An Elegant Afterword on Emanuel

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One of the several Emanuel pieces in Mishpacha this week concludes with one of the most helpful summaries I have seen to date. No posturing, no delusions. Enough open-mindedness to distribute blame and responsibility all around – and to dream of a better day. Let no one say that the haredi community stifled the voices of introspection.

It would be wrong for the chareidi community to point fingers at the Supreme Court and not take a moment for some serious introspection as to what this story means to us.

First of all, while the race allegations against the Slonimer community are wrong, we cannot whitewash the facts. There have been schools in which families weren’t accepted into the school for no other reason than their creed or background. It is very possible that the parents now in jail are serving a sentence because of the actions of some haughty school principals in other communities who ignore the calls ofgedolei Yisrael to run admissions based solely on academic standards and other objective criteria, such as tzniyus and the kedushah of the home.

The second lesson, then, is that there are no free lunches. When you take money from someone — and certainly when you take 90 percent of your funding from them — they call the shots.

Third, in regard to chareidi public relations efforts. Last week’s massive rally finally conveyed to the public at large the true issue in Emanuel. The chareidi community got the message out to the people, but it was too late. There should have been efforts — both in the Supreme Court and in the secular media — to tell the true story of Emanuel. Had the Sefardic parents whose children are enrolled in the chassidic track spoken earlier, much heartache could have been avoided. Furthermore, hiring a competent Sefardic lawyer to fight the case would have gone a long way towards convincing the court that the parents were not racially motivated.

The community as a whole failed, and parents from Emanuel are paying dearly for the failure.

And so, Thursday’s rally. According to police estimates, some 30,000 people filled the streets of Bnei Brak, and more than 100,000 participated in the rally in Jerusalem. The rallies carried an important message: when forced against the wall, the chareidi minority will not cave to the secular majority, and unless it is willing to exert full judicial power on religious Jews, the country will need to reestablish a system of respect and understanding of each other.

But only by learning the above lessons can the chareidi community in Israel hope to change the dynamics from within

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19 Responses

  1. rachel w says:

    Mike-are they allowed to use a Nusach Sefard siddur in school? When I was in school, we were all required to use the Ashkenaz siddur only. In fact, I remeber my parents telling me to use that same siddur at home, as well, when I was young so that I don’t get confused.

  2. L. Oberstein says:

    “It is divided between people who feel morally superior and people who feel intellectually superior.”
    This description of Polish politics so aptly describes Jewish politics. That is why we often talk past one another.

  3. Mike says:

    I dont know what the Shas schools would do. My bet is that they would leave it alone.
    As to the right to insist on a single nusach, they should *not* have that right.
    They have the right to insist that one who davens from the amud uses the nusach
    of the school. But they do *not* have the right to be a siddur police. They also dont havwe the right to insist on askenazi hebrew. My family davens Nusach Separd. They go to a school that davens Nusach Ashkenaz. It would never cross anyones mind there to tell my kids they couldnt use a nuscah sephard siddur. I cant think of a better definition of intolerance. You know what the kids learn from this? That diversity is a part of life.

  4. Tal S. Benschar says:

    And yes, if you send your child to a Shas school and then insist s/he daven in your own Ashkenazi dialect, you are being appropriate. 100%. But apparently the same courtesy is not given to Sephardim.

    My question was not whether a poster here thinks I would be correct. My question is whether a Shas school would allow it. And I rather doubt it.

    Nor do I think it is intolerant. A school has the right to insist on a single nusach for its students, especially elementary school. Otherwise, it can be very confusing educationally.

  5. David Schallheim says:

    >>then again, what do you expect from people who felt that they raised wonderful children only to be confronted by Hassidim who came into town and told them that they were not good enough.

    According to an article I’ve seen written by a professional journalist, the Chassidim were there first, and saw the Beis Yaakov change over the years as the demographics of Emanuel changed. That is why they were motivated to start the chassidic tract two years ago, and many Sephardim who wanted more tznius and frumkeit joined them.

    Also, I heard fathers who went to jail on Thursday two weeks ago mention in media interviews that they’ve been in Emanuel for over twenty years. One of them is a member of the Moetzet Ha’Ir.

    It’s inaccurate to paint the picture as if the chassidim came into town and took over the school. They felt it was exactly the other way around.

    It’s important to note that the Beis Yaakov Chassidi is not unique to Emanuel. There’s one in my neighborhood as well. As it turns out, their building is shared by twelve of the classes of the regular Beis Yaakov girls, second to fourth grades (four classes for each grade). Four of my girls have been in this arrangement. There’s a wall between the two tracts in the playground, the doors are locked between the wings, etc, etc.

    I asked my girls, “Do you feel slighted that you’re separated by a wall from the girls in the chassidic tract?”

    My daughter who is now twenty-one and married answered me, “No. We understood that they’re from chassidic families, and we’re from Litvishe and Sephardic families. We could look at them and say, ‘You’re chassidiyot. So what, we’re Litvish. We’re Sephardic.’ We have pride in who we are. Why can’t the Sephardi girls in Emanuel do that?”

    I think her comment raises a valid point that I heard from many Sephardi voices over the last few weeks. The Sephardim have built their own school system, why do they need to seek admittance into the Ashkenazi schools? This is what many Sephardim are saying, from Rav Ovadia Yosef to house-wives calling into radio talk shows.

    Is this desire for separation a case of ethnic discrimination? I think not. The Shas leaders always talk about the twelve tribes of Israel, v’nahara nahara pashta–each river flows on its own course. Yesterday Rav Lazerson, of Chinuch Atzmai, made the same point in a talk with the all the school girls of Emanuel, from all the school systems–Beis Yaakov, both tracts, Mayan HaTorah (Shas), and Chabad–in the framework of the seminar on brotherly love, which was part of the compromise worked out in the Supreme Court.

    The Chareidi school systems in Israel, in contradistinction to the Dati Leumi (and this is obviously a point of hashkafic disagreement, as I’m learning from the posts of many Dati Leumi in Israel and Modern Orthodox in America on this subject), believe strongly in maintaining the customs and Mesorah of the Diaspora communities from which they sprung.

    This is the modern day idea of the twelve tribes, each with their own leaders, serving God in different ways. The main point is that there should be love among brothers and a unity of purpose in serving God.

  6. cvmay says:

    pk – Majority of people agree with your conclusion.

    Tal, “It is not “racism” to insist that one’s school be run by a certain set of customs and that the children adhere to those customs”
    You are correct that ‘racism’ is not an accurate description. The gist of the issue is being overlooked, A Chinuch Atzmzi Beis Yakov receives 90% of state funds is suddenly divided into two groups,, designing its own standards and criteria. There are bylaws and policies that must be adhered to….

  7. pk says:

    My feeling is that the demonstration was not about Emanuel at all. Rather it was a show of power in face of what the Chareidi world fears is coming down the pike from the Supreme court ie core curriculum in Chareidi schools and drafting of Yeshiva Bachurim to the army (as per the article in the Jerusalem Post which said that by 2020 60% of Chareidim will be in the army)

  8. Mike says:

    To Tal — I’m not sure racism is the best word. Perhaps “intolerance” is better. And yes, if you send your child to a Shas school and then insist s/he daven in your own Ashkenazi dialect, you are being appropriate. 100%. But apparently the same courtesy is
    not given to Sephardim. Intolerance regins. Whatelse would you call it?

  9. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >Only one has been publicized so far (Yaakov Yosef) – can you provide a source for this number?
    More importantly, can you (or any of the 33) provide a defense for this ‘heter’ ? There are rules in Shulchan Aruch for when this is allowed, and none of those conditions appear to be met here.<

    Check the interview with R' Yosef on kikarshabat. He is the one who gives the number 33:

    I didn't see the heter but I am not sure how you can say that none of the conditions for Archaot apply here. There was no beis din that both sides would agree to. and in Israel the only way a beis din can enforce its decision is if both sides sign a borrerut agreement which is recognized by the secular courts. This is a complex question of course but you make it sound like is pashut that there was no place for a heter when its pretty obvious that this heter was the end result of a long long struggle where pretty much every other avenue was exhausted by the sefardic families who felt that they were being humiliated time and time again. It is clear that the plaintiffs felt that going to bagatz was their last and non-ideal choice. But then again, what do you expect from people who felt that they raised wonderful children only to be confronted by Hassidim who came into town and told them that they were not good enough.

  10. Simcha Younger says:

    “The heter allowing going to archaot was made by 33 talmidei hachamim” — Only one has been publicized so far (Yaakov Yosef) – can you provide a source for this number?
    More importantly, can you (or any of the 33) provide a defense for this ‘heter’ ? There are rules in Shulchan Aruch for when this is allowed, and none of those conditions appear to be met here.

  11. Tal S. Benschar says:

    CL:

    It is not “racism” to insist that one’s school be run by a certain set of customs and that the children adhere to those customs. You may not like it, and your children’s school may have a different philosophy, but racism it isn’t.

    Can I send a child to a Shas school and insist he daven in the nusach and havarah of Ashkenaz? Why is that not “racism?”

    And your comparison of the Sephardic parents who did send their children there to blacks who served in the Confederacy is utterly odious. Those parents themselves testified that they were seeking a religiously appropriate level of education for their children, not slavery.

  12. Mike says:

    [“YA – The decision on that is on hold. Al Sharpton is coming over to investigate]

    Rabbi Adlerstein… with due respect, why would you now make light of what has been the biggest Chillul Hashem in years?

    What I see in this Mishpaca piece is more denial. This thing about hiring a
    good Sephardi lawyer would surely have helped… Apparently they still dont get it.

  13. YEA says:

    To Chareidi Leumi —
    If they had the same hashkafic beliefs as the Rambam, it’s unlikely that they would be allowed into any charedi school, regardless of their tznius standards.

  14. Bob Miller says:

    “[YA – The decision on that is on hold. Al Sharpton is coming over to investigate]”

    The only investigation that would matter here is a self-investigation. What signs are there of introspection?

  15. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >The section you quoted operates on the basic assumption that there was no racism and therefor that the court was wrong.<
    I don't see how anyone can make this assumption when the original school admission criteria was for all girls to daven in a chassidic havara at school and at home! Don't forget that this was brought to trial by HAREIDI sephardic Jews. The heter allowing going to archaot was made by 33 talmidei hachamim. It is close to being a public bizayon of the plaintiffs and their Rabbis to say that there is no truth to their side of the story.

    Further, stop pointing out that there are sephardic families in the chassidic track. There were also African American fighting in the confederacy – The fact that some sephardim are willing to give up major portions of their wonderful heritage to be accepted by the school does not mean that sephardim should have to feel forced to do so.

    People keep talking about the “Kidush Hashem” of the protests. What nobody here seems to understand that from the outside of the community what everyone saw was not 100,000 people protesting for their right to choose how to educate their children. What everyone saw was 100,000 people marching for the right to exclude other Jews for reasons that have never existed in all of Jewish history! It was a great Hillul Hashem in that it made most everyone associate bigotry and Torah. The strict tznius criteria (top button of shirt must be closed) are as novel as most any decision made by religious reformers only since it is reform le-Humra it gets a free pass.

    I read a published letter stating that the parents in Emanuel are not racist because they learn Rambam. The better question is would the Rambam’s children be allowed in to the school?

  16. Menachem Lipkin says:

    This is article is a breath of fresh air in its candor and honesty. However, I don’t think you can say that there’s no posturing or delusions. The section you quoted operates on the basic assumption that there was no racism and therefor that the court was wrong. Many, myself included, would view an article truly free of posturing as one that at least allowed for the possibility that Slonimars were wrong. (As opposed to suffering for the sins of others.)

    Also, in light of yesterday’s compromise, the core message of the rally as stated in the article, that the “chareidi minority will not cave to the secular majority” was somewhat, if not completely, lost. This reinforced my belief that, had reasonable heads prevailed nearly a year ago, and certainly 2 weeks ago, when the court simply asked the folks of Emmanuel to compromise, much, if not all, of this entire horrid episode could have been avoided.

  17. L. Oberstein says:

    I just saw a video of the friendly meeting between Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and the Slonimer Rebbe basicly celebrating their compromise. The compromise requires a pro forma return of the chassidic girls to the Bais Yaakov for the three lat days of school where they will sit and listen to rabbis tell them about Ahavat Yisrael.The girls from the Lubavitgch school will also be invited. Several points:This would not have happened had the fathers not been in jail and the mothers about to go to jail. The sudden decision to teach ahavat yisrael was a direct result of the position of the Supreme Court. Maybe this is a face saving way of accepting the court’s decision. Now, we will see what happens over the summer. The Pandora’s box has been opened and the state and the court will be much less tolerant of overt segregation and racial quotas. Legislation will be introduced to cease funding for such schools and it won’t be the same as it was. By showing their strength the ashkenazi chareidim have also challenged the Sephardim and and the State to do somehing about it. I think they will.
    This episode has consumed us for a few weeks and now we can get back to life as ususal. My one remaining question is if the secular can pass draconian rules on the religious and avoid dealing with the same “sheretz” they are holding.

  18. mb says:

    So there was no racism in Emmanuel?

    [YA – The decision on that is on hold. Al Sharpton is coming over to investigate]

  19. cvmay says:

    Glad you included this post-script from the Mishpacha article, so that readers can be exposed another torah hashkafa on this all-encompassing news event.

    Why is it that the state of Israel, Torah observant Jews, and other splinter groups have such a difficulty with public relations? Is it a lack of know-how, professionalism, and trained personnel to bring the message to the masses? or is it pure apathy and the thought that…..whatever we say/do/act/ will not add an iota of understanding to who and what we are!!!! Can this change and/or do we want it to?