Israel Briefs: Openly Gay Orthodox Rabbi Ordained and More


Openly Gay Orthodox Rabbi Ordained

Daniel Atwood became the first openly gay Orthodox rabbi in Jerusalem when he was ordained on May 26 with a mixed group of men and women, JTA reported.

Prominent American-Israeli Rabbi Daniel Landes granted semicha (ordination), which broke an Orthodox community taboo against homosexuality. The Reconstructionist and Reform movements first ordained gay rabbis in the 1980s. The Conservative movement followed in 2006.

“I was told three years ago that my giving women semicha would create chaos and damage them and their families and dumb-down Torah learning. The opposite has been the case,” Landes said. “Here’s the real question: Is our Torah and halachic system so weak and devoid of resources that it cannot be challenged by a new situation?”

Atwood completed his studies at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York earlier this year, but was told he wouldn’t be ordained — after earlier being told he would.

Atwood said he hoped he would become “a rabbinic presence for LGBT [Jews] and Jews of all sorts, whatever their orientation, who feel left out.”

Attack Tunnel Sealed Off After Examination

A Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnel originating in Lebanon was sealed off with concrete and other materials by the Israel Defense Forces on May 30, The Times of Israel reported.

Before the tunnel, which originated in the Lebanese border town of Ramyeh, was sealed, Israeli military spent time studying its construction, noting that it was the most significant passage the Iran-backed terror group had built.

“This tunnel was the Hezbollah terror group’s flagship tunnel, in which Hezbollah invested a lot of resources and efforts, in which infrastructure was installed to allow terrorists to remain inside it for an extended period and an efficient excavation capability, as well as mobility for the terrorist operatives,” the army said in a statement.

The tunnel was one of six discovered by the IDF over the winter during Operation Northern Shield.

Fishing Zone Off Gaza Strip Reduced

Israel reduced the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip coast from 15 to 10 nautical miles on May 29 after a number of incendiary balloons were released from the Palestinian enclave, starting fires on Israel’s border, The Times of Israel reported.

In recent weeks, Israel has adjusted the zone’s boundaries several times — increasing it to reward calm periods and shrinking it when incendiary balloons are released. Three days prior to the latest action, Israel had increased the zone to 15 miles.

The fishing zone changes are occurring as per terms in an unacknowledged ceasefire with Hamas.

Sara Netanyahu Signs Plea Deal for Lesser Offense

Sara Netanyahu will plead guilty to a charge of “intentionally making use of another’s error” instead of fraud and pay a $15,000 fine, JTA reported.

The wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was facing a fraud charge for allegedly ordering $96,000 in high-end restaurant meals in 2010 and 2013 instead of using the prime minister’s residence’s cook to prepare her food. Regulations prohibit those living in the prime minister’s residence from buying outside meals when a chef is available.

A court must still approve the plea deal.


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