Friday, January 20, 2012

The yawning chasm between American & Israeli Chareidim

Cross Currents by Rav Yitzchok Adlerstein

Many people, myself included, believe that the fallout from Beit Shemesh and Kikar Shabbos will have a longer half-life than others suppose. One item to keep an eye on is the fault line that has surfaced, much as those that sometimes appear on the earth’s surface after an earthquake. 

This fault line separates Israeli charedim from many of their American counterparts. Two different narratives developed. Americans could not accept the Israeli one, while Israelis were deaf to the arguments of Americans.

Americans by and large rejected the suggestion that protest was unnecessary, because there is no reason the rest of us should be responsible for the actions of a relatively small number of extremists. Witness the wall-to-wall condemnations of the activities in Beit Shemesh and Yerushalayim. Americans understood what was at stake: if you don’t distance yourself from ugliness, you are considered complicit in it. It didn’t matter to us whether lumping us all together was just or not. The honor of Torah, our relationships with non-Jews and non-religious Jews, our ability to attract baalei teshuvah in the future – all these would be imperiled by our remaining silent. So we spoke up, and couldn’t understand that in Israel, our cousins seemed not to understand. [...]


  1. Nice excerpt. Do his buddies Menken and Shafran agree? Because until now they've taken the Israeli position.

  2. Living in Israel has convinced me that the Israeli mind is very much different than the American mind. Israelis think in black and white, while Americans think in color.

    Of course, I say this as an American.


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