Declaration of the American Moetzes Regarding Emmanuel

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15 Responses

  1. Dov says:

    One fascinating aspect of this is that all schools in America, however much they may reflect the hashkafos of particular groups, do in fact uphold the laws of America regarding minimal secular studies, testing, teaching certification, etc.

    Does Aguda in America issue categorical refusals for Aguda-aligned schools in America fulfilling the American government’s minimal requirements for recognized schools? Are the full weight of Aguda’s political connections used to push the government to never issue any requirement of any sort on a school whose hashkafa is contrary to said requirements?

    The answer is no, and the reason is simple: In America there is an acknowledgement of galus and its implications for Jewish life. Jews in America, of all Chassidic and Yeshivish shapes and flavors, live under a galus government and acknowledge that that government has the right to set rules. (In fact, Chazal’s respect for galus governments is tremendous, and manifests itself in halachos to pray for the welfare of galus governments for preserving the peace. But this is not my subject now.)

    In Israel, however, there is no such acknowledgement. The government is considered to have no right to tell the Torah world what to do in any areas that the Torah world cares about.

    This has a lot of practical implications, but I think that the philosophical implication is huge. Until recently the general consensus was that the Dati Le’Umi world considered the Israeli government to be a quasi-Messianic government, with some of the dinim of a Jewish malchus, while the Chareidi world considered the Israeli government to be a stam secular government. It appears to me that this has now shifted. If the chareidi world considers the Israeli government to be required to bend to Torah law, we’re basically saying that the government is not a galus government. Put another way, if we expect and demand more of the Israeli government than we do of the governments of America or England or other countries in galus, we’re saying that the government here is different than governments in galus, and is held to a higher presumption of caring about Torah.

    Personally, I think it’s clear that the Israeli government is a galus government. Had the Torah world been more involved in forming the government 60 years ago it might be different, but that’s history. I think that if we’re willing to accept that galus means American schools bending a bit to fit the rules of the government, based partly on Chazal’s belief in supporting governments just because they keep peace in the world, then the same reality should exist here in Israel.

    It appears, however, that the Slonimer Chassidim feel more strongly than I do that the government here is held to a higher Torah standard. Can the words “Reishees Tzmichas Ge’ulaseinu” be far behind?

  2. Joe Hill says:

    Dov, the American government does not interfere in the religious rights of Jewish parents and schools to educate their children as they deem their religion requires them. The Israeli government has no such compunctions.

  3. Simcha Younger says:

    I am bothered at this constant insistence of presenting the issue as Torah against the court. This issue can be addressed on its own demerits without ever making an issue religion and state. There is no law here. There was a violation of law and basic rights by the court, and that should be our message.

    Instead of saying ‘We only listen to our Rabbi’s”, would it not be better to say:
    “The court is REQUIRED to actually address the issue at hand” (basic job description)
    “The court failed entirely to respond to our position”
    “The court must show us even one girl who was discriminated against.”
    “The court just invented, through most tortuous logic, a law which gives it the right to tell us where to send our kids to school. There is no such law, or justification for such a law”
    “The court failed to show ANY indications of discrimination”

    Torah is supreme to the law, but for social discourse that should be saved for instances where its a clear contradiction, and where it is the only reason for rejecting the court’s actions. Here the court was so off track that it actually distracts attention from the real issues to talk about religion and state. Instead of saying ‘Torah and court, Torah wins”, how about “Law and court – law wins” “Basic rights and court – basic rights win”. Thats a language everyone understands (though still many will disagree).

  4. David Schallheim says:

    >>If the chareidi world considers the Israeli government to be required to bend to Torah law

    No one holds the government to a Torah standard.

    I think it’s only that the chareidi world asks that the government not interfere with their way of life.

    If it comes to it, we’re obviously willing to forgo the State funding, but at this point in time it is legislated that we can have Beis Yaakov schools entirely funded by the State and even cheider systems funded by 55 -75%.

    Will the secular parties attempt to change these laws? Maybe, but at this point I’ve seen no serious attempt to do so.

  5. Micha Berger says:

    These people who were lauded as “Chareidim lidvar hashem” were not racist (although such incidents are common annual events in Israel), but they did take money supplied for one purpose and use it for another. I’m not sure how this becomes acceptable behavior that the moetzes wouldn’t want to make a statement distancing themselves from it. Having a “right” to run a school in accordance with one’s beliefs doesn’t translate to stealing the money to do so. Emanuel is simply too poor to accomodate these 30 parents.

    Because they spent the money on putting up walls, creating a second hierarchy with its own administrative overhead, etc… there was less money for the main Beis Yaakov to educate everyone else’s daughters.


  6. Nisan Hershkowitz says:

    A stated goal of publicly funded education in American society is to teach civics: a certain minimum level of communitarianism,where citizens feel they are “in this together.”It can be argued that this is NOT descriptive of the Israeli system, where taxpayers fund four different streams.

    However,the stated basis of the separate systems IS curricular.Israeli Arabs,Dati-Leumi and Chinuch Atzmai are recognized as legitimate because of the special instructional needs of their constituents.

    It is apparent from the hafganot that it is social separation that is the true basis for special status for the Chinuch Atzmai stream.

    American parents who want their children separately educated, for whatever reason, send them to private schools.Is social separation a value that Israeli taxpayers should fund? As it stands,fulfillment of legal requirements for minimal secular education in mathematics,English are ignored with government complicity.That’s “b’Shev ve-Al Ta’aseh. But to actually build a physical barrier within the school building would seem to be a “Kum va-Aseh” that any self-respecting authority cannot ignore.

    Perhaps an equitable solution for the Emmanuel situation would be to have askanim build a separate building nearby.Teachers who now participate in both programs will continue to be able do so without loss to their livelihoods. And the students will have their parents’ “unstated ” goals fulfilled too.

  7. Jeremy says:

    You can only cry when you read this coming from a respected body of American rabbinic leaders. The world will be left with the impression (hopefully a very incorrect impression) that the Moetzes has no problem with what happened, and will jump to the defense of Ashkenazi charedim against the Supreme Court no matter what. The court, secular Israelis, and many religious ones see it as an issue of racism, not a secular vs religious issue as the Moetzes has framed it. Without addressing how most of the world sees it, or at least unequivocally declaring that racism is unacceptable in Jewish law, the world will be left with a very bad impression indeed.

    [Editors – Unless we do our best to add the proper context and explanation when given the opportunity.]

  8. Tzei U'lmad says:

    Not only should we be concerned about the agenda of the Israeli Court and its opening to intrude into Torah educational mosdos, but also we have to be concerned that the substance of the complaint may indeed have some validity. The Moetzes is concerned that the Israeli High Court is forcing on Emmanuel an education that is “against their way of life”; fair enough of the Moetzes to voice that concern, but we are Johnny come latelys when it comes to doing a heshbon on our problems and making solutions. The Israeli court is stealing the initiative here because we constantly hand over the initiative. We seem to be engaged in a general retreat punctuated with fierce “reactiveness” defending the status quo, instead of “proactively” defining problems and generating solutions before unfriendly authorities meddle. Maybe the Moetzes should lead.

  9. cvmay says:

    Quite interesting after all the years that the AGUDATH YISROEL has stated we do not mix in Israeli affairs (Jerusalem building freeze, Oslo peace, Gush Katif, Gay Parade in Yerushayalim, Demonstrations against Intel/Kartel and Shabbos Desecration,etc. etc.), it has released a Rabbinical Statement.
    So then, which affairs are deemed worthy of intervention and which ones ensures silence by the Agudath? Humm, makes you think for a moment…..

  10. Dov says:

    In response to comments made replying to my first comment:

    Sorry, but the American government mandates a minimal secular cirriculum, and mandates minimal national testing, and minimal graduation requirements. (I think it also mandates teacher certification, but I may be wrong.) All this is in a context of NOT giving money to private schools, but just passing laws regarding education.

    The debates here in Israel are over issues MUCH less than are acceptable in America for lack of choice.

    Re-read the statement above: The objection is to the government forcing education on them that is contrary to their desires. What is being forced? Being in the same school as girls that wear different colored socks. Being in the same school as girls whose fathers are chareidi but work for a living. And this is in the context of these schools receiving their budgets from the government.

    Again, I’m not against Chinuch Atzma’i, I’m against the attitude that we can live in a society and benefit from the protections and money of a government and not accept ANY minimal and tiny requirements from that government. This is not the attitude of Aguda in America or anywhere else in chutz la’Aretz, and if we accept that the government here is a secular government (and not malchus beit dovid), and if we accept Chazal’s demands that we praise secular governments for maintaining peace, and if we have hakaras ha’tov for the money that the government gives to religious schools, then we can accept that a few minimal requirements are fair game for a government to impose.

  11. Shlomo ben Meir says:

    I’m troubled by a lack of names, signatures, and dates. Absent names, signatures, and dates this becomes a mere Word document that anyobe can produce. Where are the names, signatures, and dates?

  12. dman says:

    Shlomo ben Meir:

    Here is the statement from the Moetzes published on Matzav:

    As far as I can tell, the Hebrew texts are the same; here is the English portion:

    The following statement was released by the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America in response to the continuing affair regarding the parents of Emmanuel, Israel:

    In the wake of the terrible slander of the Israeli High Court against our precious brethren in the Holy Land community of Emmanuel dedicated to the word of Hashem, who have been sent to prison for their devotion to the religious education of their daughters, we protest mightily the outrage and sin committed against them, and the twisted decision to force upon them a system of education that is against their way of life and the opinion of their rabbis.

    The erroneous notion that a secular court has an authority above that of the holy Torah as understood by those who hold its banner aloft falsifies the Jewish faith and undermines the fundamental belief that the Torah is not subject to change, that it alone determines the life-choices of a Jew and is not subject to the authority of any secular system of justice.

    And we join wholeheartedly, along with hundreds of thousands of Jews around the globe, in the prisoners’ pain. May their hands be strengthened. Fortunate are they for bearing the honor of Hashem and the Jewish religious tradition on their shoulders at this time.

    May it be Hashem’s will that the name of Heaven be venerated in our times, and that His honor fill the entire earth.

    Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America

    6 Tamuz, 5770

    [The above is a free translation of the statement below]

  13. Shlomo ben Meir says:

    My point is that anyone could have written that (Hebrew or English) and without signatures we are left in doubt. Can that happen? Of course. How many former “kol Koraas” were later determined to be forged? Frankly, I trust, but verify.

  14. L. Oberstein says:

    Please don’t compare the American Moetzes to what goes on in Israel. Here, they actually meet, there they do not actually get together, it is not really a Moetzes. Here there are wise men who advise the members of the Moetzes, I have complete confidence in their integrity, honesty and prudence,each and every one of them. On the other hand, one hears too often that much of what is issued in the name of Rav Elyashiv is not necessarily originated by him and that the other signatures are added pro forma. Even if this is not 100% true, it just doesn’t happen that way with the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of the United States Agudah.
    In the United States, the regional offices of the Agudah help with all kinds of legislation and regulation to aid education and enable observant Jews to get whatever other citizens get. They have excellent relations with all levels of government.

  15. Tzei U'lmad says:

    L. Oberstein,
    I know a couple of the “wise men who advise the Moetzes”, true enough. Unfortunately, in high profile matters (ie. matters more of appearance than substance) the Moetzes has fallen in lock step with some of the rancor coming out of EY. The only case I can think of where they drew an independent line was in not banning the 2nd edition of Making of a Godol. But your comment really underlines the issue: The essential problem that is happening in Eretz Yisrael is not a matter of legislation or regulation, it is a matter of how Klal Yisrael interact – whether it be bigotry or ahavah. Most of the injustice is self-inflicted, not governmental. And by the way, there are huge problems and even greater pending crises in the frum community in the USA. These cannot be solely addressed by running off to Washington or trying to fund education through vouchers. They are problems ben adam l’chavaroh and they are problems in our institutional structures. Yes, every year the Agudah airs some of these issues in plenary sessions at the Annual Convention. But how far do those issues really get addressed? What structures are being put in place? What is the Moetzes asking of every frum Jew in America? I’m sorry to say I don’t see the leadership. I see political timidity and institutional self-preservation, and a kind of rearguard retreat and self-justification in the face of looming crises.

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