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God and Gov: Israel Edition and Why Nice Jewish Boys Are Taking Over Israeli TV
October 29, 2015
What exactly did Israel’s founders mean when they said their country was a 'Jewish state?' Two scholars debate. And we meet Israel's hottest reality TV stars: sweet Yeshiva boys from a synagogue near you.

WayneMcLean | Wikimedia
Just How Jewish Is 'The Jewish State'? October 29, 2015
In late 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu introduced a controversial bill that would officially declare Israel a Jewish state. Many Israelis saw Netanyahu’s proposal as an attack on non-Jews, who make up around 20 percent of the population. But Israel has been calling itself "the Jewish state" since the very beginning--so what did Israel’s founders mean by that, and why is it so controversial? Two experts debate, in the latest edition of our God and Government series.

We begin with a look at  Israel's government-run system for organ donation, which brings in donors at just a quarter of the rate in the United States. Many doctors worry that the heavy influence of Orthodox Jewish thinking in the country's legal code is hurting the survival rates of those in need. Produced by Dalia Mortada.

Michael Karayanni, Palestinian Israeli and professor of law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem
Michael Brenner, German Jew and director of the Center for Israel Studies at American University

The photos below are from our story on organ donation in Israel, all taken by Dalia Mortada.

David Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv | Wikimedia
'Everything Is Spiritual': In the Studio with David Broza October 29, 2015
David Broza launched his career in 1977 and is now one of Israel's best-known musicians and activists. While he doesn't go to synagogue every week, he finds solace in the quiet stillness of prayer, a practice he first discovered as a rebellious teenager. Now nearly 60, he tells us that "the art of contemplation...has stuck with me til today."

Take a listen to all of the songs he performed just for us, live in studio:
Israel's Newest TV Stars: Nice Jewish Boys From A Synagogue Near You October 29, 2015
One of the most popular TV shows in Israel right now is a reality singing contest in the spirit of American Idol and The Voice. But the contestants aren’t singing pop songs or trying to win record contracts. They’re singing liturgical music--sacred songs you would hear in religious services. So why has a show about synagogue music captured the imagination of a country where most Jews don’t even go to synagogue? Laura Kwerel has the story.

Liel Liebovitz,  Israeli-American journalist and co-host of the podcast Unorthodox

Read Liel's article on Ha’Paytan in Tablet magazine, and watch a full episode of the show.