Thursday, March 04, 2010

An Outrageous Chilul HaShem

I’m not surprised that this atrocity originates in the home turf of Satmar, the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. reports on what has to be the most outrageous act in recent memory by an organized religious group. A charity foundation called Kolel Shmore Hachomos-Reb Meir Baal Hanes has founded a free loan fund in memory of executed murderer Michael Grossman.

I really thought I could put this sordid chapter behind me and move on. The man is dead. But obviously others had different ideas.

Grossman’s brutal murder of wildlife officer Peggy Park has caused untold grief for her family. And the intense fight on the part of the Frum establishment to save Grossman's life exacerbated it for them. I would have thought that no matter how strongly one felt about saving his life, once executed the feelings of the Park family should have been respected. At the very least they should have just dropped the whole thing.

But that was not good enough for the people who set up this fund in his memory. They feel that he was a Baal Teshuva and was killed Al Kiddush HaShem by the ‘evil Goyim’. So they pay tribute to this murderer posthumously. They are memorializing him with a free loan fund.

I can understand that people can do Teshuva for anything. But that does not help the victim or her family. They deserved justice. And from their justifiable perspective they finally got it 25 years late. I supported commuting his death sentence to life in prison without parole for reasons I will not get into here. What I did not support is making a hero out of him.

These cloistered people could not care less about the feelings of a Goy. They are a people so apart that they completely dismiss the entire rest of humanity as though they did not even exist. They do not see this as the massive Chilul HaShem that it is. They do not understand or care how this makes them look. All they see is that a Jew was killed by Goyim. That makes him a martyr. Period.

What is even more telling is that they don’t even care about what their own fellow Jews say about them. Even the commenters on Matzav who have thus far been pretty oblivious to the feelings of the victim’s family think that making this Gemach has gone too far.

But these people don’t care. They still consider him a martyr to be memorialized.

There is definitely something wrong in their Chinuch. Very wrong. Make no mistake. I doubt that those who have set this up are renegade Chasidim who have departed from the path. I believe they have been brought up to think precisely this way. And in the overly controlled, insulated, and isolated world they live in – they have no other frame of reference. To the extent that any counter influences seep in they are immediately pounced upon as foreign to Judaism!

It would seem to me that this is one issue where almost any other Jew of any Hashkafa would be of like mind - right wing Charedi to left wing modern Orthodox. There is no brotherhood with people who do this kind of thing. What they did needs to be roundly and publicly condemned by every single public service organization - especially those who fought so hard to spare Grossman’s life.

I challenge Agudah, the OU, Young Israel, Chabad and any other Orthodox public service institution to each (or jointly) come out with a strongly worded public condemnation of this act and express the Jewish community’s heartfelt sympathy for the Park family. That is the least they can do to counter this outrageous Chilul HaShem!