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.
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(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.)


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