Although in the past I have often disagreed with the very liberal positions shared by Dr. Mark Gold and Mr. Hiam Simon in their Jewish Standard columns, I never considered it worth the time to write a response. Until, that is, I read their piece in your October 13 edition regarding the current situation in Israel. I refer specifically to their gratuitous criticism (even now?) of the ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel (whomever that term may include) who, according to their accusation, are not only not uniting with the rest of the country at this tragic hour, but “are fleeing the country as quickly as they can get on planes.”
Really? I know many people in Israel who would be identified as ultra-Orthodox, and not one of them has fled the country. On the contrary, the prominent yeshivas in Israel called their many students back early, a week before the scheduled end of their holiday vacation, so that they would all be present during this critical time. I also spoke with other people there who would not be identified as such to ask if they heard any reports about the ultra-Orthodox leaving town, and nobody had. Now, there were indeed numerous religiously observant Jews of various stripes who did leave the country after the war began, but these were Americans and other foreigners who were returning home after having been there for the holidays, not people who reside there.
I would therefore ask Dr. Gold and Mr. Simon that if they have any real evidence demonstrating a mass exodus of ultra-Orthodox Jews from Israel following the start of the war, they should please provide it. Otherwise, I would urge them to keep in mind the message of King Solomon, in keeping with the theme of their article: [There is] a time for silence and a time for speaking.
Rabbi Michael Taubes
Mark Gold and Hiam Simon respond:
Rabbi Michael Taubes has written to the Jewish Standard taking issue with a sentence in our op-ed, “A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven,” in which we speak of a Haredi exit from Israel since the attack of October 7. The sentence was written in connection to an article we saw describing the return from Israel of some Haredi U.S. citizens.
What we wrote was an incorrect and inappropriate generalization. We have since learned of many Haredi community members flying to Israel — part of a wonderful response across broad segments of the Jewish World to Hamas violence. Rabbi Taubes is correct to point this out. We thank him for his correction.