14th Amendment comes to Zion: Israel to fund all abortions for women 20-33 starting next year

English: There is a prohibition on the use of ...

English: There is a prohibition on the use of federal government funds for abortion in the United States. However, some states fund abortions out of their own revenues. State funds abortions through legislation State funds abortions under court order (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CDC chart on the number of abortions in the Un...

CDC chart on the number of abortions in the United States over time through 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soviet poster circa 1925. Title translation: &...

Soviet poster circa 1925. Title translation: “Abortions performed by either trained or self-taught midwives not only maim the woman, they also often lead to death.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Israel to fund all abortions for women 20-33 starting next year

Another 6,300 women are expected to have a state-funded abortion next year, at a cost of about $4.6 million.

Israel will pay for abortions for women aged 20 to 33 regardless of circumstance starting next year, health officials said Monday, adding that they hope to make eligibility for state funding universal in the future.

Until now, subsidized abortions for women of all ages were available in medical emergencies or in case of rape and sexual abuse. Women under the age of 20 or over 40 were also eligible for abortion funding even when the reason was personal.

Despite the new funding, which was recently approved as part of Israel’s state-subsidized “health basket” for 2014, women will still have to appear before a state committee before terminating a pregnancy.

The new rule opens it up for 6,300 more women to have a state-funded abortion next year, at a cost of about 16 million shekels ($4.6 million). The cost of all state-subsidized abortions is estimated at 24 million shekels a year.

Monday’s news was announced by the committee that determines which medicines and medical technologies will be added to the 2014 health basket. The health-basket committee is headed by the director of Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Prof. Jonathan Halevy.

“It was brought to our attention that there is a large group of women between 20 and 40 who for various reasons – financial or reasons of secrecy – do not terminate pregnancies,” Halevy told a press conference. “In the current basket we’ve approved funding for pregnancy termination for women in the 20-to-33 age group, with the intention of completing the process … and raising the age to 40.”

The committee is keeping contraceptives outside the health basket, but Halevy said this was only due to a lack of funds. “The private expense for birth control pills is low, but when we’re talking about financing for the entire population, that’s a hefty sum,” he said.

The committee’s original list came in 2.5 million shekels short of the 300-million-shekel budget for additions, so the panel tried to add a drug for children’s joint diseases. But that medicine would only apply to around 10 children, and attempts to get the manufacturer to lower the price failed. Instead, the committee expanded its original decision on abortion funding; it increased the age for funding on demand to 33 from 30.

The committee approved 83 new drugs and medical technologies for 2014, items expected to serve some 375,000 Israelis at a total additional cost of 300 million shekels, on top of the 7.8-billion-shekel budget for medicines and technologies already in the health basket. The basket now goes to the Health Ministry for approval; it also needs cabinet approval.

Cancer drugs make up 41 percent of the new additons, some 121 million shekels. In recent years this figure was 35 percent to 38 percent. Other treatments added include vaccinations, tests and support technologies.

For 2013 the committee added 88 new drugs that affected some 300,000 Israelis – an attempt to include as many patients as possible. The committee tried to keep to this philosophy this year; it began its deliberations in early October and whittled its list down from 650 drugs and technologies.

Among new items approved for 2014 are the drugs Stribild and Tivicay for HIV carriers, and six new drugs for asthma and other lung diseases. The budget has also been increased for cystic-fibrosis patients. Five drugs were approved for schizophrenia and the use of current drugs has been expanded.

Patients with severe Parkinson’s disease will be disappointed as the drug Duodopa, considered highly effective, was not added to the list. Its annual cost is estimated at 62 million shekels. The committee declined to commit 21 percent of the additional funding to a single drug. Nine drugs for diabetes were also all left off the list. The committee also did not add hormonal birth control or IUDs to the basket.

All committee decisions are unanimous. Unlike previous years, the panel finished its work in the early evening and did not stay up until the middle of the night or well into the following morning. The add-on list had been whittled down to 380 million shekels by midday Monday.

Year in review || 2013, the year Israel took Hollywood by storm


Israeli film and TV had a stellar year with awards, acquisitions and announcements galore.

Supermodel Bar Refaeli on the set of 'Kidon.'

Aimee Neistat

Natalie Portman Photo by Reuters

Israel may have had its fair share of diplomatic bloopers and blunders in 2013, ranging from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s absence at Nelson Mandela’s funeral to increasing international boycotts of settlement goods and Israeli academia. Despite these misfortunes, Israel did succeed in getting a particularly warm welcome in at least one place this past year: Hollywood.

Sure, recent years have seen Israeli dramas such as “Homeland” and “In Treatment” get adapted for American TV, and more and more Israeli films garner critical acclaim both in Tinseltown and at home, but 2013 seemed like an especially successful year for Israeli entertainment – which generated good news for the country and offered up just what showbiz is supposed to: a healthy dose of escapism from the daily grind. Here’s our rundown of the Israeli film and TV industry’s stellar year (and a look at some of what’s to come in 2014).

Double duty at the Oscars

It all started in January with the announcement that two controversial Israeli documentaries would go head-to-head at the Oscars. “The Gatekeepers” and Israeli-Palestinian co-production “5 Broken Cameras” were both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. There was some debate as to whether these films, which shed a less-than-positive light on the occupation, best represented the Jewish state – but in the end it didn’t really matter: They both lost out to Swedish-U.K. coproduction “Searching for Sugar Man.”

Despite the dashed Oscar hopes, “The Gatekeepers” and “5 Broken Cameras” raked in other prestigious awards. The former picked up the Ophir Award – commonly referred to as the “Israeli Oscar” – for Best Documentary and the Cinema for Peace Award for Most Valuable Documentary, while “5 Broken Cameras” clinched the International Emmy Award for Best Documentary.

From ‘Bethlehem’ to badass

“Bethlehem,” about the complex relationship between an Israeli Shin Bet agent and a Palestinian teenager who serves as his informant, went home with six Ophir Awards and it was also Israel’s submission for best foreign film at next year’s Oscars. Sadly, it failed to make the shortlist, but don’t feel too bad: It did win Best Film at the Venice Days Film Festival and score a big distribution deal with Adopt Films, which promised to screen “Bethlehem” in at least 35 cities across the United States.

Meanwhile, “Big Bad Wolves,” a thriller about a rogue cop and other colorful characters, also did well at the Ophir Awards, taking home five of them – but some film buffs might think that honor pales in comparison to the killer endorsement it got across the pond: None other than director Quentin Tarantino – who knows a thing or two about successful (and violent) flicks – called it “the best film of the year” during a Q&A session at the 18th Busan International Film Festival in South Korea.

Natalie Portman and Gal Gadot: Trading places?

Awards aside, 2013 also brought some exciting news from Israelis working in Hollywood. The first was about Jerusalem-born Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman coming to town: She reportedly has already rented an apartment in Tel Aviv and is set to make her directing debut with an adaptation of Amos Oz’s novel “A Tale of Love and Darkness.” (Naturally, she also stars in it.) On her first trip to the Holy Land after the project was announced, the good Jewish girl – who promised to act in Hebrew – kept a low profile, but that hasn’t stopped the Israeli paparazzi from hounding her while she’s here.

More recently, news broke that Hollywood finally found its Wonder Woman – and she is Israeli. Gal Gadot, who has starred in the “Fast and Furious” film franchise in recent years, apparently used her super powers (or super sex appeal), to land the coveted role of the female superhero. She’ll be starring alongside Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill in the tentatively titled “Batman vs. Superman,” scheduled for release in July 2015.

The Israeli film 'The Gatekeepers.'

The Israeli film ‘The Gatekeepers.’Toldot Yisrael

Animated Anne Frank

Moving on to off-screen heroines, director Ari Folman announced he would write and direct an animated feature based on the diary of Anne Frank. (Folman also made other news this year with his latest release, “The Congress,” starring Robin Wright, which was named best animated feature film at the 26th European Film Awards.)

The director, who used the Sabra and Chatila massacres as the starting point for his award-winning “Waltz with Bashir,” said he plans on making the Anne Frank picture a family-oriented film. Whatever his approach to the Holocaust victim’s story, it is sure to be more tasteful than that of pop singer Justin Bieber, who visited the Anne Frank House this year and wrote in its guestbook, “Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.”

Agent Bar

Clearly no roundup of Israeli showbiz would be complete without a mention of Bar Refaeli, so here is a mention of Bar Refaeli: After much anticipation – and even an attempt to block the film’s distribution – “Kidon,” based on the assassination of a Hamas bigwig in Dubai, premiered this year. In it, Refaeli plays a sexy Mossad agent-honey trap, who seduces a senior Hamas operative. We didn’t see the film, but we’re guessing she didn’t need Method acting lessons to be convincing.

And now to the small screen…

The successes of 2013 were not limited to Israeli film, as international producers picked up several more Israeli television shows, ranging from weighty dramas to a new twist on the “American Idol”-type singing competition.

Timberman-Beverly Productions bought the rights to “Yaldei Rosh Hamemshala” (“The Prime Minister’s Children”), co-created by Noa Rotman, the granddaughter of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, while NBCUniversal took on a project based in Jerusalem: a six-episode series called “Dig.” Co-written by the man behind “Homeland,” Gideon Raff, “Dig” is about an FBI agent investigating the murder of a female archaeologist. Initial reports said it would be set entirely in the Holy City – included East Jerusalem – but after pressure from Palestinians, NBCUniversal denied it had plans to shoot in the City of David National Park or the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. Sadly, even entertainment can’t avoid clashing with politics when it comes to Jerusalem.

On the reality front, “Rising Star,” the singing competition, was sold to France’s M6 Group shortly after its local debut, and broadcasters in other countries like ABC in the U.S. and ITV in Britain also snatched it up. Why is it so popular? Well, it lets at-home audiences vote for contestants using their smartphone or tablet during live broadcasts. In other words, the interactive TV we’ve all been waiting for is finally here.

Finally, lest you think this is a one-way street, an American show adapted for Israeli TV has been doing well here this year, too: “The X Factor.” It’s got an all-star panel of judges, high production quality and – you guessed it – Bar Refaeli. She not only hosts the popular show, but promoted it with a steamy clip in which she toys with notoriously grumpy American reality show judge Simon Cowell.


English: The delegates at the First Zionist Co...

English: The delegates at the First Zionist Congress in 1897 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Publicity photo of Zev Vladimir Jabot...

English: Publicity photo of Zev Vladimir Jabotinsky in uniform during World War One (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zionism - the cancer within

Zionism – the cancer within (Photo credit: fsgm)

Zionism upgraded

Zionism upgraded (Photo credit: Bright Tal (Political))

Publicity photo of Zeev Jabotinsky, founder of...

Publicity photo of Zeev Jabotinsky, founder of the revisionnist party in 1925, a right wing political Zionist party. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The main differences between the 1947 partitio...

The main differences between the 1947 partition proposal and 1949 armistice lines are highlighted in light red and magenta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Theodor Herzl, a key figure in the development...

Theodor Herzl, a key figure in the development of Zionism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean...

English: Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean sea in the background, in Rishon LeZion. עברית: דגל ישראל בראשון לציון (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flag of Israel (pleas avoid use it in an abusi...

Flag of Israel (pleas avoid use it in an abusive manner) Author: MathKnight 20px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shavit’s Distorted Vision vs. Jabotinsky’s Clarity

…The Zionist leadership did what was necessary to create the state, and despite what anti-Zionist revisionist historians say, did not engage in mass murder (as Arabs did whenever possible)….And we do not “owe them” a state. In fact, because a Palestinian Arab state in Judea and Samaria is simply incompatible with the continued existence of the Jewish state — a result of military realities and Arab and Muslim intentions — we are obligated to oppose such a state.

28 December ’13..

Yesterday Ha’aretz reporter Ari Shavit was interviewed on NPR about his new book. Let me start by saying that Shavit is not a foaming anti-Zionist like his colleagues Gideon Levy, Amira Hass and (formerly) Akiva Eldar. And I have to admit that I haven’t read his book. But the interview reveals a certain mindset that is disturbingly common among the supposedly sane Left in Israel.

For example, Shavit said,

It was part of the Ottoman [Empire] – and the entire region was, like, chaotic and tribal. So one has to remember, they did not conquer a well-established state, but those other people were there. And my great grandfather did not see them. Now, that’s the source of the tragedy, because on the one hand, you have this amazing triumph that is a result of the brilliant insight [of Zionism]. On the other hand, you have this ongoing tragedy of a 100-year war – more than that – that is the result of that basic flaw, that we did not see the Palestinians and the Palestinians would not see us, and…

This isn’t true, at least for those Zionists with decent eyesight. It was clear to Vladimir Jabotinsky as early as 1923, that as much as some of the more tender-minded Zionists believed that it would be possible to share sovereignty over the land with the Arabs, the Arabs would never willingly agree to it. Zionism does not require expulsion or expropriation of the Arabs, he believed, but it does require Jewish sovereignty, a Jewish state, and he was certain that this couldn’t come about through a voluntary agreement.

The collision of Jews and Arabs in the land of Israel was bound to have a winner and a loser, and Jabotinsky was convinced that a Jewish victory was not immoral, any more than an Arab victory — which history has shown us would have been far bloodier — would have been. Zionism was moral because there was no alternative for the Jews, while there were many for Arabs. But that doesn’t mean the Arabs have to be happy about it.

This is where Shavit’s own vision is distorted. For him, the only moral solution is one in which both Jews and Arabs are satisfied. Unfortunately there is no such solution. The choice is between a Jewish state and the survival of the Jewish people, or the opposite of that.

Shavit is full of guilt, as if there were another option which we could have chosen! As a paradigm for Zionist crimes, he discusses the expulsion of the Arabs from Lydda, a very controversial incident. Shavit concludes that Israel “owes” the Palestinians something — a state. He sees this obligation as absolute, just as he believes that they have an obligation to tolerate our state.

He is wrong. What we, as Zionists, are obligated to do is to create and maintain our Jewish state while doing as little harm to the Arabs as possible. Especially compared to other nationalisms — particularly Arab nationalism — we have done so. The Zionist leadership did what was necessary to create the state, and despite what anti-Zionist revisionist historians say, did not engage in mass murder (as Arabs did whenever possible). Certainly some Arabs were expelled from their homes, mostly — as in the case of Lydda — because of the conflict they were engaged in. Shavit’s feelings of guilt are inappropriate.

And we do not “owe them” a state. In fact, because a Palestinian Arab state in Judea and Samaria is simply incompatible with the continued existence of the Jewish state — a result of military realities and Arab and Muslim intentions — we are obligated to oppose such a state.

Link: http://fresnozionism.org/2013/12/shavit-vs-jabotinsky/

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The Italian – throws the cup against the wall, breaks it and walks away in a fit of rage!

The German – carefully washes the cup, sterilizes it and makes a new cup of coffee.

The Frenchman – takes out the fly and drinks the coffee.

The Chinese – eats the fly and throws away the coffee.

The Russian – drinks the coffee with the fly, since it came with no extra charge.

The Israeli – sells the coffee to the Frenchman, sells the fly to the Chinese, sells the cup to the Italian, drinks a cup of tea and uses the extra money to invent a device that prevents flies from falling into coffee.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian – blames the Israeli for the fly falling into his coffee, protests the act to the UN as an act of aggression, takes a loan from the European Union to buy a new cup of coffee, uses the money to purchase explosives and then blows up the coffee house where the Italian, Frenchman, Chinese, German and Russian are all trying to explain to the Israeli that he should give his cup of tea to the Palestinian!

Pressure builds to set exchange rate floor ( Reblogged)

English: Map of the north Samaria area, west b...

English: Map of the north Samaria area, west bank/Israel. עברית: מפה של צפון השומרון (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer

Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pressure builds to set exchange rate floor

A senior financial system source told “Globes” that a shekel-dollar “floor rate” requires a government and Knesset consensus.

25 December 13 13:09, Adrian Filut

“The Bank of Israel’s policy regarding the dollar has been relatively successful until today, but must be considered anew and adapted to the new circumstances,” a senior source in the financial system told “Globes” after the US currency dropped beneath the psychological threshold of NIS 3.5/$. This follows the US Federal Reserve’s announcement that it will start tapering its bond purchasing program.

According to the source, “The Bank of Israel has employed the same policies for five years already, and it seems they have reached the end of their road.”

Last Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve announced that it will taper its bond purchases in the open market, but that, in parallel, interest is expected to remain near zero for a long time. Following the announcement, the dollar strengthened slightly against the shekel, but then began weakening again.

Under former Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer, the Central Bank employed a policy of discreet intervention when there was volatility in the nominal effective exchange rate (unadjusted weighted average value of Israel’s currency relative to the currencies of Israel’s primary trade partners) that could not be explained by market forces. Currently, the Bank of Israel is consistently refusing to adhere to this policy, and is ignoring the crisis facing exporters and its possible effects on the economy. The Bank of Israel points out that the dollar’s effective exchange rate has not changed significantly since May.

According to the same senior source, there are several possible ways to act: “One way,” he says, “is to set a floor for the exchange rate. However, this is dangerous process, because it does not allow for its results to be blurred, and it puts the Bank of Israel’s reputation and credibility on the line.”

According to him, in order to take such a measure, wall-to-wall support would be necessary, from all sources related to fiscal policy – the Ministry of Finance, the Prime Minister, and the Knesset. “A strong, unified front is required to implement such a policy,” he says.

However, “Globes” was informed that there are objections to the idea at the Bank of Israel, particularly around Governor of the Bank of Israel Dr. Karnit Flug.

Another means he suggested is to halt intervention and to “allow the rate to reach its level.” But, in such a case, he emphasizes, “We don’t know what the rate will be, or what the consequences will be for the Israeli economy, exporters, and the manufacturing sector.” He also raises the possibility of “thinking outside the box,” and says that “to the extent that the problem is rooted in exports and the competitiveness of Israeli services and products in the world, we must take steps that won’t disrupt the whole macro-economic system, and extend special aid to the export sector,” but, he adds, “This aid must be extended without violating international agreements.”

Regarding the question of what is behind the continued strengthening of the shekel versus the dollar, he says: “There is the effect of the [natural] gas, alongside our success in exports. Fischer always said it is hard to attain a strong economy and a weak currency. Moreover, Israel is attractive for investment. That said, I don’t think the issue here is extensive speculation, as a few market sources have described.”

Inflated rate

The senior source’s statements join the idea that Bank of Israel Monetary Committee member Prof. Alex Cukierman shared with Bloomberg. “Setting a floor for the dollar is a policy that I would not reject out of hand,” Cukierman said, breaking the taboo, and standing up as the first formal source who agreed to address the burning issue “on the record.”

Cukierman qualified his statements and explained that this is a step that should only be considered in “extreme situations,” as a result of sharp shekel appreciation, but did not specify what an “extreme rate” would be.

The Monetary Committee member also said that there are tools that he would prefer to employ first, for example, imposing taxes (what he called fiscal measures), in order to slow the short-term flow of capital.

Cukierman also admitted that the shekel-dollar exchange rate is inflated, and said that a significant part of the shekel’s appreciation over the past year is temporary, and not a direct result of fundamental market forces.

Last week, the Central Bureau of Statistics published a report on the balance of payment current account, according to which a sharp drop was recorded in the third quarter of 2013 – from a surplus of $1.5 billion to a deficit of $300 million in the current account. Such a drop should have caused a sharp depreciation of the shekel, but did not.

Exporters and manufacturers are calling upon the Bank of Israel to set a minimum rate, at least for the short term, until the long-term measures take effect and begin to show real signs that they are working.

The pressure was redirected towards Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, who is very troubled by the goings on in the foreign currency exchange and their impact on exports, and in recent weeks he has held numerous discussions that revolved around the issue of the “dollar floor.” However, the topic has been dropped from the Ministry’s agenda.

The Bank of Israel and the Ministry of Finance declined to comment on the report.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – www.globes-online.com – on December 25, 2013

Shall we dance? Rabbi-approved salsa


Shall we dance? Rabbi-approved salsa

Ballroom dancing trend taking hold among many religious couples. Teachers dress modestly, classes are given individually, and during Niddah partners join classes with members of their own sex

One tango show knocked Nir Eliyahu’s life off its course. About a decade ago, Eliyahu, a young religious man from Jerusalem, ended his role as a deputy company commander in the Duvdevan elite special forces unit. He went on vacation in South America and planned to start a company commanders’ course upon his return.

“In Buenos Aires I saw a tango performance, and that’s where my mouth opened and failed to close – it was amazing, and I decided that I wanted to bring that into my life,” he says.

Dance Floor
Hit among religious women: Women-only dancing sessions held once a month; women groove to hip hop
Full story

Upon his return toIsrael, Eliyahu decided to give up on his military career and registered for the Eli Mizrahi Ballroom Dance School. Mizrahi took notice of the young religious man’s talent and enthusiasm, and suggested that he specialize in the field.

At the same time, Eliyahu received a job offer at the Defense Ministry but shoes the first option, surprising his acquaintances.

“Even today, when I tell people what I do for a living, they usually raise an eyebrow in wonder – how can a religious guy be a dancing teacher?” he says.

‘I find a religious aspect in dancing.’ Nir and Meital Eliyahu (Photo: Leon Sokoletski)

Since then, Eliyahu and his wife Meital have become the owners of the Jerusalem branch of the Eli Mizrahi Ballroom Dance Schools, and he is one of the only teachers in Israel who can get members of the conservative faction of his sector to dance.

“More and more religious couples are coming here, because they want to spend time together,” he says. According to Eliyahu, about 40% of the couples dancing in the studio are religious, and the teachers adapt to the restrictions of Halacha.

In order to create a modest environment, the teachers in the studio adhere to a strict dress code: The men wear suits and ties and the teachers avoid wearing vests.

“Dancing can be linked with immorality, and it’s important for us that the studio is respectable, and perhaps that’s the reason why religious people feel comfortable in it. In addition, due to the ritual purification laws, on weeks when couples can’t dance together they arrive separately for men-only or women-only classes.”

Anything below chest doesn’t exist

One of the religious couples dancing at the studio are Hagai and his wife, who prefer not to reveal their full names. They have been married for 11 years and have four children, but only recently took the courage and decided to try out dances for couples.

The desire to dance was his, and he did not immediately succeed in convincing his wife to join him.

On weeks when couples cannot dance together, they arrive separately for men-only or women-only classes (Photo: Leon Sokoletski)

“As a religious guy I was very embarrassed, but because I have been in the acting field for years, and my body is an instrument for me – it was easier for me than for my wife,” he says.

“Ballroom dancing is not something innocent, it’s dealing with one’s body, and I just informed my wife that we were going – because if not with her, who would I dance with?”

Hagai, 39, first became familiar with the world of dancing as part of acting classes at a religious theater called Aspaklaria.

“I learned dancing only with boys, and it was a bit ridiculous,” he says. “The religious society has an unresolved issue with the body. Even when I studied acting, the secular teachers used to tell us that we’re like news anchors: Everything below the chest doesn’t exist for us.”

Hagai and his wife don’t dance with other couples, but only with each other. “There are parties in the studio in which many couples dance together. It’s not suitable for us,” says Hagai.

Another obstacle faced by religious couples who dance every week is the days of Niddah, when a woman goes through menstruation. “We have days when we are forbidden, and it’s very embarrassing explaining it. But because the teacher is religious, he doesn’t ask unnecessary questions.”

According to Hagai, despite the limitations imposed by religion, he insisted on learning ballroom dancing because of the work accompanying it. “In ballroom dancing there is an issue of listening and accuracy. The work in the studio is basically on a relationship. It’s an opportunity in daily life to look each other in the eyes.”

Rabbi shows enthusiasm

Liat and Roee, who became religious together and define themselves as haredim, dance in the Nir Eliyahu studio as well. According to Liat, they have both always loved to dance, but since drawing closer to religion the number of opportunities has decreased.

When they celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary, Liat looked for a unique way to mark the occasion. They arrived at Nir and Meital’s studio after a long search.

“I called a lot of places in Jerusalem and inquired whether there was a possibility to come in for a personal course, because we can’t dance with other men and women. When Meital answered the phone, she immediately understood what I was looking for,” says Liat.

Since then, Liat and Roee have been taking classes with a private teacher, in order to avoid a situation in which Liat dances in front of a man who is not her husband. She says that the fact the teacher also avoided dancing and dressed modestly made the couple feel comfortable. Although they didn’t take part in the parties held in the studio, the training at home was as fun, they say.

“When we practiced the children would watch us, and then I would grab one child and Roee would grab another child, and we would all dance together.”

Despite the great enjoyment the two experience and despite being strict about Halacha rules, Liat and Roee prefer to remain anonymous. In the haredi society, Liat says, ballroom dancing is completely off limits. She clarifies, however, that they have received the rabbi’s approval.

“We once went to our rabbi’s lesson after a dancing class. When I told him where we had come from, he was really enthusiastic about it.”

Liat notes that during classed they mostly enjoy the fact that they are spending time together actively. “The dancing is like couples therapy,” she says. “For example, you must understand that the man leads the dance, and it took me time to let go and let him lead. The teacher has been working with us on it a lot.”

Man is frame, woman is picture

Eliyahu understands what Liat is talking about very well. “As opposed to other dancing styles, here if you’re not attentive to your partner – it’s worthless,” he says.

“In order to dance together, the couple must learn to listen or lead. These are concepts you meet in any type of relationship in life – even between employee and employer.”

“We have slightly lost femininity and masculinity,” adds Meital. “If I look at women today, they are very independent and leading and have an opinion. In dancing the man is the frame and the woman is the picture. In our studio, the woman learns to be a woman.”

Nir and Meital owe their relationship to dancing too. “Dancing created contact between us,” says Meital. “We were both looking for someone religious but open to the world of dancing, who would agree to mixed dancing. That’s why the connection between us was so right.”

Meital, who studied for a first degree in dancing, criticizes the perception of the body in the sector she belongs to. “The religious society drives girls away from their body,” she says. “Nir and I are religious, but the thought that leads us in life is that there must be a connection between body and soul.”

“The connection to the body and regaining control of it are a very big gift,” Nir adds. “The dance floor simulates life. Many come to us when they realize that they have a problem finding a partner.

“In our generation the man is in a very complicated situation. He has to be tough, but also sensitive, and in addition the woman wants to face someone she can lean on. Through tango, for example, I help many men connect to their charisma, because you can’t dance tango softly.”

Nir says that 10 years after choosing to devote himself to dancing, he has no regrets. “There were many people who raised an eyebrow over the path I took, but today I laugh at all of them.

“We have our own business, in which we also dance and also help people go through internal processes. I don’t know if an accountant, who deals with money all day, is more religious than me. For me, dancing has a religious aspect because it contains tolerance and attentiveness and an ability to help others.”

2013 boom year for Israeli high-tech


Stephen Darori on the Best of 2013

2013 boom year for Israeli high-tech

In the first half of the year, there was a 52% rise in demand for mobile and web developers, and salaries are up as well.

2013 was a positive year for Israeli high-tech and biotech, in almost every respect: total investments rose, salaries rose, and there were some impressive exits. According to human resources and research companyEthosia, the mobile sector is still guiding the industry, and despite some worrisome signs, there is still room for much optimism.

According to the data, in the first half of the year, there was a 52% rise in demand for mobile and web developers. This trend continued for most of the year. Start-ups founded this year succeeded in raising over $380 million, with Internet companies accounting for 25% of the funds raised. “Web and mobile companies have surpassed the fundraising levels of communications and semiconductor companies…

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