Sunday, April 20, 2014


Exclude everyone
Who is different
New way for Shas?

The "new" Shas (so-called Sefardi) political party is proving to be a Litvak want-to-be by its exclusionary rhetoric is an organization with which I wish no association.

Jews in general and Israeli Jews in particular need to stop being exclusionary and work to become a little inclusionary.

Rhetoric by one group by another, casting aspersions that only serve to inflame with no respect either for truth or fellow has become a way of life for too many religious "extremists"- both haredi ("black hats") and heloni (non-religious) Jews. For the haredi, all non-traditional Jews (in the U.S. this includes Conservative, Reform, Reconstruction, Humanist, and occasionally "Modern" Orthodox) are "outside the pale."

Traditionally, Sefardi and most Mizrahi Jews either didn't know about, or ignored, the European invention of separation - Orthodox, Hasidic, Reform, Conservative. To a traditional Sefardi Jew, a Jew is a Jew is a Jew; that Jew may be less or more observant than the person setting the bar.

When someone asks me if I'm "orthodox" - I am shomer Shabat, shomer kashrut, I wear a black knit kippa (except on Shabat when I bring out my red and blue knit kippa) - I reply that what I am, how I am categorized, is not for me to say, it is for the person asking the question to decide.

If a heloni asks me, I'm probably "orthodox" (with a lower case/small "o" if you please). On the other hand, if a haredi from Bene Brak or Mea Sharim asks, then I'm barely Jewish at all.

It's always all the perspective of the person asking the question.

Shas, know as the "Sephardi" political party has been moving slowly, but consistently to the haredi side of the unfortunate religious spectrum.

Shortly before R. Yosef died, one of his Council of Sages said that anyone who wears a knit kippa was not a Jew.

In a story distributed by Israel HaYom hededCQ Habayit Hayehudi: In Shas, politicians appoint rabbis we read that Rabbi David Yosef, son of the late spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, said: "Now, when the hatred for us is so strong, when respect for the Torah and those who study it has been trampled, we say we are not a part of them. The Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi minions -- there is no difference between them. The Holy One, blessed be He wants us to distance ourselves from them. We are separating from them."

Question to R. Yosef: If Shas is going to "separate" itself from Jews who are different, how is that going to help either Shas OR other Jews? It might keep Shas' Jews tahor, pure, but it will leave non-Shas Jews to fend for themselves, sans religious leadership.

Reminds me of the Karaites. (If you want to know something about Karaites, visit and

I can understand why non-"black hat" (but otherwise "Orthodox") Jews in Israel look down on the haredim who refuse to do anything for the country - won't serve in the military, won't do national service; many won't do any work to support their families, preferring to let the non-black hat population pay for their non-productive time. I might sympathize - and I suspect other Jews would likewise - and support a few true hakhamim who can put their Talmud studies to advance Judaism into the 21st century.

Israel's first prime minister, in order to win his position, promised the black hats that their yeshiva boys would be exempt from the duties of all other citizens. But in 1948, when the the deal was made, there were only a few thousand yeshiva "boys." Today there are 10s of thousands, most of which never will become scholars of note.

Perhaps the average Jew will be better off if Shas and its ilk do "separate" from Am Israel; at the same time, let Am Israel "separate" itself from Shas and similar extremist organizations; insist that the yeshiva "boys" either do something for the state or lose their stipends.

When that happens you'll hear screams from the yeshivot that there are too many empty seats; empty seats mean lost money from the government, money the government took from the average Jew who works for a living.

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