Sunday, May 17, 2020

As If Things Aren't Bad Enough

Lakewood Police Logo (TLS)
Last week, I mentioned in passing an incident that took place in Lakewood that was a major Chilul HaShem. I did not specify what that incident was all about other than providing a link to a story about it.

Today I was sent a link to an opinion piece on The Lakewood Scoop (TLS). This is a website devoted to news and events that happen in that town. It is published by a self described ‘proud member of the Lakewood Jewish community’.

I have no clue about the identity of the writer/publisher. But I think it’s safe to say that he is not someone whose reason for living is to bash a community that he is proud to be a member of. I believe he is someone that tells the truth about his community – good or bad. An individual that cares about the truth more than he does about preserving a reputation of perfection.  An individual that sees evil and calls it out, in the hope that he can effect positive change. Or at least let people know that there are decent people from within that condemn such behavior.

I have seen him bashed on occasion for being honest - instead of being silent. Some of that kind of backlash can be seen in that website’s comments section.

No community is perfect. Not even Lakewood. That should be self understood. The problem is that many people in this community - which calls itself ‘the City of Torah’ - believe that one should never speak ill of it. That their ‘dirty laundry’ should never see the light of day.  

So that when TLSs publisher writes s a negative story, he will get his share people screaming bloody murder about such news being spread. Some of it is in the form of denial. And some of it simply in the false belief that airing their ‘dirty laundry’ in public is - in and of itself a Chilul HaShem. They believe it results in people on the outside thinking ill of the Torah that the ‘City of Torah’ represents. In their minds it is therefore far better to bury their dirt where no one can see it.

What these people fail to understand is that this kind of news is grist for the mill. The news media loves exposes and they go out of their way to find it. Trying to hide it just enhances their story making it an even bigger Chilul HaShem. It becomes a cover-up. Which  projects an image of tolerance if not outright support for behavior that decent people condemn. Not only is that a Chilul HaShem it tends to feed antisemitism.  

It is in that spirit that I want to express my own outrage about what I saw. I completely agree with everything TLS said.  The event in question was captured in a video. It  is indeed one of the most despicable things I have ever seen. 

To briefly describe what happened, a Lakewood rabbi was arrested for violating the guidelines issued by government health officials designed to protect the community from death and disease. That caused a group of this rabbi’s supporters to taunt these police officers - who were only doing their jobs. One can hear them being called the Gestapo. Additionally, none of these agitators were interested in the slightest about wearing masks and social distancing. 

As TLS noted, the Lakewood police force is one of the most accommodating police departments any Jewish community can have. The respect they have for the community they serve is obvious in everything they do. 

And these fools called them Gestapo?! 

They may be outliers. But they still need to be called out.  Making matters worse, they are not the kind of outliers one finds in Meah Shearim or Ramat Bet Shemesh B. They were probably born and raised in Lakewood. This community is not isolated from the police. They know exactly how accommodating they are because of a history of accommodation that other cities can only envy. Examples of which abound in the TLS article.

It is bad enough when a bunch of ignoramuses in Meah Shearim or Bet Shemesh make a Chilul HaShem of this magnitude. Ignorance is no excuse when it comes to a Chilul HaShem. But when people that ought to know better do that - it is pure evil.

What kind of values have their parents and/or educators instilled in them? What kind of values are the kind that can call people that honor, serve and protect them - the Gestapo? And for what?! For enforcing a law whose intent is to save their very lives?! As I indicated, I can’t think of too many things more despicable than this