New York – Hamodia Publisher Calls On The Charedi Community To Rise Up Against Religious ‘Fanatics’

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    New York – Mrs. Ruth Lichtenstein publisher of New York’s Charedi English Daily Newspaper Hamodia, penned a scathing editorial that appeared on the front page of the newspaper today, in her editorial ‘Its Time To Act’ Mrs. Lichtenstein address the ongoing violence in Israel by extrismst, specifically the actions of those who dressed in Holocaust garb last weekend at a Motzei Shabbos rally held in Kikar Shabbos.

    In her editorial, she writes, for too long the Jewish community has been ignoring those ‘Meshuga’im’ “The time has come to shatter the silence. ‘Ignoring these fanatics is no longer an option’.

    This is the second editorial this week by Hamodia on this issue, but this time Mrs. Lichtenstein herself signed her name, and shares her own experiences as she coincidentally visited Israel last week.

    Mrs. Lichtenstein, is also the founder and director of Project Witness which serves to educate the public about the Holocaust and a noted author who has written extensively about World War II.

    Below is the full article that appeared today in Hamodia.

    It’s Time to Act

    Last Shabbos morning was exceptionally beautiful in Yerushalayim. As always, the streets were full of Yidden going to and from shul, passing walls plastered with a variety of posters and advertisements.

    Suddenly I noticed a placard announcing a demonstration in Kikar HaShabbos, to take place on Motzoei Shabbos.

    Participants would be required to wear a yellow star and don prisoners’ uniforms, similar to what was worn in the Nazi death camps, and demonstrate against the harassment of the authorities with regard to the mehadrin lines and other similar grievances. I was horrified.

    In a subsequent conversation in which I described the placard, its content and style, to a resident of Yerushalayim with a lot of life experience, I was surprised at his calm response. He just brushed it off with a wave of his hand. “Nonsense! Meshuga’im!” he exclaimed.

    But this time, these “meshuga’im” overstepped the line. They went too far. What has been imprinted in everyone’s memory, with the eager collaboration of the secular media, is the horrific image of a small child wearing a yellow star, with his arms raised, and, not coincidentally, remarkably resembling the famous photo of a child with his arms raised in the Warsaw Ghetto.

    How did the hands of the parents not tremble when they dressed their small child in this horrific uniform?

    What does this father know about the Holocaust, about children in the Holocaust, about the significance of such a photo? Obviously, less than nothing. With pre-meditated cynicism, the fringe group to which he belongs has desecrated an iconic symbol for their own ends.

    What will this father tell his son when he grows older and tries to understand how his father opted to turn him into a symbol that will haunt him all his life?

    It’s not pleasant to be a chareidi in Yerushalayim — or anywhere else in Eretz Yisrael for that matter — these days. During the remainder of my brief stay in Eretz Yisrael, wherever one went the reaction was the same: “You chareidim! Shame on you!”

    The more polite, well-mannered people said, “We know they are a radical minority, we know they are casting a stain on the entire chareidi community with their behavior, but why do you remain silent?”

    The time has come to shatter the silence. Ignoring these fanatics is no longer an option, since they go out of their way to attract the secular media in order to broadcast their warped messages to the entire world.

    I make no demands on this group, since they are not rational. The father of that child and his cohorts not only did not apologize or explain themselves, they even pledged to continue in their ways, according to secular media reports.

    My demand is from us: How did we, in our naiveté, think that the actions of this fringe group could just be ignored? How did we give them a platform, allowing them to act as the representatives of chareidi Jewry?

    What we desperately need is a serious media campaign to present the true position of Torah Jewry to the world. As my father, Rabbi Leibel Levin, z”l, and Rabbi Moshe Sherer, z”l, understood when they founded Mercaz L’hasbarah Datit and Am Echad, respectively, for this purpose, we dare not relinquish the spokesmanship of Klal Yisrael to irrational, irresponsible and self-serving fringe elements.

    If we want to survive, if we want to merit understanding in Israel and abroad as Orthodox Jews who want to live our lives in accordance with the Torah, we must act — immediately!

    Ruth Lichtenstein


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