By Ira Sharkansky
JERUSALEM–Despite the fact that Israel defines itself as a “Jewish state,” and does not insist on a separation between religion and the state, it is more secular than that other country that does proclaim a separation. Despite unknown sums of money poured into religious education and the support of synagogues (and a bit of public money spent on institutions of the Christian, Muslim and Druze communities), more Israeli Jews identify as secular than religious. Issues that are hot buttons in the United States, like homosexuality and abortion, are less troublesome here. Until recently one could say that Israel had bi-passed the quarrel about evolution.
A week ago the man with the exalted title of Chief Scientist in the Ministry of Education proclaimed his opposition both to global warming and evolution, and promised to assure that the school children of Israel would not be brainwashed in either. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1151223.html
All of Israel’s ministries have a “chief scientist.” One wonders if their task is to ride herd on the lesser mortals on the ministry’s payroll, or if it a job for the minister to give a supporter with scientific credentials. This scientist has a PhD from the Technion, and worked in the field of aeronautics. No less important was his two decades activity in the Likud Party, including an unsuccessful run for a seat in the Knesset. The current Minister of Education is a Likud Member of Knesset, who until now seemed competent in his job. He has distanced himself from his appointee’s comments, but he has not yet taken steps to unappoint him.
According to the chief scientist.
“There are those for whom evolution is a religion and are unwilling to hear about anything else. Part of my responsibility, in light of my position with the Education Ministry, is to examine textbooks and curricula . . . If they keep writing in textbooks that the Earth is growing warmer because of carbon dioxide emissions, I’ll insist that isn’t the case.”
“Another scientific field that is problematic is biology, or life and environmental sciences. When your doctrine is based on Darwin’s theory of evolution and its implications, you are standing on unreliable foundations – that is, there is no God, there was only something primeval, and then there are certain random developments which led to the apex of all creation, the human being.
“Today I am pleased that more and more scientists engaged in pure science, rather than being employed in the name of an ideology, are reaching the conclusion that the world must have a master. Nothing is given to chance.”
The people who have won more than their share of Nobel Prizes are roiling in protest. The Rector and President of The Hebrew University have sent us all a note asking that we spend a few minutes in class talking about the controversy. Their letter emphasizes the role of the university as the home of rational science. It describes the accomplishments in medicine and physics that derive from an evolutionary perspective, admits the controversies about global warming, and asserts that science provides room for challenge and continuing research. They conclude with a firm condemnation of the chief scientist, and his failure to recognize the distinction between science and belief. They assert that there is room for both in the university, provided they are not confused, and urge the Minister of Education to assure that in every Israeli school the students learn the essence of the scientific method so they can judge correctly what is known about evolution and global warming.
There may be no better demonstration about the isolation of the latter community than a picture of youngsters costumed for a Purim party in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Sharerim.
CARLSBAD (Press Release)–Temple Etz Rimon’s Friday Night service Feb 26th will feature the 7th graders leading much of the service including reading of the Megillah. Congregants and children are asked to come in costume and be prepared to cheer the hero, and boo the villian. Groggers will be provided. More details available from the congregation at (760) 929-9503
Preceding provided by Temple Etz Rimon
CARDIFF BY THE SEA, California (Press Release)– Temple Solel will host its annual Purim Carnival on Sunday February 28 from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The carnival—which raises funds for religious school and Hebrew students on financial assistance—will showcase a Pony Hop, inflatables, and a 9-Hole Mini Golf Course. With over 15 other exciting activities, games, and cakewalks, this year’s event has something for people of all ages. The general public is invited to attend, and ticket discounts are available. The temple is located at 3575 Manchester Avenue in Cardiff, with overflow parking at Mira Costa College and free shuttles to and from the temple. This is a great way to spend an afternoon of fun, food, and games with family and friends. For more information, contact Tarra Schulman at firstname.lastname@example.org .
SAN DIEGO (Press Release)–A festive Purim Carnival will be held at Congregation Beth Am on Sunday, February 28, 2010 from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. The Jewish Learning Center is hosting this family event at the synagogue at 5050 Del Mar Heights Road, in Carmel Valley. Come in costume and join in the celebration! Costumes are optional.
This fun-filled day includes carnival games, food, crafts, prizes, a game truck with Guitar Hero, Wii, X-box and Playstation, hamentashen, friends, family and fun.
The community is welcome! Ticket Wrist Bands will be available for sale at the door. They are $20 each for unlimited play. For further information contact Anat at 858-481-2869.
On Saturday, February 27, come in costume and join Rabbi Matthew Earne and Rabbi David Kornberg for the Congregation Beth Am family Megillah reading at 6:30pm. and traditional Megillah reading at 8:30pm.