Yigal Amir's murder of PM Rabin and the callous treatment of him at Bar-Ilan, clothing him in a Nazi uniform and worse, made it very hard for myself, a member of the Havurah community in USA, to forgive the many horrible things which have been said by some in the Haredi community. Obviously Rabbi Avi Shafran is not to be blamed or anyone at torah.org to my knowledge. But the Jewish world was hurt very deeply then, and it has not recovered a moral center yet, in my belief. I apologize for any offense which this email may cause, but my heart aches 6 years later. - D. F. -1/0-/2001
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I am deeply concerned over the growing rift between deeply observant and less observant Jews.
I am uncomfortable with the labeling (Reform, Conservative...etc)because in addition to naming a Jewish denomination,it also serves to divide us and magnify our differences.
We need more forums that demonstrate our commonalties. We need more respect among the various branches of our Jewish family.
I am concerned since I think that within several more generations, there may be a complete split and any tree which is split will lose its strength and vigor.
I love our people, in all of their diversity. Please, let's not let this happen. - M. F. -1/0-/2001
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I think the comments of "D.F." below are an example of what Rabbi Shafran was talking about. Neither Yigal Amir nor Bar-Ilan University are "Haredi", so blaming Haredim for what went on there makes no sense. It's just some Jews talking about other Jews, with or without reason.
[By the way, it's also worth pointing out that Israel's GSS had an agent provocateur goading Yigal Amir. This person, Avishai Raviv, is about to go on trial in Israel for failing to prevent the assassination. And it was Raviv who carried the poster of Rabin in a Nazi uniform! According to testimony he actually encouraged Amir to do it. What did the GSS think they were doing? So Amir was not just part of "Bar-Ilan", the "right wing" or anything else, either.] - K. M. -1/0-/2001
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It seems to me that non-Orthodox Jews don't buy the "we care about you" line because the instances where representatives of the Orthodox establishment speaking negatively of the non-Orthodox movements publically are numerous. You can't say "I think that your belief system is flawed, but I really care about you as a person/Jew" and expect those people to buy it. They are offended, insulted, and don't much care if you "care about them as Jews".
I happen to have read the magazine article that Rabbi Shafran refers to, and my thoughts at the time were "well, here we go. One more nail in the coffin of inner-Jewish relations".
Every time I see an Orthodox Jewish figure, acting as a representative for religious Jews, pointing out the errors of Reform/Reconstructionist/Conservative/etc. Jews, my heart sinks. In my many years of working with Jews of all backgrounds, I've never once seen or heard of a Jew becoming observant because s/he recognized the validity of an argument showing the errors of his or her previous Jewish movement. Jews move closer to observance and to "frumkeit" because of the EXAMPLES that they see of Orthodox family life, of Orthodox hospitality, and of the strong faith of the Orthodox community.
The theology comes later.
When Orthodox leaders take it upon themselves to lambast other Jewish movements, it only serves to strengthen the rift between Orthodoxy and non-Orthodox Jews. It makes it that much less likely that those who feel attacked will ever want to "cross the border" and experience another form of Jewish life.
I have never seen any strengthening of Jewish unity through leaders of one movement voicing their criticisms of another, nor have I seen individuals drawn to strengthening their own Jewish identities when faced with such criticisms. I am not at all suprised at "Michelle's" response to Rabbi Shafran's telephone call, and I hope that it serves as a lesson to all of us to think carefully of how our words and actions will impact on the individuals whom we want to reach.
- L. R. -1/0-/2001
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I think it is important to acknowledge that there are Orthodox people who DO make nasty remarks to non-religious people, insult them and make them feel unwelcome. I became Orthodox during college five years ago. My father had always expressed negative views about Orthodoxy, but I discovered that the reason was due to specific personal incidents, not just "overheard half-truths." I have also had to overcome snobbiness and rudeness that, had I not already had strong convictions, could easily have prevented me from becoming a frum person. And I know of several people who were baalei teshuvah and then became completely non-religious again due to some horrible encounters with other "frum" people. It's real. So everybody needs to STOP being mean and start being nice to their fellow Jews!!!!! It is really true that you (meaning whoever is reading this sentence) will personally affect the future Torah observance of another Jew through either one kind act or one nasty remark. Do you look around for new faces at shul and wish them a Good Shabbos? If not, think what happens when no one else does either. The person won't be back next week. This message is for all Jews, by the way, not just Orthodox. If someone has never met a nice Jewish person, they won't be likely to marry one. - E. B. -1/0-/2001
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