Israelis read a lot, more than most nations, and this week it’s “Shavua Hasefer,” the national book week where tables and displays are put out in every town, village and city square across the country for an entire week, attracting massive numbers of Jewish bookworms waiting to dive into the latest yarn.
On the tables across the country we can find a new Messianic publication in Hebrew which translates, “Animals Do Their Thing.” Written and published by the Messianic Jewish publishing house Hachotam, located on a kibbutz in the south of the country, this is the first time a Messianic publication has broken into the mainstream of the Israeli Hebrew language book world.
With a deal to create an egalitarian space at the Western Wall stalled in the face of ultra-Orthodox pressure, pluralistic Jewish leaders have called for a mass prayer service to be held Thursday adjacent to the Orthodox-run prayer plaza, in contravention of the usual practice at the site.
Reform and Conservative leaders “will gather in the large plaza behind the mehitza [separation]-divided prayer area,” at 5 p.m., according to a blog post by rabbis Pamela Frydman and Stanley Davids published on The Times of Israel.
Christian schools in Israel that say they face financial collapse over the state’s failure to make good on a funding pledge could be saved by the intervention of Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, The Times of Israel has learned.
The network of 47 schools, which are almost all Catholic and cater to some 33,000 mostly Muslim children, took strike action at the start of the current school year last September over budget cuts that officials said amounted to hundreds of millions of shekels. And now the massive grant promised by the Education Ministry in order to end the strike is three months overdue.
A growing number of young Arabic-speaking Christians are volunteering to serve in the Israeli army. Some even want their service to be mandatory, as it is for Jews. But there are some elements in Arab Christian society that remain hostile to this phenomenon.
That was the experience of a young Arabic-speaking Christian who spoke to Israel’s Mako news portal. Identified only as “Y” for his own safety, the young man recounted how his family and friends urged him not to join the IDF, and how his insistence on doing so earned him death threats and a physical beating.
Jerusalem’s Sephardic chief rabbi on Tuesday conducted an Orthodox prayer service at the mixed-gender plaza at the Western Wall, a site newly designated for Reform and Conservative worship. Accompanied by police and some two dozen worshipers, Rabbi Shomo Amar had a makeshift barrier to separate men and women erected before presiding over prayers at the site.
The new egalitarian pavilion at the Western Wall has pitted the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel and the United States against Israel’s Orthodox-controlled Chief Rabbinate, which administers the holy site. The Conservative Movement in Israel was outraged by the “provocative” visit Tuesday, and called it an act of “deliberate sabotage” for Jewish relations.
The Knesset Ethics Committee on Tuesday upheld an eight-month ban preventing lawmakers from visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, but said it would back a police decision to scale back the restrictions next month. The committee said it had been briefed by police on the situation at the holy site, and voted “in the meantime, not to change its earlier decision.”
“However, when security officials decide to permit entry to Knesset members to the Temple Mount, the committee will convene and change its decision accordingly,” it said. Police have proposed that Muslim lawmakers should be allowed to renew their visits to the site in the last week of Ramadan — corresponding with the first week of July — with Jewish lawmakers being allowed to renew their visits the following week.