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State & Religion

JPW Knesset Update

What We Saw Last Week, and What We Can Expect This Week in the Knesset

Dear Partners,

This week in the Knesset, the subcommittee for Israel - Diaspora relations headed by MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh (Blue and White) will be launched. The committee is expected to convene at the Knesset on Monday. "Just before the High Holy Days and while facing the challenges of COVID, and in general, it is very important that we create a channel of communication between the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, and our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora. Hopefully this first discussion held this week will be noteworthy."

Last Week in the Knesset

The government approved the addition of NIS 11 billion ($3.23 billion) to the 2020 provisional state budget. According to the decision, NIS 3 billion will be added to the defense budget, and the remainder as support to various projects and institutions, including Jewish renewal organizations and the gay community in Israel >>

On Wednesday evening, September 9th, 2020, after a long deliberation, the government approved the method in which the additional government expenditure for 2020 will be distributed. The NIS 11 billion increase puts the total government budget for 2020 at NIS 411 billion. In addition, an updated three-year budget plan for 2021-2023 was approved during the meeting.

Prime Minister MK Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Finance Minister MK Israel Katz (Likud) submitted budgets for approval to the government regarding: disability benefits; helping 2,000 Falash Mura immigrate to Israel; an aid program to integrate members of the Ethiopian community; dozens of educational programs in state and religious education; a grant for the advancement of the gay community; for integrative education, and for Jewish renewal organizations.

The Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, Rabbi Rafi Peretz working with the Ministry of Finance, made sure to secure funds for the religious Zionists. "We have saved the state-religious education (Hamad) so that religious education does not collapse in such a complex and difficult year.” Peretz said. "Torah study institutions for women are at the top of my priority list, so I made sure we have a designated budget for Halacha Consultants and for other projects with the Midrashot (Institute of Torah study for women).

"The government has also approved a budget for Garin Torani (Torah-Oriented Community), which for me is at the forefront of social engagement. Within the Administration of Jewish Identity, I was able to preserve the budgets earmarked for religious Zionist organizations involved in instilling Jewish identity in Israeli society."

Minister of Religious Affairs Ya'akov Avitan (Shas) said: "I would like to thank Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri from the bottom of my heart, who fought for the religious councils to be counted in the NIS 11 billion budget we approved last night in the government, and insisted that their current budget not be harmed. This is a vital budget, especially during the Corona period, when everyone knows that the religious councils are at the forefront of finding solutions for the High Holy Day prayers, as well as continuing to address issues of kashrut, mikvahs, marriage and more, despite the significant drop in income."

Minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel (Derech Eretz), who promoted the integrative education budget, commented: "I am glad to share that as part of last night's budget increase, after lengthy negotiations, and at the demand of Chili Tropper and myself, the government has approved a budget allocation for inclusive education. The most significant vaccine for Israeli society during these days is fostering mutual respect - secular and religious children, from the left and right, who study and live together."

As part of the government's decision, 17 million NIS will be transferred to the Ministry of Social Equality, headed by Minister Meirav Cohen, and an additional 3 million NIS to the Ministry of Culture, headed by Minister Chili Tropper. Both ministries will be responsible for allocating the budget according to the needs of the LGBTQ community with the coordination of MK Eitan Ginzburg (Blue and White).

MK Ginzburg (Blue and White) said: "I am very happy with the achievement we have led. There are many organizations in the LGBTQ community that are pleading for budgets, and will simply close if we do not take care of them and soon. As we have promised in the past, the rights of the gay community are at the core of our work and we will continue to fight for them from within the government and the Knesset. "

MK Tehila Friedman (Blue and White) who pushed to secure a budget towards Jewish renewal organizations and Youth Movement organizations said: "For many years I have been working with and for educational, cultural and social organizations that promote a Judaism that is social, inclusive, Zionist and seeking solidarity. It took time and effort, but yesterday we approved budgets for Jewish renewal organizations so that they can continue to do meaningful work. A treaty of moderates is what it is…. Tens of millions will be transferred to youth movements and organizations, to pre-army programs, and student villages. This was a joint effort and it was a true pleasure to be part of a party whose heart and wallet are in the right place."

We invite you to come to the Knesset and participate in the discussion. Write us and we will assist you in coordinating your visit. Email us at: JPW@masorti.org.il

As always, you are welcome to follow the JPW’s Facebook page and twitter account in real time, and to invite English speakers to sign up to receive this newsletter by writing to us at: JPW@masorti.org.il

Shavua tov,

 

Nerya Raphael Knafo                               Emily Levy-Shochat

Director, Jewish Pluralism Watch           Chair, Jewish Pluralism Watch

 

This week in the Knesset

Knesset Committees

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020, 26 Elul, 5780

At 11:30 AM

Education, Culture and Sports Committee

Establishment of a subcommittee on Jewish renewal

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020, 27 Elul, 5780

At 9:30 AM

Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs

Policy of the Population and Immigration Authority and the Nativ Aliyah to Israel department

Highlights from last week in the Knesset

Shabbat

MK Miki Zohar (Likud) at the lobby for Shabbat observance:

"The Shabbat lobby is the most important lobby in the Knesset. When I entered the Knesset, I set before myself a goal - to ensure that the Shabbat becomes a more important value in the eyes of the Israeli public. I then started enacting the Sabbath law which caused, as you recall, a very big storm. The volume of trading on Shabbat has since then unfortunately expanded enormously and unreasonably and this only proves that my bill was spot-on. I have no doubt that the volume of trade and economic profit generated on Shabbat undermines the success of the State of Israel and causes it damage. This is contrary to everything we believe in as a people."

Marriage and Divorce

MK Moshe Arbel (Shas) in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Justice regarding marriage outside the rabbinate: "How does His Honor intend to eradicate this serious phenomenon that constitutes a violation of the integrity of our nation?"

Marriage and Divorce

MK Evgeny Sova (Yisrael Beiteinu) in a discussion regarding couples before marriage that were prohibited from flying abroad to get married: "Couples are humiliated when the State does not allow them to register their marriage."

Marriage and Divorce

MK Merav Michaeli (Labor) in a discussion on the rabbinical courts' report regarding agunot who reside abroad said: "The court excels so much in releasing agunot abroad why does it not start it here, at home?"

Education

On Monday, the right wing Liba Center published a map which includes approximately 80 different organizations that they claim are working to blur and distort Jewish identity in the State of Israel.

The list of organizations was published as part of the opening of a new department in the organization, which will be responsible for advocacy and strengthening Jewish identity in the country. MK Yair Golan (Meretz) commented on the publication of the ad and wrote:

"This poster has a face and a name, and that is of Naftali Bennett and the extreme right. This is how delusional organizations such as the Liba Center have penetrated the Israeli mainstream. They persecute secularists, Democrats and the LGBTQ, a secular person who supports Bennett supports hadata) meaning becoming more religious) in education, a Halachic State and the destruction of democracy... do not forget who Bennett, Shaked, Smotrich and the far right really are "

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