Monday, June 27, 2005

orange in shul - does it belong

We're going to take a break from our regularly scheduled programming and switch to some Israeli /shul politics.

WTF???!!?? It's hard for me to talk about israeli politics without using that phrase.

I am on the board of our Galilean shul and the membership is pretty much 98% or so right wing settler fanatics. There is a small minority that is either more left wing or believe that politics don't belong in shul. There was a sign posted that there would be an anti-withdrawal donation meeting with an MK speaker. Someone else posted on top of that sign that a number of years ago the membership voted not to allow politics into the shul. Someone posted on top of that, "how can you use the filthy word politics to describe a meeting that is full of Torah and ahavas yisrael."

In the end, the meeting took place somewhere else.

This week we had a big poster on the shul gates publicizing a big protest this coming week. A known leftist, (who is actually a secret rightist, but still believes that shul should be apolitical so he comes out against right wing initiatives and so his wife will talk to him) approached me and said that if our shul was going to turn into a branch of the anti-disengagement forces then he wasn't going to daven there anymore. I explained to him that there were no signs in shul and these were on the outside gate. He said he didn't care, he didn't think it was appropriate that every person who walked by the shul thought that this was a bastion of political propoganda instead of a place of worship. I explained to him that the shul was a bastion of political propoganda, 98% of the membership believe in it and everyone who walks by knows it whether there is a sign outside or not.

In the end, he did not ask for his pro-rated membership dues back and I considered that a success. (Part of it had to do with the fact that he went to 2 other shuls and they also had signs up so he gave up)

It begs the question, when are politics appropriate for a shul and when are they not? If this is an anti-Torah decision, as the national religious have painted it, then it does belong in shul. Our shul is a national religious shul. We say hallel on Israeli Independence Day. It would be similar to a situation where the state was allowing the sale of pork in Jewish stores. That may be politics, but it has deep religious connotations. For many of us, the shul is a community center. If I didn't see the sign in shul, i would have never known there was a protest. Shul is the only connection that I have with my community.

The problem is that just about everything has religious connotations. Does that mean that all politics should be allowed in shul? Absolutely Not. However, it is difficult to figure out where to draw the line.


Cosmic X said...


Do your best to keep this stuff out of your shul. (And you know what my opinion is about disengagement.)

Just my humble opinion.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

You ask, if something has deep religious connotations, does it belong in shul? Where do you draw the line.

The issues confronting Jews in Israel on a daily basis are so complex from what I read about. Not living there, I can only respond, based upon second hand information. Survival, protecting the Jewish state, living peaceful, are issues that you face each and every day, and I am sure that they effect your hearts, souls and make many fearful. That being the case, talking about them seems to be not only appropriate, but necessary,e specially in an environment where you feel a sense of family and community, and hopefully, can get some peace of mind.

My wish, each and every day, is for there to be peace in Israel.

rockofgalilee said...


There are a couple real issues:

1) Israeli's like to yell at each other. It's one of their national pasttimes.

2) There are people who are either for the disengagement, and don't feel it is a religious issue, or are more apolitical and don't want to feel associated with a political group.

The problem here is that, in halacha terms, there is no clear answer. The head sefardic rabbi and the head chareidi ashkenazic rabbi (not the chief rabbis, the rabbis who are considered the head rabbis) have both basically said they won't say it's against halacha. The head national religious rabbis have all said it is against halacha and they only differ on where to draw the line for protesting it.

I think their disagreement is actually a disagreement in the halchic status of the country and not whether giving up part of Israel is allowed or not.

So putting it in shul can cause a lot of problems, even if it is an issue that non-israeli's might discuss rationally.

DAG said...

I saw a Rabbi write that any Israel soldier that hits a jew is violating sever Torah Law (the implication was irregardless as to what that jew was doing).

This same Rabbi then CONDONED settler violence against Jewish soldiers, saying any settler attacks on soldiers would be understandable as people naturaly protect their homes.....

Nice trick, but logicaly inconsistent

Rolling hills of green said...

Nothing is ever cut and dry.
The anti are hoping to use this whole Breiber incident as a precedent, as long as it goes in favor of the right side. It does not seem that there is a way he can lose when he is refusing to beat up jews. If he wins other soldiers can also refuse, or so it seems. It's not a very easy situation to state whats right and what isn't. But I must add Kol hakavod to Brieber for standing up for what he beleives in.
Before I read the details of what he did, it accured to me that we are in for very scary times if jewish soldiers and other jews are coming to all out fighting. Maybe Breiber will start something changing, with G-d's help.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Of course, I have another question:
Is it only the case that matters defined as halacha can be discussed in the shul? Or does it matter if you yell about them or not?

My husband is a Cuban Jew, and they yell alot too.

rockofgalilee said...


I agree with you about the inherent contradiction of the rabbi's statement. I think there is way too much incitement going on from both ends of the court.

A shul is considered a holy place and talking should be limited to religious topics. That being said, shul is also the primary social setting for Jews and therefore a lot of talking about everything else goes on as well.