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Neturei Karta - Anti Zionist Orthodox Jews - נטורי קרתא

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Neturei Karta

Neturei Karta (Jewish Babylonian Aramaic: נָטוֹרֵי קַרְתָּא nāṭōrē qarṯā, literally "Guardians of the City") is a religious group of Haredi Jews, formally created in Jerusalem, British Mandate of Palestine, in 1938, splitting off from Agudas Yisrael. Neturei Karta opposes Zionism and calls for a "peaceful dismantling" of the State of Israel, in the belief that Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of the Jewish Messiah and that the state of Israel is a rebellion against god. While the Neturei Karta describe themselves as true traditional Jews, the more secular US-based Jewish Anti-Defamation League has described them as "the farthest fringes of Judaism".

Origin of the name

Originally the organization was called Chevrat HaChayim (Society of Life); however this name was quickly supplanted in favor of the name Neturei Karta.

The name Neturei Karta literally means "Guardians of the City" in Aramaic and is derived from a narrative on page 76c of Tractate Hagigah in the Jerusalem Talmud. There it is related that Rabbi Judah haNasi sent two rabbis on a tour of inspection:

In one town they asked to see the "guardians of the city" and the city guard was paraded before them. They said that these were not the guardians of the city but its destroyers, which prompted the citizens to ask who, then, could be considered the guardians. The rabbis answered, "The scribes and the scholars," referring them to Tehillim (Psalms) Chapter 127.

It is this role that Neturei Karta see themselves as fulfilling by defending what they believe is "the position of the Torah and authentic unadulterated Judaism."

History

Generally, members of Neturei Karta are descendants of Hungarian Jews and Lithuanian Jews who were students of the Gaon of Vilna (known as Perushim) who had settled in Jerusalem in the early nineteenth century. In the late nineteenth century, their ancestors participated in the creation of new neighborhoods outside the city walls to alleviate overcrowding in the Old City, and most are now concentrated in the neighborhood of Batei Ungarin and the larger Meah Shearim neighborhood.

At the time, they were vocal opponents to the new political ideology of Zionism that was attempting to assert Jewish sovereignty in Ottoman-controlled Palestine. They resented the new arrivals, who were predominantly non-religious, while they asserted that Jewish redemption could be brought about only by the Jewish messiah.

Neturei Karta was founded by Rabbi Amram Blau and Rabbi Aharon Katzenelbogen. Rabbi Blau was a native of Meah Shearim in Jerusalem and was active in the Agudat Israel during the British Mandate era. However, by the 1930s, the Aguda began to adopt a more compromising and accommodationist approach to the Zionist movement. This caused Rabbi Blau to split with the Aguda in 1937 and cofound Chevrat HaChayim (with Rabbi Katzenelbogen), which was soon to be known thereafter as Neturei Karta.

While many in Neturei Karta chose to simply ignore the State of Israel, this has become more difficult. Some took steps to condemn Israel and bring about its eventual dismantling until the coming of the Messiah. Chief among these was Moshe Hirsch, leader of an activist branch of Neturei Karta, who served in Yasser Arafat's cabinet as Minister for Jewish Affairs.

Beliefs

Neturei Karta stress what is said in the mussaf Shemona Esrei ("The Standing Prayer") of Yom Tov, that because of their sins, the Jewish people went into exile from the Land of Israel ("umipnei chatoeinu golinu meiartzeinu"). Additionally, they maintain the view – based on the Babylonian Talmud – that any form of forceful recapture of the Land of Israel is a violation of divine will. They believe that the restoration of the Land of Israel to the Jews should happen only with the coming of the Messiah, not by self-determination.

Neturei Karta believe that the exile of the Jews can end only with the arrival of the Messiah, and that human attempts to establish Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel are sinful. In Neturei Karta's view, Zionism is a presumptuous affront against God. Chief among their arguments against Zionism is the Talmudic concept of the so-called Three Oaths, extracted from the discussion of certain portions of the Bible. It states that a pact consisting of three oaths was made between God, the Jewish people, and the nations of the world, when the Jews were sent into exile. One provision of the pact was that the Jews would not rebel against the non-Jewish world that gave them sanctuary; a second was that they would not immigrate en masse to the Land of Israel. In return, the gentile nations promised not to persecute the Jews. By rebelling against this pact, they argued, the Jewish people were engaging in rebellion against God.

The Neturei Karta synagogues follow the customs of the Gaon of Vilna, due to Neturei Karta's origin within the Lithuanian rather than Hasidic branch of ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Neturei Karta is not a Hasidic but a Litvish group; they are often mistaken for Hasidim because their style of dress (including a shtreimel on Shabbos) is very similar to that of Hasidim. This style of dress is not unique to Neturei Karta, but is also the style of other Jerusalem Litvaks, such as Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv and his followers. Furthermore, Shomer Emunim, a Hasidic group with a similar anti-Zionist ideology, is often bundled together with Neturei Karta. Typically, the Jerusalem Neturei Karta will keep the customs of the "Old Yishuv" of the city of Jerusalem even when living outside of Jerusalem or even when living abroad, as a demonstration of their love for and connection to the Holy Land.

Wikipedia