Orthodox Leader Urges Respect for Differences in Orthodox Community

A leader of Agudath Israel of America called on Orthodox Jews to respect the differences within the Orthodox community. “We must respect our differences with each other, for Orthodox Judaism is not a monolith,” Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky, the senior member of Agudath Israel’s Council of Sages, declared. “On the contrary, diversity is the strength of Orthodoxy,”

Kamenetzky made his statement to the more than 1200 rabbinic leaders, educators, community activists and others attending the 57th annual dinner of Agudath Israel of America at the New York Hilton Sunday night. Stressing that “our efficacy, however, lies in our unity under the Torah,” Kamenetzky declared that “the various shades of our backgrounds and our lifestyles are only as meaningful as is our allegiance to Torah. All our problems must be viewed in the light of our Torah ideals and be resolved accordingly.”

The rabbi, who is head of the Mesivta Torah Vodaath Yeshlva, said that the “dynamo that drives” the many “innovative” programs of Agudath Israel “is the diversity of Agudath Israel’s constituency.”

The gathering also heard Rabbi Michoel Twersky, of Milwaukee, urge the rabbis on the dais to “harness the vast untapped source of productivity that lies out in this ballroom — this resource of loyalty and energy; return the faith they have in you by issuing more challenges their way.”

Rabbi Moshe Sherer, Agudath Israel’s executive president, presented the Hagoon Rav Aharon Kotler Memorial Award for distinguished service to Torah to Schabse Sturm, a lay leader of the Bobover community; the “Sheans Hapleitoh Man of the Year” Reb Elimelech Tress Memorial Award for exemplary service to Berish Zolty, a Polish-born active leader of the Toronto Orthodox community; and the “Moreinu Yaakov Rosenheim Memorial Award” for distinguished service to Agudath Israel to Abraham Halpern, an Israeli currently living in New York, for his activities on behalf of many religious undertakings.

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