To Kvetch or Not To Kvetch
As I sit down to write this morning, settling into the hard bench that passes as a couch in our new sublet, opening my laptop with one hand while I spoon up soy drenched raisin bran with the other (best. breakfast. ever.), I think about the different ideas I came across this weekend, that I might want to talk about: why East Coast towns freak out when large influxes of ultra-Orthodox Jews move in, the difficulty of reconciling the accusations of Shlomo Carlebach’s sexual abuse with his beautiful, spiritual music and stories, my conflicted feelings towards a religious family member who is mistreating an irreligious family member.
Then I wondered, as I frequently do, about the attention I’m giving to all that is sick and negative in the religious world. Granted, this is a site for the “Hasidic Fringe,” I’m not going to write extensively about jungle reclamation in the Amazon, but can’t I somehow focus on our successes and joys, or even the positive aspects of the worlds we come from?
Sometimes I can, but I realize I often can’t. The ultra-Orthodox world is sick and toxic, and as long as it squashes all forms of dissent and criticism, and as the crimes of that world continue to intensify, I have a need and obligation to comment on what is wrong in that world. To shine a small, however weak spotlight into their black pit of obfuscation and cover up. Does it poison my life? No. I have many other parts of my identity beyond my former religiosity that are positive and vibrant. Does it change anything about the religious world? I don’t know. Sometimes I like to imagine we are a vanguard of a revolution that will transform ultra-Orthodoxy. Sometimes I think things will never change for them. Either way, I still believe we have a moral right - and perhaps even obligation – to bear witness to the travesty of the ultra-Orthodox and call attention to the injustices we have such intimate knowledge of.Printable Version