Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Michael Freund helping descendants of Anusim

9 comments :

  1. Recipients and PublicityAugust 5, 2009 at 4:31 PM

    Transcript and translation of Micahel Freund's comments in this video. (Comments added starting with "RaP"):

    (While appearing clean-cut and crisp, yet appearing near-teary-eyed and hitting the most emotional heart-tugging pitch possible, Freund exclaims:)

    "These people, their forefathers, were essentially captured from the nation of Israel by the Catholic Church 500 or 600 years ago"

    RaP: The problem with Freund's words and pseudo-thesis is that he and the video make it seem that he is giving "the" "definitive" history of the Jews in the Iberian Peninsula, when it is far from it. Anyone who has read a little of the history of those times, knows that long before the forced conversions of the Inquisition in the 1400s onwards, there was already a widespread problem of assimilation and intermarriage between Jews and gentiles (Yehuda Halevi's Kuzari is already addressing that problem in the 1100s and the RAMBAN was debating the Jewish apostate Pablo Christiani in the 1200s, with the Rambam trying to keep Jews away from Islam in that time) because Spain and Portugal were a collection of smaller Christian and Islamic kingdoms each with its own set of rules that usually allowed Jews to rise to the top and with that came assimilation and intermarraige on a large scale. In fact that is one reason why the anti-Semitic Catholic monarchs acted so harshly to stop the Jews' inroads into Spanish life, much like the reaction of the 20th century Germans with the rise of the Nazis to power.

    In addition, 500 or 600 years is not a "weekend" and one need only look to the rate of assimilation in modern times when in a mere 100 most of the world's Jews have gone from being mostly religious to becoming not just secular but with huge percentages married to gentiles and following beliefs other than Judaism in the last century alone. So 500 or 600 years under strict Catholic conversionary regimes cannot be dismissed and viewed as if the Jews were immune and still remained Jews in the classical sense. Only those who OPENLY stuck with Judaism remained Jews, others came out of the Inquisition in small numbers during those days, moving to Holland or even to Turkey, when their family status could be affirmed, but in Iberia itself and its colonies with the passing of each century and with each generation marrying further afield, Christain identities were solidified and the "Jewish" identity was washed out to the point of insignificance, and for Freund or anyone to "definitively" claim otherwise is a hoax and a dishonest reading and interpretation of history. ...

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  2. Recipients and PublicityAugust 5, 2009 at 4:32 PM

    Micahel Freund: "nevertheless they continued to observe their Judaism and their identity secerely in the course of hundreds of years"

    RaP: Notice how at no point does Freund or anyone deal with the problem of becoming a mushumad, and apostasy to Judaism that must be dealt with halachically. Even in the days of the Inquisition, as today, if a known Jew from birth apostasises, they must come before a bais din that must question and get an affirmation from the apostate. Freund glosses over the fact that probably the vast majority of Jews who crossed over (good pun) to Christianity in Spain did so VOLUNTARILY, no matter how they rationalized it, when in fact Jewish law calls upon a Jew to give his life rather than do such a sin (converting to Catholicism is considered like idol worship by most halachic decisors) and it was the minority that was physically tortured and arm-twisted. And as is known a huge portion, involving about 300,000 Jews were EXPELLED from Spain Exodus-style because they REFUSED to become apostates, and they left rather than become apostates even at the risk of starvation and death on the road.

    Until recently it was the Jews who were expelled from Spain that were held up as the heros, but now comes along a revisionist and unorthodox (in all senses of the word) trend that holds up people who have been outright CHRISTIANS for 500-600 years and alleges that they are "Jews" because they may have "Jewish sounding" names or their great-grandmother raised only chickens and cows (many gentiles abhor pork in any case) and they said "oy vey" (or the Spanish equavalant) and "presto" they are "therefore" "instant" "Jews" because people like Michael Freund are looking tearfully into a camera and are telling over this tale pulling the heart-strings and hoping that ignorance of Jewish history and Jewish law will be on his side.

    "The people of the Inquisition persecuted them heavily"

    RaP: Not if they volunatarily converted to Catholicism which most did. They lived in peace and harmony and married into the general Christain population for 500-600 years yet now there is an absurd claim to class these folks as nothing less than full-fledged "halachic Jews"?

    "burnt many of them alive"

    RaP: Not really. What are the statistics? Perhaps it was a few hundred per century or a few thousand in all. For those who chose Christianity over Judaism it was NOT a "Holocaust" -- the Catholic Church wanted to impose its religion as the the one and only but it had no agenda to kill out every last Jew living as a Christian in Spain and Portugal of which there were tens if not hundreds of thousands that became CHRISTIANS and their descendants followed HAPPILY in their footsteps, so how can any claim that after 500 or 600 years they are still regular Jewish folks no different to Jews who retained and never abandoned their Jewish identity on pain of literal death? ...

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  3. Recipients and PublicityAugust 5, 2009 at 4:32 PM

    Freund says: "and nevertheless they did not give up on their Judaism"

    RaP: Terrible distortion because once they became Christians, most of them volunatrily, they were automatically giving up on their Judaism. Period. Freund makes it sound like all of them kept up a good form of Judaism when it was far from that. Over the centries, they intermarried with their gentile neighbors and kept a few quaint Jewish customs here and there, but by now they are no different to any other Portuguese or Spanish persons with multi-ethnic anscestry who have this and that lingering customs handed down from all sorts of ancient cultural and ethnic influences.

    "And now, after many years"

    RaP: What an understatement. Freund makes it sound like 500 - 600 years is like "many years" following some recent event. Like a "50th wedding anniversary" or something. His use of words reveals a mastery of arguing a cause the way he wants to see it and not the way it really is.

    "the children of the Anusim are awakening,"

    RaP: Here the term "Anusim" is introduced as if they are an agreed upon entity and as if the notion of "anusim" is agreed upon by all, none of which is true. There is much fierce debate about all of this that Freund would like to cover up by simply jumping the gun on his own without waiting for greater consensus. Everyone has their cause and Freund has obviously found his, but why does he expect that everyone will see it his (emotional) way?

    "coming out of the closet,"

    RaP: Makes them sound like gays, but perhaps it's indicative that this is more about a popular cause of "victimology" than about anything substantiated by real facts and true history.

    "and want again to identify with the nation of Israel,"

    RaP: This has become quite a trend, pity the people in the White House at present can't catch this Judaeophile bug sweeping the jet-set crowd!

    "they want to reurn and be an integral part of the Jewish nation."

    RaP: Fine, so let INDIVIDUALS seek to convert, or let them first try keeping the Seven Noahide Laws of the Torah. But to reach out to them, awaken them, recruit them, run programs for them on a large scale is proselytization which runs counter to the Jewish religion.

    "How could we not help them with this?"

    RaP: Easy. Just say NO!

    (Camera on the video then zooms to a couple of gerim getting married to create the aura of a "happy ending" but it's far from that as this new wave of entrants to the Jewish people tries to gate-crash through the front door with the help of Freund's Shavei Israel, Tropper's EJF and Goldstein's Toiras jesed etc.)

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  4. 1) If you agree to the thesis that a child of a jewish woman is jewish, the fact that the mother converted is irrelevant to the status of the child. As far as I understood, this is the majority opinion that determines halacha. There seems to be a minority opinion that says if the mother rejected Judaism for another religion, the child is not jewish, but as far as I understand this opinion is not determining halacha.

    2) Therefore the question how much they were forced or not forced 500 years ago (and I suppose you under-estimate the coercion exerciced by state authorities and inquisition) is not relevant to a person who could prove jewish ancestry in a purely matrilinear line.

    3) The real problem seems to be
    a) that not many Anussim who want to come back to judaism can bring this proof and
    b) that persons who trace their jewish origins to the father's side are sometimes also interested in "becoming jewish" or "reclaiming their jewish roots".
    c) any jew converted to christianism in some point of their life might need a Giur lechumra

    So I think the solution is quite simple, and I suppose that Rav Freund is acting according to it:

    Let people learn, take courses, participate in activities. Let them see what jewish life involves, examine how they could reconcile it with their life. Those who want to take upon themselves ol torah u mitzwot can have a Giur/Giur le chumra, those who don't can opt out at any moment.

    Then you can say that people are counted for minyan, etc, only after Giur/Giur le chumra, and you have no halachic problems.

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  5. To fill in what RaP is lacking in his very cogent points. Anyone who seriously looks into the history of the Inquisitions(both in Spain and elsewhere) will see that the primary purpose was to weed "heresy" out of the Church. In Spain and Portugal they also wished to make their nations solely Xtian nations, and thus expel anyone who wouldn't convert and kill anyone who refused to do either.

    As far as the tortures and the burning at the stake that Freund wishes to use in these videos, these were things reserved for heretics, not heathen. Jews were considered heathen, and if they would not convert or leave, were killed. However, the tortures were reserved for xtian heretics so that they could "purify" their souls before they entered the next world.

    Thus quite frankly the only "Jews" that would have been subject to these things are those that had converted to xtianity and were still trying to keep aspects of Judaism. The church would have seen this as a heresy and thus inflicted torture upon these, in their view, fellow xtians.

    This is not to minimize the inquisition, undoubtedly many Jews were executed becuase they lacked the means to relocate outside the reach of the inquisition(which also occupied France and Germany for a time). Untold more decided to renounce the faith of our fathers than face persecution, which is equally as heinous.

    However, let's get the facts straight about who these Anusim/Marranos/Conversos are. They are the descendants, some 25 generations later, who may or may not even be cognizant of the fact. Who Freund and his organization feel the need to reach out to.

    If they genuinely want to convert, then let them approach their local Rabbinates and seek a normal conversion. This tying conversion to a zionistic and nationalist agenda is highly problematic. This seeking people out and telling them they have "Jewish roots" is also problematic. I have no doubt that a great many goyim the world around, if they were to shake the family tree hard enough, eventually a Jew would fall out. That does not make them a necessary part of Klal Yisrael.

    Personally I think that Klal Yisrael would be better served if Freund were to take the resources and time spent on convincing Spanish catholics to convert and devote it to education and Kiruv of those who are already fully Jewish.

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  6. I beg to differ
    You are right: under the bottom line, it amounts to a Giur. But the motivation to start the process are different.

    Rabbi Freund can do what he wants with his money, people are allowed to donate money to whatever cause they deem wordy of it, so why do you want to tell them how to spend it?

    I know people who do not want to give money to a collel or a frum school, because they think this brings forth people with no adequate education and perpetuates poverty. Will this keep you from donating to a Yeshiva/kollel?

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  7. Recipients and PublicityAugust 14, 2009 at 1:37 PM

    "shoshi said...1) If you agree to the thesis that a child of a jewish woman is jewish,"

    RaP: Agreed. But that is not the point of this discussion where it is about events that took place over 500+ years ago. Usually there is a simple chazaka (a halachic assumption of the "status quo ante" provable over three times, in this case at least three generations) that even something as basic as Jewish motherhood and parentage must also be able to withstand the test of a bais din if need be.

    "the fact that the mother converted is irrelevant to the status of the child."

    RaP: It's not just "the mother" but a woman who did so over 500++ years ago which makes it the geat-great-great-great-grandmother etc, quite a tough job of verifying given that they lived like Christians and even married other Christians and were often voluntarily Christian too.

    "As far as I understood, this is the majority opinion that determines halacha."

    RaP: Yes, and in this case the Halacha says that so-called "Anusim" are NOT to be regarded as Jews because the doubts almost entirely outweigh anything that can be proven in the remotest way.

    "There seems to be a minority opinion that says if the mother rejected Judaism for another religion, the child is not jewish,"

    RaP: The child would be Jewish if the mother can be proven to be BORN Jewish of course, but a bais din would have to determine the true religious/spiritual beliefs of the mother and child to check that they are not APOSTATES/Meshumadim ("heretics" to Judaism).

    "but as far as I understand this opinion is not determining halacha."

    RaP: Not quite sure what "halacha" you are referring to?

    "2) Therefore the question how much they were forced or not forced 500 years ago"

    RaP: Where on Earth, except among the remaining nobility of Europe, can true yichus/genealogy be proven? (And many of the Europeans are known mamzerim/bastards that they try to cover up). How on Earth can one assert that someone is "Jewish" based on a Jewish woman FIVE HUNDRED+ years ago who had become an apostate/meshumedes, that anyone can get up today and claim that they know for a "fact", after 500 years+ mind you, that they can "prove" they come from "that" Jewish woman specifically and are "therefore" Jewish? No court of law, let alone a respectable bais din would ever accept claims like that. And that is why these people claiming to be so-called "Anusim" are just simply gentiles, and if they are seeking to join the Jewish people so be it, but they must undergo FULL conversion.

    "(and I suppose you under-estimate the coercion exerciced by state authorities and inquisition)"

    RaP: And you do not seem to realize that probably the MAJORITY of Jews who became Christians in over a thousand year span in what is today Spain did so VOLUNTARILY as a result of assimilation and intermarriage, as it was an affluant and cultured society like Germany and the USA is today where Jews also had (Germany)/have (USA & Europe) "the urge to merge" with the gentiles.

    "is not relevant to a person who could prove jewish ancestry in a purely matrilinear line."

    RaP: If they can prove it in a bais din then we do not have a problem at all But that is not what we are talking about. The so-called "Anusim" CANNOT prove a matrilineal nor any line of connection beyond fuzzy this and that rituals that mean nothing. "Monkey see, monkey do", and many gentiles have picked up words and rituals in literal plagiaristic style from Judaism, just look at Christianity it's the biggest proof of that, but it does NOT somehow make/convert all Christians into "Jews" in any way shape size or form. Where is your head? ...

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  8. Recipients and PublicityAugust 14, 2009 at 1:40 PM

    shoshi says: "3) The real problem seems to be a) that not many Anussim who want to come back to judaism can bring this proof and"

    RaP: Correction: NONE of them can bring ANY real proof. Period.

    "b) that persons who trace their jewish origins to the father's side are sometimes also interested in "becoming jewish" or "reclaiming their jewish roots"."

    RaP: The so-called "Anusim" can't prove a patrilineal connection either! So what are you carrying on about?

    "c) any jew converted to christianism in some point of their life might need a Giur lechumra"

    RaP: No, it is called something else when a provable known Jew who has become meshumad of their own free choice MUST come before a bais din, or perhaps before a reliable Posek ("Halachic decisor") who will examine them to see if they have done teshuva (true repentance and return to God/Judaism) if they are allowed to re-enter the Jewish community. A Jew who practices another faith openly is in effect putting THEMSELVES into cherem ("excommunication" from the Jewish people/God) which is a legal state that needs to be checked out if the person wishes to subsequently return, but at no point is it called "giur" or conversion as when a pure gentile wishes to convert to Judaism. The distinctions are crucial. What is "christianism" by the way???

    "So I think the solution is quite simple,"

    RaP: It's not "simple"! These are not "solutions"! What are you talking about?

    "and I suppose that Rav Freund is acting according to it:"

    RaP: He is NOT a "Rav" (he never claims to officially be a rabbi of any sort) and what he is doing is HIGHLY controversial. That should be pretty obvious!

    "Let people learn, take courses, participate in activities. Let them see what jewish life involves, examine how they could reconcile it with their life."

    RaP: What are you advocating? That any gentile that has the slightest urge to be Jewish should take "courses"? Who advocates this besidess the Reform movement that is desperate for members?

    "Those who want to take upon themselves ol torah u mitzwot can have a Giur/Giur le chumra,"

    RaP: NO! These are gentiles lechatchila. They are not Jews. There can be no mass programs for them nor to recruit them. That is precisely what proselytization is all about.

    "those who don't can opt out at any moment."

    RaP: You are far to casual about such a deadly serious problem about gentiles who never thought of themselves as "Jewish" who wake up one day and decide to lay claim to a vague non-existenat link to the Jews. Let's say one day someone wakes up in Siberia and says they think that they have relatives in Montana, would the USA let them in? Or say that one day someone with the name Gates wakes up in London and calls up his "long lost cousin" Bill Gates of Microssoft and Emails him asking him for free "courses" or a loan to buy a WINDOWS program, how do you think Bill Gates and Microsoft would respond? Yet you expect something as holy and venerated as Judaism to respond mindlesssly to any old Jose who wakes up one day and thinks he may be "Jewish" from his great-great-great-great-great-great-grandpappy & grandmammy from 500++ years ago? Does that make sense to you?

    "Then you can say that people are counted for minyan, etc, only after Giur/Giur le chumra, and you have no halachic problems."

    RaP: Whatever. They are not needed for any minyan thank you very much as there are more than enough provable Jews who can do that. And "giur lechumra" is not some kind of "magic wand" that erases genuine doubts. Glad that you are not giving the "courses" or running the show!

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  9. there is a bat anusim who has a masort from her maternal grandmother [her sister converted le chumra] who would like come to israel to learn more about judaism. she has been lingering the thought for awhile and on sept. 2 is going to Switzerland for a little bit. a round trip ticket from there is much cheaper than from the states. only 300 we have raised 100, if you can or know someone who can help my israel # is 026483410 shefa22@yahoo.com

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