A Dream Scenario...what if we could have intra-Jewish Ecumenism??? (SIGH)
The Eidah HaCharedis new chief liaison to Modern Orthodox Jewry met mixed reviews during his debut visit to the United States, thanks in part to statements on the pending naming of a new building at Yeshiva University the Teitelbaum Center for Math and Science after the Satmar Rebbe Rav Yoel Teitelbaum ZY"A.
In what turned out to be a bumpy start, Rav Menachem Nochum Veisfish angered some RCA and Union of Orthodoxy leaders when he told an audience at Congregation Bnei Yeshurun, in Teaneck, N.J. that many Modern Orthodox Jews approve of the hagiographical treatment of the Satmar rebbe in a recent biography.
Veisfish added that the long-demanded opening of the Satmar Holocaust-era archives — which many historians believe will help resolve allegations that Teitelbaum abandoned his followers and cowardly fled on the Kasztner Train and did not do enough to protect fellow Jews — would shed no more light on the question.
Earlier in the day, members of this intrafaith audience were among hundreds who gathered at Bnei Yeshurun to hear the בנש"ק deliver the 18th annual Oesterreicher Memorial Lecture titled, “Theological Questions and Perspectives in Modern Orthodox-Kharedi Dialogue.”
Rabbi Steve Bil"u, director of intrafaith affairs for the Anti-Triumphalism League, said the בנש"ק s opinions raised issues that demonstrate “the continuing challenges facing Caveman-Contemporary relations.”
Bil"u said the בנש"ק s views on the Satmar Rebbe were of particular concern because they “espoused the viewpoint of Satmar Rebbe apologists, rather than the majority of noted Modern Orthodox and Poalei Agudah scholars.”
Veisfish said some Young Israel members have told the Raava"d of the Eidah, Rav Moshe Shternbuch “don’t avoid lionization of this Gitteh Yid.”
“We have other MOs who come and say, ‘declare this Rebbe as one of the 36 hidden Tzadikim,’” Veisfish said, referring to the ...title bestowed on ostensibly salt-of-the-earth-Jews who save humanity in each and every generation... .
The ATL’s Bil"u said he was concerned that the Rebisha kindt “cites opinions of solitary or fringe MO and Khavakuknik voices to validate perspectives on these issues, giving them the same weight as mainstream MO positions, which disagree.”
Bil"u found other statements made by Veisfish troubling. “What does Veisfish mean that there is only ‘one אמת'ן דרך המקובל לנו מאבותנו מדורי דורות’ and not ‘multiple authentic paths to the truth?’” Bil"u said. “Why does he choose to describe MOs and Kharedim as ‘thorns’ in one another’s ‘sides?’ This is the language of the Catholic Antisemitism.”
This past July, Rav Veisfish came into conflict with both the Askenazic and Sephardic Israeli chief rabbis..., when he wrote in Der Blatt, official organ of the Ahroni Satmars, that the flag of the Zionist Entity is “the permanent and universal Tisha B'Av” and a symbol of "the primary cause of the Holocaust."
Rabbis Metzger and Amar responded in a subsequent edition of Der Blatt , “If the terms of the discussion are those of pointing MOs to the way of the Date-Palm Tree, it is not clear why there should be dialogue.” The Chief Rabbis response was also reported in Ivrit on the Blogsite HaMavdil.
Similar tensions involving language and sacred Yiddish arose in New Jersey during the hour-long question-and-answer session on October 30, which was organized by the Council of Centers on Caveman-Contemporary Relations.
The בנש"ק answered questions slowly and deliberately. But his English was shaky and there was a palpable sense of frustration as the בנש"ק gave either shrill or rambling responses. At one point, he was pressed a couple of times on the question of whether the Eidah believed that Jews could be saved without utterly rejecting every iteration of Zionism, without becoming literate in Yiddish and without eliminating secular education entirely. He offered a long and winding reply that appeared vague until an aide, Reb Mohn Katzenelenboigen clarified that all Jews would ultimately be “safe,” though just how would only be known in “אחרית הימים.”
Shortly before the question-and-answer session, Devoirah Schvartzyuhr, president of the International Council of YCT and YU Alumni (ICYCTYUA), said one of the major problems of Caveman-Contemporary dialogue is that certain words familiar to both groups have totally different pronunciations and connotations. “It is precisely because we share so many of the same terms and use them in such different ways that it creates difficulties. We are two tribes divided by a common religion” Schvartzyuhr said.
When Veisfish was asked about his statement regarding the Israeli flag as the eternal Tisha B'Av and it's connotation to Modern Orthodox Jews as a symbol of National Liberation and Messianic Aspirations, he said, “I know the history what Zionists have made with the כחול ולבן and I think that it is our duty to show that the כחול ולבן isn’t a motive for love of the land and its liberation. In the Kharedi view the כחול ולבן is an invitation to a rejection of G-d and His Torah and I can’t understand why Modern-Orthodox Jews can’t be repelled and disgusted by this invitation.”
After the talk, Rabbah Sara Hurwitz, former president of the ICYCTYUA, said the Rebisha kindt failed to answer questions “fully” and sometimes appeared to skirt them altogether.
“I don’t think he’s quite on a par with his predecessor,” Hurwitz said, referring to Rav Simcha Binim Sonenfeld, who left the post in 2010 and who possessed rudimentary skills in conversational Ivrit and English.
During the discussion, Rav Veisfish frequently quoted the work of Ben Hecht. Hecht, a prolific screenwriter and Irgun-Zionist, is a favorite of The Raava"d.
But audience members protested that Hechts history is not as highly regarded outside the Eidah as it is within.
Hurwitz, a founding member of the board of Orthodox Female rabbis, interrupted one of theבנש"ק 's answers in which he was quoting Hecht. “I hate to say it,” Hurwitz said, “but you are barking up the wrong Date-Palm tree.”
After the session, Alan Brilliant, chair of MO-Kharedi Studies at Lander College, said he found the בנש"ק “Tzeegeluhzen” and “open for future confrontations.”
“I think on many things he gave us very black and white vilifications,” Brilliant said, “but we hope to dispatch him to a reeducation camp in future to have him compromise more.”
Brilliant added: “This is his first public appearance. Ask me when he has been in the post a year because having seen בנש"ק s in the past, they sell-out while on the job.”All triple dots and words in purple are my insertions or deletions. original article here.