Traveling to Eretz Yisrael always carries with it unique feelings. As put eloquently by the taxi driver that drove me from my hotel to the airport for my return flight to the U.S.A.; “You’re not going home. You’re going to America. Eretz Yisrael is home!”
One morning at breakfast, the guest who previously sat at my table thoughtfully left that morning’s copy of Yisrael Hayom. Having never read Israeli news from a genuine printed Israeli newspaper in Israel, and the fact that in America it was still in the middle of the night, so I wasn’t getting any emails, I decided to indulge myself and skim through the articles when I came across an article discussing judicial reform. I don’t want to get into the politics of judicial reform, but one thing that jumped out at me is how the reporter employed the opinion of Yahadut Hatefutsot - World Jewry, as a reason to oppose judicial reform.
But what the reporter wrote in no way represented my views and those of most people I know.
Until that point I would have thought, why should I, a Frum Jew living in America, get involved in the views and takes on Israeli politics that on the surface seem like they don’t affect me? I didn’t realize that my opinion is being utilized as one of the main arguments in Israel for points of view that not only do not represent mine but are often the antithesis of Torah.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the organization Eretz Hakodesh, whose innovative work lies in gaining influence in the Mosdos Haleumiim - Israel’s National institutions and agencies in order to stand up and protect Torah values and to represent the real view of Yahadut Hatefutsot. For those of you who are not yet familiar with them, these institutions carry astronomical budgets and have a huge influence on Israeli society and policies.
I understand that I have not conducted a scientific pole on this, but I would assume that the average American Frum Jew likely travels to Israel at least once every few years and has or had multiple children learning in Yeshivos, Seminaries, or Kollelim and thereby has probably invested a hundred thousand dollars or more in the Israeli economy within three to five years. Many American Frum Jews have purchased apartments in Israel. There are many more of us who are invested significantly more than that as well.
We are the ones who fill the flights to Israel. We are the ones who frequent the mekomos hakedoshim. We are the ones who fill the Kosel plaza at a Friday night davening. We are the ones singing in unison on Tisha B’av at the Kosel. We are the ones who come hundreds and thousands strong for Birchas Kohanim. We’re the ones going to Kever Rochel. We’re the ones at Mearas Hamachpela. And we fill Meron on Lag Baomer.
And more importantly, we are the ones who cry, saying countless kapitlach of tehillim upon every Red Alert we see on our phones or the news or an attack, r”l.
We’re the ones invested in the kedusha of Eretz Yisrael and in maintaining a Torah true environment, yet we’re still misrepresented over and over again.
Even today, weeks later, in an Arutz Sheva article we are once again being misrepresented. The President & CEO of Jewish Federations of North America claims that “The importance of holding open dialogue ... and in conveying the far-reaching consequences that a dramatic change to the Israeli system of governance will have on the North American Jewish community and in broader society.” This obviously is not a representation of the Torah community. Which North American Jewish community is he referring to? Not one of ours.
In another recent article on Religious News, discussing maintaining the kedushas haKosel, the CEO of the Conservative movement said that “The government has bowed to religious extremists and threats of violence instead of taking up a leadership position on behalf of the entire Jewish people around the world.” Who gave the Conservative movement the right to speak on behalf of the entire Jewish people?
These are just some examples. The same trend has been seen throughout the numerous Israeli Governments and press with regard to Kashrus, Shabbos, geirus, the grandfather clause in the Law of Return, and many other issues critical to preserving the kedusha of Eretz Yisrael.
How do we want the Kosel to look next time we are in Eretz Yisrael? How would we like those places that we visit and provide us the inspiration that stays with us for months to be like the next time we visit? How do we want our views to be represented?
In 2020, the Reform movement touted that, ”In short, the WZO elections in the United States is crucial for the growth and influence of the Reform Movement in Israel and around the world.” They began their pitch to potential voters by writing, “Want to help Progressive Judaism increase its political clout in Israel?”
We’re smart people. If this means so much to them, doesn’t that tell us something? Do we want them to achieve their goal? Or do we want Torah Judaism to increase its clout, and minimize the growth and influence of the liberal movements?
There is a great risk if we continue to allow ourselves to be misrepresented day after day, issue after issue. This is why this cause was and is so important to Gedolei Yisrael, and this is why it is so important to the liberal movements that our voices aren’t heard.
We cannot complain about being misrepresented unless we do our part to be represented properly. The Israeli public, the Israeli government, and the entire world need to know that we, are the Yahadut Hatefutsot who are truly invested and care about Eretz Yisrael and have a voice and we need to ensure that that voice of Torah, mesorah, and Torah true Yiddishkeit is heard.
How do we do so?
Eretz Hakodesh is already on the case, working on our behalf, ensuring we are properly represented. We need to support them, vote for them and spread the word. I want Eretz Yisrael to remain Eretz Hakodesh.
Shmuli Rosenberg is the CEO of fwd/NYC a boutique marketing, PR, and strategic consulting firm, working with many of today’s leading organizations and corporations.
By Shmuli Rosenberg