“Heads can only be checked by a trained expert”
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
So the day has arrived, the game's afoot and kick off just hours away. The vuvuzela shofers will sound, the home team will cheer the players bought from overseas by cheque book scribblers and not a few brown-bags if not brown-nosed bungs. The fans will wrap themselves in the team colours of black and white, many own goals will be scored, the captain is guaranteed to be ruled offside and if I'm not careful I'll shortly be running out of metaphors.
But what do they hope to achieve and how do we measure their success? If a sell-out crowd is what they're after they have secured it by shrinking the stadium and summoning the kids which are never in short supply round here. We do have them for a reason, after all. If logging off or filters is their aim it may cause a temporary upward blip and then life will settle back to its normal course just as it did in the USA. The organisers will want to see how widely the event is covered on websites which their filters would otherwise block so some leeway will always be needed.
Whatever this rally's lasting legacy is it will not be to halt the onward march of technology or turn the tide of the internet, social media and global communications. It is only with the aid of the internet that they could arrange this event, hire the venue, bring speakers from around the globe, leaflet the place day after day and then gloat for ever after on their delusions of might and power.
For badly deluded they are. To arrange this event they have practically sold out the North West segment of the community. If I were a Golders Green resident I would be asking myself why must I associate with this lot if they care so little about me. North West London had a meeting discussing the internet only about 2 months ago. Without fanfare and in a modest school hall about 2000 people listened to an array of speakers who discussed practical solutions to a modern-day problem. The speeches were in English which is the vernacular of Golders Green and at least one of the speakers was a technology expert.
So why is this meeting called for again and why do they pretend to represent klal yisroel? If the UOHC represents all its constituent shuls why were virtually all notices and posters in Yiddish? Is it not that they are simply embarrassed to repeat all this nonsense in English where it will be judged by more level-headed people and laughed off the pitch with a mass exit from the stands?
If I were not carrying in the eiruv every Shabbos because the UOHC banned it, if my wife and kids were stuck in at home, elderly people and the disabled housebound due to the obduracy and intractability of the UOHC rabbis I would be asking what is in it for me. To ensure the attendance of the various chasidim, Padwa went grovelling to their rebbes, signing his name and his mother's name like a pleading supplicant. To placate the Belzers, Reb Leibish was kept even from the substitutes’ benches, and in order not to upset the Satmarers speeches are all in Yiddish besides one at the end by which time the holy ones can make their exit for their ministering angel will not attend an ESOL course. Yet to its long suffering members in Golders Green the UOHC and its rabbis have shown nothing but an oversized middle finger.
What they will be saying loud and clear tonight is: Klal Yisroel includes you not. Your meetings do not count, your support is unnecessary, your attendance not called for and your yiddishkeit in grave doubt. We are happy to take your moolah for our pounds of kosher flesh but as for you in person your smell is rather too pleasant for us less sensitive noses.
In New York they at least made a pretence of achdus but no such trivialities concern us here where scornful disregard is the name of the game. Obscure Lubavitch rabbis from Edgware are kosher but Rabbis Ehrentrau, Lichtenstein, Gelley, Abrahams and many others count for nothing. They summon Mount Sinai to their cause as if Judaism is dependent on 4000 loonies but they are nothing more than the club whose home ground they will occupy: a 3rd tier league devoid of star players.
And that is as far as they go. To the rest of us they will appear like wolves howling at the moon. Having sold out to the most extreme elements they will warn, threaten, cajole and plead supposedly for the future of Judaism and the souls of our children. Here in our community is a school established by communal figures, funded by communal coffers when not directly by us the taxpayers yet it excludes children at a whim term after term and year after year. And when the brothers who act as goalkeepers, players, captains, referees, managers, chairmen and shareholders all in one are summoned by Padwa he is laughed at to his face.
They will talk about sanctity yet here in Stamford Hill, in Craven Walk, is a mikveh which has been a building site for close to a decade grossly insulting if not endangering the women who use it. But they care for women only in their state of dress not undress. It was a similar situation with other mikvehs until someone stepped in. Funds are available for this extravaganza but as far as true kedusha is concerned let them dunk themselves in drains and keep the fancy mikves for the men. It is no exaggeration that we have some of the worst mikves in the entire chareidi world. But then others push their buggies on Shabbos while our womenfolk are better off stuck in at home.
And then there are the masses of our youth which see through all this hypocrisy, double dealing and sanctimony. They will not be saved by your howling of Shema. Your voice will not reach their ears just like when many of them are sexually and physically abused their cries do not reach yours. Your bans and prohibitions will ring hollow when all you seek to cover up are your own misdeeds. Many of these youths, our very future, are gone forever not thanks to the Internet but to you sitting there blinded by the glare of the floodlights and booming out your own voices to drown out all others.
Howl, howl, howl, howl! Oh, you are men of stones.
Had I your tongues and eyes, I’d use them so
That heaven’s vault should crack. She’s gone forever.
(King Lear, Act V, Scene III)
Another day another poster. The anti-internet rally organisers have been pasting our walls for the last fortnight with the palette of colours technology places at their disposal while the opposition uses nothing more than an old fashioned word processor and so must do with black and white.
The message however is clear: Leave the kids at home - this is not where they belong. If you want the kids to see their gedoilim take them to a shul not a stadium.
The organisers have spent a fortune to shrink the stadium so that banks of empty seats are not flashed round the world by tweeters at the anti-tweeting rally. All they need the kids for is as a stop gap and so at worst they might have to readjust slightly the partition. Moving the goalposts is what they call it at Leyton Orient.
Sunday, 2 September 2012
Hurrah for common sense! Finally someone is prepared to say what many are thinking and saying in shuls and mikves up and down the square mile that the event is an ego trip of our dear Rov and Rosh Hakohol and the expense, the invitees, the leaflets and the venue are simply to show that we can do everything that NY can. Except of course that NY has an eiruv.
It may be for the wrong reasons but how refreshing to see a contrarian view in these mad times. Reb Elyokum may also be concerned only with children, teens and koilel yungeleit rather than the event as a whole but then one must be mad to want to bring kids along in the first place. Incidentally, the Schlesingers are also the ones who won’t hold their events in YHS which suggests they know a lot more than we do.
Reb Elyokum: we’re all Briskers for a day!
I would love to translate this letter which has been doing the rounds on the internet and if only I found the time. (Any takers?) It was written in response to the New York anti-internet rally in May and a recent incident which scandalised the Satmar enclave in upstate New York when a father of several kids was kicked out of the family home after confessing his atheism to his wife.
Basically the letter blames the ills of the internet’s influence on our society on our rotten education system. If the rabbis are really interested in doing something about the problem, the letter says, they should stop navel gazing, banning and controlling. Instead they should institute some sorely needed reforms, teach children the beauties of a Judaism that isn’t about excluding, banning, beatings, petty disputes and power struggles and our children might not be dazzled and fall for the world outside their ghetto on their first point of encounter.