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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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How I Lost My Liberal View of Reform Jews and Started to Fear Them

When I began covering the Women of the Wall, the flagship of the Reform insurgency in Israel, my initial take was sympathetic.

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Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90

Back around the year 2000, I was invited by my very good friend, Rabbi Judi Abrams, to come on board a new project of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), a comprehensive prayer book that would streamline and organize the countless versions of Reform prayer books that had been out there.

I use the title Rabbi in Judi’s case, even though it isn’t the policy of our publication to use this honorarium for non-Orthodox clergy, much less women clergy, because she has earned it. She is one of my non-Orthodox friends who truly love the Talmud and know how to learn. So, when she invited me to be the designer of the new prayer book, I grabbed it. I needed the money—this was at the bursting phase of the first Internet bubble, and all my online clients had been massacred. But the project also offered me an interesting fig leaf, which I could use to justify my collaboration: this was going to be the first Reform siddur in history to include the full Sh’ma Israel reading, all three passages.

Previous siddurim have omitted the middle passage, which warns us what would happen if we don’t obey the commandments. Those earlier siddurim also omitted the third passage, about the tzitzit, but that part introduces a reminder of how to keep the commandments in our everyday life—so that without the middle part it’s kind of pointless.

During my two years, on and off, working on the siddur project, I began to develop a theory that the Reform, despite their anti-halachic, or a-halachic stance, were still inside the rabbinic umbrella. Based on my encounters with the more learned in the movement (I also met many stereotypical Reform rabbis who couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag made of blatts of gemora), I began to think of the Reform, especially the rank and file, as amaratzim — (lingo for Amei Ha’aratzot) the equivalent of the uneducated masses at the time just after the destruction of the second temple. The sages, who originally abhorred and loathed those amaratzim, once the temple was gone and the dark Diaspora had begun, started to view them as inseparable from the rest of the Jewish nation.

I felt that, despite its abysmal relationship with classical and traditional Judaism, the Reform movement was not beyond hope. And I offered, on a number of occasions, the following illustration to support my view:

We were at a large editorial meeting, discussing the texts of the Eighteen Blessings, the silent prayer or “Amida.” The Reform versions of the Amida range from ridiculously cumbersome to infuriatingly PC—compared with the traditional text, which is smooth and elegant, even in the Sephard version, which offers several alternative phrases in a number of places. No question, the Reform Amida was begging for a streamlining job.

Then one of the editors, a female clergy, suggested we add a special shmoneh-esreh blessing for our suffering LGBT brothers and sisters.

Needless to say, my little brain was working overtime trying to find justifications for that one. Was there any way that I, as an observant Jew, could lend my name to a siddur that included a special prayer for folks who break a major commandment? Might as well add a blessing for folks breaking Shabbes and another, special one, for our brothers and sisters who suffer from trichinosis. I was done for—the Yanover family would be going without fish Friday night.

But then the moderator told this nice lady: “Bring me a pasuk,” meaning offer a verse in the entire Jewish Bible that would support and illustrate the above mentioned suffering.

He spoke like a Jew. Never mind the outcome (I was let go a few months later, because of my tendency to open my big mouth to my superiors, so I never found out) – the man approached prayer from within the tradition, not as a sworn violator of the tradition. There was hope.

That episode also cost me a job with a new Haredi magazine, a competitor to Mishpacha, which hired me for a scary amount of money as senior editor—only to let me go after my boss had discovered my notes online regarding my hope for the Reform.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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108 Responses to “How I Lost My Liberal View of Reform Jews and Started to Fear Them”

  1. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori – I am a traditionalist and agree that the true justification for the Jews presence in Israel is that "G-d gave us the land," but I strongly disagree with your interpretation that otherwise we merely are European colonists. Not to delve into the history, but the Jewish presence in Israel (Gaza, J&S, etc.) never truly dissapeared, nor did it diminish, especially in regard to that of the Arabs, who never truly settled the land, and certainly not to any permanent extent, as is evidenced by the fact that they never maintained a government there nor did they maintain the land. For them, Jerusalem truly means nothing!

  2. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori – I am a traditionalist and agree that the true justification for the Jews presence in Israel is that "G-d gave us the land," but I strongly disagree with your interpretation that otherwise we merely are European colonists. Not to delve into the history nor legalities, but the Jewish presence in Israel (Gaza, J&S, etc.) never truly dissapeared, nor did it diminish, especially in regard to that of the Arabs, who never truly settled the land, and certainly not to any permanent extent, as is evidenced by the fact that they never maintained a government there nor did they maintain the land. For them, Jerusalem truly means nothing.

  3. its amazing how these stupid women are busy with mens mitzvoth versus getting their own right and by the position of these head tefilin, they are not really good at the mens mitzvoth either…its all pretty pathetic…what a lack of self esteem these women suffer from!

  4. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori – I am a traditionalist and agree that the true justification for the Jews presence in Israel is that "G-d gave us the land," but I strongly disagree with your interpretation that otherwise we merely are European colonists. Not to delve into the history nor legalities, but the Jewish presence in Israel (Gaza, J&S, etc.) never truly dissapeared, nor did it diminish, especially in regard to that of the Arabs, who never truly settled the land, and certainly not to any permanent extent, as is evidenced by the fact that they neither have ever maintained a government there nor the land (e.g. the land was in ruins when we returned in mass). For them, Jerusalem truly means nothing.

  5. Yori Yanover says:

    Noah Farbstein · Like it or not, while secular Zionism is a puppy, nurtured by major Jewish organizations mainly as a fund raising tool, while very few secular Jews are truly interested in it — religious Zionism is still very much the tiger it has always been, and getting more so.

    This point may be proven by the fact that in the past, secular and religious Zionists used to be allies, albeit uneasy allies, while today secular Jews in Israel, especially the militants, are more likely to be enemies of the religion.

    The first thing the new, secular, Interior Minister did in office was to extend the summer clock by 2 months, which would mess with my life and the lives of millions of faithful Jews who won't be able to daven in shul weekday mornings. It's pathological. Never mind the Lapid onslaught against Haredi children's stipends — the hatred is in countless, powerful details.

    This is, by the way, why I believe Naftali Bennett is the worst thing that has happened to political religious Judaism, maybe ever. He severed our ties to the Haredim, in favor of new, dubious ties with many haters of the religion. I know he has religious guys in his party — but he also has staunch foes of the faith, too.

  6. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori – I am a traditionalist and agree that the true justification for the Jews presence in Israel is that "G-d gave us the land," but I strongly disagree with your interpretation that otherwise we merely are European colonists. Not to delve too far into the history nor the our legal title, but the Jewish presence in Israel (Gaza, J&S, etc.) never truly dissapeared, nor did it diminish, especially in regard to that of the Arabs, who never truly settled the land, and certainly not to any permanent extent, as is evidenced by the fact that they neither have ever maintained a government there nor the land (e.g. the land was in ruins when we returned in mass). For them, Jerusalem truly means nothing.

  7. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori – I am a traditionalist and agree that the true justification for the Jews presence in Israel is that "G-d gave us the land," but I strongly disagree with your interpretation that otherwise we merely are European colonists. Not to delve too far into the history nor the our legal title, but the Jewish presence in Israel (Gaza, J&S, etc.) never truly dissapeared, nor did it diminish, especially in regard to that of the Arabs, who never truly settled the land, and certainly not to any permanent extent, as is evidenced by the fact that they neither have ever maintained a government there nor the land itself (e.g. the land was in ruins when we returned in mass). For them, Jerusalem truly means nothing.

  8. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori – I am a traditionalist and agree that the true justification for the Jews presence in Israel is that "G-d gave us the land," but I strongly disagree with your interpretation that otherwise we merely are "European colonists." Not to delve too far into the history nor the our legal title, but the Jewish presence in Israel (Gaza, J&S, etc.) never truly dissapeared, nor did it diminish, especially in regard to that of the Arabs, who never truly settled the land, and certainly not to any permanent extent, as is evidenced by the fact that they neither have ever maintained a government there nor the land itself (e.g. the land was in ruins when we returned in mass). For them, Jerusalem truly means nothing.

  9. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori – I am a traditionalist and agree that the true justification for the Jews presence in Israel is that "G-d gave us the land," but I strongly disagree with your interpretation that otherwise we merely are "European colonists." Not to delve too far into the history nor our legal title, but the Jewish presence in Israel (Gaza, J&S, etc.) never truly dissapeared, nor did it diminish, especially in regard to that of the Arabs, who never truly settled the land, and certainly not to any permanent extent, as is evidenced by the fact that they neither have ever maintained a government there nor the land itself (e.g. the land was in ruins when we returned in mass). For them, Jerusalem truly means nothing.

  10. Yossie Bloch says:

    WOW consists of women of all denominations, so you start out by mischaracterizing them, and then the root of your animus comes down to one commenter?

  11. Allen Stern says:

    Not even on straight to begin with.

  12. Liad Bar-el says:

    Yori against WOW (women of the Wall) but supports IOW (Islam on the Wall). No doubt you will block this talkback as you have with all of my previous ones but who knows, maybe this one you'll let through just to show to others that I am wrong and you are right when it comes to freedom of speech.

  13. Yehuda Cohen says:

    "gvie the land back to the Arabs"? IMO, you're still connect to the reform way of thinking.

  14. William T. Langley says:

    Yori – Before you worry about and spend so much time on Reform Jews, worry about all the Jews who don't Pray at all. The vast Secular Jewish Population in Israel is the real threat to Israels existence. To me it sounds like you have an all or nothing approach to Judaism but Judaism isn't an all or nothing Religion. I worry less about someone who wants to Pray than someone who doesn't!

  15. Yori Yanover says:

    William T. Langley – I'm not sure what in my tale of personal search and detailed development of my thinking regarding the Reform gave you the impression my Judaism is all or nothing. Do you know what it takes to be the only guy with a yarmilke in an editorial meeting of the CCAR, with everyone assuming they know who you are and essentially talking to your hat?

    But in the realm of national, as opposed to personal, religion, in the realm of state law, ambivalence is a bad thing. It is OK for a person to have inner conflicts and a nuanced approach to absolutely everything — but the law comes out terrible and causes a lot of damage if it takes on the conflicts of an individual. The law IS all or nothing. And the Kotel is governed by state law, which two lower courts and the WOW have collaborated to defy and demolish.

  16. Chaiya Eitan says:

    I have no problem with the way they want to pray within a synagoguge of their own making. Plus, I thought that a place called Robinson's Arch had been set aside for them. But concerning the Kotel, it's like having a dinner and a Reform Jew demanding that there be some food that others would not consider kosher. What I do think isn't right at the Kotel, though, is the very small area assigned to the women. Now, concerning Jewish law, I understand that it had been codified with the writing of the Shulchan Aruch. But what if the Talmud had continued to grow?? Maybe someone would have come along and said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with listening to the voice of a woman singing. This – and other things – really upset me. This is – to me – not the Judaism that G-d gave to us.

  17. Mark Bernstein says:

    These WOW women (not such a wow, actually) are SO concerned about wearing tefillin, that both of the women pictured with tefillin are wearing them totally incorrectly (if they even were men): one very crooked, and one with an interruption between herself and the box. These are very silly, foolish, immature people. This is not about true, thoughtful, sensitive, humble spirituality in the least, it's all about loud, ego-driven, left-wing political activism by people who have an agenda to subvert Jewish tradition in public and tell the liberal media world how sincere and important they are, and how the black hats must all be defeated for the sake of their great enlightened progress (actually, TOTAL ignorance). Just wait, they will want to hold a gay service at the Kotel next, or maybe an interfaith-service with their Palestinian brothers against oppression. This is the tyranny of the fringe minority against the vast majority of the sincere status quo.

  18. Brian Kent says:

    What does it say about democracy in Israel when Jews are actually prevented from worship at the Western Wall.Yes. Somebody can scream about a lack of Charedim coming out when you rig the system and block those en route from coming..Excellent article, Yori.

  19. Ingeborg Oppenheimer says:

    yori, I have a question or two: where, anywhere in wow's expressed goals does "the eradication of Orthodoxy in Israel" show up? the eradication of orthodox law as controlling every aspect of the lives of all jews in the land is not the same as eradication of orthodoxy. the orthodox would lose only their right to use law as control over all aspects of the lives of all jewish citizens, not their right to coexist as orthodox jews with other israeli jews. such distortion does not add validity to your argument. and to state that "the most crucial part of halacha is submitting to the yoke of our sages" is to claim that god decreed that sages are not human, because if they were they would be as much at risk of error as are the rest of us. finally, as someone else has pointed out, wow and its supporters include women of all forms of judaism, including some haredi. so your argument is flawed in several ways.

  20. Charlie Hall says:

    "I thought that a place called Robinson's Arch had been set aside for them"

    The Robinson's Arch area has NOT been set aside; it is not set up for public prayer. It is possible that it might be made available in the future but the Israeli archeology community is strongly against it.

    "But concerning the Kotel, it's like having a dinner and a Reform Jew demanding that there be some food that others would not consider kosher."

    Actually, there is a decent case to be made that the WOTW are not violating any halachah at all: Women reading from a sefer torah is clearly mutar; women can clearly wear tzitzit, and there are opinions that women can even wear tefillin. Come to Daf Yomi on Wednesday and you will hear a three thousand year old precedent.

    "Maybe someone would have come along and said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with listening to the voice of a woman singing"

    The halachah IS that there is nothing wrong with a woman singing holy material. For example, the Shulchan Aruch rules in accordance with the Mishnah, Gemara, and the overwhelming majority of rishonim that a woman may chant Megillat Esther for a man. And the dissenting opinions — the BeHaG and the Rema — dissent for unrelated reasons (based on a Tosefta). In many Orthodox communities women sing in shul and at Shabat tables, with the full approval of the rabbis. Unfortunatley, this halachah is not well known and women in many communities are not sufficiently educated in Torah to be able to stand up for themselves.

    "This is – to me – not the Judaism that G-d gave to us. "

    The prohibition on hearing a woman sing NON-holy material is NOT someething G-d gave us; it is by all opinions a decree of the rabbis. The actual halachah is actually much more favorable towards women than is much of contemporary practice, and WOTW are trying to push that concept. It is interesting that the opponents of WOTW are avoiding halachic arguments.

  21. Charlie Hall says:

    Yori really messed up this one. Many of the WOTW are Orthodox; it is clearly NOT a Reform activity. A real Reform movement activity would be pushing to eliminate the mechitzah entirely.

  22. Yori – “my very good friend, Rabbi Judi Abrams” … “offered me an interesting fig leaf” sounds sexy then pops in Adnan Oktar’s 12 women models and Yori is in Islamic heaven to give the whole temple mount to Islam but not to the Jewish Women of the Wall. Ain’t thet jest dandy?!

  23. Cody Flecker says:

    There is no doubt that there is a cancer that resides within Judaism. This is but one example of this malady.

  24. "Then one of the editors, a female clergy, suggested we add a special shmoneh-esreh blessing for our suffering LGBT brothers and sisters.'

  25. Yori, the justification for Israel's existence is not exclusively a matter of accepting the proposition that we have a divinely-given deed and then submitting to the yoke of the Sages (and by the way, the WOW submit to it, albeit selectively, more than many if not most Israelis, who are true-blue seculars). Rather, it is a matter of the historical connection of the Jewish people to the land, and of the people's historical experience as a sovereign community in that land, irrespective of Jews' behavior and convictions (same goes for the Greeks in Greece, the Irish in Ireland, etc). That relationship is acknowledged in international law. If Jews maintain that Israel exists solely because "God gave it to us" then they are saying that they know what God wants–a position to which you, I or anyone is entitled. But then that is the same position held by, say, the Muslim Brotherhood: the Bros think they know exxactly what is in God's mind. And since we cannot empirically prove that Halakhah-observant Jews and not the MB are right about God's wishes (in the sense that there is no proof or likelihood that God has appeared or will appear to both simultaneously to declare one side the eternal winner), all that is left is a sterile "we said, they said" debate–one zealous primitive against another. The historical basis of Jews' claim to the land offers surer footing, I think, because of its empirical and legal foundations.

  26. Yori Yanover says:

    Charlie Hall – I'm going to sound self righteous, but I'll say it anyway — yours is a typical galusdike Yid's answer. You eamine the issue as an individual, because you are alien to the concept of living in a Jewish country. It's not enough to visit, you need to live here to get it.

    I wrote at length in the past that halachically, at least according to the Shulchan Aruch (as opposed to the Ramah) there is strong support for some kind of women's reading the Torah together, and even davening with talit and tefillin. But that's not the issue.

    There is a ba'al habait to the Kotekl, he is the official decider, empowered by the state to decide halachic issues related to the use of the Kotel. His views have been embraced by the high court, that prohibited WOW davening in their current manner.

    Two lower courts, relating not to the Supreme Court but rather to a strange claim made by the police, as if the WOW pose a threat to the public order, decided that they didn't look threatening, basically. The cops appealed and lost.

    At that point, the AG should have gone to the high court to argue that the official, government bestowed decider at the Kotel was being ignored, as was the High Court's ruling from 2003. But the AG, who is anti-Orthodox in so many other ways, and a seriously unethical individual, based on how he let his wife be tried for employing an illegal worker, while giving himself the benefit of the doubt — he, the AG, is yet to appeal.

    Yesterday, Egged buses going to the Kotel did not stop in haredi neighborhoods. Hundreds of Haredim who are too poor to own cars, were left waiting for hours. These women are not victims — they are powerful, and they are supported by a cabal of anti-Orthodox government officials. It really, really stinks.

    Above any discussion of should a woman daven in public with talit and tefillin (which I'm not sure was the intent of the Shulchan Aruch), and any discussion of whether a woman should lain Torah in public — there's the fundamental issue of obeying the rabbinic authority of a place. No concept is more important in our tradition. If you don't have that, then we're no different from a bunch of Protestants who run a personal dialogue with God without a national component. That's not Jewish.

    I couldn't possibly have understood this in America, I admit.

  27. Yori Yanover says:

    Ingeborg Oppenheimer ·I wrote you a long entry and then the stupid page refreshed and all got lost. essentially, we do have a concept of the infallibility of our rabbis, except that we, as indivduals pick our chosen teachers. Then, when they only respond to our inquiries, we believe that they are divinely inspired.

    But the relationship is initiated and controlled by teh student, not the master.

  28. Yori Yanover says:

    Cody Flecker · i have no idea what you mean. If you suggest that millenia of life in exile have damaged us as a nation — I agree. But if you're saying that there's something inherently cancerous in Judaism, I couldn't disagree more.

  29. Yori Yanover says:

    David Graizbord – I believe that the Muslim Brothers are entitled to a notion of knowing what God wants, because they live by a book they accept which teaches them a moral code of behavior. We, likewise, have a book that teaches us a code of moral behavior, and a wealthy tradition accompanying this book, which we follow. I'm not sure why comparing the devout Muslims to us is a problem.

    I'm a s terrified as you are by the aggression and brutality and hatred of so many millions of Muslims, it scares me as it does you, and I don't believe it's a minority. Nevertheless, Islam is the recommended religion for gentiles who don't wish to follow Noahaide Law directly. It is certainly preferable to Christianity.

  30. Ofer Maimon says:

    I think the picture says all that there is two say. One woman's tefillin shel rosh is hanging halfway to her ear, the others is put ON her head scarf.These are not women who put on tefillin regularly, nor have they even bothered to check up how it is done. These are women who come with the sole purpose of seeking confrontation. WOW are seeking a bridgehead for the Anti-Tora religion of Reform. They want their kids to go to mass, celebrate xmas and marry out, fine by me, but this they can teach them in the privacy of their temples.

  31. jag mår illa av allt det här som försigkommer.

  32. Susan Cohen says:

    Thank you for catching that, Noah. It is definitely not an "either-or" situation. Especially since, even if you take out the question of religion entirely, Jewish ownership of the land is still legal, based on modern-day transfer of the governing of the land from the administrators, compounded by having won the land after being attacked by her neighbors.

  33. Susan Cohen says:

    Someone actually tried to point this out to them, & the only response was "No, we're wearing it right" & a description of how it's wound up on the arm.

  34. Ingeborg Oppenheimer says:

    yori, first a bit of technical advice: i too have been frustrated by the sudden disappearance of what i had already keyed in [computer gremlins?] and have developed the habit of highlighting and control -c'ing [copying] as i go along. as for content: re the concept of infallibility of our rabbis, that would put us into the same category as the belief in the infallibility of the pope [no disrespect intended to our catholic brethren]. beyond that, i am missing the point of your comment???

  35. Susan Cohen says:

    Ronit Peskin to the MediaCentral Press Briefing:

    As two core founders of WoW, Rivka Haut and Susan Aranoff said recently in a Times of Israel op-ed, “WOW models to all Jewish women who pray at the Kotel that women can take control over their own religious lives. When Haredi women… see what WoW is doing, their world view is changed. Like it or not, this may initially shock them but then, when they get used to it, it will, it has to, change their world view. This represents a revolution in haredi lives. That is why they fear and resist it. Their women will be influenced, strengthened, perhaps even demand change from their rabbis.” In other words, they want to pray specifically with traditional women, in a way that offends traditional women, because they think their way of life is better and they want to influence traditional women to change.

    Anat Hoffman echoed this herself. After 10,000 women, including seminary girls, came to pray on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, she said: “The rabbis who sent them don’t understand that some of them will be asking, ‘Why not me?’ It’s a very subversive question.” It's not just about them wanting to pray. It's their desire to be subversive, to destabilize, to change our beliefs. That is why they're not interested in praying in a way or in a place that won't offend others – on the contrary. They want to shock, offend, and ultimately to subvert traditional women. Need we elaborate upon how outrageous and offensive this is?

  36. Anonymous says:

    They are aggressive reform Jews who want to try to achieve credibility for a distorted and heretical form of Judaism. We must all stand strong and say clearly that reform judaism never had nor will ever have credibility. Its against the Torah- how could it? Look at the results in the U.S. Intermarriage, etc.a real disaster. that one U.S item Israel should not import.

  37. William T. Langley says:

    Yori,

    Listen, I'm no fan of WOW but your title for your Article singled out Reform Jews as a whole. I am not Reform and the thought of a Rabbi saying Hamotzi over a Ham Sandwich is rather revolting to tell you the truth. But to say you Fear Reform Jews is rather harsh considering the number of Secular Leftist who live in Israel. Reform Jews in this Country are becoming more observant as of late not less. If anything you should Fear the Secular Leftists. They are going to bring down the United States soon enough and if Israel is not careful they will bring down Israel as well. G-d said he wanted a Holy Nation that would be a Light unto the other Nations. Secular Leftists are not going to get you there! And I have less fear of a Jew who observes some of G-ds Commandments than one who observes NONE!

  38. Anonymous says:

    Susan Cohen and Noah Farbstein Thank you both for pointing out the major flaw in Yori's argument. Israel's legal title to the land is not premised on religious belief. That Yori could even suggest that it is, is really shocking! I suggest he watch the video of Professor Eugene Kontorovich, either at torahcafe or utube, entitled "The Legal Case for Israel". http://www.torahcafe.com/jewishvideo.php?vid=33fb484b5

  39. Anonymous says:

    Mark Bernstein I so agree with you that "all about loud, ego-driven, left-wing political activism by people who have an agenda to subvert Jewish tradition in public and tell the liberal media world how sincere and important they are, and how the black hats must all be defeated for the sake of their great enlightened progress (actually, TOTAL ignorance). Just wait, they will want to hold a gay service at the Kotel next, or maybe an interfaith-service with their Palestinian brothers against oppression."

    But I wouldn't agree that "[t]his is the tyranny of the fringe minority against the vast majority of the sincere status quo." WOW is not a minority because it is not a local group. It is international It receives its funding from leftist international groups. It is aligned with other leftist single-issue groups including BDS and other anti-Israel non-profits.

    Its publicity alone must cost a fortune! It consistently uses the international media to its advantage; WOW is always portrayed in a positive light and that doesn't come cheap. And the international press delights in running a WOW story every day, just to ridicule, condemn and embarrass Israel.

    This is why I say that these women are not the "silly, ,foolish, immature people" they intentionally parody. They are not innocent. They are too savvy in marketing themselves not to know that they are being used for anti-Israel propaganda.

  40. Ingeborg Oppenheimer says:

    susan, you're confusing effect with intent. it's not wow's intent to be subversive, destabilizing and whatever else you accuse them of; it's a potential outcome – a kind of culture shock – for some haredi women who had never before realized that they were being treated as less than their men by the limits placed on them of how they can participate in services.

  41. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori. While I can't seem to find your rebuttle to my original comment on this link, I believe you completely misunderstand my point.

    As I stated, I am a traditionalist and fully believe in the importance of the Orthodoxy, especially in regard to Israli life. However, I strongly disagree with your comment that without it we merely are "European colonists." This ignores both our >6,000 year connection to the land, which persisted during the 2,000 diaspora, and, as pointed out below by Susan and Pamegranite, our indisputable legal title to Israel, as perthe San Remo Resolution, which served as the basis of such. This resolution legailized the Balfour Declaration in the context of Article 22 of the League of Nations Mandate later served as the basis for the Mandate for Palestine as confirmed by 52 League of Nations memebr states.

    More so, your statements serve to elevate the Arab presence in Israel, despite them never truly having settled any part of the land, and certainly not to any permanent extent. This is evidenced by the fact, among many others, they neither maintained a government nor the the land itself (e.g. the land was in ruins when we returned in mass).

    To them, Jerusalem has no significance other than as a means to ending Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, which we all believe is our G-d given right.

  42. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori. While I can't seem to find your rebuttle to my original comment on this link, I believe you completely misunderstand my point.

    As I stated, I am a traditionalist and fully believe in the importance of the Orthodoxy, especially in regard to Israli life. However, I strongly disagree with your comment that without it we merely are "European colonists." This ignores both our >6,000 year connection to the land, which persisted during the 2,000 diaspora, and, as pointed out below by Susan and Pamegranite, our indisputable legal title to Israel, as per the San Remo Resolution, which served as the basis of such. This resolution legailized the Balfour Declaration in the context of Article 22 of the League of Nations Mandate, which later served as the basis for the Mandate for Palestine as confirmed by 52 League of Nations memebr states.

    More so, your statements serve to elevate the Arab presence in Israel, despite them never truly having settled any part of the land, and certainly not to any permanent extent. This is evidenced by the fact, among many others, they neither maintained a government nor the the land itself (e.g. the land was in ruins when we returned in mass).

    To them, Jerusalem has no significance other than as a means to ending Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, which we all believe is our G-d given right.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Ingeborg Oppenheimer How incredibly (and predictably) patronizing of you.

    Until you showed them, those haredi women didn't even know they were being kept in the dark by the men, and now you're going to open their eyes and show them the Truth.

    Never being allowed out of the kitchen or birthing room, they had no idea that there are other ideas and cultures out there.

    No sireree.

  44. Yori Yanover says:

    Noah Farbstein, pamegranite · Nu, so you take my point about the distinction between secularist and religious Zionism and you turn it into my supposed advocacy against the legitimacy of Jewish life in Israel. And I'm supposed to defend this loony idea?

    It's becoming very difficult to have a serious and poignant discussion online, even here, at The Jewish Press, which has been a kind of bastion of sane discussion for the most part. Sigh.

    So, for the record, my comparison of the God-free Zionist endeavor to all the other European invasions of third world countries was not part of a vicious campaign to drive non-religious Jews into the sea. On the contrary, many of my best friends are secular Jews…

    But I absolutely hold firmly to my position that without a strong and real connection between traditional Jewish halacha and the State of Israel, our time here is short.

    Why do we have the discouraging phenomenon of young Israelis attacking their own country, scheming to destroy it both economically and politically? It's because they have failed to internalize the connection to the divine which the new Jewish state is offering every Jew. So, with their Jewish souls in a restless state, because they are, after all, Jewish souls, and they have a higher purpose on earth — they turn it on themselves and on you and me.

    This is not my political argument, obviously, but if you have a better explanation as to why no other country in the world is subject to more fierce attacks by its own people than Israel — I'm ready to listen.

  45. Yori Yanover says:

    Yossie Bloch · It doesn't matter who's rowing, it matters where the ship is headed.

  46. Yori Yanover says:

    William T. Langley – Secularist Israelis are not outsiders, and so their connection to tradition and halacha is complex and deep. Some may hate it, but they aren't engaged in trying to replace it with another religion. They're just not religious. It gets scary when a wealthy and powerful movement like the Reform is invading a previously strictly-Orthodox country, and they're aided by the rivh and powerful within the country.

  47. Yori Yanover says:

    Ingeborg Oppenheimer · On its face, yes, you're absolutely correct — and where do you think the Catholics got this idea in the first place?

    The doctrine is based on deut. 17:8-10, which is where the Torah actually establishes the legitimacy of the Oral Torah as the perpetually updating legal code. Rashi says there that you must follow the ruling of the sages (who ruled only after you've asked them to, no Fatwas here), you must follow the ruling of the sages even if they tell you that left is right and right is left.

    That's infallibility, right? And it suggests that the sages' decision is divinely inspired even when he seems to err.

    This is why the submission to the yoke of the sages is so central in Judaism, and is, for instance, the most important value we expect coverts to embrace.

    The eradication, through action on the ground and lower court decisions, of the rule of the sages at the Kotel is part of an ongoing battle to do away with the classically Jewish character of the Jewish State.

  48. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori Yanover. I may have misinterpreted some of your comments as it appears you do support Israel and Zionism, albeit non-secular only. However, I disagree with your comments that only Orthodox are capable of defending the Jewish state.

    While my father had grown up Conservative, he raised us as reformed. We attended Synagogue only on the High Holy days, which was more like a gathering of fashionista as opposed to a religious undertaking.

    Still, both he and I, are staunch supporters of Israel, both financially and publicly, including our right to Judea and Samaria. In my humble opinion never should we have returned Sinai in return for a very fragile peace to a nation that never could, nor ever will, be able to defeat us militarily. In fact, I believe we should exert our rights to the land extending to the Euphrates river as was our Kingdom under David.

    On the Contrary, there are [very religious] Hardeim, which based on a false interpretation of the Torah, which actually requires us to support our brothers under any and all circumstances, remain hostile to Zionism. In fact, some openly support Iran and its endeavors to destroy Israel.

    Thus, it would appear that the extent of ones faith neither is responsible for their support for, nor any fierce attacks against the Jewish state. In my opinion, we must defend our brothers because if we don't, no other will.

  49. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori Yanover. Yori Yanover. I may have misinterpreted some of your comments as it appears you do support Israel and Zionism, albeit non-secular only. However, I disagree with your comments that only Orthodox are capable of defending the Jewish state.

    While my father had grown up Conservative, he raised us as reformed. We attended Synagogue only on the High Holy days, which was more like a gathering of fashionista as opposed to a religious undertaking. Of course, I did have a Bar Mitzvah, including reading the entire Torah portion.

    Still, both he and I, are staunch supporters of Israel, both financially and publicly, including our right to Judea and Samaria. In my humble opinion never should we have returned Sinai in return for a very fragile peace to a nation that never could, nor ever will, be able to defeat us militarily. In fact, I believe we should exert our rights to the land extending to the Euphrates river as was our Kingdom under David.

    On the Contrary, there are [very religious] Hardeim, which based on a false interpretation of the Torah, which actually requires us to support our brothers under any and all circumstances, remain hostile to Zionism. In fact, some openly support Iran and its endeavors to destroy Israel.

    Thus, it would appear that the extent of ones faith neither is responsible for their support for, nor any fierce attacks against the Jewish state. In my opinion, we must defend our brothers because if we don't, no other will.

  50. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori Yanover. I may have misinterpreted some of your comments as it appears you do support Israel and Zionism, albeit non-secular only. However, I disagree with your comments that only Orthodox are capable of defending the Jewish state.

    While my father had grown up Conservative, he raised us as reformed. We attended Synagogue only on the High Holy days, which was more like a gathering of fashionista as opposed to a religious undertaking. Of course, I did have a Bar Mitzvah, including reading the entire Torah portion.

    Still, both he and I, are staunch supporters of Israel, both financially and publicly, including our right to Judea and Samaria. In my humble opinion never should we have returned Sinai in return for a very fragile peace to a nation that never could, nor ever will, be able to defeat us militarily…. In fact, I believe we should exert our rights to the land extending to the Euphrates river as was our Kingdom under David.

    On the Contrary, there are [very religious] Hardeim, which based on a false interpretation of the Torah, which actually requires us to support our brothers under any and all circumstances, remain hostile to Zionism. In fact, some openly support Iran and its endeavors to destroy Israel.

    Thus, it would appear that the extent of ones faith neither is responsible for their support for, nor any fierce attacks against the Jewish state. In my opinion, we must defend our brothers because if we don't, no other will.

  51. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori Yanover. I may have misinterpreted some of your comments as it appears you do support Israel and Zionism, albeit non-secular only. However, I disagree with your comments that only Orthodox are capable of defending the Jewish state.

    While my father had grown up Conservative, he raised us as reformed. We attended Synagogue only on the High Holy days, which was more like a gathering of fashionista as opposed to a religious undertaking. Of course, I did have a Bar Mitzvah, including reading the entire Torah portion.

    Still, both he and I, are staunch supporters of Israel, both financially and publicly, including our right to Judea and Samaria. In my humble opinion, we never should have returned Sinai for such a fragile peace to a nation that never could, nor ever will, be able to defeat us militarily. In fact, I believe we should exert our rights to the land extending to the Euphrates river as was our Kingdom under David.

    On the Contrary, there are [very religious] Hardeim, which based on a false interpretation of the Torah, which actually requires us to support our brothers under any and all circumstances, remain hostile to Zionism. In fact, some openly support Iran and its endeavors to destroy Israel.

    Thus, it would appear that the extent of ones faith neither is responsible for their support for, nor any fierce attacks against the Jewish state. In my opinion, we must defend our brothers because if we don't, no other will.

  52. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori Yanover. I may have misinterpreted some of your comments as it appears you do support Israel and Zionism, albeit non-secular only. However, I disagree with your insistence that only the Orthodox are capable of defending the Jewish state.

    While my father had grown up Conservative, he raised us as reformed. We attended Synagogue only on the High Holy days, which was more like a gathering of fashionista as opposed to a religious undertaking. Of course, I did have a Bar Mitzvah, including reading the entire Torah portion.

    Still, both he and I, are staunch supporters of Israel, both financially and publicly, including our right to Judea and Samaria. In my humble opinion, we never should have returned Sinai for such a fragile peace to a nation that never could, nor ever will, be able to defeat us militarily. In fact, I believe we should exert our rights to the land extending to the Euphrates river as was our Kingdom under David.

    On the Contrary, there are [very religious] Hardeim, which based on a false interpretation of the Torah, which actually requires us to support our brothers under any and all circumstances, remain hostile to Zionism. In fact, some openly support Iran and its endeavors to destroy Israel.

    Thus, it would appear that the extent of ones faith neither is responsible for their support for, nor any fierce attacks against the Jewish state. In my opinion, we must defend our brothers because if we don't, no other will.

  53. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori Yanover. I may have misinterpreted some of your comments as it appears you do support Israel and Zionism, albeit non-secular only. However, I disagree with your insistence that only the Orthodox are capable of defending the Jewish state.

    Traditionally, my father is a Conservative Jew, but raised us as reformed. We attended Synagogue only on the High Holy days, which was more like a gathering of New York fashionista as opposed to a religious undertaking. Of course, I did have a Bar Mitzvah, including reading the entire Torah portion, and, currently, am seeking greater spirituality by spending time with the Chabad Rabbi in Bangkok, where I reside (FYI – he hails from Brooklyn).

    Still, both my father and I, are staunch supporters of Israel, financially, politically and publicly, including its G-d given (and now legal) right to Judea and Samaria. In my humble opinion, we never should have returned Sinai for such a fragile peace treaty to a nation that never could, nor ever will, be able to defeat us militarily. More so, I believe we should exert our rights to the land extending to the Euphrates river as was our Kingdom under David.

    On the contrary and contrary to your view of the non-secular Jew as the only true Zionist, there are [very religious] Hardeim, which based on a false interpretation of the Torah remain hostile to Israel and Zionism. In fact, some openly support Iran and its endeavors to destroy Israel.

    Thus, it would appear that the extent of ones faith neither is responsible for their support for, nor any fierce attacks against the Jewish state. In my opinion, and as required by the Torah, WE must defend our brothers under all circumstances because if we don't, no other will.

  54. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori Yanover.

    I may have misinterpreted some of your comments as it appears you do support Israel and Zionism, albeit non-secular only. However, I disagree with your insistence that only the Orthodox are capable of defending the Jewish state.

    Traditionally, my father is a Conservative Jew, but raised us as reformed. We attended Synagogue only on the High Holy days, which was more like a gathering of New York fashionista as opposed to a religious undertaking. Of course, I did have a Bar Mitzvah, including reading the entire Torah portion, and, currently, am seeking greater spirituality by spending time with the Chabad Rabbi in Bangkok, where I reside (FYI – he hails from Brooklyn).

    Still, both my father and I, are staunch supporters of Israel, financially, politically and publicly, including its G-d given (and now legal) righ…t to Judea and Samaria. In my humble opinion, we never should have returned Sinai for such a fragile peace treaty to a nation that never could, nor ever will, be able to defeat us militarily. More so, I believe we should exert our rights to the land extending to the Euphrates river as was our Kingdom under David.

    On the contrary and contrary to your view of the non-secular Jew as the only true Zionist, there are [very religious] Hardeim, which based on a false interpretation of the Torah remain hostile to Israel and Zionism. In fact, some openly support Iran and its endeavors to destroy Israel. Further, as I seem to recall, it mostly is the secular Jews who risk life to defend the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

    Thus, it would appear that the extent of ones faith neither is responsible for their support for, nor any fierce attacks against the Jewish state. In my opinion, and as required by the Torah, WE must defend our brothers under all circumstances because if we don't, no other will.

  55. Noah Farbstein says:

    Yori Yanover

    I may have misinterpreted some of your comments as it appears you do support Israel and Zionism, albeit non-secular only. However, I disagree with your insistence that only the Orthodox are capable of defending the Jewish state.

    On the contrary and contrary to your view of the non-secular Jew as the only true Zionist, as I seem to recall, it mostly is the secular or relatively secular Jews who risk life to defend the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and NOT those religious Israelis that strongly believe sitting and studying Torah is the best possible defense against our enemies.

    In fact, many (or should I say most) of those [very religious] Jews, remain hostile to Israel and Zionism, based on a false interpretation of the Torah. In fact, some openly support Iran and its endeavors to destroy Israel.

    Even outside of Israel, t…his holds true. Traditionally, my father is a Conservative Jew, but raised us as reformed. We attended Synagogue only on the High Holy days, which was more like a gathering of New York fashionista as opposed to a religious undertaking. Of course, I did have a Bar Mitzvah, including reading the entire Torah portion, and, currently, am seeking greater spirituality by spending time with the Chabad Rabbi in Bangkok, where I reside (FYI – he hails from Brooklyn).

    Still, both my father and I, are staunch supporters of Israel, financially, politically and publicly, including its G-d given (and now legal) righ…t to Judea and Samaria. In my humble opinion, we never should have returned Sinai for such a fragile peace treaty to a nation that never could, nor ever will, be able to defeat us militarily. More so, I believe we should exert our rights to the land extending to the Euphrates river as was our Kingdom under David.

    Thus, it would appear that the extent of ones faith neither is responsible for their support for, nor any fierce attacks against the Jewish state. In my opinion, and as required by the Torah, WE must defend our brothers under all circumstances because if we don't, no other will.

  56. Yori Yanover says:

    Rachel Furman Stern · My friend Ehud is dictating this over the phone:

    I agree with everything you wrote, apart from the facts. When is the last time you visited the Kotel plaza? It is neatly divided into three sections. One for Orthodox men, one for Orthodox women, and most of the area is open to everyone. If you have ever been there, you must have seen thousands of people from hundreds of cultures, each praying in trheir own way. All are very welcome. But politely.

    Thanks, Ehud

  57. Liad Bar-el says:

    Yori: “How I Lost My Liberal View of Reform Jews and Started to Fear Them” You claimed to be a Modern Orthodox who worked/supported Reform Jews and now fears them but now supports and doesn’t fear Islam?

  58. Dan Silagi says:

    It was once state law, in a lot of states, for a white person to marry a person of color (which in a couple of states included Arabs, and thus by extension possibly Sephardic Jews). Fortunately, the US Supreme Court declared this Nazi-like law unconstitutional back in 1967. Just because something was legislated into existence doesn't make it legal, let alone right.

    I expect the "law" making the Kotel a haredi orthodox synagogue will be consigned to the dustbin of history. We're already 75% there, the remaining 25% will follow very shortly.

    Of course, there will be those who'll rail about this, just as after 45 years there are a few antedeluvians in this country who would love to bring back the anti-miscegnation laws.

  59. Ingeborg Oppenheimer says:

    david, kudos for a spots-on analysis, so well put! i have always felt a shudder hearing about our alleged biblical right to the land, because the writings of muslims and possibly others hold very different views, and none of us is in god's head; to claim that we are is as egotistical as some commenters accuse the wow women of being. all these works – the pentateuch [and related comments], the koran, the new testament – were written by man, and i mean that literally. if anyone knows of a woman or women who contributed to their writing, i'm all ears! we have a historical and legal right to israel, as you detail so well, not a religion-based right. it's as simple as that. and israelis, being a people with many shades of religious belief and observance, have a right to full representation in government and formulation of law. they should not be forced to subit to the version of law practiced by only one religious group.

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