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Old 03-10-2014, 16:00   #1
Upgrayedd
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Ultra Orthodox Jews

I've noticed in the paper over the last few weeks there have been articles about protests over Ultra Orthodox Jews in Israel. According to the paper, they don't work or join the military and basicly recieve welfare to study. Seems like the secular side of Israel is not happy with this and moving to make changes. I have to admit that I don't know much about them, but I'm sure that someone on here can shed more light on the subject. Thanks!
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Old 03-10-2014, 16:07   #2
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There is no such thing as an "ultra Orthodox Jew." You are either Torah observant or you are not (you are either Orthodox or you are not)

It is a media term the same as "extreme right wing gun nut."

Having said that, there are Orthodox Jews in Israel who are against the secular State of Israel (just like there are Christians in the US who are against the secular nature of the US government) IT must be understood that Israel is a secular country with some religious populations, some who hold power.

Some of them are also net drains on the country. SOME of them do not serve in the military and live on welfare to live their lives in religious study....and yes, secular Israelies are pretty fed up with it and it causes a lot of problems.

Some, but admittedly not a majority of Orthodox Jews DO serve in the military.

...there are Orthodox Jews in the US Military.

I, while not particularly observant these days, am an Orthodox Jew.
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Old 03-10-2014, 16:12   #3
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Quote:
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There is no such thing as an "ultra Orthodox Jew." You are either Torah observant or you are not (you are either Orthodox or you are not)

It is a media term the same as "extreme right wing gun nut."

Having said that, there are Orthodox Jews in Israel who are against the secular State of Israel (just like there are Christians in the US who are against the secular nature of the US government) IT must be understood that Israel is a secular country with some religious populations, some who hold power.

Some of them are also net drains on the country. SOME of them do not serve in the military and live on welfare to live their lives in religious study....and yes, secular Israelies are pretty fed up with it and it causes a lot of problems.

Some, but admittedly not a majority of Orthodox Jews DO serve in the military.

...there are Orthodox Jews in the US Military.

I, while not particularly observant these days, am an Orthodox Jew.
Thank you for the reply.
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Old 03-10-2014, 16:15   #4
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The super quick, not-at-all detailed historical context is this: in '48-49, Israel was barely a nation, with no unified identity, surrounded on all sides by enemies. The people who came to live in Israel were all Jews, but were from different countries and spoke different languages and had different politics etc. Ben Gurion thought that having universal conscription would be a quick and effective way to unify the fragmented culture, in addition to the fact that it was needed to guarantee the country's survival.

The ultra-orthodox Jewish community asked for an exemption from the requirement to serve in the military, partly based on beliefs and partly because they had just been devastated by the Holocaust. A number of factors, including the fact that they were in many ways seen as the guardians of a Jewish tradition and history which had nearly been wiped off the face of the earth, political expediency, and their small numbers combined to grant them this exemption.

Fast forward to now: Israel is a prosperous first-world nation with a strong identity, and Judaism doesn't face the same danger of extinction. The Haredim as a fraction of the population have grown immensely, because they tend to marry young and have kids young. The men generally don't work, so they're all on welfare. Some people in the rest of Israel are beginning to resent what they see as moochers. Then there's the ultra-conservatism; men and women are strictly separated and the Haredim are violently puritanical (I personally know someone who was stoned while jogging through a Haredim neighborhood for being dressed immodestly). It makes for a weird political situation.
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Old 03-10-2014, 16:16   #5
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And let me follow up by saying, that's an outsider's perspective of the political forces at work around the issue of the orthodox population in modern Israel. I don't pretend to understand the religious implications, but in broad strokes and in a nutshell that's the history.

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Old 03-10-2014, 16:18   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devildog2067 View Post
The super quick, not-at-all detailed historical context is this: in '48-49, Israel was barely a nation, with no unified identity, surrounded on all sides by enemies. The people who came to live in Israel were all Jews, but were from different countries and spoke different languages and had different politics etc. Ben Gurion thought that having universal conscription would be a quick and effective way to unify the fragmented culture, in addition to the fact that it was needed to guarantee the country's survival.

The ultra-orthodox Jewish community asked for an exemption from the requirement to serve in the military, partly based on beliefs and partly because they had just been devastated by the Holocaust. A number of factors, including the fact that they were in many ways seen as the guardians of a Jewish tradition and history which had nearly been wiped off the face of the earth, political expediency, and their small numbers combined to grant them this exemption.

Fast forward to now: Israel is a prosperous first-world nation with a strong identity, and Judaism doesn't face the same danger of extinction. The Haredim as a fraction of the population have grown immensely, because they tend to marry young and have kids young. The men generally don't work, so they're all on welfare. Some people in the rest of Israel are beginning to resent what they see as moochers. Then there's the ultra-conservatism; men and women are strictly separated and the Haredim are violently puritanical (I personally know someone who was stoned while jogging through a Haredim neighborhood for being dressed immodestly). It makes for a weird political situation.
Thanks!
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Old 03-10-2014, 16:20   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devildog2067 View Post
The super quick, not-at-all detailed historical context is this: in '48-49, Israel was barely a nation, with no unified identity, surrounded on all sides by enemies. The people who came to live in Israel were all Jews, but were from different countries and spoke different languages and had different politics etc. Ben Gurion thought that having universal conscription would be a quick and effective way to unify the fragmented culture, in addition to the fact that it was needed to guarantee the country's survival.

The ultra-orthodox Jewish community asked for an exemption from the requirement to serve in the military, partly based on beliefs and partly because they had just been devastated by the Holocaust. A number of factors, including the fact that they were in many ways seen as the guardians of a Jewish tradition and history which had nearly been wiped off the face of the earth, political expediency, and their small numbers combined to grant them this exemption.

Fast forward to now: Israel is a prosperous first-world nation with a strong identity, and Judaism doesn't face the same danger of extinction. The Haredim as a fraction of the population have grown immensely, because they tend to marry young and have kids young. The men generally don't work, so they're all on welfare. Some people in the rest of Israel are beginning to resent what they see as moochers. Then there's the ultra-conservatism; men and women are strictly separated and the Haredim are violently puritanical (I personally know someone who was stoned while jogging through a Haredim neighborhood for being dressed immodestly). It makes for a weird political situation.
There is truth in all of this. However, I would advise, the term "ultra orthodox" is redundant. It is a media term that fails as a descriptor.

I would be like calling someone "ultra Asian" You cant be "more Asian"

Orthodox is a maximum condition of being in this case. It cant be eclipsed by a greater state of Orthodox.

This is not semantics. It is important to understand the differences among the Orthodox are generally not about level of observance. They are about dress and tradition, which ARE NOT religious issues.
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Old 03-10-2014, 17:02   #8
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Rabbi, do you have an alternative suggestion for differentiating an Orthodox Jew who is fully participant in Israel's society and functioning, versus those who choose to stand aside and devote themselves to studying the Torah at government expense?

I acknowledge your argument that 'ultra-Orthodox' is an incorrect differentiator. It does seem clear, however, that there are some meaningful divisions in the universe of Orthodox Jews, and that the groups commonly referred to as 'ultra-Orthodox) have strong similarities to each other in terms of dress, lifestyle, etc., and substantial differences from the larger Orthodox community as well.

I'm very open to a different approach to describing these groups, but it'd be helpful if there was a useful alternative available.
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Old 03-10-2014, 18:07   #9
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Good question - a few blocks west from at where I am there is a street with several Temples and that neighborhood has a fair number of very devout congregants (right word?) who of course do not drive, and will not even use a light switch or the alarm keypad on the Shabbat. I even learned about the Eruv one evening when I saw a guy climbing a ladder on a light pole who did not seem to be a typical utility employee. There seem to be some other folks in the area who I have seen, for instance, driving during the day Saturday, including to some other Synagogues.
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Old 03-10-2014, 18:46   #10
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One interview I read, an Orthodox Rabbi stated that (and I'm paraphrasing) Orthodox Jews act on behalf of Israel by praying for it's well being and keeping alive the religious learnings. As true and useful as that may be, I don't see how any Orthodox Jew taking a 1-year sabbatical (plus annual call ups) to serve in the IDF will affect the overall quality of payers and religious knowledge on behalf of Israel.

Plus, if any of the surrounding Arab countries should conquer Israel, I don't think the Orthodox will be spared.
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Old 03-10-2014, 18:52   #11
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Rabbi, what differentiates you from a reformed Jew, since you consider yoursel orthodox?
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Old 03-10-2014, 19:16   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deanster View Post
Rabbi, do you have an alternative suggestion for differentiating an Orthodox Jew who is fully participant in Israel's society and functioning, versus those who choose to stand aside and devote themselves to studying the Torah at government expense?

I acknowledge your argument that 'ultra-Orthodox' is an incorrect differentiator. It does seem clear, however, that there are some meaningful divisions in the universe of Orthodox Jews, and that the groups commonly referred to as 'ultra-Orthodox) have strong similarities to each other in terms of dress, lifestyle, etc., and substantial differences from the larger Orthodox community as well.

I'm very open to a different approach to describing these groups, but it'd be helpful if there was a useful alternative available.

Fair question, but just know, "Utra Orthodox" is a term applied to Jews based mostly on how they look. (The black robes, beards, side locks, hats...) not geographic location. Which, again, is why it is such a misnomer. The manner of dress is an issue of "minhag" (traditions, ways of a community). The faith (Orthodox Judaism) is an issue of Halacha (actual Jewish law)

There is very good agreement between all orthodox groups on Halacha (law) but a lot of insanity over minhag. And the very term "Orthdox" itself is about the practice of Halacha. That is why "ultra orthodox" simply doesn't work.

So, what term do you use? I don't know if there is a coined term. I think at this point, it will still be something that needs to be described. Very few people outside of the Jewish world (and many within) could tell the difference between a Satmar, a Lubavitcher and a Misnagdim who is Yeshivish.

They would look very similar in appearance and all agree on almost the entire body of Halacha (again Jewish Law, the actual faith of Judaism) but their "culture." is very different....and the press labels all of them "Ultra-Orthodox." No matter where they live, no matter what they believe.
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Old 03-10-2014, 19:19   #13
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Quote:
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One interview I read, an Orthodox Rabbi stated that (and I'm paraphrasing) Orthodox Jews act on behalf of Israel by praying for it's well being and keeping alive the religious learnings. As true and useful as that may be, I don't see how any Orthodox Jew taking a 1-year sabbatical (plus annual call ups) to serve in the IDF will affect the overall quality of payers and religious knowledge on behalf of Israel.

Plus, if any of the surrounding Arab countries should conquer Israel, I don't think the Orthodox will be spared.
This is generally true. SOME Orthodox, believe that the observance of the law is more important than any weapon. Some orthodox also believe that the modern State of Israel is an abomination because it is a secular Nation not founded in the way they think it should be.

How people feel about that, such as your thoughts...well that is another matter. Some Orthodox feel as you do. Which again, is why "ultra orthodox" doesn't work as a term because some Jews dressed all in black think X and some Jews dressed all in black think y...yet they are both just as Orthodox.
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Old 03-10-2014, 19:25   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce M View Post
Good question - a few blocks west from at where I am there is a street with several Temples and that neighborhood has a fair number of very devout congregants (right word?) who of course do not drive, and will not even use a light switch or the alarm keypad on the Shabbat. I even learned about the Eruv one evening when I saw a guy climbing a ladder on a light pole who did not seem to be a typical utility employee. There seem to be some other folks in the area who I have seen, for instance, driving during the day Saturday, including to some other Synagogues.
Temple is a word that the Orthodox do not use to describe their synogogues. They will say "shuel" or synagogue. Temple is a term used by the reformed and some conservative movements. If you see the term "Temple" in the title anywhere, it is not Orthodox.

And the Orthodox (who are observant) do not drive on the Sabbath (or a number of other things). People who are going to a "temple" would drive. So would anyone who isn't observant, or non Jews who, for various reasons, are going to a Synagogue.
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Old 03-10-2014, 19:35   #15
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Rabbi, what differentiates you from a reformed Jew, since you consider yoursel orthodox?
Orthodox Judaism is the only unbroken link to biblical Judaism. Christians will recognize the term "Pharisee." and in spite of small splinter groups that was the type of Judaism of the Bible and the type of Judaism that exists today as "Orthodox Judaism. It is also sometimes called "Traditional Judaism" and often as an aspersion, "Rabbinical Judaism."

Every now and then, through out all of Jewish history, and they even had these arguments in the Bible itself, other kinds of Judaism pop up.

In the specific case of Reformed Judaism, it is a mostly modern and mostly American group. (even though the philosophies are from 19th century Germany)

Reformed Judaism is (and I know this term is offensive) "Diet" Judaism. They do not follow the law. It is far more of a Jewish social club, that has services that resemble Protestant services (by design) far more than Orthodox services. They are also much more lax about their definition of who is a Jew and how to become a Jew.

Most Jews in America are Reformed. It is compatible with a secular life. Orthodoxy makes living in the secular work more difficult (but still very doable.)

Someone who is Orthodox, even if they are not observant, will do Jewish things in an Orthodox manner (kind is where I am at right now) This is also how most of Israel is. Much of the population is Secular, but when they do Jewish things they do it in the traditional (orthodox) way.

Reformed Judaism doesn't really have levels of observance because following Jewish law is not a functional part of Reformed Judaism, even if they are mindful of Jewish traditions.

I go to Reformed Temples often, because my friends are there and having celebrations but when I do religious things, I do them in an Orthodox manner.
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Old 03-10-2014, 19:40   #16
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I happened to see the news reports of the massive Orthodox Jewish protests in New York City yesterday. They showed the men and women separated.

That brings to mind a question: do Orthodox women serve in the Israeli Army?
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Old 03-10-2014, 19:53   #17
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I happened to see the news reports of the massive Orthodox Jewish protests in New York City yesterday. They showed the men and women separated.

That brings to mind a question: do Orthodox women serve in the Israeli Army?
Some do but not many.
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Old 03-10-2014, 20:02   #18
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Rabbi, what differentiates you from a reformed Jew, since you consider yoursel orthodox?
I consider myself a reform Jew/secular Jew. My coworkers call me a 'part time' Jew, I go to synagogue on the high holidays like the majority of Christians go on Christmas, Easter, etc.

We eat the same crap everyone else does, though on Passover I'll put my bacon cheeseburger on matza instead of bread

To the OP, the jist of the story is that the Orthodox Jews want all the benefits of living in Israel and living off the system while not contributing nor serving in the military. They believe that there studying the old Testament (the Torah) is doing their part for the country. My family in Israel has all paid their dues in the military and I see the "Torah Jews" as moochers/welfare queens.
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Old 03-10-2014, 20:05   #19
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There is no such thing as an "ultra Orthodox Jew." You are either Torah observant or you are not (you are either Orthodox or you are not)

I, while not particularly observant these days, am an Orthodox Jew.
A) A Jew living in Mea Shearim would be considered ultra Orthodox.

B) How do you identify as an Orthodox Jew (Torah observant) if you're not observant?
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Old 03-10-2014, 20:08   #20
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This is an interesting topic, Rabbi, and I appreciate the time you have taken to provide some insight, particularly regarding the Reform, or Americanized Jews.

It has always been my perception that being Jewish is more than just a religious belief system, but has an ethnic component to it. I know people from different Orthodox communities (Syrian, Hasidic) who are very observant, to more Americanized Jews, who I would compare to the "Christmas and Easter" Catholics in their adherence to their religious beliefs. I also know people who describe themselves as Jewish, but who are not religious in any way.

I have a couple of questions regarding the third category: Do Orthodox Jews recognize non practicing Jews as being Jewish?

If you agree that there is an ethnic component to being Jewish, is there a structure or methodology in place to determine if a person is Jewish by lineage, or is one Jewish parent sufficient (this is assuming there is no religious affiliation)?
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