Is Desecrating the Shabbat Okay if it Allows the Haredim to Celebrate?

http://ch7.io/c41y

 

Originally Posted on FrumWatch: https://www.facebook.com/frumwatch/
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/228632

Haredim are not disciplined, they do what they want’

Northern police rabbi says haredi community can’t have it both ways, haredi community forces police to desecrate Shabbat against their will.

Israel Police North Division Rabbi Anshel Friedman on Wednesday morning spoke about the recent complaints about how Israel Police are preparing for the upcoming Lag Baomer celebrations.

Thousands of police officers will be expected to desecrate Shabbat in order to prepare for the influx of thousands of Israelis and tourists who will come to Meron on Saturday night and Sunday.

Lag Baomer is the anniversary of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s passing. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also known by his initials as “Rashbi” is believed to be the author of the Zohar.

“You want the police to keep Shabbat?” Rabbi Friedman said. “The haredi community is not disciplined, and it does what it wants. For instance, on Friday afternoon, about 10-15 minutes after Shabbat starts, cars carrying haredim travel up the mountain – and the police have to be there to stop it.”

In an interview with the Kol Barama Radio, Rabbi Friedman said the police have “no interest” in working on Shabbat, and in fact want the police officers to rest on Shabbat.

“Until the haredi community, and other religious communities, decide they will not arrive in Meron before Sunday morning, the Israel Police will be forced to desecrate Shabbat in order to be on the scene when they are needed,” he said.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/228632

Enslaving Ultra-Orthodox Children through Ignorance

Orthodox ‘Dropouts’ Still Tethered To Faith

http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new-york/orthodox-dropouts-still-tethered-faith

Orthodox ‘Dropouts’ Still Tethered To Faith
 08/16/16
 Jonathan Mark
 Associate Editor

The Orthodox fascinate and defy the number crunchers. No group is growing so prodigiously: Seventy-four percent of Jewish children in New York are Orthodox and Satmar’s school system is now larger than all but three public school systems in New York State. And yet, of American Orthodoxy’s 530,000 Jews, perhaps more than 10,000 Orthodox Jews have dropped out to varying degrees, according to Nishma Research. Modest numbers, perhaps, but each of those 10,000 likely could tell a story of sadness and disappointment.

Demographer Steven M. Cohen of Hebrew Union College, an adviser to Nishma’s project  — “Starting a Conversation: A Pioneering Survey of Those Who Have Left the Orthodox Community” — said in a statement about the study: “We live in an age of enormous religious fluidity … but there is little quantitative research on Jews who have left Orthodoxy.” This study by Nishma, a new research firm that financed the independent but non-scientific study, is “particularly significant if we are to understand the future of Orthodoxy and American Jewry,” he said.

What becomes of these lapsed Orthodox, referred to in the report and in the vernacular as “off the derech” (road), presuming that there ever was a single derech in the first place? Several OTD memoirs and even suicides speak of severed relationships and estrangement from their communities. Or is that simply the experience of those authors and a tragic few?

As Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach used to say, people left Orthodoxy not because it was too much but because it wasn’t enough. His maxim was verified by Nishma’s study, which reports that most OTDs felt “pushed” off the derech, disappointed by the Orthodox community, rather than “pulled” or seduced by the “outside” world.

Dropouts have always been part of the Orthodox story, but the Pew Research Center’s most definitive 2013 study found dropouts have fluctuated with the generations, the older generation dropping out with far greater frequency than the younger one. Pew states that there was “a surge [78 percent] switching [out of] Orthodox Judaism from the 1950s to the 1970s, followed by a higher retention within Orthodox Judaism in recent decades.” The retention rate is now soaring among young Orthodox adults (aged 18-30); 83 percent of those who were raised Orthodox still are. That means, however, that 17 percent have left.

Well, not all actually left, a finding that casts a fog over any numbers or conclusions. Unlike Christianity, where belief in Jesus provides a fairly definitive line of religious demarcation, Judaism defines religious fidelity not by belief but by action. Religious Christians don’t “somewhat” believe in Jesus, but Nishma found that 45 percent of the dropouts remained “somewhat” Orthodox. It is interesting that 33 percent of OTDs still believed in God, but it is more pertinent to Orthodoxy that 31 percent still kept kosher, 53 percent still lit Shabbos candles, 68 percent still participated in Shabbos meals and 66 percent still felt an attachment to Israel (and the people of Israel). If one keeps Shabbos (to whatever extent) and kosher, when most Jews don’t, how is that person “off the derech”? And yet, in a highly judgmental community, “with Orthodoxy’s exacting standards,” the study noted, “a respondent could consider himself or herself lapsed and still be more religious than most.”

The respondents still wanted Orthodox-literate children; 70 percent send their children to yeshiva or day school, with only 9 percent sending children to non-Orthodox Jewish schools.

And yet, the more liberal Orthodoxy became, the more it disappointed. Modern Orthodoxy, which has done considerably more than any other Orthodox groups on behalf of women’s Torah study, agunot reform, women’s prayer groups, and women’s lay leadership in synagogues and organizations, nevertheless had more Modern Orthodox women dropouts (22 percent) citing the “status of women” as the No. 1 reason they left. Across the quadrants of the survey (chasidic, Chabad, yeshivish and Modern Orthodox), 20 percent of all female dropouts agreed, the status of women was a problem, but only 3 percent of the male OTDs thought so.

In another counterintuitive finding, although Modern Orthodox schools and rabbis are the most liberal in allowing and even encouraging an open exchange of ideas, Modern Orthodoxy had the most dropouts (9 percent) complaining about the “closed atmosphere” of “no questions, unanswered questions, [or] lack of openness.” That was a higher percentage than among the formerly yeshivish (6 percent), who theoretically were living in a more cloistered, ideologically uniform environment. Indeed, none of the divergent educational methods in Orthodoxy proved to be more successful than any other as a bulwark against “general doubts, [or] loss of faith,” a problem shared by dropouts from the chasidic (15 percent), yeshivish (14 percent), Modern Orthodox (11 percent) and Chabad (10 percent) communities.

The goal of surveying those “off the derech” was to “give this group a voice,” said Mark Trencher, Nishma’s founder and lead researcher (and former president of his local Young Israel). He told The Jewish Week that the survey was not scientific, as there was “no hard data” and “no master list” to gauge the OTD population. The survey, therefore, was crafted, said Trencher, as an “opt-in” conversation, with 885 respondents. Most of the respondents were solicited through nonprofits such as Footsteps and Makom (which helped coordinate the survey), agencies dedicated to assisting OTDs.

Although OTD memoirs often discuss family rejection, the survey found that time heals: familial understanding rose from 15 percent, at the time of leaving Orthodoxy, to more than 40 percent after 10 years. Women reported having a harder time with their families than did men. After leaving, a majority (54 percent) of the lapsed Orthodox felt a void in their non-Orthodox communities, with one of the biggest problems being dating and relationships (24 percent). “I haven’t found a community of likeminded individuals,” wrote one respondent, “and don’t feel as connected as I would like in terms of socializing.” Forty-three percent of respondents agreed. Despite the attention given to the difficulty of being Orthodox and single, the so-called “shidduch crisis,” only 5 percent of women and less than 1 percent of men cited it as a significant factor in their decision to leave. Dating on the “outside” could be harder, not easier.

Men were more likely to say that they left because of intellectual issues, with complaints about the “learning and thought processes,” or religion’s absence of “proof.” Women shared those intellectual issues but were more bothered (9 percent) than men (3 percent) by communal “rumors, judging, and gossip.”

LGBTQ Jews left after coming to the conclusion that they would never be accepted within their communities. “My identity as a transgender person was ignored and denied by all the rabbis I reached out to,” said one. “I had many LGBTQ friends and struggled with reconciling that part of my life with my yeshiva life.”

Some OTDs lived a double life, questioning internally, acting Orthodox externally. These “double-lifers,” Nishma concluded, “are not ready to emerge publicly and may never do so,” although 39 percent say they likely will go public, someday.

The survey didn’t indicate that some “double-lifers” happily embrace their ambivalence. Jay Lefkowitz, an attorney, writing in Commentary, explained that he is a practicing Modern Orthodox Jew, though not a believing one, because “I’m a Jet,” like the gang in West Side Story. When you’re Orthodox, you’re “never alone … never disconnected.” Between shul, schools, interests, Shabbos meals, he felt “home with your own” and surely “company’s expected.”

Lefkowitz defined his group as “social Orthodox.” Religious practice, he explained, “is an essential component of Jewish continuity,” so “social Orthodox” Jews “are observant — and not because they are trembling before God.” He puts on tefillin, eats vegetarian in non-kosher restaurants, and yet theological questions “weren’t particularly germane to my life as an observant Jew.”

He’s not alone. The Jewish Week has reported that a substantial number of Modern Orthodox teens might go to shul on Shabbos, but also text on their phones, part of a phenomenon known as “half-Shabbos.” Nevertheless, they consider themselves Orthodox. Others do the same and think of themselves as lapsed.

Lefkowitz attends an Orthodox shul, sends his children to an Orthodox school and sent his daughter to the Israeli army. “I would appear to be the very model of an Orthodox Jew, albeit a modern one,” he writes. In the end, “We behave as Jews so we can belong as Jews … so we will not be disconnected, and we will never be alone.”

Jonathan@jewishweek.org

Read more at http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new-york/orthodox-dropouts-still-tethered-faith#AalRCMEvGFGk6vEt.99

Raising Money to Deprive non-Religious Parents of their Rights to their Children

Ultra-Orthodox Jews launch million-pound fundraising bid to stop children living with ‘irreligious parents’

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ultra-orthodox-jews-launch-million-pound-fundraising-campaign-to-fight-converts-child-custody-cases-a7190281.html

Ultra-Orthodox Jews are raising £1m to prevent “pure and holy” children from leaving the strict faith community and living with “irreligious parents” in an “evil culture”, The Independent has learned.

The fundraising drive has been established to fund the legal fees of divorcing parents involved in child custody battles with ex-partners who want to join mainstream society.

The Independent has seen flyers for a fundraising event in the Stamford Hill area of London that call for the community to back the bid, saying: “Rescue The Children Convention: We now need one million pounds and therefore the community is requested to join in with a minimum sum of £500.”

leaffly2
A copy of the flyer obtained by The Independent

The flyers were accompanied by a letter of support from a local rabbi stating they wish to fight cases involving 17 children: “To our great pain, and our misfortune, our community finds itself in a terrible situation – 17 of our pure and holy children where one of the parents, God rescue them, have gone out into an evil culture, and want to drag their children after them.

“This is a decree of apostasy and this situation has motivated our rabbis who are in Israel… to come here in a personal capacity to increase prayer and to gather money for legal fees, and to achieve this a convention has been organised of prayer and also to collect money.”

leaffly
Leaflet distributed in North London, calling for donations ()

The Charedi community is notoriously insular and practices a 19th-century interpretation of the faith. Engagement with the secular world is deeply taboo, Yiddish is spoken as the primary language and arranged marriages are standard practice. Men wear 19th-century Eastern European dress including long black coats and black hats, while married women must dress modestly and cover their hair.

Campaigners and former community members have told The Independent the tactical funding of legal fees tears families apart by denying those wishing to leave the religion access to their children as a punishment for no longer believing in ultra-Orthodox Judaism.

They say the practice unfairly skews child custody battles in favour of the funded parent who remains in the faith groups, rather than enabling custody to be decided on the basis of the best interests of children. Many who join mainstream society have little grasp of the English language or legal system as well as no financial resources, they are severely disadvantaged in court cases and can struggle to understand or articulate their experiences or get adequate legal representation.

A spokesperson for GesherEU, a charity supporting people wishing to leave Charedi communities, told The Independent: “[Child custody cases instigated by a parent leaving the community are] seen as a huge threat to the Charedi community, knowing that people can leave the community and take their children with them and give them a decent secular education and live successfully outside of the community.

“It is very common within the Charedi community for the religious parent to receive full financial support throughout the court process to ensure the children remain within the community. The parent who stays religious will receive fully funded solicitors and barristers with the sole intention of ensuring the children remain resident with the parent who stays in the community.”

“The religious parent will be pressurised into filing for full custody and even lie in court so that the other parent is seen as ‘an unfit parent’ and lose custody/contact with their children. Often parents who leave will experience domestic violence as the religious parent will resort to threats and emotional and physical abuse to try and coerce their spouse to remain married and living within the Charedi community.”

They added that the knowledge the community will try and keep a child with a believing parent acts as a deterrent for anyone questioning their faith and considering leaving: “An event like this is a clear warning to those thinking of leaving as well as a scare tactic: ‘If you leave we have all the money power and resources to fight you and ensure your children stay within the community are alienated from you.’ This does work to some extent and deters many who would otherwise leave knowing they will be facing a legal battle with possibly devastating consequences.”

Last year, the community came under scrutiny when it emerged one school threatened pupils with expulsion if their mothers drove them to school on the grounds that it was “contrary to the rules of religious modesty” for women to drive. An investigation by The Independent earlier this year found more than a 1,000 children in Charedi communities are attending illegal schools where secular knowledge is banned and they learn only religious texts, meaning they leave school with no qualifications and often unable to speak any English.

The Independent has seen details of legal cases brought before British Family Courts in recent years whereby the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has funded legal fees of a ‘believing’ parent in the hope that they will be given custody of the children above the other parent. In a 2013 ruling, a judge told the court: “The mother and father come from the… Charedi community of ultra-Orthodox Jews. A major reason for the marriage breakdown was that the mother no longer wished to follow the strict tenets of that community. She remains an orthodox Jew but wished for a way of living for herself and the children which allowed greater diversity of educational, personal and economic opportunity. Her wish has come at a price. Her own parents and siblings are no longer in contact with her.

“The financial cost of this litigation is significant. The mother does not receive public funding, and pays the legal costs from her own pocket. The father’s legal costs are paid for by his community and by his parents… This is a grossly disproportionate misdirection of the father’s available financial resources. It is also a wearing down of the mother’s resources. I did not make a costs order on this occasion but, if these or similar disputes are continued, the court may have to intervene with costs orders in future to prevent further financial injustice to the mother.”

A court case last year exposed the extreme pressure individuals feel when leaving the community as a woman sought to divorce her husband after alleging sexual and domestic violence, and gain custody of their daughter. Court records seen by The Independent show the woman was unable to read or write English and was represented on a voluntary basis by lawyers due to lack of funds. It is not known how her ex-husband’s legal fees were funded.

The ruling notes that the woman says she was beaten and raped repeatedly throughout her marriage but “was inhibited from speaking out about her abusive experiences contemporaneously because of the culture in which she was living… where she would have no audience and no sympathy”.

The woman told the court that when the woman attended a GP’s appointment for vaginal pain incurred by rape, her husband attended with her to translate English for her, meaning she was unable to get help there too.

She said that once she did speak out and seek custody of her child, community members spread rumours she had been sexually promiscuous. “A member of the community threw eggs at me for disclosing the violence and allegedly bringing shame upon the community,” she said. The woman was granted custody and left the country soon after to begin a new life with her child.

Imtiaz Shams, co-founder of Faith To Faithless an advocacy group for ex-religious people, told The Independent: “Faith to Faithless has come across many parents for whom leaving their faith has had huge consequences for their relationship with their children. Many have had to “go back into the closet” in terms of their lack of faith, even from their own children, simply to protect this bond.

“Leaving faith can put the financial and social weight of the whole religious community against the parent: it is part of the systematic prejudice faced by non-religious people from religious communities. Leaving the Ultra-Orthodox community can be particularly difficult as these parents can be isolated, may not know what their rights are or have the financial and emotional support required to fight these custody battles.”

He added: “We call on the Government and civil society to do more to protect non-religious parents and their children, who may not have the resources to challenge the discrimination they face.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ultra-orthodox-jews-launch-million-pound-fundraising-campaign-to-fight-converts-child-custody-cases-a7190281.html

 

Anti-Zionist Haredi Jews – A Religious Hypocrisy

ShowImagehared

Do the Haredim Present a Problem with the Argument that Anti-Zionism is also Anti-Semitisim

Lost Messiah, May 15, 2016

Addressing the whole leftwing antisemitism/anti-Zionism elision, Ephraim Mirvis, the chief rabbi of the UK, wrote recently in the Telegraph that Zionism “is a noble and integral part of Judaism” and that anyone suggesting otherwise is being “deeply insulting” to the Jewish community. There is a problem here. Where does this leave many of the Haredim?

 

We have written before on the comparison between the cultist fundamentalist Haredim to their cousins, the extremist Muslims, with the exception being that the Jewish counterpart tend not to like to explode things, setting a man on fire notwithstanding. We have commented on the hypocrisy of the Haredim who live in Israel and live off of the work of other Jews (and others) without compunction. We have admonished the Haredi fundamentalists who live in a small state with enemies at every possible corner, just waiting to destroy them, and yet refuse to serve in an army that protects them. The following, an opinion piece in The Guardian is written by Giles Fraiser who attempts to explain what to him appears an antithesis in that Haredim are themselves Jews and believe themselves to be the truest form of Judaism. We tend to disagree. We do not view the anti-Zionist Haredim as Jews but rather as a cult who have bastardized Judaism rather than purified it.

In our view, the anti-Zionist Haredim living in Israel are the greatest danger to the State of Israel and to Judaism as a whole. They set a world stage for the destruction of the State of Israel – for if our own people do not believe in its existence, why should the rest of the world? We believe that fundamentalist anti-Zionist Haredim provide a strong argument for fundamentalist Muslims to justify the wholesale acts of terrorism, not only in Israel but in countries like Belguim, France and England, killing Jews and non-Jews alike. For the rest of us are Heretics, whether Jews or Arabs, or anything else for that matter, why not slaughter us? Finally, in our view they provide a solid argument for any anti-Semitic hatred – if we can’t love and respect one another than are we better than the worst of mankind?

As we see it, the anti-Israel Haredim have no business living in a country they would not defend. The rest of our children go off into the army and defend Israel’s borders at the risk of peril. Why should our secular and non-fundamentalist observant children be defending the children of those who are wholly unwilling to do the same?  The ultra-Orthodox fundamentalist Haredim should be reminded that were Israel’s borders to be breached by those wanting to toss every Israeli into the sea, their children would drown too.

 

We leave this discussion for you to ponder.  A portion of The Guardian piece to follow.

For Haredi Jews secular Zionism remains a religious heresy

haredim

“Haredi theology began as a reaction to the 18th century Jewish enlightenment, the Haskalah, a movement that aimed at the modernisation of Jewish culture in Europe. Whereas the Haskalah wanted to end Jewish segregation and encourage greater engagement with modern ideas and secular society, traditionalists saw this as a threat to Jewish religious identity. Thus the Haredim stuck resolutely to their traditional clothes and ways. They would chat in Yiddish and only pray in Hebrew, too holy a language for social intercourse. And when the secular movement of modern Zionism started to take shape, they opposed this too: only God could bring about the new Israel, they argued. Trying to pre-empt God’s action through secular nationalism was a heresy. Judaism is fundamentally a religious community, they argued, and modern notions of race and nationhood are alien to it. Thus, for many Haredim, the state of Israel remains almost sacrilegious.

It’s not so long ago that even the chief rabbis of the UK thought something similar. In 1898, Mirvis’s predecessor, Chief Rabbi Naftali Hermann Adler, gave a sermon in which he condemned modern Zionism as usurping God’s role: “I look at this movement and worry with my heart, since I see it as opposed to the Torah of Hashem.” (Hashem meaning “the name” – that is, God’s name.) Compared with what others were saying, this is mild stuff indeed.

Yes, after a long and heated debate, mainstream orthodox Judaism was won round to the modern version of Zionism and now celebrates it enthusiastically. But the idea that those who oppose it are being “deeply insulting to the Jewish community” does rather depend on which Jewish community you mean. Chief Rabbi Adler’s successors might have changed their mind, but many deeply traditional Jewish communities have not. And these communities are growing. Currently the Haredim make up roughly 10% of the Israeli population. Given the current birth rate of about six children per Haredi mother, some predict they will make up 25% of the population within a few decades. And a significant proportion of these are somewhere on a scale from indifferent to downright hostile to the state of Israel, and refuse to serve in its army. Last year a uniformed IDF officer was pelted with stones, eggs and nappies in Mea Shearim.

Often dismissed as “extremists”, these Jews don’t fit with the neat secular narrative into which the Israeli government continues to woo them through education and army membership. But by refusing assimilation, the Haredim deliberately eschew the racy hi-tech Israel of those jogging on the Tel Aviv seafront. Personally, I admire their stubborn resistance to secular homogenised modernity and omnipresent capitalism, its companion. Furthermore, whatever else one may say about the Haredim, their anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism. They stick to older, pre-Enlightenment promises about Zion. And why shouldn’t they?”

For the entire article click here.