I wish it weren’t so. But I have heard this kind of statement coming out of their circles more times than I can count.
I’m sure there will be much denial. And I will once again be accused of bashing Satmar. But I am not. I get no joy in reading stories like this or writing about them. The facts speak for themselves.
He admiited that he knew it was wrong. But by wrong he means illegal. I am absolutely convinced that he also thought that this fraud was a perfectly fine thing to do as a Jew to help out his people. People who in many cases are desperately poor and cannot afford to pay for their children’s education. Why not use these government subsidies to help subsidize them?
This is not the Jewish way. I’ve said this before. Satmar and like minded Chasidim live in communities that are isolated from the rest of society and its values. They reject those values. They are indoctrinated to see the government in much the same way that their grandparents saw their pre-Holocaust anti-Semitic European governments… as something to take advantage of in any way they can.
One can perhaps justify that under a Czar that kept these communities poor and persecuted them all the time with pogroms and blood libels. Perhaps they had no other way to survive accept to find ways ‘under the table’. Black markets thrived in those communities.
Somehow, even though it should be obvious to them that the U.S. is different, they have retained the mindset that it’s OK to cheat “the Goyim” – if they can get away with it. And that is what causes the kind of Chilul HaShem that is happening here. And when the criminal is someone who is otherwise a good person, the Chilul HaShem is even greater.
I believe that this is what happened here. It was also the motivation when Rabbi Glanz helped that Jewish inmate hold a lavish Bar Mitzvah for his son. Perhaps he could be forgiven for that since he did not do anything technically illegal. But the underlying kindness for ones brothers should never be translated into fraud. That is apparently a lesson yet to be learned by this community!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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