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OU Have to be Kidding

In a Jerusalem Post article last week entitled New OU president pushes aliya, the new president of the Orthodox Union (OU), Stephen J. Savitsky, seemed more content pushing aside the ideologies, sacrifices, and dedication of North American immigrants to Israel. In the process, he has created some waves in the Anglo-Israeli blogosphere.

In one of those “WTF” moments, the man described by the JPost as “the blue-eyed, clean-shaven lay leader”, is quoted as saying the following:

“People are starting to go to Israel for the right reasons. Years ago aliya was for people who were running away from something. They weren’t successful. They didn’t have a successful marriage. They were coming because there was a reason. They weren’t role models.

“But today I see really successful people. Young people. Doctors, lawyers, business people, finance people, who are giving it up not to come here to starve. Not to schnorr from their parents,” he said.

In other words, Savitsky believes that until recently, North Americans immigrated to Israel to escape their failed lives, bad marriages and dead-end jobs, rather than out of ideology, conviction, and an innate desire to make a difference (which certainly accounts for the majority of North American immigrants whom I know). To him, the countless stories of North American immigrants who came to Israel to join the army and defend the country, live off the land, feel more connected with G-d, or feel more part of the collective Jewish destiny, are just fabrications of the ugly truth.

Furthermore, Savitsky whitewashes the achievements of all of those North American immigrants who managed to forge successful careers here in Israel. You know Dr Cohen of Kfar Saba? Here I was thinking that he ran a successful medical practice, but, alas, Stephen Savitsky informs me that he receives an allowance from his parents. And you know Judge Bernstein? He bought that two-storey house thanks to his aunt in Houston.

Shame on you, Savitsky. As an Orthodox Jew, you should believe in that fundamental tenet of Judaism concerning Israel’s status as the homeland of the Jewish people. This should theoretically enable you to appreciate the motivations of a large percentage of North American immigrants better than many. But then again, Orthodox Judaism does not measure success like you do either. While you are evidently more concerned with the size of one’s wallet or stethoscope, Judaism measures success by the extent to which one realizes their spiritual potential. You see, Mr Savitsky, Judaism couldn’t care less that you are “a successful businessman”, or that you are “president and chairman of ATC Health Care Services, a nationwide provider of temporary medical staffing”. Nor is it concerned with your “MBA from City University of New York.” (although the JPost likes to mention this, almost completely out of context).

Here’s to hoping that the next words to come out of Savitsky’s mouth are “I resign.”

Update: Other blogger reactions:

  • Jeff has a more detailed rebuttal of Savitsky’s assertions.
  • David demands an apology and resignation from “this pompous fat cat” (so much for “blue-eyed, clean-shaven lay leader”)
  • Allison uses the word “moron”.
  • About the author

    Picture of David Lange

    David Lange

    A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
    Picture of David Lange

    David Lange

    A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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