Wednesday, May 25, 2011



One of the two most scaring TV scenes I saw as a child was in the 1996 made for TV movie The Lottery. The basic premise is that a tiny American town has a cemetery filled with people who all seemed to have died on July 4th, each one in a different year. The movies protagonist, visiting to arrange a funeral for his dying father, sees this anomaly and sets out to uncover the villages secret. What he discovers and soon whiteness is that each July 4th the townsfolks get together in the square where a lottery is held with one ticket per family. The family whose ticket is pulled out of the bucket then proceeds to have a lottery perform amongst each of its members. The final winner is immediately surrounded by the people gathered and stoned to death.

This had such a horrible affect on me that I'm kind of shaking now writing this. (The other scene was, and I don't even know what it was from since I only saw it in passing, seemed to be an old British period piece with a bloody guillotine decapitation. Head falling into bucket, blood squirting everywhere, cheering peasants, death in all its glory.

While reading the details of the recent events in New Square I couldn't help but think of this movie and the crazed and sadisitic people who lived in Anytown USA. I'm not suggesting an exact equivalence here, obviously it wasn't the whole town that gathered to burn an entire family to death. However, it seems to me that there was an atmosphere of permissiveness to abuse and harass dissenter. You can find videos online from two years ago of people gathered outside this family's home scaring their children by screaming for them to vacate the town. I don't know if it's true but the video suggests that the Rabbi's son happened to drive by the crowd in middle of this craziness and did nothing to stop it.

I won't believe for one second that the Rabbi didn't know about the abuse of this family at the hands of the communities leaders; In fact he likely encouraged it. I am certain, however, that he had no knowledge of this recent attack, I just simply cannot believe that is the case, but wound't resposiblity lie at his feet if his inaction led to this climax?

New Square, a place I once spent a shabbos in many years ago, seems eerily familiar to the town in The Lottery. I know there is little comparison in facts and events but the closed community hiding secrets resulting in violence against its own is where the comparison is found for me. It's like a community of people who must have things their way and they will use any means necessary to end and eradicate the "threat." We will never really know what the community as a whole feels about this but it's fair to assume that its leadership represents it as a whole. Let the Rabbi pretend he has a spokesman and make a statement denoucing what happened. Not just for the benefit of the media, but directly to his followers. Anyone involved in a protest against this family over the last few years should be banned from the main shul. They can't kick people off their legally owned property, but they should put them into the equivalent of cherim. The local Beis Din issued a statement but it wasn't signed in the name of the Rabbi.

I may be completely off in my facts but this is just my impression of what happned two days later.

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