Sunday, August 09, 2009

Settlements and Orthodox vs.non-orthodox

Gary Rosenblatt editor of the Jewish Week, has an op-ed in this weeks edition on the settlements.He correctly points out the huge chasm of perceptions between the American Orthodox community and the liberal-secular wings of American Jewry.Thus while the Orthodox praise the settlers as being even heroes,because they are normal hard working and dedicated Jews.the liberals look upon them as wild-eyed radicals who are upsetting the chances for peace.
True as far as it goes,but he did not delve into why these attitudes?
Firstly it is rare to walk into an orthodox synagogue and find someone who never visited Israel.Most yeshiva kids visit even before their one year of study after high school.Camps,special programs,family vacations and visit for simchas are all standard fare for our kids and adults.
Compare that with the rest of the American Jewish community,the majority of whom have never visited.
If you never visited,then obviously you could not tour settlements or the new sections of Jerusalem.Your perception has to be of the wild west and Woodstock rolled into one.
Secondly the orthodox person prays 3 times a day.The Shmoneh esreh-the main portion of the tfilla(prayer) asks for a return to Zion .It extols the the virtues of Jerusaem our holy city.An orthodox person after meals says "grace"( bircat hamazon) in which there is a special paragraph to rebuild Jerusalem.Orthodox Jews sit on the floor Tisha B'av and fast for the churban (destruction of the temple).
The love and dedication is ingrained in us.
I close my eyes and see myself on the IRT subway with a blue and white JNF pushka collecting money to buy land.
Orthodox Jews who visit Israel go immediately to the Kotel, not to take picture but to pray for the rebuilding of the 3rd Temple.
Most of all Orthodox Jews have been trained for 8 or 12 or 16 or more years in yeshiva re: the centrality of Israel in their lives.Thus while almost a majority of young non -affiliated American Jews would feel minimal loss were Israel to be destroyed,the opposite is true in our c ommunity.
The role of G-d, Torah and our Mesorah (traditions) play no role in the attitudes of the non-orthodox.To us it is our life.
Of course there are Conservative and even Reform Jews who have that feeling.However absent a formal Torah education,it is difficult to pass this along to the next generation. Thus the head of the Reform Eric Joffe,told Pres. Obama that they supported pressure to stop settlement growth.
One minimal hopeful sign is the growth of Birthright, that allows youngsters to visit Israel and see for themselves.
One final thought.It is not by pure chance that the overwhelming majority of thise making aliyah under Nefesh B'Nefesh are Orthodox.The Reform talk a good game on "human rights and social activism".That does not include an inner feeling for the destiny of Klal Yisrael.
Just prior to Menachem Begin signing the agreement with Sadat,President Carter approached him with a slip of paper,and asked for a personal favor.Would Begin sign an agreement to negotiate the future of Jerusalem at the conclusion of peace talks.Begin took the paper,crumpled it up and said "If I forget thee O Jerusalem,let my right hand forget its cunning".