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October 4, 2009 | Stanley Gold, Stanley Gold, president and CEO of Shamrock Holdings Inc., is also the chairperson of Hiddush: Freedom of Religion for Israel, a new educational and advocacy Israel-Diaspora partnership (www.hiddush.org).
As someone who invests in the Israeli economy, I know firsthand that Israel's strength lies in its educated workforce. It used to be said that to make a small fortune in Israel, you needed a large one. That is simply not true anymore. Israel's economy is ripe for investors seeking a strong return. But there is an impediment to continued economic growth in Israel: the current dynamic of strong state support for ultra-Orthodox regulations. Today, Israel's economic and overall security is under threat from the increased hold that the ultra-Orthodox, or Haredim, have on religion for Jews in Israel.
ARTICLES BY DATE
WORLD
April 14, 2014 | Kate Linthicum
JERUSALEM - The crowd that gathered at the recent grand opening of Cinema City hadn't come for the movies. They were there in droves to protest a government regulation that keeps the 19-screen cineplex closed each week from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. "Jerusalem, wake up!" the protesters chanted as security guards blocked them from entering the lobby. "Nonreligious people are equal too!" The demonstration was the latest skirmish in Jerusalem's long-running "Sabbath wars," which for decades have pitted the city's secular Jewish population against its ultra-Orthodox community over whether shops, theaters and other public spaces can remain open on the Jewish day of rest.
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WORLD
March 2, 2014 | By Batsheva Sobelman
JERUSALEM -- Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews rallied in Jerusalem on Sunday to protest emerging legislation that could end their sweeping exemption from military service. The country's capital was paralyzed as access to Jerusalem was blocked. Government offices, schools and courthouses closed early, and public transportation was halted to accommodate the mass prayer called by rabbinical leaders. Under heavy police protection, black hats bobbed as the crowd of demonstrators swayed in prayer or danced to express their opposition to a military draft that many decried as a “war against religion.” In an unusual move, religious women were encouraged to attend the protest, standing separately from the men. For decades, Israel's ultra-Orthodox have been effectively exempt from military service.
WORLD
March 12, 2014 | By Batsheva Sobelman
JERUSALEM -- Israeli legislators approved a controversial law Wednesday to end the historic exemption of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men from mandatory military service, a decision some religious leaders decried as persecution. The Equal Service Law approved by the Knesset, or parliament, calls for a gradual increase in the conscription of ultra-Orthodox men over a three-year period, ultimately exempting only a quota of outstanding scholars. Finance Minister Yair Lapid, whose centrist Yesh Atid party pushed the legislation as a way to increase fairness for other groups whose members are drafted into the military as well as to aid the integration of ultra-Orthodox men into the workforce, welcomed the bill's passage as a “revolution.” Ultra-Orthodox men had been exempt from military service to allow them to pursue their religious studies, which supporters said allowed them to serve the nation through prayer and by preserving Jewish heritage.
WORLD
November 12, 2011 | By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times
When public buses rumble to a stop in some of Jerusalem's religious neighborhoods, women often dutifully enter by the rear door and sit in the back, leaving the front for men. There's no law requiring the women to do so, but those who don't risk verbal taunts and intimidation. It's a curious sight given Israel's history as an international trailblazer for women's rights. The country produced one of the democratic world's first female heads of government with Golda Meir's election in 1969.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 25, 2010 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
In "Eyes Wide Open," the quietly effective new Israeli film, the love that dare not speak its name is too terrified to even whisper. That's because the two men who are powerfully attracted to each other are members of Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, a world where homosexuality is so rigidly taboo that, as director Haim Tabakman has said, it simply does not exist: "It's just an evil urge. It cannot be part of a human being's essence." While there is a certain familiarity to lovers battling against society's hostility and repression, "Eyes Wide Open" makes the situation seem fresh and involving through Tabakman's low-key but confident directing style, convincing acting and, perhaps most surprising, an accurate and respectful treatment of the community that is making these men's lives so unendurable.
NEWS
July 11, 1998 | REBECCA TROUNSON, TIMES STAFF WRITER
The hand-lettered signs began appearing recently on the walls and community bulletin boards of this city's ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods. The fliers list the names and phone numbers of several prominent Israeli archeologists, including the head of Israel's Antiquities Authority, and urge community members to harass and threaten the men, who are described as "grave robbers." The message ends with a chilling wish: "May their bones be ground into dust."
WORLD
May 10, 2010 | By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times
When people talk these days about Israel's economy, they use words like booming, resilient, even "miracle." Weaning itself off socialist-influenced policies that once brought 400% inflation and 60% income-tax brackets, Israel's economy is now growing despite the international financial slowdown. Debt is manageable, the currency is strong; Israel's high-tech sector is admired worldwide. But one Israeli economist is warning that beneath Israel's back-patting lurks a hidden peril — fueled by demographic trends and political choices — that could eventually mean an end to the country.
NATIONAL
July 16, 2011
When an 8-year-old boy from an insulated, ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn failed to make it home from day camp, his parents' first call was not to police, but to the Shomrim patrol, a local volunteer group whose name means "guardians" in Hebrew. Hasidic areas like Borough Park, where a Shomrim-organized search party looked for Leiby Kletzky, are worlds unto themselves. Members have a distinctive appearance — wigs and modest dresses for the women, beards and side curls for the men. They send their children to Jewish schools, speak Yiddish as a first language and shun modern distractions like television.
WORLD
July 11, 2012 | By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times
JERUSALEM - Israelis take pride in calling their military the "people's army," a unifying institution that helps smooth over religious differences and instills nationalist values. But despite a long tradition of mandatory conscription, today only about half of all Israelis serve, largely because Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox Jews are exempt. On Wednesday, government talks aimed at broadening the draft broke down amid staunch opposition from ultra-Orthodox groups. The negotiations follow an Israeli Supreme Court ruling that the exemption for ultra-Orthodox was unfair.
WORLD
March 2, 2014 | By Batsheva Sobelman
JERUSALEM -- Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews rallied in Jerusalem on Sunday to protest emerging legislation that could end their sweeping exemption from military service. The country's capital was paralyzed as access to Jerusalem was blocked. Government offices, schools and courthouses closed early, and public transportation was halted to accommodate the mass prayer called by rabbinical leaders. Under heavy police protection, black hats bobbed as the crowd of demonstrators swayed in prayer or danced to express their opposition to a military draft that many decried as a “war against religion.” In an unusual move, religious women were encouraged to attend the protest, standing separately from the men. For decades, Israel's ultra-Orthodox have been effectively exempt from military service.
WORLD
February 6, 2014 | By Batsheva Sobelman
JERUSALEM -- Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protested across Israel on Thursday against the government's plans to draft them into the military. Carrying signs and chanting slogans pledging to resist enlistment, the demonstrators shut down major traffic arteries, set fire to garbage dumpsters and even a police vehicle, as police attempted to contain them with water cannons and mounted troops. More than a dozen demonstrators were arrested, according to media reports. The demonstrations followed a Supreme Court ruling this week banning government funding of several thousand students who have failed to comply with draft notices issued by the army.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 8, 2013 | By Edmund Sanders
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, one of Israel's most influential ultra-Orthodox spiritual leaders who presided over the Shas political party, has died. He was 93. Yosef died Monday at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. He had been treated in recent weeks for a series of medical conditions, including problems with his back, heart, kidneys and lungs. Strict but pragmatic, the authoritative rabbi held sway over several hundred thousand observant Sephardic Jews, who adhered to his rulings and teachings on marriage, politics and other topics.
WORLD
July 24, 2013 | By Edmund Sanders
JERUSALEM -- Candidates backed by Israel's ultra-Orthodox community won a hotly contested election Monday to decide who will serve as the nation's next chief rabbis. Rabbi David Lau of Modiin will serve as chief rabbi for the Ashkenazi community and Rabbi Yizthak Yosef, son of prominent Israeli Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, will represent Sephardic Jews. In keeping with custom, each will represent the two main communities of Judaism in Israel. The 10-year term puts each man at the helm of a vast system of state-run religious institutions, responsible for thousands of appointments and jobs.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 5, 2013
The Israeli film renaissance that began more than a decade ago with "Late Marriage" is nowhere near its end. The latest evidence: "Fill the Void," a transfixing, emotionally complex drama that won the Venice Film Festival's lead actress award for Hadas Yaron and captured seven Ophirs (the Israeli Academy Awards), including best picture and directing and screenplay honors for Rama Burshtein. Herself a member of the Haredi, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in which "Fill the Void" is set, Burshtein has spent years making movies only for the women of her largely sexually segregated society.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 25, 2013 | By Susan King, Los Angeles Times
Israeli writer-director Rama Burshtein felt a lot of pressure graduating from the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem two decades ago because everyone expected great things from her. "They said, 'She is a promise,"' recalled Burshtein, who was born in New York City but moved to Tel Aviv with her family when she was 1. "I didn't like the weight of that. I knew I needed a break anyway after school to see if this is what I wanted to do. " But she ended up taking a very long break.
NEWS
August 14, 1999 | REBECCA TROUNSON, TIMES STAFF WRITER
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was plunged into crisis late Friday, but not by the peace process, the severe drought or even a troubling summer crime wave. Instead, the first real threat to Barak's 5-week-old coalition came in the form of a 300-ton electric turbine, after the government defied warnings from Israel's largest religious party and decided to transport the giant piece of equipment to a power plant during the Jewish Sabbath.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 24, 2013 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
A mother and daughter anxiously scan the aisles of an Israeli supermarket. They're not looking for fresh produce but rather a clandestine glimpse of a young man a matchmaker has proposed as a potential husband for the daughter. The mother's eye is practiced as he comes into view - "You're going to do a lot of laundry" - but the daughter is delighted. At least for now. Thus begins "Fill the Void," a transfixing, emotionally complex Israeli drama that won the Venice Film Festival's lead actress award for Hadas Yaron.
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