Posts Tagged With: Ahavat Israel

Contribution, Integration, and the “Learn and Network” Program

This week the Haredi community in Lakewood hosted a first-of-its-kind job fair. Although only 1500 or so people were expected to attend, the fair attracted over 5000 people, Despite strong pressures to learn all day even in the American Haredi community, there clearly is a strong interest in employment.

The job fair was an offshoot of the “Learn and Network” Kollel program started by Duvi Honig, a member of the Haredi community in Lakewood, New Jersey. The “Learn and Network” program provides a framework where Haredim can combine job search skill development, networking, and Torah learning. Begun at the end of 2010, by May 2011 it had branches operating in four communities in the USA: Lakewood, Monsey, Flatbush, and the Five Towns area.  There are now plans to expand to  Israel as well.  Talks are already under way in both Beit Shemesh and Bnei Brak.

In Monsey, participants meet in the morning for Shachrit. This is followed by an hour and half of chevruta study at 9AM. From 10:30AM on, participants attend a variety of lectures on job hunting skills, small business development, networking, and of course Torah topics. Networking is encouraged both during study and lecture times. Other local program have slightly different schedules or run in the evenings, but the basic format is the same: a blend of Torah study, networking, and practical skill development.

From the Haredi point of view, there are two important advantages to this program over job training programs for the general public. The first and most obvious Continue reading

Categories: Building a Just Israel, Diaspora and Israel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Mechitzas on El Al’s Flight To Belgium

It looks like in flight mechitzas may not be a joke after all. Last Monday( February 20), the Israeli television station channel 2 and Israeli business newspaper Globes reported that Haredim set up “dividers” on a recent El Al flight to Belgium. Passengers reported that the dividers extended the length of the plane, to block movies, and by some accounts, to also block the view of emergency exits.

El Al issued a statement saying “This is an unusual event, and is not in accordance with company flight service procedure. We would like to emphasize that flight safety was not compromised. The incident will be reviewed by El Al.” However, passengers reported that flight attendants said this happens from time to time. They deal with the situation by moving passengers annoyed by it.

The exact nature of the dividers wasn’t specified. Was this a single partition that extended the length of the cabin or some sort of personal mechitzah used by several passengers? In 2010 the Jerusalem Post reported that Haredim were being advised to carry portable folding white mechitzas on plane rides.

Spoof advertizement

At the time many thought that the idea was so bizarre that it must be some sort of pre-Purim joke. Since Jerusalem Post did not release a picture of the mechitza, one blog, the Muquata, provided a spoofed photo. In contrast to the actual mechitza (pictured left), the spoof photograph showed a green wrap around mechitza with El Al branding.

An actual in-flight mechitza (bluish divider) - note that it rises several inches above the seat back, potentially blocking the view of passengers behind the user.

The actual mechitzas attached to the seat back before each passanger where the tray folds down. They provided blinders that blocked the view of large in-flight movie screens and also of passengers on either side of the traveller. They were white in color, not green. El Al denied any knowledge of the device.

It sometimes takes time for Haredi news to make it to the mainstream press. The folding mechitzah had been in the works well before the 2010 Jerusalem Post article. In 2008 Yated, a Haredi newspaper reported that a delegation from the Rabbinical Committee for Transportation Matters who met with HaRav Chaim Kanievsky to get approval for their personal mechitza proposal and a blessing for their efforts in finding solutions to modesty issues. They showed him a prototype of the mechitza which can be folded up to 10inches. The organization responsible for the mechitzas, the Rabbinical Committee for Transportation Matters, is also involved in promoting segregated bus lines.

At the time, Kanievsky showed little understanding of the potential impact of the dividers on other travellers: Continue reading

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New Aish haTorah Music Video Pushes for Mutual Respect

Kudos to Aish haTorah for its new music video “We’ve Gotta Live Together”: snappy song, good lyrics, and a positive presentation of women and children, religious and non-religious.


Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
A butcher, a banker, a drummer and then
We’re all family whatever group you’re in…

I am no better and neither are you
We are the same, we’re all Jews
You love me you hate me you know me and then
You can’t figure out the bag I’m in
I am everyday people, yeah yeah
There is a long hair that doesn’t like the short hair
For bein’ such a rich one that will not help the poor one
And different folks with different cloaks…

Full lyrics available on the website.

Categories: Building a Just Israel | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Praying for Contemporary Captives

By Avi Shafran, cross-posted from Cross-Currents with permission.

It was over a decade ago, in the wake of a spate of terrible terrorist attacks on Jews in Eretz Yisrael, that the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah called upon Jews to recite chapters of Tehillim (they suggested chapters 83, 130, and 142) in shul after davening, followed by the short prayer “Acheinu”, a supplication to G-d to show mercy to His people. Many shuls, to their great credit, to this day still dutifully seize that special merit at the end of their services. None of us can know what dangers that collective credit may have averted, may be averting still.

It occurred to me, though, that recent events might well inspire us—not only those of us Jews who look to the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah for guidance, but all good-hearted Jews, charedi, “modern Orthodox,” non-Orthodox, “traditional,” and secular-minded alike—to consider reciting the holy words with special concentration, and the short prayer with an additional, somewhat different, intent.

For we have witnessed of late… Continue reading

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From Midat Hasid to Midat S’dom

by Sid Slivko, cross-posted with permission from Got Talmud.

Editor’s Note: Deja Vu. Although this essay was written in the middle of Chanuka (Dec 27, 2011) in response to a media expose that showed the trauma created for a little girl who was spit on an cursed as a prostitute by adult men, it is especially pertinent today. Yesterday, January 24, there was an escalation of violence when a mob stood by while a woman was attacked with not just words and spit, but stones and bleach.

In about an hour, thousands of people will converge on Beit Shemesh to protest the behavior of certain self-styled Haredim who have been polarizing the community. They and their fellow fanatics have recently dominated the headlines in the Israeli media these last few weeks by their misogynist actions, such as erecting mehitzot (dividers) on sidewalks to separate men and women pedestrians or holding up buses when women refuse to sit in the back. But the big rallying point that made all the media happened last week when one of the men spit on an eight year-old Orthodox girl going to her religious girls’ school in Beit Shemesh.

Now, I live in the Ba’aka neighborhood of Jerusalem where my two nine year old boys attend the religious school across the street. I don’t worry about them being harassed. But I do worry about is that these intolerant ignorami have successfully Talibanized Judaism. Not only are the Haredi religious leaders themselves afraid to voice opposition but even our own chief rabbinate is staying silent.

It reminds me of the story cited by Rabbi Yochanan in Masechet Gittin (54b). Rabbi Yochanan explains that the second temple was destroyed on account of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza (You can read the story in Wikipedia by clicking here ). And while ultimately Rabbi Yochanan lays the blame on an overly pious Rabbi Zacharia ben Avkolus who refused to accept the less radical solutions of the majority of rabbis regarding Ceasar’s tainted sacrifice, the real blame rests on the rabbis and scholars who were at the party where Bar Kamtza was humiliated and remained silent.

Today, in Beit Shemesh, and in other places in Israel, we have examples of both parts of the tale. First, we have a fanatical minority imposing its standards on a majority afraid to act in its defense. And each victory brings increasing demands, each one more outrageous than the last. Meanwhile, we wait for the religious leaders to do something to stop it — which they haven’t. (Notwithstanding the defensive statement of Beit Shemesh Haredim released earlier distancing itself from these violent acts but blaming the media, we have nothing official from that community or any other religious community). In fact, just this week, a neighborhood synagogue which prides itself on its open, modern Orthodox image announced it was hosting a Hanukah puppet show for young children stipulating that only mothers could attend — no fathers welcome. It’s as if our leaders are afraid of what the fanatic minority will do to them!

Meanwhile, a popular video interview with one of the Beit Shemesh fanatics has gone viral. In it, the man explains that it is right and proper to spit on little girls who fo not comply with his community’s standards. The bar is rising with nobody to keep it at an attainable level.

The Mishnah in Avot states that one who says ”What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine” is evil. Those who cloak their coercion in the guise of piety and force their standards on others are doing just that. But more importantly, the Mishnah also tells us that one who says “What’s yours is yours and what’s mine is mine” is a Sodom type. If we do nothing to stop this we are the Sodom type.

The same can be said of silent Rabbinic leaders.

Let’s not be like that. Let’s be like the one in the Mishnah who says”What’s mine is yours and what’s your is yours.” The Mishnah calls him a “hasid” — pious and generous. Let’s be like that. Let’s give our strength and support whichever way we can, to the ones who are victimized by this kind of antisocial behavior.

Sid Slivko is an Orthodox Rabbi and Jewish educator living in Jerusalem, Israel. He studied and received ordination from Yeshiva University and the REITS rabbinical program

Categories: Building a Just Israel, Extremism | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

This is Unity by Y-Love

Y-love (Yitz Jordan) is a black Jewish hip-hop musician who converted to Judaism in 1999. He says music has been a mode of spirituality his entire life, include even while he was in Israel studying in yeshiva. While in Yeshiva he and his chavruta (study-partner) used hip-hop as part of the way they learned Talmud and Jewish thought. (see )

This song is part of a campaign by Y-love and the ShemSpeed record label to promote diversity and respect of differences within the Jewsish community. The video includes women and men and Jews of many cultures and races.

For more about Y-love see:
Y-Love’s website:

Categories: Building a Better Judaism, To Be a Jew | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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