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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘chareidi’

3000 Chareidim to be Drafted in August

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Reshet Bet reports that 3000 Chareidim who previously received deferrals for Torah learning, will receive their draft orders starting in August. This will be the first time that thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews are drafted into the IDF.

General Orna Barbibai, head of the IDF human resources division said that 25% of Israeli men and 50% of Israeli women (and not just Chareidim) are not drafted into the army.

She added that due to the increased needs of the IDF, there will be no shortening of the service time as had previously been considered.

Are the Ultra Orthodox Incapable of Seeing God Fearing in National Religious Jews?

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Last Friday, Cross Currents published an essay by Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein that I consider to be of seminal importance. It is illustrative of one of the biggest problems impeding the future of Judaism. It involves the way the Charedi world is educated and the reaction of at least one of their rabbinic leaders to it. It is almost as if he had an epiphany.

The article itself involves a Kiddush HaShem that was done by Akiva Finkelstein, an 18-year old Dati Leumi honors student in Israel, and in and of itself is not anything we haven’t seen before. From Cross Currents:

An honor student in a dati Leumi school, he trained for eight years, and became Israel’s welterweight champion, and representative at an international competition in Armenia. Scheduled to fight motza’ei Shabbos, a change in the rules demanded that he be weighed in on Shabbos itself. His father flew in to help argue the case for him, and convinced the powers that be that Akiva could not get on the scale, but it would be OK if the officials lifted him on to the scale. At the appointed hour, the overall boss balked at this in a monumental act of small-mindedness, and told Akiva that he would either step on the scale himself or be disqualified. The secular Israeli coach urged him to do it. Akiva refused; in a single instant, he sacrificed eight years of training.

It was indeed a tremendous sacrifice and a true Kiddush HaShem. Unfortunately, the story does not end there. Rabbi Adlerstein goes on to tell how an unnamed Torah personality contacted him about the reaction by some members of his own Charedi community. He was extremely upset by it. What upset him? Again – from Cross Currents:

These comments gave Akiva no credit for the decision, but denigrated the eight years of training. Think of all the Torah he could have learned in the time he spent outside the Bais Medrash! Akiva was a loser, and so were his parents.

If I were to say that this reaction sickened me and ask what is becoming of the Yeshiva world – I would be called a Charedi basher. That is in fact how I have reacted many times to this kind of thinking.

But it was not me reacting to it this time. That was precisely the reaction this Torah personality had. In fact if one goes on to read the rest of Rabbi Adlerstein’s description of that personality’s reaction it could have easily have been me saying it. Bottom line is that he asked Rabbi Adlerstein to write about it.

That is the silver lining of hope for change in Charedi education.

It was very revealing that what many if us have known for years about the attitude of some on the right, is apparently proven to be a fact. It is also gratifying to know that a Torah personality is now aware of it and is pained by it.

I have written extensively in the past about correcting this erroneous Hashkafa that Charedi students have somehow incorporated into their thinking. At least there are now Charedi leaders that see this too. And saying so. At least anonymously. But the fact that this leader refuses to both be identified or personally address the problem in his own words and instead asks that a surrogate do it for him is part of the problem too.

I can attempt a guess at who it might have been. I know two members of the Agudah Moetzes personally and one by reputation and all three could have had this reaction. But it could have been anyone – including those who are not on the Agudah Moetzes.

I’m glad that there are Charedi leaders on the same page with me on this. But the fact that they refuse to make their views public and put the power and prestige of their own names behind it is one reason the problem will no doubt be perpetuated. This silver lining therefore contains a cloud.

What will it take to make this Charedi Rabbinic leader come out of the closet on this? I would be willing to bet that he is not the only one among his peers that feels that way. Being pained is not enough. Even making it known in an anonymous way is not enough. If the pendulum is to swing back sooner rather than later on this it’s going to take a lot more than expressing pain anonymously.

I don’t know why he refused to be identified. My hope is that he reads my comments or others like it and reconsiders. It is only then that a community that views the concept of Daas Torah as embodied by their Gedolim as defacto infallible that things have any chance of changing.

A word about criticizing Charedi rabbinic leaders.

There are some people that will see this post as a jumping off point for bashing members of the Agudah Moetzes and other Charedi rabbinic leaders. That would be terribly wrong in my view. I know there is a lot of anger out there about the reactions of the right about issues affecting the Jewish people. Good and well-intentioned people are perplexed by it.

But just as there are reasons that good and sincere people are upset, does not make those they are upset at bad people, God forbid. Charedi rabbinic leaders like those on the Agudah Moetzes are sincere too. They too have integrity. I firmly believe that they are as truthful and devout as their reputations indicate. They firmly believe that everything they do and say in the public arena is in the best interest of the Jewish people. And they have a lot more Torah knowledge that most of us.

That they can and sometimes do make mistakes is because they are human. It is also true that differing Hashkafos will sometimes lead to different interpretations of what is seen as a mistake. It is therefore entirely wrong to denigrate them in any way. What we may do is respectfully disagree with them. Which is a standard I try and maintain when I do it. I ask that if people comment on this – that they do the same.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

The Way We Were

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

I though I might take a break from my regular fare here and talk a bit about my illustrious family. Many people know my New York cousins. Not so many know me. At least not outside my blog.

I found this picture not long ago in a box of pictures I have in my bedroom closet. It was a small black and white print which has been restored and enlarged. It is currently hanging in my den.

The two people in the photo were always referred to by my parents as “the uncle” and “the tanta” (Yiddish for aunt). Binyamin (Binny Mendel) Maryles was my father’s uncle – his mother’s brother. The tanta was his wife, Chaya. She was a Baumel and the sister of Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm’s grandmother.

These two figures had tremendous impact on my life. They were the one’s that sponsored my parents’ immigration to the US after the Holocaust. That was in 1946, the year of my birth. These two people and their children made it happen. The uncle and the Tanta were also the patriarchs of the much bigger New York branch of the Maryles family.

Their four children, Simon (Symie), Toby, David (Dave), and Joe (Yoshe) are patriarchs and a matriarchs in their own right. Two of them have passed away. Simon who joined the Canadian army during WWII so that he could fight Hitler before the US got involved – died a few years ago. David died very tragically from leukemia back in the 50s.

David is featured prominently in the ArtScroll biography of Mike Tress. Mike, Dave and a little known Askan by the name of Moshe Sherer were very active in Hatzalah during and after the Holocaust. They were also for all practical purposes the founding fathers of Agudath Israel in America. When I had an occasion to meet with Rabbi Sherer and he heard my last name, he immediately asked me if I was related to David.

David’s children have made their mark too, as did Yoshe’s children, Toby’s children and Simon’s children . Some of them were very active in Jewish education. Ironically David’s children all became active in modern Orthodox and religious Zionist organizations. His grandchildren attended MO schools. His great grandson and namesake, Binny -a Musmach of YU, is the rabbi of a Young Israel and is involved in he hierarchy of the Young Israel movement.

The uncle’s grandchildren run the entire gamut of Judaism. From Lakewood Charedi to Yeshiva of Flatbush modern Orthodox… to secular. One of his great grand-daughters is a Yoetzet. Another is an Orthodox Jewish feminist who was recently tapped to head JOFA.

While I have my differences with some of them on both ends of the religious spectrum, I could not be prouder than to be a bearer of the name.. and a member of the clan.

My father was not a Maryles. He was a Shapiro. My New York cousins – jokingly – do not hesitate to remind the Chicago branch of the family of that all the time. My father changed it to his mother’s maiden name –Maryles – during the Holocaust. That is a story in and of itself, but not for now. I was however born a Maryles.

What few people know is that the name Maryles has some very significant Chasdishe Yichus attached to it. The uncle was the fifth generation grandson of a Chasidic Rebbe by the name of Rav Shimon Elbaum – the Yaroslover Rebbe. He was a Talmid Muvak of the Chozeh M’Lublin. He changed his name from Elbaum to Maryles – which is a Hebrew acronym “Mei R. Yisroel Leib’s meaning “From Rav Yisroel Leib”. That was his father’s name.

Yisroel Leib was a Misnagid – a strong opponent of Chasidus. He so opposed his son’s “conversion” to Chasdidus that he said on his death bed that he should not say Kaddish for him if he included “VeYatzmach Purkanei V’Karev Meshichei”. That is the added sentence of Nusach Sephard that Chasidim use. I guess that R’ Shimon changed his last name because he wanted to pay tribute to his father in some way to sort of make amends for his break from tradition by becoming a Chasid.

The Unmentionable Pig

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

One of the stranger aspects of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox, “Chareidi” press, is their determination not to use the word “pig.”

Last night, 2 Israelis were killed when their car smashed into a wild boar on Highway 5, East of Tapuach Junction.  Here is how the Chareidi newspaper, HaModia reported it:

HaModia Newspaper reports on the unmentionable wild boar.

“In a head on collision last night, in which 2 “wild other things” ran into the road, 2 men in their 40′s were killed.

The accident took place in the area between Tapuach and Migdalim in the Shomron.  Magen David Adom’s (Israel’s emergency medical and rescue service) attempts failed to save the wounded, and doctors pronounced the men dead on the scene.  MDA reported that next to the car were 2 dead “wild other things” and it is assumed they caused the fatal accident.”

It’s a bit ridiculous that HaModia can’t even use the word, “pig” (or wild boar).

Had this not been such a tragic story of 2 people being killed, I would have added a picture from Maurice Sendak’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are.”

May their memories be blessed.

Why Do We Need an Asifa?

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

There is a huge argument raging right now on Twitter about the next big Internet Asifa scheduled for the end of May in Citi Field. Let me briefly summarize the other positions:

 

#1 The Asifa is just the latest attempt by the zealots and the gedolim they control to control our thoughts

#2 They’re worried about a neo-hashkofa haskola* and are trying to limit access to blogs and the like

#3 They fear their authority is eroding

* I first heard the phrase “neo-haskola” from Mis-nagid in 2005, and have used it promiscuously ever since

To which I reply: No, sorry. This Asifa has nothing to do with any of that. They’ve given up trying to ban the Internet, and the average haredi isn’t interested in thinking or reading. The problem, primarily, is porn.

To which the others reply (paraphrased): But people have always looked at porn! That can’t be the issue! Its a scam! A trick! They don’t really care about porn! They are just using that as an excuse! What they really want to do is run our lives, and close our minds. If they are saying they care about porn, they are a bunch of liars! And hypocrites! Porn has always been a problem! How dare they make believe that they all of a sudden care!

To which I reply: Sure people have always looked at porn, but over the last few years porn has become easier to consume. You can do it quickly, privately and at no cost. The desire to look at porn is a constant, I agree. But the obstacles to looking at porn have been mostly removed. When obstacles disappear consumption goes up. That’s ECO 101.

To which they reply: What are you talking about? You could ALWAYS look at porn

To which I reply: Sure people have always looked at porn, but over the last few years its become easier. You can do it quickly, privately and at no cost. The desire to look at porn is a constant, I agree. But the obstacles to looking at porn have been mostly removed. When obstacles disappear consumption goes up. That’s ECO 101

For some reason, my opponents are unable or unwilling to understand this. In their replies, they point out again, and again in various ways, that porn was always available. What they aren’t grasping is that nowadays more people are seeing more porn because, thanks to the Internet, the porn-watching experience has become so simple. In yesteryear, a shy kid might not be brave enough to ask an older cousin for a magazine, and he might not have had the money to buy one himself. Plus there was always the danger of being spotted in the store, or of the parents finding the contraband. Today, none of that is a worry. The teenager of 2012 can sit with his iPod and feast at a never-ending porn shmorg — all free, all private, with little to no risk of discovery. As a result, porn consumption has skyrocketed.

The purpose of the Asifa is to raise awareness and to discuss solutions. The analogy I gave on Twitter is this: Say you lived in a neighborhood that was frequently visited by bears. The non-idiots in the community would understand immediately that bears are attracted by food and you can encourage them to move on by cutting off their food supply. The non-idiots would take down their bird feeders and keep their garbage in doors for as long as possible. Expert non-idiots might start treating their garbage with some kind of bear repellent. But what abut the non-idiots who just don’t know about the bear? What about the people who are idiots? Until both groups are told about the problem and taught bear-control procedures, the bear will keep coming back. So, what you need to do is have a public meeting, where the problem can be publicized and solutions can be taught.

Its the same with the porn problem. Non-idiots already have filters and are already watching their kids and teaching them how to make good choices. But most people are not non-idiots. Most people don’t know what to do, and may not even be aware of the severity of problem. For instance, most people don’t know (until its too late) that a kid with an iPod is running a XXX theater during recess. Most people don’t know (until its too late) that their 15 year old texts on shabbos. Most people don’t know (until its too late) that their spouse has developed an inappropriate friendship with someone on Facebook How do you fix that? How do you protect people before it’s too late? By raising awareness at a public meeting, which is just another word for asifa.

I’m oversimplifying. Other problems the asifa will tackle include kids who text on shabbos, adults who look at porn, and married people who use the Internet to form emotional connections with members of the opposite sex or to meet extramarital partners and set up assignations. All of that happens today with greater frequency for the same reason 14 year old boys see more porn: Its become cheaper and easier to do. The purpose of the asifa is to raise awareness about all of these problems and to let people know what they can do to protect themselves and their families.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Dear Readers,

This column has received a number of letters regarding the young wife and mother who penned a so-called memoir supposedly based on her relatively short-lived existence as a member of the Satmar community. While most of these letters express sentiments already aired in this column over the last several weeks, readers seem particularly effected by the scene as depicted in last week’s letter to Deborah by A Willy Mom:

“And then I saw the interview you had with Barbara Walters. I sat in stunned disbelief as your new friends, with the help of their audience and their guest – you – poked fun at a magnified screen picture of you walking to the chuppa with your face ‘badecked.’ I was most distressed.”

As a means of defining the raw emotion that has gripped A Willy Mom and so many others like her, I take the liberty of addressing Ms. Feldman directly on their behalf:

Deborah, we don’t suppose that behind the scenes you bothered letting your new friends in on the significance of our beautiful longtime tradition of “badeken” that was initiated by our Matriarch Rivkah who covered her face when she saw her future husband Yitzchak approaching.

Then again, we don’t imagine your new friends as capable of grasping the concept of a kallah’s purity, let alone appreciating the symbolism conveyed by the veil with which the groom gently covers his bride’s face before proceeding to the wedding canopy where they will stand together to be sanctified as husband and wife.

Oh, yes, about the veil… symbolic of the inner beauty of the bride, which is not to be overshadowed by her external, physical beauty, it also signals the groom’s commitment to protect his bride, as well as the bride’s commitment to reserve her beauty for his eyes only.

Above all, Deborah, in that brief intrusion into your walk to the chuppa that your new friends seemed to find so hilarious, we don’t suppose any of you caught sight of the tears welling in your grandmother’s eyes, or heard her whispered prayers to G-d beseeching Him to shield you from harm and pain and to bless you with endless Yiddish nachas and a happy life alongside your life partner.

But, Deborah, after all is said and done, we still hold out hope — for a righteous woman’s tears are never in vain, as the following story (told by Rabbi Price of Neve Zion in Jerusalem) illustrates.

A family man in Northern Israel ran a produce distribution business. When his son Yair Eitan was old enough to help out, he’d drive the company’s delivery truck. One of his regular stops was at Yeshiva Lev V’Nefesh, where attendees are mostly baalei teshuvah.

Having been raised in a secular home environment, Yair’s curiosity was piqued by the lively energy that pulsated within the yeshiva walls. He gradually began conversing with some of the students and before long was actually sitting down and sampling some Torah study.

His parents were none too pleased about their son’s discovery and new friends, and his enraged father prohibited him from ever stepping foot in that yeshiva – or any yeshiva – again. In his words, there was no way any son of his would become a “backward, bearded chareidi.”

Yair would not be deterred and continued to visit the yeshiva without his parents’ knowledge. Eventually, however, they found out and his father’s violent reaction led to Yair leaving home. In a note he left behind, he wished his parents well but did not disclose his destination. By this time he was aware that there’s a line drawn in the commandment to obey a parent when that parent would have his child disobeying the Torah.

Nonetheless, the father searched for his son until he found him and forced him to return home. He moreover filed a lawsuit against Lev V’Nefesh, claiming that the yeshiva had brainwashed their 18-year old son.

A trial was held and Yair testified that no one coerced him to attend the yeshiva and that he did so of his own volition. The elderly judge who presided over the case seemed somewhat distracted as Yair spoke; he kept eyeing the father. When Yair stepped down having completed his testimony, the judge asked the father to approach and take the witness stand.

The judge first asked him if he was of Eastern European descent and if his name back in Europe had been “Stark.” When Mr. Eitan answered in the affirmative, the judge asked him if he was originally from Pinsk. Again, the answer was yes.

“I remember you very well,” the judge continued. “You come from one of the finest homes in pre-war Pinsk. Your father was a deeply religious and highly respected man. Your mother was renowned for her kindness. She would cook meals for the poor and the sick regularly. I remember well when, as an 18-year-old, you openly departed from your parents’ ways.

Daily Deals Provide Some Serious Steals

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

The world of shopping changed forever three years ago with the launch of Groupon, a website that negotiates discounts with popular local and national businesses and passes the savings along to the consumer via a discounted daily deal emailed directly to members.  For the kosher consumer, the savings became even more appealing with the launch of discount deal websites aimed squarely at the Jewish market, such as Jewpon, jdeal and Kosher Kouponz.

Membership in these programs is free and consumers enroll by visiting the desired website and specifying their location, enabling the program to provide them with discounts relevant to their geographic area.  Recent deals have offered savings like $12 for a $42 ticket to the NY Skyride at the Empire State Building, $180 for twenty units of Botox from an Upper West Side ophthalmologist, normally priced at $360 (both from www.jdeal.com), a free $50  coupon towards the purchase of a suit from the Brooklyn location of The Hat Box , $12 for $25 dollars worth of cosmetics from ShaindeeCosmetics.com (both from www.jewpon.com), a free El Al Matmid Membership, a $25 value and $25 for $50 worth of food at the Deal, New Jersey location of Dougie’s (both at www.KosherKouponz.com).

Kosher Kouponz, which offered its first deal in December 2010, serves members in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Five Towns, New Jersey, Los Angeles and Chicago.  They have also featured separate seasonal sections on their site, including a Catskills section during the summer and special holiday deals for Sukkos.  With approximately 25,000 subscribers, over two hundred merchants and a staff of over ten employees, Kosher Kouponz continues to grow and hopes to expand to more cities in the near future.  Additionally they plan to add hotel bookings and a year round discount card, which for a small annual fee, would entitle members to enjoy numerous benefits including year round discounts at participating merchants.

Kosher Kouponz estimates that approximately half of its deals are food related.  Its best selling offering to date has been a deal that offered $50 worth of food at Aron’s Kissena Farms in Queens for just $35.  5053 Aron’s coupons were purchased by Kosher Kouponz members, with 2000 coupons purchased within the first twenty-four hours, according to VosIzNeias.com.  Kosher Kouponz typically alternates local deals one day and Internet deals the next, with the highlighted deal of the day moving to the sidebar to make room for the next day’s featured offering.

“Deals must be of value to our members,” said Kosher Kouponz CEO David Siegel.  “At times we need to offer discounts of fifty percent but other smaller discounts can be valuable if it is something our members definitely need.  We keep exploring new options so that we can continue to bring value to the Jewish consumer.”

“Sites like ours work because they target very specific audiences,” said jdeal founder Jodi Samuels.  jdeal, which boasts “seriously surprising deals,” serves customers in New York and Los Angeles and estimates that seventy percent of its 40,000 members hail from the New York area.  Their first deal ran on November 22, 2010 and since then they have featured over two hundred and seventy unique merchants.

While, like Kosher Kouponz, jdeal has found that food deals sell very well, they have found that they have had tremendous success with charity deals and recently raised $30,000 for Meir Panim, which provides assistance to the poverty stricken in Israel.

“We try to do one charity a week,” explained Ms. Samuels.  “We are currently doing Sharsheret, but have also done the UJA as well as others.  It is really a no brainer for them.  We give them a discounted rate and they get huge exposure on our site, without the cost of having to print brochures.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/daily-living/daily-deals-provide-some-serious-steals/2011/11/02/

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