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Isn't it pretty?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lots of News

So many things to write about, but honestly, so little actual motivation to do so...

Here are a few things that have come up in the last few days (or weeks) and my incomplete thoughts about them:

This article about a town in Alabama, Dothan, whose Jewish community is offering $50K to move there. Many people sent the article to me, including a commenter here. It's an interesting proposal. I'm not sure exactly how it is funded, and whether it would be financially worth it to the congregation, nor how many families Dothan's Jewish community is willing to offer up so much money to bring down South, but if you've ever seriously considered the slow, Southern pace of life and have a desire to live in a small town, I would highly recommend it. It would certainly offer the opportunity to be an active member of a community - speaking from my own experience, even no longer living in a Southern town - when you are part of a small Southern Jewish community, you are taken care of, you are part of a family. That's not to say that I am not taken care of here in Yankee territory ;), but it's just not quite the same. My concern stemming from the article is more how all those transplants would affect the community, not how they would like it. It would be interesting to see a study five years from now to see how successful this venture turns out to be, and how integrated those families who do choose to move down there end up being.

Next topic up -

Lots and lots of people have already written about the resignation of Dr. Bentzion Twerski from Dov Hikind's Sexual Abuse Taskforce. I will admit that I haven't read all the posts, so what I am saying has most likely already been said. But I am aghast at the whole thing. Not the fact that Dr. Twerski resigned from the Taskforce. Because, honestly, there are only so many threats a person can take. But I am utterly appalled at any person who would threaten someone who is trying to do a service for their children. And important, necessary service. There have been so many cases recently to become public about the sexual abuse of children, and this man was trying to do something in order to make sure that these cases do not occur in the future. And people threatened his family and his future because of it. It is a blatant disregard for the safety of children and families, and honestly, the future of the Orthodox Jewish community. From the avalanche of cases that have arisen in the past few years, it is completely obvious that something MUST be done in order to educate and protect children from sexual predators. If that protection has to be from those whose reputations might be protected, too bad. I really am extremely saddened that anyone would stand in the way of the protection of children.

Finally, this article about a transgender professor at YU who has caused quite a stir in campus. Honestly, I have very mixed feelings about this one. But generally, I think it all boils down to whether YU has a clear policy about having on staff those who do not uphold halacha, which I don't believe they do. From what I understand (and I admit that I have not studied this in depth), yes, it is a violation of halacha to undergo a gender reassignment. However, from what I can figure out, this professor is not Jewish and has never claimed to follow halacha, which has been fine up until now, and is fine for numerous other professors at the school. Yes, this situation does cause a lot of other issues to arise, but I'm can't really figure out on what basis it is really such an outrage and how it clearly is different from any other staff member who is not Jewish and does not follow Jewish law, which seems to be fine with the university. I think the clear difference is that people are just not comfortable with the situation. It reminded me a bit of this article where students at all-women's colleges have chosen to undergo sexual reassignment surgery, though I think the implications there are much more thorny and difficult.

That's it for now.


  • The thing I find really disgusting about the transgender professor is that he told YU about this 2 weeks after getting tenure. It seems to me that if you have any respect for your employer AT ALL, you don't put them in this situation; I mean, you know something like this is going to cause them a major headache. Did this professor consider maybe going to a purely secular university instead of a religious one?

    By Anonymous AJ, at 9/12/08, 11:00 AM  

  • There is a very good reason why a dying community would offer so much money for people to move there. I grew up about 105 miles from there. Dothan is 198 miles from the nearest *Chabad.* There are no Orthodox Jews. There are very few *Reform* Jews-- and probably only one Reform Temple for more than an hour's drive in any direction (the way it was where I grew up). There is a LOT of antisemitism. There is a LOT of racism. They still believe that Jews wear wigs to cover their horns. Many believe that Jews worship Satan.

    Would you really want to subject children to that? Do you really blame the children for either abandoning Judaism or moving away?

    Of course they're resorting to desperate measures to save their community and I'm willing to bet good money that no more than 2-3 families stay there the required 5 years to get the money. Five years is a very very long time when whether or not you get a job might depend on whether or not you join the local Baptist church. Five years is an eternity when the neighborhood children have been told that they must "save your kid's souls from hell" by whatever means necessary.

    By Blogger Ahuva, at 9/15/08, 11:10 AM  

  • Oh, quick correction. There's a Conservative community in Tallahassee, a mere 107 miles away. They do not, however, have a place to get kosher food (or at least they didn't the last I checked).

    You could get kosher meat flown in, but I'd be shocked if you could get it any other way. I tend to become a vegetarian when I go visit my parents, as there is no kosher meat or cheese to be found (unless you're willing to accept Hebrew National as kosher).

    By Blogger Ahuva, at 9/15/08, 11:16 AM  

  • Apologies for invading your space, Shosh, but I'm currently in Poland. I haven't had the nicest of experiences today, but thought you may want to catch up.

    By Blogger fwengebola, at 9/17/08, 8:03 PM  

  • Hi Shosh, you might find this clip amusing. Only Israel would do this.


    By Blogger SemGirl, at 9/18/08, 10:10 AM  

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