In Praise of the Orthodox Statements on the George Floyd Murder

Only HKBH’s Torah demands a Torah she-b’al-peh. Sometimes even the work of Man cannot or is not properly understood without commentary and exegesis. The statements released by a number of Orthodox organizations were, as far as I have heard, received very well by their constituents. But they did not make everyone happy. Here, then, is one man’s commentary. Not only was it not received at Sinai, it is not offered after consultation with either of the organizations involved. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

The OU statement (along with another excellent statement by Agudah of LA, and now a third by national Agudah) was fully appropriate for what it tried to do. It was meant to send a signal to tens of millions of black Americans who feel that this is a moment to discern who is with them, and who is against them. The signal that we ought to be sending is that we stand with them in their moment of frustration and anger.

Now, you can argue all you want about whether those feelings are appropriate, deserved, exaggerated, self-inflicted – we’ve heard them all. That is all irrelevant. You don’t get far disagreeing with people’s feelings. They are our fellow citizens, and neighborliness and prudence dictate that we ought to provide what they are looking for if we can, and if we want to keep any relationship with their communities.

We should easily understand yet another reason to make strong declarations of support. It is simply the right thing to do for others what we expect those others to do for us. Whenever some tragedy or attack befalls our community, we expect/demand that our neighbors speak out in support. We are upset when those we regarded as friends don’t come forward on their own to join their voices with ours. In the back of our minds, we know that they think that we take this antisemitism thing a bit too far. They believe that we are paranoid and trigger-happy, and exaggerate the importance of minor events. But they don’t voice those reservations while we are coping with our own shock. They don’t question our right to react as we do, even if they don’t understand it.

Is it not fitting that they might expect the same from us? Empathy is not a difficult commodity to deliver, unless we simply don’t care. Why should we not deliver it, in spades?

Additionally, we don’t really have a choice. The intersectionality people are out there in full force telling the black community that all us Jews – especially the ones that love Israel – are the full (and historical) enemies of all black people. Do we really want Farrakhan (and a thousand others!) to shape the impressions that African-Americans who never met a Jew have of us? If you are one of those who think that we should be making more mention of black antisemitism, stop and think for a second. Do you believe that black hatred of Jews (polls show that it is there, but not as elevated as some of my friends think) is located somewhere on the black genome? If it is taught, do we want the bad guys to be the only ones in the classroom? Our silence at this time would be handing them the mike, rather than competing for it.

Of course, there are lines we cannot cross. We can’t stab ourselves in the back while doing it, or deliver support that undermines our core interests. We cannot have anything to do with BLM, which fully supports the BDS movement, and is riddled with virulent antisemitism.

We also cannot support one need, while remaining silent about others. If our statements ignored the embattled law enforcement personnel of this country, our silence would itself be a statement of non-appreciation for their difficult position. Similarly, giving a pass to anarchy, savagery, and calls to destroy the system is not an option. The OU and Agudah-LA statements addressed all of these.

The term “statement,” I believe, is confusing to some. They looked to it as the Orthodox Jewish take on the situation at hand, an overview that provides balance and insight into causes, and instructs us about what our reactions should be. As the say in Brooklyn: fuhgeddaboudit. That was not the purpose of the release. Its purpose was to let our neighbors know that we are not indifferent to their pain, and we stand ready to listen carefully to their grievances. Nothing more; nothing less.

Some within our ranks would like to see our words be addressed directly to the protesters (as opposed to looters), conveying all sorts of moral points. We generally know better than that. We know when our words will be heard, and when will disappear faster than a pigeon in the intake of a jet engine. As the baalei mussar point out, when an poor person comes to the door, the only thing to give him is a donation – not a pep talk about bitachon/trust in G-d. This is not the time to tell our neighbors about how we think they should be living their lives.

Some of our chaverim would like us to share our own significant narrative of what we have suffered in the last months – only to add the destruction of businesses and vandalizing of our shuls. Valid points. But they need to be communicated in a different forum – not in our message to black America.

If anything, the OU statement should only be a beginning. On the local level, we have an opportunity to build friendships in the next few days that can redound for decades. We should call every black pastor we know (and one or two that we don’t know) and simply say that we share their pain, and express our support. Conservative black churches in particular are often hugely pro-Israel. Ones at the other end of the spectrum might be a bit more constrained against anti-Israel activity if they had some Jewish friends outside of JVP. I know that the calls I made were received extremely gratefully. (I later learned that one pastor friend I called appeared on a radio station the next day, lamented that he had not heard from his white evangelical colleagues, but did hear from his rabbi friend. I didn’t call him to get that reaction. But it was nice to know that my reaching out was appreciated, and that tens of thousands found out about it.)

This is a time of opportunity – a teachable moment – for us to address a problem within our own ranks. I can’t prove it, but I believe that the Orthodox community as a whole is a good deal less racist than others. (Yes, there are important exceptions.) But it is not squeaky clean, and that costs us dearly, besides being just plain wrong. I would be surprised if anyone involved with Jewish outreach cannot relate a few choice stories about losing potential candidates for halachic observance because they were turned off by a racist remark at a Shabbos table. Not to mention ona’as ha-ger, and the hurt caused to black Jews by birth. We can do much better. The programming we do in our shuls in the coming weeks could include discussions of racism, and why it is wrong al pi Torah. If we reach even a few people, it will be worth it.


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56 Responses

  1. Joel Rich says:

    They are our fellow citizens, and neighborliness and prudence dictate that we ought to provide what they are looking for if we can, and if we want to keep any relationship with their communities.
    A lot of pragmatism in this piece but IMHO it needs a universalist element as well concerning the US (my former home that I am still proud of as a historical force for good in the world) orthodox community’s relationship to the broader US society. At some point we need to look at the “others'” POV and see how we reach a point of still being a nation – it’s not always about being “right” in a relationship (listen to all the shidduch advice programs)

  2. Gavriel M says:

    Now, you can argue all you want about whether those feelings are appropriate, deserved, exaggerated, self-inflicted – we’ve heard them all. That is all irrelevant. You don’t get far disagreeing with people’s feelings…

    Additionally, we don’t really have a choice.

    Imagine being the ‘man’ who wrote this and having to get up every morning and look at yourself in the mirror. Yes, the western world has lost the plot and is having a spasm of mass hysteria. You have to participate to stop the mob coming for you. Why bother with the rest of the article?

    • Bob Miller says:

      Persistently wrong feelings are a pandemic in themselves. Maybe the best idea goes like this:

    • lacosta says:

      recall , however , that a classic theme in haredi hashkafa , that denoted how to behave in Europe for 100’s of years , was to dance ‘mah yofis’ in front of the puritz i. e. putting on an act for the goyim , with ones true feelings suppressed of necessity . [ if i recall correctly r shach ztzl had what to say when Begin responded to US pressure by saying we don’t dance mah yofis anymore ]

      • Dovid says:

        “we don’t dance mah yofis anymore” Did the “we” include the residents of Yamit? Point being; galus is not limited to ‘Charedim’.

  3. Robert says:

    Until the statements about riots and looting are released we can print out the statements of virtue signaling and moral narcissism to use for literally papering over the graffiti and vandalism on the attacked synagogues.

  4. Bob Miller says:

    As a discerning people, we ought to make valid distinctions. Unjustified use of force by police must be prevented and, when it happens, punished appropriately. Justified use of force by police must be encouraged in situations that warrant it. Many Americans of all races have had grievances related to violence, whether by criminals or by police.

    Over the last 50 years, the grievances of African Americans against police have often been used as a pretext by radicals to advocate the crippling or elimination of effective law enforcement. Many people in government, media, and academia pander to such radicals, or even agree with them. There is also a culture of lawlessness among some segments of the African-American communities that the other segments seem unwilling or unable to correct. Among Muslims around the world, we often see the most radical holding the others hostage. When I see the likes of Al Sharpton or Keith Ellison or Louis Farrakhan come forward with great fanfare in tense situations to make them tenser, I know a similar problem exists here.

    Can we really tell Jews who’ve been beaten up on the street or know others who’ve been beaten, and have seen the perpetrators get off, to make do with platitudes? We ought to find ways to work with the many nonviolent African-Americans to clean up crime in their own neighborhoods. We ought to object strenuously to any attempts by anybody to further weaken law enforcement.

  5. lacosta says:

    1. Rabbi muskin in conversation with his colleague a pastor on the YICC facebook page, the pastor had the same remarks about the evangelicals . must be the same individual

    2.let us not forget the pogrom that the mob conducted last shabbat in LA . I don’t doubt if the shuls had opened, there would have been funerals , l’a . But this is part of the agenda of the far left . They don’t see a place for the Jude in the USA , and even less so in Palestine .

    3. we are also tempered by the sub religions in Judaism [ i e all the non-orthodox ] wherein the primary sacrament is Tikkun Olam . akin to Nach , which was made assur by maskilim and zionists , the average Yossi isn’t going to get involved here.

    4. the streams of racism inherent in orthodoxy [does it start from the theology of goyim having a different type of neshama ? ] are tempered by the fact that the impact of minority-on-Jew crime is the major interaction in frum neighborhoods….

    • nt says:

      Slow down with the pogrom talk. Don’t cheapen the term by using it so loosely. As far as I know, no Jews specifically were targeted. One non-Orthodox shul had anti-Israel slogans painted on, but that seemed to be it. The looting seemed to be more opportunistic than anything, although there were some Jewish stores looted.

      • Bob Miller says:

        You lack some important information on what went down in LA, and its background. Try this:

      • nt says:

        Bob Miller: Unlike the author of that article, I actually live in that very neighborhood. The shul in the picture is the one I referred to above. There was a ton of graffiti in the neighborhood, and a high concentration of shuls, so they were graffitied. The graffiti was gone the next day and so far so good. In the meanwhile, graffiti continues in other areas, according to the local Nextdoor. And Lacosta should know that a few shuls were open already, including ones that were graffitied.

        That being said it was a terrifying experience to go through, but aside from the one non-Orthodox shul, no Jews in particular were targeted, to my knowledge. Most of the rioters were interested in looting, not violence, at least in Los Angeles.

        There was a BLM protest in the same park a few years ago that was entirely peaceful. In fact, it was a model demonstration. This time, many white people in black bloc joined. I knew it would be a problem just because so many of the people walking to the protest looked like Antifa thugs. It was unfortunate that it was our neighborhood, but the location did not have to do with us.

        I like Dov Fisher and he has written great articles. I also agree that most systemic racism in America today is produced by the Left. But that does not excuse freaking people out by talking about non-existent pogroms.

      • nt says:

        Bob Miller: Unlike Dov Fisher, I actually live in that neighborhood. There was no pogrom. I repeat, there was no pogrom. He makes it sound like shuls were specifically targeted. That is false. The graffiti covered the entire neighborhood. Aside from the one non-Orthodox shul I mentioned, it was not anti-semitic graffiti. And lacosta should know that several shuls were open.

        In addition, a number of Jews were on the street and even went to see the protest. None were harmed. Many protesters passed by my block and we Yidden were out in Shabbos clothes. They ignored us.

        It was a scary experience, but as a citizen of L.A., not as a Jew specifically.

        I like Dov Fisher and agree with his broader points, but he should not have used the word pogrom. I will be dan lechaf z’chus that he was misled by media reports on websites that did not give the full picture.

  6. Reb Yid says:

    The author of this post claims that we cannot have anything to do with BLM.

    BLM is what the protests are about.

    If you do not support them, you are part of the problem.

    Here’s a Minneapolis rabbi who once had similar thoughts about BLM as the author of this post but after the past several weeks has changed his position:

    • Empathy for our black neighbors and friends is what our statements are about.

      If you support BLM, you try to replace racism towards black people with racism, incitement and hatred of Jews and law-enforcement personnel.

      We draw a line at supporting those who wish to destroy us. Those who don’t get it are not going to be around that long to continue to irritate us, because they will not have any Jewish grandchildren

      There will always be Jews ready to sacrifice the well-being of their own for some cause or other. In the Orthodox community, we will not find common cause with the BDS-supporting BLM (meaning the organization as reflected by it current leadership, not the better of its goals), JVP, etc.

      • Reb Yid says:

        Perfection is the enemy of the good.

        If you’re going to do a selective tzitzis check of every individual, God help us.

        You can’t say, “well, I’m just going to talk to a few conservative black folks” and think that this makes you yotze

        There are no “conservative” or “liberal” black folks on this issue. It’s W.E. DuBois and double consciousness. It’s all black people–none can escape it, no matter how much wealth they may earn. They’re not even safe inside their own homes.

        Black lives matter. Say it. Repeat it. Then embrace the cause that actually wants to do something about it. For all blacks. And really, for all humanity.

      • Reb Yid says:

        If you are truly serious about empathy from your black neighbors and friends:

        Have a discussion with them about their feelings and attitudes towards the current President.

        The right wing portion of the Orthodox community is just about the only segment of the entire Jewish community that supports him, and overwhelmingly so. Perhaps after serious discussions with your friends and neighbors, some of you might be willing to reexamine and reconsider your positions.

      • Yehoshua Duker says:

        I think a simple distinction must be made between “black lives matter” and “Black Lives Matter.” The former is a concept to which we can lend our full support, while the latter is a loosely organized group that has the deficiencies you speak of.

      • Well put, and agreed!

      • Gavriel M says:

        The basic principle of black lives matter (lower case) is that black lives are more in danger than others, and that the reason they are more in danger than others is white racism in general and police brutality in particular.

        But this is just objectively, provably false. An unarmed black man is slightly less likely to be killed by a policeman than be killed by lightning. The danger for black males who are not also criminals is almost nil. Meanwhile, the leading cause of death among black males is being killed by another black male. If it wasn’t for police, this danger would be increased tenfold. What we are witnessing is a simple case of mass hysteria, in which people are being told that they, or their sons, or their friends, are in literal mortal danger from police and, through their actions, are increasing the risk both in the short term (because of the looting) and in the long term (because of cuts to police departments) that more black people will die. On top of that, a very large minority are just having fun stealing and burning stuff, and another large minority wants a communist revolution. There is only one response a Jew, or any person with an ounce of dignity can have to all this, live not by lies.

      • Much of this comment follows from the first premise. Except that the first premise is no more true than saying that World War I was caused by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Sarajevo. We’re confusing catalyst with cause, at least for the many, many black Americans who were appalled by their moment of world empathy being pulled out from under their feet, and turned into what may be a net loss for them.

        Your mistake is a common enough one, because there are lots of people who DO speak that way. Especially spoiled white people living in gated communities. Plus the not-insignificant number of people who swallow the mantra that, as you correctly point out, is just not true.

        It is not the position, however, if black leaders and ordinary black citizens with whom I have spoken. Their position has more to do with the indignities visited upon them again and again, and that have gone on for generations. That has left them particularly sensitive to such indignities when visited upon them by people in uniform. It is not the occasional shooting of the unarmed, non-threatening black person by a white cop, but all the other associations. Anyone taking the trouble to speak with black friends will learn that when they speak of systemic racism, they don’t primarily mean covering up for the small number of bad cops out there.They mean the system whereby white American has learned how to keep the worst problems of inner city black American out of their living rooms, and the grievances of middle class blacks from being heard.

        A good place to go to hear a heartfelt presentation of what is on the minds of many black people is in this link to a recent Zoom meeting of Orthodox rabbis with Pastor Nicole Martin, who with her husband heads up an Israel-friendly black church near Baltimore.

      • StevevBrizel says:

        R Adlersteins response here is an excellent explanation why we should not ever consider bending the knee and supporting BLM or any other ideology As Torah committed Jews histachavayah and pishut Yadayim. Raglsyim is only permissible to HaShem. It never to an
        Individual or any other political ideology

        That being a given I am for all dialogue that is not predicated on any community asserting that it can only be viewed as an eternal victim with no individual or communal responsibility for the actions of its members I reject the notion that the US was built on slavery which is historically false and economically which was untrue even before the Civil War

        No one is condoning police brutality But the notion that life matters is a universal ethical concern that has taken a beating in American life whether at the dawn of s child’s formulation the dusk of an elderly persons struggles or when many of our peers or relatives are confronted with a deadly illness

      • Nice try; no cigar. Bad headline. Some undiscerning people call every rally in support of racial justice “Black Lives Matter.” Assuredly, the rally was in support of the idea that black lives matter, but not of Black Lives Matter. Yes, those who don’t know the difference – or more accurately, who know the difference, and don’t have an ounce of Jewish pride that they should care about it – will not have any Jewish grandchildren (unless they are fortunate enough to make it over to Israel before they are lost to assimilation.)

      • A in LA says:

        I’m a lower-case L libertarian in much of my political practice. I’m a believer in lower-case black lives mattering. I am a progressive but opposed to nearly everything self-proclaimed Progressives support.

        I vehemently oppose most organizations once they get big enough to warrant the attention of even a low level politician. (I’ve even got complaints with the SWC with it’s deeply tactically and strategically goal of censoring hate groups. Ridicule is orders of magnitude more effective than censorship has ever been. When even a certified liberal as Alan Dershowitz says he doesn’t fear the right… it’s the open campus antisemitism of the left, joined with its Orwellian methods, that catalyze the contagion of mobs.)

        Back to BLM… It is hard to get seized about the rhetoric of systemic bias and microaggressions about race, gender, sexual preference… whatever.

        Israel and Jews are always held to a standard of never exceeding “proportionality”. Let’s examine proportionality and the world’s selective application of it when Jews are involved.

        The sum of all the evil lynchings in the US for the last 200 years is in the neighborhood of 10,000. Want to round that up, fine, that’s roughly 1 per month, every month, for two centuries. Thanks to FDR, the US State Department, world indifference, 10,000 murders were exceeded on many single days at Auschwitz.

        “I can’t breathe” rallies on behalf of a felon catalyzing US riots… spare me.

        Tlaib, Omar, et al, — with the uncensored blessings of a party that since Carter’s midwifery of the Ayatollah Khomeini — has increasingly embraced unapologetic antisemites who wish that Zyklon B plans were completely successful. There’s an “I can’t breathe” rally that the world owes its victims.

        When were one of three African Americans systematically murdered over the course of a decade?

        Was American racism evil? Yes. Was it the worst evil meriting more protest and violence than other evils? Hardly. Every nation that doesn’t allow free emigration self-defines as a prison state. Every one of those deserves more attention today than the waning remnant of US bias.

        I grew up a civil rights-savvy kid.

        My grandmother’s brother brought MLK to San Fransisco long before Salem. My father’s first cousin was one of the Yiddish-speakers who helped to thwart FBI wiretapping and was one of the two contacts who were supposed to be contacted regularly by the 4 “Mississippi Burning” victims. I grew up on Phil Ochs songs and marching with Cesar Chavez against Gallo before I was old enough to know the names of pro baseball players. By the time I got to college (I was a year behind Obama at Columbia) I observed organizations began to drop their masks and show their Marxist anti-Americanism. The “US out of El Salvador” campus rallies were really “US out of North America” rallies. No hyperbole. All were deeply anti-Israel. Anyway… my experience has taught me that scratching the surface of nearly every movement which encourages marches exposes veins of antisemitism and totalitarianism.

        March alongside openly antisemitic thugs and you need to re-earn credibility. For starters.

        When a recent movie, Salem, can erase Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, we see evidence of a culture deeply bereft of gratitude. It is a culture (ok, an entire political party) that places violating the letter and spirit of the Tenth Commandment’s proscriptions on economic envy on a pedestal.

        But don’t get me started…

    • Reb Yid says:

      To Yehoshua Duker and the author of this post:

      “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

      Martin Luther King, Jr.

      • Raymond says:

        The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr would have vehemently opposed all the riots, looting, arson, murder, and other acts of violence being committed in the name of racism against Blacks. He would have been especially appalled at the attacks made against our shuls and Jewish businesses.

      • Yehoshua Duker says:

        To Reb Yid:
        You seem to be missing the point entirely. Dr. King was speaking of whites who wanted to dictate to blacks that they should slow things down in terms of racial equality, in the name of keeping order. That has nothing to do with whether or not, in addition to supporting racial equality, one is obligated to sign on the the ancillary positions of some organization that have nothing to do with the topic at hand.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Maybe you should go to LA and help clean up the damage in Fairfax and the desecration of shuls in Hancock Park which were defaced with Anti Semitic slogans

      No communal agency should be empowered to minimize such as getting in the way of discussing police brutality

    • Dovid says:

      “If you do not support them, you are part of the problem.”

      Moshe Deutsch, Mindy Ferencz, Yehosef Neumann and Yankel Rosenbaum are not available for comment.

  7. dr. bill says:

    I agree with issuing such statements, perhaps not mei’ikar ha’din but certainly mi’pnai darchai shalom, ve’hamaivin yavin. many in our society treat various minorities poorly either by reprehensible hatred or by unfortunately misdirected attempts at assistance.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Will statements actually keep people with agendas off our back? Darchei Shalom should be a two-way street.
      If the general society (if there now is one) perceives that we’ve thrown in with its enemies, that could have bad consequences.

      • dr. bill says:

        I am being rather circumspect; we are more worried about resulting behavior than attitude.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Dr. Bill, We’ve had bitter enemies who could be sweet-talked or bought off and others who were implacable.

  8. Robert Lebovits says:

    It is virtually obligatory for any organization that represents some segment of the Jewish community in this country to issue declarations of sympathy and sorrow for a tragedy in another minority community. We received much support from non-Jews when 11 Jews were murdered in Pittsburgh less than two years ago; reciprocity is appropriate.
    At the same time it is important to be clear what exactly we are offering and our goal in doing so. Are we affirming the views and agendas of those who identify this country as intrinsically racist and evil? Does our support include political activism to promote the aspirations of the groups leading the protests? Do we anticipate that our expressions of caring will put us in good graces with people of color?
    If any of those ideas attach to our statements of solidarity then they will do more harm than good.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Tragedies in the majority community should get our equal attention. Minorities as such aren’t better or worse than everybody else.

      As for the current furor, we should understand that leftists of all colors want our total subjugation to their ideology and action program, and nothing less will do. With those types, mere expressions of solidarity won’t achieve anything. Weak people around the US can make craven gestures of submission all they want, and those won’t count, either.

  9. Shades of Gray says:

    On the Agudah website, there is a video(“Agudath Israel of Florida Update: 6/5/20”) of Rabbi Moshe Matz of the Florida Agudah who spoke about his reaching out to Reverend H.K. Matthews, a 92 year old African-American civil rights icon who was a friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, in light of last week’s demonstrations in Miami. The Agudah had worked with him on other initiatives in the past such as regarding school choice, and he said Rev. Matthews was very appreciative of the current offer to speak about how to improve race relations in the country.

  10. StevevBrizel says:

    Let’s lookat it this way.No one in their right mind condones police brutality . Reasonable people should be able to have discussions about dysfunctional one parent families and millions of dollars poured into social services programs that have not alleviated poverty and why minorities commit violent crime in each other and whether you would prefer calling a police officer if your house was burglarized or a relative neighbor or friend was assaulted raped or murdered as oppposed to a social worker .One should be able to discuss the strong presence of anti Semitism and anti Israel rhetoric in the progressive left Dialogue is fine but no Torah committed Jew should ever bend a knee in public private or even
    intellectually for any ideology other than being Lifnei HaShem in RH andYK

    • Mycroft says:

      Our ideology is to be ovdei Hashem . We should identify as such neither as conservative, liberal, GOP,Denocratic,capitalist, socialist etc. we should follow in each case what we believe Torah demands of us. Of course, what Torah demands of us is based on following mesorah and trying to apply it to any current issue.
      Anti semitism should not be tolerated from any source left right or center.
      DPMoynihan had it correct about families. Of course, sadly rates of single parent have increased greatly since 1965. Of course, of interest there are clearly other factors in crime rates,rates of crime have not increased in recent evades as children born out of wedlock have increased

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft I highly recommend anything written. Y Heather MacDonald in inner city criminology and its sociological riots largely being in the one parent family

        We should be wary of articles written by MO millenials who claim not immodestly that by virtue of their age and self appointed stature that they are MO leaders of the future and that MO must support BLM via a perversion of Cherry picked Mareh Mkomos and Jewish musical groups composing videos that elevate the undeniably tragic death of Mr Floyd to the point where Mr Floyd and his life now appears to be a Tzadik when such were not the facts on the ground in the course of his documentsed troubled life

      • Bob Miller says:

        Moynihan saw the dismal future. How do we now help put the black family back together again after decades of government policy pushing it to extinction? Hardly any black members of Congress care to solve this problem.

  11. Steve Brizel says:

    Many of us have not had the benefit of Tefilah BTzibur or an in person fulfillment of such mitzvos as Talmud Torah or any of the mitzvos described in the Mishnah in Peah We have followed our Poskim and the dictates of the so called experts who as it increasingly becomes clear are working from highly dubious models of a dystopia nature and even highly respected journals that have become part of the TDS or China denial syndrome and we are now told that our constitutional rights of free exercise are of secondary importance to those who protest and riot via what can only be called Orwellian logic

    Look at Jewish history and you will see no shortage of political regimes whose chattering classes opposed tge observance of mitzvos on a wide range of health related pretexts which led to tragic consequences Greece Rome the RCC when its theology was clearly supercessionist the so called Enlightenment Nazism and Communism all sought to curtail and ban various aspects of Jewish life using various intellecual political and cultural arguments which culminated in Nazism and Communism We should be wary of bureaucrats acting as experts whose actions will only allow our shuls yeshivos and communities to reopen and operate on a minimal level with only junk science supporting their conclusions while allowing protests riots and other gatherings with no enforcement of social distancing rules by the state and its agents

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    As a corollary we have seen statements that rationalize the selective enforcement of social distancing against some and the relaxation of such standards against others Including the use of police to disperse children from a playground and the invasion of a Beis Medrash. Such statements if continued can be the basis of a strong argument that selective enforcement which is in fact and intent discriminatory against a small ethnic and religious community

  13. Raymond says:

    Since my own words are not being permitted here, I will let these Black women say what needs to be said on this subject:

  14. A in LA says:

    Dear Rabbi Adlerstein,

    Is it legitimate to feel conflicted about elevating George Floyd to martyr status? How does the woman feel, who when pregnant, had Floyd hold a gun to her belly during a 2007 home invasion with accomplices? (Floyd pled guilty in 2009 and served 5 years. He had 4 other convictions.) Do his other victims feel the “halo” over his portrait during his funeral is merited?

    Floyd didn’t deserve lethal force, but neither was he anywhere close to innocent. Injustices can even be perpetrated on bad people. (It’s quite possible that Klaus von Bulow was both guilty AND framed by Sunny’s children who were afraid there was insufficient evidence to convict.) And when ramped up by illegal drugs, the likelihood of extra force when confronting law enforcement is multiplied, as in the case of Rodney King. Typically undiscussed in the King matter was that his two passengers weren’t physically abused — it was not a cops-against-blacks matter, it was cops against someone on PCP physically resisting and aggressive. African Americans aren’t the only ones who give their children “the talk”. I instructed my children how to behave when interacting with law enforcement — the goal being that the officer goes home to tell his family “I pulled over the nicest person I ever met, today.” I’ve also demonstrated to my sons when I was pulled over by LAPD in Pico-Robertson when my license plate tags expired by having my driver’s window down and my hands placed at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel and statements like “Officer, my wallet is in my right rear pocket. I have a folding Swiss Army Knife in my right front pocket. I have pepper spray on my key chain. What would you like me to do?” The idea is ZERO surprises.

    Want to de-escalate any situation with law enforcement? Act passively and offer to make it easier to be handcuffed. Once the cop can rely on his own safety, then he can be more rational. Until then, he has a responsibility to his partner to be on hyper-alert and to his family to come home alive.

    I have no problems with stricter treatment of abusive police, just as I have no problems with exposing predators in the Orthodox community and public school teachers. I am averse to mobs, even when they seem to be on my side of an issue, and I am even more averse to anyone expecting me to join a rally. I am sickened and angered by any group which sweeps its shandas under the rug, police union, public teacher’s union or yeshiva.

    Forgive me for not being especially enthusiastic about statements from our mosdos. Until we are setting an example by policing our own rodefs, I don’t think we have much credibility. I also fear setting a terrible precedent where we put monsters on pedestals and don’t defend decent people from mobs, like the now-suspended UCLA professor whose students demanded different grading based on race.

    Alliance of any sort with individuals, groups and major political parties who embody opposition to and seek to legislate against the 10th Commandment’s proscription against economic envy cannot end up to our benefit.

    What we experienced last week was much closer to the guillotines of the French Revolution of state-imposed egalité than the American (medina shel chesed) Revolution which sought to defend individuals from the State.

    If one fears being perceived to be politically incorrect, that’s a metric that there may be something deeply wrong with the side exerting pressure on us to virtue-signal. Like Mordechai, we shouldn’t take a knee to appease anyone.

    Forgive my pseudonym. I still want to be able to work in this city and don’t want me and my family “cancelled”, which is the standard, not the exception, here within visual range of the HOLLYWOOD sign, in the People’s Republik of Pelosistan.

    • Raymond says:

      To A in LA, thank you so much for saying what so badly has needed to be said on this issue. I could not agree more with you. I feel so vindicated. You totally made my day. Thank G-d that there are still people out there who are both rational and have common sense. And that is about all I dare to say on the subject, as i do not want to be censored here.

  15. Raymond says:

    How sad and disappointing that political correctness has now successfully infected this supposedly Orthodox Jewish website.

    • Kalman C says:

      Oh my heavens Raymond, I have read through this website since its founding and never was I compelled to comment before. I must assume you are referring to the article because the comment section is no different from what it always has been.
      Who gave YOU the right to police the bounds of orthodoxy!

      This moderate, considered, piece that is part sincere declaration and part shtadlanus lemaan klal yisroel, that is so finely crafted and nuanced so as to mollify neither extreme, is “political correctness? What does that even mean? Is a willingness to regard others as tzelem elokims whose concerns are worthy of consideration if not agreement, an action that is rendered a-priori worthy of dismissal?

      The angry, talk-radio right, really needs to up its game. If you want to engage with progressives you must set aside the notion that civility and politeness is a sign of mealy-mouthed surrender. I suggest that the large tzibbur of Jews who follow talk radio, remember that one can stand athwart the progressive tide of history while adhering to the Torah of deracheha darchei noam.

      • Bob Miller says:

        It takes two to tango. Orthodox Jews share some common language with responsible, more traditional black church leaders and their followers. They deserve heart-to-heart discussions about what can be done to improve life for them and for us. Some other black leaders or would-be leaders and their followers have a radical approach and nothing other than our surrender, if that, could please them. We see more of the latter type every decade, which should worry you.

  16. Steve Brizel says:

    Evidently the right to protest and riot as well as to party without social distancing is more important than free exercise of religion and to send kids to summer camps pursuant to a plan vetted by epidemiologists The response of “Let them be creative” of Prince Andrew is IMO patronizing condescending reeks of old anti Semitic rhetoric and fails to comprehend why Torah observant parents send their kids which is the means by which What they learn a classroom becomes a reality and a major venue where future Bnei and Bnos Torah emerge from as well

    Padlocking city parks but allowing partying protests and riots is IMO a constitutionally impermissible selective enforcement and elevation of one set of free expression over another It is a sad and very disturbing day when 1984 style logic is running the State and City of New York

  17. Steve Brizel says:

    To A in LA it painfully obvious that corporate America and much of the Democratic Party is paying financial and other forms of blackmail to those who claim with no factual or historical evidence other than their own rhetoric that America is allegedly and purportedly systemically racist and is engaged in a massive exercise of bending the knee The alternatives for those who disagree with such a posture is to ignore the mainstream media and recognize once and for all that the once great universities and even scientific research as well as many who claim to be experts in public health have lost a great deal if not all of their claim to objective expertise in these issues as NYC proceeds towards Phases 2 and beyond we should be pressing the issue of when our mosdos and way of life will be resume in full throttle One thing is for -sure outdoor minyanim cannot work in the fall and winter and learning by remote for children in any educational setting is no substitute for going to school The arrogant answer of “Let them
    be creative”should be seen and rejected as a disdain for the spiritual and educational autonomy of the Torah observant world

    • Bob Miller says:

      Steve, many executives at large corporations have progressed (really, regressed) and now buy the PC line on principle. This is what decades of leftist education and media exposure have already accomplished. The same dynamic affects the Democrats as a group, and many Republicans. And many large foundations funded by the wealthy support the most radical causes.

      The days when they all did strange, socially dangerous things only because of outside pressure are behind us. For how long will they “permit” Orthodox Jews to teach and live Torah our way?

  18. Bob Miller says:

    New info on LA anti-Jewish riots by a BLM group led by a Farrakhan supporter:

    It’s getting harder and harder to explain this stuff away, however much our established organizations are inclined to do that.

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