Monday, June 30, 2008

Response to Comments

On my previous post on hiking in the Golan, I received the following comment, abbreviated for brevity:

(Referring to my comment that the Hareidi boys going down the stairs looked like waddling penguins)

Your penguin comment is offensive.

Okay. Whatever. I don't see what's offensive about it, and since you didn't say, I can't respond.

BTW, "Haredi" is the preferred term, not "ultra" orthodox. It is a misconception to believe that they are one in the same.Please help to educate your fellow Jews, and not denigrate others.

I did use the term Hareidi. However, many Planet Israel readers are not in tune with the Israeli-religious Hebrew lingo that those of us here live in are swimming in, so I had to use the term "Ultra-Orthodox," which is the universally accepted language used in the mainstream media. The fact is, I could be offended about the word "Ultra," since it implies that Hareidim are more stringent in their mitzvah observance than other Orthodox Jews. I could also be offended by the term "Orthodox," since this is a label invented by later breakaway sects of Jews for what used to be known simply as "Judaism," in order to legitimize their own, divergent beliefs, as being just another shade or "stream" of Judaism. But when someone calls me an "Orthodox" Jew, I just smile and nod. Not every conversation has to be a battle.

You're not one of those American Jews who sees Haredim as "The Other," are you?

Well, in some sense I do. After all, the whole point of wearing the clothing of 18th century Eastern European Gentile nobility is to set one's self apart from society, to make one's self the "other." I would think they might be offended were I not to consider them to be "The Other," after all that effort. I saw those kids slogging through the underbrush, pushing their way through thorns and branches, while wearing three-piece suits, and thought, "Gosh, that's odd. It must be hot under there. It must take a lot of work to dress like that all the time." After all, there is something a bit, well, "otherly," seeing people in three-piece-suits and Borsalino hats out in the bush. I admire the effort and hardship they must go through, though I personally consider it a bit misplaced.

And I don't know what the connection between being an American Jew and seeing Haredim as "The Other" is. After all, most Israeli Jews are very hostile to Haredim. Most American Jews, at least the ones I know, are pretty accepting.

1 comment:

Esser Agaroth said...


I may surprise you, but I think you made some good points here, and appreciate your honesty.

I found the penguin comment to be offensive, as this used as a pejorative here. But maybe you didn't know that.

"Ultra-Orthodox" IS accepted in the mainstream media. It's wrong, but it's accepted.

You're party right about the word "orthodox," yet it also represents the belief aspects of Judaism. Some so called "liberal"Jews might even be considered "orthoprax" to a degree due to their outward observance, but they wouldn't be orthodox, due to many beliefs which deviate from Torah true thinking.

My main point is that the more we use the terms "us" and "them" instead of just "us," it's not always helpful.

Israelis that Haredi bash for the sake of bashing is also wrong. In some ways you are right to say that Americans can be more accepting, not always, but they can be.

That being said, I agree with you about the clothing and the hats. But, a Polo shirt and khakis aren't anymore authentically Jewish that black and white. Here, we all fail.

As far as fitting in goes, Jews have been worried about "fitting in" since 1400's Spain, but really farther back. Even in Egypt we maintained our clothing, language, and names.

Assimilation has never worked for us as a strategy, even for survival. Jews who practiced Lutheranism in Germany were still hated and demonized by the Lutherans.

Now that we live in our own land, it would be nice for us to stop worrying about what the goyim think, and start worrying more about what HaShem thinks.

I'm with you that European clothing is not for us here in Israel. Its impracticality is only a small part of it. But I gotta tell you, American and/or Western moder clothing isn't either.