DRAMA: Rabbi Aharon Feldman And Rabbi Malkiel Kotler Threaten To Quit Moetzes Over WZO Controversy

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Rabbi Aharon Feldman (left) and Rabbi Malkiel Kotler (right) speaking at the Agudah convention

NEW YORK (VINnews) — Over recent months, many news outlets and social media platforms have been abuzz with a topic, known as the WZO elections. Although it has proved to be a hotly debated topic, many are still unaware as to what exactly this issue pertains to, as well as what the ramifications are.

This article will attempt to clear up that confusion, as well as to bring previously unknown facts to light, revealing much behind the scenes drama that has been preventing some of America’s well known Gedolim from making their opinion known on the matter.

Let’s start from the beginning. WZO stands for the World Zionist Organization. The WZO is an organization made up of mostly Americans that identify as reform and progressive Jews. Their agenda is to infiltrate Israeli society, and discard much of the Charedi influence from policy making. Issues they are trying to influence include having an egalitarian prayer area at the Kosel, that the religious Rabbanim should not oversee legal marriages, divorce & even conversions in Israel, as well as many other issues that directly contradict the values of the Charedi community.

The way the WZO is able to infiltrate Israeli policy-making, is by working with the Jewish Agency and other national trusts that distribute significant funding to projects and movements they wish to advance.

Every five years the World Zionist Congress has elections. These elections determine the composition of the World Zionist Congress which makes numerous decisions in both policy and fund allocations that directly affect the status quo of the aforementioned policies.

In case there is any doubt as to the true motivations of the WZO, the following is an excerpt of an email sent out by Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman & Rabbi Rick Jacobs of the Union for Reform Judaism:

Today, we are writing to share an urgent appeal concerning the World Zionist Congress election…

…The results of the election are nothing short of essential for the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), whose funding streams are determined by the results of the election.

So much of the dramatic growth of our Movement in Israel throughout the past five years can be traced directly to our success in the 2015 WZC election. This year, our Reform partners in Israel have asked over and over again, with deep concern, about our campaign work here in the United States – and they cannot stress enough the importance of a strong showing by our Movement…

…However, it is with both sadness and alarm that we have witnessed some truly ugly efforts to undermine us, carried out by those who recognize that our success will allow us to more effectively advance our Reform views and values. Some slates have gone so far as to explicitly claim that we are supporters of BDS and haters of “true Judaism.”

They fear that our victory would be critical in advancing religious pluralism, peace, and economic justice in Israel. They are right to be afraid – because that is exactly what we intend to do!…

This email openly confirms the agenda of the Reform movement through their ARZA party to use the WZO to promote their agenda. Some in the American orthodox community have doubted how important this campaign is and if the stakes are real. Well, according to the Reform movement, “The results of the election are nothing short of essential for…Reform and Progressive Judaism, whose funding streams are determined by the results of the election.” And, “So much of the dramatic growth of our Movement in Israel throughout the past five years can be traced directly to our success in the 2015 WZC election.”

Here is where the story takes a dramatic turn.

Recently, one Rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Elya Brudny had reportedly announced his support of those voting in the WZO elections. Shortly thereafter, he was branded a “Zionist” on photoshopped signs that were hung all over Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood.

The absurdity of that statement is obvious. Participation in the elections is not an endorsement of anything the WZO was or is. Anyone who cares at all about Israel having policies that don’t contradict Torah values would do well to vote in an election that can help drain the funding for the opposing effort.

There was outrage in the Yeshiva and many complained to the leadership to demand that the Yeshiva take action against the person responsible. In fact there was even a demand that there be a public Asifa (gathering) to denounce this outrageous chutzpah. For reasons that had not been known at the time, the plan was squashed.

It later became known, that the Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Malkiel Kotler was vehemently opposed to voting in the WZO.

Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky of Phildelphia Yeshiva had also recently taken the same position as Rabbi Brudny. A viral phone recording has circulated that backs this up.

In this case, there appeared to be strong pushback from two prominent Rosh Yeshivos in America, Rabbi Malkiel Kotler of BMG and Rabbi Aharon Feldman of Ner Yisroel in Baltimore. Both are ardent supporters of the extreme views of the late Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, who encouraged violent protests against the Israeli Government in response to the IDF draft controversy.

Well placed sources tell VIN that Rabbi Feldman and Rabbi Kotler have threatened Rabbi Kamenetsky that they will quit the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of Agudath Israel if he does not pull his endorsement.

Additionally it appears that the Moetzes themselves are considering releasing a letter with an official statement on this debacle, however VIN has been unable to verify the details of this letter or when it will be released.

It is the hope of VIN that this article will serve to clarify the true ramifications of the WZO elections, as well as to publicize the true positions of some of America’s leading rabbonim and those who oppose them.


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