Chabad Principal Rabbi Smukler attends and dances at Yom Ha’aztmaut service

The yearly prayer event which coincides with Ma’ariv is something I have attended for more years than I care to share. I do not recall but I believe I was unable to attend last year. In some years I was lecturing at the time, but I have attended almost every year.

I learned in a Hesder Yeshivah of note; the first Hesder Yeshiva in Israel. The Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht had the written and personal approval of the Chazon Ish. We dressed in our better finery and had a special dinner celebration of thanks. I lost my two Israeli room mates to War. I think about them often: Chovav Landau and Ze’ev Roitman HY’D. Chovav Landau’s wife was pregnant with their only child at the time. They were both in their fourth year of the five year program when I met them. I was closer to Ze’ev than Chovav. Ze’ev had lost his father to Yellow Fever, because a Doctor in Rechovot, had not changed needles after injecting an Arab patient. I felt his tragedy acutely. They both had machine guns locked in our room, and both perished when their tank was hit during the first Lebanon war.

The text of Ma’ariv in our Yeshiva was not the one adopted by the Kibbutz HaDati Movement (there was one next door) nor was it the text of newly published Koren Yom Haatzmaut Machzor. It was standard  Ma’ariv.

The Yeshivah formally followed the ruling that full hallel be said in the morning but without a blessing. There was no Tachanun.  This was not a statement of ‘less’ religious zionism. Rather, it represented delicate rulings related to liturgy and halacha.

As I recall, Ma’ariv had no additions. There was no Shofar etc I’m happy to be corrected. I do not know what current practice is followed. The Yeshivah did not affiliate with Bnei Akiva formally because of a concern for mixed gender functions. In my day Bnei Akiva in Jerusalem was gender separated.

Halachically, what one says before Ma’ariv and after the concluding Aleinu prayer is of lesser importance. When said in a Shule proper, there is also halachic  import.

That being said, I was to learn, later in life that the famed Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik, otherwise known warmly as ‘the Rav’ was implacably opposed to additions to liturgy. This extended to the Holocaust and Kinos. He famously stormed out of RIETS when some ignored his ruling on Yom Haatzmaut.

Chabad’s Yeshivah and Beth Rivka Schools follow their choice. Chabad make no liturgical change and do say Tachanun. Whilst certainly not religious Zionist, they are not noted for the extreme anti Zionist rulings of the Adass Israel Congregation where Tachanun is especially said on Yom Ha’atzmaut even in the presence of a Bris Milah lest someone conclude that Adass saw any religious importance  in the State of Israel’s Independence Day.

For decades, Chabad’s boys school principal would not attend the Chabad dominated Rabbinical Council of Victoria’s gazetted service at Mizrachi. Thee council is, I believe dominated by Chabad Rabbis. This is not surprising in Melbourne where the survival and resurgence of Judaism is due in major part to Chabad.

I have been opposed to the service only being held at Mizrachi as I do not consider Mizrachi to be the ‘owner’ of this style of service. I am certain, that, for example, Caulfield Shule would gladly offer their Synagogue.

Chabad now has only one Principal: the controversial Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler.

It was then interesting for me to note Rabbi Smukler’s  front row appearance at Mizrachi last night, including his dancing circomvolution around the Bima. I concede that this may not have constituted halachic dancing (during Sefiras Haomer). He didn’t clap like Rabbi Cowen of Mizrachi’s Elsternwick Shule (Rabbi Cowen is considered a Chabad Chassid) nor did he sit on the Mizrachi wall like Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick, who spoke as President of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (and who is also a Chabad Chasid) and R Leor Broh (also a Chabad Chasid) of Mizrachi’s Beit Haroeh Shule (populated by once young marrieds, now grandfathers :-).

To be complete, unlike a general Yom Tov or a Chabad Yom Tov such as Yud Tes Kislev, I didn’t notice any Chabad Rabbi in attendance wearing their longer black Kappote).

We live in very interesting times.

May the State of Israel metamorphose into the Eretz Yisrael of our redemption, speedily, in our days, with the continued grace of God.

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

13 thoughts on “Chabad Principal Rabbi Smukler attends and dances at Yom Ha’aztmaut service”

  1. what a stupid header, we all try to include people and to command them to be together while this header tries to do the opposite

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    1. Thank you for the compliment, not. However it is the FIRST AND ONLY time a Principal of Yeshivah has participated and danced on Yom Haatzmaut. That in of itself is the news and observed by those in attendance. I would expect that most will not care except right wing elements who are starting a different style school anyway.

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  2. I was surprised to see R’ Smukler described as “controversial” too. I appreciate that you didn’t mean any insult (and controversial can sometimes be an expression of praise!) but I think in this instance it might be inappropriate.

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  3. Facts are facts. Rabbi shmukler attending even without dancing would be controversial in itself. Certainly considering that the principal has never participated, and there is a letter and a telegram in the igros kodesh to the Yeshiva from about fifty years ago that they should NOT participate in any of the celebrations. What rabbi broh and Cowen did wasn’t as a representative of a chabad mosod, hence no problem.
    Coming as a representative of Yeshiva is a different story.
    Just as rabbi groner never went, and r chaim Gutnick did.
    And certainly rabbi groner was as unifying a figure as anyone else.

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    1. That one is for you, Abe, and I know you come from a pure spot from personal interaction with you. You should know, though, that despite me actually agreeing with you as a general rule, I am actually more concerned about those who DAVKA say Tachanun at a Bris on the day when HaShem paskened! Even though they do so at the direction of their Moro D’asro. I have, I believe, written about that matter, and THAT is פירוד of a type which the late and great שו׳ת משנה שכיר railed against before his extermination by the Nazis and considered the very grave mistake of his great Rebbe, the Munkatcher. And yes, I’m aware of other noted Rabonim who allegedly did what the Moro D’Asro of Adass commanded.

      For small minded readers (and that is not you Abe) that does not constitute hate; it is VEHEMENT opposition to such a weltanschauung. Moshiach will tell us, and I expect many will be in disbelief. I may also be wrong but I am far more convinced by קול דודי דופק than ויואל משה

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    2. By the way his name is written Smukler, although I realise that in Yiddish it may be pronounced as you have written. Again, I would be interested in the letter. Note: dancing actually is of halachic import in Hilchos Shabbos and I cannot claim he was halachically dancing.

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