In a move to expand right-wing ultra-Orthodox (haredi, specifically the B’nai Torah) outreach on college campuses, two fundamentalist institutions have joined forces to support Ohr Somayach’s two-year program, Ohr Lagolah, accredited by the State of Israel.
The program is based on JET, a haredi program that disguises its fundamentalism under platitudes such as Holocaust remembrance.
JET brings students to Ohr Somayach, Jerusalem on subsidized trips, and attempts to indoctrinate them and ideally, seeks to convince them to drop out of college.
These are not people Hillel should be cooperating with. But according to Ohr Somayach and Rabbi Kahn, Hillel is "actually" doing just that.
Rabbi Tropper, who is notorious for "uncoverting" Jewish married female converts who appeared in pants or without a hair covering, and for lobbying for a haredi-only bar for traditional Jewish conversion, has joined with Rabbi Mendel Weinbach and Rabbi Nota Schiller to support Ohr Lagolah.
What are the problems with Ohr Somayach? Plenty, at least to those of us who do not share the perspective of the haredi followers.
While much of the fundamentalist nonsense of Ohr Somayach is not printed online, enough has been published to get the gist of their ideology, both in terms of its rabid anti-western fundamentalism, and how their followers are encouraged to embrace fantasy as history.
Ohr Somayach’s Rabbi Weinbach has claimed that a prayer to a dead tzaddik in Tzfat turned black chickens into white ones. He claimed a famous Israeli rabbi’s ancestor experienced a "miraculous crossing of the sea from Jaffa to Constantinople on a mat." He credited a rabbi’s blessing for ending the Russo-Georgian war, a full five weeks after the story was proven a forgery. To be fair, Weinbach does offer important halachic discussions, such as if a golem may be counted for a minyan, or if you may free a slave to fulfill the quorum. Faced with increasing revelations about the level of abuse tolerated and enabled in the ultra-Orthodox communities, Rabbi Weinbach did speak out – against the abuse in Israel’s secular schools. Weinbach has called for an end to Israel’s democracy, in favor or a theocracy ruled by "The Gedolim," Israel’s haredi rabbinical leaders. Weinbach has also excoriated Jews who "are tempted to imitate the non-Jewish world in matters of dress, entertainment and general culture." Weinbach has warned that fingernail clippings induce miscarriages. Weinbach has lashed out at Israel for not providing even more funds to its ever-increasing welfare/Kollel rolls. As violence was used against female (often American Modern Orthodox women) resisting the women-in-the-back policy on select lines of Israel’s nationalized bus company, Weinbach lashed out at the "unrestrained interaction of the sexes."
Ohr Somayach’s other much less prolific Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Schiller, claimed there was no written record of Chanukah, despite the existence of Maccabees I and II.
Other Ohr Somayach rabbis have also said strange things. Rabbi Gottlieb explains the usual haredi drivel about how God is tricking us with false evidence when the world is literally 6,000 years old. If you wonder why he would do that, it might help to understand that Rabbi Gottlieb has compared God to a mafia boss.