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December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘diaspora’

Bennett Relying on Orthodox to Lead Israel’s Jewish Identity Project for Diaspora Youth

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), Israel’s Minister of Education and of Diaspora Affairs recently announced a wide-ranging effort to “strengthen Jewish identity and the connection with Israel” for Jewish college students in diaspora. With a considerable budget of more than $30 million a year, a third picked up by the Israeli government and the rest by philanthropist groups, Bennett has made no bones about who, in his opinion, should be deposited with the responsibility for enhancing Jewish identity on campus — namely, the folks who are already doing it: Chabad, Olami and Hillel.

The fact that the first two of these organizations is completely Orthodox, while the third varies from one campus to another has irked many, in Israel and abroad. But, according to Bennett’s office, the project does not promote religion. As Bennett himself put it, “The activities on campuses throughout the world are the real answer to the growing anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of Israel on campuses. For the first time since the founding of the state, the State of Israel understands that it’s not just the state of Israeli citizens, but the state of all Jews throughout the world.”

So, no religious instruction, but rather opportunities for Jewish students to feel more connected to their brothers and sisters in their home country and in Israel. Which would be a nice switch from the constant, anti-Israel drivel they encounter on so many campuses in the US, Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Hillel’s foundation for Jewish campus life is the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, working with thousands of college students globally.

Unlike Chabad, which enjoys an organic network of outreach institutions around the globe and a consistent and reliable Jewish agenda, Olami is more of a a network of local organization focusing on Jewish identity, including, most notably, Aish HaTorah.

Reform Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Reform Movement in North America, complained to Ha’aretz that the Bennett plan in its current scope does not appeal to more than about 20% of Jewish students in America. Another US Jewish official rebuked Israel for pouring its hard-earned shekels on a minority of north American Jewish activists on campus, and suggested it looked like Bennett was trying to export the Israeli disproportionate dominance of the Orthodox.

JNi.Media

I Love Reform Jews

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

The battle lines are drawn. Some Orthodox Rabbis say that we should try to bring reform Jews closer to Torah. Other Orthodox Rabbis relate to them like lepers out to destroy Judaism. If you want to know where I stand, I love reform Jews. First of all, many of them aren’t Jewish at all, and the Torah teaches us to love all people, even gentiles. Rabbi Kook writes:

“The heart must be filled with love for all: for all of Creation, for all mankind.

“Love must embrace every single individual, regardless of differences in views on religion, or differences of race, or country.

“Hatred may be directed only toward the evil and filth in the world. We must realize that the kernel of life, in its inherent light and holiness, never leaves the Divine Image in which mankind was created, and with which each person and nation is endowed” (Midot Ha’Riyah, Ahavah).

Certainly, if we should have a love for gentiles, we should love gentiles who think they are Jews.

For instance, I have a relative who divorced his Jewish wife and married a non-Jew, who had some kind of reform “conversion” which, of course, didn’t make her a Jew. They had a child, who, of course, wasn’t a Jew, but even though the child never had a Jewish education, his parents told him that he was a Jew. When he grew up, he married a Jewish girl, and they joined a reform congregation. Their children are Jews since the mother is Jewish. He became the president of his congregation, even though he is a gentile. America is loaded with mixed up situations like this.

Beyond the walls of the Orthodox world in America, it is becoming impossible to know who is Jewish and who is pretending, even though he or she believes it for real. Nonetheless, according to Rabbi Kook, even though this relative of mine isn’t Jewish, I should love him all the same. And even though his Jewish wife is a reform Jew, I should love her too. And that love should extend to their Jewish children as well, even though they are reform Jews.

The truth is, I love all Jews.

I love good Jews and I love bad Jews. I love fat Jews and I love skinny Jews. I love reform Jews and deformed Jews, progressive Jews and regressive Jews. I love assimilated Jews and Jews who have married gentiles. I love homosexual Jews and lesbian Jews. I love leftist Jews and Peace Now Jews. I love Jews who call me nasty names and Jews who say I’m a lousy writer. I even love Diaspora Jews. Some people say I’m too hard on them, but that’s because I love them so much.

If you see a blind man about to fall off a cliff, you yell out to warn him, right? What is this similar to? If a person who never heard about heart transplants wandered into the operating room of a hospital and saw a team of doctors removing the heart of a patient, he’d think they were monsters trying to kill him – but the very opposite is the case. The surgeons are trying to save him. It’s the same thing with me. Precisely out of the passionate love I feel for my brothers and sisters in exile, I try to open their eyes.

Since the Three Weeks are approaching when we mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and the Beit HaMikdash, this is a good time to stir up the embers of the love we feel for our fellow Jews, even the reform Jews amongst us. Rabbi Kook taught that since the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed because of senseless hatred, it will be rebuilt by gratuitous love.

In truth, most reform Jews are people who don’t mean any harm. They never learned anything about real Judaism, so they don’t know better. They don’t observe the commandments, not out of spite, but because they don’t believe that the Torah was really given by G-d, or they don’t believe that religion should have laws, or for whatever other reason, how errant it may be.

The problem arises with the “professional” reform Jews who wage a campaign against real Judaism. They go out of their way to wage a war against the Orthodox world and its time-honored traditions. These are the reform Jews that are rightly seen as destroyers. But Rabbi Kook teaches that we should even love them – not for the evil in them, but for the good which exists in all people. He writes:

“Though our love for people must be all-inclusive, embracing the wicked as well, this in no way blunts our hatred for evil itself – on the contrary, it strengthens it. For it is not because of the dimension of evil clinging to a person that we include him in our love, but because of the good in him, which our love tells us is to be found in everyone. Since we separate the dimension of the good in him, in order to love him for it, our hatred for the evil becomes unwavering and absolute.

“It is proper to hate a corrupt person only for his defects, but insofar as he is endowed with a Divine Image, it is proper to love him.”

In other words, we can disagree with a reform Jew and even despise his opinions, but we should love him for his connection to the Jewish Nation. In the same light, the evil actions of a Jewish homosexual or child molester should be loathed as abominations, but the person himself should still be loved for the Divine Image he shares with the rest of mankind, and for his connection to Clal Yisrael (the Community of Israel). If, for instance, a Rabbi or an Israeli politician succumbs to an evil inclination and inner sickness of the soul that drives him to engage in sexual transgression, his evil actions should be despised, but this should not negate our love for the good that surely exists in him as well.

Rabbi Kook explains:

“The pious of the generation, lofty holy men, must disregard any deficiency or flaw in every Jewish soul that is in any way attached to the Rock from which it was hewn. Instead, they must strive to raise up the point of connection to Clal Yisrael that exists in every individual soul to its heights and exalted holiness. Nothing can diminish our unlimited love for the Nation, the source of our life, as it says: ‘He has not seen beheld iniquity in Yaacov, nor has He seen perverseness in Israel’” (Orot, Orot HaTechiyah, 24).

So, as the period of the Three Weeks approaches, let’s try to love one another as much as we can, reform and Diaspora Jews included.

Tzvi Fishman

Netanyahu Reveals New Surprise: He’s Sephardic, Too

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been called many things in his four terms as prime minister, but the latest surprise came Tuesday when he revealed that his Ashkenazi background is not as “pure” as it seems.

As a matter of fact, Netanyahu is part Sephardic. The prime minister told a gathering at the opening of the new wing at Beit Hatefutsot – the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv – that his family has Spanish roots.

The issue came up when he was handed a copy of his family tree at the event by the chair of the museum’s board of directors, Irina Nevzlin.

After glancing at the document, Netanyahu remarked during his speech that the tree would have to be corrected.

“My brother, Ido, is a writer and physician. People who write family trees based on DNA tests approached him. Their thesis was that Lithuanian Jews – and we are from a Lithuanian family who were descendants of the Vilna Gaon – have Spanish roots.”

Ido Netanyahu went on to have the saliva DNA test, which subsequently revealed that part of the Netanyahu family is of Sephardic ancestry.

“Of course they belatedly informed me of this, as chairman of the Likud party for 30 years,” Netanyahu said.

“But it shows that all Jews are intertwined and I think that’s one of the great lessons one learns when visiting this institution.

“One sees the family that is Israel.”

Hana Levi Julian

Bennett Worried about Jews – the Ones in the Diaspora

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Assimilation is murdering Judaism, except in Israel.

Naftali Bennett told Jewish legislators from around the world this week that he is more worried about Jews in the Diaspora than those in Israel, the European Jewish Press (EJP) reported.

Speaking at the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP), the Education Minister and chairman of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party said that streams of Judaism must be accepted.

However, he then opened a can of worms by stating, “A Jew is a Jew is a Jew.”

The answer to “who is a Jew” vastly varies and is at the heart of disputes between Orthodox Judaism and the Reform and Conservatives streams.

EJP quoted Bennett as telling the legislators visiting Israel:

I’m not worried about Israel. I’m worried about Diaspora Jews. That’s what keeps me up at night.

Assimilation is as big a loss to the Jewish people as the expulsion of the 10 tribes.

The chairman of the .ICIP is New York Congressman Eliot Engel and includes former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler, French MP Meyer Habib, as well as legislators from Chile, Brazil, Belgium, Romania, Hungary and Ukraine.

Also addressing the conference was Michael Oren, former Ambassador to the United States and now a Knesset Member in the Kulanu party.

EJP reported that he said that labeling products from Judea and Samaria that they are made in the “occupied territories” is “anti-Semitic.”

Oren explained:

There are hundreds of territorial disputes in the world. Only Israeli products are being labeled.

Opposition leader Yitzchak Herzog repeated his refrain that “we need to separate from the Palestinians” and followed with the usual non-solutions.

Instead, he declared, “It has to be resolved – but right now, if you look at the mood of the people, it’s at its worst ever… You can’t disregard the notion of the two-state solution. If that’s over, you’ll be moving to the one-state solution whether you like it or not… the reality is impossible… you can’t govern another people.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Bennett Tells Chief Rabbi: I Don’t Consult with Rabbis on Matters of Policy

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

(JNi.media) Speaking to religious radio station Radio Kol Chai, Bayit Yehudi Chairman and Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett on Wednesday morning that, “unlike Haredi MKs, I Don’t consult with rabbis on my political and actions and on policy.”

Bennett was referring to his recent row with Chief Rabbi David Lau, following Bennett’s visit to a Solomon Schechter Conservative school in the US last month. In the radio interview, Bennett said it was Rabbi Lau who chose to attack him, not the other way around: “I did not initiate the conflict, but the chief rabbi chose to attack me, and I told him ‘I’m sorry, but I’m the Minister of Diaspora.’”

Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau last week criticized Minister Bennett’s visit to Conservative congregations in the US and said it was clear that the minister did not consult with a rabbi about those visits. According to Lau, “the visit constitutes an acknowledgement of a movement that endangers the future of the nation of Israel.” Lau added that “if the Minister Bennett were to ask my opinion before the visit, I would have said explicitly. ‘You cannot go to a place where education is pushing Jews away from Jewish tradition, and from the past and future of the Jewish people.”

Following Lau’s remarks, Bennett stated: “Things were said today that should not be said by a senior leader of the Israeli public.” As to the rabbi’s rebuke, Bennett replied: “I, unlike Haredi MKs, don’t consult with rabbis on my political and actions and on policy. That’s the difference. In the movement which I lead, having been elected by the public, I consult in rabbis on halakhic issues, but not on policy issues. We see this a little differently. I’m not going to conduct myself as Minister of Education, nor as Minister for Diaspora Affairs by approaching the Council of Torah Sages on every issue.”

Rabbi David Lau’s cousin, the Jerusalem Ramban Synagogue’s spiritual leader Rabbi Benny Lau criticized the Chief Rabbi’s attack on Bennett. “If the chief rabbi supports Israel, he has to understand that they (non-Orthodox Jews) are our best ambassadors to the world,” Rabbi Benny Lau told Kikar Hashabbat. “If the chief rabbi has a dispute with their manner of worship — but what’s the connection to the State of Israel? Why mix things, why endanger the state?”

Rabbi Benny Lau stressed that the diplomatic relations between Israel and the United States do not allow boycotting the non-Orthodox. “You want to eliminate all our support in the world, have we gone mad? This is madness. They are our biggest supporters.”

Regarding Bennett’s decision to visit a Conservative school, Rabbi Benny Lau said: “I think Bennett did the right thing. I am the son of the Foreign Office employee who was consul in the US, and what I learned is that as a diplomat you have a responsibility to all the parts of the Jewish people without controversies, you do not engaged in the wars between different sectors and as a representative of everyone you accept responsibility for each and every one of them; so visiting the school as Bennett did was his duty. I say Naftali, more power to you.”

JNi.Media

From Segregation to Confrontation – No Nostalgia for Baltimore

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

The riots in Baltimore are symptomatic of a world-wide disease that has been spreading for decades: Violence.

I have good memories of a good life in the Golden Ghetto where I grew up in Baltimore but I have no nostalgia, not for the Orioles, not for the peace and quiet in our white-only and Jewish-only neighborhood, not for segregation, not for our black maid and not for integration.

Not even for the Orioles when they beat the Dodgers in the World Series, believe it or not.

Yes, I did write “segregation.” Before 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled against school segregation in the Plessy vs. Ferguson suit, I never questioned the practice. What do you want from an eight-year-old?

Those were the days of law and order, but the deep white hatred of blacks in the south was superior to the rule of law, and it took years of protest marches and the assassination of Martin Luther King before integration in school was accepted.

Jews in my youth in Baltimore, like elsewhere in the Diaspora, always were worried about being politically and socially acceptable. The rabbis, especially the modern Orthodox, Conservative and Reform leaders, always spoke out for the blacks, the same people who rented from Jewish slumlords and worked for minimum wages from Jewish employers who were lucky if their employees showed up for work without being drunk.

Our rabbi marched in Washington in a huge rally for integration. Somehow, he always managed to connect it to the Torah.

Listening to King, one would think that God told the whites in the south, “Let my black people go.” That is what happens when Jews desecrate the Torah to co-exist with non-Jews.

Those were the days of the Limousine Liberals, the rich Jews who were in favor of integration, on condition that it was not in their neighborhood.

Those were the days of peaceful protests. They worked.

Today, they don’t.

There were many blacks in my high school class who studied hard, went to university and became part of the “haves.” Many remained with the have-nots.

When the United States declared “war on terror” after the 9/11 attacks, it was a bit late. It should have started years before and should have been called a war on violence., because violence has been working for decades.

Everyone can come up with his or her own reasons for excuse – liberalism, social media, television, movies and drugs, among others.

Underneath all of them is the undercurrent of “gimme, and if you don’t “gimme,” I will kill you.

Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens has been seen all cross America this week for his rant against violence:

No way. No way. No way can this happen in our city. No. Young kids you got to understand something, get off the streets.

Violence is not the answer. Violence has never been the answer. Freddie Gray, we don’t do nothing for him doing this….

You don’t have any right to do what you’re doing to this city. Too many hard-working people build this city… We know what’s going on. We know the problems. We know there was wrong done. We know we’re not getting the right justice. We know all these answers.

But rioting in our streets is wrong. It’s dead wrong.

 

Lewis is speaking of values. He stated, “It takes a whole village to raise one child. We have to redefine what this looks like. We have to redefine what rebuilding Baltimore looks like. Cause there’s too many people putting real sweat, real tears to make our city a better place.”

His values are not “their” values. “Their” values are violence. “Gimme or violence, take your pick.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Happy Birthday to the People of Israel

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

The first song to be sung at the Passover Seder table tonight should be, “Happy, Birthday to us;  Happy Birthday dear People of Israel; Happy Birthday to us.”

The first time in history that Jews were referred to as the “People of Israel’ was when none other than Pharaoh said so, in Exodus (Shmot), Chapter 1, Verse 9:

He [Pharaoh] said to his people, ‘Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we are.

The Jews left slavery in Egypt as the People of Israel in the year 2448, which is 3327 years ago, according  to calculations made by Serbian-born Eliezer Shulman when he was exiled to Siberia by the former Soviet Union.

Until Pharaoh’s paranoia, Jews were never referred to as a “people.” The fact that he saw the Jews as a people underscores the insecurity of his idol worshiping regime.

When Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh, they were not representing themselves. They were speaking not only in the name of God but also in the name for the People of Israel, who eventually left Egypt and 40 years later entered the Land of Israel.

Similarly in Numbers (BaMidbar) chapter 22, Balak, the king of Moab, “became terrified of the people, for they were numerous.”

It is easier to confront individuals in a group than confront a group of individuals.

Historians and non-Jewish clerics always have wondered how the Jews have been able to survive the destruction of the Holy Temples, pogroms, exiles and the Holocaust.

They do not understand because they are not Jews, whose spiritual level of faith is inexplicable

Accompanying the faith is the unity of the Jewish people, who always have been strong when united and weak when divided.

The People of Israel won the right to the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 because they were “one,” regardless of observance, political views and tradition.

Some Jews in Israel opposed the establishment of the State of Israel, but once it became fact, it was the unity of the people that allowed it not only to survive but also to be happy and committed to Zionism during the difficult years of constant Arab attacks and economic hardships.

Leaving the country to live elsewhere was considered a shame on a family.

Israel now is an independent country, but it is not truly independent because the People of Israel, which includes Jews from all over the world, are far from unified.

There is a gap of light years between the differences of opinion within Israel and differences between Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora.

In ancient Egypt, there also were differences between Jews. Torah sages say that only 20 percent of the Jews left slavery. The rest were scoffers who preferred the security of slavery than the security of faith, which won the day.

It did then and it continues to do so today, no matter how much Jews in Diaspora claim they are “Zionists” by living outside Israel and demanding that the Jewish state serve their interests instead of those living in Israel.

We overcame Pharaoh, and this too, we will overcome.

 

Happy Birthday to us.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/happy-birthday-to-the-people-of-israel/2015/04/03/

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