Daily Alert

02 December 2011

Jewish Federations Tell Israel to Bug Off

Can thin skinned be excused for ahavas Yisroel? Can the national interests of the State of Israel be confused with causing hatred amongst Jews? Is the accusation itself a form of anti-Jewism? INN ran THIS STORY: American Jews Take Issue with 'Come Home' Campaign describing the angst of the The Jewish Federations of North America; unhappy that the State of Israel is trying to bring home ex-patriots - those who have descended from Israel (yireda) back to Israel. I thought that we, as Jews - lovers of Israel, supporters of Jewish ownership of the land and concerned for its well-being - were supposed to be upset when Israel's national interests were struck from the outside?

That is only true, of course when the issue is secular. Jewish Federations (sounds like an organized labor movement, no?) are held hostage to Identity Jews, those lacking in yiras Shomayim, married to the culture of Edom - and well off. The money flowing in to and its counter threat to be withheld (even a perceived and not real threat) determine the positions taken by The Jewish Federations of North America not what is in the interests of Torah or Israel.

Even worse is the contradictory nature of the culture of The Jewish Federations of North America. Millions of dollars are contributed every year to the Jewish Federations for the purpose of advocating for and educating about the importance of Israel. Teens and others are sent on free exploration style trips or junkets to learn about the land and build attachments. Yet for Israelis living abroad - living in North America, its different. One the one hand, organized efforts are made to advocate for building connections to Israel, on the other hand and to the contrary - opposing the efforts of that very same nation to reach out to its home born overseas.

This quote tells the story

"We fear this campaign will only backfire, and rather than simply bringing Israelis back, will alienate and divide Diaspora Jews from Israel. Rather than playing Israeli Jews against American Jews, we should be seeking to reinforce our shared love of Zion and to build the bonds of Jewish people hood worldwide."
What they are saying is that we don't want our donors to see the truth of living in exile. We are concerned that upon realizing that Chanukah Bushes and children knowing more about the other cultures in which they inter-mingle than their own - one in their eyes which is backward, repressive, anti-woman, racist and overall inferior to the wonders provided by the "modern" world will be offensive and result in a loss of donations (HaShem yirachem). After all Jewish Federations represent all Jews - even those who need the most Jewish - (read Torah) influence, education and enlightenment. We don't want to offend anyone - even at the risk of mis-representing what our our holy Torah teaches us and what our tradition demonstrates for us. The children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov have a unique culture and law. It is not to be held hostage to The Jewish Federations of North America and their kowtow to its donor base.

In this weeks parashah Vayeitzei, Yaakov is sent away by his parents - away from the hatred of his "brother" Eisav and to find a wife. As he lay down to sleep, he protects his head with a set of stones. In one of my favorite Torah commentaries Vedibarta Bam, Rabbi Bogomilsky quotes Rashi explaining the rocks are to protect Yaakov from "wild animals". He then brings this gem "Yaakov knew that in the world at large there are many forces that are alien to Torah and mitzvot and hostile to the religious Jew. These forces influence the mind of the Jew and try to persuade him to leave the path of Torah. Therefore, Yaakov made a great effort to protect his "head," to prevent negative influences from interfering with his yiddishkeit." Further Rabbi Bogomilsky brings another explanation:
"He took of the stones of the place, and he placed them around (under) his head, and lay down in that place to sleep." (28:11)

QUESTION: Why did Yaakov rest his head on a stone?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Bava Kamma 30a) says: "He who wants to be a chassid should observe the laws of nezikin — damages" (being careful not to hurt anyone or damage property). Rava says that he should follow the teachings of Avot (Book of Ethics), and others say that he should be observant in the laws of berachot (recognizing the supremacy of Hashem and thanking Him for everything). The word "even" — "stone" — is an acronym for "avot, berachot, nezikin."

As Yaakov was preparing to enter the "outside world," his first resolution was to be a chassid. The placing of the placing of these three stones as the guidepost for his "head," was, as though to say, that his thoughts would always be directed to exceling in these three matters.

The three stones united to emphasize that each approach is equally important and that through these three things one can make the world a "beit Elokim" — a "house of G-d."


It may also be said that "berachot" — recognizing the supremacy of Hashem and thanking Him for everything — is an allusion to the relationship between man and Hashem. Being careful not to hurt or injure a fellow man, "nezikin," represents inter-human relationships. To be exemplary, one must conduct himself within these two realms, in accordance with the guidelines and teachings conveyed by "avot" — our ancestors.

To answer the criticism that my opinion is too negative, note the above paragraph. We must balance our approach to our relationships with fellow Jews (and all mankind) with recognition of Hashem's supremacy and the lessons of our Avos - whose actions lead us still. And to fend off "wild animals", one needs to live within fences.

In other words, the actions to oppose Israel's interests in bringing back Israelis to Eretz HaKodesh by the Jewish Federations is contrary to the needs and interests of the Jewish people and is being espoused for the wrong reasons.

Israel Matzav posts the videos of the advertising campaign

And here is the contrary view: Israeli ad campaign suggests Israelis shouldn’t date Americans (VIDEO). What this article sarcastically points out is an all true phenomenon that many an observer of the Jewish world can point towards as the best reason why the Israeli absorption effort is needed. I have known far more Israelis than I care to remember - who came here for "a short time" to "make some money" or "learn a professional" with the goal of returning to Israel later. Most of them become very comfortable in America and decide "for their family's ie. children" to stay in America. Really? For the children? They have learned from the politics of America how any policy choice can be advocated - its for the children. The same justification of the Jewish Federations to fund Israel programs... I'm confused.

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