Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Jewish Spring

By @Yaakman

Awaiting the Chareidi Spring - A Call to Arms

After watching recent revolutionary events unfold in the Middle East, it struck me that the time for a Chareidi Spring may finally be upon us.

I write from the vantage point of my perch, deeply embedded in the heart and soul of the American chareidi community. Over the past year I've watched with interest as people under totalitarian rule finally rose up and declared with the actions – “enough already!”. I watched as people risked their lives and livelihoods, their careers, their families and indeed their entire social and familial support structures, all for freedom of oppressive rule.

What made the regular man on the oppressive streets of Cairo finally rise up? How did so many people amass the supernatural courage it takes to stare death in the face and the gumption to accept nothing less than the end of the tyrannical rule that was never before challenged?


The answer quickly became obvious; it was the realization by the masses that they were oppressed. Until then common man was conditioned to believe that the restrictive society he grew up in was ideal; that the government had his best interests in mind. Once he realized that his neighbor shared his exact sentiment, once he experienced a whiff of freedom and understood that the possibility of living life the way he really wanted to was now a reality within reach, the rest was history. The human spirit cannot be contained. Give me liberty or give me death is an innate human condition. To willingly give up freedom is to make one inhuman.

One following the developments in the various regimes of Chareidistan cannot but reach the conclusion that the conditions are ripe for a Chareidi spring.

Even though we live in a democratic country, in practical terms we in Chareidistan are living in under the iron fists of oppressive totalitarian regimes. As in the Arab countries our leaders control how we dress, how we educate our children, our lifestyle – even what we may or may not think. From cradle to grave are we told how to live.

The Chareidi dictators and their enforcers demand that all dress alike. That we study in Yeshivah and refrain from any meaningful education which would allow us to support our families. We are forbidden from using use birth control to limit the size of our families (unless a rabbi allows it) and instructed from up high that boys and girls cannot interact even to exchange pleasantries, nor may they choose whom they wish to marry. Our children cannot play ball during recess or even in summer camps and dare not speak English to each other but instead must cling to the language of a previous secular society, now revered as a holy tongue thanks to the boundless gift of revisionist history.

From where do those leaders get their power to control? From us, the man on the street. Only by empowering our Rebbes, Roshei Yeshiva and so-called Gedolim, do we find ourselves in this predicament. It is we that have allowed this to happen. We were told we need Gedolim to protect us from ourselves; that without their contrived wisdom, we'd abandon yiddishkeit. We are raised to believe that without these elderly rabbis, our children wouldn't follow in our footsteps. Our brains are filled with the notion that we must to stick together as a community to protect ourselves from the shmutzige street and because of that we must surrender our freedom, individuality, the human need for individuality and our right to practice our religion as we see fit.

As long as we didn't know our neighbors felt exactly the same way we were powerless. We feared for our children. Where would they go to school if I openly spoke my mind? Would my children be allowed into school if either parent didn't dress exactly how the rebbes insisted. What if the mother's sheitel was a little too long? Are if she wore a little too much makeup? What if the father walked outside without a hat or a short suit?

And so our unelected leaders have been empowered to control and oppress the very people that have chosen to lead them, to heed their every word.

But now people are using the same tools as the Arab world did to discover that the silent are the majority, that we can form our own schools, that we can choose to live our lives the way we want to. All we need to do is reject our leadership. We don't need the bloody heroics of the Arab Spring. No one is being asked to risk their lives, their livelihood. All you are being asked to do is protest. Protest to your schools and demand a basic education for your children. Tell your rebbe or Rosh yeshiva that you won't accept a future where your children are uneducated. Announce that you refuse to perpetuate the cycle of poverty and dependency by raising yet another generation of future family heads unable to support themselves and their progeny. Refuse to surrender to the demand that you push your uneducated teenaged children to marry and start families that they cannot support with spouses that they do not know. Threaten to switch schools, to keep your kids home, to daven in another shul, to daven at home and be prepared to follow through.

Tell them the game is up. You know the real reason they are threatening not to allow children into their schools if you have access to the internet. Tell them you understand they are trying to control the free flow of information and quash curiosity in all of its splendor. Tell then you understand why they so deeply fear social interacting. Tell them you saw what happened in the Arab countries and you know how powerful social networking is.

Tell them you aren't afraid. Yes, your children won't leave the Jewish religion. They'll just leave the leaders' antiquated and distorted version, of a long and glorious faith and its people. The new fundamentalist version of Judaism that was spawned in the ashes of the holocaust, the one that has no right to call itself "legitimate authentic Judaism" must now be fought and destroyed for the good of the masses that it has oppressed and imprisoned for so long. In truth, it is just a lifestyle used to control the commoners.

Your children will be able to marry. In fact, they'll be able to marry one of their own choosing. What freedom! What a concept! Yes, you as parent don't have to choose!

You can go to college and get a real education. No you won't leave the religion just because of it. Don't you care about your family enough to take a stand? All the leaders are doing is preventing its followers from gaining access to education, free of control of your leaders. They're afraid you'll find out that earth is almost 5B years old, that our ancestors shared an ancestor with apes. That we evolved. That the universe is 14B years old. That we must reinterpret the Torah to fit that fact. That Rambam said its ok. Not only ok but a must.

But what they're mostly afraid is that they'll lose their power over you. The ability to control your future. The ability to earn their livelihood off controlling your future.

Realize this, man on the street. You're the one empowering your leaders to control you. You're giving him siddur kedushin, sandek, going to him with a kvitel, giving him money at every occasion, so he can do what? Oppress you. To not allow you to live.

Rise up! All together. It's not that difficult. The only thing that will happen is that your friend will know that you too have tasted freedom. Now he too will be emboldened to take on the establishment. Speak up! Don't let schools like BYA prevent your children from taking biology regents, don't let your leaders sell you on not proving a basic high school education to your children.  No, it's not because they want them to learn more Torah. It's because they want to make it as difficult as possible for your children to be able to go to college and be productive members of a society that they do not control.

They want your children to remain uneducated because your children will be less likely to blindly follow them down the path of destruction.

An uneducated life is not life worth living. Jews throughout history were always the most educated people. Go back to your real Mesorah. We're an "Am k'shei oref", a tough people. We will survive. And we'll be better than ever.

Im lo achsov eimisei. The longer we wait the less likely we'll be able to save our children from the oppression. Don't we owe it to our children? We're too old to live like we really want to. We can't turn back the clock. They stole one generation. But the children. Give them the life they deserve. Give them a future. Give them hope. Have minimal standard you just won't live without. Basic education, ability to function within society, to use technology, to know how to think.

The human spirit cannot be denied.

Sent from my iPhone
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