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February 10, 2016 / 1 Adar I, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘chareidim’

200 Haredim Drafted on Thursday

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

On Thursday, two hundred Haredim were drafted into the “Nahal Haredi” combat battalion, Netzach Yehuda.

According to the Ultra-Orthodox paper, Kikar Shabbat, this recent draft represents a 30% overall increase in the number of Haredi men drafted into the unit.

This Ultra-Orthodox army unit was first established in 1999 with just 35 soldiers. It now consists of 500 active combat soldier, and has become the largest individual combat battalion in the army.

In the previous draft, the unit drafted 150 Haredi soldiers.

In 2012, the Ultra-Orthodox battalion won the IDF’s Excellence Award for Judea and Samaria.

The Netzah Yehuda Battalion, also known as Nahal Haredi, is part of the IDF Kfir Brigade. The unit allows Haredi recruits to serve in an atmosphere conducive to their religious convictions, within a framework that is strictly halachically observant.

The unit is responsible for areas of operation around the Jenin area. The soldiers regularly go out on arrest missions in the area with a high rate of success.

The battalion lost its first casualty on August 19, 2006, when Muhammad Ban-Yuda, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, shot and killed Staff Sergeant Roi Farjoun of Yehud at the Beka’ot Checkpoint east of Shchem. A Haredi soldier then opened fire and killed the terrorist.

Hareidim – N.I.M.B.Y.

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Hareidim – obviously they’re worse than the Settlers. Who wants them? Worse, who wants them next living next door to you.

For a supposedly open-minded and tolerant society, some Israelis are very intolerant of Hareidim. So intolerant that they don’t want them as neighbors, while simultaneously complaining about Hareidi neighborhoods being enclaves of intolerance and isolation.

In Friday’s (Jerusalem Post) In Jerusalem, the paper went on its usual rant about Hareidim (legally, mind you) acquiring more property in Jerusalem for their growing needs.

In this latest story, the (secular) residents of Ramat Sharett, who share a border with (Hareidi) Bayit V’Gan woke up nearly too late to stop the “machinations” that put them on the “forward position on the frontlines of the ongoing haredi-secular battle in Jerusalem”.

But luckily these secular residents managed to block the legal hareidi acquisition and construction, and reach a “compromise” with the city, thus acquiring one of the two plots in question for themselves, keeping it out of Hareidi hands who had legally already won it.

This of course follows up with their previous articles on Hareidim making inroads into Kiryat HaYovel, and other “last bastions” of secularism in Jerusalem, to the dismay of the less primitive and more open and tolerant secular residents.

But don’t be concerned, all these people say that Hareidim deserve to have a place to live, just not in their back yard.

But what happens when it’s not in their back yard?

Not surprisingly, it turns out these tolerant secular open-minded progressives don’t want Hareidim to have a place to live there either.

In the Jerusalem Post’s weekend magazine, they interviewed Brian Lurie, the new president of the New Israel Fund (NIF) and Naomi Paiss, their VP of public relations.

There’s so much disgusting stuff to talk about in that article, but one particular paragraph caught my eye.

As you may have guessed from above, there are so few communities that want to let Hareidim in, for fear of them taking over.

As a result, the Hareidim have been working on building in their own towns and cities (one in the Negev, one in Wadi Ara), where they can let their hair down, and not worry about bothering secular Jews with the threat of encroachment.

But, the NIF and other progressive group don’t like the idea that Hareidim should build all-Hareidi towns for themselves. And so they try to block it.

The Jerusalem Post quotes Naomi Paiss, NIF’s VP for public relations,

“…the NIF was involved in a campaign to change what was set up to an all-haredi 50,000-person city placed in the Harish wadi area [JS: think Baqa Al-Gharbiya and Umm el Qutuf] between a regular middle-class town of ordinary Jewish people, a kibbutz down the road and an Arab village up the hill.”

Paiss says the new city would have ruined an area where pluralism is working by artificially throwing in a new ghetto.

She says she has no problem with Hareidim moving into the new development, but the NIF is proud it has suceeded in making the new development open to all.

So let’s analyze her statement, down the road is a left-wing kibbutz ghetto. Up the hill is an exclusively Arab village ghetto (Baka Al-Gharbiya – Arab population 32,000+, Jewish population: 0). And somewhere nearby is a ghetto of middle-class ordinary (presumably secular) Israelis (who would of course welcome in Hareidim with open arms to their town).

So despite all those other ghettos nearby, a new Hareidi ghetto would have ruined the pluralism of the the area. Really.

I don’t know about you, but the hypocrisy is just reeking.

And perhaps there’s something else that Paiss isn’t actually telling us either.

This area, Wadi Ara, is actually an area overwhelmingly populated by Arabs, and not Jews, though it appears to me that she wants you to think otherwise by mentioning a kibbutz and Jewish town alongside and Arab village.

If I were a suspicious fellow, I’d wonder if perhaps the NIF fears that Hareidim moving in, with their high birth rates, would Judaize the Wadi Ara area. While a “pluralistic” town, “open to all” would prevent that from happening.

But I’m not a suspicious fellow, and I’m sure that wasn’t a consideration, even if she implied that there was only a small Arab village nearby, and not a few, including one with over 32,000 Arab residents.

What Will the Chareidim Do?

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

In the past, Chareidi (Ultra-Orthodox) participation in election voting has never topped more than around a third of their potential voters.

Chareidim have avoided voting for two primary reasons. The first is to minimize their participation in the Zionist enterprise, the second is that many Chareidim are actually disillusioned with the Chareidi political leadership, and prefer not to vote, rather than vote for them.

But this election may be different.

While there are so few specific issues that this election is revolves around, one of the issues on the table is the Chareidi draft. If the Chareidi parties don’t have a strong enough showing in this election, the results today could actually directly affect many of their lives, in ways they don’t want.

Many Chareidim believe that the unusually high voting levels today are the result of high turnout on the Left. Rumors are flying that Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party is doing unusually well.

But regardless of how any individual party may be doing, a higher percentage of voters means that both the minimum threshold and the number of votes required per seat will rise too.

As a result, even the Admor of Visnitz (Monsey) has told his extended family in Israel to vote, even though in the past he’s told them not to vote. This is extremely unusual to say the least.

In general, it’s being reported that the Chareidim are very nervous about these elections, and that could translate into a lot more of them voting than they have in the past.

Arab Snow Attackers Apprehended

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Six Arabs were arrested this weekend in connection with the widely publicized attack of two Ultra Orthodox youths by a group of Arab thugs on January 10th.

The two Jews were walking out of Old City through the Shechem (Damascus) Gate when they were ambushed by a group of Arabs who physically assaulted them, as well as taking their streimels (hats), smashing them with snow, generally ridiculing them, all the while shouting “Allahu Akbar”, as they filmed the humiliating attack.

The arrest of the six follows the earlier arrest of another three participants in the attack. The remand of the first three has been extended by four days.

The police were initially hesitant about investigating the attack, and the victims themselves did not lodge an official complaint, explaining they felt the complaint would not be useful. Public pressure, generated especially through the social media, motivated the police to investigate the incident, and they have now announced that all assailants have been apprehended.

One of the victims told of what he experienced: “Dozens of Arabs surrounded us and began to throw snow at us. They played with our hats, knocked them down, punched us and kicked us in the face and on the back. We were two against tens, and could do nothing. I was sure I was not going to survive. I was drenched from the snow, and surrounded by Arabs, and no one helped.”

 

Haredim, Wake Up and Toughen Up

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

When Jews are attacked in broad daylight in the world’s holiest city, something is horrifically wrong in Israel. Rashi, for example, comments on Yechezkel 39:7 that “Israel’s degradation is a profanation of His Name.” Such a Chilul HaShem recently occurred in Yerushalayim when Arab youths hurled snowballs at two Haredi Jews’ faces and mocked them.

Police who excel at arresting young Jewish women and elderly rabbis were nowhere to be found in this case. If the dereliction of the police is sickening—and that dereliction is ongoing in Yerushalayim and Lod and elsewhere—then sickening too was the defenseless reaction of the victims. The video of the snowball attack brought to mind these verses from Chaim Nachman Bialik’s poem “In the City of Slaughter,” about the 1903 Kishinev pogrom:

…the heirs Of Hasmoneans lay, with trembling knees, Concealed and cowering—the sons of the Maccabees! The seed of saints, the scions of the lions! In December, another group of Arabs in Yerushalayim attacked a Haredi yeshiva student. Before that, thugs in Ashdod beat a Haredi man on Shabbat. This aggression dovetails with a vicious media and political culture which has demonized Haredim in ways that look modeled on the Nazis. Likewise, inciting murder against other religious Jews results in no prosecution, whereas condemning an IDF officer for supporting the destruction of Gush Katif in 2005 results in conviction for “insulting a public servant.”

Haredim need to wake up to these realities and toughen up. As Rav Kook zt”l wrote in Orot:

Israel’s physical restoration is of cardinal importance. Our spiritual emphasis ignored the sanctity of the body, physical health and vigor. Let us remember that the Jew possesses a Divine body no less than a Divine spirit…Our regeneration entails a synthesis of the spiritual and physical, vibrant flesh and blood, sturdy organs and a glowing spirit sustained by firm muscles. The problem is that Haredim remain in Galut when it comes to this restoration. Rabbi David Bar-Hayim notes in this vein, “It’s possible to physically be in Eretz Yisrael but spiritually, psychologically, to be elsewhere. You don’t have to look very hard to understand what I’m referring to.” (See 57:15 here.) It’s urgent that Haredim begin to develop physical strength and preparedness in the tradition of Chushim ben Dan, Yehoshua, Shimshon, David HaMelech, and the Hashmonaim. There is nothing noble and everything disgraceful about being victimized in the same land where these great Jews of action lived.

In terms of specific forms of preparedness, self-protection through firearms is a very remote option for Haredim due to Israel’s highly restrictive gun ownership policies, which extends to the life-endangering disarmament of Jews. (Meanwhile, there are enormous amounts of illegal weapons among the Arab population.) Nevertheless, available means of self-protection and training should be utilized immediately. What Rabbi Meir Kahane Hy”d wrote in 1971 to an American audience in Never Again! has all too much relevance to Israel today:

The Jew, with his persistent image of weakness, unwillingness and inability to fight back is   open to constant physical attacks on the part of non-Jews. A youngster wearing a skull cap and returning from a yeshiva is fair game. Jews walking in a park or playing ball in a playground are open to attacks. Such things must be met in the one way that is most effective—a feeling on the part of the attacker that he stands an excellent chance of being severely beaten himself. Jews must be taught to defend themselves physically. This is the surest deterrent to attacks upon them.

The Future of Judaism

Monday, January 7th, 2013

From time to time, my views are challenged by both those to my right and those to my left. That happened recently in discussions about going ‘Off the Derech’(OTD).

The right constantly challenges me about why I do not discuss what they perceive to be a much larger instance of Going OTD among Modern Orthodox Jews. I am not prepared to concede the point. As many people have pointed out, there have been no studies (at least that I am aware of) that breaks the OTD phenomenon into percentages or numbers of individual groups. But I will concede that it is very possible that the MO community is the one that goes OTD is the larger of the two, at least in terms of percentages.

The Left keeps challenging my contention that I see Charedim to be the wave of the future. Again there are no studies that I am aware of that speaks to this issue.

In answer to the first question, I speak about Charedim because I believe them to be the wave of the future. Their current large numbers and exponential growth over the years would seem to confirm that belief. Lakewood Yeshiva has grown from a few hundred students in the 60s when I was in high school to over 6000 today with plans to accommodate an increase in growth to over 10,000 students.

That Charedi Mechanchim out-number MO Mechanchim is a simple fact of life which is bolstered by the fact that Charedim tend to go into Chinuch a lot more than MO Jews do. Some MO schools hire Charedi teachers in fact for lack of finding enough teachers that are MO.

Charedi family size is clearly larger on the average than that of MO Jews since they are encouraged to have as many children as they can. Nine or ten children per family is not an unusual number for Charedim. Not so for MO. The Charedi rate of growth will no doubt continue along those lines and increase exponentially with every new generation.

The only real question in my mind is what form Charedism will take.

I have expressed my views on this many times –views which were first noted by Rabbi Berl Wein. I firmly believe that Charedim will increasingly take the form of moderate Charedism. That means that Charedim will employ (and in many cases already have employed) many of the modalities of Modern Orthodoxy. Like having professional careers requiring university educations for example. That’s why places like Touro exist and flourish.

I can’t understand why anyone would deny this reality. Is there anyone who thinks that Charedim will suddenly reject the values they have been indoctrinated with and suddenly become adherents of Torah U’Mada?

That Modern Orthodox Jews have a sizable number is also true. But their rate of growth is a fraction of the Charedi rate of growth. The very nature of a more open society that is a hallmark of Modern Orthodoxy creates an environment that is more conducive to assimilation.

Those without a firm grounding in the values of observant Judaism can easily abandon it in college where the pressure to conform to the campus social life is very strong. Especially in those schools with little or no Jewish presence.

Who among MO will fall prey to these negative influences?

I believe that many MO Jews (those who I call MO-Lite of which I think there are a great many) do not provide their children with the kind of grounding that can withstand the pressures of campus life. By opting for the best university they may sacrifice a strong Jewish presence other schools might have – and hope for the best.

On the other hand committed MO Jews on either the right or the left will survive and so will their children. They will opt for YU, Touro, or a university like Penn with a strong Jewish presence.

In the Charedi world where observance and fear of outside influences infecting their Hashkafos is always the primary concern – they do not fall prey as much to assimilation because they fight it tooth and nail… preferring isolation over any exposure at all.

True, Charedim have other problems much of which is caused by that very isolationism. But even if you even leave out the attrition rate of both MO and Charedim, the exponential growth rate of Chareidim over that of Modern Orthodox Jews definitely points to their numbers increasing and comprising the lion’s share of Orthodoxy.

Does the Very Air in Israel Make One Wise?

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

“Charedim in Israel are street thugs who use murderous violence to settle issues among themselves!” That is the impression one would get after reading about recent events there.

Of course that is not true. I know many Israeli Charedim. I live among them when I visit Israel. The ones I know are extremely gentle people for whom the word violence does not even enter into their lexicon, let alone that it would ever be used to settle conflict. I have never met any Charedi in my entire over 60 years on this earth that was in the slightest way violent.

The Torah (Genesis 25:27) tells us “Yaakov Ish Tam Yoshev Ohalim,” Jacob (In contradistinction to his brother Esav who was a hunter) was a person who “sat in tents.” If anyone can be called “The People of the Book” it is the Charedi world in Israel. Their biggest “sin” if you will – is that they spend as much time in study halls (tents) as they can. Their most “violent” acts are debating interpretations of Gemarah and Halacha with their study partners. I think that is true for the vast majority of Israeli Charedim of the Lithuanian variety. “Talmud Torah K’Neged Kulam” (1st Mishna in Peah) does not exactly inspire violence.

So what happened in Jerusalem last week was most definitely an exception to the rule. From Israel Hayom:

“Rabbis’ emissary cruelly attacked in Jerusalem by lawless men who tried to murder him,” the headline of the newspaper HaPeles screamed in red ink after the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Nati Grossman, was attacked last Thursday by two haredi men who stabbed him in the head and fled.

Like I said, this is an exception. The problem is that there have been too may exceptions like this in Israel in the not too distant past. One may recall similar violence surrounding who would be Rav Shach’s successor as Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevitch Yeshiva in Bnei Brak.

To say that this is a Chilul HaShem is an understatement. Supporters of two of the Charedi world’s leading Rabbanim, 98 year old Rav Aharon Leib Steinman and Rav Shmuel Auerbach (son of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, ZTL) are literally killing each other over who will become the head of Lithuanian Charedi Jewry in Israel. The undisputed head until his death was Rav Elyashiv. But now that leadership is in dispute.

The very idea that violence will solve this issue is so ridiculous that it makes those violent Charedi supporters of these rabbis look like imbeciles. Not to mention the obvious fact that it makes them look like common street thugs.

Can anyone imagine this ever happening in the counterpart Lithuanian Yeshiva type communities in America? When Rav Ahron Kotler died, did Rav Moshe Feinstein’s supporters go around sticking knives into people’s heads who had other candidates in mind? The very thought of something like that happening in the world of Amercian Charedi Judaism is so ridiculous that it is laughable.

There is no such thing as a “candidate” for being a Gadol. That status is earned and is a form of recognition by the masses. One becomes accepted as a Gadol by his works. He has either published major works in Torah, or by creating a new societal paradigm for Torah study as did Rav Aharon Kotler. Or by being a great leader and teacher of Torah who has attracted many thousands of followers as did the Rav. Or any number of ways in which Torah scholarship combined with leadership skills has transformed them into greatness recognized by many people.

There are no elections. There are no committees of rabbis who decide who is or isn’t a Gadol. There are no backroom political deals in smoke filled backrooms to choose a compromise candidate. And certainly they are not chosen by supporters who resort to violence against his competition. Greatness does not work that way. Not in Judaism.

But don’t tell that to supporters of great people in Israel. They think violence in pursuit of their candidate is a God given mandate for them. Kind of like the way their extremist counterparts in places like Meah Shearim act when they want to get their way. I guess they feel about their extremism on religious issues the way Barry Goldwater felt about liberty. Except that I don’t think Barry Goldwater ever supported violence against his political opponents.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/does-the-very-air-in-israel-make-one-wise/2013/01/03/

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