A Disturbing Shift

April 30, 2007

Yair Ettinger, of Haaretz, covers the Haredi world – and got sent to france to cover this story. What YA doesn’t say – which may well be the actual importance of this story, is that the leaders of the Haredim are trying to recruit more minions who will adopt their lifestyle.

This is a shift: Israeli Haredi rabbis usually leave Jews in other countries well enough alone. While they are recognized and admired in, say, the US or Britain, and manage to raise money from the rich Haredim there, they don’t meddle. They don’t tell Ner Yisroel, for example, to stop handing out BAs in “Talmudic Law” to its alumni, or Haredi Americans to stop working (and going to Business school in order to work, or even Landers/YU) in order to sit in Yeshiva all day – the way they might do with Israelis.

But for some reason – is it because the French are Sefardi, mostly, i.e. unlearned and considered uncultured or even primitive? Is it because there is no strong local leadership in France? Perhaps they are trying to capitalize on aliyah? – this is the first time Israeli Haredim are engaged in the export of their culture.

This is both interesting and impossible. Impossible, because the essential ingredient of Israeli Haredim is rich Jews from abroad and taxpaying Jews from across the street supporting them. It would be about as probable as pigs flying for the French government to support kollelim. It would also be as stupid as the Occupation to dry up a perfectly good supply of potentially rich Jews (i.e. those who have Jobs and salaries). Interesting, because the Israeli Haredim have yet to delegitimize the lifestyles and business practices of their American/British/Belgian bretheren. The intermarriage rates between the two communities spell the exact opposite, actually.

And where are the liberal Jews?


2 Responses to “A Disturbing Shift”

  1. rebecca m said

    Amit– they’ve already been meddling in North American conversions for some time now. Right now they are insisting that all NA (modern ortho) rabbis go to israel to get tested before they can preform conversions that will be recognized in Israel.

    A different kind of meddling, but it’s a similar power dynamic– trying to make themselves the ultimate authority.

  2. biqoret said

    Its not the power dynamic this time, but the rhetoric. They’re saying, for the first time, that being frum is not enough – you have to be a full time Yeshiva Bochur to be saved from the firey pits of hell.
    Also, the authoritarian thing with conversions didn’t come from, say, Elyashiv, but from the Chief Rabbinate, a power-hungry and centralist institution in and of itself.

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