that this would save money, which could be better used for something else.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to educate generations of ape men with a nationalist worldview who are technologically skilled,” said Hebrew University Prof. Yehuda Bauer. “The offensive on disciplines like history and literature could lead to future generations who know nothing but technology and nationalism. This is a move that endangers the nation’s future here.”
Sociology Prof. Danny Gottwein of Haifa University was concerned the vacuum may lead to religious extremism.
“History is a subject that gives a student a context of social reality,” he said. “As we study physics to know about the universe, we study history to understand human society. The Education Ministry doesn’t want students to understand the systems they live and act in. Also, history and literature are the main secular disciplines. They place the human being in the center. By getting rid of them, the Israeli student’s perception of reality will pass through the filter of religious interpretation, like the Jewish holidays or the Bible, for example.”
So far, some 650 teachers and academics have signed a petition protesting against the measure.
Shai Peron also announced the end of external bi-annual Meitzav tests that pitted schools against each other and graded their performance. The Education Ministry decided that the strain and effort of preparing for these tests distracted schools from their regular curriculum.
SHAI PIRON MUST CAST OFF DOCTORATE
Officially, Education Minister Shai Piron is not only a rabbi but also holds the title of doctor. This is due to an honorary degree recently conferred upon him by the Shaarei Mada Umishpat College. The Movement for Quality Government in Israel is demanding that he renounce the honor.
“The Education Minister of the Israeli government is responsible, among other things, for the system of higher education in Israel and serves by virtue of this position as chairman of the Committee for Higher Education…,” the movement wrote to him. “Accordingly, how is it feasible that the person heading the body appointed over higher education receive a degree (albeit honorary) from an academic body under his authority in many aspects, while he still serves as education minister?”
The letter demands that he immediately renounce the honorary degree, cease using the title of ‘doctor’, invalidate himself from any decision connected with the college, and set up protocols regarding the granting of honorary titles to public servants.
PEACE TALKS MAY RETURN CHAREIDIM TO GOVERNMENT
MK Menachem Eliezer Moses of UTJ says that the advancement of the peace talks may be an opportunity for UTJ to return to the government.
“The more the political process proceeds, the greater the chance that certain parties will have to leave and allow us to get in,” he said. “You must realize that the greatest danger facing Israel today is the Iranian nuclear program. Prime Minister Netanyahu understands that if he wants the Americans and the western world to continue on our side, he needs to compromise with the Palestinians.”
Moses said that UTJ has always supported political negotiations so long as they lead to lasting peace.
“To us, the Torah world is of prime importance,” he said. “The edicts and cuts are putting us under great stress and we are doing all we can to save whatever we can. To us, preserving the Chevron Yeshiva is no less, and even more important, than the town of Chevron. It is now shortly after Tishah B’Av, the time of the churbon. The Gemara says that Rabbi Yochonon ben Zakai asked Caesar: Give me Yavneh and its chochomim. He did not ask him to spare the Beis Hamikdash or some town, but only to guard those who study the holy Torah. In their merit, we have survived for 2,000 years and we will continue with Hashem’s help. These are the people it is important to protect.”
LAPID – CRITICS ARE DOGS LEFT OUT IN THE RAIN
Lapid snapped back at critics of his finance policies, saying they were like dogs left out in the rain. In a Knesset poll last week, 78% of respondents said they distrusted Lapid, 54% said he failed to keep his promises to his young, secular, and politically moderate center- left electorate, and 43% of his voters said they will drop him a second time round.
“Every day, we all have to deal with people who look at us like nervous schnauzers [terriers] left out in the rain, telling us that they are disappointed,” he wrote. “In the few times that I’ve managed to drag these professional disappointment-mongers to a conversation, they have always halfheartedly confessed that they realize that there was no choice but to close the deficit, that in [Israel’s] legal reality one can’t just go and take money out of exempt profits, and that they too understand that, for many years, no party has created such a major shift in the national agenda. We will simply have to reconcile with the many angry Israelis.”
“Why would a politician, who wants to be popular, intentionally take steps that are clearly detrimental to his popularity?” he asked. “The answer is that this is our commitment. To do what is right for the State of Israel, not what gets us popularity points.”
There’s not much Lapid can do to extricate himself from his spiraling downfall. One reason Netanyahu made the last elections early was to push off the problematical budget until after the elections. Then, Netanyahu cunningly gave the inexperienced Lapid, who was boasting of replacing Netanyahu as prime minister, the hot potato of the Finance Ministry. Now, all his anti-chareidi rhetoric cannot alter the fact that the budget he crafted is a disaster for every sector of Israel’s populace.
The latest disaster is his ministry’s proposal to cut 10% off pensions of people retiring after January 14. This is because low interest rates have reduced the returns of people’s pension funds and because of Israelis’ rising life expectancies.
Even Lapid’s chareidi draft, exempts chareidim presently 21 years and over, as well as bochurim who become 18 between now and 2017. To make things worse, after assuring his electorate that he would support the concept of two nations for two peoples, he joined forces with the nationalistic Bayit Hayehudi party.
Lapid may well be on the same road as his father, Tommy Lapid, who began his anti-religious Shinui party with great fanfare in 1999, rose to 15 seats in 2003, and vanished from the political scene in 2006.
DID NETANYAHU EAT TREIF IN POLAND?
Jewish leaders in Poland complained to Arutz Sheva that Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly ate non-kosher food during his visit there in June.
“The prime minister was offered kosher food, but he and his staff answered in the negative,” they said. “We are fighting every day for Jews to be able to live here without problems and keep a Jewish lifestyle. Only recently, the Polish parliament and court forbade kosher shechitah. We were expecting that Netanyahu would eat kosher and demonstrate to the Poles the importance of kosher food to Jews. How could he forgo kosher food when we are fighting here for kosher shechitah? What message does this give the Poles and to the many missions arriving [here] from Israel and worldwide?”
Several observant members of the delegation that traveled with Netanyahu asked for and received kosher food.
Two months ago, MK Aliza Lavie of Yesh Atid leveled a similar charge. She said that “many lawmakers we met said that during the last visit [to Poland] of the prime minister, the Israeli side didn’t insist on kosher meals. The Polish interpreted that as signifying that kashrus was not a very important issue.”
At the time, an Israeli official played down Lavie’s report. This time, however, the Prime Minister’s Office has chosen not to respond.
BEIT SHEMESH ON THE KNIFE-EDGE
Israel’s municipal elections will take place in a few weeks. One of the closest fights will be in Beit Shemesh 19 miles west of Yerushalayim where secular and religious Zionists are determined to throw out the town’s chareidi mayor, Moshe Abutbul of Shas. They fear that a chareidi mayor will stifle development in non-chareidi neighborhoods and turn the area into a chareidi city like Bnei Brak or Kiryat Sefer.
Before the 1990s there were few chareidim in this attractive town nestled in the Judean hills. Now, the chareidi community, including thousands of Jews from overseas, constitutes 40-45 percent of the city’s population and is growing fast. 75% of children starting first grade in the 2012/2013 academic year will study in chareidi institutions.
Naftali Bennett of Habayit Hayehudi warned that the upcoming city elections “are Beit Shemesh’s last chance,” and that “no other battle is as significant as the fight for Beit Shemesh in the upcoming municipal elections.”
To win the fight, a “Zionist bloc” comprised of Habayit Hayehudi, Likud, Labor, and Yesh Atid have backed an independent non-religious candidate, Eli Cohen. Bennett is determined that Beit Shemesh’s non-chareidim should not repeat the mistake of the last elections, which they lost by splitting their vote.
“We can’t have anyone who isn’t chareidi voting for anyone who isn’t Eli Cohen,” he said. “To me, that’s a top strategic goal. In the upcoming days, we’ll invest all our energy in reaching every single resident. We need 100 percent of you to get out and vote. Every Beit Shemesh resident must hang an Eli Cohen sign, everyone who can should make phone calls.”
“I praise this unity framework that will enable the Zionist factions to cooperate in order to forcefully reach the real goal – returning the city to Zionist hands, to forces of moderation and sanity that will represent Judaism’s best face,” he added. “I call on all the Zionist parties to join the struggle, that has become a symbolic one for the State of Israel. This is a last chance. The Zionist faction has no choice but to win.”
However, in order to back Eli Cohen, Bennett had to drop his own local party head, Aliza Bloch. Bloch said she felt betrayed and claimed the new agreement was made behind her back.
“To my regret, while the survey [to see whether she or Cohen was more popular] was under way Habayit Hayehudi decided to join up with Eli Cohen and proposed that I serve as his deputy,” Bloch said. “I refused, since in my opinion even in politics there are limits and it is forbidden to zigzag.”
Yerushalayim is also girding itself for battle. The Labor and Meretz parties have united to fight for influence of the city under the slogan, “Together we will stop the hitchardut.” Unlike the days of Teddy Kollek when the Labor party ruled Yerushalayim for some three decades, it got no seats at all during the last elections. Now it is determined to change that.
YOUNG BLOOD IN THE RABBINATE
Rav Dovid Lau, Israel’s new Ashkenazi chief rabbi, visited Rav Gershon Edelstein and Rav Boruch Dov Povorski, roshei yeshiva of the Ponevez Yeshiva where he studied as a bochur. They blessed him with much success in his new position.
Three weeks after the present chief rabbis won the race and promised to bring the rabbinate to the people, plans are taking place to achieve the goal with the founding of the “Zeirei Chief Rabbanut” organization comprised of hundreds of religious-Zionist rabbonim aged 25-50. They plan to reach out to Klal Yisroel through shiurim, school activities, pamphlets, and whatever else works. Behind the plan are Rav Chagi Londin, head of the Sederot and Arutz Meir Yeshivos, and a number of religious Zionist rabbonim. Chareidi rabbonim are also invited to join the organization, which aims to unite dozens of kiruv organizations of every sector.
“During the rabbinate elections it was obvious that the rabbinate lacks contact with the people and now is the time to fix this,” said an organizer. “We will provide a spiritual framework and sometimes material assistance to dozens of rabbonim spreading Torah in Israel. We are not coming to compete with any other organization, but to strengthen the most natural conduit to Judaism, which is the chief rabbinate.”
The organization hopes to launch the project with a giant rabbinical meeting in Cheshvan.
There is no doubt that the rabbinate has its work cut out for it. One of its major tasks is to encourage more Israelis to use batei din to marry instead of flying to nearby Cyprus and other countries to have civil weddings. These marriages, while outlawed in Israel, are legal if done overseas. For the past three years, Jews have been traveling to Cyprus on mass “wedding cruises” and recently, eighty Israeli couples married simultaneously on a resort beach.
“I’m someone who likes doing things by the book,” said one of them. “At first we wanted to get married through the rabbinate. We filed papers and booked an event hall. But then the rabbinate began making unreasonable demands. So we decided to hire a Reform rabbi to marry us and host an event, and now we’re here, to get officially married.”
Rabbonim in Eretz Yisroel warn that due to the skills of non-religious shofar producers, many shofros on the market have cleverly repaired holes that are undetectable to the naked eye.
“During past years, shofar production has been done mostly by people who are not shomrei Torah or particular in halachah,” the warning begins. “Examinations revealed that many shofros, even those sold for high prices, had holes which were sealed with glue of a different substance than the shofar raising the possibility that they may be possul and unfit for fulfillment of the mitzvah. Non-experts cannot detect that there were holes.
“Therefore, the public should be particular to buy a shofar with an authorized hechsher. If one has already bought one, it is fitting to have it checked by an expert to verify its kashrus.”
The letters’ signatories include Rav Aharon Leib Steinman, Rav Nissim Karelitz, and Rav Chaim Kanievski.
TORAH PROTECTS FROM ALZHEIMERS
Dr. Bali Vishnah, director of the psychiatric department for women in the Maayanei Hayeshuah Hospital of Bnei Brak said that medical research finds a positive correlation between Torah life and the prevention or delay of Alzheimer’s.
“Many researches indicate that people who have emunah, study Torah, and recite berachos and tefillos regularly, are doing a cognitive exercise, which has been proven as contributing to the prevention of the disease and the slowing of its progression,” she said.
She added that active communal life of religious Jews, the avoidance of alcohol and cigarettes also help slow the disease, and that the support of large families is an important factor in caring for people afflicted with it.
ISRAELI SOCCER TEAM TO KEEP SHABBOS
Unprecedentedly, an Israeli soccer team has announced that it will not play any of its home games this season on Shabbos. The Beitar Yerushalayim Football Club, says it had reached an agreement with broadcasters to only play on Sundays or Mondays, or on Motzo’ei Shabbos. Beitar spokesman Oshri Dudai said that this was in order to make it easier for traditional Jews to attend the club’s games.
“Despite the economic risk, Tabib [the club’s name] preferred to accommodate the crowd and give more sectors of the community the option to come and support the team,” the club explained.
Sporting events have long been held on every day of the year except Yom Kippur and participation in Shabbos football games was symbolic of youngsters drifting from Yiddishkeit in the pre-state years and Israel’s early years. Israel’s national soccer team usually, but not always, waits until Motzo’ei Shabbos before starting games in Israel.
Meanwhile, the Israel Davis Cup team was fined 10,000 Euros for refusing to play against a Belgian team on Yom Kippur last year. Although the tennis association agreed to postpone the match by one day, it ordered the Israeli team to pay 10,000 Euros as compensation.
“The high penalty deals a devastating blow to our budget and professional program,” chairman of the Israel Tennis Federation, Asi Tuchmayer, wrote. “As an institution representing the State of Israel and its values, â€‹â€‹we are proud to stand against all those who refuse to recognize the importance of the tradition of the Jewish