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>JN Nov. 24, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 216
Israeli Flag License Plates
By IINS News Service
In a combined move to deter car thefts and mark Israel's Jubilee
celebration, Minister of Transportation Yitzchak Levy announced
that next year, license plates on motor vehicles will have special
"watermarks" that will make their reproduction more difficult and
they will have an Israeli flag affixed to them.
Jerusalem City Worker Wants Double Nursing Time
By IINS News Service
A Jerusalem municipality employee who gave birth to twins in
January 1997 has asked Meretz Councilwoman Anat Hoffman to assist
her in obtaining twice the permitted time to nurse her children.
The employee maintains that since she has two children to nurse,
she should be entitled to twice the amount of time to nurse than a
mother with one child.
MD's License Revoked for Not Granting "Get"
By IINS News Service
The Haifa Rabbinical Court has revoked the license to practice
medicine of Dr. Yuri Perlitz, after he refused to give his wife a
Under Jewish law, a woman who is not given a "get" by her husband
may not remarry and is suspended in the category of an "Aguna."
This means she is considered wed according to Jewish law, even if
she and her husband lead separate lives.
The rabbis have been working towards finding new methods of
"convincing" husbands to issue a "get" and thereby freeing the wife
from being an Aguna. An appeal filed by Dr. Perlitz was rejected by
the appeals court.
The Rabbinical Court has filed the necessary papers with the
Ministry of Health and the Puriya Hospital in Tiberias, informing
them the doctor's license to practice medicine has been revoked.
Israel: Democracy or Theocracy
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Some say the eventual results of a dispute between Jewish leaders
to avoid a crisis about religious observance in the Jewish state.
will define to what degree Israel is a democracy as opposed to a
When Israeli troops captured Jerusalem's Old City in 1967, and
stood for the first time in front of Judaism's holiest shrine --
the Western Wall -- one of them took out a ceremonial ram's horn
and blew a traditional blast of triumph. That marked one of the
strongest of many moments which almost constantly demonstrate
Israel's inseparable connection to the Jewish faith.
But at the same time, there are almost constant questions about
just how close that connection should be. That question has been
raised by Rabbi Richard Hirsch, a leader of the Reform movement --
a sect of Judaism which endorses a relatively less-observant
lifestyle. Many Orthodox Jews do not even consider Hirsch to be
"What kind of a state are we going to have: a [state] of Jews or is
it going to be a state of Judaism, run by...a benighted,
anachronistic, militant, narrow, exclusivistic view of what it
means to be a Jew? You have pluralism all over the Jewish world,
and the winds of pluralism blow wherever they are, throughout the
Jewish world, and suddenly you come to the eastern shores of the
Mediterranean Sea and the winds of pluralism stop, and the winds of
democracy stop. It is an untenable situation.It can not continue
...You can not have a monopoly side-by-side with a democracy.
You can not have a theocracy side-by-side with a secular state.
Reform Jews are aligned on this issue with Conservative Jews who
advocate a somewhat more observant -- but still not Orthodox --
interpretation of Jewish teaching. The two groups have cases in
Israel's Supreme Court seeking, in essence, legal recognition so
their rabbis can perform weddings and religious conversions in
Israel, as they do elsewhere in the world.
Moshe Fogel is a spokesman for Israel's government -- a coalition
of the three religious parties and several rightists and centrist
parties. Fogel says the government is committed to passing the
"What has happened is the Reform and Conservative movements have
tried to change, by political force, the situation here in Israel,
that has existed for the past 50-years -- to have a diversity of
approaches to the issue of Jewish identity. And when we deal with
that issue, we are certainly concerned that would lead to a split
within the Jewish community in Israel, and we want to avoid that
type of split."
Fogel says the laws now before the parliament would not create a
theocracy or make non-Orthodox Jews second-class citizens, as they
claim. Rather, he says the country must have one standard for
determining such issues as who is Jewish and who is legally
married, and the authority over that standard must remain with the
most observant Jews. Such issues of the relationship between
religion and politics affect many countries, and it is often a
difficult balance to achieve.
In Israel, the Orthodox control the religious issues, but the
majority of the people are almost totally non-religious -- that
is, less observant than what the Reform or Conservative movements
advocate. That creates occasional disputes, like the current one.
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