The internet and the streets simply must open up the world to Charedim

Here is a fascinating story of the grandson of the Satmar Rebbe who joined the Israeli army. Yes, it’s true, that there is no family that is immune from a child taking a different direction. This is a fact of life.

I don’t like the word blame in the context. I prefer to think that the concept where ‘one size fits all’ and clueless teachers and/or parents cause much of this reality. חנוך על פי דרכו teach according to their acuities, is something harder to achieve in a “my way or the highway” approach.

You should read the article HERE [hat time CMW]

Another article, of interest, describes what appears to be a growing phenomenon is from the Huffington Post, and reproduced here [Hat tip Krakower]

I Escaped Hasidic Judaism and Went From Living on the Streets to Being a Hollywood Actor

In June 2008, exactly three years after I got married, I decided to get a divorce. I didn’t fall out of love with my wife. In fact, I never fell in love with her in the first place. I simply no longer wanted to have the life I had with her and everyone surrounding her.

My wife was a Hasidic Jew, and when I married her, so was I. But that was no longer the case. I was a 22-year-old man with a long beard and side curls (payes) and all the other markings of a Hasid, but I was an atheist. An atheist surrounded by Orthodox Hasidic Jews. Surrounded by their certainty, their food, their self-righteousness and their minivans.

I hated all of it, so I left and entered a world full of uncertainty and a broad spectrum of ideas about right and wrong.

I had no idea what I was going to do. I had no education beyond Jewish Talmudic studies. I had no friends outside of the Hasidic world beyond a few I met at Footsteps, an organization that supports Orthodox Jews attempting to escape. I had no marketable skill beyond being able to charm your pants off. I had never been on a date. I had never heard of The Beatles. And I thought, “May the Force be with you” meant “May God be with you.”

“For most of my life, I believed that all non-Jews hate us and want to kill us.”

After leaving the Hasidic world, I spent seven years in various stages of decay. I slept in a tent in Bushwick for several months, lived in a rented Volkswagen Jetta for as long as my credit card limit allowed and crashed with friends. I starved in the harsh street of New York City. When I used my last subway fare to make my way to my sister’s (one of eleven siblings) house for leftovers from Shabbat meals, she wouldn’t let me in the house because I was wearing jeans.

When I went on dates, I had nothing in common with the women. I knew nothing about their culture, and they knew nothing about mine. I thought all shiksas were prostitutes, and they thought all Hasidim were landlords and diamond dealers.

Let me answer some revealing questions about Hasidic Judaism. Does it withhold a broad education from their children in order to keep the children narrow-minded and uneducated? Yes. Does it vilify the outside world in order to keep its members from joining it? Definitely. Does it have a fear and/or doomsday element to it? Of course. Is there ex-communication for those who dare to leave? Oh yeah.

I still have not received anything past a 5th grade education. In fact, since I never attended a regular school, I don’t actually know what a 5th grade education is — I just picked a grade that seemed right. I don’t know what algebra is; I know I can Google it but I wasn’t made to care enough to do so.

“After leaving the Hasidic world, I spent seven years in various stages of decay.”

For most of my life, I believed that all non-Jews hate us and want to kill us. I believed that all goyim are murderers, rapists, degenerates and dirty second-class citizens. Of course, they/we aren’t but I was taught that in order to make the secular lifestyle less appealing. I was told horrible things would happen to me in this world and the “next world” if I leave. I was told I would end up a criminal or drug addict. Many members of my family refuse to speak to me to this day.

I have had to transition both out of Hasidism and transition into mainstream culture. I have had to find a replacement for the void left by the lack of community and warmth. I had to replace my family, my friends and my moral compass. It was hard leaving everything behind but it was even harder to find something to replace it all with.

Thankfully, as an actor, my professional community is very friendly and inclusive (albeit competitive). I’ve replaced my biological family with actors and Footsteps members. I have managed to date, to have my heart broken, to have broken some hearts and to grow because of all of it.

I get asked all the time: “Are you happy now?” The answer is an unequivocal, “Yes!” I have friends who love me for who I am, for who I was and for who I am trying to become.

“I had to replace my family, my friends and my moral compass.”

Career-wise, it seems I have sought the path of most resistance, deciding to work in a field full of multi-talented human specimens with high cheekbones and jaguar physiques. I’m five foot seven inches, unathletic and have a heavy Yiddish accent. And yet, I’ve been getting work. My latest film, “Felix and Meira,” just beat David Cronenberg at the Toronto International Film Festival for “Best Canadian Feature Film,” and I won “Best Actor” at the Torino Film Festival. Next, I will appear in a recurring role in the upcoming season of “Transparent” on Amazon Prime.

But those achievements pale in comparison to the responses I get from people within the Hasidic community who have snuck out to go see the film. They have been yearning to break away but have been told that if they do, they will end up in jail or in rehab, and they believed it. But now, they can counter that with success stories like mine and those of others like me.

The Hasidic community isn’t what it used to be even five years ago. With the Internet, every person has access to every flavor of every forbidden fruit his or her heart desires, including my story. It won’t be long before the Empire falls. It might not fall completely, but it certainly will be forced to adapt to the 21st century.

The Empire won’t go down easy. The Empire will strike back. For evidence, watch the comments section below.

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In my opinion unless subtle changes are introduced into Charedi education this will become more prevalent. It is nigh on impossible to live in a Cocoon these days. I know of schools that redact every book with pen or gluing pages together. The effect is that the students are more certain to find the original text and be exposed. I’m not sure that approach works. Kids are far more connected than they ever were.

Indeed, there has been a new (undesirable) ban now on whatsapp [Hat tip BA]. I surmise this is because the kosher filters cannot filter such messages. whatsapp is wonderful, it keeps families closer and informed, especially when they are spread around the world. Anything can be used for bad or for good. That is the central tenet in my understanding.

Am I too sensitive about the Chareidi press?

Finally some good news.  Remember the poor fellow who sustained 50% burns to his body? Well he has been released from hospital, thank God. Recall that had taken a while to publish the story and then in a tepid manner. Consider how they reported the release:

Aharon Rottenberg of Rockland County has been released from the hospital. Aharon suffered burns over 50 percent of his body last month when he tried to stop an attacker from fire-bombing his house.

Aharon’s attorney says his client hasn’t returned home, but is staying in an undisclosed location in the area.

On May 22, Aharon was burned when an incendiary device exploded as he wrestled with an 18-year-old who had come to burn down the Rottenberg home.

Rottenberg has filed an $36 million lawsuit. Rottenberg claims a campaign of intimidation was orchestrated that led to the arson attack that burned half of his body. He says he was targeted.

Rottenberg is being represented by civil-rights attorney Michael Sussman.

The 18-year-old has been charged with arson and attempted murder.

Rottenberg had been recovering at Westchester Medical Center. He suffered third-degree burns over half his body

שומו שמים 

Where do these guys get off? Did you notice that there isn’t a single word about Skver? Did you notice that they even went as far as saying he’s from Rockland County as opposed to honing in on his more accurate location (New Square)? Notice they tell us nothing about the attacker! From the article you wouldn’t know he is Jewish let alone a Skverer Chasid, and let alone someone from the home of the Rebbe himself! Notice that they say that “He claims that he was targeted”. Hello! Who is claiming he wasn’t targeted! Even the Rebbe acknowledges something bad had happened. What do they want us to believe, the 18 year old was some delinquent who happened to walk past the house and randomly chose to throw an “incendiary device” at that home. The attacker was also a Skverer of course.

Are the readers of matzav that stupid or gullible?

At best, this is another insult to intelligence. At worst it is yet another indication of the reprehensible approach taken by Charedi newspapers to the truth. Feh!

But maybe the readers are from another planet. One self-named “Ben Torah” wrote in the comments section:

I hope Matzav continues to report good news. I hope Matzav reports every time a Yid is discharged from a hospital! (Otherwise I’m not sure why it is reporting this Yid in particular.)

Sheesh! He probably makes a bracha each time he breathes air.

Charedi misinformation, disinformation and downright distortion Part 3

But wait, there’s more. In noting the continued campaign of obstructing the truth and blackwashing what really happens, I can advise that Yated Ne’eman has moved from the sublime to the ridiculous. Yated Ne’eman is a mouthpiece of the Litvishe Misnagdic world. Originally created by R’ Schach ז’ל and the Steipler Gaon ז’ל, the paper is now under the editorial control of R’ Elyashiv, R’ Shteinman and R’ Karelitz.

One popular magazine, entitled Mishpacha, has recently been embroiled in controversy because it dared to publish articles that didn’t simply cover the singular life which starts at Cheder, moves to Yeshivah, and then to Kollel for each and every male Jew. Women, of course, can’t be mentioned in papers with or without pictures, unless they have just passed away. For more on the ban, see here, for example.

Mishpacha is quite popular, especially amongst Western style Agudisten and Right Wing Modern Orthodox. It even had the guts to pubish stories that mentioned R’ Hershel Schachter, the esteemed Rosh Kollel at YU. That is a big no-no. Never mind that R’ Schachter is one of the most respected Poskim today. Yated Ne’eman, however, was apparently losing readers. It needed to muzzle Mishpacha. Fast forward and Mishpacha was banned. The magazine was considered outside the pale of normative (thus used) Charedi Judaism. I’ve seen a few copies of Mishpacha Magazine and it didn’t strike me as being heresy, but what do I know.

So, what happens when a group of people go to visit the famed Yeshivah of Radin, of the Chafetz Chaim ז’ל? Well, of course, Yated publishes a picture of the group outside the Beis Hamedrash. There’s only one problem with the picture. You see, the editor of Mishpacha magazine was present, so what does one do. Doesn’t the Torah say

 and thou shalt photoshop evil from your midst … ובערת הרע מקרבך

And so it came to pass. Exhibit one is the Yated picture, with the editor of Mishpacha photoshopped from the picture so that the Yated readers remain blackwashed. Exhibit two is the original. Hat tip to R’ Segal and the report in Chadrei Charedim.

Exhibit 1: Yated Doctored Image
Exhibit two: Original picture. Where has the man with the multi colored lines gone?

How will the apologists explain this latest nonsense? Whose little world is going to be infected if the editor of Mishpacha remains in the picture?

Charedi misinformation, disinformation and downright distortion Part 2

What has changed? The situation at New Square gets worse (hat tip to Steven)

The Chilul Hashem grows daily. The Skeverer Rebbe stays silent; he doesn’t visit the victim of the arson attempt nor has he put this arsonist house boy into Cherem for this act, to my knowledge. Check out the video above. Can you imagine if they were Muslims saying this is “MuslimLand” and not “JewLand” as expressed by the Skverer Chasid?

All that aside, what also irks me is that the two internet based news sites, and remain completely silent on the matter. Nothing has happened in New Square that’s worth reporting? How can this be? This is the same type of blackwashing that takes place in Artscroll and other Charedi publications. Why are they hiding it? Is it because they want their kids to do such things or because they don’t want their kids to do such things? If the latter, why not show it, and issue condemnation?

Here are the front page topics on Yeshivah World News which were considered more news worthy than an arson attack on a family of 5 by Skeverer Chasidim:

  • Bloomberg Compares Same-Gender Marriage To Slavery
  • Google Announces Mobile Payment System: Google Wallet
  • Burglars Stealing Silver Sefer Torah Crowns Busted After Investigation By Metropolitan Police & Shomrim London NW
  • New Jersey State Police: 18 Percent Increase In Fatal Traffic-Accidents This Year
  • Wisconsin Union Law Struck Down By County Circuit Judge

Here are the topics that matzav considered more newsworthy than an arson attack on a family of 5 by Skeverer Chasidim:

  • Bloomberg Makes Case For NYC Same-Gender Marriage Law, Compares It To Slavery
  • RCA Examining Its Guidelines For Individual Membership of Yeshiva Chovevei Torah
  • Lakewood Officials and Askanim Visit Bnei Brak On Chizuk Mission
  • Lakewood Cheder Closes On 13-Acre Campus
  • 17% of Lakewood Residents Are Under Age 5
  • OU Kosher: Building Bridges to the World of Yeshivos
  • NYC to Save Money by Increasing Class Sizes for Special Education Kids
  • New York City Health Department Wants All ‘Alcopops’ Banne
  • New National Rubashkin Campaign

שומו שמים

Why is the story from New Square clearly under censorship by Matzav and Yeshivah World News. Pitputim have a few commenters who come across as apologists for Charedim, would any like to respond with a guest post justifying this practice of שקר?

Charedi misinformation, disinformation and downright distortion

I despair sometimes at the simple lack of intellectual honesty, nay, let’s call it גניבת דעת, an attempt to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes and pasteurise and homogenise the world we live in. One of the more infamous cases involved the Artscroll “My Uncle the Netziv”, which was sent out by Lakewood as a gift/inducement by the organisation to garner donations. When Lakewood discovered that, ה’ ירחם, the great Volozhiner Rosh Yeshiva, the Netziv z”l read the newspaper and the original Artscroll edition mentioned that fact, it quickly wrote to all the recipients of the book and asked that the book be returned or disposed of. I kid you not. Artscroll, of course, discovered their “terrible” error and under a cloud of humbug, withdrew the original edition.

So, what has this to do with today?

מענין לענין באותו ענין

There was a recent shocking story about an 18-year-old Skverrer chasid who set fire to the house of another Skverer Chasid, a Ba’al Koreh, because the latter refused to stop davening and layning in an old age home, as opposed to listening to the Skverer Rebbe’s dictate that all Chassidim daven only in the central Skverer Shule (in New Square).  The story was widely reported. Vos iz Neis which was being attacked by Charedim by asking people not to advertise therein, reported the story. We now see why they don’t like such publications. I searched and couldn’t find a single report of this attack in the other two prominent internet publications, Yeshivah World News and I couldn’t even find a call to say Tehilim for the poor victim! Why? Sweeping under the carpet once more? More blackwashing? Do they not want people to learn that attempted murder through arson is an unspeakable איסור דאורייתא and gross חילול השם? The world now waits to hear from the Skverer Rebbe himself. I hope he goes to visit the burn victim, who has a critical first five days according to his doctors.

השם ירחם

Victim of the attempted murder with 50% burns to his body.

Let’s expunge the “ladies”

Hat tip to Anon who sent me the picture below. It’s outrageous. They were afraid it would be a breach of Tzniyus to call these things Lady Fingers, which is what they are. What next, a podgy version of these called Rebbishe Fingers made by a company called Shirayim?

Removing the Lady from the Finger

Interestingly, even the Wikipedia entry for Lady Fingers mentions Pesach. I’m just waiting for the Charedipedia—pasteurised and homogenised at boiling point, with multiple hechsherim and plombes on each page. Some pages may get through only as gebrochts, but that would be configurable in the options section.

If it wasn’t so sad it might be funny.

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