Volume 14 Number 27
                       Produced: Sun Jul 17 19:22:35 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chassidim and Israel
         [Yaakov Menken]
Cost of a Jewish Lifestyle
         [Jeffrey Adler]
Yeshiva World and Professionals
         [Arnold Lustiger]


From: Yaakov Menken <ny000548@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 1994 23:23:29 -0400
Subject: Chassidim and Israel

Chareidi Yeshivos are making it big in m-j, eh?  But Meir Lehrer's story
in Issue #10 addressed a different set of issues: Chassidim, and their
relationship with Israeli society.

First and foremost - as Rabbi Adlerstein carefully pointed out -
Chareidi Yeshivos and the Chassidic world are two different phenomena.
As one of my Rabbeim once said, "we need only 'answer' for the conduct
of B'nei Yeshiva."  Although there are Chassidic b'nei yeshiva (many, in
fact), the two groups - "Chassidic" and "b'nei yeshiva" - are distinct,
and the intersection may be smaller than you suspect.  For those part of
group A but not B, an ignoramus remains an ignoramus, no matter how long
his beard or wide his shtreimel.

Second, Israel is unlike the U.S., because of the secular/religious
dynamic.  The reaction to the Bnei Brak driver was an unwarranted Chilul
Hashem - but then again, it happens very rarely.  In the meantime, both
the government and many rabid secularists have constantly tried to
encroach upon the religious nature of Bnei Brak and many Jerusalem
neighborhoods.  That has produced a jaded image of the Israeli
government, police, and its secular citizens, in the minds of the
Chassidim - and as Meir noticed, they may even treat a "Kipah Srugah"
with ambivalence.

I spent two years in the Mirrer Yeshiva, which is located in the midst
of the Bait Yisrael neighborhood of Jerusalem, just north of Meah
Shearim.  As black as it comes.  Although there is some justice to
Meir's characterization of the enthusiasm with which many respond to a
"Good Shabbos," I think I received better treatment - perhaps because I
dressed as a member of the community.

On the other hand, as an appropriately dressed Bait Yisrael resident, I
was twice offered the opportunity to experience Israeli government
hospitality.  I'm glad to say I avoided this option, because I really
don't enjoy Arab roommates - and prefer a view unobstructed by steel

This is obviously not the sort of greeting that the Israelis proffer to
the average tourist, so you may want to know what to do if you're
looking for this sort of hotel.  I mean, the food is free, you don't
have to worry about anyone breaking in, and I hear they've even started
to allow weekly phone calls.  So here's what to do:

Option #1: Take a stroll on the evening following a demonstration.  I'm
serious!  Couldn't be simpler.  Just be sure to wear a hat and jacket -
something certain to identify you to the police as a hardened Chareidi
criminal.  That's just what _I_ did, walking up a local street.  A xxxx
(what's the name for the smallest military unit - about 15-20 guys?) of
Israelis noticed me while they were patrolling the area - prompting me
to head back.  I guess I didn't walk fast enough, because the commander
issued an order to "charge" - not to me, to them - and charge they did.
Now the truth is that I don't know if they were planning to take me
along, or merely would have played "...give a dog a bone" with their
nightsticks and my torso - I didn't stay long enough to find out.  So
it's not a guaranteed method.

Option #2: Take pictures the cops don't want the world to see.  I
discovered this possibility during the demonstration celebrating the
opening of "Route One" in Jerusalem.  Remember, taking pictures is
totally legal in Israel's democratic society, so this was an
enlightening discovery.

The demonstration was a pretty wild party for much of the day - one
American Mir student, seen in the Jerusalem Post with blood streaming
down his forehead, was bludgeoned by police while going out to call his
younger cousin home for Seudat Shlishit.  But my piece of the action
came later, when the news photographers had gone home, and the stars had
emerged in the sky.

At least, I _think_ they emerged.  It was dark, but there was enough
smoke from kids burning dumpsters that you really couldn't see much.  So
in my wisdom, I decided to go out and take pictures of the action.  I
really didn't take a picture of anything exciting, but apparently I
would have had the opportunity if I had stuck around.  Some Israeli
brownshirt [sic] noticed my flash, and grabbed me and the camera.  He
hauled me over to a group of his friends, announced that I had taken a
picture - prompting one of them to greet me with a courteous kick to my
groin area [he missed ;-)] - and then hauled me over to a waiting van.
"Put him up," he said.  "There's no room - take him somewhere else,"
came the reply.  "OK, hold onto him."  "Don't move, even a meter."  I
had a cop in a van holding my jacket, doors to the van on two sides, and
my friend - still holding my camera - with his friends in front of me.
I decided to take the advice.

In brief, ten of Jerusalem's finest spent about 3 minutes figuring out
how to get the film out of my camera.  This was one of those Kodak
auto-everything numbers - PhD stands for "Press Here, Dummy" - so these
guys had obviously just graduated Israeli O.C.S.  When they finished,
they gave me back the camera, and sent me off with a warning that if
they saw me again, they'd take me too.  I decided not to take the offer,
as I mentioned earlier.  But it's clear that if there had been room in
the van, I would have had my shot at the Russian Compound Inn.

Now, does it surprise you that I _believe_ many of the Palestinian
charges of police brutality?  Or that many Jerusalem Chassidim react
with automatic hostility to the police?  After the demonstration
described in #2 above, the Jerusalem Post published an article in which
the Chief of Police claimed that they had behaved with "maximal
restraint."  So what you hear in the press is hardly reality.

I'm sorry, Meir - it's hard for me to blame the Chassidim for the
strength of their reaction.  It was _wrong_ - but it's not a situation
that they created.

Yaakov Menken


From: <adlerj@...> (Jeffrey Adler)
Date: Fri, 15 Jul 1994 09:29:11 -0400
Subject: Cost of a Jewish Lifestyle

The money issues are hitting hard with young families.  My wife and I
have a 15 month old child and live in a small community.  There are
several other young couples in our community that also have very small
children.  Hardly a week goes by without some discussion of the cost of
being Orthodox today.

Most young families have a hard time with the "necessities of life" -
home, transportation, food, utilities, and clothing.  The additional
costs of maintaining a religious lifestyle adds a tremendous burden to
our budget: The additional items include tuition at a day school,
membership at a Shul, Kosher Food, Ritual Items (i.e. Lulav & Esrog,
Matzoh...), membership in national Jewish Organizations, donations to
Federation and Israel, ...

Each community also has its problems. Smaller cities with smaller
membershis face difficult times.  Our community is trying to build a
Mikvah which has required the families to donate funds as well.  Our
local Shul was built only a few years ago.  We only have 120 families as
members so there is great need to fundraise and give donations to keep
the building operating.  It also means that we have limited support
staff (no assistant Rabbi, Chazan, executive directors)

My wife and I and the other young families in our community believe in
paying our way.  We pay full dues to any organization that we belong to.
We think that it is wrong to burden the community.  However, it is
getting more difficult to make ends meet.  It is also makes the
discussion of having more children more difficult.  We are very worried
about the future of Jewish education and Observant Judaism in general.

With this in mind I want to bring up three items for discussion:

(1) We should spend more money in the Jewish Community on Jewish
Education and Less money on Hospitals, nursing homes, and Holocaust
Memorials.  I think that with all of the money raised by Jewish
Charities ( it is noted that Jews donate money disproportionately) we
can raise enough money to enable any Jewish child to attend a Jewish day

(2) In smaller communities, families having more children place a burden
on others.  My wife and I would love to have 6 or more children.
However we know we cannot afford to.  There are families who have many
children and it is the "responsibility of the community" to provide
scholarship for them to attend schools.  Is it an injustice to have more
children than one can afford?  Many schools in smaller communities
suffer because they do not have enough children who pay full fares.

(3) More should be done on a national level by the Rabbis and community
leaders to reduce the cost of Kosher Products (i.e. milk and cheese)
which cost much much more than their non-kosher counterparts.  In
addition, there should be limits on the costs of things like lulav and
esrog.  We need to encourage younger people to stay and/or become more
observant.  Being young and observant should not mean that you need to
rely on others to get by.




From: <alustig@...> (Arnold Lustiger)
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 1994 13:46:51 -0400
Subject: Re: Yeshiva World and Professionals

I'm sorry for burning the wires in Jewish cyberspace, but I wanted to 
respond to Esther Posen's post.

Esther writes:

>After a while I realized that my interpretation of Arnie's logic went 
>something like this:
>1) Yeshivas don't encourage their attendees to go to college and pursue a 
>2) Most Yeshiva graduates don't end up with a viable way to make a living.
>3) They certainly don't have enough money to donate to their Alma Maters.
>4) Their destitute Alma Maters end up having to steal, and engage in 
>fraudulent activities to remain viable.
>This is faulty logic (my very educated sister who is pursuing her
>doctorate in philosophy confirms this.) Points 1-3 may be valid but they
>do not support the conclusion in point 4.  People and institution steal
>because they are crooked and they don't think they will get caught!!  If
>they are jewish, and orthodox to boot and they do get caught they are
>crooks who create a tremendous chilul hashem.

The above is essentially a good reconstruction except for a minor 
modification in the link between 3 and 4. I don't want to suggest that all, 
or even a significant number of Yeshivos, no matter how destitute, are 
engaged in these illegal activities. However, I would suggest that if some 
Yeshivos are involved in these activities, to be dan l'kaf zchus (give the 
benefit of the doubt), it is because the institutions are destitute, not 
because they are intrinsically crooks. 

>Arnie also decries the yeshivas for not pushing more of their students
>to pursue professional degrees.  If only the yeshivas would encourage
>more of their graduates to pursue a secular education, he claims, the
>yeshivas could become self-supporting.  Wrong again, IMHO.
>The Highland Park/Edison Orthodox Jewish community, where both Arnie and
>myself reside at the moment, must have a pretty high percentage of
>"professionals".  I do not know of another jewish community that would
>beat our ratio (of "professional to non-professional).  As far as I can
>tell, most of us struggle to pay our mortgage, tuitions, two car
>payments, insurance costs and of course camp fees.  If there is a few
>dollars left over, we remodel our kitchens or add a much needed extra
>bedroom.  Usually we can barely make ends meets (admittedly, not very
>modest ends).

This is correct. However I, as well as many professionals in the community, 
also give some money annually (without disclosing too much personal 
information) to the local Mesivta/ Yeshiva. (Remember, I am obligated to 
give ma'aser). A large percentage of these professionals do not, simply 
because they do not identify with the institution (many are what I dubbed 
"Yissachar drop-outs").

Imagine that after each graduating class and after five subsequent years of 
Beis Medrash half of the class went to pursue professional careers based on 
their individual desires/ talents with the encouragement of the Roshei 
Yeshiva, and that they maintained their link to the Yeshiva during their 
studies. After ten years, the Yeshiva would start to see a steadily growing 
source of contributions from these graduates. After ten more years, 100 
graduates would be participating.  

>Face it.  As Arnie pointed out, yeshivas have relied on the really rich
>in the past.  I believe they will need to continue to do so.  Being
>professional almost guarantees that you'll never really be wealthy.

As I pointed out in a previous post, the "really rich" are not in the same 
financial position they were during the real estate boom of the 80's.  As a 
result, I believe that the grooming of professional Zevuluns must take 
place. It's true, individually these people cannot give the $100,000+ annual 
contributions of the successful businessman, but as a group they can have a 
major impact on the finances of a Yeshiva. I think that most annual Yeshiva 
dinners depend, at least in part, on this arithmetic.

Arnie Lustiger


End of Volume 14 Issue 27