Thursday, April 24, 2014

New Square Conformity

After reading in Mishpacha magazine about the bullying and forced conformity that passes for piety in New Square, NY,  the Jewish Worker asks: Is this what Judaism is all about?

I presume his question is meant rhetorically (How could someone think Judaism is "all about" something?); still his description of 21st century life in this Hasidic-American village is harrowing. Contemplate what it means for a moment to have no choices and no options. Contemplate what it means to be forced by societal pressure and childhood conditioning to dedicate your life to the glory of an unelected, unaccountable Rebbe. If you're reminded of North Korea, you're not alone.

Certainly many of you are preparing to protest that New Square is nothing at all like North Korea. For starters, New Square residents can sell their homes and leave town. Also, the leader of New Square is accused only of shady financial dealings. No one says he is also a sexual pervert or a murderer. He doesn't run detainment camps. All true. And I concede my analogy is imperfect, as all analogies are imperfect. So let me be clear: I am not trying to tell you North Square is North Korea. Of course, it isn't. Rather, I'm reporting that Mishpacha's article suggests that the leader of New Square, like the Dear Leader of North Korea, has managed to create a cult of personality and to acquire near total control over the thoughts and behaviors of his followers. If this disturbs you, as it disturbs me and as it seems to have disturbed the Jewish Worker, perhaps we should band together and be a bit braver the next time the Rebbe and his well-heeled entourage come to town with their hands out.

  Search for more information about New Square

No comments: