The Aftermath Of The Protest/Rally And The Aisfa (Convention)

     As you know, yesterday was the big day where the METS (Citi Field)  hosted a huge convention for the Ultra Orthodox Jews regarding the evils of the internet.  At the same time, there was a counter rally/protest titled: “The Internet Is NOT The Problem.” I have already given my thoughts on how I felt about all this so now I will discuss the aftermath of said convention and rally.

     First I want to clear something up. I did not attend either the rally/protest or the convention. As far as I know none of my friends went either.  What I do know is that I got attacked from both sides about why I didn’t go. Some felt that because I’m one of them and always bashing my own kind I should stop being a hypocrite in denial and put my money where my mouth is and do something about it. First of all, I don’t “bash” my own kind. Second, I only bash those that deserve it and frankly sometimes I feel ashamed to be a Jew because of their actions which makes us look bad. No one should judge a book by it’s cover without knowing the facts. People come to their own conclusions based on things they see, hear or read but it’s wrong . If something was written or said…. Well, generally a smart person would know the stories before they post things. A good writer knows to research first and then base the comments on what they found out.  While I admit that there are two sides to every story, one of them is usually the correct one.    Now, I’m not perfect but I’m not ignorant either. It’s very easy to tell when someone is in denial or guilty or even hiding the truth. The thing is that it takes time to figure it out because at some point when the same thing is happening to others and it starts to come out, you realize there’s a pattern here and it’s just a matter of finding out where it leads to. You just have to know where to look.

And this is where the protest rally comes in when I’m asked why I didn’t show up and do something about it. Well, who says I don’t? There are other ways to protest without showing up in person and sometimes that’s the best way to do it… For instance, I write on here about my thought, feelings and opinions and try to get the word out this way. Doing it from home is also the safest way without getting arrested or trampled. Just because I don’t show up to something to show my support does not mean I don’t care. I just choose to do it my own way. What people fail to realize is that sometimes protesting in person does more harm then good. What they also fail to realize is that if it gets out of hand (and they tend to), it turns into a huge Chilul Hashem (Desecrate the name of G-D) and that’s not good. At least when you do it in private you can remain anonymous with no harm done.

     I’m a firm believer in Freedom of Speech so if people want to protest and stand up for what they believe in I respect them . But you have to know where to draw the line and what not to cross. We protest for a reason. We fight for what’s right for a reason but when we cross those lines we are no better then those we are protesting against and sometimes people who are protesting like to go overboard and anyway you look at it people think that protesting means going out to the front lines holding up a sign to get their message across and hope it helps but I’m still not sure how effective this really is. I still think there are better methods but to each his own.

Which brings me to yesterday’s event. While I was elsewhere, I was still being updated with what was going on through pictures and status updates (see Facebook is useful). Most of them were in good taste and in fact I was very surprised that it all went off without a hitch because usually when it comes to these things, the other side can be sensitive. I’m not really sure how big the turnout was but I don’t think that’s important. What is important is whether or not the message got across  and the points were made. I do know that the group on Facebook will remain active and future rallies are planned but in what way or capacity I don’t yet know.

While the protesting was happening outside the main event was happening inside Citi Field. They were sold out so they rented out near by Arthur Ashe Stadium.  Again, I won’t give my thoughts because I already gave them in my last post but I will say that I’ve read reviews of it along with pictures and amazingly I, along with others seemed to be right all along and then some.  Here are some quotes I read and got from others..

1) “Most speeches were in Yiddish with no English subtitles.”

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Well, I don’t find this at all surprising considering the majority of people there were Hasidim. But for the other folks who don’t speak a word of Yiddish I find this pretty unfair and inconsiderate. I mean how are you to get the message across if not everyone can understand it?

2) “It was billed as “A Big Problem Needs a Big Solution”

As a gathering to EDUCATE people on the latest filter technology

There was supposed to be a technology expo

It was NOT billed as a “Kinus on Shemiras Einayim” (which is what it turned out to be)

There was NO solution proposed.

There was NO education

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Basically it was just rabbanoim repeating things that have been said in the past. Things that can be said in a synagogue or a school. Don’t really need 40,000 people to come from all over. What was basically said was that if you need to use the internet at work then filter it but at home it’s not necessary to have one… So you need to pack a stadium to tell people this when people already know this? First of all it’s not always easy to filter the internet at work if it’s not your company or if your employer isn’t an orthodox Jew because it’s their company and they can run it as they see fit. By the way, schools and libraries already filter the internet.

I’m still not certain that these people are educated at all on the internet because they are only looking at the negative of it when there iss o much that’s positive about it. For instance: People use it to post jobs, get jobs, research for school and work, shopping, daf yomi among other things. That’s the real problem here that people just look at the bad and that’s it and if that’s the case, how do you resolve it because I really don’t think banning internet is really sensible if almost impossible. By the way, if this whole thing is about banning the internet then why the hell did they stream it online? Isn’t that hypocritical? It’s pretty much being said that yes the internet is evil except when it’s convenient for us. There’s a double standard here.

3)”$1.5 million of community  funds wasted?  How many people could have been fed via Tomchei Shabbos with a tiny fraction of that money? How many people could have been given professional training to help them earn a living for themselves and their families? Yeshivos supported? “

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So true. Yeshivas keep complaining that they have no funding. Families complain they can’t afford to buy food. People lack the skills for a job. People give money to organisations all the time and about half are not real ones. But what do we do? Spend $2 million on a convention about the evils of the internet when it’s really not even necessary when that money could be evenly distributed to those in need. If people have no job they can’t support their family. If they can’t afford to put food on the table they starve and if schools can’t get funding then no one gets an education and if no one is educated then they reaqlly don’t know which is part of the problem in the Jewish community because about half don’t go to college nor do they have any secular studies so they are ignorant and only listen to what their rabbi tells them and it may not necessarily be in their best interests.

I mean it’s nice to bring the Orthodox community together and I’m all for it but when it’s for a good cause and reason. I mean school buses were rented. Coach Buses and even a ship. A ship? Really? Isn’t that going a bit overboard?

4) The ASKUNIM said that the Gedolim said that we must go. There were many gedolim (from the R’ Aaron of Satmar to R’ Shmuel Kamenetzky) who did not think that the asifah was necessary. We are living in a new world, where the *askunim* determine what is daas Torah and what is not.

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Funny thing about how people don’t do anything unless their rabbi tells them to do it. Basically a follow the leader game. None of us have a mind of our own. They basically tells us what we’re allowed to do and what we can’t. So if they say jump we ask how high. I’ll be honest and say that I myself have a rabbi that I go to to ask questions because it’s said that every one needs a Rav(rabbi) and I do ask him questions when I don’t know what to do but he doesn’t dictae my life for me and he’ll sometimes tell me to use my own judgement but he also knows me since the day I was born so he knows the kind of guidance that I need. But I really respect him for the wisdom and respect he has for others of all walks of life. Jewish or not.  When I asked him what he thought of this event at Citi Field he was against iit saying that it is the job of a parent to educate their child and it is the job of a school to educate their students. He also said there are bigger problems that need to be dealt with that no one wants to deal with and it’s a bigger sin if we just look away when people go off the derech and no longer want to be religious.

I was not ashamed or embarrassed to have this conversation with my Rav (Rabbi) nor was he shying away from having this conversation with me. He added as a side note that when people come out and say they are no longer religious because of this reason or that, it’s considered a Chilul Hashem, Sinas Chinam (hatred towards someone) and a little bit of Anti Semitism. He also stressed that this was one of the main reasons of the Holocaust. He also mentioned Yom Yerushalayim and it was taking away from other events related to that which he said was inappropriate to do.

Like I said, my Rav is very smart and knowledgeable and very educated and does not keep his mind closed.. While I may not agree with things he says, I do respect him. He consideres me his “son” and I’m proud to be associated with him but I would never argue against what he says because my father always says. If your going to ask a question to your Rav be prepared for the answer and follow through with it even if you don’t like the answer.

So while I do agree that yes,  listen to your Rabbi when you ask them a question, I do think that some are really out of touch with today’s world.

I don’t want to bash any of the rabonnim (leaders) who were there because it’s wrong to do so and I have no reason to. What my goal here was to talk about what went down and what people thought and a  lot of people actually were bored. A few even wondered why evening prayers took 2 and a half hours to complete.

The good thing that came from this is the amazing Kiddush Hashem that was shown throughout it all. No fights. No arrests. No lashon hara (Bad talk). It could have turned into a blood bath but it did not. While I think the Aisfia (Convention) was a waste of time, it still bought thousands of people from all over to one gathering  in a sports stadium but it wasn’t to see the US Open or to see a MET game and while nothing was accomplished it was still awesome to see everyone come togetehr and be respectful even to the protesters. What was seen on Sunday was something that may never be seen again but the next time the organizers want to make a gathering of this nature, perhaps then they can actually accomplish what they set out to do and recognize the problems other then the internet.

We can’t remain silent on the problems facing our communities.We can’t be afraid of them. If we don’t stand up for our brothers and sisters who will? What will happen when it’s to late? What will become of us if we leave? What will we do if no one will help us? If we are hurt do we not bleed? If we cry do we not shed a tear? We fight for what’s right. We cry for those that can’t. We hurt for those that can’t. We face those that are cowards. Silence is golden but for how long? At some point we have to stand up and say: “NO MORE” and unite as one and justice for all.

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