Israel News for March 8, 2016

Terror Foiled
A female Palestinian in her 50’s attacked Border Police officers with a knife in Jerusalem’s Old City today. She was shot and fatally wounded. None of the officers were hurt.

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Netanyahu and Obama
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, US President Obama wants to make a significant move which he believes would put the Israeli-Palestinian peace process on a more promising track before he leaves office.

One option would be to propose and support a United Nations Security Council resolution to serve as a blueprint for Israeli-Palestinian talks. In the past the US has vetoed these types of resolutions. Another option would be making a major speech defining his vision for a two-state solution.

According to the WSJ report, one possible scenario would be that “the US would push Israel to halt construction of settlements in the Palestinian territories and recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state… Palestinians would in turn be asked to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and end claims on a right of return for Palestinian refugees.” That scenario would entail establishing two states based on the 1949 armistice lines, with land swaps to reflect population changes since then.

Sounds very similar to proposals that the Palestinians have rejected in the past. Would they accept them now? Not likely.

Meanwhile, PM Netanyahu has declined an invitation to meet with Obama in Washington, which he previously had accepted, and cancelled his upcoming trip to Washington. Netanyahu will also not be speaking at the AIPAC convention later this month. The PM claims that he cancelled his trip to avoid getting embroiled in the heated US election campaign. He may also be placing his bets on the hope that the next US President, Republican or Democrat, will be more favorable to Israel. He’ll just have to stall a bit longer.

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Israeli Wages
According to a report by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the average Israeli wage at the close of 2015 was 2.3% higher than it was at the end of 2014.

Among the highest salaries earners in 2015 were employees of banks and financial companies with an average monthly salary of NIS 17,225. Employees of government companies earned an average monthly salary of NIS 17,225. The average monthly salary of hospital workers including doctors and nurses was NIS 15,611. The average salary of government employees was NIS 13,245, while the average salary of local authority employees was NIS 8,236.

Now for the big bucks. The average monthly hi-tech salary was NIS 23,640, which was primarily earned by developers and programmers.

The average monthly industrial wage also rose by 2.3%, to NIS 13,442. There is a big shortage of skilled workers, which is driving up wages in the sector. Workers in the electronic control devices sector averaged NIS 22,913, per month while workers in the mining and quarrying sector made NIS 22,851. Workers in the consumer and telecommunications electronics sector averaged NIS 21,335 per month.

Not so bad after all.

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Ancient Discoveries
Archeologists of the Israel Antiquities Authority excavating at the City of David in the Jerusalem Walls National Park have discovered two 2,500 year old seals inscribed with Hebrew names in ancient Hebrew lettering. One of the seals was inscribed with the name of a woman, Elihana bat Gael and the other of a man, Sa‘aryahu ben Shabenyahu.

According to the archeologists, “Finding seals that bear names from the time of the First Temple is hardly a commonplace occurrence, and finding a seal that belonged to a woman is an even rarer phenomenon.” The seals used in the First Temple period were usually attached to rings and used for signing documents.

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Getting Married
There are only two ways for Jews in Israel to be legally and officially registered as married. The first is by registering and marrying through the official Rabbinate of the city or district where the marriage will take place. The alternative is to marry outside of Israel and then register the marriage with the government. While civil marriages conducted abroad are not recognized by the Rabbinate, they are recognized for taxation or other legal issues by the government. There is no way to get married in a civil or non-Orthodox ceremony in Israel — if you want it to be recognized as legal.

In order to register for marriage via the official Rabbinate, couples must prove that they are single and Jewish. For the overwhelming majority of Israeli born Jews, this is not an issue. However, for Jews born outside of Israel or for converts, this can become a frustrating and difficult process, particularly if the correct paperwork cannot be obtained or if the overseas rabbi providing the documentation is not recognized by the Rabbinate. In addition, in order to be registered by the Rabbinate, all couples must attend several premarital classes taught by Rabbinate approved instructors, which many secular couples view either as an imposition (at best) or as straight out religious coercion.

But there apparently is a much easier alternative to the Rabbinate. Jewish Israeli couples, from secular to more traditional, are flocking to the three officially recognized rabbinical courts of the ultra-Orthodox Edah Haredit to register for marriage.

Despite the ongoing controversy around the formation of alternate rabbinical courts and services by National Religious rabbis (like Tzohar) who feel that the official Rabbinate is far too stringent in certain areas of Jewish law (like conversion), the utra-Orthodox Edah Haredit has always maintained a separate rabbinical court system that is recognized by the State and the Chief Rabbinate.

It turns out that the ultra-Orthodox courts are much more easygoing than the official Rabbinate when it comes to registering couples for marriage. Why this is so isn’t really clear, but couples aren’t asking. They’re going, registering and marrying, hassle free.

Who would have thought?

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