Thursday, November 30, 2006

Encompassing Judaism...not just "Zionism"

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Bnei Akiva symbol painted on a trailer (caravan) at a hidden location in Israel.


Adopting the Muqata's Slogan, this Bnei Akiva caravan reads
"To any place where I may walk, I am always walking towards Eretz Yisrael."
The blue, white and orange colors are the nationally recognized symbol of "Shvil Yisrael"
-- the hiking trail which goes from the Northern tip of Israel,
to the Southernmost point.

This past weekend was "Shabbat Irgun", the culmination of a month of activities of the Bnei Akiva youth movement in Israel. I was never part of Bnei Akiva in the United States -- it always had a stigma of being "not religious enough" or much too aliya-centric...in fact, there was no real Bnei Akiva in my hometown growing up. (And the town was happy that way, with little encouragement for aliya, and a "frummer" environment)

Yet, here in Israel, I'm happy my kids are part of Bnei Akiva. (Also, it's not mixed -- like it was when I was a kid in the US. And its alot more fun than Pirchei Aguda).

I will admit, that I don't have patience for their Motzei Shabbat (Saturday Night) performances following Shabbat Irgun, and it's painful waiting through them when your kids aren't in a particular skit or dance.

Let me go home already...please?

And I still only get home at midnight. Yet as my wife is reading this, I know not to complain since I didn't go last year at all (I think I was away on a business trip, whew), so it was definitely my turn this year.

After lunch this past Shabbat, we all took a stroll to our local Bnei Akiva trailer-park (they're called caravans in Israel), which were painted by each group in honor of Shabbat Irgun.

Now, as I was getting this blog post ready for publication, I was pointed (thanks WBM :-)to a posting on Chayei Sarah's blog, where she opinions that Religious Zionism is all about "the land" and doesn't focus on the other mitzvot.
Bnei Akiva kids put a banner up in my neighborhood during the Lebanon War stating their solidarity with the people of the North. I smiled every time I saw it. It made me happy that in a time of crisis, the whole country felt unified and that young people in Jerusalem were proudly proclaiming their solidarity with people they'd never met.

Now that the war is over, and the Gaza pullout is long past, I wish they'd put up banners about other things. About loving your neighbor as yourself, about helping the poor and other things that, after all, are Torah values. Perhaps the kids do discuss these things within their chapters. Certainly they have wonderful activities around the holidays, and they do learn Torah, but in terms of the public face of the organization . . . they don't seem to have learned anything from what happened two summers ago. The self-reflection of the rabbis I heard has not trickled down to the level of the kids' banners and the paintings on the chapter's walls.

It makes me sad that, in practice, Religious Zionism continues to be all about Zionism and hardly about religion at all.
Unfortunately, Chayei Sarah's experience with Bnei Akiva in Israel must be rather limited. I took pictures of the caravan walls, and you can see for yourself what messages they are fostering. (Not that there is anything wrong with solidarity)


Justice in Society. They kids painted every imaginable quote from the Torah, Jewish religious source that deal with Justice...and Social Justice.

On that day...that Jews love one another, respect one another, respect their heritage and when their actions are influenced by love of the Torah, love of the people, and love of the land in its holiness...on that day there will be a "Jewish Culture."



Social Justice was a major theme this year...culminating in the realization that social justice brings about realization of G-d.

And yet, we do not forget.

Over the door of each caravan was a zecher l'churban - a reminder of the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, the Jewish Temple(s). We have one in our home as well...where we also mourn the destruction of the Jewish communities of Gaza.



Finally - the Bnei Akiva kids make sure they will also never forget the destruction of the homes in Gush Katif. While some may think they learned "nothing" from two summers ago -- I think they learned quite alot. That the Israeli government can easily turn its back, and stab in the back, some of it's most loyal of citizens. I think they learned that when the government ignores the plight of fellow Jews, then THEY fill the void. I think they seek justice for themselves as well as for others.

While it may bother some, we "don't forget" -- the lack of justice then during the disengagement, and the apathy today -- the blatant lack of simple human care by the Israeli Knesset and Government for the plight of the Gush Katif refugees (many of whom still have no real housing solutions, over 50% unemployment, and many other problems).

Judaism is about ALL the mitzvot. And Bnei Akiva tries to encourage the observance of all of them.

Right now, I'm blogging this from the lobby of a hotel in Northern Israel, (during my break for dinner), where I'm attending a MDA enrichment course [I'll blog about that later as well]. There are MANY religious Zionists here...and Chareidim...and secular Israelis...and they all volunteer all over Israel -- not only in their closed environment. Why would they? Don't they only care about themselves?

It's so simple to shoot an arrow, and draw a target around it.

While it may seem like good blog material to go after Religious Zionists and say the "right wing" only cares about the Eretz Yisrael; in reality, you'll find them all over Israel, doing all sorts of wonderful inter-personal mitzvot.

And we still love Eretz Yisrael.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

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but enjoy and appreciate most

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Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I had a choice either to blog this or eat dinner at the MDA convention.

I'm blogging instead.

No big deal :)

mevaseretzion said...

Jameel, thank you for reminding us who the cream of our nation's crop is...and for posting those amazing, tear jerking, photos.

Yashar Koach!

aliyah06 said...

Wonderful--pictures worth hundreds of words--hope Chayeii Sarah reads the walls and understands she made a mistake in stereotyping the entire B'nei Akiva/Religious Zionist world.

never4getdotnet said...

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DTC said...

I just hope that no one tries to paint them over..there are some minor details about the 7 sheimos she'ainum nimchakim.... (but other than that they are beautiful works of art)

Moze said...

Just one clarification--not all snifim are separate. Most in the Shomron are (Ariel is not), but in the cities and in moshavim next to cities, they are very often mixed. Of the 5 snifim in which my kids have done hadracha, only one was separate, and that was in the Shomron. (Another in the Shomron, where my youngest is a Netzach-chutznik, is also separate.)

Now I just have to ask my kids which snif those are pictures of...

Moze said...

My daughter asks that you add a picture of the wall next to the photographed (the Wizard of Oz wall) and that you post the Ma'alot caravan, since she painted that. (Now you can figure out who I am, too, if you don't already know.)

Shabbat shalom.

~ Sarah ~ said...

great post :)

~ Sarah ~ said...

(and now I have 'yad achim' tune in my head... lol)

Rafi G said...

good response. Yes in the haredi world people think that the religious zionist took yishuv haaretz as their mitzva. By default they think they took that to the detriment of othe rmitzvas. the reality is that it is not true. Yes the religious zionist concentrate on yishuv haaretz more than other groups, but by no means do they focus on that and drop the others...

tafka PP said...

Unless things have changed since I was a "Communarit" (yes, really) I think you'll find it's actually called "Shabbat HaIrgun"

I don't think that the point of Chayyei Sarah's post was "going after Religious Zionists and say the "right wing" only cares about the Eretz Yisrael". That both you and WBM read that as her main meaning, let alone felt the need to write such defensive posts in response, speaks volumes. ChayyeiSarah specifically states that she primarily identifies with the values of the religious right, and her observations are made from the visible activism of the Jerusalem sniffim. And while she might not know as much about Israeli BA as you, WBM, Moze or anyone else who has kids in the tnua, that doesn't invalidate what she believes it is supposed to represent...

OK- somebody stop me before *I* start remembering the words to "Yad Achim" - I'll lose my job!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Tafkapp; Well, I don't KNOW all the words to "Yad Achim" (Didn't Rav Nerya write those words?)

The last line of CS's post was most telling (and most bothersome)

It makes me sad that, in practice, Religious Zionism continues to be all about Zionism and hardly about religion at all.

No scratch that -- the part that the kids haven't learned anything reminds me of the statements that the religious right hasn't learned anything from "Retzach Rabin" either.

Olah Chadasha said...

Interesting post. As per your disagreement with another person's opinion on the state of Bnei Akiva, you have to remember that even in a small country like this, every chapter is different, and they each stress and teach different things. Although this is not supposed to be the case, it is unfortunately the reality. While your kids' chapter seems amazingly inspiring in the way it expresses Am Yisroel, B'Eretz Yisroel, Al Pi Torat Yisroel, it might in fact be true that this other person's chapter is lacking.

I have been part of Bnei Akia since I was kid, and I grew to be a Madricha all through-out high-school. I always used to think that Bnei Akiva was so much more religious than NCSY. I actually used to like that there was no "Kiruv" involved. You just got together, celebrated Torah, and celebrated the Land of Israel. There was no preaching involved. It was so ingrained within the program, no-one had to talk about it. The spirit was just there. I believe our Bnei Akiva chapter has been responsible or at least a key component of the relatively high Aliyah rate in my hometown community. However, I'm well aware that other community chapters are the total antithesis of ours. So, you should feel lucky and blessed that your kids get to experience such an amazing chapter. I can't wait for my own to experience it some day.
-OC

Anonymous said...

Have Ms. Chayai Sarah read the TZITZ ELIEZER written by Rav Waldenberg Z"TL and she will be shocked at what a religious zionist he was...

westbankmama said...

tafka - look at the title of her post. Then come back to us and tell us why we are being too defensive.

Michael said...

Wonderful post. As someone new in Israel, and not particularly Orthodox (although religious), and with small children (3 and 1), I found it particulary interesting and educational- thank you.

YMedad said...

Sorry but I was in Betar. No inferiority complex or disappointment from youth to adulthood for me.

Ari Kinsberg said...

i just lost my comment but i will restate it briefly.

my main exposure to ba in israel was a snif in bat yam. when the yeshivah was closed for shabbat i would go to family friends in bat yam whose kids were very active in this snif. what i saw there demonstrates that chayyei sara is wrong.

the snif sponsored relgious activities, including a shabbat minyan. most important is that many of the kids were not from 100% dati families. so i think it is fair to say the some of the kids were saved from joining hiloni society because of ba. (and i think this type of kiruv is the best because it is not paternalistic/separatist, as are most right-wing kiruv endeavors)

r. ovadiah once said that while ba thinks it is building a bridge to the hilonim, the only bridge it is building is to hell. he was very wrong.

shabbat shalom

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tafka PP said...

WBM- Maybe I'm interpreting it wrongly- I saw it as a legitimate critique rather than a sweeping attack of the right-wing/religious camp, which she would claim to be a part of as much as you would.

Jameel- Dunno who wrote Yad Achim, but I remember both the words and the lovely harmonies for the 1st and 2nd verses. Maybe I should try singing them at the next Lefty rally I go to- I'm sure they'd go down well...

Anonymous said...

Ari,
snif sponsored religious activities?? Does that entail glue?

I believe the word you’re looking for is Sneef (not the Onomatopoeia transitive and intransitive verb to breathe in through the nose- snif(f))

In the case of the Bnei Akiva organization the correct translation is clubhouse.

kasamba said...

Fantastic post!
It's great to remind us how much hakaras hatov we should have for BA!

Ari Kinsberg said...

anonymous:

"snif sponsored religious activities?? Does that entail glue?"

i hope not, though boys will be boys.

"I believe the word you’re looking for is Sneef"

the word i was looking for is סניף
. you may transliterate it as you please, but i've only see an "i" used to represent in the hirik (whether plene or defective) in both popular and academic literature. thus we have beis hamIkdash, yIrmIyahu and even--get this--hIrIk. (not beis hameekdash, yeermeeyahu and heereek).

shabbat shalom

Ari Kinsberg said...

or should i change my signature to aree? :)

Jack's Shack said...

Spam alert

Anonymous said...

We are just finishing the girls' Shabbat HaIrgun for Ariel. (Ariel being the more separate but otherwise identical to BA youth group in Israel. They even share the same shevet names - my daughter is proud to be in the newest shevet: Shvut). It was just as inspiring as BA's last week (when we were doing G-d's will in the USA, and eating turkey too). The wall that I liked best said (roughly translated) "Don't tell G-d about your big troubles. Tell your troubles about the great G-d." I liked that a lot! Next week is the boys' Shabbat HaIrgun. Gotta run - off to that endless evening! And I can't even send hubby! No men allowed. Shavua tov.

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AMSHINOVER said...

I think You Meant
Adopting
Reb Nachman's Slogan,
this Bnei Akiva caravan reads
"To any place where I may walk, I am always walking towards Eretz Yisrael." BTW we discovered said slogan together

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