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.
In response to the preliminary passage of an amendment that would exempt religious educational institutions from complying with accessibility requirement, a group of leading Israeli rabbis appealed to Israel's elected officials and requested their intervention to prevent the exemption from applying to religious schools. Rabbi Shay Piron, who directs IDI's work in this field under the auspices of IDI's Human Rights and Judaism project, coordinated this important effort.
The following op-ed by IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern was originally published in Hebrew in the <em>Yedioth Ahronoth</em> daily newspaper on December 8, 2010, just before the Knesset was scheduled to vote on a bill that would recognize the validity of all conversions performed within the context of the service in the Israel Defense Forces—a vote that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed by several days due to competing pressure within the political system. It urges the Israeli government to fend off political pressure, act morally, and assert that anyone who has converted to Judaism in the IDF is a Jew.
In this article, IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern explains the current conversion crisis in Israel, reviews the evolution of attitudes towards conversion in halakhic literature over the ages, and concludes with a proposal that is compatible with Jewish law while responding to pressing contemporary needs.
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.
In an op-ed in Yedioth Ahronoth, IDI Vice President Yedidia Z. Stern responds to the proposed "Dov Lior Bill" and decries the possibility that members of the clergy—of any religion—be above the law and immune from prosecution for incitement to violence when their religious teachings may encourage criminal behavior.
The "Rabbis' Letter" signed by dozens of community rabbis in Israel in December 2010 asserts that Jewish law forbids the rental and sale of homes in Israel to non-Jews. Is renting property to non-Jews indeed forbidden by Jewish law? IDI Researcher Dr. Eliezer Hadad surveys opinions by contemporary rabbis who adopted a universalistic approach and found a halakhic basis for the equal rights mandated by both international norms and the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
Civil Leadership as Halakhic Authority
Appointment, Tasks, and Freedom of Expression
Rabbinic Attitudes Towards Democracy in Israel
Policy Paper No. 100
What Can History Teach Us?