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January 29, 2015 / 9 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Lau’

Photos: More than 150,000 Mark End of Shiva for Rav Ovadia

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

More than 150,000 people crowded Jerusalem Sunday to mark the last day of the seven-day shiva mourning period for Rav Ovadia Yosef, who died last week at the age of 93.

The spontaneous outpour of mourners stood in stark contrast to the annual rally on the Saturday night before the anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in Tel Aviv, as reported here. Leftists rounded up 30,000 people to blame Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the failure to make peace not only with the Palestinian Authority but also with Iran.

The scene in Jerusalem was a smaller but just as impressive copy of last week, when 800,000 crammed Jerusalem for the funeral. Police learned their lesson form not being prepared last  week to handle the flood of people, and thousands of police officers patrolling the event and closing main arteries. The cemetery was closed to the public in mid-afternoon.

Medics treated approximately three dozen people.

Rav Ovadia’s greatness as a Torah sage was marked by the words of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, who said that the late rabbi will be “remembered for generations” and “belonged to all of the People of Israel.”

Religious officials and family members barred Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from speaking inside the funeral home because he does not observe the Sabbath, and his had to settle for eulogizing Rav Ovadia the building.

Photos by Flash 90:

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Rav Ovadia's chair remains empty next to his sons in the mourning tent in Jerusalem.

Rav Ovadia’s chair remains empty next to his sons in the mourning tent in Jerusalem.

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R. Lau to Submit Conversion Rulings to Haredi Review in Backroom Deal

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Three weeks after the stunning knockout a coalition of Haredi and Hardali (National religious Haredim) politicians delivered to Jewish Home and its hapless leader, Minister of Religious Services Naftalli Bennett, Ma’ariv reveals the price that had to be paid before the approval of Rabbi David Lau by the extremist Haredi camp: control over non-Haredi conversions.

Over the past three weeks, we’ve heard nothing but praise for the new Ashkenazi chief rabbi, who, as rabbi of Modi’in, a typical mixed religious and secular Israeli town, has shown the kind of moderation and acceptance one expects of a rabbinical shepherd. Some, like National Religious pundit Menachem Rahat, have gone so far as to suggest that under normal circumstances—meaning before the overwhelming sweep of Jewish Home and the ousting of the Haredim from government—someone as sweet and accepting as Rabbi David Lau would not have stood a chance to be selected, and that he was picked only as a desperate response to the popular Rabbi David Stav, a National Religious scholar and leader who was going to revamp the chief rabbinate.

And it worked. Like Menachem Rahat, the prevailing tone of the National Religious commentators following Lau’s election (and Stav’s defeat) has been that at least Rabbi Lau is a nice guy, a moderate, a uniter, not a divider.

All those well wishers may have to reexamine their praises now. According to Ma’ariv, in closed conversations Rabbi David Lau conducted with some Haredi decision makers before the vote, he gave them his commitment that all of his ruling regarding conversions would be submitted to a review by Rabbi Avraham Sherman, the man who gained his reputation as the killer of Rabbi Chaim Druckman’s thousands of kosher giurim-conversions.

Back in May of 2008, the Supreme Rabbinical Court judges Rabbis Hagai Izirer, Avraham Sherman and Avrohom Sheinfeld annulled thousands of conversions done by two National Religious rabbis, determining that:

“First, all conversions performed since 1999 by Rabbi Chaim Avior and Rabbi Chaim Drukman must be disqualified; second, conversions can be retroactively annulled for those who are not observant.”

Attorney Susan Weiss, founding director of the Center for Women’s Justice (JOFA), told Ynet in 2008 that the verdict had far-reaching implications on thousands of people who underwent conversion in the last few years—and on their children.

Much has been written and said about the case, which had territorial war written all over it. It was the first case of such massive, retroactive annulments of giurim-conversions, and the fact that the injured rabbis were renowned National Religious figures, while the court that destroyed their decades of work—as part of the chief rabbinate!—was comprised only of Haredim, was a sign that the Haredim were determined to annul not just the conversions, but also the foothold of the religious Zionists in the Chief Rabbinate.

In the spring of 2012, Israel’s Supreme Court re-affirmed the validity of the thousands of conversions disqualified retroactively by the Rabbinical Court in 2008, but stopped short of saying the rabbinical courts did not have the authority to annul conversions.

Still, the justices did not spare the rabbinical court their criticism. Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch wrote in the verdict:

“The Rabbinical Court of Appeals rode roughshod over basic procedural rules and the principles of natural justice. It demonstrated contempt for the special conversion courts, and above all, it hurt and did a shocking injustice to the petitioners and their children.”

Maariv spoke to Rabbi Sherman who confirmed the story about the condition for Rabbi Lau’s election. According to rabbi Sherman, Rabbi Lau met with Rabbi Yosef Efrati, a confidant of the late Rabbi Elyashiv, leader of the Lithuanian Haredim.

“Rabbi Lau told Rabbi Efrati that on all matters regarding conversions he would come to talk to me and consult in me before reaching a decision, because I have been involved in these issues as a confidant of Rabbi Elyashiv, and I am familiar with his rulings on these matters.”

And so the circle is complete: the most fundamental driving force behind the candidacy of Rabbi David Stav, the celebrated chairman of the Tzohar organization, dedicated to making life under halacha more palatable for secular Israelis, was the brutal treatment of thousands of converts by Rabbi Sherman and his co-justices. Now it is clear that not only did the Haredi politicians manage to subvert the attempts to ease their hold on religious life in the country, but that Religious Zionism has lost the most crucial battle of that campaign. The forces that gave us the disqualification of thousands of Jewish lives are back at the helm, stronger and smarter.

Rav Ovadia Calls Tzohar Rav Stav ‘Evil’; Tzohar Replies: Repent

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Revered Sephardi Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a spiritual head of the Shas party and a former Chief Rabbi, castigated Chief Rabbinate candidate Rabbi David Stav in unprecedented terms Saturday night, calling him “evil” and a “danger to Judaism.”

The Tzohar rabbinical group responded by calling on Rav Ovadia, who by all accounts is one of the most brilliant Torah sages today, to “repent” and “ask for forgiveness.”

The epithets  by Rav Ovadia may boomerang and give Rabbi Stav sympathy support that could make him Israel’s next Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi.

They also give anti-religious Jews, both inside Israel and in the Diaspora, plenty of ammunition to fire back in their campaign against leaving authority for Israel’s religious affairs in the hands of orthodox Jews, Haredi or not. One can hear the refrain already, “And you call these people spiritual leaders?”

Rabbi Benny Lau, a national religious rabbi and the nephew of former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, told Voice of Israel public radio that despite Rabbi Ovadia’s constant antagonistic comments in  his weekly Saturday night sermons, he once realized the greatness of the man when he spoke  with him in person.

But Saturday night’ wild attack on Rabbi Stav left Rabbi Lau without any explanation for his behavior.

Rav Ovadia’s weekly speeches are often geared for his Sephardi audience, many of whom see themselves as having been discriminated against for decades under the domineering thumb of Ashkenazi rabbis for years.

Even taking that into account, Rabbi Lau’s inability to explain Rabbi Ovadia’s venom points in one direction: Aryeh Deri, the Rav’s favorite political leader and who rules the Shas political party.

Deri has been trying to torpedo a bill that would allow Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar to seek a second term. The reasoning is that since he is Haredi, his selection would create more pressure to accept a non-Haredi Ashkenazi rabbi.

Deri, a crackerjack if not ruthless politician, simply had to turn to his trusted rabbi, Rav Ovadia, to help make sure Rabbi Amar will not be selected and thereby prevent the election of Rabbi Stav.

It is open to question how much Deri and other aides close to Rav Ovadia have sheltered him from reality and have fed him the news they want him to read.

Regardless of who is to blame, when a  rabbi, especially one as distinguished as Rav Ovadia, states that appointing another rabbi to the Chief Rabbinate is like bringing idolatry in the Holy Temple, it only takes a look at the calendar to realize how deep and slimy the pit into which the campaign for Chief Rabbi has fallen.

Next week, Jews being the tradition “three weeks of mourning” that concludes with Tisha B’Av, marking the destruction of the First and Second Temples.

The Second Temple is said to have fallen because of “loshon haRa,” literally the “evil tongue” by which Jews slander other Jews.

The Tzohar rabbinical organization accused Rav Ovadia of doing just that and accused Rav Ovadia of incitement.

When respected rabbis feel the need to call on a rabbi as revered as Rav Ovadia to “repent,” it is clear something is not kosher.

Rabbi Stav has conducted an unprecedented self-promotional campaign to become Chief Rabbi, but it can easily be argued there is no other way to change the outward face inward soul of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel that has managed to distance secular Jews instead of drawing them closer to Judaism.

In a pitiful understatement, aides to Rabbi Amar have charged that political elements are sowing the seeds of hatred between Torah sages.

The group of Tzohar Rabbis protested what they called the incitement of Rabbi Yosef against “another great rabbi in Israel whose entire life has been dedicated to love of the Torah by the People of Israel.. [His comments] prove the need for an urgent change in the Rabbinate of Israel.”

Shas officials insisted on the last word, which gets worse every time they speak. They  said it is “not respectful to respond to words of a heretic by people who call themselves rabbis but are worse than non-Jews.”

One Shas source, compared Rabbi Stav with Korach, who challenged  Moses’ authority and whose followers died when the ground opened up and buried them alive. ” When Rav Ovadia says he [Rabbi Stav]is evil, there is no need to explain,” said the source. Now , it is clear that all of them [Tzohar rabbis] are evil.”

Rabbi Lau to Obama: God Sent You to White House; Send Pollard Home

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Former Israeli Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau wrote President Barack Obama  that God, via the American people, “appointed you…President of the United States,”  and that as a defender of freedom, he should release Jonathan Pollard from prison more than 28 years.

Rabbi Lau quoted from chapter 14 in the First Book of Samuel, which refers to King Saul’s son Jonathan with an impassioned outcry, “Shall Jonathan die?” The rabbi says he feels the same please from his heart for Jonathan Pollard.

Rabbi Lau reminded the President that Pollard’s life term in prison for passing on classified documents for Israel was unduly harsh and “unprecedented.”

Bibi’s Wishful Thinking – A Doppelganger Coalition

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Trendy Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on his Facebook page an image of himself as Mariano Idelman, a satirist on the popular Eretz Nehederet (Wonderful Land) program and undoubtedly more popular than any Israeli politician.

Doppelganger week is Facebook’s three-year old annual gimmick that lets people find a celebrity whom they think is a look-alike.

The timing of Doppelganger week with the opening of the 19th Knesset Tuesday opens up tremendous virtual opportunities for a dream government.

Yair Lapid, chairman of the new secular-oriented Future (Yesh Atid) party, could try pairing up with Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former Chief Rabbi and the post popular person to have filled that role in decades.

Lapid and Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Jewish Home (Habayit Hayehudi) party, hold the keys to the coalition government that Netanyahu is trying to form. If Bennett, a champion of a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, would Doppelganger with President Barack Obama, Netanyahu would have it made.

Obama would get along with Israel, assuming he gets along with himself.

Lapid would learn a bit of Torah.

And Netanyahu would be Israel’s most popular comedian, which some critics say he already is.

Rabbi Lau: I Didn’t See Such German Sensitivity to Jewish Blood During the Holocaust

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Rabbi Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and Holocaust Survivor, attacked the Germans today with harsh words. Rabbi Lau said, “We don’t need their permission to live as Jews,” and added that, “I didn’t see such German sensitivity to Jewish blood during the Shoah.”

“It’s amazing, German spokesmen are sensitive to the cries of a baby and a drop of spilled blood like I did not see in my childhood. Then, Jewish children’s blood was worthless and trampled on by the boots of the Gestapo, while tens of millions of Germans collaberated or stood by and watched.”

Rabbi Lau continued to say that Jews don’t have anything to look for in Germany, but that we must fight this anti-Semitic law.

Rabbi Lau also attacked the idea, proposed by Rabbi Metzger, that German doctors would teach or certify Jewish Mohels on how to perform Brit Mila, he added that Rabbi David Goldberg, who was just arrested, has performed over 3000 successful circumcisions.

Jewish Culture Festival In Krakow

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

   The 17th Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow just concluded and has lived up to the promise of being one of the most exciting Jewish festivals around the globe.


 


         This year there were a few new stars taking center stage, most notably the famous Jewish singer/actor, Theodore Bikel. 


 


         Chazan Benzion Miller gave a rousing performance in the town of Bobowa, home of the Bobover Chassidim.


 


         On Shabbat the kosher Eden Hotel, in the heart of Krakow’s Jewish Quarter, played host to more than 50 people, with delicious traditional food, like gefilte fish and cholent. The hotel was also host to a post-festival banquet that lasted till 3 o’clock in the morning.


 


         The most famous feature of the festival was the music, but there were also many classes in Jewish subjects. There was kosher cooking, Jewish song/dance, paper cutting, art motifs, Hebrew/Yiddish and many other topics.


 


          Festival Director, Janusz Makuch, deserves a Yashar Koach for the monumental job he did in transforming the streets of Krakow into a scene of Jewish pride and culture.


 


    


Rabbi Michael Schudrich and Rabbi Gluck making Havdalah for thousands at The Festival on live Polish TV.


 


 


 


Chazan Benzion Miller performing during the final concert in front of the Old Synagogue in Krakow.


 


  


 


Theodore Bikel on stage at the festival.


 


 


  



Janusz Makuch, backstage, at the festival.


 


 


 



Some of the 20,000 people in front of the festival stage.


 


 


  



Children learning to incorporate Jewish designs in their artwork.


 


 


Foundation Stone Set For Museum of Jewish History In Poland


 



         It has been almost 15 years since the conception of the idea for a museum of 1,000 years of Jewish history in Poland, but the dream took a great jump forward last week, with a gathering of museum supporters from around the world.


 


         Representing Poland, the Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, called for a reconciliation between Jews and Poles, suggesting the museum be used as a catalyst in forging new ties.


 


         David Peleg, the Israeli Ambassador to Poland, reads a letter from Israel President-Elect Shimon Perez, a long time friend and honorary officer of the project.


 


         Rabbi Lau of Tel Aviv, a Holocaust survivor, born in Poland, spoke passionately and eloquently of how the museum will be a place where Jews and Poles will have the opportunity to learn that the history of the Jews in Poland was more then just the five years of the Shoah. The Jews were an integral part of Polish society, involved in the arts, economics, and even politics.


 


 


 


 


Rabbi Michael Schudrich of Poland with Rabbi Lau of Israel at the Foundation Stone Ceremony.


 


 


 



Dignitaries line up to sign Scroll of Honor. Included in the group are Marion Turski, President Lech Kacynski, Jerzy Halbersztadt, Sigmund Rolat and Tad Taube.


 


 


 



President Lech Kacynski and Jerzy Halbersztadt on the way to bury the Scroll of Honor in the foundation.


 


 


 





 


Some of the hundreds of people that braved the pouring rain to attend the Placing of the Foundation Stone.


 


 


 


 


Shmuel Ben Eliezer signing the Scroll of Honor.


 


 


 


 


Sigmund Rolat of N.Y. receiving a certificate in recognition of his strong support of the Museum.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/jewish-culture-festival-in-krakow/2007/07/04/

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