Guest: Why We Should Be Angry at Emanuel

Occasionally, we are happy to present guest bloggers. Here’s an interesting and challenging view of the recent Emanuel situation that was sent to us. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Why We Should Be Angry at Emanuel
By Menachem Lipkin
June 22, 2010
I recently read an article on the Cross Currents blog by Rabbi Dovid Landesman titled “We Are All Emanuel”. His basic thesis, and this has been shared by many of late, was that the Emanuel case highlighted the conflict between the state of Israel and Torah values and, of course, in such a conflict we must all side with Torah Values. Some have gone to great lengths to either support or critique the court’s decision. While others have cast this case and its outcome as a modern day pogrom. Still others have used it to highlight the nefarious nature of the Supreme Court and its predilection to advance a leftist, anti-religious agenda.

While all of these issues may be worthy of discussion in the abstract, I think that they all miss the most fundamental point. To put it in science fiction terms, this timeline should never have existed.  The players in Emanuel, literally, elevated a school yard spat into a national crisis. The issue surrounds a Beit Yaakov school, a member of a system of education that is supposed to be known for its piousness and fidelity to Torah values. Yet somehow, these self-avowed “tremblers before God” managed to make a mockery of His name throughout the entire world.

Most orthodox Jews, even while not necessarily agreeing, understand the nuances that are common within their world.  To that end, they rarely have an issue when a school is founded based on those nuances. However, most of the world has no appreciation for these minor differences we often use to subdivide ourselves.  To them we all represent Torah and thus there’s little understanding when one group literally walls off another.  That this issue needlessly spilled into the public arena is an embarrassment for all of us.

When living in a place where secular law is paramount, pious people are mandated to solve their internal religious issues with their own religious courts.  That this case was allowed to move beyond that arena is the foremost reason we should be angry at Emanuel. Beyond that, every step of the way there seemed to be another calculated action to make us all look foolish. There was very little civil behavior in the civil courts. Esteemed Rabbis speaking at the rally admonished those who would let this issue rise to the secular courts. Where was this Rabbinic leadership before it got to the courts?  Where was the leadership in Emanuel? Where was the wisdom that is supposed to come along with piety that should have resolved this issue at its very inception? Where was the sensitivity to one’s fellow, a primary Torah value, that should have guided both sides to be sensitive to each other’s needs?

Especially at this point in history when the state of Israel has become like the hated “Jew” of the 1930’s and we face the most serious threat to our existence since WWII, it is simply unconscionable that this issue was allowed to reach the world stage. It’s totally irrelevant whether you believe it was the Supreme Court that was being foolish, Emanuel’s residents, or both. Looking in from the outside we’re all Jews in a Jewish state. I don’t know how many of you peak into social media like Facebook and Twitter, but this has become pure fodder for the anti-Semites of cyberspace. Regardless of the merits of the case, it is being framed by them as one where “huge masses of Israelis protest in support of racism”. Note, to them we are not Chareidim, we are not orthodox, we are all Israelis.  Since today’s Israeli is yesterday’s Jew, this school yard spat has now disgraced every Jew in the world.

I’m angry at Emanuel. We all should be angry at Emanuel for creating a timeline that should never have existed. Far from supporting them by attending rallies and the like, we should be demanding an apology.

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