Torah Judaism challenged by secular court and Christians in Israel

Well, another Hanukah has gone by, but it seems the forces of Hellenism, Christianity and secularism have forged an unholy alliance against Torah Judaism in the modern state of Israel. One secular journalist described it as nothing less than a “modern-day miracle to see the debate regarding democracy vis-à-vis Torah law picking up steam and reaching the verge of explosion precisely in Hanukkah”.

Jewish Israel reviews recent developments in the Supreme Court, the Knesset, the press, and on the streets.

The Supreme Court vs Kashrut

The halacha may be taking a beating in Israel’s Supreme Court, but the rabbis aren’t taking it sitting down. Last week it was reported that “Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar issued a letter … to all Knesset Members, asking them to make it illegal for the Supreme Court to interfere with the Halachic (Jewish legal) considerations of the Chief Rabbinate in awarding or revoking kosher certifications pertaining to the Jewish dietary laws.”

Rav Amar’s concerns on this issue are related to last July’s Supreme Court ruling which ordered Israel’s Chief Rabbinate to grant a Kashrut Certificate to a Jewish convert to Christianity (The Chief Rabbinate holds that an apostate cannot be considered trusted to adhere to the laws of kashrut).

Last month a request for a re-hearing was rejected by the high court. Arutz 7 reported that Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch acknowledged that “the messianic beliefs of the owner may well lead to “difficulties” in terms of the rabbi’s trust in his kashrut practices – but “the trustworthiness of a restaurant owner must be measured according to standards of general law, and not according to Halakhic standards.”

Rabbi Amar’s postion is that, kashrus is not political, not diplomatic, not a state or government matter, but one of halacha and if a rabbis is not permitted to make such a designation, then who will.” Under the circumstances he feels,"there is no choice but to gather our forces to prepare a bill in order to defend the status of kashrut in the country - and the sooner, the better."
UPDATES:
Rabbi Yosef Sheinin refuses to grant a kosher certificate to messianic
High Court: Jew for Jesus baker must apply for new kashrut certificate

The Knesset vs Torah Law
Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman got nailed by politically left MK’s for comments he made at a conference on Jewish monetary laws in Jerusalem.

He boldly suggested to an audience of rabbis and rabbinical judges that we, “reinstate the traditions of our forefathers, the teaching of the rabbis of the ages, because these offer a solution to all the issues we are dealing with today."

A sampling of the left’s reaction as reported in the Jerusalem Post:

Meretz chairman MK Haim Oron slammed the justice minister for his "disloyalty" to Israel's principles."His declarations indicate a worrying process of 'Talibanization' of Israeli society that has escalated to delusional levels," he warned.

“Former justice minister Yossi Sarid expressed his fear that if Israel is turned into a state ruled by Halacha, there would be public stonings or burnings in cases of those who dared desecrate the Shabbat or were unfaithful to their spouse, or if two homosexual men had sexual intercourse.”

However the JPost also reported on the opinion of Dr. Nahum Rakover, winner of the Israel Prize in 2002 for his lifetime work in encouraging the use of Jewish law in the legal system:

"The things that the justice minister said were not new," he said. "They go back to the Foundations of Law Act, which obligates judges to use Jewish law in their decisions. This law was passed by the Knesset in 1980. It says that every question that comes before the court in which there is no existing law or precedent has to be adjudicated in accordance with Jewish tradition.”

Surprise Opinion in the Media
YNET columnist Yael Mishali, who is “not a devout follower of Jewish law, and… never followed a rabbi”, feels “any group of Zionist rabbis is preferable to any group of politicians”.

Mishali writes that, “…if I have to choose, there is no chance in the world I would choose democracy over Torah law..” . Definitely worth a read.

What Mishali is courageously expressing, may reveal the overall trend and love of Jewish tradition which is prevalent in the larger part of Israeli society but which is not being reflected in the general media.

New Jewish Lobby on the streets fights Christmas symbolism in Israel
Last week both Ynet and Haaretz were reporting on a new Jewish lobby which is out on the streets and battling the display of Christmas symbols in the Jewish state.

Little is known about the "Lobby for Jewish values", but its chairman, Ofer Cohen, claims he has the backing of rabbis for this endeavor.

In a related development, at least one MK and a Jewish media personality seemed uncomfortable with the Jerusalem Municipality’s policy of distributing free Christmas trees which is funded by taxpayer’s money.

The battle against Christmas tree displays in Israel has inevitably grabbed the attention of the fundamentalists and white supremacists of cyberspace like David Duke, the White American Revolution.org, and the National-Front.org.uk.

Haaretz cites the opinion of Samuel J. Scott, a former American journalist now working at the Refuah Institute in Jerusalem:

"The Jewish state wants to be two things: a Jewish state and a free, democratic state. But what is the solution when these competing priorities conflict? If all Israelis start celebrating Christmas (either as Christians or as secularized revelers), then it will arguably no longer be a Jewish state. If the government bans everyone from having anything to do with the holiday, then it will no longer be a free state."

The religious-secular debate in Israel is sure to rage on, but Jewish Israel has a hunch that the secular founders of the State of Israel would be both pained and dismayed to learn that evangelical personalities and messianic legal groups would be exploiting the religious-secular rift and the state’s justice system in order to strengthen Christian influence in the Jewish State. This is something that all Israelis – both secular and religious- who value the Jewish character of the state should take into account. After all, if the state’s secular courts and legislature take the Torah law out of Israel’s law and instead give credence to Christian cults, then all that’s left is Christian Hellenism.

Supreme Court of London Rules Against Orthodox Jewish School
It's not just Torah observant institutions in Israel which are suffering at the hands of secular courts. Last week the Jewish Free School in London was found guilty of race discrimination for refusing places to pupils it did not consider to be ethnically Jewish. According to BBC reports, the case was brought by a Jewish man whose son was not given a place because his wife was not regarded as Jewish under rules set by the Chief Rabbi.

Headlines in an article in the London Telegraph are telling: The State Now Decides Who Is A Jew

Final note
For those who missed it, Christian fundamentalists, led by a priest, ceremoniously trashed a menorah in Moldavia over Hannuka. Arutz 7 has the full story and a number of videos on the incident have been recorded.

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Comment by Sharon Elizabeth Kerr on December 25, 2009 at 8:59pm
This is One people, for us, One G-d, and One Land. "You shall be a Holy people to me for I your G-d am Holy. All this reminds me of the Hellenists and Syrian Greeks, and the Roman Empire. To wipe out the name of Israel. Christmas lights send them to Egypt. Missionaries deport them. Judges if they are not Torah learned than teach them.

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