Tag Archives: Orthodox

Juda Engelmayer at AIPAC 2013 on with Edwin Black

At the 2013 AIPAC convention, Edwin Black of the IBC Channel interviewed Juda Engelmayer on Israel’s politics and the world view on the Jewish State.

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And the Winner is: A Deafening Silence that Shames us all

Just a shout out to my father, Shammai (Sheldon) David Engelmayer for his recent win of The American Jewish Press Association’s Simon Rockower Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism.  The award was in its Category 4:

Award for Excellence in Editorial Writing – Division A. Newspapers over 15,000 circulation and all Magazines/Websites.

First Place
Jewish Standard, Teaneck, NJ

A Deafening Silence” by Shammai Engelmayer and Larry Yudelson

Comments: A stirring pair of editorials denouncing the silence by both American Jews and Israeli officials in the face of unacceptable violence by ultra-orthodox Jews against Jewish school children in the town of Beit Shemesh.

See the Editorial here

or read below:

Editorial

Published: 13 October 2011
Imagine this scene: A Jewish girls’ school opened in a town that serves as a suburb of the capital of Country Y. The neighbors were not pleased. To begin with, they wanted the building for their own children. In addition, they objected to the religious persuasion of the school and its students.

So every day, from the second day of school, mobs of neighbors protested, screaming “sluts” and other unconscionable epithets as the girls exited the building in the afternoon. Some of the protesters threw eggs and bags of excrement at the girls and at the school, to punctuate their points.

How do you think world Jewry would react?

How should we in America react? Should we call upon the Anti-Defamation League or the Simon Wiesenthal Center to demand intervention from the White House? Should we lobby the U.S. State Department to publicly condemn the behavior of Country Y and to insist that Jewish human rights be observed there?

Perhaps we should demand that the United Nations investigate. Perhaps, too, we should stage a massive demonstration in Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza.

We would do just those things if the country in question were Belgium, or Belaraus, or Bahrain. As we report on page 14, however, the country is Israel, which may explain why we have heard and read precious little from those only too quick to condemn even a hint of anti-Semitism anywhere else in the world.

The flashpoint is a school for girls in Beit Shemesh, a town near Jerusalem. The town’s rigidly Orthodox charedi community objects to the presence of a modern Orthodox school in their neighborhood. Is it because this is a Jew vs. Jew conflict — or worse, an Orthodox vs. Orthodox conflict — that there has been so pronounced a silence from the organized Jewish world?

It is not acceptable that little girls are being screamed at by grown men.

It is not acceptable that little girls must pass through a gauntlet of angry men who are armed with bags of excrement.

It is not acceptable that Jewish leaders both here and in Israel remain silent about this disgrace.

American Jewry needs to let the Israeli leadership know that our concern for Jewish schoolchildren extends to Israel — just as we would protest if the harassment took place in Moscow or Marrakesh.

Israel’s leaders need to understand that by tolerating charedi violence, the State of Israel is undercutting the Zionist rationale of providing a secure homeland for the Jewish people.

The pride we take in the high level of aliyah from our own community turns sour when we see former neighbors of ours, such as Englewood native Esther Boylan Wolfson and her family, being subjected to what can only be called anti-Semitism in their new Israeli homes. “It’s a confrontation with a kind of evil that frankly I’ve never experienced,” she told The Jewish Standard. That is not why the Moriah graduate and her family moved to Israel 14 years ago.

Protecting nine-year-olds from assault should not be the sole responsibility of the parents and the neighbors.

Where is the Israeli government in this?

When it came time to integrate schools in the American South, it was clear which side President Dwight D. Eisenhower was on. Where does Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stand in the Beit Shemesh case?

Only Israel’s Ministry of Education has acted with any sense of justice and equity. The charedi mayor of Beit Shemesh suggested that the violence would end if the school moved somewhere else and the building was handed over to the charedi community. We applaud the ministry’s rejection of that offer, which is nothing less than extortion.

We would applaud even louder if the deputy minister of education — a representative of the charedi Agudath Israel party — would join the parents in protecting the schoolchildren and condemning the violence. He will not do so, however, because charedi leaders say they do not want to identify with what they see as anti-charedi elements. Translated, that means the modern Orthodox.

Would we accept that as an excuse for refusing to denounce anti-Semitism anywhere else in the world?

In America, as in Israel, the leadership of the charedi community needs to be called upon to declare on whose side they stand: with the hooligans, or with the girls?

A spokesman for Agudath Israel of America, Rabbi Avi Shafran, when questioned by The Jewish Standard on Tuesday, condemned the harassment as inappropriate and a violation of Jewish law.

Yet he defended the silence: “I do not believe that a decision to not condemn behavior necessarily implies tolerance of said behavior,” he said.

We disagree, taking the Talmud’s word that “Silence is like assent.”

 This article was reprinted from the Jewish Standard where it first appeared.

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The Souls in the Land are the Only Reasons for the Land

Juda Engelmayer March 8th 2012
Salim Joubran
Salim Joubran
It was May 7, 2004 when Salim Joubran was given a position on Israel’s Supreme Court. The day that he became the first permanent member of the Court from the Israeli Arab community should have been the day the world realized that Israel was in fact, a democracy like none else in its region.

It would seem odd, or possibly some act of defiance – and the New York Times carried the story about Justice Joubran earlier this week – that he did not chant the Israeli national anthem, presumably because the words “Nefesh Yehudi homiyah,” which means, “A Jewish soul still yearns,” do not apply to him.

The anthem was not new to him when he became a lawyer, nor when he became a Supreme Court judge. It may indeed be an uncomfortable concept to sing, let alone believe by one who is not Jewish. It highlights the delicate tightrope Israel walks in its pursuit of peace and prosperity while safeguarding its democratic statehood.

For Jews, living in Israel ironically often removes Jewish identity from the everyday life of the average Jew. Unlike most places, where for many, Jewish identity is worn on our sleeves so to speak; on our heads actually for some, but also with the often uncomfortable vacation requests at work and exclusion of eating at non-kosher restaurants, Israeli Jews to do have to face these issues.  In Israel, Jewish holidays are the State holidays and no one feels out of place donning a skullcap.

Juda Engelmayer is an executive with the NY PR agency 5W Public Relations and a contributor to the Cutting Edge News. A version of this article also appeared in the Jewish Star

 

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When the greater good isn’t good enough

When we hear comments such as, “Mussolini made the trains run on time,” or “Madoff was a prominent philanthropist,” does anyone today take those as actual excuses for bad behavior? As a world, should we slap them on the wrist and say the greater good was served, making the evils inconsequential?

In this day and age it is hard to imagine anyone real throwing these two a lifeline. So why in some circles, and often Orthodox Jewish ones, do we allow “He may be guilty at times of what I would consider ‘tough love’ … perhaps going overboard and embarrassing people, but … he cares deeply about the students and wants to keep them on the straight path,” to be an excuse when it comes to our children and Torah education?

When I was a child in yeshiva on the Lower East Side, we had rabbis who hit us. Second grade was known for the yardstick knuckle smack down, and parents never complained when their kids came home with bruises on their hands. For me, it wasn’t until fifth grade when our rebbe, known for smacking his students, whacked me so hard that someone in my family took notice.

My mother probably thought the rabbi was doing her a favor, and never said a word. My uncle, at the time, a charming looking Burt Reynolds type, with a thick mustache, chest hairs coming out of his 1970s collared shirt, mirrored aviators – you get the picture, walked in to class one day and called the rabbi outside for a minute.

(Read More in the Jewish Star)

Juda Engelmayer is an executive with the NY PR Agency, 5W Public Relations

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‘They have turned away from what I commanded them’

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai he saw a people decadent and corrupt who had forgone the Judaism which G-d had given them. Prior to his descent, G-d saw this happening and told Moses, “Saru Ma’Hair, Min HaDerech Asher Tzvitem – they have turned away quickly from the way that I commanded them,” as he directed Moses to go down and set the people straight.

As the Jews worshiped the golden calf, they proclaimed that it was the G-d who brought them out of Egypt. How soon they forget!
It did not take too long for the experience of the Exodus to leave the people and for their faith to be challenged to the point of creating a G-d whom they thought spoke to them at that moment. They could have just abandoned religion and worship, but they still sought a higher power, and created it in the manner that they thought best. That seems to have happened again.
Too bad there isn’t a Moses today!
Not idolatry, but if we looked around at our Jewish communities today we could see clear signs of misdirected faith that causes people to act in ways that are not characteristic of a Jewish people who believe in “V’ahavta L’raiacha kamocha,” to love others as we wish to be loved ourselves – a rule that Jews sing about, quoting Rabbi Akiva, “This is a great principle of the Torah”. When we see what is happening in Bet Shemesh these days, it becomes all too clear that Jews have lost their way, and on their new paths, developed rules that have redefined the essence of modern Judaism.

Read more in the Jewish Star

Juda Engelmayer is public relations executive with the NY PR firm, 5W Public Relations where he runs a corporate, public affairs and crisis communications group.

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