Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s Forgotten Statement on the Conflict between Jewish and Secular Education

Not long after arriving in the U.S. in 1932 and becoming the rabbi of Boston’s Orthodox community, Joseph B. Soloveitchik gave an interview to a reporter from the Boston Herald—presumably in Yiddish or German—which she then translated for publication. In it, Soloveitchik speaks of the “difficult problem” of trying to blend “two hostile educational systems,” namely the religious and the secular:

The study of the Jewish religion—of the Talmud and Jewish law—represents a complete culture in itself. The modern secular educational system is another. Jewish religious culture and the modern educational culture have no conflicts [in and of themselves, but only in the received approaches to teaching them]. They belong side by side; instead, they are separated by a so-called Chinese wall. To penetrate the wall between these two entirely different kinds of culture—to combine them into an ideal oneness—is the problem Orthodox Jews [face]. . .

The Talmud and the Torah once demanded one’s mind and attention entirely. The new educational system demands time and attention also. One of the two systems must suffer. Obviously, it is religious study.

The problem, then, is to give our generation of growing boys and girls an all-embracing, well-balanced education, one that will include the complete Jewish spiritual education as well as modern secular training, both to meet side by side on an equal footing, neither one to suffer because of the other. . . .

To bridge this gap between the old Jewish culture and the modern culture is not an easy task. It is a task for the generations.

Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: American Judaism, Jewish education, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Religion & Holidays

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security