web analytics
July 23, 2014 / 25 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Abusing Clout

When Chassidim make a request to a government official, he pays attention.
Women in the back of the bus.

Women in the back of the bus.
Photo Credit: Uri Lenz / Flash90

There is an article in the  New York Times that discusses the clout Chasidim in America have achieved. And it does not paint a flattering picture. Some might say that this is just typical New York Times bashing of religious Jews. But I’m not so sure it is. Let us examine the issue.

Chasidim do have clout. There is no question about it. How did they get so much clout? Prior to the Holocaust, Chasidim in America barely existed as an identifiable entity.  But they grew exponentially into huge numbers since the Holocaust. Chasidim tend to get married early (in some cases both bride and groom are in their teens) and have many children. A family of ten or more children is not uncommon. As a result, now over sixty years later they are a force to be reckoned with.

Although I have argued that – despite their rate of growth –  their current numbers do not necessarily predict their future dominance as a culture in Judaism… their numbers are very definitely huge as is their current influence in government. This is mostly seen in the power of their vote. If their rabbinic leadership tells them to vote for a certain candidate, they tend to do so in large numbers without question and without needing to know what that candidate stands for. This gives Chasidim as a group out-sized political power!

This power does not go to waste. This community uses it to their full advantage. When they make a request to a government official, he pays attention. And often sees to it that the request is granted.

I have no problem with using one’s clout to get things done for your community. There is nothing wrong with petitioning your government for your cause. It is no different than any group lobbying for their particular agenda. In that sense Chasidim are no different than – say – the gun lobby. It is the right of every American citizen – no less Chasidic citizens – to petition their government.

The question arises when petitioning for rights becomes pressuring for rights.  Requests then turn into demands with unspoken threats of political defeat in the next election if those demands aren’t met. Although it may be legal to do that – it can easily be interpreted as a form of political extortion to get what they want  – sometimes at the expense of others.That can only result in resentment at best… and at worst create (or expose latent) anti-Semitism.

First let me say that I view it unethical to vote for a candidate without knowing what he stands for just because you were told to do so by a rabbinic leader. I understand why they do this. It is obvious. It gives them an extraordinary amount of power over elected officials.  But one ought to vote for a candidate because of believing what he stands for – not because it will give your group collective power over him.

This is not good citizenship. And it makes religious looking Jews look bad. How does this affect the image of religious Jews in the world? Does this result in a positive image of Chasidim – or a negative one? What about the rest of Orthodox Jewry? Will we all be judged the way?

And how necessary are those demands? Are they Halachic or cultural? Let us look at some examples (described in the Times article) of achievements their clout has brought them.

How important is it for Chasidic women  to demand a female lifeguard at their beaches that are apparently sex segregated? Although I understand their request – it is a not a Halachic requirement to have a female lifeguard.  Is it worth exercising the community’s clout to get one?

I also do not understand why they insist on well water for their Pesach Matzos. They apparently object to chlorination. What does chlorine have to do with Chametz? It is not a leavening agent. It is a poison which if used in small quantities kills bacteria and has no harmful effects on human beings.

Separate – sex segregated public buses are now the norm in their neighborhood. Men in the front and women in the back. That is no doubt illegal. But since they do it voluntarily, no one bothers them. Is that so necessary? I know Chasidim consider separate seating on a bus to be more modest. But is violating the law the right thing to do if it isn’t a Halachic necessity – even if no one bothers them about it?

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

2 Responses to “Abusing Clout”

  1. Chaiya Eitan says:

    As long as they stay there….

  2. Concerned Jew says:

    The N.Y. Times is owned by the Sulzberger family, formerly reform Jews who converted to Episcopalian.
    The motto of the Times “All the News that’s Fit to Print” can be restated: If the News Fits Our Agenda, We Print It.
    Or as Jewish philanthropist Sam Zell remarked when he became publisher of the Chicago Tribune: When he read the N.Y. Times, he cannot distinguish between the Front page and the Editorial page.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
The new peace partners; Hams leader Khaleed Meshaal (L) and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas
Khaled Mashaal Rejects Ceasefire and Says Israel Must Disarm for Peace
Latest Blogs Stories
.Into Gaza!

Her message to her soldier son on the battlefield: “Complete the Mission! Sayyem et HaMissimah!”

El AL and Pilot

JoeSettler contemplated some new El Al slogans like: “El Al – Our pilots are trained in evasive maneuvers”…. Let’s hear your new El Al Slogans…

Carmeli

IDF volunteers come to Israel just to serve are the true idealists; Sean Carmeli was one of them.


And he whispers one last time, I love you mother.

It’s absurd, in this war places like Ariel and Shiloh are among the safest in the State of Israel.

Why aren’t American Jews coming s to Israel for the summer; Are they scared because of the war?

If you are lloking to buy socks, this store is NOT where to go! B”H

Ruthie Blum reveals just how hard it is for a Jewish mother to be a patriot at the time of war. Maternal cognitive dissonance On Thursday night, after 10 days of aerial warfare between Hamas terrorists and Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a ground incursion into Gaza. It was a move that much of […]

JoeSettler takes on the IDF Spokesperson’s tweets that he believes are morally wrong and negatively affect the war we are fighting…

The 7 Decisions that changed author Andy Andrews’ life and how they can guide you towards success.

Not asking the world for the right to defend ourselves; such a right is obvious to anyone with a spine.

Where has all the billions of Euros and dollars that have been poured into Gaza over the years gone?

One wishes the PA would distance itself completely from Hamas now for the sake of peace and development in the region.

Israel will never be the underdog, so no defense will be legitimized.

In a war, people die; all Israelis should know that by now.

More Articles from Harry Maryles
Iris Yifrach, mother of Eyal Yifrach HY"D, speaking at a massive rally in Tel Aviv on Sunday, June 29, 2014.

Inevitably when tragedies like this happen there is a sudden burst of Achdus. Tragedies unite.

Man walking in neighborhood of one of the Kidnapped Boys, in Elad, Israel.

Looking for a spiritual cause of a tragedy is a time honored tradition in Judaism.

It would be tragic beyond all proportion if Yeshiva University were to fold. I don’t think that is going to happen.

Radical Islam is an idea, not an organization. It is the enemy, not terrorism.

Unfortunately it really doesn’t matter what the common Muslim wants. Fanatic religious fervor trumps it all.

It seems like now more than ever Frumkeit has replaced sincerity as the primary focus of the right.

One measure for living a “normal” life is Halacha, and the other is societal standards.

Judaism is not only about doing the Mitzvos. It is also a belief system.

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:





    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/abusing-clout/2013/08/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: