Negating the Past; Dishonoring the Present

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In general, I prefer not to write pieces in the form “see the difference between my son and the son of my father-in-law.” For one thing, what is sometimes known as Orthodox triumphalism seldom serves any purpose. A stance of superiority is rarely conducive to influencing the one whose behavior is being criticized or drawing him or her to our point of view. In addition, self-congratulation too often distracts us from the self-criticism that is necessary for our own spiritual growth.

Sometimes, however, the contrast provides important insight.

The egregious behavior of secular Israeli high schools students in Poland – long a source of embarrassment – has now reached such a crescendo as to threaten Polish-Israeli relations. The May 25 Jerusalem Post quoted the Polish ambassador to Israel, “[H]igh level relations are not in danger, but the image of Israel in Poland is.” And the Israeli ambassador to Poland went even further saying, “the relationship between Israel and Poland is in danger.”

The latest in a long-line of scandals involving the behavior of Israeli teenagers on visits to Poland was triggered by a report in the Polish paper Prezekroj accusing Israeli teens of tearing apart their hotel rooms, playing soccer in the hallways of their hotels in the middle of the night, engaging in the lowest imaginable behaviors, and of humiliating the flight attendants on Lot Airlines, the Polish national carrier. The Prezekroj article was, unfortunately, not the first such report to surface in recent years.

The most charitable explanation for the behavior of the Israeli teens is that they were undergoing some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder after the jarring experience of visiting so many mass graves and concentration camps. Indeed that was the take offered by Polish ambassador to Israel Agniezka Madziak-Miszewska: “For some of the kids, the pressure is too high going from one death camp to another . . . . Some express their anger and sorrow in the way we saw in the article.”

That explanation, however, is too charitable by a considerable margin. At the very least, it would suggest that something is dramatically wrong with Holocaust education in Israel if what the Israeli high school students witnessed in Poland so shocked them that they lost all sense of boundaries.

If there were anything to the generous explanation offered by Polish ambassador to Israel, one wonders why there have never been such reports concerning any of the religious Jewish student groups that visit Poland every year, both from the United States and from Israel. Every year, more than a thousand American yeshiva and seminary students studying in Israel make the trip to Poland, and many more travel to Poland from America.

Just before Pesach, my wife spent a week in Poland with a group of fifty post-high school religious girls studying in seminary this year in Israel. If there was any group that should have been traumatized by the experience, it was this one. Nearly a third of the girls had a grandparent or grandparents who had gone through the Holocaust. And indeed there were many tears shed on the trip. But that was it — tears and Tehillim.

These girls had been thoroughly prepared for the trip with an intensive study unit of what they would be seeing. More importantly, they had been learning about the Holocaust and Jewish life in Poland all their lives. No doubt they had all read at least one first-hand account by a survivor of the camps.

(To be sure, not all Israeli students embarrass themselves in Poland. Many are deeply moved by the experience. A group of secular Israeli high school students was at Treblinka at the same time as the group of seminary girls whom my wife was accompanying. They approached the rabbi with the seminary group and asked him to lead them in reciting Kaddish.)

The simplest explanation for the behavior of the secular high school students who go wild in Poland is that they are doing no more than emulating their adult models. One letter writer to the Jerusalem Post pointed out, in response to the May 25 article, that hoteliers around the world are wary of accepting Israeli reservations. Israelis’ loudness and tendency to view every item not nailed down in their hotel room as there for the taking has not endeared them to hotel keepers.

But even the emulation explanation is too facile. For there are some things that even the rowdiest of people will not do after just having visited the grave of a close relative. If too many Israeli high school students behave like animals after visiting Auschwitz and Treblinka and the many kivrei achim that dot the Polish countryside, the problem is not that they identify too intensely with those buried there, and those who were incinerated in ovens, but rather that they identify too little.

In recent years, accusations have been heard from the likes of Efraim Zuroff accusing the chareidi community of being unwilling to confront the Holocaust. But, in fact, it is secular Israeli society that long shied away from the confrontation.

For many of the early state-builders, those who perished in the Holocaust constituted an embarrassment, the antithesis of everything they imagined themselves to be – strong, fearless, willing to fight to defend themselves from any threat. I recently heard Israeli novelist Aharon Appelfeld, who survived World War II in the forests of Roumania, describe the shock with which publishers greeted his first work, which dealt with the Holocaust. “Why are you bringing such nightmares into our healthy society?” they wanted to know. He was asked, “Are you going to write about old Jews, survivors? You are going to bring old Jews to Israel?”

A few years back, Appelfeld accused Zionism of having followed the path of modern ideological movements in its negation of the past – in this case, the history of the Jewish Diaspora. The result, he said, is that many modern Israelis have “amputated their past” and left a “black hole of identity” in its place.

Appelfeld went so far as to accuse modern Israelis of having internalized the anti-Semites’ critique of the Diaspora Jew to the point that everything “that obliges them to remember that they are Jews makes them flinch [and] aroused disgust in them.”

Beyond the rowdiness, the vulgarity, the heedlessness of the image of Israel and Jews that they would leave behind, it is that rejection and alienation from their own past that arouses the most pity and disgust with the behavior of Israeli teens in Poland.

Appeared in Hamodia, June 7.

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29 Responses

  1. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Loberstein: This militant secularism is not generally found in the USA.

    Ori: US Jews don’t have reasons for militant secularism. A Jew here who doesn’t want Judaism can get married on Friday in front of a justice of the peace, and the following morning take the bus with his/her new spouse to the supermarket to buy bacon. Judaism would be simply irrelevant.

    In Israel, this Jew would have to either get married by a Rabbi, or fly to Cyprus. Buses don’t run on Shabbat in most of the country, and most supermarkets aren’t open. When they would open on Sunday, most of them won’t have bacon.

    Militant secularism is the natural result.

  2. Loberstein says:

    “Appelfeld went so far as to accuse modern Israelis of having internalized the anti-Semites’ critique of the Diaspora Jew to the point that everything “that obliges them to remember that they are Jews makes them flinch [and] aroused disgust in them.”

    I read a short aticle in Jerusalem Report more than a year ago. A group of Israeli Journalists were in Switzerland. Their non Jewish hosts stopped at an historic synagogue and invited the Isaelis to go inside. They all refused. They said that they don’t enter a synagogue in Israel why should they enter one in Switzerland.

    This militant secularism is not generally found in the USA.
    On the same note, I understand that discipline in non existant in many secular Israeli schools and that the standard of education is inferior also because of this.

    “How the mightly have fallen”. The grandparents of these students were probably idealists who were willing to sacrific for a Jewish State, how little they have passed on to their progeny.

  3. Ahron says:

    Steve–I really don’t see the connection between the present column and earlier debates over “who did what for whom during the Shoah”. It may be true that no camp of klal Yisrael can bask in great credit but I’m not sure the discussion itself, or even the dispute, is illegitimate–on the contrary it can help clarify the most deeply held values of each side.

    Your reference to the various chareidi rabbanim who experienced the 1967 war and prayed for the IDF’s success only seems to validate my assertion that pre-’67 and post-’67 are two different worlds with respect to Israel chareidi/yeshivishe Jews’ engagement with and appreciation of the state and her soldiers. (And it must also be recalled that RSZA, R. Schwadron, R. Shmuelevitz zt”l were simply another breed of Rav and talmid chocham, and the two former were members of the old, grand Yerushalmi tradition.)

    But what prominent chareidishe rabbi today would dare give a public speech recounting the many disasters that IDF soldiers have saved them from and expressing deep hakoras ha’tov for their profound sacrifices? As you say, “one cannot claim that the suicide bombers ignored the would be post Zionists of TA or the Charedim”–the chareidim have indeed been hit by Arab terrorism, and even so it is nearly verboten to even acknowledge the IDF’s protective role. It will probably take another existentially threatening war, with artillery shells exploding all around, to change that. How quickly we forget.

    On the subject of this column though, it would be relevant to ask (as a means of testing both R’ Rosenblum’s and Dr. Zuroff’s respective hypotheses) whether “national-religious” teenagers who go on these death-camp pilgrimages prior to their IDF induction have also been involved in similar gross behaviors to those described above. In any event, as you may have guessed, I think this entire bizarre genre of Holocaust tourism needs a very sharp rethinking.

  4. dovid says:

    “But if I have to account for the fact that no haredi children were ever involved in such incidents, then perhaps it can be attributed to the stress of living in Israel”

    “many of the young people whom Rosenblum so harshly criticized are the ones who bear the brunt of the defense of this country, physically risking their lives on a daily basis.”

    What kind of argument is this? Is there no Charedi population in EY that have their share of the stress of living in Israel? People like you, when they run out of arguments, will use army service as their trump card. Do you mean to say that these teenagers are entitled to a striptease show before, during, or after their visit to Auschwitz because they will soon be drafted for a bloody 3-year service in the IDF? Do you know that the Torah demands that we maintain our machane kadosh, free of ervas davar? Sir,immorality and defending EY are mutually exclusive.

  5. dovid says:

    “Basing himself on reports in the Polish press regarding the misdeeds of certain Israelis while on Holocaust trips to Poland, a particularly harsh comment by our ambassador to Poland regarding the potential damage of such misdeeds and on virtually irrelevant anecdotal evidence”

    “a veritable masterpiece of chiloni-bashing”

    “Irrelevant anecdotal evidence”?
    Same and comparable misdeeds of Israeli teenagers during their visits of the camps in Poland were extensively reported in Jerusalem Post, a staunchly secular Israeli publication. The other side, yourself included, had plenty of opportunity to deny or add your spin to such shameful behavior but it chose to stay quiet. May we derive that shtika k’hodaah damia and that it is you who engage in bashing, in this case Charedi-bashing?

  6. dovid says:

    “eretz ochelt yoshveha,”

    May I remind Dr. Efraim Zuroff that we are paying to this day for this patently false statement?

  7. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Just remember that, regardless of “probability”, new people or phenomena are under no firm obligation to conform to the patterns you’ve discerned from your prior experiences.”

    Also, one’s interpretation of personal experiences will likely be subjective and non-systematic; in your example, the government doesn’t act by guessing based on intuition, without formally studying a phenomenon. Even then, one can dispute the way a particular study was done. Pattern detection on the individual level lacks that methodology.

  8. Steve Brizel says:

    Menachem Lipkin raises a very important point which goes directly to the issues of Kiddush HaShem and Chillul HaShem. As a former resident of Sullivan County ( yes, Jews resided there in the winter!), I saw and heard too many stories of bungalow colonies that looked like garbage dumps in Staten Island and businesses owned by Shomrei Torah UMitzvos that displayed a lack of concern for CM as well as too many accidents caused by summer residents who thought that the twisting local roads were like the city streets. Unfortunately, the issue of respect and being Mkadesh Shem Shamayim is nowehere as easily stated as in the column being presently discussed.

  9. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Zuroff-WADR, both you and JR have a long, public and distinctly unpleasant record of debating “who did what for whom during the Shoah” which IMO colors your respective views on any issue that you happen to disagree about. Both your letter and JR’s column on an unrelated issue show no evidence that you will let up on this disagreement-which is irrelevant and for which neither the Charedi nor the RZ sectors can bask in glory over their historical achievements or lack thereof.

    Ahron-As far as your take on the Charedi world, both pre and post 1967, the Gdolim cited in the Mishpacha article such as RSZA, R Schwadron and R Chaim Shmulevitz Zicronm Livracha as well as the numerous residents of Charedi neighborhoods interviewed in Mishpacha and R Menachem Porush, hardly struck me as passionate advocates of RZ. These Gdolim and residents of Jersualem lived through the existential fear pre June 1967, davened for the IDF’s sucess and celebrated in its triumph. WADR, it is revisionism on a large scale to claim otherwise. Their POVs are not exactly secret in the Charedi world.

    With regards to Mishpacha, it is a magazine with a Charedi editorial line but a magazine that views RYBS as a Gadol, is open to discussing many issues within the Charedi world and the Jewish world as a whole .The fact that it is “controversial” is irrelevant.Like it or not, those who reside in the settlements were not the only targets of the Intifade. One cannot claim that the suicide bombers ignored the would be post Zionists of TA or the Charedim.

    As far as “sanctified separatism”, one can read similar pieces in MO and RZ organs as to why they differ from the Charedi world. WADR, no segment of the Torah world is free from “beligerent self pity.”

  10. Dr.Efraim Zuroff says:

    Comment to Steve Brizel:
    Excuse me, but the current exchange with JR has nothing whatsoever to do with who did what for whom during the Shoa, but rather with the role played by the Holocaust and Holocaust education in contemporary Israeli Jewish identity both for “secular” Israelis and their haredi counterparts.

  11. Ahron says:

    >“As far as Charedim having no idea of the dangers and fears faced by members of the IDF, the last two issues of Mishpacha have had two very important and moving articles on how the Charedi community coped and reacted during the Six Day War.”

    Pre-Six Day War was simply another world in terms of charedi/yeshivishe Jews’ engagement with the State and Israeli society. Seriously, do you think the average “Chareidi-on-the-street” today has even the slightest clue about the types of dangers and trials faced by the IDF and Israeli counterterrorism agents? Do they have even a faint grasp of the dangers that these soldiers protect them from every day? No they do not and my experience is that they also don’t care to. Mishpacha magazine itself remains a controversial anomaly in chareidi society–a fact that illustrates the sanctified separatism that reigns there. (The brilliant Arab scholar Fouad Ajami recently termed similar attitudes (basically extreme k’fiat ha’tov) in modern Muslim societies “belligerent self-pity”.)

    >“However such assumptions do not create facts, and if we recall our own experiences when being judged unfairly, it can counter the tendency to stereotype.”

    OK let’s do a vocab review! The sadly loaded word “stereotype” is just an evil-sounding synonym for “detecting patterns”. There is nothing wrong with pattern detection: in fact it’s crucial for healthy and productive functioning in the world. (Just imagine if you had no general frameworks of rules, guidelines, or heuristics that you could use to guide you through life and organize incoming stimuli; you would have total mental chaos! Do you think it’s by accident that the government, military and private industry spend billions annually trying to enable pattern recognition on computers?)

    Just remember that, regardless of “probability”, new people or phenomena are under no firm obligation to conform to the patterns you’ve discerned from your prior experiences.

  12. Jewish Observer says:

    “But his behaviour does not entitle me to posit that all bochurim are rude, unfeeling and unpleasant.”

    there is something in between none and all

  13. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “…But his behaviour does not entitle me to posit that all bochurim are rude, unfeeling and unpleasant”

    Absolutely. I will provide an example, when I was on the receiving end of stereotyping, and to the contrary, may show a sterotype on the accusatory end.

    As teenager, I was waiting along with others at the reference desk of my local library, and I stepped forward, thinking that it was my turn. Suddenly, a middle-aged Orthodox man in the back, upbraided me in front of everyone, saying, “is that what they teach you in your yeshiva, to have no concern for anyone else? ” Now the line might have not been well-defined and I was actually right, or perhaps I should have looked around more carefully before stepping forward, but either way, I was astonished.

    I went over to him privately, and told him that he was he was completely wrong in his characterization of me. Instead of apologizing, or even acknowledging my point, he said, “well, I’ve been teaching for years in a certain yeshiva, and they didn’t have derech eretz(manners)”. In other words, he had a certain stereotype of yeshiva bachurim, and could not be bothered being confused by any facts to the contrary. I learned a lesson the hard way, that there are fair people, and unfair people in every group within Orthodox Jewry(as well as elsewhere) , and one might add, in every city(that’s why stereotyping New Yorker’s is wrong).

    One may or may not assert that just as statistically, teenagers are “at risk” for driving accidents, so too, people in an insular group are “at risk” for intolerance and zealotry, and conversely, people in a worldly group are “at risk” for being negatively affected by secular culture, or statistically, people living in small cities are more likely to be calmer and friendlier during first impressions. However such assumptions do not create facts, and if we recall our own experiences when being judged unfairly, it can counter the tendency to stereotype.

  14. Menachem Lipkin says:

    “The simplest explanation for the behavior of the secular high school students who go wild in Poland is that they are doing no more than emulating their adult models.”

    I wouldn’t go there. Sometime, in the NY metro area, after Succos or Pesach, try speaking to people who work and/or own some of the places frequented by frum Jews during Chol Hamoed.

    Or, as one of the commenters mentioned, try interviewing non-Jewish or secular-Jewish teachers of Chareidi Yeshiva kids. Being solemn in Poland is not the only way to express respect.

    Or speak to the business owners up in the Catskills after the summer.

    In all these cases one will hear horror stories similar those that Rosenblum is reporting. I’m not going to attempt a psycho/sociological explanation. (Other than to say that there’s a huge difference between Bais Yaakov girls of type Rosenblum led and boys.)

    Let’s not even mention the behavior of Chareidi teen and adult “zealots” that Rosenblum writes about in the article following this one.

    Bottom line; people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. The gaava and triumphalism we seeing on a regular basis is way out of wack. It should be replaced with good deal more humility.

    As for “respect” for the holocaust. Here’s a little anecdote. On Yom Hashoa, while my daughter stood respectfully during the Yom Hashoa siren, a bunch of Chareidi-looking kids stood nearby yelling at and taunting her.

  15. SM says:

    Some people behave well in some situations and some people behave badly. This is an example.

    It doesn’t provide a basis for drawing distinctions based on anything, let alone religious practice or belief.

    Let me give an alternative example. We have just been to EY. My 10 year old is frightened to fly. She asked the bochur next to me to swap places with her, believing that he would agree because she was sitting next to another boy. He kept his head firmly in his (vilna edition) gemarra. Lest it be because she was a girl, I made the same request. He looked up; he sneered; he said ‘no’; he put his head down.

    My conclusion: he has no manners and his parents should (and doubtless would) be ashamed of him. But his behaviour does not entitle me to posit that all bochurim are rude, unfeeling and unpleasant.

  16. Steve Brizel says:

    Why is that the author of this column and Dr Zuroff engage in what R B Wein described as a futile contest-namely which sector of the Torah world did more or less during the Holocaust? Such columns or even gratuitous swipes in a column or post here serve no constructive purpose.

    That being the case, it should be noted that the tour that the author’s wife was a guide on was for post high school women in seminaries. There was no proof that any, some or all of the young women on this tour were Charedi. As far as Charedim having no idea of the dangers and fears faced by members of the IDF, the last two issues of Mishpacha have had two very important and moving articles on how the Charedi community coped and reacted during the Six Day War.

  17. Dr.Efraim Zuroff says:

    I would like to take strong exception to Jonathan Rosenblum’s distasteful criticism of the attitude of secular Israeli youth to the Holocaust in his June 6 article entitled “Negating the Past, Dishonoring the Present.” Basing himself on reports in the Polish press regarding the misdeeds of certain Israelis while on Holocaust trips to Poland, a particularly harsh comment by our ambassador to Poland regarding the potential damage of such misdeeds and on virtually irrelevant anecdotal evidence from a single trip to Poland taken by his wife together with a group of haredi girls, Rosenblum makes the baseless claim that secular Israeli society has never faced the Holocaust, and contrasts that attitude with that of their haredi counterparts, to produce a veritable masterpiece of chiloni-bashing the likes of which even Rosenblum himself, would find it difficult to duplicate. (Ironically, his article opens with a piece of his own advice which Rosenblum unfortunately does not heed-the temptation to deliver such a damning critique of secular Israelis was apparently too strong for him to overcome- in which he says that articles on Orthodox triumphalism “seldom serve any purpose.”)

    The irony of Rosenblum’s criticism of the attitude of secular Israeli youth to the Shoa and to Holocaust education in secular schools is that besides being totally wrong, he chose to target the only subject related to Jewish identity taught in chiloni schools which in recent years has actually been quite successful. Anyone well-acquainted with secular Israeli youth these days, knows that while their grasp and knowledge of Judaism leaves much to be desired, the same cannot be said about their knowledge of the events of the Holocaust and their deep empathy with its victims. In fact, ever since the Ministry of Education decided to make the Shoa a compulsory part of the history curriculum and the beginning of the trips to Poland, secular Israeli youth have learned a lot and have internalized a much stronger sense of identification with the victims of the Holocaust than was ever the case before.

    My assessment in this regard is based on the more than seven years that I served in the Lecturers’ Unit of the IDF Education Corps at the end of my military service as a reservist. During those years, approximately 1992-2000, I spent 30-40 days a year lecturing all over the country to diverse units of soldiers from the elite of the paratroopers and other combat units to “jobnicks.” The thousands of soldiers that I lectured to represented the entire gamut of Israeli society-Ashkenazim and Sepharadim, more observant and less-observant, rich and poor, highly-educated and barely-educated. In all, I spoke to thousands of soldiers, mostly males but females as well. Most of the lectures were about the efforts to bring Nazi war criminals to justice, but that subject was often merely a trigger to speak to them about the history of the Shoa, its impact on the Jewish people and what lessons we, as Jews, can learn from its history.

    Before I began lecturing, I was relatively skeptical about the level of the soldiers’ knowledge about the events and perhaps even their attitude, but it did not take long to realize that my fears were unfounded. The level of knowledge of most soldiers was quite high, depending of course on their level of education. (The more educated soldiers obviously had wider knowledge and a better grasp of the events.) Even more important, however, was the fact that the soldiers’ level of empathy with the victims of the Holocaust was extremely high, a phenomenon which encompassed virtually all the soldiers I met, regardless of biography and geography. Granted that this was not the case thirty and forty years ago, when the situation was much closer to Rosenblum’s description, but there is no doubt in my mind, that the reality I encountered in milu’im in the latter half of the nineties is even more true today, as the Holocaust has become, for a variety of reasons too complicated to explain in this context, an even more important component of Israeli-Jewish identity and perhaps the last sacred cow in Israeli society.

    So why have there been shameful incidents in which secular Israeli youth have misbehaved on Holocaust education trips to Poland? The answer is that the overwhelming majority of chiloni kids who went on such trips to Poland (tens of thousands to date) have conducted themselves in an exemplary fashion, but practically every society has its, in this case miniscule, share of those who act in an embarrassing manner and there is certainly no reason to condone such behavior. But if I have to account for the fact that no haredi children were ever involved in such incidents, then perhaps it can be attributed to the stress of living in Israel, our Biblical “eretz ochelt yoshveha,” which to this day is still under the threat of annihilation and the fact that many of the young people whom Rosenblum so harshly criticized are the ones who bear the brunt of the defense of this country, physically risking their lives on a daily basis. So perhaps one should not rush to criticize them in this regard, especially when their haredi counterparts cannot even imagine the dangers and fears that they face, let alone conquer Baruch Hashem.

    Dr. Efraim Zuroff
    Efrat

  18. Jewish Observer says:

    I’d like to see a comparison between the behavior Hebrew University freshmen girls and US yeshiva high school boys

  19. Steve Brizel says:

    Let me offer a possible reservation about the Holocaust as a source of Jewish identity. I don’t believe that a period of time associated with persecution,rampant anti Semitism , ghettos and death camps offers much in the way of a positive lesson on why a young American or Israeli secular Jew would want to rethink their life and become a Shomer Torah UMitzvos.IMO, it can be viewed by many as the ultimate guilt trip. R E Buchwald views the Holocaust as a huge turn off for kiruv. IMO, a generation that knows the names of the death camps but is ignorant on the details set forth in Echad Mi Yodea is a generation that is Jewishly illiterate. Yet, even the Charedi world seems to be into pilgrimages to Eastern Europe. WADR, I consider the same a misplaced allocation of communal funds except for the historians and the historically inclined among us.

    I also question why we have to send pilgrimages to Europe -Eastern and Western Europe to visit where the Rishonim, Acharonim and the founders of Chasidus, Mussar and the Yeshiva world lived. WADR, the fact that anyone opens their sefarim and says “Rabbi X says…” is proof that they are alive, as opposed to visiting the shtetlach and cities where they lived. Why we have to prop up the economies of countries that are profoundly anti American and anti Israel simply escapes me. While Poland may be pro Israel, I remain skeptical as to whether its population has any regret for the manner in which it historically treated Jews.

  20. David says:

    ‘WADR, the disgust that Zionism expresses toward the victims of the Holocaust is largley justified. Just read the works of HaRav Meir Kahane z”tvkl and you’ll understand why.’

    Can you give us a brief synopsis of what he said?

  21. sima ir kodesh says:

    Some of the hotel behaviour mentioned by our good friends, the Poles, sounds like any 8th grade or 12th grade trip to Washington, D.C., especially playing soccer and football in the halls.

  22. Menachm Petrushka says:

    Teenagers will be teenagers. That is why Heavenly onshinin (punishments) start ar twenty. The issue is not secular vs religious – but the lack of adequate adult supervision.

    I rembemer not too long ago when EL AL pilots were disgusted with the behavior of from tenagers who were flying unchaperoned to spend their “gap” year after high school in the various yeshivahs and seminaries in Israel. Someting about the drinking, carousing and cavorting did not appeal to the pilots.

    I spent my first summer in a bungalow colony when I was thirteen. I was introduced to the game of frog baseball by the teenage sons of several very respectable lithuanian rabbonim and roshei yeshiva. They used a frog as a ball and when someone got a hit , the legs would go one way and the torso another. Many of these boys grew up to be Chashuva Talmidei Chachamim.

    And then there is Florida during the yeshiva winter breaks. Not allowing the teenagers to go and then smugly declaring that our childern are better behaved is no proof of the superiority of a “Charedi” education.

  23. Neandershort says:

    Those Israeli teens need to engage their Polish counterparts on the soccer field and basketball court.

  24. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Perhaps there was something to Shulamit Aloni’s comment a few years ago that the trips to Poland were not such a good thing. Of course she meant that they were fueling too much Jewish nationalism. But for the secular kids who have not been taught Torah values, without proper guidance perhaps they are better off staying home. Of course sitting and doing nothing is not an option. We the Torah community must reach them.

  25. Moshe P. Mann says:

    While I definitely agree that Orthodox triumphalism seldom serves any purpose, I get the impression that the entire Chareidi publishing industry engages in just that.

  26. Moshe P. Mann says:

    WADR, the disgust that Zionism expresses toward the victims of the Holocaust is largley justified. Just read the works of HaRav Meir Kahane z”tvkl and you’ll understand why.

  27. Tzioni says:

    Obviously, the author never taught a secular subject in a frum yeshiva. There is plenty of chilul hashem in the way frum students treat their secular teachers. When those teachers are non-frum or non-Jewish, they too often come away with the same impression of frum youngsters that the author tells us Poles have of secular Israelis.

  28. Ori Pomerantz says:

    If they reject the past, why do they visit the Holocaust sites in Poland? I think the Polish ambassador is right and it’s post traumatic stress disorder. One of the ways to deal with extreme emotions is to have something to do, such as reciting Tehillim. Those teenagers don’t have anything like that to channel their reactions.

  29. joel rich says:

    “see the difference between my son and the son of my father-in-law

    ==================================================
    I think you meant:

    “see the difference between my selected daughters and the specific misbehaving children of my distant relatives

    Whether this is representative of a greater trend would require more data.

    KT