Sunday, November 01, 2009

Meah Shearim Come to Town

It may be too late. But I have just learned about their presence. And they must be boycotted – if that’s still possible.

The Toldos Ahron Rebbe, Rabbi Dovid Kohn and Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Kohn, the Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok Rebbe are in America now trying to raise money for their causes. I’m sure that there are many that – when looked at in a vacuum - are quite worthy.

But in my view they should be denied all funding in light of the terrible situation in Israel they are responsible for.

I am of course talking about the riots that occurred in their neighborhood of Meah Shearim this summer (as noted in the photo). I am also talking about the Hashkafa they impart to their Chasidim that causes some of them to beat up Frum women on buses. Or beat up women taking a Shabbos walks in their satellite neighborhoods.

I don’t believe I need to re-hash what happened in Meah Shearim this summer. Theirs is a ‘Hashkafa’ of achieving their own narrow ends by any means necessary. It is a Hashkafa they see as a Kiddush HaShem. But I - and I believe most other responsible Jews including most Charedim – see as a massive Chilul HaShem.

Here is the way a mild mannered very Charedi Rav who is a friend of mine put it to me in a moment of candor:

These two rebbes are pulling an ‘Arafat’ and smiling in homes of Yeshivish and Modern Orthodox homes in Monsey, Lakewood and Lawrence raking in MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars for their ‘Madrosses’ back home while yeshiva parents here are choking on tuition payments while yeshivos can't make payroll to struggling Rebbeim.

Those who know this Rav would be surprised at his attitude. But this is an almost verbatim quote. And it has motivated me to post.

These two Rebbes are here to raise money. And the innocuous almost positive sounding public announcements in the media about where they will be do not mention who these people are, what they stand for, and the Chilul HaShem they are responsible for.

All one will hear from the Rebbes themselves is about the great Chesed their organizations do. And how much money they need. Especially now in the current economy.

This is a tremendous opportunity for sincere Jews to make a difference. I believe these Rebbes should be boycotted by any Jew who has even an ounce of Ahavas Yisroel in his bones.

This may sound like an oxymoron. How can boycotting two Chasidic religious leaders be considered Ahavas Yisroel?

The answer is simple. When a man consistently advocates events which end up in violence against innocent people he is not to be supported. When he does so little to condemn those who are violent - which is in essence a wink and a nod to proceed - than he is to be boycotted.

Anyone who believes that these Rebbes couldn’t put an immediate stop to this simply does not understand the power of a Chasidic Rebbe over their Chasdidm. Their only Ahavas Yisroel is for people who tow their line. They have no real Ahavas Yisroel for anyone else. Although that is what they would like American Jews to believe. Certainly they care little about the victims of their protests - even Frum ones in their own neighborhoods. I suppose they think of them as martyrs for their cause!

All they want from the rest of religious Jewry is money. And they ought to be denied!

If I had it in my power I would not only call for a peaceful boycott of them - I would encourage as many Charedi and Chasdic Jews as possible to show up at any venue they appear. Let there be placards of opposition in Hebrew and English. Let there be shouts of anger thrown at them. Let them get a small taste of their own medicine everywhere they go.

But most of all these Rebbes should not profit from this trip at all. Let it cost them money rather than making money.

That said I would caution against blaming the hosts. They are not at fault. They too can be seen as innocent victims. They are not being told who and what these Rebbes are. But those of us who know ought to make it as clear as possible in as loud a voice as we can muster.