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June 30, 2015 / 13 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘assimilation’

An Existential Analysis

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

There were 4488 page views (‘hits’) on my blog yesterday. Of those 1429 were unique visitors. Unique visitors are the actual number of people who accessed my blog during Monday’s 24 hour period. Of those, 307 voted on my poll. Which asked to choose the biggest existential threat to Judaism from a list of 7 possible choices. The results were: Chilul HaShem 78 (25%) Education 127 (41%) Feminism 11 (3%) Internet 13 (4%) Poverty 22 (7%) Sex Abuse 14 (4%) Tuition 42 (13%)

Not surprisingly the largest number of votes by far – 127 (41%) went to educational concerns. A full 25% of the votes went to concerns about Chilul HaShem. The third biggest concern was the Tuition crisis. The rest of the respondents were in single digit percentages poverty being the biggest concern among those.

The bottom three concerns were about the impact of sex abuse, the internet, and feminism.

First let me address the fact that a lot of factors were not included. Among them were: going OTD, divorce rates, dysfunctional families, sexism, the move to the right, the move to the left, the Shiddach crisis, assimilationist influences, isolationist influences, the State of Israel, increased divisiveness between Hashkafos… all serious challenges to Judaism. I could not list them all. That would have made the poll almost meaningless dividing the vote into small and insignificant numbers. I chose these because I believe that although they are not all inclusive – they do represent a wide variety of issues often cited as existential threats.

Not that these results are all that significant. The sample was relatively small and not random. It was also heavily biased in that respondents were people who read my blog. And only a small fraction of those actually voted. So for these and many other reasons, this poll cannot be taken as representing what the actual percentages of all Jews believe regarding any of these issues.

That said, I like to think that my readership consists mostly of Orthodox Jews that are intelligent, well educated, care greatly and have strong feelings about issues affecting the Jewish world. Although this blog’s demographic skews heavily in favor of Modern Orthodox Jews, there are many Charedim among my readers too. As well as non Orthodox Jews and even a few non Jews. I strongly feel that the majority of those (at least of those who comment) are fair minded, keen observers of the Jewish world whose opinions should be valued. So even though this is not a random sample of all Jews, it is a sample of thinking and caring Jews.

It was a little surprising to see how few people there were who thought that sex abuse was the most important issue of the day. Considering the fact that this issue is the most hotly debated issue in our day… and that the fact that the slightest taint of it in any institution will cause a tremendous outcry… and considering the damage that it causes to victims – sometimes permanent psychological damage… and the damage it causes to the victim’s families, and even the abuser’s family… and considering revelations about the far greater number of victims than anyone ever suspected… and the fact that so many of the victims go OTD… I would have thought sex abuse would have gotten a much bigger vote than 14 people.

I guess the reason for that is that as bad as sex abuse is… and as great the damage it does to so many people – even beyond the actual victim, that issue alone is not seen as an existential threat to Judaism itself. But still, the way religious leadership across the board has dealt with it in the past – and even now cannot but have a deleterious effect upon our existence. Many iconic names – religious leaders across the spectrum of Orthodoxy have – by word , deed, or lack of action – have disappointed victims and their advocates. This disillusions people about Orthodox Judaism. Sex abuse is a serious problem in need of our immediate attention. It should have ranked a lot higher than 5th out of 7 – totaling only 4% of the vote.

That Chilul HaShem ranked number 2 is no surprise. If anything can disillusion people, it is when prominent Jews get caught in wrong doing like fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering. Whether it is Rubashkin, the Spinka Rebbe, an elderly Sephardic Rabbi in New Jersey, or of late, Rabbi Yehoshua Pinto – it does not inspire a love of Judaism when such high profile rabbis who are supposed to be role models and teachers end up being crooks.

What Is the Biggest Problem Facing Judaism?

Monday, December 17th, 2012

This week Mishpacha Magazine had an article that asked what may be the most important question one could ask about Judaism. What is the biggest existential issue plaguing the Jewish world in our day?

They asked a number of prominent respondents from a wide spectrum of Hashkafos. From Rabbi David Neiderman, a prominent leader of Satmar that heads many of their organizations on one end – to Rabbi Steven Weil, Executive Vice President of the OU and Rabbi Dr. Aharon Hersh Fried, Associate Professor of Psychology at YU’s Stern College for Women.

Mishpacha received a wide variety of answers. Interestingly none of them said it was the move to the right.

More importantly, no one said that sex abuse is that issue. I tend to agree. Of course to the increasing numbers of victims and their families – that is the biggest issue plaguing Judaism today – a Holocaust in fact. While I agree that this is a major problem and the one in most need of immediate action, I do not see this by itself to be the biggest issue. Although I do believe it is a major contributor to it.

The respondents each stated what they thought. I will briefly list what each one of them said.

Jonathan Rosenblum thought it was the idea that too many of us do not think about honoring God. In a nutshell he says that this leads to not thinking about which of our actions constitute a Kiddush HaShem or Chilul HaShem. In many cases we tend to think only about ourselves and our own limited communities and never give a thought to how those outside of our word see our actions and how our behavior impacts on their perceptions of Judaism as a whole. I think he’s right.

Rabbi Niederman (without saying so directly) spoke about the dire poverty he must constantly encounter in his Kehilla in Williamsburg. His point being that without a means of sustenance, spirituality doesn’t even begin. Ein Kemach Ein Torah. To him, poverty is the primary existential threat to Judaism.

Rabbi Weil spoke of the spiritual holocaust of assimilation. A holocaust that he says causes more Jews to be lost from Judaism than the actual Holocaust. 56 percent of all Jews are intermarrying. The great boon to Jews in America is its biggest bane. Because of our broad acceptance – it is easier than ever to become completely assimilated. The largest bloc of Jews under 40 are choosing not to live as Jews. The American ideal of freedom and our widespread acceptance is in fact the double edged sword that is both helping us and skewering us. On the one hand observant Jews have been so accepted that we are invited to serve at the highest echelons of government. But at the same time the freedom this country offers allows us to shed any semblance of our Judaism.

Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, a published ArtScroll author and head of a Jerusalem based women’s seminary, says that our educational system is failing us in the self esteem department. Our students are being brought up to believe that if one does not attain the ideal state of a Jew as defined by the particular Hashkafa of their schools, they are not worthy of God’s love. The push to perfection has created an entire population of young people who feel themselves unworthy, no matter how accomplished they are, they feel they fall short of the ideal expected of them. Thus feeling worthless!

And finally there is Rabbi Dr. Aharon Hersh Fried. He takes a typically academic approach rejecting all anecdotal information that often inspires various media to become experts about what is or isn’t important. He says we ought not try and isolate issues. Instead he says that all issues need to be studied by professionals which include the entire spectrum of the Frum world – rabbis and lay leaders. Such studies ought to include an interdisciplinary team of professionals – along with ‘a social scientist or two’. After clearly studying and defining those issues – we can develop solutions to them.

Of all the approaches mentioned, it’s hard to argue with Dr. Fried. What better method can there be for determining that than a scientifically designed study that will be objectively conducted and analyzed by the widest variety of people and professionals available to us.

Our Gains, The Enemies’ Losses

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Some 30 years ago a certain well-known rabbi in Manhattan came to Israel and brought much of his congregation with him, to a barren ridge where our forefathers and foremothers traveled to and from Jerusalem and Hebron. The rabbi and his followers left the ravages of assimilation and headed to the unknown. The rabbi swiftly gathered in Jews from all over the world and all over Israel to the cozy town of Efrat.

My son’s Efrat high school class recently returned from a weeklong trip to Poland. We met them at dawn at the Kotel. How appropriate to have gone during the month of Elul.

In order to be thoroughly understood, this is a story that must be rewound and fast-forwarded. We move back and forth between Biblical times, times of bitterness, exile, enslavement, times of the Kings – so many yesterdays. At the Kotel we are rewarded by a scene featuring a group of the proudest Jewish souls on the planet who, until this time, never really experienced anti-Semitism. This is a story about 16- and 17-year-old “caped crusaders” who wore huge Israeli flags draped around their shoulders at the death camps, the remains of shtetls, the memorials. They are not afraid to dance and cry in public. They have returned from what they describe as a cemetery the size of an entire country.

We rewind several days to watch them recite Kaddish along the train tracks, where the generations of their grandparents, people with the same names, once tread for the last time. And now fast-forward again to the free Jews dancing at the Kotel. From what are they free? From the threat of intermarriage and the burdens of being in the minority. They are free from having to look over their shoulders both to the past and the future and wondering what others might think. They are free to proudly wear the mantle of Heaven.

What is the antonym of “cowering”? At the Kotel, after a week of first-hand testimony of slave labor, brutality, murder, loss and ovens the powerful antidote is this: the Jewish melting pot, on Jewish land. Here is where the children of Manhattan congregants gather together with the children of Jews who feared Arab marauders, together with grandchildren of Jews who were slaves all over the world, Jews who wandered and prayed in all manners of exile – out of fear.

With their arms around each other’s shoulders, the boys dance in a giant circle, in the plaza in front of the Kotel. They sing a new song, one their teacher originated with the words, “Wherever we go, we are going to the Land of Israel.” At this tearfully joyful reunion, the parents are laughing and crying as well.

We ignore the piercing wails of the muezzin calling Muslim followers to prayer. This is the meaning of the words about the children returning to the borders: “v’shavu banim ligvulam.”

The Cult of America

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Not long ago, there was a case of a cult leader who was arrested for having a harem of twenty homeless teenage girls whom he kept in a mansion and sexually molested as part of their allegiance to him. In court, his lawyer gave an impassioned speech, asking the jury to take into consideration all of the good he had done in rescuing them from the street, housing them, providing them with food, clothing, and paying for their medical care. He hadn’t forced anyone to stay in his mansion. He hadn’t locked the doors. He had simply rescued them and given them his love.

Yes, America took in hordes of downtrodden immigrant Jews. Yes, America was a land of opportunity for the homeless and starving. Yes, America allowed them freedom of religion. Yes, in America, many poor immigrant Jews became rich and famous. And, yes, America has helped the State of Israel in many ways too.

But the fact is, call it whatever nice fancy, intellectual-sounding, three or four syllable name that you wish, the majority of Jews in America are being raped. Raped of their Jewish identity. Raped of being Jews. Raped of their Jewish future. No one is forcing them, but it is happening all the same.

Not everyone mind you. About 35% to 40% of American Jews are still hanging on to being Jewish. But assimilation is steadily increasing, and hundreds of thousands are disappearing with every passing decade. Soon, only the Orthodox will be left, and who will save them when the Americans remind them the hard way that they are Jews, not Americans – as has happened in every age throughout history, in every gentile country with whom we have fallen in love?

In my family alone, except for my brother, all of my cousins and second cousins married out of the faith – all of them. Finished. Kaput. The end of the line. After 5000 years of clinging to being Jewish, generation after generation, through times of harsh and often murderous oppression, the candle was snuffed out in the love boat of America, which is so good to the Jews, it rapes them of being Jewish – not by force – but by feeding them, and housing them, and providing them with all kinds of goodies and love.

It won’t happen to your children, you say – if you are even married, because who but homosexuals get married these days? And if it does happen to your children and grandchildren, well, it’s no big deal, you claim – everyone is equal, people are free to do what they want with their lives, why should there be differences and ethnic borders in the world? The main thing is love.

“Love, shmov,” my grandmother would say. “A curse on Columbus!”

That little gem, she was fond of saying every Columbus Day for his having discovered the land of assimilation that is steadily and surely wiping out the Jewish People, even though everything is honky dory with you. Who cares about the future of our people? My life today is what matters! That’s all that counts to the cultists of America. EQUALITY! LIBERTY! ACCEPTANCE!

Yes, America has been good to the Jews. Just like the rapist was good to his harem of teenage lovers.

Citing ‘Love your Neighbor,’ JFNA Attacks Chief Rabbi

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

The Jewish Federations of North America slammed Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar’s criticism of the Israeli government’s decision to pay the salaries of some non-Orthodox rabbis.

“It is a fundamental Jewish virtue to ‘love your fellow as yourself.’ We condemn comments that disparage fellow Jews and, in particular, well-established branches of Judaism that represent 80 percent of North American Jewry,” JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman said in a statement.

Amar said in an interview Sunday with the Haredi Orthodox Kol Berama radio station that he is convening the Chief Rabbinate Council, made up of Orthodox rabbis throughout Israel, to discuss ways to reverse the government’s decision. The meeting reportedly will take place next week.

“The greatest danger for our generation is the danger of assimilation, and we need to be strong and steadfast in our fight,” Amar said. “It is forbidden to remain silent because there is nothing more serious than this measure.”

He added that the decision to recognize non-Orthodox rabbis could “uproot all the foundations of the Torah.”

Silverman said in his statement that “We know that the Chief Rabbi’s comments and language are completely rejected by the millions of Jewish people whom we represent from all streams, including our Orthodox brethren. Statements such as those made by Rabbi Amar only serve to alienate our fellow Jews from our religion, our people and the Jewish state.”

The agreement announced last month came three weeks after a panel of Israeli Supreme Court judges called on the attorney general to intervene during a hearing on a petition filed more than seven years ago calling for the state to recognize and pay the salaries of rabbis of all streams of Judaism.

Under a settlement negotiated out of court, the non-Orthodox rabbis have the moniker “rabbi of a non-Orthodox community,” and financing for the positions comes from the Culture and Sports Ministry. The decision is limited to regional councils and farming communities and is not intended for large cities.

Beyond Words – Rabbi Meir Kahane at His Very Best

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

One of Rabbi Kahane’s most powerful essays, “What Makes Bernie Run?” was published in The Jewish Press in 1976. Unfortunately, its scathing message is as true today as it was back then, almost 35 years ago.

We have written about programs like Birthright in the past. Sure it’s a great thing to send young Jews to Israel for an inspirational visit. If even one Jew ends up marrying a Jewish mate because of it, and coming on aliyah, then all of the millions of dollars are worth it. But, after these kids return to their college campuses and their enticing shiksa classmates, their experience in Israel will all too often turn into a fading memory with snapshots they can show to the shiksas they marry. If he is still charged up from his visit, maybe Bernie will insist that Brigette undergo some worthless conversion. Maybe he’ll get her to light Sabbath candles and tell their kids that they’re Jews. And when they grow up, maybe Bernie’s gentile’s children will pass themselves off as the real thing and get some poor Jewish sucker to marry them. What a mess it will be! There will even be “Jewish” weddings where both the bride and groom are gentiles. Soon in America, you won’t be able to know if the person you are marrying is really a Jew, or if he or she innocently believes they’re Jewish because that’s what their parents told them, and the rabbis and temples and Jewish establishment all went along with the charade. And now that the Attorney General in Israel has cleared the way to pay reform “rabbis,” thus recognizing their services to their communities, this terrible danger may spread to the Holy Land where intermarriage has been less than one percent up till now.

Rabbi Kahane envisioned it all. Here is his article. It’s long, but it’s an incredible, dynamite piece of writing that tells the truth in the brilliant, straight-to-the-jugular way which characterizes the Rabbi’s writings. He published 22 books and authored well over 1,000 articles before being assassinated in 1990. With the brave backing of The Jewish Press, he wrote scores of essays for the newspaper using a variety of pen names. But until last year, the overwhelming majority of his articles were only available in the archives of The Jewish Press building. Now, after a heroic ten-year effort by David Fine, a seven-volume set containing many of these articles has been published. Called Beyond Words: Selected Writings, 1960-1990, the collection spans 3,500 pages with most of the best articles that Rabbi Kahane ever wrote.

Beyond Words also includes several indexes in Volume 7 that enable the reader to find articles by subject, by title, and even by the references in the article to specific quotations from the Torah and the Talmud. To order in Israel, call 02-582-3540.

WHAT MAKES BERNIE RUN?

Rabbi Meir Kahane

(Federal prison, Manhattan, Lag Ba’Omer, April 29, 1975)

Once there was a television program, which centered about the theme of intermarriage. The heroes of the piece were named Bernie and Brigitte. The American Jewish Establishment put great pressure on the particular network that televised the series and the program was ultimately dropped. Bernie and Brigitte were no longer. They had been canceled…

How relatively simple it was to cancel Bernie and Brigitte on television and how much more difficult to struggle against the curse and cancer of intermarriage and assimilation that exists in real American Jewish life. How simple to picket a television series to death and how hard to stamp out the disease that afflicts us daily in the real-life existence that is the lot of American Jewry. lf we no longer find Bernie and Brigitte strolling hand in hand across our television screens we need only look at our campuses, at our streets at our neighborhoods, Bernie is alive and well.

What makes Bernie run? What makes Bernie run after Brigitte? What makes Bernie run away from Judaism and cut the chain of generations? What makes Bernie run away from the Judaism that his great-grandfather clutched at the risk of loss of happiness material wealth and so often very life? What makes Bernie run? This is the question that drives the American Jewish Establishment to frantically set up committees, study groups, surveys and commissions. This is the question that drives them to study the problem again and again and then again. This is the question to which they allocate so much time and so much communal money. This is the question that is at the top of their puzzled order of priorities, over which they scratch their collective well-groomed heads: What makes Bernie run?

The One Jewish State Solution

Friday, May 25th, 2012

“I shall not drive them away in a single year lest the land become desolate…little by little shall I drive them away from you, until you become fruitful and make the Land your heritage…” Exodus, 23:29-30.

It is almost 19 years since the infamous Oslo handshake on the White House Lawn. Shimon Peres, fool in chief, stated for all the gullible, “No more war, no more terror, no more violence… we are beginning a new era of the Middle East..” He was right – a new era of willful Jew slaughter was to begin when Israel revitalized a Jew murderer, gave his killers weapons and after signing what turned out to be a worthless agreement, Jews began to get slaughtered on the streets of Israel while the three not-so-wise men, Clinton, Rabin, and Peres looked like those three cartoonish monkeys – one covering his eyes, one covering his mouth and one covering his ears… reckless fools leading Israel to the first seven years of a Jewish bloodbath. The age of premeditated suicide bombers didn’t take long to begin, for on April 6, 1994 in Afula the first of the bus bombings began.

With short memories, too many Jews have forgotten the first 600 slaughtered Jews from 1994 to 2000. Next came the cowardly attempt by the little piano playing, cross dressing, most decorated General Ehud Barak who tried desperately to give away 94% of Israel’s historical homeland to terrorists – before Ariel Sharon took a stroll on the Temple Mount followed by what was” artistically” to be called the second intifada leading to another 1,000 slaughtered Jews. How many intifadas since 1948 add up to almost 23,000 dead Jews in Israel.

All along the way you could see the flashbulbs popping after more worthless agreements were signed and you could hear the despicable spin calling dead Jews “sacrifices for peace.” Pile up the dead Jews and let the big shots give their trite eulogies filled with platitudes telling our people how horrible it is that Jews have to die for peace, and going on to the next Kodak photo-op, the next Nobel Peace Prize moment – the next confrontation with those who spoke out demanding accountability but the only words they got from the machers du’jour was the infantile labeling as “enemies of peace”. Too many with thick wallets had too much invested to deal with the reality- easier to blame those who asked for truth. That these mentally deranged could obscenely accuse fellow Jews who were asking obvious questions as Jews were blown up on buses, blown up at seders, blown up at discotheques and pizza parlors, to look at the bloody reality. These peace pimps, in truth, were the real enemies of peace. So sure were they that peace was at hand, so invested in the charade they refused to see the joy in the eyes of the murderers, or listen to the words of the Arafatian inciters. They refused to read the school books filled with hatred as the next generation was being educated on vile lies and blessed martyrdom, virgins and sainthood for Jew killing. The arrogant peace mongers, the ignorant purveyors of perversity, those that refused to acknowledge they were wrong refused to see that this was a war not peace – they, the disgusting peace pimps – shrouded in shame refused to admit they were wrong.

Not long ago I heard a Rabbi in the middle of his sermon say “… we of the peace camp…” Can you imagine that after almost 1700 dead Jews that this ignoramus was still stuck on “… we of the peace camp…” I laughed out loud and he was infuriated. What he should have said for the assembled was, “We of the peace camp have come to apologize and beg the families of the Jewish victims for forgiveness” – but even today there are some that have yet to give up their delusions. This Rabbi of the “peace camp” is now safely in Chicago while his former home of Ashkelon is being bombed with Hamastan “peace camp” missiles and the children of Ashkelon and Sderot scurry into concrete bunkers on a daily basis.

It is time to face the reality, stop the insanity of blaming Israel for the failure of Oslo and the other worthless agreements. Its time to stop all the lies. Oslo never was about peace. It was about a lie tailored for the gullible. Even the lawyer who meticulously wrote the original agreements that Rabin and Arafat signed – a leftist in every bone in his body, Joel Singer, a Jew- boy doing his duty, realized shortly after the signing it was all a lie. But in a way I believe that Israel and Jews had to go through another deadly exercise to understand, with no excuses of political correctness, the reality and power of the Arab dream of the destruction of Israel. Has the world changed that much since the 1930’s?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/the-one-jewish-state-solution/2012/05/25/

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