Why Sending Bnei Akiva Students to Protest WoW is wrong,

Reports Bnei Akiva affiliated schools in Israel have been instructed to send their students to protest the Women of the Wall is disturbing in many levels.

It highlights the notion that Religious Zionism no longer (did it ever?) represents one religious philosophy. There are Modern Orthodox Religious Zionists and their are Chareidi Religious Zionisits (they are called Chardal – Chareidi L’eumi). The Women of the Wall issue is only one of the fault lines where the difference can be seen. Kol Ishawomen in public office, Messianism and soldiers refusing direct orders from commanders are some others.
It is also disturbing on an educational level. Children should not be carted out to demonstrations. Children should be educated. If the Bnei Akiva educators are really interested in teaching their students what should happen is that a representative from Women of the Wall should be invited to the schools to discuss and debate the issue with someone opposed to them. That will give the students a chance to formulate an opinion on an issue that has become central in Israel religious, social and political life. Carting out these girls does nothing other than to boost the numbers of protesters. As such, the girls are being used.
Some will recall (myself included ) being bussed to Washington DC to participate in mass rallies on behalf of Soviet Jewry and participating in pro-Israel rallies. Were we used? Do we exploit our children when taking them to pro Israel rallies? I think there is a difference.
There are two sides to the policy question of what the status of the kotel should be and Jewish schools should educate their students about those two sides. On the other hand, regarding Soviet Jewry movement or general support for Israel, the school and parents who send kids there have already made a decision about being pro-Israel and supporting Jews in danger around the world. They see that is part and parcel of the educational mission of the school.
Of course, when it comes to Soviet Jewry we must not forget that basic human rights were being denied and lives were at stake.
Bnei Akiva is crucially important as it has historically educated towards serious engagement in Torah along with an absolute commitment to being a constructive force in the building of Medinat Yisrael. 
Communities across the globe (including mine) benefit from the leadership training that is the hallmark of Bnei Akiva. Bnei Akiva chanichim and bogrim (participants and graduates) from my own community have gone on to become leaders on a local and a national level. Bnei Akia snif, special programs and shabbatonim have transformed our shul. We could not be prouder of our Bnei Akiva shlichim, bnot sheirut and participants and we could not be happier that we support Bnei Akia.
I am certain that this decision does not represent the thinking of many within the leadership of Bnei Akiva. I hope that there is an outcry from them.
Hauling girls to a protest is not leadership training. Bnei Akiva schools should stick to what they do best. Educating, inspiring and training the next generation of Jewish leaders.


3 Responses to Why Sending Bnei Akiva Students to Protest WoW is wrong,

  1. cyberdov says:

    Thanks for raising the issue. What about taking students to protests against Iran? Perhaps most Orthodox Jews in NYC (where I live) would be in favor, but I see it as a mistake. Should my kids’ school take the kids there? Should schools take kids to AIPAC conferences, or to J Street? What role do the parents play in these decisions? Not easy questions. Moreover, in the early days of SSSJ, I have the impression that the Jewish establishment was not in favor of protests – should/would schools have participated?
    Anyway, I think it is naive to expect the BA leadership to put a stop to this, as the movement is (hopefully, at least) split on the issue. I think that Bnei Akiva members and perhaps “customers” (like shuls and schools who have BA shlichim) are the ones who need to raise an outcry.

  2. Tuvia says:

    “Of course, when it comes to Soviet Jewry we must not forget that basic human rights were being denied and lives were at stake.”

    In keeping with Enlightenment principles, yes — of couse one should protest the struggle of any people for dignity, human rights, liberty.

    The WoW — I would love to see more Jews come to their defense. Not because they like the idea of WoW being there, but because they much more dislike the idea of strangling the rights and dignity of another.

    Jews have a lot to learn about G-d from the man-made Bill of Rights.


  3. Thank you for your post.

    Please visit https://www.facebook.com/RavShaulFeldman and see Rabbi Shaul Feldman’s, Director of Bnei Akiva of the US and Canada, post from October 4th regarding this demonstration.

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