Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The success of Charedi Kiruv

Jonathan Rosenblum wrote about the success of Charedi kiruv in this past weeks Mishpacha magazine. However, his description of how they are successful is very troubling:

I would agree that neither ignorance nor poverty are major selling points for Torah. 
involves frequent lectures from Orthodox Jews who have achieved prominence in fields to which the students might aspire. The subliminal message is: Becoming shomer Torah u'mitzvos does not require eschewing the career to which you previously aspired.

The problem is that it is a big lie. All of the examples that they bring are either Baalei Teshiva or people who were brought up in a more Modern home. Using these people as examples of how well religious Jews can fit into society is very misleading when the institutions/mekarvim themselves don't believe in that hashkafa. According to Charedi hashkafa, University study is prohibited and any secular study is very much discouraged, yet those are the examples they site when trying to be mekarev people. If a Baal Teshuva raises his children in a Charedi environment it means that his children cannot follow in his career path or any secular career path because they won't learn any secular studies in school.

Aish Hatorah published a similar article, Women at Work,  a few years ago which claimed that Orthodox women can work at any job that they want.

Let's get something perfectly clear: Jewish women work. One of my neighbors is a nuclear physicist. I'm a zoo veterinarian.
And nowadays, like women all over the Western world, they work in every field. Some run their own businesses or are part of a larger corporation. Here in Israel one of my neighbors is a nuclear physicist. Another is a school principal. Several good friends are lawyers. One's a pediatrician. Two are successful artists. I'm a zoo veterinarian.
My point is, little is forbidden to us. We work in the fields we want. We have open choices. We can choose to work part-time or full-time. 

Again we see the big lie. Aish Hatorah is a Charedi institution and it's goal for it's students is that they join Israeli Charedi society. The fact is that if Elizabeth had been born to a Charedi family she would not have had a choice to be a veterinarian, a nuclear physicist or anything other then a school teacher. University study is strictly prohibited. In Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak even getting a high school diploma is prohibited.  As I mentioned above, all the women that she brings as examples fall into one of 2 categories:

1. Baalei teshuva
2. They grew up in modern homes

None of the women cited grew up in a Charedi home in Israel, because if they had they would not be where they are today.

Charedi kiruv may be successful in attracting the initial generation, however, it is not at all clear that it is successful with the next generation.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

How would you like to be called the "בדיעבד Ideal"?

The Mishpacha newspaper (Hebrew) had a long article about the American Aguda Yarchei Kalla in Yerushalayim. They interviewed one of the organizers who called himself a simple baal habayis. The newspaper described him as the ideal b'dieved, that if chas v'shalom you have to work (בדיעבד) and not sit in Kollel then he is the ideal as someone who works but learns seriously.

This is so typical of the Israeli Charedi hashkafa that anyone who is not sitting in kollel is בדיעבד.

The newspaper went on to quote Harav Asher Weiss who said that Israel needs more Baal Habatim like these from America, who work but also learn seriously. IMHO this will not happen if you call them בדיעבד. Once you give someone a negative connotation it is then very difficult to then ask them to try to grow spiritually as they feel that they are בדיעבד so there is no point.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

R' Ovadya's oldest daughter might run for President of Israel

Adina Bar Shalom, R' Ovadya's oldest daughter is well known for pushing the boundaries. Twenty-five years ago, a philanthropist handed Rav Ovadiah a blank check to create an avenue for haredi women to receive the secular education they needed to earn enough to take their families out of poverty. At the time R' Ovadya did not agree. Bar-Shalom kept pushing her father to approve the idea until finally in 2000 she got the green light from her father to create such an institution. Today, there are about one thousand students in the Haredi College in Yerushalayim under her auspices.

Now she wants to run for President as the Shas candidate when Peres's term ends. This will create a big conundrum in Shas and the other Charedi parties. They have no women MKs and have no plans to have women MKs. They claim that women don't want to be in the public spotlight. A Charedi woman President would cause them a lot of problems and embarrassment. On the other hand, how can Shas not support the daughter of R' Ovadya?

It will be fascinating to see how this plays out over the next few months.

Source: Kikar Shabbat

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The richest Rabbis in Israel

The net worth of the richest rabbis in Israel according to Channel 2 in Israel

Rav Pinchas Abuchatzeira 1.3 billion shekel
Rav David Abuchatzeira 750 million shekel
The Gerrer Rebbe 350 million shekel
The Belzer Rebbe 180 million shekel
Rav Nir Ben Artzi 100 million shekel
Rav Yaakov Ifergen 90 million shekel
Rav Yeshaya Pinto 75 million shekel
Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman 1200 shekel

Whatever anyone says about the Litvish world, the Litvish Gedolim truly have little or no money and live very simple life styles.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

10% of the Charedi teenagers in Bnei Brak are OTD

So says Mishpacha in an interview with people who work for the city of Bnei Brak in this area. What is sad is that they say that many times the kids not only go OTD but become criminals, addicts, etc. and that their efforts are not to bring back the kids to religion but to turn them into functioning members of society. Yonasan Rosenblum has written a number of times recently that kids do better in an "out of town" type community where the majority is not religious (or less religious) then in a place like Bnei Brak where everyone is religious etc. These numbers seem to bear this out.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hilchos Prison???

Believe it or not this is not a joke. This is actually a real sefer that came out not long ago dealing with people who are in prison.
As the cover above states it deals with the halachos that relate to someone in jail/prison as well mussar/chizuk, stories, and inspiration for the reader/prisoner.

How far have we fallen that someone would write such a sefer? How embarrassing is this to the Torah world?

What was the original status quo agreement in Israel regarding Charedi education?

Hamodia (English) is doing a series of explanatory articles about the Charedi world in Israel to explain to the US readers the background to the current situation and why it is so bad. This week they published a long article about the "status quo" agreement in 1947, that the new government would not change the status quo regarding religion. The very obvious implication being that the government today is trying to change the status quo. Here is an English translation of the letter sent to the Aguda:

What is absolutely fascinating is that the section of the letter dealing with education is exactly in tune with what the government is trying to do today. The letter states:

Full autonomy of each educational system. ... The state of course will determine the minimum obligatory courses, Hebrew language, history, science, etc. and will supervise compliance with this minimum ...

So in fact, even in 1947, the agreement was that the Charedi schools while having full autonomy, would teach the core curriculum and be supervised by the government. In other words, what the government is trying to do today is not against the original status quo but rather is trying to enforce it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Satmar Rebbe (R' Yoel) on Segulos for Parnassa

This past Tuesday was a big day for Segulos for parnassa, there were ads everywhere about reciting Parshas Haman as a segula for parnassa. 

Here is the Satmar Rebbe's (R' Yoel) take. One time a chossid came in to the Rebbe with complaints about parnassa. He offered the explanation that maybe he wasn't doing all the segulos for parnassa. The Rebbe answered as follows:

"אלע סגילת איז גוט אובער נאך אכט אזיגער שוין צי די ארבעט"
Segulos are good but only until 8 in the morning, after 8 go to work

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Belzer Rebbe: Avreichim should learn a profession while in kollel

Belz recently had a conference about economic issues. The Belzer Rebbe sent a message to the conference that while Torah is the first priority, most Avreichim will not sit and learn their whole life but will at some point leave to make a living. The problem is that when they decide to leave kollel after x years they already have kids etc. and have no time to learn a profession. Therefore the Belzer Rebbe said that 1 or 2 afternoons a week the Avreichim should go and learn a profession and that they will not have any money deducted from their kollel stipend so that when they do leave kollel after x years they will have a profession and be able to work right away.

IMHO this is a great step forward both in the official recognition that not everyone is going to stay in kollel their whole life and the practical application of learning a profession while still in kollel.

The fact is that the Chasidic world has never really embraced the kollel only philosophy and has never looked down on people who work and therefore this is not such a big deal. It will be a big deal when the Yeshiva world comes to a similar conclusion.

Source: "אברך מחוץ לשעות הכולל - שילמד מקצוע"

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

R' Ovadya's Shas is going to be auctioned off

They expect to get $40-50 thousand dollars for the set. See בשונה מהרכב: הגמרא של הגר"ע זצ"ל תוצע למכירה. As the article points out the family were very upset when the car that had been leased for him was sold for a lot of money, they complained that people were using R' Ovadya's name/legacy for profit, yet they seem to be have no problem making money selling his Shas.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Are the budget cuts for Charedi schools in Israel really that egregious?

The Ashkenazi Charedi leadership has rejected the idea that the government have any control over what is learned in Haredi schools (the Sefardi schools seem to have accepted full government supervision in exchange for funding). Any government intervention/control is a gezeras shmad. Let us compare the Haredi schools in NY and those in Israel to see whether government mandates are really shmad.

The following table describes the current situation:

NY Haredi Schools
Israel Charedi Schools
Budget from the Government
Yes 55% of public schools
Elementary School standardized tests
High School Standardized tests
Yes (Regents)
No (Bagrut)
State Curriculum
Yes Instruction given to a minor elsewhere than a public school must be substantially
equivalent to the instruction given at the local public school
Option to opt out

As we can see in NY State the government provides no funding and yet, mandates a standardized curriculum and standardized achievement tests. In Israel, on the other hand, the government provides partial funding but mandates no requirements.

What is fascinating is that there is much more government control/intervention in the US then what is being proposed in Israel let alone what exists now. Yet no one is calling the US government evil and shmad.

I understand that in NY many of these rules/laws go unenforced and many Charedi schools actually teach very little secular studies. However, the fact that the laws are on the books is very important and at some point in the near future there is a good chance that they will be enforced.

What is telling is that this is not limited to Israel or the US. The government in Belgium recently passed a law that just went into effect that all schools without exception must teach the mandated secular studies curriculum (irrespective of whether they take government or not) and refusal to comply will be met with stiff fines and maybe even the removal of the children from the parents homes. The reason is very simple,  25 percent of Haredim are living below the poverty line, compared to less than 10 percent of the general population. The poverty caused mostly by the poor/non-existent secular education.