Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Are MOs the "black people"* of Orthodox Judiasm?

Are MOs the "black people"* of Orthodox Judiasm?

It's a commonplace to say that Jews were the "black people" of Europe. After all, in Europe, we were the ones left unprotected by the laws, the ones often used as slaves, the ones forced into ghettos and demonized via sterotypes, slander and libels.

It goes much too far to say that MOs are treated this badly by the other branches of Orthodox Judaism, but the discussions of race and NOLA have brought one simmilarity into focus.

When we looked at NOLA we saw the behavior of a handful of black people, and from this the unscrupulous among us learned lessons about all black people in general. They're all poor, all lazy, all violent, all looters, all too irresponsible to get out of the city. And this, the unscrupulous among us decided, is unique to black people, and the fault of black culture.

Never mind, that many white people also behaved without honor in NOLA. No one will ever decide, based on the disaster at St. Rita's, that white people, as a group, are in the grips of a culture of irresponsibility. No one will ever decide, based on the president's and his lacky's lazy, indifferent response to the emergency, that white people as a group are aloof and indifferent to the suffering of other people. Any lessons drawn from the behavior of white people will be lessons learned about the culture in general. No one will ever get up on a soapbox to pontificate about white people, and their culture in particular. Which, incidently, is how it should be.

I've noticed the UO Jews tend to treat MOs with the same disrespect. Acording to the UOs MO culture encourages preekas ol (1) . MO culture puts teens at risk. MOs -as a community- don't value Torah study. MO culture is materialistic. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Never mind that there are mansions in Flatbush which surpass anything in West Hempstead. Never mind that Lakewood has plenty of its own at risk teens. Never mind that you'll find more people batteling (2) outside the Mir or Yeshiva Gavoha than you'll find inside the YU bes medrash (3) (4.) UO's who don't live up to the high standards of our faith will always be thought of as individuals who failed, while the unscrupulous among us will always consider the MOs who fall short as products of a failed culture.


1 - Throwing off the yoke of the commandments
2 - Wasting time
3 - Study hall
4 - Yes, there are also more people inside the bes medrash at Yeshiva Gavoha and Mir than there are in the YU bes medrash, but that misses the point.

* You can substitute the N-word, if you wish, but I do not condone this.