The Neturei Karta Cancer


This past week’s Baltimore Jewish Times sported the second editorial, just since December, on the Neturei Karta. Notably, the editors chose “Haredi Hang-Ups” as the title, although the article was not about charedim, but about the tiny Neturei Karta group. As Jonathan Rosenblum wrote last month, “we as a community have no choice but to make clear to the broader public that the entire spectrum of chareidi Jewry spits out this tiny sect, numbering little more than 25 tortured souls.” The BJT makes it clear that we have not yet succeeded.

Why call this an op-ed about “Haredi” Hang-Ups when it’s about the Neturei Karta? It is an unfortunate fact that 25 people are enough to tar a much larger group. Violent anti-globalization protesters are enough to provoke anti-riot police, and (further) diminish public opinion of the “anti-globalization” movement. A few crazed and violent bombers are, similarly, enough to tar the anti-abortion movement. So while there are many cases where the stereotypes of charedim are so outlandish as to reflect pre-existing media bias, this isn’t one of those times. Indeed, editor Neil Rubin was careful to point out that “these Haredim –– sometimes known as ‘ultra-Orthodox Jews’ –– are a minority within the Haredi community,” and that “Haredi groups such as Agudath Israel, the Satmar and Edah Charedis strongly condemned the Neturei Karta for even showing up at this den of anti-Semitic iniquity [the Holocaust Revisionism/Denial conference in Teheran].”

So we cannot cry bias, and claim that it is the media’s responsibility to divorce the Neturei Karta from charedi Judaism. It is not their responsibility, but ours. So the question then becomes, how do we make clear that Neturei Karta, due to its abandonment of the guidance of Chochmei Yisrael [Torah Sages], cannot be termed a “charedi” group at all?

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8 years 8 months ago

“how can you put Kew Gardens in the same category as Passaic, Lakewood and Flatbush?”

JO, it was actually a typo, as I meant Kew Garden Hills, but only because I have some (small) familiarity with the community, not to exclude Kew Gardens. I have no familiarity with Kew Gardens at all, so I would have no idea to which category it belongs.

Just using these communities to illustrate places which have a large and vibrant Orthodox presence and infrastructure, nothing more.

Jewish Observer
8 years 8 months ago

“little connection to Boro-Park, Monsey, Kew Gardens, Passaic, Lakewood, Flatbush”

how can you put Kew Gardens in the same category as Passaic, Lakewood and Flatbush?

8 years 8 months ago


I don’t think I’ve ever perseverated so much on semantics :)

I think we’re (mostly) on the same page. I think I’m going on a sabbatical from labels, and I’ll sign off as an imperfect, trying to be a good “Jew”.

Baruch Horowitz
8 years 8 months ago

“However, in regard to the term “Torah-true Jew”, the fact that certain media which cater to specific segments of Torah-true society describe themselves as “newspaper of Torah Jewry”, or a “Torah-true newspaper” is irrelevant to whether the term is a good or not.”

The term is indeed a basic and important one, but the fact that it’s used in a sectarian way by some of the media, may eventually dilute it’s effectiveness. Such terms should be left purely to define a Yahadut Hatorah– not the political party :)

When you start politicizing a sacred concept, you dilute it, to the opposite of one’s good intentions. Similarly, the ideas of chachmei hatorah and kavod hatorah are serious and important ones in chazal and in halacha. Yet the term “Gedolim”, outside the yeshiva/charedi world, is not thought to be that same, identical concept.

As you imply regarding the usage of the term “Torah-true”, one should use the term “Gedolim” as fairly as possible, so as not to dilute the meaning of the words Gedolie Torah. Perhaps one should explain to outsiders, that the term ” our Gedolim”, in it’s most narrowest sense, refers to a specific community’s Torah leaders. If you recognize that a community is a valid Torah community, then by definition, it has its own Gedolim, or leaders. Alternatively, one might define Gedolim as people great in Torah and yiras shomayim, as opposed to having a certain Mesorah on specific issues as a requirement for being a Gadol B’torah(eg., views on Zionism, secular studies).

I mentioned on a different thread that the American Yated recently carefully critiqued the practice of using Gedolie Torah in photo-ops for tzedokah purposes. Might the practice of printing and trading of Gedolim cards, also have led to a dilution of the concept? All of this began with the advent of photography and is “chadoshim m’karuv bau”. Perhaps one can substitute a different hobby, such as collecting Tanach cards, to sublimate the desire to collect and trade baseball cards and stamps.

8 years 8 months ago


I agree with your aversion to the term “fervently Orthodox”.

However, in regard to the term “Torah-true Jew”, the fact that certain media which cater to specific segments of Torah-true society describe themselves as “newspaper of Torah Jewry”, or a “Torah-true newspaper” is irrelevant to whether the term is a good or not.

“Fervent” is a very subjective, judgemental adjective that could arguably be used to describe many Jews from many Torah-true streams of Jewish life. Torah-true implies that we are true to Torah- accepting its Divinity, the Mitzvos therein, and our loyalty to these concepts.

In my interaction with members of Reform and particularly Conservative movements, they often assert their loyalty to Torah “as they understand and interpret it”; some genuinely feel the Torah as a central component of at least their temple life, albeit terribly mislead as to its contents. Hence, “Torah-true” is actually a declaration that we are people who identify as living by the Torah according to Mesorah. It is a meaningful term.

I first heard “Torah-true” used many years ago by some “out-of-town” friends, who had little connection to Boro-Park, Monsey, Kew Gardens, Passaic, Lakewood, Flatbush, etc life. They, as most of their friends, were staunch, proud, and observant Jews. A child nearby asked my friend, “Are you Chassidish? Litvish? What are you?”

Replied the individual, “We’re Torah-true Jews”. I thought the term perfect, and the child looked awed. She might not have understood the term, but my friend said it with such quiet confidence and pride in being “Torah-true”, that it sounded like something really special. It is.

Torah-true is a basic term, not sectarian. It means true to Torah. It has no connotations such as “fervently or ultra” (which make little sense), it is simply basic to our identity as Jews who try to keep the Torah in its entirety and accept the fundamentals of Judaism.