Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Va'ad HaTznius in Lakewood?

Yeshiva World is reporting that there were two meetings in Lakewood this past week concering the current state of tznius in the Lakewood (and, presumably, the greater Jewish world). Among the speakers were such luminaries as R. Mattisyahu Solomon, R. Shmuel Kamenetzky, R. Malkiel Kotler and R. Ephraim Wachsman. There are links to the audio on the YWN site, but, for whatever reason, I have not been able to get the links to work properly. As such, I don't know directly what was said, but can only go by second hand reports. However, it seems that at least one person broached the idea of setting up a Va'ad Hatznius in Lakewood.

Now, let me state up front that I don't live in Lakewood, so I don't have a particular dog in this fight, so to speak. However, the whole notion of setting up such a council here in the United States is troubling to say the least. Nonetheless, let's say for the sake of argument that this is something that is actually going to happen. I think, however, that there are several important questions that must be addressed in public before setting up such a Va'ad.

Among them are the following:

1. Who will be on the Va'ad Hatznius. Specifically, it's fine and well for R. Solomon, R. Kotler et al to call for the formation of them, but are they going to be involved in a day-to-day basis? Or is the leadership of this going to fall into the hands of lay-people? The reason I ask is that while I might trust R. Solomon with decisions on how to handle recalcitrant people, I'm also certain we all know people who would go beyond the bounds of what we consider normal in dealing with people. Considering that this type of an organization is one that, by its very nature, would attract those who seek to simply control other people's lives, what controls are going to be in place to make sure that it's led and operated by people who are *truly* acting l'shem shamayim and not simply on a power trip?

2. What powers, specifically, will the Va'ad have? Will they have the ability to expel people's kids from school? Refuse them entrance into the shul? Demand that they sell their homes and move out of the neighborhood? Slash their tires? In short, what is the prescribed method for dealing with people who cannot/will not dress in a tznius fashion in the neighborhood? What are the grounds for appeal (if any). What does it take to get back into the good graces of the Va'ad?

3. Will there be a mechanism in place to deal with people who take things too far. If one person throws acid at someone whom they deem to be dressed in an untznius fashion will there be a mechanism for punishing that person and making sure they don't do it again? In short, how do you prevent vigilante action by rogue members (or rogue former members) of the Va'ad?

4. Will there be a mechanism for the community's voice to be heard? It's all fine and well to say "it's up to the gedolim..." but I don't think that will fly well - even in Lakewood. If people start becoming concerned with the way the Va'ad is operating (for whatever reason), will they have a voice in rectifying the problem, or will they be shut out and subject to a "if you don't like it, move" attitude?

5. How do you prevent people from spying on one another to turn in people whom they have a grudge against? If I have an argument with my neighbor, I don't want to have to worry about the Va'ad showing up the next day because he claims that he saw something not tznius (real or fabricated). In other words, how do you substantiate claims, who has the right to make a claim and under what circumstances can claims be made?

6. Whose standards of tznius will be used? For some women, walking around with bare feet is not a problem. For others, feet must always be covered. In some groups, a married woman must always wear a sheitel... others hold a sheitel is, in itself, untznius. In some communities, the color red is verbotten, in others it is not (unless it is intentionally loud). In other words, whose standards are going to be used? Will it automatically be the most machmir standard? And what if someone doesn't want to adhere to that standard, but to a standard which is halachically acceptable, but not up to the "community standards?"

7. What expectations of privacy can a person have? In the YWN thread, one poster tells of an incident in his own personal private back yard where someone commented that his wife was not tznius enough in her own private backyard. Is that private enough? Can a woman walk around bareheaded in her own backyard if she has a reasonable expectation of privacy there (i.e. that no one will come in and see her?). What about in one's home? Or do I have to worry that the Va'ad will take action against me if my wife dares to take off her sheitel in her own home amongst her family? In short, in what places/circumstances will a claim be automatically disregarded?

These are only some of the questions that I think must be fully answered. Unfortuantely, I don't think that it is possible to run such an organization here in the United States. I think that there is too much potential for abuse in such an organization. As always, I think that the best way to advance the cause of tznius is to show the beauty of the mitzvah and not to ostracize people.

The Wolf

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

The easy way is to send the gedolim to saudi arabia and have them learn from the Committee on public morals, or whatever the Wahabi enforcers call themselves.

BrooklynWolf said...

Let's try to keep the gedolim-bashing to a minimum, please. I'm fairly certain that they have have the best of intentions. My concern, with this post, is the practical implementation.

The Wolf

PsychoToddler said...

Unfortuantely, I don't think that it is possible to run such an organization here in the United States.

Afghanistan would be a good place for it. Honestly, I find this very disturbing.

-suitepotato- said...

If the community need to go around keeping other people conscious of their rules, then their mission has already failed for if the rules and the sanctity of the community were correct to begin with, there would be no need to be their keeper.

Moreover, if the rules were proper and holy, then they'd not need being enforced by a Va'ad HaTznius.

Further, it is the height of assumption and presumption to attempt to enforce the views and rules of anything less than a supermajority, and do so in violation of existing community standards and local, state, and national laws and standards.

We're talking Lakewood, not a small hidden village of Amish settlers where 99% of everyone does the same thing. If they want to make their own private community, let them.

Even in Israel the slide of some communities which are not and never started as majority frum towards being entirely beholden to the most conservative standards possible at the whimsy of those doling them out is not working out right.

Joseph said...

Wolf,

Obviously R. Mattisyahu Solomon, R. Shmuel Kamenetzky, R. Malkiel Kotler and R. Ephraim Wachsman disagree with you. Given the choice of choosing between R. Mattisyahu Solomon, R. Shmuel Kamenetzky, R. Malkiel Kotler and R. Ephraim Wachsman on one side of the argument, and "The Wolf" on the other, my choice is clear.

If you have any concerns with the ideas R. Mattisyahu Solomon, R. Shmuel Kamenetzky, R. Malkiel Kotler and R. Ephraim Wachsman presented, my suggestion is to address them with R. Mattisyahu Solomon, R. Shmuel Kamenetzky, R. Malkiel Kotler and R. Ephraim Wachsman.

G said...

Color me impressed, you actually shut down a Yeshiva World comment thread.

How do I go about getting your autograph?

Baruch Horowitz said...

One could distiguish between a Vaad functioning appropriately, and between hotheads who go further than the Vaad, and are condemned by that Vaad. If the Lakewood community wants to have a Vaad, then people there agree to live by it's standards. In a democratic society, there is nothing wrong with choosing to live by that system of community control.

The only point I would add is that there needs to be checks and balances for the Vaad, and in other Charedi communities, a Vaad probably would not work out well.

Here is a quote from a NYT article from a member of the Kiryas Yoel Vaad Hatzniyus:

“If we find they have a TV or a married woman won’t wear a wig, we will invite them to speak with us and try to convince them it’s unacceptable, or next year we will not accept their children into the school system,” said David Ekstein, the vice president of the village’s leading congregation, Yetev Lev, and one of eight men who make up the committee, hand-picked by Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, the town’s spiritual leader.

Mr. Ekstein, 62, the president of an insurance company, said that the committee was widely respected for its role in protecting the community, especially children. “There has to be some kind of watchdog,” he said. “But do we have any real power? We’re not a government.”

Baruch Horowitz

Yitzy said...

I don't believe it is happening. At the women's asifa which was more pratical based it was not mentioned at all.

G said...

At the women's asifa which was more pratical based it was not mentioned at all.

--shocker

BrooklynWolf said...

Joseph,

So you said in the YWN thread (I'm assuming you're the same Joseph... if not, my apologies).

I'm not asking you to choose between me and the Roshei Yeshiva of Lakewood. All I'm doing is bringing up legitimate questions about how this would be implemented. And yes, you've advised me to ask them directly, but you know what? Somehow I don't think that they're going to take questions directly from me.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

One could distiguish between a Vaad functioning appropriately, and between hotheads who go further than the Vaad, and are condemned by that Vaad. If the Lakewood community wants to have a Vaad, then people there agree to live by it's standards. In a democratic society, there is nothing wrong with choosing to live by that system of community control.

Baruch,

In theory, I agree with you. I'm just concerned about how the former can very easily (IMHO) turn into the latter.

The Wolf

Joseph said...

Wolf,

"And yes, you've advised me to ask them directly, but you know what? Somehow I don't think that they're going to take questions directly from me."

I'll bet you $100 you are wrong. These leaders are eminently communicable. Why not give it a try (and not give up if they are busy, as they are wont to be), instead of making presumptions?

BrooklynWolf said...

I'll bet you $100 you are wrong. These leaders are eminently communicable.

Well, I'm afraid I'll have to admit defeat here, but simply because I'm not a gambling person. The only gambling I do is the occasional $1 lotto ticket (and that's not really because I expect to win... the $1 is the cost of my fantasy... but that's another topic for another time).

As to whether they're actually communicable or not, I really have no idea. Nonetheless, I see no harm in asking legitimate questions in a public forum about how a public Va'ad is going to be run.

The Wolf

Joseph said...

So make it $1! I'm sure you understand my point is rhetorical. Why not pick up the phone and find out if they're communicable? You stated a presumption above that they are not. Would you not agree that is a more effective method of addressing your concerns than on an anonymous blog?

triLcat said...

"Unfortunately, I don't think that it is possible to run such an organization here in the United States."

Having heard of some of the horrors wreaked on people in Bnei Brak and other charedi communities in Israel, I can only say that you're absolutely wrong - it's not that it's impossible to run it in the US - it's that they shouldn't be run at all.

It reminds me of a comment made about the principal of my high school when he commented about the length of a girl's skirt. "What's he doing looking at a girl's legs to begin with?!"

We've totally gone off the deep end with this Tzniut issue. If every Jew focuses on how s/he and his/her family can improve instead of on enforcing minhagim on others (yes, most of the "laws of tzniut" are minhagim), then we will be much closer to hashem as a nation.

The Hedyot said...

I must confess, the fact that you see nothing wrong with the idea in itself, and only in how it can be successfully implemented, is very disturbing to me.

BrooklynWolf said...

In theory, hedyot.

In theory, communism works too. The reality, however, is that it doesn't take human nature into account. The same thing applies here too.

BrooklynWolf said...

Joseph,

You may have a point. However, I still choose to keep my post, if only because these are questions that other people should consider as well.

The Wolf

Lion of Zion said...
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Lion of Zion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lion of Zion said...

WOLF:

"Now, let me state up front that I don't live in Lakewood, so I don't have a particular dog in this fight"

yes you do have a stake in this. what happens in lakewood will eventually make its way to flatbush.


"However, the whole notion of setting up such a council here in the United States is troubling to say the least."

the whole notion of setting up such a council ANYWHERE is troubling to say the least.


Why I Care About Lakewood


"Nonetheless, let's say for the sake of argument that this is something that is actually going to happen. I think, however, that there are several important questions that must be addressed in public before setting up such a Va'ad."

ditto to hedyot above. you've just thrown in the towel. throw away your jeans.

Lion of Zion said...

YITZY:

"I don't believe it is happening. At the women's asifa which was more pratical based it was not mentioned at all."

why, in israel וועדי צניעות are established as women's initiatives?

BARUCH HOROWITZ:


"If the Lakewood community wants to have a Vaad, then people there agree to live by it's standards. In a democratic society, there is nothing wrong with choosing to live by that system of community control."

please don't talk about this vaad in the context of democratic society (at least as it is conceived in america, for here i will admit that there is a difference between america and israel). there is nothing democratic about it.

The Hedyot said...

So you're saying that "in theory," if done "properly," you have no problem with this idea?

Baruch Horowitz said...

Lion of Zion,

"Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

You are correct that a Torah society is not a democracy and does not derive it's legitimacy from the people, but there is an element of choice in choosing to live in a *particular* Torah community. If someone chooses to live in Lakewood, it can be said that they are consenting to follow its rules.

Mellie said...

I've never commented here (or any blog, for that matter), though I read this blog frequently.
But I just HAD to add my two cents.
Several thoughts came to mind, as I have a very close friend who lives in Lakewood, and my husband and I visit her there often. So I'm sort of familiar with the community to some extent. We are modern O Jews from Baltimore, but on the stricter end, if you know what I mean...centrist frum Jews, I guess.
What I was wondering was the following...it's really a single concern, come to think of it:
I don't follow the LOL fashion 'trends' of females in Lakewood myself...I wear colorful clothing, including red--gasp, and wear sandals w/o socks in the summer. I see that the women there primarily wear black. As I was reading this, I realized that VISITORS, friends and relatives, of Lakewood frummies don't necessarily follow the same standards. My friend has relatives who are not frum and another close friend who also is not. We all visit her, especially for simchas.
Would these standards apply to VISITORS? And would Lakewood Jews be chastised for having relationships with their friends and relatives who don't follow Lakewood tznius standards?
And what of, say, baale tchuva? I am one, and I know that I didn't SUDDENLY overnight wear long skirts. It was a gradual process. So, is the implication that there can be no BTs in Lakewood ever? How would one invite a potential frummie over if they don't adhere to the strict standards from the get go?
Another thing...Lakewood is not composed of all frum Jews, and not all are chareidim. I go on a parenting site on the net where there is a modern O woman who lives there. I think she sends her kids to school in Highland Park, if I'm not mistaken. Is this new proposed Vaad Hatnzius going to have 'coverage' over EVERY Jew who lives in Lakewood? Oh, and I have seen Reformed temples there, too...I think...I don't think they were Conservative. The point is, that not all Jews who live there are the same.
Oh, I also tried the link on Yeshiva World and couldn't get it to work.
I'm interested to see responses to my post and concerns. Thank you, Mellie

G said...

Okay,

I'll play this game.

Does anybody know a way to get ahold of either phone numbers or preferably addresses for the Rabbanim mentioned in the post?

I tried internet searches like whitepages.com and came up empty, is anybody in possesion of local phonebooks or know where to obtain this info?

ProfK said...

Thank you Mellie for vocalizing some of my concerns. If Lakewood were like Kiryas Yoel, a closed community into which you cannot move unless you are like all the other residents, then a Vaad Ha'tsnius would be just another local community committee. But as Mellie pointed out, all the residents of Lakewood are not identical in practices and hashkafah, nor do they limit their personal contacts to only those people identical to them in practice and hashkafah.

In addition, there are non frum Jews and non Jews living in Lakewood. How would a roving Vaad member recognize which of the people on the street that he sees belong to the religious group that believes in the Vaad and could be held responsible for "obeying" a particular set of tsnius regulations? Two scenarios come to mind, and neither is pleasant. One way to recognize who would be covered by the Vaad would be for those people to wear identifying emblems of a sort. This kind of turns my stomache as it brings to mind the Jews of Europe who were forced to wear yellow stars to identify them as Jews. The second scenario is the one that plays out in Beit Shemesh B today--anyone entering into the physical boundaries of the community who does not adhere to the standards the Vaad considers correct becomes fair game for hooliganism of the worst kind--beatings, stonings etc.

There is not one Vaad Ha'kashrut in the tri-state area; there are many. They disagree sometimes on what constitutes kashrut in the n-th degree. But people are free to follow the recommendations of whichever Vaad they choose to. To my knowledge no one has ever asked parents which hechsherim they use on which products as a requirement for entrance into a school. There is no uber-Vaad that goes into people's homes and checks out the contents of their pantries and refridgerators. There is no Vaad that roams the aisles of stores spying on what people are buying to eat. Why would we need to have tsnius suddenly become something that can't be trusted to the individual?

Lion of Zion said...

MELLIE:

"So, is the implication that there can be no BTs in Lakewood ever?"

are there open BTs there today?

ProfK:

i also thought about a vaad hakashruth or an assortment of other potential vaads. why focus on tzeniut? because it is something that it is easy to identify. to be cynical (i'll step out of character), this affects women, who are the least empowered in the community to fight these types of proposals. but also, supporters would argue that kashruth is personal; dressing untzniustically, on the other hand, can cause others to be nichshol.

how does kiryas joel keep out outsiders?

ProfK said...

Wolf, unless something has changed that I don't know about Kiryas Yoel is a proprietary community--you cannot buy a home there if you do not meet the community's normative standards. There are no MO shuls in KJ. They are like one big bungalow colony--the managers and "owners" of the colony choose to rent only to a homogenous group of people. In that way they keep out "outsiders."

I don't know what, if any, rules they have about outside visitors but I would imagine that there are some.

Joseph said...

G (SerandEz):

If you can't find a direct listing for their residence, look up the # for their Yeshiva and ask the office how to reach them.

Criticalmass said...

I think Wolf's comments and queries on such a Vaad were excellent and on point. And I agree that the Gedolim have the best of intentions when they begin to involve themselves in matters such as these.

That is the beginning and end of my optimism. A Vaad Tznius would be a horrible idea in its implementation for every reason Wolf mentioned and more. Bottom line is what good will come out of it? My decision to embrace matters relating to tznius are mine alone; my decision to "upgrade" my practice of the laws relating to them is again, MINE ALONE. Any outside review of my daily activities, how I conduct myself, what members of my family follow and what they do not is simply nobodies business.

There a lot of nutty people in the frum world who have a very difficult time being normal and productive because they are driven toward fanaticism. It may be internal, as a self motivated aspect of their psyche that craves acceptance by the larger community, or it may also be due to a tightening of standards within the orthodox community that is derived from an ever creeping shift to the right. Since I became religious 25 years ago, the standards of acceptance have become greatly narrowed, and the levels of intolerance toward fellow yidden has risen exponentially.

Will such a Vaad foster more ahavas Yisroel? Will it increase a persons ability to integrate his or her Yiddishkeit with their concomitant involvement in the secular world? Hell NO! All it will do is cause personal stress, cause more problems with Shalom Bayis, and provide yet another yardstick by which to be judgmental of others along with making many people more nuts than they already are. Despite everyone's "good intentions"- remember that such sentiments can be the pavement on the road to hell.

I hope the gedolim along with the plonim who believe in a Vaad such as this realize that nothing comes without consequences; there is no zero sum event that has no side effects attached to it. Many many Jews are leaving Yiddishkeit- they go off the derech and stay off the derech. In all my reading on this subject: Jews who simply opt out of orthodoxy- the most common reason they provide for leaving a frum lifestyle and becoming secular is receiving criticism for asking complex questions and having extreme standards imposed on them that simply cannot handle. So they become a statistic and leave Yiddishkeit forever.

And whenever police organizations like a Vaad Tznius are actually implemented, the casualties will again begin to mount.

qsman said...

Hmm. Joseph, help us out here with the numbers please?

Wolf, go for it. What will happen is, as it happens with any new initiative, betcha you'll be asked to run it since you have ALL the questions!!

G said...

fair enough, it's worth a shot to start.

Please correct me if I am wrong as far as which Yeshiva to contact for each Rav:

R' Solomon - Beis Medrash Gavoah
R' Kamenetzky - Philadelphia
R' Kotler - Beis Medrash Gavoah
R' Wachsman - **no idea...anybody?**

Joseph said...

R' Wachsman, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas “Meor Yitzchok” in Monsey. (Thanks to a Google search for that.)

You'll probably have to be patient and persistent to reach them, as surely their all very busy. Imagine trying to reach a CEO (Good luck trying to reach the CEO of ConEd, let alone Google or ExxonMobil.) They're probably busier than a CEO, yet infinitely more reachable. Obviously it'll be necessary to extend to them the full decorum of respect for a Rosh Yeshiva (even though themselves they don't insist upon it.)

Please report back your findings.

thanbo said...

Lakewood is not 100% Orthodox. There are non-Orthodox Jews, and many non-Jews, in the town of Lakewood. Why, when I went to an SCA event in Lakewood, we drove past a C shul, Kehillat Shmuel v'Dov, which we called Sam & Dave's Shul.

There's also a Catholic women's college in the town, Georgian Court; my wife took special-ed certification classes there, in the late 1980s, and it's RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE YESHIVA, says she.

Is the Tznius Committee going to spray ink on the Catholic girls if they don't dress tzniusly?

G said...

Thanks for the info.

I am going to try and get addresses as that is a better way to ensure receipt to some degree.

Fear not, I do not intend do acost them in writing or any other manner:) I spent many years in a fine makom torah and would not think of treating these individuals with anything but personal respect.

First things first is to get some contact info...looks like i have a project for next week.

Thanks to a Google search for that
--really? i put in his name and couldn't find a definitive mention of a yeshiva, thanks again.

Joseph said...

I had to dig thru a bunch of Google entries till I found a mention. :-)

You plan on making contact via writing?

G said...

Yes, letter.

Anonymous said...

R' Shmuel Kaminetsky is extremely accessable. His phone number is as well. Just search for Samuel Kamenetsky in Philadelphia.

In the summer, as well as the rest of the year, he's not always home, or the line is busy, but there is no gatekeeper. He answers the phone himself.

So all those with questions, put up or shut up.

Joseph said...

Its also worthwhile pointing out that R' Shmuel (I believe) is who proposed the Vaad. So the questions may be best addressed by him.

Anonymous said...

Its also worthwhile pointing out that R' Shmuel (I believe) is who proposed the Vaad.

-----------------------------------
It was R' Shmuel.

G said...

joseph,
good to know.
--------------

So all those with questions, put up or shut up.

My dear anon, that is exactly what we are endevoring to do...if only you would put down your chew toy and read through the comments to this point that would be plainly obvious.

Now go burn off you vitriol somewhere else, adults are talking.

Anonymous said...

My dear G, it isn't the supposed vitriol, it's being called on the mat that has your dander up.

You first expressed the supposed willingness to contact a Rosh Yeshiva on the 30'th. It is now the first of August. You couldn't find any telephone numbers in the ensuing days? Just now, in less then three minutes, using Whitepages I was able to pull up R' Kotler's telephone number. Try Kotler in Lakewood NJ. See which ones have his initials. This is besides R' Shmuel's, which as I posted above, is just as accesible. If anything, your parents should remove the rattle from your fingers, it seems that it's impeding your, oh so very concerted, search for those elusive numbers.

It's clear that you talk the talk, but refuse to walk the walk. It's easier that way, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Dear G,

If I'm mistaken and you sincerely are interested, please accept my apologies. You can contact me at GedolimContactInfo@gmail.com for the next couple of days and I will be glad to give you all the contact info you need.

Good Shabbos.

G said...

Learn to read.

>You plan on making contact via writing?

>>Yes, letter.

forgive me if i take more than 24 hrs to accomplish this earth shattering assignment but i do have other things that take slight precedence. If you are still in doubt as to nature of my intentions you can contact Mr. Wolf directly and ask him if i have requested permission to use this post as the basis for a letter...not exactly something someone who was only interested in talking would do, now is it?

as for your "apology"...jumping to conclusions and casting aspersions only to then extend apologies soon thereafter as apposed to actually putting some thought into what might be the other's position and that you might actually be wrong does not count for much in my book, but i can understand how you would think it would - it's so much easier that way, isn't it

Anonymous said...

My dear G,

Once again, the shoe is on the other foot. I clearly wrote "I will be glad to give you all the contact info". Contact info includes addresses as well.

Before I graciously bow out of this thread (which seems to me to have degenerated into personal attacks, something that I plead guilty to as well and apologised for) I want to make clear that I stand by what I posted above. It's been a couple of days since a willingness was expressed but nothing concrete was done. People have posted explicit methods of obtaining the contact information sought, to no avail. The offer was upped to give it via email, Shulchan Aruch (on a silver platter is the English expression). It is now August 4 and no one responded.

It's easy to talk the talk but much harder (in this case, it appears, too hard for the personalities involved) to walk the walk.

Kol Tuv and Hatzlacha.

G said...

"I will be glad to give you all the contact info". Contact info includes addresses as well.

Thank you for clarifying that point, in the original comment you only made mention of phone number.

People have posted explicit methods of obtaining the contact information sought, to no avail.

There's that conclusion jumping again...you have no way of knowing what has been done or what information has been obtained.

--again i will repeat that this entire process is not at the top of my "to do right away" list, it will get accomplished in an orderly and timely fashion...i'm sorry if that speed does not meet with your time-table.

aaron from L.A. said...

And we also need a va'ad to check up on every other va'ad .Perhaps an exploratory va'ad can be set up to find out if such a va'ad is feasible.Of course,we would need another va'ad to pick the members of the exploratory va'ad.I must go now.I'm on the va'ad of the ad hoc committee to ban ad hoc committees.

Anonymous said...

Criticalmass said:
"Many many Jews are leaving Yiddishkeit- they go off the derech and stay off the derech. In all my reading on this subject: Jews who simply opt out of orthodoxy- the most common reason they provide for leaving a frum lifestyle and becoming secular is receiving criticism for asking complex questions and having extreme standards imposed on them that simply cannot handle. So they become a statistic and leave Yiddishkeit forever."

That is exactly why I, a jewish woman, left. Reading about this nonsense makes me feel GREAT about my decision. Perhaps this is what needs to be addressed. It is sad that little has changed in the community and seems to grow worse. Let's leave the final judgements to Hashem, not these "Va'ads". To put it in a secular way, who the hell do they think they are?

yosif said...

The Reform and Conservative feel the same way as you.

BeitarMan said...

I am not a blogger, but have recently gotten involved in the situation with the Vaad Ha'Ichlus / Vaad Hatznius in Beitar where i live. Perhaps you have heard of the incident in which a 13 year old girl had acid thrown in her face, which nearly missed blinding her for life. I know her family and decided to write about it on a blog so as to get the real story out. I just discovered this post about Lakewood and found Wolf's analysis right on target, based on my real life experiences and knowledge here. Please check out what i have written about this at:

http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2008/07/acid-attack-on-14year-old-girl-in.html

http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2008/08/big-brother-in-beitar.html

read all the posts on Beitar, 1-4.

trust me, whatever is public is only the tip of the iceberg.

i have also considered contacting gedolim in america, but i am not sure the best way to approach it.

i have thought of trying to get a vaad hakannaus formed, one that deals with and respnds to acts of vigilantism and other acts of renegade "kannaim", with clear practical guidelines and implementations of how to prevent and deal with these occurrences. again, Wolf, your analysis is very very important and realistic. basically everything you mentioned
is an existent problem with the setup here, though the corrupt deals between police and the Vaad here probably didnt cross your mind as an issue in America...?

Joseph said...

beitarman,

Contacting the Gedolim is not as hard as you may imagine. Most of the Gedolim are actually listed in the phonebook. Many of them pick up their own phones. Considering how busy they are, you may have imagined it was like trying to reach President Bush. But it ain't so.

Regarding the acid incident, obviously whoever did it is a fringe lunatic and should be prosecuted. That being said, it should be recognized as such. Fringe. It is lunacy and thankfully almost unheard of. It is no reflection on anyone (the Vaad's, etc.) other than the criminal who committed it.

Anonymous said...

Joseph said:
"Regarding the acid incident, obviously whoever did it is a fringe lunatic and should be prosecuted. That being said, it should be recognized as such. Fringe. It is lunacy and thankfully almost unheard of. It is no reflection on anyone (the Vaad's, etc.) other than the criminal who committed it."

Sorry Joseph, rethink that if you don't think that the ultra-religious aren't fanatical and operating on the fringe.

Joseph said...

"rethink that if you don't think that the ultra-religious aren't fanatical and operating on the fringe."

I think purveyors of that attitude are fanatical.

123 123 said...

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Anonymous said...

As someone who has had dealings with the Vaad, I can testify that #1: they are laypeople with power trips and limited understanding of people, and #2: it's NOT easy to get in their good graces once you're in their sights. Based on a prior history from which I had recovered, using entrapment and outright lies they pursued me, involved me and then "caught" me in a compromised tznius situation. They imposed on me a random treatment plan under their own therapist, which turned out to be a colossal waste of time and money. The therapist was a novice being supervised by someone who showed himself to be aligned with the Vaad rather than with the client's healing in mind. The treatment goals were established in sync with the Vaad's misdiagnosis of the issue, rather than based on the true diagnosis of a mental health professional. After nearly a year of treatment the therapist still couldn't help me re-ingratiate myself with the Vaad. I've been living with tremendous anger toward the rabbonim who have supported these horrible mafiosos, and my general frumkeit has gone down significantly since these gangsters have infiltrated my life. I know my comment will invite all sorts of judgments, but know that until this incident I was very involved in learning, and my activities were 95pct leshem shamayim and 5pct tayvah. Now I barely care about much to do with Yiddishkeit. I'm doing whatever I still do by rote. Rabbonim have become untrustworthy to me, and the people in Lakewood's Vaad hatznius are to me the scum of the earth. If they hadn't shown strong-arm tactics and really tried to help I might still be the frum yungerman I once was.