Trampling on the Kedoshim

For decades, Jews protested the misappropriation of the Shoah and its imagery.

Frum Jews in particular were incensed by the desecration of the memory of the Kedoshim that occurred whenever others spoke of a “holocaust” of animals (PETA), or claimed that Israelis were “Nazis” for keeping Palestinians in the “largest concentration camp in the world” in Gaza.

It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to protest any longer. Not after a rally attended by 1500 motza’ei Shabbos at Kikar Shabbat protesting incitement against charedim. Not after the pictures below (already published in the mainstream press) circulate.

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23 comments to Trampling on the Kedoshim

  • Abe71

    These pictures are nauseating. To paraphrase an earlier post on CrossCurrents about something else, “who, again, is inciting?”

  • Raymond

    What this tells me is the critical importance of secular knowledge. We all know about the fanatical behavior of our neighboring religions, carried out by people who read only whatever particular central book they consider to be the most holy. Well, apparently, such extremism also exists in our religion, behavior carried out by those who have a Torah only approach to life. A far more sensible way to live one’s life, is to study not only our Torah, but to balance things out a bit by being knowledgeable of secular matters as well, as a way of broadening and moderating one’s views on things, so as to better the chances of getting along with more kinds of people. It is important to have both depth and breadth of knowledge, and to accept those whose worldview may not exactly match our own.

  • Aaron

    Those in the yellow stars and striped outfits seem to be enjoying their provocation. Decades of tepid reaction to Arafat-bribed and Ahmadinejad-hugging Neturei Karta and more recently to the “burka” cult has led to this inevitable metastasizing of misogyny.

    A mentsch never hits, yells at, spits at a female, 8 or 58 or anywhere in between.

    Gedolim, walking to the Orot school and having an audience with its faculty and student body, would be a powerful symbol. Sad that something so obvious won’t happen.

  • Aaron

    I recently heard a psychiatrist discuss a study where a subset of average students were separated from a class of average students and told that they were “gifted”. Later testing showed that their results improved.

    Inculcating charedi men to think that they become irrational stallions among mares in heat upon seeing a glimpse of an elbow or knee will produce similar debasement of character.

    Long overdue to have OUR chinuch include “marketplace midos” whereby wishing another’s wife a “good Shabbos” and maybe even inquiring about the welfare of a new grandchild isn’t considered tantamount to making a pass… or worse. Woe unto the family whose teenage son cannot handle a polite conversation with a female tourist asking directions.

    The vile rabble should be excommunicated, denied access to stores, mikvahs, schools and shuls until they and their rabbis turn in the costumes used tonight and beg forgiveness. Extend the cherem to anyone who supplies them.

    But if one of them wrote a controversial SCIENCE book… oh, how the boom would have been lowered, and quickly!

  • Menachem Lipkin

    Such irony. These people are using Nazi imagery to express their, perceived, sense of persecution. Yet, such behavior can only serve to heighten whatever factors caused that sense in the first place.

  • Dovid

    How can we demand that the government sponsor Torah learning because it’s so important and vital for Am Yisrael, if it produces these kinds of people? How do we get across the message to children, students and balabatim (or to ourselves) that Torah refines one’s character and purifies the soul, if there are full-time yeshiva/kollel students who behave this way in the name of Torah? And how can we hope to earn any kind of respect when charedi gedolim in Israel sign bans against Shwekey concerts, but have not a word to say about this kind of thing?

    I ask these questions not as a complaint or criticism, but as real, troubling questions. Just what are parents, rabbis and educators supposed to do when these kinds of things go on and the gedolim – who have very harsh words to say about perceived religious distortions – do not issue any condemnation?

  • koillel nick

    It would be great if the Aguda, RCA and OU would issue a sharply worded condemnation.

  • Shanks

    You can still condemn PETA, etc. Rabbi Adlerstein. It’s only those who don’t condemn participating in this event with as loud a voice as they condemned Modern Orthodoxy for participating in events with heterodox organizations who can no longer lay claim to any moral high ground. Incidentally, there was a ban issued on such participation…

  • dr. bill

    the root of the problem is the very isolation still being encouraged. how long will this be attributed to a deviation versus an outgrowth? remember who protested the honorable Hadassah doctors; why is this a surprise?

    hopefully the Israeli politicians will now not be able to trade mass stipends for votes and will halt all funding of elementary schools without a rigorously enforced core curriculum. in a perverse way it may be a blessing if it is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

  • Sarah Elias

    Oh, please. Why are you tarring all frum Jews with the brush of these meshugaim? Frum Jews can, and do, condemn these idiots and can continue condemning such actions.

    Just as MO/DL Jews seem to have no problem condemning this outrage even after Gush Katif expellees used the same kind of Holocaust imagery in their protests.

  • Nachum Klafter

    Protest and condemnation from Haredi gedolim would be very important. Wearing the the yellow star and the prisoner suits are a new stunt, and the advent of viral internet transmission makes this more harmful. However, it is important to acknowledge the reality that this has been going on for decades. Anti-Zionist rhetoric from Neturei Karta, Toldot Aharon, and others has resorted to terms such as “Nazi,” “Zionazi,” “Stormtroopers,” and “anti-Semitic” for a very long time.

    The other thing that I wish the Haredi gedolim would pay attention to is the fact that many Humrot in diverse areas of halakha have actually been exported from these communities. The aspects of this which bother us the most are related to gender-segregation in settings unrelated to the synagogue or the school. Sex-segregated buses, asking-encouraging-coercing women to go to the back of the bus, sex-segregated streets, separate hours for men an women in grocery stores, etc., etc–none of this was instituted at the behest of the rabbinic leaders. This was a bottom-up phenomenon.

    In fact, I think that if someone in 1980 would have said “In the next 20-30 years, you will see Hassidic communities in Rockland County which have signs posted for men and women to be on separate sides of the street, and supermarkets which restrict the entry of men and women to be there during separate times,” people would have responded as follows: “That would never happen. Judaism does not adopt rules will-nilly, and none of those things are required by halakha, and the Rabbonim would never approve of such a thing.”

    Another thing which has been imported from these communities: The practice of SHUNNING. Let me offer an amateur sociological analysis. It is now normal in many communities in North America for children to be expelled from schools based on the supposedly immodest dress of their parents. This is a relatively relatively recent import in the last 15-20 years from these “extremist” communities. The effect this has is extremely negative. It turns a kehilla into an informant society, with people snitching on each other and people trying to hide their actual personal conduct from the outside world. It encourages people to lie to their friends and neighbors. Parents buy televisions but have then delivered in Refridgerator boxes. Children are told to lie to their friends about there being no TV in the house. Or, in cases of which I have first-hand knowledge, the children are told that the television is a “Computer,” and the children are actually unaware that they have a T.V. It becomes a silly game of semantics. “Let’s watch the computer now!” Instead of purchasing a regular internet package, people have special WiFi hotspot packages on their cellphone. If you don’t believe me, go to Boro Park or Williamsburg or New Square with a laptop and perform a search for available networks. You will be surprised how many are present in the most Hassidish apartment buildings. But, of course, no one has a TV or the internet.

    This is a form of extreme corruption which has come into our communities from the same world which is engaging in these protests. I think it would be far better for the religious character of our communities for people to simply say, “I have internet and do my best to use is for good and not for bad.” (By the way, when people post online about the dangers of having an internet connection, I find that to be truly entertaining.)

  • YEA

    Ahmadinejad thinks the Holocaust is a joke, so do they.
    Ahmadinejad thinks the Zionist state is an oppressive regime, so do they.
    Perhaps a win-win solution would be for the Israeli government to deport these people to Iran.

  • L. Oberstein

    It has taken a day for the import of these pictures to sink in. I hope the Agudah can find it within its coalition to distance itself totally from these vile people who dress their children up in concentration camp garb and have them pose for pictures of Jews on their way to death. There is no “on the other hand..”

    In “The Prime Ministers”, the author recalls a Neturei Karta demonstration in front of the hotel where Menachem Begin was staying. When he heard them call him a Nazi, Begin cried.

  • Bob Miller

    Jews who have the personal midos and devotion to Torah that befits a proper Jew may be found among various groupings inside and outside Israel, groupings that have various attitudes toward Medinat Yisrael, certain social issues, etc.

    This prompts the question:
    Don’t all such Jews still have more in common with one another than they have with extremists of various types who happen to dress like them? If so, why do we see so little communication among Jews of good will across “party lines”? Why so little common cause among them to oppose all extremism? Appearances and sociopolitics seem to have trumped real substance.

  • Eli

    I disagree completely with the statement made in the blog that “It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to protest any longer” (about the misapprpriation of the Holocaust. Ironically, I woudl guess that the author of this post also disagrees with those words, if he thinks about it. It would be difficult ONLY if we accept the notion that becuase someone wears a bekeshe and has long payos, his actions are correct and defensible. Although there may be some cognitive dissonance in accepting the fact that many of our frumme brethren are in fact as delusional and wrong on some issues as are our enemies, SO BE IT. When they misappropriate the Holocaust, particularly with that sickening posed picture of the boy with his hands in the air, they show themselves to be beyond the pale. With regards to everything??? No, I didn’t say that. But we should be able to say without guilt or hesitation, that if Professor Leibowitz was an idiot for calling Jewish soldiers Nazis, then those frum protestors who campare Jewish soldiers to nazis are also idiots.

    Returning t omy first sentence, I woudl say that this makes it EASIER to proptest about false comparisons to Nazis. By showing that we abhor such comparisons even when the statements are made by frum Jews, we show that our disgust with such statements is consistent. As stated, I think that the blog author, who clearly is disgusted by this vile protest, probably would actually agree with me on this. I think the only people who woudl believe that this makes it hard for us to criticize etc are those who naively believe that this protest was motivated by some form of daas torah.

  • Dovid

    Imagine a community rabbi who also runs a sizeable yeshiva in the town, and he vigorously urges his balabatim to support the yeshiva, emphasizing the importance of having a vibrant makom Torah in the community. A small group of boys from the yeshiva begin vandalizing public property and bullying local children. It would certainly be wrong for the balabatim to accuse the yeshiva of encouraging or sanctioning such behavior, or to label the entire student body as hooligans. It would, however, be perfectly reasonable, and warranted, for them to demand that the rabbi take responsibiity and seriously address the issue, in the form of both public pronouncements and an in-depth look at the yeshiva’s educational program. And they would have every right to demand a serious response to the problem as a precondition for continued support.

    It is absolutely wrong to accuse all charedim of condoning violence, but Israeli taxpayers, such as myself, have every right to demand that the charedi leadership take serious steps to address this situation. Since the State was founded, the charedim have demanded privileges – exemption from military service and public funding for privately-run schools – on the grounds that they do the crucial work of carrying our ancient tradition. Even assuming that these demands are perfectly legitimate – and as a proud Torah Jew I can certainly respect such a position – the charedim owe it to us to prove that they are doing everything they can to ensure that they are doing their job. Yes, charedim are held to a double standard, but that’s because they expect to be treated differently. If they want us to pay for their institutions, they must take responsibility for the rotten apples and fix the orchard. Saying that it’s only a fringe element and complaining about media persecution is not enough.

  • Steve Brizel

    The abuse of Holocaust imagery as well as the seemingly inability of the Sikrikim, who have no allegiance to any Gadol in the Charedi world, to realize that their actions against Torah observant Jews who do not share their extreme views on Halacha and Hashkafa IMO, are a huge setback for Torah Jewry, and a terrible Chillul HaShem. See the Netziv this week on the necessity of unity and the disastrous effects of the absence of the same.

  • Zalman Alpert

    If the Israeli govt are Nazis, then they are of course Goyim. So should not the rule of Hisgarus beUmoth fall into place.
    After all these same “chugim” are constantly belittling the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and other Jewish resistance against the Nazis.(as an exception see the wonderful words the gaon rav Weinberg of Berlin had to say about the warsaw ghetto revolt !)
    I recall reading that the Brisker rav rav Velvelle said about the NK demonstartaions in Jslm in his time that unless you would also do the same in Moscow it is basically being “modeh “in Zionism by admitting that IN FACT the Zionist authorities will not harm or jail them. Here too our fanatics are just indulging in theatrics

  • L. Oberstein

    A bochur told me today that he learned in an American Yeshiva located in the market place of Meah Shearim and he witnessed a Toldos Aharon man kick and scream at a Neturei Karta man. He asked him why and the man said that ” these people are ruining our neighborhood”. I have a real problem, I don’t know who to give money to. A fellow just came into my office collecting and I was tempted to ask him which group he is affiiated with but decided it was better not to even start. We have dozens of people coming through and some of them are affiliated with Meah Shearim groups, how do I know who is who?

  • Jay

    L. Oberstein, give your tzedaka to the Mir Yeshiva. For one, they need the money very badly; second, they are not associated or involved in any of the events that you should find them reprehensible, third, they are a worthy cause; fourth, I kind of remember you saying you learned there. If you are not sure who will benefit from your tzedaka, then desist from giving. And definitely, don’t give to Obama’s re-election campaign.

  • chareidi leumi

    >The abuse of Holocaust imagery

    They are just following their rebbe (from “The Rebbe” by Rabbi Dovid Meisels):

    “When someone remarked about how the rebbe had been saved from the claws of the Nazis, from darkness to great light, the rebbe replied, ‘No! I have come from the Nazi darkness into the even deeper darkness of the Zionist era.'”

    It is understandable that people are just following their “godol” who sees the state as a greater darkness than the holocaust – so such imagry is appropriate. Of course, since the Satmar rebbe is part of the pantheon of the chareidi world and therefore is impervious to any real criticism, no one will ever question whether the title of tzadik is appropriate for someone who thinks the holocaust was a bright chapter in Jewish history when compared to our current state (tartei mashma).

  • cohen y

    Zalman Alpert
    January 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    ‘I recall reading that the Brisker rav rav Velvelle said about the NK demonstartaions in Jslm in his time that unless you would also do the same in Moscow it is basically being “modeh “in Zionism by admitting that IN FACT the Zionist authorities will not harm or jail them. Here too our fanatics are just indulging in theatrics’

    He himself didn’t demonstrate (excepting against drafting of girls’,which he was ready to mortally assaulted for),as he considered it as dangerous as doing it in Moscow.

  • Leon Zacharowicz

    Stuart Katz has been writing about the fanatics in Ramat Beit Shemesh for years in the Five Towns Jewish Times. He has one simple request: when representatives of certain groups come to your neck of the woods seeking donations, consider where the money is going, and give them a litmus test.