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The Jews’ Jews

Anti-Semites paint Jews as different and strange; many Jews do the same to the so-called ‘ultra-Orthodox’

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Haredi Jews celebrating Rosh Hashanah, Brooklyn. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The origin of anti-Semitism has confounded the best of minds. But how the demon, whoever his mother, spreads his noxious notions is no mystery: He harnesses the human readiness to generalize. To successfully broadcast a conviction that Jews are underhanded, avaricious, or rude, one need only present the evidence: Jews who are underhanded, avaricious, or rude. As a group, of course, the Jewish community includes no larger percentage of unsavory characters than any other population (and likely a considerably smaller one than most). But just as there are thieves and knaves among Methodists, Scientologists, Czechs, and Argentines, so do unpleasant and even criminal folks reside in the Jewish community. The anti-Semite’s art is gathering up Jewish bad apples and presenting the basketful as representative of the tree that produced them.

This sort of ill-intentioned generalizing is terrible, as nearly all sentient people—Jew and non-Jew alike—would agree. But disturbingly, a not-dissimilar tactic is employed by some Jews against a subset of their own: haredim, a non-judgmental term for those the mainstream media tend to call “ultra-Orthodox.” In a sense, the haredim have become the Jews’ Jews.

***

This has been a problem in the media for as long as I can remember. A decade ago, I wrote a lengthy article on this subject for Moment magazine titled “Open Season on the Orthodox.” It turned into a cover story, for which the editors created ingeniously hilarious art: It showed a stack of “Weekly World Inquirer” tabloids with covers trumpeting the imaginary weekly’s latest revelations, among them “Orthodox Rabbi’s Two-Headed Alien Love Child!” (with the subheadline “Offspring ‘Not Jewish’ Rabbinical Court Rules”) and “El Niño: Orthodox Plot!”

The article was of course more serious. It presented a crowded rogue’s gallery of what I believed to be biased reportage—examples of egregious suspension of journalistic norms, subtle media misrepresentations, and outright fabrications—about haredi Jews. Like any writer, I fantasized that my words might actually effect meaningful change. And like most fantasies, mine didn’t much penetrate reality. Haredim as a group continue to be unfairly maligned—and pilloried for their principles.

By defending halachic standards regarding conversion in Israel, we are portrayed as small-minded; for seeking to preserve traditional Jewish norms for public prayer services at the Western Wall, we are condemned as mullahs and women-haters; for taking Jewish law and custom seriously, we are sneered at as backward. When a group of haredim in an Israeli town try to preserve their particular style of education, they find themselves branded racists. A New York Times op-ed declares, without basis, that haredi rabbis in Israel have decided that “almost no one” is Jewish and calls unnamed haredi rabbis “demonstrably corrupt.” A respected Jewish columnist characterizes Israel’s religious courts as a “rabble of rabbis … a counterfeit product, pretenders to a piety they daily demean.”

There is nothing wrong with making a case for multiple conversion standards in Israel, for a variety of public prayer service styles at the Western Wall, for denying a particular community the right to mold a government-supported school in its own image, or for the separation of religion and state in Israel. Differences of opinion are fine. But vilification isn’t. Name-calling is not an argument.

The hardy weed of anti-haredi animus easily spreads to even more mundane reportage. When a social activist claims, without producing a shred of evidence or a single witness, that she was assaulted in a public place in broad daylight by a haredi man because of tefillin marks on her arm, the alleged assault was widely reported as established fact. When a group of Israeli teens on a school outing accidentally caused a forest fire, a well-known blog implied that the blaze had something to do with the fact that the school was haredi. A national Jewish newspaper publishes a comic strip featuring wild-eyed, grotesque depictions of religious Jews, cynically disparaging their desire to share Torah with other Jews.

I don’t believe that such things—well, the comic strip excluded—are done with conscious intent to demonize. The writers and editors who allow anti-haredi sentiment to inform reportage do not consider themselves prejudiced, even subconsciously. But, as Slate’s William Saletan has insightfully written, “There’s a word for bias you can’t see: yours.”

***

But, perhaps even more sadly, the media’s bias against haredim dovetails with—and encourages—individuals’ personal prejudices.

Truly objective observers of the haredi world—the fairest ones are, not incidentally, more often non-Jews—are often struck not only by haredi insularity and ritual observances but by the community’s refinement of spirit, generosity, and good will. If the previous sentence elicited a cynical smirk, that only testifies to the power of the misconception-mongering.

But cynicism cannot obscure facts. Whether judged by objective criteria or by simply observing life at street level, the haredi community is very different from the image of it that exists in many media and minds. Even a quick perusal of the pages of any haredi newspaper or magazine, of which there are several these days, should be enough to open minds. They cater to their readers, of course, ignoring most of contemporary popular culture that imbues the contemporary American scene. And they are empty of the sort of gossip and scandals that titillate readers of more mainstream media. But the window on the haredi world they provide opens on a scene very different from, in some ways diametrically opposed to, many people’s preconceived notions.

The percentage of haredi income donated to charity is formidable, particularly impressive in light of the many observance-related expenses (educational and otherwise) that Orthodox Jews shoulder as a matter of course. The number and scale of haredi efforts aimed at comforting the sick and bereaved, feeding the hungry, or providing other social services to Jews in need—haredi or not—is astonishing. No small number of non-observant Jewish New Yorkers have been introduced to the Satmar community, the large and influential Hasidic sect, when visited in the hospital by its ladies, bearing good wishes and hot kosher food.

Are there then no haredim who are miserly, insufficiently sensitive to the needs of others, or even—how shall we put it?—ethically or morally challenged? Of course there are. And we hear and read about them regularly. We have witnessed truly abhorrent behavior by members of the haredi community over recent years, from what law texts call “moral turpitude” to child molestation to financial shenanigans to outright thievery. And innocent, truly religious haredim are deeply shamed by the hypocrites and criminals among their population. Although not every ugly story turns out to be true, enough have passed the smell—and even the legal—test to convince us haredim that we have much work to do to impress on every member of the community the import of the fact that the Torah governs every aspect of a Jew’s life.

And we haredim can even understand, in light of the scandalous behavior of some, why other Jews view us all with suspicion, or even worse. But, as with Jews in general, the difference between prejudice and perceptiveness lies in whether one chooses to focus on a selected ugly sample or on the overwhelming majority of a group’s members, those we don’t get to read about.

I don’t believe that anti-haredi bias is truly analogous to anti-Semitism. The latter is visceral and evil; the former just misguided. Most Jews who assume the worst about haredim may be puzzled, frustrated, discomfited, annoyed, rattled, or embarrassed by us (or some of us). But they don’t really hate us. I believe that every Jew, in his or her heart of hearts, loves every other Jew. It’s just that—well, to reference a contemporary poet: Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you like them all of the time.

It would be nice if all Jews were always both lovable and likable. But in this imperfect world, that may not come to pass. What we can all do, though—and this applies to us haredim as well as others—is to resist, as best we can, the evil inclination to indulge in generalizations, assume the worst, or vilify our fellow Jews.

It’s a tall order but a timely, urgent one.

Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, a national Orthodox organization.

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In Israel the Haredim have three serious problems that cause an antagonistic response from the non-haredi public; 1) Most don’t serve in the army 2) Most don’t work and live off taxpayer money 3) They try to tell us how to live our lives. Finally, for those of us who care about Judaism, they have kidnapped Judaism and twisted it into a nearly unrecognizable form where they are willing to go to jail for the sake of some bones that probably aren’t Jewish but won’t lift a finger to help foreign workers in Israel.

Talk about generalizing!

“As a group, of course, the Jewish community includes no larger percentage of unsavory characters than any other population (and likely a considerably smaller one than most).”

What crap. What nonsense. What wishful thinking. Jews are no worse and no better than anyone.

There is a difference between “vilify[ing]” our fellow Jews and pointing out systematic failings which Charedi leaders choose not to address, and which affect Jews of all stripes. The Rubashkin story was one of them; sexual crimes in Charedi schools is another; and the foul misogynistic doings at the Western Wall a third.

In each of these instances, the misdeeds of individual Charedim are overlooked, swept under the rug, or even (in the third case) encouraged by Charedi leaders. And their spokespeople, Shafran among them, continue to dissemble.

Individual Charedim can be as saintly or warty as anyone else. But Charedi society (like non-Orthodox Jewish society) is full of flaws. While non-Orthodox Jewish society recognizes, on the whole, its many imperfections (we lambaste ourselves and beat our breasts constantly), Charedi leaders in the US and Israel deny and obfuscate, with Shafran’s help.

Berel Shain says:

What incredible hypocrisy. Has Shafran ever read a Hareidi paper? Has he spent any time in Hareidi yeshivos? The hareidim are far more disdainful towards their Reform, Reconstructonsit, Conservative and even Mizrachi brethren than anyone is toward them. Shafran’s attempt to “Swift Boat” the media is pathetic and transparent.

That no group should be blamed for the misdeeds of some of its members is hardly worthy of an article. And yes, within the non-Orthodox community there are stereotypes about the Orthodox in general. Such is to be condemned. What the author has ignored, however, is that the Haredi LEADERSHIP at least in Israel continues to lack respect for those of us who are not Orthodox — essentially finding that we are not real Jews. And Israel, it seems, is to be a homeland only to those who meet the definition of Jewish according to the Haredi, who seek to make Israel a theocracy according to their own vision. So, let’s be clear that while the lack of respect runs both ways, the Haredi lack of respect for the rest of us is official.

Samantha says:

Well said! As a Baal Teshuva I held the same biases when I was of the Reformed persuasion. But as I began to spend time with shomer Mitzvah Jews I couldn’t believe how could have thought of them as judgemental or deceitful or any of the horrible labels the Jewish community puts on them.

The comments above completely underscore the author’s point. Unfortunately, it takes a lot to break one’s bias, so I don’t expect this article to move anyone who has latched on to hating the chareidi. Rather, I think it’s a very eloquent read for to goyim who can’t understand how our people could cannabalize it’s most ardent believers.

Jacob T says:

To Rabbi Shafran: Am I really your fellow Jew? As you wrote, “Orthodox Jews can no longer assume the halachic Jewishness of those presenting themselves as non-Orthodox Jews.” As I present myself as ‘heterodox’, to use your preferred term, I suspect that you would view my position within Am Yisrael rather warily. So long as the Haredi establishment in Israel insists that its narrow (and modern!) hashkafah is the only acceptable form of Jewish practice, Jews of all other stripes will be justified in their protest. Calling a spade a spade isn’t bias–it’s reporting.

Ariely says:

Lessons of blood paid by Israeli people!!!!

Lessons that the west start to learn only lately and still don’t understand the threat.
Israel is learning that the march to the so much desired peace will be a very long a dangerous journey.
Israelis learned that to maintain a level of normal life under the nonstop destruction pressures they have to concentrate on the daily normal life routine of people worldwide.

What lead to this Israelis approach?

1: Endless Arabs wars.
2: Endles Arab terror to conventional wars and a mixture of all types of wars.
3: Endless hate preaching and teaching by Arabs in schools, media, mosques.
4 : Endless attacks and fouls blame by media, UN and the so called human rights groups will continue whatever the defending Israel will do or not do.
5: Endless Arab boycotts attempts
6: Endsless refusal by Arab leaders refusal to accept a Jewish. Started 85 years ago and still in full force volume today.
7: Endless Arab leader’s declarations that the political negotiations are only tactics that will lead to Israel destruction.

8: On the other hand:
8.1 Israel attempts to reach a comprehensive peace lead only to more blood shade
8.2: Understanding that the world is ready to pay for the Arabs petrol supply with their moral values and Israel blood coin.
8.3 : Understanding that the defending Israel is the only country worldwide phasing daily threats to be destroyed by powers 150 times larger and fabulous rich
8.4: Understanding that Israel has to relay on its own defense and on the same time to keep its interior living spirit of normal life

Prof Asher J Matathias says:

B”H

There is yet another category: the decidedly anti-Jewish bias evinced by at least two editors of Orthodox weeklies (refer to them as weaklies)in the Five Twons who intentionally pursue a “business model” that devides our community, and provide ample sustained example of the Hilul HaShem we are abjured from committing. To add considerable insult and salt to injured feelings, the publications Jewish Star and Five Towns Jewish Times (the former obviously without a shine, the latter senselessly self-glorifying in its masthead) even reject the Sephardim, a segment of Jewry traditionally Orthodox.

Thus, the article’s rabbi has much to reflect upon, as is suitable at this time, and even do some self soul-searching for he has been cavalierly overlooking this biting issue as he writes for one of the newspapers! Conflict of interest, of the heart, a torturous condition as one attempts to bring about the elusive we yearn for our People!

Sincerely, and with fraternal affection,
Asher
Prof. Asher J. Matathias
Woodmere, NY

Irv Mermelstein says:

Mr. Shaffran–

Your opening premise–that “[t]he origin of anti-Semitism has confounded the best of minds”–is utter crap. Modern antisemitism originated in the very large amount of anti-Judaic and Antisemitic material in the New Testament, and in the wildly anti-Judaic writings of the Early Church Fathers, such as John Chrystostom.

This has been recognized by important Jewish writers (e.g., Lucy Davidowics and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen)and Christian ones (James Carroll and, in particular, Rosemary Reuther).

This is one of those cases where it is better to be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and confirm it.

If you want to discuss the subject and/or learn something, you can visit http://www.jewishsurvival.blogspot.com.

simkhe says:

Corrupt and unsavory haredim get more press than daily-life, ordinary, kind and considerate haredim because corrupt and unsavory people of ALL kinds are the people who get press. Journalism covers things that are out of the ordinary: crimes, violence, conflicts. So people involved in such things are the ones in the stories, whether haredi or not. It’s just silly to suggest bias against haredim because the same things make news from that community as from all others. (Whether it’s a good thing the news coverage focuses on such matters is an altogether different question.)

Rabbi Shafran has done it again, a few days before the New Year this time. He scorns those that practice pluralism but asks for tolerance for his stripe of the religion. He tells Conservative Jews they are not long for thid world and are loaded with contradictions and then begs us for a Jew not to hate another Jew for fear it is tantamount to anti-semitism. He claims Orthodox rabbis in Riveerdale have no authority to change law to address modernity, but Haredi rabbis that adapt law to go back in time – not forward – should be embraced. The double standards are thicker than my Rosh Hashanah brisket!

Rabbi Shafran, my counsel to you (since you feel free to dole it out to many others – is to lead a good life commited to the laws and values you see fit. I imagine few would have problems with that. Then, when something wrong happens in the world, whether by an Orthodox or unaffiliated Jew, cry foul at the wrong and not the sect, and be united by those that will cry foul with you. Defend those that need defending, not those that do wrong and hide behind the so called force-field of Orthodoxy. It is hypocritical, insincere and unbelievable.

Wishing you a New Year of peace and new beginings.

Rabbi David Kirshner

Heimish says:

Anyone remotely familiar with R. Shafran (I first met him 30 years ago), knows that he has built a career of demeaning non-hareidi Jews. I have always been saddened that he uses his eloquence to denigrate other Jews rather than to expound on the beauty of yiddishkeit. Of course, he is not alone. Many of us have the urge to make ourselves feel superior by criticizing others. It’s just that he spends so much time at it! Over the years, I would doubt that many have been drawn to torah u’mitzvos by R. Shafran; tragically, many have been driven away by him.

Irv Mermelstein says:

Heimish–

Thank you for an eloquent post.

Irv Mermelstein

Steve Brizel says:

R Shafran deserves kudos for illustrating the differences between legitimate criticism and Jewish self hatred and anti Semitism which preaches tolerances of everyone except Jews committed to Torah and Mitzvos. All too often, those who claim that they are tolerant have a definition of tolerance that includes all seemingly “progressive” causes but which ends at the length of their own noses and eyes when it comes to their fellow Jews.

LazerBeam says:

It is all about intolerance. I will use the secular term, ultra-Orthodox, rather than the other term, Heredim. The ultra-Orthodox opposed the creation of the State of Israel because it was the work of man and not God, but, now that Israel has come into existence by secular processes, the ultra-Orthodox have made it one of their priorities to impose their version of Judaism on everybody else. The manifestations of this intolerance include the stoning of buses that drive through their neighborhoods on Saturdays, the forced separation of men and women on public buses in their neighborhoods, and the shaming of women in revealing outfits. The ultra-Orthodox rejected the Yiddishkite of the Ethiopian Jews, when, in fact, the Ethiopian Jews are probably closer to the old time Jewish religion than the ultra-Orthodox.

However, when it comes down to who has the revealed version of Judaism, is it those who follow the letter of the law without embracing its spirit or vice versa? I have tremendous respect for those ultra-Orthodox Jews who are able to embody both the letter and spirit of Judaism. I have no respect for those ultra-Orthodox Jews who embrace the letter but not the spririt of Judaism, including the spirit of tolerance. The Conservative and Reform Jews are taught that Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord and pleased God by his struggle against otherwise impossible odds, symbolic of God’s mandate that each Jew struggle with and come to the meaning of God and his laws and not accept the letter without emracing the spirit. Acceptance of God’s revelations without struggle and questioning is tantamount to spiritual capitulation.

So, while, according to my learning, I am obliged to tolerate the ultra-Orthodox, they are not obliged to and will not tolerate me and my heretical beliefs. In fact, the ultra-Orthodox have less respect for a Conservative or Reform Jew than they do for a religious Gentile, because at least the Gentile is not pretending to be Jewish.

“By defending halachic standards regarding conversion in Israel, we are portrayed as small-minded;”

you demonstrate your small mindedness by attempting to delegitimize the Rabbi’s and institutions of the majority of world Jewry within the “Jewish State”

“for seeking to preserve traditional Jewish norms for public prayer services at the Western Wall, we are condemned as mullahs and women-haters;”

you demonstrate your hatred of women when you advocate arresting them for practicing the traditional Jewish norms of the majority of world Jewry within the Jewish State

“for taking Jewish law and custom seriously, we are sneered at as backwards.”

Conservative/Masorti Judaism aka the largest denomination of American Jewry aka half of World Jewry, also takes Jewish law and custom seriously, and yet still manages to treat female, gay and non-white Jews as full and equal humans and members of the Jewish community.

“When a group of haredim in an Israeli town try to preserve their particular style of education, they find themselves branded racists.”

when a group of haredim in an Israeli town go to court to try to keep white and hispanic students separate because the hispanic students might taint the Ashkenazi purity of the white girls, they demonstrate their racism.

seriously, Tablet, why are you publishing a piece of tripe from Shafran?

margaret soltan says:

I’d begun to think Tablet looked interesting. I’d begun to explore it. No more.

This article offends me in so many ways that I don’t even know where to start. The way that Rabbi Shafran dismisses any accusations of bullying and violence in his own community as anti-Semitism instead of dealing with it is disgusting. I happen to personally know the woman who was attacked for wearing Tfilin. how dare he slander her as a liar in this article, where she has no way to defend herself? This is truly in the spirit of the 10 days of atonement. I have family and friends in the Haredi community, and I do not believe that criticising it, and exposing it’s shortcomings has anything to do with self hatred. We who want to live in a liberal, modern and tolerant society will continue to do anything in our power to stop Israel’s future becoming to resemble a jewish version of Pakistan.That is a legitimate political stance , and nothing the rabbi will say can prove otherwise. this kind of article is what helps to perpetuate jews as a boy who cries “anti-Semite” so often you can’t tell the difference between a real wolf cry and a fake one.

Michael says:

Tzippi says, “how dare [Rabbi Shafran] slander her as a liar in this article…” … how about, how dare the woman claiming she was attacked slander an entire community without a whit of evidence? There is absolutely no history, anywhere, of a woman being attacked for having worn Tefillin, nor was she wounded in any way. Yet she creates an anti-charedi brouhaha with a completely unsubstantiated allegation.

The commenters here seem to have a problem dealing with the truth. As one who saw the Conservative movement from the inside, I know that his description of them is totally accurate. Claiming to observe Jewish law, while their own “Emet V’Emunah” offers Conservative Jews the option of believing that there was no actual G-d-being who *gave* that law. Meanwhile, his litany of irrational calumnies of the observant are equally accurate.

Go ahead, keep sending American women (assisted by anti-religious activists like Anat Hoffman) to disrupt prayers at the Western Wall, rather than using the alternate plaza area created specifically for alternate services that would not disrupt others. It is no wonder even secular Israelis have such disdain for watered-down American “Judaism lite.”

Rabbi Shafran didn’t accuse the woman of lying. He only pointed out how the media reported an accusation as if it were substantiated by some evidence – which it wasn’t.

The tone of most of the comments here makes the writer’s point all the stronger. There is a true hatred for people like him among many Jews. It’s ugly and it’s unjustified. And this time of year we should all be wondering if we have been infected with hatred, not attacking a writer for having the chutzpah to point out that it exists among Jews.

a short reply to all the “neshamus tovos” here
the attack happened on the 11th of April. the writer of the article had plenty of time to check his facts and substantiate whether it happened or nor. the media at the time reported an alleged attack- it didn’t make any judgements, that was reserved for the police who dealt with the complaint that was filed . most news breaks as it happens, in real time. that’s the media’s job.here is the original report – http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3891268,00.html
Another thing- it’s very easy for you to sit in the USA and lecture us women in Israel that we’re just imagining the haredim who attack us if we dare sit in the front of segregated bus or anything else that might offend their sensibilities, when you know that in the USA they wouldn’t dare to raise a finger on anyone.Any society that enforces it’s laws by hired goons (A.K.A mishmarot hatzniut) has no right to lecture us about brotherly love.

@Samantha: As a Baal Teshuva I held the same biases when I was of the Reformed persuasion. But as I began to spend time with shomer Mitzvah Jews I couldn’t believe how could have thought of them as judgemental or deceitful or any of the horrible labels the Jewish community puts on them.

Samantha, which planet do you live on?

Steve Brizel – the official Haredi choir boy. Steve, when you became frum, did they provide you with a lifetime supply of Chapstick?

You BT’s have deluded yourselves so thoroughly you wouldn’t recognize reality if it walked up to you and introduced itself.

Ra'anan says:

In America, how do you feel about your neighbour if he doesn’t serve in the US military?
Is it somehow different if someone in Israel doesn’t serve in the IDF?
The majority of those who opt out of the IDF are SECULAR. Charedim are NOT exempt, but get a draft DEFERRAL. This is due to a democratically passed LAW from the Israeli Kenesseth. Charedim actually pay FAR more taxes than secular Israelis in the form of a 16% Value Added Tax since charedim have much, much larger families & therefore larger consumption than secular families. In America do you have negative feelings about neighbours who pay less tax than you or CHOOSE not to work? Do you not agree that the kenesseth has passed PLENTY of SECULAR laws that tell “us” how to live our lives? Like, why can’t I open my business on Independence Day??? In America are stores forced to be closed on Independence Day??? Charedim have “KIDNAPPED” Judaism? How colourful! Does anyone FORCE you to circumcise your sons? To put up mezuzoth? To wear tzitzith? What obligation does a Jew have to help ILLEGAL foreign workers? PalEEZE don’t invoke “the stranger” clause because we BOTH know that is referring to converts to Judaism & NOT to illegal gentile migrant workers who have raised the level of crime & violence to dangerous levels in such places as Eilath.
In Kelemen’s “Permission to Receive,” sociological research compares Jews to others ethnic & religious groups & shows, sorry to say this, that we ARE BETTER! We are less likely to be criminals, more likely to marry, less likely to divorce, less likely to be alcoholics, ETC. I guess it would be politically correct for me to apologize for us being better, so…sorry for being better.

Steve Brizel says:

Jeff-ask R Shafran whether I either am a member of Agudah or have not had my share of disagreements with his written positions. Your post unfortunately reeks of the sentiments that R Shafran documents quite well in this article-namely that self hating Jews tend to have no tolerance for the Orthodox Jew-regardless of his or her hashkafic persuation or headgear.

@Ra’anan:
1. The American military is volunteer; the Israeli military is part of the citizen’s responsibility. Universal public service, whether military or civil, is a good way to build a sense of national community and America would be well served to adopt that. But until we do, you are making a false comparison. Jews who opt out of the military serve as civilians. Charedim do neither and thus maintain separate lives at government expense. The “democratically” passed law has to do with the religious right’s position as coalition former. Meaning blackmail–nothing more or less.
2. Sure Charedim pay higher VATs due to consumption, but hardly the whole story. The government pays for schools that teach only Torah and Talmud. The government supports entire communities of “students.” Originally–in Europe and pre-state Israel–only the best and brightest were the Talmud scholars. In Israel, all the Charedim are “students.”
3. Immigration, legal or illegal, may be a problem, but reinterpreting Torah is not the way to make “ger” only apply to converts loses the original intent. How convenient. This use of the Torah diminishes it and, precisely because I love Torah, I deplore this distortion.
4. One of Judaism’s strengths is and has been multiple interpretations that live beside each other with (sometimes more, sometimes less) respect. I have deep respect for all Jews, whatever their practice, who take Judaism seriously. I believe the deep knowledge of text, of practice, and of t’fillah that characterizes Orthodoxy enriches all of us. But I also believe that the egalitarian nature of liberal Judaism has something to offer and would ask that you, Ra’anan, and your fellow Orthodox, whether Charedim or Modern, understand that as well.

“Your post unfortunately reeks of the sentiments that R Shafran documents quite well in this article-namely that self hating Jews tend to have no tolerance for the Orthodox Jew-regardless of his or her hashkafic persuation or headgear.”

Steve, you are well known throughout the J-Blogosphere as the Haredi sycophant par excellence. Whether or not you occasionally disagree with an opinion expressed by one Haredi rabbi is irrelevant.

Also, the term “self-hating Jew” may be the most over-worked, cliched term in the ongoing animosity between the frum and the frei. It has no real meaning, and every time you people trot it out, you make yourself sound like damn fools.

R’ Shafran dismisses objections to Haredi principles as prejudice against Haredim for being “principled.” If your principles require you to dismiss a large percentage of your fellow Jews as non-Jews, riot when others wish to live according to rules that don’t reflect your own, demand more taxpayer money to finance a lifestyle that looks down on working, and refuse to serve in the army or even participate in the society that secures your freedom, then, frankly, your “principles” sound pretty darned unprincipled to me. Is it possible to look down on those ideas without being a bigot? Or does R’ Shafran insist that non-Haredim are to be obliged to demonstrate a respect that, clearly, is not reciprocated?

Tzippi: I followed the link you provided and the report clearly states in its headline and first sentence that the woman was assaulted. Rabbi Shafran points out that the reports were based only on her claim and that there were no witnesses and no injuries. The media’s job is to report facts as facts and allegations as allegations. So it failed here. I couldn’t find any report that said police confirmed her claim. Whether the media reports were because of anti-orthodox feelings like Rabbi Shafran claimsor just plain bad reporting, I don’t know. But the fact remains. There is no evidence that anything happened to the lady.

I think the rabbi is mistaken though about one thing. Reading the comments here – almost all of the negative ones are snide, cynical and clearly motivated by dislike of the writer or haredim in general – I think he might be naive to write that every Jew in his heart loves every other Jew. Clearly some posters here don’t seem willing to let go of their hatreds, even this time of year.

Shafan lost his mojo years ago, now he got these great articles which claim that Maddoff is better than Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger because Sully just wanted to save his own pathetic life.

http://www.vosizneias.com/29854/2009/04/03/new-york-harboring-some-admiration-for-bernie-and-less-for-sully/

“…By defending halachic standards regarding conversion in Israel, we are portrayed as small-minded….”

No, YOUR conversion enforcer Leib Tropper was having YOUR rabbis eating from his hands begging for more while he was extracting sex (as was exposed in this publication) from a conversion candidate for himself , his wife for and some of his friends. Is this what you call halachic standards ?

Michael says:

Daniel, Reread Rabbi Shafran’s first paragraph. If he were looking for an “exhibit A” paradigm of the sort of unseemly and vulgar bias he was talking about, he would simply have to refer to your effort to equate support for halachic standards of conversion with support for Tropper.

Were you non-Jewish, you’d be called an anti-Semite for a comment exactly like that. Yom Kippur is days away… start now…

rebecca says:

Jeff, it breaks my heart to see a fellow Jew – whaever your “stripe” may be – talk about other Jews as “you people” in such an angry, hateful way. I don’t have horns under my sheitel, beleive it or not, and would, if it weren’t so sad, find it amusing that you rant and rage for “acceptence” when you are so unashamedly unaccepting of us frum Jews yourself. I hope you won’t mind knnowing that one of “those people” will be davening for you.
May be have a blessed – and more peaceful and loving – year to come.

As a recent, non-observant olah, I’m grateful the State of Israel exists as a place where all Jews can practise their interpretation of Judaism openly. I do not believe that Judaism stopped evolving in 19th century Eastern Europe, although I am quite happy if other people do believe that and live their lives accordingly.

I’m not convinced that “Chareidic” is the same thing as “traditional Jewish norms” but I’d go along with that. What I can’t accept is one Jew stoning another – in any place and for any reason, but most especially in Israel, in Jerusalem, on Shabbat. Tell your thugs to keep their hands to themselves, Rabbi Shafran, if you want the rest of us to respect your version of Judaism.

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