Israel – The major hassidic groups in Israel will not run the usual summer vacation programs for students from the Fast of the Ninth of Av to the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul because of the current military campaign several hassidic spokesmen said on Tuesday.
The large Gur, Belz, Viznitz and Sanz hassidic groups, among others, are all expected to cancel the usual summer vacation activities for students, and maintain a substantial study program in yeshivas.
The Fast of the Ninth of Av is the traditional end of the summer yeshiva semester and many institutions arrange for holiday excursions, hikes and other activities for their students along side a half-day study program.
According to a spokesman for Gur, the schedule for the three weeks between semesters this year will include the study of lighter texts alongside the usual curriculum of Talmud while the study environment will be less formal than during the official semester but he said that the same study hours as normal term-time will be observed.
A spokesman for the Belz hassidim told The Jerusalem Post the Belz Rebbe Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach has said that now is not the time for yeshiva students to go on vacations and hikes when soldiers are engaged in war and Israel’s security situation is so severe, and emphasised the widespread belief in the haredi world that the merit of Torah study provides spiritual and even physical protection for the Jewish people.
This claim is widely cited by the haredi public and leadership as a reason for not enlisting in the IDF since it would damage Israel’s spiritual protection.
The Gur spokesman said that the general feeling within the hassidic community at the moment is that such vacations are not appropriate in the current circumstances.
“You cant say the whole time that those who study Torah provide protection and salvation for the Jewish people and then go on vacation,” he said.
“When the country needs to be defended then it is not appropriate for yeshiva students to go on holiday.”
According to a leading figure within the non-hassidic haredi community, yeshivas in that sector will also not put on the usual summer vacation plans although whether or not students will remain in yeshiva has not yet been decided.
Also of note within the haredi community is the recent publication by the haredi Mishpacha weekly newspaper of the pictures and short biographies of the many soldiers who have been killed in Operation Protective Edge.
It is the first time that a haredi publication has adopted this practice and one haredi commentator described it as a significant development within the community.
Eliezer Shulman, an editor for Mishpacha Magazine, told the post that the haredi community is extremely concerned about the wellbeing of the soldiers, pointing to various prayer initiatives for IDF forces and other programs which have been adopted by the haredi sector.
He said that the newspaper had received a lot of positive feedback for publishing the photos and details of the fallen soldiers, and that people had commented that it helped them feel connected to those killed instead of relating to them as simply names on a radio broadcast.
Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post