Friday, February 27, 2009

But There Is No Joy In Askanville, For the Mighty Banners Have Struck Out!

I'm sure that most of you remember the debacle that occurred last year concerning Lipa Schmeltzer's "Big Event" concert. For the few that don't remember, or are new here, I'll quickly recap:

Lipa Schmeltzer arranged to have a concert in Madison Square Garden in New York last March. Most (all?) of the profits were going to go to a tzedaka organization in Israel that (IIRC) helps orphans in Eretz Yisroel.

Some askanim who, it seems, have it in personally for Lipa, went around to several of the gedolim and lied about his concert. They reportedly told the gedolim that there was going to be mixed dancing (lie: there was even separate seating!) and who knows what would go on. This was all done less than a month before concert. The gedolim, upon hearing this, signed a ban on the concert without trying to ascertain for themselves if the information they were being given was truthful, without reaching out to Lipa to get his side of the story or without even consulting with one another. In short, 33 signatures were obtained and the ban was published. In the end, Lipa had to cancel the concert. Since this happened right before the concert was to occur, there were a great losses to Lipa and his partners -- not to mention the fact that the tzedaka organization in Eretz Yisroel lost out. To my knowledge (and I may be wrong), Lipa and his partners have not been reimbursed for their losses.

In the end, R. Shmuel Kamenetzky, one of the signers of the ban, to his credit, admitted that proper procedures were not followed and that the ban last year was a mistake.

Well, Lipa decided to hold another concert this year. As was the case with last year's concert, the date of the concert was well-known long in advance. And, sure enough, the banners tried it again this year. However, this year, they failed. Miserably.

The askanim managed to get some signatures for a ban, but by the time they got their act together, it was far too late -- the concert was pretty much sold out, some of the original banners refused to sign and it seems like no one is going to listen to the banners. Once again the banners decided to try to have the concert cancelled at the last minute, but this time, thank goodness they failed.

There's a particular aspect of this that bothers me - and it's not the ban itself. I personally don't listen to Lipa's music, so I can't honestly and in good conciense say that it's good or bad for Jews to listen to. So, if you feel that the music is spiritually harmful, then by all means say something -- that's your right. What bothers me the most about this whole ugly affair is the way the ban was carried out last year and the way it was attempted again this year.

In both cases, the concerts were heavily advertised well in advance. If anyone had any objections to the music, the venue, the seating or any other aspect of the event, they could have spoken up well in advance. But the banners decided to wait until the last minute before making their move. Because they waited for the last minute, the gedolim could not investigate the true story behind the concert and Lipa and his partners lost a great deal of money from the cancellation. I believe (and yes, it's only my opinion) that this was done on purpose.

The same thing occured this year. Again, the concert date was known well in advance. And again, the banners didn't raise their ugly heads until the last minute. Rather than standing up for their principles in the right way, they again chose the underhanded and cowardly way of going about their business. And this time they lost. The concert is going on as planned and, as I hear it, it's likely to be a packed house.

The Wolf

EDIT: Upon further review, I think the word "kanoi" works better than "askan" in this post. There are plenty of askanim for the Jewish community who are wonderful individuals who selflessly give of their time and money. However, since I put it in the title, I can't easily change it. But you all know what I mean.

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

How about posting the names of those who signed this year?

Whatever poor excuse they may have had last time, this time it is certainly inexcusable, and they should be known...and pay the price.

Yossi G.

BrooklynWolf said...

The VIN article I linked to has a copy of the ban with all the signers.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

In the end, R. Shmuel Kamenetzky, one of the signers of the ban, to his credit, admitted that proper procedures were not followed and that the ban last year was a mistake.

Pardon me for not being so impressed. Where is the taking of responsibility? Tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars were lost. If they mistakenly banned it, they should be taking the responsibility for financial compensation.

Mikeinmidwood said...

I know who the rabbanim are, but I would love to know who these "Kanoi" are, and then maybe we can take down this frum mafia.