Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Tammuz 5764 - June 30, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Heated Exchange Between Ministers Shalom and Lapid
by G. Lazer

Justice Minister Yosef Lapid and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom exchanged heated remarks during a government meeting on Sunday to discuss a report called The Jewish People 2004.

The report, which was released last week by The Jewish Agency's Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, painted a glum picture of assimilation, estrangement from Judaism among Jewish youth and increasing antisemitism against Jewish communities abroad. During the ensuing discussion Minister Natan Sharansky proposed setting up a Jewish senate composed of representatives of Jewish organizations and communities from abroad that would serve as an advisory board for the Knesset.

During the discussion on the future of the Jewish people Minister Lapid said, "It is inconceivable that there is no equality in the State of Israel between the Orthodox, the Reform and the Conservative. In the US 85 percent of the young generation of Jewish intelligentsia are Reform and Conservative Jews drifting away from Israel because in Israel their rabbis are not recognized."

Upon hearing his remarks Shalom lashed out against Lapid. "It is disgusting already to hear you attacking Judaism every time we talk about Jewish issues. Don't make fun of what is important to us." Lapid called Shalom an antisemite to which Shalom responded by calling him ""a racist, an antisemite and a clown whose entire party is based on hatred for the Jewish religion." Later in the course of the meeting both ministers retracted their remarks.

Wrapping up the debate Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said today's youth does not know the difference between Minchah and Ma'ariv, or between a siddur and a machzor . . . [They] are not familiar enough with the history of Eretz Yisroel."

During the discussion Interior Minister Avraham Poraz suggested the State of Israel recognize Reform and Conservative "conversion." Sharon replied that the government would hold a special meeting on the issue and therefore it was unnecessary to deal with the topic at present.

MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz told Yated Ne'eman that the Prime Minister's description of the lack of Jewish knowledge among youth is worrisome but actually the situation is far worse, for the current generation of secular youth does not even know how to say Shema Yisroel. "The signs of coming closer to religion among secular youth should be fostered, along with the willingness to recognize the disturbing fact that ignorance reigns in secular education and we are commanded to draw those who are far away nearer."

According to Rabbi Ravitz during his meeting last week with the Prime Minister on the issue of correcting discrimination against chareidim and restoring funding to Torah institutions, Sharon said a generation has come of age here that lacks even rudimentary knowledge of Judaism. He promised to instruct his staff to assist in funding Torah institutions. Rabbi Ravitz then used the opportunity to denounce Justice Minister and Shinui Chairman Yosef Lapid for his goals of encouraging the Reform to penetrate Eretz Yisroel, persecuting Judaism and its flag-bearers and promoting total ignorance of the Jewish heritage across the generations. "If you are really and truly worried over the future of the Jewish people why don't you remove the Shinui ministers from the government? They are leading the State toward the brink and preach against Judaism incessantly."

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni told Yated Ne'eman, "Sharon and Shalom's remarks should not be denied their due credit. Some Likud ministers are fed up with Lapid and other Shinui members' talk against Judaism and the religious. Nevertheless it should be stressed that Lapid's remarks and the deeds of the Likud ministers and Sharon's government are identical in their harm to Torah institutions and chareidi families. It should be stressed that only if behind Sharon's words, which should not be belittled, deeds also come, we will know these words are genuine."


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