Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90
Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid addressing the Knesset, April 22, 2013.

He goes on to explain why such people exist. I agree that it is in part the fault of the secular education system which is woefully lacking if – as he says – the typical teenager thinks that Moshe Rabbenu and Moshe ben Maimon (the Rambam) are one and the same person.

Where I part company with Rabbi Feldman here is that a religious Jew should have compassion for fellow human beings. They know about the Holocaust. They are not disrespecting an ancient tradition that they have little if any knowledge of. Ignorance may not be an excuse for secular Jews to ignore Tisha B’Av. But the willful indifference – which this tiny minority of Haredim do when they have picnics on days where the rest of the country mourns is much worse. They are salting fresh wounds.

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And just like Rabbi Feldman can justifiably lay some of the blame for secular ignorance about Tisha B’Av or Yom Kipur at the door of the secular educational system, so too should he put the blame for those Haredim whose indifference to the suffering of people who lost loved ones in the Holocaust at the door of Haredi education.

In fact I suggest that the willful and constant condemnations of Israel’s founders and leaders does far more damage to the fabric of Judaism than the absence of religious education in the secular educational system. Not knowing something at least leaves you with a Tabula Raza – a blank slate. A blank slate can learn in unbiased ways. But when one is indoctrinated with hatred – it is much more difficult to unlearn that hatred and becomes sensitive to the feelings of those you hate.

Yes, I know that hate goes both ways. But hate – breeds hate. Besides, the last election in Israel shows very clearly that secular Jews do not really hate religious Jews. The record number of kipa-wearing Jews in the Knesset surely shows that.

I think if Rabbi Feldman would step back; look at two communities objectively and see what I see, he will have a change of heart.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. JOIN THE HELLO PROGRAM FOR RELIGIOUS SECULAR UNITY!

    We need to develop and implement actions of Unity- Achdut. I suggest we start the following simple campaign. Every reader of the letter should simply say hello- how are you? to one secular Jew per day if he is already not doing so. That simple hello will lead the secular Jew to say hello to the religious Jew in return!
    Simple- we are now saying hello to each other. Next each reader should get his religious friends to join this program of saying hello asking them to also get more friends to join. This could lead to thousands of hellos per day. Will you do it for the love of Hashem?

    ITS TIME FOR ACTION!

  2. If you want to be religious it's your personal choice. You're no more being disrespectful of Shabbos observers by not observing the day than you are being disrespectful of Christians by shopping on Sunday. Same goes for any Jewish holiday and religious custom, Yom Kippur and Kashrut both included. Most Jews aren't religious, and greatly resent any effort to impose religion upon them, especially by their fellow Jews.

    On the other hand, days such as Holocaust Memorial Day affect virtually all Jews, most of whom have lost ancestors to the Holocaust, as Maryles correctly notes. So having picnics and barbeques, especially in close proximity to Vad Vashem would be considered a slap in the face to all Jews, both secular and religious. It's tantamount to dancing on one's mother's grave. Therein lies the difference.

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