Sunday, March 30, 2008

One Brave Rabbi

The original title of the post was "Pass the Kool-Aid". I have been dying to use that title for something. Seriously, how often does a serious (and positive) event happen, that you can satirically tack a title like that onto it? (I used it on JoeSettler instead).

But after Jameel's post about the OU and what appears to many people to be their disturbingly typical stance of ignoring Israel and Aliyah as a viable and desirable alternative, I felt that a new title was in order.

What am I talking about you ask?

Well, a well known Rabbi, Rabbi Sholom Rosner of Congregation Bais Ephraim Yitzhok of Woodmere, NY just announced to his congregation that he is moving to Israel, forging a new community, and that a number of his congregants are joining him.

Seriously, the last Rabbi I can think of that had the guts to do that was Rabbi Riskin, and look where he is now... Chief Rabbi of Efrat with American residents at his beck and call.

The truth is, I doubt Rabbi Rosnor's congregants were that surprised. His wife (a doctor) gave a major interview about how Nefesh b’Nefesh is helping her with their Aliyah plans. And obviously Rabbi Rosnor has been talking to amenable ears in his congregation who will be following him.

Of course, most people talk for years about Aliyah, before they actually get around to it (some wait to make aliyah as a lift instead of with a lift, but that is a story for another post), still, it takes a brave rabbi to buck the trend of the other rabbis and when he says that "Israel is home" in his speech, and then actually follows through with it - and to an "Emerging Jewish Community" at that too.

Anyway, Rabbi Rosnor is moving to a new neighborhood in Beit Shemesh called Nofei HaShemesh, where he will be taking a lead role in helping build the community (of 400 homes), schools, shuls, and so on.

If you want to hear all the details, you can click here for the entire story.

Welcome to Israel.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Anonymous said...

Joesettler, this post shows that you have absolutely no idea about what is going on in the Modern Orthodox community. In fact, for years now that community (especially outside NY) has suffered a severe "brain drain" as all the religiously motivated people have made aliyah. As the OU's magazine stated four years ago, "It's a badly kept secret that almost every Modern Orthodox rabbi has a plan - a ticket that will ultimately land him and his family in Israel." (

It's an unfortunately truth that in general, the same Modern Orthodox Jews who are not serious about making aliyah are also less serious about halachic observance in general. You can preach to them about aliyah, or you can preach to them about being shomer negiah. You can't win all the battles all the time, and aliyah is an important priority but hardly the only important one.

BTW, your "Eretz Yisrael time" is an hour off :)

Anonymous said...

I would certainly agree that I have little idea as to what is going on in the MO community in the US (much less, how to define what a MO community is).

But what you said certainly jives with what I have been stating for quite a while - Eretz Yisrael is becoming the clear center for Jewish life, as the Diaspora’s star begins to wane (as it should).

My jibe on the OU is not that they are trying to reclaim the former preeminence of US Diaspora Jewry, but rather that their position on Aliyah and lately their Israel-related political positions/statements (sometimes wishy-washy, sometimes negative) indicates to me (at least) that the existence of Israel (as the preferred place to live) must be causing them some sort of religious cognitive dissonance similar to what it causes the Pope (l’havdil).

All I know is that in every t’fillah we say every day, we beg to return to Eretz Yisrael. And so much of our religion/nationality is based around living in Israel.

Meanwhile the OU’s official position on Israel and Aliyah can be seriously improved.

Could there be a connection between Aliyah and religiosity? I have no idea, though non-religious and “less” religious people do make Aliyah.

This Rabbi Rosnor is listening to the teachings of his Rabbis and following through with what he learned. He felt the cognitive dissonance that living in the US was causing him. That much is clear.

Sometime this week I will be discussing another “emerging community” in Israel.

Almost Jerusalem said...

Kol hakavod to Rabbi Rosner and his followers!

I would, though, question calling what he is doing "forging a new community." He is, after all, moving to Bet Shemesh. He is indeed moving into a new housing development, but one located right in the middle of a very strong and well established Anglo/Modern Orthodox community, located right between (and across the street/around the corner) from the neighborhoods of Sheinfeld and Nofei Aviv. I'm not sure this would qualify as "emerging."

Regardless, he is to be commended, and I wish more American rabbis would do as he is doing.

With respect to the OU's position on Aliyah, it is really no surprise that their positions and statements on Aliyah are getting weaker and weaker -- as every year passes, more of the leadership and membership who think of Aliyah as a positive value leave, and come on Aliyah! Talk about a selection bias!

There is the semi-serious-semi-joking comment that an American Zionist is someone whose children make Aliyah. If this were 100% true, after about a generation there would be no more American Zionists left!

Anonymous said...

As the wife of a struggling Rabbi in Israel, I wonder if we need to move back to the states for my husband to be able to get that kind of position.

It hurts that those who already made aliya aren't even considered for such positions.

Real life is that there aren't enough positions like that to go around, and so many qualified congregational Rabbis work in high tech or as high school teachers. Rosner should count his brochas. He doesn't know how lucky he is.

Anonymous said...

We don't say that Israeli rabbis who go on shlichut are "anti-aliyah" because they have chosen to live outside Israel for some time.

American rabbis are effectively on "long-term shlichut" in the U.S. They know the language and culture better than any Israeli and have a deeper commitment to the communities they're serving in. A good share of them abandon their jobs to make aliyah, and many others (across the spectrum of Orthodoxy, including the charedim) make aliyah upon retirement. They are shlichim, for longer periods of time, who happened to be born outside Israel.

I don't think your "woohoo, the American Orthodox community is becoming weaker!!!!!!!" is an appropriate attitude, certainly not when the number of Jews who make aliyah is dwarfed by the number who intermarry.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 9:12 Living in Israel is EXTREMELY difficult sometimes. That's for sure.

But I've been hearing stories about how difficult it is to make ends meet in America, so while the difficulties might be different they exist in both places.

R. Rosnor definitely got lucky.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 11:13 - My attitude (if you meant me) is not "woohoo...", but rather that the natural and desired next phase for Judaism is that Eretz Yisrael returns to being the primary focal point of Jewish life.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

To the wife of the wife of a struggling Rabbi in Israel, Shalom!

Believe me when I say my heart goes out to you.

The stark truth is, the position of "Rabbi" in Israel is very different than in the US.

A "Community" Rabbi is usually not a full time (or liveable) salary for many reasons. As opposed to chutz la'aretz, a shul or school is not the (sole) focus of a community, because just by living in Israel one is automatically part of the Jewish community.

It hurts that those who already made aliya aren't even considered for such positions. I'm sure. I don't have an answer for you.

Real life is that there aren't enough positions like that to go around, and so many qualified congregational Rabbis work in high tech or as high school teachers. Rosner should count his brochas. He doesn't know how lucky he is. He might know how lucky he is. But yes, he is definitely lucky. Or at the right place at the right time, etc.

YMedad said...

See my post on Jan. 28 about R' Rosner

Anonymous said...

How many people from his current shul are following Rabbi Rosner? My understanding was not many if any at all. That being said it shows that he did not have the influence on the kehilla as many are lead to beleive. On the other hand he is following his and his wonderful wife's dream and I hope and pray that they are matzliach. There are very few marbeitzei torah like him and he should continue to do so for years to come.

Anonymous said...

Ymedad has it right, he spells his name Rosner, not Rosnor.

Almost Jerusalem said...

Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but I think I heard Rabbi Riskin give an interview where he said that when push came to shove, only 6 families came with him to Efrat! From even a small acorn a mighty oak can sprout.

Anonymous said...

Rabbi zev leff comes to mind, he was the rav of young israel of greater miami.. thats where my family lives. We davend there for years and 25? years after making aliyah the congergants respect him highly.. I heard that many went with him when he left.. He is the rav in moshav something near modiin?

Anonymous said...

is this the post we were holding our breath for?

Anonymous said...

renegade: yup

elchonon: R. Leff is in near Modiin in Moshav Matityahu (or something like that), and a very popular rabbi connected to the Israel Center (OU)

Anonymous said...

It's not just MO rabbis making aliya. Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer from Monsey recently announced to his shul that he is making aliya this summer.

Commenter Abbi said...

Not knowing a whit about R' Avrohom Chaim Feuer, I'm guessing if he's not MO, he told his shul he's moving to Eretz Yisroel.

Anonymous said...

And we shouldn't forget to mention Rabbi Jay Marcus (originally from Staten Island, now RY of Reishit Yerushalaim). And certainly we cannot forget to mention Rabbi Joshua Fass (originally Associate Rabbi in Boca Raton).

Rabbi Yaacov Haber said...

I feel left out. A few years ago I announced to my Shul that I was leaving Monsey to make Aliya. Our family moved here and I am working hard to create a community here in Israel.

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