Friday, July 03, 2009

When in the course of Jewish events. . . .

When in the Course of Jewish events it becomes necessary for one group of Jews to dissolve the Torah bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the Jews of earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of us Torah-observant Jews; and such is now the necessity which constrains us to alter our former Systems of Government. The history of the present haredi establishment is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over us Jews. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid Torah world.

They have sought to annul our rights as Western men and women and citizens of democratic countries to read and study what we wish, and to enjoy music and the creative arts, rights inestimable to us and formidable to tyrants only, by banning books and concerts and harassing authors, artists and performers.

They have usurped our parental authority with respect to children in yeshivot by punishing them for dress, conduct and association, including with the opposite sex, off school premises and outside school hours. Our sons, and especially daughters, live in unremitting fear of being followed around and reported on by yeshiva spies.

They have created and nurtured a culture of parasitism, encouraging able-bodied young men to sit in yeshiva indefinitely and live off the labor of others, including elderly parents and in-laws, and forcing on such young men the shame and indignity of accepting assistance that Western enlightened governments provide for those unable to provide for themselves. They have denigrated and devalued secular studies that might give young men the means to earn a livelihood and provide for their families in manly fashion. They have told our daughters in front of their classmates that they are second rate because we, their fathers, work and provide for our families. They have discouraged in their yeshivot all forms of physical exercise that might endow our young men with manly health and vigor, opting instead for sedentary living, unhealthful diet and the resulting chronic weakness and sickness. They have forbidden our young men to fulfill their duty to defend our country against the merciless Arab savages whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. In sum, they have endeavored to turn the order of nature upside down, extolling the weak, effeminate and parasitical over the strong, upright and manly. To us, Purim comes but once a year.

They have systematically deprived our young of any opportunity to meet in a wholesome environment, resulting in an unprecedented shiddukh crisis.

They have allowed teachers and administrators in their yeshivot to abuse our children sexually in the most heinous and abominable fashion, discouraging victims from reporting these crimes to the lawful constituted authorities and allowing the criminals to continue in employment.

They have led the charge to deprive gay citizens of their basic human rights, rights denied us Jews in the stinkholes of Eastern Europe where they remain culturally rooted. They have embarrassed us all with their gratuitous hatred and bigotry.

They have subordinated the kashrut certification process to their insatiable lust for money and power, having ordered shopkeepers to remove from their shelves products certified by none other than R. Moshe Soloveichik. The Soloveichik name speaks for itself, but those who ordered the removal, causing grievous personal anguish and financial loss to innocent shopkeepers struggling to make a living, wanted their cronies cut in on the action. They have also withheld certification from establishments whose food is kosher, in order to enforce an ambience that meets with their approval but that would make it impossible for such establishments to operate profitably. These and other sordid episodes have fed the public's cynicism with regard to kosher supervision.

They have allowed women seeking gittin to be held up for ransom and blackmail by their husbands, and have accorded those husbands all the honors and privileges due members in good standing of our communities, despite seruvim issued against them by recognized batei din.

They have endeavored, through violence and threats of violence, to reduce our women to slaves and chattel, as they are reduced in benighted Muslim lands but as we, citizens of enlightened Western societies, deem insufferable. Self-appointed "tznius police" set fire to clothing stores whose wares do not meet with their approval. They throw bleach at and otherwise physically attack women walking on public thoroughfares when their dress is not up to the goons' standards. They force women to sit in the back of public buses; those who dare refuse are beaten up and publicly humiliated. Shopkeepers are told to maintain separate hours for male and female patrons, and told that they might end up dead if they don't comply. They have defaced pictures of a female candidate for Prime Minister on lawfully placed campaign posters. These criminals and hoodlums cynically manipulate a corrupt political system to ensure that they are not called to account for their crimes.

They, a bunch of unelected petty tyrants, have sponsored an atmosphere of disrespect and comtempt for duly elected and lawfully constituted secular authorities. By their silence, and sometimes worse, they have made it permissible and even praiseworthy to lie, cheat and steal from the government, as long as they are not caught. They relate to our enlightened governments as if they were the Tsarist tyrants who singled us out for persecution. But they are not bashful about accepting aid from those same governments so they can maintain their parasitic lifestyle.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Jewish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their gedolim to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement in democratic societies. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, to be stood with when they are right and vigorously opposed when they are wrong .

We, therefore, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of our Torah communities, solemnly publish and declare, That these communities are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent agents, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to Agudat Yisrael and its Moatzot Gedolei Torah, in the United States, Israel and throughout the world, and that all religious connection between our communities and said Moatzot and their ideological confreres, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent agents, they have full Power to choose their own authority figures, establish schools for the training of our young as committed Jews and proud citizens of free societies and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent agents may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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Blogger CJ Srullowitz said...

Lots of anger here, lulei demistafina.

I'll just check one of your comments for now:

"They have systematically deprived our young of any opportunity to meet in a wholesome environment, resulting in an unprecedented shiddukh crisis."

This oft-repeated libel is easily disproved by spending exactly one Shabbos on the Upper West Side. The shidduch crisis exists everywhere, including among the secular, and has nothing to do with a lack of opportunity. The Chassidim who are the most restrictive in dealing with shidduchim have no crisis.

Mon Jul 06, 02:20:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, except for the sentence re gay rights. How do you square your opinion with the straight-forward meaning of the Torah?

Tue Jul 07, 02:30:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Sam said...

Well written.

Tue Jul 07, 09:39:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Zev Stern said...

Anon -

Click here.

Fri Jul 10, 05:24:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous shmuel said...

"The Chassidim who are the most restrictive in dealing with shidduchim have no crisis."
Don't believe it. They have their own crises: unhappy marriages, lots of extramarital hanky-panky, use of hookers, porn, etc. They have a very messed up society. It's NOTHING to admire. Are their youngsters getting married? Yes, because they have to. It's a shanda not to. Hardly a healthy reason to enter into such a serious undertaking.

I loved the piece. Great stuff, loved the Declaration template. Keep it up!

Mon Jul 13, 01:55:00 AM EDT  
Blogger CJ Srullowitz said...


Any real evidence that Chassidim have a higher proportion of "unhappy marriages...extramarital hanky-panky, use of hookers, porn, etc" than the Modern Orthodox?

Mon Jul 13, 03:34:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This documents reminds of some other historical document, just trying to place where I have heard this before

Tue Feb 23, 10:20:00 PM EST  
Blogger Zev Stern said...

If you went to a haredi yeshiva, your not being able to place that other historical document is not surprising. Sad, but not surprising.

Tue Feb 23, 10:24:00 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

All talk no action are you going to open a single Yeshivah? girl school? or talmud torah? How about a shul a matzha bakery even a gym? Talk is cheap!

Wed Apr 13, 08:37:00 PM EDT  

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