Globe Briefs November 5

Globe Briefs November 5

Israel sends condolences to Russia over Sinai plane

Israel sent its condolences to Russia over the crash of a Russian passenger plane in the Sinai that killed all 224 people aboard, including a former program director for Hillel Russia.

“I offer condolences to the government of Russia, to President Putin, to the Russian people and, of course, to the families of the victims,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. “This was a very serious disaster. We share in their grief. We are, of course, in continuous contact with the governments of Russia and of Egypt regarding the circumstances of the incident.”

The Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for bringing down the Kogalymavia flight on Saturday, saying it was in retaliation for Russian airstrikes on rebels in Syria’s civil war. Russia’s Transportation Ministry rejected the claim, saying the group did not offer any evidence as to how it was able to cause the plane to crash.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail said experts do not believe that weapons held by the Islamic State could down a plane at the altitude of the flight when it came down, the BBC reported.

Russian officials opened an investigation into the crash, looking for gross negligence and safety violations.

Among the passengers was Anna Tishinskaya, 27, an ex-Hillel program director.

Israel Defense Forces spokesman Peter Lerner posted on Twitter that the IDF assisted with aerial surveillance in efforts to locate the flight, which was traveling from the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg in Russia

Three airlines — Emirates, Air France and Lufthansa — have decided not to fly over the Sinai Peninsula until a determination is made as to how the plane crashed, the BBC reported.

Rabbinical Council of America officially bans ordination, hiring of women rabbis

The Rabbinical Council of America, the main modern Orthodox rabbinical group, formally adopted a policy prohibiting the ordination or hiring of women rabbis.

The policy announced last week by the RCA came after a direct vote of its membership, according to the organization.

The resolution states: “RCA members with positions in Orthodox institutions may not ordain women into the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title used; or hire or ratify the hiring of a woman into a rabbinic position at an Orthodox institution; or allow a title implying rabbinic ordination to be used by a teacher of Limudei Kodesh in an Orthodox institution.”

Limudei Kodesh refers to religious studies.

“This resolution does not concern or address non-rabbinic positions such as Yoatzot Halacha (advisers on Jewish law), community scholars, Yeshiva University’s Graduate Program for Women in Advanced Talmudic Study and non-rabbinic school teachers,” the resolution concludes. “So long as no rabbinic or ordained title such as “Maharat” is used in these positions and so long as there is no implication of ordination or a rabbinic status, this resolution is inapplicable.”

Maharat is an acronym meaning female spiritual, legal and Torah leader. It is a designation granted by Yeshivat Maharat, an institution for women in Riverdale, N.Y., founded by Rabbi Avi Weiss.

In 2010, following the establishment of Yeshivat Maharat, the RCA issued a resolution on women’s communal roles stating that the RCA “reaffirms its commitment to women’s Torah education and scholarship at the highest levels and to the assumption of appropriate leadership roles within the Jewish community. We strongly maintain that any innovations that impact the community as a whole should be done only with the broad support of the Orthodox rabbinate and a firm grounding in the eternal mesorah (tradition) of the Jewish people.”

A follow-up 2013 resolution on Yeshivat Maharat, as it ordained its first cohort of maharats, said: “Due to our aforesaid commitment to sacred continuity, however, we cannot accept either the ordination of women or the recognition of women as members of the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title. The RCA views this event as a violation of our mesorah (tradition) and regrets that the leadership of the school has chosen a path that contradicts the norms of our community.”

Dutch food authority recommends banning kosher slaughter

The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority advised the government to ban ritual slaughter of animals, citing pain and suffering caused to them in the process.

The recommendation appeared in a report by the authority’s risk-assessment bureau, the NRC Handelsblad reported last week.

“Ban, from a point of view of animal welfare, the killing of conscious animals and especially cattle,” the daily quoted from the recommendation. “If the slaughter of conscious cattle continues anyway,” the recommendation’s authors wrote, then slaughtered animals must not be handled as long as they display signs of life.

In 2012, the Dutch senate scrapped legislation passed the previous year that amounted to a ban on kosher and halal slaughter because it required all animals be rendered unconscious before they are killed. Both Muslim and Jewish religious law requires animals be conscious when their necks are cut.

The law had been submitted by the left-leaning Dutch Party for Animals supported by the right-wing Party for Freedom, which is opposed to Muslim immigration to the Netherlands.

The authority said it opposed ritual slaughter because it means that animals may take more than 45 seconds to die, during which time they may be subjected to stress and pain.

The Dutch Israelite Religious Community has argued that the strict rules of shechitah, the Hebrew word for kosher slaughter, assure minimum suffering that does not exceed that of non-kosher slaughterhouses.