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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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A Microcosm of Achdus

There was mixed seating. You got to sit with your spouse.
The ATT 2012 meeting.

The ATT 2012 meeting.
Photo Credit: Chicago ATT

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There were 3 ‘Teacher of the Year’ awards presented.  One was to a Rebbe at the Academy who also serves as the Limudei Chol principal at Yeshivas Me’or HaTorah. He is also the former executive director of the Lakewood Kollel here. He had no problem sharing the stage with the two female teachers that were his co-recipients.

All this reminded me of what could be in the greater Orthodox world. The Hashkafos in Chicago are just as wide and disparate as they are on the East Coast. And yet there was an atmosphere of respect, camaraderie, and a sense that we are all working towards the same goal.

Yes our Hashkafos differ, sometimes in major ways. But everyone in Chicago – including its rabbinic leaders seems to get along and have respect for each other.  I am reminded of the photo taken of the Zidichover Rebbe and Rabbi Asher Lopatin. They were having a conversation at an event they both attended. I featured it in one of my recent posts. I think that picture demonstrates the kind of Achdus we have here.

I couldn’t help thinking about the contrast on much of the East Coast (e.g. Brooklyn, Lakewood, and Monsey – just to name a few East Coast communities). It seems to me that the various Orthodox communities there do not get along at all, and in some cases try to de-legitimize each other. The right de-legitimizes the left and the left de-legitimizes the right.

But the ‘Grand-Daddy of Discord Award’ has to go to the Israeli Charedi rabbinic leadership. This is what happens when one believes in the exclusivity of one’s own Hashkafos to the exclusion of all others. And it seems the further to the right one goes, the more that applies. The virtual war between Charedi leaders in Israel dwarfs anything I’ve seen here in the United States in my lifetime.
If this is what the Frumkeit chase leads to, then Klal Yisroel ought to reject it with all of its might. That’s because Frumkeit is not Yiddshkeit. As my Rebbe, Rav Ahron used to say in Yiddish ‘Frum iz a Galach (priest)’.  A Jew has to be Ehrlich. Being Erhlich means being sincere about serving God and respectful of those with whom you disagree. I don’t see much of that in Charedi Israel these days.

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About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


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Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
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