Past,present,future of the haredi sector
motzei Shabbat 27 b Tamuz
Just a short note to suggest two recent articles of interest on developments in the haredi world.
In Friday’s Haaretz Magazine (July 21) the reporter Shahar Ilan, who has covered the haredi beat for years and is usually antagonistic, wrote a neutral and comprehensive analysis of the haredi weekly, Hamishpacha, and the implications of its success. The article is appropriately titled In a Family Way. Here is a snippet.
Reporter: Why do you have almost no investigative reports that expose corruption?
Hamishpacha Publisher, Eli Paley: “In my opinion, even the series we did about road safety in the Haredi sector is an investigative report. On the subject of corruption there are quite a number of critical editorials that lash out mercilessly.”
Reporter: Mishpacha does frequently address social problems. It has published a series of articles about the shababniks – Haredi street youth – and a piece about violence in the family. It is also waging a battle against educational institutions’ discrimination against Mizrahim (Jews of North African or Middle Eastern origin) and the newly religious. But it brings up these problems without mentioning names, so nobody will be hurt.
Referring to the twelve page interview with Rav Osher Weiss, that appeared on Shavuot in the Hebrew Hamishpacha, and last week in the English edition:
Reporter: On the eve of the Shavuot festival, two leading rabbinical authorities were interviewed in Mishpacha. Five years ago, the idea that important rabbis would be interviewed in a newspaper, even a Haredi one, was a distant dream. But Mishpacha offers them a means to address one-third of the Haredi public and also to gain international exposure. In exchange, the publication gains legitimacy from the rabbis. The question is whether the independent Haredi press really strengthens such leading Torah scholars, or creates a freer public opinion and weakens them.
Would it not be correct to say that the stronger the Haredi press, the weaker the scholars are?
Paley: “What nonsense. Mishpacha serves as a platform that in my opinion not only treats the Torah scholars with respect, but causes the public to like them.”
There is much more in this article cum interview. Worth reading, especially since this particular reporter rarely writes something positive about the religious sector.
#2 The second article of interest is in the summer 5766 (2006) issue of the secular journal Azure and has the intriguing title The Haredim: A Defense. The author, Aharon Rose shows how academic experts and non-haredi historians who have analyzed the history of this sector, and have written prognostications, have missed the mark by a long shot.
Worth reading the entire, scholarly essay – including all 55 footnotes. It concludes on the following note:
Once, during a heated debate on the question of whether the Haredi community helps or hinders the future of the Jewish people, my teacher and rabbi Professor Shalom Rosenberg, a researcher of Jewish history, claimed that the Haredim are the “savings account” of the Jewish people. In contrast, the modern Jewish movement may be compared to “venture capital,” used to invest in bold political and ideological ventures. Surely, we can see the value in both. Indeed, there may come a time when the modern Jewish community will need to dip into its reserves. The resilience of the Haredi community assures us that these reserves will always be there.