Jerusalem – In a passionate hour long speech delivered at the Mir yeshiva’s Simchas Beis Hashoeva in Jerusalem last week, Los Angeles philanthropist Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz took aim at the Open Orthodoxy movement while simultaneously calling for love and acceptance of all Jews as the only way to bring Moshiach.
Never one to mince words, Rechnitz has often taken on issues affecting the Jewish community, writing a lengthy article that appeared in Mishpacha magazine on the shidduch crisis and making headlines in 2016 when he spoke at a Lakewood dinner, blasting schools for an elitist mentality and refusing to accept local children that did not meet their unrealistically high standards as previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2xOKL6V).
In his remarks Rechnitz noted that history has proven that trying to blend into society has only backfired for the Jewish people and that liberal tolerance will not bring an end to anti-Semitism.
Calling Open Orthodoxy the most damaging religious problem facing the Jewish world, Rechnitz blasted the movement for presenting itself as Orthodox, while being nothing more than a rebranded version of Reform Judaism.
“Going to shul doesn’t make you frum, just like standing in a garage doesn’t make you a car,” said the 46 year old nursing home magnate. “Call it whatever you want but this religion can be best described with the famous words of the president of the United States as ‘fake news.’ It’s all fake. There’s nothing Orthodox about them and the only thing that is ‘open’ are their businesses on Yom Kippur and Shabbos.”
Yet despite his scathing words, Rechnitz was quick to note that while he believes that Open Orthodox should be “eradicated like a cancer,” those actions should be applied towards the movement itself and not those who practice it.
Instead, Rechnitz called for warmly embracing every Jew with love as a means of ending baseless hatred, which he described as the stumbling back that is keeping Moshiach away in a time where inexplicable current events, including the election of Donald Trump as president, appear to be a clear indicator that the redemption is near.
Rechnitz’s hour long address skillfully blended his thoughts on the Jewish world with a commentary on PETA, pro-Palestinian protests, his view that the Las Vegas massacre was meant as an anti-Trump protest and his incredulity that liberals placed a higher value on the life of Harambe the gorilla than that of a three year old child who inadvertently tumbled into the animal’s pen in the Cincinnati Zoo in May 2016.
Announcing a commitment to giving every member of the yeshiva’s kollel an additional 100 NIS every month for at least the next two years, Rechnitz remarked that it is only the unprecedented Torah learning and chesed taking place today that has kept the Jewish community safe from mass persecution since World War II. Disrupting that equilibrium by forcing young men to leave the yeshivos where they learn to serve in the military would be a grave mistake, warned Rechnitz.
“The main problem is that the chok giyus is taking soldiers from our army,” explained Rechnitz. “They are taking the chayalim who have made 70 years of history without the baggage that yidden were used to. Avreichim, bochurim, hold your head high. Hold your head very high. You have saved acheinu bnei yisroel and continue to save them for 70 years, halevay vayter. No matter what law is passed, we will never let anyone steal any of our foot soldiers. We can’t risk it; we are dealing with yiddishe blood.”
Rechnitz noted that he is often asked why he supports those who dedicate their lives to learning Torah, a system that from a financial perspective cannot be sustained indefinitely.
“I am not going be the one after 120 to brag to the Aybishter that I stopped being an enabler and, Baruch Hashem, I was able to cut the world’s learning in half,” said Rechnitz. “I’ll leave that to someone else.”
In a VIN News exclusive interview addressing his speech, Rechnitz criticized media outlets who sensationalized his speech by incorrectly reporting that he had described those who practice Open Orthodoxy as “fake Jews.”
“The words I used were ‘fake news’ not ‘fake Jews,’” Rechnitz told VIN News. “They tried to bring out that I think these people are fake Jews but that was not my point at all. I specifically said that what we need to be doing is to be cultivating them, approaching them not with hate, but with love. It is not us to throw stones at chayalim who are davening Mincha. It is not us to throw chairs over the mechitza. That is not us.”
The idea that he will be misquoted by the media or criticized for speaking his mind is of no relevance to Rechnitz who said he feels that he has a personal obligation to give voice to issues that need to be addressed.
“I don’t want to be the one going up after 120 and hearing ‘You were able to get an audience and you kept your mouth shut,’” said Rechnitz.
Watch below Rechintz hour speech.