Monday, March 06, 2006

Teaneck... Final Thoughts

A man whom I have never personally met but, whom I consider to be a good friend, Steve Brizel, made a comment on my last blog entry saying the following in response to my constant “harp” against the Jewish Observer:

"your grievances about the JO's treatment of RYBS are correct. However, do you think that reciting that litany, no matter how correct, will result in more achdus? ...and The JO has a reflexively anti RIETS/YU/MO editorial stance that periodically manifests itself. OTOH, R N Scherman and three Charedi Gdolim spoke in the RIETS Beis Medrash and a MO shul in a MO community-Teaneck."

I know what I must sound like by now... the repeated anger that surfaces from time to time whenever the subject comes up... but I will never forget the hurt and anger expressed by my Rebbe, Rav Aaron Soloveichik, when the Jewish Observer wrote that very insulting obituary about his brother, the Rav... followed by a very long letter by a Charedi Rabbi (I forget whom) in a Yiddish newspaper blasting him shortly afterward. This before even the Shloshim!

To me this was a seminal moment in RW/MO relations. I knew by then intuitively that the Right Wing had almost complete contempt for Modern Orthodoxy. But never before was it so manifestly spelled out in the form of such disrespect for its rabbinic leader, with little if any regard for those it would hurt in the process.

I'm sorry. I cannot separate that event from those who spoke in Teaneck. It still hurts. Rav Schechter is on the Moetzes. He either directly approved of it, or at best never separated himself from it. I am, also, relatively certain that the two other Rabbanim are of equal mind. I wish I were wrong.

How can I simply allow it to be glossed over or forgotten? It isn't enough to say let bygones be bygones... lets build on what we have. What do we have? A group of three distinguished Rabbinic leaders addressing a group of Modern Orthodox Jews who gave them nothing but pure respect... as they should have. But the Avlah still stands. And so too all the other issues that separate us... yet to be addressed. And they aren’t. I don't see how we can move past this without an apology or at least a response to some of our issues. Yashrus demands it.

I have read several reports about what took place in Teaneck, one in Hirhurim and one very nice one which was posted right here in the comments section of my last post by someone identifying himself as “CM”. By all accounts it was a very lovely and warm evening. But none of the issues that divide us were really addressed. Only one issue that separates us was even touched upon, the so called “Slifkin Affair”, and even that one, hardly other than to bash Rabbi Slifkin. The pre-screened questions at the end of the program hardly did anything to bring us together or promote mutual respect between us. Every question I had before, I still have.

So in the end, Yes, I am disappointed. But all is not lost. Perhaps the warm reception given these rabbinic leaders will spur them to take another step, this time a more significant one. If any one of them somehow could only understand the pain I, and others like me, have from such divisiveness... and seek to change things... toward Achdus in a meaningful way, what an impact it would have! I would urge them do what ever it takes to do it again, only this time with Roshei Yeshiva from YU on a joint panel TOGETHER. The event should be of the same type as was the case in Teaneck, only this time a more neutral site that would include invitations to both communities. They should stand in unison shoulder to shoulder in mutual respect, perhaps even noting that there is Hashkafic disagreement, but noting also that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.

Mutual respect. That is the key. It would have an impact on Klal Yisroel which in my view could begin to solve many of the problems plaguing both communities. Because I really believe that both communities have much to offer each other and all of Klal Yisroel. We have a window of opportunity. Let's not let it go by.