Righteous Loopholes, #4, Weinstock.D

Passover is by far one of the most exhausting and important Jewish holidays of the year. It is a holiday that celebrates perhaps one of the most important events in Jewish history: the freeing of the slaves from Egypt. It is a holiday that pushes Jewish dietary law into overdrive, restricting our beloved bagels and challah and replacing it with the reliably underwhelming matzah. Because the jews didn’t have time to wait for their bread to rise when fleeing pharaoh, centuries later we suffer by eating terrible unleavened bread. Primarily cultural jews like myself complain about this stale bread substitute, but the ultra orthodox have to endure a much more rigorous cleansing process because of their values. Values are ideas held by individuals about what is desirable, proper, good, and bad. What individuals value is strongly influenced by the specific culture in which they happen to live. For Israel’s ultra orthodox, not eating food with yeast or grains in it isn’t enough, they must remove anything in their house that has even come in contact with yeast and grains. This includes everything from cutting boards, utensils, and plates in the kitchen to mattresses that have come in contact with crumbs from a PB&J sandwich you ate a month ago in bed. It is no surprise then that instead of going through this exhaustive and wasteful cleansing process, orthodox jews are now renting hotels and other accommodations for the entirety of the passover holiday.

berr9-725x491These kosher hotels are rented out in their entirety for the seven days of the holiday and made completely kosher for Passover under rabbinical supervision. While this may sound like a perfectly viable solution to a costly and painful problem, many of the ultra orthodox believe that this loophole is not an acceptable excuse to shirk your passover duties. “Rabbi Israel Meir Friedman, the rebbe of the Sadigura Hasidic court and a member of the Council of Torah Sages, attacked the phenomenon directly, saying, ‘The order of the day [on Passover eve] is to fulfill the commandment of ‘You shall tell your children.’ [I call on people] not to go to hotels and guesthouses. Everyone and their families should celebrate the Seder [at home] and tell their children the story of the miracle.'” The debate goes back and forth between jews of  varying levels of religiosity and of course it all relates back to their values and interpretation of religious texts. Regardless of your personal thoughts on the matter, it is undeniable that the practice of vacationing for Passover instead of cleansing your house by orthodox standards is increasing in popularity among the religious community. After all, who could say no to leaving the cleansing to someone else and spending passover in Cancun?

Goldman, Mordechai. “Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Skip Passover Cleaning, Go on Vacation – Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East.” Al-Monitor. 28 Apr. 2016. Web. 01 May 2016.

 

 

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Righteous Loopholes, #4, Weinstock.D

Passover Norms Changing, #4, Vega K.

 

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Source: http://en.tourplus.co.il/pesach-kosher-hotels—resorts
As we know by now, a social norm is what society views as “normal” amongst a society. They provide us with expectations about how one should behave and carry themselves within the environment they live in. Norms are very dependent on a couple of factors including the region you live in, your personal social group, and the cultures you identify with. The norms Americans identify with can be quite different from those that the British might identify with. With that being said, there are many norms that exist within America as well with the many different cultures it encompasses. With norms being the standards and expectations that a group is expected to hold, there are of course many types of sanctions that come along with norms. For example, if you decide to skip in line here at UT, your sanction can be anywhere from strange looks to being confronted by angry peers. Not only do norms help us identify with different groups and give us a sort of identity, but they also can provide order and civilization within a society.
Now that we have a basic understanding on what a norm is, we can relate the subject to an event that has been occurring in Israel for some time now. A headline being made known is how Israel’s Ultra- Orthodox Jews are skipping Passover cleaning and going on a “vacation”.  The classic Jewish holiday Passover is well known for the strict rules on eating, and the infamous cleaning of hametz in the household. To ensure all the hametz in the house is long gone, Ultra-Orthodox Jews take part in rigorous cleaning measures. Some of the cleaning takes part in little places like couches and books, which is very time consuming, and to some brings back the horrible memories of the holiday, but it’s seen as a norm to prepare the house for Passover. But as times are changing, we can observe how the norms of society and social groups also change with them. Over recent years, Ultra-orthodox Jews are combating the problem of cleaning every inch of their homes to an easier alternative; why not move out for the week long holiday? Families are now moving out of their homes right before Passover to avoid the cleaning process of their homes. This new norm is becoming more wide spread and more acceptable amongst the culture. The hotels are kosher and can be found in Israel but also a few other places in Europe, making them more widely available and acceptable amongst these Jews. Although some Ultra-orthodox Jews highly frown upon leaving the home for Passover, this new norm is showing high acceptance amongst this social group as well.

Source:

Goldman, Mordechai. “Israel’s ultra-Orthodox skip Passover cleaning, go on vacation– Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East.” Al-Monitor. Al-Monitor, 28 Apr. 2016. Web. 02 May 2016.

 

Passover Norms Changing, #4, Vega K.

The Ultra-Orthadox Values in Education | Banich B. | Assignment #4

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Values are the common ideas shared among groups or individuals  of a culture about what is acceptable or not. It allows people to distinguish what is right from wrong in society. An individual’s values has a great influence on their behavior and serve as a foundation of guidelines in all situations. Values have a voice on every day life and define what is socially accepted. For this reason, values are an individual’s principles or standard of behavior, and define what is important in life. Different cultures hold different values which influences its members of society. One cultural factor that holds a great influence on values is religion. Ones religious values may define their actions and roles, and in some extremities lead them to seclude themselves from the rest of society.

this In Israel, the Ultra-Orthodox group hold a highly particular set of values influenced by their religious beliefs that dictate their every day life. Their religious extremity allows them to hold a vas amount of power in the Knesset, due to the lack of separation of church and state, which allows them to impose their values and ideologies upon other members of society. One example of this is in the field of education.  Naftali Bennett, the minister of education and chairmen of HaBayit HaYehudi, spoke about the “combination of instructing Jewish and Zionist values and instilling universal values.” The “religious politician from the radical right” spoke upon Jewish values in reference to Orthodox Judaism he grew up with. For example, in the “Israel Jewish culture” curriculum he imposed for public schools, fifth graders will be taught around the main topic of “the attachment of the the people and the land.” It is noted that Orthodox organizations receive 95% of the budget to support Jewish culture, while pluralists organizations are left struggling to with the left overs, begging schools for acceptance. This is a political tactic of investing the publics money into education because Bennett knows that “today’s students will be tomorrow’s voters.” For this reason, Yahadut HaTorah and Shas, run independent school systems go to any extreme to reject any attempt to insert core subjects into the curricula. This is an effort to continue imposing the same Ultra-Orthodox values into the young community in order to maintain government power, by insuring the individuals grown and vote for politicians with the same values as them. The Likud, Labor and recently even Yesh Atid dare not to oppose the Ultra-Orthodox “fearing that election day will turn into a day of vengeance” since the coalition has a very small majority. Through enforcing religious teachings, the Ultra-Orthodox  are able to impose their values and maintain power in the exchange of thousands of children paying the price by reaching adulthood “without learning basic life skills.” This lack of proper education minimizes the number of individuals eligible to enter the work force, and essential adds on to the negative downfall towards an increase in poverty within the ultra-religious community.

 

Sources:
“Former Ultra-Orthodox Israelis Sue State for Lack of Secular Education – Israel News.” Haaretz.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2016.
“What Are Values? Definition and Meaning.” BusinessDictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2016.
“How Education Became an Israeli Political Tool – Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East.” Al-Monitor. N.p., 2016. Web. 02 May 2016.
The Ultra-Orthadox Values in Education | Banich B. | Assignment #4

Majority Rule in Israel / #4 / M. Nissen

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Max Weber defines power as “the chance of a man or of a number of men to realize their own will in a social action even against the resistance of others” (Weber, 159). Unlike Marx, Weber argues that while power can stem from economic wealth, power more accurately exists within the realms of classes, status groups, and political parties. Within the realm of the legal order (distinctive from the social and economic orders), parties are “oriented toward the acquisition of social power” and “always involves association…directed towards a goal which is striven for in a planned manner” (Weber, 167). Therefore, for a party to have power it must be able to realize this directed goal despite any opposition from other parties.

In Israel, the government is created by a coalition of political parties within the system in order to establish a majority. The Legislative branch, or the Knesset, holds 120 seats, and a majority coalition must include 61 members (Levine). The current coalition within the Knesset, lead by prime minister and Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, holds the exact minimum for a majority—61. While a coalition system does not exactly fit within Weber’s ideas of power distribution based on political parties because it is more complex than one party gaining power over the others, it does reflect aspects of his ideas. The main idea it reflects is the basic definition that power is created when a group of men (the coalition) is able to realize their own will (legislation) despite resistance or opposition (such as from the other parties of the Knesset). The coalition itself acts in some ways as a party on a simplified and larger scale; parties can have dissent and individual agendas within their members just as the coalition can have dissent and individual agendas between the parties. But both the parties and the coalition act as a group of elected officials trying to push through their own legislation and ideals through various means of compromise. Without compromise on the smaller scale between members of a party on the agenda they most want to push, and on a larger scale for concessions between the parties, the coalition simply won’t get anything done and will collapse. However, as long as the parties exercise their influence within the coalition and make compromises to their own advantage, the coalition will remain intact despite other ostensibly compromising factors, such as a criminal investigation of one of the coalition’s leading members. Currently, such a situation is occurring as Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri is undergoing his second criminal investigation, but there shows no signs of his personal life upsetting the balance within the coalition until a formal indictment is issued (Mualem). The Israeli government seems to have a precarious distribution of power because while the prime minister and the individual parties have the power to push forward their own goals and agendas, they can only maintain power if they works within the system to keep a stable majority number.

 

 

Sources:

“Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu agrees coalition deal,” BBC News. Web. 1 May 2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32618192.

Levine, Jason. “Israel Government & Politics: How Does the Israeli Government Work?” Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 2 May 2016. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Politics/how_govt_works.html.

Mualem, Mazal. “Latest scandal unlikely to rattle Netanyahu’s coalition,” Al-Monitor. Web. 2 May 2016. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/04/netanyahu-kahlon-deri-liberman-corruption-coalition.html.

Weber, Max. “The Distribution of Power Within the Political Community: Class, Status, Power,” Foundations of Classical Sociological Theory, pp. 159-168

Majority Rule in Israel / #4 / M. Nissen

African-American Hip Hop’s Influence on Ethiopian-Israeli youth #4 Brochstein B.

A subculture is most commonly and broadly defined as a social group organized around shared interests and practices, or a cultural group within a larger culture. Subcultures are generally groups that are perceived to deviate from the normative standards of the dominant culture. They are often positioned socially and analytically as disenfranchised, and they also often distinguish themselves as being oppositional, alternative, and countercultural. Subcultures often represent different ethnic groups and other groups that are not represented by the majority of the population. This can refer to people in the LGBTQ community, people with physical and/or mental disabilities, people who dress in fashions that aren’t commonplace, and even people who listen to different kinds of music.

In Israel, pop-rock, MidEastern pop, and trance are all mainstream genres of music, the types of songs that you would hear while out in public or on the radio. However, Israelis of Ethiopian descent, a minority group in Israel, have chosen black/African-American hip hop music as their major source of identification. According to author David Ratner, many immigrants from Ethiopia settle in areas that are dominated by Sephardic Jews and often feel that they suffer from discrimination. Ratner adds that the hip-hop trend may signify an identity crisis and a refusal to integrate into Israeli society. Several Israeli youths of Ethiopian origin feel that African-American hip hop is relatable and helps them establish an identity as black youth in a “white” nation. They believe that they currently face the same struggles and discrimination that African-Americans faced in the USA, and that the music gives them the tools and inspiration to cope with being a part of this Ethiopian-Israeli minority group and to understand what is going on in Israel. According to Ratner, “black music…gives [them] the power to carry on… Israeli youths of Ethiopian origin create an imagined geography — a space of black identity associated with the global black diaspora”.  Ratner identifies rapper Tupac as the biggest source of inpiration to Ethiopian-Israelis due to his unwavering stance on racism. In fact, Amos Harel, a military analyst for Haaretz Daily, explained that a leader in the Ethiopian Protest of 2015 said in an interview that “you wouldn’t find a home in the Ethiopian community where teens live without a poster of Tupac decorating the walls”. It is extremely interesting to hear about how Tupac is a major role model in Israel, considering he died in the United States in 1996. Still, the Ethiopian-Israeli youth counterculture keeps his legacy alive today by fighting to improve Israeli society  not just for themselves but for all Israeli citizens.

Bibliography

Avivi, Yuval. “Tupac Shakur: Hero of Israeli-Ethiopian Musicians – Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East.” Israel Pulse. Al-Monitor, 18 Mar. 2016. Web. 03 May 2016.

Herzog, Mitchell, and Soccio. “Introduction.” Invisible Culture. University of Rochester, 1999. Web. 02 May 2016.

 

African-American Hip Hop’s Influence on Ethiopian-Israeli youth #4 Brochstein B.

Religious Influence in Israeli Education, #4, Ruiz K.

Ultra Orthodox students gesture as they pray during a reading class at the Kehilot Yaacov Torah School for boys in Ramot

Zvulun, Ronen. Many ultra-Orthodox Jews send their children to segregated private schools, with strict controls on curricula, behaviour and dress. Digital image. The Guardian. 3 Sept. 2013. Web.

 

According to the Concise Encyclopedia of Sociology, values is defined as the “beliefs and ideals which form the basis for choices and preferences” (675). Generally, values are the ideas held by a group or an individual as to what is good, bad, desirable, or proper. They propose a certain lifestyle and behavior that construct self identity over time, is one’s discernment on what is valuable or important to them. They “constitute a specific element of every culture: they are closely linked to the symbols, laws, and rituals which regulate the various dimensions of collective life” (676) which can be passed down through generations. Also, values can be greatly influenced by the culture an individual lives in and the religion they identify with due to it playing a significant role in their lives.

Religion deeply influences politics in Israel, and currently the ultra-Orthodox, whose values are greatly impacted by their religion, are trying to gain that political power by changing education curriculum. The minister of education and religious politician from the radical right ultra-Orthodox, Naftali Bennett, is trying to lead and control the nation by building “political power by disseminating nationalist, fundamentalist sentiments” (Eldar). He recently spoke about not only combining Jewish and Zionist values, but instilling universal values as well. However, he’s inculcating his own Orthodox Judaism values he’s been taught as a child. According to the new curriculum that Bennett presented, “students will learn about the Jewish prayer book and teachers will emphasize the fasts marking the destruction of the Jerusalem temples” (Eldar) which . He’s investing the money the public gave to Orthodox organizations which was allocated to support Jewish culture into education, while Pluralistic organizations which “offer critical perspectives on Jewish history and secular Jewish culture are left to gather up the crumbs and beg schools to let them in” (Eldar). He’s influencing children to be taught his Orthodox values by using education as a political tool. Eventually, these children who are taught the Orthodox values will vote for the politicians that hold the same values they do. This gives great political power and advantage to the ultra-Orthodox which has caused the Likud, Labor and Yesh Atid to prevent provoking them due to the fear that “election day will turn into a day of vengeance” (Eldar). The Orthodox, or more specifically Bennett, are moving up the political ladder in Israel as they obtain power by ingraining their religious values through school education.

References

Eldar, Akiva. “How Education Became an Israeli Political Tool – Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East.” Al-Monitor. 28 Apr. 2016. Web.

Ritzer, George, and J. Michael. Ryan. The Concise Encyclopedia of Sociology. Wiley, 2010.

Religious Influence in Israeli Education, #4, Ruiz K.

Israel and democracy? #4 Kim, E.

Values essentially refer to the attitudes people hold with respect to other people or objects on his or her own perspective. It also refers to the general consensus one holds on ethics which defines the actions on how one decides what is right or wrong, and what one “ought” to say, do and live. The concept of value includes personal and social values where personal values become more apparent depending on one’s preference while social values can be more abstract, governing an individual’s behavior within a society.

Israel is a country that prides itself as being the only democratic state in the Middle East. As a democratic state, it has developed a resilient friendship with the U.S. partly because of its endorsement in progressive values such as freedom of religion, speech and human rights like in America. On March 24, an Israeli soldier killed a Palestinian terrorist in the lands of Hebron which brought on a heated debate regarding such values. Claiming that the soldier had done so out of self-defense, his case which was followed by an arrestment brought on dissenting voices among Israel’s political leadership and the public opinion. After all, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stands as the righteous structure in the Israeli national consensus because conscription is so intrinsic along the country’s history and almost every Jewish citizen sees his or her children serving in the army. Indeed, it was no surprise that a public opinion poll stated that the majority of Israeli public believed that the soldier should not have been arrested. On the other hand, the IDF criticized the soldier’s action saying that it was against the IDF moral code which emphasized both strength and morality, standing up for the state’s democratic values. The result was mass slandering on the IDF’s stance by right-wing politicians and public opinion. On the other hand, Palestinians were not so impressed by the IDF’s democratic efforts. They called the incident a cold-blooded murder and said that it was the Israeli army that killed 200 Palestinians, who were mostly defenseless, in the beginning of the current waves of violence. The military was further denounced for setting off extreme-right activists who attacked Palestinian civilians and destroyed their properties in Palestinian neighborhoods in the settlements. That being said, Israel’s democratic values are in jeopardy as its flaws of democracy keeps being politicized domestically and internationally as questions keep coming up on whether it can remain democratic at the same time as they are occupying other people.

Sources:

Savir, Uri. “Has Israeli army become defender of democracy?” Al-Monitor. Apr. 2016. Web. 02 May 2016. <http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/04/israel-idf-eizenkot-defender-democracy-war-crimes-turkey.html&gt;

Israel and democracy? #4 Kim, E.