Thursday, October 27, 2005

Chewing the Cud with Cloven Tongues

A guy whom I knew well when he was younger
has developed into something of a personality. If I am not always proud of him I try at least to be proud for him because he did once really mean well. Now of course he has power and that does corrupt a man hard and fast. He has many powers vested in his hands, a heavy burden indeed for one who has little experience in the dealings with other men. He must make decisions on the spot, I reason, and sometimes overlooks the potential pitfalls of any seemingly minor mistake. If it is true that there is divine guidance, I ask him in my thoughts, and our Rabbi's decisions are therefore infallible that should make it even easier to have an appeals system because then what can there be to hide?

I believe that honesty and openness are the foundation and the cornerstones of justice and that no truly God fearing society can operate in secret and maintain its honour. In Stamford Hill there is a tendency towards ayatollaism that has to be stopped. None of us want Iran-style councils of bearded religiousists arbitrarily dictating standards by the reactions of their netherregional antennae.

In a modern society and having absorbed all the good of the culture surrounding us, we know we cannot have women persecuted and their children ejected from our school system just for having appealing shapes. We have watched our middle-eastern cousins as they chased each other to see who can glorify God the best. If we don’t want to wake up one morning and found ourselves the proud parents of our own criers ‘havoc’ we have to act now to maintain the balance.

Extremism is dangerous in all its forms and while everybody is free to be as holy as they wish it is incumbent upon a society to maintain the centre ground. Public funds that were not earmarked for special groups should be spent on the moderate and time-honoured true traditionalists and all groups should be encouraged to acknowledge that the centre ground is a legitimate Jewish area. All forms of segregation are dangerous and the tendency of individual groups to draw within and close ranks is unhealthy at best.

Stamford Hill does not need the imported boerism and insularism that that is becoming popular. Responsible leadership must encourage a healthy worldview and a positive attitude towards other religious streams. The positive parts of the Stamford Hill of yore were manifest. We spoke English and we got on with our neighbours. Some were more religious than us and some were far less but we still treated them as neighbours. In the YHS we had children of all different types; Gerrers Yekkes and Belzers and Sephardis and we got on with all of them too. We went to camp and we went to siyums and we met the other kids and we came out enrichened by the experience.

The climate being what it is I think anybody with half a brain must realise that the authorities will not tolerate religious councils of any sort that are completely outside their control. If we are to survive we will have to do what we Jews have been so adept at for so many generations and adapt. I don't beileve anybody is against having a responsible rabbinic council working in a transparent and justified manner. I think most of us would be happy having certain rules and regulations built in to the sytem. Nobody wants to see Stamford Hill losing what makes it special. I am however soundly against a system of trials-and-errors leadership where only the frummest one wins and where individuals are arbitrarily imposing their own irrational standards upon an unwilling public.

Now here is the odd part: He has agreed with me on every single one of these points when speaking to me (if maybe not in these specific words) yet I don't believe I have ever heard such sentiments uttered by any of our personalities. What am I to think?

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