Letters to the Magazine: On ‘datlashim’

Readers respond to the latest "Jerusalem Post Magazine" articles.

Envelope (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
On ‘datlashim’
Brian Blum’s “In praise of ‘datlashim’” (This Normal Life, June 5) was both revealing and thought-provoking. While it lacked much empirical evidence as to the extent and reason for the datlash (formerly religious) phenomenon, it surely evidences that there are many “still in the closet.”
One relevant factor not specifically mentioned is the growing inability to find an authentic narrative to our biblical history. Many of us, being proud Jews, desperately need to be able to intelligently respond to biblical criticism and archeological discoveries without hiding under the umbrella of min hashamayim (mandated from above).
In this respect ,we receive little support from our spiritual leaders – which is not surprising given their educational background and its continuing process.
There are many thousands of bright, razor-sharp minds with investigative prowess in the seats of higher religious learning who could make a positive and creative contribution instead of focusing on issues of little relevance, like how many goats will be sacrificed in the next Temple.
The author of this article is not embarrassed to admit that all three of his children have left the path of religion. (Zero for three is a strikeout.) He searches for acceptance of the datlash philosophy by suggesting they can be some sort of bridge between the religious and secular.
As the father of three daughters, I respectfully request that you keep your datlashim, or any other title useful for describing people who have left the path of Orthodox religion, as far away as possible from my children.
Datlashim have nothing to teach the religious except how to leave the path. Secular Jews have nothing to learn from them other than why it is justified to remain off the path.
What a sad reflection on Brian Blum’s parenting skills that he has not been able to communicate the wonders of the Jewish faith and the deep meaning it has had for generations of people. His column reads as if he is proud of the fact that he has failed his children (and, so it seems, have his children’s teachers and rabbis), and that they have been left with an ersatz form of association with their people.
Does Blum not realize that many young adults are actually searching for a truth that they can cling to and believe in, and that all it needs is someone to give guidance and open their minds to the treasures of Judaism? Does he not also realize that the “experiment” of datlashim he is playing with has been tried and has failed miserably elsewhere, notably in the US – where people have either opted out completely or joined the Orthodox ranks, realizing that there is only one way forward? What is also disappointing is that there are many excellent communicators in Israel who can speak the language of young, unaffiliated people to help them where their parents have failed.
Brian Blum responds: I am proud of my children, but I don’t feel I have failed as a parent. On the contrary, having been given the support and encouragement to blaze their own trails, they are demonstrating that there are many ways to be Jewish, and not just “one way forward.” Indeed, in our increasingly fractious society, we need such a middle ground more than ever. That is the real “treasure of Judaism.”
No wonder why Brenda Katten (“Happiness,” Here and There, June 5) seems to feel it necessary to justify the finding that Israel is 11th in the world in happiness, according to a UN report.
She need look no farther than a verse in Psalms 144, which says (translation by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks): “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord.” This is said four times a day, in the morning and afternoon prayers.
Petah Tikva
Digital dinosaurs
I would like to thank Stewart Weiss for his excellent column “Bytes and pieces: Confessions of a dinosaur” (In Plain Language, June 5). I, too, am a “dinosaur” and identify completely with his feelings. I don’t feel the necessity to join the social networks, with their frequent over-emphasis of sharing everything with “friends.”
Let’s hope we can strike a happy medium and use the amazing technology of our computers without worshiping all things digital, and their lurking dangers!
Kfar Saba
Israel’s rights
Dan Illouz’s claim to Israel’s “rights” (“Standing up for Israel’s rights,” A Fresh Perspective, June 5) is predicated on a mistaken historical premise he calls “the last legally binding document” – presumably meaning the 1917 Balfour Declaration. This document was no more than statement of British policy and only became international law when Britain was granted the mandate under the League of Nations Charter.
However, its wording, meticulously crafted, has to be strictly interpreted: His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people [italics my emphasis].
Setting aside what is meant by “home,” the key word “in” was intended to make clear that the whole of Palestine was not envisaged as our home. This is confirmed by the following phrase: “It being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”
But these legalistic niceties have long since been superseded by subsequent international events and decisions, not least the 1947 UN Partition resolution, which unambiguously speaks of an Arab state and a Jewish state (by the way, excluding Jerusalem) – an underlying objective that Arab rejection has not affected.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely’s claim is based on biblical texts, but as God is not a cartographer, the boundaries of the Promised Land have yet be defined or reconciled with current state boundaries.
Dan Illouz correctly calls for Israel to stand up for its rights, something that, of course, should have been ascertained long ago – and would have been had our prime ministers had the courage to declare sovereignty over the whole land. He also rightly points out that for legitimacy, a country needs to do more than basing its existence on how wonderful its citizens are in hi-tech and the like.
Illouz has great hopes for Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, although I have grave doubts that she can, in fact, take the next step he mentions toward the recognition of the legal right of the State of Israel to Judea and Samaria.
I disagree entirely with Hotovely when answering Dan Margalit, who said we should also discuss the rights of the Palestinians to the land. Instead of “I have never heard Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas talk about Israel’s rights to the land. Why should I talk about theirs?” her answer should have been: They have no rights to the land. They are a figment of the imagination of the Arab League, and are not and never were a Palestinian people.
It is time to disabuse the world of this dangerous myth that has taken on such credibility, even within our own establishment. The facts are indisputable, both historically and legally: This land is ours, and only ours. End of story.
Salient points
Rabbi Susan Silverman, in “A plea for the stranger among us” (Ask the Rabbi, June 5), misses few salient points. Yes, we are admonished to treat gerim well, even to love them. Sometimes the term refers to true converts, emphasizing, as in the case of the Passover sacrifice, their equal obligations and privileges to the Jewish-born. In other places, it means a ger toshav, a non-Jewish resident who has accepted the Seven Noahide Laws and the authority of the Jewish king/judge of the day. Some of those seeking to live here are law-abiding people. However, as has been widely reported, the situation in south Tel Aviv, where these people have chosen to live, is in a state of chaos and lawlessness, where even the police are afraid to enter. The African migrants there have not accepted the laws of our land. We are not required to accept everybody or their behaviors.