Reuters blog archive
from Photographers' Blog:
By Ronen Zvulun
Coming back home at 5am sunrise, I was just beginning to digest the grand event I was lucky to witness and cover: the wedding of the grandson of one of the most influential spiritual leaders in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community.
The wedding, attended by some 25,000 people, was a massive event that was conducted like a military operation.
How do you take care of thousands of people, feed them, accommodate them, seat them and provide safety for the huge crowd? There was a 20-story stand that needed to hold thousands of dancing Hasidic men.
“One million plastic cups” bragged one of the ultra-Orthodox men who I was squeezed in next to. A team responsible for managing the event were running around, communicating through radio headsets. A control room overlooked every corner of the venue and a production company was responsible for the live coverage of the celebration, which was displayed on large screens placed throughout the neighborhood, giving people who couldn't make it into the venue itself an opportunity to witness the wedding.
The pope's latest denunciation of gay marriage came in a Christmas address to Vatican officials in which he blended religion, philosophy, anthropology and sociology to illustrate the position of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Israeli military is mustering battlefield rabbis in what it calls a campaign to promote religious values in its frontline ranks. The move, announced in the latest issue of the military's official weekly magazine, Bamahane, drew fire on Monday from one of Israel's most popular newspaper columnists, who cautioned against creating a "God's Army."
(A halal butcher in Geneva, August 23, 2010/Denis Balibouse)
The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Martijn de Koning is a Dutch anthropologist in the Faculty of Religious Studies at Radboud University in Nijmegen. This is an shortened version of an analysis originally posted on his blog CLOSER.
By Martijn de Koning
The Dutch parliament has voted to ban ritual animal slaughter. In a proposal condemned by Muslim and Jewish organisations, the Party for the Animals wanted a complete ban on dhabiha and shechita -- the ritual slaughtering by Muslims and Jews -- in cases where the animals were not stunned before being killed. The ban will mostly affect orthodox Jews since all of the shechita slaughtering involves animals fully conscious, while in the case of dhabiba this is the case in only 25%-40%. In order to get this bill passed through the lower house of parliament (a second vote is necessary in the Senate), a compromise was established: Jewish and Muslim communities have a year to provide evidence that animals slaughtered by dhabiba and shechita (and not stunning them) do not experience more pain than those animals that are stunned before killing.
Two leading Jewish organizations in Europe vowed on Wednesday to fight a looming ban on ritual animal slaughter in the Netherlands approved by the lower house of the Dutch parliament in a bid to protect animal rights.
The Israeli military is embroiled in a public battle over whether God ought to be mentioned at memorial rites for fallen soldiers. The ferocity of the debate, going to the heart of Israel's secular and religious Jewish divide, prompted the intervention on Monday of a parliamentary panel that urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's fractious cabinet to decide the issue.
A leading Israeli official has praised Pope Pius XII for saving Jews during the Nazi occupation of Rome, a surprise twist in a long-standing controversy over the pontiff's wartime role. The comments by Mordechay Lewy, the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, were some of the warmest ever made by a Jewish official about Pius. Most have been very critical of his record.
Lewy, speaking at a ceremony on Thursday night to honor an Italian priest who helped Jews, said that Catholic convents and monasteries had opened their doors to save Jews in the days following a Nazi sweep of Rome's Ghetto on October 16, 1943.
A lattice of corrugated iron Star of Davids marks Afghanistan's only working synagogue, a white-washed, two-storey building tucked into a sidestreet in the centre of Kabul. Kebabs, carpets and flowers are served and sold on the ground floor of the synagogue, which has been transformed into businesses over the last 18 months by the country's sole remaining Jew, who lives upstairs in a small pink room.
In the capital of one of the world's most religiously-diverse countries, a rabbi who has never been ordained bends ancient customs, ensuring New Delhi's ten Jewish families a place to worship. Unlike most synagogues, there is no separation of men and women as Jewish-born worshippers, converts and followers of other faiths chant Psalms in perfect Hebrew, with doors thrown open to all. The service leader never asks attendees what religion they follow, and envisions his daughter becoming India's first female rabbi.
A small group of Jewish pilgrims gathered on an Tunisian island to visit one of Africa's oldest synagogues but worries over continued unrest kept many away from the annual event. About 5,000 pilgrims from Tunisia and abroad usually travel each May to the El Ghriba synagogue on Djerba island in the south to mark Lag BaOmer, a holiday which follows Passover.