Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Masorti Foundation: Converts of Color

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the masorti (conservative) movement in israel - promoting religious pluralism and building community through inclusive, traditional, egalitarian Judaism
Dear Friends:
Both at this link and reproduced in full below, you will find an article from Haaretz detailing how Conservative movement converts from Peru have not received permission to immigrate to Israel despite being fully qualified.
Both Yizhar Hess and Andy Sacks are quoted in the article.
I am sending this, in particular, to rabbis as I felt it touched on issues of considerable importance to you.
Gifts to the Masorti Foundation are always needed. You can, if you wish, designate support for the Religious Affairs Bureau and the work of Andy Sacks.
Please urge your congregants and friends to support the work of Masorti in Israel by making a donation online at, or by mailing a check to us at: Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832, New York, NY 10115-0122.
In Canada, please visit
David H. Lissy
Executive Director & CEO
Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel
Peruvian converts denied permission to immigrate to Israel 

Jewish Agency and Conservative movement leaders decry the Ministry of Interior's continuing refusal to allow 'the Jews of the Amazon' to join relatives in Israel.

By Judy Maltz | Feb.19, 2013 | 4:31 PM
Several hundred mixed-race Peruvian converts, also known as the "Jews of the Amazon," are not being granted permission to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, despite meeting all the requirements for eligibility, Jewish Agency and Conservative Movement leaders charge.
Jack Corcos, director of the Jewish Agency unit that approves eligibility for immigration, told a gathering in Jerusalem today that he did not understand the Ministry of Interior's ongoing refusal to approve the requests by the converts to move to Israel. "There is no reason they should be waiting any longer," he said during a session held by the Jewish Agency Board of Governors. "The whole story is very odd."
Asked why the Ministry of Interior was holding up approval of these immigration requests, spokeswoman Sabine Haddad responded: "A discussion on the issue was held last week with the Jewish Agency and relevant parties from the Population and Immigration Authority. The issue awaits a decision of the senior echelon."
The group of 284 Peruvians, who come from Iquitos, the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest, were converted to Judaism by a Conservative rabbinical court in August 2011 after they had engaged in Jewish studies for five years. They are the descendants of Moroccan Jews who arrived in the Amazon in the 19th century seeking employment in the rubber industry, and who married and had children with local women.
If the Ministry of Interior ultimately decides to reject their citizenship applications, senior officials in the Jewish organizational world warn it could seriously undermine relations between the government of Israel and the world Conservative Movement.  "I can tell you that the Conservative movement leadership will not take this in stride," said one such official. "As far as they see it, it's an act of contempt – a total disregard for the validity of their conversions."
Yizhar Hess, the director of the Conservative movement in Israel, who participated in this morning's session, told Haaretz: "Hundreds of Jews are waiting today in Peru to immigrate to Israel, and their only sin is that they are Conservative."
Most, though not all, of the Peruvian converts have declared their intention to move to Israel. The plan was for them to come gradually in several separate groups.
Hundreds of members of the Iquitos community have already immigrated to Israel in two separate waves -- one in 2001 and the other in 2005. Unlike the current group, many of whose members are their relatives, they encountered no problems whatsoever in the process. Most of them live today in the city of Ramle, which is prepared to absorb the remaining members of the community. The Ministry of Interior spokeswoman did not respond to a question about why the applications of the current group were being held up, while those of the previous groups were approved promptly.
Under current immigration procedures, individuals who are not born Jewish are expected to spend nine months as active members of their local Jewish communities after they have completed the conversion process – regardless of what type of conversion they have undergone -- before moving to Israel. During this time, their applications are reviewed by the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Interior, which does not have its own emissaries abroad, typically relies on recommendations from the Jewish Agency about the validity of conversions performed abroad.
The Jewish Agency last year notified the Ministry of Interior that it had determined the conversions performed on this group of 284 Peruvians fulfilled all the necessary criteria to make them eligible for immigrating to Israel under the Law of Return.
Based on this recommendation, they should have been able to immigrate to Israel in May 2012.
But, as Corcos reported to the Jewish Agency gathering this morning, Interior Ministry officials suddenly informed him that bringing this large a group to Israel required a special cabinet decision. When Jewish Agency officials consulted with their legal advisers, they were told that a cabinet decision is only required when the group members have not yet been converted, but rather, plan to convert in Israel, as in the case of the Falashmura from Ethiopia.
Haddad did not respond to a question about why Ministry of Interior officials insist that a cabinet decision is required for the Peruvian group to come to Israel, when Jewish Agency legal advisers have determined otherwise.
Rabbi Andrew Sacks, director of the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel, was invited by Jewish Agency officials to participate in last week's meeting with Ministry of Interior representatives because of his connections to the rabbis who performed the conversions in Peru. But as he sat down, he was asked by the Interior Ministry officials to leave the room, prompting an angry response from the Jewish Agency officials present. As Sacks stormed out of the room, he charged that the case of the Peruvians was "another example of racism in the Interior Ministry."
Following the meeting, Sacks told Haaretz that based on his experience with converts, "when they are people of color, they are guaranteed to run into a roadblock and obfuscation in their attempts to make aliyah." The ministry spokeswoman also declined to respond to this accusation. 
To learn more, please contact:
Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832
New York, NY 10115-0068
(212) 870-2216; 1-877-287-7414;

Rabby Andy Sacks: "Eliminating Racism from the Aliyah Process"

JPosts' Masorti Matters: "Eliminating race as an issue in Aliyah"
by Rabbi Andrew Sacks
Wednesday Feb 20, 2013 --

Jewish tradition demands that we be very careful when making accusations. Like pillow feathers scattered in the wind that may not be put back inside in pillow – so too is an accusation made in public against others. Miriam was struck by leprosy when she spoke against Moshe (Num. 12: 1-15). The metzora (leper) was a motzi shem ra: a person who spoke negatively about others.
So it is with a great deal of trepidation, and an awareness of the possible burden I take on myself, that I write this blog.

I have alleged racism within the Interior Ministry in the past. See the blog I wrote about the deserving young man from Keifeng, China, who is being denied Aliyah for no other reason than race (at the time I was hesitant to make the charge in writing so I chalked it up to a shortage of person-power in the Interior Ministry even though I knew the truth: See here). Again I wish to emphasize that the problem is not within the Jewish Agency but within Israel's Interior Ministry.

But the time has come to stop ignoring the elephant in the room. It is time to call for those who make decisions as to which converts to Judaism may make Aliyah based on issues other than the facts, and the demands of the law, to either change their ways or be fired. As one who recognizes that firing is not really an option in the bureaucracy of the government I would accept that those involved be pushed upstairs, aside, out, or to some nihilarian division.

For those who would charge that I am whining about the State not accepting non-Orthodox converts – this would be wrong. Our converts are accepted by law. By and large they do not encounter major problems in the Aliyah process if they indeed have all documents required by law.
At any given time there may be dozens of Jews by Choice waiting for approval. In most of these cases they will wait forever barring intervention of their behalf by the wonderful lawyers of IRAC who do holy work, and the caring people of the Masorti and Reform movements in Israel.

Just last week the fate of a large group of Masorti converts from Peru was tossed up to the Mankal (director) within the Interior Ministry. These are people who prepared for conversion over a period of five years and only then appeared before a Beit Din of three Masorti rabbis. They have committed the sin of being Indians (Native S. American). But why not let a system rife with Shas appointees continue to make the call?

Did you read about the Jew by Choice, who had applied for Aliyah, and was saved only an hour before deportation back to the States? He was converted with the Reform movement in 1993 and davened at a Masorti congregation (see here). Oh, did I mention that he too was an African American?

With regard to African-American converts one of the issues is the question of knowledge. Experience has shown us that many of the African American converts have more of a limited theoretical knowledge and therefore are deemed not to be "real" Jews. But can only white intellectuals be Jewish? And woe to an African American convert who may have even once purchased a falafel anywhere near Dimona. The Interior Ministry is all but certain, if they know of this, to assume the person is connected to the Black Hebrews. I am OK with looking into such a possibility but not continuing to investigate for months and even years without a decision. In the interim such a person may not work nor receive government health insurance.

And what of the woman from Bolivia who has been denied Aliyah? One of the reasons listed: She did not study with a rabbi. So what? Many prepare for conversion by study with Jewishly educated non-rabbis. Most of the other reasons provided are equally inane.
OK, here is one to consider. Are you sitting down? A man from South America was denied after applying to make Aliyah subsequent to his conversion. He is the fourth generation born to a Jewish grandparent. Under the Law of Return one may make Aliyah only to the third generation. So far - OK. But this person has converted to Judaism. His (non-Jewish) parents live in Israel. But the Interior Ministry has a list of criteria which they refuse to make public that bars such a person from Aliyah. The Interior Ministry makes the assumption that such a person cannot be serious in pursuing Jewish roots, becoming devoted to Judaism, and desirous of fulfilling the Mitzvah of making Aliyah. If one has third generation non-Jewish parents in Israel then Aliyah is not an option even subsequent to conversion.

How about the young man from the Abayudaya in Uganda who was charged 175NIS for a student visa to allow him to study at the Conservative Yeshiva? It took five months of pressure to obtain the visa. May color have been an issue? Only Jews are granted a student visa to study at a non-degree granting institution (such as Pardes or the Conservative Yeshiva). Only non-Jews are charged for a student visa. In this case Moses was granted the visa, having finally satisfied the demands of proving his conversion was within the parameters of the law – but was charged a fee that is only charged to non-Jews who apply to study at degree granting institutions (such as Hebrew University). Moses' committed the sin of being born African.

Would Rabbi Sizumu of Uganda be permitted to make Aliyah?

These cases are not rare. Indeed they are all too common. It brings me no pleasure to write that they also occur among Orthodox converts.

Lest one ask "What about the Ethiopians or other minorities?" it should be said that these people are brought to Israel under separate agreements that go way above the regular staff in the Interior Ministry.

Judaism is by definition not racist. This is why people of any race may convert to Judaism. But there are Jewish racist. And there are bureaucrats determined to keep the gates closed to ninety nine deserving Olim if it means keeping out one who is not deserving.

The Masorti Movement is on the same page as the Jewish Agency and, in theory, the Interior Ministry. We want those who are legally entitled to apply for Aliyah to be accepted. We want problematic cases examined and decided in a timely manner. We want scofflaws, and those seeking to scam the system, kept out.

I fear that writing such words as I have may give ammunition to the enemies of Israel. We are subjected to so much criticism that is unjust. But when officials within our own government act with malice, then as the prophet Isaiah said, "For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

March 10th is "Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath" @piconetwork

 click here for Peace in Our Cities:
Rabbis Against Gun Violence
Thrilled that JWeekly highlighted the emerging Jewish Response Gun Violence, including our new book: "Peace in Our Cities: Rabbis Against Gun Violence!"  Moved to also read their supportive OpEd: "Gun debate must spur action, even if it's imperfect"

If your shul hasn't already signed up for March 10th's "Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath" with PICO please do so here. (The book might be a good conversation starter.) 

Thursday, February 14, 2013


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Terumah By Rabbi Daniella Kolodny

One of the most enigmatic questions of the Torah occurs in this week's parashah. Why does God need a house? The sedrot at this time of year are concerned with the furnishings of the Mikdash or the sanctuary at the centre of the Israelite camp. The Torah lavishes much detail on the dimensions of the sanctuary, the materials to be used and the proper ways to offer up sacrifices.

There is much detail but little explanation for the purpose of the sanctuary. The only explanation occurs in Exodus 25:8 "And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them." The meaning may have been evident to the Children of Israel but to later generations, the intention and objective of building a dedicated sanctuary to God remains an enigma. Why does God, who is incorporeal and transcendent, need a sacred dwelling place? The verse raises more questions than it answers.

Similarly puzzled by the language of the verse, Rashi, the medieval French commentator on the Torah, offers a brief explanation. "They shall make for My Name, a house of holiness." Embedded in Rashi's explanation is an insight into the Torah's evolutionary conception of God. In Exodus 25:8, God is thought to move about the sanctuary and to occupy the mikdash, specifically the space between the two keruvim which sit atop the Ark. The function of the sanctuary is to provide a home for God's presence to dwell.

Later in the Tanach, the purpose of the Sanctuary changes from God's abode to a structure for housing the tablets which God gave to Moses. God's relationship to the Mikdash changes as well; God no longer is depicted as a corporeal being capable of movement; as is suggested in Leviticus 26:12, "I shall move about amongst you" (v'hithalachti b'tochachem), instead God is perceived as an abstract presence.

The purpose of the Mikdash and the God's relationship to the Mikdash are treated differently later in the Tanach. There, the Tanach teaches that only God's name exists in the Mishkan. God does not reveal God's full self in the Mikdash only the knowledge that God exists. No longer does God need a Mikdash, as God dwells in heaven. The Mikdash is transformed, it is now a now a House of Worship for all of God's people to offer their prayers and sacrifices. In the Book of Kings we read about Solomon's promise to the Elders of Israel "I have built the House for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel; and I have set a place there for the Ark, containing the covenant which the Lord made with our fathers when He brought them out of the Land of Israel." (I Kings 8:20-21)

Rashi teaches that God is transcendent, wholly other from human activities, but the Mikdash is a House of Holiness meant to carry people to emulate God's ways. At their best our synagogues, as in the days of the Mishkan, inspire us to find and live God's ways of holiness.

Rabbi Daniella Kolodny is Communities and Learning Director at Masorti Judaism and a member of New North London Synagogue

Why Do Jews Sway When They Pray? by Rabbi David Golinkin

Question: Why do Jews sway when they pray?

Like many Jewish customs, the origins of shucklen- a common Yiddish word which means to shake or rock - are shrouded in mystery.1 We can say when it was done and where but not why. This is because many customs were instituted by the Jewish people as a spontaneous expression of their Jewishness; the learned explanations came later.

Shucklen is not explicitly mentioned in the Talmud.2 Interestingly enough, it is first mentioned in a number of Islamic sources. Mohammed is supposed to have said: "Be not like the Jews who whenever they read the Torah publicly move to and fro". His contemporary, the poet Labid (d. 660), writes of a person who gropes for an object, moving his hand to and fro "like a praying Jew". 3
Jewish sources also mention shucklen in the context of Torah study and prayer. Rabbi Samuel Hanaggid of Granada (d. 1056) is the first to mention swaying during Torah study in one of his poems:
And we came angry into the House of God 
and would that we had taken a wrong turn,
for behold the rabbi and the students were swaying
their heads like a tamarisk in the wilderness.

Various reasons have been given for this practice throughout the ages. Rabbi Judah Halevi of Spain (d. 1141) gives two explanations in his book, The Kuzari, an imaginary dialogue between the king of the Khazars and a rabbi. The king asks why Jews move to and fro when they read the Bible. The rabbi replies: It is said that it is done in order to arouse natural heat [i.e., to warm up]. My personal belief [is as follows:]... As it often happened that many persons read at the same time, it was possible that ten or more read from one volume. Each of them was obliged to bend down in his turn in order to read a passage, and to turn back again. This resulted in a continual bending and sitting up, the book lying on the ground. This was one reason. Then it became a habit through constant seeing, observing and imitating, which is in man's nature.

Rabbi Simhah of Vitry (France, d. 1105) gives a third explanation. He says that young children are taught to sway when they study the Torah, "for thus we find at the giving of the Torah 'And the people saw and they trembled' (Exodus 20:15)".

Lastly, the Zohar, which was written in thirteenth-century Spain, asks: Why is it that all the peoples of the world do not sway, but Jews alone do so when they study Torah? The souls of Israel are derived from the Holy Lamp [of God] ...when a Jew utters one word of Torah, the light [in his soul] is kindled...and he sways to and fro like the flame of a candle.

On the other hand, there was a common custom of swaying during prayer. This custom was explained in at least three different ways. Rabbi Abraham of Lunel (Toledo, d. 1215) and many others quote an unknown midrash: A person is required to sway during prayer, as it is written: "all my bones shall proclaim: O God, who is like You!" (Psalms 35:10)...And this is the custom of the Rabbis of France and her pious ones.

The testament attributed to R. Israel Ba'al Shem Tov (d. 1760) gives a different explanation for shucklen: When a person is drowning in a river and he makes movements in order to extricate himself from the water, those who see him will no doubt laugh at him and at his motions. Thus, when a person prays and makes motions, one should not laugh at him because he is saving himself from the malicious waters which are the. . . foreign thoughts which come to distract him during prayer.
In other words, shucklen helps one concentrate on the prayers and say them with kavanah [proper intent].

Lastly, two nineteenth-century authors came up with a truly original explanation for shucklen: Jewish students and rabbis don't get enough exercise. Therefore, they shuckle when they study and pray in order to get some badly needed exercise!

Surprisingly, a number of prominent rabbis opposed shucklen during prayer. They claimed that it was disrespectful11 or that it prevents the properkavanah required for the Amidah [the silent devotion].

In conclusion, Jews have shuckled during prayer and study for at least 1,400 years. While the original reason is not known, most Jews seem to feel that it helps one concentrate during prayer and study. On the other hand, there is certainly no obligation to shuckle. The best rule of thumb is probably that stated by R. Yehiel Michal Epstein (d. 1908): And during the Amidah there are some who sway and some who don't and it depends on the person's nature. If by swaying, his kavanah improves, then he should sway; and a person whose kavanah is clearer when he stands perfectly still should not sway - and [either option] should be done for the sake of heaven...

Rabbi David Golinkin

©2013 Masorti Judaism | Alexander House. 3 Shakespeare Road. London N3 1XE


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Conference for Rabbis serving Small Congregations

The Coalition for Small Conservative Congregations
in partnership with the Rabbinical Assembly
Presents our third annual
Conference for Conservative Rabbis Serving Small Congregations
[formerly known as the "Size Matters" Conference]

JUNE 2-4 (Sunday - Tuesday) in Wilmette, Illinois
Only $150 - registration includes all meals

In this era of shrinking, merging, and vanishing congregations, effective fundraising has become an even more critical part of the rabbi's toolkit. We may have fewer households and perhaps have fewer large donors than larger congregations, but we most likely have strong personal relationship with virtually every one of our members. Nevertheless, asking people for money is hard for many of us, or so we have read in the conference evaluations for the past two years. This year's Size Matters conference will focus on developing fundraising skills.
The Size Matters conference - organized by rabbis in small congregations for rabbis in small congregations – is three days of amazing personal and professional growth in a friendly and supportive environment with rabbis just like you. Those who attended in past years all left excited and reenergized to serve their congregations, inspired both by new ideas and new friends.
In addition to our keynote speakers, we will have several sessions devoted to sharing professional resources and programming ideas, as well as a session of inspiring limmud.

Hope to see you in June!


Keynote Speakers
Marilyn Kohn
Marilyn F. Kohn, vice chancellor and chief development officer of The Jewish Theological Seminary, has been a development professional for 30 years. She has directed and worked with fundraising teams for a variety of organizations, large and small, including serving as director of Principal Gifts at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Associate Dean of External Relations and Development of Columbia Business School. Prior to that, she served as vice president of Caesar & Washburn Incorporated, consulting with clients such as CancerCare, Facing History and Ourselves, Jewish Home and Hospital, Ms. Foundation, and Victim Services.

Sheldon Moss
Sheldon Moss is currently the Senior Major Gifts Officer of the Chicagoland Jewish High School. For over 18 years, he was the Midwest Director of the Jewish Theological Seminary, conducting fundraising and educational events with over 35 congregations, large and small, in the region. He has also spent time in Israel and the United States fundraising for Boy's Town Jerusalem, helping students orphaned as a result of Israel's wars.

  • Program sharing and networking sessions
  • Limmud, with our colleague Ken Berger

The conference will be held June 2-4, at Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah (3220 Big Tree Lane, Wilmette, Illinois 60091). It is open to all rabbis serving in 'A' & 'B'-sized Conservative congregations. The cost is $150 and includes kosher meals. Deadline for registration is Friday, May 17.

Registration information:

QUESTIONS? Please feel free to contact the organizers of Size Matters:
David Krishef (
Michael Friedland (

 Rabbi David J.B. Krishef
 Congregation Ahavas Israel,  2727 Michigan St. NE,  Grand Rapids, MI  49506-1297
Voice -  616-949-2840  fax - 616-949-6929 twitter - ahavasisraelgr
blog - "Embodied Torah" at               

Mission Statement of Congregation Ahavas Israel:
Congregation Ahavas Israel creates a vibrant egalitarian Conservative Jewish community helping each individual follow his/her spiritual path using traditional Jewish practice.

Vision Statement:

To create connections between individuals in our Jewish community through religious, educational, and social programs that attract participation of all our members.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ramah Service Corps Welcomes Third Cohort of Interns

NRC Website Banner
National Ramah Commission, Inc. of The Jewish Theological Seminary 
February 26, 2013
Shevat 5773
Dear Friends of Ramah,


The Ramah Service Corps (RSC), the innovative young adult leadership program of the National Ramah Commission (NRC) designed to bring the magic of Ramah to communities across North America year-round, is now entering its third exciting year. Here are some highlights:
Ramah Service Corp video
Click on image to watch video
We are delighted to introduce the third cohort of Ramah Service Corps interns, 25 strong, who are serving for the 2012-2013 year.  
Ramah Service Corps interns, young adults working as teachers and youth leaders in educational settings across the US and Canada, are selected with input from the leadership of Ramah's overnight camps. Interns implement at least three Ramah-style programs during the year; reach out to prospective camper families, encouraging them to explore Ramah and other Jewish camps; and maintain relationships with current Ramah families. Each Ramah Service Corps intern works closely with both the NRC and a mentor from the regional Ramah camp office. 


RSCexperiencesThe interns are thrilled to bring the magic and spirit of Ramah into their work during the year. Here are some of their responses to the question: "Why are you excited to serve as an RSC intern?" 


I am excited to serve as an RSC intern because I want to give back to an organization that has given me so much. I'm excited to welcome more families into the larger Ramah family. (Gavi Cohen, Poconos RSC Intern; home camp: Poconos) 
I am so excited to help spread the spirit of Ramah throughout the year. Every Jewish child should have the opportunity to experience all that Ramah has to offer. (Michael Fingerman, Canada RSC Intern; home camp: Nyack)


I love spreading the joys of Ramah to people who don't have those experiences yet. I am excited to plan programs for kids who are eager to learn about camp and, through the programming, share with them the Jewish experiences that totally shape who I am today. (Elisheva Layman, New England RSC Intern; home camp: New England)

The songs and lessons I teach in religious school are those that I learned at Camp Ramah, and I love to share that music and ruach and help bring my students that same Ramah experience. (Josh Warshawsky, Berkshires/Nyack RSC Intern; home camp: Wisconsin)


Slingshot The success of the Ramah Service Corps program was recently recognized in Slingshot '12-'13, a resource guide for Jewish innovation, which named the National Ramah Commission one of the nation's 50 most innovative Jewish nonprofits for its work in connection with the Ramah Service Corps. Click here to read more.

This initiative of the National Ramah Commission is made possible by a generous grant from the Foundation for Jewish Camp.

We look forward to bringing you more news about the work of the Ramah Service Corps in future newsletters.

Amy Skopp Cooper
Amy Skopp Cooper, National Associate Director

Click here for biographical profiles of many of our Ramah Service Corps interns. 

Ramah is the camping arm of Conservative Judaism. Together, our programs provide Ramah experiences for over 9,000 children, teens and young adults annually. The National Ramah Commission of the Jewish Theological Seminary provides oversight and educational planning on behalf of the network of Ramah camps throughout North America and Israel.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

YNETNEWS Survey: "80% of Israelis favor civil government"

YNETNEWS Survey: "80% of Israelis favor civil government"
Inline image 1

Attention coalition negotiators: Survey finds 70% of seculars want new government to exclude haredi parties. 'Shas and UTJ have made the public hate them; Israelis want a civil revolution,' says Hiddush association CEO,7340,L-4340773,00.html

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu begins forming his next coalition, a new survey reveals that 80% of Israeli Jews are in favor of a civil government with an agenda focusing on freedom of religion and an equal share of the burden.


The survey, commissioned by the Hiddush association for religious freedom and equality, was conducted by the Smith Institute among 500 respondents – a representative sample of the adult Jewish population in Israel. The maximum sampling error was 4.5%.


Haredi-Secular Divide
Not your suckers anymore  /Izhar Oplatka
Op-ed: Civil war possible if haredim refuse to accept changes demanded by younger generation
Full op-ed
According to the survey, 87% of Likud Beiteinu voters expressed their support for a civil government which would advance freedom of religion and universal IDF draft.


Sixty-eight percent of Habayit Hayehudi voters were also in favor of such a government (26% said they were very supportive and 42% said they were pretty supportive of the idea).


In addition, even 39% of Shas voters voiced their support for a civil government.


In parties affiliated with the centrist-leftist camp, the support level was close to 100%. All Labor,Hatnua and Meretz voters and 99% of Yesh Atid voters said they were in favor of such a government.


According to Hiddush CEO Rabbi Uri Regev, the fact that an overwhelming majority among Likud Beiteinu voters supports a government that will advance freedom of religion and an equal share of the burden shows that "the era in which haredi parties were perceived as natural coalition partners is over."


Should Lapid push haredim out?

The survey respondents were also asked whether they believe Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid should push for a government excluding the Shas and United Torah Judaism parties.


Fifty-four percent of the Jewish public said he should, while 46% said he should not. Among secular respondents, 70% supported a government without ultra-Orthodox parties, and 93% of haredim objected to the idea.


A breakdown of the results according to party voters reveals that 51% of Likud Beiteinu supporters think Yair Lapid should demand a government without haredi parties, while only 39% of Habayit Hayehudi voters are in favor of such a government.


Among voters of leftist-centrist parties, the percentage of those who responded affirmatively is higher: Yesh Atid voters – 76%, Labor voters – 72%, Hatnua voters – 75%, and Meretz voters – 83%.


UTJ to head Finance Committee?

In previous Knessets, the chairman of the Finance Committee was mostly a representative of the United Torah Judaism faction. The survey's last question tried to find out whether the Jewish public is in favor or against continuing this tradition.


About two-thirds of the Jewish public (67%) were against giving the job to a UTJ lawmaker, and one-third were in favor. Eighty-eight percent of seculars were against the idea, while 97% of haredim were in favor.


Commenting on the survey results, Rabbi Regev said that "it proves unequivocally that the public favors a government which will lead a civil revolution and conduct comprehensive reforms that will advance freedom of religion and an equal share of the burden.


"That was the public's message in the elections by bringing Netanyahu and Lapid together, and that is its message in the survey as well.


"United Torah Judaism and Shas have made the wide public hate them after many years of aggression and extortion," Rabbi Regev added.


"These parties should engage in self-examination and ask themselves why so many people want a civil government and expect Lapid to keep out of the government, and why such a large part of the public, including Likud voters, doesn't want to see UTJ head the Finance Committee."

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

To join Rabbi Creditor's email listsend a blank email to

Monday, February 4, 2013

Fwd from @RabbiAssembly: Faiths Calling: Call Congress Today to Prevent Gun Violence #ifnotnowwhen


Faiths Calling

February 2012 - Sh'vat 5773

Dear Colleagues,


Today, leaders from a diversity of faiths are calling their senators and representatives and asking them to support legislation that curbs gun violence. Be part of the call: insist that congress acts to prevent gun violence. Tell them that it's time to turn our shared grief into collective action.


Call Congress Today | Press Release 


Feel free to share the blurb below with leaders in your community: 


Faiths Calling


Call your Senators and insist that they act to prevent gun violence. Ensure that the voices of faithful Americans ring throughout the halls of Congress. We know that among millions of you in the faith community there are differences in viewpoint and we ask you to convey whichever policies with which you are comfortable.  


The major components of legislation that Congress is considering are listed below. When you call your Senators, let them know that you are calling as a member of the faith community, and emphasize those of the policies which you support. 


- Require universal background checks for all gun purchases 

- Ban semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines 

- Make gun trafficking a federal crime 

- Improve access to mental health services


Tell them that gun violence prevention laws work.

Call Congress Today