Rabbi Balkany Appalled at Divisiveness of Influential NY Conservative Rabbi


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balkany.jpgRabbi Milton Balkany, a leading Orthodox rabbi, Jewish community leader, educator and political activist who has been in the center of many issues within the Jewish community, is appalled at the divisive statements on Orthodoxy by a colleague, Rabbi David Lincoln leader of the Park Avenue Synagogue.  Balkany, who proudly states that he and Rabbi Lincoln once shared a dais at President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, now is frightened at what he hears.

Appearing on a round table discussion broadcast on The Jewish Channel, the Conservative movement’s Rabbi Lincoln, commented on Orthodox Judaism, and painting with a very broad brush:

“I think there’s a general feeling that in the Orthodox community, in many Orthodox communities, and especially the more Haredi — more extreme Orthodox communities…, they’re not really concerned about whether you’re stealing, or whatever, or going into court and perjuring themselves….

He then muses that he’d be hard-pressed to trust a Hasid in court or in a business deal over a Jewish member of a Reform Temple.

Rabbi Balkany said, “By saying that as he did, he is as bad as he claims all of Orthodoxy is.  By wantonly stating that Hasidim, or ‘extreme orthodox’ Jews all commit crime or allow it to happen, or to suggest that we hold common law to be unimportant as a rule, a way of life, is nearing the kind of hatred gentile nations have committed against Jews in some of the worst human atrocities throughout the centuries.”

Balkany further stated, “When I saw Rabbi Lincoln say that, I could do little but gasp at the simplistically narrow view of a man who leads such an influential congregation, and how he may be influencing Jews against other Jews…  I am not certain a simple apology would suffice, for the sentiment runs deeper than any empty apology can contain.”

As someone who had been immersed in public controversy and allegations of illegal and even criminal behavior, who had been ostracized in the media and in public, and then who was quietly exonerated with little to no fanfare, Rabbi Balkany knows the power of hateful words.  He said, “I believe it is my duty to condemn such words that bitterly label an entire people out of convenience in the hope of grabbing a headline.”

(YWN Desk – NYC)


  1. Pains me to say this, but in my years I have seen too many people who think that being part of “am segulah,” a chosen nation, means that they are above another nation’s law. And regrettably, while every population has those who play fast and loose with the rules, it seems that mentality afflicts too many of our brethern who distance themselves from the secular world. Perhaps they then see the secular world and that which emanates from it as unimportant. And that is fine if the disregard and nonchalance is for the movies and music and sports. But when that disregard is applied to civil law, a great problem arises. A man helping me with my taxes offered to “fix” things for me so that I would pay as much. When I asked whether it was legal, he shrugged and said, “Who’s going to know? Besides, you wouldn’t believe who I do this for, and a lot of rabbonim, too.”

    Rabbosai, this is a problem.

  2. He then muses that he’d be hard-pressed to trust a Hasid in court or in a business deal over a Jewish member of a Reform Temple.

    As a frum Jew, who has too often observed the total lack of any semblance of Yashrus or care for the concept of gneivah exhibited by ‘hasids’, I too unfortunately would be hard pressed to trust a ‘hasid’ over a Jewish member of a reform temple in business or court.
    Rabbi Balkany: You are a wonderful person and an exemplary Yid, but here’s a little advice from and old summer friend. This is one battle you’d be better off not fighting.

  3. #1 – Telegrok spoke well!

    The only thing I’d like to add is that although unfortunately there is a real issue here, the truth is that you also won’t see as many EXTREMELY honest people as you’ll find in the Frum world (all inclusive).

    Of course, the non-frum and goyim aren’t going to be looking out to find praises for us. Such actions are unfortunately very damaging.

    To end on a positive note, the fact that they demand from us to live on a hire standard than they does show where truth and greatness lies; and it’s not with them.

  4. Who cares what this rabbi had to say?, let us attempt to fix the problem among our own, put your strengths somewhere else rabbi balkany.

  5. #2 mbachur – Your point is also well taken.

    It appears from the article that that Reform “Rabbi”‘s statement was irresponsible and narrow minded. Of course, quote of his full statement would shed more light on his intention on whether he meant to disparage or to point out an issue that does exist to some scale that bothers him.

  6. #2, I agree, the generalizations are wrong – the problem, however, is that it is a natural tendency to generalize based on accumulated occurences, whether real or perceived – so, if twice in your life you meet, for example, an Australian who is rude, you might begin to formulate an impression that all Australians are rude. Is that right? No. Is it understandable? Yes.

    So, if too many times members of our community engage in less-than-savory behavior, whether it be skimming a bit off of taxes or trying to fudge our way out of parking ticket, those on the other side of the conversation might well begin thinking, “Look at these guys, always trying to dodge the law.”

    Which is why I return to a theme that I champion often whenever anyone will listen – the minute you are seen in public wearing a yarmulke or other dress that identifies you as a yid, you become an ambassador for all of k’lal yisrael – and your interaction with the gas station attendant, or the grocery store clerk, will transcend your individual action and become that clerk’s interaction with Jews, generally. And when it comes to the business world and questions of law and ethical behaviour (matters that rise above mere courtesy and politeness), the imperative is even more important.

    We must, must, must strive to ensure that the answer to, “How does a Jew do business?” is the same as, “How should a Jew do business?”


    John M.

  7. telegrok

    Change your friends. I’ve probably been around longer than you and when such things arise everyone I know is appalled.

    As for your accountant a) he is probably exagerating just a bit by alot of rabbonim since he is answeing for his own behavior. b) Tax loopholes are his job. The question is the stretch

  8. I would prefer that some of the people that Lincoln speaks about, and we know who they are, aught to change their ways, and if not, change out of the “rekel” and remove the “tcholent top” hat and hide their peyos, because the chilul Hashem is outrageous.

    That said, Lincoln is a fool and should be ignored like all the idiots in the major media.

  9. Apropos of some of the comments here, I’d like to relate something I heard this week at the shiva of Harav Shlomo Gelman zt”l. Someone came to the shiva and said that abt 30 years ago he was riding the subway and Rabbi Gelman, seeing another frum Yid, came over to him and started to talk to him. In the course of the conversation Rabbi Gelman showed this person that he was carrying a חומש with the תורה תמימה. He advised this younger person that it’s best to look into a sefer on the train than to see other things. This person related to Rav Gelman’s son that since that time he has never rode the subway without a תורה תמימה. May this be a role model for all of us! יהי זכרו ברוך

    t some point and

  10. Is there no one out there who will stand up for the Kavod of the majority of Chassidim and Frummer Yiddin?!
    I’m sitting here reading these self-hating comments and getting ready to scream!
    There are a few bad apples in all groups, but we Yidden are OBLIGATED to be Dan L’Kaf Zechus. Have any of you commenters seen the lengths the Gemorah quotes to be Dal L’Kaf Zechus?

    Blast this Conservative “rabbi,” brand him as the “Ba’al Lashon Horah” that he is, and if you have a problem that you personally know about, go to the person in private and take care of it.

    My goodness… what a bunch of self-hating Jews. Does everything have to be made into a “Jewish problem”?!

  11. This assimilated Park Avenue “Rabbi” has completely absorbed the Gentile culture around him, even the anti-Semitic attitudes of the Goyim.

    Sure, there are crooks within our community, as there are within any community. But, we have nothing to ashamed of, in comparison to those others.

    Our charitable works are unparalleled, our family life is a model for all society, our piety is legendary, and, yes, we are law-abiding citizens of this great country, as the Talmud teaches us to be.

    Tis “Rabbi” on Park Avenue is nothing more than an elitist snob, who looks down at his own people!

  12. I wrote a letter to Rabbi Lincoln asking him if he had clear empirical evidence for his allegations. I also asked him at which Boro Park mikva he picked up his anecdotal evidence. Sinoh mekalkeles es hashura and his hatred for Chasidim and frum in general is quite obvious. That would make even a highly intelligent educated person like Rabbi Lincoln disregard the need for empirical evidence before making such a statement.

  13. #4: “The only thing I’d like to add is that although unfortunately there is a real issue here, the truth is that you also won’t see as many EXTREMELY honest people as you’ll find in the Frum world (all inclusive).”

    Correct except that many of these EXTREMELY honest people are not involved in the business world, and they are not the people that the average gentile is meeting and interacting with on a regular basis. And of course, it is much easier to practice extreme honesty when sitting in the bais medresh. The challenge is how to translate Torah values gained in yeshiva (and at home) into practice the world of business. We, the am hanivchar, could be more successful at this . . .we need to be more successful at this. And let’s be honest, many of us are guilty of sterotyping the whole group “reform” Jews, especially in terms of their religiosity. We don’t sit around (as perhaps we should) trying to be dan them lekaf zechus (they were not exposed to yiddishkeit, they never had an opportuntiy to learn, tinokos Shenishbu who perhaps for them have moved towards yiddishkeit by at least indentifying with other Jews, they often have a true desire to improve the world and humanity, thougd perhaps they don’t have the Torah outlook to understand how to best do it). Then when they judge us by our lowest common denominator and are not dan us lekaf zechus we are so appalled . . .

  14. Telgrok,
    There are a lot of things that would pain me to say. Not to minimze the problem mentioned, I don’t think that issue is nearly as big as this “rabbi” claims.
    I only deal with frum lawyers who are straight and honest. Are there crooked ones? Of course! But do I need to air every issue in public that is made by a reform chotai machti?!
    In 1956 the Gedolei Harabanim came out and said that the orthodox cannot interact or be on a panel with the reform. Maybe the einei haeidah saw that when you do, they will make innocent and simple claims that undermine and belittle the integrity of all of klal yisroel who the Torah calls mamleches kohanim vegoy kadosh!!
    Yes there are black sheep, but they are noticed and spoken about because they are in the minority and those who despise us try to promote their little catch.
    Again, there are issues but a public forum without any solutions and started by a reformnik?! Sorry. not here. Not now.
    This is what amazes me. When YWN had coverage of the tznius asifa in Lakewood, people had reasons why it won’t work or what the rabbonim should do. Yet, when a reformnik pipes up nobody has any idea what to say to him. It’s quiet.
    For those who think that “hasids” are a problem, I suggest that you go to a real Rabbi and disccus it privately and see what your feelings should be and how to deal with it.
    May all the tinokos shenishbu return and all yidden should be mekadeh shaim shamayim.

  15. It should be noted that Rabbi Balkany is a son-in-law of the elder Rubashkin. This is his family business. He makes no mention of his personal tie to Agriprocessors in his attack on R. Lincoln. That is somewhat deceitful. In addition tehre were questions about his handling of early childhood education vouchers which placed him under a cloud at one time. Although there is some validity to his comment, he is hardly the man I want as a spokesman for ethical business practices.

  16. Rabbi Lincoln was not happy to say what he said. He said as much several times. But it’s high time for the chareidi world to cotton to the fact that they do not live ina vacume amd the world forms its impressions of them based on their own actions.

  17. I am a frum Jew and have respect for all Jews regardless of their beliefs.

    There is much truth about what was said by Rabbi David Lincoln. For example I have never met a Satmar Jew that was honest in business and I worked with several of them over the yeras. It seems they the Satmar think it is ok to lie to a Jew and Non Jew alike in business.

  18. This Reform Rabbi has got a lot of Cannelloni’s to talk. I’m sure if we check his closest you might find one too many ghost dying to jump out. Not all people are perfect and more often times then not guys that wave fingers at everyone else turn out to be Hippocrates. Basically a wise man once told me “Judaism is perfect in all ways, but not all Jews are perfect.”

  19. There is no community immune from individuals who may do business in such and such a way. But this conservative “rabbi” felt it was his job to perpetuate a slander on a segment of jews who perform mitzvos that he derives benefit from, even in his own ignorance.

    Don’t get me wrong, what I say may sound like excusing something that is very wrong. I am just bothered that this warning comes from a segment of jews looking for reasons to validate their foolish path.

  20. Unfortunately & with great saddness I must concur with many of the above comments.

    My experience in doing business with “some not all” chassidim, lubavitchers & other frummeh yidden is one of constantly being asked to break the law at a risk to my business & livelyhood.

    I have also had problems collecting on my open invoices when dealing with frummeh yidden.

    I was even asked by a chusid client to go into work on chol hamoed even though my business was closed for Y”T. The goyish clients just accepted that as fact.

    The to’eles of this posting is not to bash heiliga yidden & chas v’sholom compare them with goyim. Rather people should see what’s going on out there & how it looks to other people & learn how a proper yid should act.

  21. to #3 its sad that you are a bigot just like the goyim are. Now that you said loshon hara on group of yidden(even though its true makes no diffrence) how do you plan to ask mechila since you say you are “frum”. Do you know the sugays of genavas akum or menias chov (withholding a loan e.g. withholding tax)its a nebuch that you trust someone with no yiras shomamim and most of them hate frum jews then someone who is frum. Surely since the reform are just as much ganavim just they don’t make headlines since the better headlines is an ultra orthodox then a person who looks like a goy just happens to be jewish. During the nine days which are coming you should look in yourself and fix your sinas chinam problem instead of commenting on a subject that is out of your parameters.

  22. Attn YW editor

    LESHON HARAH and Gossip is not only between Orthodox people it applies also between different denominations.

    This story does not belong here!

  23. Well, a good amount of conversation about an important topic.

    May this thread inspire us to think and act correctly, and to provide good examples for others to do the same. And may the respect we show each other in this conversation be repeated throughout our interactions within and without our communities, and provide an antidote for the downfalls that have thus far prevented the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdosh, and pave the way for that rebuilding bim’heiroh v’yameinu.


    John M.

  24. I work in a business that deals 90% with frum Yidden. This is what I have noticed:
    1-There is a reason that the Gemara saw fit to include a psak about using a stolen esrig
    2-80% of the people are fine, honest, pleasant people. 10% are so nice that when they walk in the door, the place lights up. 10% are nasty, dishonest people who are imposable to please. These people give the rest of Yidden a bad name. These 10% are responsible for 90% if a business person’s aggrevation.
    At the end of the day, who do you think are most memorable? The ones we are taking Tums because of.
    Most people are good. As for the rest, Hashem is a good bookkeeper. He will take care of those who cause a chilul Hashem.
    I keep repeating this to myself when after an encouter with a 10%er.

  25. BS”D

    What Mr Lincoln said is the equivalent of a KKK (with the third K being Klan in this case and not Karta :)) member airing his views on racial minorities.

    He himself left Torah for kefira and is now looking to justify his actions.

    And as for the frum yid who never met an honest Satmar Chossid, kindly visit B&H. And that is just the most visible example.

    On the other hand, most of the Wall Street insider traders and share manipulators and many recently disbarred/disgraced/jailed high profile lawyers are Jews without Judaism, many of whom share affiliation with Mr Lincoln.

  26. I deal with Orthodox Jewish businesspeople all day long, and, although there are ocassional bad apples, most of them are the nicest and most honest people you will ever find.

    I’m appalled that so many posters condemn all Yidden for the sins of the few who abused them.

    Some of you guys need some real lessons in AhaVas Yisroel–Mi KeAmCha Yisroel!

  27. to deepthinker,itzik etc…thier comments are b’gader ‘gedole sinas shesonim am haretz l’talmidai chachamin yoser m’sinas akum es yisroel’.. so you can taine with them all day..that is the “tachas”, the underlying factor that causes them to say this ..see poster above about all these wall street crooks etc,who are jews without judaism (mir like that term)and es brent zei nit.. to you who comlain about losho hora on reform whatever that means .firt loshon horah does not pertain whe someone does something b’farhesia and all know about it and kolskain on a whole goup of movement who are oiver bchol hatorah kilo. would you yell “loshon horah” if one will speak against ‘oiso ish’ followers? he was also one the first reform movements..lesschumres ,we noticed on almost all your posts.. your name aptly decribes the name “less chumress”

  28. #16 concernedbh – I beg to differ with you. I have been both in the Yeshiva World (10 years) and the working force as well and I can honestly tell you that as long is a person is a Ben Torah it does not matter whether he is in Yeshiva or in the work force , he still realizes at all times that he stands before Hashem. A person’s honesty does not depend upon circumstances, but rather his deep realization of living an upright life.

    I have seen many people in both walks of life who’s unyielding honesty has put me to shame. Furthermore, this truth has often been expressed to me by goyim I’m acquainted with in the work force. I feel you are underestimating the righteousness of your fellow brothers. Perhaps my statements with change your opinion.

    It is certainly wrong to excuse our faults, but it is as equally wrong to overlook our strengths.

  29. to CANTOR ESG #20..HERE YOU GO AGAin with your ‘the chareidim’and we asked you numerous times, what are you as opposed to chareidim what does un-chreidi yid stand for..well anyway this ‘clergy’ and you are one of a kind.now dont yell and cry,thruout all your posting you have taken the stand that these type of ‘whaterver’ have taken. for the upteenth time the klal is ‘oisvey toireh yehalelu rasha v’soimrei torah yisgeru bom’

  30. to telegeok.. yousay ‘it afflicts to many’.. can you give your figures how you came to the conclusion that its ‘too many’..how many are there out of how many that you say its to many…and please, no stories that one is also to many.or is it you hear a few stories and ‘huish achod yectoh val kol hueidah yechtzof’ and abi geplapket.