27 August 2016

The Rebbetzin – An Amazing Opportunity

The following is from The Tablet Magazine, that also featured a tribute to Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis A”H. The fascinating part of this article was the inclusion of  4 Tapes of her 1973 Madison Square Garden appearance for the rescue of Jewish neshomos from a spiritual genocide as she saw it, greater than the European one. You can hear her outstanding and penetrating pleas to young Jews to rediscover and appreciate their heritage. Listen to her passionate pleas . . . a survivor with her family from Buchenwald, the Rebbetzin realized her mission here on earth.

"Esther Jungreis, who died on Tuesday at the age of 80, was an Orthodox Jewish outreach pioneer who famously crusaded against secularism, liberalism, and the assimilation of the American Jewish community, a phenomenon she called 'spiritual genocide.’"

"She led mass revivals across the globe throughout the ’70s and ’80s—spectacles where thousands of young Jews sang and prayed together as she held forth with her message. She published books, pamphlets, and a decades-long weekly column in The Jewish Press in an effort to articulate the purpose of Jewish tradition in modern America. Her softly demanding Hungarian-accented English is already the stuff of legend."

In 1973 she founded Hineni, an organization that brought “fallen Jews back to a fundamental faith.” The New York Times would later dub her the “Jewish Billy Graham.” She stood at the head of the Baal Teshuvah movement, a “return to Judaism” campaign set amid a countercultural moment that witnessed both a larger American religious awakening as well as an ascension of ethnic pride. It is a phenomenon that continues to puzzle observers who have never really figured out what to make of people who reject their autonomy in favor of a relatively unforgiving and wholly totalizing system of obligation (especially, as it were, women). Jungreis called on Jews to testify as Moses did (“Here I am”), and to accept the unpalatable idea that they are unique, special, chosen, and obligated to live a life dedicated to God’s commandments. In her last article for The Jewish Press, published a week before she died, Jungreis wrote that she was afraid of her own people “who have forgotten who we are.”

Our history is constant replay—again and again tragedies befall us, yet we refuse to comprehend. If only we were willing to understand. But no matter how unbearable our pain, how agonizing our suffering, we continue to reject it. Every day a Bas Kol, a Heavenly Voice, calls us, but we choose to remain deaf. We have shed our priestly garments and no longer recognize ourselves. Time and again G-d sends His prophets to remind us that our destiny is different from that of other nations, that our very existence is directly linked to our adherence to G-d’s commandments. Hashem has guaranteed our eternity, for we, the Jewish people, have been chosen to be His witnesses. Tragically, though, we fail to see the glory of our calling, and that is the painful reality of our long, tormented exile.

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