Israeli Fashion Brand Accused of Subliminal Evangelism

Castro's Lord's Prayer t-shirt

Ynet news report that popular Israeli fashion brand Castro, has been accused of engaging in subliminal evangelism because of one of its T-shirts has the Lord’s Prayer on it.

Barak Tamir, a religious IDF officer, recently discovered that he might soon need to look for a ‘kosher’ stamp on his clothes and not just his food. Tamir, who purchased a T-Shirt from Israeli fashion brand Castro, found out after the fact that his shirt included a reprint of The Lord’s Prayer, a well known Christian prayer.

Tamir purchased the shirt a few days before the Passover holiday and decided to wear his new purchase to holiday services at his local synagogue. Towards the end of the prayer service, an older man, who was sitting behind him, turned to him and asked him to stay at the synagogue after services to chat.

Later, the man asked Tamir if he knew what the inscription on his shirt meant and claimed that he believed it was a Christian prayer. When the holiday was over Tamir looked into the matter and was astonished to discover that indeed, the inscription was that of The Lord’s Prayer from the New Testament.

However the prayer Yeshua taught his disciples is a very Jewish prayer, a pre-Christian prayer taught by a rabbi to his disciples. It ought really be called the Disciple’s Prayer. I have blogged on the Hebrew background to this prayer here.

Personally I have no problem with anybody who chooses to wear whatever shirt they feel like wearing,” Tamir wrote on his Facebook page.

“I do however have a problem with an Israeli brand which, through subliminal messaging, plants Christian messages in its clothing and makes people walk around with shirts with these inscriptions without them wishing to do so. A shirt that at first seems innocent becomes a shirt with a message,” he added.

“I’m not even talking about the discomfort I felt when I realized what the shirt was about, and it is possible that I should have read the inscription in detail before I bought it, but the main question is why does an Israeli company choose to promote a clothing line using a Christian prayer?”

However a casual stroll down many Israeli shopping areas will show a dramatic range of messages in English on t-shirts. Tamir ought really, if he is so concerned, read what is on his t-shirts before he buys them rather than accuse Castro of subliminal evangelism. However it does show the hysteria and fear that can be caused by an Israeli prayer on an Israeli t-shirt sold by an Israeli company!

Castro allowed Tamir to exchange the shirt and added: “Castro designers draw their inspiration from various and diverse cultural content. The print on the shirt is the creation of the designer which was done as part of a gothic inspiration and not at all in its religious context.”

However, it must be said that Castro’s claim that the Lord’s Prayer was because of Gothic inspiration, is just confusing!

Hasidism & The West

A very interesting comment on the Chabad blog AntiTzemach about Hasidism by ‘East Meets West’:

Hasidism and their leadership style are an Eastern European product. Eastern Europe was a haven for mystics and charismatic leaders. In Russia especially, the best example is Rasputin and the power he attained over the House of Romanoff.

In Western Europe their was more rationaalism as a result of the Haskalah. In the 20th century the big exceptions were the two evil charismatics, Hitler and Mussolini, but over all Western Europe and the West, in America and in those places it penetrates, like secular Israel, there is not much tolerance for the mystical, spiritual ways that had currency in Eastern Europe, or further afield, that can still be found in the Far East with belief in Gurus and the power of spirits and demons.

Thus, after the Holocaust, with the bulk of the world’s Jews living in the United States which is the dominant cultural power, and with the United States being a modern RATIONALIST, industrial, scientific and technological super-power, its ethos and Weltanschauung automatically undermine, weaken and even ridicules the Eastern European and Far Eastern outlooks based on mysticism (such as old-fashioned Hasidism) and charismatic leadership styles such as Chasidishe Rebbes, Oriental Gurus, and aspirant “Tzadikim” in favor of faceless technocrats, bureaucrats, scientists and rationalists of all kinds.

Proof is that the Nobel Prizes, the modern West’s highest awards, are mostly given to the scientific and rationalistic fields (the one exception being the award for literature.)

That there are no “Noble Prizes” in the world for “greatest spiritual accomplishments” or “greatest mystical leader” or “greatest books of religion” should tell you what the modern Western world values.

The fact that Hasidism, an inherently Eastern European phenomenon had to relocate to America, the pinncale of the Western world has come with a BIG price. On the one hand the freedom of religion in America and a great batch of initial Eastern Eoropean leaders allowed Hasidism to be established and grow. On the other hand the Western atmosphere and ethos of America has also had its impact on Hasidim and Hasidism and as the older Hasidic leadership passed away, the reality that was revealed was that the large numbers of Hasidim now to be found in the Western bastion of America had indeed been transformed into something new: “Western Hasidim” who were born into, exposed to, and imbued with — whether they liked it or not — greater degrees of Western values such as scepticism of the mystical world-view and of the claims of charismatics to be “wonder-men” or “healers” or “gutte-betters” so that ironically the West has pulled Hasidim away from the clutches of potentially predatory claimants to being “holy men” and moved them closer to the misnagdishe outlook that every person can and must have their own absolute direct kesher with the Eibisheter and that so-called “Tazdikim” are not such a necessity. Rebbes thus become nice to have around and to brag about (“meiner is besser vi diener”) but they are not the bread and butter, ki heim chayeinu ve’orech yomeinu of a Chosid’s life. As the old Yiddish song goes: Es iz nisht vi amul iz geven.

One could say that just as America’s gentiles, lehavdil elef havdolas, are more Protestant and less Catholic, so are all Jews in America influenced by this mehalech. Whereas Catholics teach that God can only be served by and through following the Pope, the Protestants teach that the Pope is not needed and that he actually interferes or worse. In Western history, the Protestant Reformation followed from the Renaissance. Similarly, lehavdil elef havdolas, with the bulk of the world’s Jew, frum and secular NOW living in the West for a long time already (WWII ended in 1945, over 60 years ago), whether they like it or not, they pick up the outlook that “Popes” and interlocutors with God can and MUST be questioned and jettisoned.

The American phenomenon is repeated in the State of Israel as the old-time Middle Eastern yishuv, with its roots in Eastern Europe is overwhelmed by the Westernization of Israeli society and with Haredim who are born and raised into a modern country and not into fardorbene shtetlach where a Rebbe was viewed as a ray of mystic light and grantor of salvation. Israeli Hasidim are not much different to any other Israelis, just that one group wears black and the other wears IDF army uniforms, but their mind-sets are more in sink with each other.

An Israeli Hasid today would have zero shaychos and compatability with his or her Eastern European elter-zaide and bubba. (Maybe one of the appeals and succes of Breslov today is that they have somehow discovred the “trick” of transporting people “back in time” to the grave of Rebbe Nachman itself in Umman in Ukraine which then evokes some kind of mystic paranormal psychic mental and spiritual reaction endemic to that part of the world, but that is another shmues.)

So to sum up, it’s not that there are no Tazdikim or that the todays’ Rebbes and Torah leaders leaders are on a lower intellectual or spiritual madreigah than previous dores, because there are more, not less, Hasidishe Jews and more, not less, genuine geniuses, and more not less talented and charismatic leaders available, but that they are havibg a harder time convincing the Haredi and Hasidic masses to follow in the way that previous doros in Eastren Europe lived and died by their Rebbes and rabbomin.

What has changed is the SURROUNDING CLIMATE, the avirah, the sevivah, it’s the meshaneh makom meshaneh mazel effect, and the people are raised and educated in a differnt way, and think differently. They are not so open to bubba meises. There is an open media. People can read books, magazines, newspapers, and yes the Internet. People know that the West is good. It has better doctors, houses, banks and everything is better under a Western lifestyle. In such a milieu, Rebbes, Gurus, mystics, and all sorts of charismatic leaders and styles are devalued and viewed with scepticism.

Chad Gadya

Chad Gadya is a traditional Pesach (Passover) song, sort of like I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, but for Jews.

It’s a fun song for kids and sometimes taken as a metaphor for how the Jewish nation has been a relatively tiny nation preserved throughout time whereas its great enemies have all fallen. Read the lyrics here.

Chad Gadya sang by Ofra Haza:

Here’s Chad Gadya sang in Ladino by Yehoram Gaon:

Chag Sameach!

A first look at the Simpsons’ upcoming visit to Israel

From Haaretz:

The first images from the upcoming episode of The Simpsons, in which the animated family visits Israel, were released this week after six months of buzz over the special show to be aired in the United States on March 28.

The episode, titled “The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed,” includes scenes of Homer and Bart at the Western Wall with their Israeli tour guide, who will be voiced by British comedian Sascha Baron Cohen, of Borat and Bruno fame.

In the episode, Homer gets “Jerusalem Syndrome” and believes that he is the Messiah. Also, the tour guide bickers and exchanges political barbs with Marge.

“This is an episode that people from all three religions will be equally offended by,” said Simpsons producer Al Jean.

The show has featured many Jewish jokes and characters during its 21 seasons on air, most prominently Krusty the Clown (whose Jewish name is Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski).

The New Kabbalists

From Haaretz:

The times have passed when an old man like kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Kadouri was brought out to help draw voters for Shas or another party, according to the whim of his grandson. Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Ifergan, who is known by his nickname, “the X-Ray,” Rabbi Yoram Abergil and Amnon Yitzhak, who brings people back to religion, are not the “Baba Buba” (the figure of an elderly kabbalist that was satirized on a local television program). These are young and charismatic people who sell spirituality as merchandise – each with his own unique qualities.

Mainly, they have a good understanding of the rules of the game, the context and the period in which they are living and operating.

Dr. Boaz Huss of the Jewish philosophy department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, who studies new kabbalistic groups, proposes that these new tzaddikim not be regarded as tricksters or as suppliers of opium to the masses, but rather as a type of agents of the New Age, who faithfully reflect culture in the post-modern era.


“The mass following of tzaddikim today is not a matter of turning to tradition,” explains Huss, “but a new creation with elements of traditional culture. A part of the widespread phenomenon of post-modern spirituality.” Philosopher Jean Francois Lyotard, Huss notes, speaks of the collapse of belief in the modern meta-narratives and ideologies. He claims that the main reason for interest in knowledge today is not the great stories and the theories, but their usefulness. In other words, people want practical answers for life. “One claim is that turning to kabbalists is superficial or commercialized,” says Huss. “But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad. People want spirituality. They want a remedy, but they are not willing to take on religious commitment, or to undergo a personality change. And this experience is provided to them by the new kabbalists.?

Read on.