They say tragedies come in threes, and so I wonder what the orthodox community is in store for next.
As you may know, this past week saw the abduction (and thankfully, the release) of a frum girl in Lakewood, taken from the rear parking lot of a gym and returned there 8 hours later. On some accounts she was abused sexually, on some only physically, but purportedly, the message that the kidnapping slime sent back with her was that she was merely a message to the community. The kidnapper had been fed up with the local jewish community, citing specificaly how on two seperate occasions in the same week, he was rudely cut-off on the roads by unapologetic Lexuses, and more broadly, how the Jews all remained insular and aloof, thinking they owned Lakewood and could take without returning to the community. She was the pascal lamb, demonstrating how quickly a simple act of kidnapping could bring the entire community to its knees.
Also recently, allegations of the past 20 or so years have been brought to court. A certain rebbi of a certain elementary school (that I MAY, or may not have attended) has had two seperate lawsuits brought to court, alleging that he molested and sexually abused the two accusers in his capacity as rabbi and camp director, and additional cases are suspected to exist and be brought to light in the near future. These cases go back as far as 20+ years ago and as recently as within the past 6 years. The statute of limitations may be ignored because in these cases if it can be proven that Rosh Yeshiva Lipa M. (too obvious... L. Margolis) blackmailed the students to keep quiet, with threats of public humility and physical violence. Whats, perhaps, most disturbing about this situation is that the rabbi in question, Yudi Kolko, has been allowed to remain active in his teaching children until last week, when the second case was brought. Perhaps most terrible of all, this is expected to merely be the tip of a massive iceberg; just one of tens of molesters who are believed to exist in the orthodox jewish communities who until now have gone completely unexposed.
In my (not really) humble opinion, there is a thread that connects these two situations. These instances are bound by their causation which is rooted in the absolute insularity of the ultra orthodox communities.
This shtetl-in-the-city mentality is what lead to the expanded ego of the Lakewood community. By maintaining a staunch seperation from the rest of the world, the UO have done double damage. They have created a sense of community ego, where the jews are above the petty laws of the community and play no role in Lakewood other than being close to the yeshiva. They have also, thus, alienated their gentile neighbors with their limited, and most likely egotistical, interaction leading to an image of reigiously-fanatical jerks who are resented by the gentiles of the area. I have seen similar attitudes torward jews by gentiles that I have spoken with during my summers in the catskills. They view us as leaches, coming for a few months of the year to interact only with each other and flash our shiny cars around their pickups and 80's models.
This insularity is possibly the cause of the perversion within our community as well. As New York Magazine reports, there is significant reason to believe that such cases of molestation and perversion are more rampant than we may even begin to imagine. What is the cause?
"There are some who believe the repression in the ultra-Orthodox community can foster abuse. Sex before marriage in Hasidic life is strictly forbidden (unmarried men and women are barely allowed to look at one another), and even within marriage, sex is tightly regulated (couples aren’t allowed to have sex, for instance, during menstruation and the week after). As Winston notes, fathers can’t attend their daughters’ school plays, “as the sound of women singing can lead to uncontrollable male sexual arousal.” In a world of Paris Hilton videos and Victoria’s Secret billboards, there are few outlets for an Orthodox man with compulsions the community refuses to acknowledge even exist. The repression, some say, creates a fertile environment for deviance."
The connection between insularity and communal issues clearly then requires some analyses, does it not? If so much trouble can come in so short an amount of time due to this one fundamental principle, surely the gedolim must be anticipating future issues, if not repeats of old issues, and are looking for ways to address the issue of insularity and the possibility of jewish integration into modern culture? That was why I couldnt be happier to hear that the Rabbinical council of Monsey would be calling an Asifa, to discuss threats to the community. Finally! Important issues will be adressed. Taboos would be discussed for the greater communal good. Walls of mandatory resistance would topple. Things would get done!
Well wouldnt you know it...
Looks like they missed the point after all.