Michele Chabin writes for Religion News Service.
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Jews Rally Around Woman Arrested for Praying at Western Wall
JERUSALEM -- Jews from Manhattan to Mozambique held prayer vigils on Monday to protest the arrest and incarceration of an Israeli feminist as she was leading 250 American Jewish women in prayer at the Western Wall.
The Oct. 16 arrest of Anat Hoffman, who co-founded Women of the Wall to enable Jewish women to pray together at the wall, has elicited outrage, especially from American Jews, the vast majority of whom do not practice Orthodox Judaism.
The wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism, has segregated prayer sections for men and women. Israeli regulations on holy sites forbid “conducting a religious ceremony contrary to accepted practice” and “wearing unfit attire.”
Hoffman was officially arrested on charges of "disturbing public order."
Olympics Won’t Include Memorial Moment for Murdered Israelis
JERUSALEM — Despite international pressure — including support from both U.S. presidential candidates — the International Olympic Committee has refused to include a moment of silence at Friday's (July 27) opening ceremony for Israeli athletes killed by terrorists at the games 40 years ago.
President Obama and his likely GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, have both called for the IOC to honor the 11 Israelis murdered in Munich in 1972.
"We absolutely support the campaign for a moment of silence at the Olympics to honor the Israeli athletes killed in Munich," Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.
IOC President Jacques Rogge said a smaller, more somber ceremony would better memorialize the tragedy.
IOC officials made a brief statement and held a moment of silence on Monday during a pre-Olympics event in London, where the 2012 games begin on Friday.
"I would like to start today's ceremony by honoring the memory of 11 Israeli Olympians who shared the ideals that have brought us together in this beautiful Olympic Village," Rogge said.
Foremost Rabbinic Authority in the World Dies at 102
JERUSALEM — Rabbi Yosef Elyashiv, considered by many the foremost rabbinic authority in the Jewish world, died in Jerusalem on Wednesday. He was 102.
Born in Lithuania, Elyashiv moved to Jerusalem with his family at the age of 14, where he was recognized as a budding Torah scholar.
Throughout his life Elyashiv wielded a huge influence not only among his fellow ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews but with many Sephardi Jews as well.
His rulings on every matter related to Jewish life, usually seen as extremely conservative, have shaped the way hundreds of thousands of haredim (as ultra-Orthodox Jews are often called) conduct their lives and run their communities.
Israel’s Conservative Movement OKs Gay and Lesbian Rabbis
In a landmark decision, the Israeli branch of Conservative Judaism announced that its rabbinical school will begin to accept gay and lesbian candidates for ordination.
Board members of the Schecter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem voted Thursday (April 19) to enroll gay and lesbian students starting in September.
The decision follows years of disagreement between leaders of the Conservative movement in the U.S., which permits openly gay and lesbian rabbis, and Masorti leaders in Israel, who have long resisted demands to be more inclusive.
Passover Prep Takes Spring Cleaning to a Whole New Level
During the month leading up to Passover, which this year begins April 6 at sundown, Chevy Weiss, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish mother with five kids and a demanding career, scrubs and vacuums almost everything in her Baltimore home.
Israeli Postmen Refuse to Deliver Hebrew-language Bibles
JERUSALEM — Israeli postal workers outside Tel Aviv are refusing to deliver thousands of copies of the New Testament and other Hebrew-language Christian materials.
Israel media reported Tuesday (March 6) that dozens of religious and secular Jewish mail deliverers jointly informed their supervisors that disseminating the materials goes against their religious beliefs.
The workers, who deliver mail in Ramat Gan, assert that delivering the items would be tantamount to proselytizing and therefore a violation of Jewish law.
Company Touts 'Medical Tourism" in Israel for Sick Pilgrims
JERUSALEM — Every year, thousands of Americans travel abroad for less-expensive fertility treatments, hip replacements and other medical procedures. Now, an Israel-based tourism company is offering a package that combines medical care with a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
IsraMedica plans to unveil the initiative Thursday (Feb. 16) at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, Tenn.
Eli Knoller, the company's vice president of operations, said IsraMedica already brings about 6,000 nonmedical tourists to Israel every year, the majority of them Christian pilgrims.