January 17, 2008
Briefs: More Ethiopians allowed to make aliyah, Jerusalem stage for Anglican ‘schism’
Israel may allow 1,400 additional Ethiopian Falash Mura to immigrate to Israel. In a court hearing Sunday, a panel of three Israeli High Court judges recommended that Israel bring 1,400 or so more Ethiopians to comply with a 2004 government decision to bring some 17,188 Ethiopian immigrants. But the court stopped short of explicitly issuing an order, and it also refused to hear a petition that sought to force Israel's Interior Ministry to screen an additional 8,500 Falash Mura for their eligibility to make aliyah.
Israel's government decided in February 2003 to enable the aliyah of thousands more Falash Mura, Ethiopians who claims links to Jewish ancestors who converted to Christianity more than a century ago due to social and economic pressures. The government clarified that decision in 2004, specifying 17,188 immigrants.
At Sunday's hearing, the state told the court it had finished processing the potential immigrants from 2003, including children born since then. State attorney Yochi Gnessin told the court that 15,775 Falash Mura from the original list either already were in Israel or would be coming soon. Justice Ayala Procaccia asked Gnessin to have the state allow another 1,413 not on the original list to immigrate, if they meet the state's requirements, to "improve the morale" of the Ethiopian community. That addition would bring the total number of Falash Mura immigrants up to the number specified in 2004.
Olmert Courts Lieberman Over Walkout Threat
Ehud Olmert tried to talk a key partner in Israel's coalition government out of quitting over negotiations with the Palestinians. The Israeli prime minister met Tuesday with Avigdor Lieberman, who has threatened to take his right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party out of the government since Jerusalem began talks with the Palestinian Authority on "core" peacemaking issues such as the future status of the capital. Should Lieberman bolt, as many political analysts expect, it would not immediately topple the government since Olmert's coalition would still command 67 of the Knesset's 120 seats.
But a walkout by Yisrael Beiteinu might precipitate similar action by Shas, another right-wing party. That would potentially force Olmert to look to left-wing replacements at a time when he needs to persuade Israeli hawks that he is tough enough to deal with Palestinian security threats.
Jerusalem Stage for Anglican 'Schism'
Conservative clerics from the Anglican Church plan to hold a breakaway summit in Jerusalem. Traditionalist clergy said this week they would use the Global Anglican Future Conference, which is scheduled to take place in Israel's capital in June, to highlight their opposition to a lenient stand on homosexuality professed by some of their coreligionists.
The apparent schism runs roughly along cultural and geographical lines, with more hard-line Anglicans hailing from Africa, Latin America and Asia while more liberal church members tend to be in North America and Britain. Nominally linked to the Church of England, Anglicanism has 77 million followers worldwide.
The future conference will likely set the tone for July's Lambeth Conference in Britain, a gathering every 10 years of Anglican leaders.
JDate Parent for Sale
The parent company of the Jewish online dating Web site JDate.com is up for sale. JDate owner Sparks Networks, which owns online personal Web sites aimed at religious and other special interest groups, is in talks with several major media companies, The New York Times reported last week.
Sparks Networks could sell for as much as $185 million, analysts speculated for the Times. The company has a market value of $131.4 million. Reuters reported that about half of the Sparks Networks revenue for the first nine months of 2007 came from its Jewish Networks division, which rose 5 percent during that period.
JDate is considered the model for online dating sites.
Orthodox Institute to Ordain Women
The Shalom Hartman Institute will begin ordaining Orthodox women as rabbis. It is the first Orthodox institution to do so. The Jerusalem-based institute, which runs Orthodox middle and high schools for boys, will begin accepting women and men of all denominations this fall for a four-year course leading to ordination, according to the Jerusalem Post. The candidates will receive ordination, or smicha, from the streams to which they belong.
Rabbi Donniel Hartman, co-director of the institute and son of founder Rabbi David Hartman, downplayed the significance of this revolutionary step. He told the Post that the institute was not trying to make a political statement, but was responding to a need for "master educators" in North American Jewish high schools.
Unlike other rabbinic programs, which focus on text study and halacha, or Jewish law, the Hartman program will focus on teaching skills and theory.
The title "rabbi" naturally falls to one who is a learned teacher, institute officials say. Hartman told the Post that the institute has accepted men and women of all denominations since its inception.
"Hartman has been multi-denominational for the last 12 years," David Hartman said. "We make no distinctions between men and women here. Our latest decision is a natural evolution of our existing policy." The first Reform woman rabbi was ordained in 1972, the first Reconstructionist in 1977 and the Conservative movement ordained its first woman in 1983.
Wiesenthal Center: Lebanese Blocking Our Ad
The Simon Wiesenthal Center says the Lebanese government is blocking newspapers from running one of its advertisements. According to the Los Angeles-based Jewish organization, the Lebanese government has apparently blocked the Beirut-based Daily Star from running the ad, which calls for the United Nations General Assembly to convene a special session on suicide terror.
Several other Arab newspapers did not respond to requests to run the ad, which was timed to coincide with President Bush's visit to Israel. It did appear in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post.
"We are deeply disappointed that these important newspapers would block our solidarity campaign to put suicide bombing on top of the international community's agenda, particularly when the ad highlights the tragic murder of a prominent Muslim woman," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center. "Such censorship certainly calls into question the Arab World's claim that it is a strategic partner in the fight against terror."
The ad featured a photo of the late slain Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, along with the headline: "What More Will it Take for the World to Act."
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.