Thursday, August 09, 2007

What an Embarrassment

I say the following with all the love in my heart one could have for a fellow Jew. Chasidim are my brothers. I care about what they do and how they are perceived. They are my fellow travelers upon the highway of Torah and Mitzvos. And it with that in mind that I write this… with a heavy heart but an angry one too.

I don’t know what it is with these people. But it seems that where ever there is a public mass Chilul HaShem we see the same images… people dressed in Chasidic garb acting like they own the world. This time it isn’t Israel but right here in the good ole USA.

What is it with these guys? Why do they act like this? Please don’t anyone tell me this is an exception to the rule. I don’t buy it anymore. Lakewood Venter sent out an e-mail which contained a video of a local CBS broadcast in New York city. It was an expose about yet another Chilul Hashem and he said it really bothered him. Well, it bothers me too. Anyone who thinks I am bashing these people, they’re right. I am. They deserve it.

What kind of Chinuch do Chasidim get that makes them act this way? I keep asking this question and all I get is “How dare you” and ‘broad brush stroke’ accusations from their defenders.

Are there good Chasidim? Of course there are. Probably the majority of them. But it isn’t this bunch. And these people are not an anomaly. They are quite mainstream. So mainstream in fact that they were able to get a concession from the highway authority to use a rest area in the New York Thruway for Minyan purposes. And they even have the blessing of the ACLU. What do they do with this privilege? They turn it in to a Chilul HaShem!

Is there anyone who can explain this behavior to me? Is there no one who can call a spade a spade and say the Chinuch among Chasidim is highly problematic? And that’s the problem. There is something about the way they learn Judasim that produces this kind of behavior. How else can anyone explain the widespread behavior of this type?

I don’t want to hear about all the good they do… that they are the biggest Baalei Chesed or Baalei Tzedaka. Or that their way of life is so beautiful… or how Frum they are… or how beautiful their Esrogim are …or how expensive their Esrog boxes are. I want to know why so many of them think they can just treat the rest of the world like trash and the environment like a trash bin.

This video is but one example of this. Bnei Brak, Meah Shearim, Ramat Bet Shemesh Beis, the Boro Park riots of last year (when they decided to torch a police squad car) or the rude behavior I saw on an airplane. In every case Chasidim were involved. When are they going to be taken to task on this?

How many more undercover investigations is it going to take before we realize that this behavior has to be stopped? I am tired of all the disclaimers and excuses. I’m tired of the apologetics. I’m tired of blaming it on the rabble rousers. The people in this video aren’t rabble rousers. They are rich Chasidim with second country homes.

I don’t know what to do about it, but somebody in that community better come up with something. The world does not see Chasidim. They do not see Modern Orhtodox or Charedi Jews. They just see Jews. This is in fact how the story is reported. It was a story about Jews.

The way things are going now with these people, Jews will never be known as a light among the nations. We will instead be known as a bunch of self centered bigots who care only for themselves and not a whit for others.