`270 Our Unrealized Potential
Chananya Weissman

May 31, 2023


I was on the Jerusalem light yesterday, and it was jam-packed. Although the trains are often crowded, there seemed to be an unusually high number of Orthodox men sporting black hats. What was going on? Was there some kind of event they were all going to?

Yes. I learned from one of the men that Rabbi Gershon Edelstein had just passed away, and they were going to the funeral in Bnei Brak.

This article is not about Rabbi Edelstein.

It is about the incredible ability of hundreds of thousands of religious Jews to mobilize at the spur of the moment to attend the funeral of a prominent rabbi. For many of them this would entail hours of traveling in heavy traffic, walking a significant distance from wherever the traffic could no longer proceed, then standing for hours in a tightly packed crowd under the broiling sun. They would almost certainly not get anywhere near the niftar, but would have to content themselves with hearing the eulogies over loudspeakers (if they could even decipher what was being said) and just being “there”.

Nevertheless, these people didn't give a second thought to the time they would spend and how physically taxing it would be. They stopped whatever they were doing, packed the buses and trains, and flocked to pay their respects in whatever trifling way they could.

I have tremendous admiration for that.

And also tremendous disappointment.

Tomorrow the rainbow people will be having their annual street party in the holy streets of Jerusalem, expressing their love and tolerance for the most vile desecration of the Torah – which is the extent of their much ballyhooed love and tolerance.

If Israel were truly a democracy – much ballyhooed as well – this event would not be taking place, for the majority of Jerusalem's residents do not care to have skimpily clad people marching through their main thoroughfares celebrating those who engage in deviant sexual behavior, or celebrating any sexual “identity” at all.

But no one asked Jerusalem's residents if they want this circus in their streets, nor do they care. This event is going to happen whether we like it or not. It wouldn't matter if 90 percent of us don't want it, or even 99 percent. We don't count. Letting the rainbow people trample over all that is dear to us is more important. That's what the 1 percent of people with money and power decided.

That's democracy and love in action.

Forcing yourself on the public like rapists.

Because Israel has to maintain the facade of being a Jewish state and a democracy (both of which are untrue and a contradiction besides), a small counter protest out of sight of the marchers will be permitted. This group armed with nothing but homemade signs and a bullhorn or two will be surrounded by thugs in police uniforms – specially chosen for their extreme animosity for religious Jews – who will brandish automatic weapons and leer at them. They will be joined by undercover police and intelligence agents to infiltrate this dangerous group of religious terrorists and pounce on whoever might seem “threatening”.

Sudden inexplicable arrests have a wonderful chilling effect.

Israel's crack security services will also randomly arrest a few people who look too religious who dare to walk in the streets near the parade, because religious Jews should know where they are not supposed to be. Where do they think they are, Vilna? These unfortunate strollers will be pegged as “suspicious” and hauled off to a police station – with a minimum of violence if they are not too terribly unfortunate – where they will rot for hours without water or bathroom privileges.

Eventually a lawyer from Honenu will secure their temporary release and assist them through a protracted legal battle, which might end with the victims (the religious Jews, not the rainbow people) being awarded a paltry sum of money for their false arrest, physical abuse, and humiliation. This will not come out of the pockets of the uniformed “public servants” who inflicted this upon innocent civilians; on the contrary, that was exactly what they were there to do, and they knew it.

A few thousand shekels out of state coffers – funded by the slave-like taxes you and I are forced to pay – is a small price to send a message and put religious people in their place. It's an investment, really.

Meanwhile the media snakes who invert reality for a living will publish outrageous smear pieces with titles like ‘Deadly Thursday’: Far-right activists threaten violence at Jerusalem Pride Parade, inviting a cascade of psychotic comments that would receive standing ovations at Nazi rallies. That is the point of such pieces, to stoke unbridled rage against Torah-observant Jews and justify war against them in the legislature, in the courts, and, eventually, on the streets.

Don't you feel the love?

This is why I felt tremendous sadness on the light rail yesterday. There were more people in a single train car going to a funeral than there will be protesting against the desecration of Jerusalem.

In no way do I intend to minimize the importance of paying respects to prominent rabbis and righteous people upon their passing, which is well documented. However, in the grand scheme of things, whether 50,000 people or 500,000 people attend a funeral, the rabbi will still be dead. Everyone will go home and it will be over. The religious media will rush to publish hagiographies, in a few months we will have the usual formulaic biography that will be an instant best seller, and a year from now they will publish a commemoration. It's a drill at this point.

What would happen if these same people showed up tomorrow to stand up for the sanctity of Jerusalem? They proved they can do it at a moment's notice to show respect for the Torah. They did not excuse themselves with the usual argument that the time would be better spent studying Torah – no! This was a unique opportunity to make a tremendous public statement in support of Torah, a true kiddush Hashem!

What would be a greater public statement in support of Torah and a true kiddush Hashem, going to a funeral or protesting the desecration of Jerusalem by morally bankrupt heretics actively waging war on Torah-observant Jewry?

What would make a greater practical difference?

If 500,000 Jews who respect the Torah protested the rainbow circus, it would be a game changer. Half a million people cannot be ignored. Half a million people cannot be dismissed as violent right wing religious extremists. Half a million people makes a powerful statement even if they do nothing but show up and stand with their backs turned to those marching in the streets. Standing with pride in being true to Hashem and the Torah – not pride at putting a body part where it doesn't belong or being confused about one's gender, but authentic, well-deserved pride.

Even 50,000 would be a game changer. Even 5000 would be a game changer.

If the strategy to this point has been to ignore the filth march with hopes that it won't affect us, that has proven terribly misguided. If the calculation has been that protesting the filth march would only bring greater hatred upon us, we have little left to lose there despite surrendering – or perhaps because of it.

I complained to one so-called “Charedi” relative I am close with that if the government cut their stipend by fifty cents, they would block the streets and raise hell, but as long as the to'eiva march isn't in their neighborhoods, they couldn't care less. He looked stricken and said nothing. There is nothing to say.

When will the millions of Jews in Israel who respect the Torah – despite varying levels of personal observance – show up en masse and make a historic change? It could be a million-person unity and teshuva event. Don't you think that would get Hashem's attention like little else? Why can't this be done?

It could be an overwhelming public demand for Amiram Ben-Uliel to be freed and everyone involved with his torture and conviction – everyone – to be punished. Isn't pidyon shevuyim (releasing Jewish captives) one of the greatest mitzvos? Is rescuing this life not more important than honoring even the greatest of our dead? Is ensuring that nothing like this can happen to any of us ever again not more urgent?

Please, check with the gedolim and poskim if you are unsure. We have a right to ask serious questions and receive serious answers, and an obligation to change course if we have veered astray. We are supposed to be a thinking people, not apologists for whatever is in vogue.

When will the Jewish people utilize their phenomenal ability to mobilize en masse for something of urgent importance that will change the game?

Is tomorrow too soon?

[Also see Why I Protested the Jerusalem ‘Pride’ Parade from 2019 and Israel's Pride Revolution from 2020.]



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