Another Orthodox Paradox; NYC Mayor Pleads “Hear No Evil”

More than two years have passed since I wrote about Speaking Truth to Orthodoxy. In that essay, I focused on the medieval hatred that courses through the veins of all fundamentalist religion, including certain factions of Orthodox Judaism, particularly “Modern Orthodoxy”.

Some explosive antagonisms in the Jewish community simmer below the threshold of expression or even conscious awareness.  On occasion, these conflicts erupt in a public forum, revealing pain and loss, complex struggles and confused affinities.  The debate rages for some time, fueling clashing perspectives, voices of wisdom and yelps of hatred.  Then passions subside, and we return to the choreographed normalcy of daily life, hoping to forget our latest glimpse of the heart of darkness.  But, over the centuries, we’ve learned the value of remembering.

Earlier this week, a leader of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish organization offered the world much more than further evidence of his community’s deep-seated hatred toward Jewish infidels. The event detailed in the stories below also illustrates that this hateful ideology still enjoys a shocking level of mainstream acceptance, if not respectability. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, representing the “Council of Torah Sages”, sounds like a Jewish Jihadist incapable of accepting the fact that most people in the 21st century do not share his worldview. But it is shocking that Mayor De Blasio finds himself embroiled in this hate-fest, and he can do no better than plead “Hear No Evil”.

Related News Stories

  • De Blasio Remains Mum on Rabbi’s Remarks (The New York Times, 5/30) “The mayor’s presence at this dinner was intriguing in itself, as Agudath leaders resisted reporting many cases of sexual abuse. A family, they said, must go to a rabbi before going to the police or the district attorney. And the rabbi might tell them not to make a report.”
  • Mayor, distracted by well-wishers, didn’t take note of Orthodox rabbi’s tirade: aides (New York Daily News, 5/29) “De Blasio stayed mum after Yaakov Perlow, the leading rabbi of Agudath Israel of America — a huge backer of the mayor and host of the event — blasted the secular orientation of non-Orthodox streams of Judaism.”
  • Top Agudath Israel rabbi slams Reform, Conservative movements (JTA, 5/29) “Perlow, the head of Agudah’s Council of Torah Sages, said the Reform and Conservative movements “have disintegrated themselves, become oblivious, fallen into an abyss of intermarriage and assimilation.”
  • Orthodox Rabbi Stuns Agudath Gala With ‘Heresy’ Attack on Open Orthodoxy (The Daily Jewish Forward, 5/28)“Perlow’s speech, the evening’s most fiery, condemned non-Orthodox streams of Judaism and used particularly harsh language to condemn Open Orthodoxy, the movement led by Rabbi Avi Weiss and centered at Yeshiva Chovevei Torah in Riverdale that pushes for a greater role for women in Jewish ritual, among other things. Perlow criticized the Israeli Chief Rabbinate for not being harsh enough in their treatment of Open Orthodoxy.”

Related Essays

  • Oedipal Jews: “Our world is already sufficiently imperfect to make us question the logic of propping up the edifice of orthodox thought that has caused and continues nurture some of the world’s most tragic imperfections.” 
  • Smashing The Idols Of Orthodox Religion: “These are all false and dehumanizing theologies. Sustained by fear, they focus intensely on suppressing the revelation of their falsehood.”