Israel’s New Torah Askanim

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5 Responses

  1. Shmuel says:

    Perhaps Tikvah should make a program for Israeli Chareidim just like they did this past summer in Long Island. And perhaps Israeli Chareidim should also recieve at least a rudimentary high school education with courses including home economics. That will develop leaders and help financially, l’shem ulisiferes.

  2. L. Oberstein says:

    “By contrast, Agudath Israel and its successors in Israel are political parties, nothing more. They employ virtually no professional staff and their activities, except at election time, are confined to a handful of insiders.” I have read this comment by the author in previous articles and it rings true.What is new here is the background of why the Amerian Agudah is so different from the Israeli Agudah I have viewed a number of videos of Chareidi Knesset Members screaming in the most uncouth way to express their disagreement with others. I simply cannot imagine any of the leaders of the American Agudah, past or present, displyaing such boorishness. Rabbi Meir Shapiro was a member of the Polish Sejm, the Agudah MK’s should also be men of distinction and midos tovos, not people who scream and carry out antics. I also understand that each of them is chosen by a different faction and that they don’t necessarily like each other and the party is really a group of many parties. i also understand that the Moetzes Gdedolei hatorah hardly ever meets in Israel,besides there being two of them.
    All of the above is common knowledge, what is frustrating is the inability of anyone to do anything about it. Why are the top level leaders, the Gedolim not aware of the shameful behavior of their sheluchim and why don’t they replace them with baalei midos tovos? If one were cynical, one could say that the whole thing is a sham and that the machlokes that seems to permeate every level of chareidi society is something that needs healing. How can your new askanim be a kiddush Hashem when they have to contend with an ongoing chillul Hashem by the chosen messengers of their community and its leaders?

  3. Y. Ben-David says:

    I feel a need to make a correction to the claim that “Israeli Haredim have less experience working for the Klal.” Many years ago I new a fellow who grew up in Benei Brak in the late 1940’s and whose father was very close to the Hazon Ish. He told me that a high percentage of the yeshiva bachurim in the Benei Brak of those days (don’t forget that Ponevezh had been founded already) were members or active supportes of the ETZEL underground movement (the “Irgun Zevai Leumi” under the command of Menachem Begin). They joined the ETZEL because they didn’t like the HAGANAH which was under the control of the Left-Socialist MAPAI and because the ETZEL was Right-wing and had a higher percentage of religious members.
    In addition, the Haredi journalist Dudu Zilbershlag wrote an article some time ago pointing out the the young Haredim who made aliyah in the years before the state was created and the early years after Israel was established DID serve in the IDF, and the life-time kollel ideal came only later and it was that generation’s children who entered that life-style.
    Thus, it would seem to me that the Haredim in the years leading up to the creation of the State of Israel and its early years had a GREATER sense of “klal” conciousness than did American Haredim of the same era. After all, these people all had direct contact with the Holocaust and the Arab terror that had affected the Jews of Eretz Israel in a greater sense than did American Jews of the time.

  4. shaya says:

    Excellent article. What you are describing is the building of civil society through activist initiatives, inspired by Torah ideas and gedolim and yet thought up and implemented by everyday people without centralized or elite direction. Such activism has been common around the world, particularly in America, for the last century or two. The fact that it’s emerging now among charedim is a kiddush Hashem, showing outsiders that charedim can be individualists and activists while staying loyal to their traditionalist core — that the charedi masses are not only followers, but also can become leaders in their own way, reformers as well as conformers. (It should be mentioned that the historical Mussar movement also encouraged this drive to improve society.) In any case, this kind of reporting is important, and we need more of it.

  5. Y. Ben-David says:

    If I might add to my previous comment–I believe Israeli Haredim actually had a HIGHER “klal conciousness” in the 1940’s and 1950’s than did American Haredim. In addition to the examples I gave above, I should add that the LEHI (Stern Group) had a Haredi section which included people from the Edah Haredit in Jerusalem, including the elder brother of a friend of mine from a prominent Edah family, and the father of United Torah Judaism Knesset Memeber Eichler. Although I don’t have any numbers, there were numerous Haredim who fought in the Hagana and the early IDF. There is a well-known photograph of Haredi fighters in the War of Independence.
    The reason Agudat Israel didn’t encourage grass-roots activism in Israel was for the same reason all Israeli parties discouraged it…a different political mentality, rooted in Eastern Europe than that which existed in the US which had all political movements of all ideologies concentrate power in the hands of certain family and social cliques and which were suspicious of outsiders coming in and demanding a share of power and patronage. It is this, and not “lack of klal conciousness” that has prevented grass-roots activism in Israel.

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