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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Kipa Seruga’

Achdus and Blessing

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Achdus. Unity. That is a recurring theme for me. The news of our day unfortunately seems to indicate that we are further away from that lofty Jewish goal than ever. It isn’t only a religious/secular divide. It is even a religious/religious divide.

The issues which have always separated Charedim on the one hand and secular Jews, modern Orthodox Jews and religious Zionist Jews on the other – have made us now more divided than ever. The rhetoric on both sides has gone from mild disapproval and grudging acceptance to venomous attacks.

I cannot tell you how much this pains me. The question is, what does the future hold? Are we headed to a point of no return? Will our differences cause us to have an irreconcilable break? Will it be religious brother against religious brother?

In my view the situation between religious factions is more dire than it is between religious Jews and secular Jews. I actually believe that secular Jews are more accepted by each religious faction than each faction is of each other.

But all is not lost. This morning I have been given some hope. I attended the Kriyas Shem (naming ceremony) of my latest granddaughter born to my daughter Tovi. It took place at Arie Crown Hebrew Day School (ACHDS). More about that later.

Just before the naming took place, the principal, Rabbi Eli Samber, took me aside and asked me to take a look at the students in one of their two minyanim. He then asked me if I noticed anything special about it. I picked up on it immediately. The students in that minyan represented the right, left and center. There were boys with black hats, velvet Kipot and Kipot Seruga.

One might think that school that is situated in the Hashkafic center of Orthodoxy would attract mostly Jews of the center. But that is not all they attract. Parents from both sides of the religious aisle send their children there.

One might then think… OK, but these kids have different Hashkafos at home and really have nothing to do with each other outside the school. But that would not be true. In fact it is the furthest thing from the truth. What Rabbi Samber told me next is an amazing fact that should make us all cry. Not because it was bad. Quite the contrary, because of how good it was and compare it to what the rest of the religious world is going through today.

Not only are these students friends. They don’t even see the black hat… or the Kipa Seruga their fellow students wear. It wouldn’t surprise me if you took any one of them into a room by himself and asked him what kind of head covering one of their fellow students was wearing – that they wouldn’t be able to tell you. Rabbi Samber then pointed to one boy who was wearing a Kipa Seruga and told me what a masmid he was. And that the fellow wearing a black hat next to him was such a close friend that he would give up his right arm for him. And what is true about the students is true about the parents and board members.

This! …ladies and gentleman is what Achdus is all about. Which is why Arie Crown’s acronym ACHDS practically spells out that word. I have always known this about Arie Crown, Which is why (among other things) I was so active in it in and continue to so strongly support it.

This is a tribute to Rabbi Samber’s predecessor, Rabbi Meir Shapiro. His decades long tenure as principal there set the tone for the school. One that is being perpetuated by Principal Rabbi Eli Samber, and Assistant Principal Rabbi Neil Kirshner- who is my son in law (and the father of my new granddaughter). They are doing a magnificent job.

Religious Zionists Are Amalek? Just Shoot Me Now!

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Just when I didn’t think the level of public discourse  couldn’t get any worse, I read the following in today’s Jerusalem Post:

Shas’s Council of Torah Sages member Rabbi Shalom Cohen in a sermon Saturday made degrading remarks against the religious Zionist sector by questioning their Jewishness and referring to them as “Amalek” – a biblical tribe hostile to the ancient Israelites.

Cohen, dean of the Porat Yosef Yeshiva, was seen in a video on the haredi website Kikar Hashabat as saying, “the Throne [of God] is not complete as long as there are Amalek, ..when will the Throne be complete? When there are no more [religious Zionists].”

According to the article, sitting next to Rabbi Cohen was Rav Ovaidia Yosef. He said nothing in response to this comment.

The rhetoric that has accompanied the proposed legislation to subject Charedim the draft seems to be bordering on hysteria. Remarks like this are completely irrational.

Amalek?! Religious Jews who lay their lives on the line for the people of Israel are now put into the category of people so evil that God mandates the eradication of that entire nation?! I realize of course that Rabbis Cohen and Yosef do not mean that Halacha mandates that every Jew pick up a gun and shoot to kill every Jew who wears a Kipa Seruga. But the comparison is no less odious.

And all this… why? Because of the hysterical reaction that the new draft law; and the requirement of Charedi schools to offer less than an hour additional study of math and English if government funding is to continue at present levels. They believe that it will destroy Torah Jewry. They therefore continually describe the situation this way – many of them calling it Shmad! Shamd is the Hebrew word for forced conversion to another religion.

What does this rhetoric end up doing? It ends up with what happened in Meah Shrarim last week.  2 Charedi IDF members were practically lynched by a mob that is inspired to do so by that type of rhetoric. And by a lifetime of indoctrination equating Israeli leadership (and by association, their enforcement agencies and their army) to Nazis.  Calling Religious Zionists Amalek will no doubt encourage more of those kinds of attacks.

What makes this whole thing even more troubling is the way even moderate Charedim are treating this.

Case in point, columnists like Jonathan Rosenblum who have written many articles sympathetic to the concerns often expressed here do not seem to protest the kinds of comments made by Rabbi Cohen.

Jonathan has in the past expressed many of the same concerns about the Charedi community in Israel that I have. Like the need of Charedim to improve their poor financial lot. And praising the creation of Nachal Charedi – where Charedim can serve and have their religious sensibilities honored.

He has publicly indicated that the very things that the new legislation is designed to improve – was already happeneing on its own – organically. Charedim were increasingly joining Nachal Charedi and Shachar; and were at least tacitly accepted into their communities.

But he and many other moderate Charedi columnists tells us that Charedi soldiers are now shunned in their communities; that Charedi enlistment in Nachal Charedi is now at a virtual standstill. And Shachar he says is virtually destroyed. Who does he blame for this? The legislators who have proposed legislation along these lines for it – saying that it isn’t about Charedim serving in the military, It is about forcing them to.

And because of legislation forcing a core curriculum, it pits Torah study against secular studies vilifying that legislation as Shmad, too!

Why can’t these moderates see that it isn’t the legislation that has caused this unbelievable backlash, but the Charedi leadership’s reaction to it? As well as an undercurrent of disdain that has been preached against the state since before its founding?

Can’t they see that the incendiary words of someone like Rabbi Cohen who in essence paints all the Hesder boys as Amalek is the real cause of the problem? This is what has caused the backlash, not the new legislation. I’m not saying that they have no right to disagree with it and even oppose the legislation. But to vilify it in this way is the height of irresponsibility! Can’t they see that this kind of vilifying rhetoric amounts to handing the Charedi terrorists in Meah Shearim a lit match?!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/religious-zionists-are-amalek-just-shoot-me-now/2013/07/15/

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