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August 31, 2014 / 5 Elul, 5774
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Monsey Kosher Market ‘Integration’ Great Idea, Terrible Execution (Video)

It’s really not that different than the situation in Israel with the charedim. Both situations need insiders to make the change happen.
Great Idea Terrible Execution cover

On Friday in downtown Monsey a newly formed group of activists called Wake Up Rockland entered Rockland Kosher Supermarket–basically it’s the Pomegranate of Monsey. The group was led by a black reverend and was made up of a cross-section of non-Jews from the local community. They marched into the store, innocent frum Jews looked on, mouths agape, as the activists walked up and down the aisles looking for items to purchase. The store did not appreciate this gesture and they asked that the group leave.

The group had summoned the media to be present at the demonstration and the local paper wrote about the effort. The article seems to praise the activists and is lukewarm on the store people who were not receptive to the group.

Demonstrators explained that they were hoping to show the frum community that we are neighbors, they are not going anywhere, and we should try to integrate our communities a bit or at the very least try to get along.

I think this is a great idea. There is tension in Ramapo. There are non-Jews who are nasty to Jews and there are Jews who are nasty to non-Jews. It would be great if the two communities could somehow come together.

But there are a couple problems with the execution of this idea.

Great Idea Terrible Execution 2

First, the demonstrators seem to think that there is segregation in Ramapo. It’s not really segregation. It’s more like insularity. The frum community in Monsey wants to be insular and free from secular influences. So it’s not bigotry per se. In other words, bridging the gap is not a solution, it’s actually looked at as a problem from the frum community’s point of view.

But, more importantly, if the activists are genuine, and I have no reason to think they are not, they should work together with liaisons from the frum community to create harmony. No one wants to be surprised or forced into unity. Popping into Rockland Kosher on Friday may have worked for the cameras and for headlines, but it will not achieve the desired result unless members of the frum community participate in the decision-making and execution of ideas.

Great Idea Terrible Execution 3

It’s really not that different than the situation in Israel with the charedim. Both situations need insiders to make the change happen. But, more importantly, the very philosophy and way of life that the charedim in Israel and Monsey follow makes it nearly impossible to foster integration with non-charedim.

This kind of worldview is becoming more and more archaic and anachronistic. The world is less tolerant of insularity and isolation. The world desires integration, mutual respect, and harmony. The challenge for charedim will be how this approach to a global community can be reconciled with insularity, if it can at all.


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About the Author: Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, J.D. is the rabbi at the famous Pacific Jewish Center | The Shul on the Beach in Venice CA. He blogs at finkorswim.com. Connect with Rabbi Fink on Facebook and Twitter.


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14 Responses to “Monsey Kosher Market ‘Integration’ Great Idea, Terrible Execution (Video)”

  1. Time to reread "Aleinu".

  2. Anya Stefanovich says:

    Most Orthodox Jews are not black, and most blacks are not Orthodox Jews (or even nominally Jews), so how do they expect any integration? People have the right of freedom of association. This forced integration is getting a LOT of us White people ticked off, and rightly so.

  3. the fact that they picked FRIDAY to go as a group to the Kosher supermarket, shows how little they did to understand the people they are supposedly reaching out to. on Friday we do not want our supplies depleted and we are all in a rush. when you want to befriend someone – you at least learn how to say HELLO in their language. this group could not have made any effort to understand their targeted 'peace partners.'

  4. Integration is a broad term that can have many meanings. Does it mean that a wealthy area should exclude poor people? Does it mean that a senior citizen colony should deny residence to young people? Should an orthodox neighborhood try to avoid non orthodox people. Should Chinatown eliminate Caucasions? People who share a common history or ethnicity prefer to group together. This is not bigotry. No-one wants to live with a people who have a high crime rate.

  5. The dangers of secularism and assimilation are ones we must deal with while living amidst the society of the world because if we are to be a light unto the "nations" we cannot be insular or separatist.

  6. Alfie Lapin says:

    All Jewish communities should be encouraged to assimilate with black Africans and have lots of mixed race black Jewish children. Diversity is our strength.

  7. Alfie Lapin says:

    All Jewish communities should be encouraged to assimilate with black Africans and have lots of mixed race black Jewish children. Diversity is our strength.

  8. Steven Akins says:

    White gentiles – at least some of us – wish to remain insular too; but the Jews are doing everything in their power to destroy White insularity with multiculturalism in the hope of eventually eliminating the White race altogether by promoting miscegenation as the ultimate expression of tikkun olam.

  9. How can you force integration?

  10. So a bunch of non-Jews came to shop. Unless the storekeeper is an idiot, he or she should welcome the new business. To ask them to leave is a poor business decision, and also illegal if based on their non-Jewish status. I do not understand this story.

  11. Ahron Ebert says:

    you say SOME whites want bo remain insular but, it ALL of the Jews who want to get rid of the white race. I am Jewish and I don't want the end of the white race I do not like it that there are so many people of color coming to our country and in my brand of Judasim we don't define tikkun olam like others due. Tikkun HaOlam means getting along with other people in my religion.

  12. CM Watts says:

    I am smelling and feeling and knowing there are more and more of these attacks on the Jewish People.
    This "demonstration" is a smokescreen for evil!
    I lived in Monsey, New York for years and I LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT ITS "JEWISHNESS"!
    Any group of any integrity would not have come to a shop on The Sabbath and cause a stir. This was just for twisted publicity.
    If this group possessed one ounce of integrity and truth they would have not needed this ASSAULT ON COMMUNITY to make whatever point……
    Deplorable. And if we do not recognize this trend of assault and attack on the Jewish People World wide then we are doomed.
    In short — THIS IS ANOTHER STORY ABOUT HATE OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE!
    SHAME SHAME SHAME.
    Kansas Jewish Man Refused Entry into Britain.
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/169483#.UdKvIPlwpOj

  13. Dan Silagi says:

    Josef Goebbels said much the same thing, Nazigirl. I am embarrassed to read such virulent racism coming from the electronic mouths of people who claim to be Jewish.

  14. Lord have mercy! Can we cohabit in haven! how! don't the integration suppose to tart here on earth. May the Lord change their stone's heart to a truth human heart.

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