Monday, February 23, 2009

Conversion and the new government

Recipients and Publicity

The looming battles over conversions in the new Knesset and new Israeli government as reported in the recent weekend English HAMODIAH:

UTJ Raises Conversion Issue in Coalition Talks

Last years's High Rabbinical Court decision to invalidate thousands of conversions could become a major issue in coalition talks.

Members of United Torah Judaism asked the Likud Sunday to clarify its position on the matter after Yisrael Beiteinu requested recognition of conversions and accelerated activity in the special conversion courts, which are not recognized by Gedolei Yisrael.

UTJ has said its coalition talks with Likud are contingent on the party's rejection of Yisrael Beiteinu's requests. UTJ Chairman Yaakov Litzman met with Likud's Reuven Rivlin Sunday, but they did not appear to have reached an agreement."


  1. Halacha for sale in political bargaining - a recipe for the destruction of the Jewish people.

    Conversion is not a political issue.

  2. From news:

    Lieberman: Civil marriages not my 1st priority

    Yisrael Beiteinu leader reportedly prepared to compromise in order to join forces with Shas in Netanyahu-led government

    Attila Somfalvi
    Published: 02.23.09, 21:12 / Israel News

    The issue of civil marriages is not a top priority for Yisrael Beiteinu, party leader Avigdor Lieberman said in closed-door sessions Monday, paving the way for joining forces with Shas in a Netanyahu-led government.

    Lieberman reportedly stressed that his party's top priority is the granting of legislative and financial preference to discharged soldiers, followed by efforts to change Israel's system of government, Ynet learned, with the issue of civil marriages only coming next.

    The Yisrael Beiteinu leader is apparently preparing to reach a compromise on the issue of civil marriages in order to enable his party and Shas to join the next government. Lieberman reportedly made it clear that such compromises may materialize in allowing roughly 100,000 Israelis who are not defined as Jews to marry amongst themselves.

    Meanwhile, Shas made it clear that should Lieberman make do with finding such solution for marriages between non-Jews living in Israel, the major disagreements between Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas will be resolved.

    Lieberman also said, in closed-door sessions, that he intends to demand the Defense or Foreign Affairs portfolio, with a preference for the latter. Overall, Yisrael Beiteinu is interested in a total of four government portfolios in the next government, including a financial portfolio and possibly the Internal Security Ministry."

  3. reports:

    "Lieberman voters 'feel cheated'

    The daughter of a Jewish father and Christian mother, Victoria voted for Yisrael Beitenu hoping they would push through legislation allowing her to marry in Israel. But with Lieberman now willing to give up on civil marriage as a concession to Shas – she feels betrayed

    Daniel Adelson
    Published: 02.24.09, 20:14 / Israel News

    Yisrael Beitenu voters have voiced mixed feelings following the report that party chairman, Avigdor Lieberman, is willing to compromise on civil marriage to join a coalition with Shas.

    Victoria, a 25-year-old Israeli who has a Jewish father and Christian mother, says she feels betrayed. "I voted for Lieberman because this was one of his cornerstone promises. Now I really feel cheated," she told Ynet.

    Victoria says she can not understand why a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen is barred from marrying in a country that declares itself democratic. "Having a family is the most basic of rights. I am part of a couple and I want to actualize that in my country, to celebrate it with my family. Now it looks like I'll have to go to Cyprus or Prague to get married, and my family won't be there at my side. It's just so sad."

    Victoria said her disappointment is so great due to Lieberman's performance in the elections. "When I heard how many mandates he got, I had a lot of expectations. I thought he could use the momentum to realize his positions. A lot of people voted for him because of this issue and he just let us down. If I could take back my vote I would do it," she said.

    Another Lieberman voter, 41-year-old Yulia Faziuk, also said she voted Yisrael Beitenu because she is opposed to religious coercion, but she is not disappointed.

    "There are a lot of more important problems to deal with right now, like security and the economy. If Lieberman is willing to compromise on this issue, I understand him," she said.

    "In politics you have to be flexible. Life isn't black and white, you have to compromise."

    Marina Georgiv, 44, said she still trusted Lieberman to champion civil marriage: "I don't believe he changed his agenda in 24 hours and I'm sure he'll uphold his word and change the law. These changes don't happen in a day, and this issue has been debated since the country was founded."

    Irit Rosenblum, founder of the 'New Family' organization, called on Lieberman not to compromise. "We're talking about hundreds of thousands of people who live in the State of Israel and who cannot wed, not to mention hundreds of thousands of others who would prefer alternate ways to marry. We know it's hard, we know what the resistance (to civil marriage) is like, but for someone to unload the responsibility so fast – that we haven't seen yet," Rosenblum said."

  4. So called "New Family - Mishpacha Chadasha" organization in Israel, advocates and lobbies for civil marriage and homosexual rights and much more. Its website offers help in seven languages: Hebrew; English, German; Arabic; Russian; Spanish & French. Poses a dangerous threat to the Status Quo agreement in Israel that ensures Orthodox standards in Conversions and Marriages.

    This organization seems so well-funded and organized that it must surely have major support from wealthy American secular and Conservative & Reform-oriented philanthropic groups and individulas who wish to see the entire established political and cultural order in the state of Israel upended and overturned in a manner that will crush and remove any shred of Orthodox and Halachic influence in the affairs of Israel and its Jewish citizens such as advocating civil marriages and other outright anti-Torah and anti-Halachic stance, see shocking examples in their own words below.

    Here is a first look at part of their website and mission statements, more to follow:

    From the English language New Family website, the organization offers, among other services:

    "Legal Advice and Assistance

    Who turns to New Family?

    New Family gives legal advice and assistance to all kinds of families and couples: To married couples, common law couples, couples that had a civil wedding, couples in their second or third marriage, husbands and wives of different religions, to Israelis that are not Jewish and to foreign workers, to New Immigrants, same-sex couples and single-parent families.

    What topics do we deal with?

    - Marriage contracts, financial agreements, common life agreements, shared parenthood agreements

    - Civil marriage ceremonies

    - Couples of different religions or nationalities

    - Divorce, alimony, wills, inheritance

    - Children, surrogacy, adoption, single-parent families

    - Registration of personal status in the Interior Ministry

    - Biological wills

    - Fertility treatments

    Civil Marriages

    – Assistance and advice on all matters of civil marriage and its legal ramifications; financial agreements; assistance in the event of separation and divorce; registering in the Interior Ministry and the Population Registry; custody matters etc.

    Married couples

    – Assistance and advice for couples married in the Rabbinate that nevertheless want to set financial agreements, pre-nuptials, common life agreements or agreements about the children’s future etc.

    Common Law Couples

    – Advice and assistance on all kinds of agreements; financial agreements, couples agreements, common life agreements; confirmation through court or a notary; agreements about children, the status of the children, custody of the children; registration of the children’s family name; advice on mortgage rights, rights to pension, insurance, inheritance etc.

    Remarried Couples

    – Advice and assistance for couples in their second (or more) partnership or marriage that want to arrange financial or common life agreements; advice on social and pension rights, children and the partner’s children, life insurances, wills, inheritance rights, future assets etc.

    Mixed Marriages

    – Advice on marriage and divorce; financial agreements; registration in the Interior Ministry; paternity questions and registration of paternity; custody matters, alimony, guardianship, adoption of the partner’s children; registration of the children and receiving of residency rights, citizenship and social benefits etc.

    Foreign Workers

    – Arranging of residency status for foreign workers with an Israeli spouse and for veteran foreign workers; marriage and divorce matters; couple agreements; custody matters, registration of children, paternity claims, adoption, guardianship etc.

    New Immigrants

    – Marriage and divorce matters; advice on rights that arise because of marriage to a Jew or a relative of a Jew; clarification of Jewishness; child-related matters, children’s education etc.

    Same-Sex Couples

    – Advice and assistance on all matters concerning the institutionalization of the relationship; couple agreements and confirmation through courts or through a notary; marriage registration; separation; adoption, surrogacy, guardianship etc.

    Non-Jewish Partners

    – Arranging of status in Israel; couple agreements; child related matters and children’s registration; guardianship, adoption and surrogacy; economic, legal and social rights; family unifications etc.

    Single-Parent Families

    – Advice and assistance on legal, social and economic rights; advice and assistance on fertility treatments and legal implications; guardianship; information about adoption etc.

    Family Violence Victims

    – Legal advice concerning violence between family members

    New Family’s expert lawyers give advice on all family matters. We give advice to families or individuals without regard to nationality, ethnicity, sex or sexual orientation.

    Opening Hours:
    Sunday to Thursday, 9:00 until 17:00
    In our office at Nahmani St. 34, Tel Aviv
    Tel. 03 - 5660504
    Fax 03 - 5600720

    Precedent-setting Rulings and Appeals

    - Consular Marriages: In an appeal to the Supreme Court the Foreign Minister was requested to allow foreign consulates to hold civil marriages on their premises. The case ended in September 2007 in a settlement with the state, in which only those citizens that are not Jewish are entitled to use this arrangement.

    - Precedent-setting ruling by Judge Natan Nahmani of the Ramat Gan family court regarding a petition that was submitted with the assistance of New Family. Two parents that gave an apartment as a gift to their mentally disabled daughter requested the return of this apartment. The parents claimed that they gave her a different apartment in exchange. The court decided that this was a legitimate exchange and confirmed that the gift should be returned to the parents. Ruling given on 28.10.2007.

    - Historical breakthrough and achievement for New Family regarding a woman who did not receive a Get (Jewish divorce) from her husband but wanted to raise a new family and have a child anyway. The court allowed her to receive fertilization treatment with the sperm of a non-Jewish donor in order to prevent the children from being ‘bastards’. (According to Jewish religious law, the children of a married woman and a Jewish man that is not her husband are considered ‘bastards’.)

    - Appeal to the Supreme Court regarding requirements for international adoption which limit the age of the adopting parents in contrast to the requirements for adoption in Israel.

    - Appeal to the Supreme Court to abolish the requirement of confirmation of Jewishness on the part of New Immigrants that arrived after 1990 and declared to be Jewish.

    - Appeal to the Supreme Court regarding a single woman unable to bear children who requests to use the services of a surrogate mother. To date, the law only entitles a couple of a man and a woman to surrogate services.

    - Appeal to the Supreme Court regarding couples that the Rabbinate refused to marry on the grounds that one of the partners might not be Jewish (most of these cases involve New Immigrants)

    - Same-sex couples: Several requests were submitted to the Ramat Gan family court to approve couple agreements for couples of two women or two men. Most of the agreements have been approved long ago.

    - The Supreme Court equalized the status of women in common law relationships and civil marriages to that of women married according to religious law with regard to alimony. In addition, the Supreme Courte decided that men in common law relationships or civil marriages can also claim alimony from their spouses."

  5. Who is Irit Rosenblum founder of the "New Family Organization" that is alarmed about and is speaking up against Avigdor Lieberman and Yisrael Beiteinu's willingess to place civil marriage in Israel on the back burner at this critical time in Israel?

    Well, it seems she is notable enough to have someone from her organization to have placed a near-promotional biography about her on the English Wikipedia, and she is one lady, a tough, brainy and financially savvy lawyer! No wonder she has built up a very successful organization and has no fear confronting the Israeli system and getting press coverage for it. But against Avigdor Lieberman, and the rabbis of Shas and UTJ she has tougher opponents! It won't stop her though, so this struglle is far from over. As of 21 February 2009, this is what the Wikipedia article claims:

    "Irit Rosenblum

    Irit Rosenblum (b. 1958) is an Israeli advocate and human rights leader and the founder and executive director of the New Family Organization. Irit Rosenblum broke new ground defending a universal right to family as intrinsic to the practice of civil and human rights law. Over the course of her career, she has stood out as an innovative leader fighting for equality and social justice. The former Legal Advisor and Director of the Department of the Status of Women at WIZO Israel, she has worked on issues such as violence in the family, single-parent families, the status of women, and the plight of women denied divorce by their husbands. She led the campaign which led to legislation requiring the rapid sentencing of offenders accused of violence against family members. Rosenblum served on the Local Council of Shoham as the first female deputy mayor in Israel and held the education portfolio. She is a member of the Israeli Bar Association, and was formally a presiding judge in the police disciplinary court.

    Recognizing the need for an organization dedicated to promoting family rights that would provide families discriminated against on the basis of status with information, legal tools, and a voice with policy makers, Rosenblum founded the New Family Organization in 1998 to fill an important gap in the practice of Israeli law: to attain the right of every individual to establish a family and to exercise equal rights within it.

    Among the family rights championed by Rosenblum, her work for reproductive freedom is the most prominent illustration of legal innovation. With the belief that reproductive freedom is a basic human right that should be universally protected, Rosenblum achieved significant precedents for reproductive rights for those discriminated against by their status.

    Rosenblum is a prolific contributor of opinion pieces to the Israeli media and the author of 14 manuals on human rights in the sphere of family. Her achievements have been recognized by Israeli business journal Globes, which chose her as one of the three most influential social entrepreneurs in 2007, the Israeli business journal, The Marker, which chose her as one of Israel’s 40 most influential women in 2007, and Lady Globes, a women’s business journal, which chose her as one of 50 most influential women in 2008.

    In two decades of legal innovation, Rosenblum has worked towards transforming Israeli society from a place in which only conventional families enjoyed full recognition and protection of law to a place where all can exercise their basic human right to family."

  6. Irit Rosenblum is at the cutting edge of challenging and upending all of traditional Jewish society's historical, cultural, social and religious pillars in Israel. Example: "'In place where state endangers people's lives'...New Family has renewed its efforts to pass a law, drafted by Rosenblum, named the Biological Will Law, that will establish a sperm bank for IDF soldiers, from the first day they are enlisted until they reach age 45, in which they can freeze their sperm."

    See two past news reports below as examples: "Soldiers want to freeze sperm before entering Lebanon (, 08.08.06)" and "IDF SOLDIER'S DREAM TO COME TRUE, AFTER DEATH (, January 18, 2007)"

    She has touted the rights of Israeli soldiers to freeze their sperm in case they are killed in battle. Reproductive issues, donating sperm, storing it and freezing it, and subsequent artificial insemination is a twilight zone for Halacha that has challenged the greatest Halachic minds of modern times and there is no consensus especially since doubts of paternity and mamzerus (illegitimacy) may potentially easily arise.

    RaP's Questions for Irit as you read the articles:

    Shalom Irit Hayekara:

    Why only IDF soldiers?

    Why not allow, better yet FORCE, every male citizen to freeze their sperm in case they get blown up by a suicide bomber or get run over by a crazy Israeli driver?

    Freeze sperm at what age?

    Why not freeze all male Israeli's sperm at earliest puberty, make it a compulsory high school program perhaps, a new kind of bar-mitza haba'a beaveira ceremony right of passage in your new civil type of Israelihood?

    How about freezing the sperm of every male in Israel because, hey, you never know when death will strike, and maybe people, especially secular Israelis, haven't gotten around to getting married until they are about 40 or 50 and by then they may be impotent or sterile or suffering from ED or dead from too much travel to New York or California or India or Tibet or Thailand or maybe getting kidnapped and beheaded while backpacking in a South American jungle or crash in a small plane that was flying around Africa on a diamond hunt, or maybe if all those Israeli gays you fight for get HIV or come down with AIDS and die they will need healthy frozen sperm from when they were younger to impregnate someone that may miss them (not a man of course)?

    Habibi the possibilities of combinations of personal life situations and circumstances of fate are infinite when you literally start playing God!

    Oh, and of course, it would be totally unfair not to lobby to allow every Israeli woman to have a couple of her eggs removed from her ovaries and stored someplace safe (hopefully not too close to the sperm banks) because she may unexpectedly die young in a car bomb explosion or shot or axed or stoned by an Israeli Arab that would be part of a new civil society or strangled by a crazy Israeli Mafia hit-man and her family may want to keep her memorialized though the eggs in her ovaries, and many secular Israeli women remain single or practice birth control to the point of sterility and old age or live with men they hate and one day they may meet the right person whom they are sure should get their eggs in some romantic petrie dish, because this kind of biological and genetic chaos is what happens when science and biology take the place of old fashioned traditional moral and Jewish guidance and plain old fear of God

    As reported in in 08.08.06:

    "Soldiers want to freeze sperm before entering Lebanon

    'I want to freeze sperm in case of disaster,' write soldiers to organization New Family, which advocates establishment of sperm bank for soldiers. Director of organization: 'In place where state endangers people's lives, no right to prevent him from creating offspring'

    David Regev
    Published: 08.08.06, 14:22 / Israel News

    Since the start of the fighting in the north, about 30 soldiers, most of them in the reserves, have turned to the organization New Family in a bid to freeze their sperm so that their partners or families will be able to create for themselves heirs.

    "I have been living with my girlfriend for four years. I received an emergency call-up for service in Lebanon and I'm afraid something will happen to me. I want to freeze sperm in case of a disaster," wrote a reservist to the organization recently.

    [Photo: Soldiers want to insure ability to have children (Illustration photo: IDF Spokesperson Unit)]

    More significantly, New Family aims to pass a law, initiated by the organization's director Attorney Irit Rosenblum, that will allow combat soldiers to freeze their sperm. Since the beginning of the war, Rosenblum has received a large number of calls by interested soldiers.

    R., a reservist in his 30s who was lightly wounded in one of the battles, writes to New Family: "I am sitting in the hospital recovering from my wound. I am fortunate I was only lightly wounded, but it could have been much worse. I would like to know how you can help me with the issue of freezing my sperm. Next time I may not have the same luck."

    G., a combat soldier doing his compulsory service in the Givati brigade, wrote in an email to New Family: "I have been married for half a year. Soon, after training, I will go to the front line with my friends and I am interested in freezing my sperm in case something happens to me."

    Creating an heir

    Attorney Irit Rosenblum says that she has received varied responses. "There has been interest from couples that are interested in having a child together, but there have also been incidents in which soldiers who don't have partners want to freeze their sperm to be passed on later to whomever may be interested. They want to have an heir, and mainly that their parents can have a grandchild," says Rosenblum. According to her, "Not everyone is afraid of dying. There are also those who fear they will suffer an injury that will make them infertile and want to freeze their sperm while their still healthy."

    New Family has renewed its efforts to pass a law, drafted by Rosenblum, named the Biological Will Law, that will establish a sperm bank for IDF soldiers, from the first day they are enlisted until they reach age 45, in which they can freeze their sperm. "From this point there are two tracks: one, in which a soldier is, heaven forbid, injured in battle, his partner can be inseminated with his sperm, and a second, in which the soldier's sperm will be transferred by request of his parents to a woman who never knew and never will know the soldier, but who knows his identity, to create an heir for him," explains Rosenblum.

    The second track presents a problem. Israel currently has a sperm bank from which women in Israel can become parents, but the identity of the sperm donor remains anonymous. To overcome this problem, the new law would set that a woman who has a child with someone else cannot be inseminated with the sperm of a dead soldier, and that in the case of insemination, the woman's family situation must first be checked by a social worker.

    "In a place where the state endangers people's lives, it does not have the right to prevent him from creating offspring," says Rosenblum."

    And see this story on, January 18, 2007


    Posted: Thursday, January 18, 2007 10:15 AM
    Filed Under: Tel Aviv, Israel
    By Paul Goldman, NBC News Producer

    In August 2002, 19-year-old Sergeant Kevin Cohen was guarding an Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip. At 7 a.m. he was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper. It was that bullet that killed Kevin and his dream, which he had related to his mother, Rachel Cohen, of one day fathering a child.

    But this week, four years after his death, a dramatic ruling by an Israeli court means Kevin Cohen’s dream may very well come true.

    A ‘biological will’

    After her son’s death, Cohen approached a non-profit organization called "New Family" which is dedicated to advancing family rights.

    The organization is trying to convince people to write a "biological will," which in case of death would allow doctors to extract sperm from their bodies," explained Irit Rosenblum, the founder of "New Family" and Cohen’s lawyer.

    It was a mother's instinct that led Cohen to request doctors to freeze her dead son’s sperm. Cohen said she had a dream one year after her son died.

    "He appeared in my dream and asked me, mom what’s with my child? Please hurry," said Cohen. "I woke up with a big sweat and decided to go ahead, all the way."

    Then came the legal battle, which was fought around the ruling permitting only the wife of a deceased man to extract his sperm and to become impregnated by it. The new ruling now recognizes the parent’s right over a dead child’s sperm.

    [Photo: Irit Rosenblum, left, founder of the Israeli non-profit organization “New Family,” and her client Rachel Cohen.]

    Battle won

    Cohen’s cell phone rang with the good news just as she was laying flowers on her son's grave. "I was too nervous and frustrated with the court battle, I decided the best place to be was near Kevin’s grave," said Cohen.

    Rosenblum called with the news that her dream of becoming a grandmother was going to come true. "The decision gave me great happiness but still the pain is so huge, I turned to the grave and told the good news to Kevin," said Cohen.

    "The ruling represents a light at the end of the tunnel both for a family mourning the loss of a child, and also for a single woman wanting to bring a new life into this world," said Rosenblum.

    An unusual appeal

    During the course of the legal battle Cohen sent out an emotional appeal to the Israeli public for help. It was a strange request: Would a woman come forward and give birth to Cohen’s dead son's child?

    The process of finding a mother for Kevin Cohen’s child took more than two years. Two hundred women were interviewed, medical tests were conducted, meetings with psychologists took place and finally one was chosen. "She won my heart right away," said Cohen.

    The 35-year-old woman preferred not to be identified, but Cohen said, "There are a lot of women out there that really want to know the father’s identity, his background, to be able to tell the child who was his father."

    Now Cohen is waiting for another phone call, for more good news, that maybe nine months from now she will become a grandmother. At last she will be able to look at her son’s picture and tell him he has a child."

  7. Netanyahu unable to force Kadima and Labor to join him (they hate him, can't he see that?) Avigdor Lieberman reiterates that civil marriage is not a top priority now (his wife is a Baalas Teshuva!) Yishai of Shas talks of halachic solutions to problems (and gets away with it). Road is clear for UTJ to get on board. Friendship and cooperation expressed (more kippot worn than ever by those in top posts) in opening talks as everyone knows the situation is dire and dangerous. HILLARY CLINTON IS ON HER WAY. The birth of a Likud-led government with Yisrael Beiteinu and the Haredi and Religious Zionist parties seems only a few short formalities away. This will be VERY TOUGH FOR OBAMA and the EUROPEANS (Avigdor Lieberman wants to be the Foreign Minister). Clear signs of Rachamei Shomayim!


    Coalition talks launched in Ramat Gan

    Netanyahu's representative Gideon Sa'ar says Likud sees eye-to-eye on majority of issues with Yisrael Beiteinu. Lieberman's representative says national unity government would be best thing for Israel. Shas chariman notes Jewish law coulc help solve disputed issues

    Attila Somfalvi
    Latest Update: 02.25.09, 14:22 / Israel News

    The negotiations for a Likud-led coalition were officially launched Wednesday afternoon in meetings between Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's representatives and members of the right-wing parties.

    "We are only beginning the talks today, and we hope Netanyahu's conversations with (Labor Chairman) Ehud Barak and (Kadima Chairwoman) Tzipi Livni will create fellowship," said Knesset Member Gideon Sa'ar, who has not given up on the idea of a national unity government.

    First to arrive at the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel in Ramat Gan were representatives of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party.

    According to Sa'ar, who is a member of the Likud's negotiating team, "In the vast majority of matters we see eye-to-eye with Yisrael Beiteinu."

    He added that "the State needs a government to be established as soon as possible."

    MK Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beiteinu) said at the start of the meeting, "We are happy to sit with our natural partners. We said we wanted unity. These are difficult times for Israel and a stable government is needed. A partnership between the Likud, Kadima and Yisrael Beiteinu could be the best thing for the State."

    [Photo: Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu negotiating teams (Photo: Yaron Brener) {RaP: with kippot worn by a few men on both sides of the table, and neither is representing a religious party!}]

    In the meeting, which lasted more than an hour, the sides did not reach any far-reaching agreements and did not discuss the division of portfolios. Miseznikov said that the meeting was "pleasant" and that the parties did not reach any agreements on the civil marriage and government system issues.

    "Progress was made on the Loyalty Law issue," he said, "and we'll continue discussing the matter." He added that the Likud representatives told him they had not signed any agreements with Shas.

    'Like meeting with friends'

    The haredi party's representatives were next to enter the negotiating room. Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said at the start of the meeting that he felt like he was "meeting with friends".

    "We want to build a real partnership, which will deal with the problems on the agenda in different matters. The deep recession is a primary issue which has to be dealt with."

    According to Yishai, "We’ll negotiate out of a real desire to form a government. There are halachic ways to deal with the disputed issues." He expressed his hopes that the negotiations would be completed as soon as possible because "every day is a waste".

    Sa'ar said at the end of the meeting, "I hope we can cooperate in friendship and mutual respect as we view many issues similarly. We feel like we have met with friends."

    On Tuesday evening, Netanyahu announced the appointment of a team of negotiators for the coalition talks as he attempts to form a new government. The team includes MK Ze'ev Elkin, Professor Ya'akov Ne'eman, former MK Eliezer (Modi) Zandberg and political consultant Nathan Eshel.

    In addition, Netanyahu has also appointed a '100 days' team, headed by MK Yuval Steinitz, whose job is to prepare the government's plan of action for its first days.

    Netanyahu held meetings earlier this week with Livni and Barak, and has said he urges them to join a broad coalition under his leadership. The two have so far rejected Netanyahu's offer.

    One of the main problems facing the prime minister-designate is the clash between Yisrael Beiteinu and the haredi factions on matters of state and religion. Ynet has learned that Lieberman told his associates that the civil marriage issue –the main bone of contention with the Shas party – was only his third top priority and that he would agree to a solution."

  8. From

    Right-wing parties gear up for coalition talks

    Both ultra-Orthodox parties expected to focus demands on child welfare, religious education, leave ministerial demands for later

    Attila Somfalvi
    Published: 02.25.09, 01:15 / Israel News

    The ultra-Orthodox parties, with whom Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu will need to contend during the upcoming weeks of coalition negotiations, have announced they intend to pose considerable demands before agreeing to join any government under the Likud chairman.

    Sources from Shas – who will send lawyer David Glass and former National Insurance Institute Director-General Yohanan Shtesman to the negotiations - told Ynet Tuesday that their party hopes to receive four ministerial posts, the same number as they held in the last Knesset.

    Their ministries of choice are the Interior Ministry, the Constructions and Housing Ministry, the Ministry for Religious Affairs, and a ministerial post for ultra-Orthodox education within the Education Ministry.

    That having been said, party representatives said that Shtesman and Glass would not bring up the cabinet position requests at the meeting but rather focus on general demands, foremost among them significantly increased child welfare stipends.

    Likewise, representatives from United Torah Judaism, who will send all five Knesset members to the meeting, said their party also does not intend to bring up ministerial demands at the meeting. Rather, they too will try to come to a general understanding of principles.

    According to UTJ sources, the party will demand a solution to the housing problem in the ultra-Orthodox sector, a matter of particular concern for young couples, and request child support stipends for lower-income families. Additionally, they will ask for involvement of some sort in the issue of ultra-Orthodox education and stress their political position that Jerusalem must not be divided.

    When asked about their desired posts, UTJ representatives said the party hoped to receive the chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee, a deputy position in the Prime Minister's Office dealing with land administration, deputy housing minister and deputy education minister.

    Likud: Gaps can be bridged

    Senior Likud officials said that, in their estimation, parties would receive about one ministerial post per Knesset member, with Likud members receiving an above average number of posts. The party has not yet begun discussions on the allocation of specific posts, they said.

    "We have to get a government together first, within the first 28 days. The economic situation necessitates the government be established very quickly," said MK Gideon Sa'ar, head of the Likud's coalition negotiation team.

    "Alongside the talks, we'll be meeting with (Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi) Livni and (Labor Chairman Ehud) Barak. At this point, they have not agreed to set up negotiation teams," he told Ynet. The Likud will only be meeting with right-wing groups at first, although Netanyahu has already offered Livni and Barak a broad coalition that would likely be far more centrist in nature. Both have so far rejected the offer.

    Sa'ar said he believes it's possible to sort out the differences between the different parties.

    "Already during this first week since elections, we've spoke with five right-wing factions and focused on bridging the gaps on religious and governmental-political issues. I believe we can bridge these gaps," he said.

    Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman has already taken a step towards relieving the tensions with religious groups by announcing that his party's demands to separate issues of religion and state – foremost among them the issue of civil marriage – would be moved to the bottom of the group's list of priorities.

    Ronen Medzini contributed to this report"

  9. Negotiations to formalize a Netanyahu-led Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu-Shas-UTJ-Religious Zionist make progress as Kadima and Labor dance around but show no real willingness to be part of such a government. UTJ negotiators put on the table the problems posed by civil marriage and conversions, issues of poverty, housing, education and the religious-secular status quo.


    "UTJ: Problems in coalition talks with Likud

    Likud, United Torah Judaism reps meet to discuss potential coalition partnership. 'This isn't easy ,' says UTJ head

    Attila Somfalvi
    Published: 02.25.09, 19:29 / Israel News

    [Photo: Tough. Litzman and Sa'ar {shaking hands} (R) Photo: Yaron Brener]

    "Those are not easy negotiations," said United Torah Judaism Chairman Yakov Litzman Wednesday, after his party embarked on coalition talks with Likud.

    "We're facing many problems," Litzman said, add that his party would have to consult its spiritual leaders on matter such as "the problems posed by civil marriage and conversions… there are things we simply cannot accept."

    The UTJ representatives also discussed issues of poverty, housing, education and the religious-secular status quo in their meeting with the Likud team, headed by Knesset Member Gideon Sa'ar.

    Earlier Wednesday, it was Yisrael Beiteinu's turn to meet with Sa'ar and his team. MK Stas Misezhnikov, who heads the right-wing party's negotiations team, told Ynet that while the meeting went well, there was no progress made on matters concerning civil marriage or the desired change in Israel's system of government, but "we did note progress on the Citizenship Act."

    'Everyone will have to compromise'

    The Likud's negotiation team's meeting with Shas ended with no real results either: "We have complex issues to discuss," said Shas Chairman Eli Yishai. "There is the economy and the recession, we have social problems to deal with and the 'assimilation covenant'… We have wide gaps to bridge over. I hope the negotiations are swift."

    Sa'ar described his meetings with the three parties as positive:" The talks went very well and focused on the issues and not the potential offices," he said. "We dealt with things in a serious manner, but I've never encountered negotiations that didn’t see any difference of opinion."

    Nevertheless, he added, "There was genuine interest to bridge gaps. Everyone wants to form a stable coalition and that is not an easy thing to do. You can't put a coalition together in two days. We will share our demands with the (coalition) partners in later days… we want to see the budget approved and we have some reforms in mind.

    "We made it clear that we want unity," said Sa'ar, "Everyone will have to compromise to an extant and everyone knows it."

  10. Seems everyone want to get a word in edgewise. Israeli feminist groups appeal to Netanyahu (did they vote for him?) to restrict power of religious courts, ask that women join committees picking rabbinic judges. While UTJ cites Status Quo, Shas states the clearest answer: All matters of religion and state will be determined solely in accordance with Halacha.

    From Vos Iz

    "Israel - Women's Groups Ask Netanyahu to Limit Power of Country's Rabbinical Courts

    Published on: February 25th, 2009 at 05:57 PM
    News Source: Jpost

    Israel - The directors of two religious women's organizations sent a letter to Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu today, ahead of the coalition talks with Shas and United Torah Judaism, asking him to restrict the jurisdiction of rabbinical courts to divorce cases only.

    Attorney Batya Kahana-Dror, director of Mavoi Satum (Dead End), and attorney Ricki Shapira, director of Kolech (Your Voice), sent copies of the letter to Netanyahu, the heads of the Knesset factions, the coalition negotiators and every member of the new Knesset.

    Kahana-Dror and Shapira wrote that expanding the rabbinical courts' authority as part of the negotiations to forge the next government would harm the status of women and increase the number of agunot - "chained women" - whose husbands refuse to grant them a divorce.

    The two NGO heads also appealed to Netanyahu to appoint women to the committee responsible for choosing rabbinical judges.

    "Some of the injustices suffered by women are a result of the rabbinical judges - their point of view, character and quality," they wrote. "Appointing women to the committee would increase the likelihood that responsible judges are chosen."

    They asked that Netanyahu not surrender to Shas and UTJ's demand to expand the rabbinical courts' authority "in exchange for [the haredi parties] agreeing to Yisrael Beiteinu's bill for civil unions [between people who are not recognized as Jews]."

    The end result, they said, "would turn most of the public, who are interested in marrying in accordance with Jewish law, into hostages of the rabbinical courts system."

    When asked why women should not be appointed to the committee that selects rabbinical judges, UTJ chairman Ya'acov Litzman said: "Because we need to maintain what has been customary and acceptable for many years, and not change anything."

    Shas had this to say: "All matters of religion and state will be determined solely in accordance with Halacha. Anyone who asks that politics be introduced into matters of Halacha is better off saying it publicly and not covering himself in an inappropriate cloak".

  11. RaP - Who makareved Lieberman's wife???

    Kol Hakavod!! If she can makarev him, it could save the Jewish people.

    Meanwhile, is he able to live with his wife, given his feelings toward religious people???

    Hopefully he does not mistake her for an Arab with her tichel and kill her or something.

  12. "Jersey Girl said...RaP - Who makareved Lieberman's wife???"

    RaP: All I can reoport is what I heard verbatim from a reliable source last week, an Israeli talmid chochem whom I know very well and who has his ear to the ground and seems to have his own near-mossad level of information (an example, on the day the news came out, in Israel itself, that Israel had bombed a site in Syria, he had already heard that it was a nuclear reactor that only came out a while later, and a few other examples.) This source told me that she was a baalas teshuva and that while he personally is not frum he is sympathetic to frum Jews, in spite of what you hear about him. I trust my source and I assume that he is being truthful. As for who actually mekarved her I have no clue, that is really getting into details, but since you ask I will ask my source when I see him in shull next time.

    "Kol Hakavod!! If she can makarev him, it could save the Jewish people."

    RaP: Maybe she is already doing her magic and he ratcheted down Yisrael Beteinu's demands for civil marriage among the Russians. By the way, not every last Orthodox rov thinks that it's a bad idea for the Russians, the real problem is that regular Jewish Israelis will use it and dump all rabbis. So it's a no-no as policy for now with all Haredi parties that's for sure.

    "Meanwhile, is he able to live with his wife, given his feelings toward religious people???"

    RaP: Why not? Love conquers all! My source told me she forbids him to bring any outside food into the house and if he insists she forces him to eat on paper plates. And he gets the benefit that she will be God-fearing and loyal to him, better than a wife that resembles Tzipi Livni a shrew with no moral base who is clueless about Yiddishkeit don't you think?

    "Hopefully he does not mistake her for an Arab with her tichel and kill her or something."

    RaP: He is a lot smarter than that. He is connected to the entire Russian mob they say so don't mess with this man. He is Putin's buddy too they say. All macho boys from Russia ya know. I think his wife is from Moldova where the women are less spoiled and they have many virtues. Right now he is having more fun knocking over Israelis, men and women with kova tembels and seems quite happy to go into a narrow coalition headed by his old boss Netanyahu, and with the Haredi rabbis from Shas and UTJ. He knows how to deal with them because he ran Netanyahu's first government when he served as head of the election campaign and then as the chief honcho to Prime Minster Netanyahu's office, and he is about to reprise that role, probably as Foriegn Minister -- so forget Arab women, I feel VERY SORRY for Hillary Rodham Clinton and Michelle Obama when they get into the same room as that feisty boychik from Russia when they will get the shock of their lives that there are still Jewish men with lots of testosterone running at them at full speed!

    24 Adar 5769 ● March 20 2009
    Page 62
    From Here……And There

    Avigdor Leiberman Meets Rav Chaim Kanievsky

    On Wednesday night, 16 Adar/March 12, MK and Yisroel Beiteinu head Avigdor Leiberman visited Rav Chaim Kaninevsky at Rav Chaim’s home in Bnei Brak. Leiberman was accompanied by MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni who set up the meeting, as well as Yisroel Beiteinu Knessset member Uzi landau. Rav Chaim blessed Leiberman with success and commented that with regard to coalition agreements and the knotty issues that have to be worked through by the parties, he feels that the agreements being made with Gafni are acceptable to him.”


    Based on this latest key and critical news report just in from the latest English language Yated, here is another response back to Jersey Girl who asked and said:

    "RaP - Who makareved Lieberman's wife???"

    RaP: About two weeks ago I caught up with my source, who is an American based Israeli businessman with strong ties to Lubavitch (we meet in a non-Lubavitch shull), and I asked him your question as I promised I would. He said he did not know, so I am still trying to find that out, but he obviously had access to the news above now reported by the Yated and he knew about it before the Yated reported it (in fact I did not fully believe him and I did not mention it anywhere, until now that the Yated has broken the news), but he had already told me that not only did Lieberman have a successful meeting with Rav Kanievsky but that Lieberman also asked Rav Kanievsky for a brocha for two of his daughters specifically who seem to be of marriagable age.

    "Kol Hakavod!! If she can makarev him, it could save the Jewish people."

    RaP: My source tells me that Lieberman is personally very positive about Yiddishkeit and that he even speaks fluent Yiddish.

    "Meanwhile, is he able to live with his wife,"

    RaP: Obviously yes, they have children together, enough that he cares to get brochas for their future success in life and personal welfare from a sage like Rav Kanievsky.

    "given his feelings toward religious people???"

    RaP: He has good personal feelings about religious people and as you can see from the latest brief report from the Yated he is getting along just dandy with the UTJ rabbis in the Knesset who he will soon be partnering with in a new government together with Shas and the two other small Religious Zionist parties. (By now we know that Livni and her Kadima party will never sit with Netanyahu and it looks almost certain that the same will apply to Barak who does not have the needed support from his Labor party to be in Netanyahu's coalition.)

    "Hopefully he does not mistake her for an Arab with her tichel and kill her or something."

    RaP: By now the foolishness of this comment should be evident. Lieberman is going to be the next Foreign Minister of Israel, and he will know how to deal with Arabs, Europeans and Americans, you name it, they will come to respect his tough but reliable positions, and he has now received the official blessings of no less than Rav Kanievsky for his success. No small milestine in Russian-Haredi relations, and consider that now Rav Eliashiv, with the consent of Rav Shteinman and the Rebbe of Gur have agreed to permit civil marraige for the Russians who are not registered as Jews in Israel, one can see an entirely new united front arising in Israel to deal with the huge internal and external problems and challenges that face the Jews of Israel at this time.


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