One Rabbi’s Perspective on Charedi Jews and the Holocaust

The Holocaust

By: Rabbi Yossi N.

Growing up in Crown Heights, I seldom heard the Holocaust mentioned. We had no Holocaust Day in yeshiva. Needless to say, we learned no Holocaust history either. My first real exposure to the Holocaust came from reading a copy of Night, by Eli Wiesel, that I found in our dilapidated basement. The question remains, why does the chareidi community ignore the Holocaust?

One could argue, the chareidi community’s aversion to teaching about the Holocaust is no different from their aversion to teaching history in general. As Yosef Chaim Yerushalmi famously explained in his acclaimed study, Zachor, rabbinic Judaism has exited the confines of “history” following the destruction of the Second Temple. The historical events following the Churban Bayis Sheini, Jewish or otherwise, have no bearing on rabbinic Judaism. All the frum Jew has is the daled amos shel halacha. This being the case, as a historical event, the chareidi community’s neglect of the Holocaust fits perfectly well with its general neglect of history.

However, I would argue that there is a deeper reason for the Holocaust neglect in the chareidi community, mainly, that the killing of 6 million Jews poses an existential threat to the chareidi ideology and belief system. Chareidim are taught to believe that they are God’s Chosen People, Uvanu Vacharta Mkol Am Veloshon. If indeed this is true, how could Hashem have allowed his chosen people to be slaughtered in such a manner?

However a chareidi may choose to answer this question, the question will always remain stronger than the answer. For this reason, the chareidi community has decided that the best way to deal with the Holocaust is to simply ignore it. The great irony is, the Jews who prize Jewish continuity the most, are the ones who least want to discuss the Holocaust.

This does not mean that chareidim are totally unaware of the Holocaust, rather, they generally learn about it through heroic tales of pious Jews who self sacrificed to observe the mitzvos even in the concentration camps. For example, in the Chabad community the most famous Holocaust survivor is Rabbi Nissan Mangel. If one listens to his five hour lecture series on the Holocaust, titled, “Where Was God in the Holocaust?” it will become apparent quickly that the answer to this question is rather straight forward: God was with Rabbi Mangel. All the heroic Holocaust tales repeated in the chareidi community add up to the same message, God was with the pious frum Jews who clung to the mitzvahs even under the most dire circumstances. That God was not with the 6 million Jews who were gassed and went up in smoke is completely ignored. The upshot is, the pious heroic tales allow the chareidi to learn about the Holocaust in a non-threatening manner. After all, Rabbi Mangel is still alive and a frum yid, clearly Hashem still cares about the Jews.

I still remember the devastating effect the “Schindler’s List” film had on me in my early 20’s. At the time, I was attending the Chabad smicha program in Melbourne, Australia. I always wanted to watch Schindler’s List in order to see for myself what really happened during the Holocaust, but never managed to get hold of the film. Then one day, through a series of events, I obtained the film from a local Blockbuster. With film in hand, I paid the night watchman at a local hotel to allow me to watch the film in one of the empty hotel rooms. Alone, I watched the film from beginning to end. About half-way through, I couldn’t stop crying. It was at that point that I understood, like never before, why the chareidi community ignores the Holocaust.

Frum Watch: People are Wondering it and Not Saying It – Covid-19 and Hareidim

***Journalist, governments, secular Jews, and non-Jews the world over are all wondering the same thing:Why are the coronavirus case counts higher in hareidi neighborhoods and communities?

Reposted with Permission of Frum Watch

Some like to point to the difficulty practicing social distancing with large families in cramped quarters, while others like to point to the lack of science education and general secular knowledge. Still others point to the hareidi communities refusal to put on hold its communal way of life. We would like to share with you the real reason behind the lackadaisical commitment to, if not outright rejection of, the social distancing guidelines in the hareidi community.

The answer is one word – WORK (or the lack thereof).

Let us explain. Never before in the history of the Jewish people has a Jewish community rejected the notion of the male members of the community working for a living. From the Bible to the Mishna to the Talmud — through the times of the later codes of Jewish law — husbands and male members of the Jewish community always have worked to support themselves and their families. In ancient times, some chopped wood, some made clothing, while others were shoemakers and blacksmiths. The Jewish marriage document, the Ketubah, itself attests to the importance and obligation of the husband and father of the household to support his wife and children.

However, this all changed when Rabbi Aaron Kotler, a Lithuanian yeshiva dean, arrived in the US and founded the Lakewood yeshiva and kollel in 1943. Rabbi Kotler believed and Rav Karelitz, the Chazon Ish, in Israel agreed that the secular work place was no place for a frum hareidi male. The temptations were too great; kefirah (heresy) was rampant – and besides, the hareidi world needed Torah scholars, not Torah businessman. This Torah Only theology spawned what we now know as the “kollel for life” model, where the male members of the community learn Talmud for life, while their wives and daughters support the household.

This new order is unprecedented in the annals of Jewish history. For the first time ever, we now have in Lakewood, Bnei Brak, and Jerusalem entire communities of men who don’t work for a living. Naturally, without working men, the community ultimately has become reliant on the income of the wives (usually working part-time), government welfare, and gemachim (community charities).

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Covid-19 Infection and the Ultra-Orthodox, Israel News

Benny Gantz on a visit to Bnei Brak (Photo: Ariel Chermoni/Defense Ministry)

COVID-19 Infection Rate In Chareidi Cities Has Doubled In The Past Week

Data published by Israel’s Health Ministry on Sunday shows that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Chareidi cities has doubled in the past week, which may be a result of Rosh Hashanah tefillos and Selichos.

“From the beginning of Elul we see a dramatic increase in the Chareidi population of twice the amount of coronavirus cases than the general population,” said Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the Health Ministry’s head of Public Health, in an interview on Radio Kol Chai. “In the past week alone, 20,000 Chareidim tested positive for the coronavirus, three times the number in the general population. About half of the seriously ill Chareidi patients are under the age of 60.”

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Whack-a-Mole and the Game of Following After Unregulated Yeshivas and Keeping Kids Safe from Sexual Abuse

Jim Gamble, the Independent Child Safeguarding Commissioner of City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership

Engaging with yeshivas on safeguarding is ‘like playing whack-a-mole’

Commissioner for Hackney tells Child Sexual Abuse inquiry of inability to enforce safeguarding for Charedi students and it being ‘impossible’ to map unregulated schools


The commissioner charged with engaging yeshivas on child safeguarding has said it is “like playing whack-a-mole” because they up sticks and move once detected.

Independent Child Safeguarding Commissioner of City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership Jim Gamble, a former senior policeman from Northern Ireland, made the comments under oath to public prosecutor Fiona Scolding.

Gamble, who has spent seven years trying to engage yeshivas, was giving evidence via Zoom at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse on Tuesday, with Orthodox Jewish leaders set to respond on Wednesday.

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The Cruel Irony, a Direct Link Between Covid-19 and Education [opinion]


The following is a Letter to the Editor we received. We are posting it with the anonymity attributed to it.

It is premised upon a direct link between secular education and pandemic deaths.

While we do not necessarily agree with the numbers of dead as it relates to education, primarily because there are other factors that might underlie why Covid-19 kills some and not others, the premise holds true if you look to the sheer numbers of sick within the communities our writer cites.

The rate of infection is consistent with the premise, namely that education and respect for secular authority is keeping people healthier.

Read on…

The Cruel Irony, Keep them Uneducated in Secular Subjects and you Keep them Observant…. and they are now Dying in Proportionately Higher Numbers [opinion]

Dear LostMessiah:

Matzav posted a list of those who have died from Covid-19 and the areas where those dead were located within New York and New Jersey. Please accept the following opinion related to that list.

For years now, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwibel, the head of Agudas Israel, State Senator Simcha Felder, Attorney Avi Schick and his sister NYU professor Adina Schick, have fought to protect the ongoing education abuse in the Brooklyn Chasidic community.

All four of them fought to keep the Chasidic community uneducated, isolated, and separate from the world and to do so used every play in the book. 

They did this despite the fact that they all personally believe in secular education for their own children and are neither members nor live in the Chasidic community.

The bitter irony is, their own community of Flatbush came out relatively unscathed from the pandemic, as their community believes and trusts the civil authorities and therefore did not congregate.

Not so the Chasidic community, which suffered over 215 tragic deaths to the corona virus.

In the end, all Zwiebel, Felder, and Schick accomplished through their covering for education neglect and abuse was death and more death.

A Shanda if there every was one!

Lack of Basic Education A Threat to Society, Israel’s Existential Threat

MK Moshe Gafni speaks in an ultra-Orthodox rally (photo credit: Courtesy)
MK Moshe Gafni speaks in an ultra-Orthodox rally
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Israel ‘under threat’ by lack of basic education for ultra-Orthodox children

Prof. Dan Ben David predicts that by 2065, some 35% of Israel’s population will be ultra-Orthodox, compared to its current level of 9% of the population.

Israel is headed for an existential crisis due to the ultra-Orthodox community’s high birthrate, its ability to retain the members of its sector within the ultra-Orthodox fold, and the failure of schools in the sector to provide their pupils with a basic education, a think-tank has argued in a new policy brief.

The brief, authored by Prof. Dan Ben-David of the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research, contends that Israel needs to forget its earlier demographic concern about maintaining a Jewish majority, and instead focus on the severe challenges that it will face over the next half a century, during which time the ultra-Orthodox share of the population will more than triple.

That only a tiny percentage of male ultra-Orthodox high school pupils study the core curriculum subjects such as math, English and science means that Israel’s economy in the future will be unable to sustain its needs for a modern, effective army, Ben-David argues.

According to his findings, some 94% of those who grow up in the ultra-Orthodox community remain ultra-Orthodox as adults.
Of the remainder, 3% become religious-Zionists, 2% become religiously traditional and 1% become secular.

At the other end of the spectrum, secular Israelis also have a high rate of retention of their community, with only 10% of those born secular joining another sector of the population as adults.

According to Ben-David’s study – which uses statistical data from the Central Bureau of Statistics – ultra-Orthodox women have an average birthrate of 7.1 children, compared with just 2.2 for secular Jews, 2.7 for religiously traditional Jews and 4.0 for religious-Zionist Jews. The average birthrate for Muslim women is 3.4 children.

Although the religious-Zionist sector also has a high birthrate, it has low rate of retention of its members, with 45% of its community dropping out of the sector, most of whom become religiously traditional.

According to these figures, Ben-David predicts that by 2065, some 49% of all children in Israel aged 0 to 14 will be ultra-Orthodox, compared with their current level of 19%.

The policy brief notes that the overwhelming majority of male ultra-Orthodox high school aged pupils do not study any core curriculum subjects such as math, English and the sciences.

These pupils, both Ashkenazi and Sephardi, mainly attend what are called yeshivot ketanot and yeshivot gedolot, the equivalent of middle and high school, where only religious studies are taught.

It is estimated that some 80% of male Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox elementary-age pupils attend schools where a minimal core curriculum is taught, although even then it is believed that the requisite hours are not fully taught, and when they are it is to a poor standard.

The Shas-run school network Maayan Hinuch Torani does teach core-curriculum studies, with some 80% of male Sephardi ultra-Orthodox pupils studying in such schools. But the level of these studies is also not thought to be of a high standard.

Efforts to reform primary education in the ultra-Orthodox sector and ensure that schools teach core curriculum subjects were taken by former education minister Shai Piron of Yesh Atid, but various problems, including strong opposition by the ultra-Orthodox parties, meant that most of the reforms were either not implemented or subsequently reversed.

The notion of enforcing the teaching of core curriculum subjects in the yeshivot ketanot and gedolot that ultra-Orthodox boys attend in lieu of high school was not even broached, since the reaction by the ultra-Orthodox leadership and the general population would be so severe.

Ultra-Orthodox girls generally do study the core curriculum since many are expected to support their future husbands economically while they study full-time in yeshiva.

As such, ultra-Orthodox women have a far higher rate of obtainment of higher education qualifications than men, and also have a far higher rate of employment than ultra-Orthodox men.

BEN-DAVID POINTS out that despite recent increases in the number of ultra-Orthodox men and women studying for academic degrees in colleges and universities, the share of working age ultra-Orthodox men with such qualifications has remained the same over the last 15 years, at around 15%, and even declined slightly over the last four years.

Since it is ultra-Orthodox men who have extremely low rates of workforce participation, with just 51% in employment, the figures regarding the failure to increase the share of ultra-Orthodox men with higher education qualifications is of particular concern.

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