The End of a Tradition

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According to The Jewish Press, the rabbi of Washington Heights’ Khal Adath Jeshurun recently said publicly at a memorial service for R. Samson Raphael Hirsch that the community’s motto — “Torah Im Derekh Eretz, Torah and Worldliness” — is impossible without R. Hirsch (link):

Speaking at the 200th birthday celebration of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch this past Shabbos, Khal Adath Jeshurun’s Rav Yisroel Mantel declared that the philosophical credo of Rav Hirsch, Torah Im Derech Eretz, is not viable in the absence of its chief advocate.

Rav Hirsch was a 19th century champion of Orthodoxy and the founder of Khal Adath Jeshurun’s parent community in Frankfurt, Germany.

Click here to read moreRav Mantel’s declaration, which angered many in the community, came at a sit-down kiddush at Dr. Raphael Moller Hall in Washington Heights after Shabbos morning services. He said that only Rav Hirsch, a great man who knew the fine boundaries between what is religiously permissible and what is prohibited, could make Torah Im Derech Eretz workable.

Our generation, he said, must follow today’s gedolei HaTorah (great Torah leaders).

After Shabbos, Dr. Eric Erlbach, KAJ president for over two decades, resigned.

The truth is that no one is to blame for this development other than the community itself, for hiring a rabbi that does not espouse its ideology. From what I can see from afar, the community’s professional leadership has, for many years, taught values to the right of the community and attempted to bring it into the general right-wing Orthodox world. It seems a few decades too late to protest it now.

(hat tip)

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link of New Jersey, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazine and the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

One comment

  1. That’s a picture of the Eldridge Street Synagogue, which is called KAJ but isn’t Hirschian. 🙂

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