Sunday, April 14, 2013

Why this ultra-Orthodox Democrat will observe Yom Hazikaron

JPost by Rabbi Mendel Horowitz    For the first time in my 17 years living in Israel I plan to observe Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, not because I am Israeli – I am not – but because I am Jewish.

For me there was always a difference. Come April 15 I will escort my visiting American students to Mount Herzl where we will hear eulogies for those fallen. We will recite Psalms and grieve for dead Jews – husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters who died or were murdered as noncombatants on sovereign Israeli soil – a modern variation on an ancient theme. We may not care for “Hatikva” or “Jerusalem of Gold,” but we can care enough for tears.

I am, in my synagogue in Jerusalem, a pariah. A self-identified ultra-Orthodox Jew – complete with beard and sidelocks – I twice supported Barack Obama, the candidate my fellow  worshipers would hardly mention by name. Back home, in New York, I am a registered Democrat, a political affiliation increasingly unfashionable among my coreligionists. This past November I saw the political conservatism in my congregation mirroring its traditionalist theology. Recognizing a consistent reactionary agenda I shrank from both its expressions, and began assessing my allegiances. [...]

Throughout my childhood Zionism was mostly ignored, making it natural to pass over while engaging the spiritual elements of my Jewishness. Barring Rabbi Abraham Kook (1865-1935), who was viewed as an anomaly, the rabbis I grew up respecting attached little priority to the State of Israel and I became ambivalent regarding its being. Israel was at best a side-dish to the main course of my religion – the study of Torah and eminence of its laws.

That was then. Now, as I discover my liberal political views at odds with the elitist views of my congregation, I question too their other standoffish platforms – those that relegate Israel to the edge of the plate. Historically opposed to the State of Israel, my rabbi’s rabbi’s rabbis may have argued coherently against its establishment but today, such arguments seem beside the point. A dissent that began in earnest has evolved into a cultural diffidence, empty of clear reason. I cannot argue confidently against the existing Israeli state and more importantly, why would I want to? [...]


  1. "I saw the political conservatism in my congregation mirroring its traditionalist theology"

    Doesn't that make them consistent and make this fellow rather inconsistent, if his politics do not mirror his traditionalist theology?

    If he truly cares about Israel or the Jewish future in Israel, he wouldn't vote Democrat. At the democratic convention this year, the crowd boo'ed and jeered Israel, something unimaginable at today's republican convention, and something that 20 years ago or more would never have happened at a democrat convention. They proposed putting Jerusalem and God back into the Democratic Platform (stealthily removed by the Obama people beforehand) and the crowd boo'ed God - and despite the fact that they pronounced it revised, the crowd obviously did not vote for that - it was a complete sham. Why associate with that party?

  2. a voice of sanity in our own insane asylum called chareidi judaism,
    Rabbi Eidensohn,thanks for posting this

    1. @Browser,

      You're truly a ray of light in the Chareidi asylum! Only a truly reactionary insane person could oppose the Democrat Party.

      How could any sane religious Jewish person oppose the Democrat Party? IE the party whose military arm was the Ku Klux Klan, the party embracing the most evil Black/Hispanic racial supremacists and Jew haters, the party allowing hordes of illegal alien criminals to invade and plunder the US, the party whose non-constitutionally eligible "president" & messiah BO allies America with Islamo-Nazis while providing them the most advanced US weaponry, the party whose out of control spending is destroying the US economy, the party that never saw a "gay" rights or abortion initiative it didn't support.

      When will those reactionary Chareidim see the Democrat light like you?

  3. EmesLeyaacov.My comment was not on his political views,it was on his hashkofo and feelings toward Medinas Yisroel.
    as far as the Democratic party is concerned.i absolutely agree with you 100%,this criminally insane democratic party has evolved in the last 15-20 years into nothing less than an outright socialist left wing revolutionary one world party,and any jew voting for this jew hating america hating entity,needs to have his head examined

  4. The Democrat party is.... "nothing less than an outright socialist left wing revolutionary one world party,"

    Only an American could write this!

  5. To the author, Rabbi Mendel Horowitz: how come its taken 17 years?!

  6. I'm with R Mendel Horowitz on this one. I also live in Israel, voted for Obama twice. I can't handle the extremes on either side of all these debates.

  7. No one questions the chiyuv of every Jew to mourn those who have fallen in the defense of the Jews living in Israel - whether or not the State per se is a positive or negative value. This is purely hakoras hatov.
    The issues that the Charedi world have with the celebration of Yom HaZikaron are with the idolization of the army and the form of expression used to commemorate the fallen soldiers.
    When the RaMatKal can baldly state that the ARMY is strong enough to handle any threat, thereby denying the hand of Hashem in any of it, it becomes very difficult to look at the ceremonies promoted by the army and the State as anything other than an orgy of Kochi vi'Otzem Yodi.
    Disclaimer: I served for almost 15 years, most of which I was in a unit that helped identify dead soldiers and prepare them for burial.

    1. Standing for a siren has nothing to do with idolizing an army or being able to handle all threats. It's a somber moment of remembrance, nothing more.


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