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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42 comments to The Neturei Karta Cancer

  • mb

    By not sharing any of their philosophies.
    Such as not perpetuaing any of their post facto hatreds. Or how about not publicly refusing to pray for the welfare of the IDF. Or refusing to participate in the silence for the fallen soldiers. Or ignoring Yom Ha Shoa. Plus many examples. Then people will see you are really distancing yourselves from them. Right now, I don’t believe you.
    And I’m not alone.

  • mk

    mb rings true. Rabbi Menken protests too much. Charedim, with the exception of a few chardal [charedi dati leumi] in Israel are deservedly painted with the neturei karta colors as long as they fail to appreciate the wondrous gift Hashem has given us in the State of Israel- the ingathering of exiles, the growth of Torah, the untold deliverance of Jewish lives. Maybe its time for Rav Elyashiv Shlita or Rabbi Menken or even Jonathan Rosenblum to call for regular public prayers for the IDF. the protests from the charedi world are against the iran lovers, but the edah charedit still publicly protest the “tragic” establishment of the state and the rest of the charedim are silent. shtka k’hodaa.moshe

  • Bob Miller

    I wonder if the above commenters MB and MK would agree that we need to pray for a new management team for the State. And, if not, why not?

  • Ori Pomerantz

    MB and MK, may I point out that Rabbi Yaakov Menken is a resident of Baltimore, and that he was reacting to an article in the Baltimore Jewish Times?

    Israeli Charedim are Israeli citizens. Other Israelis naturally expect a measure of loyalty to the state where they live, and lacking that tar all anti-zionist Charedim in the same brush. However, that situation is unique to Israel.

    US Charedim are citizens of the US. They do not owe the state of Israel loyalty. There is no reason for other US citizens to be upset at Jews for being anti-zionist (not that all Charedim are), and to lump them all together.

    Rabbi Yaakov Menken, I have two answers to your question:

    1. More personal contact. A hundred press releases won’t have the effect of the editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times going to his/her Charedi buddy or staff member, whom s/he has known for years, and asking about the Charedi opinion on Neturei Karta. Anything coming from official spokespersons is automatically suspect of being crafted to suit the audience, rather than the unvarnished truth.

    2. Failing personal contact, informing the media when the kind of juicy story they like happens. Not long after the Tehran conference, there was an article in Maariv, written by an Israeli ex-pat in London, about the combined Israeli-Charedi protests in front of the house of one of the Neturei Katra participants. The author made sure to mention the Charedim were a lot less restrained than the Israelis, that the local burial society refunded the participant’s deposit because they don’t want him in their cemetery, etc.

    I am not saying you should ban those Neturei Karta from your synagogues, houses of study, neighbourhoods, and cemeteries (that’s not my decision to make, as an outsider). But if you do do that, especially if there is a juicy violent protest story, remember that that’s exactly what the media loves to report. You might as well get the PR benefits.

  • Nachum

    “Neturei Karta, due to its abandonment of the guidance of Chochmei Yisrael [Torah Sages], cannot be termed a “charedi” group at all?”

    I am very troubled by that line. Is *that* the worst sin of the Neturei Karta?

  • easterner

    this is a dilemma. if one wanted to potray haredi jews as gay bashers or homophobes, the answer would be that this is the halacha— pretty, PC or not: it is NOT up to choice.
    the Zionism issue is the same– it is deemed trayf accross the haredi spectrum-as inviolable daas tora. the only difference is how vigorously to announce its trayf status, and if you are allowed to have financial dealings with this non-kosher entity. the haredi community CAN NOT change this policy , anymore than they can allow hillul shabbos, gay marriage, or public nudity….

  • Chemo for Karta…

    R. Yaakov Menken wants to know what haredim can do to dissassociate themselves from Neturei Karta. My thoughts: the association comes from the fact that both groups openly embrace fundamentalist doctrines. This is what motivates the outspoken, fundamen…

  • YM

    Why bother worrying about it? If someone looks into the issue, they will see clearly the difference between communities which follow the leaders of their generation and devote themselves to understanding emes and those who worship their own opinions.

  • YM

    Not following the guidance of the Chochemi Yisroel is something that the Neturei Karta and Religious Zionists share.

  • Ploney

    I attended a well known American “black hat” Yeshiva in Jerusalem, where some of the Rebbeim openly said that NK was a legitimate group, just different from ours, in an “eilu v’eilu” kind of way. As opposed to YU for example, which is completely illegitimate. The sad fact is that some of them were uninformed about NK’s treacherous activities, and some of them were completely aware of what NK does and justified it.

    So some chareidim outside of NK hold of them as a legitimate thing, regardless of well-known political petitions signed by everyone under the sun.

    Re easterners comments, I think that is simply incorrect. Various Chareidi groups have different opinions re the “treif” status of Zionism; thus, hardline anti-Zionists like Satmar give Agudaniks no more respect than Agudaniks give to Mizrachim.

  • Yaakov Menken

    Thank you all for your comments, even and especially those with whom I vehemently disagree.

    mb and MK repeat some of the old canards about charedim, and in so doing take the position that all anti-globalization and anti-abortion protesters should be tossed in jail because a tiny fraction of them are violent. This, at least, is a direct parallel to what they have to say about charedim vs. the Neturei Karta. Somehow (and this replies to “easterner” as well), there appears to be some small difference between the belief that the creation of the modern state 50 years ago was a mistake on the one hand, with working with the murderers of Jews to encourage genocide, on the other.

    During the Lebanon War, those in exceptional danger needed additional prayers, but I submit as obvious that a Jewish barber in Kiryat Shemonah needed our prayers far more urgently than did an enlisted IDF paper-pusher in Arad. And, at that time, an effort was launched with the blessing of Rebbe Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a, to pray on behalf of soldiers and anyone else in harm’s way.

    Meanwhile, it was Reform youth who were calling upon their movement to “condemn the IDF’s killing of unarmed Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, as well as its premeditated targeting of civilian infrastructure, which has put additional lives at risk and hampered relief efforts.” Not to mention that great Israeli leaders such as Herzl and Ben-Gurion down to Yossi Sarid have similarly refused to pray for the welfare of the IDF (or anything else, for that matter), and have never been condemned for this failure.

    As for “ignoring” Yom HaShoa, it is conceded by the most secular of Holocaust scholars that the majority of the Six Million were traditional, Orthodox Jews. Traditionally we tie tragedies to the Destruction of the First and Second Temple, and indeed additional Kinos for the Ninth of Av have been composed.

    The State of Israel, on the other hand, created “Yom HaShoah veHaGevurah” in order to honor the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and segue neatly into Israel Independence Day. The only problem is that this commemoration insults all those martyrs who did not rise with guns in their hands (not that Allied POWs did, either). Complaining that the descendants of the Six Million themselves do not observe Yom HaShoa is a non-sequitur. One wonders, however, where most of world Jewry is to be found on the Ninth of Av, and what *could* have been done for unity had the State of Israel encouraged the commemoration of all tragedies in our history, rather than misappropriating the memory of the Six Million for its own purposes.

    To answer Nochum’s question, no, it is not the Neturei Karta’s worst sin at all. It is, however, proof positive that its philosophy cannot be considered “charedi,” which is the point that needs to be made. Ploney’s comments are well-taken, and it is sincerely hoped that the recent declarations of Gedolei Torah on all sides will have the necessary impact.

    Last year, British charities had to disclose their activities in greater detail for the first time, and it was revealed that the Neturei Karta was a major beneficiary of one of the main charedi charities. Thankfully, the ensuing firestorm was sufficient to ensure that that error won’t soon be repeated.

  • l.Oberstein

    Interesting exchange. I Aant to point out that the editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times is a shomer shabbos who learns with Rabbi Seidemann at Ner Israel every week. He didn’t start out that way, he became a Baal Teshuva because the frum people he interviewed made an excellent impression on him and Rabbi Porter of Etz Chaim was mekarev him. So, I wouldn’t apply stereotypes from elsewhere to Baltimore,our frum community has a lot to be proud of.

  • Jewish Observer

    “the editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times is a shomer shabbos who learns with Rabbi Seidemann at Ner Israel every week”

    – is Rabbi Seidemann charedi?

  • Ori Pomerantz

    LOberstein, thank you. Having never been to Baltimore, let alone the Jewish community there, I did write based on general heuristics (a.k.a. stereotypes). That is standard for me – I’d rather make loud mistakes, be corrected and thought ignorant than make silent mistakes, be thought knowledgable, and stay ignorant.

  • Nachum Lamm

    R’ Menkin:

    First: Nachum, please.

    Second: I understood your point about not labelling them “charedi.” Of course, not following da’as Torah clearly puts them in that category. But that’s not my point: Shouldn’t the fact that they aren’t even “Orthodox” or even “Jewish” be stressed even more? Is your sole concern here that Charedim are being smeared, or that Torah is? Are the two identical in your eyes?

    Third: “…it was revealed that the Neturei Karta was a major beneficiary of one of the main charedi charities.” Doesn’t this answer your question somewhat?

  • Yaakov Menken

    Rabbi O, the editor who wrote this piece isn’t Phil, but Neil, who isn’t Orthodox at all. JO, R’ Seidemann is indeed charedi and has been confused with myself on more than one occasion (although to me he looks far more distinguished, and properly so :) ).

    Nachum, no one is writing articles about the Neturei Karta called “Orthodox Hang-ups” much less “Jewish hang-ups.” And the fact that Neturei Karta was given a lot of money by a Jewish group IS cause for embarrassment, yes. It explains why much effort must be expended even in our own community to be sure people know which end is up.

  • Nachum Lamm

    Bob Miller:

    Yes. Nu?

    R’ Menkin:

    I’m convinced that the points made by the commenters about Zionism did not call for the point-by-point responses you made. However, I can’t let them stand unchallenged:

    1. You seem to sum up your point of view as “the belief that the creation of the modern state 50 years ago was a mistake”. Let’s concede the point for a moment (although I must ask what the alternative would have been- surrender to five Arab armies?): So what? So it was a mistake fifty (almost sixty, nu) years ago. How does that affect, in any way, how you treat the State today?

    2. You roll out the old hackneyed and disingenous line that “Herzl and Ben-Gurion down to Yossi Sarid” didn’t say the tefillah for Tzahal. Of course, this is a joke, and a tired and pointless one at that, but since you seem to present it as a serious answer to a serious question, I’ll respond seriously:

    a. There was no IDF in Herzl’s time.

    b. They didn’t keep Shabbos either. Was that OK? Of course, those of us who raise this criticism of charedim would just as much wish that they’d said it as well- I’d be more than happy if they’d have said Krias Shema twice a day. That doesn’t make the criticism any less valid.

    c. We have already have tefillot for the “barber in Kiryat Shemonah.” “Acheinu…” for example. If you say that the IDF soldier going into battle in Lebanon is exactly the same, you’re wearing blinders. As to the “paper pusher”, have you ever actually *read* the tefillah? It says “HaOmdim Al Mishmar Artzeinu…” In fact: Can you point to one word in the tefillah that offends your hashkafa, apart from the fact that whoever wrote it clearly didn’t share yours? (To a certain degree, I can ask the same of the tefillah for the Medina, but we can let that slide.) Because I have to warn you: Quite a few of the tefillos you say were probably written by people (members of Chazal) who didn’t share your, or any of our, hashkafos.

    3. Speaking of hashkafa, one could ask the same about Yom HaShoah. (As a side point, most POW movies are about escapes; I don’t think that insults other POWs any. Same for movies about battles won vs. lost.) No one’s asking for full-blown commemerations from Charedim. But how about respect- standing still during a siren? Would it destroy “Torah Judaism?” And if you offer any rationalizations for *that* (and even if not, the fact remains that many don’t), I think you’ve, again, answered your question, as, indeed, most of your points do.

  • hp

    “Is your sole concern here that Charedim are being smeared, or that Torah is? Are the two identical in your eyes?”

    Assuming that “Charedim” denotes Torah observant Jews (such as observant, orthodox, or frum), the two are inextricably bound. A shadow on Torah-observant Jewry certainly is associated with Torah, unlike simply being “Jewish”.

  • zalman

    I suggest that you ask some of the kids in your neighborhood whether the NK affair is really such a big deal. Let us know how you do.

    (I had such a conversation at Shabbos lunch with a relative — with disappointing results.)

  • easterner

    in my biased opinion, YM must beg mechila of the entire RZ community, as well as their Gdolei torah [ if he denies they are gdolim he may have to ask mechila for that as well] for the slur that the RZ community doesnt follow ‘chachmei yisrael’. this canard , that the hareidi/aguda world owns the Trademark ,certified in Heaven, of Daas Tora and The Truth–is just that a boldface lie. No edah is bound by the strictures of another, provided they have Daas Tora. a chassid following Litvish daas tora is incongrous and not mandatory.; and the same for any 2 groups of shomrei tora one chooses. and please, if you want to hurl that canard , that the MO/YU/OU/RCA etc world are not shomrei tora umitzvos , and lack daas tora—please state it openly -so the 2 worlds can officially be separated, and so the haredi world will $eek funding el$ewhere….

  • Akiva

    ploney wrote: I attended a well known American “black hat” Yeshiva in Jerusalem, where some of the Rebbeim openly said that NK was a legitimate group, just different from ours,etc…
    I don’t believe there’s any yeshiva like that in Yerushalayim. I think you’re confusing, or maybe somebody else did, the original israel NK with these guys

  • Dati Leumi

    Nope Akiva. My daughter also went to a BY sem in JM and was told pretty much the same thing.

    A good chunk of the RW world turned a blind eye, at best, to NK as long as they were “only” working against the state of Israel, no matter who vile their actions were then. They only recently crossed the line in the eyes the RW world when they got into bed with holocaust deniers.

  • Dati Leumi

    From Bob Miller:

    “I wonder if the above commenters MB and MK would agree that we need to pray for a new management team for the State.”

    That is essentially what the tefillah for the medina is, i.e. by saying Hashem should inspire her leaders, the clear implication is that if they aren’t so inspired whe should have leaders who are.

  • Baruch C. Cohen, Esq.

    We’ve seen them meet, hug, embrace, and kiss the enemies of Israel (Ahmadinejad, Arafat, Farakhan, etc).
    We’ve seen their acts of moral turpitude and we looked the other way and shook our heads in disgust.
    We’ve seen them publicly burn Israeli Flags at our demonstrations.
    We’ve labeled them ‘crazy’ and we discounted them because we said they were a fringe group.
    We were wrong. Dead wrong.

    Cherems are not enough. They are merely good starts.
    Public statements condemning them are not enough. They are merely step one.
    Neturei Karta must be put out of business – legally.

    The time has come to take drastic legal measures to respond to the Naturei Karta chillul hashem. I have come up with a few ideas and welcome your thoughts.

    1. For each member of NK: get their picture, and complete contact information (name, address, telephone) for public dissemination. Create a “wanted” poster of their identities. People must know who they are and where they live. We can then pressure their respective communities but only if we know who they are. We must know exactly what Chassidic denomination they belong to. If they dare enter our Shuls, we will throw them out. When they come to our communities to speak we will find out where they are staying and who their hosts are and will protest accordingly. When they eat at our Kosher restaurants we will inform the proprietors that we will boycott their establishments unless the NK patrons are asked to leave. We will pressure their Yeshivas to kick their children out of their schools. We will discourage Shidduchim with their families. We will not attend their Simchas and we will tell them why. Again, we must know who they are. Further, we must learn who supports them financially. They are getting money from somewhere. Who is funding them. Whoever that is, we will boycott them.

    2. Challenge their IRS tax exempt status. Someone is funding their travel and speaking engagements to anti-Israel and hostile arab groups, and is getting the benefits of a charitable deduction in the process. We need to alert the IRS of NK’s terrorist affiliations jeopardize their tax exempt status. This will chill charitable donations to their cause. Let’s bankrupt them and put them out of business. Someone is paying NK money. Every week they are flying all across the globe, staying at hotels, etc. Who is funding them? Cut them off at the source.

    3. Lobby our political leaders to have them demand that the United States State Department brand the NK organization (and its members) as a terrorist organization or as a supporter of terrorism and render it illegal (like the State Department did to JDL/KACH). An aggressive politician who is eager to make a name for himself can open Congressional inquiries into the activities of NK and challenge their tax-exempt status. NK’s records could be subpoenaed. Most importantly, the Israeli government must brand them illegal like it did to JDL/KACH.

    4. Publish all of the Cherems that are out against NK. The Chief Rabbi of Israel has called for a new Cherem against NK.

    5. Encourage our Rabbonim and Jewish leaders to stop disregarding them as insignificant. Acknowledge that they are dangerous. Discredit them.

    6. Collect pictures of them posing with arab leaders and place them on one screen for everyone to see their atrocious bedfellows: ie., Arafat, Ahmadinejad, Farakhan (below), and their horrific protest placards. The more pictures, the more horrific the outrage.

    7. Prosecute NK in the International Criminal Courts. Follow my logic here: If Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s stated objective of “wiping Israel off the map” (his consistent denial of the Holocaust, and his country’s pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile capacity) violates the 1948 U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, then wouldn’t NK be guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy (Iran’s Ahmadinejad)? I’m not an expert in this area of law, but what about treason (the crime of disloyalty to one’s nation or state. A person who betrays the nation of their citizenship and/or reneges on an oath of loyalty and in some way willfully cooperates with an enemy, is considered to be a traitor. Oran’s Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as: “…[a]… citizen’s actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation].” In many nations, it is also often considered treason to attempt or conspire to overthrow the government, even if no foreign country is aided or involved by such an endeavor)?

    8. If the NK members live in Israel, and they have publicly supported an enemy of the State of Israel, would that not make them “traitors” and they should be tried as such by the Israeli government? Again, Israeli Knesset members have the right to conduct inquiries into the NK as enemies of the state. How do we know that they are not undermining our security by providing information to Arabs?

    9. Call into radio and TV shows that present NK and express your rage. Discredit them wherever they appear. Because of this email (an earlier version), I was invited to comment (not debate) NK on Radio Spain http://www.rem.fm, and as http://www.theyeshivaworld.com blog put it: I ripped them to shreds. Listen to the entire interview at: Click here: YESHIVA WORLD NEWS » Blog Archive » Weiss gets ripped to shreds in radio interview#comments#comments#comments#comm . Further, there will be a protest at NK’s office in Monsey, NY. Please check out: Click here: “Operation Screwball” In Monsey, exposing the evil in our own backyards.

    10. I am eager to take them on in any media interview. I have a very comprehensive file on them and know how to effectively discredit them. If you know in advance that NK will be appearing on a show, let the host know that I am able to debate them and that I’m always ready to do so. Forward the radio/TV host this email.

    Baruch C. Cohen, Esq.
    Law Office of Baruch C. Cohen, APLC
    4929 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 940
    Los Angeles, CA 90010
    Telephone (323) 937-4501
    Facsimile (323) 937-4503
    e-mail: azqbng@aol.com

  • mb

    R.Menken,

    You asked for ideas on how to disassociate from NK. I responded with a few very simmple ones You then accuse me repeating canards, and then youenter into a whole slew of them yourself! What you said about RZs is inexcusable.

    I did not say anybody should pray for the IDF. My comment was about publicly announcing a refusal to pray for the IDF, a la R.Moshe Shternbuch, a large difference.
    You made a comment about Herzl, Ben Gurion, Yossi Sarid not praying for anything. How do you know?
    FYI, a visit to Ben Gurion’s house in Tel Aviv might surprise you. Not only is there a full set of Shas, he studied it regularly. And he also had a Chumash class weekly!
    Herzl, although raised oblivious to Torah Judaism, made a remarkable statement in 1897 that” there could be no return to Zion without a return to Judaism”. I Also suggest you read his majestic auto-biographical essay, The Menorah.
    As for the Cheredim/ Agudah donating to NK in England, I believe it was I who made you aware of this. They only stopped it when an important group broke away, after warning about a previous donation.
    I have more to say.

  • Nachum Lamm

    hp wrote:

    “Assuming that “Charedim” denotes Torah observant Jews (such as observant, orthodox, or frum), the two are inextricably bound.”

    You are either deliberately ignoring the standard definition of “Charedi” or you are slandering the huge numbers of non-Charedi Jews who are fully “observant, orthodox, or frum”.

    “A shadow on Torah-observant Jewry certainly is associated with Torah, unlike simply being “Jewish”.”

    I’m afraid I don’t know what this means.

    Sometimes I wonder if those who write things like this post or this comment have ever come into contact with the very real pain of those who, e.g., are fully frum and are told they aren’t. Or who have kids in the IDF and are told they aren’t worth a tefillah. Or who are Holocaust survivors and see people ignoring commemerations with hairsplitting answers- or who saw a huge Nechama three years after the war and are told it means nothing. I’ve met examples of all four, and trust me, the pain is real.

  • Boruch

    “As for “ignoring” Yom HaShoa, it is conceded by the most secular of Holocaust scholars that the majority of the Six Million were traditional, Orthodox Jews. Traditionally we tie tragedies to the Destruction of the First and Second Temple, and indeed additional Kinos for the Ninth of Av have been composed.”

    Whenever I read of the “tradition” that subsumes all our tragedies, including the Shoah, under the umbrella of Tisha B’Av, I wonder how Chazal found license to appropriate, not one day or one week, but seven weeks of quasi aveilus for the tragedy that the weeks of sefirah have come to repesent. Surely another kinnah for R. Akiva’s talmidim would have sufficed if the few additional kinnos for the six million do.

    I suspect the Chareidi discomfiture regarding a commemorative Yom HaShoah has much less to do with the all encomapassing Tisha B’Av and more to do with those who established it.

  • hp

    Nachum,

    “Assuming that “Charedim” denotes Torah observant Jews (such as observant, orthodox, or frum), the two are inextricably bound.”

    “You are either deliberately ignoring the standard definition of “Charedi” or you are slandering the huge numbers of non-Charedi Jews who are fully “observant, orthodox, or frum”.

    Perhaps you and I have different definitions. I’ve have never, except in blogs (such as this one), heard or used the word Charedi in reference to American Orthodox Jews. I’ve lived in a number of large Orthodox Jewish communities, and this term simply doesn’t exist except in reference to one type of Orthodox Jew in EY. We ask if that school in NY is frum, if the Shul we may wish to visit during a convention weekend is Orthodox, etc. Never do you hear someone inquire: How Charedi is that potential shidduch from Five Towns that you are suggesting.

    If R’ Menken uses the term “Charedi” for Orthodox Jews in the U.S., that’s none of my business, but it certainly doesn’t have the same connotations here as it does in EY.

    In my comment, I was the one who equated “Charedi” with “observant, orthodox, frum”- this is a very inclusive category. I’m not sure why you have strong feelings regarding this; perhaps a closer reading would provide you with greater clarity (and a better appreciation of dan l’kaf zechut).

    “A shadow on Torah-observant Jewry certainly is associated with Torah, unlike simply being “Jewish”.”

    “I’m afraid I don’t know what this means.”

    A second reading would be helpful here as well.

  • mk

    R Menken- your words that seem to equate charedi with believing the establishment of the state 50 yrs ago was a mistake. i was hoping you or another charedi reponder would protest that linkage. you truly do not have hakoras hatov to Hashem for His enormous gift to us. where would we be without that gift? Hashem is mamlich malachim and to you it is a “mistake”. When i visited russia in 1978 i was distressed to find jews praying sincerely for the victory of the ussr. now i have to worry that sincere jews are praying for a correction of Hashem’s mistake. woe is we. moshe

  • Dati Leumi

    R. Menken

    “it is conceded by the most secular of Holocaust scholars that the majority of the Six Million were traditional, Orthodox Jews.”

    It is also quite likely that, had the “chareidi” elite in Europe not been so stubbornly anti-Zionist, there would have been fewer “traditional, orthodox” korbanot. And of course the state that then formed would have been much more in line with the religious ideals that so many of today’s chareidim, both here and in the diaspora, bellyache that it’s not.

  • la costa

    the ‘trinity’ of the difference between haredi and MO/DL jewry– namely, Zion, Culture, and Women [ie anything related to the State, anything related to the acceptance of non-tora culture, anything related to women and their role,how open etc]– remains still a 3rd rail of O judaism: touch on these issues and you will either be electrocuted, shocked, or electrified. the positions are both so varied AND so polarizing in the emotional response, that i dont see any possible pre-messianic rapprochment [apart from the Modern community realizing their total error and unconditionally surrender to the Aguda banner/lifestyle….]

  • Baruch Horowitz

    ” I’ve have never, except in blogs (such as this one), heard or used the word Charedi in reference to American Orthodox Jews.”

    Agudath Israel uses the term “charedi” when speaking to the press concerning it’s Yeshiva World/Right-Wing Orthodox American constituency, and non-charedi writers have been using the term in the same way at least since the early 1990’s. In Israel, the term emphasizes some amount of separation from secular society, but in America, I think, it refers to someone who follows Daas Torah of charedi gedolim. Someone who doesn’t follow the wedding takanos(guidelines), for example, would not be acting according charedi philosophy, even if he calls himself “hemishe” or “litvish”. OTOH, a person pursuing a PHD in engineering can be considered charedi in the U.S.( and even in Israel under some conditions), if he or she follows all other charedi societal norms.

    Bloggers have added to the confusion by adding more labels referring to different subgroups of Orthodox Judaism such as : “right-wing charedi, left-wing charedi, right-wing MO, and left-wing MO”. I have heard the term “engaged-yeshivish” as well. The opposite extreme to all of this is Chananya Weissman’s article in this past November’s Jewish Press(“Tearing off Labels”) of avoiding all labels when referring to people, even basic ones such as “Orthodox”.

    Personally, I think the term “Torah-Jew” has a more pleasant ring to it, although it doesn’t adequately describe significant differences among Orthodoxy. This term would include many in both Modern Orthodoxy and the Yeshivah world who are Shomrei Torah Umitzvos, even though they have different views regarding the extent of Daas Torah(or whatever other term one wants to use to describe some form of rabbinic authority).

  • YM

    If any RZ or MO Jews took offence at my words I apologise for offending you and offer this explanation.

    Orthodox Jews fall out on a spectrum, and kol ha’kavod to all Jews who keep any level of mitzvoth observance. However, it is a fact that the vast majority of RZ or MO people point to two gedolim: Ha Rav and The Rav. And both of them were daas yechidim – they didn’t follow the majority of their colleagues whose talmudic knowledge was roughly equal to theirs. The Satmar Rov was also a daas yachid. Everybody needs at least one rav, especially a gadol. Rav Aharon had Rav Moshe and Rav Yitzhok and Rav Shraga Feivel and Rav Ruderman and Rav Hutner, not to mention Rav Shach and the Chazon Ish, and this is just a partial list.
    No matter how much of a genius someone is, they need to be able to convince others of equal caliber that their ideas are correct.

    Otherwise, perhaps Rabbi Weiss and his Neuteri Karta colleagues can just say they follow their own counsel, their own “Gedolei Yisroel”. And if you can’t find a Rav to support your position, just start your own Yeshiva. And declare yourself a gadol, and there you are.

  • […] Many have written – mostly recently our own Yaakov Menken on Cross-Currents on Jan 11 – to the effect that it is unfair to associate Charedim with NK. While indeed unfortunate, this association in the public mind is, in my view, quite fair and deserved. […]

  • hp

    “Personally, I think the term “Torah-Jew” has a more pleasant ring to it, although it doesn’t adequately describe significant differences among Orthodoxy. This term would include many in both Modern Orthodoxy and the Yeshivah.”

    I agree. I usually use “Observant Jew” or “Torah-true Jew” when the need for a label comes up. And although Agudah and non-Orthodox writers employ the term “Charedi” in their writings, the term is not in use for most of us regular folk. I don’t hear it, and I don’t use it.

    I don’t have anything against the term. It’s simply not a label that regular Orthodox, even right wing people use to describe themselves. I worked in Williamsburgh many years ago, and the term wasn’t even used there. Perhaps things have changed, though.

  • Jewish Observer

    “JO, R’ Seidemann is indeed charedi ”

    – Now I need to ask Jonathan if he considers himself charedi. From my memory, he never attended any place more right wing than NIRC (having arrived there from KBY)

  • Baruch Horowitz

    “I usually use “Observant Jew” or “Torah-true Jew” when the need for a label comes up”

    Even the latter label may be misused, or may be subject to interpretation. I have seen newspapers being described as the “newspaper of Torah Jewry”, or a “Torah-true newspaper”. In such cases “Torah Jewry” and “Torah-true” are not synonymous with the term “shomer Torah u’mitzvos”.

    The term “fervently Orthodox” is also subjective; who is to say who is “fervent” in their observance and who is not? Are we better than Hashem who said: “ki haadam yireh laniyim v’ashem yireh lalevav”? Some people even use “non-yet observant”, instead of “non-observant”. But practically speaking, we need labels to describe sociological facts to ourselves and to outsiders; we just should remember they are imperfect descriptions.

  • hp

    Baruch,

    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.

  • Baruch Horowitz

    “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.

  • hp

    Baruch,

    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”.

  • Jewish Observer

    “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?

  • hp

    “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.