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Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, dean who led Yeshiva U seminary through period of growth, dies at 94

(JTA) — Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, who as dean of the rabbinical seminary at Yeshiva University for 37 years oversaw a period of enormous growth for the Modern Orthodox institution, died Jan. 16. He was 94.

When Charlop was named dean of Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Y.U. in 1971, it had 154 students. When he retired in 2008, it had 340.

Charlop was also on hand for a transition in American Orthodoxy, training American-born, college-educated rabbis to succeed the European-trained rabbis who had held pulpits and led yeshivas through much of the 20th century.

“When I first came to Yeshiva as a student” in the 1940s, “almost all of the roshei yeshiva were European-trained” and many lacked university degrees, he told the New York Jewish Week in 2008, referring to the top scholars on the RIETS faculty. In 2008, he said, over 90% of RIETS faculty trained at Y.U., which offered undergraduate and graduate degrees in addition to ordination.

Charlop saw the transition as a fulfillment of the Y.U. philosophy, “Torah umadda,” or Jewish and secular learning, which posited that Orthodox Jews should take part fully in general society without compromising on their religiosity.

Charlop wanted RIETS “to be a place of intense Torah scholarship,” Chaim Bronstein, an administrator at the seminary, recalled in a tribute upon Charlop’s retirement. However, “he did not want our students and roshei yeshiva to remain in an ivory tower. He wanted them to go out into the community. He wanted to produce rabbis who can relate to the broadest range of Jews throughout the country and throughout the world.”

Charlop was himself a pulpit rabbi, having been given a lifetime contract in 1966 at age 36 by the Young Israel of Mosholu Parkway in the Bronx, New York. Charlop led the synagogue through a period of declining fortunes in the Bronx and the flight of many of the Jews from the neighborhood to the suburbs and other neighborhoods in New York City.

“On Rosh Hashanah, 1977,” he told the New York Jewish Week, “we sold 875 seats” in a main and overflow service. “In 1978, we lost 40 seats. By 1985, we didn’t need a second service. The next year it was less. The next year, it was less than that. We still have many members but few in the neighborhood.” The synagogue closed in 2015.

Charlop was considered an authority on Torah and Talmud and lectured in American history. His scholarly essays include “The Making of Orthodox Rabbis” for the Encyclopedia Judaica and “God in History and Halakha from the Perspective of American History” for The Torah U-Madda Journal, a Y.U. publication. Charlop was also editor of three novellas on Torah and Talmud by his late father, Jechiel Michael Charlop, a Jerusalem-born rabbi.

Aaron Goldscheider, the former rabbi at Mount Kisco Hebrew Congregation in New York’s Westchester County, recalled visiting the dean’s office and studying the writings of Charlop’s grandfather, Ya’akov Moshe Charlop, a disciple of Abraham Isaac Kook, the chief rabbi of Palestine.

“[S]itting in Yeshiva University, a bastion of Lithuanian learning, I was treated to a glimpse of the more mystical world of study characteristic of Rav Kook and his protege Rabbi Charlop,” Goldscheider recalled in the acknowledgements of his book, “Torah United.” “It is impossible to put into words my feelings of gratitude for those precious weekly meetings. They were a source of inspiration at the time and continue to carry me until this day.”

After his retirement, Charlop served as dean emeritus and special advisor on yeshiva affairs to Yeshiva University’s then-president Richard M. Joel.

Zevulun Charlop (pronounced khar-LOP) was born in the Bronx on Dec. 14, 1929. His father had arrived in New York in 1920 and after his own ordination at RIETS served as a pulpit rabbi in New York, Canton, Ohio and Omaha, Nebraska. In 1925, the elder Charlop returned to New York and became the rabbi at the Bronx Jewish Center.

Zevulun attended Yeshiva Salanter in the Bronx and Talmudical Academy, which would later be known as Yeshiva University High School for Boys. He earned degrees at Yeshiva College and Columbia University, and was ordained at RIETS.

Charlop once said that his ideal Y.U. would be “a yeshiva like Volozhin,” a legendary seminary in what is now Belarus, and a university like Columbia. But he would also note wryly that the Vietnam War turned out to be a great recruiter for Y.U., at a time when rabbinical students could earn a deferment from the draft.

Charlop inherited an activist streak from his father, who was one of the organizers of the 1943 “Rabbis’ March” on Washington, D.C. protesting inaction during the Holocaust. Charlop himself led his synagogue in supporting integration during the civil rights movement and various Jewish causes, including the fight for Soviet Jewry and support for Israel. But there were limits to an Orthodox rabbi’s role, he told the student publication Kol Hamevaser in 2012, when Y.U. was facing competition from activist rabbis who sought to liberalize Modern Orthodoxy’s approach to women’s roles and other issues.

“Turning a yeshiva into a big tent can be a dangerous thing; if we start lessening our inward Torah focus then we may start neutralizing learning and, rahamana litslan, yir’as shamayim [God have mercy, our fear of heaven],” he said. “In order to be able to sustain the multifaceted world that we have here in Yeshiva, we have to be deeper in the core. So long as we know that in this process we may be willy-nilly, lightening the thrust of our Torah learning, then widening the tent cannot be achieved. Rather, we must widen and, indeed, deepen our Torah learning and kiyyum ha-mitsvos [fulfill the commandments] at the core.

Charlop served as president of the American Committee for the United Charities in Israel, General Israel Orphans Home for Girls in Jerusalem, and the National Council of Young Israel rabbis.

His survivors include two sons, Rabbi Alexander Ziskind Charlop and Rabbi Zev Charlop, and six daughters, Peshi Neuburger, Leebee Rochelle Becher, Annie Riva Charlop, Shoshana Schneider, Zipporah Raymon and Miriam Reiss. His wife, Judith, died in 1999.

The post Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, dean who led Yeshiva U seminary through period of growth, dies at 94 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Amid Security Fears, Muslim Access to the Temple Mount During Ramadan Will Be Limited

Palestinians walk at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City May 21, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

i24 NewsAs the month of Ramadan approaches, concerns over security have prompted Israeli authorities to implement limitations on Muslim access to the Temple Mount site, and Al-Aqusa Mosque.

The decision, made in accordance with recommendations from the Minister of National Security Ben Gvir, comes amidst opposition from the Minister of Defense Gallant, Shin Bet, and the army.

The restrictions include a cap on the number of individuals permitted to enter the site, with additional sorting based on age. While the details regarding the authorization of Palestinians from East Jerusalem are pending, the implementation of security measures proposed by Itamar Ben Gvir, which would allow security forces to intervene in response to provocative behavior, was rejected.

Under the current plan, only Muslim pilgrims aged 60 or above with permits issued by the Shin Bet will be granted access to the Temple Mount. However, domestic intelligence agencies have expressed reservations, fearing that such restrictions could exacerbate tensions and fuel Hamas’s rhetoric about Israel’s intentions to seize the site and deny Muslims access.

This sentiment was echoed by Walid Al-Huashla, an Arab MP from the Ra’am party, who condemned the decision as dangerous and racist. Al-Huashla warned of the potential consequences of the measures, accusing Prime Minister Netanyahu of capitulating to provocateurs and exacerbating tensions in Jerusalem.

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Unopened Medicine Boxes Bearing Names of Israeli Hostages Found in Hospital Raid

Some of the drugs found at the hospital. Photo: IDF

i24 NewsThe Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet forces executed a strategic mission at Nasser Hospital in Gaza, resulting in the arrest of hundreds of terrorists and the discovery of a cache of weapons hidden within the hospital premises.

Prior to entering the hospital complex, the forces engaged in intense battles, including face-to-face combat and repelling rocket fire from within the hospital compound.

The forces apprehended numerous terrorists and terror suspects who had sought refuge within the hospital including individuals linked to the October 7th massacre. These individuals were subsequently transferred to security forces for further investigation.

IDF releases footage of soldiers uncovering unopened boxes of medicine in Al-Nasser Hospital that were meant to be transferred to Israeli hostages – some of which should have been refrigerated but was found sitting out.

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) February 18, 2024

During the operation, a substantial quantity of weapons was seized, with some weapons concealed in a vehicle believed to have been used in previous terrorist attacks. Additionally, a vehicle belonging to Kibbutz Nir Oz, which had apparently been stolen, was recovered from the hospital vicinity.

IDF forces also discovered un-opened boxes of medicine bearing the names of Israeli hostages. The packages were found sealed and undistributed, raising concerns about the previous breached agreement in which Qatar would distribute medicine for the chronically ill hostages.

The medical assistance includes essential treatments such as inhalers for asthma patients, medications for diabetics, insulin injections, glucometers, medications for heart disease and blood pressure, as well as treatments for intestinal infections and thyroid gland imbalances.

During talks, Qatar had committed to providing verifiable proof to Israel that the medications will indeed reach the hostages. However the IDF finding the France-sent boxes with medicine, indicates the never reached the hostages.

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The Myth of British Exceptionalism

Britain’s former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reacts after the general election results of the Islington North constituency were announced at a counting center in Islington, London, Dec. 13, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Hannah McKay.

JNS.orgThat old image of the Jewish family with a packed suitcase at the ready in case they are compelled to suddenly leave their home has returned with a vengeance across Europe.

In France and Germany, home to sizable Jewish communities, the “Should we leave?” debate is raging in earnest. Both of these countries experienced record levels of antisemitic incidents in 2023, most of them occurring after the Hamas pogrom of Oct. 7 in southern Israel. Similar conversations are also being held in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Belgium and Spain—countries with tiny Jewish communities that are nevertheless enduring a painful rise in antisemitism.

What about Britain, though? It’s a pertinent question insofar as there has always been a “British exceptionalism” with regard to the continent. During World War II, the Nazis failed in their quest to conquer the British Isles, in contrast to the rest of Europe. After the defeat of Hitler, the British supported efforts to transform Europe into an economic and political community that eventually became the European Union, even joining it. Yet Britain was never fully at peace with its identity as a European state, and as is well known, the “Brexit” referendum of 2016 resulted in the country’s full-fledged withdrawal from the European Union.

When it comes to antisemitism, however, Britain is very much part of the European rule, not the exception. Again, that’s important because while the British don’t deny that antisemitism is present in their politics and culture, they don’t believe that it’s as venomous as its German or French variations. “It is generally admitted that antisemitism is on the increase, that it has been greatly exacerbated by the war, and that humane and enlightened people are not immune to it. It does not take violent forms (English people are almost invariably gentle and law-abiding),” wrote George Orwell in an essay, “Antisemitism in Britain,” penned towards the war’s close in April 1945.

At the same time, Orwell conceded that British antisemitism was “ill-natured enough, and in favorable circumstances, it could have political results.” To illustrate this point, he offered a selection of the antisemitic barbs that he had encountered over the previous year. “No, I’ve got no matches for you. I should try the lady down the street. She’s always got matches. One of the Chosen Race, you see,” a grumpy tobacconist informed him. “Well, no one could call me antisemitic, but I do think the way these Jews behave is too absolutely stinking. The way they push their way to the head of queues, and so on. They’re so abominably selfish. I think they’re responsible for a lot of what happens to them,” a “middle-class” woman said. Another woman, described by Orwell as an “intellectual,” refused to look at a book detailing the persecution of Jews in Germany on the grounds that “it will only make me hate them even more,” while a young man—a “near-Communist” in Orwell’s description—confessed that he had never made a secret of his loathing of Jews. “Mind you, I’m not antisemitic, of course,” he added.

I’d wager that were Orwell to tackle the same subject today, he would write a similar essay. The rhetoric he quotes echoes eerily in what we are hearing almost 80 years later, particularly the denial that recycling antisemitic tropes makes one an antisemite, as well as the digs against chosenness—because antisemites have never understood (or don’t want to understand) that Jewish “chosenness” is not about racial or ethnic superiority, but a duty to carry out a specific set of Divine commandments.

Last week, the Community Security Trust (CST), a voluntary security organization serving British Jews, issued its annual report on the state of antisemitism in Britain. The CST has been faithfully issuing these reports since 1984, and over the last few years, it has regularly registered new records for the number of offenses reported. 2023 was the worst year of all; there were a stomach-churning 4,103 incidents reported—an increase of 81% on the previous annual record in 2021, when 2,261 incidents were reported (largely due to that year’s conflict between Israel and Hamas for 11 days in May).

Instructively, the worst month in 2023 was October, in the days immediately following the rapes and other atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists on that black day. Oct. 11 was, in fact, the worst day, with 80 incidents reported. As the CST pointed out, “[T]he speed at which antisemites mobilized in the U.K. on and immediately after Oct. 7 suggests that, initially at least, this increase in anti-Jewish hate was a celebration of the Hamas attack on Israel, rather than anger at Israel’s military response in Gaza.”

Of course, the present situation in the United Kingdom differs from Orwell’s time for two main reasons. Firstly, in 1945, there was no Jewish state, and antisemitism revolved around cruder tropes invoking supposed Jewish rudeness, clannishness, financial power and so forth. (Even so, Britain was also one of the first Western countries to experience antisemitic rioting linked to the Zionist movement and Israel; in 1947, after two British officers in Mandatory Palestine were executed by the Irgun, or “Etzel,” resistance organization, violence targeting Jewish communities broke out across the United Kingdom, thereby establishing the principle that all Jews, everywhere, are to blame for the alleged evils of Zionism.)

Secondly, in 1945 Britain was still largely a white, Christian society. In the interim, it has become far more diverse and is now home to nearly 4 million Muslims who constitute 6.5 percent of the population. Since the late 1980s—when the Iranian regime issued a fatwa calling for the death of the Anglo-Indian author Salman Rushdie, alleged to have slandered Islam in his novel The Satanic Verses—what was once a relatively docile population has become politically animated, with the Palestinian cause pushed front and center.

In the four months that have passed since the Hamas atrocities, with weekly demonstrations in support of Hamas in London and other cities, Muslim voices have been disproportionately loud in the opprobrium being piled not just on Israel, but on those Britons—the country’s Jewish community—most closely associated with the Jewish state. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every Muslim, and many of the worst offenders are non-Muslims on the left. Indeed, the Oct. 7 massacres have enabled the return to politics of a particularly odious individual whom I had forlornly believed had been banished to the garbage can of history; George Galloway, an ally of Hamas and one-time acolyte of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who is standing in the forthcoming parliamentary election in the northern English constituency of Rochdale for an outfit called the “Workers Party of Britain,” whose manifesto combines nationalism and socialism, but which would probably balk at the description “national socialist” in much the same way that some antisemites balk at the description “antisemitic.”

British Jews have weathered a great deal in recent years, especially the five years when the Labour Party, the main opposition, was led by the far-left Parliament member Jeremy Corbyn, who has since been turfed out of the party by his successor Sir Keir Starmer. Having survived that, the belief has spread that they can survive anything. But there’s another question to be asked: Is the effort worth it? Increasingly, and worryingly, growing numbers of British Jews are now answering “no.”

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