Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Michael Freund encouraging descendants of anusim

17 comments :

  1. I find this both appalling and dangerous. Quite easily, from my understanding of history and historical records, half the population of Spain at this point is in some way descended from Marranos. We are taking this and linking it with a Zionist agenda, which could result in disastrous consequences.

    We could quite easily make Klal Yisrael awash with "geirim" and "returning Jews". But is this good for Klal Yisrael?

    Here we see the problem of linking a nationalistic agenda with a Judaism. People can begin to look at what could be good for the nation as being naturally good for the religion.

    Yes the nation of Israel, if we look at things from a strictly secular perspective, could use more loyal and comitted citizens, in every way that would be a benefit to the nation.

    The religion on the other hand would suffer tremendous damage. There is simply no way that Klal Yisrael could absorb the numbers that we are talking about without suffering fundamental lapses in observance and kedusha. Which leads me to say that this would also be bad for the nation.

    I am not a Zionist, however, my own understanding and views suggest that Jews only have a right to dwell in Eretz Yisrael so long as we are faithful to the covenant, so long as we are Torah observant. I can see no quicker way to have us once again barred from our land, than to flood our borders with questionably observant Jews.

    Having been a part of a number of conversions in respectable Batei Dinim, and having walked more than one Geir through the process, there simply is no way that a proper geirus can be done on the numbers that Freund is talking about. This isn't a racial issue, I too am Sephardi... this is a halachic issue. We are talking of flooding Klal Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael with people who are, at best Jews severely lacking in understanding and halachic observance. This is a very dangerous path.

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  2. Well, you know, there are not that many of them who really, seriously want to return. It's a quite stony path, believe you me.

    I think it is positive that Anussim who want to claim their jewish heritage have a place to turn to.

    However, I share your sorrows about the zionist agenda, albeit for different reasons.

    As far as i see, those naive, unsuspecting "returning jews" from Mitzoram, or Spain or South America or wherever you want are often used as cannon fodder in the occupied territories, and I think that this is irresponsable.

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  3. Come to think of it:
    I do not think it is a valid argument that you should reject because there are "too many of them".

    If, suddenly, 10'000 Swiss decide honestly, that they want to become jewish, and accept Ol Torah u Mitzwot without reservation, and live the lifes of frum jews, there is no reason to reject them just because at the same time 9999 other swiss took the same decision.

    You see what I mean?

    So you should really distinguish between honesty of the giur and the mere numerical issue.

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  4. The issue isn't the numbers so much as the actual "reaching out" to them to get them to convert. See there are local Batei Din and Rabbinates that can help the sincere. Its when you dress it up and add this nationalistic message, and suggest prophetic overtones, that it begins to become a problem.

    Sociologically xtianity is dying on the European continent. People are disillusioned with it there. However many of them still hold some notion of G-d. If you come to them and tell them that the reason you are dis-illusioned with xtianity is because it isn't the religion of your ancestors, rather it is a religion that was forced upon your ancestors. By the way look here this prophet said thousands of years ago that this would happen and you would return to the religion of your ancestors... Well in that case it becomes relatively easy to convince people to make the switch from what they are not comitted to, to something else.

    Then you tie this in with a Zionistic world view and how they are supposed to return to Israel to inhabit Israel and fight for Israel. And in truth it all becomes rather problematic.

    See my problem isn't with the people who may genuinely want to convert. It is with those that are pushing Judaism onto a another people. What is more they are pushing it not, necessarily because they believe it is a better path to G-d and truth, but it is tainted with nationalism. These people are not getting simple Judsaim, they are getting religious zionism.

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  5. Where exactely is your local beith din in la Coruna, galica? Or in Salamanca? Or in Badajoz?

    See, not everyone lives "in the tchulent", and in some places, tchulent facilities are difficult to come by. So if there are people interested, why should it be a sin to send someone there who can teach courses, familiarise people with Yiddishkeit, tell them the basics, enable them to take an informed decision????? Or help set up a community locally?

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  6. Well: I agree that you should not push Judaism on someone who does not want it.

    I agree that you should be careful about "ulterior motives" when there is a huge income gap.

    But it is not as easy as you might think to push judaism on someone who does not really want it, since it is so "complicated", especially when you live in an environment that is not at all "compatible" with it.
    I mean think: If you want to be deemed serious, you have to stop doing christmas with your family, separate from a non-jewish spouse, stop working on shabbat/yontef/friday evenings. Stop going to the restaurant. Stop eating with your colleagues.
    Basically, you'll loosen the contact with friends and family you had up till now.

    So you will be a kind of lonely loony, in the eyes of your society.

    So why not help them with instruction, activities, kosher infrastructure.

    There is almost nothing. Even when you go to Madrid, you will not find that many religious-orthodox families you can turn to.

    So I think there is no problem with sending people there to help. As long, I agree, they do not convert people who have no interest in the first place.
    But to be honest: the whole issue of converting for a spouse bears much more risk of non-sincere or not really wanted conversions than this issue.

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  7. Recipients and PublicityAugust 6, 2009 at 3:04 PM

    Taking a closer look at the introductory transcript of this video with Michael Freund's words. Commentary starts with "RaP":

    "(NARRATOR:) Marranos in Spain are returning to their Jewish roots"

    RaP: This is a misleading introduction because these people are almost all NOT practicing Marranos (the word DOES mean something, but not the wishy-washy emoticon that this narrator seems to think) but the subjects here are people from Spain and Portugal (Iberia) who for whatever reason have ON their OWN decided that they must seek out their Jewish roots. They are not much different to Poles or Germans who discover from "death-bed confessions" or such-like that they MAYBE had a drop of UNPROVABLE Jewish ancestry, so they have a stirring and seek out Jewish/Israeli things. No-one would call Poles and Germans who discover their alleged Jewish roots as "Marranos" or anything else, let alone "lost Chasidim" or "missing Ashkenazis" so the whole notion of modern day Portuguese or Spaniards waking up one day and either calling themselves or being called "Marranos" let alone "Jews" is totally absurd and an outright distortion of truth.

    "The AMISHAV Institute is providing them with support."

    RaP: Based on false descriptions and misguided outlooks yet.

    "...Machon Miriam is the only Spanish language conversion and return institute in Israel run by the AMISHAV organization"

    RaP: Seems this is becoming a trend now. R Goldstein's "Toiras jesed" is now reaching out and proselytizing to this Hispanic cohort in Latin America, while Freund's Amishav runs after ghosts in Iberia and elsewhere, not to mention Tropper's global EJF efforts.

    "it plays an important role in the organization's efforts to assist lost Jews seeking to find their way back to the Jewish people."

    RaP: But these are NOT "lost Jews"! They are GOYIM/GENTILES who imagine that they have a connection with the Jews or Judaism based on some flimsy dream of being connected to the long lost long ago Jews who were finally cruelly expelled from Spain in 1492 and soon thereafter from Portugal. The JEWS were ALL expelled. Those of their co-religionists who almost all CHOSE to remain behind in Spain, like the 4/5ths that remained behind in ancient Egypt after the original Exodus, have esssentially lost their claim to being called "Jewish" -- that is for sure. Proof is they would need full conversions (not just "lechumra") to be called Jews. Indeed there had been a historical "window of opportunity" in the century or two after the horrible girush Sefarad of 1492, and batei din at that time, including those of Rav Yosef Karo busied themselves with figuring out how to re-accept PROVABLE Jews who had compromised themselves during the Christian oppressions under the Inquisition's policies, and yes there were GENUINE Marranos that practiced Jewish RITUALS in hiding for a long time, but by now those type of Marranos have long disappeared. There may be very small traces here and there in Iberia but they have intermarried and practiced Christianity willingly and openly for so long that their status as "Jews" is less than zero and they haven't practiced even the minimal rituals that genuine Marranos practiced over the centuries when the sad saga of the Marranos all began. So this video relies on ignorance as it promotes Freund's cause with hype and PR gusto not related to the realities of Jewish history and Jewish LAW and LORE. ...

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  8. Recipients and PublicityAugust 6, 2009 at 3:05 PM

    "(MICHAEL FREUND, looking stern, serious and somber as if he will brook no opposition as he determinedly declares:) We are not a missionary organization"

    RaP: But you are a proselytization organization since you actively seek out 100% gentiles (regardless of their tenuous claims of long lost links to Jews) and you sponsor multi-million dollar programs to then teach them with the hope of formally converting them to Judaism. If you were a conventional kiruv outreach worker reaching out to known Halachically born Jews then you would be commended, but doing the same for outright gentiles is actually highly problematic at best and even runs counter to classical Yiddishkeit at worst, while reaching out to goyim gemurim and teaching them Torah is itself a violation of Halacha.

    "we are not out there to convert the world"

    RaP: Really?

    "(sub-title flashes on video: Michael Freund Dir. Amishav:) but what we are out to do is to assist those people"

    RaP: Playing with words here, because "converting" and "assisting" and "proselytizing" could be used interchangeably here. You are more than "assisting" them, you are running all over the world, expending huge amounts of money advertising and promoting the cause of searching out any and all gentiles who may have even the remotest claims to links with the Jews. This can indeed be done ANYWHERE in the world simply because the Jews are an ancient people and by now they have lived in and been exiled to almost every section of Earth -- a few have been to space as well by now -- and via your organization and its branches you are actively engaged in reaching out to limitless numbers of gentiles who may or may not have a connection to Judaism and actively running conversion mills to help them convert. Why do you think this is innocent stuff and not a danger to the integrity of the Jewish people?

    "who have a historical connection to the Jewish people and who want to now formally return."

    RaP: Your so-caalled misinformed and half-baked criteria here are dangerous. You are relying on "historical connections" which is a nebulous and non-legal construct. It is not valid halachically, just a nice notion used for the story of the Jewish people over the millenia, but since when is a "historical connection" alone sufficient to trigger trying to connect provable gentiles with their long lost Jewish "historical connections" and if that is so then what is to stop all Christians and Muslims from seeking to rejoin Judaism spiritually? because after all Christainty and Islam have the STRONGEST claims as organzied religions and as essentially monotheistic faiths to have "historical connections" directly with Jews and Judaism (Christianity even says that a Jew is "the son of God" -- so maybe you can work on correcting that and then just getting them "historically connected" to normative Judaism that does not have any "son" connected to God?) The absurdity of Freund yet again relies on most people's ignorance and indifference to these serious matters that require knowledge of real historical data and true halachic solutions and not the contrived foisted delusional programs of the Freund's Tropper's and Goldtsteen's etc etc etc of this world. ...

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  9. Recipients and PublicityAugust 6, 2009 at 3:06 PM

    Freund: "our goal is to reach out to them,"

    RaP: That is precisely what proselytization is and it's not done in Judaism because the people you are "reaching out" to are pure Church-going gentiles until they bump into you.

    "embrace them"

    RaP: Even worse, because even one who seeks to become a genuine ger tsedek must be rejected multiple times before being accepted by a reliable bais din.

    "and facilittate their return."

    RaP: Clear-cut admission of proselytization.

    "(NARRATOR:) More than half of the students in this program are descendants of the Anusim, which means in Hebrew 'those who were coerced.'"

    RaP: And the other half? And how do the half supposedly descended from the Anusim prove it conclusively, besides making up fairy tales that anyone can make up with half and imagination? In any case, most of those former Jews who remained behind in Spain WILLINGLY chose to become Christians and married gentiles continuously, so the two "halves" in this program are not different from each other being that they are both 100% gentiles seeking conversion to Judaism.

    "(MICHAEL FREUND speaking later:) The potential is tremendous."

    RaP: One man's dream is another man's nightmare.

    "we just returned from a trip to Southern Spain and to the island of Majorca."

    RaP: Makes one wonder who plans and thinks up these junkets and who's paying for all this globe-trotting to unearth long buried claims that are probably best left undisturbed?

    "On the island of Majorca alone (raises his voice in anticipation and excitement) historians estimate"

    RaP: Again with the reliance on nebulous "historians" to set the picture and guide policies. Judaism and halacha, while respectful of all professions, do not need historians to dredge up problems. Why are no major rabbis or rabbinical bodies doing this?, just folks like Michael Freund, and Tropper (he hides this from his sponsors) and R Goldtstein none of whom have even a shred of a formal traditional written haskoma from a reliable spectrum of leading rabbis to undertake all this proselytization to gentiles who may or may not have the slightest connection to formal Judaism.

    "that there are anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 descendants of Jews who were forcibly converted."

    RaP: How does he know that they come from people who were "forcibly converted"? Who has been "forcing" them since then for the last 500 years? How can any of this ever be proven when most of those people don't even want to be called "descendants of Jews" happy as they are to be Catholics or whatnot?, but one can always count on the likes of Michael Freund using carrots and luring people with enticements to "wake up" and "become interested" in Judaism. This craziness has no end, at this rate one can go to many places, and try waking up people who have long cut their ties with Jews and Judaism and are quite happy leading their lives as goyim gemurim.

    "These people represent a tremendous potential pool"

    RaP: This is weird talk! He sounds like he is looking for new markets to awaken clients to products.

    "both for the Jewish people and for the state of Israel."

    RaP: Really strange! What does the state of Israel have to do with it? So he is just an agent for the Jewish Agency and another face of Nefesh BeNefesh, just stretching the limits? Israel has been flooded with gentiles from the former USSR from RECENT mixed marriages, with many Falashas from Ethiopia whose status is highly problematic and it will now face new floods from many other lands as one can see happeninbg in this video already.

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  10. Recipients and Publicity said...

    Really strange! What does the state of Israel have to do with it? So he is just an agent for the Jewish Agency and another face of Nefesh BeNefesh, just stretching the limits? Israel has been flooded with gentiles from the former USSR from RECENT mixed marriages, with many Falashas from Ethiopia whose status is highly problematic and it will now face new floods from many other lands as one can see happeninbg in this video already.

    To pose what I believe to be the answers to the questions that RaP brought up here, is that this all stems from a very distorted view of Yiddishekeit. It is a form of Religious Zionism that places the welfare of the State over the welfare of the Jewish People.

    This is personally where I see Freund as departing from any respectable form of religious zionism(which while not personally a zionist[nor an anti-zionist either] I have great respect for many of their Rabbanim). Here however, Freund truly sets himself apart. While most knit kippas and chardalians want to encourage Jews who are also patriots. Freund seems to be seeking people who will be patriots, and hopefully be able to convince them to be questionable Jews as well.

    Ultimately he is not pushing a religious aggenda. He is pushing a nationalistic agenda. Quite frankly Israel needs more "Jews" to move onto settlements. It needs more "Jews" to move into East Jerusalem. It needs more "Jews" to fight in the IDF. Since many on the home front have become antagonistic to these things, the next best thing is to manufacture them else where and import them. I know that this sounds like treating human beings as commodities, however, as RaP so well pointed out, that is what Freund's own language suggests.

    Unfortunately Freund seems to have missed the ultimate point. Klal Yisrael's problems as well as those of Israel(the State) stem not from population statistics. Rather they stem from our people's abandonment of Torah. In my opinion all would be better served if Freund stopped worrying about manufacturing Jews elsewhere through his numerous agencies set up to do so, and started worrying about the vast numbers of secular Jews within Israel's own borders.

    Recent studies have shown that 40% of secular girls and 60% of secular boys have had sexual relations before they reach bar or bat mitzvah. The problems of Israel are many... we don't need more funky conversions and another flood of non-Jews to complicate them. We need those resources to go to fixing our own internal problems.

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  11. I don't know,

    Perhaps you have not said anything against Jews returning to their roots.

    Yet all you both said sounds very unwelcoming.

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  12. shoshi said...

    I don't know,

    Perhaps you have not said anything against Jews returning to their roots.

    Yet all you both said sounds very unwelcoming.
    ============
    But it is not a case of Jews returning to their roots. What is the basis that you think that they should be welcomed?

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  13. Sorry, I'm lost.

    I thought we were speaking of Anussim.

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  14. We are talking about Anussim. They are not Jews. Their connection to Judaism is tenuous at best. For slightly more than 1/6 of Jewish history, the last 1/6 of Jewish history, they have been happily involved in another religion. So why should we now fling the doors open for them?

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  15. Ah. So Daas Torah and Mekubal (and RaP) share the stance that

    Anussim are not jews (have nothing to do with judaism) and therefore there is no reason to welcome them.

    RaP adds: even if a Woman who was born in Germany or Poland before the war confesses on her deathbed that she is really jewish, her children cannot be considered jewish.

    Did I understand this right?

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  16. Recipients and PublicityAugust 14, 2009 at 11:56 AM

    Shoshi claims: "RaP adds: even if a Woman who was born in Germany or Poland before the war confesses on her deathbed that she is really jewish, her children cannot be considered jewish. Did I understand this right?"

    Can you show me exactly where I said any of this about a "WOMAN" saying anything? And you are missing my point ENTIRELY.

    Here is what I said: "They are not much different to Poles or Germans who discover from "death-bed confessions" or such-like that they MAYBE had a drop of UNPROVABLE Jewish ancestry, so they have a stirring and seek out Jewish/Israeli things. No-one would call Poles and Germans who discover their alleged Jewish roots as "Marranos" or anything else, let alone "lost Chasidim" or "missing Ashkenazis" so the whole notion of modern day Portuguese or Spaniards waking up one day and either calling themselves or being called "Marranos" let alone "Jews" is totally absurd and an outright distortion of truth."

    I was NOT talking about a clearly-defined and verifiable case of where it is known 100% that a known Jewish girl/woman had a baby, that it obviously makes the baby she had Jewish (who would argue such an OBVIOUS point, in any case?) but rather, what I am saying is that in cases where there is undeniable doubt (safek) wether a person had ANY real provable Jewish ancestry in Germany and Poland, and in those cases it's much closer chronologically to the present time, and yet these people are not elevated to a special honored group called "hidden Jews" aka the Marranos of the Middle Ages, how much more so is it surely not valid to say that people who wake up one day and claim that on the basis of events that took place 500+ years ago when the ORIGINAL Marranos went into hiding so that on that basis it is impossible for anyone to claim that they have Jewish ancestry.

    All the talk about the status of the "woman" is nonsesne because it is humanly IMpossible to be sure that for 500+ years that someone came from Jewish ancestry IF they lived like Christians, married Christians, acted like Christians etc.

    Three generations back is about as far as it's possible to accept and check up on someone because that's about how long known human testimonies can be found, after that point it's all up in the air and Halachically it's impossible to know let alone to validate and certify the staus of ANY present-day so called "Anusim".

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  17. I am a bnei anousim and so far the only one of my family is israel. good news my sister is coming - a once in a lifetime opportunity. i feel she will love it Here. If her soul awakens for a Torah life while she is Here can someone recommend organizations that could help her?

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