Friday, June 13, 2008

New Argentine Orthodox Jewish leader denies favoring the Orthodox

Haaretz called the following

By The Associated Press [YNET also has article]

The first Orthodox man elected to head Argentina's largest Jewish organization took office Thursday amid an angry debate over religious and cultural identity.

Guillermo Borger tried to dispel fears that he would favor Orthodox Jews and their beliefs during his three-year tenure as president of the 22,000-member Argentine Israeli Mutual Association, known as AMIA.

"AMIA is, and will be, the representative of all Jews, without exclusion and with a spirit of dialogue," Borger said in a speech Thursday night.

Borger is the group's first Orthodox president in its 114-year history. On Saturday, Buenos Aires' leading newspaper Clarin ignited a controversy when it quoted Borger as saying that "genuine Jews are those who lead a life based on everything that is dictated in the Torah, our sacred book."

"It's a paradox that people call themselves Jews if they don't practice the religion," Borger added, according to the newspaper.

Borger, a 59-year-old businessman, denied having made the remarks in a
communique he sent to the nation's Jewish community.

"Clarin stands by its story. What we published is what he said," Clarin editor-in-chief Julio Blank told The Associated Press.

Argentina's 250,000-person Jewish community was divided Thursday between
Borger's backers and those who worry his alleged comments will divide the

"We respect Orthodox Jews' way of life and we want them to respect us too," said Agustin Ulanovsky, a 22-year-old law student who joined about 200 people protesting Borger's statements Thursday at his inauguration.

"We are all Jews!" they shouted, booing at the mention of Borger's name and drowning out remarks during the opening ceremony, which was televised on a large screen to accommodate an overflow crowd.[,,,]

A majority of Argentine Jews follow Conservative and Reform streams of the faith. [...]


  1. if a C or R Jew is a convert then they are not jewish

  2. Why is it that a Jew whose only commitment to Judaism is regular payment of his membership fee at the local JCC could become the community president without protest but a Jew who actually makes Judaism the focus of his life is unsuitable?

  3. This situation in Argentina is noteworthy because both Ashkenazic and Sephardic Orthodox kehillas in Argentina have had a ban on conversions for marriage since the 1930s.

    So while Orthodox Jewish communities in Argentina flourish, this has not been the case for the Reform and Conservative despite the fact that they have been historically welcoming to intermarried couples.

    The Conservative and Reform communities which have welcomed the intermarried have proven to be little more than vehicles toward the mass assimilation of Argentinian Jewry to the prevalent Latin Catholic (anti Semitic) culture.

    " .... studies by the Hebrew University demographers dropped the number of Jews to below 300,000, initially 265,000 and most recently less than 235,000, indicating that assimilation and emigration were taking a drastic toll. For most of the Jewish world the verdict was that we are witnessing the effective end of a community once viewed as a model of successful Jewish communal life in the diaspora."

    A website for Christians looking for opportunities to evangelize Jews recommends South American Jews as prime targets for conversion to Christianity because:

    "In South America, Jewish executives have been extremely successful. However, the more successful the Jewish executive in South America becomes, the greater tendency he may have to be assimilated into the Christian European society."

    Perhaps this is true due to the tendency for wealthier people to hire servants to work in their homes. Chazal admonished us to be careful about the laws of Bishul Akum because transgressing these leads to intermarriage.

    Shulchan Aruch 165 says that we should not let our children be taught by non-Jewish teachers to prevent our children being affected & influenced by them, and from being steered away from Torah ch"v.

    Some try to justify the practice of hiring Christian teachers in yeshivas by quoting the Rama that Christians are not Idolators for this halacha, (it has been said that the Rama was forced to say this because he lived in a Christian society and did not want to upset the balance there).

    How much more so are children influenced when their primary caregivers (maids) from birth are Christians?

    I was sitting in a pizza shop in Boro Park a few years back and heard a three year old boy with peyos to his chest singing a perfect rendition of "Jesus es la Luz del Mundo" from John 8:1-30).

    I went over to the little boy who was sitting with his mother and older siblings and conversed with him in Spanish. The mother was surprised that he spoke so animatedly with me because she said that at home he barely speaks(in Yiddish).

    I asked her if she knew the song he was singing and she answered that "it was a lullaby the maid sings to him". I explained to her what he was singing.

    I have repeated similar incidents many times over the years. When I meet frum children who I know have been cared for by maids, I converse with them in Spanish (in front of and with the permission of their parents). More often than not, when the young child is spoken to in Spanish, he will repeat parts of the Catechism etc.

    I used to expect that frum parents would be horrified by this, but I have learned over the years that most families feel their children are immune to these influences in their homes because the children receive a yeshiva education.

    In the face of rising numbers of frum kids going OTD, perhaps it is time to rethink the issue of Christian maids in our homes and the hiring of Christian secular studies teachers in yeshivas.


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