While the security situation in Israel remains volatile with daily attacks, the average Israeli isn’t charged with making the decisions as to how the government should handle external threats. However what we can do as a society is start trying to understand one another in order to improve the internal unity amongst the different populations here. One organization which is working towards promoting unity is ‘Tzav Pius.’ The NGO runs educational programs, summer camps, and more for children from all different backgrounds in Israel – religious, secular, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, etc. in order to promote ‘brotherly love.” Ra’anan Hirsch the organization’s director of partnership development joins Josh to discuss how Tzav Pius is shaping a better future for the next generation of Israeli children.The Land of Israel
Posts Tagged ‘jewish unity’
As the families of the three Israeli teens marked the first anniversary of the tragic abduction and murder of their sons, Jewish communities around the world came together for an unprecedented event designed to highlight the spirit of unity which defined the episode in the summer of 2014. Unity Day events saw participation in 24 nations representing a million participants, including several hundred organizations, synagogues and schools.
Unity Day (www.unityprize.org/en, #UnityDay) was developed by the parents of Eyal Ifrach, Gil-ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel z”l and their foundation, The Memorial Foundation for the Three Boys, together with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and GESHER.
“The kidnappings of our boys marks one of the more difficult moments in Israel’s modern history. But the reality is that out of this bitter tragedy came a spirit of unprecedented unity amongst the Jewish people,” the parents said in a joint statement. “Our commitment is to ensure that this sense of unity remains alive. This was the mission of Unity Day and we are so moved and encouraged by the global response.”
Unity Day is part of the Jerusalem Unity Prize, a major project launched by the families together with Mayor Barkat and GESHER. The Prize was awarded at a special ceremony on June 3rd at the official residence of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. The award was presented to the Chabad House of Bangkok in the Diaspora category, Nifgashim BeShvil Yisrael (Interactions on the Israel Trail) for the initiative category and Brigadier General (Retired) Ram Shmueli and Rabbi Chacham David Menachem for the individuals’ category. The winners were saluted for their accomplishments as Jewish activists and organizations working to promote greater unity in Israel and the Diaspora. A special committee of communal leaders from across Israel and the Diaspora was chosen to work with the Mayor and the three families to identify worthy recipients.
“Unity is an ideal which is so often spoken of but far less often put into practice,” said Mayor Barkat. “Following the tragedy of these three boys, our nation saw the potential that exists when we put our differences aside and work towards building bridges within our greater Jewish community. This Prize works to keep that message alive and serves as a lasting tribute to the memories of Gil-ad, Eyal and Naftali in a way that will bring great pride to Jerusalem, to Israel and to the Jewish people.”
Unity Day engaged participants of all ages in a specially designed curriculum and activities aimed to educate and challenge the Jewish world on ways to promote greater cohesion. “There is no disputing that while the Jewish people have so much in common with one another, there are bitter divisions within the greater community,” said Anat Schwarz Weil, Director of the Jerusalem Unity Prize. “We were encouraged and inspired by the mass worldwide response to Unity Day and the coming together of different communities for one goal. We hope this is the first step towards building a stronger, more united Jewish community.”
The Jerusalem Unity Prize and Unity Day were made possible thanks to the support of Robert and Amy Book, Ronnen Harary, David and Sarena Koschitzky, Ira and Ingeborg Rennert, Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein, and the UJA Federation of New York.
Eric. S. Goldstein, CEO, UJA-Federation of New York said, “UJA-Federation of New York is pleased to support this important initiative and congratulates the winners of the Jerusalem Unity Prize. It has long been a priority of UJA-Federation to strengthen social cohesion in Israel and throughout the Jewish world, and Unity Day is one important step in that direction, as we honor the memory of Eyal, Gil-ad and Naftali.”Jewish Press News Briefs
Unity among the Jewish People definitely exists, perhaps more often than among other people. When the life of a fellow Jew is at risk, Jews of all backgrounds come together to try to save him. On a daily basis, we perform various gemiluyoth hasadim for each other without any discrimination.
Tolerance also exists among our people. We live in harmony with our neighbors who may be quite different from us in many ways. We socialize with them in the synagogue and attend each others joyous events.
Still, division and intolerance are all too common. We divide ourselves based on background, world-view, dress, custom, education and even petty things. We may live side by side and think that in doing so we are unified and tolerant, but we do not always live together which in fact is true unity and tolerance.
The Talmud of Eretz Yisrael teaches us about the importance of unity and tolerance among the People of Israel. It tells us about Beth Hillel and Beth Shammai who differed on many issues. Some of the differences between them were quite far reaching and irreconcilable, some even quite grave relating to ‘arayoth (Kiddushin 1:1).
Despite all of this, Beth Hillel and Beth Shammai married each other. They set aside the enormous differences that created a gap between them and lived together, not just side by side. Even God participated and made certain that situations never arose where differences would get in the way of their unity and tolerance for each other.
The unity of the Jewish People and their tolerance for each other is of cosmic import, so much so that God personally involved Himself in the course of history and made sure that situations of rivalry did not occur. It is upon us to use this siya’ta di-shmaya in order to achieve true unity and tolerance.Michael Linetsky
One of my many goals in life as a Jew is to contribute to the unity of the Jewish people. All Jews share the heritage of the Torah which is what defines us as Jews. That heritage belongs to all of us as was so eloquently stated by newly elected Knesset member Ruth Calderon when speaking about her love of the Talmud. For those who choose not to follow all – or even any Halacha they are nevertheless fully Jewish – af al pi she chotah, Yisroel hu (even though he sinned, he is still a Jew).
Among those of us who are observant – unity should be natural. There should be a very strong common bond no matter what our differing hashkafos are. I often say that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. We are all shomer Shabbos and Yom Tov. We all keep Kosher. And we all eat matzah and do not eat hametz on Pesach.
But if one were to look at the enmity between religious Jews of differing hashkafos one would think we live on different planets the residents of which are enemy alien creatures. Unity is the furthest thing from our minds.
Which brings me to a very poignant article by Yael Farzan published yesterday in The Observer – Yeshiva University’s student newspaper. Let me say at the outset that I agree with her. She laments the fact that there is so much bias against the “Black Hat” (Haredi) community by members of her own Modern Orthodox community.
What precipitated her article is an experience she had on a recent Friday night. During a conversation with a group of friends someone slipped a derogatory comment about Haredim that generated derisive laughter from the other members of the group. She cringed!
I for one am happy to see a natural reflex like that from a Modern Orthodox Jew. It shows me that there are people who indeed believe that what unites us is greater than what divides us. The laughter from others in her group is unfortunately a more common reaction. If not overtly then covertly. This is nothing but pure prejudice for no reason. Laughter is not criticism. It is a form of expressing one’s feeling of superiority over others. And it shows an attitude that is so ingrained that no one there – other than the author of this article – gave it a second thought. It is just a given – natural part of their worldview to look down at the Haredi world.
This is wrong. It is as biased as is being anti-black. Which as Ms. Farzan points out is the furthest thing from a Modern Orthodox Jew’s worldview. The typical Modern Orthodox Jew would be appalled (rightly so) if someone used a racial epithet against a black person. If a crude racist joke were made there would very likely be no laughter – but righteous indignation. As there should be.
But when it comes to one of our own, there is no such thing. Laughter is the appropriate response (unfortunately) to an anti-Haredi or anti-Hasid joke.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being Haredi or Hasidic. We can disagree with them on hashkafic issues or be critical of some of their choices. But we must never deride them or think less of them as human beings or Jews just because of hashkafic differences.
I criticize the Haredi and Hasdic world all the time. But it is not a criticism of their lifestyles or their Hashkafos. Even as I believe that my worldview is the correct one, I concede that there are others who see things differently than I do… seeing their own worldview as the correct one. In the spirit of “elu v’elu” (“these and those”) we should just agree to disagree and respect each other’s views and lifestyles as long as they do not impinge on the rights of others.
So if a Haredi has a large family, or wears a black hat, or sees the goal of Jewry expressed only in terms of Torah study, or does not see any value in the study of mada (secular studies), or even chooses to live his life in isolation, sheltered from all outside influences – that is his right. It should not detract from the sense of unity that observant Jews have. We are all believers in the Torah and the obligation to follow Halacha. And we all fail sometimes in those goals, whether it is bein adam l’makom (between man and God) or bein adam l’havero (between man and his fellow). Our commonality should supersede any differences between us. We should respect those differences even as we disagree with them.
Anyone of us who therefore smirks at derogatory Haredi or Hasidic comment or laughs at a derisive joke ought to be ashamed of themselves.
The only legitimate criticism of anyone should be in behavior that is a hilul HaShem (desecration of God’s name). It doesn’t matter what the hashkafa of that person is. Even if we speculate – as I sometimes do – about the reasons for some bad behavior stemming from what is perceived as a flaw in the way some hashkafos are carried out – that does not mean that an entire group should be looked down upon or that the entire hashkafa is wrong. Criticism should be looked at as a means of trying to rectify a flaw, not as a put-down of the entire group.
To the extent that some of my more critical posts generate comments that are sarcastic and contemptuous toward the entirety of Haredim or Hasidim I apologize. It has never been my intent to do that. My intent is to improve, not to deride. And yet some of those posts bring out the worst in us.
I should add that is not a one way street. The behavior of many Haredim and Hasidim towards Modern Orthodox Jews is just as bad. The exact same essay in The Observer could have been written about a group of Haredim in the ‘back of the Beis HaMedrash mocking Modern Orthodox Jews. The things being pointed to are different. As are the reasons for their sense of superiority. But the attitude is the same. And my critique would be exactly the same.
But I fault Modern Orthodox Jews more than I do Haredim. Not because our jokes are meaner. I have heard equally scornful comments from both groups about the other – albeit in different ways. But as Ms. Farzan points out – Modern Orthodox Jews are supposed to be the open minded ones. The tolerant ones. The ones who try and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. It’s time we acted like that about our own.
Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.Harry Maryles