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October 26, 2014 / 2 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘orthodox’

‘Caged Women’ – Never Happened

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

The Women of the Wall proved today that it’s not about the prayer, but about the politics.

While they were praying, they were also busy sending out tweets from the official Women of the Wall account (I guess they have some Kavana issues).

a horrible feeling. what a shanda to encage women at the kotel

what a frustrating, painful feeling. women in a cage at the Kotel.

When I heard, “women in a cage,” I rushed to check out the photos.

With a turn of phrase like that, I knew what I was expecting to see. Needless to say, I was disappointed, when it turned out to be nothing even close…

Let’s see what’s really going on.

Here they are at the main Kotel itself, being allowed to pray according to nearly any alternative lifestyle demands they have been promoting — with direct access to the wall at the plaza, so they can also touch the same section of the wall as everyone else can while they pray, and all the tourists can watch them.

WoWCage

Yet they are using SENSATIONALIST, exaggerated terminology, tweeting to the world that they were put in cages.

Put in cages!

At first I thought it was just them being whiny, but, you know what? It’s just straight out lying.

As you can see from their own photo, that it is not the case at all.

The women’s section has been divided by a standard police divider, so that part of the women’s section is designated for those women who want to pray in the traditional Jewish manner as they have been doing at the Kotel every day, and the other part dedicated to those who want to pray in their alternative fashion, wearing male accouterments, as they do once a month.

And since the Women of the Wall have been demanding to be allowed to pray at the main Kotel plaza in their non-traditional manner – and they were allowed to do so, this argument should pretty much be over.

But that obviously is not what the Women of the Wall want (that the argument should be over).

It’s not enough that they have forced their alternative method of prayer into the Kotel.

Here’s the truth of it, based on their own tweets.

They want to force their method of prayer onto to the other women at the Kotel too, including onto those who don’t want to pray that way – whether those women want it or not.

As part of their performance politics, the Women of the Wall are demanding that everyone else be subject to their methods of prayer, while they simultaneously prove that they won’t tolerate the way the other women (or men) at the Kotel want to hold their traditional prayers.

It’s a one way street for the Women of the Wall.

I am sure that within a month or two, they’ll get their way, too, and Orthodox (and non-Orthodox) women who want to pray undisturbed in the Jewish traditional manner will be made to feel very uncomfortable in their place of prayer.

And it won’t end there.

Because, as their tweets prove, this obviously isn’t about their wish to pray at the Kotel in a manner that deviates from tradition — after all, they’ve already won 95% of that (and I’m 100% convinced they’ll get permission to read from the Torah next month).

Next we’ll see petitions to the Supreme Court to completely remove the Mechitza, and allow egalitarian (mixed prayer) prayer groups.

How long until some IRAC-connected Reform rabbi demands to be allowed to play guitar on the Sabbath at the Kotel as he or she “traditionally” does in his or her Reform Temple?

This isn’t a battle about some women wanting to dress up as men like Yentyl and pray at the Kotel.

There’s no question that many of the backers of the Women of the Wall see the obliteration of Torah Judaism in public places in Israel as their ultimate goal.

The Kotel is just one of their battlefields, and the more SENSATIONAL they can make the battle sound, and the longer they can keep it going, the better it is for their camp.

Two Religious Girls Box-Kick Their Way to World Champions (video)

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Two religious teenagers, one a convert from India and the other born in Baltimore, have won the world championship in Thailand-style kick-boxing for their weight class.

Officially known as Muay Thai, the combat sport is known as “the art of eight weapons” because of the use of fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet.

One might expect that world champs in the kick-boxing sport would be huge gorillas from the Amazon, but two winners in the girls’ championships held in Thailand recently are none other than two religious girls from Israel.

One is Nili Block, who was born in Baltimore and moved with her family to Israel around 15 years ago. The other is Sarah Avraham, whose family was close friends with Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, two of the six victims of the Muslim terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008.

Having already been acquainted with the Jewish religion through their association with the Holtzbergs, they decided to convert and move to Israel after the terrorist attack.

Nili and Sarah train five times a week at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, attacking a punching bag to sharpen their skills under the supervision of a coach. Their rigorous regime paid off in Thailand, where they were crowned champions after Nile defeated her Bulgarian opponent in the flyweight class of 112-118 pounds, while Nili beat her British opponent in the 125-138-pound class.

Nili is an all-round athlete. Before flying to Thailand for the championships, she ran in the 6-mile Jerusalem Marathon in March and win first place in the women’s 16-19 age group, finishing ahead of 500 runners in her category. Later the same month, she won the 10th Amateur-Pro Muay Thai Championships in Bangkok.

“Nili is amazing − slim and tall, she’s built for this sport, and she possesses quite an array of weapons. She can devastate an opponent with her hands, knees and feet, and she has perfect technique,” said Shuki Rozensweing, an Israeli boxer who won the World Muay Thai Association and World Muay Thai Federation unified title in April 2011.

He told the Thai BigChili website, “She is a complete fighter with a high IQ for the sport…. A fight is not only won on strength. Nili won all three rounds against the Bulgarian girl, who was physically stronger, by virtue of her superior technique.”

She is in the 12th grade and has to decide this year whether to enlist in the IDF or serve in “Sherut Leumi,” national service.

The IDF would love to have her in its ranks. She says she is not sure if she wants to miss out serving as a regular soldier and suspend her boxing talents, but Shuki thinks she has a good chance to receive the IDF’s special athletic status, which would allow her to continue to train.

Besides that, let’s see what happens if an Arab terrorist starts up with her.

Nile discovered Muay Thai through her other after the family moved to Israel.

‘‘My mother was at that time a volunteer police woman attached to the Jerusalem police department and she was looking for some kind of martial arts which would be beneficial for her work,” said Nili. “I went with her as she looked for a Muay Thai training camp and I started to train with her. I stopped training for two years while going to school and resumed when I was 13.” Her father, a dentist, supports and encourages her to box.

So much for stereotyped-orthodox families.

The most thrilling moment in the Thai championships was hearing the Israel national anthem Hatikvah two times, once after Nili won her gold medal and the second time when Sarah won.

Sarah’s story is no less spectacular than Nili’s.

Her father is a doctor and was the family physician to the Holtzbergs, who ran the Chabad House in Mumbai.

Sarah was 14 years old when the family converted and then moved to Kiryat Arba, where she learns at a religious “ulpana” high school.

Hevron resident Michael Pollack spotted her talent and put her in touch with Thai boxing coach Eddie Yusopov.

Keeping in mind that Abraham and Sarah were buried in the Patriarchs’ Cave in Hevron, Pollack told the Times of Israel last year, “She draws her strength from where we live in Kiryat Arba. That gives her an inner strength that explodes in the ring.”

What Are They Crying About?

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

It is difficult to understand the ultra-Orthodox reaction to its exclusion from the government coalition. After all, that’s how it goes in politics – sometimes you are in, sometimes you are out. For many long years, the ultra-Orthodox were in the coalition and the religious Zionists were out. Now they have changed places.

So what? Why all the lamenting, cries of despair and threats of destruction of the settlements, God forbid? Everybody with some common sense knows that nobody is going to send the yeshiva boys to prison camps and that no serious Torah learner is going to have to stop learning. What is causing such an exaggerated ultra-Orthodox reaction? It doesn’t make them look very good, so why throw years of friendly cooperation into the trashcan? Why incite baseless hatred of their constituency? What is going on here?

To understand the ultra-Orthodox, religious Zionists must remember how they felt and reacted after the Expulsion from Gush Katif. “How can you possibly compare the two?” you may ask. “Entire communities were razed in Gush Katif and with the ultra-Orthodox, it is simply a questions of politics.”

That is true. The destruction experienced by the religious Zionists was entirely real, and the pain of the expelled unbearable. But the intensity of the grief and the religious Zionist reaction to the Expulsion were much more than simple sharing of the pain of those driven from their homes. Settlements were destroyed before Gush Katif – and subsequently, as well.

In Gush Katif something much bigger than houses was destroyed. It seemed that what was destroyed there was ideology. That was the source of the deep pain and grief. That was what motivated the lamentation and the heartbreaking images, images like the picture of the Netzarim expellees carrying the menorah from their synagogue, creating an immediate association with the image of the menorah from the Beit HaMikdash being carried by the Jews exiled from Jerusalem.

That same destruction of ideology is what is being experienced now by the ultra-Orthodox. Interestingly, the reaction of the religious Zionists then and the ultra-Orthodox now are amazingly similar.

Until the expulsion from Gush Katif, the religious Zionists still believed that the redemption process was on “automatic pilot.” True, there were some malfunctions (some of them major) here and there but they could be explained away or ignored.

In Yamit Israel succumbed to the enticement of “peace,” and Oslo could be blamed on the Left. But when the Expulsion took place, Yair Lapid offered this explanation: “We had to teach you a lesson.” In other words, we drove you from your homes and destroyed your communities because we – the mainstream of the return to Zion – are simply unwilling to accept your interpretation, your ideology and your Rabbi Kook. So please get out of our sights and let us live our daily lives without your unbearable Messianism.

That is why we cried so bitterly. Not only about Gush Katif. We cried because they threw us out, threw out our belongings after us, and slammed the door shut – while life in Israel continued as if nothing had happened. It was much more than Gush Katif. It was the ideological breaking point and ultimate humiliation. The tears were meant to make our mainstream “father and mother” open the door for us once again.

Now that we understand what happened to the religious Zionists, we can understand what the ultra-Orthodox are experiencing. Certainly not with the same intensity, for to them Zionism is much less a father and mother than it is to the religious Zionists. But it is the same insult, based on the ultra-Orthodox feeling of belonging to the state. The Neturei Karta sect, for example, vociferously opposed to the state, was not insulted at all.

In other words, the more insulted the ultra-Orthodox are, the more they show how much they belong to the collective. And that is good news.

…To be continued

Obama to Nominate Frum Chief of Staff for Treasury

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

There are those who think a politician cannot be charged with anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism if the politician appoints Jews or Israelis to high positions. President Obama has just handed such people another shield to hold up against those charges.  Bloomberg and other news sites are reporting that tomorrow, January 10, Obama will nominate his Orthodox current chief of staff, Jack Lew, to head the Treasury Department.  Lew would replace the out-going Timothy Geithner.

Staunchly pro-Israel and pro-American leaders and organizations have harshly criticized the president’s most recent nominations for three of the most significant positions in the U.S. government. Claims against all three have centered on their documented inclinations towards conciliation and negotiation with the most intractable Islamist and repressive governments, including Iran and Syria, and terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, while at the same time exhibiting a decided frigidity towards the Jewish State.  Those claims have been leveled against Senator John Kerry (R-MA) for Secretary of State, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NB) for Secretary of Defense, and John Brennan for Director of the CIA, all of whom have encountered fierce resistance in certain sections of the staunchly pro-Israel community.

It is unlikely that Lew’s nomination will be met with hostility by the pro-Israel crowd, but that is not because he is an Orthodox Jew who strives to maintain his Shomer Shabbat life despite his demanding position.  Rather, a cursory review of Lew’s professional and academic background reveals a candidate who appears eminently qualified for what is a non-foreign policy position.

Lew was born and raised in Queens, New York, received degrees from Harvard College and Georgetown Law School, and spent most of his career in the public sector, including two stints heading the Office of Management and Budget, and serving as an aide to the late Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill (D-MA). His private sector positions have included managing director for Citigroup and as an executive vice president of New York University.

In his role as right hand man to the president, the Orthodox Lew was useful in using that hand to reach out to, and smooth down the feathers of, those mainstream American Jewish organizations and leaders for whom such outreach is meaningful. It was widely reported that Lew assisted Obama in making calls to the heads of such organizations, in trying to derail “Jewish” criticism of the Hagel nomination.

While Lew is unlikely to face hectoring from pro-Israel forces, what he will face as Treasury Secretary is more than sufficiently harrowing.  It will be his job to try and tame the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling.  That limit was reached on December 31, at which point the Treasury Department began using “extraordinary measures” to keep the government operating.  But those measures will be exhausted within the next few weeks, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

As the president’s chief of staff, Lew was already used as the president’s kosher imprimatur, but the Treasury Secretary is a higher profile position and one that sets policy, whereas chief of staff ostensibly controls access to the president, but is not an independent policy-making position.

An in-depth article about Lew which ran in November’s National Journal, reveals a man who very much shares this president’s views of government and spending priorities.

If Lew became Treasury secretary, members of the business sector and political observers say, it would send two messages from the administration to Wall Street and the financial community. First, that they don’t have an ally or one of their own in Washington. Second, that the White House intends to keep close watch over tax policy and international financial decisions.

The choice would make the Treasury job  an extension of the White House’s economic team.  “And [appointing] Jack Lew suggests that [Obama] is going to continue to be the principal economic spokesperson because Jack Lew is not Mr. Outside. He’s Mr. Inside,” says Rothkopf, the former Clinton official.

And in the most recent fiscal cliff negotiations, Lew was seen by some as being particularly obstructionist.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was reportedly irked by Lew’s intransigence.

Still, Treasury is hardly a position like Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense from which decisions that have an existential impact on Israel will be made.  Domestic spending issues are more frequently the focus of centrist Jewish organizations which tend to be dominated by Democrats, for whom a fiscal conservative might be a lightening rod.  Lew is unlikely to raise the ire of non-partisan pro-Israel organizations.

Of course, if Lew is moving to Treasury, who will be the president’s next chief of staff?  So far the names being floated include Denis McDonough, currently a deputy national security adviser, and Ron Klain, who had served as Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff.

If Lew’s replacement is Denis McDonough, sparks may yet fly.  McDonough has been fingered as one of the people most likely to have altered the famous CIA talking points on the attacks on Benghazi. The alteration of those points, it has been claimed, led the Obama administration to publicly blame the murderous violence on a crude little video which Muslims deemed insulting to their prophet, rather than immediately acknowledging that it was a planned attack by an al Qaeda affiliate against the United States on the anniversary of 9/11.  It is hard to believe the White House would want to bring the focus back on Benghazi, although most news sites which have mentioned McDonough as one of Lew’s likely successors did not even make the connection.

Orthodox Sweep Elections in Israel!

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Fantasy headline? Dream? Fishman gone crazy? The truth is – the only thing preventing it from becoming a reality is the sad and tragic fact that the Orthodox Jews in the Diaspora prefer living as tiny, insignificant minorities in foreign, gentile lands, conducting meaningless studies about saving Diaspora Judaism, when they could be living in the Land which G-d gave to the Jews, where they could play an active part in the Redemption they supposedly pray for every day, by turning the Israeli Knesset into a Beit Midrash of G-d fearing Jews.

Take a look at the numbers. Let’s say that in the coming election, Shas wins 10 seats, the Haredim 6, Jewish Home 15, and Otzma l’Yisrael for a total of 32. Scattered amongst other parties are another 10 Orthodox Jews. That makes 42. There are also another half a dozen or more closet-Orthodox-Jews who would come out of hiding with the appearance of a strong Orthodox trend. But we won’t count them for now. If all 300,000 voter eligible Haredim in Israel who don’t vote would use their brains for one day and vote, that would give the Orthodox another 4 or 5 votes, bringing the total to 48 – but we won’t count them either, because it looks like the miracle of simple, down-to-earth sechel won’t grace their camp within the next two weeks. So out of the 120 Knesset seats, about 43 are/will be Orthodox or from Orthodox parties.

Now, if the 100,000 Orthodox lovers of America who recently filled a baseball stadium in New York to protest against trash on the Internet, and the 100,000 Orthodox lovers of America who filled a stadium in New Jersey to celebrate the siyum of the Talmud, would come to live in the Holy Land and vote, and the other 400,000 plus Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, Monsey, Lakewood, Chicago, Arizona, Beverly Hills, Boca, Toronto, Paris, London, Manchester, Melbourne, South Africa, Belgium, and everywhere they are hiding, would come out of the closet with them, and act on their prayers and actually say goodbye to the gentile countries they so love and come and live and vote in the Jewish Homeland, then those hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Jews would translate into potentially another 20 Knesset seats, giving the Orthodox a clear and resounding majority of 63 seats, and the headlines would read:

Orthodox Sweep Election in Israel!

Then we’d call the shots, and won’t that be fun!

You can argue about the numbers, but the truth is clear – if the Orthodox Jews of the Diaspora would take a whiff of smelling salt and play a part in the Redemption of Israel which the Master of the Universe has been bringing about over the last 100 years, miraculously rebuilding Zion, just as our Prophets foretold, in the fulfillment of our prayers, and to the amazement of the nations, already making Israel the clear and uncontested Torah center of the world – if the Orthodox Jews of the Diaspora would worry about building the Torah in Israel, instead of trying to hang on to galut as long as they can, then Israel would have an Orthodox Knesset, an Orthodox government, and Orthodox army, and G-d’s Kingdom would be established all over the Earth due to the towering light of Torah which would shine out from Yerushalayim, as the Prophet declares: “For from Zion will go forth the Torah, and the word of the L-rd from Yerushalayim.”

Yes, we have problems in Israel. After 2000 years in exile, our Nation has been weakened and is seriously ill. But here, we are like sick people who are getting better. In comparison, the Diaspora is like a terminal unit where everyone is on the way to Forest Lawns. The exile is not meant to last. Now that we can return home to Israel, there is no longer a need for it. Building a new yeshiva in Lakewood, and opening a Chabad House in Las Vegas, is like putting a band-aid on the victim of a fire whose entire body is covered with burns.

It’s time for Diaspora Jews to stop deluding themselves, the rabbis, blog writers, and Federation heads. Diaspora Judaism is a dinosaur of the past. It is destined for extinction. Studies about assimilation and drop-out won’t help. And remember, my friends, becoming more Haredi or more Modern Orthodox won’t do a thing when the millions of rifles in America and Europe are turned on the Jews. It’s happened everywhere else that Jews have ever lived, in all of our wonderful exiles, and it will happen in America too.

Tznius Squads: Can This Really be Judaism?

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

I’m sorry. I just can’t believe this is Yiddishkeit. No matter how tolerant I try to be, I can’t believe that customs (like those described in a Forward article) found among Chasidic sects like Satmar and Ger have even the remotest connection to Judaism. I simply do not believe that this is how God wants His people to behave.

I know that I have preached tolerance and acceptance of all Jews. I still do. And I still believe in Achdus in the sense of respecting the Hashkafos and customs of others. The above-mentioned Chasidic sects have every right to believe as they wish.But when those beliefs translate into actions that are harmful – like their Vaad HaTznius (modesty squads) or the events that have taken place with respect to the Weberman trial, then I don’t believe for a minute that they have anything to do with Judaism. I sometimes wonder if even the majority of the people in these Chasidic communities really believe in them in their heart of hearts.

These were the thoughts that came rushing into my head once again as I read the Forward article. The bullying and strong-arm tactics of Williamsburg’s Tznius squads were described at theWeberman trial. Not only is that an abhorrent misuse of power and a mistaken perception of what modesty in Judaism is all about, I think it actually degrades an individual’s humanity to insist on such extremes.

I still find it shocking that something like a Tznius squad exists and operates with impunity. What I do not find shocking is the fact that the people who are on these ‘squads’ are what my father used to call Leidik-Geyers – people who have nothing to do with their time. Of which they have a plenty since Williamsburg has plenty of residents that do not work. But… what kind of people constitute the Tznius squad is a side issue.

I’m sorry. This is not Judaism. It doesn’t matter that the Tznius squad is sourced in the Rambam as the writer of the Forward article explains. The Rambam was describing another scenario and I doubt that any extension of his ideas would have included the establishment of a Tznius Squad.
There is another thing described in that article has to be the most ridiculous nonsense I can imagine. It is the idea that a husband and wife are not buried together in their cemeteries. There is actually a separation of the sexes in the grave. I kid you not.

I mean… what are they afraid will happen? Do they think this will lead to the 2 corpses sleeping together? And even if they did, they were married for Pete’s sake! And no one would see them anyway because… they’re buried! How far can they take these Tznius concepts before even their own people start laughing at them?

How in heaven’s named can anyone ever really buy into this practice? And yet it seems that hundreds of thousands of people do. I cannot for the life of me figure out why. Are such customs worth the ridicule they bring upon Orthodox Jewry from the rest of the world?

I know, I know… I just said a moment ago that I accept their Hashkafos as legitimate even if I don’t agree with them. I do. I accept for example their stated reasons for opposing the State of Israel. I accept their heightened sense of modesty. And I applaud all the good works they are famous for. What I do not accept is the harmful behavior of some of them; those among them who insist on imposing their will upon others; and upon further reflection – questionable customs that would bring ridicule upon us.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

The Struggle Between Secular and Ultra-Orthodox Israelis

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai presents audio from the BBC about the coming together of the ultra-orthodox and secular worlds.  This piece presents an overall very unbiased view of the situation and is a very interesting listen.  Don’t miss it!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/tv/radio/the-struggle-between-secular-and-ultra-orthodox-israelis/2012/11/20/

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