Edah HaChareidis

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The Edah HaChareidis (Hebrew: העדה החרדית HaEdah HaChareidis, "The Chareidi Community"), also written Edah Haredit, is a prominent Haredi communal organization in Jerusalem, representing the most fanatical wing of Haredi Judaism in Jerusalem. The Edah provides all the facilities needed by a Jewish community, including kashrus (kosher product supervision), mikvas (ritual baths), an eruv (allowing people to carry objects with them on Shabbos) and rabbinical decisors. The Edah is well known for being strongly opposed to Zionism, which it condemns as heretical and opposed to Judaism.

The rabbinate of the Edah is popularly known as "the Badatz." The main stronghold of the Edah HaChareidis is Jerusalem's Meah Shearim neighborhood. The main Edah HaChareidis, which consists of Ashkenazi Jews, has links with a similarly-named, though not as well-known, Sephardi Edah HaCharedit.

History

The Edah was founded by Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld and Rabbi Yitzchok Yerucham Diskin (son of Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin, Rabbi of Brisk, Lithuania) in 1919, prior to the establishment of the Chief Rabbinate by the Zionist movement under British auspices. Rabbi Sonnenfeld was named the first Av Beis Din (Chief Justice) of the Edah Chareidis, a position he held until his passing in 1932. His tenure saw the Ottoman Empire's control over the Holy Land weakening, and the British gaining control of the British Mandate of Palestine after World War I. The British chose to create a new Zionist rabbinical hierarchy under the newly-created Chief Rabbinate of Palestine, which later became the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, of which, in 1921, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook became the first Chief Rabbi. The Edah HaChareidis, which was - and still is - strongly anti-Zionist, resisted these moves and opposed the new British-created Zionist Chief Rabbinate and has never recognized its authority.

Rabbi Sonnenfeld was succeeded in 1932 by Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, also known as the Maharitz and founder of Dushinsky Hasidism. Meanwhile, in 1945, Agudath Israel, formerly aligned with the Edah, broke away from it and adopted a more moderate stance against Zionism. Rabbi Dushinsky was succeeded in 1948 by Rabbi Zelig Reuven Bengis, who was succeeded in 1953 by the Satmar Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum. Rabbi Teitelbaum had emigrated to New York in 1948 after having lived in Jerusalem for 3 years, but retained his position as Av Beis Din of the Edah HaChareidis and led the Edah from New York, simultaneously holding the positions of Gavad (Chief Justice) and Nasi (President).

Upon Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum's passing, his nephew, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, succeeded him both as Rebbe of Satmar and as Nasi of the Edah, a position which he held until his passing in 2006, when he was replaced by Rabbi Dovid Soloveitchik of Brisk.

The position of Gavad went from Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum to Rabbi Yitzchok Yaakov Weiss, who was succeeded in 1989 by Rabbi Moshe Aryeh Freund, who was replaced in 1996 by Rabbi Yisroel Moshe Dushinsky (son of Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, and Rebbe of Dushinsky), who was replaced in 2002 by the current Gavad, Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss.

Groups affiliated with the Edah HaChareidis include the Hasidic groups Satmar, Dushinsky, Toldos Aharon, Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok, Mishkenos HoRoim, as well as the community of the Brisker yeshiva. The Hasidic group Belz, which was previously closely affiliated with the Edah, broke away from it in 1980.

Anti-Zionist ideology

The anti-Zionist stance of the Edah is supported by the book Vayoel Moshe, written by former Edah President and Chief Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, which is regarded as the standard by which all issues relating to the modern State of Israel are determined. For example, the Edah forbids voting in the elections for the Knesset (Israeli parliament), and forbids accepting accept any funding from the Israeli government (such as subsidies for schools and unemployment benefits), or accepting Israeli citizenship through the Law of Return.[1] According to Ynetnews, "It [the Edah} has declared an ideological war against the "heretic Zionist government."[2]

Despite the anti-Zionist stance of the Edah HaChareidis, a fragile cooperation is maintained with the state-run Chief Rabbinate, for example for the purpose of registering marriages and divorces (although this aspect does predate the state of Israel). On the other hand, converts to Judaism who convert through the Edah HaChareidis are not recognized as Jews by the state for the purpose of obtaining Israeli citizenship via the Law of Return, similar to the situation faced by all converts who convert in any framework other than the official State Rabbinate. [3]

In 2002, the Badatz of the Edah wrote a complimentary introduction to Vayoel Moshe. The introduction mentioned: "and it is necessary to learn about this subject [of Zionism]... the holy book Vayoel Moshe will open [its readers] eyes to see [the reasons behind] all troubles and horrors of our time, and will prevent readers from being drawn after the Zionist heresy, may the Merciful One save us."[4]

Sphere of influence

Followers of the movements which constitute the Edah mainly live in the northern areas of Jerusalem (from Har Nof to Sanhedria) and the city of Beit Shemesh, 20 kilometers west of Jerusalem. In practice, through its kashrus authority and halachic decisions made by its leaders, its influence is felt throughout Israel and in much of the Diaspora. It is also well known to the larger Israeli public due to its opposition to Zionism, and its strong opposition to events such as gay parades in Jerusalem.

Kashrut supervision

The Edah HaChareidis is known for its high standards in rabbinical supervision of kosher food, and is considered to be one of the strictest hechsheirim in Israel. It is often simply known as the hechsher of the "Badatz", which stands for Beis Din Tzedek or "Court [of] Righteous Law". Products certified by the Edah are marked with the well-known logo of the Edah.

Leadership

For more information, see: Edah HaChareidis/Leadership.

The current Nasi is Rabbi Dovid Soloveitchik, rosh yeshiva of Brisk. The current Gavad is Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss, and the current Ravad is Rabbi Moishe Sternbuch.

References

  1. Ynetnews
  2. Ynetnews
  3. [1]
  4. Introduction, Sefer Yalkut Amorim Vayoel Moshe.