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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘National Religious’

Hamodia Calling for Independent Haredi Autonomy within Israel

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

If you ask me, this is the real redemption: Haredi anger over the new government’s attitude towards their interests is increasing every day, and so the Agudat Israel newspaper, Hamodia, published an extensive article calling for the first time to establish a Haredi autonomy within the State of Israel.

The author attacks the behavior of National Religious leaders who have chosen to cooperate with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, despite the latter’s anti-Haredi stance.

Then he refers to the philosophical differences between the Haredi and Religious Zionist approach to the state – one sees it as an outright danger to the Jews, the other as marking the start of messianic times.

At this point, Hamodia offers a revolutionary idea: “Led by the media and the High Court, which are nourished by left-wing organizations funded by anti-Semites, they choose to deny the hard earned status quo in the relationship between the religion and the state, breaking all conventions by approving fictitious conversions, civil marriage, and interference in the life of the Haredi sector.”

Hamodia threatens: “If there is no turn in our favor, there is an option of last resort we should consider – to establish a Jewish autonomy in Eretz Israel.”

Note the “last resort” thing. Possibly because establishing an autonomy requires work?

“An autonomy means independence in governing our domestic affairs, without political sovereignty, overseeing our own constitutional independence, economics and the police, but without an army and foreign policy,” declares Hamodia.

“If we were able to establish Bnei Brak, Elad Modi’in Ilit, Laniado hospital and Ezer M’Zion, we will also succeed in setting up an electric company, roads, and whatever else is required,” it adds bravely.

The Aguda paper believes that the benefits of the new autonomy would be economic as well, since the Haredim would be able to work and earn a decent living without the need for academic degrees and without modesty issues.

And the Haredi autonomy won’t be wasting public funds on sports, “delusional” Western culture, prisons and rehab centers.

Man, are they in for a couple wakeup calls, at least regarding the prisons and rehab centers, where Haredi folks comprise a nice portion of the population. Turns out Hamodia is perfectly capable of being delusional without the benefit of Western culture.

Incidentally, why would the requirement for academic degrees be such a bad thing? In New York, both Touro College and Yeshiva University are turning out thousands of Haredim with academic degrees who later excel in the professions an in business. Is it because the Hamodia staff are afraid of being replaced by better qualified, eager Haredi journalists?

The Aguda paper promises further that “using wise and prudent management, we will succeed in budgeting one hundred percent of our educational institutions, kollel students will be the darlings of the public (yakirei hatzibur) and will receive respectable scholarships, and we would take care to offer housing at reasonable prices.”

Oh, please God, do it, do it now, don’t hesitate, you’ll be great at it, don’t wait. If you ask me, this is the best Atchalta d’Geulah news I’ve heard in a year.

IDF, Religious Students Oppose Supermodel in Pro-Israel Ads

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Israeli military officers and religious students are objecting to the selection of supermodel Bar Refaeli as part of an ad campaign to raise Israel’s public image.

Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, wrote the Foreign Ministry a critical letter of its choice of Refaeli, pointing out that she did not serve in the Israeli military.

“The choice of a representative who did not serve in the military as an official presenter on behalf of Israel conveys the message that we ignore and forgive evasion of enlistment, and encourages identification, among youths of both sexes with the success of those who did not enlist,” Mordechai wrote.

Refaeli married a family friend in 2007 in order to avoid conscription and continue her modeling career.

National religious students, virtually all of whom serve in the IDF, also have objected to Refaeli’s participation. Haredi students objected on the basis that she does not represent the Israeli public because she had a high-profile relationship with the non-Jewish actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

School Fires Unmarried Pregnant Teacher: The Whole Story

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

An Israeli “national religious” girls high school (“ulpana“) fired a teacher who was pregnant…and single.

This headline has been floating around the web yesterday, especially in light that the teacher sued the school in court for damages, specifically for having broken the law which prevents women from being fired if they are pregnant.

When an ulpana expects their teachers to be more than educators, but also role models for their students, did the school do the right thing even though they broke the law?

I could almost understand the ulpana’s point of view until I looked around and found that our story above is missing some important details (courtesy of The Marker):

1. The teacher is religious, and observes a religious lifestyle in school and outside of it. 2. The teacher was 41 years old and single. 3. Not finding a husband by her age of 41, the teacher decided to undergo artificial impregnation so she could have a child and she would raise the child as a single parent. The Ulpana claimed they fired the teacher not because she was pregnant, but because she was not observing a religious lifestyle (i.e., had she been married and pregnant, they wouldn’t have fired her). The plaintiff’s lawyer stated that the Ulpana should have taken into account her unique situation of being a single, religious teacher who wanted to have a child before she would be biologically unable to.

The court ruling stated an important point:

The court does not make light of the defendant’s right to determine their school policy, but the right of the defendant is less than than the right of plaintiff, and doesn’t justify terminating the plaintiff’s employment while violating her right to parenthood. The court awarded 180,000 NIS in damages to the teacher, which is a rather expensive lesson in democracy and “freedom of employment” to the Ulpana. In my opinion, if the ulpana truly wanted to act as a role model for their students, they should not have fired their teacher.

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Judaism as the Meaning of the Jewish state

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

A state, especially one that is trying to be a nation-state, a national homeland for a people, needs an organizing principle, a set of ideals, an ideology, a purpose — whatever you think it is, some kind of philosophical reason for being. Otherwise there is no reason to live there if you can go somewhere else. And in the developed world, going somewhere else is more of an option than ever before.

Israel’s worst enemies have powerful ideologies — Islamism and Palestinian nationalism/irredentism.

Even the US, a secular state with a very diverse population has such principles, embodied in its Constitution and Declaration of Independence. They are one reason that the nation survived, in united form, its terrible Civil War, and why — one hopes — it will survive the forces trying to pull it apart today.

Despite being the nation-state of the Jewish people, the state of Israel does not have a set of basic unifying principles. There isn’t a single Zionism, and for some Israelis, any form of Zionism at all is looked at as a combination of ignorance and gullibility.

The early struggle to define the state was won by the secular left-wing Zionists of whom Ben-Gurion was an example. Unfortunately that segment was seduced by and ultimately subsumed in the peace movement, a movement based on a pathologically false view of reality, and encouraged by the worst enemies of the Jewish people. Its collision with the bitter truths of the real Middle East has left in their camp only those who have rejected Zionism, the academics and Ha’aretz columnists who are simply anti-state.

The remnants of political vitality are found today on the Right, especially the nationalistic-religious segment. For example, here is how Naftali Bennett explained it, in a fascinating interview with Ari Shavit of Ha’aretz:

Zionism arose thanks to secularism … The dogmatic religious establishment in the Diaspora was not capable of initiating Zionism without [Theodor] Herzl’s secular involvement. But secular Zionism was an existential Zionism that saw the state of the Jews as a refuge state.

A state that is 64 years old cannot continue to exist on the ethos of a refuge state, on security alone. After all, if this were the reason for our existence, there are many places that are safer for Jews – like Melbourne, Australia, or New Jersey. They don’t send children to the army there, and missiles aren’t flying there. Therefore, the time has come to move from the existential Zionism that you come from to a Jewish Zionism. It is necessary to base our national life on a Jewish basis, and it is necessary to give the state a Jewish coloration.

I don’t support religious coercion, but I do believe that Judaism is our ‘why’: Judaism is the reason for our existence and the justification for our existence, and the meaning of our existence.

This isn’t an easy sell to secular Israelis. For many of them, ‘Judaism’ is a corrupt functionary that tells them that they aren’t Jewish enough to get married in a Jewish state, or a haredi who maintains a large family on welfare, doesn’t do army service and spits at secular women.

The ideal is a tolerant Jewish state which is nevertheless fully Jewish. This will have to come from those, like Bennett, who see themselves as observant, and not from the liberal side of Judaism, which has embraced pluralism to the point of accepting a universalist ideology that does not “distinguish between Israel and the Nations.”

Is it possible? I am not sure, but I think it’s essential to our survival.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

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.

For the Miracles, Thank You

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Our Sages teach that when Chanukah comes around, we are to thank Hashem, not only for the miracles that He performed for us in Israel long ago, but also for the miracles which He performs for us today. So, with your permission, I want to take this opportunity to thank Hashem for all of the uncountable miracles He has done for me and for the Jewish people in our time. Here are but a few.

First of all, thank you, Abba, for my life. After all, life is a miracle too. Some people think that life is coming to them, that it is some kind of automatic gift, that it’s theirs and theirs alone, and no thanks are needed. But, in truth, every second of life is a miracle. We don’t empower ourselves. Every breath, every heartbeat, is a gift from God. Seeing is a miracle. Hearing is a miracle. Put an eye on a table and it won’t see a thing. Without God’s gift of our souls, our eyes couldn’t see, our ears couldn’t hear, and we wouldn’t be able to think or walk or talk at all. It’s all a miracle! So thank you Abba for the miracle of life.

Thank you, Abba, for letting me know You are there. For almost 30 years, I didn’t know. I went about like a zombie without paying any attention. Then after I searched and searched for the Truth of life, trying everything there was to try, and doing everything there was to do, You revealed Yourself to me on a beach in California, and let me know that You are everything, hiding behind the movie set of this world, the Director of Directors.

Thank you, Abba, for the miracle of letting me realize that the Torah is true. So many people don’t realize it, especially in Hollywood where I was living when You came into my life. And thank you for opening my eyes to understand that its teachings are eternal and apply to our times as well, like a living Constitution for our lives, in each and every detail.

Thank you, Abba, for the miracle of understanding that a Jew is supposed to live in the Land of the Jews, our special Holy Land, the Land that you bequeathed to our Forefathers and all the Jewish People for all time, and not live in foreign gentile lands, with foreign languages and foreign customs, trying our hardest to be like everyone else instead of being our own proud and holy Israelite Nation in our Biblical Homeland. Why is this a miracle? Because so many of our brethren live in darkness, not understanding this great commandment of the Torah, and feeling perfectly content to live in other people’s lands, tragically missing out living the very heart and goal of the Torah, the establishment of Your holy Torah Kingdom in the Land of Israel.

Thank you, Abba, for the miracle of Medinat Yisrael, the State of Israel, and for the miraculous opportunity of returning to our Land after 2000 years of wandering and suffering in alien lands, lands of persecution and assimilation that have devoured the remnants of our People, leaving us so small in number, and now, You have miraculously answered 2000 years of yearning and prayers to return to Zion.

And, thank you, Abba, not only for the miracle of our own Jewish State, but also for the miracle of realizing how much I must thank you for it, for tragically there are many who have been blinded by the darkness of exile, and they don’t see the great light, and the great obligation to thank you for this incredible miracle and kindness.

And, thank you, Abba, for putting in my heart the flame to come to Israel, and the courage to leave everything behind, family, country of birth, a successful career, sports car, famous friends, the possibility of seeing my face on People Magazine and Good Morning America.

Thank you for the miracle of health, for healing me of a chronic illness in a miraculous fashion, without medicine or surgical intervention in answer to my fervent prayers, after I threw my cortisone pills into the Pacific Ocean and relied on Your salvation alone.

Thank you for the miracle of allowing me to use the talents You gave me in the service of Am Yisrael, to help spread the truth of Your Torah, and the importance of living a holy life in Israel, as it says over and over again in the Torah itself, in the words of our Prophets, and in the teachings of our great holy Sages.

Thank you, Abba, for the miracle of my Jewish wife and Jewish children, and from having watched over me all those dark years in America when I could have married a non-Jew, and lost all connection to You completely.

Thank you, Abba, for the miracle that my children grow up speaking Hebrew, and not some foreign gentile language, and for the miracle of their growing up in their own Jewish Land, proud Israeli Jews, without mixed-up dual identities, thinking they belong to some foreign nation, when we are really the Children of Israel, and not Egyptians, or Babylonians, or Romans, or Germans, or proud Americans waving the Stars and Stripes on the Fourth of July and thinking that George Washington was our founding father.

Thank you, Abba, for providing us with the Israel Defense Forces, and all of our victories over our enemies today, like in the days of the Maccabees, and for letting me understand the supreme mitzvah of serving in our army, and for allowing me to recognize the miracles you have done for us in our wars, not like those who think it was our military power alone that saved us, or those who foolishly claim that prayer and Torah are all that we need, and who don’t want to admit that their throats would be slit by the bloodthirsty hordes of Ishmaelites who would pounce on Mea Shaarim in five minutes if not for the brave holy soldiers of Tzahal.

Thank you, Abba, for all of your miracles, those that I recognize and those that I don’t, those that You do for me and my family, and those you do for all Clal Yisrael.

May the day come soon when I will merit to witness the greatest miracle of all – when the Jews of America will open their eyes and see the emptiness of Jewish life in a foreign gentile land now that You have renewed true Jewish life in the Land of Israel.


National Union Chairman Calling on National Religious Voters to Avoid the Likud

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

National Union Chairman MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzele) today commented on his Facebook page on the Likud primaries, encouraging voters from the National Religious camp to reserve their vote to the modern heir of the historic NRP, the combined list of National Union and Jewish Home.

Even if the Likud primaries were to elect people we feel they are “ours,” and even those were to be residents of Judea and Samaria, we have seen in the past as well as over the last four years of working together in the Knesset, that when tested, the Likud prime ministers have led the Knesset members, even the best among them, into regions that the forefathers and founders of the Likud could not have imagined.

Our very best friends in the Likud have failed to prevent the expulsion of Gush Katif, and could not prevent the shame of new construction freezes and the hundreds of demolitions of housing starts by Likud governments, and particularly the stinging declaration of the Likud leader about his vision and ambition to reach the “solution” of “2 states for 2 peoples.”

The only solution to this situation is running jointly as two sister parties, our own National Union and the Jewish Home led by Naftali Bennett, in one big and qualitative list that could bring in as many as 14 seats and will serve as a foundation beam for the next government, as the most senior coalition partner and the moral and national anchor of the next government.

Ketzele’s spokesman, Ariel Cohen, told The Jewish Press he was very optimistic about the chances of the new, combined list to increase significantly the number of Knesset seats occupied by National Religious MKs.

In light of the Netanyahu’s government’s failure to come out of the Gaza operation with reassuring results, it could mean that large numbers of National Religious voters who normally vote Likud would decide to send a message to Bibi by voting for the old-new NRP.

Cohen noted that Ron Dermer, the American born senior advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu, has said before the elections in the U.S. that if President Obama were elected, there would be another freeze on settlement housing starts.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/national-union-chairman-calling-on-national-religious-voters-to-avoid-the-likud/2012/11/25/

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