web analytics
April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Orthodox Jewry’

Merging the Orthodox Streams

Monday, August 27th, 2012

As ridiculous as it may seem, one of the things that I wish would happen is a merger between Beth Medrash Gavoha (Lakewood) and Yeshiva University (YU). Although I can hear the howls of laughter and screams of protestation on both sides of the Hashkafic aisle, I really think this would solve a lot of the problems we have today in Orthodoxy.

The truth is that this is not as far fetched as one might imagine. At least from a purely Hashkafic perspective. If one looks back to the early days of American Chinuch post Holocaust, one would see exactly this kind of institution existing at the grass roots level.

Outside of New York – elementary schools catered to all kinds of students from all kinds of homes. My classmates came from Yeshivishe homes, Chasidic homes, Modern Orthodox homes, Lubavitch homes, and even non observant homes. Our teachers respected those differences and taught us accordingly. Learning Torah came first, but secular studies were considered very important and treated seriously. Even among those on the right. The idea of attending college was a given then in almost all circles. Parnassa, was the number one concern in those days.

How important was college to the right wing in those days? If one looks at Yeshivos like Chaim Berlin and Torah VoDaath, the vast majority of their students attended college while in the Yeshiva – usually at night. They got degrees in fields like accounting or went on to professional schools to become doctors, lawyers, dentists, engineers… what have you! All while maintaining Yiras Shomayim and a strong commitment to Torah and Mitzvos.

The idea of learning full time for long periods of time well into marriage was an ideal reserved for very few people. Only the most elite and most motivated people would even consider doing that.

But somewhere along the line the paradigm started changing. As the religious communities grew new schools were created to cater to specific Hashkafos.

On the surface that might seem like a good idea. But that was the beginning of the divide that ‘keeps on giving’. We are moving further and further apart. As the community grows, there are new schools with even more fine tuned Hashkafos being formed – adding to the division. I believe that all this fine tuning is one of the most divisive forces in Orthodoxy.

There are now schools on the right that consider secular studies a waste of time at best. Secular studies are belittled! There are schools on the left that are pushing the envelope of ordaining women and allowing them to act as Chazanot in certain parts of Tefilah. Some may see these divisions as a plus. But I don’t.

I prefer an Orthodoxy that has a broad Hashkafic spectrum under one roof. While we may (and I emphasize the word “may”) lose some on the fringes of the right and left, the vast majority of Orthodox Jewry would experience a far greater sense of Achdus. We had a hint of that at the last DafYomi Siyum. Although it was sponsored by Agudah it was attended by almost the entire spectrum of Orthodox Jewry. And it was a positive experience for the vast majority of them – over 90% were inspired by it according to one poll (mine).

So in theory I think it is possible to create this hybrid. The practical benefits of such a merger would transcend even the sense of Achdus that it would generate.

Each Hashkafa has a weakness that is hurting it. On the right, the disdain for a decent secular education pushes their masses into a life of poverty. On the left the weakness is in the inability to produce enough great rabbinic leaders. While there are exceptions in both communities, I think that this is basically the rule.

On the right – the aggrandizement of full time Torah study for everyone and the default second class status of the working man has resulted in 1000s of families who are unable to make a decent living. Unless they have some family connection or have the courage and determination to do the unthinkable and go to college late in their lives, most of these people are qualified to do little else than go into Chinuch. And most of those are not properly trained to do so.

Mass Rally of ‘Jews Against the Internet’ to Pack Citi Field in May

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Tens of thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews will participate in a huge rally to be held on Sunday evening, May 20, at Citi Field in Queens, New York, to combat the evils of the Internet and the damages caused by advanced electronic devices.

The NY Mets will be playing in Toronto on the same day.

The website JDN cites one of the event organizers who said: “This will be a mass rally never before seen in the history of Orthodox Jewry in the U.S. It will be a gathering of  unity of all the Jews living in the U.S., a gathering to disseminate information and a prayer rally for the success of Klal-Israel’s war on the Technology which threatens the sanctity of the homes of Israel.”

The “Gdolei Israel” (leading sages) behind the conference have specifically ordered to schedule it for the eve of Rosh Chodesh Sivan, a day which is considered particularly fortuitous when it comes to children’s education, since the goal of their campaign is to save the generation from the ravages of advanced technology.

The following has been published in the Haredi press, regarding the upcoming event:

A Letter from our Masters the Great Men of Israel Shlita In Preparation for the International Conference in the U.S. Against the Scourge of Technology

It is well known that in recent times through the Internet many serious family-related problems have been created, and it all happens because of it, and something must be done so they won’t be hurt. And since this touches almost everyone, we must assemble together to protect and be protected, and we hope that through this gathering in search of ideas we will be helped from Heaven to save the many, and may it be that we will be successful in encouraging the public not to stumble over this obstacle, and the Lord will guide us in a truthful path. And note that sometimes the suspension of Torah is the very way in which it must be kept.

The letter is signed by Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, Dean of Ponovezh Litze’irim; Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a highly regarded Bnei-Brak posek; and Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, Chairman of the rabbinical court of Bnei Brak.

According to JDN, the event’s production costs of some $1.5 million were raised from private philanthropists.

Tenafly, New Jersey Eruv Controversy

Friday, December 7th, 2001

In a brief filed with the United States Court of Appeals in the crucial case involving an eruv in Tenafly, New Jersey, Nathan Lewin, Orthodox Jewry's foremost constitutional litigation lawyer, presented an important argument that will, if successful, insulate all eruvim in the United States against similar constitutional attack. The Tenafly Council ordered Cablevision to remove 183 plastic strips that the Eruv Association had attached to utility poles to be used as “lechis,” which are necessary to complete an eruv. Many reportedly had reason to believe, from the debate that had preceded the order of removal, that Tenafly was simply trying to keep Orthodox Jews out of the town. But all the Council members swore that they had no anti-Orthodox bias ? which would have meant that their action against the eruv was a violation of the Constitution ? and the federal judge believed them.

The Eruv Association is appealing the decision, mainly on the ground that the judge's conclusion as to the issue of the Council-members' motives was wrong. That is a difficult argument to make because appellate courts usually accept “findings of fact” by trial judges. However, Mr. Lewin ? who represents attorney Chaim Book, a plaintiff in the case and the primary force behind the establishment of the eruv ? has presented an ingenious argument that does not depend on whether the Councilmembers lied under oath.

There are thousands of identical plastic strips on utility poles in Tenafly that are used to transmit telephone calls and cable television. If those plastic strips are allowed and even encouraged by Tenafly, how can the Town refuse to allow 183 of the same plastic strips only because they are part of an eruv? Prohibiting the innocuous act of attaching plastic strips to utility poles when they are part of a religious observance while encouraging plastic strips useful for television reception is, according to Mr. Lewin, what violates the Constitution, not the allegedly bad motives of Tenafly's elected officials. And, says Mr. Lewin, the plastic strips are also “symbolic religious speech.” Since Tenafly has allowed orange ribbons on its poles to protest a public-school policy and for “lost-dog” notices, it may not discriminate against a symbol of the eruv.

These sorts of creative arguments ? which appear to us as eminently correct and which should carry the day for the Tenafly eruv ? are what have made Nat Lewin renowned in the American Orthodox Jewish community.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/tenafly-new-jersey-eruv-controversy/2001/12/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: