In a historic decision that will likely widen the secular-religious gulf in the Jewish state, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that people converted in Israel by non-Orthodox rabbis must be officially recognized as Jews by the Israeli government.
The court did not address the question of whether Reform or Conservative conversions were valid according to Jewish religious law. In practical terms the ruling leaves the Orthodox rabbinate in charge of lifecycle events such as weddings and funerals.
On the eve of Yom Kippur, a dispute between two groups of Jews leads to a divider being placed at Judaism’s holiest accessible site, the western retaining wall of Herod’s Second Temple.
But Muslim sheiks, who “own” the Wall, demand the divider be removed, calling it an unacceptable alteration to their site. They suspect that the Jews are trying to find a way to give the Wall the status of a synagogue “as a first step in taking it over.”
Dallas — Ambassador Eliahu Ben-Elissar had heard enough. Israel’s top representative to the United States was squirming in his seat at the Reform movement’s national convention as he listened to noted Jewish historian Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg refer to Israel’s chief rabbis as “bigots with computers” — referring to a confidential computer list they maintain of children of illegitimate unions known as “mamzerim.”
In response to sharp criticism by some right-wing Orthodox rabbis who charged that the Wye accords violate Jewish law, a group of Modern Orthodox rabbis this week issued a counter statement saying that last month’s deal between Israel and the Palestinians is indeed religiously legal.
The group, Shvil Hazahav, gathered the signatures of 28 Modern Orthodox rabbis to support an unequivocal statement asserting that the Wye deal does not violate Jewish law, or halacha.
Hillary Clinton is holding top-level discussions to determine whether to call for the declassification of a damning secret memo that led to spy Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence, The Jewish Week has learned.
It was also learned that Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman recently asked President Clinton to consider declassifying secret documents about the Pollard case, days before being chosen as Al Gore’s running mate.
Charges by a mysterious CIA official that Israel recruits religious American Jews to spy on the United States has sparked outrage from several Jewish leaders and a call for a public CIA response.
The allegations were aired Sunday night on the CBS news show “60 Minutes” focusing on the case of Adam Ciralsky, a former CIA attorney who claims he was fired because of his ethnicity.
A newspaper ad by a Yeshiva University-linked Orthodox rabbinical group is denouncing the Wye agreement as a violation of Jewish law that threatens the lives of all Jews in Israel.
But the rabbinic group called Ichud Harabonim, or Union of Rabbis, is itself being criticized for using language some say evokes the violent rhetoric used against the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin — who was assassinated three years ago this week.
Modern changes suddenly are afoot at Jerusalem’s ancient Western Wall. Two developments this week signal greater access for Jews who seek to pray in their own way at the 2,000-year-old surviving outer retaining wall of the Second Temple, Judaism’s holiest site.
In a landmark decision, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled Monday that women can hold group prayer services at the Wall, wear prayer shawls, read aloud from the Torah — and must be provided police protection.
Leaders of an apocalyptic Christian group expelled from Israel last week say they were betrayed by Israeli police, whom they had been helping to identify potentially violent Christian extremists.
In an exclusive interview with The Jewish Week, the American-born Christians — three women and two men — also blamed the FBI for instigating Israeli police against evangelical Christians planning to witness the second coming of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem in the next millennium.
Into the fray comes the Reform movement. On Sunday, members of the Conservative movement were verbally accosted by some ultra-Orthodox teenagers while praying in a mixed-gender service at the Western Wall on Shavuot morning. There was pushing and shoving as well, according to eyewitness accounts.