Jun 22, 2010

Why We Should Be Angry at Emanuel

Why We Should Be Angry at Emanuel
By Menachem Lipkin
June 22, 2010

I recently read an article on the Cross Currents blog by Rabbi Dovid Landesman titled "We Are All Emanuel". His basic thesis, and this has been shared by many of late, was that the Emanuel case highlighted the conflict between the state of Israel and Torah values and, of course, in such a conflict we must all side with Torah Values. Some have gone to great lengths to either support or critique the court's decision. While others have cast this case and its outcome as a modern day pogrom. Still others have used it to highlight the nefarious nature of the Supreme Court and its predilection to advance a leftist, anti-religious agenda.

While all of these issues may be worthy of discussion in the abstract, I think that they all miss the most fundamental point. To put it in science fiction terms, this timeline should never have existed. The players in Emanuel, literally, elevated a school yard spat into a national crisis. The issue surrounds a Beit Yaakov school, a member of a system of education that is supposed to be known for its piousness and fidelity to Torah values. Yet somehow, these self-avowed "tremblers before God" managed to make a mockery of His name throughout the entire world.

Most orthodox Jews, even while not necessarily agreeing, understand the nuances that are common within their world. To that end, they rarely have an issue when a school is founded based on those nuances. However, most of the world has no appreciation for these minor differences we often use to subdivide ourselves. To them we all represent Torah and thus there's little understanding when one group literally walls off another. That this issue needlessly spilled into the public arena is an embarrassment for all of us.

When living in a place where secular law is paramount, pious people are mandated to solve their internal religious issues with their own religious courts. That this case was allowed to move beyond that arena is the foremost reason we should be angry at Emanuel. Beyond that, every step of the way there seemed to be another calculated action to make us all look foolish. There was very little civil behavior in the civil courts. Esteemed Rabbis speaking at the rally admonished those who would let this issue rise to the secular courts. Where was this Rabbinic leadership before it got to the courts? Where was the leadership in Emanuel? Where was the wisdom that is supposed to come along with piety that should have resolved this issue at its very inception? Where was the sensitivity to one's fellow, a primary Torah value, that should have guided both sides to be sensitive to each other's needs?

Especially at this point in history when the state of Israel has become like the hated "Jew" of the 1930's and we face the most serious threat to our existence since WWII, it is simply unconscionable that this issue was allowed to reach the world stage. It's totally irrelevant whether you believe it was the Supreme Court that was being foolish, Emanuel's residents, or both. Looking in from the outside we're all Jews in a Jewish state. I don't know how many of you peek into social media like Facebook and Twitter, but this has become pure fodder for the anti-Semites of cyberspace. Regardless of the merits of the case, it is being framed by them as one where "huge masses of Israelis protest in support of racism". Note, to them we are not Chareidim, we are not orthodox, we are all Israelis. Since today's Israeli is yesterday's Jew, this school yard spat has now disgraced every Jew in the world.

I'm angry at Emanuel. We all should be angry at Emanuel for creating a timeline that should never have existed. Far from supporting them by attending rallies and the like, we should be demanding an apology.


  1. Your anger is misplaced, Menachem. You should be angry at the (largely leftist controlled) media that maliciously and slanderously turned those nuances into ethnic racism, which went beyond the verdict of the High Court.

  2. Closer, but not close enough, I'm afraid. I cannot accept that keeping families interested in a torah education out of a Torah school represents Torah values. It is sheker, regardless of all the justifications you can find. This is the definition of sinas chinam. The "nuances" you mention are not Torah, but extras. Extras are okay, commendable even, as long as they do not violate true Torah principles. But the invokation of these "nuances" and "needs" to exclude, which by the way is not limited to Emannuel, does violate major Torah principles. And this is where that leads. I am not angry at Emanuel; I am angry at Chinuch Atzmai for creating a system which excludes and victimizes the very same population for whom it was founded (I don't mean sfardim; I mean Jews whoever they may be who are interested in a Torah education), and I might add the very same population they use to represent their cause among their US donors.

  3. Here's why I'm angry at Emmanuel.
    The issue, as I've stated repeatedly, isn't about the state imposing on religious Jews and their educational rights. It's about Chareidim taking over a publicly-funded school and excluding those girls who don't meet their sect's standards and then defining not meeting those standards as making you "less religious".
    You wouldn't know this from Landesman, Mencken, and Aderlstein, et al. They have reframed the argument because they know that they would quickly lose if they actually stuck to the facts. Nothing rallies the troops like a good "us vs them" argument as opposed to "we want the State's money but not their rules".
    Is this what frumkeit has devolved into?

  4. Actually, that anger should be placed at Lalum.. The parents were very willing to bow out and 1. homeschool 2. send to a different school.

    Lalum should have known not to bring it before a secular court- as per halacha!

    Lalum was a troublemaker who didnt' even live in the neighborhood..

  5. to try to rectify a problem you see you have to live in that neighborhood? He was obviously approached by people who suffered from discrimination (or felt they were discriminated against) and he acted on their behalf.

    I see nothign wrong with him having gotten involved.

    The question of whether he should have gone to a secular court is a different one. He claims (and this has become a "you said, I said", so I have no idea who is telling the truth, embellishing, lying) he went to beis din and they refused to appear, so he got a hetter to go to court. That is basic halacha and if he followed it then he should not be vilified for going to secular court.

    Also, if beis din has no authority to deal in a specific matter they will also give a hetter to go to court.

    At the same time you are upset about Lalum going to secular court, the roshei yeshiva of Poneveezsh yeshiva are currentyly battling out an argument over who owns the yeshiva in secular court, as well as other haredi court cases nobody cares about.

  6. David and Creative, I still think we need to go back to the "original sin", which was the crass behavior in the way the Slonim Chassidim split the school and promulgated their draconian rules. There would have been no room for Lalum to enter the scene had this been handled differently from the outset. New schools with different hashkafot pop up all the time and nobody says boo.

  7. I agree with that. The problem would never have happened if there were no funding..

    However, I read that the school had no problem accepting girls as long as certain rules were followed.

  8. The issue Eamnual is an issue through out the Charedi system here and now this system is very afraid now that when ever someone has an issue they will run to bagats to have it resolved. It is very well know that principals and others do not allow students from certain homes in examples some Baalei Tshuva but if they have money they do let them in. When people are not allowed in they went to the min of ed and they got in. Why is it that the askanim got all the gedolei Yisroel involved they realized that things will no longer be the same as they were. As far as I am concerned the only real charedim in Israel are the eida charedit they run there own schools according their liking because they do not take money from the government.
    Can someone explain to me why so many american who make aliyah consider themselves charedi. With everyting going I am glad to say that I am not part of any camp. Thanks for posting this post from Meneachem Lipkin.

    How come you haven't psoted anything from Yeshoua Shapiro on this topic I am sure he has alot what to say on this issue.


  9. I agree with Menachem.. Unfortunately, the minutiae of sleeve length is what we judge by nowadays. I am sad to say that frum has nothing to do with being G-d fearing in today's chareidi world.

    To the world at large watching on CNN, what was shown was basically a white supremacist rally supporting discrimination (with a few Uncle Toms thrown in for good measure).

    We need to think about the millions of American Christians who influence their Senators and congressmen to support Israel, and what they saw on the news.

    I am really worried about the future of the state of Israel if this extremist behavior is not dealt with.

  10. Lalum's reason is his rabbi(RYY) .RYY IS SO STUPID i'm not repeating it..read in mishpacha..

  11. This is whole lot more than sleeve length. It's about decorum of behavior. It's about sheltering pure souls from the filth that is out there. It's about raising children in purity!! People who say it's about sleeve length obviously don't know what they are talking about!
    Imagine a world where girls/boys don't fuss about relating to each other and just spending time in their own spheres in purity. Why do pure souls have to be exposed to marital relations, or even touching, or semi pornography on the tv or the web!!!!
    These people have EVERY RIGHT to shelter their kids and it is not wrong!!
    The ONLY question would be whether they have the right to make these choices while benefiting from someone else's wallet.

  12. Creative. Every parent does some form of "sheltering". So to complain about in general would be hypocritical. But the issue wasn't about sheltering. Even justice Levy acknowledged in his decision that the court recognizes the right of different populations to set up schools for their unique needs. The issue is to learn how to do it while maintain balance, by it in perspective with other ideals that we hold dear. If in the act of "sheltering" one tramples all kids of other important values then something is wrong and fiasco like Emanuel can be the result.

  13. creative you need to calm down. I love how all the internet using American 'chareidim' like to defend the Israeli chassidim/chareidim. LOL. you do realize that your own children would not be allowed in that school either? and since when do you make the leap from cultural chumrot to mixed schooling? yes, it was about sleeve length.

    what happened was NOT RIGHT. It was a hostile takeover of the existing school and the pressure on the established student body. you dare to defend a mechitza down the yard?

    THAT is not frum...or is it?

  14. FYI, I live in Israel.. but you are just proving me right.. see ya!

  15. and so do I....and you are obviously American and so am I.

  16. menachem,
    you obviously are not connected to the chareidi community. as far as i can tell from the local phone book, you don't even live in a chareidi neighborhood. (not even RBS).
    it is obvious that your entire hashkafas hachaim is in no way lined with the chareidi hashkafa.
    therefore, there will be an obvious result of you seing things differently than the chareidim.
    what is important to the charidim is fanaticism and close-minded (and draconian) in your eyes.
    that is your perogative. however, anyone seeing a community from the outside as you do will unevitably err in his understanding.
    what made this issue big news and caused the demonstration was the begatz making decisions on where one may send his children to school. everything before that was followed on the news but not to the extent that it is now.
    as far as the original issue, no one seems to know clearly what was or wassn't happening.
    splitting a school building in two for two separate schools is standard and has happened in many instances (even here in beit shemesh)
    the fact that two separate schools were needed is undeniable. the two extremes - the right end of the chassidish tract and the left end of the othere tract- would not be in the same school in any chareidi community in israel and in most in america in the new york and lakewood areas.
    the question only becomes on the middle of the ground people and which school is appropriate for whom.
    the fact that the state funds these schools is irrelevant to this argument because this case is no differant than anywhere else in the country. just about all chareidi girls schools are chinuch atzmai abnd no one would even think to say that the begatz or even misrad hachinuch should be the ones to control the admissions board.
    no decisions in the early stages could have been made with the ramifications of the whole world watching as no one - lalum included- would have imagined that this would get this far.

  17. funny you should mention it, Mr. Anonymous, but here in RBS registration for Bais Yaakov has still not been opened because of just such a dispute. because of the case of Bais Yaakov Mishkenos not accepting that sfardi girl, th Misrad Hachinuch decided that they have to be the noes controlling registration, while BY will not give it to them. Until it is resolved there is no BY registration in RBS for the coming year.

  18. Mr. Anon, remind me not to hire you next time I'm looking for a private eye. So you looked in the Shemeshphone, saw I live in Sheinfiel and think you know everything about me. You know nothing and I resent the condescending tone of your comment.

    First of all, regardless of my background, again something you know nothing about, one doesn't need to live it to know it. However, I know way more about the workings, thought process, and behavior of extremist Chareidim than I need to.

    Beyond that, you've totally missed the point of my article and my comments. I'll say it again. Nobody, not me, not justice Levy, is denying the right, in Israel, of people to set up schools even tracks within schools for their unique needs. The devil, literally, is in the details. And the details of the way the Slonim Chassidim went about setting up their "track" should make any decent person cringe. If it didn't make you cringe then you're part of the problem.

    Mr. Anon, I know many, many wonderful people who would label themselves as "Chareidi", and not one would condone the way in which these folks behaved.

  19. Menachem,
    If I insulted you, I apologize. My point was that your outlook definitely differs than the standard chareidi outlook, as is obvious from your many comments that you have posted on many issues. the average chareidi would not be willing to live in a dati leumi neighborhood. I didn't mean to be condescending, rather I meant to point out that the starting point of your opinion is different than that of the typical chareidi, which leads you to different conclusions than the chareidi community. Not worse, not less of a tzadik, but different. Again I apologize if my tone was offensive.
    As far as your main point, I agree that I missed it. What exactly did the slonimers do that so anger you?
    If you refer to having a building seperated in two, I addressed that. (As far as the divider that was put ip in the yard, I actually heard an interview on the radio a while back that the fence was always there as is standard when a school is split in two. When the girls from the respective schools would fight through the fence, the tarp was put up to avoid fights between the two schools' girls. That is a pretty normal reaction. )

    I am not sure how they behave differently than any other school goes about their business. Please elaborate. And no I still haven't cringed, and am possibly part of the problem. Only I don't understand what the problem is.

  20. Mr. Anon,

    You are right, I am not "Charedi", though Chareidi people do live in our neighborhood and some even daven in our shul. You can't judge a book by its cover. Whether I'm Chareidi or not is irrelevant.

    Actually, I don't know what the "standard Chareidi outlook is". Does a Yeshivish guy who's a doctor and learned in Ner Israel have the same "outlook" as a member of Neturei Karra? (Both "chareidi".)

    Your excuse for the tarp is that it was to prevent the girls from fighting. Girls who just before had shared the same school. You don't see a problem with that. You don't see a problem with a physical wall being built in the school? You don't see a problem with a rule forbidding the girls to associate with each other in school or at home?

    You are right that this is very common. Yet somehow it doesn't generate such animosity. The point, again, is if the Shlonim would have paid at least as much attention to their bein adom l'chavero as they did to their idea of Bein Adom L'makom then all of this could have been avoided. And if the extremist Charedim in Beit Shemesh would do the same it would be a much more peaceful place to live.

  21. I agree with you. In the current anti-Israel climate, such internal matters should have been dealt with discreetly. Nobody on the outside gives a hoot about all the fine distinctions between sects. It is merely fodder for those who already despise us. But I suspect that bringing this to the Supreme Court was a way of blowing the lid off an issue that doesn't get resolved effectively behind closed doors. Perhaps amidst all the ugliness, we will collectively correct our ways and deal more effectively with such issues when they arise.

  22. garnel,you are a liar. Mr.lalaum has no hetter(and never claimed to have) to go to secular courts.

  23. Bravo Menachem,

    You brought out some important points about this situation, and many of them are related to underlying issues in Israeli society that I hope we can deal with in some reasonable fashion rather than the ugly fights that seem to occur whenever these types of issues (especially those involving extremist Chareidi groups) arise.

    There is, indeed, also the issue of very many rather extreme Chareidi institutions accepting government funds but refusing to follow the government guidlines upon which that funding is supposed to be based; but there are also many other issues that underlie the reactions of the sides (and the court) in this dispute as well as in many other situations.

    If I get the chance, I'll probably post something on my blog relating to many of the underlying issues.
    By the way, My blog is found at:


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