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Dec 1, 2008

Teitelbaum, hy"d: A bad decision

Israel made a bad decision. One of the victims of the terrorism in the Chabad House of Mumbai was Reb Leibish Teitelbaum. A Satmar Hassid and son in law of the Toldos Avraham Yitzchak rebbe. An avowed anti-zionist. He, like most others in his group, had renounced his Israeli citizenship a long time ago.

He died in India as a result of terror. It had nothing to do with Israel. Israel was not involved in any way, other than flying the bodies back.

There was a big debate raging - The Israel envoy insisted on all the coffins being draped in the Israeli flag, and being part of the ceremony. After all, "we declared them victims of terror". On the other hand, the family did not want Teitelbaum's coffin to be draped in the flag.

From the picture above you can see that they insisted on it, and did not listen to the wishes of the family.

I think that was a bad decision. Teitelbaum's worldview rejected the State of Israel. Just because Israel gave his body a free flight, should not give them the right to hijack a person's wishes. He clearly would have rejected such a ceremony, and his family clearly said so. Israel had no right to do what was done.


  1. So? It's not the first time a government did something that people don't like, and it probably won't be the last.

  2. finally posting something about the horrible situation just to criticize Israel?

    actually, I heard that there was no official statement by the family and they did not approve of whatever statement was made, plus for the fact that the TAY Rebbe said not to push the issue.

    Finally, to everyone who has anything to critize. Israel is official the state of the Jewish people. Bet Chabad is very frequently visited by Israelis. To these monsters, Israel, Chabad, Jews all mean one thing. They mean JEW.

    Let's show some hakoras hatov to the state for making sure that no autopsies were performed, getting the kedoshim back in a timely fashion and showing the world what LOVE is.

    Let's all keep that in mind.

  3. Check here and you will see there is a tallit covering the aron.


  4. sounds like a good compromise to me. a flag with a tallis on top.

    Jewish Martyrs. Died Al Kiddush Hashem. Let's hope the achdus continues in memory of the goodness and kindness shown to any and all of the Jewish Nation at the chabad house in Mumbai.

    Hashem Yakum Damom.

  5. anonymous - "just to criticize Israel"? how often do I criticize Israel here? almost never. The fact that I did here is unusual, and I did it because I think it is important and a point that should be made. It is not something I usually do.

    Why have I not written about the tragedy in india until now? Because I had nothing to add to what many others said. When I have nothing to say, and when others are saying the same thing better than I can, I say nothing.

    you dont want to read here the same thing you read in 20 other places....

  6. They should have listened to the family because of one issue --- Teitelbaum was not an Israeli citizen.

    If he would have been an Israeli citizen he would have been required to "accept" the cermeony that his country demands/provides.

    Ari Enkin

  7. they were forced to ';accept" it anyway, because the government rep did not listen to them.

    Actually, kol hakavod to them for not protesting and burning tires and overthrowing garbage cans at the airport in protest. They remained respectful and not divisive, despite the actions of the government.

    By the way, anon, how often do I defend the crazy kannoim from the Eidah and Satmar, and criticize Israel? :-) - usually it is the other way around. This is clearly the exception on this blog..

  8. NOTE: Yeshiva World is reporting that Teitelbaum was NOT draped in an Israeli flag -- only a Tallit.

    So maybe he got his way after all.

    Ari Enkin

  9. the picture from col that I posted shows 6 caskets, and all are draped in flags.

  10. the picture on www.shturem.net clearly shows his coffin draped in a flag covered with a tallis. you can see his name in hebrew on the bottom.

    no matter. i am fine with it. it was a quick ceremony, gave the people a chance to show their respect to the dead (which frankly i feel the state has a right to do as they did arrange all the details) and now the family can do whatever it wants.

  11. Anon,

    Although Israel may be the self-declared Jewish country, this has no halachik status, and the State cannot obligate others to accept it. If it could, then it should start taxing Jews around the world.

    The fact that they brought back one of its residents was very nice, but it is wrong of them to use that fact to force the family agree to everything.

    In a the case of a "normal" death of a citizen (remember that Reb Teitelbaum was not even a citizen), if the state, who pays for the funeral, wanted to drape the body with an Israeli flag, many people, even non-anti-Zionists, would probably object, and they would not be criticized. The State can't force me to fly a flag on my house just because they finance part of the mortgage, or to put a flag on my car just because, as an oleh, I got a discount on the car from them. In all other cases, the State provides without preconditions. The fact that they acted against the family's wishes in such a circumstance is disgusting.

    (As an aside, my aunt was tragically killed in Israel many years ago. Our family had a hard time getting the body out for burial in NY, since Israel, which bills itself as the Jewish state, insisted on embalming the body, which is, to put it mildly, contrary to normative Jewish practice. Official state of the Jewish people my foot.)

  12. There seems to be a strong move by israel for PR. I know it sounds shallow, but when has the Knesset not been shallow.
    They felt that this was a good time to intervene and show the horrors of our people to the world. So they went out of their way to make a whole big procession.
    Personally, i dont care. These people deserve all the honor and kavod, and i hope that their tehillim said in their name bring about a tremendous aliya in the neshamas, as well as continuing to do what they were doing in India, posthumously... to bring jews closer to HaShem.

  13. Israel could have avoided the whole issue. They could have displayed five coffins with bodies, and one empty one with an Israeli flag on it, and quietly released the body to the family immediately. Israel would have gotten what it wanted (a ceremony with six coffins - noone looks inside anyway), the family would have gotten what it wanted (since they reject the state, the fact that they were having a ceremony with six coffins should be immaterial, or at the very least acceptable to them), and noone would have been the wiser. Then, in a few days, they could, if they wanted to appease all of those who criticized them, release a statement as to what they did.

  14. yoni - I actually thought that perhaps that si what they did. maybe one of the coffins was empty.

    But I think the Eidah and his family would still have a right to be upset because of the perception created.

  15. umm, excuse me. you are all talking nonsense. since he is a US citizen, then they could have sent him back to the states. the family obviously wanted him buried in Israel.

    let's discuss. If Israel had not been created, where would we be now?

    1. still a British Mandate
    2. an arab/muslim country

    in both scenarios, i am ASSURE that the Jewish minority/majority whatever the case may be, would have been suffering terribly (as was quite apparent during the British Mandate and how they appeased the arabs).

    SO! in MY humble opinion, the ONLY way this person could have been buried in Eretz Yisrael is BECAUSE of the STATE of Israel.

    there, i had my say.

    same anon, btw

  16. Its a tough call. On one hand he wasn't a citizen, and if the Edah really wanted to be consistant they should have dealt with the Indians directly or through the US embassy.
    Regarding the flags on the coffins of its own citizens brought back for burial, the State of Israel was only following standard protocol.
    The decision or the family to bring the body back here under the auspices of the State of Israel is in essence saying two things.
    1. The State of Israel exist
    2. The State of Israel is (at least to a ceratin extent) the State either of all Jews or at least of all Jews living in Eretz Yisrael. Therefore they felt a need to take care of the body and bring it back home.
    To those who the symbols of the State represent nothing but an evil rebellion against God, their can be nothing more painful than seeing their family members wrapped in it under these circumstances. But the family recongnizes the State as their country by using it to bring the body back, so maybe the talis is the best way out.

  17. nobody denies the existence of the state. they deny the right of the state to exist.

    I am not going to spend any time or energy defending satmar ideology. I could try to play devils advocate, but it does not interest me. I do not ascribe to those beliefs - I disagree with them. I love the State of Israel, even if sometimes they do things I do not like and disagree with.

    But my not agreeing to Satmar ideology does not mean we can run roughshod over them. They have their beliefs and have the right to them (even though they would not say the same about you and me).

    I like your thoughts on the fact that they used the state to bring back the bodies, so perhaps they then have to accept the consitions of that as well which might include the flag.
    I dont think the fact that they brought the body here rather than to the US indicates anything. Even though they disavow the state, they still believe in Eretz Yisrael and its holiness.

  18. With all due respect to Satmar ideology I don't see how the situation could have been avoided. Obviously if he was the only one it is clear that there should be no official ceremony but once there is a ceremony for the others any change would just be glaringly conspicuous.

  19. It's not relevant that the kevura is here, its relevant that the State brought it here.

  20. FYI, while there was clearly representation from the Indian and Mexican embassies (this was verified by the various news sites), it seems that the US was not represented at the airport. HMMMM

    I hope they send delegations to all the funerals where American citizens are being laid to rest.

  21. mrsrbs - interesting point...

    anonymous - and so what if it is conspicuous? so it would have been conspicuous that the State of Israel respects the beliefs and ideologies of private people.
    Had Israel helped bring a Palestinian victim back, would they have draped his casket in an Israeli flag and included his body in the ceremony? no. and they would have been lauded for the humanitarian effort they put out for someone who is not a citizen, and even denies the right of Israel to exist.

  22. hmmm, good point. you will never get me to agree with Satmar though (on anything). no disrespect to the mais.

    nice try ;)


  23. one more thing. to your comment:

    'and they would have been lauded for the humanitarian effort they put out for someone who is not a citizen, and even denies the right of Israel to exist.'

    yeah....like that will happen anytime soon. can you imagine Israel being lauded by anyone for anything? I'm sure the news media would have found some way to blame Israel for something!

    once again, nice try. ;)

    respectfully yours, ANON

  24. http://www.shturem.net/index.php?section=news&id=31770

  25. so what if it is conspicuous? ...
    Had Israel helped bring a Palestinian victim back...

    exactly. it would have appeared as if he were not one of us.

    (also it is not only the "free flight" Israeli representatives and organizations [foremost among them ZAK"A] invested much time energy and resources to ensure his proper jewish burial {and would have even risked their lives to save him had it only been possible}

  26. "Although Israel may be the self-declared Jewish country, this has no halachik status, and the State cannot obligate others to accept it. If it could, then it should start taxing Jews around the world."

    Please, don't start giving them ideas!

  27. rafi,

    this time I disagree. This was a case of jews killed b/c they were specifically targeted. Therefore there is an issue of solidarity with the Jewish and Israeli identity. The State did correct to publicly demonstrate that even though he disagreed with the state, he was a jew and the state will still take care of his needs.

    if the family really was anti the situation, they simply should have refused the assistance offered and given by the State to begin with, then they wouldn't have this problem. by availing themselves o the free services of the State, you give them some control.

  28. according to jameel, they did offer and they did try to make arrangements without the state being involved... http://muqata.blogspot.com/2008/12/jews-murdered-in-mumbai-arrive-home-for.html

  29. RAFI:

    my initial reaction to your post is that that they can't have their cake and eat it too, although now i see jameel's link that they were willing to pay for it on their own (but this not mentioned in the ynet article jameel links to?)

    but i don't understand how israel could force the family to let it have control over the body in a situation where israel had no extraterritorial rights. he was an american citizen only, so why couldn't the family themselves (or throught american diplomatic channels) just intsruct the indian authorities what to do with the body and cut the israelis out of the story. this whole thing sounds fishy, and i like to see more clarification.

    but on the topic of trying to have your cake and eat it too, i don't understand all the calls being made now for israel to beef up security around chabad houses. chabad houses are not the responsiblity of the israeli government.

  30. Kol hakavod that they didn't riot? How sad is that? That's like coming home to find your house not robbed and saying "Kol Hakavod I wasn't robbed"!

    I agree, the Satmar side of the story sounds fishy.

  31. Did R. Teitelbaum renounce his citizenship, or perhaps he was American born and moved here like thousands of others without requesting citizenship? I suspect the latter.
    The Israelis confuse the word JEW with ISRAELI. The govornment has a chutzpah. They're trying to win points off the backs of the martyrs. I wish the government would attempt to prevent autopsys here in Israel too.

  32. the article I read said he had renounced his Israeli citizenship (I do not now remember which article I saw it in)

  33. Rafi,

    If you look closely at the photos on either the Yeshiva World or Vos iz Neias websites (I forget which), you can see that what's on the coffins is not a flag but more of a blue-and-white striped bunting around the sides. The top of the Aronot are covered by a Talis, and the bunting extends past the top of the coffins. Still somewhat insensitive, but not as much so as having the flag as a cover.

    BTW, I heard that the TAY Rebbe told his people not to make an issue of the flag; it was only the publisher of HaEida who took it upon himself to create a "tzimis" of it.

    another proud Israeli

  34. the TAY rebbe was being practical if he said not to make a big deal over it, bec its hard to explain to the thick headed zionist people that we reject their kefirah but its no excuse for the zionists to wrap a erliche yid in their degel of avodah zarah

  35. i would like to use this forum to blast pinny lifshitz's post in YWN - he was saying that its a nice thing that all factions of jews got together, bobov satmar, religious, irreligious etc. - shame on anyone who can try and get together people who dont beleive in hashem with ppl who do


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