The Other Obama-Romney Debate

by David Luchins

[Editor's note: Mishpacha has hosted a fascinating exchange about the attractiveness of President Obama's candidacy to the Orthodox community. The combatants have been our own Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblum and Dr. David Luchins. Jonathan is a regular contributor to Mishpacha, and did have some home-turf advantage. While Mishpacha did allow Dr Luchins to respond through a lengthy letter to the editor, it was still edited for size. Since Jonathan's Mishpacha article was republished on Cross-Currents, David asked us for the right to respond with the full, unedited response he had prepared, and also to allow a fuller flow of comments than Mishpacha could handle as a print medium. We are happy, of course, to allow the reciprocity]

I was flattered to see that my wise friend Yonasan Rosenblum felt I could make “the best case” for re-electing President Obama (Mishpacha, September 3, 2012), but I do wish he had stayed to the end of the debate, when I addressed several of the points he raises in the article.

Yonasan is correct that I have not voted for a second term President since Richard Nixon in 1972, when, on Hubert Humprey’s personal recommendation, I was the youngest … Read More >>

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From Informing to Inculcating

by Micha Berger

You will know today and answer to your heart that Hashem is the G-d in the heavens above and on the earth below – there is none other. – Devarim 4:39

There has been much attention given lately to the “crisis of connection”. We are a generation where the observant community is more informed than any before (perhaps since King Chizkiyahu; c.f. Sanhedrin 94b), but we mourn our lack of the kind of connection with the Almighty that came more readily to our parents and grandparents. We have started exploring ways to not only inform, to put concepts into our heads, but inculcate values into our hearts. Knowing something is a bad idea doesn’t always translate into making right decisions. (Otherwise, I would have lost that extra weight a long time ago!) Somehow we have to get ideas from the head into the heart, into our passions and motivations.

This need is also a critical part of dealing with another topic that the community has (finally) started realize it’s full life-changing potential — living in a world where the internet plays an increasing role, despite the challenges the internet makes all too available. We need to … Read More >>

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Yeshiva Day School Financing: A Case Study

by Micah Segelman

Amid the recent avalanche of attention that the issues of tuition and the financing of chinuch have received, I wanted to share some experiences from my children’s small yeshiva day school in the “out of town” community of Rochester, NY. While Derech HaTorah of Rochester (DHR) is very far from “solving” the problem of financing chinuch, lessons can be learned from the many good ideas and successes of numerous mosdos and it’s in that spirit that I present this case study. My point here isn’t to directly address the issue of tuition reductions for children of mechanchim. Rather my intent is to examine solutions to the overall issue granting that raising tuition for the full tuition payers is off the table.

First, some data. DHR started 9 years ago with just over 30 students and has approximately tripled in size since then. Boys and girls are separated in the older grades and to accommodate this, older grades are combined for select subjects. Despite the inefficiency inherent in the small class size necessitated by the size of the school, DHR strikingly spends an average of only about $7000 per student. The denominator of this ratio does … Read More >>

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I Am Charedi

by Yaakov Rosenblatt

I am charedi. I was born in Brooklyn, went to mainstream charedi elementary and high schools, spent two years in Mir Yerushalayim and attended Kollel at Beth Medrash Gevoha in Lakewood, New Jersey. I wear a black hat on Shabbos and dark pants and a white shirt much of the week. My yarmulke is large, black and velvet and being a frum and inspired Jew is my most basic self-definition, on par with being human and being male.

Am I charedi? I believe in the utter supremacy of Torah wisdom to secular knowledge. But I also believe that one can see Hashem through analysis of the physical world and that many committed Jews who engage the sciences have a richer appreciation of Hashem because of it.

Am I charedi? I believe that Torah study is a most worthy pursuit and the community should support and lionize scholars whose wisdom is clear and vision is pure. Writing s’forim, debating s’voros, and forging new paths in Torah is an effort worthy of a significant portion of our charitable dollars.

Am I charedi? I learned in Kollel for four years and am now in the business world. … Read More >>

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The Siyum in Verse, Twice

By Yossi Huttler

Daf Alef

nowhere to be found only in yeshiva shel ma’alah where neshamos’ unfinished corners are completed by the Teacher of teachers who fills in the unknowable of this world

(Daf) Alef

hidden like the end of the very first word in Sefer Vayikra reminding us how little we are ever to know b’olom hazeh

Yossi Huttler is the author of LaKol Z’man: A Poetical Journey Through the Jewish Year. His poems and essays have appeared in the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Observer, the Forward, Jewish Action and Midstream

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POEM: (how to sleep on) Le’il Tisha B’Av

By Yossi Huttler

a pillow less or pillow-less a stone mai’avenei hamakom head rest for one’s temples can you really sleep like every other night of the year

Yossi Huttler is the author of LaKol Z’man: A Poetical Journey Through the Jewish Year. His poems and essays have appeared in the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Observer, the Forward, Jewish Action and Midstream. This poem first appeared on Forward.com

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Blending Families

By Yakov Horowitz

These lines are written in loving memory of our dear father, Reb Shlomo Zev ben Reb Baruch Yehudah Nutovic a’h, whose first yahrtzeit is 7 Menachem Av. May the positive lessons learned from this essay be a zechus for his neshama.

Nearly fifty years ago, our mother’s life was turned upside down with the sudden passing of our father one spring evening in 1963. Suddenly she was transformed from a happily-married young woman to the single parent of three children under the age of five. With the active support of both extended families, our amazing mother made it through those difficult years with incredible dignity and grace.

In the summer of 1965, she married Abba, as we called him, and for the next 46 years, built a beautiful home together in an environment of mutual respect, tranquility and joy. Abba had a son from a previous marriage, and in 1966 Hashem graced them with a daughter together – so our blended family had the quintessential “Yours, mine and ours.”

To their enormous and eternal credit, they raised three sets of children as one seamless family – so much so that people often could not tell … Read More >>

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What A Wonderful World!*

by Robert Lebovits

In my professional world perception is reality. What individuals believe to be true forms the basis of their worldview and directs the choices they make. Consequently inaccurate perceptions can have profound effects on the course of one’s life and in some circumstances on the future of a community. The dialogue initiated by Rabbi Adlerstein and the response from Dr. Schick have generated an unprecedented outpouring of reactions from readers of all backgrounds. As Rabbi Adlerstein has noted, he has simply articulated the thoughts and feelings of many observant Jews struggling with the demands and economic pressures that living a frum lifestyle entails. The cost of providing for a child’s Jewish education is the focal point of this torrent of frustration but not its real source. I believe that to be something far more central and deeply-rooted in the competing hashkofos of our Torah values.

In order to examine the real issues underlying the resentments and developing rifts between the various groups in Orthodox society, we must first resolve the misdirection present in the discussion regarding tuition costs and the burden baalei batim experience resulting from the perk of “free” education given to the children of klei … Read More >>

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Nachal Charedi – Reality Check

by Akiva Paths

In the past I wrote about my Air Force Daughter. Since that time she has now been joined by Infantry Son.

Being ultra-orthodox, charedi if you will, we were not willing to throw our son into cultural morass of the Israeli Defense Forces at their whims. Since the IDF has been “preparing” for ultra-orthodox recruits, we targeted him at the ultra-orthodox infrantry program – Nachal Charedi / Netzach Yehuda – The Mighty Men of Judah infrantry combat unit.

Our son contacted a friend, a former yeshiva student in yeshiva with him, who was now a training sergeant in Nachal Charedi. He couldn’t help, letting us know “the battalion is full”. The battalion is full??? What if you’re ultra-orthodox and you want to fight in the army?

Next, by hashgacha pratit (Divine Providence), I was being picked up from the train station and was asked for a ride by someone from synagogue I recognized…in an army officers uniform. Turns out he’s an army chaplain and a captain. We asked him if he could help and he was able to put us in touch with Nachal Charedi’s battalion rabbi. The rabbi was able to get our son on the list.

We breathed a sigh of religious relief, if not parental worry. Our son was going to be in a proper religious environment, while putting his life on the line to defend all the Jewish people and non-Jewish citizens living here.

Two and a half weeks before his enlistment date we got a harbinger of things to come. I received call… “hello, is this (Reb Akiva’s son’s father)? Your son has to report for basic training tomorrow”. “What??? His orders say 2 1/2 weeks from now. We haven’t prepared him (done the preliminary army supply shopping), it’s not what his orders say.” “He has to report tomorrow, the orders are changed by this call. He should report to (normal Jerusalem enlistment point A).”

What can you do? I took off work, ran home, grabbed my boy and headed to the mall. Why? As we learned with Air Force Daughter, there are things your child needs for army service that the army doesn’t provide. Some are obvious (a cell phone to call home), some less so (a durable watch with a timer function). We also had feedback from her on what’s a waste of money (like dirty laundry bags) and what’s good to have (boot polish).

Enlistment day is a big deal in Israel. It’s normal for a number of family members to join the enlistee in going to the enlistment point. But everyone was ready for that in 2 1/2 weeks…so he lost out.

That evening we got a call… “your son has to report to (unusual Jerusalem enlistment point B) tomorrow.” “What, we were told (normal enlistment point A).” “The orders are changed by this call, (click).” I didn’t even know where enlistment point B was!

He made the point, we said goodbye and off he went to be a soldier.

Continue reading → Nachal Charedi – Reality Check

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Walden Ponder

by Dovid Landesman

Last week, my wife and I had the distinct pleasure of attending the induction ceremony of the Netzach Yehudah [a.k.a. Nachal Chareidi] brigade. Our youngest son is the brigade’s sergeant major and as such, was in charge of the event. This was no little boy playing soldier. My wife and I witnessed a mature, trained and dedicated chayal, cognizant of his responsibilities as an NCO and a ben-Torah, leading those under his command with the authority and presence that is a manifestation of the interdependence of those roles. We also attended in loco parentis for a young man from the US who is living with us and was one of the inductees.

The ceremony itself was typical of the IDF’s disdain for pomp and order; I can only imagine how your typical American drill sergeants would have reacted seeing the inability of the soldiers to march in even – let alone perfect – groups. Nonetheless, I was greatly moved and there were a number of elements that gave me much to reflect upon.

The main speaker was the commander of the I.D.F.’s Kfir division; Netzach Yehudah is a unit within that group. Although he was not … Read More >>

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Coney Island Memoirs – Affirmative Action

by Philip Lefkowitz

It was the 1960s, a tumultuous time for the civil rights movement in the United States. Cities were burning, race riots where breaking out everywhere. In New York City, Mayor John Lindsey was doing his utmost to placate the simmering anger boiling over in the Black community. And I, a young Rabbi of 23, was the Rabbi of the Beis Medrash Machzekie Rav, better known as the 31st Street Talmud Torah in the heart of Coney Island.

For years Coney Island had a significant and active Jewish community. In the 60s that community had largely disappeared. Yet from Stillwell Avenue to Seagate there were still several Synagogues, most with part-time Rabbis. The majority of the population of Coney Island was African American and Puerto Rican. It was the hood – a tough ghetto style neighborhood.

Other than those Jews who lived in the City’s middle class housing project on Surf Avenue, across the street from the Brooklyn Hebrew Home and Hospital for the Aged, the former Half Moon Hotel, and attended the Young Israel of Coney Island, its Rabbi now Rosh Bet Din of the Igud Harabonim, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, Rabbi Herschel Kurzrock shlit”a, … Read More >>

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Naomi Ragen Ordered to Pay ₪233,000 for Plagiarism

from Roberta Chester

Judge Yosef Shapira accepted a settlement on Tuesday between American-Israeli authors Naomi Ragen and Sarah Shapiro, whereby Ragen was ordered to pay Shapiro 233,000 NIS (over $62,500) for copyright infringement, representing an unprecedented amount in a plagiarism case in Israel.

The agreement followed a verdict issued December 11 determining that Ragen, the defendant, committed plagiarism in her novel “Sotah,” and had stolen both text and ideas from Shapiro’s autobiographical memoir of her life as a young orthodox mother, “Growing With My Children.” The court ruled that in writing “Sotah,” the fictional account of a young woman living in Jerusalem’s Haredi community and accused of committing adultery, Ragen had committed “theft, negligence, and a violation of copyright.”

In her defense, Ragen claimed that she “accidentally” copied Shapiro’s work, a claim the court rejected as being “unthinkable, unlikely, and unbelievable.” Following the December verdict, the court recommended that the two sides settle upon an exact amount. In addition, all phrases and sentences which violated Shapiro’s copyright will have to be eliminated from new editions of “Sotah.” [UPDATED: previous version stated in error that the material will not have to be removed.]

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Trembling Before Rashi – Redux

By Shaul Gold

[Editors’ note: We received a large volume of comments, which were held up in the queue until Rabbi Gold could pen a response to their general drift. We have still not determined why so many of our readers assumed that “trembling before Rashi” is somehow the equivalent of granting Rashi veto power over interpreting pesukim. Rabbi Gold wrote nothing of the sort. Clearly, many rishonim disagree with many other rishonim; many disagree with Rashi. Rabbi Gold commented upon the tendency of many (and I have heard this myself many times - YA) to be dismissive of Rashi as hopelessly stuck in a primitive, literalist mode that is beneath enlightened moderns, chas v’shalom. Rabbi Gold argued that whether accepting his pshat (from which we always have something to learn, or preferring another, Rashi (as well as other Rishonim, but especially Rashi considering the centrality of his work on Chumash in the life of so much parshanut that followed) must always be approached with reverence. We will let Rabbi Gold explain in his own words.]

I would like to address some of the comments that Purim prevented me from addressing. I was, and yet remain, confused as to … Read More >>

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Purim and Polarization

Young Writers Submission by Daniel Weiss

One of the claims that Haman leveled against the Jews was that they were “separate and scattered,” that they lacked togetherness. Of all the negative characteristics he could have singled out, he chose this as the defining feature with which to describe us to the King. The Midrash states that this is precisely what made the Jews vulnerable to annihilation, what opened the door to a decree of our death. It was significant then and it is still very much a reality today due to the diversity that is present across the Jewish spectrum. Yet, we were purposely born as a nation with twelve tribes because diversity has its benefits, benefits which are worth understanding.

In social psychology there is a concept called group polarization. The basic idea is that when members of a group have similar opinions about an issue, discussion within that group does not balance out their opinions but rather makes their opinions more extreme than they were going in. For example, if before going into the jury room, members of a jury all believe that an individual is guilty, then they will come out feeling even more strongly … Read More >>

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Trembling Before Rashi

By Shaul Gold

One of the defining moments in the development of my hashkafas hachaim (outlook on life) occurred during a Shiur Klali (weekly lecture) I attended as a talmid in Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim.

The Rosh Yeshiva, R’ Nochum Partzovitz, ZT”L, was a son-in-law of Rav Chaim Schmuelevitz, ZT”L, and one of the preeminent Maggidei Shiur that emerged after the War. He was one of the famed Mirrer talmidim from Shanghai and a talmid of R’ Boruch Ber Levovitz (Rosh Yeshivah in Kamenitz and a Talmid Muvhak of R’ Chaim Soloveitchik). R’ Nochum’s awe and reverence of R’ Boruch Ber and R’ Chaim Brisker was well known.

R’ Nochum suffered from arterial sclerosis and, when I arrived at the Yeshivah, was already confined to a wheelchair. He gave a daily shiur, a chaburah on Thursday nights, and a preview of the Shiur Klali on Motza’i Shabbos. The preview shiur was unique in that, while it was ostensibly a small gathering in his apartment, it was, in fact, attended by hundreds of talmidim from other Yeshivos that gathered in the hallway and stairway to hear the shiur. The shiur was a great strain for R’ Nochum physically, but was an … Read More >>

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An Open Letter to Deborah Feldman

by Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt

Dear Deborah,

Your book, Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots, touched a lot of nerves and unsettled a lot of hearts in the Orthodox Jewish community. It is not every day that a Satmar woman divorces her husband, moves to Manhattan and writes a tell-all book about the experience. It is not every day that a Satmar woman writes about her Chassidic experience with derision and her sexual relations without inhibition.

My wife’s family is from Satmar, too. Her great-great grandfather was the shochet and chazzan in Satmar, Hungary, serving Grand Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum before WWII. Her great-grandfather left Satmar in the 1930s and moved to Portsmouth, England where he served as the Orthodox pulpit rabbi of a less than observant congregation. His wife wanted to raise their children in a more modern environment and he went along with that decision. He never trimmed his beard or payos in Satmar but did so in Portsmouth. His wife shaved her hair in Satmar but didn’t do so in Portsmouth.

They didn’t write a book about the ordeal, as you did. They respected their parents’ insular ways even if they couldn’t follow the path themselves. … Read More >>

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Return to Basics: A Call to Revitalize R’ Hirsch’s Torah im Derech Eretz

by Daniel Adler [A Young Writer Submission]

How is it that over the past few decades, Yeshivos all over the United States have produced students that are “un-Jewish” (to use a Hirschian phrase)? By that I mean that, after twelve years of a Jewish education, many of them are not committed to Judaism at all. Not until after high school, when students learn in Bais Medrash/Seminary for a year or two (often in Israel), do they become committed to a Torah lifestyle. A second problem that presents itself comes as a result of the Yeshiva day school system naturally feeding into a kollel lifestyle. This lifestyle has become automatic for many Yeshiva/Bais Yaakov graduates: they do not decide as individuals whether or not a kollel lifestyle is appropriate for them. These two problems not only afflict the Yeshiva world; they also affect the insular Chassidish world.

Based on my own experiences in Yeshiva and upon anecdotal evidence heard from neighbors and friends, I can list a number of reasons why these problems exist. These include: Appearances (some parents force their children to fit into a “Yeshivish lifestyle” regardless of their child (ren)’s personality and leanings); Peer Pressure (both students … Read More >>

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Fighting Yesterday’s Battle – A View from the Beit Shemesh Front Lines

by Dov Krulwich

On September 6 I became an activist.

Parents at the Orot school in Beit Shemesh were complaining about Chareidi zealots demonstrating against the school, and commenting that their kids were afraid. My response was one of disbelief. I knew people living in the buildings near Orot, and I davened and learned often in Batei Midrash in nearby Chareidi neighborhoods. It simply couldn’t be, I said, that the situation warranted schoolkids being afraid for their well-being. We’re talking about religious girls with skirts and elbow-length sleeves! The response was simple: If you don’t believe it, come and see. I went the next day, and was shocked at the kanayus that I saw – cursing, yelling, spitting, shoving, intimidating – all with looks of sheer hatred.

In the months that followed, I spent time virtually every day trying to confront the kanayim, document the kanayus in order to have it dealt with by Rabbonim and by the police, and protect the kids from the 10-15 kanayim that waged a steady war against the school. My videos of kanayim with hatred in their eyes were viewed tens of thousands of times, I became well-known by the kanayim and their … Read More >>

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A Response to Ami Magazine from Beit Shemesh

by Etana Hecht

[Editor’s Note: Contributing to this blog, I know full well that editors must sometimes – often – pull the plug on discussion after fruitful exchange gets to the point of diminishing returns. From the feedback I get from irate readers, I also know of the frustration they feel when some points of view never see the light of day because discussion has been cut off. I can understand and accept the decision of my friends the Frankfurters of ending Ami’s coverage of the Beit Shemesh debacle and moving on. Blogs have a bit more flexibility; we can provide an outlet where print media cannot. I know Etana and her family, and think it worthwhile for the public to read her contribution.]

As most of you have probably seen in the media, Bet Shemesh has been having problems with a group of thugs who call themselves Chareidi who have been causing much trouble and pain to many of the citizens of Bet Shemesh. In a series of articles on this issue, Ami Magazine interviewed Mayor Moshe Abutbol to answer some questions about the situation. In his responses, there were a few false statements, as well as some … Read More >>

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Who’s afraid of Tim Tebow?

by Michael Freund

This past Sunday I got a first-hand glimpse of one of the hottest phenomena in American pop culture and sports.

The venue was Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, the occasion was the first round of the National Football League playoffs.

Just prior to the start of the game between the New York Giants and the Atlanta Falcons, after the Giants had come onto the field, eight of their players headed toward the end zone, where they did something entirely unexpected.

These hulking and intimidating behemoths, who make their living by strapping on layers of protective body gear and pummelling their opponents, each knelt down on one knee, bowed their heads, and offered a silent prayer.

This act has come to be known as “Tebowing,” after Tim Tebow, the quarterback of the Denver Broncos, whose signature prayerful genuflections have become a popular and internet sensation.

Tebow, who has led his team to some stunning comeback victories, including this past weekend when he tossed an 80-yard touchdown pass in overtime to defeat the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers, is an unabashed fan of his Christian faith. He talks about it in interviews and does not shy away from publicly thanking … Read More >>

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Whose Problem Is It, Anyway?

by Dovid Kornreich

There is a recurrent theme that I’ve read on Jblogs and newspapers, and it has two parts:

1) Chareidi society somehow engenders extremism and these incidents in Beit Shemesh are its bitter fruit.

2) Neglect by the rest of Chareidi leadership to publicly condemn the extreme acts is a form of acquiescence by silence.

The response to the first charge is that your average chareidi individual living in, let’s say Bayit Vegan or Har Nof, shares very little of the *cultural* values and norms of Mea She’arim Chareidim. The sad reality is that Chareidim are an extremely factionalized and subdivided group, and the divisions are deep and operate on many different levels of which outsiders simply have no appreciation.

True, on religious and political issues vis-a-vis non-Chareidim and especially the non-religious, most Chareidim seem to rally together as a unified group to oppose a common threat. But socially, there is very little meaningful contact between Mea Shea’rim Charedim (and their RBS offshoots) and the rest of the Chareidi population.

So one can’t credibly say that “Chareidi society” engenders violence, extremism, intolerance etc. There is very little *culturally* that unites all Chareidim. And it is the uniquely … Read More >>

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The Invention of Palestine

by Michael Freund

What a remarkable breath of fresh air.

For the first time in recent memory, a prominent American politician has had the courage to speak some unvarnished truths about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

In video footage released on December 9, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told the Jewish Channel, a cable TV network, that the Palestinians are an “invented people.”

“Remember, there was no Palestine as a state – it was part of the Ottoman Empire,” the former speaker of the House of Representatives said.

“I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and historically part of the Arab community,” Gingrich declared.

Whatever one might think of Gingrich’s stance on various other political matters, in this case there can be no disputing the historicity of his remarks.

Palestine and the Palestinians are in fact a modern invention, a fiction created with the aim of dismantling Israel and undermining its claim to its ancient patrimony.

Indeed, prior to the 1947 UN partition plan, even Palestinian Arab leaders openly affirmed this to be the case.

Take, for example, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, who testified in 1937 before the Peel Commission, which was established by the British government to investigate the outbreak of Arab violence in British-ruled Palestine. Abdul-Hadi told the commission, that, “There is no such country as Palestine! ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.”

A decade later, in May 1947, the representative of the Arab Higher Committee told the UN General Assembly much the same.

Palestinian nationalism only gained steam in subsequent decades, as the Arab states found it to be a useful proxy tool in their ongoing war against the Jewish state. They cultivated a Palestinian national consciousness and identity in order to create a narrative of Arab victimhood and Israeli aggression, which suited their political agenda.
Continue reading → The Invention of Palestine

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Naomi Ragen Plagiarism Verdict: Not About “Free Speech”

by William Kolbrener

An alert reader, who goes by the moniker “S.” in the comments, pointed out this article, which appeared on the personal blog of Professor William Kolbrener, of the Department of English at Bar-Ilan University. We thank Prof. Kolbrener for his permission to republish.

Three days ago, on December 11, Judge Joseph Shapira of the Jerusalem District Court ruled, after a four-year legal drama, that Naomi Ragen in her novel Sotah knowingly copied from the work of the author Sarah Shapiro, Growing with My Children.

Though not publicized, I was the literary expert for Sarah Shapiro, the plaintiff, and I provided extensive written testimony which was then subject to cross-examination by Ragen’s lawyers in the Jerusalem court.

In the now widely-publicized decision of ninety-two pages, Justice Shapira wrote according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “that the plagiarism was ‘tantamount to a premeditated act,’ saying that Ragen acted knowingly and copied work created by the plaintiff.”

In an article yesterday in the Jerusalem Post, Ragen, who is a columnist for the paper, accuses Sarah Shapiro of “working out of a desire to silence my criticism of the Haredi [ultra-orthodox] community’s treatment of women, … Read More >>

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A Lesson in Education

By Karen Greenberg [A Young Writer Submission]

When I first decided to become an English major, I didn’t really anticipate any problems that would involve my Judaism. This is not a common choice for Orthodox college women, but I chose a different path because I knew what I loved and I was confident that I could land some sort of job with an English degree. Throughout my young adult life, I have read books that both complimented my Torah worldview and contradicted it. There were no problems with those books that were complimentary, but then I would pick up an Ayn Rand, for example, and I would have to learn to separate my aesthetic enjoyment of the work from the parts of the books that contended with my Jewish perspective on life. If I disagreed with what I read, there was no one to actively argue for the book’s point of view. In a debate between myself and a work of literature, I always won; and so I thought my college literature classes would be in the same vein. I would continue reading and writing, as I had always loved to do, and would simply filter out anything that … Read More >>

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Musings on the Passing of an Isha Gedolah

by Dovid Kornreich

I was waiting until the passing of her Sheloshim to see what the blogworld would have to say about Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky’s life and unique impact on the Chareidi world before I ventured to speak my mind. To my surprise, there was nothing on the web beyond the regular online Jewish news outlet coverage and obituary-type blogposts.

Well, perhaps it is too premature to evaluate the Rebbetzin’s historical impact on Chareidi society so soon after her sudden passing, and perhaps it is inappropriate to first discuss sociology and not first express the depth of the loss of such a woman to us.

But in light of the raging blog-controversy over Open Orthodoxy’s feminist agenda, it seems that a post on the subject is timely, relevant, and important.

It is too important to let the moment pass without taking the opportunity to highlight the deep contrast in the different Orthodox societies’ responses to feminism — which the late Rebbetzin brought subtly into focus.

It is my hope that this seemingly aloof analysis of Rebbetzin Kanievsky’s unique position in Jewish society will be a catalyst to further admiration of Chareidi society, dispel harmful myths, and … Read More >>

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