How Hasidim Became the Jews of the Jews

Sept. 19 2022

Last week, the New York Times ran an article under the headline “In Ḥasidic Enclaves, Failing Private Schools Flush with Public Money,” which accused these institutions of providing students with woefully inadequate secular educations, employing corporal punishment, and other failings. Moshe Krakowski, acknowledges the serious problems this article raises while pointing to its numerous shortcomings.

The reporters admit that only a few dozen of the [275] people they spoke with still live in the ḥasidic community, all of them fierce critics of the yeshivas. These 275 activists and critics hold important views that deserve to be heard. But so do the thousands upon thousands of Ḥasidim who disagree with them. [The authors] ignore these people completely. Amazingly, the reporters made only a single visit to an actual ḥasidic yeshiva. . . . And—this is actually hard to believe—it appears that they didn’t bother contacting current school administrators until after the article was nearly complete.

After detailing various flaws in the ways the Times article presented its data, and in the data themselves, Krakwoski addresses a different sort of question:

Why are oversimplified and often deeply distorted portraits of Ḥaredim so commonplace?

The answer, sadly, is that the mere existence of the Ḥaredim challenges all sorts of claims about religion and modernity that other Jews, in particular, hold sacred. These radically countercultural Jews go out of their way to reject society’s values and norms, and so validate everything other Jews secretly fear. They are a living embrace of the idea that the Jew is different. For reminding everyone of this, they are either scorned, or reduced to a shtetl fairy tale, or more often, hated.

When it comes to Ḥaredim, the rules of polite discourse do not apply, and generalizations, prejudice, and bigotry are proffered as self-evident fact.

If, as Tom Lehrer sang, “everybody hates the Jews,” whom do the Jews hate?

Ḥaredim. They are the Jews of the Jews.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, Haredim, Hasidim, Jewish education, New York Times

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship