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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

You'll Throw Them a Pumpkin Pie?

Hat Tip:

Simply unbelievable (see full article at Asbury Park Press).

While in the past, private schools waived their right to busing on Thanksgiving, this year that is not the case. From the comments everywhere (and a TLS poll), the majority believe bus drivers should have the day off, although there are plenty of comments from bnei rachamin that are anything but such as they should just be happy to have a job, etc, etc. There is something to be said for reasonable accommodation. It increases morale and creates an environment of mutual respect, something I'd certainly want when I'm placing my child under someone else's care. Additionally, if you stand for families spending time together, this is the day! This is penny-wise and pound foolish ans as many comments point out, if everyone were to act on strict law, bus drivers could refuse to make many accommodations that they make out of kindness. Additionally, local employers might act accordingly and not make accommodations they make for Jewish employees.

But Lakewood Vaad spokesman went on record saying the law is the law and "In the Jewish school system, every day is precious for education. [Thanksgiving is] a wonderful holiday, but there are still (18,000) kids who need to get home." Furthermore he states that with the growth and population of schools, carpooling is not a safe option. Disingenuous? I think so. Unless Lakewood calendars are significantly different than those of the rest of the Orthodox world, I dare say that in addition to yom tov, there plenty of days off. . . . just not Thanksgiving, mind you. And, do Lakewood parents not drive on Sunday?

Next time, Weisberg states, there should be a financial incentive (something I'm certain taxpayers won't be happy about). But this time, the attorney for the township's Board of Education says he will personally buy pumpkin pie or dessert for all drivers at his expense. Do those who speak hear their own voices? I'm sure the bus drivers can buy their own Mrs. Smith's pumpkin pie! What a chutzpah. It comes off as arrogant and insulting, adding insult to injury.

Just in, as I go to publish, some schools are declining their right for busing. Hopefully more will follow. I'd suggestnot waiting too long. People need to make their plans.


Anonymous said...

The offer of pie is insulting. In my firm, if we are asked to come in on a Sunday or a holiday, we are paid double time! With a 4 hour minimum - so if you work for only 2 hours, you are paid for 8! If the schools offered the drivers time and a half for driving on Thanksgiving, that would show some decency. This is why I would never work for frum people. They are cheap.

Dave said...

The law in New Jersey needs to be changed.

sima said...

For many families, legal holidays are a really nice chance for the whole family (working mom, working dad, and all the kids) to spend time together. As well, it's important to remember that many RW families have parents/grandparents/other relatives who may expect or strongly wish for them to gather together on Thanksgiving. And why not? It's not a religious holiday, and family togetherness + thankfulness are ideas most of us could get behind.

JS said...

Some of the comments on those pages are simply disgusting. I'd love to see the tables turned on them for minor holidays such as purim or hoshana rabba and see what their reaction would be.

Dave in DC said...

Of all of the entitled, inflexible and just plain awkward comments, the one that still boils my blood most is "Do the girls need to go to school or can we just send the boys (and cut down on the number of busses)?"

JoelC said...

I am disappointed with Orthonomic's reaction to this story, as well as that of the commenters.
One of the themes of this blog is personal responsibility and how making a living often requires making choices. I don't see how a job that requires you to work on a holiday (if there is no religious stricture that does not allow work) is an unbearable imposition. Do gas stations stay open on Thanksgiving? How about pilots? And nurses? I have spent many evenings, Sundays and holidays stuck at the office when I would rather be spending time with my family.I often had to log in on Purim and Tisha Ba'av as well.
These kids do need to get to school. Do you also think that the schools should let the teachers and the janitorial staff have a day off?
Schools in Lakewood need to be open on secular holidays because they are already off for the Jewish holidays. I don't see why they are any different than Walmart or Best Buy who insist that employees come in for holiday sales.

When the blizzard shut down transportation, my firm got us pizza for lunch. Should I have been insulted or is pumpkin pie somehow particularly insulting?

Miami Al said...


Except this is NOT personal responsibilities. None of the bus drivers had any reasonable expectation of working on Thanksgiving. However, because of a quirk in the law, it never occurred to lawmakers that private schools would be open on major national holidays.

What amazes me is just HOW MANY accommodations our neighbors all make for us without any appreciation (shutting down major roads here for people to slowly walk across them, etc) and any reciprocation results in outrage.

America has two "national" holidays, Thanksgiving and Independence Day. Publicizing that you are open on America's fall holiday is just telling your neighbors that you don't consider yourself part of America, and that is EXTREMELY stupid.

JoelC said...

These drivers have the benefit of many extra days off throughout the year, exceeding their "reasonable expectations" in that regard. It is not a quirk in the laws that requires employees to be available when needed.
To make a more general point, it because of this entitled mentality by public workers that New Jersey finds itself in an impossible budget crunch.
Lakewood is a primarily chareidi town and should "accommodate" the requirements of its residents. I don't know what you are referring to when you say that any reciprocation results in outrage. I have not seen it. In fact, I have not seen outrage on this question, instead what I see is an isistence that employees conform to the terms of a contract. Public employee unions are not shy about enforcing arcane and inefficient union rules to their benefit and I have little sympathy when they are hoisted on their own petard.
I don't see the stupidity in not hiding the fact that we do not observe Thanksgiving. A vast majority of the country is functionally atheistic and for them, I don't think the tradition of Thanksgiving is anything more than shopping, eating and watching football.

JS said...


Just because the schools have a legal right to force the bus drivers to come and drive the kids back and forth to school doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. It's really that simple.

From a more pragmatic perspective, why do you want to upset drivers who you rely upon daily to get your kids to school and home safely? Why upset your neighbors and local government? Why appear un-American and ungrateful to the country you live in? Why appear that you don't share in its culture and heritage? Why create a negative impression of Jews and Orthodox Jews in particular?

The pumpkin pie is insulting because it's not being offered as appreciation after the fact for those who did their job - it's being offered as an incentive to get people to come in. Maybe it's a subtle difference, but it's a big one. When someone offers you an unexpected token of appreciation to show their gratitude it's meaningful, but when someone basically says to you "I'll give you a pie if you go to work" it's insulting. It's the difference between giving a tip at the end of dinner and saying to the waiter/waitress beforehand "Here's $5, make sure you bring me water every 10 minutes and smile politely." Maybe you wouldn't understand if you're not in the service industry or are viewed as being in a socially inferior occupation.

The whole thing is also just disingenuous - all this talk about safety and how it's impossible to arrange the carpools or how every single school day is precious. People can tell when you're lying and making up excuses.

It basically boils down to: "I don't want to be inconvenienced, but I don't mind inconveniencing you."

Finally, I'll just say that these communities are so cloistered and so out of touch with the reality of American culture and society that they don't even begin to understand how insensitive they're being.

JS said...

"A vast majority of the country is functionally atheistic and for them, I don't think the tradition of Thanksgiving is anything more than shopping, eating and watching football."

This is exactly what I was referring to when I said this: Finally, I'll just say that these communities are so cloistered and so out of touch with the reality of American culture and society that they don't even begin to understand how insensitive they're being.

Anonymous said...

In fairness, if you looked at the Lakewood Scoop, the comments on this issue are overwhelmingly on the side of the bus drivers (taking off Thanksgiving) - and the commenters are from the chareidi community.

Those of you who commented on this blog that Lakewood frummies are out of touch with American culture and are offending the Americans who are their neighbors.... You are funny! You've not been to Lakewood. Their neighbors are all illegal Mexicans, not Americans, who have long since fled. There are arguments in favor of the bus drivers, but offending the American neighbors is not one of them!

Why not organize a bus tour of Lakewood, like Jewish tourists do of Williamsburg, to taste the local culture and cuisine, ogle the black hatters and sheitel wearers, take pictures of mothers with seven children, age 7 to infant. You need to sample some diversity!

Dave said...


The bus drivers are *not* public employees. Moreover, since they don't get paid on days they don't drive, it isn't like they are being rewarded for time off. They work for private companies, and while the contracting companies may have been aware that this might happen, the drivers had no reasonable expectation of working on Thanksgiving.

In fact, there haven't been buses running on Thanksgiving to those schools since 2006, so few of the current drivers would have even considered the possibility, much less planned for it. Instead, they got two weeks notice.

And noting with surprise that Thanksgiving is a secular holiday (which, it *is*) just shows your disconnect with American culture.

Frankly, I'd love to see the drivers who have to work (if any end up having to work) become sticklers for the rules. No parent at the drop-off, kid has to be taken back to the school. Kid is running towards the bus stop but isn't there, well, late kid, no ride. Forgot the bus pass, no ride. Want to ride a different bus to go home with a friend, sorry, take your bus home and let your parents sort it out. Incivility should be responded to in kind.

And I'd like to see the laws in New Jersey changed such that the bus contractors are allowed to place bids that have specific days off included, rather than letting the schools mandate it. Or let the School District have the final say.

JoelC said...

I won't try to address your arguments individually. Suffice it to say that I think your argument distinguishing between gifts given before and gifts given after a service is done would be derided as talmudic hairsplitting if used in defense of a chareidi principle or action.
In general, your argument boils down to saying that chareidim should try to act in ways that minimize their differences from the surrounding culture. This is actually one of the substantive differences between the MO community and the Chareidi community. Chareidim value opportunities to distinguish themselves from the surrounding culture while MO generally try to fit in as best as possible. I think the arguments that our neighbors will like us better if we did more to fit in is a red herring. Do you feel equally bothered when you see a non Jewish teenager with tattoos and piercing or when african-americans retain their distinctive dialect?
The bottom line is, you think the Chareidi dress, speech and lifestyle is outmoded and irrational and it embarrasses you to be associated with it by your common religion. Without that discomfort, I don't think you would be so bothered by the "unfair" treatment of the inconvenienced bus drivers.

tesyaa said...

Off topic, but always on topic for this blog:

JS said...


I have no idea where in the world you got your ideas from, but I don't think it was from my actual comments.

I didn't say Chareidim or anyone else should celebrate Thanksgiving. If they don't want to buy a Turkey, sit around watching football, and having a family meal where people show gratitude to God, each other, and their country, that's their business. I think not recognizing the holiday at all makes them bad citizens in the same way that not acknowledging July 4th, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, etc. would make one a bad citizen, but that's a separate issue.

They don't have to minimize their differences with the surrounding culture (and I don't think that's what MO is about anyways - the fact that you think that is absurd). But, they should acknowledge that culture exists and be sensitive to those who value and cherish it. The fact that you deride it as a secular holiday for shopping and watching football is exactly what I'm talking about - namely, if you're not a synagogue it's not a holiday.

I have no idea what you're talking about with the tattoos and dialects. Can you clarify? No one's culture or appearance or style of talking offends me. But, there's no denying this is a white anglo-saxon protestant culture despite being a melting pot and certain things need to be acknowledged and certain practices adhered to if you want to get ahead in that culture. It doesn't mean you throw away your heritage - again, this is a melting pot - but, it does mean that in certain industries you're not going to get very far with facial tattoos and multiple piercings or speaking improper English.

I don't view chareidim any differently because they're co-religionists. I think sexism is bad whether it's Chareidim making women sit in the back of the bus or song lyrics calling women certain derogatory names. I think racism is bad whether it's Chareidim saying schvartze or using the term goyim derisively or whether it's racial animus towards arabs. Bad grammar, poor manners, financial shenanigans, backwards behavior, cultural ignorance, lack of tolerance, etc. bother me regardless of who the offending party is.

Anonymous said...

If we are seen as messing with the non-Jews' holidays, you can bet we'll have trouble getting time off for ours.

Anonymous said...

If we are seen as messing with the non-Jews' holidays, you can bet we'll have trouble getting time off for ours.

You would think - but at least one comment on Lakewood Scoop explained the difference as "we are prohibited to work on our holidays and they are not". It's obvious! :(

And at least on the Lakewood Scoop, many, many commenters are members of the local community - non-Jews and non-frum Jews - and are not part of chareidi Lakewood. Bear that in mind when you read reasonable comments.

Of course, some frum Lakewooders are on the side of reason, but not all.

JoelC said...


I was making an inference from your comments.
The idea that celebrating a holiday makes you a good citizen is, frankly, weird to me.
Volunteering for the armed forces, paying your taxes, employing fellow citizens,informing yourself on civic issues and following the law of the land, yes. Eating turkey or watching a parade, not so much.
I dont think MO "is about" minimizing cultural differences. There is a lot more to both Chareidi and MO lifestyles and worlview than that particular point. However, I do think that it is an important distinction between MO and Chareidi ideology.

Let me try to make my point about the relative importance of Thanksgiving in a different way. I think many people in this country spend more time thinking about what they are going to eat on Thanksgiving than they do on informing themselves before voting. I certainly think these bus drivers would collectively be far more upset if the schools required them to miss watching the Super Bowl as opposed to the morning of Thanksgiving. I just was trying to point out that the pious regard for the celebration of Thanksgiving by the bus drivers does not really reflect how people really feel about the holiday. Its mostly means a long weekend off to many Americans, which is a nice thing but not a reason to call someone un-american who disrupts someone else's celebration of the holiday.

My point about the dialects and tattoos is that I have found that the same MO Jews who are so uncomfortable about backward and embarrassing chareidi practices are ever so tolerant and accepting of diverse behavior from non-jews. This might be too charitable of me, but i believe the discomfort derives from the disagreement with the Chareidi position that in order to fully preserve and teach Judaism to their children, they must remain culturally isolated from secular culture. The difference is, Chareidim think MO practices don't work, while MO think Chareidi practices are embarassing. Between those two opinions, which is really the more intolerant?

JoelC said...

It is not helpful when you describe your position as "reasonable" without providing reason to back it up.

JS said...


I'm not sure if the "reasonable" comment was directed at me. If so, please clarify.

Your arguments are kind of straw men. Of course voting, paying taxes, etc. are more important than sitting down to a family meal on Thanksgiving. That's not the point. The point is simply that it's an American holiday and has cultural significance. Similarly, it doesn't matter if there are other events they'd be more loathe to miss. They don't want to miss this one.

It's the same as saying that keeping shabbat and kashrut make you a good Jew, but wearing tzitzit, not so much. Or, that you'd be more upset if you had to come to work on yom kippur as opposed to hoshana rabba.

It's besides the point.

So this doesn't go back and forth endlessly, what exactly do you think should happen here? All the bus drivers should be forced to come in and work? Do you see any downside at all to that?

JoelC said...

The "reasonable" comment was not directed at you.

I think the schools need to be open on Thanksgiving and therefore the bus drivers need to drive them to school. It would be better if that could be accomplished without forcing bus drivers to come in on their day off but that is not possible.
I don't understand why my point is difficult to understand.
Fact one:
You would be less sympathetic to drivers who insisted on having a day off to watch the super bowl.
Fact two:
Most drivers would be more upset about missing the Super Bowl than missing Thanksgiving.
Inference from Facts one and two:
You should not be as sympathetic as you are of bus drivers for missing Thanksgiving.
That's about the best I can boil it down for you.

JS said...


I'll just leave it at saying you're very near-sighted. I don't think you appreciate the ramifications of forcing them to come in on what is traditionally a day off for schoolchildren. See what Dave wrote above if we're all going to be sticklers for the rules:

"No parent at the drop-off, kid has to be taken back to the school. Kid is running towards the bus stop but isn't there, well, late kid, no ride. Forgot the bus pass, no ride. Want to ride a different bus to go home with a friend, sorry, take your bus home and let your parents sort it out."

The fact that I'm more or less sympathetic to taking certain days off is irrelevant.

By the way, the facts and inferences really don't follow by the rules of logic. The most that follows, and it's a real stretch is that they should work on the superbowl and not thanksgiving since they'd be more upset otherwise and I'd be less sympathetic to the alternative.

Again, the super bowl has nothing to do with anything. How would you feel if your employer said "Look, you'd be more upset if I asked you to come in on Yom Kippur, so you can't complain if I ask you to come in on Purim."

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I would be sympathetic to drivers who had to miss the Super Bowl (though I think your analogy is poor because apparently most of the drivers are women). In the same way, I would be sympathetic to a frum person who wanted to miss work for the Siyum Hashas but couldn't. Or who wanted to go to a Purim seuda but had to be yotze by eating bread at his desk.

So we can be less sympathetic to the bus drivers, and explain why they should work, but you can be damn sure that non-Jewish employers and coworkers will be less sympathetic to Jewish needs if this type of behavior becomes a reality.

Aren't we supposed to treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves?

Dave said...

Consider the number of businesses that are closed on Thanksgiving as compared to the number closed on Superbowl Sunday.

Consider the travel load in America (hint, people travel all over the country to gather with family for Thanksgiving -- not Superbowl Sunday).

Now consider that your "Fact Two" likely isn't.

It is isn't distinctive dress or speech pattersn or customs that are the problem. The problem is the toxic combination of entitlement and a blithe unconcern for others. Last time I checked, "I get what I want, and you get what I think is reasonable" was midos s'dom.

JoelC said...

Arguments are coming at me from too many directions at this point.
I will just say that I believe I am consistent. I think the courts have unreasonably required businesses to accommodate the handicapped, orthodox Jews and women who have childcare responsibilities who have specific requirements that are inconsistent with what the employer requires.
Employment is not a right. That does not mean that a boss should not be a mentch, but we have swung too far in the direction of allowing employees to dictate the terms of their employment. I think this is a legitimate need of the Lakewood community and they are within their rights to insist on compliance with the contract.
People often make the mistake of thinking that a chilul hashem is created whenever something is done that makes people think less of Jews. There is one qualified to that. If people think less of you when you are doing the right thing, that is not a chilul hashem. I don't think Lakewood is doing something wrong and therefore I think their need for bus service overrides the feelings of the bus drivers.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that this year has more of a carpool-safety problem than last year?

Dave said...

Arguments are coming at me from too many directions at this point.

Translation: I can't actually refute the points being made.

JoelC said...

Dave, that is unworthy of you. There is one of me and about 5 of you. It is hard to respond fully to everyone separately.

Dave said...

I've been on the one-arguing-with-many on blogs before, it's really not that hard.

Get the common points from the posts, make one post responding.

Either you can contest the points being made, or you can't.

JoelC said...

You are right. You win. Happy now?

Dave said...

Actually, I'd have preferred to continue to argue the points.

But we don't always get what we want.

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

TO THOSE WHO ARE YELLING AT EACH OTHER (need to be heard over the roar):

You are both correct. JoelC is saying the contract is a contract, and too bad. Dave (and others) are saying that forcing the drivers to fulfill the contract is counter-productive. Joel is not disagreeing, but saying that he will accept the consequences.

Conservative Scifi said...


They are not both correct. The issue is not the contract, but the wildly inappropriate requirement to force people to unnecessarily work on Thanksgiving. These are not fireman or doctors. Latest I've seen, 150,000 people signed a petition so that Target wouldn't even open at midnight on Thanksgiving, much less work during the day. A similar petition is circulating for Best Buy.

Just because the "Frum" (and that term is loosely used because they are only "frum" on ritual commandments, not middot ben adam lehavero or business ethics, among other areas) want to force their desire to ignore American secular holidays onto others, doesn't mean it is in any way, shape or form appropriate.

I wouldn't be surprised if the drivers all are "sick" on that day, except for those so wretchedly poor that they can't afford to miss a single days pay.

Avi said...

Can we just boil it down and say that it is a) a chilul Hashem b) probably counterproductive in any case.

Dave said...

Part of the problem is the New Jersey law, which says that if you bid to bus school children, the school has complete control over when your buses run.

If that law weren't there, there would actually be a place for the bus companies to negotiate on this.

Miami Al said...

1. There is actually no reason that the schools "have" to be open on Thanksgiving. "Everyday is precious" is preposterous, you could have the school year extend one day further (or start one day earlier), have the same amount of school, and close on Thanksgiving. The school is choosing to be open on Thanksgiving for the SOLE purpose of saying, "we do not acknowledge American holidays." This has no basis in Jewish law (proclamations of Kings were honored, Thanksgiving was first declared by a US President, who by way of the pardon power, HAS the power over life and death to make him a King), but is part of a cultural decision to reject America. As Americans, they are entitled to that right, but let's not pretend that this is ANYTHING but an otherness issue.

2. I seem to recall a story during Passover about a son that excludes himself from the people talking about what happens "to you," and excluding themself from the population. By rejecting Thanksgiving -- this isn't about not celebrating it, read the comments, they reject one of America's defining holidays as "their holiday," they are clearly saying that they are NOT Americans. Simply not celebrating it is a FAR cry from forcing gentile workers to come and work on it.

3. You are legally entitled to "reasonable" accommodations, most employers go above and beyond. As Jews, we are supposed to act toward others as we would like them to act towards us. Does anyone believe that forcing this issue and requiring them to work this Thanksgiving (something not done the past 5 years) is how we would like gentile employers to act towards us? Sure, they can't REQUIRE us to come in on Yom Tov, but they can certainly schedule lots of company things on those days that we would be hurt by missing, harming us. Would you like to be treated that way? If not, why would you treat your indirect employees that way?

4. The public school systems in South Florida (and most of the secular private schools that follow the calendar more or less) close on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and teachers are generally supposed to be sensitive and not schedule major things on the second day of Rosh Hashanah to not disadvantage Jewish students. For the 90% of our people that are not Orthodox, this is a really big deal. When the Jewish school system goes out of its way to NOT extend the same courtesy to the non-Jewish staff that work at the Jewish schools, what message does that send? You might never think about the other 90% of American Jews, but they contribute to Jewish/Israeli charities that disproportionately benefit Orthodox Jews, so perhaps we should consider our reciprocal relationship with the rest of America. Reciprocal would be closing Thanksgiving and Christmas, and running seminar-style shiurim in the Shuls (in walking distance) so as to reciprocate for the gentile staff.

Thanksgiving is a HUGE deal in America, it's one of the biggest travel days. People fly all over the country to be with extended family for it, the schools close Wed-Fri here. When Broward County and the unions agreed to furloughs to save costs, they picked Mon/Tues of Thanksgiving week to do it, making it a week long break.

Miami Al said...

Americans are VERY tolerant of people being different. However, when you are obnoxious about it, it upsets people. If this behavior in Lakewood were seen as normative Jewish behavior, this would cause hugely bad feelings towards Jews, something that would be bad.

Lakewood is certainly within their legal rights as Americans to do this. I question whether they are fulfilling their religious obligations behaving in this manner.

As we recite each Pesach,

"That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."
—Talmud, Shabbat 31a

You can certainly parse whether this requirement applies to non-Jewish neighbors, but read the comments from bus drivers, this behavior is hateful to them. Is that proper behavior for a Frum Jew?

Miami Al said...

I pulled a pretty mediocre translation of Hillel's dictate, but pretty sure you get the reference.

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

Conservative Scifi:

He is "correct" in that they are legally responsible to fulfill the contract. Is it appropriate that they SHOULD get off? That is not an issue that he cares about.

As far as the actual issue, I agree with Al. It will just make Lakewood's neighbors hate them, just like the enclaves in New York. Do they care? No. (But that is the real issue, isn't it?)

Anonymous said...

Miami Al, you are assuming "Lakewood" is in favor of making the drivers work on Thanksgiving. The Lakewood chareidim who commented on The Lakewood Scoop were overwhelmingly in favor of giving the drivers off and making their own arrangements. One frum woman offered her minivan for carpooling. All this Lakewood bashing - there are problems that I know of in Lakewood, but the Thanksgiving issue that you are talking about here is a straw man. The problems I see in Lakewood are poverty, dependence, and lack of English competency in many adults. Also many women lack skills to make a living, which is essential as their husbands are not expected to contribute in any way to the financial support of the household.

JoelC said...

Mimai Al,
Your first two paragraphs go to the issue I had raised regarding one difference between MO and Chareidi practice. Chariedim think it is important to distinguish themselves from the wider culture. You may think this is unimportant or even wrong but you should not assume that Chareidim just don't care about how the wider world perceives them. They just have countervailing concerns that outweigh that consideration. To clarify, not having school on Thanksgiving is important to them from a hashkafic perspective. They do want to "reject" American culture and preserve their way of life. I think that is a fair choice.
Of course, this preservation of Chareidi culture does not justify insulting or disrespecting what is good and important about America. Therein lies the rub. We have been disagreeing here about what is good and valuable about American culture.

Now a list of good things (and none of these are universally true in the US, just relatively better compared to other countries):

1. respect for individual liberties
2. respect for religion
3. understanding of free market principles
4 respect for the rule of law.

Thanksgiving is not on that list. Thanksgiving is not even a specific celebration of one of these values. Therefore, I can understand chareidim not being motivated to bend over backwards to make believe that Thanksgiving is an important holiday to them.

Now we get to the question of whether not giving the bus drivers off will unjustifiably anger the bus drivers who are forced to work on their expected day off. I sincerely think the bus drivers would not be angered by not having that day off as mush as some you seem to think. I have worked with many people who were surprised by the fact that I would work on Thanksgiving so I think I have a handle on how non-jews perceive this issue. In my opinion,the bus drivers would, or course, like to have the day off but I just dont think they will think it is such a terrible injustice. Employees complain all time. It part of being an employee. If you are a mentch with your employees, they will get over a small disappointment. If you are not generally a mentch, giving one extra day off will not make them happy.

As far as "doing onto other as you would have them do onto you", I explained earlier that I am sympathetic to employers who are forced to accommodate orthodox Jews who cannot do their jobs because of religious reasons. I don't think orthodox Jews should become cops and then say that they are not available to work on Saturdays. Obviously, no one wants to work on weekends. Similarly, I don't think people employed by orthodox Jews should feel put out if their job requires accommodation to the needs of orthodox Judaism. This all comes from my libertarian political leanings and I understand that there are many of you who think the government should be able to require you to wear a seat-belt when you are alone in a car and mandate that you buy health insurance. C'est la vie!
The point is, I think I am consistent on this point.

JoelC said...

Conservative Scifi,
The thing I think is "wildly inappropiate" is painting an entire community with a derogatory broad stroke, for example saying
"they are only "frum" on ritual commandments, not middot ben adam lehavero or business ethics, among other areas".

How about this statement?
"the MO are only enthusiastic about their child getting into Harvard but they don't seem to care about whether their grandchildren marry Jews"

That is exactly how stupid the statement you made sounds. As a matter of fact, it is a fine illustration of the dictum, "col haposel, bemumoi posel".

Dave said...

If you are coming at this from a Libertarian perspective, why are you ok with a law that says the government gets to mandate what contracts the bus companies can negotiate?

It is the New Jersey pre-emption of contract negotiations by statute that made this entire issue possible.

ProfK said...

Sigh, a real tempest in a teapot here. The basic problem is that the bus company did not let its employees know until last week that the contract they had with the Lakewood schools included service on Thanksgiving. Had they known with sufficient time beforehand, they could have made their plans accordingly.

This is not an "us" versus "them" problem unless we turn it in to one. There are numerous businesses and services that have to be staffed over Thanksgiving. The bus, subway, train, ferry and plane service does not stop for the day. Interstate toll plaza personnel will be working. Many mentioned that this is a holiday where lots of people travel around the country to visit with family--to get there they are going to be using these transport systems, and those running those systems are going to be working. There may be a holiday schedule with some curtailed service, but many of those who work for the transport industries will be working on Thanksgiving. In Lakewood you can look at the school buses as a "major" transport system, utilized by thousands of passengers. Why make such a to do about this when I didn't notice anyone extending their "care" to those who work in the regular transport area, or actually a whole bunch of other areas. It's not just firemen and police who are working. Hospitals and clinics are staffed. Or how about the thousands of restaurants that are open, requiring their staff to work? And yes, some consider a Thanksgiving wedding as a perfect time to gather family and friends, and the support staff for the caterers are all at work. Thanks to the heavy dependence on computers in the banking industry, with ATMs, computer personnel will be working on Thanksgiving to monitor and make sure the ATM networks don't go down. My husband's company does the computer support for almost all the hospitals in NYC 24/7, and yes, they will be open tomorrow and working. And this is not the whole list by a long shot.

Seemed like a whole lot of the discussion going on here wasn't discussion at all but a chance to get some Lakewood bashing in. Sure, Lakewood is hardly a "perfect" place, but this was the wrong example to point that out.

Anonymous said...

ProfK, do you agree that school MUST be held on Thanksgiving? I understand schools don't want to miss a day of learning - so end school on June 26 instead of June 25. That won't inconvenience anyone nearly as much...

Dave said...

As I understand it, the bus companies did not *know* that they would be busing on Thanksgiving until very recently.

It was not under the control of the Lakewood school district, with whom the companies had their actual contract.

As an example I've used elsewhere, if on two weeks notice, Orthodox Jews were told, "sorry, we know you were going to Israel for Chol Hamoed, but you can't, we need you to work those days, so, you can either work, or lose your jobs", the screams of anti-semitism would shatter windows a thousand miles away.

So, unless, "that which is hateful to you, do not do to others" has been excised from the Torah, it's wrong.

Anonymous said...

ProfK: Those who work for airlines, caterers, utilities, etc. expect that some of them will have to work on Thanksgiving, usually at double time and a half. People who work for a company that buses students to school would never expect that they are expected to work Thanksgiving. Moreover, we can understand why some careers -- i.e. nurses, pilots, utility workers might need to work on Thanksgiving for public health, safety and infrastructure reasons. Serving orthodox jews who feel a need to distance themselves from all aspects of American society, other than when it serves their own self interests to interact with them, and thereby send their kids to school by bus on a National holiday, is not on the same level as other critical service workers. And, yes, it is an us v. them attitude coming from those who don't want to show respect to this country and its citizens and the demeaning attitude towards the holidays of others that has created this issue. NJ and other states should not use public monies to transport kids to discriminatory schools. People may have a right to bring their kids up as isolationists, but it should not be on the public dime.

Anonymous said...

I see how vulnerable the Lakewood community is and they don't have a clue. Look at the comments on this blog from "fellow" Jews. Worse, look at the comments on the Asbury Press article on this topic. The frum people of Lakewood are viewed as insulated and worse, arrogant. But because they are so disconnected from the rest of the world, they don't know how they are viewed. They are sheltered from the workplace, so never have to make any of the automatic alterations of behavior you make when you work with people different than you. I'm afraid they are generating hostility because their pride in their frumkeit is visible to all and not appreciated, or interpreted as arrogance. I'm afraid their reliance on public assistance is a great vulnerability that when generally known (as it is to many non-Jews) will lead to hostility. I feel the emphasis on daled amos and the refusal to engage in anything smacking of the outside world can lead to real problems. When all this is known, it will not be "good for the Jews".

psychobabbler said...

They keep saying its a danger for the kids...
Why is it such a danger for parents to bring their kids to school? While an inconvenience, it is done elsewhere in America without such a hullabaloo. If parents are dangerous drivers, doesn’t that show a bigger area of concern that our communities should be focusing on?

Avi said...

JoelC said "Chariedim think it is important to distinguish themselves from the wider culture"

Chariedim should be distinguished by their sensitivity and chesed, by their hakaras ha tov, by their mentchlichkeit.

JoelC, what is the BENEFIT of forcing the bus drivers to work?

One more - JoelC you write "People often make the mistake of thinking that a chilul hashem is created whenever something is done that makes people think less of Jews. There is one qualified to that. If people think less of you when you are doing the right thing, that is not a chilul hashem. I don't think Lakewood is doing something wrong and therefore I think their need for bus service overrides the feelings of the bus drivers."

First of all, if it looks wrong, it may very well be a chillul Hashem whether or not it's the "right" thing. Secondly, when it involves bein adam l'chavero - and there is no clear cut din in shulchan aruch - we have the obligation to do what is both tov v'yashar. Sefer bereshis is called Sefer yesharim ... you think Avroham avinu would force bus drivers to drive on Thanksgiving?

JoelC said...

I might have been a bit unclear. I was trying to convey that Chareidim do not want to maintain their distinct culture. In order to do that, they need to dress differently, act differently and speak differently. Just like in chazal say about why the Jews deserved to leave Mitzrayim.

The benefit is that children will have bussing to school on that day. That seems self evident to me. You may disagree as to whether it is worth the cost, but the benefit is pretty clear-cut.

I think that many non-jews (and, nebach, jews as well)think less of yiden for eating kosher, having arranged marriages,learning in Kollel, etc. I do not believe any of those things are a chillul hashem. Look up the halacha or ask you Rov.

I do think that Avraham Avinu would have approved of having bus drivers work. He was called "Ha'ivri" because he was a noncomformist, being the first to ascribe to monotheism. He broke Terach's idol in spite or the conventional wisdom of the day saying that doing so was verboten.

Anonymous said...

"I do think that Avraham Avinu would have approved of having bus drivers work..."

This discussion has officially jumped the shark.

JoelC said...

Agreed, but I make it a practice to try to respond to every question. If I don't, someone will say that I had no response.
Probably should have skipped it this time.

Avi said...

Anonymous - LOL. But we're holding in Sefer Bereishis, why not?

JoelC -
"I think that many non-jews (and, nebach, jews as well) think less of yiden for eating kosher, having arranged marriages,learning in Kollel, etc. I do not believe any of those things are a chillul hashem."

If those things are done with yashrus, then they are a kiddush hashem and will be viewed as such. But if they are accomplished by employing illegal immigrants or by lying or by stealing or by shirking personal responsibility, then they are disgraceful, and are a chillul hashem.

But what about the basic issue of having rachmanus on people? Avraham had rachmanus on anshei Sedom. DO YOU WANT HASHEM TO DEAL WITH YOU AL PI THE SAME MIDDAS HA DIN THAT YOU ARE TREATING OTHERS WITH???