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They want to have total isolation from the rest of the world? I think perhaps we should finally give it to them. It pains me to say so but based on what I am reading in their very own media, going off the deep end is not an exaggeration. It may even be an understatement! It is a wonder that they do not have a bigger OTD problem than they already do. I guess that their system works very well for them that way.
Several prominent Religious Zionist rabbis in Israel have fallen victim to the OTD (Off the Derech) phenomenon. Rav Shlomo Aviner, Rav David Bigman, and Rav Yoram Tzohar each have a daughter that has departed from the observant ways of their parents. So for those parents who have OTD children, you are not alone. There are some very prominent people who join you. One may ask: How can I publicize something like this about such prominent leaders in Klal Yisroel, since it might be embarrassing to them? The answer is that they do not hide it. They willingly participated in a film that tells their story.
In its most recent edition, Ami Magazine has accused Professor Samuel Heilman - a distinguished Professor of Sociology at Queens College of hating Charedim. I am all too familiar with accusations like this as I am often accused of being a Charedi hater myself. But the truth is that neither I nor Professor Heilman are such a thing.
Despite some of my early negative observations - it still seemed like there was a tremendous sense of Achdus in many respects. The Shul I davened at was very Charedi and yet a great number of regular attendees there are Dati Leumi - Kipa Seruga, no jacket or hat. Even an occasional Israeli solider in full uniform can be found catching a Minyan there. All are welcome.
Why is there so much animosity between Charedi and Dati Leumi/Religious Zionist factions? I can't fully answer the question. But I do have some thoughts about it. I think it is because Israelis are far more idealistic about their religious values - especially those who make Aliyah.
The truth is that Orthodox Jews are all lumped together as having the same attitudes in life. So that for example a Chasidic Jew in Williamsburg will be treated the same way a Modern Orthodox Jew in Teaneck. They are both seen as Orthodox and their worldviews are more or less seen to be the same: decidedly anti-modern. But this viewpoint doesn't reflect the reality.
Fact is there is of course nothing wrong with raising standards of religious observance. As long as it is voluntary. But when schools start making new demands along those lines, they completely ignore individual choice. Being Machmir should be an individual choice and not forced upon anyone. These strictrures have nothing to do with basic Halacha. They have to do with image.
I recently saw a picture of the first Agudah convention taken almost 100 years ago. There were people in all manner of dress: light suits, dark suits, vests… some had hats, some caps, some just plain Kipot. Many clean shaven, few with peyos… All were there and all were the equivalent of the Charedi world we have today. This was the Agudah of Yesteryear.
If the draft is going to be equally applied, religious sensitivities must be guaranteed to all. This means that the infrastructure must be created and enforced so that Charedim will be able to practice Judaism as they best understand it. The bottom line for me is that no Charedi mother should ever be faced by a Chiloni or Religious Zionist mother asking the question, “Why did my son have to die in battle while your son was safe in a Yeshiva?”
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