Sunday, December 18, 2005

Por Favor, No Se Permita Comida En La Casa

I always thought Rabbi Meir Kahane and The Grateful Dead had something very interesting in common. If you listened to them closely, you'd realize that they weren't THAT strange; it's their followers that are loopy! When it comes to chusids, I think it's the other way around.

Here's my chusid disclosure: I have met many chusids in my day, and they truly are the nicest well meaning good hearted people. Granted we don't have a lot in common to talk about since they don't know anything about TV, movies or The Mets.. But there is some inherent sweetness about them. Then we have the chusid rabbis..

When I saw M Night Smalayan's "The Village".. it didn't take me long to figure out the ending. Maybe because I think many of the chusid Rabbis want their peeps to live like the characters in "The Village". I've read their newspaper of record - Hamodia,. a sanitized newspaper whose editorial policies are based on edicts issued by the rabbis. The paper is micromanaged by a Rabbi who stands over the editor like a lightweight hovers over the porcelain throne on New Years Morning after a few too many. The newspaper bans all pictures of women (since the male readership shouldn't be looking at photos of fully dressed women) and does not cover any sports.

Here are a couple of recent tidbits from the Editorial Pages:

I. A recent editorial "A Counterfeit Vision of Judaism" which addressed the Reform movements convention in Houston. Why they would even care about Reform is besides the point. They use quotes when they refer to the word Rabbi in discussing a speech made by the Union for Reform Judaism's president Rabbi Eric Yoffie. That could be viewed as an unnecessary cheap shot.

So Yoffie.. A nice Jewish man who lives nearby in Union County, gave a speech addressing the problems of intermarriage in society. He made a point that Judaism should reach out to the non Jewish spouse in an intermarried couple and encourage them to convert to Judaism if they want to. Hamodia's coverage: "It is a mitzvah he paskened (with paskened in italics; more sarcasm), to help a potential Jew become a Jew by choice. To promote that goal, Yoffie called for public conversion ceremonies".

The editorial blasts this idea as the "absolute antithesis of authentic Judaism", and says it's really an attempt to bolster membership at Reform temples. Hellooooooooooo! The chusids have very wisely buffered themselves from intermarriage..(not homosexuality - I saw Trembling Before G-d). In our world, intermarriage is rampant and quite honestly most intermarried couples end up going down the non Judaic road when it comes to raising the kids. Our society has so commercialized holidays such as Halloween and Christmas. And lets face it, when it comes to kids with mixed parents are they going to get a costume for Purim or Halloween?

I think the Reform movement has caught on to this too. This proposal may be a good idea when all is said and done before the Jewish roots of these families become nothing more than a memory of the Jewish grandmother Goldberg who has those Passover dinners every year that coincide with Opening day for baseball/NCAA tournament/ Chris's lacrosse game, etc. What really grinds my gears are my fellow Jews who work on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana. A few years back, the second day was Friday and a lot of people went to work, yet these same people would shudder with horror if their employer asked them to come to work on Thanksgiving Friday. I'm not talking about a business owner who would face a hardship, but rather employees who don't want to burn a vacation day.

That same editorial briefly mentions another aspect of the Yoffie speech that they would not even address since it was inappropriate for their audience. However, The Metrowest Jewish News did a write up about this, and it turned out to be the topic was teaching sex ed in the Hebrew Schools. That in itself shouldn't be too controversial although Yoffies comments essentially saying that the cirricullum not necessarily endorse abstinence could be viewed as somewhat questionable..

2. A letter to the editor told the story with great horror about a woman who employed a Latina non Jew in her home to clean or watch her kids who gevalt.. put a non kosher chicken in the microwave! The woman suggested as per her rabbi that these employees be informed that friends of the homeowner have keys to the home and tend to drop in unannounced. But, since the home is a place for work, the employer should be responsible for providing food for the worker if the worker can't leave the home to eat out. And, it doesn't take much to learn the Spanish words to not bring outside food into the house because the home is kosher. All you say is "POR FAVOR, NO SE PERMITA COMIDA EN LA CASA" I think that is a better idea than creating an environment of distrust.

There are also some other interesting highlights such as an editors note stuck into a review of Natan Scharansky's book stating that the article in no way implies that reading a secular book is an acceptable form of behavior. Or a recent interview with Mayor Bloomberg where he mentions the NAACP.. The editor actually explained in parentheses what the organization is, because they thought many of their readers never heard of it. What's the deal with the secular education there? One chusid blogger actually had a debate about the merits of getting a secular education. A debate in this global marketplace about being educated and making a living to feed a large family? This is something one debates?

By now you may have heard about Lakewood's ban of internet use. The Rabbis there have said that children will be expelled from school if non permitted internet access is going on in their parent's home. (Exceptions are made if the father needs the comp for work, but. restrictions may apply!) The same goes for the Lakewood Blue Claws minor league baseball games. Joe Schick's Zionist Conspiracy blog says if you're caught at a Blue Claws game, zei gezunt.. your kids are being tossed out of school. The idea that these fathers are told they can't take their sons to the ballpark is absolutely preposterous.

The segregation of the sexes goes pretty far also. According to Orthodox, women and men must sit separately during services. These rabbis seem to go too far in their attempts to separate the genders. Let me tell you about New Square, a private community that Im sure doesn't have pool parties and July 4th barbecues. In New Square, separation of the sexes goes so far that men walk on one side of the street.. and women on the other. I wonder what happens if you need to go to a store down the street. Do you cross the street, walk the block, and then cross again? And since women are considered immodest if they are seen in non proper ways, they are banned from riding in the front seat of the car. Which means they are not allowed to drive. An exception has been made for an 80 year old resident who was "grand mothered" in after she complained that she didn't want to give up her privileges. Incidentally, that may not be such a bad rule, since knowing another driver is not a woman severely limits the vulgar repertoire that flies out of my mouth when I get cut off in traffic!

You'd think it's too bad that we couldn't hear the chusid's version of all this on the web. After all internet access is banned in their communities. Welcome to the world of the rebel bloggers. Many chusids have blogs, and some are quite interesting. Some are also phony such as the woman who claims she became a lesbian and made her husband move into the guest room when her lover moved in and then proceeded to graphically discuss her sexual encounters using terminology that would make Judy Blume blush!

There is one woman in particular who has one of the better blogs out there. She saw the recent book "Unchosen" about the chusids who have rebelled against the community. This blogger was quite unhappy because she felt that the chusids got a raw deal. so she started her own blog and called it Rechosen. Shes from Willamsburg and in her mid 20s and her wildly popular blog gets a ton of responses. many of them from rebelling chusids who unfortuntately unfairly blast Rechosen for saying that her life in Williamsburg is peachy keen. (Rechosen is a bit of a rebel though since she cross references movies in her well written blog) Her blog started the same time mine did.. yet I don't get an iota of the responses she gets.. Keep in mind, I emailed all of my friends the link to this blog..while her readers are banned from the web!

Boy does that make me feel like a loser!

I think I'll cheer myself up and play some Dead records backwards.. If you listen really really closely you can actually hear Kahane speeches in the background.

1 comment:

alberich said...

Considering that a key aspect of the original Chassidic movement was rebellion against Rabbinic and Jewish communal authorities, the degree to which Chassidic Rabbis excersize control over their congregants is highly ironic.

Although this sort of irony is always par for the course with such movements.