This week we commemorated Tisha B'Av, the day of the destruction of both the First and the Second Temple and the day in which the Big Revolt against the Romans was brought to such a tragic end. Unlike other people who usually commemorate victories and successes, Jewish people mark a special day for such a bitter failure in Jewish history. Why?
The reason has to do with the lesson of Tisha B'Av. Tradition tells us that the Second Temple was destroyed not because of the Roman's might, but because of "Sinat Hinam" (unprovoked enmity). In other words, the Romans took advantage of the weakness of the Jews in Jerusalem that was an outcome of a brother's war.
All too often I visit different Jewish communities in the Midwest and most of the questions I come across have to do with the Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) community in Israel. All too often those questions are reflecting a deep lack of understanding and indeed lack of sympathy, to say the least.
I truly believe that with all the tension that currently follows the relationship between Ultra-Orthodox and Non Ultra-Orthodox in Israel, we should not forget, that, at the end of the day, the Haredi are not the enemies of the Non-Haredi. The differences between Haredi and Non-Haredi communities in Israel need to be ironed out and better sooner, than later. However, it needs to be done in an amicably and indeed, brotherly way.
I know the counter-argument very well: "The Haredi are provocative in some of their attitudes – like the debate over the Wailing Wall or, indeed, the status of the non-Haredi communities in Israel in general, therefore this should not be considered as Sinat Hinam".
As the Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, it is not my role to be judgmental. I know the argument as well as the counter-argument and both are strong. And yet, when the Middle East is falling apart around us and the voices calling for the destruction of the Jewish state are becoming so popular, we should all remember that the Haredi are our brothers, not our enemies.
I know some might think that I state the obvious. Others might find this column to be controversial. However, it is my feeling that the relationship between the Haredi and Non-Haredi in Israel and in the Diaspora has reached a red line. I believe that it is our responsibility to understand better and indeed, accept the other side, Ultra-Orthodox and Non-Ultra-Orthodox alike.