This doesn’t even address the Chilul HaShem involved. Which is the utter disdain for what health experts advise as lifesaving behavior; and the utter disdain for following the law. They have in common with those college students being completely and utterly self-centered!
Making matters worse is the story of Reuven (Not his real name). From the Atlantic:
Based on death notices posted by an establishment Hasidic paper, Der Yid, Reuven and his colleagues concluded that the death rate in their community was three to four times higher than the state average. The number of deaths could have been lower, (Reuven’s clandestine Yiddish publication) Der Veker implied, if Hasidic leaders had encouraged their followers to take more precautions—and modeled that behavior themselves. Most Hasidim believe that complaining about the community, especially to outsiders, is like “washing your dirty laundry” in public.
“There is no mechanism for self-criticism,” Reuven said. Hasidic Jews who follow particular rabbis are accustomed to heeding their leader’s guidance without question, and those rabbis often crack down on criticism from within their ranks. Reuven worries that speaking out might exacerbate the anti-Semitism the community already faces. But after a brutal year filled with dying, Reuven wants a reckoning—one that will happen, he believes, only under external pressure… How could a community that prides itself on generosity and kindness fail to protect its most vulnerable members from a deadly pandemic?
“If people find out I’m behind it, the consequences can be extremely harsh,” he told me. He worries that his kids would get kicked out of their yeshivas, or Jewish schools; that he would lose his job; that his marriage would collapse from the stress.
It would not surprise me if some of those old virulent antisemitic tropes from Nazi Germany about Jews deliberately spreading disease among gentiles started showing up on neo-Nazi websites if they haven’t already.
It’s not like their rabbinic leadership is clueless about public perceptions of theor behavior. That’s why Reuven fears the kind of ostracizing he described if he is exposed.
Does it not occur to these leaders that their behavior is in and of itself responsible for any negative image that may result? I guess they believe the best way to prevent negative images is to hide their behavior.
That will not work (if it ever did) in this era of investigative reporting and ubiquitous camera phones. That they don’t realize that is most likely a product of their insularity.
I am so sick of the selfish attitude of these people. They do not represent me. Nor do they represent any legitimate form of Judaism. Not any more than those college students on spring break in Miami Beach do.