June 28, 2012
Opinion: A fanaticism that can only lead to peril
Is it just me or is there indeed more discord within the Jewish community now than in the past? We proclaim with fervor “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh,” that every Jewish soul is responsible for every other. Yet it seems as if we are facing more internal challenges than ever before; bitter rivalries that could make instances of persecution by gentiles seem as mere playground brawls. It is hard to imagine that anyone really expects peace and harmony for Israel and Jews worldwide if they dislike one another more than anyone else could possibly take issue with them.
To begin with, one needs only to look at the huge waste of money and opportunity on the Internet ban effort that cost more than $2 million. It brought ultra orthodox Jewish men together, mostly by coercion, to hear unscripted and uncoordinated messages about why the Internet was evil. Rather than demand that people take personal responsibility for one’s actions, the weak leadership would just turn off progress and the future to preserve their failed policies of poor education, abject naivety and searing control that dictates marital prospects, communal acceptance and even much needed financial support.
I had a client recently, who was from the ultra orthodox community who pointed out that I was raised in a small yeshiva environment and now work in a very secular word, and “you did what I could not do--you got out.” Even though our communities, families and circumstances were very different, the point made was loud. Some know it is oppressive, but lack the initiative to find their own way out of that environment.
There are the numerous accounts that have been exposed recently of child abuse, sexual deviancy and domestic abuse not only occurring, but being covered up by religious leadership. In Brooklyn, the five term District Attorney, Charles Hynes, is now marred with scandal for helping to conceal orthodox suspects and underreporting the crimes. Had it not been for the Internet, the parents, children and women would not have found their voices and the beginnings of justice for them and those still unknown. The attempted ban and this are not so unrelated.