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Shefayim Kibbutz, Israel - Conservative Jewish Students: Hotel Denied Us Torah Because Of Mixed Service

Published on: March 23, 2012 09:27 AM
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Solomon Schechter students in IsraelShefayim Kibbutz, Israel - A group of students from the Solomon Schechter School in Westchester, New York, which is associated with the Conservative Judaism movement, were denied use of a Torah scroll for their prayer service at a hotel because they were conducting a mixed-gender service.

The 66 students were in Israel on their senior two-month trip and spending Shabbat in Shefayim, located between Herzliya and Netanya.

Arrangements had been made to stay in the kibbutz’s hotel for a Shabbat in February and the group had requested that a separate room be made available for their prayer services.

On Shabbat morning, one of the group’s counselors requested the use of a Torah scroll from the hotel’s synagogue, but the hotel’s religious supervisor told them they could only use it if their service was not mixed and they would not call women up to the Torah.

Men and women sit together in Conservative prayer services – unlike in Orthodox synagogues where they sit in separate sections – and in some Conservative congregations, women are called up to the Torah to recite the blessings and read the weekly portion.

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According to one of the counselors, their service was being held after the hotel’s service in the synagogue had ended and there was no other impediment to their use of the Torah scroll other than the supervisor’s objections.

The group refused to accede to his demand and held their service without using a Torah.

A spokeswoman for the hotel told The Jerusalem Post that no formal complaint had been lodged and she therefore would not comment on the specifics of the incident to the media. Hotel management also did not contact the religious supervisor to confirm or deny the details of the incident.

The spokeswoman stated, however, that it is the policy of the hotel to ask any group that wants to conduct their own service to provide their own Torah scroll, regardless of religious stream.

The group’s senior counselor said that the staff decided to hold services without a Torah after the supervisor said that they could only use it if genders were kept separate.

“We wanted to stick to our values of having an egalitarian service,” he said. “We also saw it as an educational moment and explained to the group participants that this is one of the biggest conflicts within Israeli society – the meaning of what a Jewish state should be.”

“The goal of Zionism today should be to try and perfect the country we have, not to get frustrated and work against it, even when the government or the mainstream religious establishment rejects us,” the senior counselor said he told the group.

Rabbi Andrew Sacks, the director of the Rabbinical Assembly of Masorti Rabbis in Israel, called the incident an example of “increasing zealotry” within Jewish life in Israel. Conservative Judaism is largely represented in Israel by the Masorti Movement.

“A hotel does not have the right to discriminate between the different religious practices of its guests,” he told the Post.

“Either they provide their different services, such as the provision of a Sefer Torah [Torah scroll], for all guests or not at all, but to deny services to a specific group is unacceptable.”

Sacks added that Israel must begin to acknowledge the legitimacy of the broader Jewish community, and that the Israeli public must stop “kowtowing” to pressure from the religious establishment.

“In light of all of the difficulties we face at the moment, it is particularly problematic that we would make it more difficult for the Diaspora community to practice their Judaism when visiting the Jewish state,” he said.

Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post



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Read Comments (29)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 23, 2012 at 09:57 AM Anonymous Says:

What a bunch of idiots. Halacha is clear and without question. The Conservative movement does not have chachomim that pasken differently. It has a religion in which halacha can be trimmed to fit one's desires. Unfortunately, there are 613 mitzvos, and there is a specific command to not tamper with that, neither adding nor excluding any of the mitzvos. The hotel did the right thing by not allowing a Torah to be disgraced in a setting that has a mission to customize Yiddishkeit.

2

 Mar 23, 2012 at 09:58 AM Come on! Says:

As they say in England, conservative kosher Hogwash ! The Torah scroll at the hotel has an owner who is observant of the dinim of the shulchan aruch and he is perfectly within his right, nay, has the duty, not to allow Bizayon Hatorah by letting it be used for a forbidden practice.

3

 Mar 23, 2012 at 10:07 AM enlightened-yid Says:

I'm sure the hotel wouldn't mind or want to discriminate against their customers, but like the rest of Israelis don't know where to run from dominant religious zealotry in their society that is destroying the image of Israel and turning millions of Jews off from religion with this type of intolerance.

4

 Mar 23, 2012 at 10:13 AM Anonymous Says:

The hotel claims that they don't provide it to anyone- it wasn't based on the fact that they were conservative.
Policy should be that everyone or no one gets to borrow the Torah. The Hotel offers their own services, which go according to the Hotel's practices. If you have a group and want to do your own service, bring your own.

5

 Mar 23, 2012 at 10:16 AM chief doofis Says:

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. I was in a shul outside my community that insisted that I cover my head with my Tallit, in order to go to the amud. Although I usually only do that during the Amida, it's their shul, it's their rules. If a shul davens nusach Ashkenaz, and I don't, I must follow their rules when I daven for the Amud, or say the communal parts.
When my friend and relatives visit me, the Chumrot that we follow (such as the use of Chalav Yisrael, not eating Gebroks) are the norm. Following these Chumrot in MY house (but not in theirs), does not poison anyone. At most, a temporary inconvenience to them.
Although the Conservative movement permits men and women to sit together (note that it doesn't require that practice; there are separated minyanim at JTS itself), it will not hurt these students to respect the practices followed by the hotel management.. After all, their great grandparents davened that way. and the overwhelming majority of Jews who daven REGULARLY, daven that way as well!

6

 Mar 23, 2012 at 10:22 AM Mordechai_Ben_Yaakov Says:

To the Masorti folks: If a "Messianic" group wished to use the hotel's holy Sefer Torah to wrap a pedophile in a pseudo-coronation as happened here in Atlanta earlier this year, should the hotel's religious supervisor also acquiesce so as not to "discriminate between the different religious practices of its guests"? I simply cannot imagine this same Rabbi Sacks arguing for the rights of the Messianic in pursuit of egalitarianism.

If you would oppose the misuse and disrespect of a holy Sefer Torah, then you have an obligation to safeguard it from such practices. Furthermore, the Talmudic experts within the Conservative movement have explicitly stated that women do not belong in the rabbinate and should not receive an Aliyah.

7

 Mar 23, 2012 at 10:31 AM genmill Says:

Yea a great "educational moment". To teach these young kids that you would rather not hear krias hatorah then be denied your mixed service. Lol what a joke.

8

 Mar 23, 2012 at 10:35 AM shredready Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

What a bunch of idiots. Halacha is clear and without question. The Conservative movement does not have chachomim that pasken differently. It has a religion in which halacha can be trimmed to fit one's desires. Unfortunately, there are 613 mitzvos, and there is a specific command to not tamper with that, neither adding nor excluding any of the mitzvos. The hotel did the right thing by not allowing a Torah to be disgraced in a setting that has a mission to customize Yiddishkeit.

do not tamper with what is says in the Torah

they why don't you eat milk and meat.

of course things are added

9

 Mar 23, 2012 at 10:47 AM eighthcomment Says:

It would be beautiful if the counslors would say- we will hold separate seating today to respect our religious hosts wishes...to an orthodox Jew- the conservative movement is like if a christian movement came in and asked for the Torah. If u don't follow it why would u want to read from it- again I used the word movement- not the Jews themselves, obviously we have an obligation to bring them closer- they're our brothers...

10

 Mar 23, 2012 at 10:38 AM Phineas Says:

The Kibbutz had no legal duty to accomodate a Masorti minyan. None. Even in the U.S., the kibbutz would be considered a non-government institution with no duty to accomodate all forms of a particular religion.

11

 Mar 23, 2012 at 10:47 AM noturbizniss Says:

Wether the hotel was right or wrong is one issue. Their whole premise is false because if they were really concerned with davening and reading the torah then they would have accepted the conditions rather than not have one at all. As #5 says the consevative movement does not REQUIRE mixed seating, as such they should have bit the bullet in order to have the torah. It is obvioulsy more important to them to make a point about going counter to 2,000 years of tradition than to actually have the torah.

12

 Mar 23, 2012 at 11:12 AM Anonymous Says:

Seems like both sides held to their principles in a respectful way. My kids go to a Schecter Day School where they have mixed minyanim and davening every AM before classes. It would not have been good for them to deviate from their minhag in EY. At the same time, the Hotel only offers the use of its sefer when they control the davening. This is good example of how yidden can respectfully disagree without burning dumpsters or throwing rocks.

13

 Mar 23, 2012 at 11:16 AM MIESQ Says:

“We wanted to stick to our values of having an egalitarian service,” he said. “We also saw it as an educational moment and explained to the group participants that this is one of the biggest conflicts within Israeli society – the meaning of what a Jewish state should be.”
Only they have values that need be respected? A hotel in a sense is a public accommedation and should not discriminate. However, under such logic a Kosher hotel woud be required to serve Gentile guest non-kopsher cusine upon request.
The thought that an Israeli Hotel under reliable Kosher certification employing a Rav would be Orthodox in oreintation and object to the use of sacred objects in a manner contrary to Halacha the Mesora from G-D at Sinai.
It is a shame understanding and comprmise is demanded by folks who insist on sticking to their guns. Nebach

14

 Mar 23, 2012 at 11:20 AM noturbizniss Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

Seems like both sides held to their principles in a respectful way. My kids go to a Schecter Day School where they have mixed minyanim and davening every AM before classes. It would not have been good for them to deviate from their minhag in EY. At the same time, the Hotel only offers the use of its sefer when they control the davening. This is good example of how yidden can respectfully disagree without burning dumpsters or throwing rocks.

If they had respectfully disagreed there would have been no news story.

15

 Mar 23, 2012 at 12:08 PM PinnyMeir Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

What a bunch of idiots. Halacha is clear and without question. The Conservative movement does not have chachomim that pasken differently. It has a religion in which halacha can be trimmed to fit one's desires. Unfortunately, there are 613 mitzvos, and there is a specific command to not tamper with that, neither adding nor excluding any of the mitzvos. The hotel did the right thing by not allowing a Torah to be disgraced in a setting that has a mission to customize Yiddishkeit.

Kol Hakavod to the hotel for sticking to Torah correctness and NOT Political correctness. These people ARE Jews, but what they are doing is NOT Judaism. Just as there would be no requirement to give a Sefer Torah to a bunch of Hindus, the hotel was right to refuse to give it to those (eventhough technically Jews) who are practicing some bogus religion.

16

 Mar 23, 2012 at 12:37 PM ShreddedMoiach Says:

Reply to #8  
shredready Says:

do not tamper with what is says in the Torah

they why don't you eat milk and meat.

of course things are added

Your rebuttal to #1 is not only false, but, you also misrepresented what #1 said.
Shame on you for being so dishonest!

Now, to set you straight ...
For your information, we don't don't eat meat (b'heimoh) and milk together, because, our Chachomim Darshen the Possuk "Loi S'vasheil G'di Bachaleiv Imoi", which is repeated 3 times (Bishul, Achiloh, Hano'oh). This is contained in Toiroh She'B'al Peh,
If you believe that D'roshoh was "added" to the Toiroh later, then you are a Tz'duki by definition. (Orthodox Jews, conversely, believe that Moishe Rabbeinu received the Toiroh Shebichsav and Toiroh Sh'B'al Peh at Har Sinai.)
Now, assuming that you believe the rubbish that you've espoused here, you should (to be consistent) put your T'fillin on your nose (i.e. Bein Einecho) and eat cold fold a whole Shabbos (i.e. Loi S'vaaru Eish).

So ... Are you a Tz'duki, or, just a L'hachis-nik Am Ho'oretz?
I hope that you come to your sense soon (i.e before Bias Hamoshiach) so that you can do T'shuvoh.

17

 Mar 23, 2012 at 12:46 PM Aryeh Says:

No Jew has the right to desecrate the Torah. What's to stop the inclusion of goyim, toeva or animals (chas v'shalom)? Good to know that someone has the decency to uphold the dignity of the Torah in these times.

18

 Mar 23, 2012 at 01:05 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
shredready Says:

do not tamper with what is says in the Torah

they why don't you eat milk and meat.

of course things are added

Are you for real? Have you ever heard of Torah Sheb'al Peh that was given to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai? Whatever is "added" is something known, and is either derived from the Torah according to the direct mesorah, as delineated in Pirkei Avos, detailed in the introduction to the Rambam - Yad Hachazakah. I refer specifically to the issur of Bal Toseif and Bal Tigra.

The issue with the Conservative movement is that it gives itself the license to pick and choose, without submitting to the Torah in its entirety. While iIsubscribe to poskim who declare cholov stam an issur, I can accept that there are poskim who can determine differently. The "mixed service" is clearly in violation of halacha according to all poskim, and those who wish to hold one have excluded a halacha from their repetiore for their personal convenience, without a halachic base to stand on. That is unacceptable, and is a bizayon for the Torah they wished to exploit. I'm glad it was denied to them.

19

 Mar 23, 2012 at 01:55 PM 12345 Says:

Reply to #9  
eighthcomment Says:

It would be beautiful if the counslors would say- we will hold separate seating today to respect our religious hosts wishes...to an orthodox Jew- the conservative movement is like if a christian movement came in and asked for the Torah. If u don't follow it why would u want to read from it- again I used the word movement- not the Jews themselves, obviously we have an obligation to bring them closer- they're our brothers...

im an orthodox jew and i dont think the conservative movement and christianity are the same at all. I think you should use google and figure out what you are talking about.

20

 Mar 23, 2012 at 02:23 PM Halaivy Says:

The Conservatives don't believe in Torah Misinai and there was no reson to give them a Torah even in a separated minyan

21

 Mar 23, 2012 at 02:50 PM clear-thinker Says:

Reply to #16  
ShreddedMoiach Says:

Your rebuttal to #1 is not only false, but, you also misrepresented what #1 said.
Shame on you for being so dishonest!

Now, to set you straight ...
For your information, we don't don't eat meat (b'heimoh) and milk together, because, our Chachomim Darshen the Possuk "Loi S'vasheil G'di Bachaleiv Imoi", which is repeated 3 times (Bishul, Achiloh, Hano'oh). This is contained in Toiroh She'B'al Peh,
If you believe that D'roshoh was "added" to the Toiroh later, then you are a Tz'duki by definition. (Orthodox Jews, conversely, believe that Moishe Rabbeinu received the Toiroh Shebichsav and Toiroh Sh'B'al Peh at Har Sinai.)
Now, assuming that you believe the rubbish that you've espoused here, you should (to be consistent) put your T'fillin on your nose (i.e. Bein Einecho) and eat cold fold a whole Shabbos (i.e. Loi S'vaaru Eish).

So ... Are you a Tz'duki, or, just a L'hachis-nik Am Ho'oretz?
I hope that you come to your sense soon (i.e before Bias Hamoshiach) so that you can do T'shuvoh.

Why do you resort to name calling? Is your holiness so profound? I disagree with #8's post, but you have decided to go that extra step. Does it make you a better person, a better Jew, or more frum by name calling? Calm down and who knows you might even realize that you should do t'shuvoh as well.

22

 Mar 23, 2012 at 03:00 PM Leibel from London Says:

Reply to #6  
Mordechai_Ben_Yaakov Says:

To the Masorti folks: If a "Messianic" group wished to use the hotel's holy Sefer Torah to wrap a pedophile in a pseudo-coronation as happened here in Atlanta earlier this year, should the hotel's religious supervisor also acquiesce so as not to "discriminate between the different religious practices of its guests"? I simply cannot imagine this same Rabbi Sacks arguing for the rights of the Messianic in pursuit of egalitarianism.

If you would oppose the misuse and disrespect of a holy Sefer Torah, then you have an obligation to safeguard it from such practices. Furthermore, the Talmudic experts within the Conservative movement have explicitly stated that women do not belong in the rabbinate and should not receive an Aliyah.

"I simply cannot imagine this same Rabbi Sacks arguing for the rights of the Messianic in pursuit of egalitarianism."

What on earth possessed you to drag the name of Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks into this discussion? Where is the Rav Harashi even mentioned in the original article.

Or were you just carried away by the force of your own stupid and false rhetoric, Mordechai_Ben_Yaakov #6?

23

 Mar 23, 2012 at 03:33 PM Reb Yid Says:

Reply to #19  
12345 Says:

im an orthodox jew and i dont think the conservative movement and christianity are the same at all. I think you should use google and figure out what you are talking about.

Maybe he didnt mean xtianity, rathe J for J lol

Just because two things are diffeeent doesnt mean one is any better than the other. One might accidentally call a rapist a murderer but the point is still well made.

24

 Mar 24, 2012 at 07:31 PM Anonymous Says:

Shefayim is a kibbutz where frei and non-Jewish "Israelis" davka travel to malls that are davka open Shabbos. Frum Jews should thank the hotel for the kiddush Hashem in a place of the darkest tuma by vacationing there in droves during Chol haMoed!

25

 Mar 24, 2012 at 11:04 PM 12345 Says:

Reply to #23  
Reb Yid Says:

Maybe he didnt mean xtianity, rathe J for J lol

Just because two things are diffeeent doesnt mean one is any better than the other. One might accidentally call a rapist a murderer but the point is still well made.

i wouldnt have given a mixed minyan a sefer torah either. But the fact is that many conservative rabbis are shomer mitzvas and believe in tora m'sinai. You can criticize the movement but i dont think the people commenting here have any idea what they are talking about.

26

 Mar 24, 2012 at 11:28 PM josebar Says:

Why should they read from the Torah that says "if you change the dinim your chayav meesah.The hotel was saving their life,BH for these nebech pathetic souls

27

 Mar 25, 2012 at 02:36 AM Respect Says:

First of all, I would like to congratulate these kids on taking an active interest in their Judaism and coming to EY. I hope that the kedusha of EY enhances their desire to be close to HKBH, Am Yisrael and EY.

I kind of feel bad for these kids. They were raised with a certain faith, are coming to EY to experience EY and as tenokim shenishbu are experiencing a rejection from what looks like something other than it is in reality. Let's daven for them to find authentic Judaism speedily and happily, in EY with Am Yisrael.

To all other negative commenters, stop. Bashing conservative Judaism on a blog does NOTHING other than create sinas chinam. I highly doubt any rabbanim would support such an activity.

28

 Mar 25, 2012 at 05:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #27  
Respect Says:

First of all, I would like to congratulate these kids on taking an active interest in their Judaism and coming to EY. I hope that the kedusha of EY enhances their desire to be close to HKBH, Am Yisrael and EY.

I kind of feel bad for these kids. They were raised with a certain faith, are coming to EY to experience EY and as tenokim shenishbu are experiencing a rejection from what looks like something other than it is in reality. Let's daven for them to find authentic Judaism speedily and happily, in EY with Am Yisrael.

To all other negative commenters, stop. Bashing conservative Judaism on a blog does NOTHING other than create sinas chinam. I highly doubt any rabbanim would support such an activity.

thank you for saying what you want to say in a nice way.

Most of the commenters here are self-righteous, condescending and sanctimonious for no reason.

As a FFB Orthodox man, I believe that a sincere Conservative Jew who respects other people is more beloved by Gd than a chassidishe Yid who trivializes and insults other people because they don't measure up to his standards.

29

 Mar 27, 2012 at 11:07 AM levikleh Says:

Reply to #22  
Leibel from London Says:

"I simply cannot imagine this same Rabbi Sacks arguing for the rights of the Messianic in pursuit of egalitarianism."

What on earth possessed you to drag the name of Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks into this discussion? Where is the Rav Harashi even mentioned in the original article.

Or were you just carried away by the force of your own stupid and false rhetoric, Mordechai_Ben_Yaakov #6?

Rabbi ANDREW Sacks is the one who made those comments. Read the article.

30

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