Israel News for July 7, 2016

Terror Attack
Yesterday afternoon, a Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into an IDF vehicle on Rt. 60 in Gush Etzion, causing it to overturn. Three soldiers were lightly wounded and the terrorist was taken to hospital in serious condition. Rout 60 is the same highway where Rabbi Miki Mark and his family were attacked on Friday. Security forces are on alert throughout the highway.

PM Responds to US
In a press conference in Rwanda, where he is visiting as part of his African diplomatic tour, PM Netanyahu responded to the US State Department condemnation of Israel’s decision to approve the construction of 800 new housing units in East Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim.

The PM said, “we recognize that American position, it isn’t new to us, and it is not acceptable to us. The construction in Jerusalem and in Ma’ale Adumim is not what is preventing peace. What is preventing peace is the constant incitement against Israel’s right to exist within any borders. And the time has come for the nations of the world to recognize this simple truth.”

For further reading click here.

Abbas Rejects Quartet
Palestinian President Abbas called on the UN Security Council to reject the report recently issued by the Middle East Quartet, which called on Israel to cease settlement construction and on the Palestinians to halt violence and incitement. He was apparently disappointed that the report didn’t blame the failure of the peace process on the settlements and that it didn’t call for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders.

Surprisingly, the report was actually pretty even handed, listing Israeli settlements as only one of ten issues relating to the ongoing conflict. That was probably due to US pressure. The Quartet is comprised of the US, Russia, EU and UN.

Mohammad Shtayyeh, a top Palestinian official, reacted to the report saying, “The Quartet has lost its credibility” and has become “totally useless when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Maybe now the Palestinians will actually have to work directly with Israel to make peace?

For further reading click here.

Rabbinic Court Deliberate
The Supreme Rabbinical Court of the Chief Rabbinate is in the midst of deliberating whether to overturn or accept the ruling of a Petah Tikva rabbinical court that rejected the validity of the conversion of a woman who was converted by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, a prominent US Modern Orthodox rabbinic leader.

What is the issue?
The case revolves around the question of whether or not Rabbi Lookstein is on a Chief Rabbinate list of approved rabbis. The Petah Tikva court claims that it checked with Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, the head of the state conversion system, who said that Lookstein was not on the list. But the Chief Rabbis themselves have said that he is on the list. So why not just check the “list”? Apparently, there isn’t one central list that can be accessed by everyone.

In my own experience, when I went to the Rabbinate offices in Tel Aviv to register for marriage, I presented the rabbinic registrar with a copy of my parents’ Ketubah (religious marriage document), which was signed by the officiating rabbi, a prominent Modern Orthodox rabbi from Lakewood (before Lakewood was “Lakewood”). The registrar, a distinguish looking rabbi with a grey beard, examined the document and then took out a small, old, worn black book filled with names. It was “the list”, or at least “a list” of approved rabbis in the US. Luckily, the rabbi who married my parents was on the list. Relief.

Unfortunately, the process doesn’t always go as smoothly for immigrants who try to register for marriage with the Israeli rabbinate, especially if they come from non Orthodox homes and don’t have the required documentation to present. One of the documents you need to present is a letter from an Orthodox rabbi attesting that you are Jewish. Of course, the rabbi has to be on “the list”. What if you don’t have an Orthodox rabbi, because you aren’t Orthodox? You got trouble.

I know one female Olah from Germany, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, who presented a letter from her Orthodox rabbi in Germany when she registered for marriage. Unfortunately, the rabbi was not in good standing with the Chief Rabbinate, for matters relating to some kosher supervision dispute. So they refused to register her. The fact that she has blonde hair and doesn’t have a particularly “Jewish look” probably didn’t help her case. She ended up registering in another town, run by a more “enlightened” Chief Rabbi.

So the case of the Lookstein convert should be a simple matter of breaking out the official list and checking for his name, which according to the Chief Rabbis should be there. But it’s obviously not simple. That situation needs to be changed. Just put the “official” list online for all to see, and fight about.

Strange Karma
On February 14th, a bus traveling from Jerusalem to Beni Brak on Route 1 collided with a truck. Six passengers were killed and numerous others were injured including Sarah Sperling, who was supposed to be married several weeks later. The wedding was postponed until the bride could recover, which still has not happened.

Last night, Sperling’s fiancé, Yaakov Kestelnitz, was hit by a bus on a busy street and suffered a head injury. He was treated at the scene and is in moderate condition.

So it looks like the wedding will be postponed for a bit longer. Go figure.

Wishing them both a full and speedy recovery.

For further reading click here.