At his recent retirement dinner, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks decried the insularity of certain Jewish groups as inimical to the progress of Judaism. Now, Agudath Israel of America, perceiving a slight against its community, has issued a statement criticizing Sacks.
The gist of the complaint is that Sacks is misguided about the haredi community:
Portraying the “ultra-Orthodox” world as detached from awareness of, and interaction with, the larger world betrays an astounding ignorance of reality. Not only are charedim in the workplace and the “outside world,” but the charedi universe has played a leading role, if not the leading role, in outreach to the rest of the Jewish community with a wealth of chesed, limud haTorah and kiruv projects. Many charedi-sponsored initiatives touch the non-Jewish world as well. Charedi communities have developed healthy, sophisticated relationships with their governmental representatives and public institutions. Rabbi Sacks appears not to know the world he arrogates to judge.
Moreover, on top of these falsities, Sacks misunderstands the nature of Judaism:
Most important, Rabbi Sacks seems not to comprehend that the very insularity and intensive focus on Torah that characterize the haredi world are no mere sociological trends. They are, rather, the means to accomplish the ultimate mandate for all Jews: the preservation of our mesorah, and its transmission, in as pure and clear a way as possible, to the next generation and beyond.
The statement finished with a call for Sacks to apologize. Read it in here.