Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The future is bright – without Orange

I was not invited to the Aguda convention in Bournemouth. An oversight on their part undoubtedly. A delegate who was, told me that one of the main concerns voiced by the fine members of this august group was with the growing number of dropouts that London is spawning.

It is indeed so that when I was a child I do not remember anybody actually leaving the gefilte fish cradle altogether. Yes, of course there were those that were severely orthodoxically challenged but few, if any, had the urge (or is it just the guts) to weigh anchor and sail out into the unchartered waters of goytown. It was said then that in New York there were many upgefurener Chassidim but with a smug smile the Rabbis assured our parents that it could not happen here. Well it seems they got it wrong again and London has become just like New York in one more way.

I do not know what has happened to bring this new phenomenon about. I wish I could say that it is all to do with the staleness of ideas that we present our kids. Then I would have a solution. Unfortunately I do not see much evidence of any intellectual frustration among the gangs of leather-jacketed ex-Chassidim that parade their shiny mini-coopers through Stamford Hill. To be quite honest I do not see much evidence of intellect at all among the laidigayers and dropouts.

This should not be taken to mean that I believe that Chassidism has maintained its firm grip on the hearts of its intellectuals. On the contrary, who would know better than me what goes on behind that façade of propriety among those that have explored and tasted the forbidden fruits of tarbus chitzoines (alien culture)? The Shgatzim do not need empty symbolic gestures to display their frustration, they have another escape route.

For one it is in literature and for the other in yoga, but alien culture is rife in the underground. The fact that is underground means that it cannot be utilized for the growth of the community and some of the keenest minds in our community are being wasted away on trivia while the conformists plod on mechanically toward the abyss.

The Rabbis at the convention however have no idea of this and with fiery earnestness debated what could be done to discourage more children from leaving. With a roomful of sated and rested leaders all concentrated on one major problem you would expect them to come up with a solution. And they did… Almost.

You see, they were able to put a finger on the core of the problem; just they could not quite figure out how to correct it. After much debate and heated exchanges of ideas they announced with great fanfare; “The problem” they said, “is caused by mobile phones”. Where would we be without the Aguda Convention in Europe?

Ok I have to go, my mobile...

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