Find a Candidate, Then Draft the Tender

So what did we learn from the state comptroller's report about the most important departments in the government ministries? We learned that the treasury budgets department recruits economists and the State Prosecutor's Office recruits lawyers without first issuing tenders.

Such hiring practices mean that the tender, when it finally arrives, is tailor-made. In the Justice Ministry, two-thirds of tenders were for jobs filled ahead of time, and in the budgets department, this was true in 80 percent of all cases. It should be recalled that the budgets department and the State Prosecutor's Office are the two most powerful bodies in the civil service. It also should be recalled that the State Prosecutor's Office, along with the Civil Service Commission, are the two bodies that tell the rest of the civil service how to behave.

The Civil Service Commission enabled the State Prosecutor's Office, when it was headed by now-Supreme Court Justice Edna Arbel, to cancel the written exams that were designed to sort candidates. This move came due to the fear that preferred candidates would not pass. Thus the Civil Service Commission helped the State Prosecutor's Office to get its tailor-made candidates. There is no question about it: Good relations with the commission are very useful to the State Prosecutor's Office, and good relations with the State Prosecutor's Office can be very useful to the commission.

Among the most desirable civil service positions is that of budgets department economist. Not only do these economists hold tremendous power and control the budgets of entire ministries, but senior positions with high salaries await them when they enter the private market. We have learned that the budgets department actually chooses whomever it wants.

"The choosing process was not egalitarian," states the comptroller. "Not all the candidates were given an opportunity to be tested and the examination committee's job was emptied of content, because the budgets department brought before it only candidates who had successfully passed interviews, and they were employed before the tender was issued."

There is no question about it: Good relations with the commission are very useful to the budgets department, and good relations with the budgets department can be very useful to the commission.

We learned that the Civil Service Commission's test and tenders division sometimes set the passing grade according to that earned by the preferred candidate. This came as a result of pressure from various ministries, and the process could probably be called a tailor-made exam.

The comptroller states, "This kind of pressure coming from any ministry must be regarded gravely, and even more gravely when it comes from the administrations of ministries that are responsible for the rule of law [the Justice Ministry] and for guarding the public coffers [the Finance Ministry]."

We learned that almost every civil service tender that has an inside candidate is a tailor-made tender. The comptroller cited a statistic indicating that in 55 percent of cases, people already in the job won the tender. Not that in the other tenders the candidates from the system lost. In a large percentage of the other tenders, the system simply did not have a candidate. Clearly, anyone who applies for a civil service tender without closing the deal ahead of time is either naive or stupid.

Another very important department in the treasury is that of the accountant general. Accountants in the ministry have a great deal of control over its activity. We learned that "the appointments committee in the accountant general's office does not keep minutes of its discussions and decisions, and therefore it is impossible to know the criteria used to choose an accountant or a deputy accountant for various ministries. It was found that only after the employee is given the aforesaid position by means of an 'acting appointment' do the accountant general's office and the Civil Service Commission discuss the selection procedures."

There is no question about it: Good relations with the commissioner are very useful to the accountant general's office, and good relations with the accountant general's office can be very useful to the commission.

We learned, therefore, that one senior official helps another and that the rules that apply to all other civil service employees do not apply to these lofty departments.

A real Israeli wedding

Itamar Lapid believes the question of the connection between the rabbi and the ceremony should be examined via whether the rabbi plans to dance.

"A real wedding is one at which the rabbi dances. In Israel today, the person who performs the ceremony is not a part of the circle. The rabbi does not stay to dance because he has another wedding, or because the hall is not kosher, or because he has nobody to talk to and nothing to talk about. He vanishes into thin air, leaving the groom and the bride and the parents and the guests to dance without him," Lapid says.

Lapid is the ideological director of Havaya, an umbrella organization established to formulate and disseminate the concept of an Israeli wedding ceremony, that is, a secular ceremony. Those who perform Havaya's ceremonies are supposed to stay to dance.

The founding convention of Havaya, which took place Sunday at Seminar Efal, was quite powerful. Forty public representatives who perform wedding ceremonies were there, and not one of them was Orthodox. None were even Conservative or Reform. Havaya was founded by three secular organizations, the batei midrash Oranim and Bina (batei midrash are study halls for Jewish texts), and the Secular Ceremonies Institute, but it intends to pull in other organizations. Today those who perform secular ceremonies officiate for several hundred couples a year. The Reform and Conservative movements officiate for a few hundred more. If each of those present in the hall performs 25 ceremonies a year, or one ceremony every two weeks, the new organization will officiate weddings for 1,000 couples a year.

At the convention, they screened a video of an immigrant couple's wedding, officiated by Yaron Kinar. The two plighted their troth to one another with egalitarian words.

"You are hereby sanctified unto me," said Irina Leviktor, "to be a husband and a friend to me, to live a life of partnership, respect and love."

Dr. Sagit Mor, who also performs weddings, said that secular couples usually waive the engagement blessing, which contains the statement "who forbade us women who are betrothed." She explains that when it comes to couples who have been having sexual relations for years, this blessing sounds quite irrelevant.

The director of the Secular Ceremonies Institute, Yiftah Shiloni, says secular individuals have three significant problems with the traditional wedding ceremonies. They don't understand the text; if they understand they don't agree with it; and the rabbi is alien to them and their culture. The Havaya ceremony is meant to solve all those problems.

The procedure includes two sessions where the partners get to know the ceremony officiator, study the traditional ceremony together, plan the ceremony according to the wishes of the couple, and word the ketuba (marriage contract). Havaya suggests various versions of the ketuba, and the couple chooses their commitments and how to word them.

The price of a Havaya-style ceremony is not cheap - NIS 1,900, including an artistic ketuba.

Shiloni feels it important to emphasize that they perform an Israeli ceremony, and that they are not "alternative."

"We are not a stream, we are the river," he says.

He was happy to admit that the movement is very pretentious. He says that the message is that the boundaries of Judaism do not come from Haredi spiritual leader Rabbi Elyashiv or Orthodox Rabbi Melchior of Meimad, but from Rabbi Elyashiv to the members of Havaya.

Among the officiators are graduates of secular batei midrash and Talmud courses, and teachers. Teacher Dan Kristal, for example, has already officiated at the weddings of three couples who studied history with him. Shiloni is convinced that the teachers are the natural cadre for performing ceremonies.

Among Havaya's 40 officiators are fewer than 10 women. That definitely suits the demand, because it turns out that the liberalism of quite a few couples ends when it comes to the possibility of having a woman officiate at their wedding. Mor explains that frequently the couple has to consider the guests as well.

Mor will head the Havaya beit midrash, which will discuss questions such as whether in the Israeli ceremony the breaking of the glass holds meaning, and if so, what it symbolizes. Another question will be whether to perform similar ceremonies for same-sex and heterosexual couples. The main difference between a Havaya ceremony and a Reform and Conservative one, she says, is that the performers of the Havaya ceremonies will not ask whether the partners are Jewish according to halakha (Jewish religious law), nor will they demand that they undergo conversion.