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  • Knesset backs Ne’eman plan, but action is largely symbolic

    JERUSALEM, Feb. 23 (JTA) — Conservative and Reform leaders in Israel are welcoming what they called the “good intentions” of a Knesset resolution backing the proposals of a committee that had tried to resolve the conversion crisis. But they said it was up to Israel’s Orthodox Chief Rabbinate to make the compromise proposal work. And…

  • NEWS ANALYSIS Conversion crisis erupts anew as parties return to old stances

    JERUSALEM, June 9 (JTA) — Attempts to forge a compromise over the ongoing conversion controversy in Israel appear to be on the verge of failure. On Tuesday, American Reform Jewish leaders, on a mission to Israel, warned the government of a severe response from U.S. Jewry if they pushed through a bill that would codify…

  • BEHIND THE HEADLINES Proposed Israeli plan seeks to redefine religion and state

    JERUSALEM, Feb. 23 (JTA) — If two prominent Knesset members have their way, observant and secular Israeli Jews will soon embark on intense “final- status” talks to resolve their many bitter disputes. To that end, Alex Lubotzky, a moderate Orthodox member of the centrist Third Way Party who has been a driving force in efforts…

  • Reform delegation dismayed by premier’s conversion stance

    JERUSALEM, June 14 (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for patience from a visiting delegation of U.S. Reform movement leaders. But by the time his meeting with the delegation was over last Friday, the premier seemed to have succeeded only in angering the visitors. During the meeting, which focused on the government’s…

  • ISRAEL AT 50 Vastly different kibbutzim struggle to hold on to youth

    KIBBUTZ KFAR RUPPIN, Israel, April 2 (JTA) — Bicycles are lined up outside the communal dining hall here at Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin. Nearby, a handful of teen-agers gather outside on the lush green grounds of the kibbutz, which is nestled between the town of Beit She”an and the Jordanian border in northeastern Israel. But the…

  • BEHIND THE HEADLINES Muppets cross the street to join Israelis, Palestinians

    JERUSALEM, April 7 (JTA) — When colorful Israeli and Palestinian muppets met on screen last week for the first time in a new joint production of “Sesame Street,” their reactions mirrored the mutual apprehension that exists in everyday life here. Haneen, an orange, female Palestinian muppet-monster was frightened by Kipi, a tall, Israeli porcupine, who…

  • NEWS ANALYSIS Showdown or compromise? Time will tell for Ne’eman effort

    JERUSALEM, Jan. 19 (JTA) — Showdown or compromise? Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews in Israel are preparing for both as a committee working to find a solution to the conversion bill crisis closes in on its deadline. Tensions mounted as the committee, headed by Finance Minister Ya”acov Ne”eman, was expected to finish its work by Jan….

  • BEHIND THE HEADLINES Religious pluralism battle moves to claims over wall

    JERUSALEM, June 15 (JTA) — One of the holiest sites in Judaism has moved front and center in the battle over religious pluralism in Israel. Orthodox officials boycotted a tour Monday that was aimed at finding a site for egalitarian and women’s prayer groups to worship at the Western Wall. The tour was organized by…

  • Controversy still swirling around conversion institute

    JERUSALEM, May 5 (JTA) — A joint institute aimed at resolving the conversion crisis is moving forward despite protests by Israel’s Reform and Conservative movements and an impending renewal of the pluralism battle in court. The seven-member board of the Institute for Jewish Studies, set up by the Jewish Agency for Israel, includes five Orthodox…

  • ISRAEL AT 50 Israelis look beyond flags to find meaning in jubilee

    JERUSALEM, April 20 (JTA) — Blue-and-white flags are sprouting from the antennae of Israeli cars, just as they do every Independence Day. But after a year of haggling over 50th anniversary celebrations, and amid mounting tensions within society, Israelis are preparing for next week”s jubilee celebrations with mixed feelings. As Yom Ha”atzmaut approaches — the…