Jerusalem – U.S. Orthodox Jews Accuse Liberal Streams Of Hijacking Jewish Discourse

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    Ultra Orthodox women protest against the Women of the Wall movement as they hold Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City, February 27, 2017. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90Jerusalem – Some 40 Orthodox Jews from the US are in Israel in a bid to convince the government that the voice of the liberal Jewish streams in the US does not represent Jews in their country.

    In the fiery conversation, which has been conducted over the past year over the canceled agreement for an egalitarian section at the Western Wall, US Orthodox Jews have been left out, two of the members of the delegation explained to The Jerusalem Post in a meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday.

    “The liberal streams are putting in a lot of effort to convince Israeli politicians that they are the power to be in the US,” said Sol Werdiger, Agudath Israel of America chairman.

    The delegation will come armed to its meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and an array of other high-level Israeli leaders with studies to show that the opposite is true.

    The delegation comprises of a diverse group of Orthodox Jews, “who don’t usually sit together,” noted Dr. Irving Lebovics, Agudath Israel of California chairman.

    A document put together for the mission, called “Am Echad” (“One People”), says that recent demographic surveys have begun to show that the Orthodox community is growing in numbers and strength, “and represents the Jewish future in America, the future of Jewish philanthropy and the future of American Jewish support for Israel.”

    The mission cites a report by Research Professor Steven M. Cohen published in the Forward that used a 2013 survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, on the US Jewish population to map the age distribution of US Jews according to the different streams.

    Cohen found that, while the Orthodox population is “exploding,” the non-Orthodox population, which Pew found is currently the majority, are in sharp decline.

    “We are growing and vibrant,” said Lebovics. “The percentages of Orthodox Jews under 40 are significantly higher than Orthodox Jews over 55.”

    Cohen’s study found that only 5% of US Orthodox Jewry was between 56 to 73-years-old while 15% were 28 to 45-years-old and 27% 0 to 17.

    “Don’t push us aside and make believe we don’t exist,” Lebovics said.

    The Conservative and Reforms movements, they charged, came to Israel and said they represent US Jewry. “We believe in inclusiveness and we don’t feel that what’s going on in Israel is right. We say a large part of US Jews don’t care [about the Western Wall deal], a portion is what has been advocating, and a large vibrant growing part disagrees. Nobody consulted us.”

    Saying that the Orthodox portion of the US Jewish community was “excluded for years,” he added that “the message is not to say they are bad people but if you represent something, this is another side of the coin.”

    He said that the delegation does not plan to give its stance on the Kotel issue. “We didn’t come here to say the new section shouldn’t be there. If I want to vote on policy here I’ll move here. but we have to set the record straight in terms of the message they got from America.”

    Another point the delegation is keen to emphasize is the Orthodox community’s commitment to and investment in Israel.

    “We all have family here, we are in Washington advocating all the time, we invested here in business and real estate, we come here often,” Werdiger said, listing the ways in which his community supports Israel and the hundreds of millions of dollars the delegation says Orthodox Jews invest in Israel in a multitude of ways.

    Tourism, involvement in hi-tech businesses, support of their children who are living in Israel, and an array of charity projects in Israel are among those.

    “So we are here to say we love every Jew and we are all-encompassing but if you’re looking to change things here because of the perception that’s what the Jews in America want – it’s not true,” Werdiger concluded.

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    6 COMMENTS

    1. The aguda speaks from 2 sides, it’s so conservative that it’s president sat on inauguration committee of bill de bozo, and it’s board members donated to him and mafia don cuomo, will.women be allowed on this trip?

    2. Another waste of time for publicity hungry folks.The group led by Sol Werdyger Chairman of the Agudath Isreal of america has failed in the united states to address and solve the issues of Tuition tax credits,The OTD and drug epidemic problems.
      They are now wasting their time by creating a divide among the worlds jewish community
      Only thru preaching Ahavas Yisroeal like the CHABAD AND OUR KIRUV INSTITUTIONS CAN WE REACH OUR GOAL OF AM ECHAD

      • it seems the goal of the aguda nowadays is to be pictured with the machers and to “look” like youre involved in tzorchei tzibur, tuition is going up, abuse is now officially covered up and Aguda gives a hechsher to the likes of de bozo by having their executive vice president serve on the inauguration committee of de bozo.

      • we want an Orthodox “leadership” that we can be proud of,that doesn’t endorse shtick, that doesn’t sell our interests for some paltry government money to Aguda affiliated senior centers while abandoning the issue of tuition, that doesn’t sit on the inauguration committee of a man dedicated to promoting “alternative lifestyles”, to fighting yeshivas, to promoting crime through anarchy and isn’t try to recreate the shtetl where the people of means like the guy mentioned above tell us (peasants) what to believe and who to vote for despite us knowing those politicians oppose our interests.

    3. How conveniently they left out the billions the Charedi take from the system (meaning from others that work hard and pay taxes) Think of all the support each family takes without trying or attempting to get jobs – it is wrong -The system was made as a stop-gap measure to combat poverty, not a way of life.

      The next time they catch a criminal stealing – he can use this report to argue – I shop, buy gas, eat out, etc. I contribute more then I steal. How would that go down?

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