Volume 65 Number 23 
      Produced: Wed, 29 Dec 21 15:15:36 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A return to sanity? 
    [Martin Stern]
Chief Rabbi freezes all conversions 
    [Martin Stern]
Is Israel a Jewish State or a State whose population is Jewish? (2)
    [Alan Rubin  David Tzohar]
Jewish anti-Semitism (was Ben & Jerry's may lose US kashrut renewal ov 
    [Yisrael Medad]
    [Martin Stern]
Trendy Tel Aviv Bar Closes On Shabbos, Sees 30% Rise In Revenue 
    [Prof. L. Levine]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 29,2021 at 07:17 AM
Subject: A return to sanity?

VINnews reported (27 Dec. '21):

> The heads of the religious Zionist yeshivas have decided to prevent MDA from
> initiating blood drives in their yeshivot because the organization uses the
> term Parent 1 and Parent 2 on its forms rather than father and mother.

For further details see:


Is this a blow for common sense or a quixotic tilting at windmills?

Martin Stern 


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 29,2021 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Chief Rabbi freezes all conversions

The Times of Israel reports (29 Dec '21):

> Chief Rabbi David Lau told the prime minister Tuesday that he will not approve
> any future conversions to Judaism as long as the government continues to
> advance a plan to ease the process and dilute the Chief Rabbinate's control 
> over it.
> Lau's move, which drew condemnation and demands that he be fired, came as
> Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana pushes reforms on some key religion 
> and state issues, including conversion and kosher certification.
> "Implementing the proposed conversion outline will result in a split of the
> Jewish people: two states for two peoples, divided Judaism instead of united
> Judaism", he warned. "Such a divide", he wrote, "will be irreparable and will
> cause future uncertainty regarding who can marry whom when Jewish status is in
> doubt".
> Kahana’s proposed legislation would allow for conversions outside the
> auspices of the Chief Rabbinate, authorizing municipal rabbis to supervise
> the process.
> As part of his changes to the system, Kahana intends to end the tenure of the
> current head of the Conversion Authority, Moshe Veller.
> ...
> A statement on behalf of Lau ... explained that the head of the Conversion
> Authority is tasked with ensuring that conversations are carried out
> according to Orthodox Jewish rules, known as halacha. If the supervisor is
> fired, the statement said, Lau will be unable to know how conversions were
> carried out and therefore will not sign off on any conversions.
> The coalition [partner] Yisrael Beytenu called on Kahana to fire Lau.
> ...
> [Finance Minister, Avigdor] Liberman tells Lau that he is a public employee 
> who must carry out his public duties as inscribed by law.
> ...
> [His colleague] Yisrael Beytenu MK Yulia Malinovsky says she has appealed to
> Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana to oust Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David
> Lau over his threats to intervene in planned conversion reform.
> "He is a public worker and his threats on the issue of conversion are
> unacceptable", Malinovsky tells Army Radio. 

IMHO, this disgraceful treatment of the Chief Rabbi clearly shows the danger of
a state-sponsored rabbinate [Rabbanut Mita'am] which is viewed as merely a civil
service department with no right to oppose the government's policies when it
feels they are contraray to halachah. Perhaps Chaim Sonnenfeld was right when he
set up the Eidah Charedit in 1919 rather than accept such a demeaning position
under the aegis of the secular Zionist leadership.

Martin Stern


From: Alan Rubin <alan@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 26,2021 at 08:17 AM
Subject: Is Israel a Jewish State or a State whose population is Jewish?

I believe that Prof Levine has got this entirely wrong, the motives of the
pioneers of Zionism are irrelevant as is Prof Levine's narrow focus on Orthodox
criteria for conversion and tendency to negativity on the subject of Israel.

The real picture is best appreciated by reading Shmuel Rosner & Camil Fuchs
book, Jewsraelis: a Cultural Revolution. I am not sure whether their book is
available in English but summaries of their research can be found online eg


On the basis of a survey of 3,000 Israeli Jews who were asked close to 400
questions on their observance of tradition (eg keeping Shabbat laws) and
national practices (eg raising the Israeli flag on Independence Day), they conclude:

> Those practicing tradition and nationality (“Jewsraelis,” the 55 percent
> majority); those who mostly practice nationality (15 percent we call
> “Israelis” in the book, who tend to come from secular quarters of the
> old-fashioned Labor Party Zionists and whose culture is relatively devoid of
> keeping Jewish traditions); those who practice mostly Jewish traditions and
> many fewer Israeli customs (17 percent we call “Jews,” who are mostly Haredi
> Israelis); and those who, relatively speaking, practice neither (13 percent
> we call “Universalists” — urban, liberal, left leaning and often alienated
> from other Israelis.).

They observe:

> A clear majority of secular Israelis (about half of all Jews) shop on
> Shabbat. Shopping on the day of rest has become a habit for them, a part of
> their weekend culture. Rolling it back would be difficult, if not impossible.
> Rolling it back would also ignite the kind of political battle that
> politicians tend to avoid. So again, when it comes to halachic Shabbat
> observance, Israel is secularizing.
> Does this mean Shabbat as a cultural Jewish phenomenon is also weakening?
> That depends on your viewpoint. If you only consider an Orthodox religious
> version of Shabbat to be a worthy exercise, then the answer is yes. There is
> less religiosity and less religious coercion of rules in the public sphere.
> However, if you consider tradition rather than religion — and in the book we
> make an effort not to confuse them — Israel’s Shabbat is still strong.
> In 65 percent of Israel’s Jewish homes, candles are lit on Friday night. In
> 68 percent of these homes, Israelis make a Kiddush. More than 80 percent of
> Jewish Israelis have a family meal on Friday night — that’s tradition. Jewish
> Israelis keep many of the Jewish traditions, but without the need to be
> religious or follow the script dictated by ancient religious texts. 

The research demonstrates that Israel is overwhelmingly a Jewish State. I would
say further than this, that Israel is the prime mover for Judaism in the 21st

Alan Rubin

From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 27,2021 at 04:17 AM
Subject: Is Israel a Jewish State or a State whose population is Jewish?

Prof.Levine asked (MJ 65#22) whether Israel is a Jewish state or a State whose
Population is Jewish. 

IMHO both are equally correct. But Prof.Levine is not seeing the big picture.
Israel is ReSHiT TZMiCHaT GeULaTeNu, the beginning of the flowering of the
redemption of the Jewish People. Or as Rav Elisha Vishlitzky ZTZ"L said we are
already "bmitziatta" in the midst of the Divine redemption. The ingathering of
the Exiles,the Rebirth of the Hebrew language,the flowering of the Israeli
economy and of course victory in the wars while outnumbered all attest to this.
Does that mean that there are no problems? That Redemption is complete? Of
course not.

But we have already been in this situation. At the beginning of the second
Temple period those who made aliya to Israel from Bavel with Zerubavel, Ezra and
Nechemia were a minority of the Jewish population and represented the
problematic portions of that population. Ezra fought against rampant
intermarriage and assimilation.Yet in the end the Temple was rebuilt and a
Jewish state whose population was Jewish was established in Judea that lasted
for 400 years.

The State of Israel faces many of these same challenges. Rav Kook ZTZ"L said
decades before its establishment "Medinat Israel (will be) the foundation of the
chariot of the Shchina in this world". Just as an earthly chariot needs those
who will grease the axles and rein in the horses so too this is the task of the
non-religious and halachically problematic Jews. All this does not mean that we
are free of responsibility to deal with the problems in the modern state of
Israel but I believe that BeSiYaTa DeSHMaYa we will achieve a Jewish state in
all its ramifications by our efforts and by Divine Providence.

R'David Yitzchak Tzohar



From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sat, Dec 25,2021 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Jewish anti-Semitism (was Ben & Jerry's may lose US kashrut renewal ov

Martin Stern writes (MJ 65#22) of the Satmar Chassidim "having a totally
benevolent attitude to Jews". Having seen them up close when they attack Zionist
Jews, I see no difference in any anti-Semitic gradation, their opposition to
Zionism being "genuine" or not.

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 29,2021 at 07:17 AM
Subject: Priorities?

VINnews reported (28 Dec '21):

> While Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu took an uncompromising stand against Chaim Walder
> after his suicide and strengthened the resolve of those who had complained
> against him, a sharply different approach emerged from the words of Rabbi
> Gershon Edelstein, the rosh yeshiva of Ponovezh and one of the leaders of the
> Lithuanian yeshiva world.
> In a discussion with Chareidi educators ... Rabbi Edelstein quoted the gemara
> in Sanhedrin which says that one who has relations with a married woman has a
> portion in the World to Come but one who publicly shames his friend has no
> portion in the World to Come. He added that even if according to halacha we
> need to beware of someone, there is no leniency or even hint of leniency
> allowing people to spill blood and murder a Jew. It is obvious that this is
> deemed murdering him and it is obvious that the murderer has no portion
> in the World to Come. It is clear that the great pressure he was under led him
> to lose his sanity and kill himself. This is called murder.

For further details see: 


This raises the question of where our priorities should lie.

Martin Stern


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 27,2021 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Trendy Tel Aviv Bar Closes On Shabbos, Sees 30% Rise In Revenue

In VINnews, it was reported that Gabi Geuli, the owner of Night Shift, a trendy
Tel Aviv bar, which was open for many years on Shabbat and catered to the
secular community in the Florentin neighborhood, decided recently to make the
bar kosher and close on Shabbat. He told Arutz Sheva about the remarkable growth
he had experienced despite closing on the day which brought the most revenue and
despite scathing criticism from patrons.

> Despite Geuli's decision to close on Shabbos and waive 30% of his revenue, it
> was precisely after he took kashrus supervision and closed on Shabbos that
> his revenue began to grow. "I can truly say that in work I see miracles," he
> said. "I don't even know how to explain it but the turnover rose and is now
> more than it was before. Don't tell me it was because of religious customers,
> there aren't many but still things have grown."
> Geuli received a number of negative responses to his move. "Sometimes a
> person comes and the hostess tells him that we are kosher and he says
> jokingly 'I don't eat kosher' ... Others have called to boycott the bar, which
> really hurt Geuli: "Why boycott? I didn't tell people to wash their hands.

See for more:


This is one small step in fostering the Jewishness of the State of Israel. 
However, I find it sad that some non-observant Israelis are so intolerant of
Jewish observance.

Yitzchok Levine


End of Volume 65 Issue 23