a different side of Israel

Tag: Hareidi Law

Shame Shame

Starving children, constant rioting, what’s next? What COULD be next? Jerusalem’s haredi neighborhood has found another way to offend their comrades…who they refuse to admit as being such.

Private investigators of the Education Ministry have revealed that several ultra-orthodox schools in the holy city have enrolled students who are probably fictitious.

The Education Ministry of the State of Israel provides elementary schools an annual sum of NIS 6,000 (about $1,597) per student. An inquiry showed that Haredi schools in Jerusalem were registering children affiliated with the Eda Haredit, who do not acknowledge the State of Israel and whose children do not attend its establishments. Altogether millions of shekels have been stolen from the government.

The Eda Haredit admitted that they may know something of the phenomenon but refused to cooperate with Israeli investigators.

“We are not interested in dealing with the State of Israel’s losses…it’s not our problem. We solve our problems in our courts.”

Satmar KinderlachThe Eda Haredit are the ones, by the way, who have refused to accept Intel’s compromise about keeping their Jerusalem factory open on Shabbat but not employing Jewish workers and are therefore responsible for embarrassing dangerous and needless demonstrations – just don’t torch any parked cars you guys!

If there was once a portion of the hard-working Israeli soul which felt guilty for being less religiously observant than the Haredim or for showing up in the holy land at a later era, these sentiments may be put to rest. When the State’s religious core has become almost the greatest example of vanishing morals in the entire country, we may as well reassert our values and our hearts.

More Clashing of Worlds in Jerusalem

Despite some violence and 1,500 ultra-Orthodox protesters, shouting”Shabes! Shabes!” Intel Corp. says that it has no plans of closing down their chip making factory in the industrial zone of Har Hotzvim on Shabbat.

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSThe protests were sparked by Intel’s opening of a new facility near the ultra-orthodox area; the company has operated on Saturday’s for more than twenty years, and plans to continue to do so.

Intel is one of Israel’s biggest corporate supporters. They first opened a plant in Haifa in 1974 and in Jerusalem in 1984. By the year 2000, they employed more than 4000 Israelis.

Most businesses in Jerusalem close down for the Sabbath and those which stay open tend not to be located near haredi neighborhoods. There has always been tension in Jerusalem between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews, who make up one third of the city’s population. Well starting last year, things began to get worse. First, voters elected a secular mayor to replace the ultra-Orthodox incumbent, and then City Hall decided to open a municipal parking lot on Shabbat near the Meah Shearim neighborhood. These instances have been the cause of much controversy and violence over the last year, occasionally splashing onto the headlines.

What we have here dear readers is a “failure to communicate” as Paul Newman once put it in “Cool Hand Luke.” Who is right and who is wrong? This is a mere reflection of the case of the disappearing public sphere in the Jewish Country. There needs to a modifier, a common law to entice both sides to come together. It should be the blending of ancient Torah values, with modern Zionist vision; and an effective change of attitude should start in school.

Who’s Going to Break Up Haredi Marriage Monopoly?

My wedding has finally made it to the news. No, I don’t think the state of Israel particularly cares whether I, personally, got married or not, but here’s what I mean. When I started asking people about the bureaucracy of getting married in Israel, many people scared me half to death, or at least disgust. Some even suggested not registering as married in Israel in order to avoid the whole situation. And then there was another group of people who told me straight out to avoid the Rabbanut, Israel’s government Rabbinate, altogether by going the way of the Haredim.

Badatz, an acronym for Bet Din Tzedek, or Court of Justice, is the Haredi arm that dispenses marriage licenses, much like Bisli in a vending machine. The thing is, when the State started out and those secular Zionists pompously insisted in centralizing the marriage license industry so they could keep a record and run a country, the Haredim said, basically, “To heck with that. We’re going to register our own guys, and if you don’t like it, go climb an olive tree.” They thereby maintained their right to dispense Bisli marriage licenses, because who was going to stop them? The Messiah?

stavBadatz isn’t nearly as complicated as the Rabbanut, because Badatz only expects to register people they already know are ultra Orthodox and “keep the Torah.” So why should they bother forcing the women to sign notes that they went to the mikveh, the ritual bath before marriage, or that they took pre marital courses with a Rabbi or some such thing? Or that your Rabbi isn’t Conservative or Reform, or a Messianic Jew fםר Jesus, or even a priest who knows some Hebrew? They don’t care, because they assume their guys aren’t going to do that kind of stuff.

So when I went to Badatz in my jeans and sandals in order to circumvent the Rabbanut to get my marriage license, all I had to do was give them a note that my mother is Jewish, and my (now) wife’s mother is Jewish. We both walked in to their little office where nobody had a computer and they all spoke Yiddish, gave them our letters, slapped 360 shekel on the table and he asked me, “Who is doing your wedding?” I told him. He didn’t seem to care. I asked him if there’s anything my Rabbi has to do at this wedding. (At Rabbanut weddings, you have to follow protocol exactly or you don’t end up married.) The guy said, “KeHilchisa!” Literally, “The right way!” Meaning, according to Jewish law. Or, in this case, the implication was “I don’t care what you do!”

So we left, got married, and then picked up our license a few weeks later. Dealing with Haredim had never been so pleasant.

Now, this Rabbanut circumventing phenomenon is circulating in the news, finally. That’s what I mean when I say my wedding finally made the news. Rabbi David Stav (above) of the Tzohar Rabbis Organization, a group of Rabbis that is fed up with the Rabbanut and its insane bureaucracy, said this week, “Today, formally, it is the local rabbinates that are authorized to register marriages, in the marriage departments. However, you never actually see Haredi-religious Jews going there to register for marriage, because the Haredi Jews can register for marriage at the various Badatz courts, which have deals with local rabbinates that allow them to register marriages and later pass on the paperwork to the rabbinate.”

He continued, “Zionist-religious and even secular couples go to those Badatz courts because there is not a long line there,” (that’s me, baby!) “You don’t need to go back several times to complete the paperwork, and you do not need to bring witnesses to testify that you are single. Also, there are many who want a specific rabbi to perform the ceremony although the rabbinate does not approve that rabbi, while the Badatz courts have no supervision and they let almost anyone marry couples.”

Seriously, I could have had an Imam do my wedding and they wouldn’t have cared.

Rabbi Stav said this because he wants to get Tzohar in on the action. Piece of the pie, slice of the cake, etc.

Ain’t love grand? I call for a mudwrestling match between the Rabbanut and the Tzohar guys. Badatz can ref.

Haredim Continue to Scream up a Storm

Well, several weeks have went by, and the Harta parking lot is still open. Now the Haredim are really pissed off, and they’ve decided to, in the words of Emeril Lagasse, kick it up a notch. In the last two days of protests, a Haredi man was run over by a car after he literally threw himself under it, six policemen were injured, and 16 were arrested.

Haredim parking lotIt’s now a battle of wills between mayor Nir Barkat and Haredi stubbornness. At some point, one of them is going to break, but both seem dead set on maintaining vigilance. Police reported an increase in the level of violence, the amount of people participating, the attempts to block roads and the parking lot itself, none of which succeeded. If you’re a policemen, at least your days are no longer boring.

Despite the ratcheting up, the police have no plans to instruct the mayor to shut down the parking lot.

I remember being at a rally recently on Tisha B’Av, where a group of religious nationalists were attending a rally circling the old city of Jerusalem mourning the destruction of the Temple. Meanwhile, upon exiting this rally, I walked through the Haredi Neighborhood of Meah Shearim. There, there was a different Tisha B’Av rally going on, about the parking lot.

Picture it. National religious Jews are circling Jerusalem and mourning the Temple. Haredim mourning the opening of a parking lot. There is something of an obsession here that has taken hold of the Haredi community and caused them to lose their Jewish sanity, until it seems there is none left.

I can imagine that, theoretically speaking, the Temple is actually rebuilt and they’re still protesting the opening of the parking lot. Is it really that far fetched?

Interestingly Dr. Hadas Hanani, a researcher of the haredi society, believes the real reason for the protest’s timing is economic.

“I think that the reason for holding protests at this time is the donations they have to raise ahead of the High Holidays,” she told Ynet. “This is the period when they look for donations abroad, preparing booklets and leaflets with explanations on why it is important not to leave families hungry during the holidays.”

She continued, “They show that they are bravely protecting Shabbat, presenting secular newspaper reports and pictures. It really serves them, it gives them ‘meat’ when they come to donors and tell them, ‘We are facing the seculars, the municipality, the police, and everyone.”

And when will they end according to her? Likely at the end of the holidays. “It will probably calm down slowly. They’ll find a patent in the form of an agreement with the municipality, or have the rabbis say that the demonstrations desecrate Shabbat.”

We shall see.

Supreme Court decides: Running someone over and leaving them for dead IS a crime

Judge Moshe DroriImagine that upon exiting a Jerusalem supermarket parking lot under video surveillance, somebody has the audacity to charge you. The supermarket clerk actually comes up to your car and asks for the money you refused to pay. So you can do one of two things. You can either pay and get on with your life, or you can leave without paying. Apparently—and I just today discovered this — there’s a third option, and it’s pretty original: You can hit the clerk with your car and drive off.

Judge Edmond LeviKeep in mind that this is all recorded. The man in question, a Yeshiva student and the son of the chief Rabbi of a major Israeli city, was let off by circuit court judge Moshe Drori (on the right) last September with community service and a 10,000 NIS fine without being convicted. This, due to the fact that a conviction would ruin his chances of being appointed a rabbinical court judge.

Now, far be it from me to impose my own personal value of not running people over with cars on the rabbinical court system, but I guess I’m just a far-be-it-from-me kind of guy, and I really feel like imposing my value in this case. And apparently I’m not alone, because today, Israel Supreme Court justice Edmond Levy (on the left), while theatrically pounding his fist on the table, imposed that value as well, and the Yeshiva student was convicted in an appeal yesterday.

Noga ZoraishThe rabbinical court system in Israel has often been accused, among other things, of misogyny, being completely out of touch with mainstream Israeli society, and judging converts by ultra strict Hareidi standards (for example, requiring a female potential convert to change her profession from policewoman to something that wouldn’t require her to wear pants). It’s too bad that these strict standards don’t apply to their judges and include forbidding running people over with your car because you don’t want to pay a bill.

Shas chairman Eli Yishai, in the traditional manner of Hareidi-pulling-for-Hareidi, put it this way in his letter to Drori last year requesting leniency:

“If a recommendation for non-conviction carries weight, then this is the time and place. Even now,” Yishai wrote of the accused, “he serves as a spiritual leader and an address for all those in need.”

Except, of course, for Noga Zoraish, the woman he ran over with his car.

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