Thursday, September 29, 2011

Are we talking about the same place?

Jonathan Rosenblum wrote an article encouraging the mayor of Bet Shemesh to confront the Haredi wingnuts that keep attacking students at a Modern Orthodox girls' school because it's too close to their turf and because the girls aren't dressed quite modestly enough for their tastes. As often happens, my issue with Rosenblum is not so much with his main point, but rather the way he goes about arguing it.

Case in point: to illustrate that Haredim can live by their principles of modesty but also avoid becoming major jerks, Rosenblum discusses the fine folks of Kiryat Sanz:  

Last week, I found myself davening Mincha in Kiryat Sanz in Netanya, prior to spending a few hours at the separate beach across the road. Kiryat Sanz is a largely self-contained neighborhood of Klausenberger Chassidim, though late Klausenberger Rebbe insisted from the beginning that there be a Sephardi community within Kiryat Sanz. Laniado Hospital, which the Rebbe built, lies at the edge of the neighborhood.
While in Kiryat Sanz, I noticed one or two women in decidedly non-Chassidic dress walking through the neighborhood. No one paid them any attention. Just to make sure that my powers of observation are not waning, I called a doctor friend who lives in the neighborhood, and he told me a story of rabbi who once spent his summer vacation in Kiryat Sanz. After a week, he complained to the Klausenberger Rebbe, of blessed memory, that he was shocked by the presence of immodestly dressed women in Kiryat Sanz. The Rebbe replied, “That’s amazing. I’ve been here over ten years, and I never saw anything like that.”
My friend then told me another story that captures the ahavas Yisrael that the Rebbe made the animating value of his community, along with devotion to Torah study. Once the Rebbe heard that some Chassidim had shouted, “Shabbes,” at seaside bathers. He ordered them to cease and desist forever. “Nobody ever came closer to Torah because someone shouted at them,” he said. “Open your windows and sing Shabbos zemiros at the top of your lungs. That might have a positive effect.”

Many Mazel Tovs to the Klausenberger Hasidim, who apparently follow their rebbe's approach in not sweating the small stuff.

However, it's a little unfortunate that shortly after reading about the tolerant and open-minded people of Kiryat Sanz that I happened to stumble across this piece over at FailedMessiah:
Sanz hasidim are forced submit their mail, the land line phones, their cell phones and computers to censorship that includes banning all computer games for children and having a rabbinic committee certify that all laptops have their Internet capability permently disabled.
Hmm... Well, as long as they're only harassing themselves, I guess we're still cool. Rock on, Klausenberg.


Antigonos said...

IMO, Jonathan Rosenblum is nothing more than a bloody hypocrite and I have no time whatsoever for him.

In 1999, when my son Shimshon was inducted into the IDF as a combat soldier, Rosenblum wrote a very self-congratulatory column entitled "Confessions of a Haredi Dad" in which he not only boasted that his son would evade service, but implied that parents who let their children serve in the IDF were bad parents who didn't love their kids. Moreover, he claimed that sitting on one's backside in a yeshiva was more arduous in every way than being a soldier. Since, at the time, Shimshon was training to lead a sniper group in Gaza, I found this laughable and wrote to Rosenblum that, if prayer was more effective than arms, let his son spend three years standing in front of mine, davvening, and take any bullet meant for my son. Needless to say, I didn't get a response.

Friar Yid (not Shlita) said...

I haven't been terribly impressed with his writing. On the other hand, compared to the usual viewpoints that seem to appear in the Haredi media, he comes off as downright moderate. Not sure if that's a sadder commentary on Rosenblum or Haredi-ism.