News and Essays In and Out of Orthodoxy – Parshas Matos-Masei 5776
NJ township urges Justice Dept. to investigate haredi Orthodox ‘blockbusting’ – Use of a gross translation error (“shtikel” in Yiddish does not mean “second class”!) as evidence of a blockbusting effort is silly and counterproductive – but taking a step back, this episode and the one in nearby Toms River further demonstrate why a small New Jersey township that was selected over half a century ago to house a great yeshiva in isolation from the larger Jewish community is not equipped to become the primary population base of Traditional (yeshivish/chareidi) Orthodoxy in America. When one tries to squeeze tens of thousands of additional people (growing exponentially by the day) into a small town, which literally cannot contain them, and this population starts bursting en masse into other nearby townships – where Orthodox Jews are probably less than welcome – it is a recipe for trouble and major conflict. Please also see this important article. (Somewhat related to this, I wrote elsewhere recently: “A book must be written about the unprecedented phenomenon of American Orthodoxy substantially retreating from urban centers and relocating in large measure to suburban and rural areas. The relative abandonment of principal institutional infrastructures (such as many of the major New York City yeshivos, in favor of the dozens of small new yeshivos in Monsey, Lakewood and elsewhere), the resultant decentralization of leadership and the potential forfeiture of public influence that this current trend portends absolutely must be documented and considered. It is a seismic shift of historical import.” No, I am not advocating that all Jews live in large cities, but the accelerating, extensive Orthodox population shifts out of major cities, often to communities quite far away from these cities, may have significant unintended consequences.)
Last week’s installment of Weekly Digest – News and Essay In and Out of Orthodoxy can be viewed here.