Religion Wiki

The relationship between Haredim and Zionism has always been a difficult one. Before the establishment of the State of Israel, the majority of Haredi Jewry was opposed to Zionism.[1] However, after the de facto creation of the state, each individual movement within Orthodox Judaism charted its own path in their approach to the State of Israel. A study in late 2006 claimed that just over a third of Israelis considered Haredim the most hated group in Israel.[2]


Yishuv haYashan
Jews in Jerusalem 1895.jpg
Jewish life in the Holy Land before Modern Zionism
NahmanidesYechiel of Paris
BartenuraYehuda he-Hasid
RambanAriHurvaShomrei HaChomos
Related articles:
History of the Jews in the Land of IsraelHistory of Zionism (Timeline) • Haredim and ZionismEdah HaChareidisNeturei KartaShaDaRYishuvThree Oaths

Ashkenazic religious Jews, both Hasidim and the Perushim, started to immigrate to the Land of Israel in the 18th century, long before the founding of the Zionist movement, and continued to do so in the 19th century. Karliner Hasidim had an early foothold, and the Lelover Rebbe settled there in 1850. Sanz established itself in Safed in the 1870s, and Ruzhin had a major presence in Jerusalem at about the same time. During the 19th century there was a vibrant Haredi community in Jerusalem. In 1925 the Hasidim of the Imrei Emes of Ger established the Sfas Emes Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

The advent of secular Zionism, whose goal was to transplant Jews to the Land of Israel in a society devoid of Torah values, was the antithesis of the aims of Jews who were already established there.[weasel words]

After 1918, immigration was controlled by the British, who had been given a mandate over Palestine by the League of Nations. They restricted immigration of Jews, and operated a quota by means of certificates. The distribution of these certificates was in the hands of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, a Zionist organization. The allocation of certificates to Haredi Jews was severely restricted so as not to compromise the goal of a secular state.

After World War II

After World War II many Jewish refugees found themeselves in displaced person camps. The Zionists controlled a camp for Jewish refugee children in Tehran where they operated an anti-religious policy in an effort to cut off Haredi children from their spiritual roots. To a large extent they were successful, and many children from Haredi homes were dispatched to irreligious settlements.[3][unreliable source?]


The relationship between Haredim and Zionism became more complex after the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. Some Haredi groups adopted a pragmatic position, and involved themselves in the political process of the state by voting in elections and accepting state funding. Others have maintained a more hardline rejectionist position, refusing all funding from the Israeli state and abstaining from taking part in the political process. The positions of specific Haredi groups are discussed in greater detail in the remainder of the article.

There is also a growing group of Orthodox Jews known as Hardalim. They are formerly Religious Zionists who moved in their religious observances and philosophy towards Haredi Judaism. Socially, however, they still form a part of the Religious Zionist world, and not of the Haredi world.

United Torah Judaism and Shas are the only two Haredi parties in the Israeli Knesset which advocate a halachic state. In addition, even the anti-Zionist Satmar Hasidim do take part in municipal elections in some places, such as the Haredi stronghold of Bnei Brak.

Notably, there is a substantial difference in the positions taken by Ashkenazi and Sephardi Haredim, the latter generally being quite supportive of Zionism.

Ashkenazi Haredim

Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, the first Satmar Rebbe, in his book Vayoel Moshe, calls the creation of the Israeli state an "act of Satan",[4] blames Zionism for the Holocaust[5] and the greatest form of spiritual impurity in the entire world.[6] Many Orthodox, including many Hasidic groups, have adopted his approach.

The Agudat Israel is an international organization (with an Israeli association) of various Haredi groups, mainly from the Lithuanian yeshiva communities and Hasidic groups such as Ger and Belz. It initially adopted a stance of disregard for the State of Israel, motivated by pragmatism. They attempted to influence the politics of the State of Israel from within, by participating in national elections and sending their representatives to the Israeli Knesset, but still did not take full part in it by not serving in its military and not celebrating any of the State's official holidays. Today the organization has shifted over time to somewhat supportive of the state, although not officially recognizing itself as a pro-Zionist party. An example of this is the revolutionary Hesder legions in the I.D.F., which is a unit that combines religious studies and national service, designed specially for Haredi Jews. The Agudat Israel party in the Knesset is represented as United Torah Judaism, a collective party of Agudat Israel and Degel HaTorah. It tries to influence the Knesset with a pro-Judaism outlook, by mainly focusing on funding for Jewish education (yeshivas), exemption from military service for religious students, and trying to strengthen Israel's Jewish identity.

Sephardic Haredim

Sephardi Haredim are generally supportive of Zionism and the State of Israel, certainly moreso than their Ashkenazi counterparts. The number of outspoken opponents of Zionism among Sephardi or Mizrahi rabbis is far lower than among Ashkenazi rabbis, and these constitute a small minority of the Sephardi Haredi leadership.

The Sephardi Haredi political party in the Knesset is Shas, which represents the vast majority of Sephardi Haredim, and is headed by Rabbi Eli Yishai. In 2010, Shas joined the World Zionist Organization and officially became the first Zionist Haredi party.[7] The party's spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, opposes saying Hallel in the Yom HaAtzmaut prayer service, but writes that "one may say Hallel after the completion of the prayers, without the blessing..."[8] While in the past, when he served as Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, he wrote that one should say Hallel (though without the blessings preceding and following it), he later changed his position.

There are a number of Sephardic organizations and rabbis who actively oppose the state, such as Rabbi Yaakov Hillel and the Edah HaCharedit HaSefaradit, a Sephardic organization similar and parallel to the Ashkenazic Edah HaChareidis.

Ideological reasons

There are many different ideological reasons for religious opposition to Zionism; however, the main two are most widely expressed by Hasidim and Lithuanian Haredeim.

Historically, many dynasties in Hasidism have expressed anti-Zionist opinions because of the 'Three Oaths'. The Talmud, in Ketubot 111a, mentions that the Jewish people have been bound by three oaths: 1) not to ascend to Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) as a group using force; 2) not to rebel against the nations of the world; and 3) that the nations of the world would not persecute the nation of Israel excessively.[9] Some consider the establishment of the State of Israel to be a violation of these oaths. The first Hasidic anti-Zionist movement was Agudath Israel, established in Poland in 1912.[10] Hareidi groups and people actively and publicly opposing Zionism are Satmar,[11] Toldos Aharon,[12] Neturei Karta.[11]

Lithuanian Haredim, sometimes called mitnagdim, take a different approach to their beliefs from their Hassidic counterparts. Lithuanian religious Jews oppose the state not because of the three oaths midrash but because they feel that Zionism epitomizes secularity and Jewish desire to be void of Torah. Many Lithuanian religious Jews, such as Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, have been involved with Zionist politics as Israel progressively becomes more Jewish-oriented.

Amongst the Ashkenazi Orthodox rabbinical leadership, religious Zionists form a minority.[13] Sephardi Haredi authorities have never shared the anti-Zionism of their Ashkenazi counterparts, and some (such as Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu) are strongly affiliated with Religious Zionism.

Different Haredi groups on the issue of Zionism

Groups which are opposed to recognition of the State of Israel


The Satmar Hasidic movement, whose previous Rebbe, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum wrote in the 1960s an extensive critique of Zionism entitled Vayoel Moshe (see Sefer Vayoel Moshe below), counts more than 130,000 members. This does not include a number of smaller and related anti-Zionist Hungarian Hasidic groups that align themselves with Satmar.[14]

The Central Rabbinical Congress or CRC is an American rabbinical organization which consists mainly of Satmar and some smaller but similar Hasidic groups. It is centered in New York's Kiryas Joel, Williamsburg, and Boro Park. In 1986 the CRC publicized the following declaration:

It is our duty to denounce those who invoke the name of the Almighty in vain. It is our holy obligation and our moral responsibility to call on them: Stop using these falsehoods and heresies to justify yourselves and your misdeeds. The Jewish faith, as transmitted by the Almighty to our forefathers has not and will never countenance the zionist and nationalistic doctrines of the state of Israel. These false doctrines are compounded of atheism and anti-religious zionism, ideologies alien to Judaism. Let them not be misrepresented to the world as Jewish.[15]

Neturei Karta

A small group holding this ideology is Neturei Karta, with bases in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and New York. An extreme faction of Neturei Karta which openly display support for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Palestine Liberation Organization as well as Hamas has been condemned by nearly all other anti-Zionist Haredim, including, on occasion, Satmar [16] and the Edah HaChareidis. There are also moderates within the Neturei Karta itself, critical of some of the more extreme positions taken.[17]


In July 1947, less than a year before the actual founding of the State of Israel, Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, who was both the leader of the Dushinsky movement and the Ashkenazi Haredi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, of the Edah HaChareidis Rabbinical Council, delivered a personal statement on behalf of the Edah HaChareidis to the United Nations, declaring his "definite opposition to a Jewish state in any part of Palestine." In 2002, Grand Rabbi Yisroel Moshe Dushinsky, son of Rabbi Yosef Tzvi, wrote a letter of recommendation to a new edition of the Satmar Rebbe's book Vayoel Moshe.[18]

Shomer Emunim

Shomer Emunim is a devout, insular Hasidic sect which is similar to Neturei Karta. It was founded in the 20th century by Rabbi Arele (Aharon) Roth. Based in Meah Shearim, Jerusalem, and Bnei Brak. Sometimes referred to as Toldos Aharon (literally, Generation of Aharon, after the founder) although this is actually one of its sub-groups.

Mishkenos HoRoim

Mishkenos HoRoim is a small and obscure Hasidic group located in Meah Shearim, Jerusalem, (and Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet). It is known as a very isolated and fervently religious group, known for its virulent anti-Zionism, even by Haredi standards.

Edah HaChareidis

The Edah HaChareidis is Jerusalem's umbrella organisation of anti-Zionist Haredim and is not really a Haredi group itself. It includes groups such as the Jerusalem branch of Satmar and Dushinsky and also less anti-Zionist groups such as Brisk and (parts of) Breslov.

Groups with limited opposition to the State of Israel

Lithuanian ('Litvish') Haredi Judaism

File:Ponovitch 5th Iyar.jpg

Ponevezh yeshiva on Israel Independence Day

A number of Lithuanian leaders like the Chazon Ish (1878-1953), Rav Shach (1898-2001), and Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, have expressed strongly anti-Zionist views. Examples of this are found in lectures and letters of Rav Shach.[19] One of the newspapers of the Litvish world, the Yated Neeman, regularly publishes articles strongly criticizing Zionism, naming it a "heretical movement". The main Litvish community does vote, as per the instructions of the Chazon Ish.[20] Rabbi Elyashiv urges his students to vote for the Degel HaTorah list. Rabbi Shimshon Dovid Pincus, quoted in the book of his speeches about Purim, explains that in each generation the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) appears in different forms. Examples he gives are the Enlightenment and communism. He goes on to explain that nowadays, Zionism is a form of the Yetzer Hara. The opposition of the Litvish world against Zionism differs from that of the Hasidic world in that it is mainly focused on the secular character of Zionism, and less strongly so on the issue of a Jewish state being forbidden whether it is religious or not.

Nonetheless, one of the American leaders of the Lithuanian Jewish world, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (1895-1986), expressed something approaching ambivalent support of the State of Israel, claiming that it is proper to pray for the Welfare of the State of Israel, so long as one does not call it the "first flowering of the redemption." (The reference is to the standard Zionist prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel, which refers to the State as the first flowering of the Redemption.) In a responsa to a question whether it is permissible to pray in a synagogue which displays an Israeli flag, he writes "Even though those who made the flag for a symbol of the Israeli state were evil people..." [21]

Anti-Zionism does not translate to personal antagonism, and Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz, the Mirrer rosh yeshiva, openly displayed thanks to soldiers of the Israeli army.

Ger and Belz Hasidim

While they do not say prayers for the State of Israel, and are ideologically opposed to Zionism, the Ger, Vizhnitz and Belz Hasidic groups do vote in the Israeli elections, and Ger mildly opposes withdrawals from the occupied territories. Ger and Belz are two of the most influential movements behind the Israeli political party Agudat Yisrael, which together with the Litvishe Degel HaTorah, forms United Torah Judaism.

In a similar vein, Klausenberg maintains an anti-Zionist stance but accepts funding from the Israeli government (when available) for its institutions.


The fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn (1860-1920), also known as the RaShaB, published Kuntre Uma'ayan, the beginning of which contains a strong polemic against Zionism. The seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, however, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, expressed overwhelming support for the State's military endeavors, and vehemently condemned any transfers of land as against Jewish law. His reasoning, was based on the code of Jewish law, the Shulchan Aruch [22] which states that the Sabbath must be violated (carrying weapons) by the residents of a Jewish community (in any country) that borders a hostile gentile settlement, even if they are threatened in the most subtle manner. He viewed the whole of Israel as such a community and that was the impetus for his support. He argued that the safety of the Jewish people was paramount, and the physical presence of so many Jews in the land meant that its borders had to be protected as a matter of course. Nonetheless, he also drew support for his statements from the notion in the Torah that the land of Israel was given to the Jewish people, and that inherent Jewish ownership of the land could not be superseded by mere political interests. Nonetheless, he refused to call the state by name, claiming that the holy land exists independent of any authority that sees itself as sovereign over the land. He further criticized feelings of nationalism connected to the State of Israel, saying that the only thing that unites Jews is the Torah, not a secular state that happens to be planted on holy land.[23]

Since most of the Chabadniks in the world live in Israel, there are a great deal of Chabad houses there. The majority of Chabadniks differ from the rest of the Hassidim by not only speaking Hebrew conversationally, but also speaking it in the Modern Israeli way, and not the traditional Asheknazic way. In 2009, Chabad Rabbis endorsed the Zionist, Jewish-based Israeli political party Ichud Leumi in the elections.


The main Haredi newspapers, Hamodia, HaMachane HaHaredi and Yated Neeman, occasionally publish articles strongly criticizing Zionism, naming it a "heretical movement". They sometimes refer to the country as "Israel", and at other times will only refer to the geographical entity as "Eretz Yisroel". The Israel news columns are almost exclusively right of centre, lambasting Arab terrorism. Articles about outreach movements in Israel and Israeli culture are very common, and are shown without ideological bias.

Groups which officially support Zionism and the State of Israel


The Hardal community is a community of religious Zionists who accept many Haredi practices, such as stricter modesty in dress and restrictions on secular studies. Hardal is an acronym for Haredi Dati Leumi. Dati Leumi refers to religious Jews who are Zionists.

Shas (Sephardic Haredim)

Shas is the dominant umbrella organization and political party among Sephardi Haredim and represents an overwhelming majority of the Sephardi Haredi population. In 2010 Shas joined the World Zionist Organisation and became the first officially Zionist Haredi political party. According to Shas MK Yaakov Margi, Shas has long operated as a Zionist party: "There's nothing earth-shaking about saying Shas is a Zionist party. We operate as such, we join governments and are partners in the Zionist experience, (our members) serve in the army. There's nothing new here."[24]

Haredi books about Zionism

Several books on the issue of Zionism were written by different rabbis.

Sefer Vayoel Moshe

Vayoel Moshe was written by the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum (1887-1979). It consists of three parts: Maamar Shalosh Shevuos (three oaths), Maamar Yishuv Eretz Yisroel (settling the Land of Israel), and Maamar Loshon HaKodesh (the holy tongue). The first part, which is the main part of the book, discusses the three oaths mentioned in Ketubot 111a - that the Jewish people are not allowed to ascend to Eretz Yisrael by force, that the Jewish people are not allowed to rebel against the nations of the world, and that the Jewish people may not by their sins delay the coming of Moshiach, the Jewish messiah. It is primarily a book of Halacha (Jewish law). Rabbi Teitelbaum refers to Religious Zionism as a major desecration of G-d's name, blames Zionism for the Holocaust, and refers to Zionist leaders such as Theodor Herzl as "heretics".

Kuntres Al HaGeulah VeAl HaTemurah

Also written by the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, this small book consists of inspirational polemics against Zionism. He wrote it in 1967 as a rebuttal to those who said that the Six Day War was a divine miracle that showed God's support for the State of Israel, saying instead it was a test from God to see whether we would follow the Torah or be led astray by miracles which seemed to support Zionism in the eyes of the masses. He compared this to the miracles that are often done by idolaters in support of their religions, inasmuch as Judaism is not based on miracles, but rather the national revelation on Sinai.

Eim HaBanim Semeicha

Eim HaBanim Semeicha was written by Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal, and published in 1943. Teichtal grew up as a staunch anti-Zionist Chasid of the Munkatsher Rebbe. However, during the Holocaust, Rabbi Teichtal changed his position from the one he espoused in his youth. The physical product of that introspection is the book, Eim HaBanim Semeicha, in which he specifically retracts his previous viewpoints, and argues that the true redemption can only come if the Jewish people unite and rebuild the land of Israel.[25] Many of his coreligionists viewed the book with skepticism, some going so far as to ban Rabbi Teichtal from their synagogues.[26]

In the book, Rabbi Teichtal strongly criticizes the Haredim for not supporting the Zionist movement. When it was written, it was a scathing criticism of the Jewish Orthodox establishment, and Agudat Israel in particular.

He writes:

It is clear that he who prepares prior to the Sabbath will eat on the Sabbath (Avodah Zarah, 3a), and since the Haredim did not toil, they have absolutely no influence in the Land (of Israel). Those who toil and build have the influence, and they are the masters of the Land. It is, therefore, no wonder that they are in control... Now, what will the Haredim say? I do not know if they will ever be able to vindicate themselves before the heavenly court for not participating in the movement to rebuild the Land. (p. 23)

Involvement with the State of Israel

Among Haredi anti-Zionist movements, opinions differ on what attitude to take now that de facto a state exists. Some movements remained actively anti-Zionist, while others lowered their voice; some refuse to vote, while others do vote; some accept money from the government, while others will not.

Many Hasidic Rebbes with followers in the land of Israel, including the Gerrer Rebbe, the Belzer Rebbe, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, and others have encouraged their followers to vote in Israeli elections.[27][28] Lubavitcher Hasidim are encouraged to join the Israeli Defense Forces, in order to ensure the state's security (inasmuch as the State's security is inextricably entwined with the safety of the Jewish people who live within its borders).

Meanwhile, the Edah HaChareidis Rabbinical Council of Jerusalem and its associated communities, including Satmar, Dushinsky, Toldos Aharon and Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok, do not vote and do not accept government money. Around election days, posters by the Edah HaChareidis are posted throughout Haredi neighborhoods of Jerusalem proclaiming that it is forbidden to vote in the elections, and that doing so is a grave sin. The Edah HaChareidis and its affiliated movements have permitted cooperating with the Israeli police under extenuating circumstances.[29]

See also


  1. ha-Peles; volume 3, issue 4.
    • Alexander Moshe Lapidus, a strong supporter of Hovevei Zion writes in Shivath Zion (volume 1 p. 35):
    There were days – at the beginning of this movement (-Hovevei Zion) – that the settlement idea had many opposes, but now the opposition is almost gone. The people are already convinced that we are not here to take over the land from the Turks with weapon and we are not planning to establish a government over there. Our only goal is to organize farmers to work in field… so there is nothing to be afraid about hurrying the exile-end…
  2. "In brief: Hate for Chareidim". Jewish Tribune, London. 2006-11-02. p. 9. 
  3. Scheinbaum, Aryeh Leib (January 2004). "PARSHAS SHEMOS". Penninim on the Torah. Shema Yisrael Torah Network. Retrieved 2007-09-10. "One of the most notorious incidents that occurred after World War II was perpetrated by secularists who were in charge of an absorption camp, Atlit, on the outskirts of Haifa. Here, groups of Jewish youths, mostly survivors of the Holocaust and Soviet Russia, were subjected to unimaginable mental and physical cruelty with one goal in mind: obliteration of Judaism. These children - mostly orphans from frum, observant, homes in Poland - were sent to Palestine through the auspices of the youth aliyah division of the Jewish Agency, via Tehran. Hence, the name Yaldei Tehran (children of Tehran)." 
  4. Introduction to Sefer Vayoel Moshe
  5. Sefer Vayoel Moshe, Maamar Sholosh Shevuos, Siman 27
  6. Sefer Vayoel Moshe, Hakdamah os Hey
  8. [1]: Yabia Omer, part 6: ""כיוצא בזה ראיתי בשו``ת ישכיל עבדי ח``ו (או``ח סי` י אות ז) שג``כ העלה שאין לגמור ההלל בתוך תפלת יום העצמאות אפי` בלא ברכה, מפני שעדיין אויבינו קמים עלינו לכלותינו, ואין לך יום שאין קללתו מרובה מחבירו, ועונותינו הטו אלה, כי היצר הצורר בעוכרינו להסית את ישראל מדרכי ה` וכו`, ומכיון שאין כאן אלא אתחלתא דגאולה, ואינה גאולה שלמה לכל עם ישראל, לכן אין לתקן לומר הלל גמור בתוך התפלה אפי` בלי ברכה, ורק אפשר לומר מזמורי ההלל לאחר סיום התפלה, בלי ברכה, כי פשוט שאין לנו להכנס בספק ברכה לבטלה. עכ``ד".
  9. The Story of Zionism
  10. Shtetl - YIVO
  11. 11.0 11.1 my jewish learning. Reprinted with the permission of The Continuum International Publishing Group from The Encyclopedia of Judaism, edited by Jacob Neusner, Alan Avery-Peck, and William Scott Green.
  12. Sefer Shomer Emunim by R' Aharon Roth, Sefer Asifas Michtovim, by R' Avrohom Yitzchok Kohn foundational books of the Toldos Avrohom movement, passim.
  13. "Torah and Religious Zionism", by Cyril Domb, World Zionist Organization
  14. * Record Online
  15. [2] Middle East Policy Council, Journal, Winter 1990-91, Number 35: JEWISH CRITICISM OF ZIONISM, Edward C. Corrigan
  16. Satmar court slams Neturei Karta (YNetNews) December 15, 2006
  17. Moderate branch of Neturei Karta condemn extreme faction
  18. Introduction to Yalkut Amarim Vayoel Moshe
  19. Lorincz, Shlomo (August 9, 2006). "Chapter Twenty-Seven: I Gave My Blood and Soul". Memories of HaRav Shach, zt"l. Dei'ah veDibur. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  20. "What Does The Steipler Say? -- Some Highlights of the Years of His Communal Leadership". We Knew The Steipler Gaon, zt'l -- 23rd Av 5760, His Fifteenth Yahrtzeit. Dei'ah veDibur. September 6, 2000. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  21. Igros Moshe, Orech Chaim vol I, chap 46
  22. Shulchan Aruch, Orech Chaim chap 329
  23. Karasi V'ein Oneh, a compilation of all of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's addresses concerning the Holy Land.
  25. Eim HaBanim Semeichah
  26. Review of Eim HaBanim Semeicha
  27. Deal over final makeup of UTJ list to go down to the wire - Haaretz
  28. Aguddat Israel - Jewish Virtual Library
  29. Uncompromising Campaign Against Violent Group in Jerusalem

External links

Websites of Haredi movements opposing Zionism