Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The past is our friend.
The future... who can say?

The past keeps our secrets. It knows us. Where we came from. Who we were. What we did. It knows our fondest memories and who was involved in them. The present soon will be the past and will join that vast network of friendship. Soon the present will know our secrets of today and it will not yield. The past does not reveal secrets. The past protects us.

The future is the unexpected. Will the future be kind to us? Will it treat us well? Or will it abuse us and our trust. We allow the future to approach. In good faith, we say 'come future, and bring your good tidings.' We await its blessings, like the blessings of the past, but they are uncertain. Unknown. The future may betray us. It may reveal those secrets that the past has kept so well. It may disobey our wishes, in much the way that the past cannot. It may be our greatest fears.

In the light of the past, events are beautiful. Nothing is wrong and everything is unchangeable. There is certainty and assuredness. In the past we are Safe.

When you look to the future, events are glaring. It is dark. Unknown and unknowable. It offers no promise of protection. It is scary.


I was going through my junk drawers during end-of-semester (incidentally, graduation) clean up when I came accross this short... poem? Essay? Editorial? Im no good at classifications. Anyway, I wrote that for some writing assignment in 9th grade and it probably meant nothing to me then (I was just a moody little pre-emo punkster), but it resonated with me today, Erev Graduation.

Im frightened to graduate. Truly scared.

Most people look forward to graduation, as it is symbolic of a continuation. The completion of one stage of your life, moving on to another. Many kids have jobs lined up, or are going to grad school, or even plan on traveling for a bit and having some time off.

Ive got nothing planned.

And how can I? Ive been in limbo for about 4 months now, and the bar keeps getting lowered, but the game isnt ending.


It was supposed to be so easy. Go to college, get good grades, take the MCATs, go to med school.

Went to college.
Got good grades.
Did well on the MCATs.
One year later, still waiting to hear from school.

It started with the advisor. The letters of reccomendation are an integral part of the application process. No school looks at you without them. I painstakingly hunted down old bosses, retired professors, family friends and such and built up a small but mighty dosier of praise. I was ready to go. Applications complete.

One month...

Two months...

Into the third... Still nothing?

I called a school, a big no-no mind you, to find my appliction status.


Never got the letters?

Next school... same thing. And the next. And the next.

And the next

"Professor! What happened to my letters?" "Oh shit, Stephen, look at this --> You never signed the waiver." "But you didnt tell me... that I needed..." "Well how was I supposed to know you didnt sign it? We dont open a folder until we have a waiver."

"You werent in the computer system"


So now its late. Past most deadlines. Whats left? Downstate? Israel? DO? no. Not DO.

Declined. Too late.

Declined. Too late.



March 15th intrview!

it went WELL!

Today: May 30
still no word. 'try calling in 2 weeks. '


I cant take it anymore. Ive been strung along for too long and its driving me crazy. The very unknowingness of it and the absolute inability to do anything about it. Will I get in? Wont I? Should I get a summer job? But what if I get in? I cant commit to August. Should I look for a job for next year? Just In Case? Whos gonna hire me without commitment? OK, so what about june-july? But i need to retake Physics 2. Lousy mark the first time around. Should I be dating? Whats my hashkafa? Is there a god? Of course theres a god! Really? Or is that high school talking? Should I go to Israel for the summer? Why? So you can slack off and miss another opportunity ? No! So I can rethink my thoughts and organize my life. Vocationally. Spiritually. Sexualy. Objectively. Should I ask her out? NO! why? Shes 18. Shes 25. Shes too fat. Shes too thin. Shes not bright enough. Shes too smart for you. She hates/loves animals. Her father is... Her brother did... Should I run away?

Should I go to law school?

Monday, May 15, 2006

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.

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