Letters to the Editor – Tisha B’Av Edition 5782
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On bridge building among tribes
I recently picked up a copy of HaMizrachi magazine and found it to be a fine magazine that is dedicated to what the old Mizrachi movement represented, both in America and Israel – that of a unifying and moderate movement that contributed to the stability of the government. I note in particular the essays by Rabbi Doron Perez (Jerusalem – In Need of Bridge Builders) and Rabbi Ari Rockoff (Tribes) which powerfully call for unity among the broader people of Israel.
Dr. Philip M. Fishman
Newton, Massachusetts, USA
Interview with Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff
I thoroughly enjoyed your Shavuot issue of HaMizrachi (Vol. 5, No. 2) and especially enjoyed the major interview with “Arnie” Rothkoff which is how I knew him as my classmate at Manhattan Talmudical Academy, class of 1955. He was one of the smartest kids in our class – a class with some very smart kids, Gerry Blidstein and Judah Rosenberg (Yehudah Ben-Meir) among others.
I recall that “Arnie” was the editor of the “Academy News”, a bright light in the world of yeshivah journalism. Reading about his extraordinary accomplishments was most rewarding.
In 1959, I spent a summer at Kfar Haroeh and Yeshivot Bnei Akiva with Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neriah, and subsequently helped found the American Friends of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva, experiences which increased my appreciation of Rabbi Rakeffet-Rothkoff’s history with Bnei Akiva even more.
Your magazine stands out amongst the numerous offerings on the table in the foyer of the Lido Beach Synagogue. Keep up the excellent work and I promise to not read your publication during davening but will take it home and read it there!
Alan H. Zwiebel
Lido Beach, New York, USA
Religious Zionism and Chassidut
I love how the magazine has evolved. The past issue on Shavuot and Religious Zionism’s incorporation of Chassidut (Vol. 5, No. 2) was both highly relevant and enlightening. Thank you!
Woodmere, New York, USA
Important, but inaccurate
I believe that Rabbi Dov Singer is one of the foremost educators of our age. He is leading, in my opinion, a revolution in chinuch that all serious Jews should pay attention to.
Rabbi Singer laid out his educational vision in Religious Zionism Needs Chassidic Education! in the most recent HaMizrachi. In it, he offered many critiques of contemporary Jewish education in Israel and offered his view of how important educational issues should be tackled. However, in his righteous zeal to engage the reader, he chose to dig up old communal wounds, portraying an overly-simplistic view of the Jewish world – Litvaks vs. Chassidim.
While it is true that these groups of Jews have ongoing and real ideological differences that deserve public discourse and serious discussion, this is not what Rabbi Singer did. Rather, he set up a strawman in order to make his point. While many (myself included) have critiques of the Litvish model of education, these critiques are not well-served by needlessly engaging in simplistic broadsides.
Litvish Jews have a great and storied heritage. They have produced many great talmidei chachamim, including some of Rabbi Singer’s own rebbeim! Furthermore, Jews of both Litvish and Chassidic stripes not only walked into the gas chambers together, but also worked hand in hand to rebuild Jewish society in both Israel and the Diaspora. The civil war between these two sides of Ashkenazi Judaism has long been over.
Jewish communities, and especially our young men and women, are better served through a model that has a Litvish mind and a Chassidic heart, which offers seriousness and spirituality. A model such as this could offer more than either model should be able to alone. We are lesser as Jews and educators when we think otherwise.
Washington Heights, New York, USA