Menachem Stark — Just Another Hasid?

It's Wrong To Slander Slain Man — and Entire Community

courtesy of stark family

By Mordechai Lightstone

Published January 12, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

Michaelson writes:

These places [Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick] were crime-ridden slums a decade ago, but now they’re filled with my friends — one of whom said, on Facebook, that Stark ‘sounds like every Hasidic landlord I’ve ever had. Is this statement Anti-Semitic? Or is it, sadly, accurate?”

If we are to take Michaelson’s words at face value, he is justifying the abuse of people in their homes because they are poor. Is it somehow OK to take advantage of, let’s be blunt, people of color, since they’re just poor and destined to a life of crime anyhow? Is the sin of being a slumlord only egregious when it oppresses hipsters and yuppies, people who have doctorates in philosophy or write pretentious blogs?

Michaelson continues:

And it’s not just slumlords. Ever run the New York Marathon? In Hasidic Williamsburg, you get jeered, even spit at. And need we even mention the community’s circle-the-wagons mentality when it comes to corruption and sexual abuse?

Can it ever be permissible to vilify an entire community by referring to the failings of its most crude or criminal? Is playing into age-old stereotypes somehow OK if we then make the caveat that we can “assume” that, somewhere out there, there must be plenty of good Haredi landlords but … with the pretext of, ‘but honestly, who’s ever heard of one?’

Was Stark so foul a person, that his murder can somehow be expiated and his right to be mourned considered a shandeh, by the presence of perverts and abusers in the Hasidic community? Does Stark’s being an allegedly awful landlord mean that every story swapped about backward Hasidic culture must be true?

(For the record, I don’t question what I can only assume is Michaelson’s firsthand account of being spat on while running the New York Marathon. But his article is the only reference I found of such actions on Google. I did however find this video, posted by the Hasidic VIN News but seemingly taken by a non-Jew that paints a rather different story about the marathon.)


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.