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November 27, 2015 / 15 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Orthodox Jews’

Obama Officials Tout J Street Polls for Jewish Support on Iran Deal

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

The Obama administration is leaning on Jewish leftists to pressure Jewish Congressmen to support an Iran deal by touting a J Street poll claiming that nearly two-thirds of American Jews support an agreement.

The Washington Free Beacon reported Matt Nosanchuk, the White House’s liaison to the Jewish community, advised dozens of “progressive” groups Monday to use the poll to convinced Jews in Congress to back a deal.

Nosanchuk reportedly talked with more than 100 Jewish officials in a meeting organized by the Ploughshares Fund, which the Beacon wrote “has spent millions of dollars to slant Iran-related coverage and protect the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts.”

The report comes two days after TheJewishPress.com wrote here that a recent meeting between senior White House officials and the anti-IDF Breaking the Silence group furthers President Barack Obama’s attempt to make the Jewish left, led by J Street, appear to represent the mainstream American Jewish community.

The J Street website last year ran a headline in capital letters, “Tell your senators: Don’t undermine Iran negotiations with new sanctions.”

It followed with the results of its own poll and an incredulous claim that implies that J Street speaks for most American Jews and that anyone who thinks differently is “underling” President Obama. The website wrote:

While 62% of American Jews support the way President Obama is handling Iran’s nuclear program, organizations that claim to represent the American Jewish community are undermining his approach by pushing for new and harsher penalties against Iran.


Though some American Jewish organizations are pushing new sanctions that will undoubtedly undermine negotiations, the vast majority of the American Jewish community supports President Obama’s diplomatic approach to Iran’s nuclear program.

That was last November, when a final agreement was to be reached by November 30.

Last month, J Street published another poll:

American Jews express strong support for a final agreement with Iran that increases inspections in exchange for economic sanctions relief. Fifty-nine percent say they would support such a deal, compared to 53 percent of American adults in an April CNN poll that asked the same question….

‘When it comes to the best way to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, these results make clear that American Jews overwhelmingly support the president’s diplomatic efforts,’ said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. ‘The numbers just go to show—once again— that pundits and presumed communal representatives are flat-out wrong in assuming American Jews are hawkish on Iran or US policy in the Middle East in general.’

The problem with the poll is that the respondents assume that a deal will deliver the goods.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll covered that point with the significant notation “that a plurality of Americans – 46 percent – say they don’t know enough to have an opinion.”

If the J Street poll had asked, “Do you know enough about the pending deal to express an opinion,” the results undoubtedly would be close to the NBC/Journal poll.

The “Jewish support” claimed by the J Street poll is, in the Beacon’s words, for “a hypothetical deal that does not actually exist.”

President Obama’s love for J Street serves both him and the left-wing organization. J Street, like The New York Times, acts as a puppet for the President who in return makes it feel important by supplying the string.

J Street acts as if it is the spokesman for the entire Jewish community and effectively leaves the predominantly conservative Orthodox camp out of the playing field, much to President Obama’s joy.

His strategy is to show Congress that if the Jews back a deal with Iran, obviously it must be good for Israel because they know better than Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu what is best for the Jewish state.

Shas MK Begins ‘Three Week’s with ‘Senseless Hate’ against Reform Jews

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015


Minister for Religious Affairs, Shas Knesset Member David Azoulay, ridiculed approximately 2 million Jews Tuesday with the incredible statement, “A Reform Jew, from the moment he does not follow Jewish law…. I cannot allow myself to say that he is a Jew.”

His vile libel comes on the heels of the Netanyahu government’s rollback of religious reforms passed in the previous administration and which broke the gridlock that the Hareidi establishment has held over the conversion process and the approval for private and public eating facilities to be certified as kosher.

There are tens of thousands of Reform Jews who indeed are not Jews according to Jewish law because of  intermarriage. Jewish law states that if the mother is Jewish, so is the child.

But for the time being, most Reform Jews in the United States and elsewhere are Jews by birth, regardless of whether they follow Jewish law.

MK Azoulay’s rant comes during the first week of the “three weeks” of a semi-state of mourning over the destruction of the First and Second Temples on the Ninth of Av, which is observed at the end of the period.

Every year, rabbis preach that the sages teach that the Second Temple fell because of “senseless hate” among Jews,” and that every Jew today must express unlimited love.

And how does the Shas MK express his love? He told Army Radio today he cannot call them “Jews” and added:

These [Reform] Jews took the wrong path, and we need to make sure that every Jew returns to the lap of Judaism and [we need] to receive everyone with love and joy.To my sorrow, most of the Reform Jews in the Diaspora have erred. They are like babies who are hostages, and we want to make sure that every Jew will return  to Judaism according to Jewish law.

The most infuriating part of MK Azoulai’s remarks, worse than refusing to recognize Reform Jews as Jews, is his arrogant pretense that “we need to receive them with love and joy.”

The Hareidi establishment, of which the Shas Sephardi party is a major leader, does everything in its power to turn Jews off from Judaism.

Reform Judaism is not Judaism, and Reform rabbis are not rabbis, no more than alternative medicine is “medicine” and their practitioners are “doctors,” but to publicly say – or even privately think – that they are not Jews is nothing less than a blood libel.

Reform Jews never will be accepted with “love and joy” by the Israeli Hareidi establishment no more than MK Azoulay will accept national religious Jews with “love and joy.”

No matter how much Talmud we learn, and no matter how often we say the same prayers that Hareidim say – except for the addition of the Prayer for the State of Israel and the IDF that are absent from almost all Israeli Hareidi prayer books – it is not good enough for the their establishment.

Unlike the Agudah Hareidi movement in the United States, which practices “kiruv” – reaching out to non-Orthodox Jews to bring them closer to Judaism – the Hareidi  leaders in Israel are interested in power. They don’t accept others who do not dress like them, obey them like robots and contribute to their yeshivas.

There was an unconfirmed claim by the Women of the Wall yesterday that guards stopped a woman at The Western Wall because she was wearing a kippah.

The guards allegedly asked the woman to go with them to the police station, a request she refused.

Instead, she was escorted to a taxi stand outside the Western Wall Plaza.

Haredim Dominate US Jewish Day School Enrollment

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Jewish day school enrollment in the United States is up 12 percent from five years ago, primarily due to growth in Haredi schools.

Then numbers present a scary picture of the future of non-Orthodox and non-Haredi-Hasidic American Jewry, who seem to be the only ones who seem to be able to attract parents to keep their children in a Jewish educational surrounding.

Nearly 255,000 students are enrolled in 861 Jewish day schools from the pre-K level through 12th grade, according to a new census of the schools conducted by the Avi Chai Foundation.

The day school survey, which has been conducted every five years since 1998-’99, found 59 more schools and 26,437 more students since the last study, in 2008-’09. Previous surveys found enrollment growth rates of about 11 percent in each five-year period.

The primary drivers of growth have been Hasidic students, whose enrollment has increased by 110 percent since the first census 15 years ago, and Haredi non-Hasidic yeshiva schools, which have grown by 60 percent since the 1998-’99 survey.

The challenge is “whether there will be sufficient resources to provide adequately for the growth in these two sectors,” said Marvin Schick, who conducted the survey for Avi Chai.

The Avi Chai survey counted the following approximately numbers:

—  82,000 students in 137 Hasidic schools;

— 76,000 students in 282 yeshivas;

—  46,000 students in 160 centrist or modern Orthodox day schools;

—  20,500 students in 97 community day schools;

—  12,600 students in 80 Chabad schools,

— 9,700 students in 39 Solomon Schechters;

—  3,700 students 13 Reform schools;

—  2,400 students in 19 immigrant/outreach schools;

—  and about 2,100 students in 34 special education schools. A few of the schools counted in the survey include non-Jewish students.

Overall, 60 percent of all Jewish day school students in America are Haredi.

By contrast, enrollment in non-Orthodox schools is declining.

Reform day school enrollment is down 19 percent from five years ago, to 3,704 students nationwide; enrollment in the Conservative movement’s Solomon Schechter schools is down 27 percent from five years ago, to 9,718 students; and non-denominational community day school enrollment has slipped by 2 percent, down to 20,413 students, according to the census. Together, these non-Orthodox schools have just 13 percent of all day school students. In 1998, the proportion was 20 percent.

The number of centrist or modern Orthodox students has stayed flat since 1998, at about 46,000 students. The survey divided those schools into two groups: modern Orthodox schools, which are generally co-educational and have about 27,000 students across 83 schools, and centrist Orthodox, which are generally gender-segregated and have about 19,000 students spread out over 77 schools.

In the 15 years since Avi Chai’s surveys began, Conservative day schools have taken the largest tumble. The number of Solomon Schechter schools has dropped to 39 from 63 in 1998, and the number of students has shrunk 45 percent, to 9,700 from 17,700 in 1998.

Some of those departing students were lost to community day schools, which since 1998 have grown by 22 schools and increased enrollment by about 5,500 students.

The figures were self-reported by every known Jewish day school in the United States, according to Avi Chai. In all, 37 states and Washington, D.C., have Jewish day schools. The primary concentration of Jewish schools is in New York and New Jersey, where day school students number 190,195, roughly 75 percent of the nationwide total.

The states with the next-largest day school populations are California, with 15,270 students, Florida with 9,248, Maryland with 7,556 and Illinois with 5,248 students. No other state exceeds 3,200 day school students.

Suicide Bombers Being Trained to ‘Dress Like Jews’

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Suicide bombers are once again being trained to dress like Orthodox Jews in preparation for carrying out mass casualty attacks in Israel, while Palestinian Arab factions are sitting in Cairo talking with Israeli representatives about a proposal to stop the war in Gaza.

Last month both Hamas and Fatah — the two main partners in the Palestinian Authority unity government — urged Arabs to carry out suicide bombings against Israel.

Although one faction is based in Gaza and the other in Ramallah, both have military terror divisions that carry out attacks against Israel. Only Hamas is recognized by the United States as an official terrorist organization, however.

According to a clip translated by the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) organization, PA TV viewers were treated to a poem written by Palestinian ‘national poet’ Mahmoud Darwish, which was used as part of a program to demonize Israel as an enemy targeting women and children.

The phrasing could be interpreted as encouraging suicide bombing, but some literature analysts say the deeper meaning of the poem is actually a critique on suicide bombings.

The words chosen for inclusion in the program by PA TV seemed to present suicide bombing positively – literally as an expression of life – but as writers well know, it is easy to take words out of context and to twist them to one’s own personal use.

Thus did PA TV use the words of Darwish:

“She wraps her waist with dynamite and explodes… It is neither death… nor suicide… It is Gaza’s way to declare its right to life.”

The video demonizes Israel as an enemy targeting women and children and concludes that suicide terror will go on:

“She shall continue to explode.  It is neither death nor suicide.”

When one reads the entire poem – “Silence for Gaza” — one sees clearly the Darwish was not referring at all to suicide bombers or terror but rather to a much broader image of the enclave and its people.

Likewise, Fatah also called on its people to launch missiles at Israel; as late as Monday night, just prior to the cease fire, two of the faction’s military arms joined with other terror groups in Gaza in doing so.

On Hamas TV, viewers were urged to dress up like Jews and carry out suicide bombings – in fact, they were even shown how to do it.

A Hamas video showed a terrorist putting on a suicide explosives belt, and then donning the clothing of a stereotypical, bearded Orthodox Jewish civilian. He is then seen escorted by his handler to the exit and sent on his way to commit a suicide bombing.

Is Orthodoxy Winning?

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

It would seem that Orthodox Judaism has a lot to be happy about these days. In the recent much discussed Pew Research Center Survey it was only Orthodox Jewry that has enjoyed an increase in numbers. The other major denominations are experiencing decline. Should we be triumphalist? Some of us are. But let’s take a closer look at this.

Reform Judaism which was instituted in America by Issac Meyer Wise in the 19th century was at the time thought to be the wave of the future. Many Jews flocked to this form of Judaism that was created with compatibility and assimilation in mind. They were triumphalist about their movement and saw Orthodoxy on its last legs.

But Reform was quickly overtaken by a new movement created in the early 20th century. The Conservative movement which had more of a connection to Jewish tradition was more appealing to the mass of European immigrants that came to these shores in waves at that time. Many felt that they had to work on Shabbos to survive. The assimilated Reform Jews of that time did not really embrace these ‘greenhorns’.

Which was pretty much fine with the ‘greenhorns’. They wanted to retain as much of their Judaism as they could. Conservative Judaism spoke to that need. It allowed them a sense of observance while tolerating violations of Halacha – and in some cases encouraging it for a ‘higher purpose’. Driving to Shul was permitted. Since Jews were driving anyway they were told if you’re going to drive – drive to Shul.

For decades Conservative Judaism enjoyed immense popularity too. Surely enough to feel triumphalist about themselves. But as was the case with Reform a few generations – in our day, the Conservative movement is struggling to maintain it members. And as of now they seem to be losing the battle. The Pew report has given us some truly depressing figures. Non Orthodox Jews are intermarrying at a 70% rate. Even if (as many claim) those numbers are grossly exaggerated, it can certainly not be discounted that the intermarriage rate is extremely high.

Reform Judaism which does not consider Halacha binding has had some success in changing their numbers by changing the rules. They have redefined for themselves who is a Jew. Jewish lines had always followed the mother. Patralineal descent was never considered legitimate. That is basic Halacha. But now they accept patralineal descent. And they now define Jewish identity by how an individual defines himself. Halachic practice is unnecessary. Formal conversion is unnecessary.

Conservative Judaism has not resorted to that. Yet. But it is hemorrhaging Jews. Assimilation is winning.

As I said above, Orthodoxy is growing according to the Pew survey. But is it really? Should we be Triumphalist? There are many among us who might feel this way. And for good reason. We believe we are following in the Halalchic footsteps of our forefathers. That has kept us separate, identifiable, and therefore alive. We have the most children and we raise them to be Orthodox. We send them to religious schools and we live in religious neighborhoods. Our social groups are mostly Orthodox. Assimilation is not done at the expense of abandoning Halacha. Some of us discourage it completely and some of us assimilate where Halacha permits.

While there is some attrition away from Orthodoxy, that is counter-balanced by those who join us via successful outreach.There have been some statistics published that indicate that more Jews leave Orthodoxy than join it. I would dispute that. Those surveys do not define Orthodoxy properly. Self identifying as Orthodox or claiming to be raised Orthodox is not any way to define Orthodoxy. Just because your parents belonged to an Orthodox Shul – that does not make you Orthodox.

A Kosher Supermarket is About to Close and the Question is Why

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

The announcement by the 75-year old Crown Market in West Hartford, Connecticut, that it would be closing sent shock waves through the Jewish community.

Mark Bakeoff, who bought the market five years ago, said tough economic conditions and increasing competition have made things difficult, but the biggest blow came with “one of the worst winters on record in a decade.” Despite attempts to save the market, the owner is not optimistic. Sources told Kosher Today that the store did not cater to the community’s small but growing Orthodox community.

Mark Silk, a professor of religion in public life at Trinity College in Hartford, explains that one of the reasons Crown Market is closing  is because “the Ultra-Orthodox did not believe the market was kosher enough and refused to patronize it.” Silk goes on to explain that modern Judaism has seen a decline among what he terms the “Modern Orthodox” and an increase in the number of Ultras. Rabbi Ilana Garber, a Conservative rabbi and a loyal Crown customer, is leading the efforts to save the supermarket.

The announcement of the pending closure resulted in some soul searching by many Jews in the community. One blogger wrote: “I chose to shop at the new neighborhood Wal-Mart because we wanted to save money. What I realize now, much too late, is that if I had shopped at Crown and paid a little bit more, I would have been supporting this important part of the Jewish community that we cherish and love. And now, with a heavy heart, I admit I was wrong. I apologize. I know that isn’t enough. I wish it were. I wish I could promise to shop there for now on. I wish I could get 500 families to pledge to do the same. I wish I had known they were in trouble so I could have done something, anything.”

Other bloggers also shed tears and one vacationer in Turks and Cacos even placed an order long distance. Many markets and even restaurants have opened because of a pledge of community support only to close when the support was not forthcoming. The upscale Le Masada Restaurant in the Hyatt Regency in Chicago was one such case in the late ‘90’s.

Avigdor Lieberman Warns US Jews ‘You Are Facing a Catastrophe’

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

American Jews are facing nothing less than a demographic catastrophe, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asserted on Tuesday in a speech at the Jerusalem meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

He quoted recent surveys that show that there are 6.1 million Jews in Israel and slightly less than 5.5 million in the United States, not including those who claim affiliation or identity with Judaism.

Lieberman emphasized that no Jew – whether in the Diaspora or in Israel and whether Reform Conservative or Orthodox – “is illegitimate and should be placed outside of the tent,” but he added. “There is a significant rise in those who have little or no Jewish content in their lives, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish.”

He pointed out, “The intermarriage rate has reached a high of 58% for all Jews, and 71% for non-Orthodox Jews, a huge change from before 1970 when only 17% of Jews intermarried.”

Attachment to Israel is markedly higher among older Jews, with only 32% of respondents under the age of 30 sharing the idea that “caring about Israel as an essential part of what being Jewish means to them.”

Lieberman then put the cards on the table and categorically stated they are stacked against the Diaspora.

“For many years, Israeli officials have called on our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, like many of you gathered here tonight, to donate your time, energies and funds to Israel,” he said. “However, I turn to you today and say that, while we are enormously and forever grateful for your assistance, we believe it is now time to concentrate on the challenges facing your own communities, especially those emanating from the dangerous trends in the Jewish community demonstrated in the recent survey.”

Lieberman was being kind. He could just as easily have said, “You American Jews sit as armchair generals for Israel, undermine our government’s struggle by deciding how we should deal with the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world while you don’t see that the ground in the Diaspora is crumbling under your feet.”

In more diplomatic language, he said, “Above all discussions on Iran and the Palestinians, your discussions with the Israeli Government and the Jewish Agency should be focused on saving future generations.”

Lieberman stated that education is the key to fighting “assimilation, intermarriage and disengagement” but that “Jewish children are being kept from the Jewish classrooms because of the exorbitant and prohibitive costs of Jewish education in the United States.”

“On my last visit to New York, I met with a Russian Jewish family in Brooklyn,” Lieberman told his audience. “They told me that for their three children to attend good Jewish schools it would cost them around $100,000. They simply could not endure such costs. They are not alone. This situation is being replicated across the Jewish world, whether in the United States, Russia, France, Argentina, or elsewhere. If this situation persists, we will lose another six million Jews in a generation or two.”

He said that most Israeli diplomats abroad shun local Jewish schools and instead send their children to learn at international schools because the standard is higher.

“Sadly this is also reflective of the general Jewish population in places like the United States, where only around 12% of Jewish children attend Jewish schools, and when the Orthodox children are removed from the equation; it drops down to no more than a few per cent,” he added.

Lieberman proposed the creation of a global network of Jewish schools with a superior standard, and he committed the Israeli government to budget $365 million a year in matching funds for the project.

He also is looking forward to massive aliyah “The creation of an international network of Jewish schools is only the first part of my vision,” Lieberman declared. “In addition, my goal is to bring an additional 3.5 million Jews from the Diaspora in the next ten years so that the Jewish population in Israel will exceed 10 million.”

Jews are undoubtedly a major influence in American life, but the number of Jews who are Jewish “in name only” spells a dismal future for the Diaspora.

One of the most self-serving ways to deny the future is to accept the definition of a Jew as anyone who considers himself Jewish. That kind of identity is temporary, at best.

Jewish institutions and organizations maybe boasting larger numbers, but the meaning of Jewish is becoming emptier.

What Lieberman essentially told the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem Tuesday was, “Wake up. It’s later than you think.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/avigdor-lieberman-warns-us-jews-you-are-facing-a-catastrophe/2014/02/19/

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