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Religious Zionism is based on a nationalistic, even hawkish, position on foreign affairs. Such an ethos, especially in the Middle East, thus demands a great willingness to sacrifice. However, this desire to serve the greater good can only be maintained over time if a sense of solidarity and mutual responsibility unites the members of Israeli society.

The ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that a company is permitted to terminate its worker for wearing religious dress is a sad demonstration of the words of Ecclesiastes: “And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.”

The expected election of Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States will affect Israel in a great number of ways, but one of them is rather different and unexpected: Her election will certainly influence the question of religion and state. This op-ed was first published by Haaretz.

The Exodus from Egypt is what brought Israelites their freedom and made them into a nation.

Leaving issues of religion and state to an ultra-Orthodox monopoly is leading to estrangement between Israel and the Diaspora. New arrangements must be reached.

The Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, as tradition has it, because of groundless hatred between Jews. IDI's Yedidia Stern takes this opportunity on Tisha B'Av to reflect on the current culture war in Israel, and urge citizens to focus on the covenant of destiny that binds us, rather than the divisions between us.

IDI Vice President Yedidia Stern says, "There is no way to justify this ultra-Orthodox sectarianism, as it prevents others from having the freedom to exercise their religion at public facilities. Allowing ritual baths to be monopolized by the Rabbinate would cause grave harm without any commensurate benefit."

This article was first published by Times of Israel.

Yedidia Stern examines the tension between religion and state in Israel by exploring several key areas of dispute in Jewish Israeli society and politics. This paper was first published by Brookings.

IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Stern discusses why the memorial day for the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was a religious act. Today's religious Zionist leadership must respond courageously.

In a poetic piece written for Yom Kippur, IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Stern asserts that prayer should echo the existential human experience, reflect the ongoing dialogue with alternative cultures, and allow the individuals praying to bring their whole selves into their prayer.

Professor Yedidia Stern argues that the question of how we should relate to the Temple Mount is more complex than any other issue on the public agenda in Israel. This question must be discussed in three parallel dimensions—religious, national, and liberal. This poses a serious challenge, which must be approached with the utmost sensitivity.

To what extent should the Rabbinate interfere in a citizen's plate? Dr. Shuki Friedman, argues that kosher supervision should be based on trust not coercion, and warns that the attempt to preserve the Chief Rabbinate's monopoly on the kosher laws is a symptom of a larger problem.

As the new government begins its work, Dr. Shuki Friedman, Director of IDI's Center for Religion, Nation and State offers recommendations to MK David Azoulay, Minister of Religious Services, on how to keep the rabbinate relevant and improve its standing in Israeli society.

The regulation of marriage and divorce in Israel is perceived by many as the main obstacle in attaining a constitution for Israel. Can the Spousal Registry Law help solve the discrepancies that subsequently arise? Dr. Shahar Lifshitz, author of a new Policy Paper on the topic, gives us his personal view.

IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Stern sets the  controversy over mass transportation on Shabbat and holidays in Israel in a broader context, and distinguished between the need for an Israeli-Jewish Shabbat (Sabbath) rather than a religious Shabbat.

Yair Sheleg investigates whether the separation of religion and state manifests itself differently in Israel than it does in other countries.

Dr. Shuki Friedman, head of the IDI Center for Nation, Religion and State, said the bill's declared purpose is to attack the decision by the Supreme Court. Moreover, this bill would give the Chief Rabbinate unbridled authority over the mikvehs.

It is time for all of us to rethink the desired character of the Israeli Shabbat. This article was originally published by Times of Israel.

While Europeans are trying to maintain their sense of ownership over the public sphere, restrictions on religious expression in the public domain strike at Muslims’ most basic of rights: to continue living their lives as guided by the dictates of their own conscience. Will there be a religious-based civil war? This article was first published by the Independent Journal Review.

The four new Judicial Appointments Committee selections to the Supreme Court last month have led to the usual partisan responses, breaking down along the lines of “winners” and “losers.” Despondent claims of an “anti-constitutional revolution” are being made simultaneously with celebratory assertions of “making history.” The facts, however, are quite different.

Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. These two characteristics are critical to the country’s existence. This article originally appeared on JTA.org.

The truly great task is to push ourselves to be accountable, personally and nationally, to the question of purpose.

Yair Sheleg, head of IDI's Religion and State program, argues that there are multiple forms of Jewish identity and that religious coercion should not be used to oppose a reality that history created.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must charge forward and turn his words into action. Only then will he be able to guarantee his vision of Israel as “a source of unity for our people.” (This article was first published by JNS.org.)

Ten years after the disengagement from Gaza, Yair Sheleg, head of IDI's Religion and State program, explores the impact of the withdrawal from Gush Katif under the leadership of Ariel Sharon on the Religious Zionist community in Israel. 

Israel's very legitimacy as a Jewish state is under attack.

In this op-ed from Haaretz, IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg decries the ultra-Orthodox refusal to alter standards for conversion to Judaism in recognition of the fact that for many Israelis, Jewish identity is not only an expression of religious observance but also of identification with Zionism and Jewish culture. He warns that the ultra-Orthodox approach is causing serious injustice to thousands of people who wish to live as Jews and raise Jewish children in Israel.

The relationship between religion and state in Israel is stormy. Lately, it seems the ultra-Orthodox have launched a new offensive on several fronts. This op-ed was originally published by JNS.org.

Dr. Benny Porat discusses the precept of debt cancellation during the sabbatical year (Shemita) and proposes ways in which to update this practice to suit the economics of contemporary Israel and create a model society. 

In an article in the <em>Jewish Week</em>, IDI Vice President Yedidia Stern discusses the question of whether it is appropriate for commanders to use religious rhetoric in motivating their soldiers, and stresses the need for the Israeli army to represent all.

How do Jews in Israel see their connection with Jews in the Diaspora? In preparation for the first <a href="http://jms.org.il" target="_blank">Jewish Media Summit</a> (JMS), IDI's Guttman Center for Surveys conducted a survey of the attitudes of Israeli Jews toward Diaspora Jewry.

Do students in the religious Zionist hesder yeshivot really contribute less to the IDF than other men who serve? IDI Researcher Dr. Benny Porat does the math and comes to an interesting conclusion.

The inflammatory statements made about Reform Judaism at the recent First Zion and Jerusalem Conference are not merely old rhetoric, but rather a national ultra-Orthodox (Hardal) declaration of a holy war against the spread of pluralistic Judaism in Israel.

What does Shabbat and its observance look like in the State of Israel? Can every individual enjoy this day of rest in the way he/she chooses? Are there actually individuals who are forced to give up Shabbat as a result of a lack of choice or economic coercion? IDI scholar Dr. Shuki Friedman explains in this article which originally appeared on eJewish Philanthropy.

Yair Ettinger discerns between different streams of Religious-Zionist Jews in Israeli society, and analyzes how these schisms play out in the socio-political arena. This piece was originally published by Brookings.

 

The upcoming High Holidays are an opportunity to expand our perception beyond our selves and communities. This article was first published by the New York Jewish Week.

Recently, the findings of the third Guttman-AVI CHAI report—A Portrait of Israeli Jews: Beliefs, Observance, and Values of Israeli Jews—were presented to the public. The findings have drawn much media coverage because they revealed that an overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews believe in God. In an op-ed from <em>Haaretz</em>, IDI Senior researcher Yair Sheleg responds to columnists who were alarmed by the findings regarding belief in God, and argues that what is really of concern is the inverse relationship between this belief and belief in democratic values.

Are the ostensibly anti-Arab bills under consideration by the Knesset, the “Rabbis’ Letter” that forbids the sale of real estate to non-Jews, and the findings of the 2010 Israeli Democracy Index clear-cut indicators that racism is on the rise in Israel today? Or are more complex factors at play? IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg shares his views on this matter.

IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer addresses the question of the appropriateness of the letter that Givati Brigade commander Col.Ofer Winter sent to his subordinate officers as Israel prepared for the ground incursion in Gaza in the summer of 2014.

IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Stern reflects on the privilege of sacrifice and the necessity to maintain a Jewish Israel in order to justify that sacrifice, in an article written for Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars and Victims of Terrorism.

Prof. Yedidia Stern urges Israel's leaders to stop tiptoeing around the core issues of religion and state in the Knesset election campaign, and to take a clear position on the matter.

A legal opinion opposing the proposed Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People, which was submitted by IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Amir Fuchs to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on June 4, 2014.

IDI President Yohanan Plesner stresses the need to ensure that the Israel Defense Forces remains at the heart of the Zionist consensus so as to enable it to continue to be the army of all citizens of Israel.

An exploration of the existential, social, and economic dimensions of the Shmita year, that calls for bringing together social, moral, cultural, religious and national forces to implement the idea of Shmita in non-agricultural and national contexts in Israel.

In an op-ed in Ynet News, IDI researcher Dr. Haim Zicherman discusses the steps that Israeli society must take in order to enable ultra-Orthodox men to integrate into the Israeli army and workforce.

Should the State of Israel recognize "Israeli" as a nationality? IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Stern and Jay Ruderman assert that it is imperative for the State of Israel to continue distinguishing between citizenship and nationality. 

As the Shaked Committee begins to vote on its proposal for the Haredi draft, Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern warns that the proposal's recommendation to exempt Haredi men of draft age during a three-year "adjustment period" is both inequitable and ineffective. 

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Amir Fuchs assert that the only way to guarantee Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state is not through a Basic Law that defining Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people but through a Constitution. 

Prof. Shahar Lifshitz outlines what halakhic authorities and the Knesset can do in order to resolve the issue of get refusal, as discussed at the Second Agunah Summit.

As the Knesset prepares to vote on the "Draft Law" designed to regulate the service of ultra-Orthodox men in the Israel Defense Forces, Dr. Haim Zicherman surveys the current situation within Israel's Haredi community.

In an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, Dr. Ofer Kenig warns that while there is nothing wrong with a moderate increase in Israel's electoral threshold, increasing it from 2% to 3.25% in a single step is problematic.

In an article in <em>Haaretz</em>, Attorney Amir Fuchs stresses the need to wage a genuine war against racism, in order to preserve the values of Zionism and safeguard the Jewish and democratic state.