The End of the Begin-ing

You may also like...

27 Responses

  1. sara kahn says:

    Look, I don’t like Yair Lapid, and I am troubled by the idea of charedi boys serving in the army at 18.
    But there is a huge problem here: we had laws which prevented Charedim from working without army service, which trapped thousands of able-bodied men in poverty (yes, some were learning with joy, but some were not learning, and some were learning but did not want to be); we have a growing population of charedim with no plans to participate in army service – and we already don’t get 20% of the boys serving, because they are Arabs, and another large portion of young men are disabled, mentally unfit, or runaways to America etc., and unfortunately, we need soldiers. So what is the counter-proposal to Lapid’s? Was the plan to continue the status quo forever?

  2. Y. Ben-David says:

    There have been many changes since 1977. A real flowering of interest in Judaism by many non-religious Israelis. A flowering of yeshivot, both Haredi and National Religious. Is it really realistic to look at everything as if it is only black? Is the seemingly congenital pessimism and cynicism that I encountered when I immersed myself in parts of the religious world in the 1970’s preventing us from looking at the cup being half-full instead of half-empty? Was the pre-state situation of religious life so great that looking at the Kotel really makes us see the destruction even more? Maybe we could see how far we have come from the pre-Holocaust religious world in Europe that was in a state of COLLAPSE? After all most young Jews growing up in Poland in the interwar years (the largest Jewish community outside the USSR) including those who received what we would call “Haredi education” abandoned religious observance. Coming back to Eretz Israel illustrates to me rebirth, not dwelling on how bad things supposedly are? Is nursing endless feelings of grievance and victimization and largely imaginary fears that there is an ongoing conspiracy against the religious community really going to help confront the REAL public opinion that Yesh Atid is representing, not out of cynicism or political opportunism, but out of addressing real demands for reforms that most Israelis want to see?
    Only REAL dialogue between the Haredi community and the rest of Israeli society, including an honest statement of how the Haredi community views itself in relation with the rest of Israeli society can bring constructive progress for everyone involved. This has not happened yet, nor do I see it on the horizon due to an ideological block against acknowledging non-Haredi legitimacy, fearing that directly addressing the larger Israeli society’s concerns will somehow open the floodgates internally, yet it is high time this has happened and EVERYONE will benefit.

  3. Y. Ben-David says:

    As part of the dialogue I mentioned in my previous post, I would like to suggest the following package deal to resolve the tension between the Haredi and non-Haredi communities in Israel. I got the idea from someone who attended the anti-gius demonstration in New York who told the media “all we Haredim want is to be left alone”. A very understandable sentiment. However, not only do the Haredim want to be left alone, but everyone else also wants to be left alone.
    The package deal would work like this: The Haredim would be recognized as a community in Israel that for reasons of conscience can not recognize the ideological legitimacy of the state and can not serve in the IDF nor in national service for that reasons. Thus, all Haredim who declare themselves as such would be granted permanent exemption from military or national service and would be free to go into the workforce without having served, as is the case today. IN RETURN, the Haredim would give up control of the Chief Rabbinate and municipal Rabbinates in towns and cities that do not have large Haredi populations. While groups like Edah Haredit do not vote, the mainline Haredim would still vote and have representation in the Knesset but the Haredim would accept a situation in which they would be entitled to all rights, priviledges and budgetary allocations that all other citizens get but not more than that. There would be no more special tax exemptions and subsidies that other citizens don’t receive. The Haredi Knesset representation would not utilize its position as the swing vote in order to get extra considerations, nor would they be the swing vote in issues of national importance, such as territorial concessions, nor would they demand crucially powerful positions such as the Chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee.
    Under this proposal everyone would leave everyone else alone, and this unfortunately poisonous issue of military service would be laid aside once and for all.

    I mentioned this to a Rabbi here in Israel who is active in public affairs and although he thought it was a good idea, he pointed out that MERETZ indeed proposed something like this when they
    were in Rabin’s Labor coalition after the 1992 elections but the Haredi leadership rejected it. I think it is high time this proposal be revived because I don’t see any other way to defuse
    the tension that has built up over these issues. Does anyone think such a proposal is realistic?

  4. Pini says:

    This vision is truly scary. Giving people tax breaks for keeping shabbos? This is essentially Iran with a softer image.

  5. Andrew Greenberg says:

    The hypothetical of an Israel in which the charedim were the majority and thus empowered to legislate their ideology is interesting. It is certainly fascinating to speculate how Yair Lapid would respond to a state that exempted the shomrei Shabbat from an 18% tax on housing, or defunded a school that didn’t teach religious Jewish studies.

    However I’m afraid I can’t take this hypothetical seriously, and I suspect most Israeli charedim can’t either. Until Israeli charedim figure out a way to engage in military service in substantial numbers, and figure out a way to participate in the private sector economy, it is impossible to imagine a predominately charedi Israel.

    Put simply, a charedi-dominated Israel would have far greater challenges than deciding who gets a tax break on their homes. With a military consisting of scattered yeshiva-dropouts, and a workforce centered around grocers and cheser rebbes, a majority charedi Israel would be quickly overrun by its neighbors.

  6. ChanaRachel says:

    Our soldier son spent this shabbat dodging Arab rocks (?boulders) in Hevron..no lag baomer midurot for him.
    First time in his life he sat in a vehicle on shabbat… he found that more uncomfortable than the rocks (but understood the necessity of the situation, and knew the halachot to minimize chillul shabbat).

    Does his army service make him a better citizen? I think it does.

  7. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Ironically, one could see the current fall of the Chareidi parties as the necessary beginning of a critical change in an ideology that was never meant to be more than temporary interlude. Oh, there will be fits and starts, but as this society slowly moves out from under the weight of its own “success” it will evolve and merge with the broader society in a way that will enable a future state to function. If you haven’t, you should listen to Jonathan Rosenblum’s wonderful LA speech of a few months ago. In it, he essentially laid out a plan for the survival and growth of his community which is only minutely different from Yesh Atid’s current plan. I optimistically predict that a few years down the road as this community returns to a more “normative” functioning, becomes better educated, and more employed it, and the country, will look back on this time as a turning point that not only saved their community, but the entire country as well. I doubt, even then, it will be able to bring itself to give proper thanks where its due. But we’ll know.

    [DB – How do you think the non-religious would have reacted if in the aftermath of the ’67 war, they felt coerced to include a Jewish core curriculum or to observe Shabbos? I doubt the Teshuvah movement would have taken on the proportions it had, despite the fact that it is nothing but the absolute truth to which they were returning. The same holds true for coercion of secular core curriculum and the draft. There has been a drop of 50% in Charedi recruiting numbers, and Defense Minister Yaalon placed that squarely in the lap of Yesh Atid, which has set back the processes you describe by perhaps as much as a decade. It is all the more egregious when the distinct overtone is profound disrespect of the value of Torah study, evidenced, among other things, by the VAT issue, which is tailor-made to discriminate only against those who, absolutely legally, deferred their army service for purposes of Torah study.]

  8. Ben Waxman says:

    Of all the complaints against Lapid, the complaining about his apartment plan leaves me baffled. We’ll leave aside for the moment the measures taken by MK Atias when he was Housing Minister to secure loans and cheap apartments for Chareidim. Well, actually I just brought them up. More importantly, it is common in the Western world to give benefits to vets, benefits which no one complains about.

    My father is a WW2 vet. To this day, he gets medical treatments, equipment, testing, that people with the best union health plans can only dream about. A look at the Veterans Benefits Administration website reveals benefits that I didn’t know existed (http://benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/factsheets.asp). These benefits go way beyond a housing loan.

    I have no idea if the we are morphing into the situation that Rav Wolpe describes. I do know that these screaming about the VAT program is totally out of place.

  9. Menachem Lipkin says:

    DB said: “How do you think the non-religious would have reacted if in the aftermath of the ’67 war, they felt coerced to include a Jewish core curriculum or to observe Shabbos? I doubt the Teshuvah movement would have taken on the proportions it had, despite the fact that it is nothing but the absolute truth to which they were returning.”

    We’ll never know, but it’s rather ironic that you use this example as that IS what happened in the past 20 or so years as religion via the rightward moving rabbinate has become ever more coercive. It’s that, more than anything, that has given rise to the party you so revile.

    The “disrespect for Torah study” is much more a combination of hyperbole and misplaced assumptions of causation than anything else. One could equally claim that this government has shown the greatest respect for Torah study by, for the first time in the history of the state, make it a form of service on par with military service. One could do that, but that’s not my point. Looking at the recent “setback” is like looking at one frame of a movie. I strongly suggest you ease up a bit and give it a little time to play out. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    And finally, rather than enmeshing yourself in all this negative energy, some based on lack of information and understanding, why don’t you hop in your car or on a 14 bus and take the 7 minute trip to have a conversation with Dov Lipman. I don’t expect you to agree with everything he says, but it would go a long why to allowing you to change the tenor of your posts.

  10. Doron Beckerman says:

    We’ll never know, but it’s rather ironic that you use this example as that IS what happened in the past 20 or so years as religion via the rightward moving rabbinate has become ever more coercive. It’s that, more than anything, that has given rise to the party you so revile.

    I don’t think it’s that more than anything, but that is part of it. Be that as it may, at this point, Rav Dov Lior, who is certainly well informed, opined to Bayit Yehudi that they should oppose every last bill of Yesh Atid in matters of State and religion, since it is all under the banner of their culture war and thus in the category of “the shoelace,” which we may not change in an atmosphere of Shmad.

    As far as the rest of your comment, I disagree with your perspective. I think Yesh Atid’s attitude, should it be allowed to continue setting its utterly irresponsible, myopic, and populist agenda, will lead to Charedim being an underclass of unemployed, bitter, homeless, impoverished, violent, draft-dodging felons – and Lapid wouldn’t mind that at all. [Mrs. Adina Bar Shalom recently said that in her attempts to promote her Charedi college, she has come across powerful forces who feel that Charedim should be Israel’s “water-carriers and woodchoppers.”]

    I’ve heard and listened to Dov Lipman quite a few times, in multiple fora, and while he definitely means well, I’m unimpressed.

  11. Surie Ackerman says:

    What??? Why should anyone’s “attitude” lead to the Charedim being anything other than what they want to be?

    Rabbi Beckerman you seem to be portraying “the Charedim” as a mass of mindless, easily manipulated, spineless souls who will only react to what others do or say, and never take responsibility for themselves.

    Whether they turn out to be “an underclass of unemployed, bitter, homeless, impoverished, draft-dodging felons,” will very much depend on whether they continue to worry more about what their neighbors or “the enemy” are doing and thinking, than to ask their own shailos and pursue their own course for their families.

    I’m with Menachem Lipkin on this one. This is a process, and we are only seeing the current frame of the film.

  12. Rafael Araujo says:

    I will say this about Yesh Atid: frankly, from the way they are implementing their agenda, they couldn’t care less if its execution is painful, contradictory, appears vindictive. Personally, I believe that they want to see if Chareidi societal norms will self-destruct under the weight of their legislative and regulatory initiatives.

  13. Doron Beckerman says:

    Why should anyone’s “attitude” lead to the Charedim being anything other than what they want to be?

    I don’t know how anyone can possibly believe that the government will “take care” of the Charedim after it is through demolishing their tenuous financial structure, any better than they took care of the far more manageable number of Gush Katif expellees, many of whom are *still* jobless and essentially homeless, and many of whose children have taken to substance abuse, other vices, and violence. What’s stopping them from being what they want to be? They were stomped on and shattered to smithereens, that’s what.

    Sure, 50 years down the line if that’s your horizon, the Charedim might be strong enough, demographically and politically, not to get kicked in the teeth. Now, in so many ways, it is the classic, non-forward thinking, combative Israeli mindset, and Yisrael Chofshit and co. are eating it up.

  14. L. Oberstein says:

    Anecdotal evidence is cited that the diminbsishment of financial support for the chareidi community will set things back twenty years.Is it possible that after a short time, this will change and chareidim will sign up for the many programs designed to give them job skills. The fact that Netzach Yehudah keeps getting cited for awards by the Ramatkal,the Nasi and other awards should also have a positive effect on enrollment. It is hard to cite statistics in the middle of a battle. Indeed, many will say this is a shaas hashmad and we can’t give up the color of our shoelaces but others will decide that it is time to seek a way out of poverty and young people will seek a way to gain self respect through the army. Netzach yehudah is not for nebech cases and that description is belied by the awards they get. It isn’t only for failures and OTD boys. If the leaders won’t say so, so what. The chareidi street will deal with increased poverty by seeking legitimate ways to earn a living. Gradualism takes a long time and the rest of the country doesn’t want to wait that long.

  15. Surie Ackerman says:

    Sorry, Rabbi Beckerman, but you are simply embellishing my point. Why do the Charedim need “taking care of?” Their tenuous financial structure is very much their own leadership’s making, not the government’s, and is enforced by peer and community pressure. Anyone who is willing to throw off that yoke and rearrange his life based on what he thinks is best for himself and his family will be able to do, even if it involves difficulties at first. Lots of people lose jobs and as a result have their family financial structure severely jolted. Most bounce back. It doesn’t have to take 50 years.

    I don’t like the Gush Katif comparison, but there was, to some degree, a leadership failure there, too, as well as a lot of communal pressure not to take steps once the writing was on the wall. Those who took responsibility for themselves (and did not rely on the government or their rabbinic leadership to “take care of them”) were often accused of being only slightly less than traitors but generally ended up better off.

    [DB – In a word, your solution is that Israeli Charedi society should “evolve” – which was happening, albeit at a slow pace (which would have picked up on its own due to simple economics). Sorry, but trying to force expedited evolution of a society, especially by an ideological opponent, is a tried and true recipe for all the societal maladies I listed. It just doesn’t work. I think we’ve made our positions clear enough.]

  16. Chardal says:

    >I don’t know how anyone can possibly believe that the government will “take care” of the Charedim after it is through demolishing their tenuous financial structure

    >I don’t know how anyone can possibly believe that the government will “take care” of the Charedim after it is through demolishing their tenuous financial structure

    What would you have the government do? Let us list the number of issues that the chareidim have declared are yehareg ubal ya’avor (or some other similar very strong language):

    core curriculum is schools
    civic service of any kind, whether army or sheirut leumi
    modern technology (internet, smart phones, anything which is part of new economy jobs)
    integration of sephardim in ashkenazi schools
    voting for the wrong party

    This is obstructionism by the chareidim pure and simple. The chareidim had tremendous political influence for most of 35 years. During that time they could have fixed any of these economic, social, ethical, and educational problems on their own terms. The initiative could have been with them. Instead, the chareidi parties have abused the political system with incredible shortsightedness, increased resentment of their communities and of the Torah they claim to represent, and when things have finally come to this (until their parties are needed for a coalition again), cry and yell, call everyone who disagrees with them amalek, and blame everyone except for themselves.

    It’s easy to blame the state. Fact is, that while gush katif was indeed a tragedy (one enabled by the bribery of chareidi parties), the aftermath was easier on the expelled to the extent that they cooperated with the government. For example, in my yeshuv, which has about 200 families from gush katif, the economic situation of the families is, on average, the same as it was pre-expulsion. Even in the most unsuccessful settlement of the expelled, in nitzan, no one is “essentially homeless”.

    The chareidim spokespeople seem to want to have their cake and eat it too. continue a society that takes more than it gives while at the same time crying “oppression” every time someone tries to change this unworkable arrangement – claiming that the problem is in the “way” the situation is being changed – as if there would be some secret plan the chareidim would implement if they were in charge. Problem is, no one buys it anymore.

  17. Doron Beckerman says:

    Ben,

    Do people who were rejected by the draft board also get vet benefits? I’m sure you know that they (i.e., our cousins) do get Lapid’s…

  18. Eli B. says:

    The more I think about it, the situation the Charaidim will find themselves in will be the same as the “Palestinians” after 1948, and they have the same choice. Wait for the world (Arab league, UN, USSR, etc.) to help them (and they are still waiting), or pull themselves up by their own bootstraps (like many American immigrants did and still do) and make a life for themselves. Same here. The Charaidim can either wait for the world (American Gevirim, Demographics, the Zionists, etc.) to reinstate the prior status quo (and it may still happen!!), or pull themselves up. Yes the second way is more difficult, and it does mean the Charaidim will have to stop living off the largess of others. The Yeshivish American street (which if anything is probably biased towards the Charaidim) thinks that is a good thing. That those involved don’t may just mean that when the RBSO said “Ki HaShochad Yaavor Einei Pikchim”, he meant the Charaidim too.

  19. Tal Benschar says:

    Eli B. — you may not realize this, but there is actually a right wing support for what you say. A year or two ago, one of the Satmar rebbes visited the Vizhnitzer yeshiva in Bnei Brak. Among other things, he said that they should be proud of building their institutions on their own money, and not on the State’s money. At the time it created a stir in some circles.

    The current situation has been compared here to the expulsion from Gaza. After that event, Prof. Aummann was quoted as saying “Oolai ha Rav mi Satmar tsaddak.”

    I think you will be hearing more of that in the days to come.

  20. Eli B. says:

    Tal Benschar: From what I understand, most (non-Charaidi) Israelis have no issues with Satmar, since they don’t take money from the government, and don’t vote (so there is no taking over state institutions and pushing agendas).

    Satmar is really it’s own category, and even better, has no skin in the game. If the Charaidim agreed to go Satmar (denounce the Zionist government, stop voting and stop taking any funding) the government (and Lapid) would (IMHO) consider it a success.

  21. brooklyn refugee sheygitz says:

    I’m with Ben Waxman here. There is no reason why army veterans should not be granted benefits. at present VAT is assessed on new apartment purchases. There are many places in the tax and customs legislation where various exemptions are enacted. waiving the 18% VAT on new apartment purchases for veterans only is no more egregious than in waiving the capital gains tax on an apartment sale subject to fulfillment of certain criteria. or to giving tax breaks to the bold. to residents of development or border towns. to the physically incapacitated.
    It’s the indication of pure selfishness to shray chay vekayam when a new benefit is enacted which will only cover army veterans.

    [DB – As I responded, it won’t. As phrased now, it will also cover anyone who can prove he approached the draft board and was rejected; e.g., our cousins.]

  22. Chardal says:

    Our cousins don’t approach the draft board. They do not even receive draft notices. Those few who volunteer, baring either some physical/mental disability, are allowed to serve.

    [DB – It seems you are right about our cousins. Still, it is not a vet bill, because even people who are rejected by the draft board get the benefit.]

  23. Rafael Araujo says:

    Eli B. – you got to be kidding! Satmar is crucified by MO bloggers and commentators due to the fact that Satmar chassidim, as well as other anti-Zionist chassidishe sects and non-Chassidishe anti-Zionist still benefit from Israel’s infrastructure, police services, water delivery systems, IDF,etc and don’t take their claims seriously at all. Basically, the MO and DL expect that Chareidim, either non-Zionists, or anti-Zionists, should at least act like any other citizen of the State, regardless of whether they have a set of Divrei Yoel on their shelf and their mosdos are funded by an wealthy US philanthropist. Most others I see post and elsewhere definately believe that Satmar has skin in the game and when they claim to not receive any State support, its a shell game. So following Satmar from a MO/DL perspective and getting off the State of Israel’s dole won’t help in the least.

  24. Eli B. says:

    Rafael Araujo: Sure, but that is not the main concern. The main concern is the sustainability of welfare payments, and the threat of a Iran-type Charaidi state. Remove those and the average Israeli will call it a day. I’m not going to speak for MO/DL, which may have a vested interest in Satmar being part of the state (of which they do not confider themselves citizens).

  25. brooklyn refugee sheygitz says:

    I have no problem with the benefits being granted to people who are rejected by the draft board. Jews and non-Jews alike. and charedim.
    what charedim forget is that it is up to the government and the army to decide on the needs of the army – not a self-selected group.
    There has never been a decsiion by am yisrael – nor by the army – to give a blanket exemption to charedim
    The army for its own reasons – many of which are very good ones – reject the service of many non jewish citizsens of Israel. On the other hand many actually do serve. But they never have done this for the charedim – who have selfishly self-selected themselves into a blanket exemption.

    [DB – Forget about Charedim. The law is stated presently gives a very good reason to exempt (1,800) learners – because they are busy learning. The benefit is not granted to them. It is also not granted to those men who opted for Sherut Leumi instead of army service. It *is* granted to those on the extreme right, such as the Edah Charedis, who are rejected out of hand as incompatible with the army’s needs. Joining the Edah could be worth as much as 288,000 NIS these days…]

  26. Steve Brizel says:

    Lapid’s view is unfortunately not just that of sharing the burden, but rather rooted in demonization of the Charedi world . Such a POV, together with over the top rhetorical excesses in the Charedi world, is the problem. Once you saw yourself off the limb of a tree, you have to reach for help before you fall off-it will take that kind of realization to reduce the impact of such views.

  27. brooklyn refugee sheygitz says:

    But the Edah Charedis doesn’t take government funding!!

    that’s the source of the issue- you want your blself-selected blanket exemption from military service; you want us to say that my son should go to the army while your son doesn’t have to AND you want me to pay for the privilege. and you want to control the religious services in israel which serve people like me and my son.
    sorry – no can do. those days are gone. the people are against this. if you want to go the way of the edah charedis then by all means do so – you will get whatever other citizens get but no more special funding.

    But admit it Doron – you can’t do that – and won;t do that. it was presented 20 years ago and was rejected by the charedim. you need to be part of the people. otherwise the whole big budget baal tshuvah programming also dies off with the religious affairs ministry jobs. you need the connection to the rest of am yisreal simply to survive economically. if that’s the case – then you need to take on the burden equitably.

    [DB – You don’t understand. The Edah Charedis certainly does buy apartments and would happily not pay VAT on anything.
    I’m not going off on tangents in this thread, but the future with Yesh Atid holds religious services and affairs controlled by the Reform. Vis-à-vis Charedim and integration, this government is simply retarding if not destroying the occurrence of such processes.]

Pin It on Pinterest