History

The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) or Young Israel (in Hebrew: Yisrael Hatza'ir, ישראל הצעיר), is a synagogue-based Orthodox Judaism organization in the United States with a network of affiliated "Young Israel" synagogues. Young Israel was founded in 1912, in its earliest form, by a group of 15 young Jews on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Their goal was to make Orthodox Judaism more relevant to young Americanized Jews, at a time when a significant Jewish education was rare, and most Orthodox institutions were Yiddish-speaking, and oriented to an older, European Jewish demographic

Today, Young Israel continues to promote Orthodox involvement of modern American Jews, while also advocating for the issues most relevant to its members, including support for Israel and Religious Zionism

History

Early in the 20th century, American Jews were striving primarily for social and economic advancement, often leaving their religious observances behind. Because most jobs required working on Saturdays, observance of the Jewish Shabos was rare, as were many other traditions.At the same time, the reform movement had been expanding rapidly for about 40 years, and with its relaxed religious codes, secularly-educated leadership, and English orientation, attracted an increasing number of young people away from the folds of Orthodoxy.

A group of young Orthodox Jews decided to do what they could to make Orthodox Judaism more relevant to their peers, and combat the wave of assimilation by Jews into Reform and secular American society. It developed informally with two programs, one for education and one for worship.

 

 

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Rabbi Dr. Herbert (Chaim Zev) Bomzer

Rabbi Bomzer, who served as Rav of Young Israel shuls for many decades, was remembered by friends, family, and kehillahmembers as a tremendous talmid chacham, masmid, and one who was instrumental in the growth of many yeshivos in Brooklyn.

Rabbi Bomzer was born to Meshulam Shraga Feivish (Philip) Bomzer and Yetta (nee Kleinman) on August 16, 1927, on the Lower East Side. He was named for his paternal grandfather. The family moved to East New York a few months after he was born.

His father was from a southern Polish shtetl called Suchatshov, while his mother was from a northern Polish shtetl called Tarler. After undergoing terrible suffering in World War I, Philip and Yetta emigrated, along with most members of their families, to America in 1920.

Philip found work as a window-washer, but refused to cave to the pressure to be mechallel  Shabbos. At times, he would have to find a new job each week, since he refused to work on Saturdays.

The young Herbert attended Yeshivah Toras Chaim for elementary school. The family was poor, but Yetta was determined that her children would receive a Torah education, so she worked as a cook for the yeshivah in lieu of tuition.

Herbert attended Yeshiva University, where he received semichah in Yoreh Yoreh from Harav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt”l; he later received semichah from Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l,  in Yadin Yadin.

Rabbi Bomzer was Rav for four years at the Young Israel of Williamsburg before moving to the Young Israel of Ocean Parkway, where he served as Rav for over 40 years.

Concurrently, he was professor of Talmud and pedagogy  at Yeshiva University for a half-century.

He also held positions in several other organizations, including the Rabbinical Council of America and the Vaad of Flatbush.

“He demanded action and led by example,” recalls Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President Emeritus of the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI). “He would never allow NCYI, the Vaad of Flatbush, or his rabbinical colleagues to rest.

“He was most vocal and active on behalf of Eretz Yisrael and the Jews of Israel,” says Rabbi Lerner. Whether it be the Oslo process, or discussion of giving away parts of Yehuda or Shomrom or the Golan Heights, he was a very strong advocate of not giving away even one inch of Eretz Yisrael. He would constantly speak about Eretz Yisrael, and he would protest if the situation called for it. Those zechuyos will surely accompany him to the olam haemes.”

Rabbi Bomzer was also a noted talmid chacham. Rabbi Pesach Lerner told Hamodia, “He was a master of Shas; I know for certain that he learned Shas Bavli more than three times b’iyun; he was a baal korei for many years, and knew [the entire Chumash] by heart.

Rabbi Lerner continued, “There were times I was preparing laining, as he was sitting and learning Gemara nearby; if I made even a minor mistake – in trop or pronunciation – he would masterfully and gently correct me. I once asked him a question on an obscure Rambam; he instantly corrected me on a word, and said that my entire  misunderstanding was due to the mistake in that single word!”

Rabbi Bomzer aided in the founding of many yeshivos in Brooklyn, some of which had their beginnings in the basement of his Young Israel, including Yeshivah Torah Temimah, Yeshiva of Brooklyn, and the Sephardic Institute.

Rabbi Dr. Herbert (Chaim Zev) Bomzer, a long-standing member of the Rabbinical Council of America and rabbi of the Young Israel of Ocean Parkway for 40 years, passed away in February of 2013.

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Meir Kahane, 58, Israeli Militant and Founder of the Jewish Defense League

Meir David HaKohen Kahane was an American-Israeli ordained Orthodox rabbi, writer and ultra-nationalist politician who served one term in Israel's Knesset. His work influenced most modern Jewish militant and far-right political groups

A funeral for Rabbi Kahane has been held  at Young Israel of Ocean Parkway, at 1781 Ocean Parkway in Flatbush, after which his body has been flown to Israel.

NyTimes Archives | 1990

Rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Defense League, who was shot to death in a Manhattan hotel last night, made a long journey from the streets of Brooklyn to a powerful position on the far-right fringes of Israeli politics.

To his followers, the 58-year-old Orthodox rabbi's slogan of "Never Again" meant simply that Jews would fight before enduring any threat; that the Holocaust would never be repeated. To his enemies, including many in Israel, he was a charlatan and a racist.

Elected to the Israeli Parliament in 1984, Rabbi Kahane threatened to become a major force in the fragmented world of Israeli politics until his Kach Party was banned in 1988 on the ground that it was racist and undemocratic.

He publicly called Arabs "dogs." Liberal Israelis pelted him with eggs, but he drew strength from many fearful and resentful Israelis, particularly Sephardic Jews of the Middle East. Cheered at Rallies

"I don't want to kill Arabs, I just want them to live happily, elsewhere," he told cheering rallies. "Give me the strength to take care of them once and for all."

"Kahane, King of Israel," his followers shouted back at a funeral of two Jewish schoolteachers allegedly killed by Arab youths in 1985. "Kahane, messiah, messiah. The Arabs are everywhere."

"Before his election a year ago, Kahane was just an illness; now he is an epidemic," Alouph Harevan, associate director of the Van Leer Foundation, a private Israeli research group trying to promote tolerance, said that year.

When he took his seat in Parliament, most Israeli political commentators dismissed him as "an American import" and a "racist lunatic" who would never find a serious following in Israel.

But it soon became clear he had tapped a visceral political feeling. An Appeal Based on Fear

"I have touched a simple and honest nerve on the part of the people," Rabbi Kahane said. He said the appeal was based on mounting fears Israelis had of Arabs and of a desire to end what they called the Arab problem once and for all.

That desire was still visible last May as Rabbi Kahane was part of a crowd seeking revenge after a Palestinian wielding a knife killed two Israelis in Jerusalem's Old City.

Joining hands in a human chain and shouting "Kill the Arabs" the crowd marched toward the walled city and tried to lynch two Arab passers-by who were rescued by the police. Rabbi Kahane was arrested in the incident. Violence Between Arabs and Jews

Political commentators in Israel said the appeal of his ideas, which was particularly strong among young voters, had several roots: nationalism had become increasingly acceptable; personal violence between Arabs and Jews had increased, and confidence in Israel's major parties had weakened.

Born Martin Kahane in New York on Aug. 1, 1932, Rabbi Kahane, who grew up in a second-floor apartment in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, was the first-born son of Rabbi and Mrs. Charles Kahane.

"He was always a sensitive and sentimental boy," his father, a highly regarded Talmudic scholar, said in a 1971 interview. A Brilliant Student

As a boy, Meir began his education in neighborhood yeshivas, later enrolling as a night student at Brooklyn College, where he comfirmed his reputation as a brilliant student, graduating in three and a half years.

Ordained as a rabbi after studying at the Mirrer Yeshiva, he was named to head a congregation in Howard Beach, Queens, where he served for two years in the mid-1950's.

The Rabbi began using the Anglicized pseudonym "Michael King" in 1962 -- mostly as a lark, he said.

To those who knew nothing of his background as a Brooklyn-born scholar, he was an author who lived in an apartment on Manhattan's East Side.

Meir's brother Nachman -- who came to regard his brother as "an idealistic fighter for a great cause" -- was later a ranking civil servant in Israel's Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Reminiscing about Meir in the interview, the father recalled that his son's political views first began to take shape in 1952, after swastikas were smeared on several synagogues in Brooklyn.

The elder Kahane, then the head of the Rabbinical Board of Flatbush, said he had returned home after a meeting about the incident feeling depressed and discouraged.

"Unwittingly, I said it would be a good idea if Jews would organize an underground," the father said. "Meir took it seriously."

" 'That's the only thing we can do,' " the father remembered Meir saying. Paramilitary Youth Movement

Meir came early to his militancy. As a teen-ager in Brooklyn, he joined Betar, the paramilitary youth movement of the right-wing Herut Party led by Menachem Begin, with its roots in the Jabotinsky Revisionist Movement. At 15, he smashed the car windows of the visiting British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, as a protest against the British mandate over Palestine. Beginning with that incident, he estimated that he spent a total of three years in jail in the United States.

Jewish philosophy, Rabbi Meir Kahane contended, was never based on Western democatic principles, but on Jewish ritual law, that he said forbade close contact with non-Jews.

"I have said it a million times," he said. "Western democracy as we know it is incompatible with Zionism. Zionism came into being to create a Jewish state. Zionism declares that there is going to be a Jewish state with a majority of Jews, come what may.

"Democracy says 'No, if the Arabs are the majority then they have the right to decide their own fate.' So Zionism and Democracy are at odds. I say clearly I stand with Zionism.

"I want a Jewish state, not a Hebrew-speaking Portugal," he said. 'Exchange of Populations'

Rabbi Kahane advocated what he called an "exchange of populations" -- the expulsion of Arabs -- contending that "a democracy allows non-Jews to become a majority and to turn Israel into a non-Jewish state."

"The idea of a democratic Jewish state is nonsense," he said.

He frequently warned against intermarriage and threatened in Israel to seek out Jewish women married to Moslems in Arab villages.

But reportorial investigations into Rabbi Kahane's own life have found a relationship he is alleged to have carried on under the name Michael King. The relationship was with a Christian woman, Gloria Jean D'Argenio, a sometime model who threw herself to her death from the Queensborough Bridge in 1966, apparently in despair over the relationship. Neighborhood Patrols

Rabbi Kahane founded the militant Jewish Defense League in Brooklyn in 1968, defying the stereotype of the Jew as victim. The organization mounted "anti-mugger" patrols in neighborhoods bordered by black areas, with which the group was at odds. They escorted Jewish teachers through black neighborhoods with baseball bats, taught riflery and karate to rabbinical students and invaded Soviet diplomatic offices here to protest the treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union.

To his followers, he was the spearhead of insistence on Jewish rights. To established Jewish organizations, he was an embarrassment to the liberal traditions of Judaism and a right-wing danger to the faith. His enemies saw him as a terrorist.

The Jewish Defense League came under increasing pressure from the authorities, accused of a series of violent, anti-Soviet attacks, and Rabbi Kahane was sentenced to a year in jail for conspiring to make bombs.

He moved to Israel in 1971 and founded his Kach ("Thus") Party, which held many of the same ideals. Power to Fringe Parties

He was first elected to the Knesset in 1984 and in the fragmented Israeli parliamentary system, where proportional representation gives added power to fringe parties, particularly on the religious right, he was a growing political force.

But in October 1988, the Israeli Central Election Committee banned the party ruling it violated a 1985 law -- aimed specifically at Rabbi Kahane -- because of its "Nazi-like," "racist," and "undemocratic positions."

Rabbi Kahane is survived by his wife, the former Libby Blum; a brother, Nachman; his mother, Sonia; two sons, Baruch and Binyamin, and two daughters, whose names were not immediately available last night. All are of Jerusalem.

 

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