Orthodox

Orthodox get IDF exemption

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 22, 2010

A series of reforms of yeshivah students' stipends and the announcement of their exemption from army service have become the subject of a coalition disagreement and a rift between the government and the IDF.

The cabinet voted on Sunday 14-8 in favour of a plan formulated by the Prime Minister's Office to continue paying stipends to yeshivah students for another five years, gradually cutting off the payments when they reach the age of 29.

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New York rabbi fights US Army beard ban

By Jennifer Lipman, December 20, 2010

A rabbi hoping to become chaplain to US troops has run into a problem as plain as the hair on his face – his beard.

According to the army’s strict regulations on appearance, anyone serving the military must be clean - shaven, but Chabad rabbi Menachem Stern has a long black beard.

Rabbi Stern was refused a job as a military chaplain last year after he claimed it would contradict his religious beliefs to trim it.

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Orthodox nurse wins payout after job cut for Shabbat observance

By Jennifer Lipman, December 20, 2010

A Jewish nurse who lost a job offer after she refused to work on Shabbat has won more than £25,000 in compensation.

Before she took the job at the hospital in New York, Alisa Dolinsky, who is Orthodox, told her potential employers that she would not work on Shabbat. However, she offered to work on Saturday evenings and Sundays.

But in response to her request, the hospital retracted the job offer.

Ms Dolinsky, 34, said: “They told me if that's the case, if you can't work on Shabbat, we can't offer the job."

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The 'tefillin terrorist' and a scare on a New Zealand ferry

By Jennifer Lipman, December 13, 2010

Armed police forced a religious Israeli man to his knees and took him away for questioning after passengers on a New Zealand ferry mistook his tefillin boxes for an explosive device.

The man and a friend were later freed without charge, after police realised that they were not a terrorist threat and were merely observing Jewish practice.

An elite police unit was called in when another passenger saw the man strapping the leather boxes to his arm and alerted crewmembers.

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Funding for Orthodox charity axed

By Jessica Elgot, December 9, 2010

An Orthodox charity which provides complementary therapies in north west London must close operations this month after its grant was axed.

Talking Matters, which provides counselling, arts and relaxation therapy for the Orthodox community in Stamford Hill, will close its sister project Talking Hands, based in Temple Fortune.

The charity received a grant of around £20,000 from London Councils to expand in 2008 and provide services to Harringey, Brent and Barnet.

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Court orders Orthodox woman to be cremated after three month battle

By Jennifer Lipman, December 7, 2010

The body of a 105-year-old Jewish woman from New York who died three months ago will finally be removed from a mortuary after a judge ruled that she could be cremated.

Ethel Baar, who died on September 11, began following Orthodox Judaism late in life, and her great-nephew James Pollak said that she had wanted to be laid to rest in accordance with Orthodox tradition.

But in 1999 she also stated in her will that she wanted her body to be cremated, which is against halachah.

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US blasts Israel on religious freedom

By Paul Berger, November 25, 2010

The State of Israel discriminates against non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews, according to a US State Department report.

The critical assessment is included in the department's Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, released last week.

Among the many criticisms, the report found that Israeli state funding favours the Orthodox and that the government puts greater resources into Jewish holy places than other religious sites.

Eight countries - Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan - gave the US most cause for concern.

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Israeli army uses Facebook to stalk draft-dodgers

By Jennifer Lipman, November 23, 2010

Israel has adopted a new tool in the fight against army draft evaders, and it involves looking at people’s Facebook pages.

Service in the IDF is compulsory for Israeli school-leavers, except under specific circumstances. Those exempt from duty include some Orthodox Jewish men and women.

But with draft-dodging on the rise, the army has turned to Facebook to check those avoiding service are doing so for a legitimate reason.

The method has enabled the IDF to catch some 1,000 women exaggerating the extent of their religious observance.

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School staying open after going into liquidation

By Jessica Elgot, November 18, 2010

The Menorah Grammar School for Orthodox boys in Edgware has gone into liquidation for the second time in less than two years. But the 150-pupil school will remain open.

Former governor Stephen Goldberg said on Wednesday that the latest liquidation was the result of the school's new governors wanting to go through a "restructuring process.

"This was the method the new board decided to adopt. Times are hard and parents must be urged to pay their fees as much as possible, but we are still up and running with pupils."

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How far can Orthodoxy recognise gay rights?

By Joseph Mintz, November 18, 2010

In October, Barack Obama, in response to a recent spike in suicides among America's gay teenagers, launched a video speaking out against homosexual bullying. In the same month, Shmuley Boteach, the "Hollywood Rabbi", wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal criticising the harsh view taken of gays in most Orthodox congregations in the USA. Both events beg the same question: how do we square the biblical prohibition against homosexuality with modern notions of equality?

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