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Friday, 31 August 2007

Intro - trip to Israel

Dear Members,

For the short version – this week we have one article on cremation in
Israel and one on an Israeli inspired youth village in Rwanda. We also
have a longer than normal introduction which you can read below…

It's been a while since I've written an introduction to our weekly e-mail.
The greatest perk when you are a teacher are the summer holidays and
I've tried to make good use of mine including a trip to Israel.
One discussion I had with many people out in Israel is how do we present
Israel to our members? At Pro Zion we are looking at ways to engage our
members and communities with Israel and with the vibrant Progressive
movement in Israel. But we are also a political movement supporting
Progressive Judaism in the not so glamorous world of Jewish and Zionist
politics. We also try and inform people of the political issues going on
in Israel with regard to the Progressive movement and pluralism in
Israel such as conversions, education and civil marriage. These
political headlines do not always make for pretty reading and this
week's first article on cremation in Israel is another example of this.
We cannot ignore these issues but at a time when many congregants in our
communities do not have strong ties with Israel we cannot just present
the negative issues if we want to encourage engagement with Israel. A
few years ago just after the election of Ariel Sharon I told a member of
my synagogue he should go and visit Israel – "Why should I go and visit
a country who have just elected a war criminal" was his reply. There is
a danger that by publishing the regular legal and political battles our
Israeli friends are fighting we will alienate UK progressive Jews who
feel that Israel isn't a place where they can feel at home. I hope
during the year at Pro-Zion we will be able to bring some more positive
stories about life in Israel and of the vibrant Progressive communities

On my trip to Israel I managed to fit in a few engagements with our
friends out there. The first was on a Shabbat visit to the Or-Hadash
synagogue ( during my first real
visit to Haifa. After a very musical service in a stunning building the
charismatic Rabbi Edgar Nof took all the visitors down to their bomb
shelter in the basement. Those of you who have been on our mailing list
for a while will have read the stories we sent out last summer about the
communities in the North during the Lebanon war but hearing the stories
first hand was another experience and one I cannot really do justice to
here. Bomb shelters in Israel are normally drab concrete rooms with
large blue metal doors. The bomb shelter at Or Hadash was nothing of the
sort, it was clean, floored and bright with beautifully painted wall
illustrations. It was refurbished through much hard work from the Rabbi
and locals last summer along with donations from the diaspora. Last
summer it became a refuge during the war for children whose families
couldn't afford to take them out of the city, packed and busy from dawn
until dusk – running this in a dark concrete room wasn't an option. As
far as social action is concerned that was very much the tip of the
iceberg and the work the community and Rabbi do providing services to
their city (such as Bar-Mitzvahs for children with terminal illnesses
and learning disabilities) show how important the progressive
communities in Israel are. Some other visitors asked how many members
the synagogue has – the Rabbi explained that you couldn't measure a
synagogue in Israel by membership but by activity and the activity in Or
Hadash is immense. 200 participants in Friday night services, 200 bar
mitzvahs a year, a few hundred conversions, a large kindergarten and a
range of cultural and educational programmes. I can't do all the stories
justice so if you are in Haifa I would strongly recommend a visit to
this community to find out for yourself – they are only too pleased to
receive visitors, not surprising when you hear they have over 20 sister
congregations across the world!

In between sightseeing, seeing friends and a friend's wedding I managed
to make a visit to Mercaz Shimshon which hosts the offices for Arzenu,
Netzer and the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. I first met with
Dalya Levy the Director of Arzenu who filled me in on some of the news
from the World Zionist Organisation, the JNF and Jewish Agency. We also
discussed what Pro Zion was up to and I hope we may be seeing Dalya in
England sometime next year.
Dalya then arranged for me to meet Iri Kassel, the Director of the
Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. We talked about ways that we
could share the successes and positive work of the IMPJ with Pro Zion's
membership. As a start he invited any groups or congregations who go to
Israel to visit the IMPJ. They have a brand new visitors centre with a
fantastic promo video and posters which so far has only been shown to
groups of Americans.
As I said at the start, here in the UK, we don't tend to hear about the
fantastic work the movement in Israel does bringing people closer to
Judaism, helping those in need and providing fantastic educational and
social opportunities to a wide range of Israelis. I do hope Pro Zion can
increase our links with the movement in Israel so we can keep you
informed about all of the successes as well as all of the struggles.

Shabbat Shalom
Daniel Needlestone and all at Pro Zion

Israeli-inspired youth village for Rwandan orphans takes shape

Israeli-inspired youth village for Rwandan orphans takes shape
By Stephanie L. Freid August 26, 2007
In 2005 Anne Heyman sent an e-mail message from her Manhattan office to
Israel's director of the Yemin Orde Youth Village. "You don't know me,"
the message began "but I hope you might be able to help me in my mission."

Said mission was to build a youth village in Rwanda for children
orphaned during the late '90s genocide and model it after the Yemin Orde
Youth orphanage in Haifa, Israel.

Yemin Orde director Haim Peeri was forthcoming. He met with Heyman,
offered advice and presented a model she could emulate. A mere two years
later, Heyman almost had to pinch herself as she stood alongside
international dignitaries, Rwandan orphans and Yemin Orde delegates at
the groundbreaking ceremony for Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village last week
in Rubono, Rwanda.

"Oh my God, this is really going to happen. It is real," Heyman
recounted to ISRAEL21c. "I know we still have lots of planning and lots
of work to do to get where we need to be, but this village is real. We
are building it. And we really started today."

The project idea was sparked during a dinner conversation in New York
between Heyman, a New York businesswomen and philanthropist, and Paul
Rusesabagina, the subject of the film Hotel Rwanda.

"I asked Paul what the biggest problem in Rwanda is and he told me that
in a country where there are 1.2 million orphans out of a population of
8 million, there is no future for that country," said Heyman.

His words motivated her action and soon after the Rwanda Agahozo-Shalom
Village began taking shape. The village will provide a comprehensive
response to youth displacement by establishing a multi-faceted youth
village based on the concept of the village as home. Children are
fostered by a holistic, protective environment to help them overcome
trauma and abandonment issues.

Agahozo-Shalom is being modeled after Yemin Orde because as a
28-year-old institute, the Israeli village has a reputation for the work
it carried out with children who have been orphaned, displaced or

A large percentage of Yemin Orde's children are of Ethiopian origin
largely due to trauma and displacement following Israel's covert 1980s
and 1991 airlifts out of Ethiopia. During the lifts, some children were
orphaned and others faced cultural hardships upon arrival to Israel.

Today, Ethiopian graduates of Yemin Orde are among Israel's leaders and
motivators. The Agahozo-Shalom Village initiative has incorporated Yemin
Orde architectural, educational and philosophical standards and has
involved creating joint Rwandan-Israeli-Ethiopian teams that work side
by side creating standards for the Rwandan village.

Teams have shuttled back and forth between Rwanda and Israel for more
than a year attending meetings and lectures and gleaning information on
everything from channeling extra-curricular interests to fostering
cultural practices to troubleshooting problem areas.

Rwanda's team spent long hours on Yemin Orde's campus to gain
information about the philosophies, functions and daily routines of
Yemin Orde staff roles and to visually note layouts for modeling
learning annexes, living quarters, the dining room and recreation spaces
in the Rwanda village.

At last week's groundbreaking ceremony, the delegations met again as the
Ethiopian-Israeli team hoisted the village flag alongside their Rwandan
peers. Rwanda's Eastern District governor introduced Ethiopian-Israeli
Advisory Team Director Yisasschar Mekonen by noting that Mekonen had
grown up at Yemin Orde and he wanted "the Rwandese children to grow up
to be as tall and handsome and elegant as Yisasschar."

Yemin Orde graduate Ethiopian-Israeli Racheli Ugado has been responsible
for providing the Agahozo-Shalom Village philosophy. "I'm here to help
my brothers in Africa so that they can help themselves," she said during
a recent delegation collaboration in Israel. "It makes me feel good to
help the place I came from. I'm very connected to it. I feel like it's
my country too."

Among notables attending last week's ceremony were Israel's Ambassador
to Rwanda Yaakov Amitai, and senior Rwandan government officials.

Education Minister Mujawamariya's speech on "Restoring the Rhythm of
Life" to Rwanda's children a decade after the genocide included her
incorporation of the Hebrew catchphrase "tikun olam" - i.e. helping to
make the world a better place - interspersed with KinyaRwandan.

The village and school is expected to be operational by 2009, a dream
into action Heyman says couldn't have happened without help from endless
sources including the American Joint Distribution Council and Yemin Orde.

"As a private citizen I think this is a testament to the ability of each
and every one of us to make a significant difference in the world,"
concluded Heyman. "If you have a good idea and believe in it strongly
enough, there are others out there who will be only too glad to help you
make it happen."

Crematorium burned down after Haredi paper reveals exact location

Crematorium burned down after Haredi paper reveals exact location
By Roni Singer-Heruti and Anshel Pfeffer

The Alei Shalechet crematorium, located on Moshav Hibat Tzion in the
Sharon region, sustained major damage last night in a fire that police
and firefighters believe was caused by arson.

Since its establishment two years ago, the crematorium has faced strong
opposition, especially from ultra-Orthodox groups who are opposed to

A call came in at about 8:30 P.M. to the Netanya fire department about a
large brush fire on the moshav. "On the way to the scene, we were told
to hurry because there were large gas canisters nearby," firefighter
Naftali Rokah told Haaretz yesterday,

Evidence of possible arson at the scene included signs of forced entry
and tracks leading into the site. Firefighters extinguished the blaze
within about an hour.

Crematorium CEO: We knew haredi terror would get us by Meital Zur,
Alei Shalechet CEO Alon Nativ: "Many prominent Jewish figures chose to
be cremated after their death, including Albert Einstein, Milton
Friedman and Arthur Rubinstein," he said. "Personally, I believe it is
wrong to worship a stone, and I don't want my children to worship one.
In praise of cremation by Yoram Kaniuk,
I want Aley Shalechet to cremate me. An elegant, inexpensive death. I
think it's my natural right as a human being to be cremated.
Sweet sorrow by Limor Gal, Haaretz
Civil burial, which became possible thanks to the struggle of the
Menucha Nechona (Rest in Peace) association, opened a variety of
possibilities for the ceremony, including professional moderators and
even singalongs.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Intro 23/08/07

Dear Members,

Please find attached two articles for your interest this week. The
first piece is about a proposed new Conversion Authority that will
attempt to improve the Orthodox conversion process. This has come about
in the wake of a committee working on a solution to the conversion
problems facing approximately 300,000 immigrants from the Former Soviet
Union. Whilst this new committee will address the Orthodox conversion
process it will not deal with the issue of Conservative or Reform

The second article is an opinion piece written by Dan Ben-David an
Economist at Tel Aviv University. He argues that there are three
different alternatives fighting against each other to define for now and
the future what it means to be Jewish in Israel.

We hope hope you find these articles of interest, please share any
comments you may have.

Shabbat Shalom,

Charlie Gluckman and all at Pro zion

Who is a Jew?

Who is a Jew?
By Dan Ben-David
The question of "who is a Jew?" has been debated since Israel attained
statehood. It is a fundamental question for matters of citizenship and
marriage here. But as with many other issues, the emphasis is not always
on the primary essence of the question: We deal with matters of
quantity, rather than quality. Even if we manage to solve the issue of
quantity, and we find a way to integrate hundreds of thousands of olim
who are not Jewish according to halacha - and Jews abroad find a way to
slow the rate of assimilation in their communities - we will still be
left with the issue of quality.

What will be the nature of the State of Israel in another generation or
two? Democracy is a necessary but insufficient condition. There are
currently three main alternatives struggling to define the nature of
Judaism here. Should no changes be forthcoming, each one will bring
about the end of Israel as the home of the Jewish people.

The first alternative is the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi). Is this the flag
that could or should unite us? On the one hand, it could be argued that
their uncompromising traditions may be the only glue that can prevent
widespread assimilation, as seen in Diaspora communities. On the other
hand, this population has produced no significant uprising against its
rampant shirking of the draft in a country facing clear and present
existential threats. It also has produced no large-scale, organized
dissension against a leadership that prevents its grade-school students
from receiving a core curriculum necessary to survive and thrive in a
modern economy and society. Is this the enlightened Judaism that
continues the path of Maimonides, who was one of our greatest rabbis -
and also a physician?
The second alternative, that of the Orthodox Jews who serve in the army
and work for a living, could have been the bridge between the modern
world and traditional Judaism. These are observant Jews who excel in
furthering Israel's society and economy. But where is the massive group
organizing to save this population from a leadership with selective
democratic principles when it comes to settling the whole of the Land of
Israel, a leadership with no compunctions against encouraging its
soldiers to rebel against orders not to its liking - even at the cost of
fostering a behavioral cancer in the army that could rapidly spread to
other parts of society that object to various policies of the elected
The third alternative trying to define Israel's Jewish character is that
of the secular Jews. This is the Israeli version of the modern secular
world. However, what added value does secular Judaism offer future
generations, so that they will choose to remain in the Jewish state, and
risk their lives and those of their children to preserve this nation?
What kind of thread could bind sabras, who are strangers to synagogues,
with their brothers abroad - be they Orthodox, Conservative or Reform -
who are unfamiliar with a Judaism unconnected to the temple?

These three alternatives in their current forms - individually and as a
group - represent a dead end for the Jewish state. If this country does
not learn to separate between religion and politics - which corrupts
religion - we will find it extremely difficult to create another
alternative, where pluralism, defining the future character of Judaism,
could flourish.

The author teaches economics in the Department of Public Policy at Tel
Aviv University.

Ministry wants to head conversion body

Ministry wants to head conversion body

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to close the Conversion Authority
operating within his office and to replace it with a new one to oversee
all of the country's conversion institutions, according to Immigrant
Absorption Ministry officials.
The final report of a panel set up by the ministry to improve the
Orthodox conversion process in Israel has recommended the establishment
of a new Conversion Authority.
The committee, which has been working on a solution to the conversion
problems facing the approximately 300,000 immigrants from the former
Soviet Union who arrived under the Law of Return but are not considered
Jewish according to Halacha, will present its recommendations to Olmert
on Monday.
The committee's aim is to increase the number of conversions among
immigrants from the FSU. To do this, it hopes to bring under its control
the special conversion courts that currently act in conjunction with the
Orthodox rabbinical establishment.
Currently, those in the Jewish sector not recognized as Jews cannot
marry in Israel. Rather, they must go abroad for a civil ceremony. Also,
they represent a threat to Jewish continuity, since a child born to a
non-Jewish woman is not Jewish according to Halacha. Every year,
approximately 3,000 children are born to this segment of the population.
Currently, there are 6,000 people undergoing conversion in Israel, but
only an estimated 2,000 will complete the process.
A Conversion Authority already exists under the jurisdiction of the
Prime Minister's Office. Set up in 2004, it is responsible for
appointing rabbinic judges to special conversion courts and for issuing
conversion certificates.
But it has lost the backing and trust of the Absorption Ministry, Chief
Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar and many immigrants. Rabbi Eliahu Maimon, the
authority's administrative head, has come under heavy criticism, blamed
for the decline in conversions and for not opening the authority up for
According to Absorption Ministry officials, should Olmert adopt the
committee's proposals - and the feeling inside the ministry is that the
prime minister will "take it with both hands" - a new conversion
authority will replace the present one, and will have expanded powers.
The new authority would centralize all the conversion activity presently
carried out by the Absorption and Education ministries, the IDF, the
Jewish Agency and several private conversion institutes. It is unclear
whether Maimon would head the proposed authority.
The committee, chaired by Absorption Ministry Director-General Erez
Halfon and made up of representatives from the Prime Minister's Office,
the conversion courts, the Education Ministry, the Jewish Agency and the
IDF, will present Olmert with a proposal to scrap Maimon's existing
operation and create a single Conversion Authority, complete with its
own budget, staff, and senior management, in an effort to remove "the
hardships and barriers currently in place in the conversion process,"
the Absorption Ministry said.
"We're talking about a real revolution," Halfon said. "The removal of
bureaucratic obstacles currently hampering the conversion process will
significantly increase the number of people converting every year. Our
proposals are designed to focus the conversion system on the needs of
those undergoing the process. They have already chosen to be a part of
the Israeli people, now it is our turn to allow them to close the circle."
It is unclear under whose jurisdiction the proposed authority would be
located, with Absorption Ministry officials vying for the new body to be
placed under their auspices, much like the Road Safety Authority is
under the jurisdiction of the Transportation Ministry.
"Conversion is a national strategic mission that is vitally important
for the future demographic nature of the State of Israel, and the state
has to provide solutions to help [converts] fully enter into the Israeli
nation," Immigrant Absorption Minister Ya'acov Edri (Kadima) said.
Some observers believe that if the new authority is placed under the
authority of the Prime Minister's Office, it might be hamstrung by
political considerations and pressure from the haredi parties. These
parties - Shas and United Torah Judaism - represent the Orthodox
monopoly on conversions in a country that has no separation between
religion and state. Furthermore, Olmert could have difficulties removing
Maimon from his position due to pressure from the Histadrut Labor
Federation, which organizes employees of the religious services unit in
the Prime Minister's Office.
Rabbi Seth Farber, director of ITIM: The Jewish Information Center,
which helps people navigate Israel's religious affairs bureaucracy,
criticized the proposal to set up a new authority.
"There is a certain absurdity in the situation that, in order to get rid
of one person [Maimon], you open up a new conversion authority," he told
The Jerusalem Post Sunday. "The Absorption Ministry has made Maimon, who
is only partly to blame for the low number of converts, into a scapegoat
for the entire system. Maimon has certainly not allowed sufficient
checks and balances to exist in the Conversion Authority, and he
protects his judges. I have had at least one judge tell me personally
that he will not, on principle, pass more than 50 percent of the people
brought before him, for no logical reason. And these are the people
Maimon protects, but there are larger problems of oversight and a lack
of checks and balances within the rabbinic establishment."
Other recommendations Halfon's committee has made include: The
employment of 10 new dayanim (religious court judges), which could serve
to increase the pace of conversion cases; the establishment of
conversion centers throughout the country, manned by volunteers and
under the supervision of the new authority; the significant shortening
of the conversion process and the removal of bureaucratic obstacles; the
establishment of a special committee of religious judges, under Amar's
auspices, to examine the halachic issues making conversion less
palatable to the immigrants; the establishment of an interministerial
committee under the prime minister to advance the issue of conversions
in Israel; giving money to organizations and schools preparing converts;
creating a more pleasant atmosphere in the conversion courts; and trying
to stem the tide of potential converts who drop out of the process.
While the makeup of the 10 proposed judges is still up for discussion,
there has been talk of appointing more "lenient" dayanim to offset what
is considered, by both those wanting to convert and by the Absorption
Ministry, too harsh of a conversion system.
According to Halfon, Israel's conversion system is currently operating
in a "disjointed and confusing" manner, which repels those wanting to
The ministry has identified the following as main problem areas causing
a dearth in those wishing to convert, and hardships for those already
inside the process: There are too many institutions dealing with
conversion and no central body coordinating their work and setting
policy, and there is no central database regarding those undergoing the
process, adding to the confusion in dealing with different conversion
bodies and government institutions.
Between 30% and 50% of those attempting to convert abandon the process,
and many others never make it to the conversion court. Those who do
manage to complete the process are often made to wait for long periods
before they receive their conversion certificates.
Very few immigrants from the FSU are trying to convert, due to the
perceived difficulties of the process and the fear that conversion is
meant to change their lifestyles.
Many Russian immigrants are particularly upset about certain conversion
court rabbis who follow up on recent converts to check if they are
observing the mandates of Orthodoxy. According to a survey conducted by
the Absorption Ministry, 70% of new immigrants who are not halachicly
Jewish believe that the current conversion process is designed to make
them "more religious," and not to turn them into Jews according to Halacha.
Farber, of ITIM, welcomed the proposals for greater diversity among
conversion court judges, and called for more judicial review within the
Conversion Authority.
The new authority, if established, will not deal with the issue of
Conservative and Reform conversions performed either in Israel or abroad.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Update - 16/08/07

Dear members,

Please find attached two articles for your interest this week. The
first is an article about the new and abridged Contract for Just and
Fair Marriage from the Centre for Women's Justice. The new contract
works to bring peace of mind for Women entering into marriage. The
second article reports on the Israel Religious Action Centre's newly
published proposal on Immigration Policy.

Please also find attached a poster from the ZF about a special
conference: 'Israel at 60'. This conference proves to be a very
interesting event, with insightful speakers from the Israeli media and
polictical scene, including Ishmael Khaldi, Israel's first Bedouin diplomat.

As always, we enjoy hearing from you, so be in touch.

Shabbat Shalom,

Charlie Gluckman and all at Pro Zion

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Marriage contract brings hope to women

Marriage contract brings hope to women
Dear bride-to-be, afraid you might remain an aguna or victim of a
get-refusal? Sign the prenuptial 'Contract for Just and Fair Marriage'
Rivkah Lubitch
Published: 08.08.07, 12:06 / Israel Jewish Scene

Last week, a young student who came to talk to me about marriage and
divorce issues left my office smiling and happy. "Now, I am calm," she
said at the door. "I am going to sign up for marriage at the rabbinate."
Only one hour before, she told me, quite embarrassed, "I am about to get
married in two months, but I have not even opened a file at the
rabbinate. I am writing a paper for university that made me despondent.
I am not sure I want to marry at the rabbinate."
I managed to ease her mind when I showed her the new and abridged
Contract for Just and Fair Marriage of the Center for Women's Justice,
which is made up of two parts. The first part is designed to ameliorate
the problem of get refusal; and the second part is meant to prevent the
problem of aginut (when a husband has abandoned his wife or is
incapacitated and unable to give her a get).
The contract is actually a condensed version of two different prenuptial
agreements that were put together on a single paper: that of the late
Prof Rozen-Zvi regarding get-refusal, and the main points of the
Tripartate Agreement written by US Rabbi Broyde that would thwart aginut
(for purposes of clarification: Rabbi Broyde did not approve of our
condensed version).
This new contract is user-friendly and has only four clauses, the first
three of which are quite similar to other prenuptial agreements on the
market. The first clause maintains that each party may demand the
distribution of marital property prior to the delivery of the get; the
second clause states that the party that refuses to give or accept the
get will pay increased spousal support to the requesting party; the
third clause in the agreement explicitly says that all disputed
divorce-related issues shall be addressed by a family court. There's a
place under these clauses where the bride and groom are supposed to sign
in the presence of a notary or marriage registrar. These clauses are
valid under Israeli law , and they could be enforced by a family court
and the execution office, if, God forbid, the couple should come to that.
It is the fourth clause that is new and daring. In it, the couple
declares that: their marriage will hold for as long as they do not
separate for more than 18 consecutive months;that they agree to nullify
their marriage should they actually separate; and that the groom may
assign an agent to deliver the get.
These three points have been raised individually in Jewish sources at
various times as ways to solve the problem of agunot, but each solution
was rejected by our rabbis for a variety of reasons. The innovation of
the Contract for Just and Fair Marriage is that it combines the three
points together. This clause should be signed by the newlyweds before
two persons who would be valid witnesses under Jewish law .
The good news is that this last clause could resolve all the problems of
aginut and get-refusal put together because, from now on, the wife could
ask for and receive a get without citing any cause of action, against
the husband's will, and even in his absence. The bad news is that the
rabbinic judges do not as of yet accept this proposal as a legitimate
We, on the other hand, are optimistic and believe that the good news is
better than the bad news is bad. We are certain that if more and more
people indeed sign the Contract for a Just and Fair Marriage, its
proposed solutions will slowly sink into the consciousness of those
rabbis who conduct marriages and divorces, and they will eventually
accept it. The first couple (both lawyers) signed the agreement a few
weeks ago, a second couple signed last week, and interest in it is
rising daily.
So, mazal tov to all the newlyweds, and do not forget to sign the
Contract for Just and Fair Marriage.
Rivkah Lubitch is a rabbinical court pleader at the Center for Women's
Justice, tel: 02-566-4390

Reform Immigration Policy

Reform Immigration Policy

Yesterday, for example, the Israel Religious Action Center, which is
actually the Reform movement's lobby in Israel, published a proposal for
immigration policy. The most interesting item in the proposal is the
suggestion to examine the possibility of not granting immediate
citizenship to new immigrants, but rather only residency. Citizenship
will be granted to immigrants only after they prove their settlement in
Israel and a certain command of Hebrew. The document entitled "Israel's
Immigration Policy," composed by attorney Nicole Maor, states that such
an approach will reduce the discrimination created by the Law of Return,
and will make the abuse of that law more difficult.

The most prevalent proposal for amending the Law of Return is the
cancelation of the "grandchild clause" - such that the right to
immigrate to Israel will be granted to the children of Jews, but not to
their grandchildren. The Israel Religious Action Center objects to any
restriction to the right of return, including the cancelation of the
grandchild clause, which could harm members of Reform communities
abroad. Still, even the center's staff knows that the proposal enjoys
broad support among politicians. The Reform representatives are
therefore demanding that if the grandchild clause is canceled, a Jewish
affiliation clause should be added. Such an addition would grant the
right of return to "those recognized as Jewish by a Jewish community
recognized in Israel or the Diaspora, or someone who has a proven
affinity to such a community."

Maor's report sums up 15 years of defending the rights of "victims" of
the Population Administration. She explains that the report concludes
that the system dealing with citizenship does not function properly, and
that without a revolution, Israel will continue to violate the basic
civil rights of both Jewish and non-Jewish immigrants. The report
recommends making many amendments to the legislation, but Maor says the
main priority is to increase the number of workers of, and the funding
allocated to, the Population Administration. "Otherwise," says Maor,
"everything will remain suspended in mid-air."

Maor says she feels it is not by accident that additional workers have
not been allocated to the administration so it can cope with the wave of
immigrants. According to her, this seems to be Israel's way of blocking
the gates to immigration with bureaucratic hurdles.

Other proposals included in the Israel Religious Action Center's booklet
on Israel's immigration policy:

b The right of children of those eligible under the Law of Return (the
great-grandchildren of Jews) to receive citizenship should be anchored
in the law;

b Foreign workers who have made a special contribution to the state
should be allowed to remain in Israel for up to 10 years, not up to five
years, as is the current practice. After this period they should be
granted permanent residency. Today the only way for a foreign worker to
receive citizenship or residency in Israel is if he/she is sharing
his/her life with an Israeli partner;

b The authority to cancel citizenship - currently in the hands of the
interior minister - should be transferred to the court. A statute of
limitations of seven years should be set for the offense of obtaining
citizenship fraudulently. After that period, it will be impossible to
annul citizenship, even if it was obtained fraudulently

Update 08/08/07

Dear Members,

This week we have another interesting array of articles. Two of these
run on a similar theme: Israel's Rabbinate gaining a tighter control on
issues to do with marriage and divorce. The first of these talks of
legislation which proposes, "for reasons of efficiency, to legalize the
preservation of information gathered at the rabbinical court regarding
the non-Jewishness of a religionless person, and information regarding a
person's eligibility for marrying in accordance with Jewish law, in a
database." There are a number of problems that this will create. The
second article refers to more legislation that will give the Rabbinical
Court even more authority with regard to divorce, another problematic

The third article is from Ha'aretz and reports on the meeting that took
place between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas, this week in Jericho, which
brings a glimmer of hope in what has been an unstable time in the
Arab-Israeli Peace Process since the collapse of talks between Barak and
Arafat at the 2000 Camp David Summit.

In other news, the annual general meeting of KKL took place today in
Jerusalem. Arzenu was represented by Tati Schagas, an employee of the
WUPJ, and Rabbi Stanley Davids, President of Arza. At the meeting the
current Supreme Court case involving Adallah – the Legal Centre for Arab
Minority Rights in Israel was discussed, but nothing was voted upon.
The case deals with the practice by KKL of not selling/leasing land to
anyone who is not Jewish (which is part of the founding document of KKL
from 1901). KKL also reported the following:

1. The suit filed against KKL last year regarding the appointment of a
non-Jewish director has been concluded and the court upheld the
procedures and the appointment.
2. In 2006 all outstanding issues dealing with staff reductions - both
financial and personnel - were resolved.
3. Over 7500 dunam of forests have been planted in the North, after last
summers Second Lebanon War.
4. KKL has taken up the challenge of becoming a green organization in
the fight against global warming.
5. There was a 41% increase, in NIS, in donations for the first half of
2006 as a result of improved relationships with the world branches of KKL.
6. KKL is currently working on over 300 land development projects.
7. On September 18th, KKL will participate in a national effort to clean
up the litter around the country in conjunction with a similar
international/world initiative.
8. Blue boxes are going to be reintroduced in Israeli schools as part of
KKL's educational programming.

As ever your thoughts and comments are kindly received.

Shabbat Shalom,

Charlie Gluckman and all at Pro Zion

Don't miss this opportunity

Don't miss this opportunity
By Haaretz Editorial
After seven bad years - years of terror, a diplomatic freeze, Hamas'
victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections and its takeover of
Gaza - empty words about a "diplomatic horizon" and barren meetings
between representatives of the parties are giving way to genuine
diplomatic processes and practical plans for solving the conflict.

At the end of the first meeting between an Israeli prime minister and a
Palestinian leader ever held in the West Bank, Ehud Olmert announced
that he and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas were determined
to quickly craft a "framework" that would pave the way for establishing
a Palestinian state. As Haaretz reported yesterday, Olmert, basing
himself on a proposal by President Shimon Peres, welcomed the key
principle of the Arab peace initiative, which guarantees that
negotiations over the borders of the Palestinian state will be based on
the June 4, 1967, lines.
The Peres document proposes that Israel and the Palestinians draft a
document of principles, with an upfront guarantee that Israel will
provide the Palestinian state with territory equal to 100 percent of the
West Bank and Gaza Stirp. A prior agreement on this central issue, along
with a binding timetable, would enable negotiations to be held on the
details of the agreement. Such a discussion would focus, among other
issues, on what compensation the Palestinians would receive for the
designated settlement blocs, which must not interfere with the West
Bank's territorial contiguity. The Peres outline also proposes practical
and balanced solutions for the issues of Jerusalem and the refugees'
return to places other than Israel's sovereign territory.
Neither Israel nor the Zionist movement has any more important or more
urgent interest than ending the occupation of the territories. There is
a stable majority among the public and in the government and Knesset
that prefers a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, along with
territorial exchanges, to the other solutions: a binational state, or an
apartheid regime.

Moreover, time is not on the side of pragmatic forces in the Middle
East. Israel's failed war in Lebanon, and the failure of American policy
in Iraq, have raised the status of Shi'ite fanatics like Hassan
Nasrallah, who receive support from Iran. The combination of hasty
"democratization" and an atmosphere of violence is attracting extremist
terrorist elements such as Al-Qaida to the region, and strengthening
rejectionist organizations in the territories. Without a substantive
change in the situation in the territories, Hamas' takeover of the Gaza
Strip is liable to turn out to be the first step in a takeover of the
entire territories by Islamic fanatics.

These enemies have created a rare common incentive for Israel, the Arab
League, and the Quartet - headed by the United States - to strengthen
the circle of Middle East moderates, which is aware of the importance of
a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, before Tehran
completes its nuclear its nuclear program. If this opportunity is
missed, it is liable to be one miss too many.

Justice Minister to allow rabbis to renew marriage 'blacklist'

Justice Minister to allow rabbis to renew marriage 'blacklist' By
Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent
Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar have
agreed on proposed legislation permitting non-Jewish citizens to marry
in civil ceremonies, but may legalize the formation of a database of
people the rabbinate suspects are barred from marrying under Jewish law.

A spokesman for Friedmann said that nothing concrete has happened yet,
saying the civil marriage bill for "the religionless" was yet to be
submitted to the Knesset.

"The entire law and this specific issue of the database are still being
examined at the professional level, and there has not been a final
agreement regarding the database," said Friedmann's media adviser.

Rabbi Amar's spokesman declined to comment. The draft prepared by the
Justice Ministry and rabbinate, and approved by Friedmann and Amar,
contains a clause which proposes "for reasons of efficiency, to legalize
the preservation of information gathered at the rabbinical court
regarding the non-Jewishness of a religionless person, and information
regarding a person's eligibility for marrying in accordance with Jewish
law, in a database."

The proposed database is among the mainstays of the bill, referenced no
fewer than three times in the draft, including in the preamble
explaining the object of the law. There are additional details later in
the draft about the operation of "the marriageability registry,"
including the decision that it will be run by the director of the
rabbinical courts. The database will include "information regarding
eligibility, lack of eligibility or restrictions on the eligibility of a
person to marry in accordance with Jewish law." The draft bill does not
contain any regulations obliging the rabbinate to inform individuals
entered in the database of their status.

The lists of people deemed ineligible for Jewish marriage were
maintained for decades, and their legality was questioned back in the
early 1970s. The attorney general at the time, Meir Shamgar, ordered
that a person placed on the list must be notified. In practice,
Shamgar's orders were defied, with many of those listed uninformed and
not given an opportunity to argue against their inclusion.

The most serious attempt to eliminate the lists came in 1995, when then
religious affairs minister Meir Sheetrit demanded a review of the list.
As a result, the number of those deemed ineligible for Jewish marriage
dropped from 5,200 to 200.

However, the lists did not vanish. A report in 2004, submitted to the
Bar-On Committee tasked with sorting out the civil marriage issue, found
that rabbinical court lists contained 100 mamzers, the Jewish legal term
for a person born of forbidden relations between two Jews, and for that
person's offspring; some 200 "questionable mamzers"; and nearly a
thousand citizens who are considered Jews but for various reasons have
been classified ineligible for Jewish marriage.

Over the years, various politicians and organizations have tried but to
no avail to eliminate the lists, or alternatively, compel the rabbinate
to institute procedures for informing people placed on the list and
enabling them to appeal.

The main complaint over the lists is that they violate the basic rights
of those listed, discriminating against them by withholding their right
to marry - and all unbeknown to them until they apply for a marriage
license, and without being given a right to appeal.

"If such lists exist, then we must ensure that information is
privileged, and guarantee the right to privacy of whoever is on them,
aside from the need to inform them they appear there," Sheetrit said
this week. "Based on my familiarity with the system, you cannot always
count on those who are there to abide by these rules."

Dr. Aviad Hacohen, lecturer on constitutional law and Jewish law at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Sha'arei Mishpat Academic
College, and head of the Mosaica Institute for the Study of Religion,
Society and State, says that these lists are wrongful on all levels.
"The existence of such a list without those harmed by it knowing about
it and able to put forward their claims is contrary both to basic
democratic values and constitutional rights, and to Jewish values
relating to safeguarding a person's good reputation, his dignity and his
right to marry," he said. "In effect, we are talking about the existence
of pedigree books that affixes a status of first-class Jews and
second-class Jews."

One of the groups that tried for years to combat the lists of
unmarriageables is the Israel Religious Action Center, the legal arm of
the Reform Movement in Israel. IRAC's associate director, rabbi and
attorney Gilad Kariv, said Tuesday that the bill is "simply an attempt
to launder the black lists."

Kariv recommended that the Justice Ministry itself take care of the
regulations for these lists.

"So long as they remain under the rabbinate's control, citizens' basic
rights will be violated, and so long as the rabbinate has a monopoly on
marriage, generations of citizens will be added to the lists that casts
them out of the Jewish people and brands them with the mark of Cain."

Sexist’ And ‘Dangerous’ Legislation?

Sexist' And 'Dangerous' Legislation?
Feminist groups worry about impact of new Knesset bill giving rabbinical
divorce courts greater authority. Michele Chabin - Israel Correspondent

Jerusalem — A Knesset committee has approved a proposed bill that would
give the rabbinical divorce courts greater authority in many divorce cases.

Legal experts have told The Jewish Week that the bill would offer
binding arbitration based solely on Jewish law to divorcing couples that
initiate their divorce proceedings in the rabbinical court system.

Once the arbitrator's decision is rendered, the lawyers said, it would
not be subject to review or appeal by any other authority.

Although the bill states that both spouses must agree to the
arbitration, women's rights activists fear that husbands will threaten
to withhold a get unless their wives agree to it.

The proposed bill, which has yet to be formalized, is just the latest
round in the ongoing tug of war between the High Court of Justice, which
often sides with petitioners seeking to bolster civil law, and the
Knesset, whose fervently Orthodox legislators want to expand religion's

On Sunday, representatives of more than two dozen women's organizations
from around the country protested against the bill, calling it "sexist"
and "dangerous."

Women's rights advocates say the legislation is being spearheaded by the
Orthodox Shas Party in reaction to an April 2005 High Court decision.
That ruling stated that rabbinical divorce courts couldn't overturn
rulings and agreements previously finalized in the civil court system.

While the new bill, which was unveiled in a cabinet meeting last week,
does not directly deal with civil court rulings, the feminists say, "it
is a reaction to the [court decision] and an attempt by religious
legislators to put more authority in religious hands,"says Anat Hoffman,
director of the Reform Movement's Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC),
one of the NGOs opposed to the new legislation.

Israel has no civil marriage or divorce, so all Jewish couples must
eventually go to the rabbinical courts — which are run by the chief
rabbinate — to obtain their get, or divorce decree. But husbands and
wives do have the option of initially filing for divorce in either the
civil or rabbinical court systems on matters related to alimony, child
support and the division of property — a decision that often influences
the outcome of the proceedings.

The spouse who files first gets to determine where the proceedings will
be held, and a large percentage of husbands — no absolute numbers exist
— opt for the rabbinical courts, according to Inbal Freund, director of
Mevo Satum, an organization that assists women whose husbands refuse to
give them a get.

The rabbinical courts demonstrate "a very strong bias toward men,"
Freund asserts. "[The courts'] perceptions are anachronistic, their
organizational structure is a disaster and their world views don't match
what the populations' needs are. Mevo Satum is an Orthodox women's
organization and we're not saying get rid of halacha. We care about
Judaism, but what we often see in the rabbinical courts goes against

While Freund has many complaints against the rabbinical court system,
"at least it, like the civil court system, must by law operate under the
principle of equality, not that it always does."

When it doesn't, the administrator says, a person can go to court and
file a petition.

"The new law says that arbitration will be according to Torah law and
only Torah law," Freund continues ominously. "A spouse won't be able to
go to the Supreme Court later and say the arbitrator ruled without
regard to equality. And if problems, such as child support issues or
where to send the children to school crop up later, the couple will have
no choice but to return to the rabbinical court, even though these are
civil matters."

Freund, who estimates that thousands of Israeli women are currently
unable to divorce due to their husbands' intransigence, believes that
women whose civil matters are decided in the civil courts have a much
higher chance of getting decent alimony and child support and a proper
share of their property.

Part of the problem, the feminists say, is the fact that rabbinical
court judges are fervently Orthodox. In the haredi community, women tend
to financially support their husbands while the latter sit and learn
religious texts. Often, men are not the primary wage-earners.

"There's a disconnect here. Haredi fathers don't know what it costs to
support children in a non-haredi environment," says Tsiona Koenig-Yair,
an advocate for the Israel Women's Network.

Koenig-Yair maintains that Jewish divorces by definition "stack the
deck" against the wife.

"Jewish law says that in a divorce, a man must willingly give his wife a
get. This puts the power in the man's hands and takes power away from
the woman. A woman who wants a get and whose husband won't give it says,
'OK, I'll give up my share of the apartment' or will agree to lower
alimony in order to be free."

"What happens is that the husband realizes that there's something for
him to gain from this process of withholding the get in the rabbinical
courts," Freund says. "Just today we spoke with a woman I'll call
Rachel. She left her husband because he was walking around the house
with a gun. He wouldn't give her the get and over the years she agreed
to relinquish things. Today she's left with very little. When she sued
her husband in civil court and the rabbinical court heard about it, they
told her they wouldn't continue to discuss the get until she stopped the
suit. This demand was totally illegal of course," and could be
challenged in court, she says.

Efrat Orbach, spokeswoman for the Rabbinic Administrative Courts, told
the Jerusalem Post that the bill would simply anchor in law what the
rabbinic courts have been doing for many years.

"The Supreme Court recently overturned decades of precedent during which
the rabbinic courts litigated in monetary matters connected with the
divorce process, even after the husband gave his ex the divorce writ,"
said Orbach.

Calev disagrees. "This bill represents an erosion of the religious
status quo and is therefore very dangerous."

IRAC Director Anat Hoffman worries that if the Knesset extends the
rabbinate's power, even those non-haredi Jews who currently find the
rabbinical courts tolerable and perhaps even welcoming will find them
impossible to navigate in the future.

"What will happen to secular Jews seeking a divorce? Will they say the
rabbinical courts stink? No, they'll think that the Torah stinks. I'm
petrified that after their experience they won't want to have anything
to do with Judaism, and honestly, that breaks my heart," Hoffman says.

Intro - 31/07/07

Dear Friends,

After five months of being out the country I am finally back in the UK.
I spent the first 3 months traveling around South America visiting
Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil. I saw some incredible
things and met great people along the way, it was a real adventure.
After a quick transfer in the middle of June I made my way to Israel.
There I represented Pro Zion at the meeting of the Zionist General
Council of the World Zionist Organistation and at the Jewish Agency
Assembly in Jerusalem. The two events were engaging both in terms of
the content of the proposals that were discussed and voted upon, and the
educational sessions that were put on.

After the conference I spent the next 4 weeks on Kibbutz Lotan, one of
the two Reform Zionist Kibbutzim in the Arava Valley. I had previously
spent 5 months on the Kibbutz during the Shnat Netzer programme in
2001/2. It was great to be back to a place that inspired me so much
and, whilst a lot has changed, the community still has the unique feel
that I remembered and I was not only warmly welcomed back in by the
members of the Kibbutz, but I was again inspired by my short stint
living there. Lotan is at an exciting time with the financial
difficulties that plagued the Kibbutz five years ago already becoming a
distant memory. The three main income industries of the kibbutz: the
Diary, the Dates Plantation, and the Ecological tourism are all
expanding. One of the most exciting projects currently being worked on
is the construction of a new neighbourhood to house the students of the
Green Apprenticeship programme
( This
project is using the principles that Lotan teaches to create
ecologically sound and sustainable housing for the environment of the
Arava. I had the fortune of working for a week in the construction of
these houses whilst I was there as well as working in the Dates
Plantation for the rest of my time there.

However, it is good to be home, and with Daniel away in Israel for the
next fortnight I am sending you the articles this week. As well as
information about the planning application of JCoSS and a poster for the
ZF's conference in September, please find attached two articles about
the Agunot bill and one about civil marriages. As always, your comments
are warmly welcomed.


Charlie Gluckman and all at Pro Zion

PM urges compromise on agunot bill

PM urges compromise on agunot bill

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Sunday on religious and secular
cabinet ministers to reach a compromise on legislation that would expand
Rabbinic Court jurisdiction in divorce cases.
While dozens of feminists demonstrated against the bill outside the
Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, Olmert, speaking in the weekly
cabinet meeting, called on Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Isaac
Herzog (Labor) and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai (Shas)
to work together with Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, a former member
of Shinui.
Olmert told them to reach a compromise that would be acceptable to both
the Orthodox establishment and liberal legislators and women's activists.
The bill, which would give the Rabbinic Courts wider jurisdiction in
financial issues in divorce cases, was approved as a government bill by
the Ministerial Committee on Legislation last week.
Jewish Israelis are marry and divorce in Israel according to Orthodox
Jewish law. According to Jewish law, a woman is not permitted to remarry
unless her husband gives her a get (writ of divorce). If her husband is
intransigent, the woman is called an aguna, meaning "chained."
The Orthodox religious establishment wants the Rabbinic Courts to have
the right to arbitrate on monetary matter in divorce cases, according to
Jewish law.
But women's rights groups, which view the Rabbinic Courts as chauvinist
and prejudiced in favor of the husbands, see any widening of the courts'
jurisdiction as necessarily discriminatory.
Sunny Calev of the Israel Religious Action Center, the legal arm of the
Reform Movement, said women had a subordinate status in Jewish law.
"Ideas like equality before the law, freedom of speech and equal
opportunity simply do not exist in Orthodox Jewish law," said Calev. "A
woman's position is improved infinitely if her case is heard by a civil
court or a court that rules according to civil, secular law."
Reut Una-Tsameret, head of public activities for Mavoi Satum, an
organization that aims to help women receive fair treatment in the
Rabbinic Court system, said these courts often made the granting of a
divorce writ [get] conditional on the woman's willingness to give up
some of her financial rights.
"These are benefits that she rightly deserves from her divorcee," she said.
Una-Tsameret said Rabbinic Courts regularly threatened women with the
loss of child support and alimony payments unless they agreed to receive
a divorce writ according to the conditions set by the court.
Rabbinic Courts Administration spokeswoman Efrat Orbach said the
proposed legislation would simply maintain the status quo.
"The Supreme Court recently overturned decades of precedent during which
the Rabbinic Courts litigated in monetary matters connected with the
divorce process, even after the husband gave his ex the divorce writ,"
Orbach said.
"This bill simply anchors in law what has been common practice for a
long time now."

Liberals, Russians Boo Civil-Marriage Deal

Liberals, Russians Boo Civil-Marriage Deal

Andrew Friedman | Wed. Jul 25, 2007
Jerusalem - An agreement reached last week between Israel's chief
Sephardic rabbi and the state's justice minister has been hailed for
opening the door to civil marriages in Israel, but secular and
non-Orthodox groups who have long fought to change the country's
marriage laws say that the deal does little to alleviate the plight of
hundreds of thousands of immigrants who cannot prove they are Jewish.
Article tools
The agreement between Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Justice Minister
Daniel Friedmann would allow civil marriages for Israelis who are not
considered Jewish by Halacha, or rabbinic law. It also calls for the
Chief Rabbinate to establish special conversion courts, but emphasizes
that both the conversion procedure and the religious commitment required
of potential converts would remain unchanged.
The civil option would be available only to couples in which both
partners are not Jewish. Proponents of civil marriage, led by the
Russian-immigrant political parties as well by as liberal politicians
and rabbis, argue that the deal ignores the plight of the roughly
300,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are ineligible to
marry under existing Israeli law, which grants the Chief Rabbinate
exclusive rights over marriage and divorce.
"This is not a civil-marriage bill," said Rabbi Yoram Mazor, secretary
general of the Israel Council of Progressive Rabbis, which is the
rabbinical arm of the Reform movement in Israel. "It is a fictitious
solution for less than one-third of the immigrants from the former
Soviet Union. Even if both partners in a potential marriage are Russian,
this agreement does not help if the rabbinate considers one Jewish and
one a non-Jew."
In a press release issued last week by the Justice Ministry, Friedmann
acknowledged the limits of the agreement but said that it represents a
"meaningful step toward expanding marriage rights in Israel."
Mazor rejected Friedmann's assertion, saying that the agreement stands
to further isolate Russian immigrants and hinder their integration into
Israeli society. "Essentially, this agreement will create a ghetto in
which non-Jewish immigrants can get married, but only to each other," he
Each year, hundreds of mixed-faith and non-halachically Jewish couples
fly to nearby Cyprus for a civil ceremony because they do not meet
Orthodox standards for marriage. Several hundred Israelis who do not
want to bow to the rabbinate's requirements also make the trip overseas
to tie the knot.
David Rotem, a Knesset member from the Russian-immigrant Yisrael
Beiteinu party, stressed that at the moment, the deal is still only a
private agreement between Friedmann and Amar. He promised that the
Knesset members representing Russian-immigrant voters would oppose
certain parts of the agreement if it comes to the floor for a vote.
"If this is a first step toward full civil-marriage rights in Israel, we
certainly welcome that, and it would be great to provide a solution for
the 5,000-or-so people who want to get married but currently have to
travel to Cyprus in order to do so," Rotem told the Forward. "But the
agreement also calls for transferring even more authority to the
rabbinate for conversion matters. That is totally unacceptable, and we
will oppose that section of the legislation if and when it comes up in
the Knesset."
Immigrants who cannot prove that they are halachically Jewish represent
the largest category of Israelis ineligible to marry, according to Seth
Farber, an Orthodox rabbi and head of ITIM, an organization that assists
Israelis encountering difficulties with the conversion and marriage
processes. Each year, more than 1,000 Israelis seeking official
recognition of their Jewishness are rejected because they cannot meet
the rabbinate's standards of proof; according to ITIM in 2006 more than
a quarter of applicants were rejected.
"The marriage issue is the biggest scandal I can think of," Farber said.
The agreement "won't help many simple people who just want to get
married. But it will help a few thousand per year. That's a good thing."

JCoSS Planning Application

JCoSS Planning Application

As you may know, on Wednesday 8th August at 7.00pm the JCoSS planning
application will go before the Barnet Planning Committee at Hendon Town Hall
in The Burroughs, NW4.

As senior representatives of a wide cross-section of the Jewish community we
are writing to you to ask you to do everything you can to support JCoSS's
application by attending the meeting and continuing to send emails to local

There has been a strong and well-organised campaign against the application
and the decision could be very close. In the past - for example in the case
of Akiva school's recent application - large numbers of opponents have
swamped planning meetings, intimidating councillors into voting against
controversial applications. It is incredibly important that this does not
happen to JCoSS.

1. Please, if you possibly can, come to the planning meeting on 8th August.
Please arrive at least 45 mins early (i.e. by 6.15 pm) as seats will be
allocated on a first come first serve basis and we expect a large turn out
from the antis.

2. Email JCoSS at, so we know you're coming.

3. Also, if you have not done so already, please visit
<> and follow the instructions to email all the
members of the planning committee to notify them of your support for the

This is a hugely important project for the whole Jewish community. But it is
under attack. If we do not stand up and make sure we're counted it could
fail. Please don't leave it to someone else. That is why we are writing to
you on behalf of the whole community.


Michael Phillips
Chair, JCoSS Trust, and

Tony Bayfield
Chief Executive, Reform Judaism

Michael Burman
Chair, Assembly of Masorti Synagogues

Mick Davis
Chairman, UJIA

Richard Desmond
President, Norwood

Henry Grunwald
President of the Board of Deputies

Danny Rich
Chief Executive, Liberal Judaism

Gerald Ronson
Head of JCoSS Design and Build project

Further details of what you can do can be found at the JCoSS website