Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Rebbes are coming, the Rebbes are coming

As of now, the Chasidic Rebbes from Israel are planning on coming to NY the week of January 6th for a major rally/protest against the Israeli government on Tuesday January 7th. They are still looking for a venue as an outdoor stadium is out of the question in the winter and places like MSG are too small.

The big question is what is the purpose of the visit and what do they hope to accomplish? There has been talk of the Rebbes meeting high ranking officials/politicians to discuss the "persecution" of Charedim by the Israeli government.

IMHO, this is silly for a number of reasons. As the Satmar Rebbe said, the average American will not understand the Charedi position at all. The call by the Israeli government for sharing the burden seems very reasonable as do the budget cuts for schools that don't learn secular studies. It is very difficult to explain on one hand how you participate in the government and  take money while on the other hand you won't share the burden. In addition, Americans are not particularly fond of "welfare queens" which in truth, is what the Charedi population looks like. They want to not work and be supported by the government. In fact, this may actually affect the Charedi population in the US negatively because it may cause people to look more carefully and critically at the Charedi lifestyle (Section 8, welfare, medicare, shools, that don't teach secular studies, etc.) in the US.

The other reason given is to explain the situation to the Charedim in the US and get their support. Here also, I believe that this is not going to work. On one hand, the true believers, already believe and support the cause. On the other hand, the moderate Charedi who works may not be persuaded, if his kids can learn secular studies in high school why not in Israel? If he can work for a living why not in Israel? If anything this may cause a crisis of faith among these people as they start to question the wisdom of their leaders.

The other big question still unanswered is whether Satmar will participate. On one hand Satmar brings a lot of people, on the other hand they also have a lot of demands for their participation including:
1. All speeches in Yiddish
2. No Israeli politicians (Charedim) can speak
3. The freedom to attack "moderates" like R' Shteinman

It will be fascinating to watch how this plays out over the next few weeks.


The Bray of Fundie said...

thoughtful insightful post. I think it is naive to believe that Satmar, EITHER satmar, will participate in anything under the banner of the Agudah. We're talking at least 80 years of bad blood.

What I would find interesting would be to monitor the Satmar Press for how much "we told you so" triumphalism is going on. After all, none of their mosods in Israel ever took a shekel/ piyaster from the Misrad haChinuch of the "Medinah shel Gehinom". So they are used to operating with no subsidies at all.

OTOH all the Agudah affiliated Yeshivas, fronted / headed by all these visiting Rebbes, grew addicted to such subsidies and are having excruciating withdrawal pains now that the chilonim want to reduce the dosage and begin turning off the spigot.

bluke said...

You are absolutely right about Satmar triumphalism, you hear it already all over Israel how the Satmar Rebbe was right.