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Friday, June 24, 2011


New Square

There's a verse in Koheles (Ecclesiastes) that says, "One sinner will destroy much good."

A lot of people want to apply it to New Square. One misguided youth cast an entire village--an entire way of life--into disrepute.

But that's a mistake. It's not one sinner. It's a systemic illness and willful disregard for health and humanity. And it's time we took a stand and said "Ad kan v'tu lo." This far, and no further.

Yes, they have gemachs and chesed organizations and Torah learning 'round the clock. They also have rampant corruption, misogyny, child and spousal abuse, harassment, financial fraud, and nepotism. They also perpetuate ignorance and poverty *on purpose.* They denigrate anyone and anything that is not *exactly* like them, and they are completely unfazed when one of their own commits arson and attempted murder to defend the honor of their leader.

If we're going to hold the Palestinians responsible collectively for the actions of the terrorists among them (and we do), we have to hold the chasidim -- and I include Skver, Satmar, Bobov, Viznitz, and every other group -- equally responsible.

Maybe that's why the chasidim support the Palestinians. Collective punishment would put them out of business, too.

Anyway, I'm disgusted. I don't see the 'beards and payes' as paragons of virtue or of piety or of more-intense observance. I see them as benighted perpetuators of ignorance, mental instability, and narrow-mindedness. I will not support their mosdos. I will not honor their leaders. I'm done.

When I first heard about corruption and other evils within the religious community, I thought, "Well, every group has individuals who do wrong. It doesn't mean that the whole group is bad." I would never have thought to stereotype in that way.

But over time, as I saw not only the continual reports of every kind of criminal behavior, but the protective response by the community, and even the glorification of the criminals, I came to realize it was, as you say, a systemic problem.

And I don't mean just among the Chasidim. They all have either bought into the distorted, perverted worldview, or they close their eyes to it.

Stay strong.
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