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Anti-kiruv comic strip causes Haiti Earthquake

Avi Shafran of Agudath Yisroel fameseems to beblaming the Haiti Earthquake on this comic strip by Eli Valley. Make sure to enlarge the comic strip and read it, it’s hilarious. The comic strip depicts almost exactly what I feel about certain Kiruv institutions that, in my opinion,like to rush impressionable young folks into a life of baby making and torah learning, by inviting them over for shabbos meals and bribing them with free trips to Israel.

Hat tip to the Kvetcher

Editor’s Note: to read Avi Shafran’s article in its entirety, see http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2010/01/22/the-earth-trembles/and for his follow up response, see http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2010/01/27/a-personal-note-to-cross-currents-readers/

{ 84 comments… add one }
  • Phil January 27, 2010, 8:18 AM

    That comic strip looks like something out of Al Jazeera. You sure it wasn’t written by hamas?

    • Brooke January 27, 2010, 3:46 PM

      the cartoonist clearly has talent.
      but maybe i’m not the target audience tho, because i feel very indifferent about it. i didn’t laugh, i didn’t get riled up. it was just, eh. which i would think is the worst insult to a satirist, writer, or comedian. (and what’s up with the shylock looking rabbis? everyone calm down. yes, it’s a Shakespeare reference on FS)

  • Mark January 27, 2010, 9:01 AM

    I just thought of an excellent idea! Someone needs to find out what kind of comic to draw to cause an earthquake in Iran centered on their nuclear facilities.

    • Frumsatire Fan January 27, 2010, 11:05 AM

      Easy! Coordinates of NYC (measured from the Kotel), multiplied by coordinates of Iran nuclear facilities, divided by coordinates of Haiti = X. Go there, draw cartoon, wait.

  • Dave January 27, 2010, 9:59 AM

    How dare a frei cartoonist quote Orthodox rabbis!

  • confused January 27, 2010, 10:25 AM

    I dont understand how the cartoon mocks “Kiruv institutions that like to rush impressionable young folks into a life of baby making and torah learning, by inviting them over for shabbos meals and bribing them with free trips Israel.”, it seems to mock all frum jews who as having backwards fundamentalist beliefs? could you please explain it to me. thanks.
    (it was funny, though im sure you can see why the people it mocked got offended)

    • abandoning eden January 27, 2010, 10:27 AM

      well I think the whole point was that some BTs are really into an idealized vision of judaism and have no idea what the actual views of haredi jews are until they have already been sucked in.

      • still confused January 27, 2010, 11:23 AM

        Of course that part i got, i just dont see how frumsatire understood it his way. all it does is mock chardim not their kiruv methods.
        And just because a few (many?)charedim have those views doesnt mean all do. A few years a go an isreali mk (it may have been yossi sarid but i coudnt find it so im not sure) said when he sees large charedi families he understands hitler, is that the view of all secular isreails, obviously not we have the sense to know that he doesnt speak for all. neither do blog commenters.

      • tesyaa January 27, 2010, 11:47 AM


        • tesyaa January 27, 2010, 11:48 AM

          Bingo to AE, I meant

  • abandoning eden January 27, 2010, 10:25 AM

    phil- i think that comic is a pretty accurate depiction of the way ultra-orthodox jews look to non-orthodox jews.

    • Sergey Kadinsky January 27, 2010, 6:45 PM

      It’s also an accurate depiction of how reformists view orthodox Jews. Perhaps they’re jealous, as they continue to sink into irrelevance.

  • Phil January 27, 2010, 10:42 AM


    You’ve got a pretty twisted view of orthodox Jews. I have lot’s of non religious family and friends, I don’t look at them that way at all.

    I know which ones find religious discussion interesting, and which ones don’t want to hear about it. At the end of the day, we all get along.

    Whoever put this together obviously has something against frum people. He found the worst possible quotes, and placed them in a cartoon where they are out of their original context.

    This cartoon reminds me of the way antisemites depict Jews in islamic or neo nazi cartoons. All were missing is the blood baked matza and dollar signs in the eyes.

    • Dave January 27, 2010, 10:45 AM

      Please, given that he has given the sources for the quotes, explain why these are “out of context” and give us the context in which they would be acceptable.

      • Phil January 27, 2010, 10:50 AM


        Whichever context they were said, definitely weren’t the ones portayed in the cartoon. Reminds me of those fake interviews Weird Al did with some stars like Madonna.

        • Dave January 27, 2010, 10:52 AM

          And I’m willing to bet that the were also not said by two-dimensional line art.

          The point of the comic, it appears to me, is the divide between what is being said by Orthodox figures in Israel, and what is said to kiruv targets on their Birthright trip.

          So, if you want to complain about the quotes, show me a context in which they are reasonable.

          • Phil January 27, 2010, 11:10 AM


            I’m not going to attempt to explain the quotes, as I wasn’t the one that said them, nor do I know how or why they were said. I wasn’t complaining about the quotes either.

            FYI, Birthright has nothing to do with kiruv. It’s geared to have people interested in the land Israel and possibly aliyah.

            • Dave January 27, 2010, 11:11 AM

              Yes and no.

              Some of the Birthright trips (remember, they are organized by separate groups) are definitely tied to Kiruv.

              If you don’t object to the quotes, I’m trying to figure out what the objection is to the comic.

      • still confused January 27, 2010, 11:26 AM

        Dave, where are the sources for the qoutes, i cnat find them. thanks

        • still confused January 27, 2010, 11:31 AM

          never mind, i found it

    • Mark January 27, 2010, 11:02 AM

      I don’t know about blood for matza, wouldn’t be kosher. But many kiruv institutions DO attempt to attract wealthy BT’s to help fund their future kiruv efforts.

      I bet most of the people upset at this comic are the BT’s themselves or someone who has an interest, financial or otherwise, in the BT “industry”.

  • Yochanan January 27, 2010, 11:02 AM

    Wow. Looks like someone took the bad acid.

    I liked the references to shtetl nostalgia.

    Shouldn’t he have changed his name to something like Barukh at the end?

  • less confused January 27, 2010, 12:12 PM

    Thers a lot of anger and misunderstanding here, so ill try to explain Avi Shafran i dont think this will make any of you religous-haters any less hatefull, but at least youll understand what he meant so you can diect your hatred appropriatly.

    First of all, whether you agree or not with the actual cartoon, there is no denying that it was very offensive to frummies.
    Avi Shafran’s comments were the exact opposite of Pat Robertson’s. Mr. Robertson blamed the Haitians for what happned to them. Orthodox jews believe that the world was created for the torah, and those who serve it. Thwerefore we (frum jews) are responsible for what happens, we have to learn from disasters to work on ourselves for the betterment of the world. Just like scientists will study how the earthquake couldve beed predicted better, engineers will study how to build structures that withstand earthquakes, and obviously there is no offense in that, frum jews look to see how we can improve ourselves. His comment used the comic as a springboard for what he felt we can improve ourselves in. There is no denying that there is a lot of lashan hara on blogs (scroll up if youd like), we view lashan harah as a sin. it is probably the most ubiquitous of sins, it would be a great thing if we can all use the tragedy as an impetus to better ourselves.
    Hope this helps

    • G*3 January 27, 2010, 1:38 PM

      They’re both insulting. Pat Robertson said the Hatians made a deal with the devil and that evil is responsible for their misfortunes. Avi Shafran is saying that the Hatians are so inconsequantial in their own right that God kills tens of thousands of them to send Jewish people a message that they have to play nice with each other.

      I’m not sure which is worse, saying they’re evil or saying their lives are insignificant.

      • less confused January 27, 2010, 1:52 PM

        im not sure either, but at least now you can direct your hate properly. im glad to have helped

        • G*3 January 27, 2010, 3:48 PM

          Hate? I don’t know either of them well enough or care enough to hate them. I think what they said is stupid and insulting, but hate?

      • John January 27, 2010, 3:36 PM

        au contraire my dear G*6 it is you who said their lives were insignificant, many of them died young, what contribution have they left? in your eyes-nothing. in mine and Avi shafran’s – a desire to better ourselves. Why did god choose them? thats a blame question which as i mentioned we cant possibly know, but at least some miniscule change may come from the thousands of lives lost. no thanks to you

        • G*3 January 27, 2010, 3:44 PM

          Don’t play with words. Avi Shafran is implying that these people’s lives are so insignificant that God killed tens of thousands of them to teach us a lesson.

          You seem to be saying that if we learn a lesson from their deaths, that gives their lives significance. I’m trying to say that their lives are as significant as any other person’s, and to reduce their deaths to a warning to the Jewish people to be nice to each other is dehumanizing and grossly insulting towards the people in Haiti.

          • John January 27, 2010, 3:53 PM

            why is it more insulting than saying “thousands of people died how sad yawn, lets see what silly things the frummies said so we can laugh at them”
            If you believe in a god (which i assume you dont) there must be a reason for everything, we cant understand the reason, but lets take it as a message to us.

            • G*3 January 27, 2010, 5:17 PM

              > why is it more insulting than saying thousands of people died how sad yawn, lets see what silly things the frummies said so we can laugh at them

              Who said yawn? Thousands of people died, and thats very sad. Full stop.
              And whos laughing? R Shafran said something disturbing, not something funny. We (or at least I) are condemning his statement, not laughing at him.

              > If you believe in a god (which i assume you dont) there must be a reason for everything, we cant understand the reason, but lets take it as a message to us.

              Dont you see that the first part of your sentence contradicts the second part? If you cant understand the reason, leave it at that. I still wouldnt agree, but at least that wouldnt be insulting towards anyone. To take it as a message to us is to arbitrarily attach meaning to something which we cant understand the reason for, meaning which reduces the deaths of tens of thousands of people to nothing more than a memo to the Jewish people.

              • John January 27, 2010, 5:25 PM

                Im not sure if your delibertly being difflcult or you really dont understand the orthodox viewpoint. so ill try with a mashal like they did in grade school: if you hear a blaring alarm even if youre not sure what it means you take note, you’ll get up look around see what action needs to be taken. I dont know why it bothers you if we attach meaning to such a loud message even if we dont know what exactly it is, we can try.
                If what is offending you is the stament that the world was created for the torah and those who serve it, that is another story, that i can understand but if you accept that (as i believe every frum jew would), then there is nothing offensive about the comments shafran made.

                • Nadinee January 27, 2010, 9:50 PM

                  That doesn’t sound like an ancient religious belief, it just sounds like typical modern-day narcissism: everything that happens anywhere in the world is all about ME and how it makes me feel. 150 000 people are dead, but it’s all about us. It’s insane actually.

                  • Nadine January 27, 2010, 9:52 PM

                    I mis-spelt my own name! I don’t know why I’m pulling that face^

                  • John January 27, 2010, 9:57 PM

                    youre entitled, but at least you understand the jewish way of viewing the world. though id subsitute “us” for “me”

                    • John January 27, 2010, 10:04 PM

                      *to be clear, i meant avi shafran, and frummies way of viewing. once you understand that view and undertand shafran’s article , his comments oh haiti shouldnt seem offensive at all. (though of course you probably will view the frummie weltanschauung as narcissitic and insane)

                    • Nadine January 28, 2010, 2:17 AM

                      I get your point but if God is going to keep killing random people until Jews stop insulting each other and disagreeing about religious matters, we’re all doomed 😉

                    • John January 28, 2010, 7:13 AM

                      Nadine, alas of course you are right.
                      G*3, if you think about it the only differencce between “the world revolves around us” ie we are more important and “everyone else is insignificant” ie they are less important is a semantics argument.
                      Even if you believe workning to better ourselves does nothing, at least you can (i hope appreceate the effort)
                      > “that they are killed in huge numbers merely to send Orthodox Jews” i beleiev this is the 5th time im trying to expalin thats not the reason they died, nobody (besides you and heshi) ever said it is. reread my previous comments if you must.
                      and as an aside im curious which orthodox jews dont believe the world was created for the torah, in their view what’s the purpose? For that matter every religion believes the world was created so that god/allah/zeus/jupiter/odin or whomever could be served.

                  • G*3 January 28, 2010, 4:34 AM

                    > That doesnt sound like an ancient religious belief, it just sounds like typical modern-day narcissism: everything that happens anywhere in the world is all about ME and how it makes me feel.

                    If anything, ancient people were far more ethnocentric than we are. And remember that Narcissus is a character from ancient Greek mythology.

                • G*3 January 28, 2010, 4:32 AM

                  > Im not sure if your delibertly being difflcult or you really dont understand the orthodox viewpoint.

                  Neither. I disagree with this particular interpretation of the Orthodox viewpoint, for all that it may be traditional. There are many people within the Orthodox community who would agree that the world does not revolve around us. But I suppose youre right that this is the Chareidi view. I dont think that the fact R Shafrans view is shared by his community justifies it.

                  There is nothing wrong with looking around to see what action needs to be taken. The action needed is to help the Haitian people. If R Shafran was calling for people to say Tehillim for them, fine. Asking people to donate money would be even better. Calling on the Jewish people to lay off criticizing rabbonim is worse than useless. Its like hearing a fire alarm go off and grabbing a flamethrower to fight off the (non-existent) violent attackers. It does nothing to help the Haitians and adds insult to injury.

                  > if you accept that (as i believe every frum jew would), then there is nothing offensive about the comments shafran made.

                  No, there would be nothing offensive about it from within that particular point of view. Its still offensive from every other point of view. And of course there is a difference between saying the worlds purpose is those who follow the Torah and the enormously more insulting position that the rest of humanity is of so little significance that they are killed in huge numbers merely to send Orthodox Jews (because, of course, from this point of view even the rest of the Jewish people dont really count) a message.

                  There is a difference between saying that being Gods chosen people gives us a greater responsibility than other nations and saying those other people are completely insignificant.

  • Heshy Fried January 27, 2010, 12:52 PM

    I totally understand why it was offensive to frummies – but I was roling on the flor as I read it, then again many frummies are offended by everything I write and I get loads of mail claiming I am an anti-Semitic Chillul Hashem.

    • less confused January 27, 2010, 1:35 PM

      You are anti-frummie, dont you agree? since that hasnt entered the vernacular yet people resort to the more inclusive anti-semitism
      and even if you dont believe you are a chilul hashem, the comments on your blogs that mock religion in general, and juadism in particular deffinitly are

      • Heshy Fried January 27, 2010, 1:49 PM

        I’m not anti-frummie at at all, you obviously don’t understand most of the things you read here. If I was anti-frummie why would I be frum? I like to mock frummies and everyone else in the Jewish community, but it’s not in a spirited way – some people think that all humor pointed at them is mean or anti, but that’s what Jewish humor is – it’s supposed to be self deprecating and mocking of our own stupidity.

  • Yochanan January 27, 2010, 12:58 PM

    Why doesn’t hiding molesters cause earthquakes?

    • less confused January 27, 2010, 1:32 PM

      we dont know what causes earthquakes, reread avi shafran he doesnt claim to know. we do know where our community needs improvment lashon harah is a good start, most people dont hiding child mollesters isnt nearly as prevelant as lashan harah. though i promise to stop, now ill work on lashan harah

      • G*3 January 27, 2010, 1:39 PM

        Sure we do. Tension in fault lines.

        • Heshy Fried January 27, 2010, 1:52 PM

          Tectonic plates baby

        • less confused January 27, 2010, 1:55 PM

          ah, and what casues the tension? 🙂

          • Dave January 27, 2010, 2:37 PM

            What else? Tuition.

            • less confused January 27, 2010, 2:41 PM

              Yes, but also lashan horah see and weve come full circle

              • Heshy Fried January 27, 2010, 2:50 PM

                So by your logic the world should have been destroyed by one big earthquake. Finding reasons as to why bad things happen is very dangerous territory, but fear not I have a post about this idea coming up.

                • John January 27, 2010, 3:00 PM

                  no, sorry if wasnt clear, we dont find reasons why things happen you are right that is very dangerous. That is a question going back millenia. Mortals cant undertand god. You misunderstood shafran, we look at tragedies and try to better ourselves. How could anybody possibly know why this happned maybe it was lashan hara, maybe child mollesters, or anything else. but to sit back and remain unaffected and unchanged in the face of this tragedy isnt the jewish way. Avi shafran decided to focus on lashan harah (a common go-to-subject for these things).

                • John January 27, 2010, 3:32 PM

                  thank you for posting the article and follow up in full, was surprisingly honest of you. Without reading the i call your attention to the following “1) I did not blame the earthquake on anything, much less a particular piece of writing or art. I simply cited the Jewish mandate to soul-search in the wake of disaster, and quoted a Godol of our generation who suggested that speech fueled by ill will is a particularly rampant evil in our day. I cited the cartoon and editorial as recent examples, nothing more. ” basically exactly what i said.

                  • Brooke January 27, 2010, 3:47 PM

                    I appreciate that also. thank you, Heshy or Editor (whoever you are)

                    • Editor January 28, 2010, 5:27 PM

                      Thanks for the shoutout, Brooke (and John)

          • G*3 January 27, 2010, 3:55 PM

            > ah, and what casues the tension?

            Tectonic plates rubbing against each other. Nothing more.

            Like Heshy said, trying to find reasons for bad things is dangerous. Humans are wired to look for patterns, and that together with our intesnse desire for the world to be just causes us to come up with metaphysical reasons for purely natural phenomena.

  • ari January 27, 2010, 6:21 PM

    theres something about that comic that creaps me out

    • Sergey Kadinsky January 27, 2010, 6:47 PM

      It’s creepy because the cartoonist could easily have been from Tehran Times.

  • YY January 27, 2010, 10:16 PM

    The cartoon is really a sick slander against all Orthodox Jews. The majority of the stuff he’s talking about would only be agreed to be the lunatic fringe of Orthodoxy.

  • FrumGer January 28, 2010, 7:11 PM

    G-d verbot that we actually like being jewish, love it even and want other jews to expirience the joys of living a meaningful life. instead of despirately trying to erase judasim of the face of the earth like frie jews seem to be so anxious to do… getting a law degree, or doctorate in pediatrics is not judaism.

    • Shimon January 29, 2010, 4:20 AM

      Yeah, the sages just studied Torah all day… which is why Hillel made his living as a woodcutter, Maimonides & Nachmanides were physicians, the Vilna Goan studied the works of Euclid (the Greek mathematician), Rashi grew grapes, and the Torah lays out rules for farmers and employers to follow. Clearly, Jewish Tradition and the Torah are against people having jobs to support themselves like farming or being a doctor.

      And, I mean, its not like Frum people ever have to worry about needing lawyers to defend themselves in secular court either, right?

      • Sergeant J January 29, 2010, 8:36 PM

        Hmm, I recall reading that a sailor is required to make love to his wife once every six months. I guess the rest of the time he is in Yeshiva?

    • Nadine February 1, 2010, 2:04 AM

      You shouldn’t talk about non-orthodox like that, you’re going to cause another earth quake 🙁

  • DK January 29, 2010, 3:42 PM

    Secular and liberal Jewry should sit back and play dead as the ultra-Orthodox send their youth to second-class BTdom.

  • FrumGer January 31, 2010, 2:17 PM

    Shimon wtf are you talking about?? what i am saying is the jew that cares more about his status in the goyisher country club he attends then his status with Hashem. the goyisher jew that thinks that eating latkes is what make them jewish. I SAID NOTHING ABOUT WORKING OR NOT WORKING MORON… I don’t sit in yeshiva all day- I work all day, i used that as an example of how being a doctor is suddenly more of a jewish thing to do than going to israel, where eating a bagel with lox, is more jewish than learning gemarah. frei jews have made the synagogue a beit lashon hora, or at least nothing more than an extended counry club, not a beit midrash or a beit tefillah… they have taken Hashem out of judaism and have tried to replace Him with stupid stereotypes…

    • Shimon January 31, 2010, 2:58 PM

      Why are you calling me a “moron”? Because I responded to what you said (which your response implies that maybe what you actually typed isn’t quite what you meant – this has happened to me too plenty of times on the internet)? Please take a moment to re-read your second comment and think about it from the perspective of somebody who is currently not observant – would it inspire them to become frum, or would it dissuade them? (I admit my response had more sarcasm than necessary, and for that I apologize.)

      Aside from a tiny minority of “Classical Reform” Jews, who are explicitly against Jewish tradition, most Jews who are not observant don’t really have much exposure to or understanding of Judaism itself. They should be taught about what it means to be a Jew with kindness and understanding, not treated in a mean-spirited as anti-Jewish assimilationists.

      My point was twofold: that many of our greatest sages worked and/or got advanced, secular learning. You are right, the first point doesn’t really apply to what you said, but the second very much does. I never said that getting a pediatrics degree should supplant learning Torah, but I do maintain that there is nothing non-Jewish about getting advanced secular degrees.

  • Dr Breslaver March 24, 2010, 2:43 AM

    A wide eyed grin for your effort. Can you really
    arrive at any meaning by bubbling and boiling
    the pot of tragedy through the filter of
    privileged proletariat rearing?

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