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Friday, March 11, 2011

Yated: A Change of Heart?

I haven't picked up a Yated in what seems like ages. Matzav publishes their weekly editorial, however. And while I rarely read it, this one caught my eye. I must say that I'm completely perplexed by the recent editorial "Life is Not a Popularity Contest" in which the newspaper's editor, in a rather long-winded editorial, ponders the propriety ignoring the "unsavory" in our midst.

Below are some select quotes from the article and I can't help but wondering, what prompted this editorial? This from the publication that did not once mention [insert story].

What is going on here? I'm hopeful that there is something positive going on behind the scenes and that honor and integrity will take a front seat.

The portrayals are far from flattering and thrust us into a dilemma. Do we ignore the unsavory stories or do we report on them? Do we publicly dissociate ourselves from individuals who have brazenly betrayed Torah ideals but continue to claim to represent our community?

How do we deal with the problem of people in our community who engage in dishonorable conduct? By ignoring it and by remaining silent, we are communicating a message that we tolerate and even condone the conduct. Is that the message we want to send?

We need to assess what we are doing wrong so that we can halt a pernicious trend and improve our people, their future, and the way we are being perceived by the world around us.

We also need to distance ourselves, publicly and privately, from people whom we know to be engaging in improper conduct and giving us all a black eye. There are prominent people who speak in the name of our community, whom we are quick to criticize and disown when speaking among close friends, but whom, for some reason, we never condemn publicly.

The media and bloggers have a field day painting these miscreants as representative of all religious Jews and rabbis. While many of them are motivated by pure hatred, how can we condemn them, as long as we continue to convey the impression through our silence that we are all of one stripe? If we do not disavow them, how can we expect the media and people removed from our community to differentiate between us?

Perhaps we remain silent out of fear. The notion that these people are arrogant and vindictive and will come after us is intimidating. Also, no one wants to be seen as a troublemaker. It can ruin our children’s prospects for shidduchim if we engage in activities which would allow unscrupulous people to paint us as baalei machlokes. People will say that we are negative, cynical, obstinate and arrogant. So we sit off to the side and permit these frauds to parade as Orthodox Jews in good standing.

Prominent shady characters are given carte blanche to enact their agendas and the dishonest are permitted to continue their detrimental behavior and actions. We beat gingerly around the bush, dancing around the edges, afraid to proclaim the truth.

What are we afraid of? Why are we silent? How can we live with ourselves as we see yet another rabbi or religious Jew creating yet another chillul Hashem? It would be bad enough if we waited until the scandal hit the papers and only then took corrective steps, but we haven’t mustered the courage to do even that.

We are beset by so many problems in our community, but if we are prevented from honestly assessing and addressing them, we will not be able to solve them. As any edifice built on a shaky foundation cannot endure over time, an ideological house of cards built on illusions will not survive. Closing our eyes to the facts won’t change them and will not remove the rot at the core.

Dealing with superficial issues which are merely symptoms of the malady while failing to invest time and energy in remedying the underlying causes is as effective as slapping a band-aid over gaping wounds.


8 comments:

Baal Habos said...

What prompted it? This is not trailblazing; he's just jumping on the bandwagon.

tesyaa said...

The media and bloggers have a field day painting these miscreants as representative of all religious Jews and rabbis. While many of them are motivated by pure hatred...

Again with the persecution complex. I don't believe most bloggers who blog about problems in the frum world are anti-semites or self-hating Jews. Many are idealistic, and many are aiming to bring about the very introspection and change that this article is talking about. The only difference is that the bloggers have been trying the change things for years.

Anonymous said...

I don't think even the most strident jewish OTD blogger tries to paint the miscreants as representative of religious jews. What they have done, however, is suggest that the silence, apologetics and failure to address the issues is symptomatic of communal problems. There is a big difference.

Miami Al said...

Tesyaa,

Regarding the media, it is somewhat true, but is it unfair?

Are the Rabbi-Criminals representative of our community? Given the community's public support of them, I don't see how you can call the coverage unfair.

If the Community was "throwing them out" and saying "Orthodox Jews do NOT behave this way" and the community was still being tarred, then fine, we're victims. But when we raise money for "Frum" criminals, and publically sanctify them, then we are in trouble.

Bernie Madoff was on the board of YU, the core institution of Modern Orthodoxy. When the situation came to light, YU immediately suspended him and every Modern Orthodox institution involved with him cried out that they were victims and condemned him.

Media portrayal of Bernie Madoff was of a Jewish criminal that prayed on Jewish victims in an affinity scheme.

Media portrayals were not of Orthodox Jew, Bernard Madoff.

The media couldn't care less if Madoff wore a Kippa, kept kosher, or kept Shabbat, they cared about how the community referenced him.

Why is Rubashkins more of an issue? Madoff managed a big chunk of YU's money, he wasn't a peripheral figure. The RW rallied around Rubashkin, the MO world denounced Bernie Madoff.

Ezzie said...

I thought the piece was surprising and encouraging as well. I'm curious what prompted it, too.

My name is Ira needleman said...

How about a test to see if there will be any change. The next time something happens (and unfortunately, I am afraid somethign will) let's see if they report on it at all.

I believe one of the so-called Rabbis is about to serve a 4-year term for a financial shakedown. Another will soon be getting out after serving his term for tax fraud. Let's see if they have any report on it at all.

One last thing - all orthos should be very glad that Bernie Madoff did not wear a Yarmulka, or every report on him would have began "Rabbi Madoff..."

L! said...

As we type, there's a little session in Congress wherein they demand to know why religious Muslims don't out the future terrorists among them.

Well, I can understand why. They have the same trouble we have in differentiating between the holy and the over-the-top, and the same difficulty in deciding whether turning in or covering up is the better route.

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