Haredi Hostility


Rabbi Richard Jacobs writes that Reform Judaism is a better alternative than haredi Judaism for a gentile seeking to convert (Letters, June 1). It’s a Hobson’s choice.

For many, the former seems to be a form of Hebrew Unitarianism, too much emphasis on social justice, too little on God. On the other hand, if God asks us to lead a meaningful life, why do haredim reject secular culture? God would want us to discover the scientific wonders of the world and examine the best other cultures have to offer us, not vilify their treasures. A compassionate God would want us to treat women as equals to men, not as sexual sirens unfit to be heard and seen, and would respect non-Jews as human beings created in the image of God.

Embedded in the halacha of haredim, there is a deep hostility towards non-Jews; even in their contemporary writings they use the pejorative Hebrew acronym AKUM, meaning idolaters, for monotheistic Christians and Muslims. In Eretz Yisrael, God would want us to preserve the natural beauty of the land, not sequester ourselves in yeshivas devising ever more stringencies in halacha which have nothing to do with protecting the environment or enhancing relations between people.