Friday, 7 February 2014

Letter from the Headmaster of Hasmonean High School

This was sent to the parents of pupils at the school today:

"Dear Parent(s)

As you are aware Hasmonean has an extensive guest speaker programme which gives students access to a broad spectrum of views.

However, an article has appeared in the Jewish press about a recent speaker at the boys' Beis programme. The speaker in question has been associated with certain views regarding some of the more disadvantaged members of society, though these views were not in any way conveyed to the students.

The invitation for this Rabbi to speak was a genuine mistake, as the person who invited him had been presented with very good references and was not aware that he was a controversial figure.

It is not a surprise that some elements of the Jewish media will feel the need to use this event to criticise the school. However, on this occasion, I do feel the concerns raised have some justification.

We will be speaking to the boys to reinforce the views of the school and make clear that it is our duty to show love, care and consideration to all elements of society and especially to those in disadvantaged circumstances.

I thank you, as always, for your understanding and continued support.

Wishing you a good shabbos.

Rabbi D Meyer
Executive Headteacher"

20 comments:

  1. I think you have been unfair to Rabbi Mizrachi . Your letter states that you "feel concerns raised have justifications"
    Feelings ?
    Rabbi Mizrachi finds a way to discuss difficult subjects and brings us back to what Traditional Judaism says about such matters . Or are we to say that special needs kids are just a random punishment by a cruel God ? He does in fact say they are almost perfect neshamot .
    I don't think it was fair to write this letter . Cruel people who hide behind fake Facebook profiles have set a torrent of slander against Rabbi Mizrachi . They have created and perpetuates shocking lies that i have been witness to .
    People have made conclusions based on a news paper article ?
    Not fair.

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  2. Hi David

    I would like to address your points.

    1. the campaigners on facebook are not anonymous. The main two people are Daniel Anderson and Daniel Jonas, the later was quoted in the recent JC article. They are real people whom I know and respect. Daniel Anderson is a regular teacher at his Orthodox shul in Southgate London and Daniel Jonas is a member of one of the Mizrachi shuls that R. Mizrachi spoke at.

    2. It's not right that on the one hand the Rabbi says these gigulim are on a higher spiritual level and on the other hand he says 'don't feel sorry for him' the blind baby, because he sinned in a previous life. or that he accuses some women burned at auschwitz as not having tzniout. He negates anything positive he might be trying to say with his labeling of people he does not know as having somehow deserved their fate.

    3. The idea that any man (unless he is a Navi) can know the mind of Gd, is total arrogance and halachically problematic. Even if the concepts are rooted in traditional sources, he is taking a big leap from a general statement and then applying it to specific cases, i.e. gay people, shoah victims, blind children. These are offensive and sick claims to make.

    4. I personally have watched hours of footage of R. Mizrachi's own videos that he posted on youtube. I therefore understand the context and I did not rely on any newspaper. I have come to these conclusions from a place of knowledge. If you watch the videos we have listed above, you will see that we are taking the Rabbi at his own p'shat (plain) meaning.

    5. You don't know why a child might be born with special needs and neither do I, HKBU might have 1000 reasons and maybe one of them is gigul (or maybe not), the arrogance and offence caused to the parents of these children is a big avaira in my opinion.

    Shabbat Shalom from Dan Jacobs (you can find me here on Facebook www.facebook.com/danjacobslondon - I am a real person who lives in Hendon, London).

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    1. at least i can see your face Dan . Tell me , are you Dana Cohen ?
      I must share with you that a friend of mine with an autistic child happily agrees with Rabbi Mizrachi . She sees her kid has a pure soul and that she is here to complete her tikun.
      As you know Rabbi Mizrachi does say that they are pure souls with a very high neshama .
      Everything is decided by Hashem . I can accept without difficulty that my own soul's previous experiences , good, bad , parev...are the reason i am me today , warts and all . I don't believe i was here before..I'm David Dome..me . I do believe that the soul has been here before as others . The more i learn about gilgulim the more it fits into place which i find helpful, to accept myself . It provides a big picture and a context within which i can avoid becoming agitated and angry .
      This big picture is counterbalanced by the need to understand rationally too , this world , mitzvot, halacha ..the detail etc .
      What i have seen by the anti mizrachi crowd is them waving a big "rationalist flag" with the words "Modern orthodox" attached and them shouting down with fury anyone who holds broader views .
      For people who claim to be Open Modern Orthodox they become closed to the more haredi ( as they call it , though i;m not haredi) mindset .
      If you guys are "open" be open , friendly , humble ...let people speak even if you don't fully agree. Respect the fact that a man comes to this country to speak to people who value what he teaches .
      I wouldn't dream of stopping anyone who adheres to orthodoxy from speaking to you .
      Why would you want to stop us from hearing him ? Your intellect is offended by him ? With respect...mah ani ? Who are you to decide such a thing ?
      Be nice, do nice, look for nice and you will find nice.
      All i have seen from your side is adolescent behaviour , name calling , "close the door on your way out " comments...from people who call themselves open .

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    2. I am not Dana Cohen, I have seen some posts from her on facebook and that is the extent of my knowledge of her.

      I am not defending anyone or speaking for anyone else, I think some of the discourse has been over the top.

      My personal view as stated above is that R Mizrachi has said some vile things in several videos which he has made public to the world. I do not want him teaching my children. I believe it is a chilul hashem and not acting like an 'ohr lagoyim' but rather the opposite. I therefore oppose his views, which he is entitled to have, and will continue to do so.

      R Mizrachi is NOT quoting the Ari or other Kabbalists, he is using his own interpretations to offend and hurt many people (perhaps inadvertently but nevertheless so). I have personally been offended and so have many other people who are themselves or have families who have been the victims of the lack of sensitivity of R Mizrachi.

      Gilgul is NOT the *only* explanation for homosexuality, disability or torture and death. That is not true, it's a corruption of our tradition to say so. We do NOT know why God does things or allows things to happen, there may be several reasons, here are some ideas for you:

      1. God might have allowed nature to take it's course
      2. Perhaps people are born with challenges to learn from them rather than as punishment
      3. Perhaps such people are here to teach us lessons, e.g. not to judge, not to be homophobic, not to assume we understand God...

      There are many more ideas but I can't pretend to understand God like R Mizrachi because I think that would be assur as God is infinite.

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    3. Wow, your pathetic. I don't hold by the concept of "Gilgulim" but never-the-less to make such a big deal of his words? You seem like someone controlled by money and politically correct. Are you afraid to loose your job or something?
      And where does it say "not to judge" or not to be "homophobic" in the Torah? Seriously?

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    4. you're right. you can judge (certain things) if you have a beit din, otherwise leave it to god.

      You may have heard of a fellow called Hillel, go find out what he thought was the central part of Torah (i'll give you a clue, all the rest is commentary) and then think about what I have said.

      I won't reply to your abusive words as they make no sense.

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    5. 1 I'm not hiding behind a pseudonym but "Hodo Hashem" is.

      Where in the Torah does it say that there are Gilgulim? This is from later texts as a simple search online will tell you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilgul#History_of_the_concept_of_Gilgul_in_Jewish_thought

      The posts here are a response to the videos posted online by Rabbi Mizrachi and his organization. Perhaps you should view a few of them before rushing to judgement on the original poster.

      Delete
  3. David Dome this letter is from the Executive Headteacher of Hasmonean - not a random campaign letter. A person is of course entitled to promote this kind of viewpoint. Yet it is necessary if one is to be absolutely honest to say that this is not the only point of view. For example disability might be interpreted as testing the parents, or spurring on doctors to fix the world - both viewpoints espoused by Judaism. The gilgulim view is a very late one in Judaism and not mentioned in Shas as far as I understand, and is a particular point of view not espoused by everyone as authentic. I know that it is hard to hear such things but Rabbi Mizrachi seems to be teaching something (to quote Rabbi Kimchi of Ner Yisrael shul as quoted in the Jewish papers) not far off the Kabbalah Centre.
    Perhaps instead of attacking those who bring the disturbing nature of the Rabbi's teachings to our attention you might consider that there is another way of looking at the world. Judaism is not dependent on one singular point of view but on many different viewpoints.

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    1. Rabbi Zvi Solomons, please read your above post and imagine i wrote it to you..you will see that it works both ways . The difference being that although i am not in favour of the MOO or MO , i would never make a scene when a person who does hold to such things , comes to this country to speak to an eagerly awaiting crowd .
      I have Rabonim who are Modern orthodox and i refer to them often with questions . One Rabbi i have in mind however accepts without difficulty that the haredi community is the one to approach for the most in depth learning...and this from a YU Rabbi .
      My difficulty with the approach , as i have seen it , is that you are not at all open . Moreso , some people within those groups on facebook that you are a party to resort to name calling as if we are Man United vs Man City !
      Don't treat people like this , it is adolescent , holier than thou , self righteous and really mean .
      With regard to attacking...i am not attacking here....all my posts and comments began ONLY as a reaction to seeing the despicable behaviour of people on the "Fan Page" . You guys acted like a rodef with the sole purpose of destroying another man ...based on an intellectual difference of opinion .
      Sinat chinam "with God on your side" ...doesn't work mate .

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  4. Oh and Shabbat Shalom - I have about 20 mins here in Reading - and you should be able to see my name there. Nobody is hiding that's simply not true.

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    1. please tell me who Dana Cohen really is . We know she is a he and that her facebook picture is not his/hers . Also , please ask him her and also Zevi Chaim whoever he is , to keep to the topic and not allow people to be rude and obnoxious . It doesn't do your cause any favours .
      I appreciate there are different views with regard to Gilgulim , as there is to the Zohar etc. But there are chachamim to rely on with regard to both .
      I am certain that The Rambam and Sa'adia Gaon would be very upset to know how people are disparaging Rabbi Mizrachi on your so called "Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi Fanpage".
      Derech eretz means to be respectful regardless of how people disagree with the Open Modern Orthodox mindset .

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    2. I agree that the discourse needs to stay respectful, if you read the MOO group you will see that several of us are attempting to keep it that way and are shooting down those people who are not. I was shocked however to hear some of the things R Mizrachi said about myself and others in the group including that we are Rodef (which is the language that lead to Rabin Z'l being murdered) and that we were destroyers of the Torah. This is very bad and worse coming from a torah teacher and someone involved in Kiruv.

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    3. David the pages are not run by me. I have never met Dana Cohen but have no less reason to believe that she is who she says she is than I have to believe or disbelieve you - that is the nature of the internet. I have pointed out issues with language and the approach of the people on the MOO page - as we see elsewhere people are not always what they should be but that's humanity for you. Perhaps they are a gilgul of a person who needed to learn how to moderate their language in this lifetime...

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  5. OP incredibly short sighted. The alternative to believing that disabled children are being punished for sins in the past life is that god is unjust and cruel(or some variation of this).

    Sometimes people are so stupid it hurts to wonder how they got as far as they did.

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    1. No there are several approaches which work. Perhaps you are unable to consider such things as suffering being:

      A test of the sufferer or the people around them

      A reward of or punishment of a person in this life (as opposed to a previous life)

      A spur to people to fix the imperfect world they find themselves in

      An example of how to be Godly (this is from R. Yehuda Halevi in response to exile)

      There are many other responses including a movement to anti-theodicy with exponents like R. Yitz Greenberg who posits that after the Holocaust we are no longer bound as we were before but that in today's world by being faithful to our tradition we are actively protesting the destruction.

      Now, if you have a response to this comment, please post it, and show me why reincarnation is the only sensible option. I really don't think you have it right.

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  6. http://www.vosizneias.com/154698/2014/02/09/new-york-correction-no-mention-of-holocaust-made-during-rabbi-mizrachis-speaking-engagements/

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    1. I did not see the original article but I read this - http://dusiznies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/rabbi-yosef-mizrachi-going-off-deep-end.html?m=1 - which is facutally inaccurate and claims similar things. I have challenged the author. None of this takes away from other things the Rabbi has said, publicly on record which you can see in videos in context.

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    2. David, He may not have said these things about the Holocaust to the Hasmo 6th formers - but he did say them in at least one previous lecture which he posted on his web site. If he has not taken it down - See : Video 3
      Jump to 46m he makes accusations about the cause of the Holocaust, and 'explains' why women get breast, womb and brain cancer; and why men get prostate and brain cancer:
      http://youtu.be/_YEDz2SSeKI

      Jonathan

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  7. A good letter from Rabbi D Meyer, Executive Headteacher at Hasmonean boys school imho.

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  8. David Dome you wrote:
    "please tell me who Dana Cohen really is . We know she is a he and that her facebook picture is not his/hers"

    How do you know this? And who is "we"?

    (She appears to be a New York Jewish woman. Of course we are on the internet and I might be dog - or you might be a Scottish Presbyterian - but why start out by being disbelieving of who people say they are?)

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