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April 13, 2017 5:07 pm

Israeli Author Describes American Jewish ‘Nightmare’ After Visiting Synagogues Across US

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Israeli author Tuvia Tenenbom. Photo: Screenshot.

A visiting Israeli author painted a bleak picture of non-Orthodox Jewish life in the US during a New York City book signing hosted by The Algemeiner last month.

Tuvia Tenenbom — whose newest book is titled The Lies They Tell, which details a trip he took across America — told the crowd at the Center for Jewish History, “In state after state, temple after temple, what I saw and what I witnessed was a nightmare. You see rabbis, or so-called rabbis, leaders, supposed leaders, standing at a podium and all they can tell to their listeners is that Israel is an apartheid state and that Judaism is racism. That’s what they preach.”

Later, he added, “When you see some anti-Jewish thing, if you dig deep and put a magnifying lens to see who’s behind it, over and over and over you find a Jew, and that’s frightening.”

A full video of the event can be viewed below:

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  • Scott B

    Totally agree. We attend a conservative shui and our kids attend Schechter and participate in USY and all of the above are decidedly pro Israel. Never under estimate the desire of orthodox Jews to crap on our institutions. Israel was founded by secular Jews and secular Jews in the US are to be credited for the success of the Jewish community here. Do you seriously believe goyim in this country can relate to peyot sporting, sheitel wearing frum Jews? Yes we have serious assimilation issues we have to deal with but don’t think for a minute that klal Yisroel survives without us. Where was modern orthodoxy 40 years ago? Just because he has a public forum doesn’t mean TT knows what the hell he’s talking about.

  • sdap

    A cursory view of your other posts brynababy reveal that you despise Israel as much as you do your fellow Americans and Jews who think differently than do you. It’s no wonder why you disagree with this writer. Your bitterness and authoritarian side is showing and it is YOU who should feel shame.

  • Norman Berdichevsky

    Tuvia is so right. As an American Jew who lived 1 years in Israel also as a teacher of Hebrew at a major university in Florida, I can confirm how remote, ignorant or apathetic many American Jews are regarding Israel’s rights, accomplishment and the dreadful slander directed towards it. My book (Modern Hebrew; The Past and Future of a Revitalized Language; McFarland 2014), trying to explain the beauty and logic of the Hebrew language and the magnificent saga of how it became a modern language fell on deaf ears and blind eyes.

    This is what I wrote in the introduction….

    American Jews, in spite of numerous trips to Israel, are wholly unaware of much
    of “what makes Israeli society tick,” that it has a vocabulary more than ten
    times larger than the classical languages of the Bible, Mishna and
    Enlightenment or that all laws, debates in the Knesset, the legal cases in
    court, and applications for patents, are in Hebrew. Their view of Israeli
    affairs is often considerably biased because it is based on highly selected and
    fragmentary extracts of published material translated from Hebrew by the media.
    In my introductory courses, at least half of the students were even unaware
    that the name for Hebrew in Hebrew is “Ivrit.”

    The instruction of no other language has historically been regarded as so
    “dangerous” and the subject of such active persecution. Three generations of
    Hebrew teachers and students risked imprisonment and the loss of their
    livelihoods in the USSR for carrying on the “underground” Hebrew movement to
    learn the language – something that is taken so much for granted by many
    Diaspora Jews who commonly associate it with a tedious preparation for their
    bar-mitzvah confirmation.

    Over the past two generations, there has been a steady decline among American Jews in
    the cultural and emotional identification they feel with Modern Hebrew
    literature, song and dance, elements that once drew many Jews in the Diaspora
    close to the Zionist project and the emergence of a modern national Israeli
    culture. Nothing better illustrates why Jewish identity no longer encompasses
    much of the sense of solidarity or the intense pride found among the parents
    and grandparents of American Jewish university students.

    Arik Einstein, until his death in November, 2013 was certainly regarded by the
    Israeli public as its most beloved singer in the modern era of popular Hebrew
    song. Yet, he was largely unknown among Jews abroad who are unfamiliar with
    Modern Hebrew language and culture. His popularity, appeal and charm have been
    compared to that of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Bruce Springsteen
    combined. He certainly remained in the public limelight for as long as any of
    these three American superstars and what is more impressive, he was equally
    successful in all of the genres of modern popular song including traditional
    love ballads, patriotic expressions of love of country, its landscape and
    people, soulful laments, protest songs and even childrens’ songs and rock. Why
    is such a personality so prominent in Israel’s cultural life such an unknown
    quantity in the Diaspora? In spite of
    all the oceans of ink spilt over “Jewish solidarity” and that the Jews are one
    people, the reality is that there is a growing cultural gap in which language
    plays a major role.

    In the monumental literature dealing with Israel, Zionism and the conflict between
    Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, relatively little space has been devoted to the
    social and political consequences of the epic transformation of the classical
    language of the Bible into Modern Ivrit, the national language of the State of
    Israel, its everyday vernacular spoken by seven million people including more
    than a million Arabs who are increasingly proficient and better able to
    participate in the decisions they must make as Israeli citizens and contribute
    to the society they increasingly see as their only future.

    The book traces the historical background, past and current controversies, challenges
    and dilemmas facing the Israeli people that stem from the choice made four
    generations ago to create a renewed nation of Jews in the Land of Israel with
    Hebrew as their national language. The 17 chapters examine how Hebrew came to
    function as a role model for other national revivals, how it overcame the many
    obstacles to revival as a spoken vernacular and its growing prestige and
    importance. It also analyzes the importance of the language for mutual
    understanding between Israelis and Diaspora Jews and between Jewish and
    non-Jewish Israelis.

    It is a book dealing primarily with the social and political use of the language and does
    not cover literature nor is it another biography of the pioneer founder of the
    movement to make Hebrew into a modern spoken vernacular, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda. It
    is the story of his vision and how it animated a large part of the Jewish
    world, gave new confidence and pride to Jewish youth during the most difficult
    period of modern Jewish history and infused Zionism with a dynamic cultural
    content. The chapters are as follows:

    1 Modern Hebrew in American Popular Culture
    2 The Magnificent Heritage of Biblical Hebrew Prior to the Modern Language

    3 Modern Hebrew’s Influence on “Minor Language Revivals and Esperanto”

    4 The Three Thousand Year Old Treasury

    5 How Hebrew Became a Modern Language

    6 Do the Israelis Speak Hebrew or Israeli?

    7 The Great Yiddish-Hebrew Rivalry

    8 Negation of the Golah (Exile); Hebraization

    9 Baltic Training Grounds for a Hebrew State

    10 The First Modern Hebrew Textbook With Real National-Cultural Content

    11 Soviet Persecution of Hebrew

    12 Israeli Arab Use of Hebrew

    13 Towards a Hebrew Republic?

    14 Slang and Profanity

    15 The Current Assault on Hebrew at Home; Competition from English

    16 Outlook for Hebrew in the U.K. & U.S.

    17 Epilogue

  • Norman Berdichevsky

    Tuvia is right. As an Am

  • Linda Golden

    I do not know where he visited but the reform and conservative movement are very pro-Israel. If he had said American college campuses I could believe him…but have to question his observations.

  • Vivian Corey

    this is what happens when Jews don’t know anything about G-d or the divinity ofTorah,when they are led by people who are ignorant.themselves,when they are more interested in molding “Jewishness” to fit their desires instead of learning what a Jew is and what our true mission is in this world.A Jew without Torah is a desecration of G-d’s name.Without understanding this we cannot have any understanding of what Israel is,what it represents and what it is supposed to be. We are One People with One Torah and One Land given to us by Almighty G-d to fulfill his mission.Period!

  • chuck

    Some commenters dispute Tenenbom’s assertions because US rabbis may not literally use words like “apartheid”; yet they do betray massive anti-Israel bias/ignorance (even as many profess “support” for Israel). These rabbis fall on a continuum of muddle-headedness among US Jews.

    Farther along the continuum are anti-Jewish Jewish agitators such as George Soros. (Such individuals are a fixture of Judaism, going back even to Roman times. Ironically, they reinforce the antisemitic stereotype of the “powerful Jew” even as they themselves are anti-Jewish.)

    My theory for the perversity: All diaspora Jews feel vulnerable, at least unconsciously (what minority of 2% wouldn’t?). But perhaps depending on moral fortitude or other variables, some look (albeit unconsciously) to anti-Semites as their implied protector; others, to pro-Semites. And both sets of Jews also attempt the same strategy: to publicly indict the Jews they believe are jeopardizing their good standing with their chosen ally. In other words, the same core emotions and strategy on both sides. But in neither case are these the actions of a people with “power” (do WASPs do any of this?). So all told, it’s rather sad.

  • Aleteia

    Don’t be in denial!

  • Aleteia

    It is important to know that there are synagogues which preach anti-Israeli rhetoric.

  • Iralaser

    We are fortunate to have the evangelical Christians come to our support. Israel at present can rely on the Orthodox Jews and the evangelical Christians.

  • martin danenberg

    I watched thirty minutes of this talk expecting something awesome and I did not get it. He was off target for the first twelve minutes and had to be reeled in by the moderator. If you wish to watch this for an entire hour, do it. Take a look at this for a minute. https://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Oath-Ali-Lakhdars-Revenge/dp/1533052689/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1492170525&sr=8-4&keywords=martin+danenberg

  • Rahel F Adye

    The Eruv Rav are the 7th of our persecutors: Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Rome, Amalek, Ishmael are the others. We can regard the Eruv Rav, the Cancer, because they happen to be Jewish and therefore we regard them, as the body regards Cancer cells, as part of the “body” of the Jewish nation. But they seek to undermine the klal in myriad of ways. It will all be put right soon enough.

  • Thought is Free

    Israel has spent its short life doing all it can to insult and alienate non-orthodox Jews everywhere. Chickens coming home to roost?

  • Truth1953

    I’ve been to quite a few Conservative and Reform synaogues and temples myself over the years.I see only strong support for Israel. How is it possible that he’s only been to those that ‘dis’ Israel?

  • mrwma

    American Jewry is ready to go to camp…..

  • Leah Krakowsky

    In my opinion American Jews like the German Jews identify themselves more as Americans then jews and forgot that they should all be in Israel and not in the exile.

    • Aleteia

      but why joining the leftist choir?

  • Fred

    This is a very sad & frightening story but we see something unbelievable how Jews are ready to betray Jews even joining murderous Palestinian anti Israeli groups.

  • Zhanna Allen

    Today’s opposition between American Jews and Israel can lead to another #Holocaust–this has already happened in the past.