In 2004 David Twersky, the Rabbi of ‘Skver,’ and a few hundred of his serfs came to the 5 Towns area for a shabbos. I was interested in seeing him for familial reasons. An ancestor of mine (d. NYC, 1928) from the southern Ukraine published a book in NYC in 1926 which contained a lot of stories and homilies he heard from members of the primary Rabbinic family in the Ukraine, the Twersky family. This author was the rabbi of, what I imagine to have been, a town of thatched roof huts and met these people on their travels. For some reason this somewhat of a ‘connection’ caused me to be interested in meeting various member of this family, and so when Twersky showed up in my neighborhood one week I went to see him.
On Saturday night following havdala some sort of parade was held with a local money-bag driving the rabbi in his Bentley behind a metal contraption topped with about six torches, all lit. Hundreds of people walked alongside and behind the car while loud music was blasted from a second car. While walking in this crowd I tripped and tens of people eager to see and keep up with the rabbi walked on top of me dragging me several feet. Clothing torn and bruised I went home.
I was never so disgusted at a display of honor before or after. To be walked home wasn’t enough, there had to be a Bentley. A Bentley wasn’t enough, there had to be FIRE accompaniment Fire wasn’t enough, there had to be blasting music and a major local thoroughfare had to be closed down for an hour by police.
That was when I gained repulsion for this guy, the incident a few years ago involving the attempted fire bomb attack on a New Square family certainly didn’t help my feelings. Since that incident I’ve learned more and more about the Twilight Zone type of society Twersky runs in his village.
This week a terrible tragedy occurred there when a woman who was sexually abused, separated from her children, and disowned and hated by her own family committed suicide. You can read more about this elsewhere. You may want to say that the hellish village of New Square and David Twersky are ultimately responsible for this.
The Jewish Daily Forward has written an article about the funeral arrangements of this poor woman. Even in death there is no rest. The JDF reports that “members of the New Square community said that [her] family chose to bury her elsewhere with only immediate family present due to the shame she had brought upon the family and the community.” The article continues, ““Who wants to be buried next to this lady?” New Square resident Menashe Lustig told the Forward in a phone interview. “It’s very difficult to know where to put her. I hear they called up the rabbonim in Israel and they told them the decision” that she should be buried elsewhere. Of Tambor’s life and death, he said, “The family is ashamed. They’re very ashamed.”
Lest you think she wasn’t allowed to be buried in the local cemetery due to some halacha about suicide, a family member told the JDF, “that the decision not to bury Tambor in New Square’s cemetery was not because she was a suicide.”
So why was the serious halachic concept of a very quick buriel neglegted in this case? “Lustig said she was buried far away because she had strayed from religion. In public they say it’s because she wasn’t shomer Shabbos. But my friend told me it was because she has relations with strangers and everything. It’s like she was free.”
It’s like she was free.
She was free. Free from this village, of this rabbi, of the community he made intolerable for her. Free of the people who demonized her for being a victim, free of the people who stole her children, free of the people who mark a persons value by how they look and how they affect public opinion of ones family.She was free and so her body laid unburied while her terribly ’embarrassed and ashamed’ surviving family, rabbi, and community decided where to hide her.