Volume 65 Number 20 
      Produced: Fri, 10 Dec 21 09:30:55 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Assimilation is killing the Jewish people 
    [David Tzohar]
    [Martin Stern]
Family room 
    [Joel Rich]
Israel's Problem with Russian Immigrants (3)
    [Abraham Lebowitz  Rose Landowne]
Unorthodox Social Distancing 
    [Chaim Casper]


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 6,2021 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Assimilation is killing the Jewish people

In response to Prof. L. Levine (MJ 65#19):

Assimilation is killing the Jewish people -- in the diaspora. In Israel the
situation is completely different. I would say "IPCHa MiSTBRa" (the other way
around). In the diaspora the minority culture Jews assimilate into the majority
Goyish culture with the second generation of mixed marriages having little if
any connection to Judaism and the Jewish community including the children of
Jewish mothers who are halachically Jewish.

I have seven cousins. Two married Jews and five married Christians, three women
and two men. I think that all of my nephews were circumcised but besides that
they were not brought up Jewish and have no connection to the Jewish community.
They are lost to us. this is the "silent shoah" that is taking place in the
diaspora. In 50 years in America there will be close to 1 million Orthodox /
charedim / chassidim with less than 100,000 others.

In Israel the minority of non-Jewish men, the vast majority of whom have Jewish
fathers or grandfathers ("zera Yisrael"), assimilate into the majority
Jewish-Israeli society. They will raise their children as Jewish-Israelis. IMHO
demographically this is a win-win situation. True, these (halachically)
non-Jewish men cannot marry in Israel but so what? This is not assimilation.
There is even a question of whether they should be allowed to convert like in
the times of the Kindoms of Solomon and David when it was thought that
conversion was to benefit the social situation of the convert. They are really a
modern form of "GEREI ToSHaV" somewhere in the limbo between Goy and Yid. Let us
not forget that the Matriarchs of the Davidic dynasty were Rut, descended from
Lot's daughter, and Tamar. 

In another posting, "Israel's Problem with Russian Immigrants" (MJ 65#19) Prof.
Levine posits that the children of non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet
Union are raised with no affinity to Judaism. I know from first hand experience
that this is just not true. In my building of 14 families there are six from
Moldavia, Belarus and the Ukraine. One family are Chabadnikim and the other five
are all mixed marriages who celebrate Channukah, Purim, Pesach Yom Kippur and of
course Yom Ha'atzmaut. They are good JEWISH chilonim. BTW so far all of their
children have married Jews. The bottom line is that in Israel they do not have
to convert to be considered Jews. If they aren't Christian, Muslim or Druze they
will assimilate into the Jewish majority. As opposed to the silent Shoah in
America, we have a "silent redemption" in Israel. BaRuCH HaSHeM!!!

R' David Yizchak Tzohar
Yeshivat Machon Meir
Yerushalayim TVT


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 1,2021 at 06:17 AM

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz wrote (MJ 65#19):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 65#18):

>> In response to Prof. L. Levine (MJ 65#17):
>> With hindsight, it was probably ill-advised for Ilana Smith and the other
>> a "red" South Africans to travel to Israel from South Africa if it were
>> classified as country though it was not clear to me whether the Israeli ban
>> had been imposed before their departure.

> According to the news report, the ban on travel was announced while they were
> on the airplane. In an interview posted afterwards, Ilana Smith said that they
> would not have travelled to Israel had the ban been announced earlier.

This further accentuates the disgraceful nature of the way they were treated by
the Israeli authorities. As a friend of the murdered Eliyahu David Kay's brother
was quoted in Hamodia's Prime magazine editorial (Dec 1) as saying "but we flew
out [from South Africa] before the decision. ... I didn't even know about the
decision. As a Jew ... I'd expect to hear us and not throw us out to board a
plane on Leil Shabbat. A Jewish state shouldn't do such a thing." 

As the editorial continued "But even if it was decided at the lower echelons,
the brutal insensitivity displayed at Ben Gurion reflects the attitudes of the
current powers-that-be towards Shabbos in particular and Jewish observance in

No wonder a committee of Israeli Rabbis Appealed to the Shura Islamic Council of
the Ra'am political party headed by Mansour Abbas to "intervene to prevent the
Israeli government from harming religious life" (MJ 65#18).

Martin Stern


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 7,2021 at 11:17 PM
Subject: Family room

My note to a Rabbi re: "family room" at chapel:

Just curious whether you've ever gotten any traction with people not doing the
open house at the funeral chapel. I'm sure there are some people who know you're
not allowed to comfort, it just seems like a big chukat hagoyim / lfnei iver 
(foreign practice / stumbling block).

Any thoughts on this practice?

Joel Rich


From: Abraham Lebowitz <asaac76@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 5,2021 at 08:17 PM
Subject: Israel's Problem with Russian Immigrants

Prof Yitzchak Levine wrote (MJ 65#19): 

> I do not understand the desire to convert non-Jewish Russian citizens of 
> Israel to Judaism.  There is no effort, as far as I know, to convert  
> Christian citizens of Israel to Judaism. Let the Russians be, and simply do  
> not let them marry halachic Jews.
> Also, how sincere will these conversions be given that almost all Russians 
> were raised without any affinity for Judaism.
> What am I missing here?

When we refer to "Russians" in Israel in most cases they have a Jewish father or
grandfather and, even if not halachically Jewish are "zera Yisrael". They are
not Christians, and no one is suggesting converting ordinary Christians, for
example, Christian Arabs.

YL's solution to let the Russians be, and simply do not let them marry halachic
Jews is simplistic, unworkable and, in the long term self-defeating. A great
many of the "Russians" actually consider themselves Jewish. They, or in many
cases their parents, were considered Jewish in Russia. In Israel they are
virtually indistinguishable from the halachically Jewish population. They go to
same schools, serve faithfully in the same army, often celebrate Jewish
holidays. Many cases have come to light as  being halachically non-Jewish only
when, after becoming engaged, they apply for a marriage license. Prof. Levine's
solution of "simply do not let them marry halachic Jews" simply does not wok
here in Israel.

Couples can live together in Israel, and have children without any stigma
attached to them or their children. They can marry abroad, typically in nearby
Cyprus, and their marriage will be recognized by the Israeli state, thus pushing
the problem to the next generation in which an ever greater number mixed
alliances will take place.

I believe that the appropriate solution for Israel is convert the maximum
number of "Russians" with immediate emphasis on those of "zera Yisrael". At the
conversion basic mitzvot, and the reward for their observance is explained
to them and a commitmment to the big three (Shabbat, kashrut, and tohorat
hamishpacha) is requested. Once converted, how, or whether, they actually
keep these and other mitzvot is, as in the case of Jews by birth, irrelevant -
and the conversion is irrevocable. Their children may marry  Halachic Jews and
may, in the fullness of time choose to live orthodox lives

Seek the peace of Jerusalem

Abe Lebowitz

From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 5,2021 at 09:17 PM
Subject: Israel's Problem with Russian Immigrants 

In response to Prof. Levine (MJ 65#19):

Actually, I think you're missing a few important things. First, many of the
Russians, if they think they have any religious identity, its Jewish. So they're
unlike Christian Israelis. They consider themselves Jewish if not halachically
Jewish. Second, whether we like it or not, they're marrying halachic Jews.
That's a fact. And you can't simply tell them they can't do it. What are you
going to do? Are you going to bar them from traveling to Cyprus as many Israelis
do and marry whom they want? And if they can't afford to go to Cyprus, they'll
live together and have children. So your solution, even were it a good one
which, in 2021, I don't think it is, is simply not feasible. 

As to how sincere they'll be, by living in Israel my guess is that they'll be as
sincere as most secular Israelis notwithstanding how they were raised. Of
course, people will have different feelings about whether that's good for the
Jewish people or not. Personally, I think having them as Jews is good for the
Jewish state and the Jewish people. 


From: Rose Landowne <Roselandow@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 6,2021 at 02:17 AM
Subject: Israel's Problem with Russian Immigrants

In response to Prof. Levine (MJ 65#19):

You are missing the fact that they are zera yisrael, are living as part of am
yisrael, have put their fate with the Jewish people, and are living by the
Jewish calendar, living somewhat traditional Jewish lives, eating somewhat
kosher, and observing some sort of Shabbat.


From: Chaim Casper <info@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 8,2021 at 03:17 PM
Subject: Unorthodox Social Distancing

Tablet Magazine has published a fascination article dealing with how the
Orthodox community deals with those who exit it, the OTDers (Off the Derekh).
Two statistics that caught my eye: Roughly 6.5% of all Orthodox people will
leave the community at some point in their lives while 12% of those aged 20-24
will leave the community.   The author's theme is that while the Orthodox
community tends to write these people off, we should none-the-less, do
everything to keep them engaged.  For more details see:


On a personal point, I suspect that almost everyone reading my post has family
and friends that have either left the Orthodox community (or never were part of
our community in the first place).   What is our response to them?   Do we
invite them to join us for Shabbat and Yom Tov dinners?

I was in shiur with the Rav, Rabbi Joseph D Soloveitchik, zt"l, when he said he
knows of no valid hetter [permissive halakhic ruling] for inviting someone for
Shabbat or Yom Tov dinner if you know they will drive to and/or from your place.  

On the other hand, the Lubavitch Rav/posek [NOT the Rebbe], Rabbi Zalman Shimon
Dworkin, zt"l, ruled that if you offer them a place to stay before Shabbat but
they choose to drive anyway, then you are free of any religious prohibition and
the onus is on your guest.

A Shabbat or Yom Tov dinner is probably the best way we can we can keep the
Jewish lines of communication open but do we do it?  Will we do it?

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


End of Volume 65 Issue 20