Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Apathy Alert!

About six months ago, right before the disengagement took place, Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz, the editor of the American Yated wrote an editorial that made me think that maybe, just maybe some good could come out of that horrible event. I didn't save the paper* but from memory here's the gist of what he wrote:

On yom Kippur, when the Kohen Gadol exited the Kodesh HaKodoshim he said a prayer for the welfare of the Jewish people in the upcoming year. After he completed that he added a special prayer for the Anshei HaSharon. These were people who lived in the mountains where the land was unstable and prone to earthquakes and mudslides. This was his prayer: "May it be Your will that their homes should not be their graves".

Now, we might ask ourselves, is it smart to live in an area like that? Were there not safer places in Israel to live? The answer is that it probably was not very smart to live in these places. If the Anshei HaSharon would have asked the daas torah of the time, the would have been told not to live there. But for the Kohen Gadol, all that was irrelevent. As the representative of Klal Yisroel his job was to pray for the wellfare of all Jews regardless of if he personally agreed with their chosen lifstyle. They were his brothers. It's as simple as that.

The same is true for the residents of Gush Katif and the other settlements. Ideological, we may not agree on very much. However, they are still our brothers and they are in pain. It's as simple as that.
Now, I'll be very honest. This editorial surprised me. Alot. I did not expect it from the Yated. I expected them to pretty much ignore the whole thing or to report on it as if it had nothing to do with their readership. Sort of like a tragedy in Zimbabwe.

Fast forward six months.

I attended an event this past Sunday. It was a video satellite hookup to Israel to raise awareness for the plight of the Gush Katif evacuees. We heard from Rabbi Berel Wein, Rabbi Emanuel Feldman and a few others. Most notably (to me, at least), Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky addressed the event and stressed how it is incumbent on every person to do whatever they can to help the evacuees. I also heard from someone who was there, that Rav Shmuel spent Shabbos in Monsey and spoke friday night at Bais Shraga to a very yeshivish crowd. He gave a shiur on the topic of Machatzis HaShekel and he ended off by saying that although he was not asked to make an appeal for Gush Katif, there will be an event on Sunday and everyone should try to attend and to "give a krechtz" for our fellow Jews.

The venue was a fairly MO shul in an unnamed community. My motivation for attending was because I figured that there would be a large showing from the MO community and I didn't think there would be much of a showing from the more yeshivish community. To my surprise there was no great showing from any group. My first assumption was that they didn't do a good job promoting the broadcast, but as the speakers started talking it seemed clear from what they were saying that this showing is typical. They are getting this same response everywhere.


I know that Young Israel ran a very successful clothing drive for the evacuees. I don't now what else is currently going on but much more has to happen. Why has the Yated not mentioned this subject again in any kind of personal manner (as opposed to a news story)? That editorial from last August rings very hollow when there was absolutely no follow up to it in six month.

Some links:

Click here to donate money for Purim costumes.

For general donations for the evacuees click here.

There is also an organization called American Friends of Gush Katif that was repeatedly mentioned on the broadcast.

American Friends of Gush Katif
P.O. Box 1184
Teaneck NJ 07066

In Canada:
Canadian UJA
4066 Bathurst St
Toronto , Ontario

*UPDATE: Here's Rabbi Lipschutz's editorial in his words.

UPDATE 2: Post has been updated with video of RSK's comments.