Thursday, August 05, 2004

I've begun to notice an essential difference between the OMJs and RNs. The RNs care more about how things look. The OMJ's worry about how things are.

The flap over the girl's event fuels this theory. I am told the RNs who oppose letting the girls gather object on these grounds: It's not something a shteeble does. Or as one put it: We're not a Young Israel.

I'm trying very hard to understand the RN point of view, but I keep returning to this question: Are we really worried that a new person might somehow fail to notice the tables, the sfard nusach, and the hasidic rabbi at the front of the room. You think he'll miss all of that - but the girl's event he will notice and from that he'll conclude that we're a Young Israel? Is this really keeping you up at night? That some lone random visitor might think that you belong to a Young Israel, and not a shteeble?

But of course it doesn't end there. I can just see the dominos falling in their minds.

Well, the new visitor will tell his friends all about our girl's event, and then the word will spread that we are not a real shteeble, and our sons will be expelled from school, and our daughters will die old maids, and the chulent will be too watery and the kishka will spoil.

You're laughing, but the RNs in the audience are nodding their heads.

Meanwhile, I am stuck wondering why the old RNs are so worried about how things look. Why can't we just do what's right for our kids, and stand on that? I will listen if anyone wants to tell me that it might be bad for the girls to develop a relationship with the shul and with each other by participating in a shul sponsored event. But no one seems to care about the girls. No one is using that argument.

There's a long post building inside me about the self-destructive unfairness of this behavior, but I keep reminding myself that my blog isn't angry essays, rants, diatribes or even whatever ben chorin is attempting. My blog is a comic strip, a collection of short stories. Maybe one day I'll break form and go all George Orwell on you. But not yet.


watery chulent and spoiled kishka are very serious matters.

Let me tell you a story. It goes back a number of years ago when our shul, Aish Kodesh, started having musical gigs. The first was with Chaim Dovid. It was held in the HASC gym in Woodmere. There was a 6 foot, mechitza running the entire length of the gym from front to back. Besides the music, Rav Weinberger delivered inspiring divrei Torah. There were a few hundred people there (mostly teens and twenties) and it was a very big kiddush Hashem on a motsai Shabbos (when these kids could have been doing things that were not kiddushei Hashem).

It turns out that letters had been sent to many of the chareidi rabbanim in the Five Towns/far Rockaway area condemning Aish Kodesh for hosting this event and suggesting that pressure be brought to bear to stop it. A friend warned Rav Weinberger ahead of the gig. To his credit, he decided to go forward (and, to my knowledge, none of the rabbanim tried to stop it).

But this is just an example of the shtus you have to deal with. It is important to have a Rav that is willing to stand up and do what he believes is right and not what 'looks good' and, also, to let his kehilah know that.  

Leave the ranting or whatever to me and keep doing what you're doing 'cause I love it!


The key here is that fundamentally, what happens to girls is of no concern in the shteeble. When they say that they are not a Young Israel, it's not just that they don't want to look like a Young Israel. It's that things a Young Israel might value, like paying attention to girls, are of no concern to them.
If everyone in the world of the RNs would just stop, and agree not to look over anyone else's shoulder, people would actually have a chance to build healthy communities. Instead, we allow a sizable portion of the Orthodox world t function in a Taliban lke manner.  
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