Poverty in Eretz Yisrael
(Hat Tip: Esther) Jonathan Rosenblum has just published a column "Can We Talk Seriously About Poverty?"
He details many of the side-effects of crushing poverty:
- Increased defection rates, inability to provide children with services they need to thrive in the Chareidi community, potential association of Torah with deprivation and strife amongst youth.
- Inviting the yetzer hara into financial dealings. This year alone here in America we have had enough arrests here to fill a book. From Spinka earlier in the year to Wextrust just this month, the DOJ, IRS, and SEC have enough work to keep their lawyers busy for a long time to come. Get rich scams are prevelant in the Orthodox community. I detailed my disappointment when the Yated an a free advertisement for one such scheme. Vosizneias recently ran a warning about the Goji scam which has apparantely become quite popular in certain enclaves. Gambling is also a growing problem. And a lot of what passes for "investment" looks more like gambling. Yashrut is seriously lacking, but that really shouldn't come as a surprise because where desperation is the rule, you can be sure that the yetzer hara will win. Chazal told us this long ago in Pirkei Avot.
- Loss of self-respect when one depends on others.
- Putting money first in shidduchim is causing marital problems.
- Serious health issues.
Talking about poverty will expose an education system that is leaving its constituents unable to thrive in a 21st century job market. (You can't even talk about jobs until you talk about job preparations). Talking about poverty will challenge the community leaders and Gedolim, which challenges the heart of the community. Talking about poverty will bring up questions of prudence in regards to young marriage and extremely large families, defining factors of this community.
Talking about poverty simply isn't something the community is ready to do. In America, we have a similar issue when it comes to Yeshiva Tuition. We all know the problem is huge. But real talking isn't taking place yet. Hopefully it will take place before economic reality really takes over.
Update: The Wolf has also made some comments and Rabbi Horowitz posted the article. A commentor at Cross-Currents believes the problem will solve itself when unemployed/underemployed Chareidim do what immigrant groups always do: work menial jobs, start small businesses, and educate their children. I think we would all like to believe that. But, I would say there has bee a serious change of work ethic and business has also changed. Perhaps in a few years we will all be hiring Chareidi cleaning help?
Reputations, Shidduchim, and Criminals
As Jonathan Rosenblum related in his article, con-men run free in the Orthodox community because of financial desperation. Another type of man that runs free are molesters and rapists. The desperation here is none other than shidduchim. And this desperation turns tzedek, yashrut, and rachamim on its head. In Boro Park, police have DNA evidence that links the abduction and sexual assault of a 4 year old to that of a 14 year old.
Scared that their daughters will lack shidduchim in the future (no thanks to community members who lack the ability to keep their lips zipped), the police can't get much cooperation from the families. And, so another sexual criminal runs free to rape more young Jewish girls.
Chinuch and Crime Control
Rabbi Horowitz posted an article on chinuch written by a Rabbi Brezak. The story behind the article is that boys were caught on camera vandalizing the girls school and causing serious financial loss. After the boys were told that the principal might turn over the video, the criminal activity stopped.
The author then writes, "At first glance, the way this incident was handled appears to be chinuch at its best. The boys were made aware that their unscrupulous deeds would bring them dire consequences, thus discouraging them from similar antics in the future.
However, after careful examination, we realize that this is not chinuch; it is crime control."
Perhaps I am missing something (I'm sure it wouldn't be the first time), but it seems that whatever chinuch these boys should have received vis a vis not damaging other people's stuff was lost upon them and that "crime control" (and under the category of crime control I would include RESTITUTION) is "chinuch at its best" this point. These boys need to understand that their actions have consequences and, while it would have been nice if they understood this before going out and damaging property, they don't and now they need consequences.
More on property damage later. This subject is one that desperately needs addressed and I might as well take the bait later.
Kids Need a Multi-Thousand Dollar Experience to Learn these Skills?
The Aish.com Mom Blog author, Emuna Braverman, hails the glory of camp writing:
"At camp, kids learn some basic cleanup skills (can I brag about my daughter's bunks 10+ neatness grade?), some laundry skills and most of all, some interpersonal and conflict resolution skills. They are thrown together with the other girls 24/7 and they have to work their issues out (even when someone dares to touch their things or sit on their bed!). They learn to negotiate the complicated weaving of new friendships and old ones. They learn about kindness and about sharing (woe to the camper who hoards a care package!). They learn about team spirit and how to really create unity through everyone's involvement."
Camp has been sold to the Orthodox community as a complete necessity, rather than a luxury. And, as such, I've seen many articles, letters to the editors, etc, glorifying the learning experience of camp. This is not the first time I've heard about basic cleanup and laundry skills as a big plus. Am I the only one who find it ridiculous to think kids *need* a multi-thousand dollar experience to learn to take some basic responsibility? If so, our kids have been catered to far too much. The skills named certainly can be learned without spending somewhere between $2000 to $6000 a month, especially when the parents are hurting to provide this experience.