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Update: Mizrachi Condemns and Leichter Defends – Chabad Rabbis Telsner and C.Z. Groner Join Anti-Zionists in Protest

March 12, 2014 – 9:50 am66 Comments

From the editor:

protest1 Updates below the original article:

We apologise for the small size of the picture and reproduce the information here:

“Communal Tefillah Gathering: Melbourne Rabonim join the call of Gedolei Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel, America and Europe who have declared that we in Chutz la’aretz must show solidarity with our embattled brethren  in Eretz Yisroel regarding the proposed new law threatening imprisonment of Yeshiva students who refuse as a matter of religious principle to be conscripted into the military”

Seven Melbourne rabbis have signed this poster While three are non- or anti-Zionist Haredim, two are at the apex of the Chabad rabbinate in Australia, Rabbis Zvi Telsner and Chaim Zvi Groner.

Their participation in this protest calls into question Chabad’s (and its supporters’) insistence in the pages of the AJN that Chabad rabbis are philosophically in tune with the majority of Australian Jews (80% of whom are Zionist) and are therefore perfectly suited to lead Zionist, Modern Orthodox congregations.

Rabbi James Kennard identified this philosophical gulf a couple of weeks ago in the AJN and was roundly castigated by for his assertions by Chabad members and supporters.

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From Ian Waller SC, President of Mizrachi:

STATEMENT CONCERNING THE COMMUNAL PRAYER RALLY

This afternoon a “Communal Tefillah Gathering” has been arranged in protest against a law passed yesterday by the Knesset that will end the blanket exemption of the Haredi community from national service.

A poster signed by leading Rabbis from the Adass, Yeshivah, Beth HaTalmud and Heichal HaTorah communities calls upon men, women and children to participate in this public gathering.

The Mizrachi Organisation deeply regrets that such a public rally has been called.
It is a matter of great concern that members of the Melbourne Jewish community have decided to publicly protest against a law of the State of Israel, especially one that recognises that it is the duty of all able-bodied adults to share the responsibility of protecting and defending the State of Israel and all of its inhabitants.

Legitimate dissent and debate should not be stifled. However, a public rally in Melbourne, which by its nature has been designed to attract the attention of the general community and the media, portrays those who organise and support it not merely as critics but as opponents of the State of Israel.

Ian Waller SC

President
Mizrachi Organisation

***

Response from Jacob (Ya’acov) Leichter of Atzeres Tefillah:

Dear valued member of the Melbourne Jewish Community!
Thank you for your participation in the crucial Prayer service today.
Whilst the service was a huge success, with the participation of approximately 1000 men, women and children, from all stripes of the Orthodox community, including the majority of its Rabbis, it is very distressing to note the Statement from the Mizrachi expressing regret about the service.
It is noteworthy to reiterate that this Service was called for by the leading Rabbis of our community. Rabbis who command huge respect and admiration not just here in Melbourne, but worldwide. Yet these aforementioned illustrious Rabbis were not acting alone. They were but one more link in the golden chain that began in Israel and continued in the United States, as well as in other Jewish communities around the world.
In light of the above, it is most distressing to note the Statement released this afternoon. Mr. Waller on behalf of the Mizrachi expresses ‘deep regret’, amongst other things. Unfortunately they are incorrect on numerous counts.
Mizrachi’s staement incorrectly refers to the Service as a ‘Protest’. This is false. Had they been there they would have been pleasantly surprised to observe that there were no speeches, no placards and nobody shouting any words of protest whatsoever. There were only prayers to Hashem. The only time Eretz Yisrael was mentioned was when we all begged Hashem “VeTechezena Eineinu BeShivcha L’Tzion BeRachamim”.
Furthermore, what to Mizrachi is ‘a matter of great concern’, was nothing of the sort to the Honourable Chief Rabbis of Israel, as mentioned in our previous email. They had no compunctions in attending the massive prayer service in Jerusalem, which was much more public that that held today which was held in a Synagogue. The Jerusalem service was held outdoors and attended by over 600,000 people.
Whilst Mizrachi is held in high regard, they surely cannot argue that such a service is wrong or ‘regrettable’ when the rabbinical leaders of Israel clearly disagree. As someone who has deep respect for Rabbi Lau senior (whom I had the honour of meeting when he visited our shores some years ago), I feel that an apology is due to him and the current Chief Rabbis. Can any of us truly and honestly say that we know better than the Chief Rabbis of Israel? I, for one, cannot.
Let us remember that this evil decree only happened due to the insistence of the anti-Torah, anti-Yiddishkeit MK Yair Lapid who threatened to bring down the Government if he didn’t get his way.
Many people will remember a rally which took place in Melbourne a few years ago – commencing from Ohel Devorah, whose Rabbi also called for today’s Service – in support of those poor souls expelled from Gush Katif (which I proudly attended). Link: Hundreds of Jews in Melbourne participated in a Gush Katif solidarity rally held last night.  Strangely there was no condemnation from the Mizrachi at the time. This despite it being a protest held in the streets of Melbourne which attracted the press and despite it being directly targeted against the State of Israel and its Prime Minister. Very unlike today’s Service.
Whilst the vast majority of replies to our original email were positive and supportive , there were a small number of people who replied negatively. Some argued that people have the right to analyse each situation on its own merits, and that we ‘should think for ourselves’. We, however, as observant Jews, have a biblical commandement to obey the words of our Rabbis (Devarim 17). And our Rabbis, and the Rabbis of the vast majority Orthodox world have spoken, and spoken loudly. Not only with words but with their very actions. What would the Jewish world look like if every man decided such crucial matters on their own? Would we still be a nation?
We will end this email with a video of the holy Lubavitcher Rebbe discussing this very subject, which will explain how very wrong this decree is, and that forcing Yeshiva students away from their studies will in fact have the opposite of the intended effect: The Rebbe on serving in the IDF.
Signed with love for every Jew,
Kind regards,
Jacob (Ya’acov) Leichter
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